Cherokee Mother of John Red Bank Payne

John Red Bank Payne

There is nothing I love more than a happy ending.  Second to that perhaps is to know that my blog or work helped someone, and in particularly, helped someone document their Native heritage.  In doing so, this confirms and unveils one more of our elusive Native people in early records.

I recently received a lovely thank you note from Shawn Potter.  We had exchanged notes earlier, after I wrote “The Autosomal Me” series, about how to utilize small segments of Native American (and Asian) DNA to identify Native American lines and/or ancestors.  This technique is called Minority Admixture Mapping (MAP) and was set forth in detail in various articles in the series.

Shawn’s note said:  “I’ve been doing more work on this segment and others following your method since we exchanged notes.  I’m pretty sure I’ve found the source of this Native American DNA — an ancestor named John Red Bank Payne who lived in North Georgia in the late 18th and 19th centuries.  Many of his descendants believe on the basis of circumstantial evidence that his mother was Cherokee.  I’ve found 10 descendants from four separate lines that inherited matching Native American DNA, pointing to one of his parents as the source.”

Along with this note, Shawn attached a beautiful 65 page book he had written for his family members which did document the Native DNA, but in the context of his family history.  He included their family story, the tales, the genealogical research, the DNA evidence and finally, a chapter of relevant Cherokee history complete with maps of the area where his ancestors lived. It’s a beautiful example of how to present something like this for non-DNA people to understand.  In addition, it’s also a wonderful roadmap, a “how to” book for how to approach this subject from a DNA/historical/genealogical perspective.  As hard as it is for me to sometimes remember, DNA is just a tool to utilize in the bigger genealogy picture.

Shawn has been gracious enough to allow me to reprint some of his work here, so from this point on, I’ll be extracting from his document.  Furthermore, Elizabeth Shown Mills would be ecstatic, because Shawn has fully documented and sourced his document.  I am not including that information here, but I’m sure he would gladly share the document itself with any interested parties.  You can contact Shawn at shpxlcp@comcast.net.

From the book, “Cherokee Mother of John Red Bank Payne” by Shawn Potter and Lois Carol Potter:

Descendants of John Red Bank Payne describe his mother as Cherokee. Yet, until now, some have questioned the truth of this claim because genealogists have been unable to identify John’s mother in contemporary records. A recent discovery, however, reveals both John Red Bank Payne and his sister Nancy Payne inherited Native American DNA.

Considering information from contemporary records, clues from local tradition, John’s name itself, and now the revelation that John and his sister inherited Native American DNA, there seems to be sufficient evidence to say John Red Bank Payne’s mother truly was Cherokee. The following summary describes what we know about John, his family, and his Native American DNA.

John Red Bank Payne was born perhaps near present-day Canton, Cherokee County, Georgia, on January 24, 1754, married Ann Henslee in Caswell County, North Carolina, on March 5, 1779, and died in Carnesville, Franklin County, Georgia, on December 14, 1831.

John’s father, Thomas Payne, was born in Westmorland County, Virginia, about 1725, and owned property in Halifax and Pittsylvania counties, Virginia, as well as Wilkes County, North Carolina, and Franklin County, Georgia.  Several factors suggest Thomas travelled with his older brother, William, to North Georgia and beyond, engaging in the deerskin trade with the Cherokee Nation during the mid 1700s. Thomas Payne died probably in Franklin County, Georgia, after February 23, 1811.

Contemporary records reveal Thomas had four children (William, John, Nancy, and Abigail) by his first wife, and nine children (Thomas, Nathaniel, Moses, Champness, Shrewsbury, Zebediah, Poindexter, Ruth, and Cleveland) by his second wife Yanaka Ayers.  Thomas married Yanaka probably in Halifax County, Virginia, before September 20, 1760.

Local North Georgia tradition identifies the first wife of Thomas Payne as a Cherokee woman. Anna Belle Little Tabor, in History of Franklin County, Georgia, wrote that “Trader Payne” managed a trading post on Payne’s Creek, and “one of his descendants, an offspring of his Cherokee marriage, later married Moses Ayers whose descendants still live in the county.”

