Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek, Seminole genealogy records – part 1
We are at a wonderful point in time in which many records of the lives of members of the 5 Civilized Tribes (Cherokee, Choctaw, Creek, Chickasaw, Seminole) in Indian Territory / Oklahoma are now accessible online. This is Part 1 of a 2 Part post.
The links below provide immediate access to these resources IF, you will first open FamilySearch.com and login AND open Ancestry.com and login. See the Advice section below the links.
Links to Genealogical Records of the 5 Civilized Tribes
- Dawes Census cards Ancestry
- Oklahoma & I.T. Indian Censuses & Rolls 1851-1959. Ancestry
- Oklahoma & I.T. Marriage, Citizenship, & Census records 1841-1927 Ancestry
- 1900 and 1910 Federal Census records – see additional information
- Indian Pioneers Oral History papers University of Oklahoma. 113 volumes.
- Dawes applications Ancestry / the same applications on FamilySearch, NOTE Ancestry is easier to use and free for LDS members. FamilySearch relies on Fold3 for these records which requires a paid membership.
- Alphabetized Digitized Index to Dawes Roll Numbers National Archives
- Land Allotment Jackets Ancestry / similar Land Allotment Applications on FamilySearch. NOTE Ancestry is easier to use
- Citizenship Case Files Indian Territory 1896-1897 Ancestry
- Cherokee Chapman Roll of Eastern Cherokees in 1851, Hester Roll of 1884 and Drennen Roll of 1851 were included for reference the Guion Miller roll 1908-1910 Eastern Cherokees. Ancestry
- Index to Old Settlers Roll Ancestry
- Baker Roll of the Eastern Cherokees 1924-1929. Ancestry
- History of the Cherokee Indians by Emmet Starr Google Books. See more information on this book
- Old Settlers Roll 1851 Ancestry
- Oklahoma Slave Census 1860 Ancestry
- Wallace Roll of Cherokee Freedmen 1890-1893. Ancestry
- 1851 Censes of Eastern Cherokees (Drennen Roll) FamilySearch
- Guion Miller Roll Cherokees 1906. Fold3. You can see some info from search results for free.
- Fort Smith (Arkansas) Criminal Case Files Ancestry
- Arkansas wills & probate records Ancestry
- Northwest Arkansas Histories Ancestry
- Our People and Where They Rest. An 11 or 12 volume series of cemetery transcriptions in North Eastern Oklahoma by Tyner, Tyner, and Simmons. They can be accessed online from LDS Family History Centers. There is a master index.
Advice – Read This
Your success in identifying your ancestors among the 5 Civilized Tribes during their time in Indian Territory will be much higher if you will read this entire page and part 2 of this post before beginning. You will learn how best to use the links above and where to look for help when you encounter problems. You will also gain a greater respect for the opportunity you now have to instantly access these precious records.
At least read the “How to PREPARE to Use this Page” section and scan the Table of Contents below.
Table of Contents
- Why This Page Was Written Specifically for use by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
- How to PREPARE to Use This Page
- Establishing an account on Ancestry.com
- A Major Difference in Ancestry and Family Tree (the tree in FamilySearch)
- Proceeding Without an Ancestry.com Account
- How to Use the Links At the Top of This Page
- 1900 and 1910 Federal Census Records
- For Those Born in Indian Territory What Do I Enter For Their Birthplace?
- Tribal Districts
- Emmet Starr’s book
- Notes About the Dawes census cards
- Blood Quantum
- A Special Tip for Seminoles
- African Americans / Blacks / Negroes / Colored / Freedmen and the 5 Civilized Tribes
- Do Not be Devastated if Your Ancestors Are Not on the Dawes Rolls
- How These Records Were Accessed in the Past
- DNA Testing
- Our People and Where They Rest and Findagrave
- Descendancy View
- Further Study
- Applying to Join / Enroll in one of the 5 Civilized Tribes
- Ancestry Training Video on the Dawes Rolls
- We Welcome Your Comments
The links below go to Part 2 of our post
Why This Page Was Written Specifically for use by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints / LDS church / Mormons.
While all are welcome to use this page, it was specifically written for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints / LDS / Mormons. It was written for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints because it is easier to write to a specific audience you know will be using certain online genealogy sites (FamilySearch and Ancestry.com), tools, and databases, has access to certain databases (Ancestry.com), that already has some level understanding of the subject matter, and of the challenges of genealogy in general.
The ability of RecordSeek to link records on Ancestry.com to people on FamilySearch also helped bring this to pass.
We welcome all mankind to use this page. Just please be aware this is not just going to be a point and click experience providing your entire genealogy in a matter of seconds, and many of the databases utilized are on Ancestry.com.
