Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma

The Great Seal of the Choctaw Nation

Searching for Thelma Matthews

Margaret Balcom Margaret Balcom

posted on May 30, 2013

I’ve been searching for my grandmother, Thelma Mae Matthews, Enrollment No. 890. She was born 3/27/1905 in I believe Muskogee,OK. Her mother was Rosa (Burney)and John W Matthews. Thelma married 1st Jason Smith (date unknown)- they had one child, 2nd married Elmer Balcom (my grandfather) in Texas (date 3/27/28) – they had four children. They moved to NY, 3rd married William Gales in Penn in 1938. I think she eventually went back to Texas.

Thelma’s siblings are: Atha, Dero, Losera, Willie.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

suzanne hamlet shatto suzanne hamlet shatto

posted on May 31, 2013

excellent information.
i am not sure what kind of information you lack.
maybe a death certificate? maybe the dawes packet information?

1940 United States Federal Census about Thelma M Gales
Name: Thelma M Gales
Age: 35
Estimated Birth Year: abt 1905
Gender: Female
Race: White
Birthplace: Olklonia
Marital Status: Married
Relation to Head of House: Wife
Home in 1940: Morris, Tioga, Pennsylvania
View Map
Inferred Residence in 1935: Dansville NY, L, New York
Residence in 1935: Dansville NY, L, New York
Resident on farm in 1935: No
Citizenship: Naturalized
Sheet Number: 1B
Occupation: Housekeeper
Attended School or College: No
Highest Grade Completed: C8
Hours Worked Week Prior to Census: 0
Class of Worker: Wage or salary worker in private work
Neighbors: View others on page
Household Members:
Name Age
William S Gales 33
Thelma M Gales 35
Source Citation: Year: 1940; Census Place: Morris, Tioga, Pennsylvania; Roll: T627_3614; Page: 1B; Enumeration District: 59-28.

you can correct the ancestry index so that others can find your family.

i searched the social security death index for a thelma that was born 3/27/1905 and got this list. she might have married again, i don’t know.

View Record Name Birth Date Death Date Last Residence
(City,County,State) Order Record
View Record Thelma R. Burnside 27 Mar 1905 15 Dec 1993 Burr Oak, Saint Joseph, Michigan
View Record Thelma Butler 27 Mar 1905 16 Mar 2000 Denver, Denver, Colorado
View Record Thelma M. Chambliss 27 Mar 1905 7 Dec 1996 Apopka, Orange, Florida
View Record Thelma Chesson 27 Mar 1905 Nov 1982 Vidor, Orange, Texas
View Record Thelma J. Curry 27 Mar 1905 8 Mar 1989 Torrance, Los Angeles, California
View Record Thelma J. Frisby 27 Mar 1905 May 1993 Tucson, Pima, Arizona
View Record Thelma L. Gattis 27 Mar 1905 3 Oct 1997 Sherman, Grayson, Texas
View Record Thelma Iltis 27 Mar 1905 Feb 1975 Atascadero, San Luis Obispo, California
View Record Thelma Kelsey 27 Mar 1905 Jun 1976 Sun City, Riverside, California
View Record Thelma Ladd 27 Mar 1905 Feb 1980 Albuquerque, Bernalillo, New Mexico
View Record Thelma Voorheis 27 Mar 1905 11 Sep 2000 Fairbanks, Fairbanks North Star, Alaska
View Record Thelma Waple 27 Mar 1905 May 1978
View Record Thelma E. Wattenburg 27 Mar 1905 Nov 1988 Portland, Multnomah, Oregon
View Record Thelma B. Williams 27 Mar 1905 Apr 1990 North Augusta, Aiken, South Carolina

some of these names are probably likelier than others. and this would work if she passed away after 1963.

what happened to your grandfather? did he stay in texas? did the children live with him? who were her children?

1910 United States Federal Census about Dero Matthews
Name: Dero Matthews
[Dera Mathis]
Age in 1910: 9
Birth Year: abt 1901
Birthplace: Oklahoma
Home in 1910: Municipal, Bryan, Oklahoma
Race: Indian (Native American)
Gender: Male
Relation to Head of House: Son
Marital Status: Single
Father’s Birthplace: Mississippi
Mother’s Name: Rosia Mcmanus
Mother’s Birthplace: Oklahoma
Neighbors: View others on page
Household Members:
Name Age
Rosa McManus 27
Arthur Mathis 12
Dero Matthews 9
Lasra Mathis 6
Thelma M Matthews 5
Willie J Matthews 3

Source Citation: Year: 1910; Census Place: Municipal, Bryan, Oklahoma; Roll: T624_1244; Page: 11B; Enumeration District: 0020; FHL microfilm: 1375257.

1900 United States Federal Census about Atha Matthews
Name: Atha Matthews
Age: 1
Birth Date: abt 1899
Birthplace: Indian Territory, Oklahoma
Home in 1900: Township 2, Choctaw Nation, Indian Territory
Race: Indian (Native American)
Gender: Male
Relation to Head of House: Son
Father’s Name: John W Matthews
Mother’s Name: Rosie Matthews
Occupation: View on Image
Neighbors: View others on page
Household Members:
Name Age
John W Matthews 34
Rosie Matthews 22
Atha Matthews 1
Source Citation: Year: 1900; Census Place: Township 2, Choctaw Nation, Indian Territory; Roll: 1852; Enumeration District: 0106; FHL microfilm: 1241852.

