Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma

The Great Seal of the Choctaw Nation

Merchant/Harris lineage

Sandra Merchant Sandra Merchant

posted on October 27, 2011

I recently came upon an entry under the “original enrollees” section that named my husband’s great aunt, Ada Bell Merchant Potts, and stated that she was Mississippi Choctaw. Her mother, my husband’s great grandmother, was Margaret Elizabeth Harris, who married James William Merchant in Itawamba Cty, MS in 1858. Margaret Eliz. was born in 1838. She and James both died in Wister in the spring of 1896, and are buried at Ellis Chapel. We would like to know more about the family, and to connect with any other family decendants. While we have learned a little about the Merchants, we know nothing at all about Margaret’s family. I’d be happy to share what information I have.

Sandra (Mrs. Don) Merchant
Shawnee, OK

suzanne hamlet shatto suzanne hamlet shatto

posted on October 27, 2011

you might check with the mississippi choctaw tribe. link is in this post.

Dawes Card Information

tribe last first middle age sex blood card roll misc type
Choctaw Merchant Elizabeth 0 F 2382 P
Choctaw Merchant James 0 M 2382 P
Choctaw Potts William 0 M 2382 P
Choctaw Potts Willie Arthur 1 M 7/16 2382 NR WISTER BB
Choctaw Potts Florence 2 F 7/16 2382 NR WISTER BB
Choctaw Potts Ada 26 F IW 2382 NR WISTER BB
Choctaw Potts Forbis 38 M 7/8 2382 NR WISTER BB
Choctaw Willis Sally 0 F 2382 P
iw=intermarried white, a general nontribal description. as you say, this might mean she was mississippi choctaw.

Dawes Card Information

tribe last first middle age sex blood card roll misc type
Choctaw Potts Ada 0 F NB141 P
Choctaw Potts Forbis 0 M NB141 P
Choctaw Potts Margaret Jane 2 F 7/16 NB141 NB146 TALIHINA NB
Choctaw Potts Martha Ann 2 F 7/16 NB141 NB145 TALIHINA NB
Forbes Benton Potts
Submitted by: Marcella Webster, granddaughter

Forbes Benton Potts, an original enrollee, was my grandfather. He was born 11-20-1862 and married Ada Bell Merchant in Wister, I.T. on 3-2-1897. She was a Mississippi Choctaw. Their children were 3 boys and 3 girls. Two sons died at an early age, Forbes John, as a baby and Ellis Harold at 17 years of age. Willie Arthur, Florence Elizabeth and twins, Martha Ann and Margaret Jane. They lived in the Howe area until moving to their allotted land in Buffalo Valley, Ok. Forbes was an Indian minister, light horseman, a member of the Choctaw Council and a farmer. He provided for his family in abundance from the land. I always enjoyed my visit to see my grandfather because I had plenty to eat. He took me in the wagon and back to church service or to haul water from the spring. He also sat me on his knees and sag “Ride a Horse”. Forbes died in 1938 and is buried in the family (Potts) cemetery, which is an acre of land on the home place, which is owned by the children of Margaret. Memorial services are celebrated traditionally the fourth Sunday of May. I wish I knew more about my grandfather’s early life but we let our heritage slip by.

oh, this is where you saw this entry.

forbes b. potts:
Birth: Nov. 20, 1862
Death: Jul. 27, 1938

Husband of Ada

Family links:
Ada B. Potts (1872 – 1963)

Potts Cemetery
Latimer County
Oklahoma, USA


Birth: Jul. 8, 1872
Death: Apr. 6, 1963

Wife of F. B.

Family links:
Forbes B. Potts (1862 – 1938)*

*Point here for explanation

Potts Cemetery
Latimer County
Oklahoma, USA

ada b. potts’ entry.

Name: Forbes B Potts
Home in 1900: Township 5, Choctaw Nation, Indian Territory
Age: 39
Birthplace: Indian Territory, Oklahoma
Race: Indian (Native American)
Gender: Male
Relationship to head-of-house: Head
Spouse’s Name: Ada B Potts
Occupation: View on Image
Neighbors: View others on page
Household Members:
Name Age
Forbes B Potts 39
Ada B Potts 27
Florence E Potts 2
Sophia Beams 9
Source Citation: Year: 1900; Census Place: Township 5, Choctaw Nation, Indian Territory; Roll: T623_1851; Enumeration District: 88.

sophia is a boarder.
they were married around 1896.
ada was b. MS, father b. SC, mother b. AL

check with the AL MOWA tribe also.

1910 United States Federal Census about Aner Potts
Name: Aner Potts
[A* Potts]
Age in 1910: 31
Estimated Birth Year: 1879
Birthplace: Mississippi
Relation to Head of House: Wife
Father’s Birth Place: South Carolina
Mother’s Birth Place: Alabama
Spouse’s Name: Forber Potts
Home in 1910: Buffalo, Latimer, Oklahoma
Marital Status: Married
Race: Indian (Native American)
Gender: Female
Neighbors: View others on page
Household Members:
Name Age
Forber Potts 41
Aner Potts 31
Florence Potts 12
Wilie Potts 2
Martha A Potts 7
Margaret J Potts 7
Edin Potts 3/12
Simon Potts 10
Moter Sockey 7
Josephine Sockey 4
Source Citation: Year: 1910; Census Place: Buffalo, Latimer, Oklahoma; Roll: T624_1257; Page: 5A; Enumeration District: 0133; Image: 915; FHL Number: 1375270.

you can correct the name index so that others can find your family.

1920 United States Federal Census about Forlie B Potts
Name: Forlie B Potts
[Forlie B Patts]
[Forbes B Patts]
Home in 1920: Buffalo, Latimer, Oklahoma
Age: 57
Estimated Birth Year: abt 1863
Birthplace: Oklahoma
Relation to Head of House: Self (Head)
Spouse’s Name: Ada Potts
Father’s Birth Place: Oklahoma
Mother’s Birth Place: Oklahoma
Marital Status: Married
Race: Indian (Native American)
Sex: Male
Home owned: Own
Able to read: Yes
Able to Write: Yes
Neighbors: View others on page
Household Members:
Name Age
Forlie B Potts 57
Ada Potts 47
Martha Potts 17
Ellis Potts 10
Dartha Potts 1
[1 11/12]
Josephine Sackey 13
Jas Alexander 14
Source Citation: Year: 1920;Census Place: Buffalo, Latimer, Oklahoma; Roll: T625_1462; Page: 8A; Enumeration District: 84; Image: 895.

some historical newspapers were likely to have news articles on this family. see your local library/interlibrary loan program for access. oklahoma state archives or oklahoma historical society are likely to have historical newspapers.

the vital records, county office and state office, probably have death 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 agency 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, names of family members. 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
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 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
other historical societies:
some oklahoma genealogical societies:

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

Sandra Merchant Sandra Merchant

posted on October 29, 2011

Wow. Lots of information. Thank you.