Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma

The Great Seal of the Choctaw Nation

Born along the Red River

Kimberely Kimberely

posted on October 22, 2010

Please help! I am researching my great-great grandma, based on information her adopted name is Martha Drucilla “Mattie” Williams, however, there are no documents proving or disproving said adoption. According to family, she was born along the Red River in Ringgold, Montague Co. Texas, approximately 1871. Died in Weatherford Texas, date unknown. Adoptive parents are assumed to be Doctor George W. Williams, born approx 1833 and his wife Cynthia E. born approx 1839. Martha married my great-great grandfather William Thomas “Tom” Steel, born 1853, died approx 1953. They had my great grandfather George “Washington” Albert William Steel on Dec 7 1891.

This is the story that I have heard. Martha was full blooded Choctaw. Supposedly, a group of Choctaw Indians were camped out and believed to be stealing cattle from local farmers. Thus, the farmers became angry and raided the camp, killing everyone in the camp. After the raid, a baby’s cry sounded from under a bush. The farmers wanted to kill her but the Doctor, George Williams did not allow them to. He took her home and him and his wife adopted her. However, we have no information as to what her birth-tribal name was or who her real parents were. This story has been stated as rescued, however, I feel it is more fitting to be considered stolen. The stolen baby, the stolen heritage that may be lost forever.

If you know of any information that will assist me in finding my true lineage, I would be forever greatful.

Thank you!

suzanne hamlet shatto suzanne hamlet shatto

posted on October 22, 2010

i’m sorry, this will probably be a tough one. this was the frontier. you’ve seen the westerns in movies. this was the time period. usually one of the neighbors volunteered to keep records for the county. some of those records survived and some not. sometimes they had courts.

in my opinion, you should proceed from death on backwards. be sure you have childrens’ records, such as birth, death, marriage. if you don’t have those, you might find the social security application that was filed 1/1/1937, if the child lived past that date.
often a delayed birth certificate was filed to show proof of age. so if you ask for a birth certificate, ask also for a delayed birth certificate. they are often catalogued separately.

you might be able to find newspaper mentions of the native trouble. you can see your local public library about this. often the texas archives or texas historical society will lend microfilms of old newspapers to your local public library and you can read them.

natives kept no records, as their language was not written until the middle of the 1800’s. and if native parents could not be established at the time, it will be difficult to find native tribes. look at the texas tribes and contact them. they might have some information.

since george williams was a doctor, there might be some personal correspondence, some newspaper mention, because doctors were worthy of newspaper mentions.

hmm,, was this the family? w. a. williams was clerk of the court.
Household Members:
Name Age
W. A. Williams 38
A. C. Williams 23
M. A. Williams 8
E. Williams 3
L. A. Singletery 32
Source Citation: Year: 1880; Census Place: Precinct 1, Montague, Texas; Roll: 1320; Family History Film: 1255320; Page: 373C; Enumeration District: 119; .

you might check for a civil war record and see if any civil war pension record was filed for him. they are fairly detailed.

do check the county websites, official, for records. you should check the texas state archives. look at the natives in texas at this time – map link in this email.
you should get her death certificate and obituary.

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.

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.

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 the name is common, you may find too many possible records.

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

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:

texas tribes

oklahoma tribes:

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.

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

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.

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

suzanne hamlet shatto suzanne hamlet shatto

posted on October 23, 2010

Source Citation: Year: 1900; Census Place: Justice Precinct 5, Tarrant, Texas; Roll: T623_1671; Page: 12A; Enumeration District: 117.
this says that she was b. january 1869 TX, parents b. unknown. william was b. may 1855 TX, parents b. TN
william is a farmer, and they were married 9 years.
may and james might be her stepchildren, as they would have been born earlier than mattie and william were married.

Texas Death Index, 1903-2000
about George Steel
Name: George Steel
Death Date: 15 Jul 1974
Death County: Tarrant
Gender: Male
Marital Status: Single

Household Members:
Name Age
William T Steel 61
Martha D Steel 39
Jim Steel 22
George Steel 18
Dora Steel 14
Flora Steel 10
Ben Steel 6
Robert Steel 4

Source Citation: Year: 1910; Census Place: Justice Precinct 1, Denton, Texas; Roll: T624_1546; Page: 14B; Enumeration District: 77; Image: 169.
he’s a farmer, rents a farm.

Household Members:
Name Age
William T Steel 67
Mattie Steel 51
Bennie Steel 17
Robert Steel 13
Mattie Steel 6
Source Citation: Year: 1920;Census Place: Hope, Stephens, Oklahoma; Roll: T625_1484; Page: 1A; Enumeration District: 250; Image: 776.

i think you should look at this record:
Household Members:
Name Age
Martha C Steel 63
you can submit alternate information so that others can find your family.
Source Citation: Year: 1930; Census Place: Weatherford, Custer, Oklahoma; Roll: 1901; Page: 13B; Enumeration District: 29; Image: 1173.0.

looking at the family trees on ancestry:
sarah p. helm might have been william’s first wife.

