Tuesday, March 25, 2014

In 1866, Creek Treaty Abolishing Slavery Was Covered in National Press


After the Civil War ended a series of treaties were signed with the Five Civilized Tribes to officially end slavery in Indian Territory. A treaty was signed with each tribe, and the treaties are referred to as the "Treaty of 1866."

Slavery was abolished in the United States in 1865, but there was much resistance in Indian Territory to end the practice of black chattel slavery. As a result, the Indian slave holding tribes were each required to sign a treaty abolishing slavery. There were also expectations that the formerly enslaved people would be adopted into their respective tribes.

One can also see that there were other parts of the treaty that pertained to railroad passage rights which would make eventual westward expansion easier in future years. Additional stipulations in each treaty involved the establishment of a judicial system and references are made to the unfolding of such a system in each tribe.

In some parts of the country, signing the treaty made national press. The article above was taken from the Worcester Evening Gazette  in Worcester Massachusetts from March 1866.

Masthead of Worcester Evening Gazette, Worcester MA

Those researching Indian Territory history will benefit from studying the stipulations of the treaty of each of the Five Tribes.







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Monday, March 10, 2014

Oral Arguments in Cherokee Freedmen Case to Be Held in April

Cover Page of Cherokee Freedman Brief


Oral arguments on 1866 treaty in the federal case Cherokee Nation v Cherokee Freedmen Vann & Nash will be on Monday, April 28th at 10 am at the Federal Courthouse 333 Constitution Street NW in Washington DC. Courtroom 25A. 

For those who wish to receive a copy of the entire brief, send an email to: 
AngelaW859@aol.com.

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More pages of the brief can shared upon request.

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Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Family Is On The Rolls, So What's Next? Advice for Indian Freedmen Descendants

Front Page of Index to Dawes Roll
National Archives Publication M1186

I often hear from people who are researching their family history and find someone of the Dawes Rolls, and after their excitement has subsided, they are not sure what do next. My advice is to slow down, tread cautiously and stay focused on the goal to tell the story.

Why do I saw that? Well the fact is, many will become side-tracked and make and immediate detour into another arena and that detour will lead them down a one-way street never to return again to the path of discovering their family history. Many will become immersed in the path to tribal enrollment and remain there forever. This detour is also directed in many cases by well respected genealogists themselves. But the fact should understood, tribal enrollment and the thorough pursuit of your genealogy are two separate exercises, and should be understood as two different things.

First, understand the records, and secondly, learn how they overlap. Many families are found within multiple categories, and no matter how distinct they may be--some in one category are often related to people in another category. For those of African & Native Ancestry, this is particularly the case. Some have blood ties to the tribe, but because the mother was enslaved, the blood tie of the children to their Indian father is not considered today by the tribes, nor by the BIA that will NEVER issue a CDIB card to Freedmen descendants. This will not change until the policy is addressed in large numbers and brought to light. But herein lies the danger.

Many will become immersed in the policy issue, and never return to the pursuit of history. Stories of the enslaved, of their resistance, of their acquisition of freedom, of their adaptation to freedom, become overlooked by all. Rich stories that are well documented become buried and undiscovered, though there is a rich paper trail to tell the story.


Blurred Lines with Roll Categories

The categories, are citizens "By Blood", "Freedmen" "Minors" "New Borns" and "Intermarried Whites". The term citizens "By Blood", suggests that one had a blood tie to a person recognized as an Indian--both racially, and culturally. The term "Freedmen" indicates that one or one's parents had been African slaves of an Indian. The terms "Minors" and "New Borns" were children born to citizens who had already been approved as being citizens  "by blood" or "Freedmen" after the interviews had begun, and before the rolls were officially closed.

However,  the categories---By Blood and Freedmen are often blurred by lines that cross each other. And some have no logic at all. In some cases one's placement on a particular roll was the outcome of political status and the political influence that various families had.  The case of Silas Jefferson---a prominent man of African ancestry is a good example.


