Bessie Mae Carter Golden, of Culbertson, North Carolina, applied in 1926 to receive benefit as an Eastern Cherokee descendant, Application Nr. 1253, Baker Roll.
The Baker Roll is now the “Final Roll,” or base document, used as a standard for determining enrollment in the Eastern Band of North Carolina Cherokees, one of the three Federally recognized divisions of the Cherokee Nation.
She lists her children and asks that they be recognized as Cherokee as well: Edna Irene Golden, age 5; James Wilbur Golden, age 4; Myrtle Golden, age 3, and Junior Golden, age 4 months. Bessie Mae was living at Polk County, Tennessee at the time of her application. She notes in her application that she has lived in Isabella, Tennessee for six years.
Although not named above, there appears to have been an additional son born in 1924 who died in childbirth or very soon thereafter.
The claim is that Bessie Mae Golden is 1/16th Cherokee by virtue of being descended from Ruby Tucker, who was her great-great-grandmother.
“Ruby Tucker married Eli Ledford and was the mother of Burton Ledford. He was the father of Tilda Ledford Carter and she was the mother of my father Burton Carter.”
Bessie Mae Carter married Joseph James Golden (1893–1979, my 1st cousin 2x removed), born at Mineral Bluff, Fannin County, Georgia, and passed at Copperhill, Polk County, Tennessee.
As for Joseph James Golden , the application explicitly stated that he was the father of all of her children and that he had “none” Cherokee Indian blood.
FINAL Adjudication of Bessie Mae Carter Golden’s Claim, 1927
Claim denied, 9 May 1927. I have a copy of the full claim and would be glad to provide upon request.
I have paraphrased the reasons given for the denial of claim.
- There is no evidence that any ancestor of Bessie Mae Carter Golden has ever been a recognized Cherokee member, or enrolled as member in the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.
- The applicant, or their parents, were not enrolled and recognized members of the Cherokee Indians as of 1868 or at any time since that date.
- There are no records to show any affiliation or association with the Cherokees of North Carolina.
- The Eastern Cherokees do not recognize the applicant as a member of its tribe.
- Applicant’s family can show no proof of contributing to the purchase of the Qualla Boundary or other tribal lands.
- Any right of ancestral claim to being Cherokee prior to 1874 has been lost by not having ever formally claimed before then that they were Cherokee.
- Applicant’s parents, one being white, have raised their minor children apart from the Indian community and not as a part of it.
About the Qualla Boundary: Having found that treaties are meaningless, the Cherokees decided to play the game the way it worked for everyone else: they bought land beginning in 1870 with funds raised from among members registered as Cherokees from 1868 onward. The land was then put into a federal trust to protect their property rights. Access to the land is limited to recognized Eastern Cherokees who can buy, own, and sell the land but only to other recognized members of the Tribe of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians.
BACKGROUND from the official description within the Baker Roll Index
The Cherokee people once inhabited southern Appalachia, constituting parts of Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. After 1817, some Cherokees emigrated to Arkansas Territory (later Indian Territory) and became known as “Old Settlers.” During the 1830s, most of the tribe was removed from their highland homeland by the United States Government in the tragic trek known as the “Trail of Tears” and forced to migrate to Indian Territory (now Oklahoma). These “Emigrant” or “Eastern” Cherokees merged with the Old Settlers to become the Cherokee Nation West. Some-what confusingly, other Cherokees who avoided removal and remained behind were also called “Eastern” Cherokees.
THE 1928 BAKER ROLL AND RECORDS OF THE EASTERN CHEROKEE ENROLLING COMMISSION, 1924–1929
You are welcome to add to or to correct this story by contacting: Bill Golden, Norfolk1956@gmail.com
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