Descendants of John Red Bank Payne also cite his name Red Bank, recorded in his son’s family Bible, as evidence of his Cherokee heritage.  Before the American Revolution, British Americans rarely defied English legal prohibitions against giving a child more than one Christian name.  So, the very existence of John’s name Red Bank suggests non-English ethnicity. On the other hand, many people of mixed English-Cherokee heritage were known by their Cherokee name as well as their English first and last names during this period.

Furthermore, while the form of John’s middle name is unlike normal English names, Red Bank conforms perfectly to standard Cherokee names.  It also is interesting to note, Red Bank was the name of a Cherokee village located on the south side of Etowah River to the southwest of present-day Canton, Cherokee County, Georgia.

While some believe the above information from contemporary records and clues from local tradition, as well as John’s name Red Bank, constitute sufficient proof of John’s Cherokee heritage, recently discovered DNA evidence confirms at least one of John’s parents had Native American ancestry. Ten descendants of John Red Bank Payne and his sister Nancy Payne, representing four separate lineages, inherited six segments of Native American DNA on chromosomes 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, and 18 (see Figure 1 for the relationship between these descendants; Figures 2-7 for images of their shared Native American DNA; and https://dna-explained.com/2013/06/02/the-autosomal-me-summary-and-pdf-file/ for an explanation of this method of identifying Native American chromosomal segments).

Upon careful reflection, there seems sufficient reason to believe John Red Bank Payne’s mother truly was Cherokee.

Roberta’s note:  I have redacted the surnames of current testers.

Payne chart

Chromosome 2, Segment 154-161

In this segment, Bert P, Rosa P, Nataan S, Cynthia S, and Kendall S inherited matching Native American DNA described as Amerindian, Siberian, Southeast Asian, and Oceanian by the Eurogenes V2 K15 admixture tool, and as North Amerind, Mesoamerican, South America Amerind, Arctic Amerind, East Siberian, Paleo Siberian, Samoedic, and East South Asian by the Magnus Ducatus Lituaniae Project World22 admixture tool. Since their common ancestors were Thomas Payne and his wife, the source of this Native American DNA must be either Thomas Payne or his wife. See Figures 2a-2g.

Note: Since Native Americans and East Asians share common ancestors in the pre-historic past, their DNA is similar to each other in many respects. This similarity often causes admixture tools to interpret Native American DNA as various types of East Asian DNA. Therefore, the presence of multiple types of East Asian DNA together with Native American DNA tends to validate the presence of Native American DNA.

Payne graph 1

Payne graph 2

Payne graph 3

Payne graph 4

Payne graph 5

Roberta’s Summary:  Shawn continues to document the other chromosome matches in the same manner.  In total, he has 10 descendants of Thomas Payne and his wife, who it turns out, indeed was Cherokee, as proven by this exercise in combination with historical records.  These people descend through 2 different children.  Cynthia and Kendall descend through daughter Nancy Payne, and the rest of the descendants descend through different children of John Red Bank Payne.  All of the DNA segments that Shawn utilized in his report share Native/Asian segments in both of these family groups, the descendants of both Nancy and John Red Bank Payne.

Shawn’s success in this project hinged on two things.  First, being able to test multiple (in this case, two) descendants of the original couple.  Second, he tested several people and had the tenacity to pursue the existence of Native DNA segments utilizing the Minority Admixture Mapping (MAP) technique set forth in “The Autosomal Me” series.  It certainly paid off.  Shawn confirmed that the wife of Thomas Payne was, indeed Native, most likely Cherokee since he was a Cherokee trader, and that today’s descendants do indeed carry her heritage in their DNA.

Great job Shawn!!  Wouldn’t you love to be his family member and one of the recipients of these lovely books about your ancestor! Someone’s going to have a wonderful Christmas!

32 thoughts on “Cherokee Mother of John Red Bank Payne

  1. Interesting results from a very technical type of research. Congrats to Shawn. My question may be answered in his book, but not in your article Roberta. What about descendants of the second wife of Thomas PAYNE? Did any of them, show any signs of Native or Asian DNA?

