Final Roll of the Cherokee Nation & Freedman

Final Roll of the Cherokee Nation & Freedman

Posted By Josiah Hair June 6th, 2012 Last Updated on: February 2nd, 2019

Today we call this the Dawes Rolls, although it encompasses the original Five Civilized Tribes of the South East (Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, and Seminole).

This article is specifically about the Cherokee Roll.  To describe this roll and purpose, first, we must do a bit of history and hopefully give the reader a better understanding of this particular Roll.

Dawes Commission & General Allotment Act, or Dawes Severalty Act

An act of Congress approved on 3. March. 1893 (27 Stat, 645) authorized the establishment of a commission to negotiate agreements with the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek and Seminole tribes providing for the dissolution of the tribal governments and the allotment of land to each tribal member. The sponsor, Senator Henry L. Dawes of Massachusetts was appointed Chairman of the Commission on 1. Nov. 1893, after which it has commonly been referred to as the Dawes Commission.

The Commission was authorized by an Act of Congress approved 28. June. 1898 (30 Stat. 495) to prepare citizenship (Tribal Membership) rolls for each tribe.  Under this act, subsequent acts and resulting agreements negotiated with each tribe, the Commission received applications for membership covering more than 250,000 people and enrolled more than 101,000. The Tribal Membership Rolls were closed on 4. March. 1907, by an Act of Congress, approved on 26. April. 1906 (34 Stat. 370), although an additional 312 persons were enrolled under an act approved 1. August. 1914.

The thought at the time was to give each individual tribal member their own land to farm and thus strengthen the family unit and do away with the tendency of tribes to cluster in social groups and hold land in common and at the same time disband the court and government systems of these tribes.

Although the General Allotment Act, or Dawes Severalty Act of 1887 originally did not cover the Five Civilized Tribes, by 1893 Congress decided to add them to the list for an allotment.  The Cherokees fought this until 1899 when it was decided to bring it to a vote of the Cherokees and it passed by about 2015 votes.   The vote included hundreds of intermarried whites among the Cherokee that were later found to be ineligible for a share of the Land Allotment.  This GAA or DSA was devastating to these tribes and by 1936 the Allotment Act was terminated by the Howard-Wheeler Act and Oklahoma Indian Welfare Act which allowed tribal governments to reform.

Workings of the Commission and after 1900

Now that we have briefly covered the History of the Dawes Commission lets dive into the inner workings of the Commission to allow millions of acres of land to the individuals.  The Cherokee Nation prior to 1900 was divided into 9 districts with a courthouse in each district housing the courts and offices of the tribal council-member representing that district. The districts were Tahlequah District, Delaware District, Cooweescowee District, Saline District, Goingsnake District, Illinois District, Flint District, Sequoyah District and Canadian District.

The Dawes Commission advertised the intended action of the commission by posting informational flyers at Post Offices throughout the Districts calling for all Cherokees to come in and be registered for tribal membership. The next step was to “set up shop” so to speak in each Courthouse in each district. The Committee at each of these courthouses would consist of several members of the Commission, a stenographer, and a hired local Cherokee as interpreter.

So now we have the mechanism for how the commission was to take testimony from over 250,000 people of the Five Civilized Tribes and enroll over 100,000 people from 1900 to 1906 all over Indian Territory.

We can dispel one of the many myths that have cropped up about the Roll: The “Hideout Myth.”  It goes something along these lines,

“My ancestor was not on the roll because they refused to enroll…” or “My ancestor was not on the roll because they left the Cherokee Nation to keep from being enrolled…” and also “My ancestor is not on the roll because they hid out in the backwoods and they could not find them….”

The Cherokee Nation Tribal Government had done several “recent” Census of tribal members in 1880 and 1896 with both provided to the Dawes Commission for their use. The Commission was only interested in Living Cherokees (1900-1907) that resided within the Cherokee Nation that could be verified by virtue of being counted by their own tribe on the previous census.

If one was not on the census of the Cherokee themselves, nor could one provide names of parents or grandparents that would be on either census then one could not be enrolled.   Over 250,000 people physically showed up in one of these courthouses and filled out an application to be included in this Land Allotment. That is double the number of members of each one of The Five Civilized Tribes and records indicated that people came from all walks of life and from just about every territory including as far away as the Hawaiian Islands.

