Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Nathaniel W. LIGON Choctaw Freedman #106

Nathaniel LIGON
Born September 2, 1886

 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks

Nathaniel W. LIGON
If you are a family researcher like me, many of your ancestors died years before you were born and much of what you know about them is based on oral history. The other source for telling the story of your family is the trails of documents left that provide some insight into who they were and how they lived.

That oral history may or may not be rooted in fact but it becomes the basis that you rely on to search for those ancestors and try to tell the story of your family. The documentation can provide some of the meat on the bones we need to see our ancestors as full, living, breathing humans that left their mark on this world, no matter how large or small. My grandfather’s brother Nathaniel is the subject of this article and his story, like so many of my ancestors is a complex and incomplete portrait but one that has many trails to follow.

Nathaniel LIGON was the oldest brother of my grandfather Mitchell and though he died years before I became interested in the family genealogy there are trails of information he left directly and indirectly that allow me to put some meat on his bones and attempt to tell his story.

Nathaniel was an original Choctaw Freedmen on the Dawes Roll as a sixteen year old. His Dawes Roll number was #2606 and because the Choctaw Freedmen were adopted as citizens in the Choctaw Nation he had a tribal enrollment number of 189.

That information alone doesn’t begin to tell his story or provide us with something that provides a fuller picture of the man and his life from the time of his birth to his death on November 21, 1935. Immediately for me that day of November 21st is significant in many ways when I look at the LIGON family and recognize it was November 21st that one of my sisters was born and it was also the day Nathaniel’s mother Betty died. I’m not sure what that means if anything but it is something that is noticeable as I continue to research my family’s history.

We are fortunate to have a photo of Nathaniel that was taken during a family portrait sitting but because he had to register for the military as the United States prepared to enter World War I there is a physical description that provides another dimension to him.

His registration card was issued on June 5, 1917 and it has his date of birth on September 2, 1886; which is also the same day my nephew Ronald D. LIGON Jr. was born almost one hundred years later. The registration card goes on to describe Nathaniel as a tall and slender man. He was considered to be “lame on the account of rheumatism.”
Military Registration Card June 5, 1917 Nathaniel W. LIGON
Nathaniel worked as a porter at the Chickasha Hospital in Chickasha, Oklahoma. There is some other information on the card that may be some of the most important information on him that I could find; Nathaniel was married and had a child. With this information I searched for a  marriage license and perhaps a document that would provide the name of the child mentioned on the registration card?

I now have two foundation documents that may provide enough clues to develop a fuller picture of an ancestor I did not know anything about but now see the intersection of family history and genealogy may tell more of a story than I could have ever imagine?

When I began looking for a marriage license in Carter County, Oklahoma connected to Nathaniel two records were located that indicated he was married. The first application for marriage occurred in 1908 when Nathaniel was to marry a woman by the name of Alberta GUNN/GUNNS. Again we have a document that provides more information about Nathaniel and the people who were formerly enslaved by Chickasaw and Choctaw Indians; as well as the descendants of those enslaved people.[i]

I couldn’t tell you right now if the couple married based on the romantic notion of Valentine’s Day but the official date of their marriage was February 13, 1908. Nathaniel was twenty-one years of age at the time of the marriage living in Newport, Oklahoma and his bride was nineteen living in Lone Grove, Oklahoma. Their marriage could be considered among some of the first in the new state of Oklahoma which received statehood in November of 1907, a short three months earlier.

When looking at the marriage license I could not avoid looking up the names of the witnesses. As a researcher of Indian Territory Freedmen in general I’m always trying to view the story of the freedmen and their descendants holistically and for me that means looking at the people in the community and their possible relationship to each other.

Who was Alberta GUNN/GUNNS was she the mother of the child mentioned on the military registration card? Was Alberta a Chickasaw or Choctaw Freedwoman? The fact that the two witnesses on the Certificate of Marriage had the surname of GAINES and also lived in Lone Grove required me to take the time to see if they were also freedmen?

Certificate of Marriage Nat LIGON & Alberta GUNN
This record was generated in 1908 it comes two years before the 1910 United States Census for the new state of Oklahoma. It is there that more research should be directed for answers to the question of who the child was mentioned on the military registration card.

First it is important to identify the family of Alberta GUNN/GUNNS and if they are enrolled freedmen? I found a GUNN family on Chickasaw Freedman card #364 living in Pickens County, in an area known as Elk, Indian Territory.

On card# 364 Mary and “Bert” GUNN are listed as sisters and I’m inclined to consider “Bert” is a nickname for Alberta. Of course I would like some corroborative document to prove this is Alberta and there is a notation on the card that pretty much does it for me!

On Chickasaw Freedman Card #364 is a typical notation when someone on the card has a child that was not enumerated initially and was born after the year 1902 when the Dawes Roll was “considered” closed and children could not be added for a land allotment. The notation indicates Mary GUNN had a child that was enumerated on the “Minor Chickasaw Freedman Card #141.”

