Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Today in History-Tulsa Race Riot May 31, 1921

Parts 1 and 2

Father of John Hope Franklin (Buck Colbert Franklin) was a Choctaw Freedman original Dawes enrollee, his mother Millie was considered to have Choctaw blood. Prior to her death, she was in the process of gathering affidavits from people who knew her and her parents to prove her Choctaw blood.

Images from Greenwood District Tulsa, Oklahoma 2010 
All photos copyrighted 2011 by Terry Ligon

I would be interested to know how many people have read Buck Colbert Franklin's book, "My Life and an Era?" It could make a great group read for all those who research Indian Territory Freedmen. Not sure how you set up a group read but it could be fun, interesting and very informative, especially if you are a Choctaw or Chickasaw Freedmen descendant. Shoot me an email if you have an interest:

Put (My Life or B.C. Colbert) in the subject line

Storefront on Greenwood Street Tulsa, Oklahoma

Office of Dr. Wesley Jones 103 N Greenwood Ave. Destroyed 1921 Not Reopened

Storefronts on Greenwood Ave. Tulsa, OK. (New minor league baseball park in background.)

Commemorative plaques are placed along the avenue to indicate the businesses that formerly existed at these locations.As a result of the "Race Riot" in 1921, many businesses were destroyed; some rebuilt and reopened, many did not. Today the area is growing again only to serve the customer's of the new minor league baseball stadium constructed nearby. 

Dr. J.M. Key 103 1/2 N Greenwood Ave. Destroyed 1921 Reopened

Dixie Theater 120 N Greenwood Ave. Destroyed 1921

Bryant Building Historic Greenwood Business District

Royal Hotel 101 N. Greenwood Ave Destroyed & Rebuilt

Dr. R.T. Bridgewater 103 N. Greenwood Ave. Destroyed 1921 Reopened

Monday, May 30, 2011

Warriors of Oklahoma

From the Civil War to the Korean War; before Oklahoma was part of the United States, men and women of African descent have fought and given their lives for this country.

From a chef in the Navy to a Tuskegee Airman, Indian Territory and Oklahoma has been represented in the military of the United States.

Like Charles P.R. Brown, many gave their life so others could realize their dreams as full citizens and we are eternally grateful for their sacrifice.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Timeline Thursday-Blacks Among the Five Civilized Tribes 1865-1879

Andrew Johnson
Brady-Handy Photograph Collection
(Library of Congress)

1865-Andrew  Johnson 1808-1875; 17th U.S. President (1865-1869) With the Assassination of Lincoln , the Presidency fell upon an old-fashioned southern Jacksonian Democrat of pronounced states' rights views. Although an honest and honorable man, Andrew Johnson was one of the most unfortunate of Presidents. Arrayed against him were the Radical Republicans in Congress, brilliantly led and ruthless in their tactics. Johnson was no match for them

March 1, 1865 Bettie Love-Ligon born in Burneyville, Indian Territory, Bettie was the daughter of Robert Howard Love a” mixed blood” Chickasaw citizen and Margaret Ann Wilson, a “mixed blood” enslaved woman. Bettie became the lead litigant in a law suit (Equity Case 7071); that sought to transfer approximately 2000 individuals from the Choctaw and Chickasaw Freedmen Dawes Rolls to the “Citizens by blood” rolls of the respective nation of one of their Choctaw or Chickasaw Indian parent.

July 1868-Choctaw and Chickasaw Freedmen petition Congress for their removal and payment of the $300,000 for use in their removal from the Choctaw and Chickasaw Freedmen. (Senate Executive Document 82; 40th Congress, 2nd Session)

Ulysses S. GrantBrady-Handy Photograph Collection
(Library of Congress)
1869-Ulysses Simpson Grant 1822-1885; 18th President U.S. (1869-1877) and Civil War General; When he was elected, the American people hoped for an end to turmoil. Grant provided neither vigor nor reform. Looking to Congress for direction, he seemed bewildered.

March 1870- Letter of Secretary of War; Report of S. N. Clark special agent of
Freedmen’s Bureau on condition of Choctaw and Chickasaw

January 1872-Choctaw Freedmen petition Congress; “Your petitioners, freedmen of the Choctaw Nation, feel grateful to the Government of the United States for the blessings of freedom, and are not willing to be adopted by the Choctaw Nation, or become citizens of any Indian nation, government, or power that claims to be foreign. to the Government of the United States, but desire to be and remain citizens of the United States, and enjoy all the rights and privileges enjoyed by any other class of citizens."

