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.