Enrollment Card of Susan and Israel Colbert, Choctaw Freedmen
In early January, I wrote a piece about Susan Colbert's interview in the Indian Pioneer Papers, by Gomer Gower was an interesting one.
Her voice was not heard, it was summarized and the voice telling the story was the interviewer who wrote about her Cherokee father, and her being placed on the Freedman Roll, which according to the interviewer, was a wise decision, for the Choctaw population was "protected" from countless numbers of "bogus" claims that would have resulted had this woman of mixed ancestry been treated differently.
I found the interview curious not only because of the biases expressed by the interviewer, but the fact that the reader was not hearing her voice---only his narration of her life. I decided therefore to took at some records created 30 years earlier---her Dawes Card.
-From the interview, it was stated that her father was Bob Parrot a Cherokee Indian.
-But from the Dawes Card it is revealed that her father was Tom Parris, A Choctaw Indian.
Enrollment Card of Susan Colbert with husband Israel Colbert, and their children
Reverse side of Enrollment Card. Susan's data appears on line 2. Note her father
is identified as Choctaw, and not Cherokee.
-From the interview it was stated that she married Tom Smith a Choctaw citizen who was half Choctaw, half Negro.
-From the Dawes Card it is revealed that Tom Smith was a Cherokee citizen.
Thomas Smith, a husband from a previous marriage was not Choctaw,
but noted as Cherokee on her Dawes Card.
-From the interview it was stated that their marriage was very brief due to his cavalier lifestyle and he left shortly after their marriage.
-From the Dawes Card it is revealed that Tom Smith was around at least long enough for them to have had three children, who do appear on the card with her.
The children of Susan and Tom Smith are reflected on the Dawes Enrollment Card.
-From the interview it was stated that she married a Choctaw Indian, Israel Colbert.
-From the Dawes Card, it was revealed that she married Israel Colbert a man once enslaved by Sam Colbert. (Also both of his parents were enslaved by Choctaw Sam Colbert.)
Fathers and Father's Slave owners indicated.
Mothers and Mothers' Slave Owners indicated
The lesson learned from the case of Susan Colbert, is that we must rely on multiple sources of information to truly understand the story of an ancestor. With Susan Colbert, she was interviewed in the 1930s and for some reason, her words were not produced, but merely her story was presented in the 3rd person. However, when one looks at the records produced 30 years earlier, a different story emerges about Susan Colber, her life, her husbands and her identity. She was not the daughter of a Cherokee, but the daughter of a Choctaw. Her first husband was not half Choctaw, but he was a Cherokee citizen.
Truly in order to explore the lives of one's ancestors, it is imperative that as many resources as possible are utilized to tell the story, and to tell it accurately.