Sunday, October 29, 2017

Mary Helena Jones & Family - Chickasaw Freedmen



Chickasaw Freedman Card #1469
The National Archives at Ft. Worth, Ft. Worth Texas 1868-1914
NAI Number: 251747

Record Group Title: Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Record Group 75


On October 19, 1904 Mary Helena Jones appeared in front of the Dawes Commission to enroll herself, her son Elijah, daughter Emma, son Silas and daughter Tener. At that time she lived in Cavanaugh, in the Choctaw Nation but they were applying as Chickasaw Freedmen. A notation on the card appears that though she was not born a slave, she and her children were "descendants of General Cooper's slaves".
Some notes at the bottom of the card provide some very useful remarks that provide valuable information about the family and its history. In particular was a reference to another card (Chickasaw Freedman Card #873)
Mary's husband was Shadrick Jones who was not a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation. Her parents were Silas Johnson, and her mother was Maggie Johnson who was enslaved by Douglas Cooper. And because Mary Helen Jones was a young woman she was not born enslaved, but her parents had once been enslaved by Chickasaws.
(Same as above) 


The Gordon Card
Chickasaw Freedman Card #873 reflected the Gordon family living in the Braden area of the Choctaw Nation. This was the family of Emma Gordan. She was the family head appearing at the Dawes Commission registering her children, John, Vivian, Sam, Sarah, Izora, Lewis and Abe.

Emma was the daughter of Mat McLish, and Martha Burney. There did not appear to be a connection between this Gordon family and the Jones family on the card with Mary Helena Jones. The only similarities appeared to be the fact that they resided in the Braden area, often called the Braden Bottoms, and also the fact that the parents of both Mary Helena and Emma Gordon had been enslaved at one time by General Douglas Cooper. There had most likely been a social relationship that they had share, once having had the same person who enslaved them on the same estate.


From the Application Jacket

At first glance at the items in the application jacket a small interview appears with Mary Helena, or Ellen as she preferred to be called. Only a few questions were asked of her, and it appeared that it was a short uncomplicated conversation.



National Archives Publication M1301
Applications for Enrollment
(Also accessed from Fold3.com, Native American Collection, Choctaw Freedmen)


However, following this brief interview came more extensive interviews with the family involving continuous questions about the enrollment of one child--Tener. It would be the status of Tener that was questioned the most rigorously of this family. Numerous question were directed to her about the application process and who assisted her with the process.


(Same as above) 

The questions continued about the individuals who had assisted her with the application process for Tener, and also who the witnesses were who accompanied her at the time of enrollment.

(Same as above) 

One of the persons, Professor Carter, who assisted her previously with her application had in fact passed away. One of the witnesses for her, was Maggie Jones, who was, in fact her mother. Interestingly on the enrollment card her mother was identified as Maggie Johnson. But clearly when asked if she knew the applicant, Maggie pointed out that she was in fact her mother.


(Same as above) 
The extensive questioning continued regarding the children of Mary Helena (Ellen) Jones, and the children. During the questioning the relationship between various  parties is evident. From nicknames of loved ones to the fact that Maggie also served as midwife at the births of some of the children, it is clear that they were close.

It was asked if there was any follow up to the effort to enroll the child Tener and if any inquiry was ever made when no response came. It was pointed out that letters were sent, but no replies ever came. From the continuing questions about the same issue, it is evident that many Freedman families went through a great amount of effort to enroll their children, and even after much effort they were challenged about how much they followed up as applicants.

(Same as above) 

After inquiring of her daughter's follow up, the questioning shifted to Maggie as to whether she was a Chickasaw Freedman herself. Her land allotment was also brought up, and she pointed out that her allotment was actually located in the Choctaw Nation.

(Same as above) 

The questioning then shifted to the enrollment of the other children of the Jones family and the extensive details were asked repeatedly. But thankfully, after much effort the process came to an end as the family still awaited a decision by the commission.

(Same as above) 

Several hand written notes are found in the file. One from Silas Johnson, father of Mary Helena Jones. His letter points out that he was one of the first people to go and file for Mary to be enrolled, and he confirms that he and Maggie are her parents. He signs the letter with his own signature.




