Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma

The Great Seal of the Choctaw Nation

Nail family and Choctaw Indians

Alice Courtney Alice Courtney

posted on June 3, 2011

My daughter’s great grandmother was Mattie L. Nail,born 1880 in Fannin Co., Texas, married to James Hardy (Hard) Courtney. Mattie’s father was Mathew C. Nail, born 13 Jun 1841 in Arkansas City, Benton Co., Arkansas. Her mother, Mary Jane Chandler, was born Apr 1842 in Cherokee, GA. Her grandfather, Matthew C. Nail, was born in 1782 in Knox Co., TN and her grandmother was Nancy Butler, born 1796 in Campbell, VA. Her great grandfather was Nicholas Pope/ Pone Nail, born 1754 in Albermarle Co., VA. Her great grandmother was Mary Ann Whitefield, born 1751 in Chrisp, GA. Right now I believe her ggreat grandfather was Nicholas Nail, born 1704 in Devon, Devonshire, England, arrived in VA in 1727 and died 1758, Albermarle Co., VA and her ggrandmother was Ann Folsum, born 1704 in England and died 1757 in VA. In addition to other children, they also had a child named George. Is it possible that this is the George that was the first Nail in the Choctaw nation?

My daughter’s aunt tells me that Mattie Nail looked like she was pure blood Choctaw but refused to talk about any Indian heritage. Who could blame her with all that the Indians went through.

I don’t know if any of this is accurate, so any help you can give me will be appreciated. Alice

suzanne hamlet shatto suzanne hamlet shatto

posted on June 4, 2011

the war department kept some records 1800-1880 and they are at NARA
there are some native census records, but they would probably not give you much information.
i am not an expert on the surname nail, so i cannot answer your question. however, if george’s parents were born in england, how does this make george part of the choctaw nation? did he marry a choctaw woman?

i don’t know that you will find the answer to your question except in historical newspapers, journals, local history books..


Terry Terry

posted on June 4, 2011

@Alice, honestly it sounds like Mattie L. Nail, could have been a mulotto passing herself off as Indian, and that’s why she refused to speak about any Indian heritage…

Choctaws are Mississippi Indians, the majority of the tribe was forcibly removed to Oklahoma during the trail of tears – few went north..

Alice Courtney Alice Courtney

posted on June 4, 2011

“The present Nail family of the Choctaws are the descendents of Henry Nail, a white man, who came among the Choctaws about the time Nathaniel Folsom, John Pitchlynn and Louis Le Fiore came; and as they did, so did he, marry among them, was adopted and thus became identified among that people. He rose to the position of chief and exerted, as did the three other above mentioned, a moral influence among that noble and appreciative people, with whom he had cast his lot.”

Alice Courtney Alice Courtney

posted on June 4, 2011

I said that my daughter’s aunt said that Mattie looked like she was a full blood indian and that she refused to talk about it. The Nail family name is one of the prominent biracial names found among Choctaw which is why I thought she might be Choctaw. From what I have read, it is doubtful that she is related directly to George Nail, the first Nail to marry a Choctaw. George might have been a brother to one of her ancestors. I don’t know. I’m trying to find out.

Alice Courtney Alice Courtney

posted on June 4, 2011

Henry Nail was a resident among the Choctaw by 1794. In 1811 he was living at Long Prairie in the Choctaw Nation (before removal). He was from Virginia but married Nelly Welsh who was from Mississippi. The family moved to the Oklahoma Indian territory during the removal.

Terry Terry

posted on June 4, 2011

have you been able to find enrollment applications for Mattie Nail and family? If they’re related to the Choctaw Nails the enrollment applications should mention this..

Alice Courtney Alice Courtney

posted on June 4, 2011

Where do I find these enrollment applications? Alice

Alice Courtney Alice Courtney

posted on June 4, 2011

By the way, I made a mistake. My daughter may be related to George Nail and not the Henry Nail who was the first Nail among the Choctaw. Alice

suzanne hamlet shatto suzanne hamlet shatto

posted on June 4, 2011
but i don’t find an enrollment application. they lived in texas. maybe they are affiliated with a tribe in texas. links are in this email.

the dawes roll was taken 1896-1906 for the five major oklahoma tribes. there were 63 tribes in oklahoma.

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 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. 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


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


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