During the Dawes Enrollment era, for Choctaw Freedmen, the process began in the Stonewall/Ada community. Simon Clark appeared in front of the commission to enroll himself with his family. His name and that of his family were inscribed on the very first card of the Choctaw Nation. This occurred in September of 1898.
However upon examination of his card, one can see that his name was actually removed, with the line drawn through his name. And in addition--the actual roll numbers of his wife and children were not 2 through 5 as would be expected on a low card. Their actual roll numbers were much higher than single digits that one might think. So what happened in his case?
Choctaw Freedman Card #1
NARA Publication M1186 Record Group 75, Roll 49
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
However because he died before the process ended, his name was not placed on the final rolls, although it had been approved.
Several months later in the spring of 1899, there came Amelia Folsom. She lived in the town of Doaksville, and she was 52 years of age, and not far in age from Simon Clark. Her name is found on card # 163, and she was listed alone on the card. She was married to a Chickasaw Freedman named Henry Folsom, which is why only her name is on the card alone.
However, she, Amelia Folsom is given the roll number of #1. She was not "next in line" behind Simon Clark, and in fact appeared in front of the commission sever months after he did. As one looks at the enrollment cards that follow her card, the numbers on those cards are in numerical order, with cards # 2,3,4,5, etc. These interviews were occurring in April of 1899 in Towson County in the Doaksville area.
However, nevertheless, Simon Clark's card number placed in clearly in the early process of the Dawes enrollment for Choctaw Freedmen. Amelia Folsom enrolled alone among those who lived in the Chickasaw community of Ada and she was thus assigned the number early on when the commissioners were in her area.
Chances are that the numbers followed the commissioners and it was they who assigned roll numbers within a specific range, no matter when they began interviewing in their designated areas.
Clearly, Simon Clark was at the front of the line, and Amelia was at the front where she lived in Doaksville. Both were good people living the lives that fate had delivered to them. As ordinary as their lives may have been they were clearly determined to involve themselves in a process that would carry forward their legacy into an uncertain future in a complex status of a complicated land.
They are both honored on this 3rd day of Freedmen History Month.
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