Monday, September 16, 2013

Series: The First Freedmen Enrollees: Choctaw Freedman Card #1 Simon Clark

Choctaw Freedman Card #1
NARA Publication M1186  Record Group 75 Roll 49

As pointed out in the first post in this series, the first enrollees in each category were often persons of influence. We saw in the enrollment case of John H. Ross, from the Cherokee Nation, that a former slave of Chief John Ross was the very first case heard by the Dawes Commission among Cherokee Freedmen.

With Choctaw Freedmen, the process began in the Ada/Stonewall community for Choctaw Freedmen. However, it is fascinating to note that the persons enrolled on this card did not have the lowest roll numbers. Simon Clark applied on behalf of his family, but one will notice that the final numbers assigned to them were a much higher number, than the 1 through 5 respectively. That is because his case was contested for a while before a final decision was made on the enrollment of his family.
Notation made on Enrollment Card #1


Nevertheless, Simon Clark was a man of influence in the mostly Chickasaw town of Ada where he lived. Though his Dawes Application was that of a Choctaw Freedman, he lived in Chickasaw country in the years after the Civil War.  His influence and status in the community came from the fact that he was also a Civil War soldier.  He was a known freedom fighter, having achieved that status during the war, in the years before freedom was granted to slaves in both tribes, Clark had seized his own freedom and enlisted in the Union Army.

For Choctaw and Chickasaw Freedmen enlistment was not a common as it was for Cherokee and Creek Freedmen. That meant having to travel through hostile country before making it to Kansas to enlist. But Simon Clark, along with a cousin Aaron Newberry and others did make it to Kansas, an enlisted.

Enlistment data from Union Soldiers Service Record

Clark had enlisted in the 2nd Kansas Colored in Ft. Scott, Kansas. The unit was later re-designated as the 83rd US Colored Infantry.

Simon Clark's parents were Jacob Clark, and Tena Clark. Before freedom, Simon was enslaved by Jincy Cochran. His mother was also enslaved by Jincy Clark, but his father had been enslaved by John Newbury.

In his enrollment interview, Clark explained that he was originally enslaved by Bob Cochran and upon the slaveholder's death, he became enslaved by Cochran's widow, Jincy Cochran. Although his interview was one of those "summarized" interviews that occurred frequently in Chickasaw County, there is still useful data to be found in the small packet.

Interview found in Simon Clark Application Jacket
Choctaw Card #1
NARA Publication M1301

In the years immediately after the Civil War, Simon Clark moved around Indian Territory, before returning to his how in the Ada/Stonewall community. He lived near Skullyville and Ft. Coffee before returning to the Ada community.

In 1889, Simon Clark applied for and received a military pension for his service in the Union Army. After his death in 1901, his wife also applied for and received a pension.


 Source:  General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934. Washington, D.C.: National
 Archives and Records Administration. T288, 546 rolls.

Clark died in April of 1901, verified by his daughter Cornelia Clark.


Death Record found in Simon Clark Application Jacket  Choctaw Card #1
NARA Publication M1301

There is more to be told about Simon Clark and an upcoming trip to the National Archives, will involve examining his Civil War pension file.

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