  2. This is my 2nd cousins line…pretty well documented and I know David Payne who’s been researching this line also. Thanks Bobbi!

  3. Congratulations to Shawn for a job well done. I’m still trying to figure out which of my Hockenberry ancestors had the Iroquois wife. I’ve narrowed it down to a few generations (about 10-12 generations back) based on an approximately 12.1 cM NA segment that I share with a first cousin and smaller NA segments shared with a 5th cousin in the same area. Unfortunately the early Hockenberry family didn’t leave much of a paper trail and I’ve had to rely on triangulation of oral traditions and Iroquois names in the family (the rare names Oneida and Hiawatha) to narrow down the NA ancestry to particular branch of the family tree.

  4. GREAT RESEARCH….WOULD LOVE TO HAVE MORE INFORMATION ALSO BEING A DESCENDANT OF JUDAH….BUT ALSO HAD RELATIVES IN CANTON, GEORGIA WITH THE SURNAME OF MCGEE, JOHN H. AND ELIZABETH ..WAS TOLD JOHN H. WAS ALSO CHEEROKEE…BUT CANNOT CONFIRM FROM PHOTOS…WE DON’T HAVE ANY…..WOULD LIKE SOME DIRECTION IF YOU WOULD…THANK YOU SO MUCH…NATAAN IS MY COUSIN ALSO….

    • Pennsylvania, and Canada had McGee’s,McKees of Native American descent, Said to have been from the Delaware tribes who were described as their grandfathers. I think a McGee may have came from Virginia. Descendants spread out, lived in Indian Territory, Ok. both mixed with Irish and African American. I match both by dna, just found three of those matches with C1c. I don’t see that in mine, except Asian and Russian, yet I have 8% NA somehow.

      • Just a note in case no one knows it. John “Red Bank” Payne’s wife’s name was Nancy Ann Henslee, daughter of Mackfield and Martha Sneed Henslee. The Henslee/Hensley family came from England in 1622 (Wm. & Mary Elliot Hensley).

  5. There are many fables that has been told about the family of John “Redbank” Payne that has been proven to be just myths.
    First of all, John’s name “Redbank” was given to him by genealogists back in the last century to separate him from the many other John Paynes.
    When he moved to GA around 1800, he lived in an area that was called Red Bank there in Franklin Co. GA.
    Similar thing happened to his dad Thomas “Trader” Payne, Sr. when us researchers gave him the name “Trader” to separate him from another Thomas Payne who was born one day different in another county in VA, Also he traded with the Native Americans there in VA while he was married to his Native American wife.
    Our Trader Payne married a full blooded Native American [NA] – most likely Pomunkey or Monocan born in VA, not a Cherokee in GA as the tales show.
    John “Redbank” Payne was born in VA as did all of his siblings and half siblings. All of Trader Payne’s children were grown before any of these Paynes moved to GA., different from those tales that are written in Franklin and Hart County GA history books.
    Please contact me at otime1@yahoo.com and I can put anyone in touch with many Payne genealogists that has been researching our family for many years.

  6. Thanks Shawn for all your hard work. You are very generous to share and educate us of the different techniques. I was shocked, when you contacted me regarding the DNA, but happy to see you took this info and utilized it to help others. I look forward to your ongoing DNA project. David Payne thanks for the info you have provided and I will advise Shawn. Cousin Constance, I have passed your info to Shawn and awaiting his reply.

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  9. I had my husband take the Ancestry DNA test to see if he could trace his way back to the “Cherokee Grandma” that his Grandfather talked about. Or to find other relatives? Those OLD Ancestry tests give such a vague early world, info. Is there a certain DNA test you recommend to find out for sure?

  10. While researching my ancestors I am finding it hard to find really good information on my 5th.. Great Grand Mother. What I can find is that she was called Judith Cherokee Woman or Judith Native American Cherokee Woman and was born in 1735 to the Cherokee Nation of Georgia. She has a date of death as Feb, 11, 1831 in Reed Creek, Hart Co. Georgia. From what I can find, she was the “Indian” wife of Thomas Trader Payne and the mother of Abigail Payne Ayers who is my 4th. Great Grandmother. I would appreciate any info I can get.

