March 28, 2005

Some Chocktaw genealogy research suggestions


In doing research on Choctaw genealogy, it is useful to combine standard genealogical research with information from federal records. The typical research of records in the county courthouse or state archives frequently leads to other information from the federal records.


Original entry land records (which should reveal information about the first transfer of a piece of land from federal or Indian hands to its first non-Indian owner) are a useful tool.

These land records are available in county court houses and state archives (and offices of the secretary of state in most states), and in the records of the General Land Office (Record Group 29) in the U.S. Archives. Useful finders documents, with alphabetical listings of the names of the original entry possessor, can be found in many libraries and archives. These are often organized by regional land offices created for the purpose of apportioning the land for settlement.

County records (duplicates of which are contained in may state archives) may also contain death and marriage information, court proceedings and judgements, school attendance and completion records and other information useful to the researcher.

Church and cemetery records are also frequently useful to genealogist. Many of these are only local records, but if a church is a member of a diocese, convention, syno. Or other ecclesiastical organization, there may be records of value in the central offices of these agencies. Marriage records, baptismal records are the typical kind often found in these sources.

Census records are often quite helpful to genealogical researchers. In addition to federal censuses, many states have conducted their own population censuses. These were usually done in the early days of the existence of the state, and at irregular instances. Many contain only the names of the heads of household and most did not list the race of the householder.

Federal census records are organized by states, counties or other political subdivisions, and census enumeration districts. Race is not always listed, and may be self-reported or noted by the census taker. Early federal censuses contained only the names of the heads of household and the number of men, women, children and slaves. It is therefore impossible to locate the names of wives and children except in the case of those households headed by women.

The federal censuses of 1900 and 1910 contain a special accounting of Indian households, which is a part of the regular census document. These are separate census pages containing information about the Indian’s tribal origins and the tribal origin of his/her parents. This special census was taken only of those whose household was headed by an Indian.

The single best document that can be used to establish Choctaw ancestry is probably the Armstrong Roll of 1830 previously mentioned. The researcher’s problem is that of connecting to some progenitor on a roll of that age. The testimony in the Net Proceeds Case and the Dawes Commission hearings offer possible aid in providing linkages to that roll.

The problem with these two sources is also their relative age and accessibility to those who are doing genealogy at the local level. As previously mentioned, the index to the Dawes Roll is on microfilm, and is in possession of some local libraries and state archives. There is also a separate Choctaw Census in Indian Territory for the year 1885 (see Addendum attaché for Microfilm M-595, Choctaw Census).

More recent information about Choctaw in Mississippi may be found in their censuses beginning in 1926. Information about the Choctaw in Mississippi during the last quarter of the nineteenth century may be obtained from the papers of Henry Halbert, which are in the state archives of Mississippi and Alabama. Mr. Halbert, a teacher in the Mississippi Choctaw schools and later an employee in the Alabama State Archives, wrote extensively about their life after Indian Removal which has never been published. There is also some incidental genealogical information.

Choctaw Genealogy Resources

National Archives and Record Service

Washington, D.C. 20208

(to purchase microfilm, address Publications Service Branch (NEPS)

National Archives and Record Service (Southeast Region)

1557 St. Joseph Street.

East Point, GA 30322

National Archives and Record Service (Southwest Region)

501 Felix Street

Box 6216

Fort Worth, TX 76115

State of Alabama

Dept. of Archives and History

622 Washington Avenue

Montgomery, AL 36130

Arkansas History Commission

300 West Markham

Little Rock, AR 72210

Louisiana Secretary of State

Archives Division

P.O. Box 22125

Baton Rouge, LA 70802

Mississippi Dept. of Archives and History

100 South State Street

P.O. Box 571

Jackson, MS 39205

Texas State Library

Archives Division

P.O. Box 12927

Capitol Station

Austin, TX 78711

Houghton Library of Harvard University

Cambridge, MA 02138

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