The big reveal on Minor Chickasaw Freedmen card #141 is the parents of Ana Bertha GAINES were Wesley and Mary GAINES and you will recall these were the two witnesses listed on the Certificate of Marriage of Nathaniel LIGON and Alberta GUNN. The card also provides the Chickasaw enrollment card for Wesley as #623 and the number for his wife Mary is #364. 

The GAINES family lived in generally the same area known as Akers Township where Nathaniel and the LIGON family resided. It has not been uncommon for me to see the people of this area develop relationships from one generation to the other because of their shared history and experience as former slaves of Chickasaw Indians. Despite many people migrating to this area of Indian Territory following the War of the Rebellion there was a lot of intermarriage between freedmen and the children of freedmen with other freedmen descendants; and the marriage between Nathaniel and Alberta was just another example of those inter-connected and complex relationships. 

1910 US Census Akers Township, Carter County, Oklahoma ED 35 p14B
Somewhere between 1908 and 1910 the couple divorced and Nathaniel was listed as a hired hand for the ABRAMS family. I have not been able to locate Alberta in the 1910 census records and she was not enumerated with her family in Lone Grove. There is no indication that any children were born from this marriage and the only record I have of Alberta following her marriage to Nathaniel is a headstone brought to my attention by my cousin Clayton BENJAMIN.

Marriage License N.W. LIGON & Martha HARRIS
We next see Nathaniel again seeking a marriage license and certificate of marriage on August 8, 1914
to Martha HARRIS of Hennepin, Oklahoma. The license was again applied for in Carter County and Nathaniel list his age as twenty-eight, while the bride gave twenty-five as her age.

Martha it appears is going to be elusive as far as getting to know her and her family. I haven’t been able to determine with any certainty the identity of Martha. Was she on the freedmen rolls or for that matter was she a native woman? 

This is the only document available on the relationship of Martha HARRIS and Nathaniel LIGON but another significant document may add another layer to this marriage that has to be researched.

The year on the Certificate of Marriage of 1914 is significant because it comes just three years before the United States involvement in World War I which meant that despite his age, Nathaniel LIGON was required to register for service.

I mentioned the military registration card earlier in this article and how it provided information on a marriage to a woman who Nathaniel considered his wife and a child. I may be wrong but I wrong but I have no clear reason to suspect this child is from Nathaniel’s previous marriage to Alberta GUNN because her headstone indicates she died in 1912, two years before the marriage to Martha HARRIS.

Unfortunately there is no name given for the child which means further research into this relationship is required to establish if the child was actually Nathaniel’s or if the child was from a previous relationship of Martha’s? Looking through the 1920 census has not been successful in locating Nathaniel or a wife and child. But one thing has emerged from the military registration record; Nathaniel LIGON did serve in the army which is noted on the application for his headstone and that headstone that sits today over his gravesite in the Hickory Colored Cemetery in Carter County, Oklahoma.

It is great to have another document that corroborates certain information that allows me to make certain conclusions on the documents and information that contain. First and foremost the spelling and middle initial of Nathaniel’s name is on this application for his military headstone. 

  • Information about his service is revealed that will allow for research into his military record as a Sargent in Company G of the 809th Pioneer, Infantry.
  • The date of Nathaniel’s enlistment was given as July 18, 1918
  • His Honorable discharge date was August 4, 1919
  • His sister Gladys is named as the person to whom the headstone was shipped
  • The date of his death is indicated as November 21, 1935
  • The name of the cemetery at the time was given as Murray in Woodford, Oklahoma.
  • Gladys was still living in Newport, Oklahoma as of March 27, 1936 when she made the request for the headstone and she had married someone with the surname of ANDERSON.

Application for Headstone 

It is clear more question arise with each new bit of information discovered and as the family historian I am obligated to make good faith efforts to uncover as much documentation as possible to lay the foundation for those researchers who will inevitably follow up on my work.

List of Passengers USS Sierra 
One of the quirks I’ve noticed when researching the freedmen of Chickasaw and my family in particular is the amount of people from that region that were enlisted in the 809th Pioneer Infantry. At some point I hope to look at that connection in depth but I did come across two items that other researchers who share this connection may find revealing.

First thing the fact that Nathaniel achieved the rank of Sargent says something about him if no more than the fact he could read and write. The two things that I stumbled across had to do with Nathaniel’s time in the military. The first one was a list of passengers aboard a military transport ship named the USS Sierra.

The USS Sierra was coming out of St. Nazaire, France on the 13th of July 1919; it was headed for Camp Mills in state of New York about month before Nathaniel would be honorably discharged. I suspect if someone else had an ancestor that served in the 809th, they will be able to locate that ancestor on the list.


USS Sierra Transport Ship circa 1918-1919
1930 Census Oklahoma Carter County, Ardmore ED 09
From everything I’ve been able to research there are no records for Nathaniel and Martha LIGON in the 1920 census and there is no information on the identity of the child that was mentioned in Nathaniel’s military registration document. Additional research will have to be conducted if I am going to be able to find out what happened to both Martha and the child.

