Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Fannie Rentie Bumpus & Family - Creek Freedmen

Fannie Rentie has an amazing history. She was the daughter of Picket and Mary Rentie, and during her lifetime she was known by multiple names. Among her surnames were Rentie, Chapman, Island, Bumpus, and Ensley. In spited of her multiple names and records in scattered places, her story is still a rich one to tell.

On her Dawes enrollment card, nothing appears to be very complicated about her story. Her personal data is recorded on Creek Freedman Field Card number 584. She resided in Boynton area. She was the daughter of Pickett Rentie and Mary Rentie. She appeared in front of the Dawes Commission in 1898 for herself and her children Alice, and George. Alice would later pass away before the enrollment process was completed. Her husband at the time was Willis Bumpus, father of the two children.

Enrollment Cards for the Five Civilized Tribes 1898-1914
NAI Number 251747, Records Group Title: Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Record Group Number 75
Creek Freedman Field Card #584

Reverse side of same card

 And as a member of the Creek Nation, many of the records pertaining to her Dawes Case are not available with the application jacket. However, much more can be obtained about Fannie, nevertheless. In fact the issue about her many surnames can be found in the Land Allotment records (which are all online on both Ancestry and Family Search.) There were numerous interviews about the land she was to receive, the condition of the land, improvements upon it and more.

In 1903, when she was being interviewed regarding her selection of land, she was then Fannie Ensley. There was much discussion about her parcel of land. She was making a selection for her daughter Ann who had not yet passed away. Also present was Thomas Ensley, who was at that time her husband. Oklahoma and Indian Territory, Land Allotment Jackets for Five Civilized Tribes, 1884-1934
[database on-line].   Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc, 2014.

(same as above)

However, more interesting details about Fannie and her parents and their lives within Creek culture and community are found with her interview made in the 1930s as part of the Indian Pioneer Project. She was interviewed in 1937 and she told fascinating aspects of her life. She made several references to old communities that had ceased to exist in the 1930s, including Old Agency.

The University of Oklahoma Western History Collection, Digital Collections, 
Indian Pioneer Collection, Volume 17,  Interview with Fannie Rentie Chapman 

Same as above
(Same as above)

As mentioned earlier, her land allotment file was full of data, as there was much controversy about her right to certain parcels of land. At the end of her interview she makes mention of the fact that she lived on her land for many years, but later lost the land. (If one is a descendant of Fannie Rentie Chapman Bumpus, Ensley, then they are strongly encouraged to obtain the allotment application file. Dozens of pages are contained pertaining not only to the land itself, but also to the various husbands, that Fannie had and the names she used when some of the land transactions occurred.)

Fannie's interview for the Indian Pioneer project will take the reader more deeply in the life of late 19th century pre-Oklahoma life. And the interview speaks vividly to multiple aspects of life within the Creek Nation, for Freedmen as well as for all individuals living near Muskogee and the now gone community of Old Agency.

(This is the 19th article of a 52-article series devoted to sharing histories and stories of families once held as enslaved people in Indian Territory, now known as Oklahoma. The focus is on the Freedmen of the Five Civilized Tribes and these posts are part of an on-going project to document 52 families in 52 weeks.)

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