Tuesday, December 11, 2018

African Trail of Tears Jerry COLBERT Chickasaw Freedman #923


African Trail of Tears

Jerry COLBERT
b. 1818 d. 11/1904
Chickasaw Freedman #923
Enslaver: Jake (Mack) COLBERT
Residence: Colbert, Indian Territory

Father: Isaac COLBERT d.
Mother: Polly COLBERT d.

As we honor those enslaved ancestors that traveled the African Trail of Tears during the removal of the Chickasaw Indians, one individual that lived to a ripe old age was Jerry COLBERT. Individuals who came to Indian Territory as enslaved people in the Chickasaw Nation provide a very good example of what it means to survive and for Jerry to live to the age of eighty or one hundred is worthy of honor.

M-1186 Chickasaw Freedman Dawes Card #923 Front

 One of Jerry’s sons Jake COLBERT provided testimony about how his father arrived in Indian Territory from Mississippi during the Chickasaw removal. In that interview a great deal of information was provided about Jerry, who was his enslaver, the name of his wife, the name of another child and where Jerry COLBERT was living.

Sometimes we can get a sense of an individual and their personality from what we read in their interviews. Jake COLBERT provides a little insight into his attitude when the interviewer asked him whether his father was “alive now?” In his response you get the sense Jake was just a little annoyed at the question when he responded; “He was day before yesterday at nine o’clock when I left there.”

The age given for Jerry COLBERT was 80 indicating he was born circa 1818 but in the interview with Jake COLBERT, Jerry he indicated Jerry may have been about 100 years old.

Jake made it clear Jerry COLBERT came to Indian Territory when he stated his father arrived with the Chickasaws “when the Indians first came to this country from Mississippi.” Jerry COLBERT may have come to Indian Territory with the Indians from Mississippi but it appears he was born in North Carolina according to the information in the 1900 United States Census.

M-1301 Interview Packet Chickasaw Freedmen card #923 pg 9

It is not clear if Mack COLBERT was the last slave owner of Jerry or his original Chickasaw Indian enslaver but it is clear even at eighty years of age, Jerry was witness to a great deal of history and upheaval regarding the Chickasaw Nation.

He was a witness and participant in the Chickasaw removal.  He would have been a middle age man anywhere from forty-three to sixty years old at the outbreak of the Civil War. Jerry would have been present when the Chickasaw Nation emancipated their enslaved people in 1866 and we know he was present when the Dawes Commission began its work to allot land to the Choctaw Freedmen, he was an eyewitness to a great deal of history.

We honor Jerry COLBERT survivor of the African Trail of Tears during the Chickasaw removal by saying his name and preserving his history, our history as a Chickasaw Freedman.



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