OFFSTAGE: Tim McGraw’s Ancestors Suffer Wrath of “Indian Outlaw”

(CMT Offstage keeps a 24/7 watch on everything that’s happening with country music artists behind the scenes and out of the spotlight.)

Oh, the irony! To learn that Tim McGraw’s sixth great grandfather was likely killed by some angry Indians made my Friday night (Feb. 11) so very interesting. I was watching McGraw on Who Do You Think You Are, the TV series that helps celebrities explore their family trees, when he stumbled upon the fact that one of his distant grandpas — Isaac Chrisman — was living on his 220 acres in southwest Virginia in the early 1770s, minding his own business. But, he’d settled pretty close to Indian territory, right near the line of the Proclamation of 1763. So Chrisman was a bit of an outlaw himself. Then a historian broke the news to McGraw that by 1777, Chrisman and his two sons were deceased. Why? Because in 1776, an alarm went out to alert the settlers that Indians were in the territory, and they were ordered to evacuate and head to a safer place. But Chrisman went back to check on his crops. Then things got ugly with a band of Cherokees. “He was sorta playing with fire,” McGraw says. Kind of makes you wonder about the coincidence that more than 200 years later, McGraw’s “Indian Outlaw” put him on the country music map.

Alison makes her living loving country music. She's based in Chicago, but she's always leaving her heart in Nashville.