The Siler Roll is a listing of those Eastern Cherokees entitled to a per capita payment pursuant to an Act of Congress in 1850. The government had decided that the descendants of the Reservation Roll of 1817 had remained in Tennessee and Georgia long enough and their lease “for life’ had expired. Since most of the Cherokee Heads of House that had qualified for the Reservation Roll had been born between 1750 and 1800, this assumption was fairly accurate. The federal government was under pressure from the governors of Tennessee and Georgia to remove the last remaining Indians from the highly desirable ‘bottom land’ that was the best farming land, and make it available to white settlers and land speculators.
The government commissioned a man named Siler to go into the area, and using the survey maps prepared by Robert Armstrong in 1819 to 1820, identify the remaining Reservation Roll survivors and their descendants still living on the land. They were to be paid for their ‘improvements’ (cabins, plowed fields, orchards) and a fixed fee for their acreage. One square mile of farm land was 640 acres. Siler recorded 3,600 men, women and children, listing the location of their land by township, the ‘family number’, and the names, relationship, and ages of everyone of Cherokee blood in the family that had been born before 1850 and was still living at home. This Roll was completed in 1851.
In 1852, another man named Albert Chapman was sent to the area to pay these families for their land, based on the Siler Roll, and tell them to leave the area. Approximately 25% of these families then moved to Oklahoma to be near other members of their families. The other Cherokee families simply moved into the next county or the next state and ‘passed for white’. Chapman was able to locate and pay 2160 Eastern Cherokees from the Siler Roll. I have not seen a reasonable explanation as to what happened to the remaining 1440 Cherokees that were listed by Siler and not paid by Chapman. These were the last Rolls taken in the Old Cherokee Nation, except for North Carolina which will be the subject of another post.
*Old Settlers Roll of 1851 (Treaty of 1846)*
This Roll was comprised of the Cherokee families that had voluntarily migrated to Arkansas Territory as a result of the Emigration Roll of 1817. Some Cherokee families had migrated to this area prior to the Louisiana Purchase of 1804 and many others did not arrive until 1830. Some families had found the land unacceptable and since it was still in the hands of the Osage Tribe, war was still in progress. Some of these families returned to Tennessee or Kentucky, others moved to areas in Missouri and Kansas.
Those Cherokee families that remained in the prescribed area until 1851, were recorded on the Old Settlers Roll, which lists 3280 individuals. This group was also called the Treaty Party, as their leaders had signed the Treaty to cede Cherokee lands to the American government. The Old Settlers that had not received payments for their Cherokee land claims in 1817, were paid $270 in gold. Those Cherokees that had previously been paid received nothing. This Roll lists families by Postal District, starting with the Head of the House, and listing the Cherokee spouse and any children in order of their ages. Their ages were not actually recorded, only their ‘order’ of birth. These postal districts were Canadian, Delaware, Flint, Going Snake, Illinois, Saline, Skin Bayou, Tahlequah, and a Non-residents list.
(to be continued)