Monday, July 11, 2011

A Time For Discoveries!

My research visit to Oklahoma in May of 1995 held many new fascinating discoveries and the first one was easily the best. Before I left home in northern California to meet up with my father in Los Angeles my wife became worried that she was having some health issues. Several days prior to my leaving she complained about soreness in her breast and because her mother died from complications of breast cancer she understandably was concerned.

However, I noted to her about a week earlier when she picked me up from the BART (public transportation for those of you who don’t live in the Bay Area) that I thought she had this glow about her. Her skin was soft and flawless. We didn’t think much about it and went on about our business. When she mentioned her breasts were sore and she was going to see a doctor while I was away on the trip to Oklahoma.

For some reason I asked to request the doctor run a pregnancy test on her while she was there. Trust me, I’m not a doctor and I don’t play one on TV but my instincts seem to point in this direction. Now, at this time we had been married for fifteen years and had given up on the possibility of becoming parents. This was one of those things that I didn’t think about but was certain about the outcome.

As you know from the previous post, I did make the trip to Oklahoma and the first night there as my father and I were about to relax and plan our schedule for the next day while enjoying a veggie pizza, the phone rang! It was my wife and she sounded very excited and she asked me “what to you want, a boy or girl?”

She hadn’t gone to the doctor because her appointment was a day or so away so I asked her what was she talking about. She repeated the statement, “WHAT DO YOU WANT! A BOY OR GIRL! So I responded, you’re pregnant aren’t you? She screamed YES! I asked her how did she know, and she told me she couldn’t wait to see the doctor and bought a home pregnancy kit and the thing turned purple from the fumes.

This became the very first discovery of my trip to Oklahoma, I was going to be a father and from that point on my son and my research have been a joy for me.

Copyright ©2011 Terry Ligon
As a result of my time spent at the Oklahoma Historical Society and the Chickasaw Nation headquarters in Ada, I was loaded down with documents that for the first time seem to corroborate the stories my father had been telling me. I had this document of his grandmother that listed his father on it and they were somehow connected to the Choctaw Nation as the title on the document known as a Dawes Card was called.

Choctaw Freedman Card# 106 front Bettie Ligon et al

Choctaw Freedman Card# 106 rear Bettie Ligon et al
I was still new to genealogical research and a novice at researching the Dawes Commission records but I quickly realized the value of these particular records when it came to identifying several generations of ancestors. Each Dawes card had the potential to document three generations of a family and I was able to locate both of my father’s parents, his four grandparents and his great grandparents on these documents; WINNER, WINNER, CHICKEN DINNER!!!

Choctaw Freedman Card# 107 front Martha Christian et al

Choctaw Freedman Card# 107 rear Martha Christian et al
What was amazing about this discovery is both of his parents, grand parents and great grand parents were on cards 106 and 107, living in the same town!

During the course of our trip to the archives and later as we made our way to Ardmore, my father had the good sense to take me through the area where his mother, father, and grandparents lived at the time these cards were created. Looking back, I think he shrewdly did this so I would become exposed to the land of his father and grandfather’s. So I could touch the soil they walked upon and by doing so, it would provided support I would need to continue researching when I would become frustrated and thinking about abandoning the research.

When I began to process the information on the cards I became excited. My father and I had come back from our little excursion to Ada where I got copies of the Dawes records for quite a few of our ancestor’s.

There was so much information, so many names and with each new page and name it would trigger a memory in my father that would add more layers to this unfolding story that was just to incredible to be believed. Then, I noticed it! The words that would alter my direction and consume my days with research;” Robert Love-Chick Ind.”

Perhaps the old man was telling the truth but I still was not completely sure what to make out of it. Apparently the father of Bettie Ligon was a man named Robert Love and apparently he was a Chickasaw Indian? At this point even my father was excited to learn the stories he heard while eavesdropping on “the grown folks” had some truth to it, his grandmother may have been “part Indian!”

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