Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma

The Great Seal of the Choctaw Nation

John Grief Burkes

T. Lane Burkes T. Lane Burkes

posted on September 5, 2012 and updated on September 5, 2012

Hello, I am researching the “Burkes” family tree. Below is the information I have been able to gather so far. If it is helpful in your quest I would love to hear from you. Email: If you have info to share I would really appreciate it.

Burkes Family History

John Grief Burkes was born May 27, 1846 at Skullyville, Indian Territory. Skullyville, which means “Moneytown” in Choctaw, was the place where the Choctaws received their annuity payments. The town was established September 6, 1831 by Capt. Wm. McClellan at a point 15 miles up the Arkansas River from Ft. Smith. This is the place where the Choctaws began to arrive in numbers in 1832 from Mississippi. In January of that year 47 Choctaws were in the first group, 536 came in March and in December a group of 1000 men women and children arrived.

As the Indians prepared to leave their homes in Mississippi they gathered into groups led by a tribal leader or elder or in some cases, by guides hired by the government. Each group was supposed to have been issued supplies and a means of transportation, wagons and horses or mules. However, many times the transportation and supplies were not forthcoming and the groups of Indians had to make do with what supplies they could get together on their own. Often times the only transportation was their own two feet. Many became ill and some died along the way. Because of the hardships endured by many, this has been called the ‘Trail of Tears’. Those that survived the rigors of the trip arrived at Skullyville and were given some tools and supplies to help them establish a new life in the territory.

The probability is that John Grief Burkes’ mother, Elizabeth (Bettie ?) Morris, a half-blood Mississippi Choctaw, arrived in Skullyville, as a child, with her parents, Charles Morris and Betty Folsom Morris, sometime around 1832. Since John Grief Burkes was born at Skullyville in 1846 it is possible that his mother grew up in the area and met his father, Jim Burkes a white man, there. John Grief Burkes grew to manhood in the area around Skullyville.

These were tumultuous times in the Indian Territory and within the Choctaw Tribe. There was a division in the tribe. On one side were the full bloods, who were conservative and desired to follow the old ways and on the other side were the mixed bloods and inter-married members, who were more liberal in their thinking and tended, more or less, to follow the ways of the white man. The turmoil caused by these differences would have repercussions on every person of Indian blood in the territory right up until statehood.

With the advent of the Civil War, John Grief Burkes declared himself for the Confederacy. He was wounded in his thigh in battle by a mini ball which caused him to have a slight limp for the rest of his life. His slave who had followed him into battle rescued him and bandaged him up and secretly transported him via the Underground Railroad to safety in the Indian Territory.

Sometime in the early 1870’s John Grief Burkes married a girl by the name of Mollie, her last name is unknown. Together they had a son named William M. Burkes. Mollie died and John Grief Burkes married a girl named Vilaney Duke (m.1877, Texas). John Grief and Vilaney had a son they named John Grief Burkes, Jr. Vilaney also died leaving John Sr. with two young boys to raise.

Fortunately, he met Alice Echols Hall (b.December 27, 1861)(IW-1272), who also had two young boys, Marion Hall (b.January 14, 1879) and Edward Hall (b. 1880?). Alice’s husband, John Hall had been killed in a fight over a card game. Together, Alice and John Sr. had seven children, six girls and a boy. The family lived and farmed in various locations throughout the southern Choctaw and Chickasaw Nation. In 1893 John Grief Burkes and his family were living near the Fox Post Office, Pickens County, Chickasaw Nation, Indian Territory.

In the late 1880’s the conservative full bloods of the tribe had taken control of tribal affairs the many of the mixed blood and inter-married citizens were denied their share of the annual lease allotment and annuity monies. In preparation for statehood, the Dawes Commission was charged with the distribution of tribal land to the individual Choctaw citizens. Those citizens who had been denied recognition by the tribe were required to petition the Dawes Commission for reinstatement and John Grief Burkes was among them.

