29 December 2013

End of 2013 Update

     2013 is nearing its end. I've made lots of progress, but the records extraction is very slow going. here are the highlights of the new records added to my Pre-1920 Oklahoma Death Index:

  • Cherokee County Probate Appearance Dockets v2-5 (1907-1917)
  • Daily Ardmoreite (Ardmore OK) 1 Jan 1906 through 10 May 1906
  • Ellis County Gage Dist. Probate Packets #225-765 (1896-1921)
  • Harmon County Probate Case Files #1-193 (1907-1921)
  • Mayes County Probate Appearance Docket v1-3 (1907-1919)
  • North Central Oklahoma: Rooted in the Past/Growing for the Future 1995 v1&2
  • Okmulgee County Probate Appearance Dickets v1-2? (1907-1909)
  • Pioneers of the Chickasaw Nation IT 1997 by Nova Lemons v1&2
  • Rogers County Probate Appearance Dockets v1-5 (1908-1919)
  • Rose Hill Burial Park (in Oklahoma City) Sexton's Card File  A-Z (first burial in 1917)
  • Wagoner County Probate Appearance Dockets v1-6 1907-1919
       Each of these sources requires page by page reading to find the information on early Oklahoma Deaths. Sometimes I find only 10 to 15 per hour. However, from Nov 16th to Dec 29th I have added 4072 entries to the databse.

     This brings the grand total to 464,109 entries!!!

20 October 2013

Progress Update

     Today I added 1833 new entries bringing the total in my Pre-1900 Oklahoma Death Index database to 458,295. My goal for 2013 was to have 500,000 entries in the database, however, it looks like I will only reach the 470,000 mark. I have exhausted the "easy" sources (indexes) and am now slogging my way page by page through sources that require more intense study.

     Sources consulted for the 1833 entries added today were:

  • The Daily Ardmoreite (May and June 1905)
  • The Inola Register (5 Oct 1906 through 29 Mar 1907)
  • Carter County Probate Packets (1906 through 1909)
  • Cimarron County Probate Case Files (1907 through 1922, finished)
  • Harper County Probate Case Files (1907 through 1913)
  • Texas County Probate Case Files (1915 through 1922, finished)
  • Oak Hill Cemetery & Mount Calvary Cemetery in McAlester by PCGS
  • Pioneers of the Chickasaw Nation IT published in 1991 (vol 1 through p257)
     For probate records I have been consulting those that are available on FamilySearch. I am concentrating on those counties that do not have any scanned probate indexes. Earlier this year I went through the scanned index books, so am now concentrating on counties that did not have any scanned index volumes. Since I have spent so much time and effort on records from Indian Territory the past two years, I decided to start my way in far west Oklahoma and work my way east. So the Panhandle counties of Cimarron, Texas and Beaver are finished and Harper County is nearly half way completed.

     Continuing projects include:
  • Dawes' Roll Enrollment Cards: working on Chickasaw; have completed Cherokee, Choctaw, Creek and Seminole.
  • Minor Tribes Census Rolls: currently working on the Kiowa Agency Rolls. These include censuses for the Kiowa, Comanche, Apache and Wichita tribes. So far I have over 500 deaths from the 1879, 1881, 1881-1883, and 1883 censuses.

     The work is "slow going" these days what with reading each page of the sources looking for death information. And I am a "one man show". That is by design. However, the database is now big enough that I have been able to help quite a few people find references to the deaths of people they are searching for.

     Another update in about two weeks!

06 October 2013

Indian Census Records

     Most genealogists are told (and believe) that there are few death records for Indians (Native Americans) who resided in what is now Oklahoma. In fact, I have personally heard librarians who specialize in Indian records state that the only place you might find a death record in the US District Court records and maybe the Dawes' Roll enrollment forms and packets. This, however, is far from the truth!

     On day last year I downloaded the "Catalog of Microfilm Publications" for the Archives and Manuscript Division of the Oklahoma Historical Society. I printed it, not realizing that it is a 221 page document. It lists many records, including the microfilmed collections of various tribes in Oklahoma. It is not limited to the Five Civilized Tribes, but includes what are often referred to as the minor tribes.