Silas Jefferson, Creek Nation Leader

Noted Creek Leader Silas Jefferson, was a man of African Ancestry, who was active in the affairs of the Creek Nation. He was a bilingual leader who served as interpreter for the Creeks on an official delegation to Washington, DC and his history was distinguished also in during the years of the Civil War, when he served as a member of the Indian Home Guards as Silas Tucker or simply Tucker.

Silas Jefferson was placed on the By Blood Rolls of the Creek Nation. It was recorded that he was 1/2 Creek. It is not clear how this was determined, as there was no scientific method of determining a "blood" amount or degree of ethnicity.  Was his status as being 1/2 Creek "Indian" a political status or a racial status or a cultural status?

Enrollment Card of Silas Jefferson
National Archives Pulication No. M1301 Creek By Blood Census Card No. 1141

His ex wife Jennie and son Manual were also placed on the rolls of citizens "By Blood" in the Creek Nation.


On this card it is indicated that Manual was the son of Silas Jefferson, thus on the Roll by Blood. Yet, 
Silas Jefferson's own siblings---were placed on the Freedmen Roll, suggesting that they had no blood ties to the tribe. Sadly, the political issues surrounding what roll some one's ancestors were put on, can often blur the search to find the people in the family and the stories about the family.

Another example comes from both Choctaw & Chickasaw Nations. Fannie Parks was the mother of two children. Her younger child was Ardena Darneal, who was the daughter of Silas Darneal, a Choctaw Indian. Fannie was separated from her Choctaw husband, at the time of enrollment. But the enrollment card of the family clearly indicates that Ardena's father was a Choctaw Indian.

Enrollment Card National Archive Publication M1186 Chickasaw Freedman Card 929
A notation on the card indicates that the mother was separated at that time from her Choctaw husband:

Close up of notation from card

The back side of the card indicates that the father of Ardena was indeed Silas Darneal, a Choctaw Indian.

Back side of Enrollment card for Fannie Parks and children


Ardena's father is clearly identified as Silas Darneal

 Today, none of the descendants of Ardena Darneal have been allowed to enroll in the Choctaw Nation, although their father was a citizen. The descendants have sought enrollment and been denied. One of the descendants today is a leader in the Choctaw Freedman community in eastern Oklahoma.

The Question Overlooked---is the blood issue real?
Today the issue becomes more complicated, because some tribes extend membership to new members, if one can prove that they have a minuscule "drop" of blood. Yet, the politics in recent years with Cherokee Freedmen for example reflect a tribe where one can have as little as 1/1000th  1/2000th 1/7000th degree of Indian blood---and if one can "prove" it genealogically---then current "membership" in the tribe is welcomed. This occurs usually in cases where a white US citizen married a Cherokee citizen. In the cases where Freedmen had Indian fathers, thus making them 1/2 Cherokee---they were still "condemned" to wear the badge of slavery to this day.

The past tribal chief went out of his way to refer to Cherokee Freedmen descendants as "non-Indian Freedmen", relying on the flawed and racially charged policy of the Dawes Roll. Yet the "barely Indian" 1/7000th degree members who live most of their lives as caucasian, are welcomed members of this Indian tribe.

And todays' policies continue where one must descend ONLY from the portion of the roll that did not reflect the former slaves. But understand one thing----Blood is a political issue. In some cases the issue of blood means a tie to a community or family. And in other issues--it is a matter of race. And the politics of race are a strong part of the process. AND---they become blurred, and can immediately derail the genealogical journey.

And today,the tenacious scholar must ask the question---exactly how "Indian" is the 1/7000th degree Indian? Are they really Indian, or is there a group of people really padding their tribal numbers with truly non-Indian droplet degree members, to qualify for millions of congressional dollars? Regardless of the answer, genealogists must remember their goal and their mission, which is to tell the family story.

