Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma

The Great Seal of the Choctaw Nation

Looking for information on some ancestors

Sandra Sandra

posted on March 31, 2012

I’m looking for information on my Native American ancestors. My mother’s mother was born on a reservation in Oklahoma (according to the family tree information I have, the city/town was Qusa) on January 27, 1923. Her parents were Alfred W. Combs, who was born April 17, 1891, in Plato, Texas and died in May 1975 in Forsyth, Missouri; and Lena Gertrude (Hanks) Combs, born January 25, 1896, in Harris Bottems, Arkansas and died March 12, 1997 in Taneyville, Missouri. I was told that the reservation where my grandma was born was a Choctaw reservation, but that she had membership with the Cherokee nation (maybe the Choctaw nation, I’m not sure). I was also told that her great-great grandfather was Benjamin Miller, who was a chief (most sources have indicated he was Cherokee, but it’s possible he was Choctaw; I haven’t found any information either way) who was forced to change his name around the time of the Trail of Tears. His name was originally either Yellow Feather, Yellow Hair, or Yellow Knife. His daughter was my great-grandmother Lena’s paternal grandmother, and her name was Emily Miller. She was born sometime around 1820 in Alton, Illinois and died sometime after 1860 in Arkansas. She was married to William Hanks, who was born July 21, 1816 in South Carolina and died April 14, 1872 in Arkansas. Their son, Roland Hancel Hanks, was Lena’s father, who married Hulda Jane Jeffery. Roland was born January 19, 1855 in Louisiana and died February 19, 1940 in Paragould, Arkansas. Hulda was born September 21, 1860, in Izard County, Arkansas and died July 22, 1929 in Mt. Olive, Arkansas. According to my family tree information on, Emily Miller married William Hanks in 1850 in Caddo Parish, Louisiana and they lived in Summer Grove, Louisiana then moved to Bois D Arc, Hempstead County, Arkansas, which I’m assuming is where she died. Their children, other than my great-great-grandfather Roland, were Andrew J. Hanks (1841-), Taylor W. Hanks (1848-), Millard Hanks (1851-), Olive Alice Hanks (1856-1945), Lewis E. Hanks (1858-1956), Alexander Reems Hanks (1865-1926), William Brisco Hanks (1867-1939), Leora Cora Hanks (1868-), and James Lafayette Hanks (1872-1957). Obviously a lot of the information I have is inaccurate or missing. Any information anyone might have would really help. Thanks!

suzanne hamlet shatto suzanne hamlet shatto

posted on April 1, 2012 and updated on April 1, 2012

the trail of tears, late 1830’s, did not go through louisiana or texas, but many unofficial migrations did.

this is the website of the choctaw tribe of oklahoma. there are other tribes in different locations.

heritage and tribes are two different topics. you should look for tribes near where they lived 1830-1900 or so.

there is a lot of trains of thought in your post. you should focus on ONE ancestor, cite spouse, children, dates and locations. if i don’t have enough information on the person, i go back and look at the childrens’ documents. childrens’ documents point to the parents, fix the family to a location and date.

you need to pursue documents.

in order to enroll in a tribe, you must be directly related to an original enrollee. the dawes roll, taken 1896-1906 in indian territory/oklahoma, lists the names of applicants to the five major tribes in oklahoma. there are 63 tribes in oklahoma.

in order to qualify for enrollment, the applicant has to be confirmed as choctaw tribe blood to some degree. they had to be living in oklahoma as of 1900 permanently. a few natives were “adopted” by council vote early in the process. also, a few natives brought suit and were successful in enrolling later in the process.

i am very confused about your post. which ancestor was native?

i am going to arbitrarily choose this generation:
Her parents were Alfred W. Combs, who was born April 17, 1891, in Plato, Texas and died in May 1975 in Forsyth, Missouri; and Lena Gertrude (Hanks) Combs, born January 25, 1896, in Harris Bottems, Arkansas and died March 12, 1997 in Taneyville, Missouri.

i see no name similar to alfred combs on the dawes roll.

i noticed that you didn’t give your grandmother’s name but you gave her birthdate and birthplace.

there are two cherokee records for a lena hanks, freedman.

this family group does not correspond to your relative:

Dawes Card Information

tribe last first middle age sex blood card roll misc type
Cherokee Alberty John 0 M F1346 O
Cherokee Ballard Janie 0 F F1346 P
Cherokee Blade Frank 0 M F1346 P
Cherokee Hanks Lena 21 F F1346 3711 MUSKOGEE F

Dawes Card Information

tribe last first middle age sex blood card roll misc type
Cherokee Alberty John 0 M FD1046 O
Cherokee Ballard Janie 0 F FD1046 P
Cherokee Blade Frank 0 M FD1046 P
Cherokee Hanks Lena 21 F FD1046 MUSKOGEE FD

there were hanks surnames enrolled, but they were mostly mississippi choctaw. links about that tribe is in this post.

there is no lena hanks.