Evidently Nathaniel and Martha parted ways sometime between his leaving for the war in Europe and by the time the 1930 census was published Nat was listed as a divorcee and working as a servant in the private home of the SAYRE family in Ardmore, Oklahoma.

When I discover Nat in a document it is another marriage license in 1935 between him a woman named Mrs. Maud DICKSON of Ardmore, Oklahoma. They were married on February 12, 1935 and both of their ages were listed as forty-nine years. Again it is hard to determine just who this woman was but there is some very interesting oral history about Nathaniel and Maud.

Nathaniel’s date of death was November 21st 1935 as I’ve probably stated before, what I didn’t say is he was purported to have been murdered. There are two competing stories on the cause of his death. The first story dealt with three individuals who allegedly murdered him over gambling, which may have occurred at the home of a Gloria AINSWORTH.

There were three men allegedly involved in the murder and they brutally beat him to death with a 2X4 with nails in it. The story continues that his body was taken about two blocks away from the AINSWORTH house to a “branch” and left to die. The men named in the murder were known as Zeke PERVEY, Bow Wow Red and Earl HUNTER. 

Nathaniel W. LIGON Hickory  Colored Cemetery, Carter County, Oklahoma 
The other story about how Nat was murdered had to do with apparently “Nathaniel was known for being in the company of white women.” It is said he was coming from Dunbar near F Street by the Holiness Church near the branch were they found his body. I have nothing to corroborate either story but two things bother me about the latter story. I couldn’t find any woman named Mrs. Maud DICKSON in the 1930 census records for Ardmore that wasn’t white and married?

The second matter that struck me was where Nathaniel was enumerated in the 1930 census. He was the “house servant” for the SAYRE family who lived on F Street S.W. I’m not familiar with Ardmore enough to say if the address where he worked for the white family was anywhere near where his body was found but it adds a little mystery to the story for sure. On the other hand the home of Gloria AINSWORTH was in a different census tract but it was also located on F Street but that was F Street N.W.? I imagine where the body was located might be the determinant factor on where Nathaniel LIGON was allegedly murdered and who murdered him?

With a little luck we may discover there are some descendants of Nathaniel LIGON alive and we can reunite to exchange our shared family history. In the meantime there is a great deal more to discover about Nathaniel, his military service and what his life was like to go from a Sargent in the 809th Pioneer Infantry in World War I to a house servant and possibly murdered at such an early age. There is a recurring theme for the men in this generation of dying in bodies of water, Nathaniel had two brothers who met similar fate and each of them died before the age of fifty. I hope to bring you their stories as well.



Ardmore, Oklahoma
Camp Mills, New York
Carter County, Oklahoma
Chickasaw Nation
Chickasha, Oklahoma
Hennepin, Oklahoma
Hickory Colored Cemetery
Lone Grove, Oklahoma
Murray Cemetery
Murray County
Newport, Indian Territory
St. Nazaire, France
Woodford, Oklahoma

[i] Oklahoma, County Marriage Records, 1890-1995 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2016.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Timeline Tuesday Senate Document 157; 55th Congress, 1st Session

Senate Document 157; 55th Congress, 1st Session Cover page

In an effort to understand the history of the former slaves of the Chickasaw Indians we have to look at the efforts to get Congress to enforce the terms of the Treaty of 1866. The Chickasaw Freedmen sought to get their rights enforced  to become "citizens by adoption" in the same manner the former slaves of the Cherokee, Creek, Seminole and Choctaw nations.

With the assistance of an attorney, R.V. BELT submitted to the United States Senate a document outlining their concerns on citizenship in Senate Document 157; 55th Congress, 1st Session. This is a very informative historical document for all students of freedmen history. The "memorial" is almost sixty pages of information and within those pages is a timeline of events that demonstrate the nature of the Chickasaw Freedmen's political and social status in the nation they were enslaved.

Senate Document 157; 55th Congress, 1st Session page 2

When you consider the status of the former slaves of the Chickasaw and Choctaw Indians and why they were “not” adopted as citizens many issues become apparent. The first thing to take a critical look at is the nature of the agreement made between the United States and the joint treaty with the Chickasaw and Choctaw Indians.

In their memorial to the Senate it is clear, the Treaty of 1866 negotiated with the Choctaw and Chickasaw Indians was doomed to failure because the treaty left it “optional” to adopt their former slaves as citizens unlike the treaties negotiated with the Creek, Seminole and Cherokee Indians.

Senate Document 157; 55th Congress, 1st Session page 2
Many people want to believe Native Americans and blacks have some sort of commonality when it comes to a history of oppression in the United States and on some levels that may be a true fact. In the case of the Five Slave Holding Tribes in general and the Chickasaw Indians specifically it is important to look at the facts.

The Chickasaw freedmen were enslaved by Chickasaw Indians and when the Chickasaw Nation sided with the Confederates during the War of Rebellion the United States the Treaty of 1866 had as a stipulation the Five Slave Holding Tribes adopt their former slaves as citizens.