On August 26, 1896 John Grief Burkes petitioned the Dawes Commission for reinstatement and enrollment in the Choctaw tribe. His petition was successful. After the Dawes Commission recognized him, John Grief Burkes (14173) chose land in the area east of Marlow in the Chickasaw Nation for himself and his children. This was an area of good farmland and he chose well. He and Alice moved the family to their new home five miles east and two miles north of Marlow and started farming there about 1900. John Grief received 100 acres and Alice received 100 acres in Section 6, Township 2 North, Range 6 West. The children received the following, Ben 100.91 acres, Lelia 110 acres, Lillie 120 acres, Mary 110 acres, Maudie 110 acres, Myrtle 110 acres and Ella 100.27 acres. All of the allotments were in the same area.

The Dawes Commission had closed the Choctaw Roll after most of the citizens had been enrolled and a substantial portion of the land had been allotted. However, they reopened the Roll in 1906 and allowed the enrollment of ‘new born’ and inter-married citizens. By this time John Grief Burkes had eight grandchildren, they were enrolled and drew allotments.

John Grief Burkes died December 19, 1903 at his home near Marlow. He always said the mini ball he carried in his leg would be the death of him and in the end it may have been. He was buried in the cemetery at Bailey, Oklahoma. After his death Alice moved into Marlow where she lived until her death January 12, 1938, she is buried in the cemetery at Marlow, Oklahoma. John Grief Burkes had 26 grandchildren, a number of great-grand children and a number of great-great children.
The following is what is known of the children of John Grief Burkes.

William M. Burkes (b. 1874-75)(14210) married Maud Ella Davis(IW-1600) they had two daughters Ella Jewel Burkes(NB-83) Beulah Burkes(?) They settled in the area around Hartshorn, Oklahoma, possibly to be near his mother’s kinfolk. He served some time in prison for killing another man with an ax. William M. Burkes died in the late 1920’s under mysterious circumstances. It is possible that he is buried in the cemetery at Hartshorn.

John Grief Burkes, Jr. (b.October 16,1879)(14174) married (December 29,1901) Sarah Polixiny McDaniels (b. 5-10-1882)(IW-1572). They had three children, Charley McCleallan Burkes (b. September 20, 1902)(14182) Morine Burkes (b. December 10, 1905)(M-453) Boyd Burkes (b.July 9, 1908) John Grief Jr. farmed his allotment. He died December 28, 1914 and is buried in the cemetery at Bradley, Oklahoma.

Ella I. Burkes (b.December 31, 1883)(14175) became the wife of Boyd M. Lowe December 29, 1901. They built a house on Ella’s allotment about a mile east of where Alice and John Sr. lived. Boyd and Ella lived there and farmed the land for several years before selling out and moving to Marlow. They had four children, Alvin Homer Lowe (b.July 30, 1903)(NB-506), Leba L.Lowe (b.July 31, 1908), Elton M. Lowe (b.May 26, 1912), Clyde W. Lowe (b.November 19, 1914). Boyd died July 14, 1964 and Ella died February 8, 1968, they are buried in the cemetery at Marlow, Oklahoma.

Lillie Beulah Burkes (b.July 13, 1885)(14176) was the first of the girls to marry on October 6, 1901 when she wed Thomas Jefferson Trammell (b.February 20, 1879). They had 13 children.
John Edgar Trammell (b.June 29, 1903)(NB-633)
Stella Mae Trammell (b.August 6, 1904)(NB-634)
Ruby Lee Trammell (b.February 7, 1906)(M-226)
Clyde Lee Trammell (b.March 22, 1907)
Berta Lee Trammell (b. September 11, 1908)
Autie Thomas Trammell (b. November 5, 1910)
Elmer Charlie Trammell (b.March 17, 1912)
Edward Lee Trammell (b.January 24, 1914)
Betty Lou Trammell (b.ApriI 20, 1916)
Arbury Trammell (b.July 7, 1917)
Alice Joyce Trammell (b.October 10, 1919)
Hazel Augusta Trammell (b.January 8, 1921)
Finley Lucille Trammell (b.November 9, 1923)

Myrtle Jeanette Burkes (b.October 29, 1888)(14177) and Daniel Webster Goad (b. September 11, 1885) were married December 15, 1906. They had two daughters, Wynnie Beatrice Goad (b. September 24, 1908) and Eva Jeraldean Goad (b. December 24, 1913)
They built a house on Myrtle’s allotted land in Section 5, Township 2 North, Range 6 West and farmed there most of their lives. Myrtle died June 7, 1964 and Dan died September 12, 1970, they are buried in the cemetery at Marlow, Oklahoma.

