Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma

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Searching for Tabitha Dempsey

Danita Z Danita Z

posted on May 15 and updated on May 15

I am helping my cousin do some genealogy, and have the following information.

Althea Dempsey, born about 1893, was the daughter of a woman named Tabitha, believed to be Choctaw. We have no other information on Tabitha, save that she may have been married to a Cherokee man before marrying a Dempsey. The information is very vague, and I’m not even sure where to start looking. Places like ancestry.com and familysearch.org are not bringing any results on this search. That said, I realize the data I have right now is very limited.

As far as Althea goes, she married John William Capps, and had 4 children with him. Was briefly married to a WH Gosa, and then married Ruben Floyd Bunyard, the father of my aunt (whose granddaughter is also named Tabitha). I don’t know if any of this will be of any help, but the information on Althea is really all I have been able to substantiate with historical records.

If you have any guidance for me as to other databases or ways I might be able to dig deeper, I’d be grateful. I realize that it’s probably a long shot, seeing how little I know about Tabitha.

Thanks!

Danita

suzanne hamlet shatto suzanne hamlet shatto

posted on May 15

it sounds as if you are trying to jump back in time. you should do genealogy one generation at a time, accumulating documents. childrens’ records point to the parents, fix a family to a location and date.

i start with the death and work backwards in time.

no name for any of althea’s children. this is a handicap, since there are few dates or locations discussed in your post.

if you have little information on tabitha, what kind of information do you have on althea. and if you have little on althea, then you should look at the next generation.

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 1830-1940 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) ancestry.com.

there is a difference between tribal heritage and tribal enrollment.

find your relative in the 1900-1940 census. this will give you locations, family members, dates that you will need for looking on the dawes roll, taken 1896-1906 in the state of oklahoma/indian territory. the dawes roll lists applicants to the five major tribes of oklahoma. use the accessgenealogy website to do this or ancestrypaths:
http://userdb.rootsweb.ancestry.com/nativeamerican/
get family group/card#, members of the family:
partial surnames ok. just enter the surname.

http://www.accessgenealogy.com/native/final-rolls.htm
partial names might not be found on this website.

find a possible name, click on the # in the card# column and this will show you the family group as of application. use the 1900 and 1910 census to match the names. write down the names, card#.

if you don’t find your family, then look at the 1900-1940 census locations for your family, look for nearby tribes. contact the nearby tribes to see if your family had enrolled. find out membership criteria for that tribe. there are tribes in other locations and other choctaw tribes. location is an important factor over whether a native enrolled in a tribe. you won’t find that an original enrollee enrolled in the choctaw tribe in oklahoma if they were living in another state, for instance. if your family was renting in 1910, for instance, they had not received a land grant from one of the five major tribes in oklahoma and were probably not enrolled. there are 63 tribes in oklahoma but only the 5 major tribes are on the dawes roll.

many natives did not want to live under tribal authority or didn’t qualify for enrollment or could not submit satisfactory evidence to a tribe. this is very common. it means that your family is not enrolled in a tribe.

there were a few natives that were enrolled by tribal council approval or lawsuit. i don’t have any way to tell you whether someone was enrolled because of this. you would have to contact the tribe for this information. however, some people have posted this answer and you might be able to use google on your family names and see this.

supposing you find your family in the dawes roll, then look at the oklahoma historical society dawes website and put in the name of someone in that family group that you found on accessgenealogy. this will give you the enrollment # if the enrollment was successful. write down the enrollment #s for your family.

if you found your family on the dawes roll, you might want a copy of the dawes packet. four sources for this:

1) once you have the card#, search here for documents. the website is free at this time:
http://www.ancestrypaths.com/five-civilized-tribes/
arranged by card#. use the slider bar at the bottom to approximate your card#. the packets are arranged in order of card#. usually the beginning document references the card#.

there may be more than one card# for a particular person, depending on whether they were a parent at the time of enrollment.

sometimes a family’s consideration also depends on an earlier decision in their family. so you may have more than one card# to look up.

2) fold3.com is an online subscription resource and one month’s subscription is less than the price of a dawes packet at NARA or oklahoma historical society.

3) NARA http://www.archives.gov fort worth, TX office
4) oklahoma historical society http://www.okhistory.org/research/dawes

a dawes packet contains census card, enrollment application, supporting documents and maybe testimony. even if your family was not enrolled, the genealogical information might be of interest to you.

the enrolled members are referred to as original enrollees. if your family had enrolled by blood then you are eligible to enroll in the choctaw tribe of oklahoma. all tribes have membership criteria. if your family had been enrolled as freedman, then they were enrolled as former slaves and their descendants were not eligible to enroll in the tribe.

