I checked the slave census for Mississippi. According to the censuses, my Cotten family can't have been slaves on any Cain family farm in Amite or Franklin county. So I'm back to square one.
It may be as simple as was the case for many emancipated slaves--Winnie first took the name of her last slave owner, Anderson. The Andersons had very large plantations in Amite and numerous slaves. I will check the Amite records when I visit Mississippi. At least the Amite County court records weren't burned like Pike County's.
The other dead end is the trail of my great-great-great grandmother Amy. After a quick look at the Cherokee history, I found out there is practically no way Amy could have been a full-blooded Cherokee. It is true that there was a large presence of Cherokees in North Carolina and Tennessee where my Koonce relatives lived, so it is possible she could have been part Cherokee. However, enslaving tribal natives proved to be so dangerous that America stopped doing it by the 1820's. There is only a slight chance that Amy was full-blooded Cherokee since she was probably born in the 1820's.
I was wondering if her heritage had anything to do with the absence of her stories in our family's oral legend. This tangent deserves more research. I am finding out that there is a strange relationship between Cherokees and slavery. I wasn't aware of how many slaves were owned by native Americans until I watched the African American Lives 2. The documentary traced actor Don Cheadle's ancestors back to slaves owned by native Americans. It also stated that many black Americans claim to be "part Indian" but actually aren't.
At an early age I was told that I was part Indian and part Irish. Being young, I just accepted it as a fact. Now, as I research my history more, I question the possibilities. It could be true but I need proof.