Nave family has links to Cherokee nation

It was a query from a Texas woman, Dara Gray Brown, which piqued my interest in the Nave and Pugh families of Ramsey Township.

Dara was descended from Tennessee Teter and Sara Pugh Nave through their son, David Pugh Nave, and told me that her Nave family was a member of the Bird Clan of the Cherokee nation.

Through her family research, Dara had identified the Nave, Pugh, Gray, Wesner and Lippert (Leopard) families of Fayette County as having Cherokee lineage.

Tennessee Nave was a schoolteacher, boot and shoe maker, farmer and elder of the Christian Church, performing marriages as early as 1848.

He was born in Carter County, Tenn., on Sept. 26, 1809, the son of Henry Nave and Mary Crow, and married Sara "Sally" Pugh, also from Carter County.

Tennessee and Sara were parents of five children: David Pugh Nave; Mary Carey Nave, who died from a snakebite in 1842 at age of 7; Rachel; Henry T., who moved by wagon train to Salem, Ore.; and Catherine P. Nave, who married John Tharp. Both Catherine and her husband, John, died young, and Catherine’s brother, David, raised their children.

Sara Nave died on Nov. 7, 1865, and is probably buried with her husband in the Nave Cemetery, also known as the Casey Cemetery, located in Section 24 of South Hurricane Township, although neither has a stone. A tombstone for their daughter, Mary Carey Nave, who died in 1842, although lying on the ground, is still readable.

Sara was the daughter of David Pugh, who was born in 1774 in Carter County, Tenn., and his wife, Rachel Bogard. All of their children, with the exception of their son, David Jr., came to Fayette County around 1838, probably with the Nave family. This included Jonathan, Solomon, Sara, Polly, Rachel and Ella Pugh.

Sara’s sister, Rachel Pugh, married Richard Hamilton Gray in 1828. The Gray family was another Carter County, Tenn. family. About 1833, Rachel and Richard left Carter County, settling in Coles County, Ill., where they lived until 1855, when they joined their other family members in Ramsey Township, in Fayette County.

Their son, David Pugh Gray, married Angeline Narcissus Wesner, daughter of Benjamin Wesner and Angeline Hall. David and Angeline are Dara Gray Brown’s great-grandparents.

Benjamin Wesner was living in Fayette County as early as Jan. 14, 1836, when he married John Hall’s daughter, Eveline. Samuel Wesner, believed to be Benjamin’s brother, had taken her sister, Sally Ann, to be his wife two months earlier. Both men

owned land in Section 31, Ramsey Township.

According to Dara, descendants of both Benjamin and Samuel Wesner (also shown as Wisner) are on the Cherokee tribal rolls. One of Dara’s contacts, a Cherokee researcher who is familiar with nearly all the old Cherokee families, knew of the Ben Wisner family because his wife was a relative, but had no information on the man.

One of the problems encountered when researching a Cherokee line is lack of documentation.

Benjamin’s descendants in Oklahoma do not know when he died. They are aware that he returned to Illinois, possibly Crawford County, and died there in the year 1889, but have no proof of this other than family tradition.

Many have heard that they have an Indian grandmother somewhere in the family, but few are able to identify this line, let alone identify the Indian tribe. This is what makes Dara Gray Brown’s research so interesting.

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