From the very beginning the Chickasaw Indians let it be known “...The Chickasaw legislature passed an act, approved November 9, 1866, declaring it to be the “Unanimous consent of the Chickasaw legislature that the United States shall keep and hold said sum of $300,00 for the benefit of said negroes (sic) and is the wish of the Chickasaw Nation for the Government to remove said negroes (sic) from within the limits of the Chickasaw Nation..."

From 1866 and the next two years the Chickasaw Freedmen attempted to get the United States to enforce the Treaty of 1866 because “in view of the apparent feeling of the Chickasaws toward them, to be removed and located elsewhere…” Clearly, the question has to be asked how could the United States “negotiate” an “optional” Treaty that was not enforceable and subsequently the United States did not take the steps to remove the former slaves from a place they were being clearly discriminated against in a hostile environment?

Senate Document 157; 55th Congress, 1st Session page 3
Because the Choctaw Nation eventually adopted their former slaves as citizens in 1883 it is assumed the Chickasaw Nation never passed legislation adopting their former slaves. Factually the Chickasaw Nation adopted their former slaves in 1873, ten years before the Choctaw Nation but seven years after the terms written in the Treaty of 1866.

Following that legislation to “adopt” the former slaves the Chickasaw Nation time and again make attempts to have their former slaves “removed” from the nation. Yet, people persist in thinking African-Americans and Native Americans have had some mutually shared history of respect. Unfortunately the record does not seem to reflect that sentiment.

Senate Document 157; 55th Congress, 1st Session page 3
As we know the Choctaw Nation finally adopted their former slaves in 1883 which was promptly approved by the United States Interior Department which for some reason did not happen in the Chickasaw Nation in regards to the adoption of their former slaves in 1873.

Congress failed to ratify the legislation by the Chickasaw Nation to adopt their former slaves and before Congress could act on the legislation the Chickasaw Nation again demanded the United States government “remove” their former slaves from the nation. Once the two year time limit for adoption passed, the Chickasaw freedmen made request after request for the United States to remove them to land appropriated for their relocation. In addition to being “removed” the freedmen demanded the one-hundred dollars per capita earmarked in the Treaty of 1866 once the former slaves were removed.

What is also hard to understand is that in 1891 the United States government had a “land run” in Oklahoma Territory; an area that was thought to be preserved for the relocation of the former Chickasaw slaves. The question remains, how in good faith could the government open that land up for settlement and did absolutely nothing for the former Chickasaw slaves who had a treaty that required they be either adopted in the Chickasaw Nation or be removed under the terms of the Treaty of 1866?

Senate Document 157; 55th Congress, 1st Session page 4

Senate Document 157; 55th Congress, 1st Session page 5

I want to stress that as a researcher of Indian Territory Freedmen in general and the Chickasaw Freedmen specifically, we need to be more aware of the documented history of our ancestors and how it shaped their existence, their legacy and our appreciation for the struggle they endured seeking to build homes where they could prepare a future for us.

This is just one document that demonstrates their heartfelt concerns and the obstacles designed to stymie their evolution from an enslaved community within the Chickasaw Nation to the freedom loving political fighters that their story demonstrates.

Within this one document are references to other material that we should all take the time to study and inform us on how we may maintain that legacy our ancestors were keenly aware of as they formed a united front to the Jim Crow of the Chickasaw Nation and the disregard to the Supreme Law of the land demonstrated by the dubious Treaty of 1866 that was never enforced and I contend was never intended to be enforced by the United States Department of Interior.

I welcome all comments and if you would like a copy of any of these documents and can’t locate them online drop me a note and perhaps I can provide a copy for a small fee?

 Congressional Records Contained in this Article:

An act passed by Chickasaw Nation entitled “An Act to adopt the Negroes of Chickasaw Nation”
                Treaty with the Choctaw and Chickasaw Indians  April 14, 1874
                Chickasaw Freedmen June 23, 1897
                Letter from Secretary of Interior Relative to Chickasaw Freedmen May 9, 1888
                Papers relating to the rights of freedmen under the 3rd article of April 28, 1866 Treaty
                Letter to Hon. James HARLAN in relation to April 28, 1866 Treaty February 27, 1873
                Letter to Chairman of Indian Affairs Committee; Senate Bill #680 Relief of persons of African descent resident in Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations May 2, 1874            

Friday, October 20, 2017

Equity Case 7071 Rebecca SAMUELS Chickasaw Freedwoman #284

  • Chickasaw Freedman Card #284
  • Enrollment #1155-1159
  • Place of Residence: Purcell, Pickens County; Indian Territory Chickasaw Nation
  • Father: KEMP, Gibson (Deceased)
  • Mother: KEMP, Manda (Deceased)

·         Joe and Dillard PERRY files BIA Record Group 75, Entry 90C,  Folder F-131

M 1186 #284Front Rebecca SAMUELS Chickasaw Freedwoman 
The family of Rebecca SAMUELS is one of those cases where you have read between the lines and know a little something about the hundreds of individuals who sought to be transferred from the Chickasaw or Choctaw Freedman Roll to the Chickasaw or Choctaw by Blood Roll.

