Sunday, April 28, 2024

Freedmen Schools in the Cherokee Nation 1869 - 1907


In 2008 I had the privelege of speaking with Dr. James McCullough a professor at the University of North Iowa. He had for several years  taken a strong interest in a topic that had caught his attention. That was the education of Freedmen in the Cheokee Nation. At that time, researcher Terry Ligon and I were publishing a small journal known as Voices of Indian Territory. 

Dr. McCullough reached out to me, as he became interested in sharing some of his own research about the Cherokee Colored High School, and offered to share with me, some of his work. I was delighted, and the result was that in the Spring/Summer issue of 2008, his work was published. The article was quite extensive, and in addition to his work on the Cherokee Colored High School were some additional pieces of information pertaining to education of Freedmen in the Cherokee Nation.

I shall be posting much of this information on the blog in future weeks sharing his work about Freedmen education in the Cherokee Nation. In thi issue, I shall share a list by District of the old Freedmen schools, now long forgotten. 

As an educator and as a Freedmen researcher, I have deep appreciation for Dr. James McCullough, and his  sharing this information with me.  It is time now to bring Dr. McCulloug's  work forward to a larger community of Cherokee researchers.

Cherokee Nation Freedmen Scochools by District 1860's - 1907
Compiled by Dr. James McCullough, North Iowa State University

Fourteen Mile Creek (Spring 1869) Tahlequah District
Tahlequah (Spring 1869 - Fall 1907) Tahliquah Distict
Fort Gibson (Spring 1869 - Fall 1907 Illinois District

Four Mile Branch (Fall 1874 - Fall 1907) Tahlequah District
Grant (Fall 1874 - Fall 18960 Talequah District
Vann's Valley (Fall 1874 - Spring 1885) Saline District
Four Mile Branch (Spring 1877 - Spring 18780 Illinois District
Lightening Creek (Spring 1877 - Spring 1907) Cooweescoowee District
Sand Town (Spring 1877 - Fall 1907) Illinois District
Greenleaf (Fall 1878 - Fall 1907) Illiois District
Island Ford (Spring  1878 - Fall 1907) Delaware District

Flat Rock (Fall 1880 - Spring 1892) Cooweescoowee District
Goose Neck(Fall 1880 - Fall - 1907) Cooweescoowee District
Timbuctoo (Fall 1882 - Fall 1887 (Sequoyah District)
Big Creek (Fall 1882 - Fall 1887) Cooweescoowee District
Lone Cedar (Fall 1882 - Fall 1885) Sequyah District
Moore (Fall 1883 - Fall 1907) Delaware District
Stooping Elm (Spring 1883 - Spring 1890) Canadian District
Green (Spring 1885 - Fall 1885) Illinois District
Lynnch's Prairie (Fall 1885 - Fall 1907) Saline District
Redland (Fall 1886 - Fall 1907) Sequoyah District
Hickory Creek (Fall 1888 - Fall 1907) Cooweescoowee District

Brushy Creek (Fall 1892 - Fall 1907) Cooweescoowee District
Vinita (Spring 1894 - Fall 1907) Delaware District
Flint Ridge (Fall 1896 - Fall 1907) Tahlequah District
Watie (Spring 1897 - Fall 1907) Illinois District

Pleasant Hill (Spring 1901 - Fall 1907) Tahlequah District
Sanders (Spring 1903 - Fall 1907) Cooweescoowee District
Elliot (Spring 1904 - Fall 1907) Cooweescoowee District
Upper Big Creek (Fall 1904 - Fall 1906) Cooweescoowee District
Vian (Fall 1904 - Fall 1907) Illinois District
St. Stehpan (Fall 1904 - Fall 1907) Sequoyah District
Lower Big Creek (Fall 1905 - Spring 1906) Cooweescoowee District
Melton (Fall 1905 - Fall 1907) Cooweescoowee District
Pine Mountain (Fall - Fall 1907) Sequoyah District
Panther Creek (Fall 1906 - Fall 1907) Cooweescoowee District
Big Creek Fall  (1907)  Cooweescoowee District
Booker (1907)  Cooweescoowee District
Daniels (1907)  Cooweescoowee District
Douglas (1907)  Sequoyah District
Flat Rock (1907)  Cooweescoowee District
Foreman (1907)  Cooweescoowee District
Hill (1907)  Cooweescoowee District
Mohawk (1907)  Cooweescoowee District

It is clear from Dr. McCullah's work that the Cherokee Freedmen Schools ended as Oklahoma statehood arrived, and after that time all education came under the jurisdiction of the new State of Oklahoma. Of course racial segregation would be strongly in place, and those schools once designated as tribal Freedmen schools were known from that time forward, simply as "Negro" schools and would remain so, until the 1960s, when the Civil Rights movement brought about a changein the educational system.

The identification of many of these Cherokee Freedmen schools identified by Dr. James McCullough are quite useful in the documentation of Cherokee Freedmen history as well as that of Oklahoma Freedmen as a whole. There is much more of McCullough's work to share that were published in Voices of Indian Territory, including detailed history of the Cherokee Colored High School as well. 

