Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Expand Your Choctaw Research With a Genealogy Project

I had an interesting conversation with a fellow genealogist, and the discussion of "projects" came up. There are numerous opportunities to take our research in a fascinating direction with genealogy projects. I know that some in this group have already developed some fascinating projects. But I am also aware that more of us can engage in fascinating projects that will not only become satisfying, but will also assist others in learning more about our rich history from the Territory.

Among others, researcher Terry Ligon has put in several years documenting the 2000+ Chickasaw Freedmen who became a part of Equity Case 7071 with his blog, Bettie's List. In addition, he has also put energy into documenting several cases of Oklahoma Freedmen with his YouTube videos. Like,wide Verdie Triplett too advantage of living near an old Choctaw Freedman burial ground that lies adjacent to the Choctaw Nation Skullyville cemetery, and spearheaded the effort to preserve and protect Roseland cemetery in Spiro Oklahoma. And of course, I have this blog devoted to Choctaw Freedmen Legacy, as well as a website and a blog one with focus on the Freedmen all of the of the Five Tribes. My colleague make a remark in the conversation, that many have not looked beyond their own personal history of their one family, because they have no idea what would be a good project to undertake. Well, I realized the truth in that statement, and decided to put together a small list of potential projects that might be useful for others to consider.
The purpose of a Project Projects can 1) connect you with other researchers, 2) help you to learn more about your own family, and 3) open new and unexpected doors of opportunity. For some ideas on what can be undertaken, I have provided a small list of projects--all of which are needed to add to the breadth of knowledge about the history of Freedmen from both Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations. The story is greater than our own family---and there is far more to tell than just the effort to find your family on the Dawes roll.
Possible Projects to Expand Knowledge of Choctaw Freedmen History
-Choctaw/Chickasaw Civil War Soldiers - Our Forgotten Freedom Fighters -Marking Burial Sites of Freedmen Ancestors -Finding and Documenting Old Freedmen Landmarks -Documenting Old Freedmen Schools -Where Did They Worship-Discovering Old Freedmen Churches -In The News- Documenting Choctaw/Chickasaw Freedmen in Historic Newspapers -Forgotten Faces - Collecting the Faces of Choctaw/Chickasaw Freedmen -Places Where They Lived - Former Settlements of Choctaw/Chickasaw Freedmen -Leaving Home - The Great Migration Took Them - Life Beyond Oklahoma -Leaders Among Us - Examining Freedmen Leaders of the 1800s -Celebrating Our Educators - Freedmen Teachers This is a small list that can be expanded. Hopefully others will become more assertive in their research and will start to share what they find with others. Some projects will be well-suited for those living in Oklahoma near the ancestral home. Other projects will be better suited for those who live near archives, such as the Nation Archives in Washington, or in Texas near Ft. Worth. And yet others can be conducted by simply studying census and other online records--which can be conducted by all from home. I shall be writing a series of articles related to the list above, with suggestions on ideas to undertake a project. The goal is to merely encourage others to explore the records with a new eye and to become generous in the research and enhance the historical research process for all .

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Friday, November 17, 2017

Basic Documents for Researching Choctaw Freedmen

For Choctaw Freedmen, like the records of the Freedmen of the other tribes that once practiced Black chattel slavery, there are three primary records for the genealogical process to be undertaken. The records are 1) Enrollment Cards, 2) Application Jackets, and 3) The Final Rolls.

When one speaks of the Dawes Roll, or of one's ancestor having had a "roll number" it is from these records that the number is taken. 

Dawes Enrollment Cards

One hears of the Dawes records all the time, in fact many times one hears reference to the Dawes Roll. However, the roll is a list of names. It was a list of names of people eligible to receive land allotments. 

But to qualify to have one's name placed on the final roll a lengthy interview process was required. Data was first collected on a card--referred to often as an Enrollment Card. On some cards a Field card number was recorded and in other cases not. In the image below is the enrollment card of my family, my great grand parents Samuel and Sallie, my grandfather Sam Jr., my great uncle Houston, and my great aunt, Louisa.
Choctaw Freedman Card #777
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
(Microfilm publicaton M1186)

Because my great grandparents had been enslaved, their names were placed on a card reflecting "Freedmen" or former slaves. One can note on the card above, that Samuel's slave holder was a man called Jim Davis, and Sallie had once been enslaved by Emeline Perry.

