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.