Lelia Ann Burkes (b. April 27, 1891(14178) also known to her family as ‘Wasula’, left the area at age 18. She was an opera singer having sold her Indian allotment to attend the Boston Conservatory of Music. Later in her career she shared the stage with Bing Crosby.

Later, she was briefly married to a man, name unknown, and lived in Tulsa., Oklahoma. One morning she and her husband awoke to find a baby on their doorstep with a note stating the baby was the daughter of Lelia’s husband. Lelia left her husband but took the baby with her and raised it as her own daughter. Lelia moved to Detroit, Michigan. She performed on the stage as ‘The Indian Princes’. She met Thomas M. Albert there and they were married. They had no children of their own. The young girl that Lelia was raising died when she was 16 years old. She and Thomas made and lost their fortune in the 1920’s and 1930’s in Detroit. They retired to Reno, Nevada. She sold her allotment. Thomas preceded her in death, he died of cancer at the home of Lelia’s brother Ben in Sutter, California. She died in 1953 and is buried in the Marlow Cemetery.

Mary Ellis Burkes (b.July 23, 1893)(14179) was known to her family as ‘Billie’, also left the area. She married George Look, they had no children. She too sold her allotment. George preceded her in death. She died in a nursing home in in Monterey, California and was cremated. A marker for her was placed in the Burkes family plot in the Marlow Cemetery.

Ben Ager Burkes (b.August 7, 1895, d.March 23, 1969)(14180) remained in the area and married Jewell R. Horton, she had a daughter by a previous marriage named Claudine. Jewell and Ben had two children, Betty Jewell Burkes (b. ) and Johnny Albert Burkes (b.September 18, 1930)
Ben lived on his allotment after he returned from WW I. He later sold it and moved to Detroit to find work. After several years he moved to Yuba City, California and lived there until his death, March 23, 1969. He is buried in the Burkes family plot at Marlow, Oklahoma.

Maudie Vinita Burkes (b.June 19,1898)(14181) was the youngest of John and Alice’s children. She was briefly married to Roy Ross. She too sold her allotment and left the area. She was a physical therapist most of her life. She was known to her family as ‘Betty’. She died July 17, 1986 and shares a marker with her sister Mary Ellis Burkes Look.


suzanne hamlet shatto suzanne hamlet shatto

posted on September 5, 2012

that is a very good job on narrating your family’s story.

you might want to contact NARA fort worth, TX office and see the native census reports, the intruder records, and the registration that might list your family before the trail of tears began.
the native census records are indexed on this website
see native census and native databases and rolls to the left

in addition, there might be newspaper obituaries, newspaper mentions of other events. contact your local public library and see if you can get a copy through interlibrary loan. the state archives or state historical society may have historical newspapers for this period. you can also access many local history books through interlibrary loan.
the WPA did many interview called the pioneer papers. maybe they interviewed one of your relatives.
the volumes are alphabetical by interviewee’s name

you can search the oklahoma chronicles for your family names, since your family lived in indian territory many years.
oklahoma historical society can help you with any paper copy of a mention.

state archives
oklahoma historical society

there may also be old vital records in the state archives.

try or for cemetery records.
webprojects by location, tribe and surname might help you find more records.

genealogists use names, dates, locations, children and spouses to match records. if you have a common surname, you need to give more information rather than less. if you post about women, it is helpful to include the maiden name and the married name and designate which one is the maiden name.

start with what you know, gather documentation, then you can go backward in time. so get your birth certificate, your parents’ birth certificates and marriage license and then you can start on your grandparents. if someone passed away after 1/1/1937, they probably have a social security application on file. if you ask a government agency for a birth certificate, and they were born before 1929, they might have submitted a delayed birth certificate. death certificates, cemetery information and obituaries are helpful. you can usually get a copy of an obituary, newspaper mentions such as birth of a child or marriage, through the interlibrary loan program – see your local public library for this. i usually start with the death and work toward the person’s birth. military records and pension records can be helpful. census records can tell you where they were at particular times, names of family members. the census records up to 1940 are available, although the 1890 census was largely destroyed.

