Sunday, December 22, 2013

A Review of the Dawes Records: Cards, Applications, & the Final Roll

Frequently when the issue of having Indian ancestry comes up, I often see questions from researchers seeking information about families who may have been on the Dawes Rolls. While hoping to determine if an ancestor was part of a Native American community, or had "Indian blood" I often hear that the person has looked for the family on the Dawes Roll. Many people from multiple states often turn to the Dawes Roll, to prove their Indian ancestry.

But in some cases, I have noticed that there is a basic misunderstanding about what the Dawes Roll is, and the history of the large record set known as Dawes Records.

First things first
It should be pointed out that these records created by the Dawes Commission, between 1898 - 1914 represent applications made by individuals who were living in Indian Territory in the latter half of the 19th century. The applications were being made to determine who was eligible to receive land allotments prior to the admittance of Oklahoma to the Union. The only exception is that of the Mississippi Choctaws, in which several thousand people in that state also applied under Article 14 of the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit signed in 1829.

But before using the Dawes records, it is necessary to gain a basic understanding of these records, because one must understand the purpose of this record set, to be able to use them correctly. Therefore, I wish to point out some basic facts before looking at the various categories.

Understand the Purpose of the Rolls Before You Look
The Dawes Commission, named after Henry C. Dawes who chaired the commission, consisted of a process that would lead to a redistribution of land to those who already owned it among the Five "Civilized" Tribes. Understand that land was held in common by the Five Civilized Tribes. The Dawes Enrollment process was created to determine who would be eligible for allotted parcels of land. Eligibility involved providing "proof" that one had been a part of the tribe for several decades, and especially in those years immediately following the Civil War. So one had to prove that one had been a part of the Indian Community since 1866. For those whose ancestors were enslaved by members of the Tribes, (the Freedmen)  they had to often provide proof that their former enslaver was a member of the tribe.

Don't Be Distracted by Tribal Enrollment
Unfortunately, many begin the search of the Dawes Rolls to "prove" something and the hope is that the "proof" will bring rewards. 

Far too frequently people end up searching the Dawes Records because they only want to enroll in on of the Five Tribes of Oklahoma. The tribes require finding an ancestor on the Dawes Rolls as a step stone to membership in the current tribe today. However, for the genealogist--it is imperative that you separate your genealogy search, from the issue of tribal enrollment. The genealogy research is the key to a unique history and whatever the outcome of the family's application---the history of all persons who went through the process are important, are significant and are equally of value.

If one begins the family history process and then stops searching because you find that can't enroll in the tribe, you are possibly missing critical data on your history. If you stop researching because you can't join a tribe, you might end up short changing your history,  missing your knowledge of your family's resilience, and you might end up neglecting the rest of the story. So, if you are one who has a true interest in your family's history, and you have ties to Indian Territory, and/or Mississippi, these records can open doors to an amazing history for you.

Regardless of what category your family had after the process ended--your history is important, and whether your ancestors were listed as citizens "By Blood", "Freedmen" "Inter-married whites", "Newborns", or "Minors". All of these categories reflect a rich history that should be embraced as being significant, as being noteworthy and should be embraced as being valuable. All of these categories put your family on a unique historical landscape on the western frontier and all provide fascinating glimpses into an under-studied and under researched history.

Study the Records and Not the Rolls
The Dawes Rolls were the final part in a process that took many years. The document was eventually presented to Congress as a Senate Document. However, the critical records are not the family's name on a list. The critical records are the Enrollment Cards, and the Application Jackets. The National Archives Publication Number for the Enrollment Cards is M1186.  The Application Jackets publication number is M1301, and the Final Roll publication number is T529.

Understand the Categories

The Dawes Records are divided in to several categories:
   -Records by Blood
   -Freedmen Records
   -Inter-Married Whites
   -New Borns
   -Doubtful Records
   -Rejected Records

At the same time, it should be noted that the names of the various categories can often be misleading. For example, if one had ancestors who had been enslaved, chances are that they may have been eventually been placed on the Freedmen Rolls. This ancestor might have had blood ties, to the tribe as well, but during that era, having a once enslaved parent often put applicants on the Freedmen Roll, no matter what the ties were to an Indian parent. Thus being on the Freedmen Roll did not necessarily mean that there was no Indian ancestor.

