Ashamed to be Indian… for it was a different world then.

James and Ollie Goad and familyI received this narrative from a second cousin when I visited her several years ago trying to learn more about my ancestry.

Ambrose Pearse, Matilda Brady, John Brady, Clarrisa DuBois and others mentioned were my ancestors or otherwise related. Ambrose and Matilda were grandparents to Olive Wineland Goad (in photo on right), my great great grandmother. Her husband was James Wesley Goad.  The boy on the left side of the photo is Bert Irvine Goad, my great grandfather. (Photo and additional information added 7/21/2011)

The story is from a letter from Walter R. Pearse to Wava Wineland Nelson in 1965.

I knew Dad had planned to check on Charity Brady. He wanted to expand the Pearse History if he could. The year he died I took the trip he had planned. Our children were small and my wife didn’t want to go on “my wild goose chase” as she called it so I went alone.

At the Delaware Co. Court House I found out Charity had married a man named Osborne, and was still paying taxes on a house and lot at Radnor. I went to see her. It was a pitiful little shack on the outskirts of a town of about 300 people. I went through a path that led through high grass and up onto a low platform of a back porch. I looked through the screen and saw an old woman, a very old woman. The oldest creature I had ever seen. She had a faded blue bandanna covering her white hair right down to her eyes. She saw me standing there and motioned me in. She looked at me with blue eyes of an ancient, but the shine in them came from behind a milky covering.

She made a shaking motion with a trembling finger toward a chair. Then suddenly it dawned on me, if she had married at 22, in 1836 as the County Clerk said, she should have died by rules of our biology 30 years ago. She must be 102 or 103 years old. She had high cheek bones and dark pigmentation that betrayed Indian Ancestry not too many generations ago. I sat down. At first I thought the place was filthy, but as I looked around I realized it was just neglected. The remains of a life and a century of relic crammed the room.

“I am Walter Pearse, ” I said.

She made a little sound and the corners of her mouth turned up in a little smile.

“I am Charity Osborne,” she whispered.

I could see my name meant nothing to her.

“My father was John Andrew Pearse.”

She said nothing.

“Ambrose Pearse was my grandfathers brother,” I said.

“Why did he not come?” She asked.

“He died in 1847, ” I answered.

“All dead.” She echoed and her trembling hand gestured toward a cupboard where I saw behind the dingy glass a faded tin-type that must have been she and her husband in an early time. Two young boys in a snap-shot of later vintage were peeking out from behind a womans long skirt.

“My son’s,” she said, “dead before manhood.” a sigh shook her frail frame.

“My husband,” she made a vague gesture toward the cupboard, “dead these 68 years.” she fell into silence.

I felt like the intruder I was, but I plunged on.

“My Dad said that Matilda Brady was part Indian.” I said. “Was she?”

A little chant passed her lips, barely said, that I could not decipher, but I saw the spark in her eye. We fell into a discussion of her ancestry. She told me this story I am repeating off and on for five days, in whispers, with long silences while she drifted away. It touched me deeply.

There are many ways to the great Spirit, ” she whispered. “I wonder now why I took the white way.” Her voice trailed off and she appeared to be dozing. Presently she gave a start. “You are my blood. It matters no more. I was ashamed – ashamed to be Indian. So much hate – so much – you could not know for it was a different world then.” A tear slipped out of the corner of her eye and lost itself in a deep wrinkle.

“I was a child of two moons when my Neegah (Mother) Clarrisa DuBois went to the great Spirit.” She stopped and seemed to be daydreaming and when I thought she was sleeping again, she said, “I think it was 1826 when my father went to Shallow Water to trap. He did not come back. He was an Irishman by name, John Brady. There were three of us, brother Andrew, sister Matilda and me. I have his eyes. I do not remember this I tell you. My brother Andrew married a white, Betsy Miller. They had a child and we lived with them. Andrew became a Christian and we lived at Gnadenhutten. Matilda married Ambrose Pearse. Andrew told me our Neegah was a daughter of Sarah Montour. She was born, ” she paused, “No, I cannot remember, but her man was Jaque DuBois. He was a tata and was raised by the Miami. It is hard to remember, for years I tried to forget. Sarah Montour was our Cocumtha (Grandmother). She was a child of Miami Chieftress Catusa. Catusa lived in the time of George Washington. Our grandfather DuBois was killed fighting with Little Turtle at the Skunk Place. My Brother Andrew was proud of our people, but it made me sick inside.”

