Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma

The Great Seal of the Choctaw Nation

Ellam Ancestors

pj hedrick pj hedrick

posted on August 29, 2011 and updated on August 29, 2011

My great-great grandmother was said to be a daughter of a choctaw indian chief (that was what I was told anyway). I have a photo of her and she is definitely an indian (I would say choctaw or cherokee). Her name was Mary Ellam and she was born in Mississippi in 1849. She married George W. Bowers and they had a daughter born in Texas named Ada Bowers who married John C. Hardy and lived in Texarkana, Texas/Arkansas. I have been trying to find out information about her, but come up with nothing. Any info would be greatly appreciated.


suzanne hamlet shatto suzanne hamlet shatto

posted on August 31, 2011

she may have been a mississippi choctaw, MOWA or another tribe. look at the locations where she lived and then look for tribes around that area.

many mississippi choctaw migrated unofficially after the trail of tears in the late 1830’s. the trail of tears did not go through texas, but many unofficial migrations did.

i often start with the death and work backwards in time. death certificate at the state vital records office. cemetery record might be online or obituary in a local historical newspaper. this might be at the state archives, state genealogical society, state historical society and might also be accessible through your local public library interlibrary loan department.

childrens’ records point to the parent, fix the family to a date and location.

natives living on the reservation were not taxed and were on the native census records. natives living off-reservation were taxed and appeared on the federal census every 10 years.

there might be a land record for her parents, saying choctaw scrip. this would prove affiliation but not necessarily tribal enrollment.

1860 United States Federal Census about Mary J Ellam
Name: Mary J Ellam
Age in 1860: 13
Birth Year: abt 1847
Birthplace: Georgia
Home in 1860: Berrien, Georgia
Gender: Female
Post Office: Nashville
Value of real estate: View image
Household Members:
Name Age
James E Ellam 44
Martha Ellam 42
John F Ellam 19
Joel R Ellam 18
Mary J Ellam 13
Source Citation: Year: 1860; Census Place: , Berrien, Georgia; Roll: M653_111; Page: 397; Image: 401; Family History Library Film: 803111
i do not know if this is your family.

1850 United States Federal Census about Mary A Elam
Name: Mary A Elam
Age: 0
Estimated Birth Year: abt 1850
Birth Place: Mississippi
Gender: Female
Home in 1850 (City,County,State): Southern Division, DeSoto, Mississippi
Family Number: 546
Household Members:
Name Age
William R Elam 30
Elizabeth A Elam 28
Martha C Elam 4
Alge O Elam 2
Mary A Elam 0
Source Citation: Year: 1850; Census Place: Southern Division, DeSoto, Mississippi; Roll: M432_371; Page: 351B; Image: 291

1850 United States Federal Census about William R Elam
Name: William R Elam
Age: 30
Estimated Birth Year: abt 1820
Birth Place: Alabama
Gender: Male
Home in 1850 (City,County,State): Southern Division, DeSoto, Mississippi
Family Number: 546

Name: Elizabeth A Elam
Age: 28
Estimated Birth Year: abt 1822
Birth Place: South Carolina
Gender: Female

1860 United States Federal Census about W R Elam
Name: W R Elam
Age in 1860: 40
Birth Year: abt 1820
Birthplace: Alabama
Home in 1860: Guadalupe, Texas
Gender: Male
Post Office: Lavernia
Value of real estate: View image
Household Members:
Name Age
W R Elam 40
Eliz A Elam 37
Mattie C Elam 13
Alge O Elam 11
Mary Elam 9
Alice J Elam 7
Wm R Elam 3
Robt K Elam 1
Source Citation: Year: 1860; Census Place: , Guadalupe, Texas; Roll: M653_1296; Page: 298; Image: 39; Family History Library Film: 805296

Source Information:
United States, Bureau of Land Management. Mississippi Land Records [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 1997.
Original data: United States, Bureau of Land Management. Mississippi Pre-1908 Patents: Homesteads, Cash Entry, Choctaw Indian Scrip and Chickasaw Cession Lands. General Land Office Automated Records Project, 1997

Mississippi Land Records about William Elem
Name: William Elem
Land Office: GRENADA
Document Number: 7001
Total Acres: 158
Signature: Yes
Canceled Document: No
Issue Date: 1 Sep 1848
Mineral Rights Reserved: No
Metes and Bounds: No
Statutory Reference: 3 Stat. 566
Multiple Warantee Names: No
Act or Treaty: April 24, 1820
Multiple Patentee Names: No
Entry Classification: Sale-Cash Entries
Land Description:
1 3 CHOCTAW No 26N 4E 27
2 4 CHOCTAW No 26N 4E 27
3 5 CHOCTAW No 26N 4E 27
4 6 CHOCTAW No 26N 4E 27
land records

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.

social security application for a deceased person:

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.

history of the dawes roll
wikipedia entries are sometimes opinionated; entered by volunteers.

helpful information about tribal enrollment

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.
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.
other resources are NARA
oklahoma newspaper and archives search. some of these resources may be available through interlibrary loan/public library.

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

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.

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.

this page can help you set up a targeted google search.

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, 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

William E Ellam 6
George A Ellam 3

pj hedrick pj hedrick

posted on September 21, 2011

Thank you so much for your help. I really appreciate it. Just say a prayer for me.

Paula Hedrick

suzanne hamlet shatto suzanne hamlet shatto

posted on September 21, 2011

there are several people who are interested in this family.

Gunn Family Tree
Public Member Tree
3 sources

Ada Bowers
Birth: 1881 – USA
Death: Texarkana, Arkansas, USA
Marriage: May 16, 1896 (16 May 1896) – Texarkana, Miller, Arkansas, USA
Spouse: John Coley Coleman Hardy


George Washington Bowers


Mary Jane Elam

Elam Family Tree
Public Member Tree
1 source

Ada Bowers
Birth: 1881 – USA
Death: Texarkana, Arkansas, USA
Spouse: John Coley Coleman Hardy


George W Bowers


Mary Jane Elam

Family Tree
Public Member Tree
3 attached records, 4 sources

Ada A Bowers
Birth: 1881 – Arkansas, USA
Death: Texarkana, Arkansas, USA
Marriage: May 16, 1896 (16 May 1896) – Texarkana, Miller, Arkansas, USA
Spouse: John C. Hardy


George Washington Bowers


Mary Elam

this is a list of people who have posted family trees on
you can get access to their information through your local public library. public libraries usually have subscriptions to

i also see that some of the people who posted about this family tree have pictures.

regarding tribal enrollment, it is not likely that they applied to a tribe in oklahoma if they were not living in oklahoma around 1900. they might be mississippi choctaw or another tribe. you should look for a tribe around the area where they lived.