Another example is that of Minors and Children. Minors and children rolls were created as a way to add children to the rolls of admitted citizens who were born after the parents initial interview, but who were determined to also be eligible for enrollment. Note that this was before the process had closed. At the same time, there were thousands of children who were on the regular cards, who were born before the family went through the enrollment process, so their names are not on the Minors or New Born cards. They are on the initial cards with their parents.

Example of Categories: 

I am presenting one family to show how the data is reflected in the various records. The sample family is the family of William Folsom, found on Choctaw Freedman Card #729:

Enrollment Card of William Folsom

(Front side of Freedman Card)
Image Source: National Archive Publication M1186
Choctaw Freedmen, #729
Image also found on

(Back Side of Freedman Card)
Image Source: National Archives Publication M1186
Choctaw Freedmen #729 side two
Image also found on

It should also be noted that a line has been drawn through the name of Annie Folsom, the wife of William. She was alive at the time the time of the initial application. Thus her name was placed on the enrollment card, However, before the final decision was made by the Dawes Commission, her name was removed as can be noted on the card, where her name appears with a line drawn through it.

With those whose ancestors were enslaved, the name of the former slave holder is noted on the card. This was essential for the proof that one was enslaved by a member of the tribe. On the front of the card, William Folsom identifies his slave holder as Zed Harrison, But on the back side of the card, the person who enslaved his parents was Israel Folsom a leader in the Choctaw Nation. Note also that Freedman Cards are double sided, while other categories are not double sided cards.

Israel Folsom held Williams parents in bondage.

* * *

Application Jacket of William Folsom

The application jacket contains a very brief  1 page interview with William Folsom. Note that it is more common for application jackets to consist of multiple pages with more in-depth interviews.

Brief Interview With William Folsom
National Archives Publication M1301
Choctaw Freedmen #729

Note that since Annie had died, a document reflecting her death was included in the file.

Death Record for Annie Folsom, wife of William Folsom
National Archives Publication M1301
Choctaw Freedmen #729

A memorandum was also included in the file of William Folsom, noting the family that would eventually end up on the Final Roll.

Memorandum found in file of William Folsom
National Archives Publication M1301
Choctaw Freedmen #729

William Folsom Family Names on Final Rolls

Arrow points to Wm. Folsom Family on the Final Rolls

Note that the Final Dawes Roll is a free standing document. In fact it is a 634 page book of all of the names of persons who were approved and who were determined to be eligible for enrollment. It is also categorized as National Archives Publication T529. Other records such as Enrollment Cards, Application Jackets and all of the many parts to those files are Dawes Records but the Dawes Roll. refers to the page where the family name actually appears.  

Allotted Land - The Final Part of the Dawes Process

Another set of useful documents is a record set known as Applications for Allotments, which were completed when approved citizens made the formal application for their land allotments and the tracts of land were assigned to them. Those records are now fully digitized and reside on Family Search. 

William Folsom applied for his own land allotment and then for each of the children whose names were also on his card. This record set provides the answer to the question that many Dawes enrollees descendants have wondered for many years. That question is "Where was the land that they received?" These previously un-digitized records now point the researcher to the exact spot of the ancestors' allotted land.

Land Allotment Records Made by William Folsom

The Dawes Records are rich and full of data. The stories to be told are there, and hopefully this brief description will provide an overview for those who have ties to Indian Territory and today's Oklahoma, and parts of Mississippi.

A follow up article will include samples of documents from all of the categories.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Plantation Excavation in the Choctaw Nation

Three years ago, I wrote an article about the Robert Jones plantation archaeological project. I have been talking about the project in recent weeks and what a surprise to see that there was an update yesterday of the excavation project on the Jones Plantation.

This is the largest slave plantation west of Arkansas and it is historically significant, although not widely known, and under studied and researched.

The home was the site of Robert Jones, a wealthy Choctaw Indian who owned more than 500 slaves before the Civil War.

Robert Jones and wife, Susan Colbert Jones

After the war,the home fell into disrepair and was burned in 1915. Now 98 years later an effort is being made to learn more about the estate, and the people who lived there.

The project I hope will begin to tell stories of the enslaved as well as the slave holders and reveal aspects about their lives that shall reflect more of the history lost to time, erosion and human memory.

As artifacts are pulled from the soil, I also hope that the project will expand, as there are so many questions to ask.

