The Cherokees of Georgia—Bible readers, merchants, and farmers— were already cultured and educated people when Will Rogers's great‐ grandfather, Robert, the son of a British officer, settled among them around 1800. He was at once inducted into the tribe when he married Lucy, the daughter of an Irishman, whose wife was a full-blooded Indian. Will's great‐ grandparents had two sons: Robert and then John.
Cherokees who had Robert's blood ancestry were known as "white Indians," but this failed to enhance their relationship with the white community. When the removal to the west took place in 1836, Robert and his wife, Sallie Vann, the daughter of a prominent Cherokee family, joined John in the great migration.
A brawny, dark-skinned man, Robert settled near a Baptist mission in the Going-Snake District (in what later became Oklahoma), one of the nine districts that had been created in the Cherokee Nation West. Each tribe, established as a separate nation by a treaty with the U.S. government, made its own laws, supervised its own court system, and built its own schools. Half of