Sorrells Family Tree
This genealogical chart, which traces the Sorrells family ancestry as far back as 1797, indicates that the maternal side of the family was "always white no question," while the paternal side was predominantly white with a small amount of Indian blood. This chart was presented as evidence in a 1924 lawsuit that Atha Sorrells brought against A. T. Shields, the clerk of the Circuit Court of Rockbridge County, after the court officer had refused to issue a marriage certificate to Sorrels and Robert Painter, who was white. Shields cited the Racial Integrity Act of 1924, which prohibited interracial marriage, as grounds for his withholding the license. Sorrells won the lawsuit, the judge citing the fact that there was no proof she had any African American blood, and that she had such a small amount of Indian blood "there is not enough of that to come within the statute." Another law passed by the General Assembly in 1924 defined who was, and who was not "colored." An exception was made for a person with no African American blood and less than one sixty-fourth part Indian blood—he or she was still considered white.