Cyrus Harris
Governor Chickasaw Nation
Chronicles of Oklahoma
February 1873- Chickasaw Nation, dated the 23d ultimo, together with a letter addressed to the President of the United States, by Cyrus Harris, governor of said nation, dated the 10th ultimo, transmitting an act of the Chickasaw legislature providing for the adoption of Negroes in the Chickasaw country, referred to in the third article of the treaty with the Choctaws and Chickasaws, concluded April 28, 1866

June 1873-C. Delano Secretary of the Department of the Interior wishes A. Parsons, U. S. Agent for the Choctaws and Chickasaw to be notified of the law regarding freedmen in Indian Territory. He says they are afforded the same protection and punishment as is provided for Choctaws and Chickasaws.

March 1874 – Editorial; the 14th amendment to the Constitution has made freedmen and not the Indians, citizens of the United States

July 1875-Two more colored schools are to be established in the Choctaw Nation, one at Scullyville and one at Doaksville.

Rutherford B. Hayes
Brady-Handy Photograph Collection

1876- Rutherford Birchard Hayes 1822-1893; 19th U.S. President (1877-1881); technically lost election but took office after Compromise of 1877 with Democrats. Rutherford B. Hayes had little political power during his four years in office, he narrowly won the White House by one vote after the Compromise of 1877. The Democrats ceded the White House to the Republicans for an end to Reconstruction in the South.

May 1876-There are more than 300 colored voters in the Creek Nation who were once slaves in the tribe.

April 1878-Sugar George Esq., attorney and counselor at law practicing before the courts of the Creek nation, visited Eufaula last Saturday April 20, 1878, looking after ways and means to build the new school for the colored students of the nation. Three thousand dollars was appropriated by the council for that purpose.

Indian Journal April 24, 1878 p5 c2

April 1878-R.A. Leslie, an educated Creek Indian who for some time has had charge of a school at Summit, Mississippi, is expected to open a school for colored children at Muskogee about July 1st. 

April 1879-The Choctaws and Chickasaws paid the U. S. Government $300,000 to remove the Negroes from their nations in 1866. A commission will meet at Caddo April 14th 1879, to urge fulfillment of contract.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Timeline Thursday-Blacks Among the Five Civilized Tribes

April 1828-Cherokee Law was enacted by National Council, prohibiting slaves from owning livestock. It provides for confiscation of their livestock after 12 months from date of enactment.

September 27, 1830-1833 - Choctaw Nation agreed to Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek; becoming first of the Five Civilized Tribes to begin removal to Indian Territory. By 1833 the majority of the Choctaw Nation had been relocated to their new home in southeastern Indian Territory (now the state of Oklahoma.)

Map of Chickasaw and Choctaw Nations
Don Martini, Who's Who Among Southeastern Indians 1698-1907
Fall and Winter -1833-1837 Creek Nation followers of McIntosh known as the lower Creeks emigrated on the Arkansas River near the mouth of the Verdigris in Indian Territory. The majority of the Creeks known as the Upper Creeks, followed their leader Opothleyaholo and located in the area known as Eufaula.

Fall and Winter 1837-1838Chickasaw Nation completed migration to new home in Western part of Choctaw domain the wealthy mixed bloods brought with them large numbers of black chattel slaves. The largest Chickasaw settlement in Choctaw Country was located on the Boggy and Blue rivers. The wealthier “half-breeds” settled near Fort Towson practicing large scale cotton farming and other products. Col. George Colbert had under cultivation anywhere from three to five hundred acres of cotton with the use of one hundred and fifty slaves.

August 1838 - The vast majority of surviving Cherokee arrived in the northeastern part of Indian Territory following many of the mixed blood affluent Cherokee’s who arrived earlier and settled on Honey Creek who embarked in merchandising, agriculture and raising live stock.

Map of Creek, Seminole & Cherokee Nations (Indian Territory)
Don Martini, Who's Who Among the Southeastern Indians 1698-1907

Winter 1841-March 1842 Chief Mikanopy of the Seminole Nation established a residence with his followers on Deep Fork other bands located themselves on the Arkansas River, Near Fort Gibson and the Little River at the western extreme of the Seminole Nation.

M234 Chickasaw Emigration Roll 242 Frame 134

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Records Show No Documented Evidence… part 3

…for enrollment as citizens by blood of the Chickasaw Nation

There is another question that arises from all of this; the great grandfather of Calvin, Agnes, Ed and Isaac would have been born prior to 1818; the Dawes records were generated eighty years later in 1898-99. For the great grandchildren of Zilphia (Silpha) their deceased grandmother, Lydia their deceased mother AND Thomas their "alleged" great grandfather having knowledge of this man would imply some family history being passed down three generations. 

