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.