Special Challenge for Descendants of the Enslaved.
This questions that arise around enrollment of course can only be answered by each of the tribes that exclude the descendants of their former slaves. But it should be noted that the answer lies in much of the history of each tribe, and also in the actions of the reorganization of the tribes that occurred in the 1970s, quietly, and out of the public eye. It was decided during the years when re-organization was occurring that Freedmen descendants would simply be made to no longer be eligible. It was done, quietly, and no one noticed. Until it was too late. There was the Nero case in the late 1980s and another challenge in the 1990s with Bernice Riggs. A later case that still continues arose with Cherokee Freedmen in the early 21st century with the Lucy Allen case, and continues to this day with litigation on going with Cherokee Freedmen with the Vann case. But for all descendants of the Five tribes, comes this reminder: Stay Focused on the Goal. Again, for Indian Tribal Freedmen, stay focused on the goal, to tell your family story.

As a genealogist---your goal is to tell the story. Do not let blood politics derail your goal to document the story. This is quite hard to do, because many solid genealogy sites that offer assistance to genealogy researchers but, they will immediately include large sections about joining the tribe. And joining the tribe is a walk down a political mine field. If one descends from the Indian Tribal Freedmen, then you will immediately step on a mine when tribal enrollment becomes part of the genealogy process.

Like all applicants whose ancestors were on the Dawes Rolls, Freedmen will be told to get a CDIB card.
However descendants of Indian Tribal Freedmen, (those who were once enslaved) whether they had a blood tie to their former slaveholder or not were put on the Freedman roll if their mother was not Indian. In the case of most Freedmen, they had Indian fathers. So---the BIA will not administer the coveted CDIB Card to them, no matter how many documents are presented that illustrate that there is a blood tie to the tribe members on the "By Blood" roll. The result is that the new genealogist will suddenly find him/herself immersed in the emotional battle of trying to fight a system that is structured by its very nature to exclude them.  And professional genealogists who combine CDIB procedures on their websites with the genealogical process, are contributing to greater alienation of Freedmen descendants from their history.


Now, there are other reasons why this confusion and complicated story prevails. In a 2009 issue of Family Tree Magazine there was an excellent interesting article on tracing Native American ancestry and how to go about doing so. But like many genealogical articles and books and records that mention the Dawes Records there was the automatic discussion of how to obtain membership in the tribe. It is possible the assumption that proving ancestral ties, is affiliated with tribal membership, and that process contributes to many of the political issues that one reads about today.

Most genealogical sites will direct the first time inquirer enrollment procedure. This once again takes the researcher on a quest to get a CDIB card. Over and over again, this is the direction that most genealogy sites will take you. But these words will not be said: If you are an Indian Tribal Freedman Descendant you will never get a CDIB card and will therefore never be admitted to the tribe by today's rules.  That is the brutal truth, never uttered by any of the genealogical sites that assist people with Native American ancestry. So researchers find out sometimes very painfully that they are going to be "rejected".

There are over 14,000 Freedmen files that were part of the Dawes Commission. The genealogical value of these records can never be over emphasized. So therefore, a word of advice. Keep the two entities separate. Separate the genealogical research from the application for enrollment in the tribe. As a genealogist, stay focused on the history, look at all of the records and all of the rolls from 1866 onward. One's ancestor's name on a 19th century roll does not go hand in hand with tribal membership.

The politics of the day created the structure of the Dawes Rolls. And--the politics of today govern the use of the rolls by the former slave-holding tribes and how they exclude descendants of their former slaves. The issues though related, are two distinct issues and hopefully this is understood.

The current issue of those who descend from Freedmen and the quest for citizenship today is a serious one and a complicated story with many chapters unfolding in both the Cherokee and Creek Freedmen communities. Challenges are also being addressed with Choctaw as well as Chickasaw Freedmen descendants.

But-----if you are a genealogist--do not confuse tribal enrollment with your genealogy. 

Even if tribal enrollment is an interest--it should never be a destination. If it is, then you will have slammed the door to history and to other amazing pieces of information. And this is critical for Freedmen descendants. The doors have already been closed to tribal enrollment. There is an effort to open them being carried out by various parties, and their effort is a noble one. But obtaining a tribal card is not the end of the journey---it is only a passing landmark along the way to knowing your history.