* Have remains of the slave cabins been found as yet? Robert Jones had at least 15 on his largest farm, and finding those will reveal a lot yet undiscovered about the lives of Choctaw slaves.

A small notation on the 1860 Slave schedule indicates that 
Choctaw slaveholder Robert Jones had 15 slave cabins on his property.
Source: 1860 U.S. Federal Census - Slave Schedules [database on-line]. 
Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2010.

* Were slaves buried in any known place? 

* And what can be gleaned about their lives so far from the excavation?

The hard work continues, and I hope that there will be collaboration from many in the Oklahoma community. The Oklahoma Archaeology Society invites and welcomes assistance from the community on their excavation projects. This work is so important, and may someday lead to more facts about the lives of the much under studied enslaved Black men, women and children, of the Choctaw Nation.
* * * * *

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Negro Convention in the Creek Nation

Partial Image of Leading article from Muskogee Cimeter
September 27, 1907  p. 1

In September of 1907 Black Men who were known in the Creek Nation as leaders convened in Muskogee for a major meeting. The gathering was reported in the press simply as "the Negro Convention". The September 27 issue of The Muskogee Cimeter a Black newspaper in Muskogee provided a good listing of who the representatives were from various communities in the Creek Nation. Since the article described the convention as the "Negro" Convention, the list of dignitaries in attendance, provides the reader a virtual who's who among African Creeks.

The group was a temporary one at the time of the meeting, but permanent committees were developed at that meeting. An impressive list of names of various persons in attendance and appointed to new rols appeared in the article. This list is significant, as it provides an interesting glimpse in to pre-Oklahoma statehood society and culture among the "estelusti" of the Muscogee Creeks.

In addition, very little can be found in many current texts about this Muskogee convention in 1907
Since legibility is not sharp from the article, the names are transcribed below. (Note that on the Finance committee, the communities where the various member lived was included.)

Committee on Resolutions:
 Capt. A.V. Jones
 George Robinson
 P.A. Lewis
 J.A. Roper

Committee on Delegates
E.D. Nickens
P.A. Lewis
Steve Grayson
P.B. Hudson
L.A. Bell

Committee Finance:
Jake Simmons, Haskell
H.D. Reed, Lee
William James, Chase
J.H. Stevens, Beggs
S. L. James, Sapulpa
L.E. Willis, Tullahassee
E. L. McShann, Tullahassee
George Wade, Wybark
Dr. Evans, Ft. Gibson
Dr. Smith, Clarksville
P.B. Hudson, Gatesville
Alex Perryman, Gatesville
J.H. Reeves, Rentie
J.E. Thompson, Clearview
Mose Grayson, Henryetta
Frank Haygood, Sharp
R.J. Chatman, Bald Hill
Rev. N. A. Robinson, Rentiesville
F. P Brinson, Rentiesville
J.H. Lewis, Porter
E. L. Barber, Red Bird
John Simmons, Coweta
L.A. House, Coweta
O.W. Gurley, Tulsa
W. Watson, Grayson
J. F. Davis, Rex
J. Fonville, Rex
O. W. Bradley, Boley
Henry Taylor, Boley
F.M. Haynes, Boley
M. C. Perry, Checotah
Lone Landrum, Checotah
J. N. Jackson, Eufaula
G. P. Phillips, Eufaula
Wm. Vann, Newby
Frank Knolls, Bristow
Noah Alberty, Lonetia or Wagoner
A.R. Penn, Loetia or Wagoner
J. A. Roper, Okmulgee
Steve Grayson, Okmulgee
Felix Driver, Taft
W. B. Riley, Taft
John D. Phelps, Wagoner
W.D. Huggins, Wagoner
P.A. Lewis, Inola
L.E. Nero, Broken Arrow
Morris J. Sango, Muskogee
J. H. Smith, Muskogee
J.T. Trimble, Muskogee
L. W. Sango, Muskogee
L.W. Fue, Muskogee

Additional committees were formed and a vast array of speeches were made. The convention was also well attended by a large number of other members of the Creek Nation

"The entire Creek Nation was represented, and visitors from other nations present."

