Friday, February 22, 2019

Indian Territory/Oklahoma Historic Landmarks #FreedmenFriday

Indian Territory/Oklahoma Historic Landmarks

I was on the phone earlier this week speaking with a man who wanted to get permission to refer to a blog post I wrote about Jehovah Baptist Church. His reason for the request was based on the 150th Anniversary of the church and a program they were planning for March of this year.

After thinking about all of the effort Oklahoma puts into recognizing “Oklahoma All Black Towns” I was not aware of their recognition of Indian Territory Freedmen landmarks, settlements, buildings or institutions.

Now that is not to say the state doesn’t recognize the history of Indian Territory Freedmen, I’m just not aware of them and considering that a church that established by Choctaw and Chickasaw Freedmen approximately three years following their “emancipation” I would think that church should be recognized at least by the Oklahoma Historical Society.

The ground on which the church sits is a cemetery that the sacred remains of many Chickasaw and Choctaw Freedmen lay in rest. It is also the resting place for Chickasaw Indians like Amanda ABRAM Chickasaw by Blood #610
M 1186 Chickasaw by Blood #610 
Considering there are other individuals who have attended this historic church and have been laid to rest on the soil of their ancestors it is vitally important that this history and the history of this institution is recognized and preserved for generations to come.

There other important people who have left a mark on Indian Territory and Oklahoma history and you will find their presence on these hallowed grounds. If you are a student of Chickasaw Indians and Chickasaw Freedmen you undoubtedly have heard the names of Dora and Jesse McGEE,

One of the oldest original Chickasaw Freedmen interred in Jehovah Cemetery is Maria FRANKLIN a sister of Amanda ABRAM’S husband Ed ABRAM (Chickasaw Freedman Card #699.)
M 1886 Chickasaw Freedman #600
I don’t know the status of the church and it’s cemetery as far as a historical landmark but I do know as a Chickasaw and Choctaw Freedmen descendant we need to recognize and preserve our history.

There are other cemeteries that are being taken back by nature like the one I visited years ago that was the resting place for United States Color Troop Soldier Thomas BLACKWATER at the Brazil Cemetery and the cemetery in Berwyn (Gene Autry) that is the resting place for Chickasaw leader Charles COHEE. I find it difficult that the descendants of these heroes and she-roes are not insuring the preservation of these sacred sites.

As we celebrate Black History Month we need to know, why isn’t the state of Oklahoma showing the same zeal to recognize and preserve these sites as part of the history of Indian Territory and the state of Oklahoma as they “proudly” proclaim the “All Black Towns of Oklahoma?

More importantly, why are we as descendants of Indian Territory Freedmen preserving and celebrating our long history and historic sites in Indian Territory and the state of Oklahoma?


Place Names
Jehovah Missionary Baptist Church
Calvary Cemetery
Jehovah Cemetery

Milo, Indian Territory

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

William ALEXANDER Chickasaw Freedmen #1

Chickasaw Freedmen #1


During the 1890’s many men and women became advocates and leaders in the Chickasaw and Choctaw Freedmen community. One of those individuals to emerge as a leader in their community was the brother of my great grandmother William ALEXANDER. During the tumultuous time when Chickasaw Freedmen were organizing he was a member of the Chickasaw Freedmen Association led by Charles COHEE.

Like so many of my ancestors there is not a full and complete record available so he can be recognized for his contributions but within his Dawes file there is some information that allows us to get a general feel for his participation in the advocacy for Chickasaw Freedmen citizenship and land allotment.

The fact that William and his family was enumerated on Chickasaw Freedman card number one demonstrates to me he was showing the way for other freedmen as they sought to be recognized as people who had a legitimate right to be included on the Dawes Rolls and leave a record for their descendants who are now engaging in the research to reclaim their history.

M1186 Chickasaw Freedmen Card #01 ALEXANDER, William Front
William ALEXANDER was born during War of Rebellion in Indian Territory to Cornelius PICKENS and Margaret Ann WILSON. It is believed his birthplace was Burneyville, Indian Territory in Pickens County. Like other freedmen he migrated north and settled in the community of Purcell, Indian Territory.

During his testimony before the Dawes Commission William informed the commissioner that his father died sometime during the war but it is not clear if Cornelius was a soldier and there are no clues to the circumstances of his death.
M1301 Chickasaw Freedmen Card #01 p06 ALEXANDER, William 
It is not clear why William had the surname of ALEXANDER he did have a brother Colbert ALEXANDER that identified with that name, however his three sisters Salina, Isabella and Susan were all known by the surname PICKENS. I can only speculate why but at the surface the three sisters were all born prior to 1860 and the other children were born after that date.

