Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma

The Great Seal of the Choctaw Nation

Eula Virginia (Williams) Lee - Choctaw

Tamara Tamara

posted on July 25, 2010 and updated on July 25, 2010

I’m trying to find the parents of my great-grandmother Eula Virginia Lee. Her maiden name was Williams and she married a Rufus Sibley Lee. I don’t know how many children they had but I know they had a boy named Travis Jerome Lee, who is my grandfather. They lived in the Sibley Parish in Louisianna where they are currently buried. She was born on Oct. 28th, 1898 and died on Aug. 11, 1972. I believe she was 1/2 Choctaw. I am trying to find out who her parents were. Any information on them or Eula would be wonderful. The only thing I know of her parents was that her mother was on the Trail of Tears at the age of 12, but she got sick on the Trail and was left behind. I know a family found her and nursed her back to health. I believe this family was the Williams’ family since she later married their son. (and also because their daughter, Eula’s mainden name was Williams.) I am wondering also if there would be any record of Eula’s mother stating she was on the Trail of Tears or if she wouldn’t be mentioned since she was left alone part-way through for being sick. Please help me if you have any information. Thanks!

suzanne hamlet shatto suzanne hamlet shatto

posted on July 25, 2010

eula virginia williams b. 10/28/1898 d. 8/11/1972 m. rufus sibley lee>travis jerome lee

there are two ways to find her parents. one is the census and one is her social security application.

they did register people to went on the trail of tears and you can get access to some native records. the war department kept the records in the early 1800’s until 1880. then the department of interior took over.
but she wasn’t born on the trail of tears, since the trail of tears occurred around 1837.
her family was probably mississippi choctaw or jena choctaw. you should check into both tribes. there were many unofficial migrations from the reservations in the southeast and the people who stayed behind and accepted termination land grants in lieu of tribal membership were called mississippi choctaw. and the trail of tears didn’t go through louisiana, but many mississippi choctaw did travel through louisiana.

so if she was lost during a migration, it was not the trail of tears. there were many migrations from mississippi/alabama at that time up to the reservation in oklahoma/indian territory.

what kind of documentation do you have? do you have a copy of her marriage license? her death certificate and obituary?

was this the family?

1910 United States Federal Census
about Rufus Williams
Name: Rufus Williams
Age in 1910: 17
Estimated birth year: abt 1893
Birthplace: Louisiana
Relation to Head of House: Son
Father’s Name: Rufus
Father’s Birth Place: Louisiana
Mother’s Name: Ella
Mother’s Birth Place: Louisiana
Home in 1910: Police Jury Ward 4, Union, Louisiana
Marital Status: Single
Race: Black
Gender: Male
Neighbors: View others on page
Household Members:
Name Age
Rufus Williams 50
Ella Williams 48
Eula H Williams 15
Mary Williams 13
Hannan Williams 11
Obe Williams 9
Azee Williams 7
Rufus Williams 17
Harrison Williams 19
Source Citation: Year: 1910; Census Place: Police Jury Ward 4, Union, Louisiana; Roll T624_533; Page: 1A; Enumeration District: 135; Image: 217.

i am having a hard time finding her because you don’t say where they lived, when they married.
when and where was travis jerome lee born?

genealogists use names, dates, locations, children and spouses to match records. if you have a common surname, you need to give more information rather thann 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.

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.

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:

i have collected many resources over the years. if you want to write to me, and request the choctaw resourcce 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

Tamara Tamara

posted on July 26, 2010

Thank you so much for responding so quickly! I am just starting to dive into my family lineage. It’s really exciting!

So far I am trying to figure out family names and then try to get locations for them along with any dates I can find. Once I find out their locations and dates for their births and deaths I was going to contact the state offices and ask for copies of any documents.

I did some research today and found out that the parents of Eula Virginia (Williams) Lee are Robert Lorenzo Williams and Emma Russell. Emma Russell was full Choctaw (or so my family tells me) and was the girl on the Trail of Tears. The dates and location I have for her are:

born abt 18 Jan 1877
died 29 May 1902 in Florein, Sabine, Louisiana

Her husband – Robert Lorenzo Williams (parents: Lorenzo Dow Williams born – 5 Apr 1839 in Meridian, Lauderdale County, Mississippi and died – 16 Mar 1899 in Florien, Sabine Parish, Louisiana and Martha Elizabeth Conerly born – 10 Dec 1848 in Florien, Sabine Parish, Louisiana and died
1 Jul 1936 in Florien, Sabine Parish, Louisiana) the story goes that Robert’s mother found her and nursed Emma back to health when she was sick on the Trail of Tears. I am not sure if Emma Russell is the name recorded on any Indian Documentation or if that is the name the William’s family gave her when they took her in. I also am not sure the location they found her.