It is difficult to believe that any of the Five Civilized Tribes had large groups of Full-bloods totaling some 250,000 hiding in the backcountry.  Thus it is very hard to believe that some quarter of a million Cherokee were hiding out in every district of the Nation.

No, it is far more likely that anyone who showed up to enroll that did not have a prior history would end up on the Rejected Rolls or the Doubtful Rolls which brings us to the next part.

Who Is Cherokee

The Commission enrolled individuals as citizens of a tribe under the following categories:

  • Citizens by Blood
  • Citizens by Marriage
  • New Born Citizens (enrolled under an act by Congress approved 3. March. 1903).
  • Minor Citizens by Blood (enrolled under an Act of Congress approved 26. April. 1906).
  • Freedman (former black slaves of Indians, later freed and admitted to tribal citizenship).
  • New Born Freedman
  • Minor Freedman
  • Delaware Indians adopted by the Cherokee Tribe were enrolled as a separate group within the Cherokees.

Within each enrollment category the Commission maintained three types of cards:

“Straight” cards for persons who applications were approved (Generally those that showed up on multiple rolls).

“D” cards for persons whose applications were considered doubtful and subject to question (Generally those that may have left the nation for a time but came back for allotment).

“R” cards for persons whose applications were rejected.

Author Research Example

To use the rolls first you do a lookup in the index but you must have some vital information on hand such as 1) Tribe 2) Name 3) Approx. age between the years of 1900 to 1906.  Some other great information to have is names of any spouse and children as this will aid in nailing down the exact person you are looking for.

So as an example let’s look up Bird Hair in the index.

We do not find him so let’s look for an alternate spelling like Hare and we find a Bird Hare with roll number 29052.

Next, we look up the Enrollment packet listing for 29052 to get the census card number and that is 7757.  Then we look in the Dawes Packet for 7757 and a wealth of information spills out.  We now know his parent’s names, that he enrolled in the Tahlequah District, where he got his mail, and what his age was at the time of enrollment.  We can now cross-check to make sure he is the right age for the person we are looking for. Most importantly we can read his testimony and from this, we know the date he enrolled, in this case, was 14. April. 1902 which with his age of 23 we can reasonably establish his approximate birth year of 1879 or so.

The Testimony pages are typed answers to questions the Commission asked like: name, age, where one lived, names of parents, marital status and more. But here is the kicker, in this case, they asked if Bird Hare was known by any other name and he indicated that yes he was called Nelson Hare when he was little.  At the bottom of the page notes by the Commission are included and in this case, it mentions that indeed they found a Nelson Hare on 1880 Roll page 767 Number 989 and on the 1896 Roll they found a Nelson Hare.

This brings up several very important points and in some cases why one cannot find a person they are looking for.  The example I used was my Grandmas first Husband who passed away in the 1930′s.  From family stories, he was known as Bob Hair.  But he had called himself Bird Hare and even earlier he was Nelson Hare. I looked and looked in vain for a Bob Hair and never knowing his parent’s names I came to a dead-end. Recently I was talking to my cousin about our genealogy and she passed on her enrollment information which showed her Grandfather’s name was Bird Hare.  The mystery was solved and I was able to add his name to our family tree.


An important issue when searching genealogy is that of multiple names.  Cherokees in the 1880′s and earlier did not use surnames such as the Europeans and Americans.  The name that one was known by could change as they grew older and this was a part of the culture to change names as one changed or personality changed or certain happenings in life gave a name change.  Thus one could be known by many names.

Another name problem was the person writing down the information would phonetically spell the name.  Most Cherokees did not read and write English, so the error would be passed down generation by generation. A good example would be the names Ummerteskee, Ahmadeske and Askwater that are the same person.  Ummerteskee is the modern spelling of the name and is now known as a surname, Ahmadeske is the phonetic spelling of the name and Askwater is the English translation of the Name with a literal translation of He Asks for Water.

So the name is everything and one must look in the right place and have the right spelling.  Finally if one still cannot find that ancestor then perhaps that family story was just that  – a family story.