     Usually the first few rolls of a specific tribe's/Agency's records are what are referred to as Censuses. These are Census Enrollments of Indians living within a specific Agency's jurisdiction. Most are dated 30 June or 1 July of a certain year. The earliest Rolls list the head of household (not always a man) and state that someone in the family died during the year following the census date. Other early forms list head of household and numbers of females, male kids under and over 7 years of age and the same for female children. These early censuses were not meant to be death registers. Yet you can find death information scattered across the pages. Sometimes a name will be crossed out with "dead" written next to the name. Sometimes the 1 for the child will be changed to 0 with a note at the end of the row "dead". More commonly at the far right of the row it will state that the woman or child died on a certain date or just in a certain year. If the male is listed as dead (often with a death date) the name of his "woman" will be listed.

     In later censuses, the Agency superintendent would have the Census Roll typed. These are much easier to read. They are clearly labeled as "dead" and more often than not the death date is listed. These later records are complete lists of household with reference to the family number on the immediate past Census Roll.

     I have spent about 2 to 4 hours most Saturdays since January 2013 reading through these Census Rolls gleaning death information. The numbers listed below are somewhat misleading. If the dead Indian is listed by both Indian name and English name, I include two entries for that person, one under each name. For each entry, I include the alternate name in the relationship/comments column of the database.

     Following is a list of the Census Rolls by Tribe and number of death entries I today added to my master database of pre1920 deaths in Oklahoma:

* Iowa..............................................................25
* Kaw............................................................308
* Mexican Kickapoo........................................84
* Citizen Pottawatomie...................................154
* Sac & Fox..................................................258
* Absentee Shawnee......................................241
* Miami (and associated tribes)......................180
* Cheyenne and Arapaho(e).........................1144
* Kiowa/Comanche/Wichita/Apache..............332

     Granted, these are not huge numbers, but for a people group for whom most will claim records from the time period do not exist or are rare, this is a lot! And the Kiowa/Comanche/Wichita/Apache Census Roll number listed above is by no means complete. That 332 entries covers only part way through the 1881-1883 Census Roll. I still have 27 years of Census Rolls to go through!

     There are lots of records out there that the average person knows nothing about. Even the "expert" librarians don't know much about these records. So get out there and "dig" through records that might help you with your research! Get excited and have fun!

03 October 2013

Government Shutdown, etc...

  • The "government shutdown" has actually affected this project! I was opening the National Archives' Chronicling America page to continue abstracting obits from the Daily Ardmoreite. When opening, an error message stated that until further notice, this page is shut down. This newspaper is also in the digitized newspapers on the Oklahoma History Center's website. However, links from issue to issue do not exist (at least not that I have found). So for the time being, I have started on an Inola OK newspaper.
  • I uploaded another 2084 records. Some are from a couple of published books (one on Chickasaw Nation, one on Oklahoma South of the Canadian). But the majority are from the Daily Ardmoreite newspapers (Dec 1904 through May 1905) and from the Dawes' Roll Enrollment Cards: Cherokee Doubtful and Rejected. Thus finishes the Cherokee Enrollment Cards. The only Enrollment Cars to finish are the Chickasaw, however, they are very dim and I don't hold out much hope for adding many from this source.
  • The total for the database is now 454,072 entries. 
  • I started on Texas County Probate Packets and Carter County Probate Packets. It's interesting to come across probate packets for people from the Dawes' Roll Enrollment Cards for the Choctaws and Chickasaws. Some of the probate packets give death information on heirs as well as the person the file is for. In one case there is death info on the deceased, two of her daughters, two of her sisters and three of her nieces/nephews. All in one file!
  • Progress will continue on Carter County and Texas County probate packets, Chickasaw Enrollment Cards, Apache/Comanche census records, Daily Ardmoreite death notices, and other records I come across. 

22 September 2013

Recent Activities: Sept 2013

     On September 9th I presented the program "Death Records in Indian Territory and Early Oklahoma" at the monthly meeting of the Oklahoma Genealogical Society. After the meeting a new member asked if I had a suggestion on how to find information on her ancestor who died south of Stroud OK in July 1897. On a lark I looked him up in my index and found an entry for him with the source as the Beaver Herald (in Beaver County in the Oklahoma Panhandle)! My assumption was that one of his children moved out there and the death notice was published for that reason.

