Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The Cutchlow Family of the Choctaw Nation

From the community of Brazil in the Choctaw Nation, Indian Territory, we find the family of Matilda Cutchlo, an elderly lady in the Choctaw Nation. Decades earlier, she was once enslaved by Choctaw Jim Boyd.  She had appeared in front of the Dawes Commission to enroll herself and her children who were at that time adults. Her children were Mollie Tinkshell, Edmund Brown, and Henry Cutchlo.  They were all from the Skullyville community in the Choctaw Nation.

(It should be noted that at the time of enrollment the name was written C-u-t-h-l-o on the enrollment card. Over the years the letter "w" was added and that spelling continues to this day.)

On the front side of the enrollment card the names of each person, plus some additional notes about other members of  the family are noted.

Choctaw Freedman Card #1194
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

On the back side of the card, more information is gleaned. Matilda's parents were Ceasar Boyd and her mother was Sophia Boyd. They were also once enslaved by Choctaw Jim Boyd. Her mother was deceased at the time but her father Caesar was still living, leading to the possibility that there was a card, also for him.
Reverse side of card

Tom Caruth was the father of her eldest daughter Mollie Edmund's father was Stephen Brown. Henry Cutchlo's father was also named Henry Cutchlo (Cutchlow).

Since there was no notation on the card that Caesar Boyd was deceased, an effort was made to search to see if there was a card for him. Sure enough living in the same community of Brazil, a man's name appears as Caesar Boyd. But interestingly it was a card from the Chickasaw Nation with the word CANCELLED stamped boldly, in blue across the front of the card. This was Chickasaw Card #915. He too, had been enslaved by the same person, Choctaw James Boyd.

The card is amazing, because one can note that he was estimated to have been 92 years old at the time. With such an advanced age, the experiences that this man had endured in his lifetime were truly incredible. He was old enough to have been born before the years of removal. His birth year would have also placed him in Mississippi, and not in what is now Oklahoma. Caesar Boyd would have gone through the years of removal, and decades of enslavement in Indian Territory. Thankfully this elderly gentleman lived to see freedom for him and his family.

Unfortunately, no information was recorded about Casear Boyd's parents as no data was inscribed on the reverse side of the card. Was the information unrecorded because of his age? Or was had he been sold away from parents while young, so as not to learn their names? This will never be known.

Caesar Boyd died in 1902 before the enrollment process was completed. As a result his card and entire application was "canceled."
(Reverse side of card)

Matilda's tie to the Boyd family is important, because another family history is there to be explored and documented.

From the Enrollment Application
  From the actual interview that unfolded for the Cutchlow family, it is noticed that several people were being discussed in the file. Henry Cutchlow was interviewed about his ties to the family seeking enrollment. He was asked about his parents and his sister Mollie Tinkshell. He pointed out that Mollie was  his half sister and that her father was Tom Caruth. Questions were asked if Mollie Caruth and Mollie Tinkshell were the same person. The questioning went into detail about the status of the family, their having once been enslaved.

It was pointed out that Mollie was also enrolled on another card as well. This is a rare case where detail was provided of an applicant being enrolled on two different cards.

The final outcome of the enrollment process was interesting because it brought in the testimony of another man, who at first glance was unrelated to the Cutchlow family. His name was Mobile Boyd.

It was not clear at first why he was testifying in a case for the Boyds. He began the Dawes application process and was initially placed on a Chickasaw card, but he was later switched to the Choctaw Nation for enrollment. His name appears alongside a large number of children in the household.

Choctaw Freedman Card #1182
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

Taking note of the data on the reverse side of the card, two names were familiar. Caesar Boyd and Sophia Boyd. These were the names of his parents and they were the same parents of Matilda Cutchlo. Mobile Boyd, and Matilda "Boyd" Cutchlo were actually, brother and sister.

The Application Jacket Interviews

For Matilda's file, it appears that her interview was one of the "modified" interviews that were recorded when Freedmen interviews were being treated differently. In many such cases, the transcription from the interview was discarded, and a "summary" appeared in the final file, instead of the actual interview. Matilda's interview was one of those cases where a summary replaced the file that contained the actual words spoken by the claimant. As a result, a simple one-sentence statement was placed in the file, often time simply mentioning the names of family members, and the word "enrolled". This was the case with Matilda Cutchlo.

National Archives Publication M1301

Applications for Enrollment
(Also accessed from Fold3.com, Native American Collection, Choctaw Freedmen)

When searching for Mobile Boyd's card it was noted that he was originally on a Chickasaw card, and not a Choctaw Card. But the data was most enlightening. 

From the file of Mobile Boyd:
Though short, this interview with Mobile Boyd was still interesting. He mentioned the names of his children, but he also made a reference to his parents, including the fact that his father Caesar lived with him. As he put it, "the old man lives with me."

(There is much more to tell with the Choctaw Boyd family that extends into other lines from the Brazil community, which will be discussed in another file.)

With the Cutchlow (Cutchlo) family it should be pointed out that the Cutchlow family was deeply rooted in their life as Choctaw Freedman. In fact, the elder Henry Cutchlow, (father to the young Henry on the card) had a strong interest in the status of Choctaw Freedmen in relation to their tribe. In addition, he also had an interest in working within the tribal structure of the tribe. Therefore he launched a campaign, and ran for office, and won a seat, to serve on the tribal council. However, there was much resistance against having a "Freedman" participate in tribal affairs, such much that  the Choctaw Nation never allowed him to take his seat at the tribal council and serve.

The Cutchlow family remained in Brazil and many of the early Cutchlo/Cutchlow families are buried in the old cemetery in Brazil in Le Flore County Oklahoma. Meanwhile, the legacy of the Cutchlow family is a healthy one that extends into other large family clans.

  This family of Indian Territory prevailed, from its origins in Mississippi, to receipt of their allotted lands in Le Flore County Oklahoma, this family of Choctaw Freedman has a rich history, of sustenance and survival. May their descendants continue to honor them.
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Series Note: This is the 37th  article in a 52-article series devoted to sharing histories of families once held as enslaved people in Indian Territory, now known as Oklahoma. The focus is on the Freedmen of the Five Civilized Tribes, and these posts are part of an ongoing project to document 52 families in 52 weeks.

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