Category Archives: Journal

Chronological posts of tracing my family roots

New Location for Crittenden Family Reunion

We have a new location for our reunion on September 1, 2019 from 3pm to 5pm. We will meet immediately after the First Families Reunion in Tahlequah. Our reunion will be on the Cherokee Heritage Center property in the Chapel. The chapel has tables, chairs, rest room, and is big enough to hold 30-40 people…..and is air conditioned! The heritage center closes at 5. Our start time is approximate based on when First Family Reunion concludes. We have access to the chapel as early as 1pm if needed.

I will be arriving in Oklahoma by August 20 and will post directions to the site for the reunion soon after that.

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Descendants of Moses Crittenden Reunion plus Moore and West Updates

After a winter of organizing and tying up myriad loose ends, my summer is devoted to collecting new info. I am not sure why I am undertaking that as I still have so much research from prior trips to finish scanning and attaching to files.

However, the time is right as I have the summer on the road while I vacate my rental in Portugal to allow the owners to take advantage of renting it out at higher summer rental rates. While inconvenient, it is allowing me time to follow up on research on my Moore, West and Crittenden families. Here are updates on my summer plans regarding these three branches of my family.

Crittenden Family Reunion

Location Update for Reunion – See bolded italics below.

Get together for all descendants of Moses Crittenden on September 1, 2019. We will meet immediately after the First Families Reunion on the Cherokee Heritage Center property in the Chapel. The chapel has tables, chairs, rest room, and is big enough to hold 30-40 people…..and is air conditioned! The Heritage Center closes at 5. We have access to the chapel as early as 1pm if needed.

Our start time of 3pm is approximate based on when the First Family Reunion concludes.  Any Crittendens are welcome, including descendants of Moses’ siblings, cousins, etc.

Bring photos, stories, questions so we can all share what we know and what questions we might still be trying to answer. I have some news to share about my drive through Georgia where I located the general area of land that William Crittenden and his family were living on before leaving Georgia for Arkansas in the 1830s. I will post more about that here when my summer of travel is over.

Descendants of William L West (born about 1803 in South Carolina)

By the 1840s William was in Alabama. A wide array of his great grandchildren, 2x and 3x great grandchildren, and other extended family, are on the hunt for his parents’ names and records of his earlier years in South Carolina. Three of us met in Greenville in June to comb through documents in the libraries of three different counties. And while we found some interesting information and possible leads, nothing that definitively tells us the names and origins of Williams’ parents and siblings. More about that trip will be posted here later this year.

Descendants of Nicholas Moore Senior (born about 1712 in St Mary’s County, Maryland)

I am very fortunate to have a well documented tree of my paternal line laid out in Timothy O’Rourke’s book, “Maryland Catholics on the Frontier: The Missouri and Texas Settlements”.

However, how did they get to Maryland? Was it via England or Ireland? Where do we really come from? I am hoping to find answers to these questions when I spend ten days in St Mary’s County, Maryland in September.

So Many Questions

I started my genealogy quest with a few questions. I answered those questions long ago. With each answer, I had three more questions. And so it continues…

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Sorry for the Absence

It has been way too long since I have posted. I spent a lot of time last year solving a mystery on my father’s side of my tree with great results. Meanwhile, I moved to Portugal last Fall. It took a while to get settled in and then I have been traveling in the states since June. I will be back in Portugal in October and settled in one place starting November 1 for the next several months.

My goal is to spend my winter getting organized about tracing one lead at a time. I will also be planning two genealogy trips for next year, June 2019 I want to spend some time in Maryland following up on Nicholas Moore, born in Maryland in about 1712. I will be on a quest to trace back from Nicholas and find where in Ireland my branch of the Moore family started their migration to America.

In August and September 2019 I will be in Oklahoma for the First Families of the Cherokee Nation annual reunion (first time attending). Then to Mena, Arkansas where my great grandfather Moses Crittenden lived in the mid-1800s. Next to Guntersville, Alabama to the West side of my mother’s family.  And then to South Carolina where I hope to be able to go further back in our lineage from William L West who was born in South Carolina and migrated to Alabama in the 1800s.

Anyone with info on the Moores in Baltimore or Wests in South Carolina, please contact me.

Over the summer I did manage to do some additional research on the time spent by my grandparents James Richard West and Eliza Crittenden West in Roswell New Mexico in the early 1900s. More court documents on my grandfather. Once I have  a little more information I will post an update on the life of my very interesting grandfather!

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Newspaper Archives Great Source for Family History

In my last post I mentioned finding surprising news about my grandfather, James R West, in newspapers from New Mexico in the early 1900s.  I have done many newspaper searches before, but never using NewspaperArchive.com.

I found dozens of articles that I had not find searching other newspaper sites. Although there is a subscription fee, I am finding this source invaluable. So far, I have saved twelve articles about James West from the site with many more still to review and save.

Screen Shot 2017-12-04 at 12.08.07 PM

Interestingly, although I have never heard him referred to as Jim except by my cousin John, seeing his name as Jim West, as well as James West, in one of the articles that I found led me to start a new search under Jim West. Many more articles came up that were clearly about James. Remember to search in many ways for your ancestors in all document and newspaper searches.

Conducting more research on Newspaper Archive is my top genealogy goal at the moment. It is taking a lot of discipline to not start entering every ancestor’s name to see what I can find. However, I am determined to first pull every article about my grandfather that I can find and this in itself will take several sessions.

Happy searching!

Kathy

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James R West – Man of Many Complexities

Finding out more about James R West, my grandfather, was one of the reasons that I started my genealogy research. James married my Cherokee grandmother, Eliza Crittenden, in 1903. I knew only broad strokes about their life together.

They married in Oklahoma Indian Territory in 1903. Sometime shortly after that they moved to Roswell, New Mexico where they lived until about 1917. I knew that James left the family in 1922 and, except for a one day visit to Tulsa in 1929, he never contacted my grandmother or his children again.

James R West

James R West

Since starting my research I have found out more about their life together, but I still have so many holes in their story.

Based on some correspondence with the Dawes Commission regarding my grandmother’s land selection, I had a feeling that James was not in the household during their last years in Roswell. In October of this year,  I finally made my way to Roswell to see what I could find.

IMG_0221

Chaves County Court House – Roswell

I started with the Historical Society and their very helpful volunteer. Janice found a newspaper article that led me to do some research in the property file archives at the Chaves County Recorders Office. I found many land transactions in which James was involved, ending with charges being filed against him regarding some of those transactions. This mirrored activity by James that I had found several years ago in Wagoner, Oklahoma. Pages of land transactions concluding with him being sanctioned by a judge.

So, I went back to the newspaper archives. I found two more interesting articles about charges being filed against James for various crimes. My next stop would have been the court house to find out more about these charges and their resolution, but sadly I had to depart Roswell and my travel plans could not be changed. The wonderful Historical Society volunteer is going to see what she can find at the court house.

This week I decided to conduct a more intensive newspaper search and was overwhelmed by what I found, coverage of multiple charges and trials involving James R West, including horse smuggling, jury tampering, and attempted murder!

Clearly, my research will continue. I know that I will find out more facts, and hopefully find the court records regarding these cases. However, will I ever know the story surrounding the facts? What led James, who appeared to have a successful livery business at the time, to his actions? How did it impact my grandma, Eliza?

JamesRichard.4thfromleft.Roswell.NM.ca.1912 (2017_08_30 07_25_36 UTC)

James R West – second from right in black hat

Some of James’ story can be attributed to the fact that much of Oklahoma and New Mexico were still the Wild West in the early 1900s. Yet, that is not enough of an explanation for me.

I fear I will always be left wondering about so many details and nuances of my grandparents’ lives. It is the search and the uncovering of surprises that keep me going. I know that there will always be something else to find out.

This trip also reminded me that there is nothing like feet on the ground when following your family’s story in many diverse locations.

Do any of you have family that resided in New Mexico in the early 1900s? I would love to hear your stories. Who knows, maybe yours cross mine somewhere in Roswell.

 

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The West Family Cherokee Connections

When I started this blog I was aware that one of my West ancestors, Rufus Morgan West Jr (my great grandfather’s nephew), had married a Cherokee woman, Ellen Fain, and that my grandfather’s brother, David West, had married Rufus’s widow. What I found on my November 2016 trip to Guntersville, Alabama is that my West family’s Cherokee connection is deeper and more complex that I knew.

My great grandfather’s brother, Rufus Morgan West, married Nancy Merrill (interchangeably spelled as Merrell) in Alabama in 1843.

Rufus West and Nancy Merrll Licensce from Archives Office in Guntersville, Marshall County, Alabama

Rufus West and Nancy Merrell Marry in Alabama

My time in Alabama was full of discoveries, many of which I will share in future posts. The major finding was how deep my family’s Cherokee connections are in my West lineage. When I started this quest into my family’s history, I had compartmentalized my family’s Cherokee heritage on my mother’s side in her mother’s Crittenden line, not her father’s West line. But, of course, as we all know, tracing family lines is much more complex than we think when we start.

One of the most intriguing explorations for me has been studying the history of Oklahoma, Arkansas and Alabama in the 1800s and early 1900s and finding out how often my West and Crittenden families’ histories were a part of some of the key events of that time, in both pioneer and Cherokee history.

I would love to hear from any West, Ferguson, Pollston, Merrill (Merrell), Stephens or other families who were residing in Marshall County in the general Guntersville area in the 1800s.

For more information on Alabama’s Cherokee history:

http://www.encyclopediaofalabama.org/article/h-1087

History of Merrill Mountain:

history-of-merrill-mountain

 

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Descendants of Moses Crittenden -Where Are They?

Moses Crittenden, my great grandfather, had 17 children.

His children with Edith Quinton were:
James Washington Crittenden 1849–1922
Malinda Jane Crittenden 1850–1932
Clara Crittenden 1851–1881
William Crittenden 1852 –
Perry Crittenden 1854–
Martha Elizabeth Crittenden 1854–1892
Elizabeth Crittenden 1859–
Edith Elizabeth Crittenden 1861–1945

Great Aunt Edith Elizabeth Crittenden

His children with Margaret Howell were:
Mary Ann Crittenden 1868–1945
Palmira Vianna Crittenden 1871–1939
Sidney Crittenden 1873–1925
Nancy Alice Crittenden 1875–1941
Eliza Jane Crittenden 1876–1970 (my grandmother)

GrandmaElizaJaneCrittendenWest.ca.1950

Dora B Crittenden 1880–1968
Margaret Rebecca Crittenden 1882
Isaac Moses Crittenden 1888-1957

IsaacCrittenden

One child with Emily Crittenden Weaver:
Anthony Crittenden 1854-1909

I know there are hundreds of Moses Crittenden descendants. My hope is that eventually we will all  find each other online and share family stories, photos and missing genealogy facts.

Meantime, I will continue to post my discoveries about my grandparents’ ancestors; the Crittendens, the Wests, the Moores and the Cartmills.

With this post goes a big hug to all of my cousins out there, known and unknown.

 

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The Crittenden Photo Hunt Continues

Thank you to those who helped identify some of the photos that I posted last month.

Here is an update on the new information that I have.

Emily Crittenden Weaver and Joe Weaver

Emily Crittenden Weaver and Joe Weaver, her son

I am in agreement with the input that I have had from other Crittenden descendants that the woman pictured here is not Emily Crittenden. Any readers know who she might be? Joe Weaver, on the right, was Emily’s son and the father of Mary Weaver Crittenden and Lewis Weaver.

Emily Weaver Family 1.3.7.6.10.11 photos

Current consensus is that # 1 is Lewis (Bullet) Weaver. Number 3 is Anthony Crittenden, Lewis’ older brother and Moses Crittenden’s only child with Emily Crittenden. The Albertys are in photo number 7. I need to do more research on the Albertys. Number 11 may be Emily’s youngest son, Sam King who passed away at a young age.

Emily Weaver Family 8.5.9.12.4.2

Emily Weaver Crittenden and other Family Members

Top row, left to right: Rachel Woodall (one of Emily’s daughters), middle photo is an Alberty, top row right is Emily Crittenden Weaver. Bottom row, left to right: Possibly Rachel Woodall as a toddler, middle is an Alberty, on the right is Anthony Crittenden.

