Tag Archives: Cherokee 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

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

Family Time

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

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

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

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

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Nita Moore Celebrating her 86th Birthday in Portugal

Nita Moore Celebrating her 86th Birthday in Portugal

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Conflicting Data and Your Family Tree

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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 Family

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anthony Crittenden Headstone

Anthony Crittenden Headstone

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

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

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

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

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