I continue my project to transcribe family letters, journals, newspaper articles, 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.
I began this project back in February of 2009, and since then, many others have joined in on the meme. Why do we transcribe? I provide my three reasons in the linked post. You may find others. If you participate, feel free to leave a link to your post in the comments.
This week, I return to the application my maternal grandmother's aunts, uncles, and cousins made in 1900 to the Dawes Commission to be accepted as Mississippi Choctaws. Previously I have transcribed the testimony given by
- Samuel T Hartley – Nov 21, 1900 (Brother of my great great grandmother, Sarah Hartley Denyer Foster)
- Melvin Elijah Van Every – Nov 21, 1900 (my great grandfather)
- Eliza Caroline Foster Reeves – Nov 26, 1900 (Half-sister of my great grandmother, Margaret Denyer Van Every)
- Georgia Hartley Phillips – June 17, 1902 (Daughter of Samuel Hartley)
- Samuel T Hartley – June 17, 1902
Below is the testimony given by Samuel William Denyer, brother to my great grandmother, Margaret Denyer Van Every.
COMMISSION TO THE FIVE CIVILIZED TRIBES.
MUSKOGEE, NOVEMBER 21, 1900
In the matter of the application for identification as Mississippi Choctaws of Samuel Denyer and his minor children.
Samuel Denyer, having been first duly sworn, testifies as follows:
Examination by the Commission.
Q What is your name? A Samuel Denyer.
Q What is your age? A Thirty-four.
Q Are you married? A Yes.
Q Are you making any application for your wife? A No sir.
Q Have you any children? A Yes sir.
Q How many? A Eight.
Q Are they all under twenty one years of age and unmarried? A Yes sir.
Q What is your post office address? A Lytton Springs, Caldwell County, Texas.
Q Are you a resident of the state of Texas? A I am.
Q How long have you resided there? A All my life.
Q Never made residence in the state of Mississippi or the Indian Territory? A No sir.
Q How much Choctaw blood do you claim? A one eighth.
Q What is your father’s name? A Ebenezer A Denyer.
Q Is he living? A No sir.
Q What is your mother’s name? A Sarah A. Denyer
Q Is your mother living? A No sir.
Q Through which one of your parents do you claim your Choctaw blood?
Q Was your mother ever on any of the tribal rolls of the Choctaw Nation? A No sir.
Q Was she ever recognized by the Choctaw tribal authorities as a citizen of the Choctaw Nation? A No sir.
Q Is your name on any of the tribal rolls of the Choctaw Nation?
A No sir.
By the Commission:
Tribal rolls of the Choctaw Nation, now in possession of the Commission, prepared by the authorities of the tribe examined, and the name of the applicants not found thereon.
Q Have you ever made application to the Choctaw tribal authorities for citizenship in the Choctaw Nation? A No sir.
Q Have you ever been recognized by any of the Choctaw tribal authorities by any official act of their national council as a citizen of the Choctaw Nation? A No sir.
Q Did you, or did any one in your behalf make application in 1896 for citizenship in the Choctaw Nation under the act of Congress of June 10, 1896? A No sir.
By the Commission:
Record of applicants for citizenship in the Choctaw Nation made to this Commission in 1896 examined and the names of the applicants not found thereon.
Q Have you ever been admitted to citizenship in the Choctaw Nation by a judgment of the United States Court in the Indian Territory on appeal from the decision of the Choctaw tribal authorities or of this commission? A No sir.
By the Commission:
Record of persons admitted to citizenship in the Choctaw Nation by judgment of the United States Court in the Indian Territory examined and the names of none of the applicants found thereon.
Q Have you ever prior to this time made any application to either the Choctaw tribal authorities or the authorities of the United States for citizenship or enrollment in the Choctaw Nation? A No sir, none whatever.
Q This is your first application of any description? A yes sir.
Q You are making application for identification as a Mississippi Choctaw? A Yes sir.
Q Why do you believe that you are entitled to be identified as a Mississippi Choctaw entitled to share in the lands of the Choctaw Indians under the treaty of 1830? A I am one eighth Choctaw through my mother.