On the reverse side of the card, as reflected in the image below, Samuel's father and mother were listed as were the parents of Sallie. In addition, where noted, the slave holder was listed. With Sallie, her father was not enslaved and he was clearly identified as having been a Choctaw Indian from the Skullyville community.
Reverse side of the same card.

Application Jackets/Applications for Enrollment

The application jackets reflect the actual interview taken when the applicants appeared. The Choctaw Nation does have a good number of interviews that were microfilmed fortunately their interview was preserved. The application jackets contain quite often, memos, letters and the final decision that was made on the application. 

Below is the first page of a 3 page interview of the for the Walton family enrollment.

National Archives Publication M1301

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

Final  Dawes Roll
Many people often miss this record. It is this record that is actually the Dawes Roll. There are over 680 pages to the roll itself and it is divided by category. The categories are citizens "by blood"
"freedmen" "newborns" "minors" and "inter-married whites".

If one made it through the lengthy process, and if their names were placed upon this roll, then the applicant was eligible to apply for their designated land allotment. Every person whose name is on the roll received a land allotment.

Final Roll
National Archives Publication T529
Document accessed on National Archives Website

Land Allotment Records

When the rolls closed and it was time to officially apply for one's land allotment another process unfolded. For many this process was far less complicated than it was several years earlier for the Dawes application process.

The process was actually treated as a homestead application, and it should be understood that everyone in the family received land, even children and infants. As a result, a complete file for each family member consisted of the application, a plat map with the legal description of the land, and if the interview was lengthy, it too was in the file.

Note that in order to find an ancestor's file, one will have to use the actual roll number instead of the enrollment card number.

Below is a sample page from the land allotment for Samuel as he applied for his own land. Oklahoma and Indian Territory, Land Allotment Jackets for Five Civilized Tribes, 1884-1934[database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc, 2014.

Samuel also applied for his wife and children, and it was also good to note that he signed the applications himself, so an original signature was visible on the record. Below is a page from the application of his son, Sam Jr., my grandfather.

Source: same a for above image.

There are other resources for the researcher to explore but these are the basic records that will connect the beginning genealogy researcher to explore the basic records for descendants of Choctaw Freedmen. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Legacy Gleaned from the Choctaw Census of 1867

1867 Choctaw Census Summary Oklahoma and Indian Territory, Marriage, Citizenship and Census Records, 
1841-1927 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2014.

Original data: Indian Marriage and Other Records, 1850–1920. Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

A document digitized by Ancestry reflects probably one of the earliest census records from the Choctaw Nation. I was pleased to find a document reflecting my own family history during the Post Civil War years, and have found a legacy of endurance.

A document digitized by Ancestry reflects probably one of the earliest census records from the Choctaw Nation. In 1867 an assessment was made of the various counties of the Nation, and the data is interesting to study. The counties in the nation that are reflected in this census are: San Bois, Skullyville, Sugar Loaf, Gaines, Tobucksy, Wade, Nashoba, Eagle, Boktuklo, Red River, Towson, Cedar, Jacks Fork, Atoka, Kiamichi, and Blue counties.

Looking more closely at the document the populations studied are the numbers of Indian males and females, the numbers of Choctaw Freedmen, the numbers of Freedmen from other States and Nations, and the numbers of whites. Data on acres of land being cultivated and the crops are also noted. Interesting however that Choctaw Freedmen are referred to as "Free Persons of Color" on the document. In addition the numbers of freed people of color from other states were also counted in the population.

To access this census: on Ancestry:
Oklahoma and Indian Territory

The census was conducted in December 1867, and it reflected all of the counties of the Choctaw Nation at that time. The counties reflected were: San Bois, Skullyville, Sugar Loaf, Gaines, Tobucksy, Wade, Nashoba, Eagle, Boktuklo, Red River, Towson, Cedar, Jacks Fork, Atoka, Kiamichi, and Blue.