obituaries through the oklahoma choctaw tribe is through the history link for the tribe:

social security application for a deceased person:
form SS-5.

your public library probably has a subscription to heritage quest and is another useful database for native records and military records, but they are a subscription. however, many times their month’s subscription price is less than the price of a dawes packet, however check with accessgenealogy’s database to see if your relative’s dawes packet is exists or is available at fold3.
partial names are allowed.

bear in mind that many records are not online. always collect documents, as just the reference to a relative in an index informs you that a document is available.

death records:
death certificate: state vital records or if very old, state archives. ask for the person’s name at the time of death. you can look at death indices, such as the social security death index 1964-present for a date of death on or
obituary: see your local public library, interlibrary loan program. ask for the person’s name at the time of death. approximate date of death is helpful. if old, state historical society or state archives might have historical newspapers.
cemetery record: try or ask for the person’s name at the time of death. if you find a relative, you can click on the county or cemetery to see if others with the same surname are buried there.

marriage records:
state vital records office, county clerk or if old, state archives or state historical society.

birth records:
state vital records office, or if old, state archives or state historical society. if the birth was before 1940, ask for a birth certificate or a delayed birth certificate. many people had to get delayed birth certificates when social security came into effect because they had to show proof of age. this will be under the name used at the time of birth.

census records:
you will want to search for census records 1940 on down to the birth of your relative. the federal census was taken every 10 years, however the 1890 census was largely destroyed by fire. there are also some state census records and native census records and native rolls. and heritage quest are two databases that include many census records. many native census records kept by NARA ( are transcribed at accessgenealogy.

first of all, heritage and tribal enrollment are two different things. many times natives didn’t apply for enrollment because 1) they didn’t qualify, 2) they were philosophically opposed to enrollment, 3) they didn’t have documentation, or 4) they were mississippi choctaw and their ancestor had accepted land or benefits in lieu of tribal enrollment.

the dawes roll was taken 1896-1906, so you should trace your ancestors down to that time period. mostly, they had to be living in oklahoma by that time and agree to live there permanently.

history of the dawes roll
wikipedia entries are sometimes opinionated; entered by volunteers.

helpful information about tribal enrollment

2 ways to search:
this will let you enter partial names to get card#. click on the card# in the card column and you can see other names in that family.
other resources on the left and at the bottom of this webpage. native census records and databases are especially useful.
this will give you card# (family group) and enrollment #. they have some native marriage records too. other oklahoma records listed at left.
if your relative was enrolled by court action, their name might not be on this list.
if the name is common, you may find too many possible records.
you can order the dawes packet from the oklahoma historical society website.

if you find a relative listed on the dawes roll, fold3 may have filmed the record and could be available online.
other resources are NARA

the five civilized tribes book put out by the department of the interior has testimony.
and you can read it online

and these are the microfilms at fort worth TX archives.

there may be additional records about your relative:
contact NARA for these and other records listed on this webpage.

75.23.1 Records of the Dawes Commission
75.23.2 Records of the U.S. Indian Inspector for Indian Territory
75.23.3 General records of the Commissioner to the Five Civilized Tribes
(Record Group 75)
oklahoma newspaper and archives search. some of these resources may be available through interlibrary loan/public library.

the tribe has an excellent information to help you. it is found under genealogy advocacy.
some obituaries:

NARA federal records repository. the fort worth, TX office has archives for oklahoma and texas tribes. atlanta/morrow office has archives for the southwest tribes. many offices have microfilmed records for several tribes. note that this web address has changed recently from

freedmen info:
You can ONLY apply for Choctaw Nation Membership, AFTER you have obtained a CDIB card proving your Choctaw Blood lineage to a direct ancestor who actually enrolled, BY BLOOD. Freedmen DID NOT enroll By Blood. When US Congress closed the Final Dawes Commission Rolls, there were no provisions granting Freedmen any benefits after the Dawes Commission closed. The tribe Constitution states BY BLOOD. however, the documents (application, census card and testimony) may help you find out more about your heritage.

about blood quantum laws:
calculations about blood quantum:

mississippi choctaw and choctaw tribe explained here:

jena choctaw tribe in louisiana:

