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.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Pre-Citizenship Records of Choctaw Freedmen

The Choctaw Nation made an official move to adopt their formal slaves as citizens in 1885. An official census was conducted and later produced the first official document reflecting the population of Choctaw Freedmen. In order to determine who was going to be considered eligible for citizenship, preliminary data was collected. And now these records are available on Ancestry and can be used to tell more of the story of Choctaw Freedmen.

Source: CTN 07 Choctaw Citizens and Freedmen 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.

These records are extremely useful for African American genealogists, with Choctaw Freedmen ancestors, because they lay out the family structure as it was in 1885. Keep in mind that this was more than a decade before the Dawes Commission started, and therefore these records provide a unique opportunity for Freedmen researchers to look at the family much earlier in time.

To Find These Records:

The 1885 Choctaw Freedmen census records themselves in their entirety can be accessed on Ancestry. One can tell by looking at the microfilmed images, that entire ledgers were copied. I am zooming in on some of the pages found Ancestry, to show the kinds of data collected by the Choctaw Nation in the 1880s.

On Ancestry, the collection is called: Oklahoma and Indian Territory Marriages, Citizenship and Census Records, 1841-1927. There are more than 800 pages in this database.The most useful pages in this collection are the first 285 pages of this 816-page collection.

The beginning of the collection starts with an area simply called "1st District". This census is significant because it reflects the composition of the family as it was in 1885. On the left side of the page, the categories reflected the names of the persons enumerated, including the head of the household, the names of the children and their age range.

Source: Same as above

The second side of the ledger reflect additional data, including the nationality of the citizen being enumerated, the former slave holders for those who had been enslaved, and also additional information about real property and livestock owned.

Sourc: Same as above

The value of looking at this record is that it reflects the family more than a decade before the Dawes Rolls. In some cases people died between 1885 and 1898, so there are some names shown of people who never made it to the Dawes Rolls. Many of whom were in their 60s and older, died before the Dawes enrollment process began, so this is the opportunity to see the family grouping even earlier. Unlike those whose families lived in the United States after freedom, families in Indian Territory do not have the benefit of having been enumerated on the 1870 and 1880 census schedules. So this record from 1885 is useful.

A Case Study - Searching for My Perry Ancestors
I was able to locate my own ancestors on the document, but interestingly, the document created more questions than it answered.

My great grandmother Sallie Walton was named after her grandmother Sallie who was frequently also called "Kitty". I see an older Sallie who is possibly my "Kitty", on the record, as my Sallie's mother Amanda Perry. I recognize the name of others such as Jackson Perry Sallie's uncle, (who would later be known as Jackson Crow), and the name of Davis Frazier, an orphaned cousin appears with the family. But my own Sallie was not there, on the document.

Surprisingly another name that has often been noted on early documents appeared--that of the Flacks. And the Sallie that I saw was not Sallie or Kitty Perry, but a Sallie "Flack". On the ledger it said that Eliza Flack was said to be the slave holder before emancipation. If this is my older Sallie (or Kitty) this is new information, because the Perry's were said to be the exclusive Choctaw slave holders of the family. Yet, this record from a decade earlier than the creation of the Dawes roll, suggests something else. However, there is no evidence, so the Sallie Flack could also be a simple accident of geography--and perhaps she was a mere neighbor, and not connected.

A decade later when the Dawes roll data was collected, an interview with Nail Perry, a well known Choctaw Indian in the Sugar Loaf area of the nation, stated that Sallie's mother Amanda was freed under his sister Emeline Perry.

Yet, here is Eliza Flack who is listed on this 1885 document at the slave holder before emancipation. So the greater question arises--who are the Flacks? Are they connected to my family? Seeing Eliza Flack as a previous slave holder proves a new avenue of research to pursue.

Source: Same as above

Some Elected To Leave the Nation

In that collection are several volumes or ledgers of records, and volume 3 contained the names of people who opted to leave the Nation and not be adopted into the tribe. The expectation was that they were going to get a $100 payment in addition to relinquishing their citizenship. And surprisingly, the name of Kitty Perry, my gr. gr. gr. grandmother appeared on that list.

There was an" X" by her name and a notation (see arrow on bottom right) in the lower right corner. Kitty had submitted papers to identify who she was for her to be deemed eligible for the $100 per capita payment. This notation is not made with other most other names on this ledger. So now, the question arises---who was Lizzie Perry? Was this a relative of Nail Perry, or Emeline or others in the Perry clan?

Kitty's name later appeared a few pages later on a small list of less than 10 people who had submitted identification papers.

As one moves through the ledger there are other categories, of Choctaw Freedmen, some of whose citizenship was deemed "doubtful", and more pages with Freedmen from additional districts such as Red River, Red Oak and more.

Notes About the Collection
These documents reside at the Federal Records Center in Ft. Worth Texas. They were microfilmed in the 1970s and can be found on CTN 07 at the Oklahoma Historical Society. And they are all now digitized on Ancestry. When locating the Ancestry digitized collection, look specifically for CTN07 which was the Oklahoma Historical Society number

In order to find them on Ancestry easily, one must locate the collection called, "Oklahoma and Indian Territory Marriage, Citizenship and Census Records, 1841-1927". (I have occasionally found it easier to access from outside of Ancestry via Google. By typing in the name of the collection on Google, it is easier for me to locate the database, which will take me directly to the database that I want to see.) There are additional rolls of Indian Territory Freedmen, that I shall list on another blog.

The value of exploring earlier records is immeasurable. Some researchers might be tempted to focus exclusively on only the Dawes records, and feel that looking at earlier records is not valuable. Nothing could be father from the truth. As genealogists, and researchers, we should see ourselves as storytellers, and as we seek to tell the stories of the ancestors, each and every document bearing their name should be studied and analyzed to see if additional facts from the past can be unlocked and brought to light.