The second letter is a note by Carter the Notary verifying that Mary Helen Johnson and Shadrick Jones were married.

(Same as above) 


Land Allotment Applications

The Dawes enrollment process was created to determine the eligibility of persons to receive allotments of land, as statehood had approached.  After much effort finally in 1905 Mary Helena Jones was approved for her land allotment. She also applied for her children and they too were eligible and received their allotments. The item below reflects her own application for her land.


Oklahoma Applications for Allotments, Five Civilized Tribes 1899-1907
Accessed on Family Search

(Same as above) 

This family of Chickasaw Freedmen lived in the northern part of the Choctaw Nation and was allotted land there. Hopefully they were able to retain their land for a number of years, before time and land grafters eventually seized much of the land of Freedmen in the area.

The area once known as the "Braden Bottoms" is still agricultural although many of the families that once occupied Braden have moved away. Hopefully the legacy of the families of both Choctaw and Chickasaw nations will not be lost in the soil, as they worked the land and for many years the families thrived in the area, before time, and other opportunities encouraged their departure.

* * * * * * * * * *

This is the 32nd article in a 52-article series devoted to sharing histories 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 ongoing project to document 52 families in 52 weeks.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Tom Owens & Family, Choctaw Freedmen

Coming from Red River County of the Choctaw Nation, in the town of Harris, Indian Territory, we find the Owens family of Choctaw Freedmen. Tom Owens appeared in front of the Dawes Commission April 18, 1899 to enroll himself, his wife Charlotte, their daughters Mollie, Lettie, and son Charley and another child, Martha Ann. Charley was born enslaved and he was enslaved by Lorenzo Harris of the Choctaw Nation. 

Choctaw Freedman Card #186
The National Archives at Ft. Worth, Ft. Worth Texas 1868-1914

NAI Number: 251747 Record Group Title: Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Record Group 75


From the back of the cards, it is revealed that Tom's father was also a man called Tom Owens. His mother was Jinsey Dradner who was enslaved by Betsey Harris, wife of the enslaver Lorenzo. 

Tom's wife Charlotte was from the Butler family and her father was Henry Butler, once enslaved by Tom Pitchlynn. The Pitchlynn family was a prominent family in the Choctaw Nation, and Peter Pitchlynn was once the principal chief of the Choctaw Nation. Charlotte's mother was Carrie Butler, and both Henry and Carrie (Charlotte's parents) were both on the earlier 1896 Roll. The had been enslaved by William Harris


(same as above)



From The Application Jacket

At first glance the standard interview is found in the packet. Basic information is collected. As a Freedman it was asked if he had been a slave and who the slave holder was. Questions were also asked about his wife and whether she was a "state woman" , meaning from the United States. The reply was that she was a Freedman of the Choctaw Nation.

Another more interesting question was asked, if he had collected $100 and agreed to leave the Territory, and he replied that he had not.


National Archives Publication M1301
Applications for Enrollment
(Also accessed from Fold3.com, Native American Collection, Choctaw Freedmen)


Another Witness was called Bill Cole, and he was asked to confirm the name of the slave holders of Tom Owens, and he confirmed that Lorenzo and Betsy Harris were his slave holders. He confirmed that Tom was also considered a Choctaw Freedman.



The file was surprisingly large with additional papers about people not part of the family. Among one of the pages was a document reflecting the death of daughter Lettie who died in 1902. But what stands out in the file is a large number of pages pertaining to cases of omission by the Dawes Comission to enroll various individuals who had come through the interviews with the commssioners. They had met requirements for enrollment, but for some reason they had been previously omitted.



(Same as above)

However, those pages were quite extensive. The name that appear on those multiple pages represented people from other tribes who should have been enrolled. Among all of the people on those pages were Cherokees, Creeks, Chickasaws. In an effort to clear up confusion it was pointed out that all had been omitted previously and should have been enrolled.


(Same as above)

(Additional pages from the same collection NARA Publication M1301)

And the paragraph reflecting Tom Owens family information was included about Martha Ann Owens whose name had previously been omitted. It was also noted out that the people on the enrollment card were the children of Tom and Charlotte and that they all should also be placed upon the approved roll of Freedmen as well.

(Same as above)

Also found were birth affidavits that one often sees in files, reflecting children born after the interview process had begun.