Social Security Death Index about Alfred Combs
Name: Alfred Combs
SSN: 432-26-7236
Last Residence: 65653 Forsyth, Taney, Missouri, United States of America
Born: 17 Apr 1891
Died: May 1975
State (Year) SSN issued: Arkansas (Before 1951)

World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 about Alfred W Combs
Name: Alfred W Combs
County: McIntosh
State: Oklahoma
Birthplace: Missouri
Birth Date: 17 Apr 1891
Race: White
FHL Roll Number: 1851809
DraftBoard: 0

this world war I draft card says he was born in plato, MO.
missouri state archives might help you.

U.S. World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942 about Alfred W Combs
Name: Alfred W Combs
Birth Date: 17 Apr 1891
Birth Place: Clayton, Missouri
Residence: Izard, Arkansas
Race: White

the world war 1 draft card is available for printing on the index information on the world war 2 draft card can be printed on
the original would be with NARA

union township
Source Citation: Year: 1930; Census Place: Union, Izard, Arkansas; Roll: 73; Page: 11A; Enumeration District: 26; Image: 1189.0; FHL microfilm: 2339808.
lena y. combs, head, owns the house worth $500, white female, age 34, widow, first married at age 21, b. AR, father b. LA, mother b. AR
alfredda, daughter, white female, age 11, single, read and writes, attends school, b. OK, parents b. AR
dorothy, daughter, white female, age 8,, single, attends school, b. OK, parents b. AR
frances j., daughter, white female, age 7, single, attends school, b. OK, parents b. AR
donald, son, white male, age 5, single, b. AR, parents b. AR
jurgena?, daughter, white female, age 4, single, b. AR, parents b. AR
david, son, white male, age 2, single, b. AR

1920 United States Federal Census about Lena G Combs
Name: Lena G Combs
[Lena G Combe]
Age: 23
Birth Year: abt 1897
Birthplace: Arkansas
Home in 1920: Ryals, McIntosh, Oklahoma
Race: White
Gender: Female
Relation to Head of House: Wife
Marital Status: Married
Spouse’s Name: Robert W Combs
Father’s Birthplace: Louisiana
Mother’s Birthplace: Arkansas
Able to read: Yes
Able to Write: Yes
Neighbors: View others on page
Household Members:
Name Age
Robert W Combs 29
Lena G Combs 23
Alfreda Combs 1
[1 4/12]
Source Citation: Year: 1920; Census Place: Ryals, McIntosh, Oklahoma; Roll: T625_1471; Page: 1A; Enumeration District: 51; Image: 985.

Name: Robert W Combs
[Robert W Combe]
Age: 29
Birth Year: abt 1891
Birthplace: Missouri
Home in 1920: Ryals, McIntosh, Oklahoma
Race: White
Gender: Male
Relation to Head of House: Head
Marital Status: Married
Spouse’s Name: Lena G Combs
Father’s Birthplace: Kentucky
Mother’s Birthplace: Arkansas
Home owned: Rent

the fact that they are renting indicates that they did not receive an allotment of land.

robert is listed as a cottonpicker

1910 United States Federal Census about Ena Hanks
Name: Ena Hanks
[Elna Hanks]
Age in 1910: 14
Birth Year: 1896
Birthplace: Arkansas
Home in 1910: White River, Izard, Arkansas
Race: White
Gender: Female
Relation to Head of House: Daughter
Marital Status: Single
Father’s Name: Rr H Hanks
Father’s Birthplace: Louisiana
Mother’s Name: Huldah Hanks
Mother’s Birthplace: Arkansas
Neighbors: View others on page
Household Members:
Name Age
Rr H Hanks 55
Huldah Hanks 49
May Hanks 18
Jeffie Hanks 16
Ena Hanks 14
Ray Hanks 12
Shelley Hanks 10
Jewemon Hanks 8
Ernestine Hanks 5
Source Citation: Year: 1910; Census Place: White River, Izard, Arkansas; Roll: T624_53; Page: 2A; Enumeration District: 0057; Image: 310; FHL microfilm: 1374066.

Name: Lena G Hanks
Age: 4
Birth Date: Jun 1876
Birthplace: Arkansas
Home in 1900: Harris, Stone, Arkansas
Race: White
Gender: Female
Relation to Head of House: Daughter
Marital Status: Single
Father’s Name: Roland Hanks
Father’s Birthplace: Louisiana
Mother’s Name: Hulda J Hanks
Mother’s Birthplace: Arkansas
Occupation: View on Image
Neighbors: View others on page
Household Members:
Name Age
Roland Hanks 48
Hulda J Hanks 79
Rupert Hanks 17
Cora R Hanks 15
Myrtle A Hanks 13
Bessie V Hanks 11
Nina M Hanks 8
Cara J Hanks 7
Lena G Hanks 4
Ray H Hanks 2
Clarence S Hanks 3/12
William H Mcginnis 31
Source Citation: Year: 1900; Census Place: Harris, Stone, Arkansas; Roll: 77; Page: 6A; Enumeration District: 133; FHL microfilm: 1240077.