Acknowledge the Reality.
Many want to bypass history and get into a warm fuzzy period in history where everyone got along. Well that might not be the reality. But part of the harsh reality is that of slavery of Black Chattel Slavery. The fact that black chattel slavery took place in Indian Territory, is not widely known, is not admitted by the tribes and never mentioned on their websites, and is not understood by most who live outside of Oklahoma.
But simply put---slavery happened. Those who were finally freed (freed men and women) later became known simply as "Freedmen" and most remained in Indian Territory. After decades of living there---that was home. Like those once enslaved in the Deep South--they remained in the only place they knew.

The challenges with the records exist because there are many political issues that surround them. However, politics aside---amazing genealogical data exists by the thousands. There are over 14,000 files of people classified as "Freedmen" with multiple generations reflected in those records. Among those records are interviews, birth and death affidavits, and even pre-statehood marriage certificates. They are a genealogical gold mine. Worth exploring? Most definitely!

Beyond The Rolls--What Else Is There?
Beyond the Dawes Rolls there are also census records, military records, post Civil war rolls, Congressional Records, and Freedmen School Rosters. Some of these have been published privately and others remain untouched and are lying in microfilm un-viewed for decades. There are many opportunities for scholars and researchers to pursue these long over looked and under-used records.

The rich history from Indian Territory should never end with the Dawes Rolls. And the quest for history should not be derailed when contemporary citizenship issues arise. A true commitment to telling this story is required and a charge is made to all Indian Territory researchers to commit to unraveling these long overdue stories and to place them back on the historical landscape where they belong.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Native American Tribe Discovers Slave Cemetery in Arkansas


A group from the Quapaw Tribe recently made a discovery of an old slave cemetery in Pulaski County Arkansas. This is an amazing story where this federally recognized community of Native Americans have noted their discovery and are reaching out to the community to show its respect and to honor the dead in an appropriate manner. They have not disclosed the location as yet, in an effort to preserve it properly. The site is located in Arkansas, which is the ancestral home of the Quapaws, and the cemetery is located in that area that became occupied after Quapaws were moved into Oklahoma. This now Oklahoma-based nation is extremely reverent towards burial places, and they are to be commended in their efforts to protect this site. This is one of the first cases, where a Native people are working to preserve an African American burial ground. I shall personally be sharing this story with cemetery preservationists in Arkansas, as well as with others who may be willing to work with the Quapaw Tribe to honor those who are buried in this cemetery. More information can be found HERE.

This afternoon, I spoke with Ms. Carla Coleman this afternoon, who is Vice President of PAAC (Preservation of African American Cemeteries) who is on her way this afternoon, to the burial ground with President, Tamela Tenpenny-Lewis. Ms. Coleman said "I think it is very honorable that the Quapaw Tribe is reaching out to the community of preservationists who happen to be black to preserve this site properly. We plan to do whatever we can to work with them to preserve this site."

The two ladies will also be visiting the burial ground this afternoon, and will share images of this site as they are obtained.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Series: First Freedman Enrollees - Chickasaw Freedmen Card No.1


Front & Back Side of Chickasaw Freedman Card No1
NARA Publication M1186 Record Group 75  Roll 70 


As stated in the previous article, about Freedman enrollment, the persons who began the Dawes enrollment when the commissioners came to the community were often persons who were persons of standing in the local community.

The case of William Alexander is interesting, because he was a rather young man at the time of the Dawes Commission. He applied for enrollment for himself and family in 1898. He is said to be the son of Cornelius Pickens, but he is actually the son of Cornelius Alexander.  His Dawes interview reveals only a few details about his life, and like many Chickasaw Freedmen, he has one of those interviews that were shortened by the commission.

William Alexander was active politically in the Chickasaw community where he lived. When the enrollment process began for Chickasaw Freedmen, Alexander was among the Freedmen who gathered to meet at Dawes Academy, near Berwyn. This meeting was a critical one, because the Chickasaw Freedmen never adopted their formerly enslaved community, though they agreed to in 1866.