Excerpt from article from Muskogee Cimeter
September 27, 1907  p. 1

Not much is known what kind of impact that this convention had, and it has most likely faded from the historic memory of many who now reside in Oklahoma, as well as of those who have this fascinating history and heritage. Descendants of the Creek Freedmen, may also want to take note and quite possibly many of their ancestors were among those persons present at the big Negro Convention-a gatehring of African Creeks.

It is clear that the activities of persons living in Muscogee Creek country were vast, and this article is being shared so that more of that history can be uncovered, studied and appreciated.

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Monday, September 16, 2013

Series: The First Freedmen Enrollees: Choctaw Freedman Card #1 Simon Clark

Choctaw Freedman Card #1
NARA Publication M1186  Record Group 75 Roll 49

As pointed out in the first post in this series, the first enrollees in each category were often persons of influence. We saw in the enrollment case of John H. Ross, from the Cherokee Nation, that a former slave of Chief John Ross was the very first case heard by the Dawes Commission among Cherokee Freedmen.

With Choctaw Freedmen, the process began in the Ada/Stonewall community for Choctaw Freedmen. However, it is fascinating to note that the persons enrolled on this card did not have the lowest roll numbers. Simon Clark applied on behalf of his family, but one will notice that the final numbers assigned to them were a much higher number, than the 1 through 5 respectively. That is because his case was contested for a while before a final decision was made on the enrollment of his family.
Notation made on Enrollment Card #1

Nevertheless, Simon Clark was a man of influence in the mostly Chickasaw town of Ada where he lived. Though his Dawes Application was that of a Choctaw Freedman, he lived in Chickasaw country in the years after the Civil War.  His influence and status in the community came from the fact that he was also a Civil War soldier.  He was a known freedom fighter, having achieved that status during the war, in the years before freedom was granted to slaves in both tribes, Clark had seized his own freedom and enlisted in the Union Army.

For Choctaw and Chickasaw Freedmen enlistment was not a common as it was for Cherokee and Creek Freedmen. That meant having to travel through hostile country before making it to Kansas to enlist. But Simon Clark, along with a cousin Aaron Newberry and others did make it to Kansas, an enlisted.

Enlistment data from Union Soldiers Service Record

Clark had enlisted in the 2nd Kansas Colored in Ft. Scott, Kansas. The unit was later re-designated as the 83rd US Colored Infantry.

Simon Clark's parents were Jacob Clark, and Tena Clark. Before freedom, Simon was enslaved by Jincy Cochran. His mother was also enslaved by Jincy Clark, but his father had been enslaved by John Newbury.

In his enrollment interview, Clark explained that he was originally enslaved by Bob Cochran and upon the slaveholder's death, he became enslaved by Cochran's widow, Jincy Cochran. Although his interview was one of those "summarized" interviews that occurred frequently in Chickasaw County, there is still useful data to be found in the small packet.

Interview found in Simon Clark Application Jacket
Choctaw Card #1
NARA Publication M1301

In the years immediately after the Civil War, Simon Clark moved around Indian Territory, before returning to his how in the Ada/Stonewall community. He lived near Skullyville and Ft. Coffee before returning to the Ada community.

In 1889, Simon Clark applied for and received a military pension for his service in the Union Army. After his death in 1901, his wife also applied for and received a pension.

 Source:  General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934. Washington, D.C.: National
 Archives and Records Administration. T288, 546 rolls.

Clark died in April of 1901, verified by his daughter Cornelia Clark.

Death Record found in Simon Clark Application Jacket  Choctaw Card #1
NARA Publication M1301

There is more to be told about Simon Clark and an upcoming trip to the National Archives, will involve examining his Civil War pension file.

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Thursday, September 12, 2013

Series: The First Freedmen Enrollees - Cherokee Freedmen on the Dawes Rolls

Cherokee Freedmen Card #1
NARA Publication M1186 Record Group 75 Roll 23
Fold 3 Image:

When the process of enrollment for citizens of the Five Civilized Tribes began, persons who were leaders or perceived leaders within various communities were often among the very first enrollees. Although various persons are studying the various Five slave holding tribes individually by tribe, the events that affected their slaves should also be studied.

In the case of the Freedmen, some had once been enslaved by wealthy and prominent leaders of the tribe. As those once enslaved by tribal leaders they maintained some status withing the local community where they lived as well. In many such cases the Dawes enrollment was a simple and smooth process. However, in the case of the Ross family of the Cherokee Freedmen first family, what should have been a simple case, it quickly became complicated, especially to get a female child called Elnora enrolled.