U.S. Native American Enrollment Cards for the Five Civilized Tribes, 1898-1914 about Atha Matthews
Name: Atha Matthews
Gender: Male
Birth Year: abt 1898
Age at Census Enrollment: 4
Enrollment Date: 25 Sep 1902
Tribal Affiliation: Choctaw By Blood
Census Card #: 2186
Dawes’ Roll #: 6324

Dawes Card Information

tribe last first middle age sex blood card roll misc type
Choctaw Anderson Eliz 0 F 2186 P
Choctaw Burney David 0 M 2186 P
Choctaw Matthews Narcissa 0 F 2186 P
Choctaw Matthews Nicholas 0 M 2186 P
Choctaw Matthews Atha 1 M 1/4 2186 6324 TALIHINA BB
Choctaw Matthews Dero 1 M 1/4 2186 6325 TALIHINA BB
Choctaw Matthews Rosa 21 F 1/2 2186 6323 TALIHINA BB
Choctaw Matthews John W 33 M IW 2186 IW21 TALIHINA BB
bb=by blood
iw=intermarried white, a general nontribal description

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.

you will need to know who the family members were 1830-1930 or so, where they were located. a good way to do this is by census records.
the first time period to concentrate on is 1900-1930 because most tribes enrolled during this period.
federal census records can help you here. you can get access through your local public library – two databases: 1) heritage quest, 2)

the dawes roll shows the applicants to the five major tribes 1896-1906 in indian territory/oklahoma. if your family applied for this, there would be a census card, dawes application, other supporting documents and testimony. these are located at NARA
try the fort worth, TX office.

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. you can google fold3 and your ancestor’s name to see if your relative’s dawes packet 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:

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 southeast 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

Margaret Balcom Margaret Balcom

posted on May 31, 2013

Suzanne, Thank you so much for your reply! Lots of helpful information. I do have Dawes Information. The only document I’m lacking, for her, is the death certificate and I’m guessing that she did remarry. She left each of the husbands and children. My father and his siblings were placed in foster care and grew up not knowing each other. My grandfather remarried but has passed. You’ve given me a lot of very helpful information.

I will start with the death information you’ve found.

Again, yakoke!


Margaret Balcom Margaret Balcom

posted on May 31, 2013

Also,by researching I was able to find my father’s youngest sibling. I was the 1st blood relative he met. He was able to meet his half-sisters and I’ve met cousins I didn’t know. One cousin is also researching and has met the same roadblock.

Thelma Mae Matthews (known married names: Smith/Balcom/Gales) had the following children: Senda Mae Smith b.4/2/1926, Robert Balcom b. 8/3/1929,David Balcom b.5/16/1931, Jean (Balcom)Ess b. 11/2/1932,Ebbon Carl Balcom b. 1/7/1936.

suzanne hamlet shatto suzanne hamlet shatto

posted on May 31, 2013

it might be cheapest to try to get obituaries from that list on the social security death index.
you have their date of death and location. and it appears to me that some of those entries are more likely than others.

if you have a social security # for her, then you can get a copy of a deceased relative’s social security application. all of the children would have had to submit some kind of birth record and this might have a social security # for her. try ebbon carl balcom, for instance. that is close to the date that social security went into effect, 1/1/1937.

Social Security Death Index about Ebbon C. Balcom
Name: Ebbon C. Balcom
SSN: 075-28-2353
Last Residence: 89706 Carson City, Carson City, Nevada, United States of America
Born: 7 Jan 1936
Died: 5 May 2003
State (Year) SSN issued: New York (1951-1953)

Social Security Death Index about E. Balcom
Name: E. Balcom
SSN: 446-01-6849
Last Residence: 74447 Okmulgee, Okmulgee, Oklahoma, United States of America
Born: 13 Jun 1902
Died: Nov 1975
State (Year) SSN issued: Oklahoma (Before 1951)

see your local public library/interlibrary loan program.

some states give some information in indexes that are published on the internet.

and, since her mother was enrolled, the tribe probably knows when thelma passed away, because thelma was likely enrolled. you would have to contact them, maybe submit birth certificates for your direct line from thelma.
under the services tab, click on departments, then enrollment. read the FAQs.

do you have the dawes packet? since her parents were on the dawes roll, that means there are underlying documents. probably has a copy of the dawes packet: testimony, census card, enrollment application, supporting documents. fold3 is a subscription website but one month’s subscription is less than the price of the dawes packet from NARA or oklahoma historical society.

