Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma

The Great Seal of the Choctaw Nation

Looking for more information on Margaret Elizabeth Lee Harris

Christine Myers Christine Myers

posted on September 27, 2013


Looking for more concrete information on my ancestry going back from Margaret Elizabeth Lee Harris. I have found conflicting information online.

I think it would be really wonderful to connect to any of my relatives, distant or not. Please feel free to post and perhaps we can exchange information.

suzanne hamlet shatto suzanne hamlet shatto

posted on September 27, 2013

this is a common name.
do you have the spouse’s name, dates, locations, name of children? is harris her maiden name or married name?

is there a connection with the choctaw tribe?

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.
there are 63 tribes in oklahoma but only the 5 major tribes list applicants on the dawes roll taken 1896-1906 in indian territory/oklahoma.

requirements for enrollment for several oklahoma tribes:
What are tribal membership requirements?

Tribal enrollment criteria are set forth in tribal constitutions, articles of incorporation or ordinances. The criterion varies from tribe to tribe, so uniform membership requirements do not exist.

Two common requirements for membership are lineal decendency from someone named on the tribe’s base roll or relationship to a tribal member who descended from someone named on the base roll. (A “base roll” is the original list of members as designated in a tribal constitution or other document specifying enrollment criteria.) Other conditions such as tribal blood quantum, tribal residency, or continued contact with the tribe are common.

enrollment is a two step process. first you have to get your CDIB card from the BIA to show your degree of blood/eligibility to enroll in a particular tribe, and then you have to apply to the tribe for acceptance, if you meet their membership requirements.

Tribal Government personnel, usually an Enrollment Clerk, located at a regional or agency office processes applications for Certificates of Degree of Indian Blood (CDIB) and Indian Preference in Employment, BIA Form 4432, to anyone who can provide documentation that he or she descends from an American Indian tribe.
this article has many resources.
however i find the paragraph on “Recognition for individuals” to be somewhat insensitive.

i think someone should rewrite that paragraph.

What are the most typical requirements for membership?
Each tribe has a base roll which was established, usually, in the early 20th century, listing the members of the tribe
at that time. Your first challenge will be to prove direct lineal descent from someone listed on that base roll. Then
you must prove that you have the required level of blood quantum – the percentage of your genetic make-up that
is native by bloodline. Most tribes require a 1/4 blood quantum – that is, you must be at least one-fourth Native
American – but note that the Eastern Band of the Cherokees requires that you be only 1/16 or higher to join, and the Cherokee Nation has no minimum quantum restriction, so long as you can prove descent. There may be other conditions for membership as well: requirements for tribal residency or continued contact with the tribe are common.

choctaw enrollment, forms, FAQs

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. some mississippi choctaw were accepted by adoption or lawsuit.

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 on the dawes roll 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.
you can try school records in the oklahoma state archives, the oklahoma historical society and NARA.
these two resources might have historical newspapers and local history books. your public library/interlibrary loan program might also have access to newspapers and local history books.

as for stories, you can see if any of the relatives are mentioned in the oklahoma pioneer papers or oklahoma chronicles.
volumes are alphabetical by surname.
if an interview is not online, contact the host of these interviews.

as for location for your family, you should look on the federal census 1900-1940 for your family and this will give you locations, family members. your local public library probably has a subscription to and heritage quest.

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

Christine Myers Christine Myers

posted on October 2, 2013

Thank you for all the information.
I am already an enrolled tribal member. “Lee” is Margaret’s maiden name. She was Choctaw Supreme Court Justice Henry Churchill Harris’ wife. I was just wondering if I have any relatives out there who could share more with me about her life and her ancestry going back. I have information on mostly male ancestors and I am studying our beloved women tradition for a college project so I wanted to explore the roles of my women ancestors.

