A Brief Look At Cherokeee Records, 1817-1924

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Before jumping into tracing a family that you believe descends from Cherokee ancestry, it’s a good idea to get some background on the Cherokee tribe and the records needed to prove a relationship to one of its members. One of the best introductions to Cherokee genealogy, Cherokee Connections, by Myra Vanderpool Gormley, offers a short and easy to read format to get you started. Use the handy list below, which outlines most of the major record sources available to researchers for the years 1817 through 1910, and 1924, as a quick reference guide!

Record Description
Register of Persons Requesting Land Under the Treaty of 1817 Lists heads of Cherokee families residing on lands to be ceded to the United States who requested life reservations consisting of 640 acres. (Record lookup available.)
Cherokee Emigration Rolls, 1817-1835 Cherokee who filed to emigrate to Arkansas country, and after treaties in 1828 on to Oklahoma. These Cherokee became known as the Old Settlers after the Eastern Cherokee joined them in 1839. (Record lookup available.)
1835 Census Roll of the Cherokee Indians East of the Mississippi (called the Henderson Roll) and Index to the Roll. A census of Cherokees who were to be relocated to the west. Lists heads of Cherokee families by name, number of males under and over age 18, number of females under and over age 16, and the degree of Indian blood. Some Cherokees named remained in the southeast. (Record lookup available.)
1852 Chapman Roll Arranged by state and county of residence, the 1852 Chapman Roll lists each member of Cherokee families by name, each person’s age, and their relationship to the head-of-household.
1884 Hester Roll In addition to the information given in the Chapman Roll, the 1884 Hester Roll lists the enrollee’s ancestor who appeared in a previous roll.
1893 Final Rolls of the Five Civilzed Tribes In 1893 the Dawes Commission was charged with securing agreements with the Choctaw, Chickasaw, Cherokee, Creek, and Seminole Indians to extinguish tribal title to all their lands in Indian Territory and to allot their lands in severalty. As instructed by Congress, the Dawes Commission prepared final rolls of the Five Civilized Tribes listing the members of each tribe, and submitted the rolls to the Secretary of the Interior for approval. The names of those approved as eligible to receive land and those disapproved were included on the rolls. Most rolls give name, age, sex, egree of Indian blood, and the roll and census-card number for each individual. The rolls are arranged by name of tribe and then by separate categories. (Record lookup available.)
1907-8 Cherokee Enrollment Pursuant ot an act of 1902, the Cherokee filed three suits in the U.S. Court of Claims to press their claims for funds due them under their treaties of 1835, 1836, and 1845 with the United States. The court awarded more than $1 million to be distributed to all Easter Cherokee alive on 28 May 1906, who could prove that they were members of the Eastern Cherokee tribe at the time of the treaties or where descended from members who had not been subsequently affiliated with any other tribe. Guion Miller was appointed by the Court of Claimes to be Special commissioner to determine who was eligible to participate in the award. Miller submitted his report on 28 May 1909. Lists applicants and Cherokees entitled to a per capita payment from the United States government. The report consists of ten volumes of findings on individual applications, arranged for the most part chronologically. Includes exhibit copoies of Bureau of Indiana Affairs census rolls and indexes u sed in determing the eligibility of the Chreokee. Reproduced as Records Relating to the Enrollment of Eastern Cherokees by Guion Miller, 1908-1910. M685, 12 rolls. (Record lookup available.)
Eastern Cherokee Applications of the U.S. Court of Claims, 1906-1909 These applications filed by Cherokee or persons claiming to be Cherokee who wished to participate in the Court of Claims award are filled with genealogical information. Each applicant was asked for such information as full English and Indian name, residence, age, place of birth, name of husband or wife, names of children, place of birth and date of death of parents and grandparents, names and ages of brothers and sisters, and names of uncles and aunts. In Special Agent Miller’s report of May 28, 1909, he listed 45,847 applications listing approx. 90,000 individual claimants. From those applicants, 30,254 were enrolled and eligible for a share of the funds. Most, 27,051 lived west of the Mississippi River, with another 3,203 living east of the Mississippi River. The Roll includes information on accepted members, and non-accepted members. The applications are in Records of the U.S. Court of Claims, Record Group 123, and are arranged by application number. the appropriate case number can be obtained from a two-volume index arranged alphabetically by name (usually in English) of the applicant. Index is available on roll 1 of M685. Case files filmed as Eastern Cherokee Applications of the U.S. Court of Claims, compiled by Gaiselle Kerner, Preliminary Inventory 58 (Washington: National Archives and Record Service, 1953). (Record lookup available.)
1924 Baker Roll: The Final Roll of the Eastern Cherokees of North Carolina Records give names, relationship in household, age, date of birth, and degree of Indian blood.


SELECTED READING LIST

Baker, Jack D., comp. Cherokee Emigration Rolls, 1817-1835. Oklahoma City, OK: Baker Publishing Co., 1977.

Blankenship, Bob. Cherokee Roots. Vols. 1,2. Cherokee, NC: Bob Blankenship, 1992.

Blankenship, Bob. Guion Miller Roll “Plus” of Eastern Cherokee East & West of Mississippi. Cherokee, NC: Cherokee Roots Publications, 1994.

Blaknship, Bob. Dawes Roll “Plus” of Cherokee Nation. Cherokee, NC: Cherokee Roots Publications, 1994.

Gormley, Myra Vanderpool. Cherokee Connections, Tacoma, WA: Family Historian Books, 1995.

Hampton, David Keith, comp. Cherokee Old Settlers: The 1896 Old Settler Payroll and the 1851 Old Settler Payroll., 1993.

Sober, Nancy Hope. The Intruders, The Illegal Residents of the Cherokee Nation, 1866-1907. Ponca City, OK: Cherokee Books, 1991.

Timmons, Boyce D. and Alice Tyner Timmons. Authenticated Rolls of 1880 Cherokee Nation-Indian Territory. Norman, OK: Chi-ga-u, Inc. 1978.

Timmons, Boyce D. and Alice Tyner Timmons. Supplement to the 1880 Authenticated Rolls of the Cherokee Nationa. Norman, OK: Chi-ga-u, Inc., 1980.

Watson, Larry S. Cherokee Emigration Records 1829-1835. Laguna Hills, CA: Histree, 1990.

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