Photo of Edmond Humdy descendants; courtesy of Julia Powers

One of the last notations contained in Father Stuart’s Monroe Mission is dated in September of 1837. We know historically many Chickasaw’s began migrating to Indian Territory and took with them their slaves. The COLBERT’S being some of the largest if not largest slave holding family in the Chickasaw Nation was no exception.

There is also "evidence" around the time of the last entry which included the woman named Silpha (Zilphia;) she appears to be part of the party moving west of the Mississippi. If she was a member of the COLBERT party we don’t know. If she was in fact Zilphia the grandmother of the HUMDY children we don’t know. The majority of the people during this period were illiterate and blacks generally did not leave written records which gave the Dawes Commission free rein to dispute the oral history of people like Calvin HUMDY more than sixty years later. 

E.T. Winston; Father Stuart and the Monroe Mission p41

It is remarkable and revealing that according to the records attributed to Thomas COLBERT, he too immigrated to Indian Territory in 1837. Could it be true, the story told by Calvin HUMDY that his mother was the daughter of Thomas and Zilphia (Silpha)? We don’t know but the records seem to indicate there may be some truth in the story; it will take a great deal more research for a resolution.

Don Martini Who's Who Among Southeastern Indians, A Genealogical Notebook 1698-1907 p158

What I would consider to be another significant part of the HUMDY oral history is the story of how Lydia the mother of Calvin, Agnes, Ed and Isaac HUMDY came to Indian Territory from Mississippi.

Joe and Dillard Perry File# F-192; Calvin Humdy et al p1

Calvin as the eldest child relates the story of his mother coming to “Indian Territory with the COLBERT family when they left the state of Mississippi for the Choctaw Nation.” Interestingly enough there are other records that seem to support his claim. These records are known as the emigration rolls, M234. They don’t specifically mention the names of the people other than head of household; however, there is anecdotal information to support Calvin’s oral history.

M234 ; Roll 144 Frame 252

The emigration of several COLBERT family members to the Chickasaw District in the Choctaw Nation is a record I’m fairly certain Calvin HUMDY had no knowledge, yet his oral testimony in his transfer case F-192 clearly points to this record.

The idea Lydia considered her identity as a Chickasaw and recognized as such is not unusual for the transfer cases; I’ve seen many instances of people seeing themselves as Indian so Lydia HUMDY is no exception.

Photo of  Edmond Humdy Courtesy of Julia Powers

The history of the Chickasaw Nation and their involvement in slavery is a chapter yet to be written. Their laws that forbade intermarriage with “anyone of African descent” proved to be a barrier for a lot of people who now claim Chickasaw blood but are denied because of the politics of race and identity in the nation and the country.

We may never know the truth about whether Thomas COLBERT was the father of Zilphia, the grandfather of Lydia and the great grandfather of Calvin, Agnes, Ed and Isaac HUMDY; the record is not conclusive.

We can only speculate why the Dawes Commission chose to include in their record an obvious misstatement of the facts to deny and prevent the transfer of the HUMDY’S; like hundreds of other “African-Chickasaw” people solely because their maternal line was considered to be of African descent. 

When the commissioners and tribal authorities ignored the very laws of descent they used to admit “whites” as “citizens by blood” they perpetrated a great crime against the very people they had an obligation to protect. At some point, we can only hope that today’s citizens and the nation’s leaders look to their history and change this miscarriage of justice?

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Record Shows No Documented Evidence… part 2

…for enrollment as citizens by blood of the Chickasaw Nation

In part one of “The Records Show No Documented Evidence” I illustrated why there was a probability Calvin, Agnes, Ed and Isaac HUMDY were the great grand children of Thomas COLBERT; a Chickasaw Indian. The purpose of the article was to demonstrate how the Dawes Commission failed to protect the rights of the claimants based on the Commission's perception Calvin, Agnes, Ed and Isaac were not descendants of a Chickasaw Indian.

With the real possibility the Dawes Commission chose to ignore the one piece of information that would have corroborated the application of Calvin HUMDY et al; I think there is additional information that if nothing else, gives a full accounting of this family’s connection to the COLBERT family and not just as their slaves.

One of the key elements of the Dawes Commission’s basis for refusing the application for transfer to the Chickasaw by Blood roll was their contention that the ages of the applicants; Calvin, Ed, Isaac and Agnes HUMDY. The Commission concluded from their examination of the 1878 Annuity Rolls, Calvin HUMDY having been born in 1848, made it impossible for him to be the great grandson of ANY man named Thomas COLBERT. The Dawes Commission’s claim was there were ONLY three Thomas COLBERT’S listed and the ONLY Thomas COLBERT’S with the possibility of being the HUMDY’S great grandfather.

