Will Rogers

Filmplay Journal photo of Will Rogers c. 1922, by Melbourne Spurr

Birth Name: William Penn Adair Rogers

Date of Birth: November 4, 1879

Place of Birth: Oologah, Indian Territory (now Oklahoma)

Date of Death: August 15, 1935

Place of Death: Point Barrow, Alaska Territory

Ethnicity: Cherokee Native American, English, some Scottish and Welsh

Will Rogers was an American cowboy, stage and film actor, vaudeville performer, humorist, newspaper columnist, and social commentator. He was Mayor of Beverly Hills, in 1928. He appeared in approximately 50 silent films and 70 talkies, as well as the Ziegfeld Follies.

He was a (mock) candidate for President of the United States in 1928.

Will was the son of Mary America (Schrimsher) and Clement Vann Rogers. He was a member of the Cherokee Nation. His father was a Cherokee senator and judge in Indian Territory. At least six of Will’s great-grandparents were of part Cherokee Native American ancestry, and one was of fully European parentage. It is not clear if his remaining great-grandparent, John Edward Gunter, had any Cherokee ancestry. Will’s other ancestry was English, with some Scottish and Welsh.

He was married to Betty Blake, with whom he had four children, including Will Rogers, Jr. (William Vann Rogers), a Democratic Party politician, who was a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from California, from January 3, 1943 to May 23, 1944; and actor Jimmy Rogers.

Will was a first cousin, once removed, of actor Clu Gulager. Will’s mother and Clu’s paternal grandmother, Martha Lucretia Schrimsher, were sisters.

Will’s paternal grandfather was Robert Rogers, Jr. (the son of Robert J. Rogers, Sr. and Lucy Elizabeth Cordery). Will’s grandfather Robert was born in Georgia. Will’s great-grandfather Robert was the son of William Rogers and Mary Penn; Mary’s mother, Eughio-ote/Elizabeth Coody, was Cherokee. Lucy was the daughter of Thomas Cordery and Saniovie/Soniovie/Susannah Sonicooie, who was Cherokee.

Will’s paternal grandmother was Sallie Vann (the daughter of Avery Vann and Margret/Margaret McSwain). Sallie was born in Georgia. Avery was of part Cherokee descent, the son of Clement Vann and Wa-Li Vann; Avery’s brother was Chief James Vann, a Cherokee leader. Margret was the daughter of Alexander McSwain and Nancy/Nannie Fawling Downing; Nancy’s mother, Hannah/Hanna Fawling, was Cherokee.

Will’s maternal grandfather was Martin Mathew Scrimsher (the son of Jonathan Brown Schrimsher/Scrimsher and Edith Kona Edna Vann). Martin was born in Tennessee. Jonathan was the son of John Schrimsher, who was of English and Welsh parentage, and of Anna Brown, who was English. Edith’s paternal great-grandmother, Ahneewahkee Anewake (Ahna Wakie) Ailsey, was Cherokee, as was Edith’s mother, Polly Terrapin.

Will’s maternal grandmother was Elizabeth Hunt Gunter (the daughter of John Edward Gunter and Catherine Lowery/Paint, or Catherine Rising Fawn Fox Bushyhead). Elizabeth was born in Gunter’s Landing, on Cherokee Territory. John was the son of John Gunther and Amy Tillotson. Catherine was Cherokee, the daughter of Kenoteta Fox and Ghi Go Ne Li Bushyhead.

Sources: Genealogies of Will Rogers – http://www.geni.com


Curious about ethnicity

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