Monday, January 22, 2018

CHRISTIAN, Sallie Chickasaw Freedwoman #678

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks

CHRISTIAN, Sallie et al.,
Chickasaw Freedmen Card #678

It is difficult to determine just which ancestors to include or exclude for the Fifty-Two Week Ancestor Challenge because I have to choose which ancestor makes the most sense to highlight. Case in point is Sallie CHRISTIAN nee McCOY and her descendants. One key reason I make this statement is the lack of detailed information on enslaved people. Another reason I make that statement is because many of my freedmen ancestors had large families and as they branched out these families began blending with other freedmen families throughout the areas of Woodford, Milo, Newport and Berwyn, Indian Territory. As a result, I think it is wise to begin with matriarchs and patriarchs that will pave the way for future stories; Sallie McCOY-CHRISTIAN is emblematic of a matriarch with a large number of children and numerous “blended descendants.”

I begin this particular story about Sallie CHRISTIAN but it is important to recognize her parents who appear on the rear of her Dawes Card as Sealy and Dave McCOY. Both of her parents were enslaved by a Chickasaw Indian named James McCOY. Though it appears Dave was alive to apply for a land allotment, however, I have not been able to locate a Dawes Card for him.  Clearly I must rely on the information provided by Sallie if I’m going to discover any information about her enslaved parents. 

In the case of my CHRISTIAN ancestors there is quite a bit of information to unpack when telling their story so I will begin with the children in Sallie’s household. I will include her other children who have applied for their land allotment as the freedmen of the Chickasaw Nation in future articles.

When looking at the front of Dawes card #678 it is clear there were a lot of issues that were involved in this particular application for land in the Chickasaw Nation. References to a child birth, marriage and death are all indicated by notations written by the Dawes Commission clerk(s.)

Some of the important notations on the front of Dawes Card #678 are:
Name of slave owner
Place of residence
Age and any dates of birth
Proof of death dates (Vital Record included in M-1301)
Any changes of surname and names of spouses (is there another Dawes Card to search)
Evidence of marriage
Children enumerated on Minor cards (Vital Record with Birth Affidavit)
Relationship to head of household
Dawes enrollment number (will be useful in researching land allotment)
Is the parent on the rear of the card alive and do they have a Dawes Card

Is there any indication someone on the front had a Native American parent

Chickasaw Freedman Dawes Card #678 front Sallie CHRISTIAN et al.,

Chickasaw Freedman Dawes Card #678 rear 
It is important in telling the story of my ancestors that I am as comprehensive as possible but in many cases the documented record can be sparse, leaving more questions than answers for much of my family’s history. When this is the case as an Indian Territory researcher I have to look at as much information that I can to reconstruct my extended and blended family. As I stated in other articles, I’m fortunate to have ancestors who lived among the Five Slave Holding Tribes because in most cases they left a well-documented record that will help in my research.

When I look at the rear of card #678 immediately I become aware of three generations of family on this one card. I mentioned the father of Sallie who was named Dave McCOY but just below his name is the name of deceased Chickasaw Indian James McCOY who was the father of Sallie’s first son Jackson McCOY.  There were many people who indicated they had a parent that was listed as a Chickasaw citizen. However it did not mean the child would be enrolled as a citizen of their father’s nation, nor would that child receive three hundred and twenty acres of land as a citizen.

Chickasaw Freedman M-1301  #678 p6 Sallie CHRISTIAN
In the case of Jackson McCOY I had an interesting experience early on in my research of the Chickasaw Freedmen. I don’t recall the year it occurred or the name of the individual that contacted me but I was contacted by someone who was related to Chickasaw Indian Jim/James McCOY and wanted to know if I was a "descendant” of Jackson McCOY. The man indicated he “recognized” the name of Jackson McCOY as being related to Jim/James McCOY and wanted to connect with his descendants.

Once I assured him I was not a direct “descendant” of Jackson McCOY, I never heard from him again. Quite frankly, I don’t know if there are any descendants of Jackson McCOY who are living today, it would be interesting if they emerge and have submitted to DNA testing?

As I read the documents contained in the Interview packet (M-1301) of Sallie CHRISTIAN there are about twenty documents contained in it. I think it is important for the descendants of Indian Territory Freedmen to understand these documents and glean from them any genealogical information necessary for telling our story. There are three important documents for research are birth, death and marriage records; if you’re lucky you may have all three in one file.

My great-great grandmother Sallie CHRISTIAN’S M-1301 file provides genealogical information about her children and grandchildren. Included in the file is an affidavit of birth for Floy CHRISTIAN from which a great deal of information can be found. First we have the name of the parents Cliff and Beulah CHRISTIAN. The form also provides the place of residence for the parents and tribal affiliation as former slaves. The age of the mother is provided as well as the date of birth for her child. This is the kind of information genealogist thrive on and it illustrates just how valuable these documents can be.

Also included on this document is information about the mid-wife, witnesses to the birth event and the signing of the document. Not only is this welcomed genealogical information but as in this case it reveals the mid-wife to the birth was the grandmother of Floy, Sallie CHRISTIAN.

The other document that is important to researching my family in Indian Territory is a Marriage Certificate for the parents of Floy CHRISTIAN who was born two years after his parents were married on the 21st day of December 1900. For the family historian or genealogist his document is important for two reasons, it documents the date of the marriage and the maiden name of the bride.

