I thought I would post more testimony from the Dawes Commission proceedings. This one delivered by my great grandfather, Melvin Elijah Van Every.
Department of the Interior.
Commission to the Five Civilized Tribes.
Muskogee, November 21, 1900.
In the matter of the application for identification as Mississippi Choctaws of Maggie J. Van Every and her five minor children.
Melvin E. Van Every, having been first duly sworn, testifies as follows:
Examination by the Commission.
Q. What is your name? A. Melvin E. Van Every
Q. Is it your desire to make application for the identification of your wife and minor children as Mississippi Choctaws? A. Yes sir.
Q. How many children have you? A. Five.
Q. What are the names and ages? A. Minnie R.
Q. How old is she? A. Sixteen. [ed. Minnie Ray. Born July 6, 1884, sixteen is her correct age.]
Q. What is the next one? A. Samuel.
Q. How old is Samuel? A. Fourteen. [ed. Samuel Ophan. Born Jan 15, 1886, fourteen is his correct age.]
Q. The next one? A. Willie, twelve. [ed. Willa Ann. Born Jan 29, 1890, she would have been ten.]
Q. Next? A. Eva.
Q. How old is that one? A. Ten. [ed. Evelyn Syvela. Born March 21, 1892, she would have been eight.]
Q. The next one? A. Myrtle.
Q. How old is Myrtle? A. Age nine months. [ed. Myrtle Ethel. Born March 21, 1900, she would have been exactly eight months.]
Q. Where is your wife? A. In Maxwell Texas.
Q. Why can’t she appear here in person? A. On account of infant being sick.
Q. Have you a Doctor’s certificate as to her inability to appear before the Commission? A. No sir, but I can furnish it.
Q. What does her disability consist of? A. Infant child being sick.
Q. She is not sick herself? A. No sir, child is sick.
Q. Nothing the matter with her? A. Infant child being sick.
Q. Have you got power of attorney from your wife to appear for her? A. No sir.
Q. Did she authorize you to make this appearance? A. Yes sir.
Q. Any evidence of that fact? A. No sir. Not with me.
Q. Are you fully conversant with your wife’s ancestors? A. Very well as I lived with them part of the time, up to the time of her mother’s death.
Q. Are you competent to testify as to your wife’s residence in the state of Mississippi? A. No sir, not more than she is. I suppose I could testify as much as she could on account of her mother having lived with us up to her death.
Q. You want to make application for the identification of your wife and minor children as Mississippi Choctaws? A. Yes sir.
Q. Is the name of your wife or any of your minor children on any of the tribal rolls of the Choctaw Nation? A. No sir.
By the Com.: Tribal rolls of the Choctaw Nation, prepared by the authorities of the Choctaw tribe, now in the possession of the Commission examined and the names of none of the applicants found thereon.
Q. Have they ever been recognized by the tribal authorities of the Choctaw Nation as citizens of the Choctaw Nation? A. No sir.
Q. Was an application ever made by your wife or by any one in her behalf or in behalf of her minor children to this commission in 196 for citizenship in the Choctaw Nation under the act of Congress of June 10, 1896? A. No sir.
By the Commission: Record of applications for citizenship in the Choctaw Nation made to this commission in 1896 examined, and the names of none of the applicants found thereon.
Q. Was your wife or children ever admitted to citizenship by judgment of the United States Courts in Indian Territory on appeal from the decision of the tribal authorities of the Choctaw Nation or of this Commission? A. No sir.
By the Commission: Record of persons admitted to citizenship by the Choctaw Nation by judgment of the United States Courts in Indian Territory examined and the names of none of the applicants found therein.
Q. Has any application ever been made prior to this time either to the Choctaw tribal authorities or the authorities of the United States for citizenship or enrollment of your wife and minor children? A. No sir.
