Thursday, August 23, 2018

Chickasaw-Choctaw Freedmen Institute "Educate, Preserve and Publish the History of the Indian Territory Freedmen"

About 20 years ago I began formulating a plan to establish a site to house, publish and preserve the history of the Indian Territory Freedmen. I constructed a website called The Estelusti Foundation and began a series of articles not unlike what I’m doing with the

I envisioned a home for this organization in the ancestral homeland of the Choctaw and Chickasaw Freedmen in the surrounding rural area of Ardmore, Oklahoma where many freedmen descendants reside today. I bring this up because now it is some 20 years later and many of the people coming online to learn about their freedmen ancestors want to know about their history, join the tribes as citizens and preserve their family’s history.

What many are learning if you are a freedmen descendant is your desire to become a citizen of the nation of your ancestor’s birth is not welcomed with open arms, yet there is still that sense of wanting to join and embrace all of the history of your ancestors. In a way, I get it!

However, I am of the opinion we as descendants of Choctaw and Chickasaw Freedmen can do ourselves a favor by establishing our own institutions that educate, preserve and publish the history of our ancestors and all we need to do is combine our resources, talents and common purpose to that end.

We don’t need the Chickasaw nation to accept us if we accept ourselves and each other. We don’t need the Choctaw Nation to embrace us into their body to preserve our ancestor’s history. We can establish a site, home or archive that will serve as a multi-functional home that will allow us to preserve our history; become a site to host family reunions and become a viable long lasting institution that will maintain our history as descendants of Choctaw and Chickasaw Freedmen.

So how do we do that you ask? I’m glad you asked; it takes money, group effort and establishing an organization that will leave a legacy for the generations to come.

So I’m just throwing this out there for serious people to consider. There is a property in the Lone Grove area of southern Oklahoma. It is a FIVE acre site with a 1,527 square foot home (3Bed-2Baths) AND an out building that is capable of being a multi-functioning unit for a host of things (Only limited by your imagination.)

I’m sure there are a lot of people who are not interested in this “project” and will immediately find ways to poo-poo it but consider the effort people put in trying to become a member of a tribe that does not want them? Maybe it’s time to consider another way to preserve your history and the legacy of your ancestors?

Now I don’t know if this property is still available and even if there were enough people seriously interested; could money be raised to make a down payment on it for purchase? That’s not the only point. This is an ideal piece of land (FIVE ACRES) that can be developed into an independent facility that we could all be proud of.

Here is one other piece of information to consider. Every year a family connected to the Choctaw and Chickasaw Freedmen has a reunion in the Ardmore area or OKC. People from all over the country come to spend a weekend celebrating their family history and in the process an individual could drop one to three grand for the pleasure?

How much of that money goes back into the black (freedmen descendant community) is negligible by all accounts. Oh they’ll leave a chunk at the hotels along interstate 70 or another chunk at Lake Murray not to mention the casino’s in the area. How much of that money is being utilized to preserve the very history they come to celebrate? NEGLIGIBLE!

With your own facility and five acres, you can drop some buildings on that land for lodging. You can hire the local people to help run and maintain the facility at the same time providing jobs and skills that can be taken elsewhere. 

Somebody could set up a Go Fund Me or whatever it is for the tune of $100K and make it happen!

I am just throwing this out there perhaps there is someone or a group of people capable and willing to invest in such an endeavor. I would love to get some feedback.

You contact me privately through the email or leave your comments on this page.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Henry CLAY Chickasaw Freedman #483 #WarriorWednesday

Henry CLAY
Chickasaw Freedmen #483

M1186 Chickasaw Freedmen Card #483 front  CLAY, Henry & Isabella

My research of the Chickasaw and Choctaw Freedmen of Indian Territory over the years continually reminds me just how connected our ancestors were. The men and women in these communities were clearly tight and responsible to each other in so many ways that it leaps from the pages of their documentation.

Henry CLAY was a leader in his community of Woodford and was known to the people in the nearby communities like Milo, Berwyn, Springer and Homer. If you just stopped at the information on the Dawes Card you would get a small sense of his family and some its origins but that doesn’t really tell you who this man was and how he came to be a leader in his community.

The generation before him bore witness to a group of men and women who shortly after being “emancipated” submitted a memorial to congress expressing their desires for inclusion as citizens in the Chickasaw and Choctaw Nations[i]. These men and women became the example for people like Henry CLAY who was politically active as a member of the “Convention Committee of Twelve” that strategized for their enrollment and land allotments under the Curtis Act.[ii] The convention occurred on August 4 and 5, 1898 which is a time that is synonymous with “Emancipation Day” in Indian Territory.

