Monday, September 20, 2010

Amanuensis Monday: The Dawes Commission Decision

Amanuensis: A person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another.

I continue my project to transcribe family letters, journals, audiotapes, and other historical artifacts. Not only do the documents contain genealogical information, the words breathe life into kin - some I never met - others I see a time in their life before I knew them. If you choose to join me in Amanuensis Monday and post your transcriptions, feel free to add a link to your post in the comments.

This week I return to the documents I began Amanuensis Monday with - back in February of 2009: The testimony given by my ancestral kin on their Choctaw ancestry.  Below is the official decision letter from the Dawes Commission.


In the matter of the application of Samuel T. Hartley, et al., for identification as Mississippi Choctaws, consolidating the applications of –

Samuel T. Hartley, et al., MCR 1050
Robert H. Hartley, et al., MCR 1051
Virginia Shultz, et al., MCR 1052
Sophronia C. Cagle, et al., MCR 1053
Caroline Taylor, et al., MCR 1068
Maggie J. Van Every, et al., MCR 1054
Samuel W. Denyer, et al., MCR 1055
Eliza C. Reeves, et al., MCR 1069


It appears from the record herein that applications for identification as Mississippi Choctaws were made to this Commission by Samuel T. Hartley for himself and his three minor children, Ammie, Samuel H., and Eddie R. Hartley; by Robert H. Hartley for himself and his three minor children, Bessie Leanner, Youler May, and Viola Hartley; by Virginia Schultz for herself and her four minor children, Birdie, Callie, Julia, and Richard Shultz; by Sophronia C. Cagle for herself and her two minor children, Hazle and Dessie Cagle; by Caroline Taylor for herself and her six minor children, Maudie Viola, Claudie R., Mattie A., Jesse M., Earline, and ___ Taylor, a male infant not named; by Melvin E. Van Every for his wife, Maggie J., and her five minor children, Minnie R., Samuel, Willie, Eva and Myrtle Van Every; by Samuel W. Denyer for himself and his eight minor children, Alfred F., Arthur I., Addie E., Zenobia C., Lee C., Samuel D., William George, and Melvin E. Denyer; and by Eliza C. Reeves for herself and her three minor children, Nora Alice, Ada B. and James Allen Reeves, under the following provision of the act of Congress approved June 28, 1898, (30 Stat., 495):
“Said Commission shall have authority to determine the identity of Choctaw Indians claiming rights in the Choctaw lands under article fourteen of the treaty between the United States and the Choctaw Nation, concluded September twenty-seventh, eighteen hundred and thirty, and to that end may administer oaths, examine witnesses, and perform all other acts necessary thereto and make report to the Secretary of the Interior.”
It also appears that all of said applicants claim rights in the Choctaw lands under article fourteen of the treaty between the United States and the Choctaw Nation, concluded September twenty-seventh, eighteen hundred and thirty, by reason of being descendants of one George W. Hartley, and from Eliza Hartley (nee Beasley) (or Ann Hartley nee Fisher) who are alleged to have been three quarter blood Choctaw Indians and to have resided in Mississippi in eighteen hundred and thirty.

It further appears from the evidence submitted in support of said applications and from the records in the possession of the Commission, that no one of said applicants has ever been enrolled by the Choctaw tribal authorities as a member of the Choctaw tribe, or admitted to Choctaw citizenship by a duly constituted court or committee of the Choctaw Nation, or by the Commission to the Five Civilized Tribes, or by a decrees of the United States Court in Indian Territory under the provisions of the act of Congress approved June 10, 1896, (29 Stat., 321)

It does not appear from the testimony and evidence offered in support of said applications or from the records in the possession of the Commission, relating to person who complied or attempted to comply with the provisions of article fourteen of the treaty of eighteen hundred and thirty, and to persons who heretofore were claimants thereunder, that the said George W. Hartley, Eliza Hartley (nee Beasley) (or Ann Hartley, nee Fisher), or Samuel T. Hartley, the principal applicant, who claims to have been living at the date of the ratification of the treaty of eighteen hundred and thirty, signified (in person or by proxy) to Colonel Wm. Ward, Indian Agent, Choctaw Agency, an intention to comply with the provisions of said article fourteen, or presented a claim to rights thereunder to either of the Commissions authorized to adjudicate such claims by the acts of Congress approved March 3, 1837, (5 Stat., 180), and August 23, 1842, (5 Stat., 513).