“I worked for whites. I saved money and I ran away and came here. I tried to forget Indian ways.”

She said she had worked for Daniel Osborne on his farm. He was Quaker and when his wife died, he married her. He was twice her age. When his children grew up, they had nothing to do with her and her two boys, Andrew and John, had died of typhoid. When she could no longer work, she sold off the land and the farmhouse, keeping only an acre with the shack she now lived in. She said also her clan was a mother clan. That is (where) the descent is through the mother and not the father as it is in the white race.

Each night I drove back to Delaware and stayed the night. I took her canned stuff and the like and I tried to give her money, but she would not take it. I spent time trying to find the meaning of some of the words she used, and it was hard for her to follow if I got off the subject we had been talking about. She said some ladies in town ” did for her.” I met one of them, Mattie Webb. She seemed like a good person. I left my name and address with her and told her if Charity ever needed anything to let me know. In 1917 she wrote to say Charity died Oct. 2 and that they buried her by her two boys in the Radnor cemetery. I didn’t try to check Charity’s story but every time I think of her I feel somewhat awed….
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A lot of this story checks out. Andrew Montour, referenced elsewhere as Madeline Montour’s husband, is mentioned by Washington in one of his diaries. Shallow Water could very well be the Platte River of Nebraska where there is a Brady Island named after a murdered trapper in the early 1800s. Little Turtle died shortly before a major battle at Fort Dearborn on the Chicago River… “Chicago” comes from Indian words meaning, “place of the polecat,” “marsh gas,”or “strong smell” depending on the reference you use.

american history, family, history
8 comments… add one
  • Opal Tribble Dec 7, 2007

    I do think you have a lot of people that were ashamed or at least afraid to be Indian or any other minority that was persecuted simply because of the mentality that many people had about them. It was acceptable to treat them badly. They were expendable and not even considered 100% human.

    My grandmother was Blackfoot Indian, Black, and Irish. She could pass for white, many thought she was Italian, and she did. She could get work. She was a Rosy Riveter; She also one of the first women to work in real estate. As the laws changed she no longer had to hide her identity. I've had many conversations with her about her experiences. She died in 2004 at the age of 93.

    When I was younger, I tried to trace my ancestors but could not get past slavery times. The slaves usually had their names changed they were brought to this country. The families were broken up during slave auctions. I know I'm related to more people than I think I am simply because of that.

    History has always interested me not so much the history that was taught to me in school I know that already and have read numerous books on the subject but more so the untold history involving the roles that minorities played in it. As a child I knew nothing about that. Thanks to my father I was able to dig deeper.

    There is a wealth of information out there and many played an active role throughout history even within the wars that were fought.

    With my daughter, who’s Black, Indian, Irish, & German, I do exactly what my father did with my brother and me. I tell her the history you see in the books along with the history you have to search for since for whatever reason it doesn’t make its way into the “traditional history books” that I’ve seen.

    Thanks for sharing the story. I love history and always enjoy hearing or reading about it.

  • Mike Goad Dec 8, 2007

    Opal,

    Several years ago, I was obsessed with genealogy. I believe my earliest Goad ancestor arrived in Virginia in the mid 1600s as an indentured servant, but there's no proof. On my mom's side, one ancestor was hung as a horse thief during the Revolutionary War, but he only stole them from the British.

    Perhaps I'll get back to genealogy one day.

    Thanks for including a link on your homeschooling site.

  • teeni Dec 8, 2007

    Well, this certainly was an interesting read. I never usually enjoy reading history much – I am so bad at remembering dates and things, but the personal side of it, like this story, is really interesting to me. You keep it up and you are gonna get me reading your other blog soon, Mr. Goad. 😉

  • Keri Rodrigues Oct 7, 2014

    I love this. The moment I saw the photograph, I recognized it as Olive and James Goad, my 3x great grandparents. Lillie Rose was my 2X great grandparent. She died early and her children went to live with the Goads. I am not sure why they did not stay with their father. Anyway, I grew up hearing rumors of French and Indian ancestors and thus is the first link. I am so excited! Thanks for sharing!!!
    Keri Jo

  • Melissa Sara Oct 7, 2014

    Keri is my cousin and these are my family too. I would love to find out more on the Native American side. What tribe? Anyone registered in that tribe in our family still alive? I would like to teach my two young boys of our history. I remember the story of our ancestor being hung as a horse thief from my mother and grandmother Josephine Hall Augsbury. Any information is welcomed.

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