Cherokee Citizenship Commission Dockets
1880-1884 and 1887-1889
by Jeff Bowen
Printed for Clearfield Co. by Genealogical Publishing Co., Baltimore. 2010.
This is an edition of a previously published book of transcribed dockets of cases brought before the Cherokee Citizenship Commission from 1880-1889. This edition has been reformatted, contains a shorter introduction, and has a new index. The index contains over 2500 names. There are over 540 docket cases transcribed, but not all in this volume. This volume includes docket #287 through docket #718.
The author states the transcriptions appear exactly as transcribed on the microfilmed copies of the original handwritten court records involving citizenship during the time period. The dockets were referenced and transcribed from the microfilm series 7RA25-0001 (American Genealogical Lending Library), Cherokee Citizenship Commission Docket Books, 1880-1884 and 1887-1889.
The introduction describes the plight of the Cherokee after the Civil War when their stability had vanished and intruders were anxious to gain Cherokee citizenship in order to acquire the benefits of Indian membership. Conversely, the true blood Cherokees encountered distrust and scrutiny from the federal government as they tried to lay claim to their rightful lands. In 1887 Congress passed the Dawes Severalty Act which denationalized the tribe in Indian Territory. The federal government began to survey and allot their lands in severalty, and established a territorial whites-managed government over Oklahoma. The section provides background on why the commission was created, the Indian objections to the whites’ intervention in such matters, and the federal response to the situation.
The following is one entry:
filed August 12th 87
Applicant for Cherokee Citizenship
Post Office: Muscogee [sic] I.T.
Attorney: Boudinot & Rasmus
No.1 Name: Mary Rebecca Neal Age 48 Sex Female
Ancestor: Billy Taylor
The above case having come up for final hearing and all the points having been duly considered find that there is not sufficient evidence to justify the Court to admit said applicant to Citizenship. It is plainly shown by the evidence in the testimony of John Ross, that Billy Taylor was a resident of Georgia up to the year 1852 & that he was a full blood Cherokee. If such had been the case his name should appear on some one of the Rolls either 1835, 51 & 52, but after carefully examining the several Rolls, we find one William Taylor, who was enrolled in Cherokee County, North Carolina, and he if living, would be only eight years older than the applicant, which is impossible for him to be the father and it shows plainly that he was altogether of a different family. His father being David Taylor, and the said Billy Taylor’s father was Davenport or Port Taylor, and the law governing this case plainly says that any person claiming Cherokee blood or descent must be a person or lineal descendant of a person whose name appears on some one of the Census Rolls of the Cherokee taken by the United States after the Treaty of 1835. Now after carefully and impartially considering the above case, the Commission decide that Mary R. Neal is not a Cherokee by blood and not entitled to any of the rights and privileges of Cherokee Citizenship.
Attest J.T. Adair Chairman Commission
C.C. Lipe D.W. Lipe Commissioner
Clerk H.C. Barnes
The book is 326 pages of such entries. The above entry is lengthier than most, but representative of the contents of the dockets.
The entries are full of names: the applicants, the attorneys of record, the commissioners, the alleged ancestors, and commission clerks. Some applications involve entire families with several names and ages. It appears the index includes all these names. In reading through several of the docket entries, most of the decisions are refusals to grant citizenship to the applicants.
I’d say this reference is for the researcher of Cherokee citizens and persons who put in claims for Cherokee citizenship.
I would have liked to read more about the historical background of the Cherokee residency in North America, and their subsequent removals and migrations. I would have liked to read more about the Commission: who were the commissioners? was there a mandate for a percentage of Indian commissioners and white commissioners? when was the commission incorporated? what were the parameters of the commission?
I looked at Volume II of a total of five volumes of the series. There may be more background information in the other volumes that I have not seen, but these are definitely worthy works to have in the libraries and history centers. This is a rich resource for researchers who need this information.
Concerning the author Jeff Bowen, when I went over to www.goodreads.com, I counted 74 works by this author, all Indian-related. We owe a debt of gratitude to such authors who stock our bookshelves with such great reference material.
Then, I found a useful resource that had escaped my earlier attention.
The author is associated with NativeStudy.com. This very interesting website promotes the research into “the heritage of the Native people” with beginning research help links, additional resource ideas for research, state links, and offers of books and a subscription to their newsletter. There is even a Cowboys and Indians link that opens up broader Western research possibilities.
The Cherokee Commission books will aid the Cherokee researcher, and the website will aid a broader range of Indian researchers.
Cherokee Citizenship Commission Dockets, Vol. II, 1880-1884 and 1887-1889 is available from publisher Genealogical Publishing Co. at http://goo.gl/oADMk as well as from Amazon at http://goo.gl/xVVsD and many other genealogy book stores.