In the case of the first Cherokee Freedmen to enroll, John H. Ross, was on Card #1 and he had a roll number of #1.

The application of the Ross family was first made in May of 1900. John H. Ross the head of the household was the son of Stephen Ross, a former slave of Cherokee Principal Chief John Ross. 

Principal Chief John Ross
Slave holder of the Family of John H. Ross.

John H. Ross' mother's name was Emily Humphrey who was still living at that time. This family of Ross Freedmen, lived in Tahlequah. The mother Emily had been enslaved by John Riley, another citizens of the Cherokee Nation. 

John H. Ross, was also submitting an application on behalf of his son, John Ross Jr. His daughter by a previous marriage was later added to the card.

The Dawes Application packet reveals more information about the family.

Cherokee Freedmen Application Jacket #1
NARA Publication M1301 Record Group 75 Roll 285
Fold 3 Image:

Second page of John Ross Interview

Note that a year later in 1901, Emily Humphries, the mother of John H. Ross appeared in front of the Dawes Commission to enroll her granddaughter Elnora. Elnora was also a daughter of John H. Ross. The child Elnora's mother had died several years before and was living with the grandmother. However, since she was a daughter to John H. Ross Elnora was added to his Enrollment Card, and entered as Cherokee Freedman Roll #3.

The case became a bit more complicated when in 1902, John H. Ross appeared to enroll an Elnora Ross. There was much curiosity as to whether Elnora was a child of Peggie or Dora (who had died earlier) or whether they were the same. Several questions were addressed to John about the child (or children) Elnora.  It was later revealed that there were indeed two children called Elnora. 

However, several years later, in 1906 Emily Humphries the grandmother was still living and was still working to get her granddaughter Elnora enrolled. Her son John H. Ross had died and Emily was the caretaker of the child Elnora. The file also contained a death record for son John H. Ross. This is a pre-statehood record of John H. Ross's death.

 Pre-statehood death record for John H. Ross, Cherokee Freedman #1

Cherokee Freedmen Application Jacket #1
NARA Publication M1301 Record Group 75 Roll 26
Fold 3 Image:

Eventually the issue pertaining to the child Elnora was resolved and she was added as Cherokee Freedman #3 on her father's card.

The case of the Ross family being enrolled first, most likely stemmed from the fact that John H. Ross was a son of one of the most prominent families in the Cherokee Nation. Whatever status that the Ross family had--the case was not an open and shut enrollment case. The status of the child Elnora made the case complicated.

After Elnora's enrollment case was resolved, the issue of land was later complicated by the fact that lands allotted for John Ross Jr. and sister Elnora were impeded as non-citizens had already begun settling on the land. It is not clear if they were truly "intruders" but land assigned to them were disputed for some time. Guardians were appointed for the two minor children, but the record does not indicate clearly whether the two Ross children ever received their allotments. Many cases of guardians were reported in the years after statehood, where Freedmen and Indians by blood lost land to guardians, and land grafters and swindlers. Hopefully the Ross's did get some of the lands allotted to them, but the allotment files did not present a clear resolution of the outcome of their case.

Nevertheless, this glimpse into the legal process as it affected the first Cherokee Freedmen from Card #1 is an interesting one, and the tenacious researcher will want to study to see how many slaves the Ross's had. Chief John Ross's dozens of slaves are reflected in the 1860 Slave Schedule. The researcher will want to learn more about slavery in the Cherokee Nation, and to learn how they thrived.

Much will be learned by also following the life of Emily Humpries, the grandmother who also came with the Cherokees on the Trail on Tears as one of their slaves. Her life story will open more doors for the family in the future. She is enrolled on Freedman Card #235. As one who came from"the old country"   researcher will learn more by studying as much as possible about slaves who also came on the forced migration with their Indian masters. Forced westward against their will for a second time, her is a unique story to tell.

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Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Mississippi Choctaws in Indian Territory

The Daily Armoreite July 16, 1903

The primary purpose of the Dawes Application process, was to determine eligibility of citizens of the Five Tribes, to receive land allotments. The applications and interviews reflect the process that citizens went through, in proving that they were eligible for land. Once all lands were allocated the remainder of lands would be available for settlement for those entering Indian Territory and becoming citizens of the soon to be state of Oklahoma.