Travis Jerome Lee was born in 21 Nov 1932 – Florien, Louisiana, USA and died 13 Aug 1982 – Austin, Texas, USA He is my grandfather and I am told he was 1/4 Choctaw.

I will do some investigating within the Dawes Roll and see if Emma Russell is listed anywhere. Although, since she was buried in Louisiana doesn’t it seem unlikely that she’ll be listed on the rolls since you had to permanently reside in Oklahoma at the time the rolls were taken?

I have talked to my mother, the one who knows alot about my family lineage, and she has said that they have always had trouble finding things out about Emma Russell because she was left behind on the Trail. She and Robert where also looked down on by the community so they tended to stay by themselves. They weren’t close to friends other than Robert’s family. So I’m worried that I wont be able to find any sort of info about Emma Russell that’s concrete since all is pretty hear say. If they found her on the Trail when she was 12 then no one would know the exact date or location of her birth let alone parents or tribe.

Also, I’ve been looking at alot of census documents and I’ve noticed that alot of people I look at to be Emma Russell or Virginia Lee say they are african-american on the census document. Would there be a for sure Indian option at that time? I asked my cousin about that (he’s a history buff) and he said that Indian wasn’t considered a good thing to be at that time (1890’s-1930’s) and that saying they were african-american might have been better for them than saying they were Indian. If this is true should I not rule out a census document that says their african american?

Anyway, I’ll be sure to do some more research and keep you posted. Thanks again for responding so quickly. I’m new at this geneology stuff and it’s nice to have someone to talk to who knows what their doing. I’ll check out the sites you posted. Hopefully I’ll find a lead. Thanks again!

Tamara Tamara

posted on July 26, 2010

I also want to say that alot of my locations and dates have been found through I am not 100% sure on these dates and they could easily be off by a few years. Same with locations. Again, once I narrow down places and possible dates then I can get documents from state archives and such. I just looked at your link you posted regarding the Trail of Tears at wikipedia and it seems my dates are off somewhere. The wikipedia site says the Trail of Tears was during the 1830’s….but Emma Russell wasn’t born until 1877 (or so tells me) so there’s no way she was 12 on the Trail if she was born 40 yrs after treaties were made. My mom did tell me that Virginia Williams Lee’s parents were Robert Lorenzo Williams and Emma Russell. And that Emma Russell was left on the Trail at the age of 12. But again, that is my family story that has been passed down to me. I don’t really have any hard evidence to prove that. So it looks like the birthday for Emma Russell is very off. Again, I’ll do more research.

suzanne hamlet shatto suzanne hamlet shatto

posted on July 26, 2010

Robert Lorenzo Williams m. Emily e. Russell>eula virginia williams b. 10/28/1898 d. 8/11/1972 m. rufus sibley lee>travis jerome lee 21 Nov 1932 – Florien, Louisiana, USA and died 13 Aug 1982 – Austin, Texas, USA

you used a pronoun but didn’t say who i referred to. maybe emma.
The dates and location I have for her are:

born abt 18 Jan 1877
died 29 May 1902 in Florein, Sabine, Louisiana

i repeat. the trail of tears was in the late 1830’s and didn’t go through louisiana,. family stories often play a little loose from the facts. maybe she was left behind when the family did migrate, but it wasn’t during the trail of tears. you will want to find if the parents migrated to oklahoma/indian territory and if they registered or their children registered on the basis of their parents.

you might be using the user-entered records rather than the historical records. those user-entered records are often helpful as a guide and you should contact people who left them, trade information. but historical records are going to be key for you, giving you documents that fill in the gaps and explain things. when i look for people, i usually use the historical records.

re: african american heritage. many natives were of mixed blood. don’t disregard records that say african american. often, too, natives were regarded as white by some people, so pot luck there. natives intentionally living off reservation often didn’t show up as natives on the census records.

since your family was in louisiana, you should look at mississippi choctaw or jena choctaw.

the last public census was 1930. the 1940 census will be available to the public 1940. family can contact the census bureau, though, if you have a need to know about 1940 or later census information.

Louisiana Marriages, 1718-1925
about Emily E. Russell
Name: Emily E. Russell
Spouse: Robert L. Williams
Marriage Date: 1 Apr 1894
Marriage Place: Sabine

maybe this is your family:
Name Age
Robert Williams 28
Jerry Mirah Williams 3
Jinnie Williams 1
Source Citation: Year: 1900; Census Place: Middle Creek, Sabine, Louisiana; Roll T623_579; Page: 10B; Enumeration District: 88.

