Thursday, December 31, 2015

Creek Freedmen Reflected on "Omitted Rolls"

In 1989, the Federal Records Center in Ft. Worth Texas microfilmed some of the Creek Records recorded in the early 1890s, and among them were the three "colored" towns, North Fork Colored, Arkansas Colored, and Canadian Colored. Having found some of the town rolls made before the Dawes rolls were constructed, I thought I would share some of them here. The images shown below reflect the names of Creek Freedmen from the three "colored" towns who were omitted in an earlier census and thus I refer to them as "Omitted" Rolls

As genealogists it is critical that we know how important it is that we move beyond simply scanning a list for an ancestor's name. What sometimes happens is that if we find a long sought-for name, we are happy, make a coy and move on. If we don't find the ancestor, we often close the book never to examine it again. However--there are still stories that can be found when examining various census records that come from a single community. They should still be examined if there is a tie of any kind, and an interest in the ancestral story.

There are several questions to ask when we look at these earlier records:

Who was on the list?
Who was not?
How were they grouped?
Were there any name variations?
Could some have died before the next census was taken?

These are all questions to be asked.

Researching Indian Territory, as well as any other community requires the same kind of tenacity essential for genealogical research in general. And it is not uncommon for beginners to get lost only in the Dawes rolls search. This partly stems from the political nature of the roll and who was placed on rolls by blood, freedmen rolls, and so on. The political issues were real in the 1890s and are real today. And it is known that for some, the goal is only tribal enrollment and to thereby bypass the greater story. Hopefully it is understood that regardless of an ancestor's status, there is a larger backdrop--a story to tell about their lives, a story tell about where they lived, and a story that describes the way they lived and how. Looking at all available rolls and how they were enumerated can help.

In recent months, I found an interesting collection of lists when I learned that Ancestry had digitized some lesser known records from the Creek Nation. In the Creek Nation, the political divisions consisted of  "towns". Among the towns (which were political and not always geographic or  residential) were three "colored" towns. One was often asked what town they "belonged to" as opposed to where they lived.

Colored Towns on the Omitted Roll

Source: Oklahoma and Indian Territory, Indian Censuses and Rolls, 1851-1959 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2014.

Arkansas Colored Town, Creek Nation

Source: Oklahoma and Indian Territory, Indian Censuses and Rolls, 1851-1959 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2014.
Original data: Selected Tribal Records. The National Archives at Fort Worth, Fort Worth, Texas.

Source: (Same as above)

Source: (Same as above)

North Fork Town (Colored)

Canadian Town (Colored)

While looking at the various names that appear on this town roll, I recognize known Creek families. In addition, I see the surnames of families that one may associate with other tribes, such as Bruner, Manuel and others from the Seminole Nation.

Though these are small rolls and reflect a small portion, hopefully the images may assist a researcher whose ancestors may have not have been reflected on the Dawes Rolls, if they died between 1891 and the years of the Dawes collection.

In a future article, I shall present images of the "Omitted Pay Rolls of 1891",

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