A rare 1890 census document is found in a collection of records from the Choctaw Nation. On that record is found the name of the Hall family, of Choctaw Freedmen. Thomas Hall, his wife Rachel, and his sister Charity are on the document. What distinguishes the record is that the applicants are elders, all over 70 years of age, placing their years of birth in the 1820s! Their ages indicate that they were born several years before Choctaw Removal in the early 1830s.
The Family of Thomas Hall, Choctaw Freedmen
Typically, when researching records of the Freedmen of Indian Territory, the enrollment cards which are part of the Dawes records, are studied. In this case, the family of Thomas, Rachel, and Charity Hall, are found on Enrollment Card #435.
On the reverse side of the card the names of Thomas and sister Charity's parents are revealed: Source: Same as above. Image shown is reverse side of card.
Sam and Nancy Hall are their parents. In many cases with elders who were Choctaw Freedmen, the names of parents are not always recorded, but in this case they were. Rachel, Thomas' wife also identified her own parents, who were Ben Seward and Phillis Seward. It is stated that they were actually somewhere in Texas. But the interview from the Application Jacket reveals that most of their entire life was spent in Indian Territory.
Applications for Enrollment of the Commission to the Five Civilized Tribes, 1898–1914. Microfilm M1301, 468 rolls. NAI: 617283. Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Record Group 75. The National Archives at Washington, D.C. (Image accessed on Ancestry)
Additional Records Reveal Much More
The first extensive Federal census in Indian Territory was taken in 1900 so the Dawes records are critical to examininig Freedmen history before that time. However, a rare record from 1890 was shared in an online Facebook group known as The Choctaw-Chickasaw Freedmen Descendants group.(Special thanks, Sandra Riley.)
The document was part of a collection of records from the Oklahoma Historical Society. They are now digitized and found on Ancestry as part of earlier pre-statehood records from the Choctaw Nation known as CTN records. (CTN means Chotaw Nation)
On the microfilm reel CTN 4, also found on Ancestry, there are many records from the old districts in the Choctaw Nation. There are 468 images on the reel. On image #318 some records from Towson in the Choctaw Nation are reflected and two of the pages reflect Freedmen. On that record are the Halls.
It should be pointed out that most of the 1890 census was destroyed by fire in 1923. However, this unique census record was not part of the records housed in the U. S. Commerce building, when the fire struck the records. Thankfully this rare set of pages were not affected as they were not in the Commerce building at the time.
Interesting Data About the Thomas Family
That 1890 census record reflects some interesting details about this family. Thomas and his sister Charity were born in Mississippi. His wife Rachel however, was born in Virginia! And both of her parents were also born in Virginia. Virginia ancestry is rare for a Choctaw Freedman. On her enrollment card (shown in first image above), it says that her parents Ben and Phillis Seward were located or had been situated in Texas--to the south of Indian Territory. So clearly in her early years she and her parents were either sold or removed with others from Virginia, to Texas, but clearly Rachel somehow ended up enslaved in the Choctaw Nation.
In addition to Rachel being born in Virginia, she could also read. This reflection of her literacy as well as place of birth for her and her parents makes this rare image even more interesting! But how Rachel came to be in Indian Territory will not be known, but it is clear that she was in the Choctaw Nation quite early, because she and her husband were enslaved by the same Choctaw man, Eastman Loman.
Did Loman go to Texas to purchase slaves or to purchase a female for Thomas? Or was Rachel removed from her parents when taken to the territory? Was contact ever made with them after freedom? The answers are not known and will perhaps never be, however, the record does exist to point to an early American presence of this family in post colonial Virginia. Many untold stories remain to be told, especially how many Choctaws obtained their human chattel slaves.
It is revealed on the record, that sister Charity was never married, and remained close to her brother and family into their later years. Seeing a rare household only of only elders living together makes this find even more special. Thankfully they all lived to receive allotments of land, and it is hoped that there were generations that followed them and that lived to tell their story.