Social Security Death Index about Lena G. Combs
Name: Lena G. Combs
SSN: 431-09-2523
Last Residence: 65759 Taneyville, Taney, Missouri, United States of America
Born: 25 Jan 1896
Died: 12 Mar 1997
State (Year) SSN issued: Arkansas (Before 1951)

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.

obituaries through the oklahoma choctaw tribe is through the history link for the tribe:

social security application for a deceased person:
form SS-5.

your public library probably has a subscription to heritage quest and is another useful database for native records and military records, but they are a subscription. however, many times their month’s subscription price is less than the price of a dawes packet, however check with accessgenealogy’s database to see if your relative’s dawes packet is exists or is available at fold3.
partial names are allowed.

bear in mind that many records are not online. always collect documents, as just the reference to a relative in an index informs you that a document is available.

death records:
death certificate: state vital records or if very old, state archives. ask for the person’s name at the time of death. you can look at death indices, such as the social security death index 1964-present for a date of death on or
obituary: see your local public library, interlibrary loan program. ask for the person’s name at the time of death. approximate date of death is helpful. if old, state historical society or state archives might have historical newspapers.
cemetery record: try or ask for the person’s name at the time of death. if you find a relative, you can click on the county or cemetery to see if others with the same surname are buried there.

marriage records:
state vital records office, county clerk or if old, state archives or state historical society.

birth records:
state vital records office, or if old, state archives or state historical society. if the birth was before 1940, ask for a birth certificate or a delayed birth certificate. many people had to get delayed birth certificates when social security came into effect because they had to show proof of age. this will be under the name used at the time of birth.

census records:
you will want to search for census records 1940 on down to the birth of your relative. the federal census was taken every 10 years, however the 1890 census was largely destroyed by fire. there are also some state census records and native census records and native rolls. and heritage quest are two databases that include many census records. many native census records kept by NARA ( are transcribed at accessgenealogy.

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 your relative was enrolled by court action, their name might not be on this list.
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

the five civilized tribes book put out by the department of the interior has testimony.
and you can read it online

and these are the microfilms at fort worth TX archives.

there may be additional records about your relative:
contact NARA for these and other records listed on this webpage.

75.23.1 Records of the Dawes Commission
75.23.2 Records of the U.S. Indian Inspector for Indian Territory
75.23.3 General records of the Commissioner to the Five Civilized Tribes
(Record Group 75)
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.
some obituaries:

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
marriage records

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
and you can read this book online. your relatives’ testimony might be in the book.
see the menu at left. you can download it.

you should look at the enrollment application, census card and testimony. this post will tell you how to do that. these documents will tell you more about your heritage, but it won’t help you if your goal is to be enrolled in the choctaw tribe of oklahoma. some people were classed as mississippi choctaw if the family had a native heritage but didn’t qualify for enrollment in the tribe.

there are 63 tribes in oklahoma but only the five major tribes are on the dawes roll. look at your family’s location around 1900-1930 time period (census will help you there) and see if there was a tribe located nearby. it is possible that your relatives were affiliated with another tribe.

if they were mississippi choctaw, there is probably a land grant in MS/AL to a head of household called choctaw scrip land. this was given in lieu of tribal enrollment 1830-1880 time period. has a database of the MS and AL choctaw scrip land records, called mississippi or alabama land records. there are other land records in those databases too,, so you have to look at the authority/source cited. NARA has those land record packages.

the mississippi choctaw was not removed from oklahoma. but they were largely rejected for tribal enrollment.

this website might help you in your search. some people are trying to transcribe applications.
i do not know what they are trying to transcribe, but this is the volunteer page

and this might be of interest to you:
Rights of Mississippi Choctaws in the Choctaw Nation
Index to the Final Rolls of the Citizens and Freedmen of the Five Civilized Tribes in Indian Territory
the dawes roll is composed of applications to the five major tribes in oklahoma.

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.

penny postcards. this is a website that features pictures that were on postcards. click on the state to see the postcards that they have.
if you have a penny postcard, you can click on submissions to add your penny postcard to the collection.

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

Tif Tif

posted on October 2, 2012

I am researching my lineage and Roland Hanks is my great great grandfather. I have slightly less info than you do and am also having difficulty tracing back Emily Miller’s lineage. I can be reached at tiflayman(at)gmail(dot)com. I would love to exchange info with you.