(Source: same as above)

I decided to examine the 1867 census closely to see if I could find my own Choctaw Freedmen reflected anywhere. The item being examined is found in the Ancestry collection called:  Oklahoma and Indian Territory, Marriage, Citizenship and Census. The microfilm selected was  CTN 04 which can be accessed on Ancestry. The image number is 112.

The oldest documented ancestor that I have among my Choctaw Freedman ancestors is Kitty Perry. She was once enslaved by the Perry family, and was now freed and reflected in the record. Kitty was the grandmother to my great grandmother Sallie Walton. Among the communities captured in those early post-civil war enumerations was the Skullyville community (written as Scullyville). Surely enough, 12 pages into that particular reel of microfilm there was my ancestor Kitty. And Kitty, my third great grandmother as identified as a "Free person of color" aka Choctaw Freedman, on that document. 

Across from her name were some numbers reflecting the gender of people living in the household with her. There were two males and three females at that time. My research has already revealed the three females, Sallie, her mother Amanda, and an aunt Indiana Perry. Only one male is known from family research and that is Jackson Perry (later known as Jackson Crow). The other male is unknown so far.

Although there is not much more known about Kitty, and her life right after the war, seeing her name particularly so early after the war is encouraging. She was a survivor, and seeing her name on this early document places her back on the soil where she had lived for decades.

Understanding the trauma of war, and the uncertainty of living in such a trying time, under trying circumstances, and then seeing the family reflected in those uncertain times, is empowering. Kitty had a family to still feed and protect, and nurture. Her name on that record reflects her own determination to continue with life. Her early years are unknown, though she is believed to have arrived in the Skullyville Sugar Loaf area with the Perry's in 1831 from Yalobusha Mississippi.

In spite of the fears and heartache she may have endured in those earlier decades, Kitty survived, and raised her family. The future would continually hold challenges but she lived through them, and today her descendants live from the east coast to the west and points in between.

Seeing that small entry on a document from 1867, inspires me to keep moving ahead. The legacy of those enumerated in those critical years after the Civil War continues. And for me, when I study that first post Civil War document, and new path began, and I can say that from that one record, Kitty's legacy continues.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Who Were The Men Along the Wall?

(Courtesy, Oklahoma Historical Society)

Many of us have seen the image above, reflecting a group of Chickasaw Freedmen appearing at a hearing in front of officials of the Dawes Commission. The group of people being interviewed are one side of the large desks and commission officials are recording data from the other side of the desks. The applicants are seated in front of the desk and in the background another group of applicants are seated in front of a second desk in front of them. But on the far right, three men, all of African descent are seated. These men are attired in suits, setting them apart from the applicants.

Who were those men? And what was their role at the hearing?

I recently realized that the men were part of a group of Chickasaw Freedmen leaders, and they had been selected at the convention in 1898 to be present when Chickasaw Freedmen appeared in front of the Dawes Commission. And the answer as to why they were there is found among the conference proceedings of the Choctaw-Chickasaw Freedmen convention held in Pickens county.

The convention was lead by a group of Freedmen leaders, whose name should be remembered for the roles they played in the communities of Chickasaw and Choctaw Freedmen. (Many of these communities are now part of the southern part of Oklahoma, today.) The meeting that unfolded in August 1898, was an impressive one, and the status of Freedmen, both Choctaw and Chickasaw were addressed, though most of the issues evolved around the status of Chickasaw Freedmen, the last of the Five Tribes once-enslaved people who remained in the Territory, without citizenship, rights, and education.

But, it would not be until I examined the proceedings of the 1898 meeting that a possible answer to the question about the men along the wall.

National Archives II Record Group 48
(Stack 150, Row 9, Compartment 15, Shelf 1
Chickasaw Nation , Indian Territory, August 4th and 5th, 1898

It was clear what their roles were at the Dawes hearing. At the 1898 convention it was resolved at that there would be a panel of elected men, "to attend the sittings of the commission to the Five Civilized Tribes while said commission shall be engaged in the enrollment of the Chickasaw Freedmen, and render all Chickasaw Freedmen applying for enrollment, and the attorneys representing them under contracts of the Chickasaw Freedmen's Association, all the assistance in their power to them and that .........(illegible).........said Commission up the roll of the Chickasaw Freedmen to be made by said commission. 

