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?


  1. I think the depth of your research, backed up by documentary evidence is just superb. Your use documentation and the answers you glean from it are helping to point me in new directions in my research - your posts are pushing me to ask more questions of the documents I find.

    I'm so glad I found your blog :)

  2. Very interesting series. I really enjoyed reading it. I don't know much about the Chickasaw, since I am Cherokee, but I have come across some similar histories for the Cherokee freedmen. If you have never read about him, look up George Hammer Brown. He was put on the by blood roll but his siblings through the same Cherokee parent (who I think, in this case, was their mother) were put on the freedmen roll. I believe all the siblings received an Eastern Cherokee payment due to having a Cherokee ancestor on the census of 1835. People might not like to admit it, but in the cases of the freedmen, I believe many times, they were placed on the roll based on their appearance and their ancestry was often ignored.

  3. as a relative of the humdy family (calvin)i thank you for the historical fact-finding you are doing. it has helped me in placing them in my family tree and our connection. (hes my paternal grandfather of wife of 1st cousin 1x removed)

  4. Thank you all for your generous comments, as I grow in the knowledge of this history I am only pushed to discover AND share more of what I learn.

    Chris, I recognize the Antwine name as a freedmen family, is that how they relate to the Humdy's? No doubt you are going to discover more layers to your family's history; enjoy the journey...

  5. I really enjoyed this series of posts on the Humdy family. My curiosity about a headstone at a little cemetery has lead to my learning about the Freedman and more about the Chickasaw. Thank you so much for all you do and for the quality of your research.