Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Record Shows No Documented Evidence… part 1

...for enrollment for citizens by blood of the Chickasaw Nation...

My years of research into the Choctaw and Chickasaw freedmen continues to reveal interesting discoveries about the people and their struggles to emerge from slavery. My personal interest in the people who claimed to have an ancestor of Choctaw or Chickasaw blood citizenship continues to demonstrate how this particular class of individuals were thwarted by the tribes and the United States government in their attempts at being recognized as "citizens by blood." Central to their struggles was the period of enrollment and for many it involved their assertion of identity for their rights as citizens within the nation of their birth.

In the case of Calvin Humdy et al, information about him and his extended family's claims of Chickasaw ancestry reveal the obstacles they met and which ultimately defeated their claim despite a clear probability great grandfather was Chickasaw Indian Thomas (Tommy) COLBERT.

Joe & Dillard Perry Database #F-192 Calvin HUMDY et al pg 1
Document supplied by Julia POWERS

Crucial to the claim of Calvin, Ed, Isaac and Agnes HUMDY is the claim their great grandfather was Tommy COLBERT; “a recognized Chickasaw Indian citizen.” Like so many other African-Chickasaw Indian who had an ancestor identified as a citizen, the HUMDY’S were denied their claim basically because their mother Lydia was "allegedly"  held as a slave. 

Joe & Dillard Perry Database #F-192 Calvin HUMDY et al pg 13
Document supplied by Julia POWERS

In practically every instance where an individual had a male Indian ancestor, the record is deemed not to "show evidence" an application was made or the applicant made no effort to claim "Indian blood.

In a letter from the Dawes Commission they make two statements that upon further research seem to be at odds with the documented evidence in this case. First, it is alleged by the Dawes Commission that “NO” application was made for citizenship “prior” to 1902. 

The second states “the record contains no documentary evidence to show that application has ever been made by or on behalf of such of the petitioners as have been enrolled as freedmen, for enrollment as citizens by blood of the Chickasaw Nation prior to March 5, 1906…” 

The third and in my opinion the most dubious of all statements was the Dawes Commissioners claim that Calvin HUMDY being born about 1848 made him and all of his siblings to old to be the great grandson of a man by the name of Thomas COLBERT. 

Joe & Dillard Perry Database #F-192 Calvin HUMDY et al pg 4
Document supplied by Julia POWERS
The Dawes Commission and Chickasaw Nations insistence that the HUMDY’S were never recognized by the tribal authorities of the Chickasaw Nation as a citizen by blood or admitted to citizenship in the nation by “any duly constituted court or citizenship committee of said nation, or the Commission to the Five Civilized Tribes, or the United States Court…” was nothing more than a smoke screen if they had an ancestor who was a recognized citizen. The mandate of the Dawes Commission was to make “correct” rolls of Chickasaw citizens AND “their descendants!”

The commission and the tribes simply ignored the laws that determined "descent" and came up with the antebellum idea a person's "race" is determined by the "race" of the mother.

Senate Report 5013 part 2, pg 1500
As in most cases of the “transfer cases” not much information is revealed to the research on the Dawes card and in the case of the HUMDY siblings both of their parents were deceased at the time of the Dawes enrollment process. Additionally, in many “transfer cases” there is an indication on the rear of the card that an immediate parent (generally male) is an “Indian” or “Indian citizen.” None of this is present on these four cards. The one thing that is present; is the name of their last enslaver; Sam COLBERT or in the case of Agnes HUMDY-JONES, Robert COLBERT.

Further research may have uncovered how the Dawes Commission and Chickasaw Nation manipulated and/or ignored evidence that could have supported the HUMDY’S application for a transfer to the “citizen by blood” roll.

Naturally the 1860 Arkansas Slave Schedules were more than likely not used to determine a former slave’s ancestry and admittedly they don't serve as substantial evidence to prove ancestry. However they do add interesting circumstantial support for the claim Zilphia, the great grandmother of the HUMDY siblings was a “mixed breed” slave woman and quite possibly the child of Thomas COLBERT.

As mentioned before, all of the slave owner’s of the HUMDY children with the exception of Agnes, was Samuel COLBERT. The slave owner of Agnes was named Robert COLBERT. The 1860 Arkansas Slave Schedule for Pickens County list the slaves owned by Samuel COLBERT and their ages! Calvin would be about twelve years old in 1860, Ed would have been approximately eight at the time and Isaac the youngest would be about two years of age.

The question now becomes are their any individuals owned by Samuel who are near those ages and more importantly how are they described? Remember, these are the great grandchildren of a “mixed breed” slave woman and quite possibly considered "mulatto?”

1860 Arkansas Slave Schedule Chickasaw District, Pickens County 

Remarkably, this schedule list several children who come very close to meeting the criteria for the three male children of Lydia HUMDY. They are listed as (M) mulatto and are the approximate ages of Calvin, Ed and Isaac. In addition there is one female listed, age approximately 35 years and mulatto who "could be" Lydia, the mother of Calvin, Ed, Isaac and Agnes?

I’ve always found the 1860 Slave Schedules informative when looking for “transfer cases.” The document is one generated from information supplied by the slave owner or someone familiar with his or her business. If they supplied the information indicating a man, woman or child is “mulatto” to me it acknowledges something the former slaves later asserted in their attempts to demonstrate their “mixed” ancestry that appears to have been common knowledge.

The question of Agnes being a mulatto slave owned by Robert COLBERT should be something that can be tested as well with the 1860 Arkansas Slave Schedules? The one thing I can’t say with any authority is the person listed on the slave schedule is the person in question but again, these records were generated by the slave owner not the slave and they can only be circumstantial evidence at best. Having said all of that, what does the census for Robert COLBERT tell us?

1860 Arkansas Slave Schedule Chickasaw District, Panola County

Here again we see circumstantial evidence of a “female, mulatto” child approximately nine years of age (10) owned by Robert COLBERT who could very well be Agnes.Remember, this is 1860, the eve of the Civil War and quite possibly Agnes' "last owner?" We also know that Robert, Samuel and Thomas COLBERT were brothers and it would not have been uncommon for them to own slaves previously owned by a sibling or relative.

This does not prove these are the people in question but it does lend some support to the claim denied by the Dawes Commission about whether the children of Lydia HUMDY and the grandchildren of Zilphia, are who they say they are! 

I will explore more documentation on the claim of Calvin, Ed, Isaac and Agnes HUMDY in part two of this article.

Man on far left with guitar is Jack HUMDY son of Edmond HUMDY and Ann SHANNON
Photo courtesy of Julia POWERS used with permission.

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