Monday, January 20, 2014

Exploring Choctaw Freedmen Minors and Newborns on Dawes Records

Choctaw Freedman Card No. 777, with small notation made on front of card 
Image from NARA Publication M1186 Choctaw Freedmen

When exploring the history of families who were Choctaw Freedmen, it is important to follow all data and all clues in the files. This includes small notes made on each document. In many cases Dawes Enrollment Cards (M1186) contain additional notes that reflect more family history data beyond the family's primary card. One often sees notes on the bottom of enrollment cards that children of persons enrolled are added on another family associated card. 

Keep in mind that each card usually has an application jacket, which is essentially a file with interviews that corroborate data found on the card. In the case of the additional cards---it is critical that the family historian follow those notes, find the files and find the card and the interview that accompanies the card.

In the case of the Walton family found on Choctaw Freedman Card No. 777, Samuel, his wife Sarah and their children Sam Jr. Houston and a step daughter Louisa are all listed. A note on the bottom of the card points the researcher to another file---NB #230. This means a "New Born" card number 230. However they were eventually put in a category called "Minors" and were classified as "Minor Choctaw Freedmen."  

Minor Choctaw Freedman Enrollment Card #230 
National Archives Publication No. M1186

There is also a file among the Application Jackets. In addition is there found data on the children, but there is also information regarding the relationship to the grandmother of the children, Sallie Walton. The father George Sanders is interviewed in this case, and he makes a reference to a nickname that the family used for Sallie Walton, "Kittie". 

In this particular case, I know that Kittie was a nickname for Sallie, whom I personally knew when I was a child. I later learned that Kittie was also the name of Sallie's grandmother. 

Pages from Choctaw Freedman Minors Card #230
National Archives Publication #1301

It is quite useful to study the notations on all parts of the card not just the names at the top of the card. And of course by reading the associated files other data can be gleaned about the family and their interpersonal relationships. I can recall when I was a small child, an uncle who was visiting, was speaking to my gr. grandmother Sallie, and he asked her, "don't they call you Kitty or Lil' Kittie?"  She smiled, kind of blushed and then simply said, "oh some people used to call me that."  It would be decades later that I would learn who the first "Kitty" was in the family.

The names on the Minor Card fascinated me, because I actually had known John Henry Sanders. He was a mature man when I knew him. He worked at a Texaco station on Dewey Avenue in Poteau, Oklahoma. The Walton and Sanders family had come from what is now LeFlore County, and Poteau is the county seat. And in the 1990s I met another cousin whom I didn't know that well, who was referred to as Aunt Etha. 

I decided to interview her as she was in her 90s at the time. It turned out that this "Etha was actually "Easter" who was on the Dawes card. She said her full name was Annie Easter Sanders and her grandmother was my gr. grandmother Sallie. I then realized that I was indeed speaking with an original Dawes Roll enrollee from our family. This was 1995, and she passed away in 1999. Meeting her was a thrill, as she reminded me so much of gr. grandma Sallie, in her tone, her appearance and the way she carried herself. I was so glad to have met her before she passed.

Annie Easter Sanders in McCalester Oklahoma in sumner of 1995. 
Easter Sanders was one of the last Dawes Choctaw Freedmen enrollees. She died in 1999.

The greater lesson is that the small notes made on the front of a family's card is significant and it is critical that the researcher follow the notations, which can lead to additional files on the same family.

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