Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Using the Dawes Rolls to find your Cherokee ancestor - 1 -

Start a ‘Family Tree’ or ‘Pedigree Chart’ and fill in the names, dates and places of birth of your parents, then your grandparents, and your great grandparents. You need to go back far enough to find your ancestors that were living at the time of the Dawes Roll (1900-1906). The Dawes Roll covered the modern day states of Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and parts of Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. The
Tribes or Indian Nations that were included were Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek, and Seminole.

The Cherokee Roll included Adopted or Assimilated Delaware, Osage, and Shawnee who had married into one of the other Tribes and were living in that area. The Roll included Assimilated or Adopted FreedMen who were ex-slaves, mulattoes, and other ‘mixed bloods’ that were generally called “Black Indians”. Whites who had married into the various Tribes prior to 1875, were listed under the individual Tribes as “Intermarried Whites”. Whites that married an Indian after 1875 were initially given
Roll Numbers which were ‘Stricken From The Roll’ before final publication in 1917.

Thousands of Indian families applied for the Dawes Roll but were classified as Doubtful or Rejected on the Final Roll. Generally speaking, these people were ‘stricken’ because the government could not identify their ancestors on one of the earlier ‘qualifying Rolls’. In many cases, it was simply a matter of spelling of the family name or the name their ancestor was using at home did not match their ‘legal’ name
listed on earlier records. All of these people and the ‘Stricken’ Intermarried Whites are listed on the Dawes Applications Rolls which is available on a CD.

Search for information by asking your relatives to help you with the information and collect birth and or death certificates. These documents show the names of the person’s parents. Bible records, church records, cemetery records, military service records, obituaries, wills and other court documents will reinforce the data you find.

Warning, some of your elder relatives might resent your asking about Indian ancestors. Strong Anti-Indian laws were in effect from 1840 to 1935 that were primarily designed to force Indians to live on Reservations. Some of your elder relatives may have had this discrimination taught to them as children. My advice is not to mention Indian ancestors unless your relative says it first.

In this pile of information you collected, you discover you are descended from a William Penn Rogers that was born in Oklahoma in 1879. Oklahoma was where the Five Civilized Tribes were living at the time, and 1879 was before the Dawes Roll, so he is a ‘good candidate’ for being on the Dawes Roll. From his death certificate, you find his parent’s names were Clement Vann Rogers and Mary America Schrimsher.

- to be continued -