Rufus S Lee 27
Jennie Lee 26
Geraline Lee 2 7/12

Source Citation: Year: 1930; Census Place: Middle Creek, Sabine, Louisiana; Roll 818; Page: 15A; Enumeration District: 2; Image: 49.0.

one thing i have noticed: louisiana people don’t usually move very much.

Tamara Tamara

posted on July 26, 2010

So the 1930 Census info you found for the Lee’s are my family. That is my great-grandfather and great-grandmother and their first child.

I am not sure if the Williams family info from the 1900 census is correct but I can check.

And the first info you posted: Robert Lorenzo Williams m. Emily e. Russell>eula virginia williams b. 10/28/1898 d. 8/11/1972 m. rufus sibley lee>travis jerome lee 21 Nov 1932 – Florien, Louisiana, USA and died 13 Aug 1982 – Austin, Texas, USA

is 100% my family line beginning with my great-great-grandparents and then ending with my grandfather (Travis Lee)

I looked on the final rolls last night for any refernce of an Emma Williams and I found two census numbers for full-females listed around her age range. However from the info you posted it seems that her name was Emily Russell not Emma Russell. Although, her full name could have been Emily Emma Russell. But I’ll go back and see if there is any reference for am Emily Williams. I’ll also do some more investigating online for an Emily E. Russell.

Thanks again for all your help. I have been looking up mississippi choctaw online and have found a few main sites, but haven’t been able to really distinguish between mississippi and the overall choctaw tribe. I’ll check into Jena choctaw next.

And you’re right about Lousiana people not moving. I’ve actually reconnected with some family members from this side of my family and they are all in Lousiana, Sabine Parish

suzanne hamlet shatto suzanne hamlet shatto

posted on July 27, 2010

mississippi choctaw tribe
jena choctaw tribe
and look particularly to the history link.

this is what i got from your post, and i posted it as your goal for research.
Robert Lorenzo Williams m. Emily e. Russell>eula virginia williams b. 10/28/1898 d. 8/11/1972 m. rufus sibley lee>travis jerome lee 21 Nov 1932 – Florien, Louisiana, USA and died 13 Aug 1982 – Austin, Texas, USA

did emily/emma russell pass away and leave robert williams a widower by the 1900 census? maybe she passed away in childbirth.

maybe you should contact louisiana and see if they have a death certificate for emma/emily. maybe you should see about obituaries. i’d say you were possibly looking for a death in 1898-1900, but likely when the daughter was born.

re: the dawes roll. it is very doubtful that they applied from louisiana. the dawes roll is about the five civilized tribes in oklahoma. one of the requirements of most of the tribes is that you had to be living in indian territory/oklahoma by 1900. and they were not. did you think that emily/emma williams/russell left her family and moved to oklahoma in 1900?

the louisiana location indicates they were mississippi choctaw or jena choctaw, separate tribes from the choctaw in oklahoma. consider that these were bands of natives, and many bands moved to indian territory/oklahoma. those that did were referred to as the choctaw tribe. those bands that did not were often referred to by another name. the federal government designated those who accepted land grants in lieu of tribal enrollment as mississippi choctaw. then the term came to mean those choctaw that did not migrate to indian territory in the 1830’s. at some point, state and federal governments became aware that the choctaw were associated bands of natives who appeared to try to stay together. so provision/procedures were made to recognize those tribes as separate entities by state and federal government.

often, we “smash together” time when we are looking for records. sometimes we adopt the scatter gun approach,, to see if we “hit anything”. rather, genealogy is more organized than that. you are looking for your family, trying to find what decisions they made and why.

your family was in louisiana in 1900. they appeared to feel culturally comfortable there, as they stayed in that area for years. they probably were associated with other families that were in the same area. they probably didn’t travel to oklahoma because they didn’t identify as strongly with those in oklahoma and identified more strongly with their local area in louisiana. they might have roots in the southeastern reservations (MS and AL). they may have known that they could not enroll in the choctaw tribe in oklahoma because their family had accepted a land grant in lieu of tribal enrollment. or maybe they had migrated before the treaty of rabbit creek and abandoned the reservation in order to make a new start.

natives had very strong feelings about the federal government. agents didn’t always tell the truth to natives, sometimes made decisions that were not in their interest, sometimes did not help them, sometimes made promises that were beyond the control of the agent to implement. there were hard feelings about these things. enrollment, even in oklahoma at that time, was controversial. some candidates for office even ran on a platform against enrollment, against the dawes roll procedures.