March 28, 2005

Where to start in your search for Creek or Muskoke ancestors


The records relating to the Creek Indians are actually records of a number of different Indian tribes who belonged to confederacy of which the Muskoke or Creek (as they were called by the Europeans) were the principal power. The confederacy included various Muscogee people such as the Okfuskee, Otciapofa, Abikha, Okchai, Hilibi, Fus-hatchee, Tulsa, Coosa, as well as the Alabama, Natchez, Koasati and possibly some Shawnee who settled among them.

At the time of their removal, beginning in 1834, the Creeks occupied the central portion of Alabama. Although the treaty by which they ceded the balance of their Alabama land was signed on March 24, 1832 and a tribal census completed on May 1, 1833, the Creeks were most reluctant to leave their long-occupied homelands.

This reluctance proved the basis for the “Creek War of 1836,” which was actually a military operation aimed at pitting two factions of the Creek Nation against one another with the intention of attenuating the opposition of both to removal.

Creek Census of 1833

The census of 1833 has come to be called the Parsons and Abbott Roll, and is the most comprehensive pre-removal document, as it was the result of a village-to-village trek on the part of the census-takers, and contains the names of all the heads of households arranged by Creek towns.

The genealogical researcher who is able to locate an ancestor on this document is most fortunate, as it forms the basis for many other documents relating to Creek claims cases through the 1960’s. Microfilmed copies of the Roll may be purchased from the National Archives, as well. Ask for T275.

Creek Lands in the East

An important feature of the Treaty of 1832 was its provision that any head of household was authorized to make a selection of reservation of land in Alabama and, if he/she wished, could settle upon it and remain in Alabama: Alternately, the Indian could sell his reservation, remove to Indian Territory, and keep the proceeds.

This feature of the treaty served to create a body of land records, which may be useful in genealogical research. These records are located in county courthouses, and in the U.S. Archives in Washington, D.C. and Eastpoint, Georgia. Many Indians were defrauded of their reservations by white settlers or land speculators, but it remains a possibly productive task to search these records for a Creek, Choctaw, or Cherokee Progenitor. Finding aids for these records include indices of original entry land records in which are located in many libraries.

These are organized by land offices, which were established to sell the lands of the Indians and of the United States. There are also land location registers for the period 1833-34 and an index to these lands in the National Archives (Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs: Record Group 75.

Records of Removal

Records of the Creek Removal are also located in the National Archives. These include records of self-emigrant Creeks who removed to Indian Territory as a result of the Treaty of 1832, and who subsisted themselves for one year upon arrival. Rolls include the name and period of claim and information about their heirs if the original claimant had died.

Records of the Creeks Prior to Removal

The United States established a system of trading houses among Indians tribes in the early history of the Republic. These trading houses, called “factories,” were located on Creek lands in Alabama and Georgia beginning in 1795 and ending in 1820. Records of these factories are in the National Archives and include ledgers and journal kept by the factor and their correspondence.

The United States government appointed the managers (called factors) of these trading houses, and the factors soon became the primary agents for the government in all its dealings with the Indians. The most prominent of the agents among the Creeks was Benjamin Hawkins. His records are also in the National Archives and include ledgers, journals, receipts, annuity payments and correspondence. These records are useful in genealogical research because they include names of Indians who traded at the factories during this early period of the existence of our Nation.

Early Correspondence

Some microfilmed correspondence for the Creek Agency East is available for the period 1824-36 in many large libraries, as well as the National Archives. Copies may also be purchased by individuals. The correspondence is available on M-234, “Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs, 1824-80,” Rolls 219-225. The materials are of limited use as genealogical records, but they contain much useful historical data. Correspondence relating to Creek emigration to Indian Territory is contained on Rolls 237-240.

Later Census Rolls

Creek censuses were taken in 1882, 1890, and 1896 of the Creeks in Indian Territory. Other rolls were made in connection with payments to Creeks in Indian Territory of the annuity associated with the removal treaty and various claim cases. All of these are available on preservation microfilm from the Southwest branch of the National Archives in Ft. Worth, Texas. In addition, The United States census for Indian Territory has a Soundex index which is useful in locating surnames.


In consequence of the many reports of frauds being perpetrated in the sale of Creek land in Alabama, in 1836 the President appointed Hartley Crawford and Alfred Balch to investigate alleged frauds, as well as the cause of the hostilities that were taking place among the Creeks at the time. The records of this investigation and similar ones are in the U. S. Archives, and contain some useful genealogical information.

Allotments in Indian Territory and the Dawes Roll

The last decade of the nineteenth century and the first decade of the twentieth century were of importance to the Creeks in Indian Territory, as their land was allotted to individual Indian heads-of- family and the Territory became the state of Oklahoma. In order to allot the land, rolls were created of all members of the Creek Nation.

This roll, commonly called the Dawes Roll, is an important document and a very food source for genealogical information. On hearing of the allotment, a significant number of Creeks from throughout the U. S. migrated to Indian Territory. Some returned to the east but others stayed. The index for this roll is available on microfilm and in print and many libraries have this document.

Individual and family case records are housed in the Ft. Worth Branch of the U.S. Archives. If you find a name of one of your ancestors, you may obtain a copy of file concerning the ancestor from the Fort Worth Branch. The File normally contains an enrollment card, which lists all family members, their residence (by district or town in the Creek Nation), and it may contain testimony given the Dawes Commission concerning the family.

Civil War Claim Cases

Since the U. S. Civil War, there have been a number of Creek claims filed in federal courts of claims jurisdiction. The Civil War claims are those for damages claimed by Creek Indians who were loyal to the U. S. during the War. There is also a roll of loyal Creeks among the annuity payment rolls for annuities paid to the Creek Indian in Indian Territory after the Civil War. Descriptions of these materials are in the published inventory National Archives.

Muscogee (Creek) Tribes
About Raven SiJohn

Leave a Reply