Preface of the National Archives Records Group of the BIA Microfilm No 75 Housed in Ft Worth Texas pg 1

Wright, Muriel H. A Guide to the Indian Tribes of Oklahoma. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press. 1968

Garrick Bailey and Roberta Glenn Bailey, “Redbird Smith,” in Encyclopedia of North American Indians, ed. Frederick E. Hoxie (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1996).

The Authors own Cherokee Genealogy Research

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Robert Leon Burns

My mother, Paralee Barger Burns, told all my life that my grandfather (her father) had “head rights” in the Cherokee Nation. He came to Texas in 1863 as a child; He was born in White County, near Sparta, Tenn. His name was J. G. (Japtha Gilbert) BArge. I visited the Quachita Cherokee Office in Mins, Arkansas a few years ago and the confirmed from the Daw/Quion Miller Roos of 1898-1914 and confirmed that he was on that census and did have “hed rights”. They asked if I would be interested in joining the tribe. I am sorking through records for information needed to do so. If you can supply any information, I would appreciate it.



I wasn’t sure if the forum is still taking inquiries …please notify me if so


I was told I was related to sequoia but I can’t find anything about him that would be help full

Lisa King Ford

Im looking for information about the King family and our Native American heritage. All of us over many years have been told our great grandfather was Cherokee and our great grandmother was from another tribe. Can you help me? i HAVE FOUND MANY KINGS ON THE DAWES ROLL. Need to find if any below are actually on that roll.
Stephen King was born on August 10, 1829, in Sampson, North Carolina, his father, Alvin, was 21 and his mother, Matilda, was 19. He married Eliza Ann Dickson and they had one son together. He also had one son from another relationship. He died on December 29, 1864, in Gibson, Tennessee, at the age of 35, and was buried in Gibson, Tennessee.
When William James King was born on February 19, 1855, in Gibson, Tennessee, his father, Stephen, was 25 and his mother, Eliza, was 27. He married Mary L (Mollie) Taylor on May 25, 1879. They had one child during their marriage. He died on July 13, 1929, in his hometown at the age of 74, and was buried there.

When Steve F King -MY GREAT GRANDFATER- was born on August 1, 1881, in Tennessee, his father, William, was 26 and his mother, Mary, was 19. He married Katie Bell King -MY GREAT GRANDMOTHER-on October 5, 1905. They had ten children in 20 years. He died on February 22, 1960, in Gibson, Tennessee, at the age of 78, and was buried there.
Their Children
Breford Franklin King – THIS IS MY GRANDFATHER
Mollie Mae King
Elsie Virginia King
Virgie Louise King
Paul Stephen King
Bessie Kate King
Jessie Lee King
James Parnell King
Mary Catherine King
Charlie King

Susie McLaughlin

Looking for information about Lucy E. Wilson (Native American) who married Hudson Skaggs in Scott County, Arkansas. She had two little girls with Hudson and died while he was away in Union Army. Would love to know if she is on Dawes roll and how much Indian blood if any. If you could help me would appreciate it. Thanks.

Teresa Ashby

My grandmother said that we are native American, I have tried to trace her mother Suzie Beavers and can only find her first name listed in a family of white people who were in Eastern Kentucky, she was blind and was married to Bill Beavers. My grandmother was proud of her heritage, but the place where we grew up was not as accepting of us. We were called names and made fun of because of it. My grandmother was born in Iuka Kentucky and moved to Illinois when she got married her name was Harriet Beavers she married a Long, then a Dunnaway. I would like to find out more about the native American tribes and which one we belong to. If there is anything you can tell me to help me, I would greatly appreciate it.

Teresa Ashby

Thank you so much for the information, I am not home right now but will look for dates as I have my grandmother’s Bible. What you have told me gives me hope of knowing who we really are. My great grandmother as far as I know had no maiden name. My grandmother said that she was sold into the white family because of her disability of being blind. All we know is that she was from North Carolina and her family sold her as a very young child, they called her Suzie. She married Bill Beavers. I looked up the name Beavers, came from Normandy. I did not know either one of my great grandparents, but I am excited to connect with you for information. Truly I would be very proud of my heritage no matter what it is. Thank you again. I will get back with you soon.