Unfortunately Henry died prior to 1902 and did not receive a land allotment but in his land application packet his certificate of death provides some revealing and supportive information on how connected the Choctaw and Chickasaw Freedmen were to each other. First let me point out that on the rear of Henry’s Dawes card it reveals his parents and the parents of his wife Isabella. At first blush nothing appears extraordinary. It is not until you look at the rear of the card that things begin to get interesting for researchers like me.
M1186 Chickasaw Freedmen Card #483 rear CLAY, Henry & Isabella
It is unfortunate we don’t have information concerning Henry’s father but we do see his mother was named Malinda ALBERSON. The information that is interesting and has significance to me is the parents of his wife Isabella. His wife is the “half-sister” of Bettie LIGON and the daughter of Cornelius PICKENS and Margaret Ann WILSON nee ALEXANDER.

I have to ask the question how did these men and women relate to each other? What was the nature of their conversations regarding their status as freedmen and in Bettie’s case “mixed African-Chickasaw? What happened to Isabella  after the death of her husband Henry? More importantly for me now is who are the descendants of Henry and Isabella CLAY and where are they now?

There was another example of just how close these two sisters may have been and it was discovered in the same application for a land allotment that Henry never received. Because Henry died prior to a certain date in 1902 his wife was obligated to document his death in the form of an affidavit, signed, notarized, witnessed and sent to the Dawes Commission. I was pleasantly surprised to see a familiar name AND signature of Bettie LIGON on that affidavit:

Land Application Packet CLAY, Henry #1974 p2

These types of documents in my humble opinion form the basis for the first group of vital statistics for Indian Territory and the state of Oklahoma as it entered the United States in November of 1907.

That makes the information vital (pun intended) for researchers and for me it illustrates the relationship Bettie had with her sister Isabella.

This document provides facts that Henry died one-hundred eighteen years ago last month. It also demonstrates for me that my great grandmother Bettie LIGON could write her own name and the signature looks just like her signature on the brief of Equity Case 7071.

I hope to locate the records that provide us some insight into the Convention of Chickasaw and Choctaw Freedmen that was held on August 4th and 5th of 1898. If we are lucky they will provide us with some idea of how our ancestors thought and the methods they used to fight for their rights as citizens within the Chickasaw and Choctaw nations. As a leader I hope to see something specific to Henry CLAY that will add to his biography as a leader among the Chickasaw Freedmen.

There is one document that may have more insight into Henry CLAY, it is in the M-1301 Interview Packet that implies Henry spent some time as a soldier in the War of Rebellion. There is some corroboration in the interview packet for another freedmen who had what appears to be a colorful past; Henry McCOY aka Henry SHANNON. 
M1301-Chickasaw Freedmen #483 CLAY, Henry p2

In this document from Henry’s M-1301 Application Packet he makes a statement that he followed Henry McCOY to Fort Gibson and worked their until about Christmas. It is the next statement that may require some additional research but he states, “I was wounded in the winter before peace was made…”

Was that a reference to his involvement in the war? Is there evidence that Henry CLAY and Henry McCOY were soldiers in the USCT? Were they forced to work for their confederate Chickasaw Indian enslavers? Is there a record of either one of these men filed that will provided details of their service and efforts to gain their freedom from enslavement by the Chickasaw Indians?

Clearly, this is like so many other Chickasaw and Choctaw Freedmen stories, our ancestors deserve more research so their story becomes included as part of the wider history of blacks on this continent. The Chickasaw Freedmen’s story tends to be left out of the story of black America. As an enslaved people, they don’t show up on many of the maps that attempt to illustrate “slave states.”


Indian Territory was not a part of the United States which demonstrates just how important Henry CLAY, his story, his descendants and the communities they lived in are to Indian Territory history, American history, and more importantly Black History!

Residence: Woodford, Indian Territory
·         Enslaved by Jincy LOVE

Parents: Father Unknown, Mother-Malinda ALBERSON
·         Mother enslaved by Captain ALBERSON

Spouse: Isabella CLAY nee PICKENS
·         Enslaved by: John CRINER
·         Parents: Cornelius PICKENS (Deceased) & Margaret A. WILSON
o   Enslaved by: Edmond PICKENS & Robert WILSON

·         Zeno
·         Samuel
·         Hezekiah
o   See New Born #472
·         Tamis
o   See New Born #380
·         Delora
·         Bohanon
·         Lou Creasy
·         St. Paul
·         Lovinia
·         Jennie