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 http://www.archives.gov try the fort worth, TX office.

requirements for enrollment for several oklahoma tribes:
http://thorpe.ou.edu/OILS/blood.html
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.

http://www.narf.org/nill/resources/enrollment.htm

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.
http://www.bia.gov/WhatWeDo/ServiceOverview/TribalGov/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Native_American_recognition_in_the_United_States
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 and Choctaw tribe have 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.
http://freedomcenter.org/_media/pdf/genealogy/16.%20Native%20American%20-%20Tribal%20Membership.pdf

choctaw enrollment, forms, FAQs
http://www.choctawnation.com/services/departments/enrollment-cdib-and-tribal-membership/

obituaries through the oklahoma choctaw tribe is through the history link for the tribe:
http://www.choctawnation.com/history/

social security application for a deceased person:
http://www.ssa.gov/foia/html/foia_guide.htm
form SS-5.

your public library probably has a subscription to heritage quest and ancestry.com. fold3.com 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.
http://www.accessgenealogy.com/native/final-rolls.htm

http://www.accessgenealogy.com/native/choctaw-indian-research.htm
http://www.accessgenealogy.com/native/indian-census-records.htm
there is an 1860 and 1885 census in the indian territory

accessgenealogy’s collection of information: if you are from another tribe, use the links at the right.
if you are from an associated tribe, see the several possible links on the webpage.

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 rootsweb.com or ancestry.com.
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 findagrave.com or interment.net. 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. ancestry.com and heritage quest are two databases that include many census records. many native census records kept by NARA (http://www.archives.gov) are transcribed at accessgenealogy.

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:
http://www.accessgenealogy.com/native/finalroll.php
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.
http://www.okhistory.org/research/dawes

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
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dawes_Act
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dawes_Commission
wikipedia entries are sometimes opinionated; entered by volunteers.

helpful information about tribal enrollment
http://www.felihkatubbe.com/ChoctawNation/TribalMembership.html

freedmen information:
http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~ewyatt/_borders/
http://digital.library.okstate.edu/encyclopedia/entries/F/FR016.html
http://www.african-nativeamerican.com/8-chocfreed.htm
http://www.okhistory.org/research/dawes

2 ways to search:
http://www.accessgenealogy.com/native/finalroll.php
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.

http://www.okhistory.org/research/dawes/index.php
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.
http://www.fold3.com/documents/46580455/dawes-packets/
other resources are NARA http://www.archives.gov

the five civilized tribes book put out by the department of the interior has testimony.
http://books.google.com/books/about/Five_civilized_tribes_in_Oklahoma.html?id=chATAAAAYAAJ
and you can read it online

and these are the microfilms at fort worth TX archives.
http://www.archives.gov/southwest/finding-aids/native-american-microfilm.html

there may be additional records about your relative:
contact NARA http://www.archives.gov for these and other records listed on this webpage.

75.23 RECORDS OF THE COMMISSIONER TO THE FIVE CIVILIZED TRIBES 1852-1919
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
http://www.archives.gov/research/guide-fed-records/groups/075.html
(Record Group 75)
1793-1989

http://gateway.okhistory.org/
this has a search but you may have to read the whole edition of a newspaper to find your search match.
the search term will be highlighted. the newspapers (location and years) are limited, so you might want to search for the location and look at years available.

http://okhistory.cuadra.com/star/public.html
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.
http://www.odl.state.ok.us/oar/
http://www.okhistory.org/
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.

http://digital.libraries.ou.edu/whc/pioneer/
volumes are alphabetical by surname.
if an interview is not online, contact the host of these interviews.

http://www.okhistory.org/publications/chronicles

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 ancestry.com and heritage quest.

the tribe has an excellent information to help you. it is found under genealogy advocacy.
http://choctawnation.com/services/departments/community-services/
some obituaries:
http://www.choctawnation.com/history/obituaries/

NARA http://www.archives.gov/ 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.

