Thursday, January 11, 2018

Joe FREEMAN 1829-19?? 52 Ancestors in 52 Week Challenge


M 1186 Choctaw Freedman Card #1422 Front
There is not a great deal of information about my great great grandfather Joe FREEMAN from family members but there is a small amount of information that we do know that was gathered from the Dawes allotment records. His age is given as seventy years when he filed for his land allotment in 1899 allowing us to speculate on his year of birth as 1829. Joe is one of the oldest living ancestors I found among the Dawes records but he was not the oldest. One other thing, I carry his name with me as my middle name; something I was unaware of when I began researching my family’s genealogical history almost thirty years ago.

Joe FREEMAN'S Dawes card provides some valuable clues that can be useful in efforts to discover additional information about Joe and his past. First it is shown he was enslaved by a Choctaw Indian named Brit WILLIS and in 1896 Joe established his tribal citizenship in Atoka County, Indian Territory. It was noted that in 1896 Joe FREEMAN had a tribal citizenship number 1457 and his postal address was given as Boggy Depot, Indian Territory.

There is one other notation on this card that can be important for future research about Joe FREEMAN. In the bottom left corner is a stamp that provides the approval date of enrollment in the Choctaw Nation as of June 23, 1904. The reason that is important is it means he lived at least until the enumeration of the United States 1900 Census. The thing to do now is to try and locate him in the Atoka area of the Choctaw Nation as well as locating his land allotment in or near the same area.
The rear of his Dawes card provides the names of his parents with hopes that will help drill down on more ancestors associated with Joe FREEMAN.

M 1186 Choctaw Freedman Card #1422 Rear
The rear of Choctaw Freedman Card #1422 does offer some more information about Joe, the FREEMAN family and possibly where they have ties. Unfortunately the name of Joe’s father is only given as FREEMAN and he is deceased but his mother’s name is provided. Joe’s mother is deceased but thankfully her name is provided as Charlotte FREEMAN and like Joe she was enslaved by Choctaw Indian Brit WILLIS. At some point it will be necessary to conduct research on Brit WILLIS and see what information may be available for Charlotte and Joe’s unknown father?

The information provided on the Dawes card was generated from a conversation or interview conducted by Dawes Commissioners and it is always beneficial to take a look at the interview jacket also known as M-1301. Like so many Dawes Commission interviews the packet provides only a summarized version of the interview. Information about Joe FREEMAN as a slave in the Choctaw Nation is indicates Joe considered himself the slave of Brit WILLIS’ first wife and not Brit WILLIS. 

M 1301 Choctaw Freedman Interview Packet #1422 p3 Joe FREEMAN 
The next document that provided some information on Joe FREEMAN is the 1900 census conducted in the Choctaw Nation. According to the Dawes card for Joe FREEMAN we know he resided in Atoka County in 1899. We also know from his allotment certificate he received his forty acre allotment in section 36, Township 2 South, Range 9 East. The land description was used in the early censuses for Indian Territory and that is where I looked for Joe FREEMAN in the 1900 Census.

1900 U.S. Census Indian Territory, Choctaw Nation, Atoka County E.D. 182; T2S, R9E pg15A, lines 11 & 12

Application for Land Allotment Joe FREEMAN #4703 p8

Joe FREEMAN had many children and I have been able to identify a possible ten by three different women. On the 1900 census we see he has a wife named Rhoda who is listed as fifty-five years of age and is attributed with giving birth to eight children but only one child was living in 1900. I have yet to determine if any of her children were fathered by Joe and I don’t know if she was a Choctaw Freedwoman but the census does indicate she was born circa 1845 in Indian Territory. 

The other significant piece of information in the 1900 census is the place where Joe and his mother were born. Joe states he was born in Mississippi indicating a strong possibility he came to Indian Territory as a child during the so called "Trail of Tears." The census has Joe's mother Charlotte as being born in Virginia. Those two points of information indicate that Joe's mother was possibly sold to someone in Mississippi where she gave birth to Joe. The document seems to be consistent in the fact that Joe FREEMAN did not know the name of his father because in that column his father's name is noted as unknown.

The earliest recorded birth year for one of his children is circa 1858 just a couple of years before the Civil War meaning that child was born as a slave in the Choctaw Nation. Unfortunately there isn’t a lot of information about the various relationships Joe FREEMAN had with the women who gave birth to his children but many lived to enroll as Choctaw Freedmen and I will include them in the story of the FREEMAN clan during the 52 Week Ancestor Writing Program. 

It is not known if Joe FREEMAN had any siblings that lived among the Choctaw Indians but the search continues…

SURNAMES mentioned in this article:



  1. Enjoyed reading about your Freeman's. My mother descends from the lines of Freeman men that are Native American Indian Y-DNA Haplogroup Q-M3.We are still looking to see which Freeman man is the father of her great-grandfather, Marion Washington Dennis/Freeman, born ca. 1855 in AL or FL; and in TX between 1870 census and 1880 census.