Category Archives: 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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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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