Thursday, February 7, 2019

The Freedmen Elders of Skullyville

Enrollment Card of Malindy and Smith Brown
Choctaw Freedman Card No 711

While studying the community of Skullyville during this Black History Month, I have been curious as to who the elders were at the time that Freedmen were going through the Dawes Commission. I decided to look at the cards from that community, and to see how many individuals were applying for enrollment who were at least 60 years of age, or older.

Of course the community of Freedmen of Skullyville was not exceptionally large. As I pointed out earlier, there were less than 300. Among those scattered through the Skullyville County of the Choctaw Nation were a handful who were elders.

They are mentioned here, because these would have been among individuals who were among the first generation to have been born after in the Territory after Choctaw arrival. The Choctaws arrived in the Territory in 1830-1831. The Dawes Commission began the interview process among Choctaw Freedmen, in 1898. Thus those who were at least 60 years of age had spent most of their life in the nation, and would have been eyewitnesses to most of the stages of settlement, adjustment, enslavement and eventual freedom in the Territory. These were the elders to whom the Freedmen community would have also looked to for guidance, comfort, and advice to life. These are the elders who saw so much and are mentioned so seldom, on the pages of history.

This small number of survivors who lived to see the transition of a people, should be honored, for having chosen to survive.

Their legacy deserves to be honored and celebrated.

Choctaw Freedmen Elders:

Card #            Name  (Age)
690                 Rachel Brown (64)
704                 Eliza Owens  (65)*
710                 Rose Wilson  (84)*
711                  Malindy Brown (78)
711                  Smith Brown  (76)
750                 Phoebe Brown  (63)

* Eliza Owens and Rose Wilson, died before the enrollment process ended and neither lived to select their land allotment. Nevertheless, they went through the process, staking their claim as citizens of the Choctaw Nation. 

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