1. Charles Cohee              2. Henry Gaines
3. Mack Stevenson           4. Solomon McGilbry
            5. Nelson Eastman
                Samuel Jones    

Their names appeared clearly and legibly. They were leaders who were elected by their neighbors and constituents to be representatives for them, at the 1898 convention and to appear at the Dawes Commission hearings.

Among those who signed on one of the more significant resolutions were, Charles Cohee, Henry Gaines, Mack Stevenson, Solomon McGilbry, Samuel Jones and Nelson Eastman (name later struck from document).

However, it was also noted that a separate committee of three were also selected to have an active role at the Dawes hearings.

National Archives II Record Group 48
(Stack 150, Row 9, Compartment 15, Shelf 
                                         R E S O L U T I O N

RESOLVED that the chairman of the committee appoint a committee of three persons, whose duty it shall be to arrange terms, and to sercure tents an other necessary camping outfits to be used by the committee of enrollment while attending the sittings of the commission to the Five Civilized Tribes.

        1. Charles Cohee              2. Lee Newsberry
                                        3. Nelson Eastman


H. A. Stephenson (signed)                    Charles Cohee (signed)
Secretary of the Convention                   Chairman of the Convention

It is not clear whether any of the men whose names appear above were part of the team of the three men along the wall or not. And because there are a good number of images of Charles Cohee that have survived time, it is doubtful that he is one of the three men above. Could the three be among the other names appointed by the chairman?

Quite possibly, and it is also documented that occasionally the men did testify on behalf of the Freedmen as well, when extensive interviews were taken.

Among the more involved interviews were those in which there was a question of a blood tie to the tribe that Freedman may have had. Some were truly bi-racial having one Indian parents and one black parent. The mixed status was often treated differently with Freedmen and most, even with an Indian parent, would be placed on the "Freedman" roll, citing a convenient practice of giving status to the applicant- the same status of the mother. And since most mother's of bi-racial Freedmen were of African Ancestry, they were given "non-Indian" (aka black) status regardless.

Being put on rolls "by blood" thus guaranteeing that they would receive larger allotments of land because of a blood tie to Indians. And the irony of allotting less land to Freedmen was somehow deemed acceptable as if the African blood of their former slaves somehow merited their being treated differently, and put them and their descendants into a "lesser" status forever with the tribe.

Beyond a basic sentiment of southern anti-black racism towards the their former slaves, came the demographics. Chickasaw Freedmen, along with those Choctaw Freedmen living in their vicinity, constituted a larger number, and there was a fear of a black "domination" should Freedmen be given rights such as voting rights.

The men along the wall, however, are liklely to have been 3 of several "good men" who were elected at the convention and by the people, to speak for them, when required. Among the representatiaves and active participants in the Freedman Convention of 1898, came numerous "good men". And thankfully, we have several of their names. 

They were Charles Cohee, Lee Newsberry, Nelson Eastman, Joseph Murray, Richmond Prince, William Pickens, Robert Anderson, William Alexander, Newton Burney, Henry Clay, George Stevenson, Ben Williams, William McKinney,  Mack Stevenson, Henry Gaines, Solomon McGilbry, and H. S. Stevenson.

The men against the wall were most likely from among these "good men." The task make me in the future for descendants to come forth with evidence such as family images to identify the three good men along the wall.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Chickasaw Freedmen Would Not Get to Vote

As fascinating story appeared in an 1898 edition of the Evening Star, a Washington DC newspaper. The story described the situation in Indian Territory in relation to the former slaves of Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations. The headline reflected the denial of voting rights for Chickasaw Freedmen.

As the turn of the 20th century approached, the Dawes Commission had begun its work to determine eligibility for land allotments and working toward eventual statehood, and during those years, the status of Freedmen in the nations was continually discussed.