(same as above)

And from the final pages of the lengthy it was concluded that the Henry and Martha should also be included as Choctaw Freedmen



Land Allotted

Like all families members of the Owens family was allotted land. Each person received a portion of land, appropriately.

Ancestry.com. Oklahoma and Indian Territory, Land Allotment Jackets for Five Civilized Tribes, 1884-1934[database on-line].
Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc, 2014.

(same as above)

The Cole family lived for many years in the community of Harris, but years later subsequent generations relocated to central Oklahoma to the Oklahoma City are where some descendants reside today. Their history of survival of enslavement and their continued life for many years in the Choctaw Nation is a testament to their sense of family, survival and legacy.

* * * * * * * * * *

This is the 32nd article in a 52-article series devoted to sharing histories 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.


Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Jerry Alberty & Family - Cherokee Freedmen

In the 1890s, Jerry Alberty lived with his family in Wagoner, Indian Territory. He was 66 at the time and lived with his wife Ruth, and their three daughters Amelia, Bertha, and Hattie. He was a Cherokee citizen, and earlier in life he was enslaved by William Alberty. His wife Ruth had once been enslaved by Nancy Marchum. Their data was all included on Cherokee Freedman Card #153.


The National Archives at Ft. Worth, Ft. Worth Texas 1868-1914
NAI Number: 251747

Record Group Title: Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Record Group 75

Jerry's father was Mose Alberty, and his mother was an enslaved woman known as Sarah. Sarah's slave holder was Mose Alberty---the same man who was her husband's slave holder. To clarify--Mose Alberty had a child with his slave Sarah, and Jerry was the child she had as a result.

Ruth's father was Willis Marcum and her mother was Lucinda Marcum. Willis, Ruth's father was once enslaved by Leroy Marcum, and her mother Lucinda had been enslaved Bluford West. The family had ties to the Cooweescoowee and the Saline District in the Cherokee Nation.

(Same as above image)

From the Application Jackets
The interview is a standard one for Jerry Alberty, beginning with questions about his status in the Cherokee nation. He mentions the name of his slave holders as well as the name of the person who held his wife in bondage.


Some interesting questions reflect events in his life during the Civil War. He was taken further south in Indian Territory, as many slaves were during the war, with the intention of keeping the enslaved from conflict and from any opportunity for escape. Ruth was also taken south, near Red River, and Jerry Alberty pointed out that he brought Ruth back to the Cherokee Nation with him, and that he married her while they were still there.

When asked where he was before the Civil War, he pointed out that in the beginning of the war he was in the Cherokee Nation, "up here on Grand River." He was also asked about wife Ruth and whether or not she was taken south during the war, and when she returned. He replied, "I brought her back when I came. I married her in the south, on Red River, during the war and brought her back when I returned."


National Archives Publication M1901
 U.S., Native American Applications for Enrollment in Five Civilized Tribes,
1898-1914
[database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2013.

The commissioners then examined the 1880 Authenticated Roll of Cherokee Freedmen and the names of Jerry and Ruth Alberty were found on that roll. It was also revealed that they had another daughter called Sarah who was by that time,now married, and was not being claimed during that application process.

Thankfully the names of the children were also found on the 1896 roll and as a result the family enrolled without difficulty.


(Source: Same as above image)

Two years later another interview is conducted but only with daughter Amelia who was married. Her husband was Tollie Elliott, who was not a Cherokee citizen. Amelia and her husband marred in December 1901, and lived in Wagoner, I.T.

(Source: Same as above image)

And a few years later in an interview with a man called William Fields, it is learned that Jerry Alberty's  younger daughter Bertha had married in August 2002. Bertha's husband was the son of the witness William Fields.

(Source: Same as above image)


In the interview with William Fields, it was mentioned that his son was an applicant as a Cherokee Freedmen. A search was made for his enrollment card, and it was learned that his application was rejected. Apparently there was a claim that had also been placed for reconsideration but was apparently denied. However as Bertha was enrolled her husband would have eventually have had access to land nevertheless, even though his claim was denied.

