Sunday, May 4, 2014

Choctaw Freedman Genealogy: The Case of David Gardner

National Archives Publication #M1186
Choctaw Freedman #843, David Gardner, Bokchito, Choctaw I.T. 

 Rich family data can be found in the Gardner family of Bokchito, Indian Territory. The large clan of Gardners lived there among other Choctaw Freedmen in the town of Bokchito, in Indian Territory. The patriarch of this large clan was 56 years old at the time he appeared at the Dawes Commission to enroll himself and his family including his wife, seven children and four grandchildren.

David Gardner's mother Silva had been enslaved by Choctaw Sally Gardner, and his father who was Jim Harris was enslaved by Green Harris. It is not known why he did not carry the surname of his father, and used that of his mother's most of his life. It appears that Wm. Gardner, listed as the slave holders was possibly not a Choctaw citizens, but his wife Sally was the Choctaw citizen. And the same Sally Gardner was noted as the slave holder of record for David's mother Silva.

National Archives Publication #M1186   Choctaw Freedman # 843
The reverse side of the Enrollment Card for David Gardner, reflects the name of the parents of each applicant, whose names appears  on the front side of the Dawes Enrollment  card, including the young children.

Because there are so many notations on the card, the information pertaining to the grandchildren appear on the front side, including their dates of birth. But they are on opposite ends of the card so that critical information is not immediately visible to the eye. The overlay and the arrow illustrate this data pertaining to the grandchildren.

Enrollment Card highlighting data on grandchildren

Following up on the Application jacket (NARA Publication #M1301) the corresponding file for David Gardner contains no interview. The memos generally pertain to the enrollment of the grandchildren and how they were considered eligible for enrollment. The focus seemed to be placed on the children of Abner and his wife Clara and whether or not their children were eligible for enrollment or not.

Additional notations on the card suggest that there are additional records to explore. One such statement refers to a card where the children of Abner were being considered for enrollment. 

This notation from the front of David Gardner's card, makes a reference to Choctaw Freedman Card #D82.

The enrollment card initially put on D82 (meaning Doubtful Card #82) also had data on the same family. The information on this card can lead the researcher directly to the mother Clara's enrollment card with her family. The card was created before her marriage to Abner Gardner.

National Archives Publication #M1186 Choctaw Freedmen D82

Reverse side of same card above.

That particular file (Choctaw Freedmen D82) does contain additional information about the family. Included in that file was some very interesting history pertaining to Clara, Abner's wife and her own family's status as having been enslaved by Choctaw Indians.

National Archives Publication M1301 Application Jackets, Choctaw Freedmen D82

Page 2 of interview from same file.

Page 3 from same file.

There is much more to the family history and it is known that in many cases one file leads to another, and one document can always point to more. Within one family the wife's family is also a part of that history, and often by following the clues left in the primary file, one can open the doors to much data.

This is the case in the family of David Gardner of Bokchito, a family of Choctaw Freedmen.

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