Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma

The Great Seal of the Choctaw Nation


Julie Julie

posted on November 2, 2011

I am hoping someone may have information on my gg grandmother. Her name was Cora Leach, she married Thomas Downey. They had many children one of them named Fred Downey. I have no information on her prior to her marriage. I have pictures of her and lots of family stories. Cora died in the early 1900’s of TB in Kentucky. Her death certificate says her fathers name was Seaf Leach. (do not know how accurate that is) mothers maiden name was Roberts. If you have any info, please share.

Thank you in advance.

suzanne hamlet shatto suzanne hamlet shatto

posted on November 2, 2011 and updated on November 2, 2011

seaf? leach m. ? roberts
cora leach d. early 1900’s m. thomas downey
fred downey

no dates, no location in this post. you have a death certificate but do not give an accurate date. if she passed away in KY, did she live there?

1900 United States Federal Census about Cora Downey
Name: Cora Downey
[Lora Downey]
Home in 1900: North Shelbyville, Shelby, Kentucky
Age: 24
Birthplace: Kentucky
Race: White
Gender: Female
Relationship to head-of-house: Wife
Mother: number of living children: 4
Mother: How many children: 4
Spouse’s Name: Thomas Downey
Marriage Year: 1892
Marital Status: Married
Years Married: 8
Occupation: View on Image
Neighbors: View others on page
Household Members:
Name Age
Thomas Downey 30
Cora Downey 24
Fred Downey 7
Josie Downey 5
Annie Downey 2
Ella Downey 1/12
Source Citation: Year: 1900; Census Place: North Shelbyville, Shelby, Kentucky; Roll: T623_551; Page: 93A; Enumeration District: 77.

Kentucky Death Records, 1852-1953 about Mrs Cora Downey
Name: Mrs Cora Downey
[Mrs Cora Leach]
Death Date: 30 Jun 1915
Death Location: Jefferson
Age: 38
Gender: Female
Ethnicity: White
Birth Date: 3 Sep 1876
Birth Location: Trimble, Kentucky
Father’s Name: Seaf Leach
Father’s Birth Location: Kentucky
Mother’s Name: Roberts
Mother’s Birth Location: Kentucky
the “seaf” looks like an abbreviation. penmanship might be an issue. handwriting was not standardized until the 1920’s.

Kentucky Birth Index, 1911-1999 about Flossie Downey
Name: Flossie Downey
Date of Birth: 29 May 1913
County: Shelby
Mother’s Name: Cora Leach
Volume Number: 60
Certificate Number: 29593
Volume Year: 1913

either one of these are possible:
Record Cora L Leach 22 May 1875 Scott Female N B Leach Nancy A Green
View Record Cora T Leach 8 Mar 1876 Scott Female W J Leach Maria J Green

do you have an obituary? that might give clues.

one of the family trees on says this is her date and location of birth:
cora leach
Birth 3 Sep 1876 in Trimble, Kentucky

1910 United States Federal Census about Cora Downey
Name: Cora Downey
Age in 1910: 30
Estimated Birth Year: 1880
Birthplace: Kentucky
Relation to Head of House: Wife
Father’s Birth Place: Kentucky
Mother’s Birth Place: Kentucky
Spouse’s Name: Thomas Downey
Home in 1910: Simpsonville, Shelby, Kentucky
Marital Status: Married
Race: White
Gender: Female
Neighbors: View others on page
Household Members:
Name Age
Thomas Downey 41
Cora Downey 30
Annie Downey 12
Ella Downey 10
Florence Downey 6
Wayde Downey 4
Austin Downey 1
Amd Downey 17
Source Citation: Year: 1910; Census Place: Simpsonville, Shelby, Kentucky; Roll: T624_502; Page: 7B; Enumeration District: 0114; Image: 630; FHL Number: 1374515.

i don’t see a death record for someone with a surname of leach and a maiden name of richards.

do you have a copy of the marriage license?
one of the children’s birth records?

you might consider putting up a family tree, either on rootsweb or on ancestry. rootsweb will let you have a website on your surname free. you can also submit documents and pictures to surnames, locations, tribes.

but back to the reason why you wrote to the choctaw tribe in oklahoma. you should look where your family is living for a tribal affiliation.
cora’s father was b. PA and mother was b. OH. these are not traditional choctaw areas. choctaw is a southeastern tribe.

1900 United States Federal Census about N Downey
Name: N Downey
[Noah Downey]
Home in 1900: Mount Holly Springs, Cumberland, Pennsylvania
Age: 79
Birth Date: Jul 1820
Birthplace: Ohio
Race: White
Gender: Male
Relationship to head-of-house: Head
Father’s Birthplace: Ohio
Mother’s Birthplace: England
Spouse’s Name: Mary A Downey
Marriage Year: 1867
Marital Status: Married
Years Married: 33
Occupation: View on Image
Neighbors: View others on page
Household Members:
Name Age
N Downey 79
Mary A Downey 61
Minnie M Downey 27
Source Citation: Year: 1900; Census Place: Mount Holly Springs, Cumberland, Pennsylvania; Roll: T623_1401; Page: 10A; Enumeration District: 20.

1880 United States Federal Census about Mary Downey
Name: Mary Downey
Home in 1880: Grants Lick, Campbell, Kentucky
Age: 41
Estimated Birth Year: abt 1839
Birthplace: Pennsylvania
Relation to Head of Household: Wife
Spouse’s Name: Noah Downey
Father’s birthplace: Pennsylvania
Mother’s birthplace: Ger

Ger usually means germany.

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