1930 United States Federal Census about Thelma M Balcon
Name: Thelma M Balcon
[Thelma M Balcom]
Gender: Female
Birth Year: abt 1905
Birthplace: Oklahoma
Race: White
Home in 1930: Houston, Harris, Texas
View Map
Marital Status: Married
Relation to Head of House: Lodger
Father’s Birthplace: United States
Mother’s Birthplace: United States


Military Service:

Rent/home value:

Age at first marriage:

Parents’ birthplace:

View Image
Neighbors: View others on page
Household Members:
Name Age
Charlie L Landraun 39
PA*Ne Landraun 33
Gordon D Culpepper 16
Pearl P Landraun 9
Virgie Coleman 23
Elmo J Balcon 28
Thelma M Balcon 25
Robert J Balcon 0
Sendmar Smith 3
[3 11/12]
Clearence M Hill 19
Bryan Hays 30
Source Citation: Year: 1930; Census Place: Houston, Harris, Texas; Roll: 2346; Page: 9B; Enumeration District: 69; Image: 647.0; FHL microfilm: 2342080.

Texas Birth Index, 1903-1997 about Robert J Balcom
Name: Robert J Balcom
Date of Birth: 3 Aug 1929
Gender: Male
Birth County: Armstrong
Father’s Name: Elmer Balcom
Mother’s Name: Thelma May Mathews

David Clarence Balcom
Birth 16 May 1931 in Harris County, TX, USA
Death 14 Apr 1978 in East Pembroke, Monroe, NY, USA

Elmer J Balcom
Birth 03 Jun 1902 in Dansville, Livingston, New York, USA
Death 18 Nov 1975 in Okmulgee, Oklahoma, USA

another person who posted a family tree on says that elmer lived here:

1902 13 Jun
New York

3 source citations

1910 Age: 8
North Dansville, Livingston, New York

1 source citation

1920 Age: 18
Dansville, Livingston, New York

Jean Balcom
Birth 2 Nov 1933
Death 27 Oct 1989 in Oaklawn Cemetery West Sparta Livingston County New York, USA

i think you are narrowing this down pretty good.

William S. Gales
Birth 14 FEB 1907 in Md.
Death DEC 1986

1967 Age: 60
Wellsboro, Tioga Co., Pa.

1930 United States Federal Census about S William Gales
Name: S William Gales
Gender: Male
Birth Year: abt 1907
[abt 1910]
Birthplace: Maryland
Race: White
Home in 1930: Morris, Tioga, Pennsylvania
View Map
Marital Status: Single
Relation to Head of House: Son
Father’s Birthplace: West Virginia
Mother’s Name: Addie Gales
Mother’s Birthplace: West Virginia


Military Service:

Rent/home value:

Age at first marriage:

Parents’ birthplace:

View Image
Neighbors: View others on page
Household Members:
Name Age
Addie Gales 63
L Robert Gales 24
S William Gales 23
Source Citation: Year: 1930; Census Place: Morris, Tioga, Pennsylvania; Roll: 2152; Page: 2A; Enumeration District: 27; Image: 56.0; FHL microfilm: 2341886.

Social Security Death Index about William Gales
Name: William Gales
SSN: 198-05-4480
Last Residence: 16901 Wellsboro, Tioga, Pennsylvania, United States of America
Born: 14 Feb 1907
Died: Dec 1986
State (Year) SSN issued: Pennsylvania (Before 1951)

Pennsylvania, Veterans Burial Cards, 1777-1999 about William S Gales
Name: William S Gales
Birth Date: 14 Feb 1902
Death Date: 19 Dec 1986
Age: 84
Military Branch: Navy
Veteran of Which War: World War II
Cemetery Name: Mount Pleasant Cemetery
Cemetery Location: Morris Township, Tioga County, Pennsylvania

military documents/pension/death record might have information on thelma also.

look for his obituary also. (local public library/interlibrary loan program)

1986 Age: 79
Wellsboro, Tioga Co., Pa.

i wonder if his social security application has a mention about thelma.

Owner: gddix13

military service # 922 87 77

i see that the wellsboro gazette is on, newspapers.

william gales’ nickname was shorty.

11:55pm mrs. william gales transported to the hospital:
Pennsylvania Wellsboro The Wellsboro Gazette 28 Oct 1965

might be a possibility:

Cook County, Illinois Marriage Index, 1930-1960 about Thelma Gales
Name: Thelma Gales
Marriage Date: 10 Nov 1943
Spouse: Ferrel J. Grant
Marriage Location: Cook County, IL
Marriage license: {CBB70660-B016-4CAE-850B-8860F3CD71A3}
File Number: 1794597
Archive Collection Name: Cook County Genealogy Records (Marriages)
Archive repository location: Chicago, IL
Archive repository name: Cook County Clerk

Cook County, Illinois Marriage Index, 1930-1960 about Thelma Gales
Name: Thelma Gales
Marriage Date: 13 Jun 1944
Spouse: Frank E. Rhodes
Marriage Location: Cook County, IL
Marriage license: {DA181514-7E52-4750-BFC5-325A89B79874}
File Number: 1817418
Archive Collection Name: Cook County Genealogy Records (Marriages)
Archive repository location: Chicago, IL
Archive repository name: Cook County Clerk

you might try the tioga county clerk and see if there was a divorce. it might show which name she began using after a divorce.