Katrina Ferguson

My grandfather was born in Krebs OK in 1903. His birth name was Leslie Thomas Brown in 1906 his birth mom died .He was adopted by his birth mom’s sister and husband his name then became Leslie Thomas Jones.
Can anyone help me???

A. H.


Through doing an online search I stumbled upon your site. Thank you!
I was searching for more information on Cherokee Chisolm Moore and saw another web user made an inquiry above about this same person.

I come from the Hicks clan. We have NA trace DNA – but we are having a hard time discovering our direct link to the clan. Our family migrations; TN, VA, NC, and SC to MO, AR, TX, and OK before migrating to Flint, MI (early 1900s) where many other Cherokee migrated late 1800s and early 1900s.

Our grt++ grandfather “James Hicks”(born between 1800-1810) went with the Cherokee clan (including his brother) from OK to discover gold in CA (mid 1800s). Newspaper articles state he struck gold with his brother – then went to AR and bought land. Cherokee, CA was founded based on this group where the discovery was made and attributed to the “Cherokee Scott brothers” (cousins to Hicks – or possibly our forefather “James” and his brother).

Surnames in our family and extended family include; Hicks, Bell, Gilbert, McFarland, Vaughan, Campbell, Coleman, Rogers, Thompson, Brown, Guthrie, Adair, Hale, Davis, Pettit, Carr, and many more.

Can you please help with any of the following;

James Lawson Hicks born 1809 (ish) VA (unknown parents)
m. Amelia Ann Vaughan born 1825 (ish) MO -> DNA circles leads to William Patrick and “Fair-a-Bee Lunah” – Fereby Looney

William David Hicks b. 1847 (ish) Arkansas
m. Mary Elizabeth “Mollie” McFarland 1850 (ish) MO – (unknown parents – though DNA circles leads her to a relationship with John Hicks McFarland – this name threw us for a loop).

John Bell Hicks b. AR
m. Maggie Bell Gilbert b. AR

We also have direct ancestors who married into Chief James Vann’s line, another into Captain Benge’s line, etc.

It appears our James Lawson Hicks may have had a name change (possibly). Once he struck gold, purchased land in AR, and the local papers picked up his story, they also hung his portrait in the Washington (AR) courthouse. However, they eventually took it down because it appeared “he was not quite the man they thought him to be.” Great! 😉

Now, to wrap back around to Cherokee Chisolm Moore. There is an image circulating of her with a child on her lap. I do not know the veracity of the image, HOWEVER, whoever the woman is – she is the spitting image of me! My entire family was shocked when I generated the image. Uncanny resemblance! I understand that I could be this person’s doppelgänger – but we are definitely curious enough to try and figure this out (especially since Moore surname pops up as DNA connections often on Gedmatch and Ancestry).

Last note: My mom’s DNA circles and most of her matches on Ancestry lead either to Wolf, Potato, Long Hair, Paint clans, Powhatan, Moytoy, etc.


I am sorry if this is convoluted – but I am so hopeful you may be able to help untangle some of our mess.

Thank you for your time.

A. H.

A. Hicks

I also am Hicks & have taken a 23 & me DNA Test that shows Native American along with other stuff. My family also migrated down thru Arkansas,Texas & Oklahoma also come down from .
Family has passed stories down that has Cherokee down from both side & Creek on topside also.
And My Initials are also A.H.


Are you in Ancestry or GedMatch? 🙂


My grandfathers name is John Haywood Taylor he was born in 1911. Supposedly a full blooded Cherokee who married his first cousin Marie Albritton. Their mothers were sisters. They had 4 kids one is my mom. I can’t find any information on John Taylor I don’t even know his parents names. Although I’ve heard his mom may have been Alice Sparr but why the different last name?!? Any help would be appreciated!


My grandmother on my dads side name was Mary Agnes Ash, I don’t know anything about her parents but we were told that she was full blooded Cherokee?? Not sure but she married Benjamin C. Simmons, her birthday was April 29, 1875. We are trying to search for any records to see if we are native American and also if any of them are on the indian role

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