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

"Only God Could Seperate Us"

When reading the interviews of Freedmen seeking to have their names placed on the Dawes Roll, most interviews were simply factual data recorded about their lives. So when expressions of tenderness and emotion appear from these interviews it is enough to make one pause and appreciate who the Oklahoma Freedmen were. They were men, they were women, they were people who had emotions and between many dared to express their love for their life partner to anyone who would hear it.

Therefore, on this Valentine's Day, it is worthwhile to share two examples of the love and passion that people shared for each other.

Joe Davis, Vinita Oklahoma

Joe Davis and His Love for Belle

During the Dawes Commission period, Joe Davis appeared in front of the Dawes Commission to apply for himself and his family. The usual questions were asked of Joe Davis. He answered questions about his earlier life, about his life when enslaved, and whether he was enrolled on the 1880 authenticated Cherokee Roll. He was asked  if he was married, and when they married, and he produced a marriage certificate from 1876. He was asked if this was his first marriage:

Q. Was Bell Davis your first wife?
A. Yes sir, she was the only woman I ever loved in my life.

Q. You love her yet, do you?
A. I love her yet, still harder.

This kind of tenderness is rarely seen in Dawes interviews, particular since many of the commissioners were known to be harsh and hostile to the Freedmen being interviewed. But the love of this man for his wife must be noted, for love is the greatest of all virtues.

Rachel and King Kernal A Union that Endured for Eight Decades
Their grandson, Phillip A. Lewis was a Creek Freedman who lived in the Muskoge area most of his life. He had a remarkable life, and in the 1930s much of his life was captured in the Indian Pioneer Papers. One of the stories about his family history stood out when he expressed the love between his grandparents, Rachel and King Kernal was shared. He told his grandmother Rachel's  story the way he heard it as a child. Grandma Rachel's life with her husband began at a place of heartbreak and sorrow: a slave auction.

Rachel's story:
"When I was only a girl, I was taken to a slave market to be sold by a slave trader. Just before the sale, my attention was attracted by a very large young fellow in the crowd who seemed to never to be looking at anyone except me. Finally after working his way closer and closer to me, and the opportunity presented itself, he leaned over and whispered to me, 'If I persuade my master to buy you will you marry me?' As I looked up into his face, somehow, something made me say 'yes'. Without another word, he turned and dissappeard in the crowd.
  "He was gone. I was bewildered and lost in a haze of jumbled thoughts. Who was he? To come to me to come to me from among the people, the greatest number of people I had seen in my life."
   "Why had he said such words, received my answer and then disappeared as suddenly and mysteriously as he had came. What did it all mean? I could not understand."
    "Then I saw him, head and shoulders taller than anyone else, making his way through the crowd in my direction, and as he came closer, I saw there was another man with him. They came near us and stopped, stood there together, looking in my direction, and after a short whispered conversation, they approached my master, and shortly, I was the property of a new master, who was the owner of the man to whom I had given the answer "yes", King Kernal.
     "Our master took King and Me" to his place, and we were married immediately thereafter, though in slavery, we were happy. Our master was kind not to separate us during slavery time, and after we were made free people, only God Could separate us."

Rachel and King Kernal would spend oaver 80 years of their lives together, with both passing away after the age of 100. King Kernal died in 1873 and was said to be 108 years old at the time. Rachel died twelve years later at the age of 103. Both had endured slavery, then the removal to the west in the 1830s, and in spite of the bondage under which most of their lives were spent--their bond of love was far greater than any restrictions of slavery.

* * * * *

These two stories are presented to reflect the basic humanity of the enslaved people, taken to the west, who were enslaved in five Indian Tribes, and later tasting a freed life in a territory that had become home.

Though the next century their children and grandchildren would be tossed aside and expelled, due to the contemporary biases of color the descendants of both families have a strong legacy of families founded in unbreakable love. Both of these two stories reflect the humanity of a people discarded but whose humanity still shines forth.

* * * * *     
  ".... but the greatest of these is love."

                                             1st Corinthians 6:20

Tuesday, January 2, 2024

New Chat Schedule for 2024


New ZOOM-chat schedule 
Afvummi Himona Na Yukpa - Happy New Year!

Beginning in January 2024 the twice-a-week history/genealogy chats will occur on the following days:

Sunday 4:00 - 6:00 pm
Friday   4:00 - 6:30 pm

The new schedule will accomodate people who cannot make the weekday chats, and the Friday chats will hopefully allow people who are working to join the chat later in the day.

Sunday chats will be open with no specified topics.

Friday chats will have a
Topic of the day. The first half-hour will incorporate the Day's topic, and may occasionally be taped when unique documents are shared. The chat will then be opened up for general genealogical chatting.

Links to the weekly chat will be posted in the Facebook group, (Choctaw-Chickasaw Freedmen Descendants) and also to those wishing to be on an email list.

Join us!