Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma

The Great Seal of the Choctaw Nation

Trying To Discover My Family Heritage

Alberta Betterson Alberta Betterson

posted on November 4, 2012


My name is Alberta and I was told by my maternal grandmother (Lydia Ann Simmons) before she died that she was half Native American and half Black. Her mother, my great-grandmother (Pallie Montgomery) was half Choctaw and her father, my great-grandfather (John Henry Moten) was half Blackfoot. John Henry was born in Coldwater, MS in either 1885 or 1890, I’m not sure exactly and I can find no DOB for Pallie. I’m not sure how the bloodline configuration works or how much to be considered Choctaw. I’m also searching information from the Blackfoot Nation. I just want to know my family history. Any information would be greatly appreciated.

suzanne hamlet shatto suzanne hamlet shatto

posted on November 4, 2012

pallie montgomery b. unknown m. john henry moten b. ~1885 MS
lydia ann moten m. ? simmons

john moten’s name is somewhat common. i’m not sure where you got the information about his birth.

i’m not finding a lydia moten in the census records.

in my opinion,you should start from the death and work backwards in time. get a death certificate and an obituary.

from some user-entered family trees on ancestry:

Pallie Montgomery
Birth 1875 in Missouri, USA

Family Members

Percy C Montgomery 1866 – 1925 Ida Montgomery 1866 –

Family Members

George Washington MONTGOMERY 1864 – 1932 Ida A. DOUGHERTY 1866 – 1941

this record refers to a census record:

1910 United States Federal Census about Pallie Montgomery
Name: Pallie Montgomery
[Orpha Montgomery]
[Orphae Montgomery]
Age in 1910: 35
Birth Year: abt 1895
Birthplace: Missouri
Home in 1910: Bozeman Ward 1, Gallatin, Montana
Race: White
Gender: Female
Relation to Head of House: Daughter
Marital Status: Single
Father’s Name: Percy W Montgomery
Father’s Birthplace: Missouri
Mother’s name: Ida Montgomery
Mother’s Birthplace: Illinois
Neighbors: View others on page
Household Members:
Name Age
Percy W Montgomery 43
Ida Montgomery 44
Wesley Montgomery 24
Pallie Montgomery 35
Sadie Montgomery 13
Grace Montgomery 12
Theodore S Montgomery 9
Edith Montgomery 4
Source Citation: Year: 1910; Census Place: Bozeman Ward 1, Gallatin, Montana; Roll: T624_832; Page: 4B; Enumeration District: 0137; Image: 601; FHL microfilm: 1374845.

California, Death Index, 1940-1997 about Orpha C Montgomery
Name: Orpha C Montgomery
Social Security #: 556071533
Gender: Female
Birth Date: 14 Oct 1894
Birth Place: Missouri
Death Date: 28 Nov 1973
Death Place: Tulare

i think you should start with your grandmother,lydia ann simmobns first, gather documents, then go backward in time. this is because some information should establish/confirm the information you have on her parents.

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.
several helpful links for records in the choctaw territory

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.

for those people who do not yet have a card, you should research the 1900-1940 census to know approximate dates of birth, birthplaces, family members. this will also tell you if someone is more likely to be on the freedman roll or as applicants to the dawes roll taken 1896-1906 in indian territory/oklahoma for the five major tribes.

applicants can be found here:
partial names are ok. look at the guide link for explanation of the codes.

when you find a possible name, then click on the card# in the card column to see the family group. if it is your family group, and they were likely enrolled, then you can search the oklahoma historical society’s dawes roll link to get the enrollment #’s for particular family members.

if your family was enrolled by council action early in the process or was enrolled by lawsuit, they might not appear on the oklahoma historical society website. you would have to check with the tribe on that.

even if your family was rejected by the dawes process, you may want the testimony, census card, application information for your genealogical purposes.

the federal census will also help you decide which state to contact for vital records.

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

freedmen information:
many freedmen links on this webpage:

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

Alberta Betterson Alberta Betterson

posted on November 6, 2012


WOW! That’s a lot of information. Thanks a lot. The search continues. I tried checking the Dawes roll but found nothing. I will continue my research with the added resources you gave. It’s much appreciated.


suzanne hamlet shatto suzanne hamlet shatto

posted on November 6, 2012

the purpose of the dawes roll taken 1896-1906 in indian territory/oklahoma was to list the applicants to the five major tribes of oklahoma. since your family apparently lived elsewhere, it was much less likely they applied to an oklahoma tribe. but there are several other tribes. you should look at where your family was living 1830-1930, know the family members and locations and then look for an affiliation with a tribe near where they lived.

many tribes enrolled members 1900-1930. applicants had to prove heritage for that tribe.

the state historical society and state archives should also be contacted for records.


suzanne hamlet shatto

YRoney YRoney

posted on November 12, 2012

For all of you who can trace your native roots like I can but cannot find a relative on a final dawes roll or cannot recieve enrollment in a tribe that does not mean you are not native. s tay strong and keep up your culture. I can find choctaw relatives to census records and the first dawes rolls but not the second so I do not believe that I can become an enrolled member of the choctaw tribe. Is this true?

suzanne hamlet shatto suzanne hamlet shatto

posted on November 12, 2012

i do not know. you don’t give any names.

members of the tribe are here:

you might want to get a copy of the first application and see any documents associated with that. they are found at NARA fort worth, TX office.
oklahoma historical society
fold3 is a subscription website but one month’s subscription is less than the price of a dawes packet from NARA or oklahoma historical society.

you will need to look up the names on the 1896 applications (if this is what you refer to as the first application)
gete the #. i don’t know if the # refers to a family group # or member application #.
but it will tell NARA staff where to locate the record.

in order to be a tribal member of the choctaw tribe of oklahoma, you would have to be directly descended from an original enrollee of the tribe.
there are 63 tribes in oklahoma and location is a major factor about tribal affiliation. the dawes roll only lists the applicants to the five major tribes of oklahoma.