In August of 1898, twelve men met at Dawes Academy, and that meeting consisted of William Alexander. The Chickasaw Freedmen had hired two attorneys, Robert B. Belt, and Joseph P. Mullen for their role ins securing benefits for them, under the Curtis Act. 

In addition, William Alexander was also connected to another prominent family among Chickasaw Freedmen. His mother was Margaret Wilson, who was also the mother of Bettie Ligon, the lead litigant in a major suit made by Freedmen known as Equity Case 7071. Clearly this was a small community and all of the Freedmen interacted with each other, fighting for years to secure the few rights that they were able to obtain.

The Dawes Commission set up the enrollment process in Stonewall on September 1, 1898 and first to be interviewed was William Alexander. His participation in the committee of active Chickasaw Freedmen, and his known status as one of the Freedmen leaders put him at the front of the line of people to be interviewed.


 National Archives Publication Number M1301, 
Applications for Enrollment of the Commission to the Five Civilized Tribes, 1898-1914, 
Chickasaw Freedman #1

Although many of the Chickasaw Freedmen interviews were evaluated and basically summarized interviews, some significant data can be extracted from the files, including data pertaining to the parents of everyone in the family group that was enrolled.

Looking at the data provided by the Enrollment Card and the Application jacket, can more be learned? Yes, more can be learned. William Alexander pointed out that his father died in the Civil War. Was his father possibly a Civil War veteran? Only research will tell, but records of the Indian Home Guard, as well as the US Colored Troops might reveal more. Also noting that this first interview was conducted in Stonewall, a study of other interviews made at the same date and time would be worthwhile. And knowing his relationship to other prominent Chickasaw Freedmen to glean more about the entire community. the records of those known leaders of the Choctaw & Chickasaw Freedmen Association will undoubtedly unlock more stories and reflect more clearly the resilience of the community of Freedmen in Chickasaw country as well as more insights into the life of the man William Alexander, the first Freedman to be enrolled from his tribe. 


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Basic Census Documents for 20th and 19th Century Native American Research

A 1940 Federal Census Record Reflection Indian Family in Adair County Oklahoma
Source Citation: Year: 1940; Census Place: Wauhillau, Adair,Oklahoma; Roll: T627_3274; Page: 1A; Enumeration District: 1-10.

The image above is a sample of a record from the 1940 Federal Census. It is reflecting a family in eastern Oklahoma and it is the first of series of images that reflect how Native families were enumerated over the years in the Federal Census. All of the documents in this article are 20th and 19th centuries and are from multiple states.


1930 Federal Census Record Reflecting a Family of Mixed Ancestry in Robeson County NC
Source Citation: Year: 1930; Census Place: Philadelphus, RobesonNorth Carolina; Roll: 1716; Page: 2A; Enumeration District: 0037; Image: 856.0; FHL microfilm: 2341450.



1920  Federal Census Record from Banstable County, Massachusetts reflects a blended family
Source Citation: Year: 1920; Census Place: Mashpee, Barnstable,Massachusetts; Roll: T625_679; Page: 2B; Enumeration District: 15; Image: 378.

1910 Special Indian Census from Suffolk County NY Reflection a Shinnecock Indian Community

A Close Up of the Bottom Half of Preceding Document. Note that this is a Bi-racial community and that this some of those enumerated were also graduates from the Indian School at Hampton Institute
Source Citation(for both images): Year: 1910; Census Place: Southampton, Suffolk, New York; Roll: T624_1082; Page: 4B; Enumeration District: 1391; FHL microfilm: 1375095.


1900 Federal Census of a Nansemond Virginia Community

Close Up of portion of Preceding document. 
This census year only inquired about white blood of Indian enumerated on record.
Source Citation for both Images: Year: 1900; Census Place: Deep Creek, Norfolk,Virginia; Roll: 1719; Page: 17A; Enumeration District: 0034; FHL microfilm: 1241719.