    • Clarence,
      There are folklore tales about the wife of our Thomas “Trader” Payne’s first wife which are just myths and tales that made great newspaper article but untrue.
      The Indian wife of Thomas “Trader” Payne was born and died in VA by 1758.
      She was a full blooded Native American [NA] – most likely Pomunkey or Monocan proven born and died in VA not Cherokee and not named Judah nor Judith. Her name is not known but it would be a NA name.
      “Trader” Payne remarried to Anica “Yanaka” Ayers about 1760 and had nine other children, all born in VA and all were grown before any of them went to Franklin Co. GA where some were there by 1783. They were some of the first whites in the area.

  11. After the loss of my mother in April, I began researching her family and this world has opened up that I never knew anything about. I am the great-great graddaughter of Nancy Jayne Payne Calvery, who was William B. Payne’s daughter. I’m grateful to everyone that has researched all of these projects.

  12. Shirley Hamby Feb.25, 2015 am hamby.shirley98@gmail.com
    Has any one had contact with Dorothy McClure she is related to John Red Banks’ Payne she states john B.2-24-1754 Married on 3-5-1779 to Ann ” Nancy” Henslee B.7-5-1757 Daughter of Maxfield Henslee…. Dorothy’s last known address Evergreen, CO 80439

  13. I have noticed no one wants to reply to me at otime1@yahoo.com because I can prove the Cherokee stuff is bogus and was originally written by women to the newspaper when folks were sending folklore tales and getting them printed. Made great folklore tales but untrue.
    History has proved that Thomas “Trader” Payne [and other whites] were never in upstate GA till after 1783. Trader didn’t even go there till after 1790.
    The above article says John Redbank was born in present day Canton, Cherokee Co. GA in early 1750.
    We have proved that all of Redbank’s siblings were born in VA and his mother was A full blooded Native American [NA] – most likely Pomunkey or Monocan proven where she was born and died in VA.
    All of his siblings were grown when some of them got grants in Franklin Co. GA in 1783.
    None of Trader Payne’s children were ever in GA till after that. Also the name “Trader” was given by genealogists in 1900s because he was an Indian trader there in VA when married his NA wife there and had his first 4 children William, John, Nancy, and Abigail. I descend from William.
    That name “Redbank” was not a Cherokee name but was given by Payne descendants in the early 1900s to separate him from all the other John Paynes in Franklin Co. GA. He lived in an area called Redbank there and not Canton, GA. The area of Canton, GA was still Cherokee Territory till 1831. Our Paynes were never in that area till it was obtained by the US then.
    The same folks that gave the above John Payne that name “Redbank” in the 1900s typed copies of his name that way when they gave it to the GA Archives, The name “Redbank” is not in the handwritten copy which was destroyed from all info we can find.
    Yes we do descend from a Native American woman but not Cherokee and her name was not Judith.
    BTW, my DNA don’t show NA in my autosomal test.
    You can see most of the proof of our many cousins research in the below site.
    http://wc.rootsweb.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/igm.cgi?db=otime
    David S. Payne

  14. Based on Roberta’s expert advice, we have added an important initial step to this process to eliminate false positive matches. We first look for matching segments using the GEDMatch tool called “One-to-one compare” that have been inherited by three or more descendants with reliable “paper trails” leading back to John Red Bank Payne’s family. Then we examine larger triangulated matching segments (longer than 5cM and more than 500SNPs) using the GEDMatch admixture tools for the presence of matching Native American ethnicity. Since John Red Bank Payne’s parents are eight or more generations removed from most modern day testers, we are finding that many descendants inherited no matching segment of this size, so comparisons of the DNA of many descendants are necessary. Matching segments so far are interesting, but the distance between modern day testers and John Red Bank Payne’s family may prevent definite conclusions – for now.

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