My pet theory is the children born after 1860 may have taken the name of their mother’s presumed father Colbert ALEXANDER and it is interesting that one of Margaret’s sons was given that name.
M1301 Chickasaw Freedmen Card #01, p06 ALEXANDER, William 
Reading the limited information contained in William’s file illustrates just how connected and supportive our ancestors were when it came to issues of family and community. William indicates just how strong his bond was with his brother Colbert and sister Carrie ALEXANDER-BROWN; their children were a vital part of his family and given a warm embrace as they were raised in the home he shared with his wife Victoria and their four children; Isabella, Ora, Clinton and Odell ALEXANDER.

Unfortunately I don’t know any of the descendants of William ALEXANDER; he died intestate and there was a large record concerning the property left to his widow and children. Hopefully in time we will discover the descendants of Isabella, Ora, Clinton and Odell?

With the land and property being sold to pay off his debts, more research is necessary to fully understand the record and legacy left by this man who was at the forefront of change in Indian Territory and Oklahoma; we cannot allow his memory to be lost from the pages of history.

Wills & Probate McClain County, OK Vol. 0001, 1908-1917

These ARE all PEOPLE who will NEVER be LOST to history AGAIN!

Friday, February 8, 2019

Louisa MURRAY Choctaw Freedwoman #115 Black History, Our History, My History

Choctaw Freedwoman #115


Honoring another ancestor today by acknowledging their life and the record they left for us to discover is my Great great-grand...

Throughout my research and discovery of family history the complexities of familial ties can be vexing. Fortunately researching the history and genealogy of Indian Territory Freedmen can be made easier once you have a toe hole on the documents that help piece together the puzzle of a complex family tree.

Once again I have been blessed to have some information that not only illustrates the intersection of the ancestors but within the documentation I believe these ancestors demonstrate just how tight and connected they were and why it is important we learn from their actions.

Louisa MURRAY was born Louisa LOVE the daughter of Mink LOVE and Margaret Ann WILSON. Louisa and her children were recognized as a Choctaw Freedmen while living in the Chickasaw Nation. Each member of the family received their “Tribal Enrollment Numbers” as citizens in the Choctaw Nation which is noted on Dawes card number 115.

Choctaw Freedman Card #115 Front
Despite the surname MURRAY this family is not related to the other MURRAY families that have their origins with Joe MURRAY who was enumerated on Chickasaw Freedman card #124 because Louisa’s husband was Drew MURRAY and considered a non-citizen in the Choctaw Nation.

Choctaw Freedman Card #115 Rear
One of the extraordinary things found in the record of Louisa is the summarized statement provided to the Dawes Commission by her husband. Why they chose to interview him, a non-citizen instead of her the descendant of two formerly enslaved people is curious, yet he was able to provide some information that I found fascinating.

Now I don’t know if Drew considered it important or it was a byproduct of the stenographer and Dawes Commission but after identifying himself someone felt compelled to include the sentence; “My wife Louisa is sister of Bettie LIGON.” She was not characterized as Bettie’s half-sister or her step sister but, her sister and tells me there was an awareness and relationship between Bettie and Louisa that must have been close.

Another interesting aspect of this card is where the family lived which was in Burneyville, Chickasaw Nation. Louisa’s older sister Bettie migrated north to Newport, to rear her young family and for all I know she may have made frequent trips back to Burneyville to visit with her sister.

Looking at the rear of Louisa’s Dawes card other revealing information is provided that demonstrates how well these families knew who they were, where they come from and the sophisticated knowledge to know their genealogy. It also reveals their knowledge of the enslavers who had a profound and lasting effect on the life’s of those in the family. For those who don’t know the story of Bettie LIGON that is her father Robert LOVE on the rear of Louisa’s card as the Chickasaw Indian that enslaved her father Mink LOVE.
1900 Census Chickasaw Nation Township 7 South, Range 1 West
It appears sometime between 1900 and 1910 Louisa passed away and left her husband to care for their children alone. The records indicate Drew first relocated to the Muncrief Township in McClain County, Oklahoma, with him were his children Mary Jane FRANKLIN and her husband Bonnie. Louisa’s two son’s Claude and Sampson MURRAY were also in the home ages fifteen and eleven respectively.
1910 Census Oklahoma McClain County, Muncrief Township
The legacy of Louisa LOVE-MURRAY was vested in her children and the record seems to illustrate that her children may not have had children of their own? Claude was living in in Pasadena, California when he registered for the draft in 1916 at the age of twenty-two years old. Unfortunately it appears Claude William MURRAY died in August of 1935, I have not been able to locate any spouse or children associated with him up to that point.