It is therefore the opinion of this Commission that the evidence herein is insufficient to determine the identity of Samuel T. Hartley, Ammie Hartley, Samuel H. Hartley, Eddie R. Hartley, Robert H. Hartley, Bessie Leanner Hartely, Youler May Hartley, Violia Hartley, Virginia Shultz, Birdie Shultz, Callie Shultz, Julia Shultz, Richard Shultz, Sophronia C. Cagle, Hazle Cagle, Dessie Cagle, Caroline Taylor, Maudie Viola Taylor, Claudie R. Taylor, Mattie A., Taylor, Jesse M. Taylor, Earline Taylor, ___ Taylor (male infant unnamed), Maggie J. Van Every, Minnie R. Van Every, Samuel Van Every, Willie Van Every, Eva Van Every, Myrtle Van Every, Samuel W. Denyer, Alfred F. Denyer, Arthur L. Denyer, Addie E. Denyer, Zenobia C. Denyer, Lee C. Denyer, Samuel D. Denyer, William George Denyer, Melvin E. Denyer, Eliza C. Reeves, Nora Alice Reeves, Ada B. Reeves, and James Allen Reeves as Choctaw Indians entitled to rights in the Choctaw lands under the provisions of said article fourteen of the treaty of eighteen hundred and thirty, and that the applications for their identification as such should be refused, and it is so ordered.



Muskogee, Indian Territory,
July 11, 1902


1) Samuel T. Hartley was the brother of my second great grandmother, Sarah (Hartley) Denyer Foster.  Maggie (Denyer) Van Every was my great grandmother.

2) The opening itemization of the applications is useful to verify that I have retrieved all the relevant applications.  While Eliza C. Reeves had two siblings, and while my second great grandmother likely had another brother, William, it appears neither of them, or their descendants testified.

It's possible that the National Archives may have more pages from the applications than are digitized at, so if I wish to request one of the applications from the National Archives, this also provides me with the identifying information I need.

3) Perhaps a cousin searching for information on their ancestor, will find this post.  The full list of names is one of the reasons for posting this transcription, as some may have guessed.  If a descendant of anyone named above emails me, I will gladly send a copy of the applications I downloaded from Footnote, as well as share additional information I may have.

4) Before discovering these applications, my mtDNA line ended with my second great grandmother - Sarah Ann (Hartley) Denyer.  The testimony provided by Sarah's brother, Samuel, broke down that wall, and provided the names of their parents - George W. Hartley and Eliza Beasley.

However, this rejection letter introduces another name -- Ann Fisher -- as a possible alternative to Eliza.  Ann Fisher's name appears nowhere in the testimony that I have retrieved -- only appearing in the response from the Commission and a chart of questionable origin. I am going to write another entry on this conundrum.


Martin said...

I'm sorry if this is intrusive, but are you both Jewish and Native American? That must be a very rare combination.

John said...

I don't consider it intrusive. If Samuel Hartley was correct in his testimony, and he was 3/4 Native American, and his sister was the same, my Native American ancestry would be 3/64. My mother's mtDNA test suggests Samuel's sister was not 3/4, and she is said to have claimed that she was 1/4. In which case I'd have 1/64 Native American ancestry. (I'm not Native American though, as I'm not a member of any NA tribe.)

With rising Jewish intermarriage rates in America, I'm not sure how rare it is. There has even been some discussion over recent centuries that some Native Americans may be a lost tribe of Israel:

Ted Hart ( said...

What most people aren't aware of is historically the Mississippi Choctaw have always been very poor. They were forbidden to go to white man's schools. Back then, the general practice was to outlaw any Native Americans from going to school because that would've meant they would be able to fight back legally in the law system early. The white men didn't want that to occur. Only in the early 1970's, have the Mississippi Choctaw begun to really recover. Now they have one of the strongest tribal economies in the USA. I'm descended from Samuel T. Hartley. Have you been able to find out who his parents were?

John said...

Samuel Hartley claimed in his Dawes testimony that his parents' names were George W Hartley and Eliza Beasley.

I have found a Samuel and a brother, William, in the 1850 census with a mother, Eliza - living in Houston, Texas. [And a 16 year-old Sarah living/working nearby.]

I have not been able to find any information on Eliza and George beyond their names and the little information Samuel Hartley provides in his testimony.

There is an "Ann Fisher" who also gets mentioned in a couple places in the Dawes documents. I don't know how she fits in.