The story of our Ridge family starts with understanding what the story is not. We are not descendants of the Cherokee chief Major Ridge. We grew up being told that we were part Cherokee and so we believed it, and for many good reasons. First, the name "Ridge". Major Ridge was indeed a great Cherokee chief as you can read about here: Major Ridge Wiki, and in many other wonderful books about him, the Cherokee Nation, the Trail of Tears, and many others. Also influencing our belief in some Cherokee heritage was the fact we were told that our facial features, skin color, and even the fact that the men in our family had not much facial hair and this was the reason we couldn't grow a good beard! Now, there may very well be some Native American blood in our veins, even though our DNA tests show no connections, but if so it isn't from any relationship to Major Ridge. Also, I have visited the Major Ridge home site near Rome, Georgia. To put it bluntly, as I learned that day, if we were descendants of Major Ridge, they would have already known who we were and they would've found us! For the record, Aunt Mildred, rest her soul, would continue to dispute these facts as she maintained we were Cherokee royalty, regardless of my research.
The Ridge name actually has its origins in the British isles. The earliest record we have found of our Ridge ancestors in America, is traced to Thomas Ridge, born 1650 in Maryland.We believe Thomas to be a son of Thomas Ridge who hailed from East Sussex on the southern coast of England. By the late 1790's, we find our Ridge family in Randolph County, North Carolina. Interstingly enough, this is the same area of the country that we find our Ellis family roots. A little over a century later, the Ridge and Ellis families come together with the marriage of my grandparents, James Henry Ellis and Veva Lou Olive Ridge in Lenoir City, Tennessee