The record reflects that Claude’s younger brother Sampson registered for the draft in September of 1918 when he was twenty years of age. At the time he was living in New Mexico in a community near Gallup, New Mexico. According to the 1940 census it appears Drew MURRAY remarried and Sampson was for a time living in their home on Filbert Street. It is not clear what Drew’s occupation was but those who lived around him all seemed to be orange pickers on a citrus ranch.

In 1942 Sampson (Samson) MURRAY again registered for the military but this time he was living in Duarte, Los Angeles County, California. There is no evidence yet that he served in WWI or WWII. Based on my limited research I have not found any children of Mary, Claude or Sampson I hope that I am wrong and somewhere there are relatives who descend from Margaret Ann WILSON alive and well?

Louisa MURRAY nee LOVE
Sampson MURRAY

These ARE all PEOPLE who will NEVER be LOST to history AGAIN!

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Melviney "Viney" JORDON nee HARRIS Black History, Our History, My History

Choctaw Freedman Card #109


Every time I look into my family’s genealogy I am reminded that we intersect numerous families that have a history in Indian Territory because our ancestors were enslaved by Chickasaw and/or Choctaw Indians.

Putting together a short story on my great-great grandmother Viney HARRIS I am again reminded of how we have connections to so many other families of southern Oklahoma. It is through Viney that some of these connections manifest themselves because she was the mother to children who were fathered by different men.

First, let me say without equivocation, it is not my place nor anyone else’s to judge the relationships our ancestors developed. We weren’t there, we don’t know who they loved and we are not responsible for their decisions. I view my job as someone who is trying to document this history, our history, my history so that future generations may benefit from the knowledge of knowing their ancestors and more importantly their ancestor’s story. My attitude is as researchers we should never attempt to attach our values and mores to our ancestors.

Choctaw Freedman Card #109 Front
Viney was the daughter of an enslaved man simply known as Stewart who was deceased and was enslaved by Joe COLBERT who may have been a Choctaw Indian. Her mother my great-great great grandmother was named Lucy HARRIS and she was enslaved by a man named Daniel HARRIS. It is not clear if Lucy survived to be enumerated by the Dawes Commission because she is not noted as being “dead” like Stewart.

Choctaw Freedman Card #109 Rear
Based on the age of Viney it is a good probability that Stewart and Lucy traveled on the Choctaw Nation’s “Trail of Tears” during their removal and it is hoped that more information can be discovered about Lucy’s story.

When I mentioned that Viney is the reason many freedmen descendants have a connection to one another you simply have to look at her children to understand why it is important we research our genealogical history. Prior to her death in June of 1902 her husband at the time Thomas JORDON provided information about Viney’s children and who their father was.

Thomas was a United States citizen and not entitled to receive a land allotment but he was familiar with Viney’s children and stated that Viney was 46 years of age and was freed by Matilda MANNING.  Thomas informed the commission that Viney had three children; Lucy who was the wife of Judge CLAY who was also a U.S. citizen.

Viney had another daughter named Martha who was the wife of Caro CHRISTIAN and he added that Caro’s mother’s name was Sallie and she was enslaved by Judge Thomas McCOY. Martha and Caro were my great grandparents and their daughter Elizabeth was my grandmother who was also known as Callie Mae.

Thomas provided the name of Viney’s other children who had different fathers and their names were Belton DAVIS, Amos MOSS and Pink JORDON. She had another daughter named Lucy SHANNON by Chickasaw Freedmen Henry SHANNON I suspect she named Lucy after her mother? Lucy did not live long enough to receive her land allotment yet she lived long enough to generate a card that included her two daughters, Vinnie and Rena.

Choctaw Freedman Card #108 Front
For future researchers there was a little note that was included with Viney’s file that provides some pertinent information that could be useful for additional research. A woman described as Mrs. B.W. CARTER stated she “knew Melviney JORDON…since she was 10 years old.” CARTER further stated that Melviney “belonged to Forbes LeFLORE and he gave her to his daughter Matilda who married Dr. MANNING.”

"Viney" HARRIS-JORDAN left a legacy for her descendants to be proud of, her life gave life to us all and we should recognize our connection to one another through her and our shared history.


These ARE all PEOPLE who will NEVER be LOST to history AGAIN!

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Nellie CRAWFORD-TAYLOR Chickasaw Freedwoman #505 Black History-Our History-My History


Honoring another ancestor today by acknowledging their life and the record they left for us to discover is my 3rd great-grandmother …

Chickasaw Freedwoman Card #505

My great-great-great grandmother Nellie TAYLOR nee CRAWFORD who was at least 80 years of age and was probably an enslaved woman with children during the Chickasaw Removal aka “Trail of Tears. Her story does not resonate with the Chickasaw Nation when they commemorate their ancestors that came to Indian Territory but her story is preserved in the documents that showed she was enslaved by Chickasaw Cubby LOVE and she is a part of their history and deserves to be recognized as a survivor.