     As it turns out, the death notice appeared in the "Territorial News" column. The descendant then checked and found a more detailed death notice in a Guthrie paper relating the details of his drowning. She is continuing to check other newspapers in Oklahoma/Indian Territory (likely Chandler and/or Bristow) for additional accounts. As I related in my talk, these accounts can vary highly in content from one newspaper to another.

     I have my handout available in a four page word document for anyone who would like one. Simply email me and request it. I also have a copy of my personal lecture notes outline (including URLs for source websites). My lecture notes are 12 pages long and are available for a $3 donation to the OGS. Copies will be available at the next OGS meeting (Oct 7th), or email me for directions to send the donation, and once received I will email the notes.

     I just finished going through the Dawes' Rolls Enrollment Cards for the Cherokee Nation. Current ongoing extraction projects include Carter County probates, Texas County probates, and Daily Ardmoreite death notices and obituaries. More to come...

27 August 2013

Progress Update!!

     I thought I would update the progress of the Pre-1920 Oklahoma Death Index:

  • Just finished extracting death information from Canadian County Probate Packets.
  • Nearing the end of the Cherokee Dawes' Enrollment Cards. I have about 2500 more cards to go through, so should be finished by the end of September. So far I have 23,600 death references from just the Cherokee cards.
  • When I finish the Cherokee cards, I will go back to the Chickasaw cards. I had stopped working on them when over 50 pages in a row were unreadable (too faint to read). They will probably take til the end of the year to finish.
  • I finished the following "minor" Indian Census Rolls: Iowa, Kaw, Kickapoo, Miami, Citizen Pottawatomie, Absentee Shawnee, Sac & Fox, and just Saturday, the Cheyenne/Arapaho. I have yet to import these into the database.
  • Finished volume 2 of "Oklahoma South of the Canadian". This set was published in 1925. I made a decent start into volume 3. It is surprising how many deaths are recorded in the biographical histories!
     The database is currently just short of 450,000 entries. For a few people, I now have references to a death notice, obit, funeral home record, cemetery/tombstone record, probate record, pension record, etc. This is the whole purpose: Bring together all available references to deaths in early Oklahoma in order to help people researching their family history.

     More info to come...

11 August 2013

Indian Census Records: Unusual Names

     For the past few months, on my weekly Saturday forays to the Oklahoma History Center's Research Library, I have been reading page by page through the microfilmed Indian census records. It is interesting seeing the multi-syllable Indian names, followed by the English name translations. Censuses with both names serve as a type of Rosetta Stone for names of the tribal members for the years on either side of 1900 in what is now Oklahoma.

     One household I find quite amusing and ironic. A 78 year old male named Sweet Water was married to a 30 year old female named Old Woman.

     Another entry from the late 1880s or early 1890s had only the Indian names for each individual. However, I came across twin 18 year old boys who had been orphaned, one of whom died during the year following the census being taken. Their names were Julius Caesar and Roberson Crusoe. I assume that they were named by the superintendent of an orphan's asylum, but that's just conjecture.

     You never know what names you'll come across. But you should enjoy the irony in many of the names. You should also appreciate the ones that make you chuckle and share the reasons for your chuckles with others!

02 August 2013

"New Computer", regained access!!

     Several months ago (in April) my laptop ceased to be compatible with the Blogspot platform, with Firefox and Expolorer, and most other applications. With my daughter going over seas to study for the next year, she received a new computer and I received her old computer. Now that I have become semi-proficient with Windows 7 (after using a Mac since 1982) I have regained access to Blogspot.

     So...I should be posting at least once each week. My "plans" are to post each Wednesday and Saturday, so twice each week. I have come across some interesting records, as well as some funny and ironic records. I'll post about those as well as availability and location of various sources that contain/include deaths of Oklahomans who died before the year 1920.

     I have been asked lately why I don't record obits in Oklahoma papers for people who died out of state. I only include them if the formerly lived in Oklahoma or if they ended being buried in Oklahoma. Since my index as an Oklahoma Death Index, I choose not to enter deaths of those who died out of state and whose only connection to Oklahoma was having relatives in Oklahoma.

     That may seem inappropriate or arbitrary to some, but I had to choose some parameters for my database. They are as arbitrary as choosing 31 Dec 1919 as my cut-off date. But, as my dad who was a geologist would say when showing his maps during the decision making process in drilling wells, "That's my story and I'm sticking by it!"

