Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma

The Great Seal of the Choctaw Nation


Meshelle Benson Meshelle Benson

posted on May 24, 2011

I am researching my family for my mom. I was told my Great Grandmother was Choctaw. Her name was Thirsie Ratliff. Her parents were Carney and E* Ratliff. I have information on her father however no info on her mother. My Great Grandmother also had a brother named Jay. I also know that they were located in Arkansas. Any help would be appreciated. Thank you

suzanne hamlet shatto suzanne hamlet shatto

posted on May 25, 2011

carney ratliff and e?
thirsie ratliff, jay ratliff

no spouse for thirsie or jay, no children for them either. since thirsie’s maiden name was ratliff, but her married name is unknown, this will make the search difficult.

there are some ratliffs on the dawes roll but none of these names. but i don’t know whether any of these people were alive at the time they took the dawes roll 1896-1996. there are no dates in your post.

i collect documents on the children because childrens’ documents point to the parents and fix the location of the family.

when i try to find information on someone, i start with the death: death certificate, cemetery record, obituary. findagrave is a good website for cemetery records and there are other websites for burial. death certificate is from the state vital records office where they passed away or the state archives. you might find an obituary through your local public library/interlibrary loan program.

then i try to find census records. if they lived on reservation, NARA/national archives and records administration has those records has transcribed many native records, see the menu on the left for native census records and native databases and rolls.

if someone was alive 1/1/1937, they filed out a social security application and filed a birth certificate or delayed birth certificate to show proof of age. if you ask for a birth certificate for someone, be sure and ask also for a delayed birth certificate. records before 1900 are often in the state archives.

1900 United States Federal Census
about Caney S Ratliff
Name: Caney S Ratliff
[Carney Strong Ratliff]
[Carry H Ratliff]
Home in 1900: Spring River, Lawrence, Arkansas
[Thacker, Lawrence, Arkansas]
Age: 42
Birth Date: Dec 1857
Birthplace: Arkansas
Race: White
Gender: Male
Relationship to head-of-house: Head
Father’s Birthplace: Tennessee
Mother’s Birthplace: Arkansas
Spouse’s Name: Larence L Ratliff
Marriage year: 1876
Marital Status: Married
Years married: 24
Occupation: View on Image
Neighbors: View others on page
Household Members:
Name Age
Caney S Ratliff 42
Larence L Ratliff 38
Marly P Ratliff 17
Laly E Ratliff 16
Dellar M Ratliff 14
Mary C Ratliff 12
William B Ratliff 9
Emer R Ratliff 5
Fanney J Ratliff 4
Thersa N Ratliff 4/12
Source Citation: Year: 1900; Census Place: Spring River, Lawrence, Arkansas; Roll: T623_64; Page: 3B; Enumeration District: 73.
carney s. ratliff, head, white male, b. dec. 1857, age 42, married 24 years, b. AR,, father b. TN, mother b. AR, farmer, reads and writes, rents the farm.
laura l., wife, white female, b. apr. 1862, age 38, married 24 years, had 10 children but only 8 survive, b. AR, father b. IL, mother b. KY
marly? p., daughter, white female, b. sep 1882, age 17, single, b. AR
lealy? e., daughter, white female, b. feb. 1884, age 16, single, b. AR
dallas? m., daughter, white female, b. march 1886, age 14, single, b. AR
mary c., daughter, white female, b. dec 1887, age 12, single, b. AR
william b., son, white male, b. dec. 1890, age 9, single, b. AR
emer r., daughter, white female, b. feb. 1895, age 5, single, b. AR
fanney j.?, daughter, white female, b. feb. 1896, age 4, single, b. AR
thersa v., daughter, white female, b. jan 1900, age 4 months, single, b. AR

since your people lived in AR, it is doubtful that they applied for enrollment in OK. you should check with the arkansas historical society and the arkansas archives and see if they have any records. there are tribes in many areas and maybe your family was affiliated with a tribe in AR.

1910 United States Federal Census
about Carney S Ratclif
Name: Carney S Ratclif
[Carney S Ratliff]
Age in 1910: 54
Estimated Birth Year: 1856
Birthplace: Arkansas
Relation to Head of House: Head
Father’s Birth Place: Tennessee
Mother’s Birth Place: Arkansas
Spouse’s Name: Luca L Ratclif
Home in 1910: Lebanon, Sharp, Arkansas
Marital Status: Married
Race: White
Gender: Male
Neighbors: View others on page
Household Members:
Name Age
Carney S Ratclif 54
Luca L Ratclif 49
William B Ratclif 19
Emma R Ratclif 15
Fannie J Ratclif 13
Shuraie V Ratclif 10
J W Ratclif 4
Source Citation: Year: 1910; Census Place: Lebanon, Sharp, Arkansas; Roll: T624_64; Page: 13B; Enumeration District: 0131; Image: 776; FHL Number: 1374077.
you will find that these handwritten census records are somewhat difficult, due to misspellings, transcription errors. if you find an error in transcription, you can correct’s index so that others can find your family.

