Cherokee Freedman Card #1 Roll #1
The National Archives at Ft Worth; Ft Worth, Texas, USA; Enrollment Cards for the Five Civilized Tribes, 1898-1914; NAI Number: 251747; Record Group Title: Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs; Record Group Number: 75
From Muskogee, I. T. came the application of John H. Ross, a Cherokee citizen. John Ross was the son of Stephen Ross who had once been enslaved by Cherokee Chief John Ross.
The family lived in Muskogee. Taking note of John H. Ross, age, he may have been the first person in the family line born into freedom. He was born about 1866. His parents were Stephen Ross and Emily Humphrey. While his father Stephen was enslaved by John Ross, his mother Emily Humphrey who was still living at the time. With him on the card is his son John H. Ross Jr., and daughter Elnora.
Emily, his mother was on her own enrollment card, and she was clearly a woman who was the matriarch of her own family. When there was a concern about daughter Elnora whose name appears on the card, Emily, the grandmother went to testify on her behalf. She was an elderly woman with a strong sense of self.
Eventually the issue surrounging the child Elnora was revolved and her name was added of John H Ross' card.
A question arises about how John H. Ross came to be the first Cherokee Freedman enrolled and place on the card. This likely stemmed from the fact that John H. Ross had been connected to one of the more proinent Cherokee families. But at the same time, the status of being once connected to the family of Chief John Ros, could have influenced his being placed to highly on the Freedman Roll. The cse of the child Elnora's status is what made an otherwise simple case to a more complicated one.
This has been an effort to document some of the stories from Indian Territory. The case of the first Freedman case to unfold in the Cherokee Nation, provides an interesting glimpse into late 19th and early 20th century living in the Territory. John H. Ross was the first of over 3000 cases of Cherokee Freedmen to follow. He made history as the first Freedman, but left the door open through which thousands more followed.