The formerly enslaved populuation---the Freedmen were part of this process and their applications for enrollment as well as their applications for their land allotments are among the thousands of files to research.  And all of the various categories of Indians in the territory are reflected.  Among them are Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek and Seminole citizens By Blood, Freedmen, Intermarried Whites, New Borns & Minors. AND--- a seldom mentioned category is that of Mississippi Choctaws.  

Article 14 of the Treay of Dancing Rabbit did provide the opportunity for persons to remain in the state of Mississippi and become citizens of the United States. However, it is not mentioned that many also went through the same Dawes enrollment process, and they did receive land allotments. Many ended not only proving eligibility for Indian Territory lands, but also selected lands around Ardmore, Tishomingo, and Chickasha and Minco areas.  An article in an Ardmore Oklahoma newspaper covered the time when many of the Mississippi Choctaws actually arrived in the Territory to make selections of their lands. Though their presence was said to have been a temporary one and was expected to be so, some of the allotment records indicated that there were cases were lands were selected, and were inhabited later by those deemed eligible.

Dawes Enrollment Card of Baptiste Taylor, M1186 Enrollement Card #10

This Mississippi Choctaw Card reflects an approved applicant and note on card illustrates a presence in the Ardmore area an no return to Mississippi.

There was an original process that applicants went through as well, and many applicants also had cards reflecting where in Mississippi they had lived before selecting lands in Indian Territory. In this case, the same individuals are reflected on this earlier card.

Dawes Enrollment Card of Baptiste Taylor Miss Choctaw Identified

The family however, went through an extensive process, although they had just arrived in the Territory.  They settled around the Tishomingo community, and although the family was identified as a Mississippi Choctaw Family By Blood, they lived within the same community occupied by many Freedmen families from the Territory.

Document from Allotment File of Baptiste Taylor  
The records whether for enrollment, or for land, reflect much about the past. Those who lived near our ancestors are part of that story, and in many communities, relationships, friendships and associations occurred across color and cultural lines. All of the people in the same communities, are a part of the story.

With time, more stories of African & Native ties from the very communities that were so diverse will put all people on their appropriate historical landscape.

* * * * *   * * * * *   * * * * *

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Looking Back in Time: The Population in Indian Territory

Excerpt from the Indian Advocate, Volume XII No. 5, page 154

The question often arises about the number of Freedmen who actually lived in Indian Territory. An article from a 1900 article from The Indian Advocate, contained data estimated from the Federal Census of that year. 

There numbers were quite interesting.

Cherokee Freedmen:   4000
Choctaw Freedmen:     4150
Chickasaw Freedmen   4500
Creek Freedmen          5000

Total                      17650  (Note that no figures for Seminole Freedmen were reported.)

The fact is that there were more than 17,000 I.T. Freedmen who were either survivors or children of survivors of slavery in Indian Territory, and much rich history is still to be told. The stories of these thousands of families will hopefully reflect another aspect of the African Diaspora and hopefully more researchers will become interested in these remarkable people who forged their lives on the western frontier once freed from bondage.

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Saturday, June 22, 2013

Samuel Chawanochubby & Mason Clark - Children of their Chickasaw Father and African Mother

Dawes Enrollment Card of Samuel Chawanchubby, Card #93
NARA Publication Number M1186

Many issues arise when discussion of Freedmen and their status as citizens of the tribes into which they were born. For Chickasaw Freedmen, the issue is further complicated, since their former slaves were never officially adopted by the tribe, and for nearly 40 years after they were finally released from bondage many remained without a country, without status and technically without a future.

During the years of the Dawes Enrollment the plight of Freed men and women was a source of concern, in each of the Five Civilized Tribes. For Chickasaw Freedmen the concern was even greater, thus creating an amazing effort of collaboration among Freedmen descendants to fight for their status. 

One of the issues pertaining to Freedmen was the perception that the former slaves were "simply Negroes" to once again be dismissed as worthy of ostracization, alienation and second class status. Though many Freedmen lived within the culture of their Indian slave holders, race somehow trumped culture when the Dawes Commissioners began the enrollment process, that would result in the receipt of land for all who were so approved. Freedmen were part of this enrollment process, and there are more than 14,000 files of Freedmen from the Five Tribes. All who were approved would eventually receive land allotments and thus bring Indian Territory closer to the inevitable statehood of Oklahoma.

