Sunday, July 22, 2007


By Gary J. Gabehart

"Migration is just a part of the human experience. Like canines, the urge to travel is over powering for most of us."

Although some family members stayed put, the younger ones often picked up and moved West to find free land and make their fortune. Nothing hard to understand about that exercise. They were married before they left, or some were, and -- others married along the way.

Those migration trails began on the Eastern Seaboard -- Virginia, Carolina's and snaked West and South across the land to Spanish Florida, Tennessee, Mississippi Territory and Louisiana and Texas. Some went to Kentucky and Illinois before turning South or North.

So in a sense, Redbones came from all over -- not just Louisiana, Mississippi or the Carolina's. Some folks would have the Redbones springing out of the ground in Bearhead Creek, others recognize that the Redbone families originated elsewhere. It was more of a class thing, and for those out there claiming "my family was more Redbone than yours," (think about it) they were just talking about their own narrow little family -- especially from a modern day perspective.

Being a class thing, you could climb out of it with time and money. Move down the road, start your own business and build a big house. If you wanted to remain in the Redbone class designation, you surely could do that as well.

Redbones were not bi-racial, tri-racial or any other racial. There were simply too many races or ethnicity's involved. They were at best, multi-racial and that included Scots and Irishmen alike. You name the ethnicity, and it was there.

Some folks are hung up on names they know. As kids they visited and played with cousins on Bearhead Creek so that is all they know. They ignore their cousins up in Pitkin, Natchitoches or Alexandria which to me is absurd in the light that these same folks have not lived on Bearhead in fifty years and now live in those West Coast funny communities.

But, perhaps they were just continuing to migrate Westward. As one Redbone near Singer put it to me, " relatives and their kids -- you know, you can't pick your relatives." So, if you don't like your relatives, too bad, it's history and you're stuck with them -- even the strange ones -- it's an American thing!

Gary J. Gabehart, Mishiho (Mish-eh-ho)

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