Suffrage, or the right to vote in tribal elections arose in the Territory, and there was much discussion reflected in the press regarding the rights and privileges of the former slaves in the Chickasaw Nation. Voting rights caught the attention of many. In August of 1898 a fascinating article appeared about voting rights of Chickasaw Freedmen, in the Evening Star from Washington DC.

Source: See note below next image.

As was common, both Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations are referenced together. In 1885, the Choctaw Nation adopted their former slaves. However, despite signing the Treaty of 1866, the Chickasaw Nation never did formally adopt their once enslaved population, so they were limited in extending any rights and benefits to their former slaves, many of whom lived in dire poverty without education, or access to rights of any kind. They were continually seen as "outsiders" though never viewed as such during the slavery era, for as unpaid slaves, they were valuable assets.

In nearby Choctaw Freedmen, after official adoption into the tribe in 1885, they were given voting rights as was it was given in the other former slave-holing tribes. Apparently however, during that particular year, the rights of Choctaw Freedmen who wished to vote on an pending issue being presented to the tribe, was questioned. Green McCurtain, Chief of the Choctaw Nation at that time was concerned over the Freedmen voting, so he turnedto Washington to inquire about whether or not voting privileges should be extended to the Choctaw Freedmen.

A telegram was then sent to Green McCurtain directing the Choctaw Nation, to allow the Freedmen to participate in the vote.

It was pointed out in the same article that Chickasaws had never adopted the Freedmen into the tribe, and had therefore no voting rights in their tribe.

Things were a bit better for Choctaw Freedmen. Colored neighborhood schools were established for the Freedmen, and most did enjoy voting rights in their nation. But it is also known that several years later, when Henry Cutchlow ran for office on the tribal council and won a seat, but he was never allowed to take his seat and serve. But within the Choctaw Nation, voting rights did exist, and the nation did create several of the neighborhood schools for Freedmen, and much energy was put into Tushka Lusa Academy, though it only existed for a few years.

As the new century emerged, the rights of Choctaw Freedmen began to dwindle, although the Freedmen did get their land allotments when the Dawes Commission had completed its work. But relations eventually faded over the years, and in the mid 20th century Freedmen were expelled from tribal membership as was done in the other tribes during the 1970s and early 80s.

The history of the continuous support from Washington, of the Chickasaw Nation, despite their treatment of their former slaves is one of the understudied stories from Indian Territory. Thanks to scholar Daniel Littleifield, the data that is known was highlighted in his work from the 1970s. The Chickasaw Freedmen, a People Without a  Country.

And despite Chickasaws having signed the same Treaty of 1866 Freedmen  and the blatant violation of that treaty, it is hoped that more Chickasaw Freedmen descendants will eventually start to tell the stories of their ancestors, for it is a story that is still worth telling, in spite of disenfranchisement from the only land that they once knew as home.

Friday, April 15, 2016

In Search of Davis Frazier

"So who the heck is Davis Frazier," I was asked. My reply was simply, "I have no idea, I have never heard of him."

More than 10 years ago, a research colleague, (the noted researcher Tonia Holleman) asked me the question about a man whose draft card she had come across. She was researching men from LeFlore County Oklahoma who were registering for the World War I, Draft. The man whose card she had found was that of Davis Frazier.

Draft card of Davis Frazier, discovered by Tonia Holleman of Van Buren Arkansas.
Many thanks to her for sharing this discovery.
Source: Registration State: Oklahoma; Registration County: Le Flore; Roll: 1851803 U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 [database on-line].
Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2005

The reason why the card caught her attention was the fact that he mentioned my great grandmother Sallie Walton as his next of kin.  So who the heck was Davis Frazier?

She did some research and later pointed out to me that he had a Dawes Card. Surely enough he did, and he, like my great grandmother Sallie was a Choctaw Freedman. He was enrolled around the time that most of the Freedmen from Sugar Loaf County in the Choctaw Nation were enrolled. 

Source: Oklahoma and Indian Territory, Dawes Census Cards
for Five Civilized Tribes, 1898-1914
 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2014.