The importance of this issue should never be lost on anyone; these people were descendants of African and African Natives as well as Chickasaw or Choctaw Indians. They were attempting to exercise their rights to receive three hundred and twenty acres of land just as the other “mixed” Chickasaw Indians.

On the rear of Rebecca SAMUELS Chickasaw Freedman Dawes land allotment card is the name of her parents and the parents of her children and sister Mollie HOLDER. Rebecca named her father as Gibson KEMP a Chickasaw Indian who was deceased at the time of the enrolling process. This information was not taken into account and given value by the Dawes Commission and in most cases the admission someone’s father was a Chickasaw Indian ended with that notation on the back of their Dawes card.

Who was Who Among the Southern Indians a Genealogical Notebook 1698-1907 by Don MARTINI p362
The information from the index by Don MARTINI indicates there was a Chickasaw Indian with a similar name to the one on the rear of Rebecca SAMUEL'S Dawes Card and as most genealogist know, "spelling doesn't count." Clearly the information provided indicates Gibson/Gipson KEMP was deceased at the time of the land allotment process but because he may more information and/or other descendants who might connect genealogically with the descendants of Rebecca SAMUELS?

M1186 #284 Rear Rebecca SAMUELS Chickasaw Freedwoman
However there was a subtle clue inserted into the application packet (M1301) that provided more information about her claim to be a descendant of a Chickasaw Indian. On page two of her packet she makes a profound and important statement; “my mother is Amanda, daughter of John
KEMP (see Chickasaw Freedman Card 274.”) In addition it is important to note that she includes information about her sister Mollie HOLDER and the fact “we are sisters by the same mother.” 

M1301 #284 Rebecca SAMUELS Chickasaw Freedwoman
If you will recall a previous article about the KEMP clan there was no mention of Amanda as the daughter of John KEMP, yet there is a reference in Rebecca’s file that mentions “Chickasaw Freedmen Card 274.)”

This is another file that demonstrates just how important it is to obtain and research the Joe and Dillard PERRY database. Many of the individuals that are claimants on Equity Case 7071 only have hints to their Chickasaw or Choctaw ancestry in their files because the Dawes Commission only summarized the information provided in oral testimonies. As a researcher it is necessary to follow the clues given that may provide the necessary information that will tell the story of the African-Chickasaw and African-Choctaw Indians who were denied inclusion in the nation of their ancestor’s birth.

I don’t know that it is possible to definitively state that these people possessed Chickasaw or Choctaw ancestry. Our best sources for determining if they did have an Indian ancestor will be the information provided on the Dawes cards and various other sources like the PERRY files and DNA test that will support the claims of our ancestors.

I mention DNA test because I’m continuing struck by the reaction from some in the so called Native American community to dismiss these test. However it was the Dawes Commission, the United States and the Five Slave Holding Tribes that came up with the concept of “blood rolls,” “blood quantum” and “degree of Indian blood.” If they have relied on those concepts and now want to dismiss the science of DNA testing one has to wonder why?

I say this because recently I was unceremoniously “removed” from a Facebook page devoted to the descendants of Thomas LOVE a recognized Chickasaw citizen after posting a “link” to my previous article. It was argued I was angry and hated the tribe for writing about the issues like Equity Case 7071. Subsequently I was challenged about my ancestor’s claim of having Chickasaw ancestry and she began to attempt discounting the claim and the paper trail.

Another member wanted to know if I had a DNA test perform for which I informed her I had and posted my GEDmatch numbers on the site so anyone there who claim to be descendant from Thomas LOVE and his Two Wives could compare their results if they took a test. It was not long that someone informed me they took the test and when they checked, they did not see a match to me after putting my name in the database.

I suggest changing the criteria to both the surname LOVE or Chickasaw and each time she came back with the response that she did not come up with a match. However EVERY time I put those words in the database I came back with matches for someone with a LOVE or COLBERT ancestor. Now I am not an expert on DNA testing but I have to conclude that if I can come up consistently with a LOVE or COLBERT Native American ancestor and someone else and this individual didn’t; maybe they don’t have LOVE or Colbert ancestry at the least and possibly no Chickasaw ancestry to speak of?

I must say, I am getting to point of believing a statement I read in Dr. Daniel F. LITTLEFIELD Jr.’s book “The Chickasaw Freedmen a People Without a Country” (and I’m paraphrasing) that there will come a time when it is shown that many of the people on Equity Case 7071 and their descendants have more Native American blood than those on the Dawes by blood rolls. Perhaps that time has come?