NEW UPDATE: 446,493 Entries

     Since my last post, I have been extracting information from many different sources. I am about a month away from finishing the Cherokee Dawes' Roll Enrollment Cards, half way through Canadian County probate packets, working through "minor" tribes (non-5 Civilized) census records, and various online and in library books/manuscripts.

     The grand total of records in my database is now 446,493 entries! I should hit the 450,000 entries mark by the end of August. Extracting will fall off in the Fall during football season as I work OSU football games and will lose my wonderful Saturday research time at the Oklahoma Historical Society Research Library and Indian Archives.

     More to come....

22 April 2013

Progress Update

The Pre-1920 Oklahoma Death Index is now at 424,116 entries.

• Just finished extracting death information from Blaine County probate records, about 850 entries in all.

• Working through the Dawes Enrollment Cards for Cherokees. It will probably take most of this year to finish all the Cherokee cards. I'm including those with death dates AND the deaths of parents and spouses listed as dead (their death listed as pre1900-08, for example).

* About half way through deaths recorded at the Sequoyah County Court House. These were periodically recorded by doctors and cover time period of about 1908 to 1917.

• Finished reading through the Beaver Herald, 1895 through end of 1919.

• Started reading through the Langston City Herald (up to Feb 1896).

My computer is a several years old Mac laptop. Apparently the operating system is not compatible with any of the current browsers, so I lose ability to post on this blog most of the time. Soon, I will inherit my daughters 2 year old PC laptop, so should be back to normal abilities and displays. Hopefully I will be able to get back to weekly postings! Until then...Good Hunting!

31 January 2013

Oklahoma Probate Records Now On-Line!!!

     Familysearch.org has now scanned and made available on-line early probate records for most of Oklahoma. The amount and types of probate records vary by county depending on what records the LDS Church microfilm crews were allowed to film. Several counties have indexes included in scanned files!

     When looking for death dates, don't limit your searches to just estate and will files. I have found death dates of parents in guardianship files. A death date can also be roughly determined from the Appearance Docket (death before the filing date, but close to that filing date).

     Nearly all counties have SOME scanned files. So below are those counties for which NO files are accessible:

Coal              Grady           Love              Sequoyah
Craig             Johnston       Murray
Creek           Kiowa          Osage
Garfield         Lincoln         Pawnee

     There is also one county that no longer exists that had files: Day County. This county covered all or parts of Ellis, Roger Mills and Dewey counties before statehood.

To access these files go to Family Search at this URL:


27 January 2013

Oklahoma City Death Record Books

     Several years ago two volumes of OKC death records were donated to the Oklahoma History Center. The OHS has finally ironed out the problems with digitizing the oversized volumes and have put the two volumes covering 1908 through 1924 onto a single CD. Work is in progress to extract information into a searchable database with basic information from the two volumes.

     The information in records is amazing. Included are:
• Name
• Death location
• Gender and race
• Birth date and/or age (usually age)
• Marital status
• Birth place (usually just the state)
• Names of parents and their birth places (states)
• Occupation (usually left blank)
• Death date
• Cause of death
• Contributing cause of death
• Place of burial (cemetery if local, city if elsewhere)
• Funeral Home
• Date record was filed
• Comments column (usually for homicide, auto death, suicide, or WWI service info)

    As you can see, there is a wealth of information in these death volumes. I have extracted information for the 11,638 deaths that occurred before 1920. These records will soon be incorporated into my Pre-1920 Oklahoma Death Index.

     Suprisingly, 40 records were recorded after 1 Jan 1920! Most of these were WWI reburials (disinterred in France for burial in OKC) or disinterments from elsewhere to Fairlawn Cemetery or Rose Hill Cemetery in OKC. Even though entries start on 17 Feb 1908, there are 12 deaths recorded for people who died before 1908. The earliest recorded death is for L.C. Hubbell aged 17y who died 14 June 1893 at Monroe City LA and was disinterred to Fairlawn Cemetery in May 1921.

     Keep a look out for these records to be available at the OHS in the not too distant future. Also, for the time being I am doing free look ups from my Pre-1920 Oklahoma Death Index which now has over 410,000 entries.