The Freedmen in the Chickasaw Nation would receive land, but their status as Freedmen and not "by blood" meant that their land allotment would be smaller. This was a similar practice in the Choctaw Nation. However, there were many among the Chickasaw Freedmen who were also bearers of "Indian blood" and many would later file a large class action suit demanding to be put on the rolls by blood, for they had proof of having a Chickasaw parent.

Such was the case of Samuel Chawanchubby. His father was a Chickasaw Indian known simply as Chawanchubby. His mother was a slave of Chawanochubby. But the relationship between Samuel's father and mother went beyond slave master/slave.  They had a relationship, and were perceived to by the community to be husband a wife.

The front side of Samuel Chawanochubby's enrollment card reflects  his status as having been enslaved.

Close View of Chickasaw Freedman Card 93
NARA Publication M1186

The reverse side of the same card reflects the fact that his father was the same man, who was listed as the slave holder.

Close View of Back Side of Chickasaw Freedman Card 93
NARA Publication M1186

This is the case of many persons who were placed on the Freedman Roll in Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations, however, the application jacket reveal more about the cultural context in which Sammuel Chawanochubby lived.  He spoke only the language of his father, and he had many witnesses who verified on his behalf that he and his parents and siblings lived together as a family. His parents were considered married and they raised their children as husband and wife. A fascinating document from the Application jacket reflects this relationship.

Document from Application Jacket of Samuel Chawanochubby
NARA Publication M1301 Chickasaw Freedman 93

This document presesented by his attorney Tom D. McKowen, describes the Samuel's family pointing out that Isom Chawanochubby, a Chickasaw was Samuel's father. His parents had lived according to Chickasaw tradition, and it is pointed out that they were perceived to be Chickasaws, and that Samuel and his siblings were recognized by their father as his own children. In addition, Isom Chawanochubby was also known by an English name of Isom Newberry. 

Samuel Chawanochubby's sister was Mason, Clark. The file submitted on her behalf revealed even more succinctly how immersed they were in their Chickasaw community. Mason spoke no English and needed interpreter's to speak on her behalf.

Document supporting the case of Mason Clark the sister of Samuel Chawanochubby
M1301 Chickasaw Freedman File #93

Upon learning that Samuel Chowanochubby and Mason Clark were siblings, a search was made for an enrollment card for her as well. Mason had a card and she and her family were put on the rolls of Chickasaw Freedmen, again for the fact that their mother had been enslaved.

Enrollment Card of Mason Clark, Chickasaw Freedman Card #54
NARA Publication #M1186

The reverse side of her card also reflects the full sibling status of Samuel and Mason, with the same parents listed, Chawanochubby (Isom) and Lena their once enslaved mother.

The placement of Samuel and Mason on the Freedmen Rolls took place in 1902 as indicated by the stamp on their enrollment cards.

The application to be included among Chickasaw's by blood made by Samuel and his sister Mason Clark, do not appear to have changed their status. Mason's mother tongue being exclusively Chickasaw, and her status in the community as being known to be a  part of this Chickasaw based family was clearly demonstrated by those who knew both of them, did not appear to alter the ruling of the Dawes Commissioners. However, the culture and recognition of the family within the Chickasaw community was revealed by those who stood as witnesses for both of them.

Mollie Porter a Chickasaw Indian testified on behalf of Samuel and Mason.
Application Jacket of Samuel Chawanochubby

It appears that Samuel's request to be moved to the Rolls by blood was eventually denied. It was stated that both parents were enslaved, in spite of the sworn testimonies of others and in spite of the cultural ties clearly evident as interpreters were needed for Chickasaw speaking Mason.

But there is still much to be learned from this file.This is the kind of record that reveals so much more about the relationships that occurred in spite of the cultural demands of the Territory, the Tribes, the South, and the larger community from the nearby United States.

Descendants of the Chawanochubby's and the children of Mason Clark have clear documentation of their cultural and also direct lineage to Chickasaws, by culture, language and family.

Hopefully, the descendants of this line and the descendants of many whose ancestors are on the freedmen rol as well, will embrace the critical need to tell the story.

The greater story is the history of what happened to the ancestors.  And whether the family was place upon on the rolls as "Freedmen", or rolls "By Blood" or given status by "inter-marriage", all of the histories are important. 