Original Brief Equity Case 7071 (Courtesy of Julia POWERS)

Monday, October 9, 2017

EQUITY CASE 7071 KEMP, John et al., Chickasaw Freedmen

Empower Me to Know My History

KEMP, John et al.,

  • Chickasaw Freedman Card #274
  • Enrollment #1089-1092
  • Place of Residence: Wynnewood, Indian Territory Chickasaw Nation
  • Father: Louis  (Deceased)
  • Mother: Jennie Non-Citizen
  • See Petition to Transfer #64
  • Joe and Dillard PERRY files BIA Record Group 75, Entry 90C,  Folder F-177-184
  • See CHIF #268, #269, #270, #379, #273,
M1186 John KEMP Chickasaw Freedman #274 Front
When I first looked at the particular case of a family claiming Chickasaw ancestry I was reminded of a statement by my friend Carlotta KEMP says; “all KEMPS are related.” The fact that John KEMP survived to be more than one hundred years of age is remarkable. As a survivor of slavery he must have stories to tell.

Now I’m not saying it’s not true but according to this card John was still making babies as an octogenarian? That is not the only revealing item on this card. One of the easiest tells on a card of someone who is claiming Chickasaw ancestry is a notation that states “see petition to transfer.” This is telling me there is the great possibility a file may exist that will provide information regarding that individual’s genealogical history. Unfortunately I don’t have that file but any descendant of John KEMP should obtain it (and send me a copy, please) to discover more on the genealogy of this family patriarch.

M1186 John KEMP Chickasaw Freedman #274 Rear
Again, on the rear of John’s Dawes card there is no notation like so many others that will direct the researcher to who the parents of John are or if in fact it was one of John’s parents that is the basis for his claim to Chickasaw blood? However when you look at his interview packet you quickly discover John and Meline KEMP were the parents of a sizable family. It is because of this document we are able to reconstruct and locate those children and their children. 

There is nothing on the Dawes card for John and Meline KEMP that provides direct information about the ancestry of either that indicates they have Chickasaw blood. However the notation of a petition to transfer is significant if it is possible to determine Chickasaw ancestry.  It would appear from the sizable files held in the Joe and Dillard PERRY collection some sort of information is available. As a researcher on all of the individuals listed as claimants on Equity Case 7071 those are some files I will have to obtain at some point.

Meanwhile it is important to assemble the framework for establishing the various family members that descend from the original Chickasaw ancestor and that means taking the names of John and Meline children to demonstrate the genealogy of this claim to Chickasaw blood, I begin with their daughter Emily KEMP on Chickasaw Freedman Card #269.

M1301 John KEMP Chickasaw Freedman #274 p2
 KEMP, Emily et al.,
  • Chickasaw Freedman Card #269
  • Enrollment #1060-1069, 4276 & 4817
  • Place of Residence: Wynnewood, Pickens County, Indian Territory Chickasaw Nation
  • Father: KEMP, John
  • Mother: KEMP, Meline
  • See NB #Minor Chickasaw Freedmen #211, #396, #402
  • See Petition to Transfer #62
  • Joe and Dillard PERRY files BIA Record Group 75, Entry 90C,  Folder F-177-184, 186 & 203

Emily KEMP’S Dawes card is just full of information regarding her children and grandchildren and except for on little notation you again would not think she had any Chickasaw ancestry. At the time of this writing I still don’t know because I don’t have a copy of what that notation states; “see petition to transfer #62.”

The Dawes Commissioner or clerk was very efficient in making notes of just about every other aspect of this woman’s life except what was in that petition to transfer #62. You will also note, her father John KEMP had a petition to transfer as well but, it was #64. Was there something different in his than was in her file? Was her file done independently from her father’s? These are questions that should be answered and included in the overall story of the Chickasaw Freedmen.

M1186 Emily KEMP Chickasaw Freedwoman #269 Front
 KEMP, Lorena et al.,
  • Chickasaw Freedman Card #270
  • Enrollment #1070-1080
  • Place of Residence: Wynnewood, Pickens County, Indian Territory Chickasaw Nation
  • Father: KEMP, John
  • Mother: KEMP, Meline
  • See NB #Minor Chickasaw Freedmen #226, #273 & Minor Chickasaw Freedmen #191
  • Joe and Dillard PERRY files BIA Record Group 75, Entry 90C,  Folder F-177-184, 186 & 203

Lorena KEMP is a younger sister of Emily’s and like her sister and mother gave birth to numerous children. It is unfortunate the Dawes Commission held fast to some customs taken from a culture of slavery by stating that children to unwed mothers were somehow “illegitimate.” This practice was used to ensure the slave holder could increase his wealth by determining the status of a child by the status of the mother and this was the basis for the Dawes Commission and the Chickasaw Nation to claim the children of Chickasaw men were not Chickasaw by blood.

With that distinction the nation was able to deny thousands of acres of land to people who should have been entitled to the three hundred and twenty acres based on their ancestry like all the other “citizens by blood.” Now we see the classification used in this situation to enroll all of Lorena’s children and stigmatize them as illegitimate and Chickasaw Freedmen.