Although these are some of the basic documents that are available to the researcher of Indian Territory Freedmen it is important to understand the purpose these records were made was to allocate land to people that documented their enslavement in the Chickasaw Nation, not the United States. For whatever reason, slavery in Indian Territory is something that consistently goes missing when discussing Native American history, African American history and more importantly, American history.  

Minor Chickasaw Freedman Card #411 Odessie & Lucretia CHRISTIAN
Because some of my ancestors were Chickasaw Freedmen their relationship to that nation was difficult because they were not adopted as citizens according to the Treaty of 1866. As such, my ancestors were treated in a manner that reinforced their status as former slaves who were not worthy of being citizens in the country of their birth. The “legal status” of the Chickasaw Freedmen as “a people without a country[i]” continued until the day Indian Territory and Oklahoma Territory became the state of Oklahoma in November of 1907.

[i] “The Chickasaw Freedmen, A People Without a Country” by Daniel F. Littlefield, Jr.

Another consequence of Chickasaw Freedmen not being adopted as citizens in the Chickasaw Nation meant some of their children were never recognized as Chickasaw Freedmen and did not receive a land allotment. Despite that indignity there was enough debate between the tribe and the United States concerning the status of these children that they generated a document that recorded their birth and the names of their parents.  This is a valuable genealogical document because it at least provides vital information about their existence that would otherwise not be available to the family researcher. 

This is important because these children will not appear on the Dawes card other than as a possible footnote. Without this record these children may not have appeared on a document until the 1910 United States Census; after Indian Territory became the state of Oklahoma in 1907.

Minor Chickasaw Freedmen #411 p6 CHRISTIAN, Odessie & Lucretia
Having looked at my ancestors on Chickasaw Freedman Card #678 it is clear I could spend a great deal of time on each one (at some time I probably will) because their descendants  require a thorough accounting for their existence.

This information will help me and other family researchers go further in discovering what we can about our ancestors and how they lived and loved during a fairly adversarial and important time in Indian Territory and Oklahoma history.

The fact that these records exist is largely due to their enslavement among Native Americans and once emancipated they would live in a rather hostile environment that was the only home they knew.

These records also exist because the twin territories stood on the precipice of becoming the new state of Oklahoma and the former slaves of the so called Five Civilized Tribes were not going to stop  the formation of the new state in November of 1907

Yes, the government sought to provide forty acres of land to a group of former slaves, something it did not do for the former slaves of the United States; however that didn’t mean they were promoting equal justice under the law when doing so. 

Land Allotment Application 32349 p15 Sallie CHRISTIAN
It should not be lost on anyone that my ancestors on Chickasaw Dawes Card #678 represented approximately four-hundred acres of land which as far as I know is no longer in the hands of present day descendants of Sallie CHRISTIAN? I would love to hear from some cousins who are familiar with the family and if they have been able to maintain ownership of their, our ancestor’s land allotments? Is there someone with photographs of these Dawes enrollees and their families? We need to reconstruct our family and it will take the effort of so many people cooperating to make sure their legacy is secure for future generations.

With the knowledge that land is important for the sustenance of their family Sallie CHRISTIAN set down roots in Woodford, Indian Territory and was determined to keep that foothold for herself and her children.

Apparently several people became involved in lawsuits trying to separate Sallie, her children and grandchildren from their land holdings. 

In the land allotment application submitted by Sallie CHRISTIAN several documents describe a hearing to determine if Sallie and some of her descendants were the rightful owners of lands that were part of an established homestead. 

From what I have seen during my research this type of action was not uncommon when it came to dispossessing freedmen from their established homes; someone with an attorney would try to come in, order the freedmen off their land and claim the developed property as their own. That is what happened in to Sallie CHRISTIAN and members of her family when a Mississippi Choctaw named Marie FAURE attempted to claim their property.

Sallie and Isaac CHRISTIAN had more children than those listed on Chickasaw Freedman Card #678 and they will be the subject of future stories. If you have a connection to Sallie CHRISTIAN and you can help with the documentation of our family I hope to hear from you. 

Surnames Appearing in Article
  • McCOY
Place Name Appearing in Article


  1. These are such important documents. I wish they were available outside of the 5 slave holding tribes. I've got tales of land grabs in my family too. Did Sallie Christian get her land back? Hope you hear from other descendants. It takes a village to reconstruct a family history.

  2. First let me thank you for taking the time to read the article and leaving a comment, it's good to see someone take the time so (we) I can get encouragement to commit to this project in particular and writing about this history in general. THANX!

    Kristin, I have not heard of any descendant that has possession of Sallie's land or any of her numerous children and/or grandchildren. I have some oral history from my father about his grandfather and the land he lost as well as the land his (my father's mother) may have lost.
    I have tons of Chickasaw and Choctaw Freedmen ancestors who were allotted land and it is unfortunate that there may not be one acre of land in the hands of their descendants. That's another story that is probably worth the research and writing about?

    I'm sure there are other families that have their origins in Indian Territory/Oklahoma who have similar stories. The land loss was probably more pronounced for those families that had members migrate out of the state and a lot of them may have been victimized by land speculators just as soon as they received their allotment? I hope to provide more insight into the history of the freedmen and their land in future articles...