The National Archives at Ft. Worth, Ft. Worth Texas 1868-1914

NAI Number: 251747
Record Group Title: Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Record Group 75


(Same as above image)



Additional family information
This Alberty family was well documented and as was stated in the interview, they were found on the authenticated roll of Cherokee Citizens of 1880. From that entry of 1880 the size of the Alberty family is found.

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


On that record the names of additional children are found: Louisa, Noah, Moses, John, Carrie, Josh J., Sam, and Millie. Those who were still living at the time of the Dawes enrollment era would have been adults and submitted applications on their own.
Close up of Albertys on the 1880 Roll

A few years later Jerry Alberty was also documented on the Wallace Roll, conducted in the early 1890s. And additional names can also be gleaned from that record. It is noted that his name appears on page 1 and line one of that roll.

Wallace Roll - National Archives
Source: https://catalog.archives.gov/id/300345



Jerry Alberty survived enslavement, and returned to the place that he knew as home--the Cherokee Nation, and raised his large family there. The core family spent most of their years in Wagoner before subsequent generations began migrating in later years across the nation.

Jerry Alberty also served briefly on the Cherokee Nation tribal council, and he worked among the Freedman population for many years. He as well as the entire Alberty family was well respected, in Wagoner and in other Freedman communities. Jerry and Ruth both placed an interest in education for their children, and some of their children were educated at the Cherokee Colored High School in Double Springs before it was destroyed in the early 1900s.

Jerry Alberty died on the 8th of January 1904. It is noted that the death report was filed  son Noah.



He is buried at the Jerry Alberty Family Cemetery in Wagoner Oklahoma, and a dignified stone marks his burial site. This patriarch of the large clan of Alberty's has descendants in many lines today. They have a rich heritage that is well documented, and it is hoped that his history as a survivor, family patriarch and community leader and his and Ruth's legacy will always be remembered.

(Photo: Courtesy of Mark Harrison)

* * * * *
This is the 31st article in a 52 article series devoted to sharing histories 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.


Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The Family of Delia Noble - Seminole Freedmen


When researching families from Indian Territory, it is often valuable to study not only the enrollment cards but also to remember the various categories of records where families are found. The standard enrollment cards are always a starting point, and they are particularly essential when researching those tribes where the interviews were never microfilmed. The lack of records are found when examining families that are Seminole and Creek families.

However, by examining the files of relatives found in "other" categories such as the "New Born" files, one can often learn more about the family. I was able to do this with data on a Seminole Freedman family, the Nobles of Wewoka.

With this family we begin with a Seminole New Born card, with 3 children, Stephen, Leford, and Rachel. All 3 children are 5 years or  younger. Their mother is Delia Noble, and their father George Noble is said to be a Creek citizen.

Seminole Freedman New Born Card #9
The National Archives at Ft. Worth, Ft. Worth Texas 1868-1914

NAI Number: 251747
Record Group Title: Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Record Group 75



On Seminole Freedman card #648,  we find Delia Noble, and 6 other children. The children were Shake Payne, and William, Benjamin, Robert, Lyman and Elbetta, all with the Noble surname. All whose names appear on this card are noted as members of the Bruner band.


Seminole Freedman Card #648
(Source: same as above)

Back side of card
(Source: same as above)

It is also clear that the father George Noble is a Creek citizen as he is found on Creek Freedman Card 1400 (Field card 1516)

Creek Freedman Card #1400
(Source: same as above)

(Back of Card)



Application Jackets

With both parents application jackets do not exist. There is not one for George Noble among the Creek files, nor is there one for Delia Noble among Seminole files. However, because there was as separate effort to enroll Stephen Noble as a Creek, the family story is found. Stephen's name was put on a Seminole Freedman card (see above) among those cards known as "New Born" cards. Thankfully there is an extensive file to be found reflecting his status, with interviews pertaining to not only the family but their presence on earlier rolls.

Looking and finding data on the family was a challenge. For Seminole Freedman Card number 648 no application jacket exists among the many digitized images found on Fold3 and Ancestry. Among the collections to be found are the categories of  "Seminole", "Seminole Memorandum", "Seminole Newborn", and "Seminole Newborn Freedmen". And strangely, there is no single category of "Seminole Freedmen" to be found. So the file that pertained to Delia's file was not included among the many microfilmed records.