M1186 Lorena KEMP Chickasaw Freedwoman #270 Front
 KEMP, Lottie et al.,
  • Chickasaw Freedman Card #273
  • Enrollment #1086-1088
  • Place of Residence: Wynnewood, Pickens County, Indian Territory Chickasaw Nation
  • Father: KEMP, John
  • Mother: KEMP, Meline
  • See NB #Minor Chickasaw Freedmen #23
  • Joe and Dillard PERRY files BIA Record Group 75, Entry 90C,  Folder F-177-184, 186 & 203

There is nothing remarkable about the enrollment card for Lottie KEMP and we don’t see any references to a petition to transfer but when you look at the index to the Joe and Dillard PERRY files Lottie and her children appear to be a part of the claim to have Chickasaw ancestry.

M1186 Lottie KEMP Chickasaw Freedwoman #273 Front
BLUE nee KEMP, Virginia (Jennie) et al.,
  • Chickasaw Freedman Card #379
  • Enrollment #1591-1596
  • Place of Residence: Wynnewood, Pontotoc  County, Indian Territory Chickasaw Nation
  • Father: KEMP, John
  • Mother: KEMP, Meline
  • See Minor Chickasaw Freedmen #204
  • See Petition to Transfer #65
  • Joe and Dillard PERRY files BIA Record Group 75, Entry 90C,  Folder F-177-184, 186 & 203

Virginia KEMP aka Jennie is another daughter of John and Meline KEMP who appear on Chickasaw Freedman card #274 and like all of John and Meline’s children Wynnewood was crawling with KEMPS.

On this card we discover Jennie’s husband Smith BLUE is serving time in the Ft. Leavenworth penitentiary in Kansas. It would be interesting to dig a little deeper into his case but unfortunately Jennie’s application packet does not reveal anything more than his incarceration.

Oh, did you think I would forget the additional note that there is another “see the petition to transfer #65” on this card? It is becoming clear that there may be some additional information regarding the ancestry of this family and we have multiple references to there existence.

M1186 Smith & Virginia BLUE Chickasaw Freedman #379 Front
KEMP, Ebenezer et al.,
  • Chickasaw Freedman Card #268
  • Enrollment #1055-1059
  • Place of Residence: Wynnewood, Pickens County, Indian Territory Chickasaw Nation
  • Father: KEMP, John
  • Mother: KEMP, Meline
  • Joe and Dillard PERRY files BIA Record Group 75, Entry 90C,  Folder F-177-184, 186 & 203

With Ebenezer KEMP and his young family we don’t know much more than what is printed on the card but he is the son of John and Meline KEMP and he resides in Wynnewood like the rest of his family. He does show up as part of the Joe and Dillard PERRY files so again we will have to see what those documents have to tell us about the rather large family of Chickasaw Freedmen?

M1186 Ebenezer KEMP Chickasaw Freedman #268 Front

KEMP, John & Harriett et al.,
  • Chickasaw Freedman Card #280
  • Enrollment #1129-1133 & 4852
  • Place of Residence: Bearden, Indian Territory Creek Nation
  • Father: KEMP, John
  • Mother: KEMP, Frances (Deceased)
  • See NB #Minor Chickasaw Freedmen #226, #273 & Minor Chickasaw Freedmen #191
  • Joe and Dillard PERRY files BIA Record Group 75, Entry 90C,  Folder F-177-184, 186 & 203
John may have been the eldest child of John Sr., and he was living in the Creek Nation with his wife when they enrolled with the Dawes Commission. John is the namesake of the patriarch of this family but he is the only child found on the Dawes Roll that did not have the same mother as the other children. Add to that it appears he only had one child with his wife Harriett before he died in 1902. 
Unfortunately I am not able to locate him in the index of the Joe and Dillard PERRY files. Despite that if he has any descendants they should know there connections to him and the KEMP family.

M1186 John KEMP Chickasaw Freedmen #280 Front
M1186 John KEMP Chickasaw Freedmen #280 Rear
The KEMP’S story is part of the Chickasaw Freedmen story, the Chickasaw Nation’s story and a part of the many individuals who sought to be recognized and accepted based on their Chickasaw ancestry. I hope more people will begin to see this as an integral part of African American history and just as importantly an integral part of the Chickasaw Nation history.

Someone recently told me the Chickasaw Nation is moving forward and not looking back at this history but I think that is misguided and sad. This was a chapter in their history that led the nation to fight with the confederate states in an attempt to maintain the institution of chattel slavery. It can’t be ignored or swept under the rug so the tribe can move forward as if their former slaves and in many cases their own people are not a part of Chickasaw Nation History.

Empower Me to Know My History


While researching for my next article I discovered another child of John KEMP and Frances KEMP (deceased.)

