Rita Coolidge

by Lil Vacha on April 4, 2008

Birth Name: Rita Faye Coolidge

Place of Birth: Lafayette, Tennessee, U.S.

Date of Birth: May 1, 1945

Ethnicity: Scottish, English, Scots-Irish/Northern Irish, distant German, Dutch, and Cornish

Rita Coolidge is an American recording artist and songwriter. She is the daughter of Charlotte Faye/Fae/Fate (Stewart) and The Rev. Raymond Merrill/Myrle “Dick” Coolidge (who was born under the surname Johnson). Her father was a Baptist minister. Rita is married to Tatsuya Suda, who is from Japan. She has a daughter with her former husband, musician and actor Kris Kristofferson.

Rita has stated that she is of Cherokee Native American descent, on both her father’s and mother’s side. She has performed in the Cherokee language. Rita has specified:

…I’m not [enrolled in the Cherokee Nation]. I did a lot of research. To be on the official government roll you have to be able to trace your ancestors back to The Trail of Tears. I had a great aunt who was on the Trail which we could trace. So many people changed their names. Because of the lack of a written language the names would be written by a white man. So the names were not even close or the names would be changed to an English name. So we were not able to get the documents to prove that our ancestors were on the Trail. At that time some of this was hidden and literally records were not kept. If people were born in Cherokee country there were no government records. My aunt’s name in Cherokee means Little Creek. My grand daughter is named after her. In the roll it was listed as Amani. That’s not the same name…

My father was Indian. His father was full blood Cherokee. He was already born when my grandmother married Papa Coolidge. She just changed all the kids’ names to Coolidge.

Rita’s father took the surname of his own stepfather, Elmer Raymond Coolidge. However, it does not appear that any Cherokee Native American ancestry has been verified/documented for Rita’s father nor specifically for Rita’s biological paternal grandfather, Arthur Frank Johnson. Rita’s father, Rita’s paternal grandparents, and all four of Rita’s paternal great-grandparents, are listed as “White” on United States Censuses. Rita’s mother, maternal grandparents, and maternal great-grandparents, are all listed as “White” on United States Censuses as well.

Rita’s paternal grandfather was Arthur Frank Johnson (the son of James Madison Johnson and Mary Elizabeth Seltzer/Selser/Selcer/Sulcer). Arthur was born in Tennessee. James was the son of Madison Johnson and Caroline Ambrose. Mary Elizabeth was the daughter of Absalom Sulcer and Catherine A. Smith.

Rita’s paternal grandmother was Bessie Holt (the daughter of Joseph William Holt and Mary Ann Elizabeth Buckelew). Joseph was the son of Joseph Mose Holt and Julia Pauline Aydelott. Mary Ann was the daughter of Littleberry/Little Berry Champion Buckelew and Mary Ann/Anne Clarkson/Clarkston.

Rita’s maternal grandfather was The Rev. Alonzo/Lonzo/Lonso Wilson Stewart (the son of James Butler Stewart and Amanda/Manda Jane Johnson). The Rev. Alonzo was born in Kentucky. James was the son of James H. Stewart and Elizabeth Clark. Amanda was the daughter of Henderson Johnson and Malinda T. Tracy.

Rita’s maternal grandmother was Laura Belle/Bell Stewart/Stuart (the daughter of William Devon Stewart/Stuart and Elizabeth Morris). Laura was born in Kentucky. William was the son of James Cornelius Stewart and Mary Heffington. Elizabeth was the daughter of John J. Morris.