Davis Frazier's father was the Choctaw Indian Silas Frazier, of Sugar Loaf. His mother was Indiana Frazier who was a slave in the Perry family. Her slave mistress was Sophia Perry, who was part of the same clan of Perry slave holders connected to my Sallie Walton. I am thankful that she located this information, but still this did not provide much information about the identity of Davis Frazier.

(Source: same as above)

In 2010, I had the opportunity to meet Colin Kelley, a descendant of Nail Perry, and I have kept in touch with him over the years. It was his ancestral family that was connected to my own family--he is a descendant of the Choctaw Perrry's, who were the slave holding Perrys of Sugar Loaf County, Choctaw Nation.  The Perry's were not a wealthy plantation clan, but they were well tied to the Perry's and Folsoms of Sugar Loaf and Skullyville. They were also among the first Choctaws who migrated in 1831 and 1832.

In my own family--the names are fairly well known, Kitty, was the matriarch of my Perry family. Her children, were Jackson, and Amanda, from what I knew at the time. Amanda later gave birth to Sallie, my gr. grandmother in 1863. Sallie's oldest son was my grandfather Samuel. So--who was this Davis Frazier, who had a connection to my family, and who mentioned Sallie Walton as his closest relative?

I wrote an article about part of this line of research in 2012. on my other blog. Looking at the data on the card, Choctaw Silas Frazier his father was deceased by 1899 when Davis applied for the Dawes enrollment process. His mother Indiana was also deceased. However, the connection appeared to be through the Perrys. Sophia was part of the Perry clan. So, if Indiana was his mother, who was a slave of the Perry's, quiet possibly he too, was related to the Perrys in that small community in Sugar Loaf/Skullyville area.

I looked at the 1860 slave schedule of western Arkansas, that included Indian Territory slave holders. On that document, I see the  Perrys and the small number of enlsaved people attached to them.

1860 Federal Slave Schedule Reflecting the slaves of Nail Perry
and his sister Emeline Perry Folsom, in the Choctaw Nation, Sugar Loar County, I.T.

Interestingly, among this small group of slaves and slave holders, 4 of them are indicated as being "missing" or "fugitives". Did they flee from bondage? Were they taken? I have yet to know that part of the story.

 I know that Emaline was the "owner of record" of Sallie's mother Amanda, and it appears that Emaline's only person in bondage was a young female. Was that possibly Amanda, Sallie's mother?

I can only guess as to who the enslaved people are on this record, for one can never assign a name to document that bears no name and say anything in confidence about who the un-named person is. So, my guess is that the slave indicated next to Emaline's name may possibly have been my Amanda. The slave next to that of Nail Perry was possibly that of Jackson Perry, (later known as Jackson Crow.). Who was the young male listed wiht Lucky or Sucky Perry? Rhoda was also part of the Perry clan, and Could the older female possibly be Kitty--Amanda and Jackson's mother? Was this a family of slaves?

Now, examining another document, I decided to look at the first draft of the Dawes Roll for Choctaw Freedmen, I noticed something. Davis Frazier's name was placed together with that of Polly Ann Eliza Crow. 

Polly Ann was the daughter of Jackson Crow, who was a son of Kitty. So were they siblings? Or half siblings? Or simply close cousins? They were not siblings, because Davis Frazier's mother was Indiana Perry, and his father was Silas Frazier. Eliza's mother was Jane Crow who was white, and her father was Jackson Crow, whose mother was Kitty, so Eliza and Davis were not siblings. So perhaps they were cousins--but if so how?

Both were interviewed at the Dawes Commission at the same time, and in fact their card numbers are close and they were both there on the same exact day. 

Their ties appear to be close, though still  unknown. I had basically placed the mystery of Davis Frazier aside assuming it to be one that may never really be known. Nothing more was expected about this man. It was noticed that in the 1920 census he was enumerated as living alone, and was said to be a truck farmer. No wife, no children, just a lone man. He was also the only man of color living in the Houston/Hontubby area at the time as well.