EASTMAN, Serena et al.,
  • Chickasaw Freedman Card #281
  • Enrollment #1134-1143
  • Place of Residence: Wynnewood, Pontotoc Indian Territory Chickasaw Nation
  • Father: KEMP, John
  • Mother: KEMP, Frances (Deceased)
  • See NB #Minor Chickasaw Freedmen #219 & Minor Chickasaw Freedmen #187
  • Joe and Dillard PERRY files BIA Record Group 75, Entry 90C,  Folder F-177-184, 186 & 203
M1186 #281F Reuben & Serena EASTMAN Chickasaw Freedmen
M1186 #281R Reuben & Serena EASTMAN Chickasaw Freedmen

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Equity Case 7071 CHAWANOCUBBY, Samuel Chickasaw Freedman #93

Empower Me to Know My History

  • Chickasaw Freedman Card #93
  • Enrollment #374
  • Place of Residence: Johnsonville, Pontotoc County-Indian Territory, Chickasaw Nation

  • Father: CHAWANOCHUBBY, Isom aka NEWBERRY, Isom-Chickasaw Indian (Deceased)
  • Mother: Lina (Deceased)

CLARK, Mason
  •          Chickasaw Freedman Card #54
  •          Enrollment #231-234 & 4227
  •          Place of Residence: Ada, Pontotoc County-Indian Territory, Chickasaw Nation

  •          Father: CHAWANOCHUBBY, Isom aka NEWBERRY, Isom-Chickasaw Indian (Deceased)
  •          Mother: Lina (Deceased)

The case of Samuel CHAWANOCHUBBY to be transferred from the Chickasaw Freedmen Roll to the Chickasaw by Blood Roll is an interesting example of someone claiming citizenship. In many of the files of the Dawes Commission we don’t get an opportunity to see how the names of their parents become a part of the historical record. In the case of Samuel and his sister Mason CLARK the M1301 Interview Packet provides us with information I wish were a part of every record.

The documents contained in the file not only provide the name of Samuel’s father but it provides more information about his father that is not apparent when you look at what the clerk for the Dawes Commission recorded on the rear of his card. Sam provided the first name of his father as Isom and informed the commissioner that his father had an “English name” of NEWBERRY.

Sam informed the commissioner that his father and mother Lina “were married according the Indian custom; that is they lived together as man and wife…up to the time of the death of his father just after the war.” Sam went on to inform the commissioner his parents had five children in total but only two were living at the time of the Dawes allotment process.

M1301 CHAWANOCHUBBY, Samuel CHIF#93 p3
Included in the interview is another document that really demonstrates just how intertwined the former slaves of the Chickasaw Indians were with the culture of the tribe. Samuel’s sister Mason CLARK needed a certified interpreter to provide her testimony to the Dawes Commission because she did not speak the English language.

M1301 CHAWANOCHUBBY, Samuel CHIF#93 p5
M1301 CHAWANOCHUBBY, Samuel CHIF#93 p5
M1186 CLARK, Mason CHIF#54F
M 1186 CLARK, Mason CHIF#54R
There is another document included in the packet of Samuel CHAWANOCUBBY that is very revealing and again points to the hypocrisy of the Dawes Commission and the Chickasaw Nation. Despite the attempts to distance the Chickasaw Nation from the children of Chickasaw men and accept them as citizens in the nation; some citizens developed personal relationships that allowed them to testify about those relationships.

One of the prerequisites to prove an individual was entitled to receive a land allotment or prove their citizenship required the testimony of friends or relatives. In the case of Samuel CHAWANOCHUBBY and his sister Mason CLARK a “full blood” recognized Chickasaw citizen provided testimony about their parents based on her acquaintance and knowledge. Unfortunately the testimony of Mollie PORTER a Chickasaw Indian, was not enough to have the children of Isom CHAWANOCHUBBY aka NEWBERRY enrolled as Chickasaw by blood.

M1301 CHAWANOCHUBBY, Samuel CHIF#93 p7

M1186 PORTER, Joe (PORTER, Mollie) CHIBB#76

Let me point out one more important issue that shouldn’t be lost on those who don’t think the Chickasaw Freedmen shared the history and culture of the Chickasaw Indians despite their enslavement. I don’t know if you can make the intellectual argument that enslaved people were not acculturated to the culture of their enslaver and be taken seriously?

On the document that was generated by Mason CLARK and the woman who knew both her parents Mollie PORTER identifies the person that interpreted Mason’s testimony as Monroe CLARK Mason's son. There is no mistaking freedmen lived within the culture of the Chickasaw Nation.

M1301 CHAWANOCHUBBY, Samuel CHIF#93 p7

 Clearly there are some questions about this family and these people that warrant further research:

  • Where are the descendants of Samuel CHAWANOCHUBBY today? 
  • Where are the descendants of Mason CLARK today?
  • Where are the descendants of Mollie PORTER the woman who stood up to do the right thing and testify that Mason and Samuel were Chickasaw Indians worthy of citizenship by blood in the nation of their father's birth?
  • Would they have the courage to do what their ancestor did?
  • Where is the Chickasaw Nation on issues of citizenship like this, will they continue to ignore their true history?

Empower Me to Know My History

Nathaniel W. LIGON Choctaw Freedman #106

Nathaniel LIGON Born September 2, 1886  52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Nathaniel W. LIGON If you are a family researcher like me, ...