Sunday, February 12, 2012

Examining the First Draft of the Choctaw Freedmen Dawes Roll

Early Roster of Choctaw Freedman Roll
This early roster represents the hand written copy made before the Final Roll was Compiled.

Those who use the Dawes Records often see references on the Enrollment cards that the enrollees' names appeared on earlier rolls. However, one does not always see the names of the Final Dawes enrollees on the first draft copy from which the Final Rolls were made. It is worth exploring such documents to learn more about the family and when they enrolled in in some cases with whom they went to the Dawes Commission.

Before the final roll was compiled, a hand-written copy of the roll was made. These were entries made in ledgers of those Freedmen applicants who had been approved to have their names placed on the final rolls. And interestingly, in some cases the names appeared on the Final Roll in exactly the same sequence as they appeared on the First Draft.

The following example can be noted. Polly Ann Eliza Miller, and Davis Frazier both young people, appeared on Choctaw Freedman Cards 670 and 671 respectively.

National Archives Publication M1186
Enrollment Cards for the Five Civilized Tribes Reel 51
Choctaw Nation, Choctaw Freedman Card Nos.670 and 671

Both were born well after slavery had ended in the Choctaw Nation, so no slaveholder is listed on their cards. However, the parental data reflects who their parents were, and who the Indian slave owner of their parents were. See reverse side below:

Reverse side of Freedmen Cards, reflecting parents and slaveholders of parents
(National Archives Publication M1186
Enrollment Cards for the Five Civilized Tribes Reel 51
Choctaw Nation, Choctaw Freedman Card Nos.670 and 671)

Polly's parents were Jackson Crow and Jane Crow. Davis's parents were Silas and Indiana Frazier. 

Jackson Crow, Polly's father, was a slave of Choctaw Nail Perry. Davis Frazier's father was not a slave, but was a Choctaw Indian named Silas Frazier. Davis Frazier's mother was Indiana Frazier and she was a slave of Sophia Perry.* 

The two have cards that are close in number and although at first glance they might appear to be unrelated family history indicated that they were in actuality cousins. Nail Perry was the patriarch of the Perry clan that lived in Sugar Loaf, County of the Choctaw Nation, and he was also a witness in each case involving the slaves held by the Perry family. Nail Perry was the son and Hardy and Sophia Perry. 

Both Polly and Davis, not only had enrollment cards close in number, they were listed on the hand roster together as well.

On the First Draft of the Freedmen Roll, Polly Miller and Davis Frazier were actually listed together

Both had been interviewed on the same day and it is known  by family that they were part of the same family clan (Perry's, Fraziers and Waltons) There is also the likelihood that the two of them went to the Commission at the same time. Both had, in fact had their names put on their enrollment cards on the same date, June 6, 1899.

The value of looking at the earliest document that eventually led to the creation of the Final Rolls can she light on the enrollment process, and even give a glimpse into the movement of the officials of the Dawes Commission. One can also learn when the Dawes Commissioners visited the various communities, throughout the Territory.

My gr. grandparents were on Choctaw Freedmen Card No. 777
(National Archives Publication M1186
Enrollment Cards for the Five Civilized Tribes 
Choctaw Nation, Choctaw Freedman Card No. 777)

I was pleased to also find them on the original First Draft Copy of the Choctaw Freedman Roll:

The same Walton family appeared also on the first draft of the Freedman Roll

The early draft is also useful, as they occasionally contain notes about the family or in some cases the slave holder and their estate. In the image above there is a reference to J.D. Davis and his heirs. On the official Enrollment Card, the slaveholder is simply listed as Jim Davis. This small difference might provide a small clue to another record set that may hold data with further research.

Although the genealogical data presented on the First Draft Roster of the Freedman Roll, will rarely differ, it is still useful to see the names of the approved applicants on the that first draft roll. It would be this roll upon which subsequent decisions would also be made. 

As genealogists we must look for all possible resources, including early drafts of the Final Rolls.

* Sophia Perry was the mother to Nail Perry who would frequently vouch for the Waltons and the inter-related families.