Family Histories

Family Histories for the Rose and Kirkpatrick Families

Thursday, November 20, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: William Henderson Shoemake and Cyrena Allen Shoemake

William Henderson Shoemake, born 1824 in Crowton, Jackson, Alabama.  William was of Cherokee and white descent, born on the reservation possessed by his grandmother, Annie Bone Thorn, a Cherokee.   In 1883, William and his brother, John Wesley, moved to Porum, Oklahoma, and petitioned to be recognized as Cherokee in to gain land being distributed to the Cherokee at that time.  The court initially would not grant them recognition as Cherokee, however, they reversed their decision the following day.  In 1908, their claim was once again in dispute; testimony by one witness given at that time indicates the Shoemake brothers may have paid someone to have their earlier claim recognized.  His Dawes file is very large; some testimony indicates that he was actually on the white side during the Cherokee removal.  In spite of that, the Shoemakes were recognized by the Dawes Commission as Cherokee by blood.

William and some other family members had left Alabama and moved to Cass (then Davis) County, Texas in the 1840's.  He married Margaret Collins there and they had two sons; William Christopher Columbus, and George (who was born and died in 1860).  During the Civil War, William volunteered for the Confederate Army and worked as a sort of border patrol guard (at four times the normal pay rate!),  traveling along the Red River looking out for Union troops, while Margaret and their son William lived with her relatives in Davis County.  Around this time, William heard that an old friend, Will Cadell, had been killed in the war, and his widow, Cyrena (Allen), was alone on the prairie with two children.   William took it upon himself to "look after" Cyrena and married her, moving his new family to Arkansas, despite the fact that he already had a wife.  He later claimed in his Dawes testimony that Margaret had died; Margaret was actually declared "insane" and died in April 1870.  By then William and Cyrena had three sons, with seven more children to be born in the next 14 years.  They were living in Sebastian, Arkansas in 1880, along with her children from her first marriage, James and Rosetta, and their own seven children.  In 1900, they were living in Indian Territory (Oklahoma), where they remained for the rest of their lives. 

Wiliam and Cyrena continued to live in Muskcogee County, Oklahoma, until he died in 1908.  Cyrena lived in 1934.  They are buried at Fields Cemetery in Porum, Oklahoma.


  1. William H. Shoemake (his stepfather's surname, which he adopted) was only 14 years old at the time of the forced removal of the Cherokees in 1838/9 and not likely to have taken any "side" at that time. Much of the testimony in the Dawes files are hearsay and a mixup of several people known by the Shoemake surname.
    William H. Shoemake went to Cass County, Texas in the fall of 1849 and is enumerated there in 1850 with his brother, Eli. Cass County was known as Davis County only from May 1861 to May 1871. If his first wife was still living in 1865, then he lied about that in his Cherokee application as he gave the date of his and Cyrene (nee Allen) Caddell's marriage as 15 Oct. 1865.
    I would be most happy to know more about what happened to Margaret and the documentation to support her death. Thanks.

  2. Myra, thanks for your response - do you know who William's birth father was and the circumstances of his birth? My source for Margaret Collins' death is the U.S. Mortality Schedule - it lists Margaret Shosmoke, died April 1870 in Davis County, TX - cause is listed as insanity.

    1. William H. Shoemake's father was John A. Shoemake, who took the Shoemake name from his stepfather -- John Shoemake who married Annie (Thorn), the Cherokee. John A. Shoemake's father is a mystery. Possibly it was a man named JONES or McKAIN, according to some who are involved in DNA research on this line, but no valid documentation yet. John H. Shoemake did not know (according to his Cherokee Citizenship papers). John A. Shoemake's wife was a "white woman" named Elizabeth, but her maiden name has not been determined. This family have plenty of mysteries to keep genealogists digging. Apparently, William H. Shoemake left his first wife in a "mental hospital" in Texas and married Cyrena and moved to near the Cherokee Nation line in Arkansas by 1870. He took their son (William C.C. Shoemake) with them and the latter died before 1887 in Cherokee Nation.
      When and where was this picture of William H. Shoemake and Cyrena made and how did you come to have a copy of it? Thanks.

    2. Thanks. I had found that mortality census, but was not sure it was the same Margaret. It appears to be, but I would like to find court records, if they exist.

  3. I also would like to know what evidence used was for the birth of the son George Shoemake (b./d. in 1860?). Thanks.