It would figure that Margaret might be an easier research subject since she had some status and her lifetime was lived at an important pivotal time before/after statehood hit our tribe broadside. I do not believe she was on the rolls, since she was white, but I may be mistaken.

suzanne hamlet shatto suzanne hamlet shatto

posted on October 2, 2013
Margarette Elizabeth Lee Harris
Birth: Aug. 16, 1840
Cherokee County
Alabama, USA
Death: Apr. 21, 1909
McCurtain County
Oklahoma, USA

Wife of Henry C. Harris

Family links:
Henry Churchill Harris (1837 – 1899)*

Children: William Henry Harris (1865 – 1877)* Charles S. Harris (1868 – 1885)* Walter Churchill Harris (1870 – 1937)* Leona Betrace Harris (1872 – 1910)* Maggie Amanda Harris (1872 – 1872)* Anna Cornelius Harris (1874 – 1875)* Laura Isabel Harris (1874 – 1877)* Bert Starr Harris (1877 – 1952)* Little Rip Harris (1878 – 1879)* Mattie J. Harris Whiteman (1880 – 1956)*

*Calculated relationship

Harris Cemetery
McCurtain County
Oklahoma, USA

Henry Churchill Harris
Birth: Jul. 14, 1837
McCurtain County
Oklahoma, USA
Death: Oct. 26, 1899
Pleasant Hill
McCurtain County
Oklahoma, USA

Henry C. Harris was a judge and a statesman within the Choctaw Nation. He was the son of a white man named William R. Harris and a Choctaw woman named Eliza Cornelius Pitchlynn. Henry was the first generation to be born in the new land of the Choctaws.

He grew up and became an important and influencial man in the Choctaw Nation. Henry was very involved politically and he seemed to follow in his Uncle Peter Pitchlynn’s footsteps. He cared about his people.

Judge Harris was a kind and loving man as well. On 31 Dec 1862, Henry married Margarette Elizabeth Lee, daughter of William Lee and Nancy Jackson.

Henry & Maggie had several children. Unfortunately, many of them only lived a short time. Those that did survive included the following: Walter, Bert, Lena, Mattie, and Little Rip.

Henry was a mason and it was extremely important to Margarette that they be the ones to bury Henry. So she delayed his funeral until they could all arrive and give Henry a proper and befitting funeral.

Brenda L. Minor

Family links:
Margarette Elizabeth Lee Harris (1840 – 1909)

Children: William Henry Harris (1865 – 1877)* Charles S. Harris (1868 – 1885)* Walter Churchill Harris (1870 – 1937)* Maggie Amanda Harris (1872 – 1872)* Leona Betrace Harris (1872 – 1910)* Laura Isabel Harris (1874 – 1877)* Anna Cornelius Harris (1874 – 1875)* Bert Starr Harris (1877 – 1952)* Little Rip Harris (1878 – 1879)* Mattie J. Harris Whiteman (1880 – 1956)* David Leon Harris (1922 – 2010)*

*Calculated relationship

Harris Cemetery
McCurtain County
Oklahoma, USA

brief info about henry churchill harris.

there might be a mention in a local history book. see your local public library/interlibrary loan program for that. often state archives and state historical societies have information.
i see that “harris house” is on the state historical register.
there might be brochures or information.,_Oklahoma
you will want to download the documentation. apparently a relative is living in the house and documents have been kept.

you can try oklahoma chronicles and oklahoma pioneer papers.

oklahoma pioneer papers is organized by surname.
this is sort of like a state encyclopedia.
they also have a facebook page but you never know how often they check in there.
this is the genealogical society.
oklahoma historical society

state archives

and apparently there would be dawes applications for the family:
Dawes Card Information

tribe last first middle age sex blood card roll misc type
Choctaw Harris B S 0 M 947 P
Choctaw Harris H C 0 M 947 P
Choctaw Harris Maggie 0 F 947 P
Choctaw Harris Mary Lottie 1 F 9/32 947 2551 HARRIS BB
Choctaw Harris Mary 19 F 1/2 947 2550 HARRIS BB
Choctaw Harris Bert Starr 25 M 1/16 947 15025 HARRIS BB
Choctaw McKevers 0 M 947 P
Choctaw McKevers Silvey 0 F 947 P

i only looked up one child on the dawes roll.
this is an index and there are supporting documents and testimony and enrollment applications. is online and has the dawes packets. one month’s subscription is less than the price of one dawes packet from oklahoma historical society or NARA.


