Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma

The Great Seal of the Choctaw Nation

Johnson Family

Andy Guinn Andy Guinn

posted on April 6, 2011


I’m looking for more information about my paternal Grandfather’s Choctaw mother. Her name was Mary or May Johnson, and they were married in Mena, Arkansas. The marriage record shows she was from Jenny Lind, and I also know she had a brother named Henry, and that her father went by Bose Johnson. I’m told that the brother, Henry (b. abt 1879, Indian Territory) was a mule trader around Fort Smith, and was known to dress fancy in black with lots of silver. He carried a cane with a silver top and a fancy hat. He also worked in his business with another brother? May (or Mary), born Dec 1882, died around 1912 or so when my grandfather, Edward (Ted) Guinn, was 5 or 6.

I’d really like to find who this Bose Johnson was and get more information, beyond the little I’ve found in the census records concerning mother Laura A Robinson Johnson, Henry, Mary, etc.

Looking forward to connecting to this part of the family.


suzanne hamlet shatto suzanne hamlet shatto

posted on April 6, 2011

laura a. robinson m. ? johnson
may/mary johnson b. 12/1882 d. 1912 m. ? guinn?
edward/ted guinn b. 1905?

i am kinda not sure of the line. there are names and dates and locations, but i am confused.

was henry johnson? b. in indian territory but she was born in arkansas? was he mary/may’s brother?

i don’t know bose johnson, so i don’t know how he comes in to the line.

ok, mena, AR is in polk county, AR.

i am missing too much information to find this family. genealogists use dates, locations, children, spouse to match records. this is difficult because you are not certain about the first names of a common surname.

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 for a birth certificate, and they were born before 1929, they might have sumitted 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. the census records up to 1930 are available, although the 1890 census was largely destroyed. the 1940 census will be public information in 2012.

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.

NARA federal records repository. the fort worth, TX office has archives for oklahoma and texas tribes. atlanta/morrow office has archives for the southwest tribes. many offices have microfilmed records for several tribes. note that this web address has changed recently from

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 22
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 23
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

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

Andy Guinn Andy Guinn

posted on May 2, 2011

Thank you for your reply Suzanne,
I will read over your information and see what I can find.
One of your comments was new information to me and might be a place for me to look.

You said that among other issues concerning tribal enrollment, that “4) they were mississippi choctaw and their ancestor had accepted land or benefits in lieu of tribal enrollment.” One problem I’m having tracking them down in the Roles is that both the last names and first names I have are very common. “Johnson”, “Mary”, and “Henry” seem to be very common.

How might I determine whether they were Mississippi Choctaw or not?

Thanks again for your response.

Andy Guinn

suzanne hamlet shatto suzanne hamlet shatto

posted on May 2, 2011

this is difficult to “determine”. but they may have applied to the choctaw tribe and been rejected. but their application will give you more heritage information.

yes, the common names are the problem. you can search for names on accessgenealogy and then click on the # in the card column to see the family. if it is your family, you can get the application.

if no one applied, then you have to trace your family back to the 1830-1880 time period and see if the head of household accepted a land grant called choctaw scrip. this would mean that the family was mississippi choctaw. these records are listed in a group called mississippi land grants and alabama land grants. if you find a land transaction to the head of house, scroll down and see if it was a scrip land grant. then you can ask NARA/national archives and records administration, for a copy of the land papers.

if you are having trouble with the genealogy, go back to the documents for the children and see if there are any clues.

when social security came into effect 1/1/1937, people had to file birth certificates or delayed birth certificates to show proof of age. so anyone alive after that date has a social security application on file. this could help you find names, dates, locations.

if you ask for a birth certificate, also ask for a delayed birth certificate, as they are in a different location at the vital records or county clerk’s office.

i use the census to find migration/location, names of relatives, dates. the 1900-1930 census is excellent for this. before that date, natives who lived on reservations are in the native records and not on the census. many are transcribed under census and rolls and databases on accesssgenealogy. the 1940 census will be out in 2012. the 1890 census was largely burned, but there are some parts in existence.

some natives never applied/enrolled nor lived on reservations. some natives were members of other tribes. oklahoma had 63 tribes but only the five major tribes are on the dawes roll. always look at the geographic location of your family to find out whether they were affiliated with other tribes.