I will keep you posted when I get more clarification.

 

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Crittenden Weaver Photos – Need Help Identifying

I have mentioned here before what a treasure family photos are to me. I was surprised and thrilled when I received a comment in this blog from another Crittenden relative that I did not know about. Our connection is through Moses Crittenden and his relationship with Emily Crittenden Weaver.  The biggest thrill was that she had photos to share!

She was very generous in immediately sending me scans of her photos and her best guesses as to who they are. Some are scans of photos that were taken of original photographs in a photo album. There are also some scans of treasured original tin types.

I am going to attach the scans in this post with our combined best info about who is actually in the photos. I am hoping that someone who reads this will be able to provide more information and/or add to our growing collection of photos.

Charlotte and Lottie Robbins.Emily Crittenden Weaver Daughters

Photos of Charlotte and Lottie Robbins. Daughters of Emily Crittenden Weaver.

Anyone have any other photos of Charlotte and Lottie?

Emily Crittenden Weaver and Joe Weaver

Emily Crittenden Weaver and Joe Weaver, her son

Although this is identified as Emily, based on another photo that I have of her, I do not think that this is Emily Crittenden Weaver.

 

Ben and Mary Crittenden - Dave Crittenden

Ben and Mary Crittenden – Dave Crittenden

Emily Weaver Family 1.3.7.6.10.11 photos.jpg

Here are some thoughts as to who the people in these photos might be.

1.Maybe Ben Crittenden
3.Don’t know
6. David Crittenden
7. Don’t know
10. Mary and her sisters and David Crittenden
11. David Crittenden

Emily Weaver Family 8.5.9.12.4.2

More photos with needing identifying.

Top row left – Emily Crittenden Weaver possibly – I do not think so.
Top row middle – Do not know
Top row right – I have had this photo identified by two people as Emily Crittenden Weaver. If so, then I do not see the resemblance to the photo above, next to Joe Weaver, identified as Emily Weaver. I was told that might be Emily, but she looks nothing like the woman top row, right, in this photo.
Bottom row left – Possibly David Crittenden’s sister who was blinded when she was young.
Bottom row middle – Do not know
Bottom row right – Do not know

Hoping this is read by someone who can help us shed more light on these treasured photos, or add some photos of their own of anyone connected to Moses Crittenden and his descendants.

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Patience is the Key When Researching Family History

In Ireland researching my Moore family history from the 1600s I was reminded again that there are no shortcuts in discovering your genealogy and family history.

On my father’s side I am very fortunate to have an 850 page resource researched and written by a cousin, Timothy J. O’Rourke, in 1973.  “Maryland Catholics on the Frontier”, traces my Moore family lineage up the paternal line starting with Nicholas Moore born in Maryland in 1712. His father is listed as “possibly” William Moore.

This very complete and well documented history amazes me every time I go back to it. In 1973 there were no quick answers via the internet and digital images. The book represents years of on the ground research and document searches.

Since I started my quest to find more about my mother’s ancestors, Crittenden and West, I have also been able to add to my knowledge of the Moore family with online digitalized copies of birth and death certificates, marriage licenses and other documents verifying the research already done.

Our family’s oral history tells me that our ancestors immigrated to the United States in the Maryland area from Ireland in the 1600s. Not finding any definitive information online I got it into my head that a visit to Dublin (I was going to be in Europe already) and the genealogy department of the National Library of Ireland might provide some clues.

I was blown away by the antiquities available to research in their manuscripts sections, land documents from the 1500s and 16oos and even earlier.

1622 Mortgage Ireland.JPG

!5th and 16th Century deeds.JPG

However, I quickly realized that I was trying to make a very difficult leap from Maryland back to Ireland without enough information. I had thought maybe studying manuscripts with Irish Moore genealogies from the 1600s would provide me the clues that I needed. I did indeed find some genealogies with similar family naming patterns but none that mentioned family members moving to the United States in the correct time period.

I found documents with given and family names that could be a match to my family, but without enough detail to make a connection.

It this one of my ancestors - 1675.JPG

I met with a genealogist in at the National Library. She reminded me of what I really already knew. I was trying to skip a step. If I could not find what I needed about my Maryland ancestors online I needed to start in Maryland, on the ground, visiting libraries, court houses, churches and scouring documents in person.

In my quests for more information in both my Crittenden and West lines I already knew that my key links, when I was stuck, were found by going to Oklahoma and Arkansas and spending weeks examining papers that I could only access in person. Hours, sometimes days, spent finding nothing only made the reward that much greater when I would find a key piece of the puzzle of my family’s history when I was least expecting. Often when I was on the last piece of paper after four to five hours in a library or court house I would find my great reward.

I am already scheduled to go to Oklahoma, Arkansas and Alabama in the fall of 2016 for the next step in Crittenden and West research. I now know that what I need to schedule next is a trip to Maryland to immerse myself in the Moore history of the 1600s and early 1700s.

I am confident that by remembering that I have to go back one step at a time, and that skipping a generation can lead to false assumptions, I will find the next missing piece in the link from Maryland to Ireland for my Moore ancestors.

Once I find that link I will go back to Ireland and search once more through hand written Moore family trees and land documents, like the one below with its awesome seal. When I do, I hope to be able to piece together the story of my family in Ireland.

Look at this seal from the 1600s.JPG

 

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Cousin, 2nd Cousin, 3rd Cousin?

It is hard to believe that it has been almost one year since I posted on the blog. No excuses, just explanations. As sometimes happens with genealogy research, life got in the way. Especially at this stage of my research, when there does not seem to be any research or discovery that takes place in an hour, it is hard to carve out dedicated time.

I pull up a research question, spread out all of my supporting documentation, and just about the time my head  stops spinning and I think I see a thread, my time is up!

My son and I started a travel information site, https://www.milesgeek.com/, about two year ago. Wonderfully, about this time last year it started taking hold. As the content editor, suddenly my obligations to the site became daily and have steadily grown over this last year. At 70, I no longer seem to be able to do my genealogy research between the hours of midnight and 3am, which is how I progressed so quickly my first few years.

That being said I have been making some slow progress, making good connections both through my past blog posts and matching Ancestry DNA results I have found close and distant cousins over the past year.

Which leads me to my tip for today. I believe that I found this site through Northwest Arkansas Genealogical Society. It is a calculator for figuring out ancestor relationships.

http://www.searchforancestors.com/utility/cousincalculator.html

I sent the following to my sweet Cherokee cousin Susie who I connected with through this blog.

Us

Cousin match with Susie

Me and Your Dad

Cousin match with Susie's Dad.jpg

Susie’s response – “This is so cool!!”

I am planning an extensive genealogy trip to New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas and, hopefully, Alabama for later this year. In the meantime I promise at least a monthly post until July, when I plan to start again with posting every two weeks at a minimum.

 

 

 

 

 

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Fort Smith, Arkansas, Criminal Case Files, 1866-1900

This will be a brief entry as I am currently traveling outside of the United States.  It is difficult to tranfer images and post while traveling. However, I am still researching whenever possible while I am traveling.

So, for now, I can only tantalize readers with a note about a blog to come, in the next few weeks. I have just located some newly indexed records of Fort Smith, Criminal Case Files, 1866-1900. Included in these files are court proceedings from the late 1860s involving Moses Crittenden and a charge from the United States that he had provided “spirits” to an “Indian”.

Once I am somewhere where I can download and study the many pages of documents I will post an article about what I find.  I think I may be close to an answer as to the timing of why Moses relocated from Arkansas to Oklahoma when he did. This is one of the many research questions that have puzzled me and for which I did not think I would ever have an answer!

More info to come as soon as I have the ability to download and post.

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Finding Family Photos – Always a Treasure

I was fortunate today to discover several family photos of my grandfather Ernest Patrick Moore and his siblings as adults.

I was on Ancestry.com trying to help someone trace their birth parents. This person did not find out he was adopted until well into his adulthood. So far, the only thing he has to go on is the fact that I am a DNA match with high probability that we are first cousins.  I will write more about this next week and how I am using DNA circles to try to find out how we are connected.

Back to family photos.  I noticed I had some new photo hints for my family tree that were not there a few days ago. For those of you who are not Ancestry.com users, the system alerts you when other members post photos that are most likely relevant to someone in your family tree.

In this case the hint was about my great Aunt – nun Sister Cassilda.  I have very fond memories of my great aunt and her sister – nun Sister Patricia.  They would come to Oakland California, every few years to visit with their brother, my grandfather Ernest Patrick Moore.

Moore family photos

Captioned on Ancestry as Moore Adult Children

I especially remember one trip when we all went to Fisherman’s Wharf for the day and they bought me and my sisters little figurines of girls made out of seashells, at least that is my childhood memory of how I acquired that souvenir that I still had when I got married. Seeing these photos of Sister Cassilda and Sister Patricia today was such an unexpected treat!

My next step will  be to contact the person who posted the photos and identify exactly how we are related.  Maybe they will have even more photos to share. I may also have some photos that they have not seen. Finding personal stories about how my family members lived and discovering photos of them are the two things that bring me the most joy in the building of my family tree.

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Cherokee Homesteaders in Polk County Arkansas

A search through the genealogy room at the Polk County Library in Mena Arkansas rewarded me with plat maps showing the exact locations of Cherokee Homesteaders in Polk County, Arkansas in the 1800s.  In addition to maps that showed the Township and Range of each homestead, there were maps that showed the topography of the land and maps that showed the county roads.

Township 2-S Range 32-W Polk County

Township 2-S Range 32-W Polk County

 

Polk County Rivers, Lakes and Streams

Polk County Rivers, Lakes and Streams

Polk County Homestead Roads

Polk County Homestead Roads

With maps in hand I started driving the county roads of Polk County.  Rather than head directly to the site of my great grandfather Moses Crittenden’s homestead which I had driven past that morning, I explored some of the rest of Township 2-S where extended family members had homesteaded.

I stopped and took photos of land owned by many of Moses’ Quinton, Winton and Phillips in-laws. My goal was to find a little road marked as Evans, off of Polk Rd 135.  It appeared to me that if I drove to the end of that road I would be almost due West of Moses’ land and North of the homestead of Elijah Phillips.   According to my plat map listing current owners, the land I was heading towards, owned by Levi N Hill in 1890, was now owned by the Evans family.

My goal in driving to the end of Evans Road was to have a clear view of the old Elijah Phillips homestead.  My grandmother’s half-brother Anthony Crittenden, son of the Phillips’ slave Emily Crittenden and my great grandfather Moses Crittenden, was most likely born on that land.  In two days I would be meeting Anthony’s grandson and great granddaughter in Warner, Oklahoma and wanted to be able to tell then that I had seen where Anthony was born.

When I reached the end of Polk Rd 135 I was rewarded by a small sign saying Evans Rd.  I headed down Evans Rd, a narrow gravel road with a high center and ditches on either side.  In my low riding compact rental, and with no cell phone coverage, I questioned the wisdom of continuing. However, I had not come that far to be put off by a little adventure, in spite of wondering how I would turn around when I got to the end of the road!

The road ended looking over beautiful farm land with trees in the distance.  I could tell from the compass in my rental car that the old Elijah Phillips’ homestead was straight ahead.  It was rewarding to be able to tell my Crittenden cousins a few days later that I looked out over the land where Emily Crittenden and her son Anthony had once lived.

To the left was a long dirt road leading up a hill with a new home at the top. I got out of my car to take photos of the land to the south and noticed a man standing on the side of the house looking down on me. Soon he was on a small tractor and heading my way.

I had brought a copy of the cover of the Family Maps of Polk County book with me.  I retrieved that from my car and greeted the man with, “You probably wonder what I am doing on your property.  My great grandfather owned the land to your east in the 1860s and I wanted to see it.”

Luckily the very welcoming current owner of the property was full of questions about how I found out the original owners of the land in the area.  I showed him my cover page (which he took a photo of with his phone so that he could do his own research at the library) and explained that I was researching my Cherokee heritage.  He was surprised to hear that any Cherokees had ever lived on this land.

I pulled out my homestead maps and pointed out all the names that I had highlighted on plats that I knew belonged to Cherokee family members.  He did not know that any Cherokees had ever lived in Polk County. He had grown up in the area and said it was never mentioned in Polk County history classes in school.  Given the denial that I had encountered throughout Arkansas of Cherokees having ever lived in the state, I was not surprised that he had never been taught this history.

He was full of questions, as was I.  When he saw the number of Quintons that I had highlighted on my plat maps he pointed to a mountain to the east of us and told me that it had always been known as Quinton Mountain and he never knew why (of course, that has been added to my list of things to research).

So far I have found very little information.  What I did find lists the location as Quentin Mountain, a different spelling from my ancestors.  I hope to find more information about how that mountain got its name and whether or not it has any connection to my family.

Next Mr. Evans told me about an old log cabin from the mid to late 1800s that sits next to his house.  He told me that I was welcome to drive up the driveway to his house and take a look at the cabin.

Log Cabin from 1800s on Neighboring Land

Log Cabin from 1800s on Neighboring Land

I was lucky to be greeted by the open and welcoming Mr. Evans.  He took me inside of the cabin built from hand hewn logs.  Later that day, after returning to my motel, I emailed my cousin John in Hulbert.  John commented that it was very likely that my great grandfather Moses had helped build that cabin or had at least visited there. It gave me chills to think that I may have stood in the same small house as Moses.

I so grateful to the owner of the land for being so welcoming to this trespasser. Viewing all of the land from the end of Evans road instead of the highway allowed me to really get a picture of what this land was like over a hundred years ago when my great grandfather and many other Cherokee families established a community here.

 

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Cherokee Polk County Arkansas Homesteads

Once I located and viewed my great grandfather Moses Crittenden’s homestead in Polk County Arkansas I was on a quest to find out more about Cherokee Polk County Arkansas homesteads.

I headed next to the Polk County Library in Mena, Arkansas. The library has a genealogy and history room with a good selection of reference material about the early days of Polk County.

Like elsewhere in Arkansas, I found little reference to Cherokee residents in the 1800s and early 1900s. This lack of recognition of the history of Cherokee settlers in Arkansas was a constant surprise on my research trip to Arkansas and will be the subject of an article in the future.

I did find a few documents related to deaths and births of members of Moses’ extended family in the historical section on vital statistics in the genealogy room.

After a few hours I was ready to leave when I noticed a spiral bound book in the early history of Polk County section of the library. Realizing that I had not pulled that book off of the shelf yet, I found something called the “Family Maps of Polk County, Arkansas”.

Family Maps of Polk County

Family Maps of Polk County

Looking at the cover I was assuming that inside was a history of the founding families of Polk County and where they resided. Given the lack of mention of Cherokee citizens in all the other reference materials I did not expect to find any information about my family members.

So I was overwhelmed with the wealth of information that I found in this unassuming appearing book. The book has detailed maps by section and range of all of the first homesteads purchased in Polk County, Arkansas. A search of the index by name found entries for Moses Crittenden and many of his extended family members.

Township 2-S Range 32-W.Polk

Township 2-S Range 32-W.Polk

Ends up that the cemetery I had stopped at that morning to take some photos was sitting on land once owned by Thomas Quinton, first cousin of Moses’ first wife, Edith Quinton.

Township 2-S Range 32-W.Polk.pg 2

Township 2-S Range 32-W.Polk.pg 2

I found over two dozen homesteads of members of my extended family, some of which are highlighted in just one of the many maps.

Anyone with Cherokee ancestors in Polk County Arkansas in the 1800s and early 1900s should try to get a copy of this book.

My next journal entry will be about my afternoon spent driving through the land of my ancestors, an afternoon that I hold close to my heart.

Note: March 13, 2019 – I just discovered that this book is available on Amazon.com. They have a paperback version or spiral bound (having used the book I would highly recommend spiral bound). They have both new and used.

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Discoveries in Polk County Arkansas

Last week I wrote about finding a copy of the land patent for the land my great grandfather, Moses Crittenden, purchased in 1860 in Polk County, Arkansas.

As soon as I held the description of the land in my hand I knew I would find my way to Arkansas and stand on that land.

On November 1, 2014 I fulfilled the promise made to myself and drove into Mena Arkansas, county city for Polk County. It was too late in the day to visit the court house or library. So, after a great meal at the Skyline Café in the center of town, I checked into my motel for a good night’s sleep in anticipation of a full day of researching starting early the next morning.

I was waiting on the court house steps the next morning anxious to find a map that matched the legal description on the land patent.

Description of Moses' Property

Description of Moses’ Property

The clerk was able to provide me with a map that had the current owner’s names written on a plat map for the appropriate township and range.  Using a map hanging on the wall of the county clerk’s office she pointed out some landmarks that would help me know when I reached the property.

Current Owner of Moses' Original Polk County Homestead

Current Owner of Moses’ Original Polk County Homestead

The clerk also provided me with a plat map showing the current owners of the neighboring land.

Current Owners of Neighboring Homestead Property

Current Owners of Neighboring Homestead Property

I wrote in the location of Moses original homestead and a few of his relatives on the plat maps and started my drive.  When I reached the curve in the road that I thought signified I was at Moses’ property I was very glad that I had the map with the current owner’s name.  The last name of the current owner is Huff.  At the entrance to the farm that I thought was on Moses’ old homestead was a large iron gate with a large “H” on it.  Obviously H for Huff. I was in the right place.

Cherokee Homestead Land in Arkansas

Cherokee Homestead Land in Arkansas

Coming later this week, the surprising discoveries I made later that day at the Polk County Library in Mena.

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Tracing Cherokee Roots in Arkansas

My search for Cherokee Roots in Arkansas began with the 1850 and 1860 census data that showed my great grandfather Moses Crittenden residing in Freedom Township, Polk County, Arkansas.

Moses was born in Cherokee Nation Georgia around 1825 and moved to Arkansas with his father William some time before 1837.  I knew that he was living in Going Snake District in Cherokee Nation, Oklahoma Territory by 1875 when my grandmother was born.

I was determined to find out more about those years spent in Arkansas.  In the 1850 census Moses is listed as a farmer, and in 1860 as a merchant.  Many of his neighbors were in-laws of his sisters Lydia and Sydney Crittenden. One thing that caught my eye on the 1860 census was that Moses was shown to have real estate valued at $2000.

After much searching on the web I found my way to the Bureau of Land Management website where you could search land records by state going back to the 1800s.  I selected Arkansas state and Polk County, entered Moses Crittenden and hit the search button.  I hit pay dirt!

Search Results on Bureau of Land Management Web Site

Search Results on Bureau of Land Management Web Site

I clicked on the link highlighted in blue and was able to view a full description of the property.

Description of Moses' Property

Description of Moses’ Property

Next I clicked on the tab “Patent Image” and was able to view a printable PDF version of the land patent. I added that item to my cart and for $2.00 was sent a certified copy of the patent on parchment paper.

Using the description of the land and current land records I was able to determine that Moses’ land was near the current town of Mena, Arkansas. I knew that I had to see and stand on that land.

Next week – the discoveries I made on my trip to stand on my great grandfather’s land in Arkansas.

 

 

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New Post coming by February 9!

The holidays, family illness and life in general came together to mean I have not posted on the site in a month.

Coming next week are two new posts on following my great grandfather’s story in Arkansas where he resided for almost 30 years after leaving Georgia as a young boy with his father. My research trip in November opened up a wealth of information and records that I did not know existed.

Thanks for your patience…

Kathy

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Christmas and Family

Christmas is all about family for me. Tonight and tomorrow will be spent with my two boys, their spouses and my grandchildren.

This afternoon I am remembering Christmases past with family members who are no longer with me, my dad and my grandparents.

My Paternal Grandparents with Grandchildren 1951

My Paternal Grandparents with Grandchildren 1951

Me with my Dad as Santa Claus 1951

Me with my Dad as Santa Claus 1951

Maternal Grandmother Eliza Jane Critteden West wtih her Adult Children about 1952

Maternal Grandmother Eliza Jane Critteden West wtih her Adult Children about 1952

I am also thinking about my ancestors and wondering what their holidays were like. Last month I was blessed to stand on the beautiful land in Arkansas where my great grandfather Moses Crittenden, many of his relatives and other early Cherokee settlers, lived for much of the 19th century.

1850 Cherokee Land Freedom Polk County Arkansas Photo Taken 2014

1850 Cherokee Land Freedom Polk County Arkansas Photo Taken 2014

Standing looking out over where they lived I could feel the community and lives of my ancestors surrounding me. Today I can’t help but wonder about their family holiday traditions over almost 40 years on that land. I hope they can feel the love that I send out to them this day across time and space.

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Dawes Census Cards for Five Civilized Tribes

The Dawes Census Cards are an excellent source for working through complicated family connections.

At Ancestry.com the census cards can be found in the data base under; Oklahoma and Indian Territory, Dawes Census Cards for Five Civilized Tribes, 1898-1914 

This data set contains the citizenship enrollment cards, sometimes referred to as census cards, which were prepared by the Dawes Commission. Individuals were enrolled as citizens of tribes according to the following categories:
•By blood
•By marriage
•Newborns, by blood
•Minors, by blood
•Freedmen (former black slaves of Indians)
•Newborn freedmen
•Minor freedmen

The census cards list information about the enrollee, and sometimes also include information about other family members.

You will need to have done your homework before you search these cards. I have found when I try to look up someone using only their name, I do not get a good return. If you are prepared with the Dawes Census card number, or the Dawes Enrollment number, and tribe you should not have any problem. It is helpful to also know the category (options listed above), although that may be one of the pieces of information that you are trying to locate.

If the person you are researching is not on the final rolls, you can use the following instructions, provided by Ancestry.com to try to locate them.
To locate an individual’s doubtful or rejected enrollment card, use the following steps:
1. Choose a tribal category, indicated as “doubtful” or “rejected”, from the browse table.
2. Choose an enrollment card number range.
3. Use the “next” and “previous” buttons on the image viewer to navigate yourself through the images.
4. Check the names listed on each image for the individual(s) you are looking for.

So, what can you find on these cards? If a person is mentioned on the card, even if it is not that person’s census card, they will still come up in your search.

I have been concentrating on one branch of my family, the descendants of my grandmother’s half-brother, Anthony Crittenden. One of my Crittenden cousins, Anthony’s great granddaughter, provided me with a search she had done on census card numbers for Anthony’s mother, Emily Crittenden Weaver. I started pulling up cards using those numbers.

Emily Crittenden Weaver Dawes Census Card

Emily Crittenden Weaver Dawes Census Card

Emily Crittenden Weaver Dawes Census Card 2

Emily Crittenden Weaver Dawes Census Card 2

Why have I been concentrating on this branch of the family? Throughout the years there was a lot of intermarriage between families related through blood or marriage to my great grandfather, Moses Crittenden.

My great grandfather died in 1899, before the interview process started for Dawes applicants. The Crittendens were a close knit family and a look at census data shows that many of the families often moved together from place to place. Through reading the interview packets of his relatives, I have been able to piece together a significant amount of information about locations and dates of moves from one place to another.

The Dawes application packets have a lot of information about spouses and children of the applicants. There is seldom any information about parents for applicants who are no longer minors. Siblings of adults are also seldom noted.  However, this information is often listed on the census cards.

Mary Weaver Crittenden Dawes Census Card

Mary Weaver Crittenden Dawes Census Card

The census data cards have been useful in putting together family connections, especially when trying to clarify details of two relatives with the same given and surnames born around the same year. The cards almost always list the mother and father of the applicant, along with spouses and children.

Mary Weaver Crittenden Dawes Census Card 2

Mary Weaver Crittenden Dawes Census Card 2

The cards also have a lot of notes on them, including cross references to other census cards.

Mary Weaver Crittenden Dawes Census Card 3

Mary Weaver Crittenden Dawes Census Card 3

Of course, the information I have found has led to many more research questions, and hours browsing through even more Dawes applications. More about that in a future blog!

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Family Time

I am taking a break from posting an informational blog this week. I will be traveling to spend some time with mother, who will be 95 this May.  When I return I will be posting about my searches using the Dawes Enrollment cards.  I am finding them a useful tool in working through some of the complex family relationships that have been perplexing me.

I leave you this week with photos of the people who inspired my search through my family history, my mother and father

Joe and Nita Moore on their Wedding Day, July, 13, 1941

Joe and Nita Moore on their Wedding Day, July, 13, 1941

.

Nita Moore Celebrating her 86th Birthday in Portugal

Nita Moore Celebrating her 86th Birthday in Portugal

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Conflicting Data and Your Family Tree

I was not planning on writing about Conflicting Data in today’s post. In fact, I started this post yesterday and the topic was going to be information available in the Treaty of 1828 enrollment lists and related Muster Rolls of Cherokees.

As I started to record that information in my Ancestry family tree and write my article I realized that some of the information that I had recently collected did not coincide with the information that I had listed previously in my tree.

I feel pretty confident about my recorded Crittenden and West family information from about 1850 forward, as I have documentation from more than one source to back it up. Before 1850 there are less primary sources for data. Some of the secondary sources, like family histories, or books written based on early oral histories, provide conflicting data.

Crista Cowan, from Ancestry.com has a six part series on YouTube about accepted genealogical proof standards. There is also clear and detailed information offered on the Board for Certification of Genealogists web site, including a link to their book, “Genealogy Standards: 50th Anniversary Edition (2014)”.

When I first started building my family tree I tried to only add connections for which I felt I had clear documentation. I found that as I added more family members and connections it grew harder to leave off people for whom I was still seeking information.

I have often wished that Ancestry had a check box for “still seeking documentation” or something along those lines. It would serve two purposes. It would be a warning to those looking at your tree that you still had some questions about the connection of that particular person to your family. It would also remind the owner of the tree that they still had more research to do.

Early in my research I would set aside the information for people for whom I was not 100% sure were a part of my family. However, what I found was that if I was following a long string of hints that was leading me from person to person, I soon lost my way if I had not started connecting the dots at the beginning.

It would be so helpful to be able to check that box that would warn you and others looking at your tree – this is a link that needs further documentation.

The further you go back in your tree that more complex this confusing data can be. The fact that given names were often used over and over again within families will leave your head spinning. You know that the person whose data you are looking at is related to you, but how?

This is a typical scenario. William has three sons, named William, James and Charles. His wife is named Margaret and his three daughters are Margaret, Eliza, and Lydia. All three of his sons name their first born sons William. Two of them marry a woman named Margaret and one of them marries a woman named Lydia. Each of their children names their first born son after their grandfather and their second and third sons after their father and then their favorite uncle.

Pretty soon you have four of five Williams married to Margarets all in the same generation. If the information that you are looking at is pre-1850 census data it can be difficult to be certain if you are looking at a record for your great grandfather, your 2 times great uncle, or the eldest son of your great grandfather’s elder brother. You get the picture.

This is when it is time to slow down and look at each fact one piece at a time and search for more clues. Sometimes a little searching provides some clarification. Sometimes you record information that you are not positive about and make a note about your doubts to remind yourself to follow-up later.

Having a Cherokee family with so many branches, the Crittendens, I am blessed with a wealth of information and also a fair amount of sometimes confusing details.

One of the projects I am working on is to read all of the Dawes enrollment packets of those related to me. I know that I will find information about migration patterns and family relations in the testimonies that I might not find elsewhere.

It is a daunting project. I have downloaded the names and enrollment card numbers for all 187 of them!

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Cherokee Emigration Records 1829-1835

The Cherokee Emigration Records 1829-1835 were among the most valued finds on my family research trip to Oklahoma and Arkansas last month. For those of us whose Cherokee ancestors were early settlers who migrated to Arkansas before 1835 it contains a wealth of information.

To have some understanding of what the emigration records represent it is necessary to have some understanding of the 1828 Treaty with the Cherokee.

Under the Treaty with the Cherokee 1828 the U.S. Government made many promises. Two of those promises (see articles 2 and 3 of the treaty under resources below) were:
“Article 2…seven million acres of land in Arkansas…and a free and unmolested use of all the Country lying West..
Article 3… and to remove, immediately after the running of the Eastern line from the Arkansas River to the South-West corner of Missouri, all white persons from the West to the East of said line, and also all others, should there be any there, who may be unacceptable to the Cherokees, so that no obstacles arising out of the presence of a white population, or a population of any other sort, shall exist to annoy the Cherokees— and also to keep all such from the West of said line in future.”

As we all know, those U.S. promises meant nothing in the long run.

The government did fulfill a portion of the provisions laid out in Article 4.

“The United States moreover agree to appoint suitable persons whose duty it shall be, in conjunction with the Agent, to value all such improvements as the Cherokees may abandon in their removal from their present homes to the District of Country as ceded in the second Article of this agreement, and to pay for the same immediately after the assessment is made, and the amount ascertained.”

This brings us to the Cherokee Emigration Records 1829-1835. This document contains the names and property valuations of Cherokees who emigrated under the 1828 Treaty between 1829 and 1835.

I will use my great, great grandfather William Crittenden as an example of some of the information that can be found in these records.

One of the most important pieces of information for me is a better idea of when William moved from Georgia to Arkansas. I knew that as an early settler he had come sometime before 1837.

While the emigration records do not give me an exact date of his emigration, they do tell me the date that the valuation of his property was made, February 18, 1832. The valuations were made after the people listed had already moved. So, I know now that William and his immediate family left Georgia some time before 1832.

I have also been very curious about where William Crittenden lived in Georgia. The property valuation states that his property was on Petit’s Mill Creek. This will be especially meaningful to me when I travel to Georgia, I hope in the next few years.

Additional detail in the valuation of property:
1 house valued at $36.00
8 acres of high land valued at $5 per acre
2 acres of high land valued at $2 per acre
31/2 acres of low land valued at $6 acre
1 lot valued at $3
1 tub-still valued at $100
No apple or peach trees on the property
Total valuation of William Crittenden’s property in Georgia – $204

Some of the valuations have foot notes about the property. I was lucky to find one for William’s property.

“House but tolerable, as well as the land and fences; mill and fine stream, good mill works.”

I am not sure what “but tolerable” means, and it could well be an error in interpreting the handwritten notes from the original documents.

I have other relatives listed in the emigration rolls. None in as direct a line to me as my great, great grandfather William. However, I will eventually incorporate the information for them into my family’s history.

This is but one resource I found in my almost one month research trip to Oklahoma and Arkansas. As I make my way through my findings and organize them for entry into the family tree I will continue to share them with you.

I hope that some of you will find the Cherokee Emigration Records a helpful resource in your documentation of your Cherokee roots and family.

Resources for further research regarding Cherokee treaties and emigration
Treaty with the Western Cherokee, 1828
ARTICLE 2.
The United States agree to possess the Cherokees, and to guarantee it to them forever, and that guarantee is hereby solemnly pledged, of seven millions of acres of land, to be bounded as follows, viz: Commencing at that point on Arkansas River where the Eastern Choctaw boundary line strikes said River, and running thence with the Western line of Arkansas, as defined in the foregoing article, to the South-West corner of Missouri, and thence with the Western boundary line of Missouri till it crosses the waters of Neasho, generally called Grand River, thence due West to a point from which a due South course will strike the present North West corner of Arkansas Territory, thence continuing due South, on and with the present Western boundary line of the Territory to the main branch of Arkansas River, thence down said River to its junction with the Canadian River, and thence up and between the said Rivers Arkansas and Canadian, to a point at which a line running North and South from River to River, will give the aforesaid seven millions of acres. In addition to the seven millions of acres thus provided for, and bounded, the United States further guarantee to the Cherokee Nation a perpetual outlet, West, and a free and unmolested use of all the Country lying West of the Western boundary of the above described limits, and as far West as the sovereignty of the United States, and their right of soil extend.
ARTICLE 3.
The United States agree to have the lines of the above cession run without delay, say not later than the first of October next, and to remove, immediately after the running of the Eastern line from the Arkansas River to the South-West corner of Missouri, all white persons from the West to the East of said line, and also all others, should there be any there, who may be unacceptable to the Cherokees, so that no obstacles arising out of the presence of a white population, or a population of any other sort, shall exist to annoy the Cherokees— and also to keep all such from the West of said line in future.

Cherokee Emigration Records 1829-1835 – This book is a reprint of Senate Doc. #403, 24th Congress, 1st Session. It was compiled and indexed by Larry S. Watson with a 1990 copyright by HISTREE. It includes not only the valuation records of the land and improvements left in the east, but copies of the Treaty with the Cherokee 1817, Treaty with the Cherokee 1819, and Treaty with the Cherokee 1828. Reading the treaties helps to put the emigration records in context.

I have not been able to find an ebook or a hard copy of this book available for sale online. It is available at several libraries.

The Oklahoma Red Book Compiled by W. B. Richards, Corporation Record Clerk, Under the Supervision of Benjamin F. Harrison, Secretary of State, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. This book covers much of the history of government history of public and private land in Oklahoma both before and after statehood. It can be downloaded from Amazon for Kindle for 99 cents.

Treaty with the Western Cherokee, 1828, May 6, 1828. | 7 Stat., 311. | Proclamation, May 28, 1828.

Cherokee Emigration Rolls 1817-1837National Archives database

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New Native American Records on Ancestry Contain Valuable Information

Ancestry.com, the Oklahoma Historical Society, and the National Archives at Fort Worth partnered to digitize records from the forced relocation of five major tribes, the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, and the Seminole.

According to the press announcement, The Oklahoma Historical Society and the National Archives had a lot of information on the Five Civilized Tribes, including birth and marriage histories, but none of the information had ever been digitized. Ancestry.com, proposed the joint project, and took on the cost of scanning the records.

The new records contain information from the years 1830-1940 and supplement information Ancestry.com already had available on its site.

Not everyone has access at home to Ancestry.com. However, many historical societies, research centers, and local libraries have Ancestry available at no charge. Make some calls to find one near you.

The American Indian Records category at Ancestry now includes:

• Michigan Native Americans History, 1887
• Military and genealogical records of the famous Indian woman, Nancy Ward
• Minnesota Native Americans, 1823
• Minnesota Native Americans, 1851
• North Carolina, Native American Census Selected Tribes, 1894-1913 Free Index
• Oklahoma and Indian Territory, Dawes Census Cards for Five Civilized Tribes, 1898-1914 New!
• Oklahoma and Indian Territory, Indian and Pioneer Historical Collection, 1937 New!
• Oklahoma and Indian Territory, Indian Censuses and Rolls, 1851-1959 New!
• Oklahoma and Indian Territory, Indian Photos, 1850-1930 New!
• Oklahoma and Indian Territory, Land Allotment Jackets for Five Civilized Tribes, 1884-1934 New!
• Oklahoma and Indian Territory, Marriage, Citizenship and Census Records, 1841-1927 New!
• Oklahoma Osage Tribe Roll, 1921
• Oklahoma, Historical Indian Archives Index, 1856-1933 New!
• Oklahoma, Indian Land Allotment Sales, 1908-1927 New!
• Origin and traditional history of the Wyandotts: and sketches of other Indian tribes of North America, true traditional stories of Tecumseh and his league, in the years 1811 and 1812
• Osage Indian Bands and Clans
• U.S., Cherokee Baker Roll and Records, 1924-1929 Free Index
• U.S., Citizenship Case Files in Indian Territory, 1896-1897 Free Index
• U.S., Indian Census Rolls, 1885-1940
• U.S., Native American Applications for Enrollment in Five Civilized Tribes (overturned), 1896
• U.S., Native American Applications for Enrollment in Five Civilized Tribes, 1898-1914 Updated!
• U.S., Ratified Indian Treaties and Chiefs, 1722-1869 New!
• U.S., Records Related to Enrollment of Eastern Cherokee by Guion Miller, 1908-1910 New!
• U.S., Schedules of Special Census of Indians, 1880 Free Index
• Wallace Roll of Cherokee Freedmen, 1890-93

I have already found valuable information in the Oklahoma and Indian Territory, Indian Censuses and Rolls, 1851-1959. I knew my grandmother, Eliza Crittenden, was born in Going Snake District and that by the 1900 census she was living with her mother and younger brother in Township 16, Indian Territory in what became Okay, Oklahoma.

Two of my research questions have been, when did she move from Going Snake District and where else might she have lived.

Newly released censuses show my grandmother living in Going Snake in 1883, 1886, and 1893. In 1896 at age 10 she is living in Cooweescoowee District, now Nowata County.

1896 Cherokee Census

1896 Cherokee Census

This provides some insight as to why some of grandmother’s Dawes allotment land was in Nowata County, and to why my great grandmother and my Uncle Isaac Crittenden had moved to Nowata County by the 1910 census. They had some history in that county, something I did not know before seeing the newly released 1896 census. Unfortunately, this census was released just days after I had been in Nowata County on my research trip.

I know that in 1890 in Going Snake, when my grandmother was 13, my great grandfather, Moses Crittenden, was a farmer with improvements on his land valued at $2000. The land had four dwellings and nine other structures. He was the only one farming this land which had 120 enclosed acres, 116 of which were under cultivation. I also know that he had 100 hogs and that the farm produced 1600 bushels of corn in 1889.

1890 Cherokee Census

1890 Cherokee Census

This is the kind of rich information about my grandmother’s life that I have been seeking. The first years of my research it was thrilling to fill in the blanks of great grandparents, great aunts and uncles, etc.

What my heart has been craving is knowing more about my ancestors’ lives, what their daily lives were like. Why did they make some of the decisions that they made to move from one place to another.

The new information available online, combined with the many threads of details that I uncovered about their lives on my recently completed research trip to Oklahoma and Arkansas, is weaving the rich tapestry of their lives. It wraps around me and enfolds me in the family.

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Meeting My Crittenden Relatives

Yesterday was a memorable day on my family history trip. In Warner Oklahoma I met my second cousin, Bruce Crittenden, and his daughter Susie.

Me, Susie (Bruce's daughter), 2nd Cousin Bruce Crittenden

Me, Susie (Bruce’s daughter), 2nd Cousin Bruce Crittenden

Susie and I found each other online a couple of months ago when she wrote me a note after reading Cherokee Roots Blog. She introduced herself as Moses Crittenden’s great great granddaughter. As Moses was my great grandfather that meant that Susie’s father and I are second cousins.

Moments after meeting Bruce yesterday I could feel my eyes welling up as I had just met my first descendant of Moses Crittenden and the first blood relative of my extremely large Cherokee family outside of my mother’s immediate family.

This was the culmination of five years of research that started with a search for my grandmother’s Cherokee ancestors. I could have never guessed what an inspiring and surprising journey it would be.

After almost four weeks on the road in Oklahoma and Arkansas I took some time to go to the cemetery where Anthony Crittenden, my grandmother’s half-brother is buried. Being there with his grandson and great granddaughter added special meaning to this moment.

Great Uncle Anthony Crittenden's Headstone

Great Uncle Anthony Crittenden’s Headstone

I will be sharing more memories and discoveries from this trip over the next few weeks.

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Accidental Discoveries

On my current genealogy trip to Oklahoma and Arkansas I am struck by the number of accidental discoveries that are enhancing my efforts at solving the mysteries of my ancestors.

When I came to Oklahoma on my first genealogy trip I was still missing so many basic details in my family’s lineage that the majority of the trip was about filling in the blank spots on the family tree; dates, middle names and first wives or husbands that I never knew existed.

This trip, while I am still filling in a few holes, my main goal is to discover the context and subtler details of my ancestors’ lives. No longer satisfied with knowing in what city and state they were born or lived, I want to know exactly what acreage they inhabited.

When they moved from Arkansas to Oklahoma, why did they make the move? Where did they go to school, to church? I find that my hunger for details is insatiable.

And I am finding that because I know so much more about my family that I am more in tune with leads to follow that might provide answers.

What has surprised me this trip is the casual decision made to say a few words to someone, or open a book that happens to be in front of me, that has led to me finding some missing details that I thought I might never find.

One of these accidental discoveries occurred two weeks ago in Wagoner, Oklahoma. It was a day that I had planned to do some exploring in another county with my second cousin, John. At the last minute he had some work obligations that could not be put off.

Rather than explore without him I decided to wrap up a few local details and reschedule with John for the next day.

One of the items on my list was to go to the Wagoner County Court House to see if I could find a follow-up document to some papers that I had found on my last trip regarding the sale of my grandmother’s Dawes Allotment land in Wagoner County.

While standing at the window in the County Clerk’s office waiting to talk with someone, I turned my head and noticed a very large and very old log book of some kind. It was at least two feet by three feet and four to six inches thick. There were lettered tabs on the right hand edge.

I opened the cover and it said something like Probates, 1907-1911. I flipped to “W” for West, my grandmother’s married name and saw nothing. Then I flipped to “C” for Crittenden my grandmother’s maiden name and the first two entries were for Moses Crittenden, her father, and Isaac Crittenden, her brother.

Isaac Crittenden

Isaac Crittenden

Next to their names were some dates and docket numbers. I wrote them down and when it was my turn to be waited on I asked if this book was just for display or did they have access to these particular old documents.

The answer was that the documents were in storage in another facility and that if I returned in a couple of days they would have copies of them for me. When I returned three days later I was told that they could not find the papers for Moses but that they had an 18 page document regarding the probate listed under Isaac Crittenden.

I knew Isaac did not die until many years after the date of this document so was very curious what this probate document was regarding.

What I found was that on April 1, 1907, shortly after Oklahoma became a state, Margaret Crittenden, Isaac’s mother, had filed to be Isaac’s, then still a minor, guardian over the possessions that he had inherited from his father, Moses, in 1999 and over the Dawes land that Isaac had been allotted.

Included in this document was a complete legal description of Isaac’s allotment land. At the end of this legal description was the answer to a question I had been asking for the past five years.

I knew from census data that my grandmother lived with her mother outside of Wagoner in Township 16 in 1900 and probably for some time before that. I had descriptions of my grandmother’s, and her brother Isaac’s, Dawes allotment land in Township 16. On my last trip I had gone and stood on that land and wondered if any of the allotment land that they received was the land on which they had lived.

And now, this amazing accidental discovery answered a question to which I thought I would never know the answer. At the end of the description of Isaac’s allotment land in the probate papers is the following sentence.

“All 90 acres being Cherokee land with valuable buildings thereon being part of the old ‘M.Crittenden Homestead’. Estimated that 25 acres are in cultivation. This land is part prairie and part timber.

I could have stood at some other window in the clerk’s office. One that did not have an old probate log sitting behind it. I could have not turned around and been curious enough to open it. This accidental discovery could so easily have never been made. But it was. And now I know exactly where my grandmother lived from the late 1890s until she married my grandfather in 1903.

Every day of this trip I feel a little closer to my grandmother and to the amazing life that she lead.

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Families – The Famous and the Infamous

When tracing your families’ roots you never know what you will uncover. In my search I have found both the famous and the infamous.

When I first started researching the Crittenden branch of my family tree (my grandmother is Eliza Jane Crittenden), one of my cousins asked if had found out anything about those cousins of my grandmother who were shot by a sheriff in Wagoner, Oklahoma.

Of course, I started digging for information about these supposedly notorious cousins. It was easy to find the story – Dick and Zeke Crittenden shot to death by Belle Starr’s son in Wagoner, Oklahoma on October 24, 1895.

I was in the early stages of building my family tree so it wasn’t as easy to find out how, or if, they were really cousins. As Crittendens, we were probably related somehow, but how?

As I built the family tree, the connection came to light. Dick (Richard) and Zeke (Ezekial) were indeed cousins. They are my second cousins, once removed. They are the grandsons of my great grandfather Moses Crittenden’s brother, James Crittenden.

Dick and Zeke are half-brothers. Their father is Aaron Crittenden. As regular readers of my blog know, I am currently in Oklahoma on a genealogy fact finding trip. While here I went to the Hulbert Cemetery to pay my respects to my notorious Crittenden cousins of the wild west of the 1890s.

Dick Crittenden Headstone Closeup

Dick Crittenden Headstone Closeup

Zeke Crittenden Headstone Closeup

Zeke Crittenden Headstone Closeup

These brothers fill the roles of both famous and infamous.
The Famous
Dick Crittenden was a U.S. Deputy Marshal commissioned in the Western District of Fort Smith, Arkansas. On July 18, 1894, he and his brother, Deputy Marshal Zeke Crittenden, and Deputy Sequoyah Houston and posse tried to capture the Cook Gang.

They tracked Bill and Jim Cook, along with Cherokee Bill to the Fourteen Mile Creek in the Cherokee Nation, where there was a gun battle. Sequoyah Houston was killed and the posse fled, with the exception of Dick and Zeke Crittenden.

Jim Cook was wounded several times before the outlaws fled to Fort Gibson, Oklahoma. According to the stories that I found the Crittendens caught up with Bill Cook in Fort Gibson but Cherokee Bill again escaped.

There is a photo in the Western History Collections, University of Oklahoma Library with the following caption. “Shortly after his capture, Cherokee Bill posed with his captors at Wagoner, I.T. Left to right: (5)Zeke Crittenden, (4)Dick Crittenden, Bill, (2)Clint Scales, (1)Ike Rogers, and (3)Bill Smith.”

The Infamous
“Deputy U.S. marshal Ed Reed (Belle Starr’s son), living in Wagoner, was called on to deal with with two drunks who were shooting up the town on October 24th (or 25th), 1895. The two law-breakers were Dick and his brother Zeke Crittenden, former lawmen and survivors of the shootout at Fourteen Mile Creek in 1894. The two brothers had wounded a Wagoner resident named Burns in their drunken shooting spree.

One version of the story describes Reed encountering Zeke Crittenden on the street and telling him to surrender his gun. Zeke fired at Reed and was killed with return gunshots from Reed. Dick, at the other end of town, learned of his brothers death and rode to the scene of the shooting. Upon seeing Ed Reed, Dick opened fire. Reed returned fire, mortally wounding Dick Crittenden, who died the next morning. The brothers were buried under one headstone in a small cemetery near Hulbert, only a short distance from the site of the Half-way House on Fourteen Mile Creek.”
[Outlaws and Lawmen of the Cherokee Nation by Dee Cordry]

Dick and Zeke Crittenden Headstone Hulbert Cemetery

Dick and Zeke Crittenden Headstone Hulbert Cemetery

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Oklahoma and Arkansas Research Trip – First Stop

My apologies for going two weeks without posting. I have been preparing for my research trip to Oklahoma and Arkansas and it is here at last.

On my first trip to Oklahoma, two years ago, I stayed ten days. I suspected that would not be enough time before I started the trip, and I was right. The days sped by and I wished that I was staying another two weeks. So this trip I have planned to be in Oklahoma and Arkansas between three and four weeks.

As I was planning my route and making my list of what I wanted to accomplish that seemed like enough time. However, now that I have set out, my list questions to research keeps growing and, once again, I realize I will not be there long enough.

When I came to Oklahoma in 2012 I knew so much less about my ancestors than I do now. My increased knowledge means increased leads to follow, additional towns to visit and more questions that need answering.

My itinerary for this trip starts with spending time in Tahlequah, the Cherokee Nation capital. While there I plan to:

Visit the Cherokee Historical Society

Look through documents in the courthouse in nearby Wagoner to find out more about some 1922 legal dealings of my grandfather James West

Spend a day in Westville visiting the Talbot Library and Museum and the Going Snake District Heritage Association.

  • I will be looking for information about my grandmother’s youth. She was born in Going Snake District, but that is all I really know about her childhood
  • I will also be looking for information about the Quinton family – Lydia Crittenden Quinton and Nellie Quinton in particular.  My  great grandfather married his niece Edith Quinton, who was Lydia’s daughter and Nellie’s sister.

Find out who the Jim West is that Westville was named after in 1895. Is he related to my grandfather James West’s family?

Go to the following cemeteries near Tahlequah

  • Pioneer – try to find and uncover grave marker for Margaret Crittenden
  • Hulbert – Find Zeke and Dick Crittenden’s grave
  • Elmwood – Look for David West and family and any other Wests.
  • Proctor Sanders Cemetery –  burial place of Emily Crittenden

Stand on my grandmother’s Dawes allotment land in Okay once again.

Meet with the genealogist at Stillwell Public Library to see what information she may have on Crittenden ancestors.

Next week I will post a journal of what I find while in Tahlequah. Next on the itinerary will be Vinita, Oklahoma, with a whole new set of research goals and questions!

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Finding Gems for Further Research

Yesterday I came across an obituary for my grandmother’s half-sister’s husband. For those not engrossed in genealogy and the quest for information about their ancestors, that may seem like an obscure find not worth investigating.

I am going to use it as an example of how each piece of information is worth exploring for further hints. I have formatted the obituary in italics with my research notes interspersed throughout.

The Checotah Times Checotah, Oklahoma Friday May 1, 1925

The newspaper citation itself tells me that my some of my ancestors had connections to Checotah, Oklahoma.

W.B. Beck pioneer citizen of McIntosh County answers final summons Monday.

Following a long illness of only a few days duration, death claimed the life of W.B. Beck at his community home East of Checotah Monday afternoon.

The news of his death was a great shock, to the majority of our citizens as he appeared in good health the last time he was in the city about two weeks ago. Mr. Beck was one of the best known citizens of McIntosh and was indeed a pioneer in point of residence having located here in 1969. He was a lifelong Democrat and always took an active part in party affairs and held the honor of being McIntosh County’s first representative in Oklahoma legislature. He was a man who was a friend to his neighbors, never forgot a friend nor betrayed a trust.

I will be traveling from Fort Smith to Warner Oklahoma later this month. McIntosh County is just west of Warner. I now know that a stop in McIntosh County and a visit to the museum and court house there may provide some information and possibly photos about some of my ancestors.

William Billingsley Beck was born at Corinth Miss. January 26, 1847 and his early life was spent in that state. With his parents he moved to Texas in 1860 where he resided until the beginning of the Civil War. He enlisted in the cause of the Confederate Army and served until the close of the war.

Next is the first piece of information that mentions a blood relative, Malinda J. Crittenden, my grandmother’s half-sister. Malinda’s father is my great grandfather, Moses Crittenden.

On September 6, 1866, he was united in marriage to Miss Malinda J. Crittenden at Dallas, Ark. He was married under the Cherokee law prior to 1875 thereby sharing the full citizenship with the Cherokee by blood and was the first white male to serve in the Cherokee Council, beinq elected to the body in 1898.

I did not know that my great Aunt Malinda was married in Dallas, Arkansas. A search on the internet provides a map showing Dallas as just south of Mena, Arkansas. On my genealogy trip later this month I am spending two days in Mena, Arkansas. My great grandfather Moses was granted a land patent in that area in 1860. While there I plan to go to see that land. I also plan to spend some time at the Polk County Court House in Mena researching what happened to the land when Moses left for Oklahoma.

I am hoping the local museum will have photos from that time period and may provide me with some context for what life was like for the first Cherokee families to arrive in Arkansas. This information about the marriage of my great aunt in Dallas, Arkansas provides more facts on which to base my research.

In 1868 he located near the present site of Westville, where he resided for nearly a year, when he moved to this county, which has been home.

The first week of my trip will be spent in Tahlequah, the Cherokee Nation Capital. Westville is a short drive from Tahlequah. I will search the museum in Westvilee for photos of my great Aunt Matilda or other members of her family.

Besides the wife, deceased leaves one daughter, Mrs. Eliza Caughran, and two sons, Tom and Carol to mourn his loss. He is also survived by 15 grandchildren and 16 great grandchildren.

This is the most important piece of information for me. A search for Eliza Beck Caughran at Ancestry.com provided me with a photo of her family. I also now know that there are grandchildren and great grandchildren, and probably great great grandchildren, some of whom are most likely still living. Someone posted the photos of Eliza Beck and of her family.

Edith Eliza Beck Coughran and her family

Edith Eliza Beck Coughran and her family

I can now search for current records that might lead me to identifying those living relatives. My hope is that someone in the family has photos of my great grandfather Moses Crittenden and other relatives. They may also know family stories passed down about the family’s early days in Arkansas and Oklahoma.

During his early manhood, Mr. Beck united with the Methodist church. He was also a member of the Checotah Lodge, I.O.O.F., and several other organizations.

The Methodist Church and the Checotah Lodge are two more places where I might find some historical records related to my family.

Funeral services were held Tuesday afternoon at Twin Grove Cemetery, in charge was Rev. E.A. Davis, pastor f the Methodist church” assisted by Rev. E.A. Spiller pastor of the Baptist church. The beautiful Masonic service was held at the Grove in charge of the local lodge. Internment occurred at the Twin Grove Cemetery East of Checotah.

I have added Twin Grove Cemetery to my list of cemeteries to visit on my trip.

Every piece of information that you discover, no matter how minor it may appear, is like a mine waiting to be searched for those gems that will illuminate details about your ancestors just waiting to be discovered.

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Finding Family

In a post last month I mentioned meeting a Crittenden cousin through my blog site. That cousin is the great, great granddaughter of my great grandfather.

What a surprise it was to receive an email from a reader who had seen my great grandfather Moses Crittenden’s name when reading the About Me tab on my blog. She told me that Moses was her great, great grandfather and that she had been researching that branch of her family tree for years.

I had been posting to my blog for a couple of weeks and only a few readers had found the site at that point. It still amazes me that one of the first readers of my blog would end up being a cousin that I did not know existed. She is my second cousin once removed as her father and I share a great grandparent, Moses Crittenden.

This connection is especially meaningful to me. In my blog “Finding the Unexpected”, I talked about a son that my great grandfather had when in a relationship with Emily Crittenden, who was his brother-in-law’s slave.

The relationship between Cherokee settlers and their slaves is a complex one. It is hard for me to accept that any of my ancestors had slaves living in their household. I know for some of these connections there were loving relationships that were defined by the expectations and culture of the times and not by the truths of the relationship itself.

For others they were relationships based on power and dominance. I have no context for the relationship between my great grandfather and Emily Crittenden. I do know that their son Anthony Crittenden was my grandmother’s half-brother and my mother’s uncle.

I knew less about Anthony than my grandmother’s other siblings and half-siblings because the only record I could find was his grave marker in Warner, Oklahoma. I had already decided to visit that cemetery when in Oklahoma next month and see if I could find information about his descendants and his life.

Anthony Crittenden Headstone

Anthony Crittenden Headstone

My connection with his great granddaughter has provided information about Anthony’s descendants that I thought I would be searching for over the next several years.

Most of Anthony’s family has lived in Warner Oklahoma for the past several generations. Many are buried in the same cemetery with Anthony. My newly found relative and her father, my second cousin, are currently living in Warner and I will meet them next month.

The greatest treasures to me in my online searches are photographs. I now have two additional photos of Anthony Crittenden, and one of his mother Emily Crittenden. My cousin emailed photos of the photos in her album. I will scan copies of the originals while in Oklahoma and add them to my online family tree at Ancestry.

You never know what surprises are waiting for you in your quest for finding family

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Tracing my Grandfather – Who was James R. West?

I started this journey with very little information about my grandfather.

James R West

James R West

From my mother’s birth certificate I had his name listed as Jas R West. I knew that he had lived in Oklahoma and Arkansas during the time that he was married to my grandmother.

My mother remembered that he left the family when she was about two years old and that he came to visit her in Tulsa for one day when she was about nine years old.

James Richard West in Tulsa about 1929

James Richard West in Tulsa about 1929

The only other piece of information that I had to go on was that my mother had found out that he died in 1951. My recollection was that he died in San Jose, California. My sister thought it was Montery, California. With only this information to go on I started doing research on ancestry.com.

What I found was that there were many James Wests in Oklahoma and Arkansas during the years that my grandfather was with my grandmother, 1903 to 1922. A check of the 1920 census in Oklahoma showed my grandfather and grandmother and their four living children as being born in Oklahoma. It also stated that both my grandmother’s and grandfather’s parents were born in Oklahoma and that my grandfather was 44 years old.

Searching with that criteria I could not find a James R West that matched. I decided next to search on FindaGrave for cemeteries in Monterey County. I found internment records for a James R West at Garden of Memories Memorial Park, Salinas, Monterey County, California, USA (I also found that John Steinbeck was buried in this same cemetery).

Headstone James R West

Headstone James R West

Next I sent for a copy of the death certificate for that James West. The date of birth and death, plus location, made this seem like a match for my grandfather. However, the death certificate said he was born in Kentucky, while the 1920 census, one of the few records where I was sure I was looking at the correct James West, said he was born in Oklahoma.

That same census also said that my grandmother’s mother and father were born in Oklahoma and I knew that was incorrect. It also said that three of my mother’s siblings, that I knew were born in New Mexico, were born in Oklahoma. I surmised that the census taker had just put Oklahoma as the place of birth in every birth place related spot for this family.

James Richard West with Unknown Person Roswell New Mexico

James Richard West with Unknown Person Roswell New Mexico

ames Richard West, son James Edward West, Eliza Crittenden West around1905 in Roswell, New Mexico

James Richard West, son James Edward West, Eliza Crittenden West around 1905 in Roswell, New Mexico

So, I started looking for a James West born in Kentucky in 1875 whose father was named Dave West and whose mother’s first name was Sarah (information also on the death certificate). I searched and searched and found nothing that was a match.

I then changed tactics and started looking in the 1890 census for any West families, in the county where my grandmother lived before her marriage to my grandfather, that showed a James West about 24 years old.

I found a few, but none with a mother named Sarah and a father named Dave. I found none where James West was born in Kentucky. I did find a family. with a mother named Sarah and a father named Benjamin, where the eldest child was named David. On this census, James was born in Alabama but it was the correct year. I put this census in my records as a long shot possible match, but my best possibility so far.

Fast forward several months when I have all of my relevant census data for 1900 printed out and sitting in front of me. Evidence that I had the correct family was sitting right in front of me.

The census page for the family that I thought was a possible match for my grandfather in the 1890 census, no longer had the elder brother David on the census. However the family listed next to my grandmother’s family on her census page showed David West as the head of household. This David West was the correct age to be the elder brother of the Benjamin West household. David was now living in a separate household with a wife and children of his own.

This made me study both census pages more closely and I realized that both of the census pages were from the same neighborhood. At last I was 90% certain that I was looking at the correct James West and had found my grandfather’s family.

Now that I was on the right track, there were many discoveries over the next few months that confirmed beyond any doubt that this was the correct family.

The big lesson learned here? Those of us searching for our roots are always looking for the “official” documentation that proves the connections in our family tree. But the truth is, those official documents often have errors.

In this case both the 1920 census and my grandfather’s death certificate had conflicting information about my grandfather and much of the information in both of them was incorrect. How does this happen?

A tired census taker realizing the answer to most of the questions about place of birth for this family is Oklahoma, just writes that in every blank space. A woman, who has lived with someone for a few years and met when they were both in their 70s, provides the data for the death certificate to the best of her ability. An older brother gets listed as the father, a state that as near as I can tell this family never set foot in, is listed as the place of birth.

Records are a valuable source of information. But don’t forget to look at the big picture. When you look at the families living next door to your ancestors on the census what does it tell you? Does looking at the census page before and after your family’s shed any light on the mystery you are trying to solve.

Finding your family roots much more resembles solving a mystery than collecting data and organizing it.

Good luck in continuing to solve the mysteries in your family trees.

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Tracing my Cherokee Roots – Getting Started

My Cherokee roots pass down from my grandmother, Eliza Jane Crittenden West. My grandmother did not share her family history or her childhood with us. As I research her life and the history of the times, I have a better understanding of why she found it hard to discuss.

I decided in the 1990s, many years after my grandmother had passed away, that I would trace my grandmother’s roots and the story of her and her family.

While visiting Cherokee, North Carolina during that period I purchased a book, “Cherokee Roots, Volume 2: Western Cherokee Rolls” by Bob Blankenship, that listed my grandmother’s Dawes number and a Dawes number for my mother’s eldest brother James West.

This was before the days of digital files on the internet. I wrote to a few places trying to find more information about my grandmother and the Dawes Rolls and did not receive any responses.

In 2009 I made a promise to myself that I would finally commit to doing the research needed to learn more about my grandmother and her family. Although there was not as much information online as there is now, there were many more resources available than in the 1990s.

My first search for information led me to the web site for the Museum of the Cherokee Indian in Cherokee, North Carolina, where I had found my one piece of information many years before. Based on recommendations in their genealogy section I purchased a book from their online book store, “History of the Cherokee Indians” by Emmet Starr.

Emmet Starr’s book has a section titled, Old Families and Their Genealogy. In that section I found many Crittendens listed as descendants of the Downing family. Once I determined that my great grandfather was Moses Crittenden, this genealogy section allowed me to trace his lineage back to Major Downing.

Eliza Jane Crittenden

Eliza Jane Crittenden

I then started looking for more information on Moses Crittenden in my original book, “Cherokee Roots, Volume 2: Western Cherokee Rolls”. In addition to listing the names on the Dawes Rolls, the book includes the 1851 Old Settler Roll, 1852 Drennen Roll and the 1909 Guion Miller West Roll.

I found my great grandfather and his family listed in the 1851 Old Settler Roll. This gave me the first bit of information about my family’s migration from North Carolina. This roll lists the names of Cherokees who were already residing in Oklahoma when the main body of the Cherokees arrived in the winter of 1839 as a result of the 1835 Treaty of New Echota. So now I knew that my Crittenden ancestors migrated some time before 1839.

These pieces of information were the first roots for building my Ancestry family tree.

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Find a Grave Discovery

Find a Grave has provided me with information, photos and leads for every branch of my family tree. The Find a Grave website was created by Jim Tipton in 1995 because he could not find an existing site focused on his hobby of visiting the graves of famous people. Jim soon found a whole community of people who shared his passion. The site is largely filled with information and photos from volunteers. Every day, contributors from around the world enter new records. It has grown from a site to find out where famous people are buried to an invaluable tool for family history research.

While I have found many facts and dates on Find a Grave, the most emotional find for me was a listing for my Aunt Trixy. Aunt Trixy is my mother’s sibling. She was born and died in New Mexico many years before my mother was born. As a child I was always aware of this aunt whom I had never met.  I knew that she died very young and that my other aunts and uncles had memories of her. My mother’s family moved to Roswell, New Mexico in the early 1900s and then back to Oklahoma before my mother was born in 1920.

The 1910 census in New Mexico lists Trixy’s name as Della B and shows her age as three years old. Based on that I guessed her birth year to be 1907 . My mother thought she had died at about two years of age. So I thought she must have died shortly after this census. I looked for a listing on Find a Grave hoping to be able to fill in some details about dates of birth and death and her full name. Nothing came up in my search.

Aunt Trixy

Aunt Trixy

I am fortunate to have photos of each of mother’s siblings when they were young. One day, about a year after first searching for Trixie (how I thought her name was spelled at the time) on Find a Grave, I was scanning and entering a photo for each of my mother’s siblings on my Ancestry family tree. When I added Trixy’s photo a hint came up for Find a Grave. A memorial had been added for her nine months earlier that had not been there when I conducted my initial search. The listing had her full name which I had never known, Della Beatrix West. There were no photos with the listing. There was a year of death but no birth date listed. It appeared that the person adding this info had added it based on cemetery records and not headstone photos.

This brings me to how Find a Grave is administered. Hundreds of volunteers worldwide access cemetery records where they live and add information to the Find a Grave site. Some volunteers take a photo of each headstone and the entrance to the cemetery and add those photos and any information that can be found on the headstone. Anyone accessing the site can put in a request for a volunteer to go to a cemetery, take a photo of a headstone for a particular listing and add it to the listing.

Della Beatrix West Headstone

Della Beatrix West Headstone

People who use Find a Grave for research sign up as volunteers for the area in which they live and when a request is made they get an email asking if they can fulfill that request. I put in a request for a volunteer to take a photo of Trixy’s headstone for me. It was a very emotional moment for me to when I awakened the next morning to an email saying to check Trixy’s listing for an update. I found that a photo of her headstone had been added and a photo of the cemetery. The headstone showed her birth and death dates. The headstone was a loving tribute from her parents, sweetly inscribed and with a lamb resting at the bottom.

I could not help but think what it must have been like for my grandmother to leave New Mexico and her daughter’s grave behind when they moved back to Oklahoma. I also thought about that grave sitting there for all of those years, with no one ever visiting.

I uploaded the one photo of Trixy that I had to her Find a Grave memorial. Now anyone browsing her listing will see her adorable face. The memorials on Find a Grave have banner ads on the page. You can permanently remove the banner ads from an individual listing for a onetime fee of $5.00. I did that for Trixy’s page.  I hope one day to go to New Mexico to research more about my grandmother’s time there in the early years of her marriage. I now have a place to go and remember Trixy for my grandmother and all of her siblings who were not able to go to her gravesite after they moved in about 1915.

Since making this find I have signed up to be a volunteer for Find a Grave and have been able to fulfill two requests for photos from my local cemetery. I know from my personal experience how much it means to the person making the request.

The most important lesson in this story is to never give up on a lead. New material is being added to the internet every day. I had searched for Trixy in Find a Grave before and found nothing. Months later a volunteer had entered enough information for me to be able to discover the missing details about Trixy’s short life.

In a future article I will talk about how to use Find a Grave in your family research and how to make use of the information that you find there.

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Home is Where Your Second Cousin Thrice Removed Lives

I have mentioned before that my mother’s father left the family when she was about two years old.  Trying to find out more about him and his family was part of my genealogy quest as mother knew nothing but his first and last name.

My mother had about a half dozen photos of her parents early life which she passed on to me when I started researching our history. My goal was to find out more about who my grandfather was and to research my grandmother’s Cherokee ancestry for my mother’s 90th birthday. While searching on ancestry.com I came across a photo someone captioned as Grandma Brewer on Ancestry. Grandma Brewer’s parents appeared to be the same as my grandfather’s parents.

I wrote the person who posted the photo and she wrote back saying I should call someone named John from whom she got the photo and provided me with his phone number. I looked up the area code location and saw that he lived in the area where my grandmother was raised and where she lived for a while with my grandfather.

Something told me this was going to be a big breakthrough and I anxiously dialed the number. Through this call I met my cousin John who is the grandson of my grandfather’s sister. We formed an instant connection and have exchanged hundreds of emails in the past three years.

Sally West Brewer and Eliza Crittenden West, Our Grandmothers

Sally West Brewer and Eliza Crittenden West, Our Grandmothers

Last October I went to Tahlequah Oklahoma to continue research on my grandmother’s Cherokee heritage and met with John on the first day of my trip. During my time in Oklahoma John’s cousin (and mine) hosted a huge family barbecue where I met more than a dozen relatives I never knew I had. They shared many family stories/legends about my grandfather, known to them as Uncle Jim. Most had only seen him once or twice but had numerous family tales as he was a somewhat notorious character.

The info I have found on my grandmother and grandfather is a source for many future stories. However, I wanted to share two small tidbits that are were so meaningful to both my cousin John and me.

In our email conversations John told me that he had inherited a rolling pin from his grandmother when she died. It is the rolling pin she used to make numerous pies and cookies at large family dinners which were held every Sunday until she died and attended by all of John’s aunts, uncles and cousins. On this rolling pin an aunt had tied a note, “carved for your grandma on her 10th birthday by her then 15 year old brother Jim, her favorite brother”. Jim was my grandfather.

Me and cousin John with Rolling Pin

Me and cousin John with Rolling Pin

The second very emotional connection was that John asked if he could see a photo of my grandfather when he was young. I said I had only a few photos from that time that I had not looked at in a while but I would go through them and see what I could find. In those photos was an old oval photo of my grandmother with another young woman. On the back my mother had written, “mother with Aunt Sally”. This photo was of my grandmother and John’s grandmother as very young women. They would have been sisters in law. I scanned and sent the photo to John who called me in tears saying he had no photos of his grandmother as a young woman.

Me and cousin John with our Grandmothers

Me and cousin John with our Grandmothers

This family journey has been astounding and I have found amazing things. Including the fact that my grandmother, who we were always told had “some Cherokee blood”, was raised as a Cherokee and never stepped foot out of Indian Territory until she married my grandfather in 1903. Her father was an Old Settler who migrated to Arkansas and then Oklahoma under the New Echota treaty.

The facts I have gathered are interesting. However, what is most meaningful is the connections that I am making.  I saw a cartoon on Facebook a while back.  The caption was “Home is Where Your Second Cousin Thrice Removed Lives”.

After my trip to Oklahoma, and meeting John and other extended family members, a piece of my heart is there.  I am looking forward to returning in a couple of months and making more memories.  Watch in the next couple of weeks for a post about a cousin I just met through my blog site.  She is one of my Crittenden cousins and I cannot wait to meet her in person.

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Finding the Unexpected

About a year into my research on Moses Crittenden I had a good overview of the basics. He was born in Georgia in 1825. He died in Wagoner, Oklahoma in 1899.

He had been married to Eda Quinton and together they had eight children. After Eda died Moses married Margaret Howell, my great grandmother, and they had nine children, including my grandmother Eliza Jane Crittenden.

The basic information makes a great foundation for research. For me, what I am always searching for is the story of their lives. What is the context of the time in which they lived? Who were they as people? And each photo that I find is like a treasure.

One lesson I have learned in my years of family research is that when you think you have the facts part completed, there is usually a surprise around the corner. Previous marriages and families that you never knew about or finding that the family that raised the person, while having the same last name, was actually their aunt and uncle and not their parents, are a few examples.

While at the Cherokee Family Research Center within the Cherokee Heritage Center at Tahlequah, Oklahoma I came across a family genealogy on the Crittendens.  It had been researched a few decades earlier and was a great find for looking into extended family and family connections.  There are many branches of the Crittendens so I was delighted to find a detailed chronology of my grandfather Moses’ life.  Included were details on the Old Settler Roll, the 1880 Cherokee Roll and other information that I had not yet located.

I was most interested in an entry listed as taking place about 1853.  The notation was short:

Met Emily Crittenden b. 1838 I.T.  d. 1908 OK.

I was perplexed about why the author of the document would think it worth mentioning that in 1853 Moses met his relative Emily.  Then I read the footnote stating that Emily Crittenden was a slave and belonged to Elijah Phillips and Sidney (Moses’ sister) Crittenden Phillips.  The only other information was that she was buried in Proctor Cemetery in Adair County, Oklahoma.

Those of you less naïve than me may have already figured out that “met” was the language of the times for “had sexual relations with”.  It was not until I read another note about the birth of Anthony Crittenden that I figured this out.

Anthony Crittenden

Anthony Crittenden

Anthony Crittenden (son of Moses and Emily) was born in Polk County, Arkansas about 1854 and died April 9, 1909. He is buried at Bennett Cemetery in Warner, Oklahoma.  I was very lucky to find a photo of Anthony in a family tree on Ancestry.com  He is one of only three Crittendens from this generation of whom I have a photo.

He applied as Cherokee by blood before the Dawes commission but was denied since he had been a slave of Elijah Phillips and was enrolled as freedman through his mother Emily (Crittenden) Weaver.  I am as interested in finding out more about Anthony and his descendants as I am all of my grandmother’s siblings and half siblings.  Anthony and Emily are two of the people I hope to find out more about on my next trip to Oklahoma.  I will definitely pay my respects to both by visiting the cemeteries where they are buried.

Anthony Crittenden Headstone

Anthony Crittenden Headstone

Finding another great uncle that I did not know that I had is but one of many surprises I have found on this journey.  What are some of the surprises that you have encountered?

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Tracing my Great Grandfather Moses Crittenden in Cherokee Nation West

The journey of the early settlers to Cherokee Nation West is a complicated one.  My great grandfather Moses Crittenden was born in Cherokee Nation East Georgia in 1825. The next record that I have found for him is the 1850 census that shows him living in Freedom Township Polk County Arkansas at age 25 with his wife Eda Quniton, age 22. I believe Eda (Edith) is Moses’ niece, his sister Lydia’s daughter.

I am on a constant quest for records that will help me determine exactly when Moses moved from Georgia to Arkansas. His father William Crittenden is shown on the 1835 census as living in Talking Rock Creek, GA.  Both Moses and his father William are listed on the Old Settler Roll of 1851

In the 1850 census in Freedom, Polk County AR there are six Quinton family households listed on the same census record with the Moses Crittenden household.  Moses is listed as a farmer.

In the 1860 census in Freedom AR the Moses Crittenden household is surrounded by six Quinton family households. Moses’ father William, then 80, is living with Moses.  Two important facts are found on the 1860 census.  Moses is now listed as a merchant and in the column under Value Real Estate is the figure 2000.