MOWA tribe
MOWA Band Of Choctaws Wilford Taylor 1080 Red Fox Road Mount Vernon, AL 36560 (251) 829-5500. E-Mail:

other choctaw tribes:

chickasaw historical society
Historic Preservation and Repatriation Office
Phone: (580) 272-5325
Fax: (580) 272-5327
2020 E. Arlington, Suite 4, Ada, OK 74820
send mail to: P.O. Box 1548, Ada, OK 74821

chickasaw tribe
Chickasaw Nation Headquarters
520 East Arlington, Ada, OK 74820
Phone (580) 436-2603
Mailing address: P.O. Box 1548, Ada, OK 74821

chickasaw genealogy archive center Tribal Library
Phone: (580) 310-6477
Fax: (580) 559-0773
1003 Chamber Loop, Ada, OK 74820
send mail to: P.O. Box 1548, Ada, OK 74821
oklahoma historical society
marriage records

other historical societies:
some oklahoma genealogical societies:

texas tribes

oklahoma tribes:

some links for the choctaw.
i looked at the land records and those need a lot of work. i have no information about whether or when they will improve some of these categories.

types of records available for native americans:
pages 366-369 in particular although the entire native american chapter is helpful.
The Genealogist’s Companion and Sourcebook:
Guide to the Resources You Need for Unpuzzling Your Past
Emily Anne Croom
you can ask for these particular pages from your local public library. if they don’t have the book, you can get the pages through the interlibrary loan program.
native american records are discussed in pages 352-386.

Tracing ancestors among the Five Civilized Tribes: Southeastern Indians …
By Rachal Mills Lennon
this book could be accessed through the interlibary loan program also.

always find the state archives. some records are online, some records are not. but many times you can find a record not found in other places. you want to see also about newspaper mentions for obituaries, births, marriages in particular.

check courts for probate, civil and criminal cases, marriage records.

if your ancestors lived on a reservation, they might not appear on a federal census because they were not taxed.
1860 census, indian territory.

this book is a good read about the dawes roll and how they implemented it.
The Dawes Commission and the allotment of the Five Civilized Tribes, 1893-1914
By Kent Carter
and you can read this book online. your relatives’ testimony might be in the book.
see the menu at left. you can download it.
you should look at the enrollment application, census card and testimony. this post will tell you how to do that. these documents will tell you more about your heritage, but it won’t help you if your goal is to be enrolled in the choctaw tribe of oklahoma. some people were classed as mississippi choctaw if the family had a native heritage but didn’t qualify for enrollment in the tribe.

there are 63 tribes in oklahoma but only the five major tribes are on the dawes roll. look at your family’s location around 1900-1930 time period (census will help you there) and see if there was a tribe located nearby. it is possible that your relatives were affiliated with another tribe.

if they were mississippi choctaw, there is probably a land grant in MS/AL to a head of household called choctaw scrip land. this was given in lieu of tribal enrollment 1830-1880 time period. has a database of the MS and AL choctaw scrip land records, called mississippi or alabama land records. there are other land records in those databases too,, so you have to look at the authority/source cited. NARA has those land record packages.

the mississippi choctaw was not removed from oklahoma. but they were largely rejected for tribal enrollment.

this website might help you in your search. some people are trying to transcribe applications.
i do not know what they are trying to transcribe, but this is the volunteer page

and this might be of interest to you:
Rights of Mississippi Choctaws in the Choctaw Nation
Index to the Final Rolls of the Citizens and Freedmen of the Five Civilized Tribes in Indian Territory
the dawes roll is composed of applications to the five major tribes in oklahoma.

good advice about native research:

if your relatives came from a different geographic location or belonged to a different tribe, try searching google for the state and tribes. you might find a contact for a state-recognized tribe or a federal recognized tribe.

this page can help you set up a targeted google search.

penny postcards. this is a website that features pictures that were on postcards. click on the state to see the postcards that they have.
if you have a penny postcard, you can click on submissions to add your penny postcard to the collection.

these searches will combine several possible search terms and give you the best matches.

i have collected many resources over the years. if you want to write to me, and request the choctaw resource list, i will be glad to send it to you.

i am just a volunteer that wants to empower people to learn how to do genealogy.

suzanne hamlet shatto