One status does not out-weigh nor have greater value over another.  All shared the same historical landscape, and hopefully someday descendants from all categories can embraced their shared past.

Monday, May 6, 2013

New Collection of Dawes Allotment Records Open Doors for Researchers

An exciting new record set has recently been digitized that will enhance the research of all interested in Indian Territory and early Oklahoma history! And even better news---all of the more than 1 million pages are online and can be accessed without cost. They are free!

This new record set is known as the Applications for Allottments, Five Civilized Tribes 1899 - 1907.

For those who research the Dawes Records of the Five Civilized tribes, the recently digitized collection at Family Search will open doors for new sources of information for family historians. In addition, these records should be considered a companion data set to the Dawes Records, because the files found within this record set, correspond to the Dawes files.

Now for clarification the most commonly used Dawes Records primarily consist of Enrollment Cards, Application Jackets and the Final Rolls. Of course, all of these records were part of the process that lead to the allotment of land. Those lands once held in common were allotted to individual members of the tribe. Those who were deemed eligible, received their parcels of land as part of this process. 

There are thousands of people who descend from those who were allotted land. Many researchers who find their ancestors among the Dawes records often ask the question: "I wonder where their land was, and how I can trace what happened to it."

Of course, to trace any parcel of land one has to have the legal description of that land. Many researchers have never had this information were never sure how to find it. Well now, one can find not only the legal description of the land, but one can now find the plat maps, of each and every person who was allotted land.

Sample Case.
Samuel Walton was a Choctaw Freedmen whose family data was put on Enrollment Cards #777  of Choctaw Freedmen. Along with Samuel was his wife Sallie, his son Sam Jr., his son Houston, and a step-daughter Louisa. To show how every person has an allotment record, the case shown below is that of Samuel Walton Jr. (Sam Jr. as he was often called, was the son of the elder Samuel, who made the application for every person in the household.)

Allotment File of Sam Walton Jr.
Samuel Walton Jr.'s information is found on Choctaw Freedman Enrollment Cards #777. But his allotment file is found under his Dawes Roll number 3750. Inside of that file is a form with some basic data, that was provided by his own father Samuel Walton Sr.

Family Search: Oklahoma Applications for Allotment
Choctaw Freedmen 3724-3759
 Image 404 of 548

This form also addressed issues pertaining to the land itself, including any improvements that may have been made upon the land.

Family Search: Oklahoma Applications for Allotment
Choctaw Freedmen 3724-3759
 Image 405 of 548

The plat map reflecting the land for Sam Walton Jr. is found in the file.

Family Search: Oklahoma Applications for Allotment
Choctaw Freedmen 3724-3759
 Image 406 of 548

The land was officially allotted to Sam Walton Jr. on April 14, 1904 and valued at $130.00.

Family Search: Oklahoma Applications for Allotment
Choctaw Freedmen 3724-3759
 Image 408 of 548

At the time of land allotment, certificates of citizenship were also given to those receiving their allotments.

Family Search: Oklahoma Applications for Allotment
Choctaw Freedmen 3724-3759
 Image 410 of 548

Three years later a land patent was issued to Sam Jr and like some of the other documents, it was still signed by his father, the elder Samuel.

Family Search: Oklahoma Applications for Allotment
Choctaw Freedmen 3724-3759
 Image 408 of 548

This collection is extensive!! All groups found within the Five Tribes and all categories of people who were allotted land are included in this amazing collection. And there are more than 1 million digitized pages to explore!

Finding the Family File
To locate an ancestor's file one must use the Dawes Roll number instead of the Enrollment Card. Each person whose name appears on the family card, will have a separate file, so even in cases where there are small children on the Enrollment card, the official roll number will be file number to find the Allotment application.  

There are more than 1 million records to explore, and incredible gems are found within these files. With the case of Sam Walton Jr., seeing the original signature of his father (my gr. grandfather) confirmed what was always believed--that he was a literate man. This man born a slave in the 1840s, was able to read and write and signed several of the documents in this file as well as the files for the rest of the family.

Special thanks to Family Search for digitizing these little known records. Hopefully these Allotment records will open new doors and reveal more about the lives of those who lived in Indian Territory and who were citizens of the Five Civilized Tribes.

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