Thursday, September 16, 2010

Bettie's List - NEWBERRY & McGEE

The testimony of Dawes Commissioner A. S. McKennon is instructive for researchers who have an interest in Equity Case 7071. His statements reveal an incredible scenario where he purports not receiving any complaints by “African-Native individuals who were placed on the freedmen roll but insisted they were entitled to citizenship by blood based on their genealogical connections to someone who was considered a Choctaw or Chickasaw by blood.

There is one other curious revelation contained in the testimony of Commissioner McKennon; the man conducting the questioning before the Senate Committee, Melven Cornish was the stenographer in the same tent where McKennon is taking the testimony for enrollment. The reason Cornish is conducting the examination is because at the time of the hearing he had become the attorney for the Chickasaw Nation with the task of keeping a particular class of people off the citizen by blood roll.

The fact that McKennon and Cornish were taking enrollment information from African-Native people and placing them on the freedmen roll did not mean there was no complaints of an ancestor who was a Chickasaw or Choctaw Indian; in fact on many of the cards of the people McKennon and Cornish enrolled listed a parent (the overwhelming majority males) possessed Choctaw or Chickasaw blood.

For McKennon to insist that not a single individual sought inclusion on the blood roll is to demonstrate he was not present at the "citizen by blood tent" when and if someone applied for enrollment under that category. The Dawes Freedmen enrollment cards clearly demonstrated that these individuals gave McKennon and his stenographer Melven Cornish the names of the their parent and included the fact that the parent was either a Choctaw or Chickasaw Indian. It is only through the testimony of Charles Cohee, Thomas Norman and W. L. Bennett that we see the Dawes Commission took the position to ignore and not record any other evidence that might demonstrate that these men and women were descendants of Choctaw and Chickasaw Indians.

Caldonia Newberry Chickasaw Freedmen Card# 235 gave testimony her father was Benjamin Love who was a prominent citizen of the Chickasaw Nation and major slave owner. Caldonia and her children fought for years to be included as citizens by blood based on being descendants of Colonel Benjamin Love and yet, McKennon would have us believe he never heard of anyone seeking to be enrolled as a by blood citizen. Other African-Native people like Bettie Ligon, who would have been considered kin to Benjamin Love the man that brought her mother Margaret Ann Wilson to Indian Territory as a slave because Bettie’s father Robert Howard Love was kin to Benjamin Love.

This culture of Choctaw and Chickasaw men fathering children with women of African and African-Native descent during slavery or following the Civil War was repeated throughout Indian Territory and for the children who possessed the blood of their father’s somehow quietly going along with the enrollment process without objecting is difficult to believe because in some cases the father of these children made an effort to have their children enrolled on the citizen by blood rolls like Jesse McGee

Jesse and his freedman wife Dora were adamant about their children being placed on the on the Chickasaw by blood roll and waged an ongoing battle to have them listed as such. It remains to be seen if any of the descendants of Jesse McGee are citizens of the Chickasaw Nation today?

For more information and documentation follow link below:


  1. Yes we are citizens of the Chickasaw Nation Larry Taylor son of Q.Z. Taylor daughter of Mattie Lee daughter of Mattie Mcgee daughter of Jesse and Dora Mcgee

    1. I'm Derrick Smith grandson of Sylvia Lee daughter of Mattie Lee grand daughter of Jesse and Dora McGee. Myself and my children the youngest being 4 yrs old are citizens of the Chickasaw Nation.

    2. Greetings Derrick & Larry

      I'm glad to see the battle for citizenship was realized for the children and other descendants of Jesse and Dora McGEE. Their struggle demonstrates that the ALL the children of male Chickasaw's by blood should have received the same citizenship and land allotment.

      I hope as Chickasaw citizens you join with other like citizens and voice a concern for the nation to recognize ALL of those who have Chickasaw ancestry and move away from the antebellum notion that a child's race can ONLY be determine by the "race" of their mother.