this must be the record you found:
1920 United States Federal Census
about Carney Ratliff
Name: Carney Ratliff
[Rainey Ratliff]
Home in 1920: Lebanon, Sharp, Arkansas
Age: 64
Estimated Birth Year: abt 1856
Birthplace: Arkansas
Relation to Head of House: Self (Head)
Spouse’s Name: E* Ratliff
Father’s Birth Place: Arkansas
Mother’s Birth Place: Arkansas
Marital Status: Married
Race: White
Sex: Male
Home owned: Own
Able to read: Yes
Able to Write: Yes
Neighbors: View others on page
Household Members:
Name Age
Carney Ratliff 64
E* Ratliff 58
Thirsie Ratliff 19
Jay Ratliff 14
Source Citation: Year: 1920;Census Place: Lebanon, Sharp, Arkansas; Roll: T625_83; Page: 5A; Enumeration District: 134; Image: 69.
the * is there because someone couldn’t read the record. did you try to read it?
it appears to be edna but ellen/elly is written over it.
this time, they own the farm. so you should look for a land record in that county. you should look for newspaper mentions, around birth, death and marriage dates.

i do recognize the william goings and the other goings names. if this is the same family, they were native as well. i don’t remember much more than that about this family. but it may indicate that you should look at the archives.

Birth: Dec. 27, 1855
Death: Feb. 22, 1937

Family links:
Ella Ratliff (1864 – 1933)

He was
beloved by God
and men.

Pleasant Ridge Cemetery
Sharp County
Arkansas, USA

Birth: Apr. 29, 1864
Death: May 1, 1933

Family links:
C. S. Ratliff (1855 – 1937)*

*Point here for explanation

She was
the sunshine of
our home.

Pleasant Ridge Cemetery
Sharp County
Arkansas, USA
the picture of their gravestone is on

since he passed away after his wife, there might be some information on her death certificate.

1870 United States Federal Census
about Carney S Ratliff
Name: Carney S Ratliff
Birth Year: abt 1857
Age in 1870: 13
Birthplace: Arkansas
Home in 1870: Strawberry, Lawrence, Arkansas
Race: White
Gender: Male
Value of real estate: View image
Household Members:
Name Age
Zackus Ratliff 48
Martha M Ratliff 40
James S Ratliff 18
Mary A C Ratliff 15
Carney S Ratliff 13
David G Ratliff 10
Mc Alexander Ratliff 6
Thomas Ratliff 8
Louisa J Ratliff 5
Martha F Ratliff 2
Source Citation: Year: 1870; Census Place: Strawberry, Lawrence, Arkansas; Roll: M593_58; Page: 304A; Image: 137; Family History Library Film: 545557.

but i didn’t find them in 1880.

this is a user-entered record and i have no idea if this is your family.
Name: Carney S Ratliff
Spouse: Mary Alta Durock
Parents: Zachias Ratliff, Martha Margaret Underwood
Birth Place: Lawrence, AR
Birth Date: Dec 1857

Arkansas Marriages, 1851-1900
about Mary Ella Durack
Name: C. S. Ratcliff
Spouse: Mary Ella Durack
Marriage Date: 13 Mar 1878
County: Lawrence
State: AR

her family should be in the 1880 census, lawrence county. maybe he’s there too, if i try different search terms.

there is a drake family in lawrence county, 1880.

1880 United States Federal Census
about Jackens Ratcliffe
Name: Jackens Ratcliffe
[Zacheus Ratliff]
Home in 1880: Spring River, Lawrence, Arkansas
Age: 55
Estimated Birth Year: abt 1825
Birthplace: North Carolina
Relation to Head of Household: Self (Head)
Spouse’s Name: Martha M. Ratcliffe
Neighbors: View others on page
Occupation: Farmer
Marital Status: Married
Race: White
Gender: Male
Cannot read/write:


Deaf and dumb:

Otherwise disabled:

Idiotic or insane:

View image
Household Members:
Name Age
Jackens Ratcliffe 55
Martha M. Ratcliffe 50
William T. Ratcliffe 19
Johnson M. C. Ratcliffe 16
Louisa J. Ratcliffe 15
Frances Ratcliffe 12
John E. Ratcliffe 8
Source Citation: Year: 1880; Census Place: Spring River, Lawrence, Arkansas; Roll: 49; Family History Film: 1254049; Page: 443B; Enumeration District: 157; Image: 0083.

you are going to have to get her death certificate, obituary, and this will give you more clues.

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

Meshelle Benson Meshelle Benson

posted on May 25, 2011

Thank you so much the information that I have gotten was through research, I have asked my mom cause my grandmother was doing this before she passed, but since then the work that she has done has vanished. They do remember my great grandmother talking about how her family travelled on the trail of tears. Thirsie Ratliff married Luther Huthison (Hutcheson) of Sharp County, Arkansas. I was able to use that to get the information that I had. The other information you gave me will help as I was not sure where to look further and since I had moved to Oklahoma they wanted me to check it out. Thank you for your assistance.

suzanne hamlet shatto suzanne hamlet shatto

posted on May 25, 2011

yes, that happened to me too. after my grandmother passed away, there were no personal effects saved for anyone. my uncle and aunt just got rid of everything. all i had was vague recollections of stuff she mentioned when i was a small child. but my cousin and i started doing some genealogy and found that others in the family had put our family tree on the internet. so it was like viola!

you should check rootsweb and ancestry to see if anyone has been researching your family also. they have messageboards too, by surname, tribe and location.

since some of your family may have come from the TN area, also look at the cherokee, chickasaw and mississippi choctaw tribes. also, there are many other tribes that have been recognized, by state.