Apparently there has been a vague but long-standing tradition in the Lanham family that an ancestor of James Campbell of Claiborne County, Tennessee, was a member of the Cherokee nation. James (1852-1929) was the son of Benjamin Campbell and Louisa (or Eliza) Eastridge Campbell. The research began with the Eastridge name, but did not extend far beyond Louisa because after her father, James Eastridge (1778-1860), the trail ended suddenly. That is a bit unusual for a name that is, relatively speaking, fairly close to the present. County histories, census records, family histories, tax records, and passenger lists make researching the nineteenth century much simpler than, say, the Middle Ages. But nothing at all turned up.
Ancestry.com’s surname section stated the following about the Eastridge name: “Possibly English, a habitational name from any of various minor places named Eastridge, for example in Wiltshire and West Sussex. However, the surname is not known in the British Isles [emphasis mine]. It may alternatively be of German origin, an Americanized form of Estrich, a topographic name for someone who lived by a paved road (Middle High German esterich, from Late Latin astricus), or an Americanized form of Oesterreich.” Regarding English records for this name, however, the Internet Surname Database does indicate that the first known English record of the name was in 1608 when a Margaret Eastridge of London married a Jame Bakster [sic].
Brooke and Kris Glaittli have written about the Eastridge surname on their blog, Our Roots Are Deep, writing a rather detailed entry about their ancestor, Chief Dragging Canoe (1734-1792), who is identified as a Cherokee chief and founder of the Chickamauga Nation. They focus specifically on Dragging Canoe’s daughter, Abagil [sic], who was born in Ashe County, North Carolina, in 1760. Abagil’s granddaughter, Pheobe [sic] Taylor (1800-1884), married a William Eastridge (1800-1870), which establishes a link between the Eastridge surname and the Cherokee Indians. The geographical connection to North Carolina supports the link in that the Cherokees did live in the region of the Carolinas, and James Eastridge, with whom we started, did hail from South Carolina.
The Cherokees were located in the Smokey Mountains [see image above], which ranges over parts of Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. Claiborne County, Tennessee, the birthplace of James Campbell, is on the northeast border where Tennessee meets Kentucky at the Cumberland Gap. Chief Dragging Canoe [right], the possible Cherokee ancestor of James Campbell, led his people in a series of conflicts known as the Chickamauga Wars. The chief died in 1792, and two years later the war ended with the Cherokees ceding “their lands between the Cumberland and Duck rivers (i.e., the Cumberland Plateau) to Tennessee,” which would have placed his descendants in the area where the Eastridges were active.
Now, returning to James Eastridge and his wife Lucy Bolinger (1783-1860), we discover they had several children, one of whom was a boy named Pleasant (1805-1850), who is said to have been born in Granville, North Carolina. It wasn’t uncommon back in that time period for Christian parents to choose a name such as Hope or Temperance for their child, but I can’t recall of any cases where adjectives were used as Christian names. I know that in other cultures, adjectives are used. For example, once, while working with international students, I had a Korean student who wanted to use Potent as what he called his “American name.” We had the unhappy task of telling him that that name had meanings he might not intend, and I believe he decided to stick with his Korean name, which perhaps could have been the Korean language equivalent of potent or powerful. This made me wonder if Native Americans ever used adjectives as surnames, so I got online to see what I could find out about Cherokee names, and—sure enough—it turns out that the Cherokee name Prafulla means Pleasant, and, what’s more, it is a name for a boy.
Now this is where it gets interesting. On Ancestry.com one researcher wrote a story about a mystery involving Pleasant Eastridge. Apparently he married and had about 12 children, then one day disappeared; this apparently happened in 1850, which is oft cited as Pleasant’s date of death. However, it was eventually discovered that Pleasant had left his family, changed his name to Estridge, remarried (bigamously), and started a second family (all the children of which have birth dates after 1850). The researcher states (correctly, I believe) that Pleasant’s actual date of death is not known. Though the researcher has Pleasant listed as the son of Henry Eastridge and Elizabeth Floyd, he is listed elsewhere as the son of James Eastridge and Lucy Bolinger (James Campbell’s ancestors).
To sum up, without the documentation so desired by genealogical researchers, it is not possible to conclude definitively that Louisa (Eliza) Eastridge and, thus, James Campbell, are descended from the Cherokee chief, Dragging Canoe, but it is at least a possibility that bears further research.
Sources (in order mentioned):
“Eastridge Family History.” Ancestry.com. <http://www.ancestry.com/name-origin?surname=eastridge> Accessed 26 February 2013.
Internet Surname Database. < http://www.surnamedb.com/Surname/Eastridge > Accessed 26 February 2013.
Our Roots Are Deep. < http://myrootsaredeep.blogspot.com/2010/04/dragging-canoe.html > Accessed 26 February 2013.
Baby Name World. < http://www.babynameworld.com/cherokee-p-25.asp > Accessed 26 February 2013.
“Mysterious Questions Remain for Me.” Pleasant Eastridge entry. The Money Family Tree. Ancestry.com. < http://trees.ancestry.com/tree/17253780 > Accessed 26 February 2013.
“Cherokee.” Wikipedia. < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cherokee > Accessed 3 March 2013.
“Dragging Canoe.” Wikipedia. < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dragging_Canoe > Accessed 3 March 2013.
Image of the Smoky Mountains. "Great Smoky Mountains. Wikipedia. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smokey_Mountains> Accessed 3 March 2013.
Image of Chief Dragging Canoe. Chattanooga Parent Magazine. <http://chattanoogaparentmagazine.com/2012/02/the-fracas-over-franklin/> Accessed 3 March 2013.
© Eileen Cunningham, 2013