Year: 1920; Census Place: Houston, Le Flore, Oklahoma; Roll: T625_1468; Page:10B; Enumeration District: 105; Image:331

Putting it together

The Dawes interview puts more of the family story together. It turns out that Davis Frazier's was Sallie's. His mother was Indiana Perry, and her mother was Kitty Perry. The connection is clear-- Kitty was Sallie's grandmother making Indiana Perry a sister to Amanda Perry, who was Sallie's mother. So sharing the same grandmother Kitty, Sallie Walton and Davis Frazier were 1st cousins. The name was unfamiliar and had never been spoken in the household for decades. This is possibly because he was long deceased.

National Archives Publication #M1301 Choctaw Freedman #671

An Unexpected Find--a Headstone!

I never expected to ever find any more data, and was grateful for the little bit that I had learned. But not long ago, while looking at various burial grounds on Find a Grave, a burial caught my eye. There buried among others in the cemetery in Hontubby Oklahoma was a Dave Frazier. Davis Frazier lived in that community, somewhat isolated from other Choctaw Freedmen. And now, among no relatives nearby, rests a lone Dave Frazier, in the Hontubby Cemetery in Le Flore County, Oklahoma.

From the transcription on the website, it appears that the stone also bore a date of birth which was never known before. It stated 1898, which would make him about 21 in 1899 when he applied for the Dawes Commission. This headstone may quite possibly be that of the elusive Davis Frazier, resting quietly where he lived. I still search for his mother Indiana in earlier pre-Dawes records. He appears to have been without both parents for a long time, which would explain why he listed Sallie as next of kin on his draft card.

So, who the heck was Davis Frazier? He was the son of Indiana, grandson of Kitty, and the quiet cousin of Sallie, my great grandmother.

My family Perry associate whom I call cousin, is Colin Kelley and he still has family ties to that community and he too believes that this is Davis Frazier. He has connections in that same community and one man whose father used to mention the name Davis Frazier to him. Frazier was described as a quiet man who worked on the farm, who was basically a loner. Much will never be known of the life of this man, but I pray that he rests well, and walks now with his mother, grandmother, and all of the ancestors peacefully. He is my cousin.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Finding Onchetubbe, A Choctaw Man

I had never heard the name Onchatubbee, or Anchatubbee until 1991, when I found my great grandmother's Dawes application file. My Great grandmother was Sallie Walton. She was a Dawes enrollee, and her mother was Amanda Perry Hunt. I have had much of this information well documented since 1991.

National Archives publication M1186,

Source: Oklahoma and Indian Territory, Dawes Census Cards for Five Civilized Tribes, 1898-1914 [database on-line]. 

Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2014. Original data: Enrollment Cards for the Five Civilized Tribes, 1898-1914; (National Archives Microfilm Publication M1186, 

On the reverse side of Sallie's Dawes Card her mother was identified as Amanda "Hunt". Her father was identified as Eastman Williams.

(Source: Same as above)

But, in the Dawes interview, Sallie gave a brief statement about her mother and when asked her mother's full name, she stated that her mother was "Amanda Anchatubbee."

"Anchatubbee?" Well that name was completely unfamiliar to me, and there were no living elders to ask about the name.  Well, I knew that Anchatubbee is clearly a Choctaw name---but where did it come from? I knew that Sallie's mother Amanda had married a man called John Hunt in the latter part of the 1880s but no additional records have surfaced with that name, nor with anything that resembled Anchatubbee.

So where did that name come from?

Was Amanda's father named Anchatubbee?

Did Amanda marry a man by that name? And if so, would that have been Sallie's father?

In 1999, a cousin shared with me a letter that had been written to my gr. grandmother in 1923. The letter was written by W. B. Billy a well known Choctaw living in the town of Howe, Oklahoma. The letter was written to Sallie in 1923, and it is telling her about her own family. It mentioned her mother Amanda, her grandparents Kitty and James, and possibly Sallie's father. In that letter was a sentence pointing out that Amanda, her mother, had at one time married a man called "Onchetubbee."
So there he was. I recognized that Onchitubbee was the name that Sallie has used for her mother Amanda Anchatubbee. The letter pointed out that Onchetubbee was my gr. gr. grandmother Amanda's husband.