Sources: Genealogy of Rita Coolidge – http://wc.rootsweb.ancestry.com

Rita’s parents on the 1940 U.S. Census – https://www.familysearch.org

Rita’s father on the 1920 U.S. Census – https://www.familysearch.org
Rita’s father on the 1930 U.S. Census – https://www.familysearch.org

Genealogy of Rita’s father (focusing on his father’s side) – https://www.wikitree.com

Rita’s paternal grandfather, Arthur Frank Johnson, on the 1900 U.S. Census – https://www.familysearch.org

Rita’s paternal great-grandparents, James Madison Johnson and Mary Elizabeth Seltzer/Selser/Selcer/Sulcer, on the 1880 U.S. Census – https://www.familysearch.org

Rita’s paternal grandmother, Bessie Holt, on the 1900 U.S. Census – https://www.familysearch.org

Genealogies of Rita’s paternal great-great-grandfather, Littleberry/Little Berry Champion Buckelew – https://www.geni.com
https://www.wikitree.com

Genealogies of Rita Coolidge (focusing on her mother’s side) – https://www.geni.com
https://www.wikitree.com

Birth record of Rita’s mother – https://familysearch.org

Rita’s mother on the 1930 U.S. Census – https://www.familysearch.org

Rita’s maternal grandparents, The Rev. Alonzo/Lonzo/Lonso Wilson Stewart and Laura Belle/Bell Stewart/Stuart, on the 1900 U.S. Census – https://www.familysearch.org
The Rev. Alonzo/Lonzo/Lonso Wilson Stewart and Laura Belle/Bell Stewart/Stuart on the 1910 U.S. Census – https://www.familysearch.org
The Rev. Alonzo/Lonzo/Lonso Wilson Stewart and Laura Belle/Bell Stewart/Stuart on the 1940 U.S. Census – https://www.familysearch.org

Rita’s maternal grandfather, Alonzo/Lonzo/Lonso Wilson Stewart, on the 1880 U.S. Census – https://www.familysearch.org

Death record of Rita’s maternal grandfather, The Rev. Alonzo/Lonzo/Lonso Wilson Stewart – https://www.familysearch.org

Rita’s maternal great-grandmother, Amanda/Manda Jane Johnson, on the 1920 U.S. Census – https://www.familysearch.org

Rita’s maternal grandmother, Laura Belle/Bell Stewart/Stuart, on the 1880 U.S. Census – https://www.familysearch.org

Death record of Rita’s maternal grandmother, Laura Belle/Bell (Stewart/Stuart) Stewart – https://www.familysearch.org

Rita’s maternal great-grandparents, William Devon Stewart/Stuart and Elizabeth Morris, on the 1900 U.S. Census – https://www.familysearch.org

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

follers December 7, 2017 at 10:50 pm

Ethnic, should I put back the older picture?

ethnic December 14, 2017 at 7:17 pm

No I dont trust that source. It says it was taken by the Seattle Municipal Archives but the photo cant be found under their account.

andrew December 7, 2017 at 4:20 pm
andrew December 7, 2017 at 4:23 pm

*great-great-grandfather

follers December 7, 2017 at 2:50 pm

I couldn’t find any Cherokee Native American ancestry, at least on her father’s side.

bablah February 22, 2017 at 9:05 am

Is her Cherokee ancestry confirmed?

follers February 22, 2017 at 4:24 pm

I don’t know. The family tree Andrew found lists a different maternal genealogy than the one you found, though I believe yours is correct.
http://wc.rootsweb.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/igm.cgi?op=PED&db=dowfam3&id=I68018

follers December 10, 2017 at 9:52 am

*I wrongly believe.

andrew January 26, 2017 at 12:54 pm
follers December 10, 2017 at 9:45 am

Thank you. That’s an accurate tree.

Coolidge has said that her maternal grandmother was Cherokee, or half Cherokee, as well.

andrew December 10, 2017 at 10:52 am

She looks Cherokee as hell. She doesn’t look Choctaw at all tbh. I am sure you agree with me.

andrew December 10, 2017 at 11:01 am
bablah January 12, 2017 at 4:50 pm
follers December 10, 2017 at 9:43 am

Her mother’s birth record is right, but all the records after that one are of the wrong people.

The family tree Andrew linked was correct. All the family trees linked were correct, actually.

andrew January 12, 2017 at 3:52 pm

she has one daughter with Kris Kristofferson

Previous post:

Next post: