Category Archives: Research

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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Filed under Cherokee History in Alabama, Family connections, Nicholas Moore Sr Family, Research, William L West Family

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.

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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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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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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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Filed under Cherokee History in Arkansas, Cherokee Roots, Journal, Research

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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Filed under Cherokee History in Arkansas, Cherokee Roots, Journal, Land, Research

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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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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Filed under Cherokee Roots, Dawes Allotment, Family connections, Journal, Research, Uncategorized

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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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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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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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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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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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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