The claim that Elizabeth Warren was 1/32 Cherokee has been suspect from the start, yet the media repeats the claim as if it were documented.

Now the last documentary hope that Warren could prove she is 1/32 Cherokee has been foreclosed by Michael Patrick Leahy writing this afternoon at

The slender thread upon which Elizabeth Warren’s claim that she is 1/32 Cherokee rests—a purported 1894 marriage license application—has been exposed as non-existent. Based on a review of the original marriage records found in the files of the Logan County, Oklahoma Court Clerk’s office in Guthrie, Oklahoma, and the statements of ReJeania Zmek, the Court Clerk of Logan County, Oklahoma, it is likely that the ephemeral 1894 marriage license application never existed..

I reached out to Christopher Child, the well-known genealogist who was the source of the claim, and his employer, the prestigious New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS), but they have gone silent, refusing to comment on, defend or correct their claim that Warren was 1/32 Cherokee.  The e-mail exchange appears at the bottom of this post.

The fallout from Elizabeth Warren’s claim to Native American status threatens to drag down not only her campaign, but also the credibility one of the premier genealogical societies.

You know the background, as I have posted extensively about the Warren Cherokee saga.  The media and various pundits have continued to assert that Warren was 1/32 Cherokee based on her great-great-great grandmother, O.C. Sarah Smith.

That media meme grew from interviews given by genealogist Child shortly after the controversy broke.  Child first claimed that a marriage certificate of O.C. Sarah Smith’s son listed his mother (O.C. Sarah Smith) as Cherokee.

That claim later was clarified that there was an “electronic transcript” of the marriage application, but the certificate itself did not contain the expected information.  That left open the possibility, however far-fetched, that the marriage application would salvage Warren’s claim to Cherokee ancestry.

The same reader who forwarded me the link regarding the participation by Warren’s great-great-great grandfather in a militia which rounded up Cherokees for the Trail of Tears, also forwarded me a link to an image of the actual marriage certificate of O.C. Sarah Smith’s son, William J. Crawford, which does not assert that O.C. Sarah Smith was Cherokee:

But what about the marriage application?

Leahy dug even further, and his post has a fascinating account which proves that the revised source of Warren’s claim to Cherokee heritage — the supposed electronic transcript of the marriage application — was not an electronic transcript at all, it was just a newsletter, and there likely never was any marriage application used in the late 1880s.

In other words, the original claim of a marriage certificate listing Warren’s great-great-great grandmother as Cherokee demonstrably was false, as is the revised claim that there was an “electronic transcript” of a marriage application reflecting Cherokee heritage.

I have reached out both to Child and to NEHGS spokesman Thomas Champoux requesting the document originally referenced by Child and inquiring whether Child and NEHGS stand by the claim that Warren is 1/32 Cherokee.  Here is the e-mail exchange:


Can you provide me with a copy of the 1894 marriage record for the son of O.C. Sarah Smith which you referenced in various media interviews as forming the basis for your conclusion that Elizabeth Warren is 1/32 Cherokee?

Do you still stand by that conclusion? Does NEHGS stand behind it?

Consider this a request for comment. Please respond today.

Champoux (NEHGS):

Mr. Jacobson, NEHGS is not conducting research on Elizabeth Warren nor are we commenting beyond what has already been covered by the media. Thank you.

Tom Champoux


Mr. Child stated publicly on or about May 1 that Ms. Warren was 1/32 Cherokee and that he had a document to prove it. That statement has been reported far and wide.

Does Mr. Child and NEHGS stand by that statement anymore? Is there such a document? I would think you would want to comment on that, since NEHGS is perhaps the most prestigious genealogical society and its reputation has been put on the line by a categorical statement as to Ms. Warren’s ancestry. If NEHGS and/or Mr. Child no longer stand by the statement, I would think you would want to correct the record.

Will there still be no comment by NEHGS or Mr. Child either standing by or correcting/clarifying prior commentary?

I have received no further response.

There is nothing left of the claim that Elizabeth Warren is 1/32 Cherokee.  The documentary sources have been debunked, and the genealogist and genealogical society which originated the story and upon whom the Warren campaign relies are not talking.

It’s now time for the media to stop spreading fiction.


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