How to PREPARE to Use This Page
You will need:
- An LDS.org account to access FamilySearch (non-members can open a free account)
- An account of FamilySearch
- A minimum of 4 generations filled out on FamilySearch
- An account on Ancestry.com
- RecordSeek, an app for many browsers installed on your browser
- To identify your specific ancestors you think may have ties to the 5 Civilized Tribes (Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek, Seminole) in Indian Territory / Oklahoma
- Access to a laptop or desktop computer. Preferably one with a large monitor. Cell phones and normal sized iPads do not have the monitor space needed for this task, plus they tend to run in a mobile display mode that is much more difficult to operate for these tasks. If you do not have or own a portable computer or a desktop computer, go to a public library or an LDS church genealogy library and use theirs. I am not sure the 12.9 inch iPad Pros can be used for this task or not. We welcome your feedback if you try one of them.
- Know your user names and logins for FamilySearch and Ancestry.com. That will really help out if you do any traveling with your research.
- While not absolutely necessary, it will be helpful if you have read the Wikipedia history of the tribe of your interest from about 1800 through 1910. Note just like today, politics were involved back then. Note not all factions of a tribe may agree with Wikipedia histories, but it is a good place to begin. The removal (tribes being removed from their previous lands), an internal civil war among the Cherokees, and the Civil War shaped these families and their records.
Completing the steps will greatly increase your probability of success and make it a more enriching experience as well.
Establishing an account on Ancestry.com
Steps for LDS members to establish an account on Ancestry.
- Establish an LDS.org login if you do not already have one
- Login on FamilySearch using your LDS.org login
- Click on this link Create Your Personal Accounts With
- Click on the Ancestry.com link and follow the instructions
NOTE – you do not have to re-enter your genealogy over on Ancestry.com. Ancestry can extract 4 generations of your records from FamilySearch if you elect to do so. You can manually enter some family members in Ancestry or you can just leave your tree blank. FamilySearch provides some tips for how to synchronize your records between the two programs if you wish. See How to Exchange Details between Ancestry and Family Tree.
This post is written with the intent you will be maintaining your records on FamilySearch and linking records from Ancestry databases to the individuals on FamilySearch. You are obviously free to maintain your genealogy records wherever you wish.
A Major Difference in Ancestry and Family Tree (the tree in FamilySearch)
Your tree in Ancestry.com is yours to do whatever you wish with. You can be a descendant of Daffy Duck and Batman if you want. You can change your ancestors every day if you wish.
The tree in FamilySearch (known as Family Tree) is a cooperative tree tended to by all mankind. It is not “your tree” and beyond extracting 4 generations for moving to Ancestry, it is not easily extracted.
Proceeding Without an Ancestry.com Account
Many of the best Native American genealogy resources and the most convenient versions of those resources for researching Five Civilized Tribes (Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek, Seminole) genealogy are on Ancestry.
FamilySearch does have some of the same records, but even those are less friendly to users (only access one page at a time of a multi-page document, and they tend to list each page of a document as a separate record making it difficult to find records related to your family member because the list of records for each individual is so long).
Among the tools on FamilySearch are:
- Dawes Roll Applications Note FamilySearch relies on Fold3 for access to these records which requires a paid subscription.
- Land Allotment Applications
How to Use the Links At the Top of This Page
First you need to identify who you are looking for that might be on the rolls or living in Indian Territory. Family stories and the geography of individuals in the third to fifth generation of your 4 generations chart will likely provide clues. You are looking for people in Western Arkansas, Southern Kansas (the Cherokees once accepted several Shawnees from Kansas as members), or Indian Territory mostly from about 1830 to 1910 or their descendants.
Second, we typically start with Links #1 and #2 (Dawes roll cards and Oklahoma & IT Censuses and Rolls) and only search for last names, not full names. Once we get one of more hits we begin to look at the first names that come up. You will have to search for the full name (first and last name) if the last name is common. If the first name is thought to be correct and somewhat rare, you might try searching for the first name by itself as well.
The hope is these steps will identify individuals in your family in or near Indian Territory at this point in time.
Third, once you get a real name, we go straight to the Dawes Roll applications (Link #6) because of the wealth of data and documents they contain.
As you learn more about your family such as additional family members or dates, enter them in FamilySearch.
Use RecordSeek to tie each record you identify on Ancestry.com to at least one member of your family on FamilySearch so you can quickly retrieve it in the future. When you open RecordSeek you need to click on the FamilySearch icon it presents so the system knows you will linking the record to FamilySearch. The quickest way to tie the record is to enter the record number of the individual in FamilySearch into the box provided on RecordSeek. Once the record number is entered you do not need to enter anymore identification data. It already knows who they are. Once you link to one person on FamilySearch it will give you an opportunity to link to other individuals if you wish. I tend to link them to the person representing the oldest generation listed on that record AND to other individuals on that record if no previous records have been linked to them.