Surnames Appearing in this Article:
  • CLAY
  • McCOY

Places Appearing in this Article:
  • Berwyn, Indian Territory
  • Chickasaw Nation
  • Fort Gibson
  • Homer, Indian Territory
  • Milo, Indian Territory
  • Newport, Indian Territory
  • Oklahoma
  • Pickens County, Indian Territory
  • Springer, Indian Territory
  • Woodford, Indian Territory

[i] Senate Executive Document 82; 40th Congress, 2nd Session
[ii] The Chickasaw Freedmen a People Without a Country, Dr. Daniel F. Littlefield, Jr. p178

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Nellie CRAWFORD-TAYLOR Chickasaw Freedman #505

Chickasaw Freedwoman #505
Born circa 1818-1822

                1              Dilsie “DAUBRY”
                2              Nellie CRAWFORD                    b: January 1822
                                3              Sephronia TAYLOR          b. unknown  deceased as of 1898 aka “Fronie”
                                3              Robert TAYLOR                b: 1839 in Indian Territory
                                3              John TAYLOR                        b: April 1842 in Indian Territory,
                                3              Eliza LOVE                                b: 1846 in Indian Territory
                                3              Maria TAYLOR                 b: 1853 in Indian Territory
                                3              Sally TAYLOR                     b: September 1859 in Indian Territory
                                3              Lou TAYLOR                         b: 1860 in Indian Territory
                                3              Mose TAYLOR                    b: December 1860
                                3              Rosa TAYLOR                     b: 1866 in Indian Territory

I have been hesitating on writing about this ancestor for numerous reasons. My hesitation is due to the numerous people who have a connection to this matriarch and may not respond well to my comments and my desire to see an accurate record established for future generations.

Because there appeared to be a lot of information about Nellie TAYLOR nee CRAWFORD I took some time to search through many of the family trees posted. I was struck by the information  about Nellie and sourcing of that information. I’ve learned from attending many African American Genealogical Society of Northern California meetings  and a conference here and there that you must perform your own due diligence when it comes to genealogical research.

As I began looking at the family trees on Ancestry I was struck by the similarity of the information when it came to birth and death information but I could not find one source for the information other than the age given on Nellie’s Chickasaw Freedmen Dawes card #505. Again, drawing on my experience with genealogy research and the Dawes records I tend to take everything with a grain of salt until I can verify for myself the information is accurate. With the information about Nellie I was always uncomfortable about things that had “dubious sourcing.”

Land Allotment Application #2066 TAYLOR, Nellie p14
Some of the things that stood out to me were the birth, birthplace and death of Nellie’s parents Sam and Dilsie CRAWFORD. In most of the trees they provided birth and dates of death that I had not known and was unable to confirm. Granted someone could have come up with a page in a bible or a document from the last slave owner or even found an obituary in a newspaper but none of those sources were ever noted in the trees but the information was provided and it is apparent to me, when other people who share Nellie as an ancestor saw this information they just copied and pasted it without questioning the source or accuracy.

Case in point is the date of death for Nellie. Some of the trees has her death in 1902, some had her deceased by December of 1903; however not one of them provided a document to support the claim and I hope by writing about Nellie now, someone will provide that information because I would like to know what is correct.

I dismissed anyone who has her death in 1902 because it was a simple task of looking into her application for a land allotment. Nellie appointed her son Mose TAYLOR with power of attorney to conduct her business and secure her land allotment in November of 1903, clearly discounting her death in 1902. By December 2, 1903 Mose submitted that affidavit as his mother’s power of attorney to the Dawes Commission and appears to have secured her land allotment.

Typically if an individual dies before receiving their land allotment certificate from the Dawes Commission there would be some type of notation on their Dawes Card and there are no such notations on Nellie’s card.
Chickasaw Freedman Card #505 front TAYLOR, Nellie
Look, I don’t know when Nellie TAYLOR died but to date, I don’t have any concrete information indicating when she did. I do know from the previously stated facts and the 1900 United States Census she was alive and living with her daughter Sallie ANDERSON and family. On that same census page is her son Mose who had the power of attorney mentioned previously.

This particular census page is significant because it provides a snapshot of the extended family that was living in Akers Township, in the community of Woodford, Indian Territory at the turn of the century. It also illustrates how women like Nellie became the matriarchs to many other families as her children began intermarrying with other Chickasaw Freedmen and their descendants that included ABRAM, ANDERSON, CLAY, JACKSON, LIGON, PERRY, PICKENS and ROBERTS just to name a few. It is because of all of these familial ties I hope to get more information about not only this ancestor but all of them as possible so people will not continue to post “inaccurate” information.

1900 US Census Township 3 South, Range 1 West; E.D. 168, p13B