Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Cherokee Genealogy - Part 1

I know my family was Cherokee and I know my family was listed on the Dawes Roll, but don't know how to do my genealogy. What do I need to do? This is a question that I was recently asked from a Cherokee friend of mine. He is an older man and is interested in learning more about his Cherokee ancestors, but not interested in reading through all the advice on the internet that is specifically intended for those who aren't sure whether their ancestors were Cherokee or not. He has his CDIB card and is registered with the CNO so figuring out "if" was not his question. Figuring out "who came before" is. If you are in the same situation, then hopefully the following information will be helpful to you.

Since you know your family is listed on the Dawes Roll, the first thing you should do is get those applications your family made. The Dawes applications provide varied information depending on the application. If a woman has married more than once and had children from each of those marriages, often times, you will find not only the names of her parents, but also the names of her former spouses, the father/s of her children. Usually you can also learn what names your ancestors were using in 1880 and 1896. It is important to get the entire application and review it to make sure the name you find on some of the online indexes is really your ancestor. There are many situations of "same name, different person", so do not assume anything until you verify it with further research and documentation.

My own family history and genealogy project grew out of the desire to record the information my grandpa had shared with us about his family. The first thing I did was write down all the family names I knew, which included my grandpa, his parents, his maternal grandparents and his paternal grandfather. I also knew the names of his maternal grandmother's brother and the name of another relative, Ellen or Ella Swimmer, but didn't know exactly how she was related.

After writing everything I knew down, then I got the Dawes applications for my grandpa's parents. Not only was I able to verify the information I already knew, I was able to learn the names of my grandpa's paternal grandmother and several of his aunts and uncles. After having that information, then I got the applications of my grandpa's grandparents, great grandparents and so on. Just from looking at the Dawes applications and following that paper trail, I was able to put together a simple, basic family tree of names and estimated dates. I also found some other valuable things in those applications, like my great grandmother's birth affidavit and my great great grandmother's death affidavit.

There are several places to get more information and/or to order the applications your family made for Dawes. Since genealogy can be expensive, I offer FREE Dawes application look ups. You can click on the link in my sidebar to the right to leave a query for the ancestor you are researching. Other places offer free searches on the index of the Final Roll that will give you the name, age, sex, blood, census card number, roll number and type. The easiest to use and the one I recommend is -
Search the Final Dawes Roll. If you want to do your research in person, you can visit the Muskogee Public Library where they are very helpful.

After thoroughly researching the Dawes applications your family made, you will be then able to move on to the Miller applications, which are a gold mine of genealogical information. Those will be the topic of my next post, Cherokee Genealogy - Part 2.

Those are my thoughts for the day.
Thank you for listening.

The Granddaughter

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