Chickasaw Freedman Card #505 Front
Additionally the names of Nellie’s parents; Sam and Dilsie CRAWFORD who were deceased at the time of the Dawes enrollment process but we can forever say their name because Nellie survived the “Trail of African Tears” and she was able to provide their names for their descendants to remember and recall today.

Nellie CRAWFORD and Albert TAYLOR had at least seven children that have been documented beginning with their eldest Robert who was born circa 1839 to the youngest Rosa who was born around 1866, the year of their emancipation; the TAYLOR family was enslaved for three decades within the Chickasaw Nation and their story is also a story of survival. The descendants of Nellie and Albert TAYLOR have grown exponentially and are a part of the larger community of Indian Territory Freedmen. Their descendants include individuals who are considered “Chickasaw by blood” and citizens of the nation today.

Unfortunately there isn’t a lot of information to date on Nellie’s parents other than their names Sam and Dilsie CRAWFORD, on the rear of her Dawes card but the fact that she was able to name them and keep their memory alive provides some hope that their story will be told. They were held in bondage by different enslaver which again is monumental when you think about Nellie retaining that memory and probably how much it meant to her to keep their memory alive for the eighty plus years she survived!
Chickasaw Freedman Card #505 Rear
So many questions arise when looking at the information on this card; where did the surname CRAWFORD come from? How did the two meet if they were enslaved by two different people?
Can the two enslavers be placed in the same geographical area prior to their being enslaved by a Chickasaw Indian named Cubby LOVE? Were they originally from Africa? How many other children did they have and did they come to Indian Territory with their sister Nellie?

In the four hundred years since the first African arrived on this continent enslaved the names of Sam and Dilsie CRAWFORD will never be lost again. They however did leave a legacy of hundreds if not thousands of descendants that carry just a little piece of their essence today?


These ARE all PEOPLE who will NEVER be LOST to history AGAIN!

Monday, February 4, 2019

Isom JACKSON Choctaw Freedman #1213 Black History-Our History-My History


Honoring another ancestor today by acknowledging their life and the record they left for us to discover is my Great great-grand...


Allen & Phoebe JACKSON
Choctaw Freedmen #1213

During “Black History Month” I’ve decided to honor some of my ancestors by writing a brief story about their lives as my contribution to the story of Indian Territory, the United States and the state of Oklahoma. Much of what I know about them results from research on the institution of slavery among the Chickasaw and Choctaw Indians.

There are many records that provide a glimpse into the lives of my ancestors but not enough is known about the history of African chattel slavery by Native Americans and the result is not much is known about my ancestors.
Choctaw Freedmen Card #1213 Front
Isom JACKSON provided testimony that he was enslaved by a Chickasaw Indian named Fannie LANIHEE, in that same record was testimony by a man named Albert BIRD who testified the person who enslaved Isom went by the name of James LANIHEE, also a Chickasaw and more than likely related to Fannie.

The individual conducting the interview had some knowledge about the JACKSON family to the extent that he inquired about whether Isom had been sold by James LANIHEE. It was revealed that James did not sell him and in his testimony Isom stated “my father and mother were sold and a boy by the name of Henry…”
Choctaw Freedman Card #1213 Rear
The other children of Allen and Phoebe JACKSON remained as slaves of James Le-ni-ha; they were Mitchell, Isom, Elzira, Julia, Melvina and Amanda. Because Allen and Phoebe along with Henry and the children that were later born in Texas, none of them were “eligible” to be placed on the Choctaw Freedmen Roll.
Interview Packet Choctaw Freedman Card #1213 p3
Allen and Phoebe are my 3X-great grandparents and more than likely were a part of the Choctaw Nations “removal” to Indian Territory during the 1830’s. They were alive and enumerated on the Choctaw Freedmen 1885 census and living in Kiamatia County, Choctaw Nation. In their household were some their children and grandchildren. At the time the Dawes Commission was not creating the roll of citizenship in the Choctaw Nation but the census did determine Allen, Phoebe and everyone in the household was considered to have their nationality with the Chickasaw Nation.

1885 Choctaw Freedmen Census 
The 1885 Census of Choctaw Freedmen is a very good source to illustrate the relative wealth these former slaves accumulated only two decades following their emancipation from enslavement in 1866.

Like so many people of African descent I am not able (at this point) to determine all of my ancestors and especially those that were the first Africans to set foot on this continent but since this is the four-hundred year anniversary of those first African arriving on these shores prior to the Mayflower I still draw strength from those I am able to discover, document and honor by telling their stories.

Julia Ann  JACKSON

These ARE all PEOPLE who will NEVER be LOST to history AGAIN!