Sunday, March 20, 2011

Found!...New Family History!

When I began conducting my genealogical research I always enjoyed the larger story of Indian Territory Freedmen. It was clear my ancestor's both paternal and maternal included a number of individuals and families that had to be researched and documented. However it was always the larger story of the freedmen that kept me intrigued and curious.

With the idea that if I studied and researched the story of Choctaw and Chickasaw Freedmen in general, the story of my complex family ties would emerge. Once again I've been rewarded for following that path!!!

Over the past two or three months I've put an emphasis on copying EVERY Choctaw and Chickasaw Freedmen Dawes card, oral testimony, including the freedmen minor and newborn cards and jackets. I'm still in the final processes of completing this task but so far I have been able to copy everything but the Chickasaw Minor jackets. In fact, I am paying my son to copy all of the Choctaw Minor cards as we speak!

One of the main reasons I'm doing this is because of my interest in Equity Case 7071. I've written about the lawsuit in this blog so I won't go into the story here. At one point I had the insane idea to digitize all of the records and make them available for others who did not have the time or money to travel to a National Archives facility to conduct research......What was I thinking?

Okay, somebody stole my idea but I'm grateful for them providing this information so I can still conduct research in the comfort of my home; HALLELUJAH!!!

Alright, back to the story! Well I've been culling through the Dawes cards and carefully began constructing a database with the card and associated interviews for the approximately two thousand complainants of Equity Case 7071. I've been constructing this database individuals that can be a research aid for other researchers. I won't bore you with the tedious nature of this project but I plan to have it completed before the end of the year to coincide with the anniversary of the case going before the United States Supreme Court in 1911.

As I was looking at one of the cards, some familiar information caught my attention. On the rear of Chickasaw Freedmen card # 370, Litha PRICE, her parents were listed as Cornelius ALEXANDER and Margaret A. CRINER. Any other time this might not have caught my attention.

Litha's parents appear to be the parents of someone else in my genealogical family, which meant I needed to take another look at who she was and if she had a connection to me? I brought up Litha's Dawes jacket and found an interesting statement that could not be overlooked or mistaken (in my humble opinion.) Litha had a brother by the name of William ALEXANDER!!!

William ALEXANDER was familiar for a lot of reasons; first, he emerged as one of the leaders of the Chickasaw freedmen during the 1890's. He was also the brother of the lead litigant in the lawsuit Equity Case 7071. Not only that, I have a theory that the Choctaw and Chickasaw freedmen made a concerted effort to put their leaders at the front of the line when it came to enrolling with the Dawes Commission and William ALEXANDER was enrolled on Chickasaw Freedman card number one.

To the "untrained eye" it might not appear these two are related but it has been my experience that the family connections among freedmen are complex but simple (don't say it, I know.) They were well aware of their family members and where committed to keeping their family bonds tight. Despite the fact the information appears to conflict upon further review will reveal that these two are indeed sister and brother. In the Dawes jacket for Litha PRICE, her husband of all people makes the connection to William ALEXANDER.

This information provides more clues about an issue I've been trying to resolve for years; why did some of Cornelius and Margaret's children use the surname ALEXANDER and not PICKENS? The fact that this information has Cornelius as an ALEXANDER and on the rear of Margaret Ann WILSON'S Dawes card it appears her father was Colbert ALEXANDER could indicate both at one time were enslaved by someone by that surname?

Clearly there are some issues that have to corroborated to conclude Margaret and Cornelius are the parents of Litha but what record there is, demonstrates a strong probability in favor of that conclusion.

There is one other issue that emerges as I look at the possibilities with this connection. With the possibility that Cornelius had an alias and died during the "War of the Rebellion" I continue to hold out hope he will be my first connection to the Civil War despite the fact I share no blood relationship with him. The question becomes was he involved in the United States Colored Troops as Cornelius ALEXANDER?

1 comment:

  1. This is good sleuthing on your part and shows how critical it is to examine the records from all sources. Your effort also to obtain the data from ALL in the community is a wise one, and one that others pursuing genealogical research should undertake.