1900 and 1910 Federal Census Records
In 1900 and 1910 the Federal Census records captured additional information on Native Americans. These census covered the area known as Indian Territory in 1900 and the state of Oklahoma in 1910. Oklahoma became a state in 1907.
Often at the end of a township’s census records you will see a listing of Native American families of which many of those families in this region were members of the 5 Civilized Tribes (Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek, Seminole).
For example, here is a listing of some families in Craig County Oklahoma in 1910. NOTE – the bottom table is actually an extension further out to the right of the upper table.
Similarly, here is a listing of some families in the Cooweescoowee District of Indian Territory in the 1900 Federal Census.
The section below talks about districts within Indian Territory.
The 1900 and 1910 Federal Census can help you find ancestors here (in Indian Territory) near the time of the Dawes Roll.
Almost everybody here had some sort of ties to the tribes at that time. We have seen a few listings of outsiders. But they were small in number. Many white males were married to Native American Females and the Dawes Roll generally treated them as non-citizens but adopted by marriage. They did not receive land allotments, but their wives and their children by those wives prior to the roll and for a few years thereafter did.
How to Access the 1900 and 1910 Federal Census records
The 1900 and 1910 censuses can be quickly searched using FamilySearch. Just click on “Search” at the top, then select “Records”, then insert some information for your ancestor (try the last name only first to see who is there, and restrict the records to those in the United States). Once countless results come up, click on the tab at the top labeled “Collections” then select the 1900 or 1910 census and see what comes up.
Or, you can go the record of an individual on FamilySearch, then go to the “Search Records” box in the right sidebar and click on “Family Search”. Then click on the tab near the top labeled “Collections”, then look in the “Census and Lists” section for “United States Census 1900” or “United States Census 1910” and click the checkbox to the left of that entry. If those specific census are not visible, out to the right of the “Census and Lists” heading above the list of census you can sometimes click to see more records, like “Show All 7”.
With either approach above, if there are lots of records, backup and enter their birthplace and repeat the process. If there are still too many “hits” backup and enter your ancestor’s 1st name and/or spouse. If they were born in Indian Territory, see our next section on how best to enter their birthplace.
If you struggle finding them but know where they lived, you can visually look for them or their relatives within the district or county within which they reside. If you are searching the 1910 census most of the Native Americans are generally enumerated at the very end of each Township’s records as shows above.
For Those Born in Indian Territory What Do I Enter For Their Birthplace?
On FamilySearch when you enter and individual OR search for an individual, the system always asks for a birthplace.
If your ancestor was born in Indian Territory OR born in this region before Indian Territory existed OR born in the Cherokee Strip (band across Northern Oklahoma) what do you enter?
I see similar issues with my white ancestors born in the American Colonies. Modern states did not exist. Sometimes people enter things like British Colonial America or Colony of Virginia, etc. While you can enter whatever you want, FamilySearch has certain “standard format” entries it tries to drive you to.
In the instance of Indian Territory, I have found FamilySeach likes “Cherokee Nation, Indian Territory, United States” and “Indian Territory, United States”. If your ancestors were born in one of the other tribal areas of Indian Territory you will need to experiment to see what Family Search suggests as you try to enter another tribe.
Although FamilySearch likes “Indian Territory, United States” and “Cherokee Nation, Indian Territory, United States” as place names, it does not know what “Indian Territory” means. If you are using FamilySearch to search for records for an individual (if you call up an individual in FamilySearch then click on “Family Search” under “Search Records” along the right sidebar of the page) born in Indian Territory you will need to change any address talking about “Indian Territory” to “Oklahoma” for FamilySearch to work. While it may make no sense to search for someone born in Oklahoma in 1880 (we were not a state until 1907), FamilySearch wants you to look for them as if they were born in Oklahoma.
It does make some sense in later censuses when they asked individuals where they were born, the census takers almost always wrote down Oklahoma if they said Indian Territory.
As to trying to identify individuals already entered into FamilyTree in FamilySearch (“Find”, “Family Tree” “Find”), it is challenging to try to guess what someone else may have written in for a birthplace if they were born in Indian Territory. You can enter born in the “United States” but you may have to sort through a lot of records. I usually try born in the United States, then I select Oklahoma as the State.
Also I sometimes try to limit the location of the records to Oklahoma using selections in the left sidebar. That seems to include Indian Territory records most of the time.
Individual tribes divided their areas into districts (regions). The 1900 census records / enumerates individuals by District.
For example the Cherokees had 9 Districts:
- Skin Bayou – later called Sequoyah
Some of the other 5 Civilized tribes similarly used districts. Some still do today.
As you begin to find your ancestors on the Dawes Roll and other Native American records you will likely begin to see some district names associated with where they lived and where their records were kept.
Each district kept its own records and had its own courthouse. If you are in or visit eastern Oklahoma you will recognize many Cherokee District names as today’s place names.
District names are also used in the Dawes Census Cards and are frequently mentioned in Dawes Roll applications.