Q Are you making your claim as a beneficiary under the fourteenth article of the treay of 1830? A Yes sir.
Q Did any of your ancestors ever comply with the provisions of that article of that treaty? A No sir.
Q What is the name of your ancestor through whom you claim this right and who was a recognized member of the Choctaw Tribe in Mississippi?
A George W Hartley.
Q What relation is he to you? A My grandfather.
Q Have you any proof of his relationship to you? A No sir.
Q Did George W. Hartley signify to the United States Indian Agent after the conclusion of the treaty of 1830 between the United States and the Choctaw Indians his intention to remain in Mississippi and become of citizen of that state? A I don’t know.
Q How long did he remain in Mississippi after the conclusion of that treaty? A I don’t know.
Q Do you know anything of his residence in Mississippi? A No sir.
Q Do you know anything of his being recognized as a Choctaw Indian, in Mississippi? A No sir.
Q Did any of your ancestors ever claim or receive any land under the fourteenth article of the treaty of 1830? A Not to my knowledge.
Q Do you make any claim by reason of any other treaty stipulations between the United States and the Choctaw Indians? A No sir.
Q Are you married? A Yes sir.
Q What is your wife’s name? A Alice G.
Q Is she a white woman? A Yes sir.
Q Are you making any claim for her? A No sir.
Q Where did you marry her? A San Marcos, Hayes County, Texas.
Q When? A 1883.
Q Have you your marriage license and certificate with you? A No sir.
By the Commission:
It will be necessary for you to furnish the Commission with your marriage license and certificate in the matter of the application for identification of your minor children as Mississippi Choctaws.
Q How many children have you under twenty one years of age and unmarried? A Eight.
Q What are their names and ages? A Alfred F. age fourteen. Arthur L. age twelve, Addie E. ten; Zenobia C. eight, Lee C. six, Samuel D. four, William George, two, Melvin E. infant.
Q How old? A One month.
Q Is that all? Yes sir.
Q You are the father of these eight children? A Yes sir.
Q Alice is the mother? A Yes sir.
Q These children live with you at your house? A Yes sir.
Q You and your wife are living together? A Yes sir.
Q Is there any additional statement which you would like to make in support of your application? A No sir.
Q Any written evidence which you desire to offer?
Here attorney for applicant asks leave to file additional testimony in support of this application within fifteen days.
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 for filing within fifteen days.
Examination by Mr. Hudson, attorney for applicant.
Q Mr. Denyer, you say you live in the state of Texas; is it your intention to remove to the Indian Territory to establish a home and residence there? A Yes sir.
By the Commission:
The decision of the Commission in regard to the application which you make for the identification of yourself and your minor children as Mississippi Choctaws will be mailed to you in writing in the near future to your present post office address.
Anna Bell, having been first duly sworn by Acting Chairman Tamm Bixby, on her oath states that as stenographer to the Commission to the Five Civilized Tribes she reported in full all testimony taken to the above entitled cause on the November 21, 1900, and that the above and foregoing is a full, true and correct transcript of her stenographic notes in said cause on said date.
Anna Bell (signature)
Subscribed and sworn to before me on this 27 day of December 1900
1. This testimony, like the other documents in this set which I have transcribed, comes from the Dawes Packets at Footnote.
2. Samuel William (1866-1928) was two years older than his sister, and my great grandmother, Margaret (Denyer) Van Every. He doesn't provide any information about his maternal ancestry that wasn't provided by other testimony. However, the listing of the names and ages of his children, along with the year he and his wife married, is helpful in confirming census records.
3. It's difficult to understand how they thought they were going to convince the Commission to accept them as Choctaws without any proof beyond their saying. I have no doubt they believed themselves to be part Choctaw, but without any evidence, the Commission had no choice but to reject their application.
4. It is interesting to note that Samuel Denyer refers to his mother as "Sarah A. Denyer." Sarah's first husband, and Samuel's father, Ebenezer Denyer, died in 1872. Sarah married George Foster in 1874, and they had three more children. Sarah died two years prior to these testimonies in 1898. So for 24 years she had been Sarah Foster.