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:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blood_quantum_laws
calculations about blood quantum:
http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~wishawa4/Menominee%20Indians/quantum.htm

mississippi choctaw and choctaw tribe explained here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Choctaw_Trail_of_Tears
http://www.choctaw.org/

jena choctaw tribe in louisiana:
http://www.jenachoctaw.org/

MOWA tribe
http://encyclopediaofalabama.org/face/Article.jsp?id=h-1368
http://www.uab.edu/uabmagazine/2009/july/losttribe
http://www.mowa-choctaw.com/

other choctaw tribes:
http://www.aaanativearts.com/choctaw-indians/index.html

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
http://www.chickasaw.net/index.htm

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

http://www.okhistory.org/
oklahoma historical society
marriage records
http://www.okhistory.org/research/library/marriage.html
http://www.okgenweb.org/~okgarvin/kinard/chocmarriageindex.htm

other historical societies:
http://www.daddezio.com/society/hill/SH-OK-NDX.html
some oklahoma genealogical societies:
http://www.censusfinder.com/oklahoma-genealogy-society.htm
http://www.geneasearch.com/societies/socokla.htm

texas tribes
http://www.native-languages.org/texas.htm
http://www.accessgenealogy.com/native/texas/index.htm
http://www.texasindians.com/
http://www.lsjunction.com/places/indians.htm

oklahoma tribes:
http://500nations.com/Oklahoma_Tribes.asp
http://www.accessgenealogy.com/native/oklahoma/index.htm
http://www.cowboy.net/native/tribes.html
http://yvwiiusdinvnohii.net/OKTribes.htm

tribes in other locations:
http://www.ncsl.org/issues-research/tribal/list-of-federal-and-state-recognized-tribes.aspx

some links for the choctaw.
http://www.accessgenealogy.com/native/tribes/choctaw/index.htm
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.
http://www.okgenweb.org/~okgarvin/kinard/1860index.htm
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.
http://www.archive.org/details/fivecivilizedtr00statgoog
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. ancestry.com 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 http://www.archives.gov has those land record packages.

the mississippi choctaw were 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.
http://www.us-census.org/native/choctaw_dawes.html
i do not know what they are trying to transcribe, but this is the volunteer page
http://www.us-census.org/states/graphics/status.htm

and this might be of interest to you:
http://www.accessgenealogy.com/native/choctaw/rights-of-choctaws.htm
Rights of Mississippi Choctaws in the Choctaw Nation

good advice about native research:
http://jenniferhsrn2.homestead.com/research2.html

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.
http://www.searchforancestors.com/google/searcher.html

penny postcards. this is a website that features pictures that were on postcards. click on the state to see the postcards that they have.
http://www.usgwarchives.org/special/ppcs/ppcs.html
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, shamlet76@gmail.com and request the choctaw resource list, i will be glad to send it to you.

you may want to make a heritage book.
http://www.photobookgirl.com/blog/make-your-own-family-heritage-and-genealogy-photo-book/

good family tree software:
http://www.techshout.com/features/2013/22/best-free-genealogy-software/
i use legacy. the free basic edition is great for the beginning and helps you organize.

i am just a volunteer that wants to empower people to learn how to do genealogy.

suzanne hamlet shatto

Danita Z Danita Z

posted on May 15

Thank you for your detailed information. I actually have a lot of information on all of Althea’s children, from both marriages that produced offspring. I just wasn’t sure how much to post here to “get started”. Really Althea seems to be our dead end. I have found no census records for her prior to her marriages, and I also have yet to find a birth certificate. I know that the entire family that we know of lived in a small area in Arkansas for generations, but my sense is that Tabitha was not from Arkansas. Just a gut sense though, and nothing really to substantiate that. Since I find nothing on the Dempseys in my census search, it leads me to believe that they may have in fact been on the tribal census/rolls rather than the US census records. It is also possible that “Mr. Dempsey” himself was Cherokee. No one is actually alive who knows the details of this. My aunt only knows family stories that indicate Tabitha married a Cherokee, and that her married name was Dempsey (and the assumption was that these were two different men, but that might be an erroneous assumption)!

So, thank you for so much info! I have some work to do now :-)

As I say, this isn’t actually even my direct ancestral line, but oftentimes I find helping my relatives find their connections is equally rewarding!

Danita

suzanne hamlet shatto suzanne hamlet shatto

posted on May 15

i don’t know. you don’t mention years or locations in your posts. so i can’t look at any records and tell you what i see. you will have to judge for yourself what the records say, i guess.

http://www.accessgenealogy.com/native/choctaw-indian-research.htm
this page might help you with native census records. natives living on-reservation 1800-1880 or so were on native census records. there is no 1890 census, as it burned – only small portions are available. the 1900 census records are together, the indian population schedule and the federal census records. if you find your relative on the indian population schedule in 1900, this means they were living in a majority native area. if they were on the federal population schedule, they were living in a majority non-native area.

if someone lived after 1/1/1937, they would have filled out a social security application and submitted a birth record to show proof of age. these birth records are often a delayed birth certificate from state vital records. when you ask for a birth certificate before 1940, you should also ask for a delayed birth certificate.

in 1900 and after, natives were on the federal census records, whether they lived on-reservation or not.

suzanne hamlet shatto