Tag Archives: Cherokee genealogy

Cherokee Homesteaders in Polk County Arkansas

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

Township 2-S Range 32-W Polk County

Township 2-S Range 32-W Polk County

 

Polk County Rivers, Lakes and Streams

Polk County Rivers, Lakes and Streams

Polk County Homestead Roads

Polk County Homestead Roads

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Log Cabin from 1800s on Neighboring Land

Log Cabin from 1800s on Neighboring Land

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

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

 

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Christmas and Family

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

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

My Paternal Grandparents with Grandchildren 1951

My Paternal Grandparents with Grandchildren 1951

Me with my Dad as Santa Claus 1951

Me with my Dad as Santa Claus 1951

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

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

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

1850 Cherokee Land Freedom Polk County Arkansas Photo Taken 2014

1850 Cherokee Land Freedom Polk County Arkansas Photo Taken 2014

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

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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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Families – The Famous and the Infamous

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dick Crittenden Headstone Closeup

Dick Crittenden Headstone Closeup

Zeke Crittenden Headstone Closeup

Zeke Crittenden Headstone Closeup

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dick and Zeke Crittenden Headstone Hulbert Cemetery

Dick and Zeke Crittenden Headstone Hulbert Cemetery

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