The West Family Cherokee Connections

When I started this blog I was aware that one of my West ancestors, Rufus Morgan West Jr (my great grandfather’s nephew), had married a Cherokee woman, Ellen Fain, and that my grandfather’s brother, David West, had married Rufus’s widow. What I found on my November 2016 trip to Guntersville, Alabama is that my West family’s Cherokee connection is deeper and more complex that I knew.

My great grandfather’s brother, Rufus Morgan West, married Nancy Merrill (interchangeably spelled as Merrell) in Alabama in 1843.

Rufus West and Nancy Merrll Licensce from Archives Office in Guntersville, Marshall County, Alabama

Rufus West and Nancy Merrell Marry in Alabama

My time in Alabama was full of discoveries, many of which I will share in future posts. The major finding was how deep my family’s Cherokee connections are in my West lineage. When I started this quest into my family’s history, I had compartmentalized my family’s Cherokee heritage on my mother’s side in her mother’s Crittenden line, not her father’s West line. But, of course, as we all know, tracing family lines is much more complex than we think when we start.

One of the most intriguing explorations for me has been studying the history of Oklahoma, Arkansas and Alabama in the 1800s and early 1900s and finding out how often my West and Crittenden families’ histories were a part of some of the key events of that time, in both pioneer and Cherokee history.

I would love to hear from any West, Ferguson, Pollston, Merrill (Merrell), Stephens or other families who were residing in Marshall County in the general Guntersville area in the 1800s.

For more information on Alabama’s Cherokee history:

History of Merrill Mountain:




Filed under Cherokee History in Alabama, Family connections

7 responses to “The West Family Cherokee Connections

  1. Rufus Morgan West and Nancy Merrill were my great great grandparents on my dad’s side. I am trying to find out more about them and their children.
    Also looking for pictures of the West family. I have a very blurry pic of what relatives say are my West great uncles.

    • Margaret, we have communicated before. I put together the West reunion in Guntersville 18 months ago. Let’s resume email communication. I would love to see your photo. Also I have some photos that other people brought to the reunion that I can share with you.

  2. Carol Smith

    My family is the Amos Robinson family, who had one of the six original reservations. The reservation was also referred to as the Robertson Reservation on maps and documents. I have a lot of information on this family. My ancestor was Eliza Robinson Ice, who married Andrew Ice and went by wagon train to Rusk Co. Texas. Sadly, Eliza died on the trail in Shreveport, Louisiana of cholera. There are papers showing that Andrew and Eliza sold a part of the Robinson reservation before leaving for Texas. Only a direct descendant of Amos Roinson could have sold land on the reservation. I have followed the genealogy of Eliza’s siblings, and would love to share with others. The reservation was near Guntersville Dam.

    • Carol, You are the first person that I have met associated with one of the other six reservations. The Merrill Reservation was on Merrill Mountain, NW of Guntersville. I have found and am in close contact with some of my distant cousins descended from Nancy Merrill. She married my great great grandfather’s brother, Rufus West. The descendants that I know mostly live in Oklahoma near and in Fort Gibson.

      • Carol Smith

        Hi, After my Andrew Ice and Eliza Robinson Ice left for Rusk Co. Texas, there were still many Robinsons on the land in Marshall County. I have followed the other families as well. There was a large Cherokee population in Rusk Co. TX at the time After Eliza’s death, Andrew and his many children appear in the 1850 census in Rusk Co. My ancestor is their daughter Elizabeth Ann Ice. I have photos of her, and of her sister Sarah P. After her marriage, Sarah had an opportunity to claim Cherokee heritage for her family, which would have been an immense help to all, but Sarah denied their heritage. I have a copy of a letter written about the journey of this family from Marshall County to Rusk County. The last of the reservation land was sold close to 1900 by a member of the Robinson family.

        • Carol, Can you send me your email address? For genealogy I use I want to send you a couple of documents that I have about the granting of the Merrill reservation and also the sale of the land. Where are you currently living?

          • Carol Smith

            Hi Kathy, I am so excited to find you. I do have proof that Amos Robinson was a Cherokee, but will never find his Cherokee name. I have a lot of clues that lead toward the fact that he was in Limestone County before he came to Madison and then Marshall County. I do have the proof that he was granted the reservation.
            We live in Erie, Colorado
            Thanks so much!

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s