Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma

The Great Seal of the Choctaw Nation

Brand New and Requesting Help - Grandmother Nancy Elizabeth Bennett

Robyn Coventon Robyn Coventon

posted on November 17, 2010

Where do I start my genealogy search? I understand that my great great Grandmother Nancy Elizabeth Bennett (maiden name) was Choctaw, but I don’t know where to start or what to do. I want to learn more but I need help. Any help or advice would be GREATLY appreciated! Thank you very much!

suzanne hamlet shatto suzanne hamlet shatto

posted on November 17, 2010

you have a name but this name is very common. so you need corroborating evidence so that people know whether it is likely they have any information. dates, locations, children, spouse are all helpful. i realize that sometimes you have approximations or guesses, but you indicate where you find information, so that people can weigh how certain it is.

i have found that it is easier to start with death records (death certificate, cemetery record, social security death index, obituary) before you try to find census, marriage or birth certificate. some cemetery records are online, so it would be good to look at cemetery websites (, rootsweb location or rootsweb cemetery profject for social security and cemetery records). you can probably get an obituary through your local public library – interlibrary loan program.

anyone who passed away after 1/1/1937 has a social security application on file. sometimes the person submitted a delayed birth certificate to show proof of age. although the application is not a primary document created at the time of a birth, it is useful to give you dates, locations, peoples’ names and tell you where you might find records.

you start with what you know, gather resources, then go backward in time to the parents. so get your birth certificate, your parents’ birth ceritificates and marriage license, and then you can start on your grandparents.

there are some useful classes about genealogy, free and online. they also have a very cheap class that covers writing your family history. you can start a class today, since they are presented at your own pace.

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. and rootsweb have webprojects, location projects, surname projects and tribe projects on their website. they have messageboards for all these topics as well. has a great native resource. all of these are free. is a useful subscription website, but your local public library might have a subscription. the library probably has a subscription to heritage quest database too.

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:

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

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

Robyn Coventon Robyn Coventon

posted on November 18, 2010

Wow! Thank you so much for the links and advice. From what I’m told from my grandparents tribal enrollment most likely won’t be an option since my great great grandmother did not want to be on the rolls (philosophical opposition), but I really want to learn more about my heritage. What a great way to start. Thank you very much!

Diane Cranford Diane Cranford

posted on January 8, 2011

Hi Robyn,

Was your Nancy Bennet married to Joseph Hurt? If so, that would be my husband’s family line…