MyHeritage: Cherokees and more!


It sounds like a genealogical cliché, but Kerry Elkins’ family story that they were part Cherokee Indian appears to be correct – through the England family line.

Kerry, 67, lives in Redmond, Oregon, with his wife Joyce and children Aaron and Amber, both college students. Born in Neodesha, Kansas, he received his biology BS and MS from Pittsburg State University (Kansas).

Kerry with his wife Joyce and children Aaron and Amber
Kerry with his wife Joyce and children Aaron and Amber

Now retired, his career has included a stint as a sonarman on the destroyer USS Brownson, as an FDA investigator, a radiation safety officer, a health officer and the owner of a computer store.

He caught the gen bug from his mother, who worked on her family’s history.

When she died, I got her notes, tons of pictures, scraps of paper and a love for genealogy. When my mother-in-law died, I got records of their history, that had been published, and I also began putting together their family tree.

So many genealogists believe they descend from native Americans – or even Cherokee princesses – that we tend to smile when we hear that claim. However, Kerry’s investigation shows – that in their family at least – the rumor appears to be correct through the England family line.

He has also been able to trace his grandfather Orrin Usher’s family back to a castle in England in the 1300s.

Kerry’s grandfather, Orrin Usher
Kerry’s grandfather, Orrin Usher

Kerry joined MyHeritage less than a year ago.

I love the ability to edit my tree at home and publish it when necessary. I have two trees, Elkins-Monroe-Usher-Stansbury and my wife’s Fulton-Pence-Braidwood-Smith.

I like the ability to import other pieces into my trees, but my favorite is the new SuperSearch which allows me to dig further into my family trees.

His brother, Rick, is a great help and the source of their mother’s research. His wife’s cousin, Anne Allen, has been of invaluable assistance with her book, photos and advice.

Additionally, a Braidwood relative, Robin Woods, is an excellent researcher and, without her, I would not have been able to assemble that complex tree.


The Elkins brothers from left: Jerry, Nick, Rick & Kerry
The Elkins brothers from left: Jerry, Nick, Rick & Kerry

Kerry has about 4,000 individuals – who live all over the US – in each of his two trees.

Smart Matches have allowed me to find cousins and others in our families.

Has Kerry discovered any long-lost or previously unknown relatives?

I’ve been able to find a number of relatives, but I knew most of them. I’ve been able to contact them through the links on their Smart Matches.

When Super Search was introduced, Kerry just about wore it out.

Through SuperSearch, I was able to trace the Usher family back to England. Before that, I had been stuck at my great-grandfather on that line.

Thank you, Kerry, for sharing your story.

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  • George A Prince

    August 23, 2012

    I enjoyed the story. Question: how did you find the Cherokee connection and what were some of the resources? Did you trace it back to NorthaCarolina and Georgia?

  • Pamela Tracy

    August 24, 2012

    My great grandmother who married Greenberry Patrick her father has roots only her roots are on Tribal pages…Thomas Hunt….etc…and his ancestors were Richard Elkins and Priscilla Elkins is this the same line as yours.?????

  • Kerry Elkins

    September 19, 2012

    To George A Prince: I can’t find a direct way to answer you, so here it is. (I still do NOT have proof the England’s were Cherokee, just lived with them, went to the Cherokee schools, etc) Here is the worlds best starting place:

    To Pamela Tracy: I was unable to find any connection so far to the people in your note. Records were poor then too. I am a distant relative of Elizabeth (Bowen) Hunt 1803-1864, who is a cousin of the husband of my great great grandmother Micca England Hallum.

  • Marea DeRosa

    November 5, 2012

    Thank you Kerry, I enjoyed your story and appreciated what you have done for me by transferrring my relatives on

  • Elaine Sannes Coltrain

    August 10, 2013

    Hi Kerry, what a wonderful picture of your family. Josh, our son mentioned your facebook page about remember Neodesha. Would you give me permission to get access to it.
    We have recently moved to Garden City, KS, and decided to start facebook so we could keep up with the kids.
    I need to visit with you about old year books, I have a collection.
    Thanks so much,

  • barbara davis thorp

    August 21, 2014

    I feel honored to have grown up in such a unique town with Kerry. He has truly enjoyed researching, recording and sharing the history of Neodesha and its residents: past, present and future.

    Thank you, Kerry, for the memories.

  • Carol Hays Freitas

    August 30, 2014

    Great job on all your family research, Kerry! I too have a passion for that….may you continue to have success in tracking down your family….certainly a never ending quest!… I personally never tire of!