Many questions came to my mind, the first being why Sallie did not know this about her family. Was she not raised around them?

The letter also pointed out to Sallie that it was not certain whether Onchetubbee was her father or not, but it was noted in the letter that her grandfather James Crow was full Choctaw.

With all of the questions in my head, I at least learned from that letter that "Onchitubbee", or "Anchatubbee" was clearly a name related to the family. So anytime I saw a list of Choctaws from the Skullyville, or Sugar Loaf areas of the Choctaw Nation, I would seek his name, just to see if he was enumerated. But the name of this man never appeared.

For the next twenty five years, Anchatubbee would simply be the name of a man who married my gr. gr. grandmother. Did he live nearby? Far away? Was he associated with the Perrys? The Perry family was Choctaw family to whom my family was associated, during and after slavery.

But now, thanks to the partnership between the Oklahoma Historical Society, and Ancestry, there is a new opportunity to examine records more easily. The decision to digitized many of the Oklahoma Historical society records has brought a new opportunity for those researching the history of the Oklahoma based Indian Tribes. I zoomed in on a unique collection of these records. It is called, the Oklahoma and Indian Territory, Marriage, Citizenship and Census Records 1840-1927. I wrote about this collection in a previous article.

So, while on Ancestry going through more of the records in this amazing collection, I was first drawn to an image that summarized the numbers of citizens, including Freedmen, in the Choctaw Nation in 1867 and 1868. Although this image was only a summary, with a numerical count it still provided useful data on the numbers of people of color in the Choctaw Nation. Oklahoma and Indian Territory, Marriage, Citizenship and Census Records, 1841-1927 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2014. Original data: Indian Marriage and Other Records, 1850–1920. Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.  Image: CTN 04 Choctaw Citizens and Freedmen Image 25/455

One reel of microfilm interested me, because it reflected the Sugar Loaf community where my Perry clan had resided.

The heading on the 1868 Choctaw census reflected the numbers of people in various categories. Indian males, Indian females, Free persons of color, freedmen from other states or tribes, and numbers of pieces of property such as livestock owned. 

The only names represented on the document were the names of male heads of house. In this case I recognized the name of Nail Perry, who was part of the Perry clan in that area, and who also testified for my great grandparents in their application on the Dawes roll. And what a surprise to note the name that appeared directly underneath that of Nail Perry. There, on a list of names from 1868 was a man called Onchetubbee!

Onchetubbe!! This was the very first time that I had ever noticed the name of Onchetubbe on a document, after over 25 years of researching this family. Though it began with an "O" and not an "A" I realized that this was the same name. And I had possibly found my the source of the mystery name from the Dawes interview. And here in 1868 the name appears. (Thank you Ancestry!)

As it turns out, in 1874 another census was taken in the Choctaw Nation. And there, in Sugar Loaf, once again the name appeared.

The  same roll of microfilm contained the 1896 Choctaw Census. I did find the Perry Clan listed in Sugar Loaf County but beyond that, nothing more reflected Onchetubbe. His name no longer appeared, and he may have, by that time, passed away. But finding him in those two odd census years 1868 and 1874, in the Choctaw Nation still pleased me.

After 25 years of looking for and asking about Anchatubbe, or Onchatubbe, finally, after taking time to comb through this fairly new collection on Ancestry, I finally saw this man's name.

Although I don't have a lot of data to share about Onchatubbee, but at least now I have evidence on paper that reflects this man. He is said to have married Amanda Perry, my gr. gr. grandmother. 

Is he an ancestor? He may have been only a step father to my Sallie, thus not a direct ancestor at all. However, finding his name still provides satisfaction: 

-Onchetubbe was part of the small community in what is now rural LeFlore county, once known as Sugar Loaf. 
-Onchetubbe was part of the small circle of people in the Perry clan, around whom some of my ancestors live. 
-And Onchetubbe was part of the circle of people whose names I call as my ancestors 

And now as he continues his walk with the ancestors, I can also call his name.