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James Lewis McDonald's Deposition

Court of Claims, Eastern Cherokee Indians

Cherokee County Courthouse, Murphy, NC, July 15, 1908

No. 222
James Lewis McDonald, after being first duly sworn, deposes and says:

I am a claimant in my own right; 87 years of age Aug. 11, 1908. I claim my Indian blood through my mother, a daughter of Annie Blythe. I have lived in this locality 70 years. Was born and raised in Macon County, three miles of Franklin. My father was Angus McDonald and Sallie Blythe was my mother. My mother was said to be 15 at the date of her marriage and her first child was born when she was 16 years of age and that was in 1816. I knew my grandmother, Nancy Blythe. I knew her in Macon County. I mean my grandfather, Jonathan, and Nancy Blythe, my grandmother. They moved after my mother was born. My mother was born in South Carolina and married there. My grandmother looked to be about 55 or 60 years of age when I knew her. I never heard how old she was. Her oldest child was named Sasa and she married a man named Samuel DeArmand. There were two sisters and one brother older than my mother. I cannot say what year Nancy Blythe was born. I think she was born at a place called Old Choy Fields, S. C. I do not know near what town or in what county this was. A man named Isaac Shupe was said to be the father of Nancy Blythe and an Indian woman by the name of Barnes was said to be her mother. Shupe was said to be a white man. My information is that the Barnes woman was born in South Carolina, about the Old Choy Fields. I think they were living with some Indians in South Carolina but do not know what Indians they were. Nancy Blythe had six girls and two boys. She had no sisters that I know of. To the best of my recollection she died in 1840 or 1841. It is reported that Nancy Blythe's mother lived among the Cherokees in South Carolina. I cannot say who informed me of this fact. Thomas McDonald just told me. He is my brother's son. I do not [sic] how he knows more about it than I do. I have heard Grannie talk about living among the Cherokees in South Carolina. I think she died in 1840. She did not die in 1834. The witness who states this is mistaken. I was about 20 years of age when she died. She died on Valley River. In 1835 she was living with Jonathan Blythe, her husband. No one else was living in the home with them, at that time as far as I recollect. At that time all her children were married or had left. She had no grandchildren living in the house with her. According to my judgment she was not 97 years of age when she died. I do not know whether Elizabeth Harden was mistaken when she said she was 97 years of age or not. I never heard of Nancy Blythe, my grandmother, drawing any money as an Indian. I have heard of my grandmother being enrolled as an Indian. I heard this six or eight years ago. I never heard her say she was enrolled as an Indian. I have heard her say that her mother was an Indian. I will not state that I heard her say what tribe of Indian she belonged to. The first I heard of her being enrolled was six or eight or perhaps ten years ago. Jim Taylor told me then. He was asking for Belva Lockwood. My mother was known as Sallie McDonald in 1835. At that time she was living about six or seven miles from here. The Cherokee Indians were living all around here at that time. In 1835 she was older than 35. She must have been 55 or 56 years of age at that time. In 1840 she was about 60 years of age. My grandmother might have been 80 years of age in 1840. In 1835 it was well known where my mother lived. She was well known in this county at that time. My mother died about 1889 or 1890. I never heard of her getting any money as an Indian. She never made any application. The reason my mother was not enrolled in 1835 was because they held their heads up and were sort of biggish and did not have sense enough. The government was making the enrollment. The enrollment was made with a view to taking the Indians away from this country. I know no reason why my mother should not have been enrolled by the government at that time. I can give no reason why my mother's brothers and sisters were not enrolled. My mother's brothers and sisters were all of age at that time and living in this locality. In 1851 I was living on Hanging Dog. I do not remember anything about a payment in 1851. Did hear that the Cherokees were drawing some money then. I did not apply because I did not have sense enough. I knew at that time that I was said to have Indian blood in me. I considered myself a member of the Cherokee tribe in 1851. I did not apply because none of my people tried to get any and I did not know how to go about it. We have always had the privileges of white people but recognized as having Indian blood. I do not claim Indian blood through any source other than Annie Blythe. I knew Betsy Welch all my life. In 1835 she was living on Valley River. She was married at that time. I knew James Blythe. In 1835 he was living near the edge of this county. He was said to have been married. I did not know Goliath Blythe. Do not recall the name. My great grandmother, mother of Annie Blythe, never came to this state to my knowledge.

James Lewis McDonald

subscribed and sworn to before me at Murphy, N. C., this fifteenth day of July, 1908.
Special Commissioner

[Note that all spellings and punctuation are left in tact from the original document now filed in the National Archives, Washington, DC.]

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