1880 Federal Census record from Texas, San Jacinto County reflects an interesting blended family. Mingo is from Florida, while his wife and son in law are from Louisiana. Note that the son in law is enumerated as Mulatto, suggesting a mixed ancestry for him.
Source Citation: Year: 1880; Census Place:  , San Jacinto,Texas; Roll: 1325; Family History Film: 1255325; Page: 340C; Enumeration District: 150.



1870 Federal Census Record from Giles County TN shows a small blended family.

Close up of an unusual notation made at the bottom of the preceding document.
Source Citation: Year: 1870; Census Place: District 10, Giles, Tennessee; Roll: M593_1529; Page: 205B; Image: 415; Family History Library Film: 553028.

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It is sometimes assumed that Native Americans were not captured in the Federal Census until 1930 or even later. However, nothing can be further from being accurate. The mid 19th and 20th centuries left an amazing trail of census records. Communities were not always treated in the same method from state to state. However, it is worth taking note that American Indians were indeed captured in census records in multiple states. And I have shown some samples above of communities reflecting Indian communities and blended families from New England to Texas. Multiple states are presented here, to illustrate how widespread the enumeration of native communities actually was and how they can be found in standard records.

These records should be used as part of  standard genealogy research when documenting ancestors who may have been of Native ancestry. In other words--use these standard records before going to look at Indian rolls. It is imperative that the families are studied closely to make sure that you are on the right track with the right children and siblings. Some eager researchers will examine records such as Dawes rolls before concluding that their ancestors even resided in the communities where the Dawes interviews were conducted. Therefore standard genealogy methods should be employed throughout this process. There are some unique Indian records that will be discussed in a future article.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Sarah Rector - A Creek Freedman Story Unfolds in New Book


At last a book about the story of Creek Freedman child Sarah Rector has been told! 

Award winning author Tonya Bolden has researched and documented the life of the child described 100 years ago in the press as the "Richest Colored Girl in America". This newly published book describes the story of the child Sarah, and how her life was changed after oil was discovered on her land allotment. The book discusses efforts of the child and her parents to control their own lives, steering clear of land grafters, self appointed "guardians" and others who hoped to put their hands on her oil money from her land allotment near Muskogee Oklahoma.

Her story was an interesting one, and it is set against a fascinating backdrop of Oklahoma, of Indian Territory, and of the Creek Nation. The story unfoldds of this young girl, and her fate and her determination to survive.

In 2010 I wrote an article about Sarah Rector depicting her life that emerged after oil was discovered on her land. I followed her case in the press, including the reaction of the community to her new found wealth, the efforts to control her money, and even her enrollment at the preparatory school on the grounds of Tuskegee Institute. I also wrote about her later move to Kansas City, and her emergence into adulthood.

But now, in 2014, acclaimed children's author Tonya Bolden captivated by Sarah's story, took the charge to find out more and she has succeeded in telling more of Sarah's story. Through Bolden's work, her research and investigative skills, more of Sarah's life has been eloquently told in called  "Searching for Sarah Rector, The Richest Black Girl in America". The author places the story in the proper historical context, providing Indian Territory and Creek Nation history as the landscape upon which it occurred. 

In the book one will find maps, illustrations, and photos which all reflect the historical landscape, from which Sarah's story came.

Colorful maps such as this one are found in Tonya Bolden's book.

Author Tonya Bolden's research was so thorough to also point exactly to the land where Sarah Rector's allotments were located.

Sarah's property was located in Township 18 North. 
Her property was located on the banks of the Cimarron River.

Ms. Bolden was also so resourceful, that she even found an image of the Sarah Rector Oil wells. A postcard image of the land owned by Sarah, was located and she included it in her book.

Postcard image shown in "Searching for Sarah Rector"

Details about Sarah's early life were often depicted in the news articles of the day, including many from the Chicago Defender. And articles about Sarah would appear for the years many of which were focused on the concept of such wealth belonging to a black child. Many of the articles in the white press were derogatory about this young girl, some even calling her a "pickaninny" as was often done during those years. The constant attention on the child, the effort to have her parents declared incompetent by many whites in the community, and efforts for guardians to put their hands on her money clearly frightened the young Sarah, and Bolden points out how she shunned the attention that she received so much. After so many years and struggles of Miss Rector and her parents to fight back against so many seeking to control her wealth, time became her ally, because when she came of age, the young Sarah was finally able to control her own funds and have control over her life. 