In November 2013, now knowing that Moses owned real estate in Arkansas, I started a search to try to find information on land owned by Moses Crittenden.  I accessed the following sites which eventually led me to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Federal Land Record site.

http://www.ark-ives.com/documenting/

http://www.arkansasgenealogy.com/

http://searches.rootsweb.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/arkland/arkland.pl

http://www.glorecords.blm.gov/

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Federal Land Record site includes a searchable database where I found a copy of Moses’ land patent signed by President James Buchanan.  I also found two patents for land owned by James Quinton.

http://www.glorecords.blm.gov/search/default.aspx

Moses Crittenden Search Result BLM Land Patents

Moses Crittenden Search Result BLM Land Patents

I sent for a hard copy of the document for under $5.00 I received a printed copy on parchment paper along with a copy of the plat map.

Copy of Moses Land Patent

Copy of Moses Land Patent

My next genealogy research trip in November 2014 will take me back to Oklahoma and then on to Arkansas.  Finding the exact location of Moses’ land means that I will be able to search local archives, libraries and museums for additional information on my great grandfather’s time in Arkansas.  I will also be able to go to the site of his land, surrounded by the echoes of my great grandfather Moses Crittenden and his extended family.

 

 

 

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Family Mystery Solved – What Happened to Uncle Frank?

One of the interesting and frustrating things about genealogy is thinking that you have a clear picture of facts, then you find one more source of information and things you thought you knew are proven to be false. That is the case with my grandfather’s older brother Frank.

When I started searching for my grandfather’s family there was a lot of trial and error, travels down the wrong trails,  and moments of thinking I would never find who my grandfather James West’s parents were. Then, several things came together to prove that I at last had the correct family.

As many of you know there are often families with almost identical family member names, living in the same state, that can add much confusion to your search.

I did, however, at last have the correct family. My grandfather met and married my grandmother in Oklahoma. His family migrated there from Alabama sometime between 1880 and the late 1890s. Once I had identified the correct family in Oklahoma living in the same neighborhood as my grandmother, I was able to work backward and find an 1880 census for my grandfather West’s family in Alabama.

That census showed my great grandfather Ben West, great grandmother Sarah West and their four children, listed as follows.
Frank West – 17 years old – son
David West – 11 years old – son
James R West – 5 years old – son
Sarah West – 4 months old – daughter

The 1900 census in Oklahoma has son David living in his own household and, nearby, Ben and Sarah living with children James R and Sarah. I wondered what happened to the eldest son Frank? I could not find Frank West in Oklahoma nor in Alabama.

Through my online genealogy research I was fortunate to meet my grandfather’s sister’s grandson and develop an active relationship of exchanging what information we had about the West family. My cousin said he had been told as a child that the eldest brother Frank had started to Oklahoma in a covered wagon but had never completed the journey and the family never knew his fate.

We talked about how much we would like to find out what happened to him on his way to Oklahoma and wondered if that would ever be possible. Fast forward about a year and a half and I made the discovery that our great grandmother, Frank’s mother, had been married previously to a man named Pleasant Frank Johnson, something we had not known. I recently found the marriage certificate for that first marriage. I also found the 1870 census for the West family in Alabama fairly recently.

Much to my surprise, Frank is listed as William Johnson age 7, along with his sister Molly Catherine Johnson. So the reason I could never find a record of Frank West in Alabama after 1880 is that 1880 is the only time he was listed as West and not Johnson on a census. Whether the family did not give his name as Johnson, or the census taker just did not write it down, I don’t know.

This week a search for Frank Johnson in Alabama turned up the following astounding information!

Frank Johnson lived with his married sister Mollie Catherine and is listed in her household in 1900, 1920 and 1930. He died in 1932 one year after her and is buried in Alabama.

Cousin John and I no longer have to worry about our poor great uncle Frank and what happened to him in that covered wagon on the way to Oklahoma. He lived with family in Alabama until his death at age 59.

I wonder how some of our family lore gets started. In that 1870 census where I discovered that Frank and Mollie Johnson were the children of my great grandmother’s first marriage, there is also a 5 month old Arthur, son of my great grandparents, on the census. Arthur never appears again, so apparently died in Alabama sometime before his 10th birthday.

I think somehow a brother’s death in Alabama and Frank’s staying behind in Alabama when the family moved, over the years, combined into one brother who died on the way to Oklahoma.

Have you solved any family mysteries in your search for your roots?

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Online Resources for Getting from Dawes Roll# to Allotment Plat Map

Dawes Final Rolls

The first step in the process of identifying Dawes land allotments is to have the Dawes Roll # for the person whose land you are trying to identify. If you do not have the number, go to http://www.okhistory.org/research/dawes and fill in as many of the blanks as you can and you will find the following information.

Name, Age, Sex, Blood, Card No., Tribe, Roll No.

The Card No. is the same for each member of a household. Each individual in the household will have a different Roll No.

Dawes Enrollment Packets

You can find the packets at http://www.fold3.com/title_70/dawes_packets/. You must be a member to access the images.

You can also access the files on https://familysearch.org/search/collection/1852353. You will need to sign up to use this site but it is free.

Search by name. Having the roll number will help you to identify that you have the right file as there are many duplicate names on the Dawes Rolls.

Each piece of paper in the packet has been scanned. There is a lot of interesting information in the Dawes Enrollment Packets. In addition to the application forms there are often transcripts of interviews with applicants and other family members or friends.

Allotment Applications

After the final Dawes Roll was published, each individual had to complete another application to apply for their land allotment. The applications can be found in Oklahoma Applications for Allotment, Five Civilized Tribes, 1899-1907 at https://familysearch.org/search/collection/1390101.

On Aug 1, 2014 they were indexing this site to include some previously missing applications that have been newly digitalized. Try again if you cannot access the records the first time. I will keep checking the site and update this information when the site is functioning again. You will need a Dawes Roll number to use this collection. You cannot search by name.

Use the land description information from these applications to search for your allotment plat map. The allotment applications contain the legal land description of the final allotments to each person who was approved to receive an allotment.

Allotment Maps

Allotment Maps can be found at http://www.okhistory.org/index. They are a little tricky to get to, so follow the directions exactly.

On the home page click on “Research Center”. From the dropdown menu choose “Maps”.

In left-hand column at the bottom of the Maps page click “Search Catalog”.

On the Search Catalog page click “Archives Catalog”.

You will see a Search Dialog box. Under that box in small letters it says “Core Collections”. Click on the small arrow to the left.

An alphabetized list of core collection will appear next. Halfway down the alphabetized list click “Indian Archives”. The next page is slow to load so be patient.

On the Indian Archives page in the left hand column click on the plus sign next to the last entry, “Maps”. Do not click on the word Maps, click the plus sign.

Next click the plus sign next to Cherokee Nation maps (or whichever tribe is appropriate).

You will see a list of maps that are in PDF form. The plat allotment maps are images #69 – #305 in the Cherokee Nation section. They are not numbered so you have to count your way down the list to get to that general area. You will know you are in the right spot when you start seeing maps listed by Township and Range.

Click on the description of the correct Township and Range to see a PDF of the map with allotment names. You can then download and save the map to your computer.

Allotment maps are organized by Township and Range. Each map shows the sections for that range and with a little practice you can find NE4 of NW4 of SE4 of Section 11, Township XXN, Range XXE.

Each of the maps has the name and roll number of the person allotted each plot of land written by hand on the plot. In some cases, including one of my grandmother’s plots, the land was awarded after the maps were completed. If you follow the description you have from the Land Allotment package and do not see the name you are looking for you will usually find a little blank square where you can then write in the name of your relative on a hard copy of the map.

In Conclusion

It is getting easier and easier to accomplish these tasks.  When I first started my research not all Dawes Application Packets were digitalized and online.  Every month I would go to the site again and enter my grandmother’s information and hope her packet would be there.  For over a year I always got a message saying that those records were in the process of being digitalized.  And then one day, success!  Genealogy research involves a lot of patience and persistence which, in most cases, eventually results in finding the information that you are seeking.

 

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Census Data Once Again Provides Answers

Today was one of those genealogy days where I ended up going down a trail that was not my original destination.  I was on Ancestry.com and got an alert that there was a military record associated with one of the people in my tree.  It was my great grandmother’s first husband, Pleasant Frank Johnson.

I was a few years into my research before I realized that my great grandmother, Sarah Johnson West, had a first husband.  I had information verifying that Sarah Johnson had married my great grandfather Benjamin Franklin West in 1865, at age 22, and they had four children together one of which was my maternal grandfather.

In spite of much searching I could never find any parents for my great grandmother Sarah.  There were several Sarah Johnsons to be found in the census records from the 1800s.  However, something always proved them not to be my Sarah Johnson.  Then one day I saw a record of a Sarah Ferguson marrying a Pleasant Frank Johnson at age 13 in 1856.  He died in 1862.  Looking over census records I found that living in the house with my great grandparents were the children Catherine Johnson and Frank Johnson.  These were the children from my great grandmother’s first marriage and at last I knew I was tracking the correct Sarah Johnson.  It was then easy to find her parents, who were Horatio Ferguson and Sarah Barton.

All of which brings me back to today and finding a military record for Pleasant Frank Johnson.  It got me thinking about not having parents listed for him in my tree. I hadn’t pursued looking for them as he was my great grandmother’s first husband and not related by blood.  However, as long as I was entering info for him I decided to look again.  The military record showed that he was born in Alabama and I went to http://www.familysearch.org to see if I could find census data for his earlier years before he married Sarah.  It is always worth rechecking previous research as new records are being added regularly.  Sure enough I located an 1840 census showing his mother and children on the same census page as Horatio Ferguson and his family.

The 1850 census has Pleasant Frank Johnson (16), his mother Hannah and his brother James (18) living in the same neighborhood as eight year old Sarah Ferguson and her family.  In 1860 Sarah and Frank Johnson are married and living next door to his mother Hannah Johnson and a few houses down from Sarah’s father, Horatio Ferguson, and his family.

I love it when finally all of the data you have triangulates and you are positive beyond doubt that you have connected the right people!  So many people with the same names, so much data, so many doubts as to whether you have made the right connections.  Having it all come together is always rewarding.

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A Sense of Accomplishment

Today is a day of celebration for me. Years of research has finally led to me plotting each piece of land allotted to my grandmother and to her, then minor, son on the appropriate plat maps.

The steps to accomplish this were numerous. Some of the steps had to wait for additional records to be digitalized. The final step was for me to spread out dozens of pages of notes and copies of documents and meticulously read through each legal land description and locate the land on the plat maps.

This research was somewhat complicated by my grandmother’s Dawes Allotment Application Package. There were pages and pages of documents. My grandfather acted as her legal representative and first picked one plot of land and then came back to the commission and said he had changed his mind.

In addition, two of the pieces of land that my grandmother had been allotted were disputed as having claims from others. One of those cases was settled in her favor, the other was not.

The dates on the materials in her packet range from 1905 to 1910. During that time my grandmother moved from Indian Territory to New Mexico. She also changed the power of attorney from my grandfather to her married sister in 1910.

Because my grandfather changed his mind about one piece of land, and another was taken back and replaced because of a dispute, originally all I had was a copy of a certificate obtained from Tahlequah saying that my grandmother’s land allotment had been cancelled.

I did not give up and a few days after getting this information I located copies of the Dawes Allotment packets online. At the time I was in Tahlequah conducting genealogy research. I took the land descriptions that I found online in my grandmother’s Allotment packet and spent hours in the Wagoner County courthouse the next day tracing the history of my grandmother’s and uncle’s land from the time it was allotted until it was no longer in their possession.

The day before I left Tahlequah to return to Washington State I drove out to my grandmother’s land and stood on it. It was an overwhelming feeling to be standing there.

My Grandmother's Dawes Allotment Land Oklahoma

My Grandmother’s Dawes Allotment Land Oklahoma

It has been almost two years since I was in Oklahoma. I will return this October to continue my journey into my family history. While there I will visit Craig and Nowata counties where some of my grandmother’s allotment land was located and once again stand on soil that belonged to my grandmother.

My next post will explain the process and resources that I used to go from a Dawes Roll number to plat maps with the allotment land identified.

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Family Mystery Solved – What Happened to Uncle Frank? Coming August 5, 2014

Meanwhile read About Me to learn more about this blog and blogger.

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August 9, 2013 · 12:14 pm