suzanne hamlet shatto

rayson allen rayson allen

posted on October 2, 2013 and updated on October 2, 2013

Here is what I found out about your ancestor Margaret Elizabeth Lee. She was a gracious lady born into Southern society in Cherokee County, Alabama in 1840. I do not know if her father, William G. Lee had a plantation there or owned any slaves. Her mother was Nancy Jackson, who married William on Dec. 1, 1831 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. From the beginning “Maggie” was taught the virtues of becoming a “proper” woman. She married an ambitious young man named Henry Churchill Harris on Dec. 31, 1862 in Bear Creek, Sevier County, Arkansas. By her own words she stated in her testimony before the Dawes Commission that “she left the very next day with her husband for the Indian Territory” to start their new life together, it being January 1, 1863. This was when the Civil War was still raging, even in Indian Territory. Henry was 1/8 blood Choctaw, the son of Elizabeth Ann Cornelia Pitchlynn. In the Choctaw Nation, Henry Harris owned the Harris Ferry and Trading Store at Harris Crossing on Pecan Point on the Red River, all acquired within 3 years of marriage to Margaret. In 1866 a flood washed his home and everything else away. He and Maggie started over, rebuilt on higher ground in a community later called Pleasant Hill. Maggie became the matriarch of a home that included a grist mill, sawmill, cotton gin, coal bin, 400 acre bottomland, herds of cattle, horses, mules, and hogs. She became the host of many influential people in the Choctaw Nation, including her in -laws, who added a long legacy to Choctaw Nation history. She raised 10 kids of her own, though some died quite young. She supported her husband’s career moves from first being a storekeeper to being Postmaster , then Sheriff, then elected Representative to the C.N. Council, then C.N.
representative to Washington, D.C. then Royalty Collector (Tax Collector)and finally associate Judge of the C. N. Supreme Court. The duties placed upon his wife must have been tremendous.
In 1896 Maggie Harris filed papers with the Dawes Commission, called Margaret E. Harris vs Choctaw Nation, Case # 1413, requesting citizenship as an intermarried white. Even though she was a citizen for over 40 years, the Dawes Commission required proof of Choctaw heritage or intermarriage before they could issue title to deed and give personal ownership to land and property that was previously held in common by the Choctaws.
Then her husband died on Oct. 26, 1899 and she became responsible for making all of the arrangements required for a man of his stature, and his also being a Mason, which required further attention to detail. She gave testimony at Garvin, Indian Territory on Nov. 27, 1902 to the Dawes Commissioners and was finally accepted as an intermarried citizen. She was given the Roll# 631, Identified White, on Choctaw by Blood Card # 763 for H. C. Harrison of Harris, Red River County, Indian Territory. Interestingly, two young boys are listed as wards on this card, who were not their natural children. The story goes that their father abandoned them and went back to Texarcana, Arkansas after their Choctaw mother died in Red River County, I.T. Maggie insisted on caring for them and Henry became the appointed guardian for them. Their names were Clarence and Arthur Brady, 1/4 blood Choctaws.
Maggie’s family can be found on the 1850 Census at Rusk, Rusk Co., Texas and on the 1860 Census in Monroe, Sevier Co., Arkansas. Margaret E.(Lee) Harris died at her home in Pleasant Hill, McCurtain County, Oklahoma on April 21, 1909, a decade before women were given the Constitutional Right to vote. I am sure she gave voice to that cause, but there are no records to prove it.