Monday, October 2, 2017

Fannie Ewing & Martha Moore, Two Chickasaw Women

The stories of these two women are presented here, because they could be forgotten in time. They were both born enslaved by Chickasaws and lived their entire lives as Chickasaws. By the time of the Dawes Commission, they appeared to have lived alone but both appeared in front of the Dawes Commission in the spring of 1899.

And both of their stories reflect how important it is to study the community where ancestors lived. By studying the community it is evident that these women were not living in isolation, and did have people within a social and family circle that were part of their lives. The actual residence of both of these women was in Red River County in the Choctaw Nation, but they lived full lives nevertheless as Chickasaws.

From the card of Fannie Ewing, it is learned that she was enslaved by Robert Jones, and Martha was enslaved by W. A. Welch. Fannie Ewing was born in the 1840s and the slave holder was Robert Jones, an extremely wealthy Choctaw Indian. Jones' wife Susan was Chickasaw, and it is through her that many slaves were held by Jones. But years later after the war and after freedom, by the 1890s Fanny  lived in Janis, Indian Territory in Red River County of the Choctaw Nation.

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
Fannie's parents were Jerry Graham and Daphne Jones, and both were deceased at the time of Dawes enrollment.
(Source: same as above.)
Living in the town of  Harris, I. T., was Martha Moore, once enslaved by W. A. Welch. (I recognized the name of W. A. Welch, because he testified on behalf of my great grandparents in June of 1899 in Skullyville when they appeared in front of the commission.) Like Fanny Ewing, she was in her 50s and seemingly alone when appearing in front of the commission.

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

Martha's parents were Daniel Mason and Charity Mason. Her mother Charity had been enslaved also by W. A. Welch.
(Source: same as above)



Application Jackets
Fannie's application jacket was slim offering a small interview. But in this case it was pointed out that Fannie's enslavement came to Robert Jones through his wife Susan. Susan Colbert Jones was a Chickasaw and she apparently brought some slaves with her into the marriage. In the interview one of the relatives of Susan Colbert testified that she had known Fannie since her birth and in fact had even known Fannie's mother before she (Fannie) was born. 

This is one of several cases where a relative from the slave owning family came to testify on behalf of their former slave in front of the Dawes Commission. Although many details are not revealed it is clear that some kind of relationship did exist with the former slaves even years after freedom had come. In this case, Lin Colbert was adamant that not only did he know Fannie but knew her mother as well.

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.


Martha Moore's Application Jacket
In the case of Martha Moore, this was the first time that I have seen a former slave holder from Indian Territory testify on behalf of one of the former slaves. 

In the 1-page interview from the application jacket, the witness was asked, "Was she a slave?" He replied, "Yes sir." Then when asked "who was her master?" He replied, "I was." He also admitted out that the Chickasaws never enrolled their former slaves, even though they had signed the treaty to do so. 

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.


Other Family
Living close by in Janis, I. T. was a young woman Mary Ewing. Mary was 25 years of age, not on any earlier rolls. Her father was Charley Williams and her mother turned out to be Fannie Ewing.

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

And also once again in the same community of Janis, I. T., in the household of Julia and Charlie Edd, another relation appeared. Julia Edd was another married daughter of Fanny Ewing.

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

Extended Family for Martha Moore
Likewise with the case of Martha, in the same community of Harris I.T., was the Cotton family. Mollie Cotton lived there with a fairly large family. She lived nearby with her husband Tom, her grown children and some grandchildren in the household. All of these were a part of Martha Moore's extended family. Mollie was the daughter of Martha Moore.


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

Though there is not a lot to go on with the actual application jackets of Fanny Ewing and Martha Moore, a bit more examination of the cards from the same community reflected other people who were indeed part of their familiar circles. They were survivors and there is no doubt that they influenced the lives of their families where they lived.

Small application jackets do not prevent the family story from emerging. These two Chickasaw Freedwomen who were registered alone, did have a thriving family life in their small corner of the Choctaw Nation where they lived, in Red River County. Their families, thrived and their names should not be forgotten nor overlooked.
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This is the 28th article in a 52-article series devoted to sharing histories of famlies once held as enslaved people in Indian Territory, nowknown as Oklahoma. The focus is on the Freedmen of the Five Civilized Tribes, and these posts are part of an on0going project to document 52 families in 52 weeks.

1 comment:

Terry Ligon said...

Angela thanks for the story and again we are able to see how complex the relationships were in various freedmen communities. You are correct just because the application packets were small (in too many cases) for the freedmen, their story resonated throughout their community if you take the time to do just a little more digging. Genealogical research among the freedmen is not that much different from research on blacks who were enslaved outside of Indian Territory; we sometimes have more documents that provide more clues to our ancestors and their history among the Five Slave Holding Tribes.