Rita Coolidge Dedicates Cherokee History in Kentucky

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Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Thanks to Cherokee descendant Rita Coolidge for signing my book, Jesse James Soul Liberty, for our James family cousin, Mark C. New. In addition to being a James cousin, Mark is also a 6th great-grandson of Cherokee Chief Doublehead and his daughter Princess Cornblossom. Rita signed the book to Mark “with love.”

Rita Coolidge in Stanford, Kentucky 2013
Singer & Cherokee Descendant, Rita Coolidge

On this chilly, drizzly morning of October 19, 2013, I was pleased to be among the two hundred or more. We warmly welcomed Rita Coolidge to Stanford, Kentucky. Here she dedicated an historical highway marker to the memory of her Cherokee ancestry. The Cherokee were among the earliest people to occupy this part of Kentucky together with the Shawnee.

The audience for Rita Coolidge in Stanford, Kentucky 2013

Coolidge recounted stories told to her by her Kentucky grandparents. In school, she recounted being taught how America was founded by Columbus. At home, she was taught a longer history of her own descent from Native-American people. They were present in America before Columbus. The two histories she learned couldn’t be more different. Her parents at home in Tennessee told her much more other kids never learned in school.

Rita Coolidge addresses the citizens of Lincoln County, Kentucky about her Cherokee heritage 2013
Rita Coolidge before the Lincoln County, Kentucky Courthouse

Rita sang us a Cherokee song she learned. Her ancestors chanted the song as they walked the Trail of Tears to their exile in distant Oklahoma.

Her friendship with today’s Cherokee Chief of the West in Oklahoma recently informed her, “If Andrew Jackson knew how pretty Oklahoma was, we never would have got it.”

Rita Coolidge dedicates an historical marker in Lincoln County, Kentucky to Cherokee heritage
Rita Coolidge Dedicates Historical Marker to Cherokee History

After the dedication, Rita Coolidge took some time to meet and talk with many of her admirers and many Kentuckians with whom she shares Cherokee heritage. She also signed a copy of my book for our James cousin Mark C. New, who also has Cherokee ancestry. Mark’s 6th great-grandfather is Cherokee Chief Doublehead

And guess whose camera batteries died right when it was time to have his picture taken with the beloved singer? I’ll never make that mistake again.

Rita Coolidge autographs Jesse James Soul Liberty for a James family member with Cherokee ancestry

Mark C. New was unable to attend with me. He is a funeral director in Burkesville, Kentucky, and had two burial services on the day of the dedication.

Among the family, Mark is best known for the annual family reunion he holds at his family’s homestead in Science Hill, Kentucky, every year on Memorial Day. The hayride to the nearby cemetery is a big hit with the youngsters who get to meet the ancestors in the cemetery about whom all the grown-ups were heard talking.


Chief Chuqualataque, “Doublehead” & Taltsuska, Cherokee

.. George Jacob Troxell & Cornblossom, Cherokee

… James William Vaughn & Elizabeth Troxell

…. Merritt Bergin Matthews & Elizabeth Vaughn

….. Dupree Denney & Matilda Matthews

…… John Perry New & Cecelia Jane Denney

……. Dellas E. New & Sarah Ethel Nevils

…….. Ernest Edwin New & Janice C. James


……. Janice C. James & Ernest Edwin New

…… Fred O. James & Hazel Adams

….. John Perry James & Lydia Crow

…. Judge John Thomas James & Patience Jenkins

… Rev. Joseph Martin James & Permellia Estepp

.. John M. James & Clarissa Nalle

Cover for Stray Leaves Daily
Stray Leaves Daily

Stray Leaves Daily

Daily updates from the family of Frank & Jesse James with stories, photos, & two searchable genealogy databases.

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2 months ago
Stray Leaves Daily

Will the real DAVID JAMES, please, stand up and come forward? Are you still drinking this stuff? See MoreSee Less

Will the real DAVID JAMES, please, stand up and come forward? Are you still drinking this stuff?