However, from the file of "Seminole Newborn Freedmen" a file accompanies the card with the 3 children, Stephen, Leford and Rachel. The greater surprise is that an extensive set of documents were contained within that file, and it is from that file of the Newborn Freedmen, that an amazingly rich series of interviews and documents are found.

One first finds some birth affidavits of the children. Such documents are often found in the application jackets and these are valuable records because they provide information that pre-dates Oklahoma statehood and also the process of documenting births.


Ancestry.com. U.S., Native American Applications for Enrollment 

in Five Civilized Tribes, 1898-1914[database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2013.


(Source: same as above)


The most essential part of this application jacket is a multiple page document, examining the status of the family. Keep in mind that the father in this household-- George Noble was a Creek Citizen and their mother Delia was Seminole.

Many of the questions involved their status and the effort was made to determine if they were Seminole or Creek. George Noble, in fact had appeared in front of the commission in 1904 to enroll his son Stephen as a Creek. George explains how he was enrolling his son and it was noted that Delia his wife was Seminole.

(Source: same as above)

Much of the questioning in the interview centered around whether or not George was registering only one child while the others were registered as Seminole. He explained himself several times, and he was challenged on whether he was accurate about the dates. He pointed out that he record dates of birth from the family bible, and he noted was registering the child Stephen because the others had been registered already as Seminoles.

Much of the interview seems to ask the same questions more than one time. An associate of George Noble was also called to verify the birth of the child, and the examination continued.

(Source: same as above)


At times there appeared to be an effort to confuse George the witness pointing out statements that he had made earlier in response to previous questions.

(Source: same as above)


Repeatedly questions about George's movements were posed to him and other witnesses, how often he came to trade and with whom he visited when coming to town to trade. Also the time in which George came to file on his land were discussed.


(Source: same as above)

As witnesses were called, the reader can glean much about the process of Dawes enrollment, when often the line of questioning would stray from the status of the applicant and often focus on one or two details would surface. However, the reader can also learn much about the movement and life of the applicant with some of the details expressed.

(Source: same as above)


The complexity of questions directed to applicants is clearly seen in this file. As much as some files were strangely brief or non-existent in many files, this case seemed to cover multiple angles about his desire to enroll his son.

The point is also that the questioning pertains to Creek enrollment, although George's wife and children were Seminoles of the Bruner band. Also the ultimate status of the family would be that of Seminole family, it is also important to realize how close these two tribes were as well. Families new each other, and mingled socially. Many from one tribe chose a spouse from the other tribe, and it is well known that both cultures share similar origins from the southeast.

(Source: same as above)

The file went on for multiple pages, and even beyond these question and answer interviews 20 more pages were part of this file, consisting of letters pertaining to the Noble family.

(Source: same as above)

Questions about whether or not people knew George Noble closely were asked even to the point of asking if the witnesses had visited the Noble household and recalled the birth of the child Stephen. There was focus on the fact that there was movement when called to appear and register, and one can see how often people were responding to the call to enroll.

One associate was called and asked about his own child's date of birth, and whether or not George Noble's child was born before or after his child's birth. Delia is mentioned continually, and her status as Seminole was repeatedly mentioned. But her voice, appeared to be the one voice that was missing. She was not a witness in these pages, yet, her presence and status as a Seminole was never challenged.

(Source: same as above)

(Source: same as above)

There are 19 more pages that are part of this family's file. Clearly, one might find much value in researching the records and files of Newborn Freedmen to document more of the family's rich and complex history.

Decision

In 1907 a decision was finally made on the case for Stephen. The application to enroll him as a Seminole Freedman was denied. However the denial was based on the fact that he had been enrolled as a Creek and his status was therefore not changed. As one can see from the first illustration above, a line was drawn through his name on the front of the card.


(Source: same as above)


(Source: same as above)


Delia and her children were enrolled as Seminole Freedmen, and the one child Stephen was kept as a Creek citizens. Since the Seminole Nation still allows the two Freedman bands to be a part of the nation, it is hoped that descendants of the Noble family are still a part of the nation that is their birthright. The extensive file reflects a complex and interesting history, and hopefully their story will be told of how all but one of Delia's children were Seminole, and how one branch became Creek.

This is the 30th article in a 52-article series devoted to sharing histories 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.