Q. This is the first application that has ever been made in their behalf? A. Yes sir.
Q. What is your wife’s age? A. Thirty two. [ed. Born on Sept 1, 1868, this is her correct age]
Q. What is her post office address? A. Maxwell, Texas.
Q. Texas? A. Yes sir.
Q. How much Choctaw blood does she claim? A. One eighth.
Q. What was her father’s name? A. Ebenezer Denyer.
Q. Is he living? A. No sir.
Q. What is your wife’s mother’s name? A. Sarah Hartley Denyer.
Q. Is she living? A. No sir.
Q. Through which one of her parents does she claim her Choctaw blood? A. Through her grandfather.
Q. Her parents? A. Her mother.
Q. Was her mother’s name ever on any of the tribal rolls of the Choctaw Nation? A. No sir.
Q. Was her mother ever recognized by a y of the tribal authorities of the Choctaw Nation as a citizen of that Nation? A. No sir.
Q. Is the claim made by you for your wife and minor children as beneficiaries under the fourteenth article of the treaty of 1830? A. Yes sir.
Q. Did your wife or any of her ancestors ever comply with the provisions of that article of that treaty? A. No sir.
Q. What is the name of your wife’s ancestor who was a recognized citizen of the Choctaw Nation? A. George W. Hartley.
Q. What relation was he to your wife? A. Grandfather.
Q. Have you any evidence showing that George W. Hartley was a recognized member of the Choctaw tribe of the Indians in Mississippi? A. No sir, no evidence at the present time.
Q. When did he leave Mississippi. A. I could not answer that question.
Q. Do you know anything of his residence in Mississippi? A. No sir.
Q. Do you know whether he signified to the United States Indian Agent his intention to remain and become a resident of the state of Mississippi after the ratification of the treaty of 1830? A. No sir.
Q. When was you and your wife married? A. Married in 1883. [ed. Aug 29, 1883]
Q. Where? A. Buda, Hayes County, Texas.
Q. Are these five children living with you? A. Yes sir.
Q. Their residence is the same as yours? A. Yes sir.
Q. You and your wife live together? A. Yes sir.
Q. Is there any additional statement that you desire to make? A. No sir, only that I will furnish the certificate as to the ill health of the child and the power of attorney from my wife.
Q. Is there any written evidence that you desire to file in support of this application for the identification of your wife and minor children as Mississippi Choctaws?
Here attorney for the applicant asks leave to file additional testimony within fifteen days.
Examination by Mr. Hudson, attorney for the applicant.
Q. Mr. Van Every, is it your intention to remove to the Indian Territory in the near future for the purpose of establishing a residence and a home for yourself and family? A. Yes sir.
By the Commission:
Permission is granted the attorney for the applicant to file additional testimony in support of this application provided the same is offered to the Commission for filing within fifteen days from the date hereof.
A copy of the decision of the Commission in regard to the application you make for the identification of your wife and minor children as Mississippi Choctaws will be mailed to you in near future to your present post office address.
Anna Bell, having been first duly sworn by Acting Chairman Tams Bixby, on her oath states that as stenographer to the Commission to the Five Civilized Tribes she reported in full all testimony taken in the above entitled cause on November 20, 1900, and that the above and foregoing is a full, treue and correct transcript of her stenographic notes in said cause on said date.
[Signature of Anna Bell]
Subscribed and sworn to before me this 27 day of December, 1900
[signature of Acting Chairman]
Emphasis has been added to the questions to increase readability. Editorial notes are my own addition.
Even assuming that Melvin was rounding up to their next birthdays, he was still off by a year for the age of two of his children. I have a family record sheet, which I believe is a photocopy from the family Bible, listing all the birth dates of the children. It is strange that Evelyn and Myrtle were born on the same day 8 years apart, but the date appears on other documents for both of them.
When my grandmother was 8 months old, she was sick with something. My great grandmother probably did know more about her mother's background than her husband, but not more than her uncle, so her presence wouldn't have made a difference.
I was happy to hear Melvin testify that his mother-in-law Sarah Hartley Denyer was living with them at the time of her death. I knew that when she married her second husband, George Foster, they had lived (according to a note from my great Aunt Minnie) 'in a log cabin in South Texas'. From this testimony I am fairly sure she died in Caldwell County, Texas.