Elizabeth Burks b. ca. 1817 TN d. April 13, 1844 AL is the sister of my gggg-grandfather, Willis Burks. Elizabeth married Henry Bruce, Jr. Elizabeth died from complications in childbirth. Their daughter, Mary Elizabeth Bruce, survived. The children, Margaret and Elizabeth Bruce, were brought into Coffee County, TN and given to Elizabeth's brother's and sister-in-law's; Smith and Rutha (Blythe) Burks took Margaret. Willis and Jane (Blythe) Burks took Mary Elizabeth.
Margaret is in the 1850 Coffee Co., TN Census. Mary Elizabeth is a little more difficult sorting out, but I think this is her: She is living with my gggg-grandparents, Willis and Jane (Blythe) Burks. Mary b. ca. 1841 TN [1850 Coffee Co., TN census, Division: Fourth Civil Dist. (District 4); Reel No. 432-875; Page No 34B Reference: Penciled Page 68 - October 3rd, 1850 - Samuel L. Davidson – has Mary age 9 years old. In school] [I am pretty confident this Mary is Mary Elizabeth Bruce b. April 13, 1844 Coffee Co., AL d. July 11, 1910 Webster Co., MO, the daughter of Henry and Elizabeth (Burks) Bruce.]
Although the girls were split up, they were in good hands. These Burks brothers, including brothers Eli, Levi, Hiram and Benjamin, all lived very near each other. And Rutha Blythe (has Margaret) and Jane Blythe (has Mary) are sisters. Smith and Rutha Burks only had one child, Lucy Caroline Burks, so the addition of Margaret would have been extraordinarily welcome. There was plenty of room for Margaret. Having another "mouth to feed" in this era was a norm and I am confident in saying [my mother is a Burks] the Burks did not blink an eye when Henry Bruce brought the children of their dead sister to them. Henry Bruce then drops off the planet. Do you know where he went?
Between 1848 and 1855, the Burks brothers, with the exception of Benjamin, sell out in TN and move to Webster Co., MO. Again, a very close knit family, the girls would know each other their entire lives. The brothers all have farms near each other around Fordland, MO. Only Hiram Burks kept on into Butler Co., MO.
Margaret being ½ Cherokee would have to come from Henry Bruce, Jr. being full-blood. Elizabeth's (Burks) father and mother were of Euro-American stock [English Burks, as in Brits]. Not real sure how many Cherokee were running around in 1840 Coffee Co., TN, but I have heard of zero in this Burks Clan.