The author included an interview from 1916 where her father Joe testified in court where he spoke about having their own chosen representative purchase property in Sarah's name. The hearing covered the purchase of about five hundred acres of land in Muskogee and Wagoner Counties. A simple purchase of property was not conceivable in a community that viewed them as inferior and incompetent.

Author Bolden provides insight into the issues of control of land, and she finally takes the reader to the years that would eventually bring an end to Sarah's battles. As she turned eighteen, she was finally able to take more control of her own life. 

By 1922 she had moved to Kansas City, and was able to make decisions that would allow her to live her own life as she chose.
Epilogue

In September in 1922, Sarah married Kenneth Campbell and from that marriage three sons came. I found an article in the Chicago Defender about her marriage:


Chicago Defender November 4, 1922 page 1

It was also a pleasure to see a photo of Sarah Rector Campbell and her husband Kenneth, in the book as well. 
Sarah and Kenneth Campbell from the book by Tonya Bolden

It is not known how long Sarah was married to Kenneth Campbell, but by 1930 she was living with her children and family, apart from Kenneth. Living with her were other relatives including her grandmother Amy McGilbray, who were also Creek Freedmen each, once awarded their own land allotments.

Sarah Rector Campbell in 1930 in Kansas City Census

Sarah Rector Campbell, remarried in 1934 to William Crawford. Sarah spent the rest of her life with her second husband William. Her name gradually faded from the newspaper headlines over the years and she was able to enjoy the peace and solace of family and loved ones and the turmoil of her early life faded away. She no longer had to hide from hostile and sinister reporters who did not wish her well, nor from those who might attempt to take her life, and so, her life was able to unfold without drama. 


In the 1940 Federal Census Sarah is living with second husband William. Youngest son Clarence was still in the household with her at that time. Source: 1940 Census, Kansas City Missouri

Author Bolden note that years later, in the 1990s Sarah's son Clarence was interviewed and he also spoke about his mother's desire for peace and that she was for most of her life "a very private person."

Sarah Rector's story is one of success. She managed to eventually control her own assets and live a full life. She was vulnerable, but did not succumb to the efforts of many to seize her holdings. She got her education, married, raised her family and lived to see her children and grandchildren. 

She was also successful in that she escaped the dangers of the era and there were many dangers, for Sarah was not the only child of her day, whose allotment yielded oil. Danny Tucker and two other children, Herbert and Stella Sells had their home dynamited in an act to seize their land. These heinous acts were surely acts that fed the fears of the young Sarah, and one can almost understand the sadness in the eyes of the child seen in the now famous photo of her. She was afraid and she only wanted to live and be the child that she was.

Sarah Rector (Image from Cover of Book by Tonya Bolden)

In 1967, Sarah Rector Campbell Crawford died on July 22, after suffering a stroke. The Campbells many of whom still live in Kansas City and Independence Missouri, were with her when she died, and attended her funeral in Kansas City. She was and is still known by many simply as Sarah Rector. After her funeral in Kansas City,  her body was taken home to Oklahoma and she was buried in Black Jack Cemetery, in Taft Oklahoma. A modest stone marks her grave.

Headstone is found at Black Jack Cemetery and is shown on USGennet cemetery page Shared by Lynne Milton

The story of Sarah Rector is an amazing one, and thankfully, her relatives including her children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews who knew and loved her in Kansas City have preserved her history and legacy. 

Author Tonya Bolden has done a beautiful job in telling this story, and her work with the family as well as with the many resources that she obtained, has preserved the history and legacy of this young girl, whose family emerged from obscurity in the Creek Nation, and who survived the pursuits of many who tried to derail her from living a rich full life. 

Thankfully they did not succeed and she lived to see generations follow her. Thank you Tonya Bolden for telling the story of Sarah Rector with the dignity that is so well deserved.