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.