Household Members:
Name Age
George W Williams 37
Cynthia E Williams 31
George D Williams 7
Charles R Williams 5
Source Citation: Year: 1870; Census Place: Precinct 5, Montague, Texas; Roll: M593_1599; Page: 338A; Image: 25; Family History Library Film: 553098.
he’s a farmer here, owns $1000 real estate.
george was b. 1833 TN and cynthia was b. 1839 TN

Dorothy Willard Dorothy Willard

posted on April 15, 2012

Please help! I am researching my husband’s nephew’s great-great-great grandma, her adopted name is Martha Drucilla “Mattie” Williams. She was born along the Red River in Ringgold, Montague Co. Texas, approximately 1870. Died in Weatherford Texas, Mar 1958. Adoptive parent was Doctor George Washington Williams. Martha married William Thomas “Tom” Steel. Their daughter Flora Myetta Steel is the nephew;s great great grandmother.
This is the story that I have read online. Martha was full blooded Choctaw. A group of Choctaw Indians were camped out and believed to be stealing cattle from local farmers. The farmers became angry and raided the camp, killing everyone in the camp. After the raid, a baby’s cry sounded from under a bush. The farmers wanted to kill her but the Doctor, George Williams did not allow them to. He took her home and him and his wife adopted her. However, we have no information as to what her birth-tribal name was or who her real parents were. I was wondering if this story was passed down via the Choctaw tribal members and perhaps someone would know her Choctaw name and who her parents were. Martha is not related to me but I am researching for my nephew, great nephew and my nephew’s mother.
Some one named Kimberely posted on October 22, 2010 a similar story about Martha Drucilla Williams and the ones that I am researching for his her cousins and more than likely they all do not know about each other.

Pamela Pamela

posted on September 30, 2013

Hi Dorothy, I am also trying to find out information on my great grandmother, Mattie Steel. Flora Myetta was my grandmother. Hopefully we can both find out the information. We are searching for.

rayson allen rayson allen

posted on September 30, 2013 and updated on September 30, 2013

At this late date, I have just seen this post for the first time. I have only some historical facts to give you. First, are you sure her Indian tribe was Choctaw and not some other tribe? Usually raids by Indians into Texas were made directly across the Red River as Indians were not the best cattlemen to drive a herd a long distance, especially in Indian Territory.
Second, check out the map of Indian Territory, 1873 ( ) which shows the location along the Red River of the Indian Tribes in Indian Territory. The Choctaw Nation resided in the SE corner of Oklahoma across from Red River, Lamar and Fannin Counties of Texas today. The Chickasaw Nation resided in the South Central portion of Oklahoma, across from Grayson, Cooke and Montague Counties. The tribes of Kiowa, Comanche and Apache resided in the SW corner of Oklahoma across from Clay, Wichita and Wilbarger Counties of Texas today.
Third, the Choctaw Nation was removed by US Army (per Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek, 1830)
on the “Trail of Tears” overland by foot, some wagons overland and by steamboats up the Red River, circa 1831- 1836. Upon arrival in the Indian Territory, these families were accounted for in a register kept by the US ARMY
agent in charge. These were forwarded to the Secretary of War in Washington. Red River was one of the entering points to Choctaw Nation. The books entitled
“CHOCTAW EMIGRATION RECORDS, 1831-1856 VOLUMES 1 AND 2” by Monty Olson, published by the Bryan County Heritage Association P.O. Box 153 Calera, OK 74730 has the record of these Choctaw immigrants. They also have 1850, 1860 , 1885 censuses of Red River County, Choctaw Nation.
Fourth, there was a small band of Choctaw Indians, mostly full bloods, who migrated to Texas on their own. Some full bloods attempted to negotiate with Mexico for permission to live in their territory. Texas or “Tejas” was under Spanish control until the Texas revolution of 1835 and eventual statehood in 1845. Their descendants still live there today.
Fifth, by 1871 the Indian Nations were well established, so it is doubtful this group of Indians (in your story) were headed for the Choctaw settlements in Texas. It seems more likely they were a raiding party. However (and this is where I suspect it was a different Indian tribe) the Choctaw Nation gave money every month to all registered Choctaw families living in the Nation, known as the “leased district payments” which were annuities paid per Treaty to the Choctaw Nation from the US Government. These payments continue to this day, but the money does not go directly to families any more. Why would Choctaw families gamble on raiding Texas settlements? As land in the Choctaw Nation up until 1907 was held in common (no individual deeds to property) there were no property taxes assessed on the Indian population.
Fort Towson,at the southern end of the Choctaw Nation along the Red River, established in May of 1824, served as an outpost on the border between Texas and Indian Territory. It protected white settlers from hostile Indians and other lawless elements, including threats from Mexico. During the 1830’s those troops were responsible for protecting settlers bound for Texas, and the Fort served as a dispersal point for the displaced Choctaw and Chickasaw Indians being moved into Indian Territory. Fort Arbuckle, established in April, 1851, was built in the mostly unsettled Indian Territory, for the purpose of protecting the “civilized” Indians, including Choctaw and Chickasaw, from the Kiowa and Comanche Indians who raided from Texas and along the Red River and up the Arkansas River. The Fort also protected emigrants making their way to the California gold fields, using trails between Fort Smith, Arkansas, on through Indian Territory, then onward to the western frontier. History shows that raids by hostile Indian tribes occurred along the southern border with Texas and the eastern border of Indian Territory with Arkansas. If they were Kiowa and Comanche, they were raiding far to the east of their homelands. It would not be surprising to find them raiding in Montague County, Texas in 1871. These are perplexing questions to consider. Good luck on your quest!

Pamela Pamela

posted on October 1, 2013

We are not completely sure whether or not she was Choctaw but we will explore the avenues you suggested.
Thank you!