Welcome to Part 2 of a 2 part post on the genealogy records of the 5 Civilized Tribes (Cherokee, Choctaw, Creek, Chickasaw, Seminole) in Indian Territory / Oklahoma that are now accessible online. Return to Part 1.
Emmet Starr’s book
As mentioned earlier, Emmet Starr’s book, History of the Cherokees and Their Legends and Folk Lore, is a tremendous resource for Cherokee genealogy. However, it will require an investment of some time (maybe 15 minutes) to read and understand his notation system before you can fully exploit it.
In the book, Emmet Starr creates his own notation system for referencing different generations of the same family, twins, divorces, birth order of the children, those without offspring, and all the other things that sometimes happen in families. Most of these notations are placed in front of the first person’s name. Starr explains his notation system and provides examples on pages 303-305. I printed off those pages and leave them laying by my computer.
The primary genealogy content of Starr’s book is on pages 305-461. His book was published in Oklahoma City in about 1921 (some publication variations exist). It was originally published without an index making it very challenging to quickly find less prominent individuals. Some modern re-printings of Emmet Starr’s book include an index of about 100 pages.
More information about Starr’s book
One of the best known names among those researching Cherokee genealogy beyond the Dawes materials is Emmet Starr.
Born in 1870 he was a medical doctor, Cherokee historian, and a Cherokee genealogist. He published a few books, best known among genealogists is History of the Cherokee Indians and Their Legends and Folklore. About 1980 when I started researching Cherokee genealogy this book was pretty rare. It was only available in a few libraries considerably distant from me. As a highly desirable, rare book it was very expensive. I recall looking what seems like just a few years ago and it was still several hundred dollars a copy on eBay.
A couple years ago I discovered Starr’s book available as a Kindle book by Amazon for just a few dollars. While it was wonderful to have my own copy, I quickly discovered the Kindle version had serious problems. The complicated notation system used by Starr results in a series of numbers and symbols in front of many names in the genealogy section of the book. Somebody scanned the book, then used Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software to convert the book to text that could be used online in a Kindle book. Starr’s complex notation system did not go through scanning and OCR well, resulting in useless gibberish rending the book of little value to me.
Now Emmet Starr’s book on the history of the Cherokees is available on Google Books for free. Google somehow avoided the pitfalls of the Kindle version.
The Google version does not have an index BUT is word searchable, which is even better. You can search for your ancestors last name or first name if it is rare or for a parent or brother and sister with an odd name if your ancestor has a common name. Once you find your way into the system you can then use Starr’s notation system to find your relative. With some luck and Starr’s notation system, you may be able to find their ancestors and some of their descendants as well.
Paper copies of Starr’s book are currently available for purchase on Amazon at reasonable prices. If you elect to purchase one you need to make sure (1) Starr’s notation system is clearly readable in that version, and (2) you get a version with the paper index.
Personally, I just use the free one on Google Books. However if you are going to be traveling or involving the older generation in your research, a paper copy may prove useful.
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