It is my opinion the Commission either knew better or was just ignorant of the records that would have supported the claim that Zilphia the grandmother of Calvin, Ed, Isaac and Agnes was in fact the daughter of a Chickasaw by the name of Thomas (Tommy) COLBERT!

The Dawes Commissioner was playing fast and loose with the truth. The Thomas COLBERT’S they looked at more than likely were not the father of Zilphia. However, clearly there was one son of Major James COLBERT listed on the 1818 Chickasaw census (a record the Commission should have had) that clearly was a possibility.

Apparently this Thomas (Tommy) was completely ignored as a “possibility for being the father of Zilphia and the great grandfather of Calvin, Ed, Isaac and Agnes HUMDY. It was probable one of the seven slaves in his household enumerated in 1839 was in fact Zilphia.

We don’t know from these records whether Zilphia was in Thomas’ household. We don’t know how Samuel and Robert came into possession of Zilphia’s daughter Lydia and Thomas’ great-grandchildren Calvin, Ed, Isaac and Agnes. However we do know there was a connection between all of the COLBERT slave owners; they were brothers and the sons of Major James COLBERT and all of them were enumerated on the 1818 Chickasaw census. How the Dawes Commission missed this is a “mystery?”

I will be the first to say none of these records prove conclusively, Zilphia or Lydia are the descendants of Thomas COLBERT. Unfortunately for many Choctaw and Chickasaw Freedmen descendants who have an ancestor that attempted to be transferred to the blood rolls trying to establish that connection is daunting.

We have yet to discover family records of the slave owners that could shed some light on this subject but clearly when you look at the "circumstantial" evidence  and put it into the context of 19th and 20th century racial politics it is no wonder these people who may have as much "Indian blood" if not more than those on the rolls today is a story yet to be told.

There is another record that could be significant to establishing the connection of Zilphia and Lydia to the COLBERT family.

The records of the Monroe Mission written by Father Thomas Stuart contain some very interesting information. The Monroe Mission is not so unique for some churches during the antebellum period. It is a place where we discover slave and slave owner practicing their religion under the same roof. The records of the Monroe Mission offer another possible connection of Zilphia and Lydia to the COLBERT family who were members of the church.

Again, much of this is speculation on my part but as a “genealogist” of “Black” genealogy, I’m left to speculate with some of the records to get me to my destination. With that said, as one of my “mentors” (you know who you are,) proclaims “speling dusn’t kount.”

I say spelling doesn’t count because in the Monroe Mission Church records we see a “colored woman” by the name of Silpha who becomes a church member in 1828. If this is Zilphia then we have another record that puts her in the same church as the COLBERT family with the distinct possibility of being Samuel or Thomas COLBERT’S slave?

Again, the Monroe Mission church records of Father Thomas Stuart illustrates how the slave and slave owner at least worshiped together in what was describes as a building no larger than sixteen feet by sixteen feet. Through the years much of their church life and in some cases their personal and private lives were documented in the church records if it involved their "spiritual development."

I have to stress the fact that none of these records are definitive but they clearly demonstrate the probability of a direct connection and possibility Thomas COLBERT could have been the great grand father of Calvin, Agnes, Ed and Isaac HUMDY. The record implies a certain familiarity between the slaves and their owners that allowed them to worship under the same roof and maybe have more of an interpersonal relationship that would not have shown up in the "official records" of the Chickasaw Nation. 

To be continued in part three...

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.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Black and Red Journal: Considered One of 11 Essential Genealogy Blogs

I am totally humbled to be considered an "essential genealogy blog!" I truly appreciate the author pointing out how I document my articles; it was the words of Dr. Daniel F. Littlefield that motivated me to learn this history and document it with the facts.

The following comment means so much to me because it is what I strive to do with each article:

"His meticulous posts are fascinating reading and he’s particularly good at supplying supporting documents and photos. If you’re thinking of starting a blog about your own family investigations, Terry’s would be good to emulate."

All I can say is WOW! They just made my day!!! Thank You!

11 Essential Genealogy Blogs

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Family Is A Patch Work Quilt

Evelyn Brown-Norwood and her grandson Chance Brown are artists; one creates art with paint, crayon and charcoal to create beautiful portraits of a variety of people.

The other creates tapestries of beauty in her quilts that are intricately beautiful with color and design. Together their story illustrates how two generations have a creative skill that is a bond only separated by age.

The Brown family is a Patch Work of people and it is a joy to see their work presented together for the first time.

Both have given me permission to present a small sample of their work for which I am honored and eternally grateful.