As children, we were told a variety of stories about her ancestry, most of which I have, as an adult, assumed are, um, whoppers. We are supposedly related to Ethan Allen, of the Green Mountain Boys. And we supposedly have Native American ancestry. I long ago quit repeating the Ethan Allen claim. The Native American claim I also quit repeating, long before Elizabeth Warren got into trouble for a similar claim.
I hadn't been working on genealogy for a long time, and thought it might be a good time to restart. My 3rd great grandfather pops up out of absolutely nowhere in Bradley County, Tennessee in the 1860 census, surrounded by his wife's kin (I mean, seriously: the entire freaking page and part of the next one in that census is _all_ his wife's relatives). Researchers on the wife's side think that they both died shortly thereafter, because their kids go into the care of someone else. However, 3rd g grandfather actually goes to fight on the Union side of the Civil War and winds up remarrying after and getting the kids back and moving west. I had hoped to eventually figure out more about his ancestry by working on his wife's kin; alas, his mother-in-law, Martha or Patsey, Glass, similarly appears more or less out of nowhere a generation earlier. His father-in-law's ancestry can be tracked a ways back, and wow was he sort of a hot mess.
In fact, there's a whole lot of "appears out of nowhere" going on in that family, and I may have stumbled upon why. Alternatively, there was even more hot mess going on, and part of the family attempted (unsuccessfully) to con the government out of some money. Several of Martha's descendants applied -- and were rejected -- in the 1907-9 Guion Miller process, claiming that Martha's dad was Cherokee. The basis for the application is their failure to appear in any earlier rolls, to be a party to the treaty (which this process was a settlement for violations of) or generally to show a current connection to the Eastern Cherokee.
"Rejected. It does not appear that any ancestor was ever enroll-ed or that any ancestor was party to the treaties of 1835-6 [or] 46. Shows no real connection with the Eastern Cherokees."
I'm at a loss to know how to determine whether these early 20th century relations of mine were telling the truth on their applications or not (that is, was Martha's father Cherokee); the rejection is not based on whether their claims are true (and some rejections seem to be based on a rejection of the validity of the claims made in the application, vs. whether or not they qualify for the settlement).
But I figure I might as well keep poking around at this to see what else turns up.