Was Rebecca (MNU), Wife of Henry Alberty, a Cherokee?

As I complete another round of updated research into the Alberty family, specifically looking at the children and grandchildren of Henry and Rebecca (MNU) Alberty, I find I am once again somewhat disappointed.

My in-laws were from Oklahoma and my mother-in-law often repeated the (very common) story that somewhere in the family was a Cherokee connection. No, it wasn’t an Indian “princess,” but I have to admit that the only photo known of her paternal grandmother, Martha Susanna Alberty, doesn’t preclude the possibility, based on her looks.

She’s definitely not a blue-eyed blonde, but that certainly doesn’t prove anything.

However, there is some documentation that leaves the door slightly open to Native American ancestry.

Martha’s grandfather, Henry Alberty, lived in all the right places at the right time. Born c1775, he is not found in any census until 1820. He lived in Surry County, North Carolina, Georgia and Washington County, Arkansas by 1840.

Henry’s half brother, Moses Alberty, married Sally Wright, a Cherokee woman and their descendants appear on the Dawes Roll.

Not a single clue has been found pointing to the maiden name of Henry’s wife, Rebecca. Online family lore calls her a Bryan (which I think I’ve eliminated as a possibility) or a Wright, based on Moses’ wife’s maiden name. I’ve found nothing to corroborate or disprove that theory.

So, what else might make me wonder about her origins? Well, in the 1800s, it certainly was the in thing to claim Native American citizenship or apply to be recognized as a member of the Cherokee Nation.

Many of Henry’s descendants moved to Oklahoma, but they were no different than thousands of other Sooners and Indian Territory residents, as the area was known prior to statehood in 1907.

What seems very atypical is that several of Henry’s grandchildren and great grandchildren all applied for citizenship in the Cherokee Nation. All of their applications were denied and, from those I could access online, it wasn’t clear why they thought they might qualify.

Rebecca (MNU) Alberty was still living at the beginning of the Civil War so there were grandchildren who knew her. If they applied in her right, I don’t know why they wouldn’t have said that their grandmother was Native American.

On the other hand, without them specifically identifying why they thought they had a claim, Rebecca can’t be ruled out either.

I keep hoping DNA will help, although at six generations back, Rebecca’s DNA might not have passed down to my husband’s. He has more than 100 matches to the Alberty line, but none of the matches are intriguing enough to make me want to look more closely.

Then there is mtDNA – mitochondrial DNA passed from mother to daughter only through the female line.

That door hasn’t slammed shut yet either, but it’s been difficult trying to push it open. Although Henry and Rebecca Alberty had nine children, only three were daughters and one of them was still unmarried well into her 40s. A second proposed daughter, name unknown because of the pre-1850 censuses, appears to have died young.

That leaves just one possibility – daughter Sarah Alberty, born 1824, who married Thomas Douthit, c1844.

Thomas and Sarah Douthit were the parents of seven children, but only two daughters, Nancy Valinda and Mary Elizabeth.

Nancy married Jerome Felix Jobe, but had only one daughter, Elizabeth Catherine, who married Ira S. Lawrence.

Elizabeth had two daughters, Helen, who married but had no children, and Roberta, who married and had one daughter. It’s possible this daughter is still living, appears in the 1950 census unmarried, has the surname of SMITH and is living in Oklahoma. I’ve been unable to pick up her trail after the 1950 census.

If this daughter is still living or married and had a daughter, then there is a descendant today carrying Rebecca’s mtDNA, which could help answer the question as to whether or not she was Cherokee.

The other potential mtDNA source would be a female descendant of Mary Elizabeth, who married William Virgil Jobe.

William and Mary Jobe had a daughter, Flora Evaline, who married Francis Macklin Drake.

Francis and Flora, in turn, had four daughters – Fannie D., Beulah, Martha Elizabeth and Dorothy Florence. Three can be eliminated immediately. Beulah had no children, Dorothy had only one son and Martha had only one son.

Fannie D. , whose birth name was Francesca Delphia, married James Clifford Moore. Per her father’s 1941 obituary, they lived in Drumright, Oklahoma.

Clifford and Fannie had two daughters. One, Marjorie, married, but apparently had no children. The second daughter, Patty, married and also had two daughters. Both are living and I’ve found an address for one of them.

They are the only hope for carrying the mtDNA of Rebecca (MNU) Alberty today. I wonder if either, or both, have taken an mtDNA test?

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