Tassell – Corn, Old, Young and George

The name of Tassell is legendary in Cherokee history.  I’m not surprised to find three families using that surname in the 1869 Cherokee West census.  Better stated, I’m surprised there were only three families using that surname.  One used just the name Tassell, and there were also a John and Aaron Tassell as heads of households. 

The “First Beloved Man” known as Corntassell or Old Tassell was the chief of the Overhill Cherokee after 1783.  He was murdered under a flag of truce in 1788 in the State of Franklin, along with another chief.  This was viewed as an atrocity by the Cherokee and certainly did nothing to facilitate peace.

Old Tassell’s brothers were Pumpkin Boy and Doublehead.  His maternal nephew was John Watts, also known as Young Tassell.

John Watts was a “mixed-blood” son of a Scots-Irish trader (who was also named John Watts, and was the official British government Indian interpreter for the area —until his death in 1770).  Young Tassell, a warrior, became very militant after the murder of his uncle.  In 1792, he was called to succeed as Chief of the Lower Overhill Cherokee after Dragging Canoe’s death.  In 1802, Young Tassell died and was succeeded as Chief by his uncle, Doublehead.

In 1830 in Georgia, a man named George Tassell, possibly a son of Old Tassell, was tried, convicted and executed for the murder of a white man on Indian land, while drunk. Since the Cherokee Nation was sovereign, Tassel deserved to be tried in a Cherokee court. The Cherokee Nation won a stay of execution from the United States Supreme Court, but the State of Georgia ignored the stay and executed him anyway. His legal case became the first Cherokee legal document to set precedence on behalf of Cherokee sovereignty. This case is still considered an important precedent for Indian sovereignty today.

The three Tassell families in the 1869 census are likely related to these famous Tassell Cherokees.  Genetically, John Watts descendants of course would carry the Watts Yline DNA, while Old Tassell’s descendants would carry his Yline DNA, which could well be haplogroup Q, or Native.

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About Roberta Estes

Scientist, author, genetic genealogist. Documenting Native Heritage through contemporaneous records and DNA.
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5 Responses to Tassell – Corn, Old, Young and George

  1. Yvonne says:

    Roberta, Crane Eater’s step father was Lemuel Keith from SC. We believe this Lemuel to be the son of Cornelius Keith and Juda Thompson from Pumpkintown, SC who traded with Chief Great Eagle. In 1802 Oglethorpe County, GA court records, Crane Eater was called an “orphan” of this Lemuel Keith.

    Crane Eater married a Sarah Butram. A Sarah Butram from Forsyth and Lumpkin County, Ga filed a widow’s pension record for a Thomas Floyd. An Eastern Cherokee application for John Floyd #31587, also from Gordon County, Ga where Sarah Butram and Crane Eater lived, is interesting. John Floyd doesn’t know his father’s name, but he tells us his Indian name and his grandfather’s Indian name was not “Floyd,” but “Watts” and that his great grandfather was the chief of the tribe.

  2. Mickie Simmons -Cantrell says:

    My name is Mickie Simmons I’ve recently found that I am a descendant of John Francis ( Old Chief ) Watts but I amust stuck because I was told that my Cherokee ancestry was from my dad’s side the Simmons and when my cousin on my mom’s side discovered John Watts and his wife Anne ( Wind Clan ) McPherson she informed me that it was frpm my dad’s mothers family the Huff’s. I would like to have more information about this. I am very fascinated with this as I’ve always been about the Simmons side of my family I find them very intriguing as I do my Indian heritage I can no longer afford to pay for any of the information do to extreme circumstances. I to was recently living in Tulsa Oklahoma and waneed to do more research but had nothing to go on . My husband Chad Cantrell also to has Cherokee ancestry and he has a sister that has gotten properties benefits etc.but will not give him any information on his ancestors or how to go about getting any information there is bad blood between them caused by their mother where the Cherokee blood comes from . Any help will be much appreciated on both or one of our heritage and how to go about it . Thank you sincerely Mickie Simmons- Cantrell

  3. got2bjb says:

    I’m also a direct relative! Have you ever tested your dna? Simmons are also in my family. But, thought it was pronounced Symons. But, heck Tomatoes or tomatoes. Still same thing.

  4. Donna lynn says:

    I am a descendant of John Watts. His daughter, Bathsheba was my ggggrandmother. I recently did the ancestry DNA and Simmons was one of the names in my line.

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