Myths, Misinformation and Motivations regarding the 1907 Dawes Roll and 1909 Miller Rolls

Myths, Misinformation and Motivations regarding the 1907 Dawes Roll and 1909 Miller Rolls

Posted By Josiah Hair September 3rd, 2013 Blog

I have written several articles on each of these rolls from a genealogical viewpoint, In this article, I will address the two rolls and compare them side by side from a motivational point of view. Another words what was the motivation for thousands to refuse to sign the Dawes Roll and those same thousands to come forth willing to sign up for the Miller Roll? What Myths and Misinformation were spread on the outset of the Dawes Rolls? What Group of Cherokees were intentionally left off the Miller Roll and why?  My hope is to assist the reader in having a better understanding of the two rolls, answer the questions I have posted and more importantly give a glimpse into the politics and History of these two very important Rolls to Cherokees today.

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. ¹The 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. ²The 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.

So what does this mean?? We shall breakdown several key sentences in this paragraph one at a time and address them:

  1. ¹The Commission was authorized by an Act of Congress approved 28. June. 1898 (30 Stat. 495) to prepare citizenship (Tribal Membership) rolls for each tribe:  This one sentence has perhaps caused more misunderstandings and caused the Dawes Roll to be viewed as open Enrollment for anyone that applied for it when that could not be farther from the truth. In fact Lawyers at the time of the Commission advertised in Eastern papers to anyone that read those papers, that Free Land was to be had and these same Lawyers would help them get enrolled as a Cherokee Indian by just paying a fee to them! The Dawes commission enrolled onto the Dawes Rolls a Person or Family that met this Criteria: 1) Physically Resided within the BOUNDRIES of that particular nation, 2) Were Alive at the time of the Commission, 3) Were shown on either the 1896 or 1880 Census for that particular Tribe and Recognized by that Tribe as being a citizen of that nation. Who was excluded? Married Whites of an Indian, Persons that could not show that they were enrolled on either the two previous rolls, more precisely recognized by that particular tribe as a citizen. Who was included? Everybody that was listed on either the 1896 or 1880 Census including Old Settlers commonly called Keetoowah today, you did not need to apply for the Dawes Rolls in person! The Dawes Commission was tasked with preparing membership rolls for each tribe, they used the Tribes own Membership Rolls as the baseline, thus separating those that did not have a legitimate claim to land and more importantly allot land to those that they found were living in Indian Territory and were listed and recognized as Citizens. This brings up several other Questions now, such as: How did they find those that did not want to enroll? And more importantly why did they care if they did not show up would that make their job easier?? To answer both of these questions we must understand the make up of the commission and more importantly what the motivation was. They were preparing a citizenship roll for each tribe Based on That Tribe's OWN Citizenship Roll that TRIBE had ALREADY Prepared! So the commission were merely cross-checking for each and Everyone ON that DOCUMENT. They did this by taking Testimony of individuals and families that appeared in person confirming that they appeared on previous rolls, they would enroll them and allot land to them. As for those that refused to enroll; They hired Cherokees to go out and find those that were not going to come in each district and determined if they were still living who was in the household then the commission would confirm the results and enroll them. They enrolled ALL 5000 or so Night Hawks that Actively fought against enrollment, This was a Group of Full Blood Cherokees led by Redbird Smith who advocated  to all Cherokees to refuse to enroll. In 1906 they traveled Indian Territory again and looked for Minor Children and enrolled them also. Is the Roll absolutely 100% correct? no! It has been found over the years some descendants of those that were for whatever reason not enrolled have had some issues. In the majority of these case it was found that people had documented previous ancestry on previous rolls or Family were documented in some other fashion and those issues have been worked out. We are only talking a  hand-full of cases out of 40,000, so less than 1% error remarkable for such a day and age! In every case some sort of documentation showing that their ancestors were considered Cherokee by the Nation could be found!
  2. ²The 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: When a search  is done of a person or families's “Dawes Packet” within this group of documents you will find a Testimonial page and if you scroll to the end you will see when the Notary Public stamped it and dated a great majority were done in 1901 and 1902. Between 1903 to 1905 the Commission audited the results they had gathered over the previous years and sent out notices to the post office of record to those that they had follow-up questions for. In 1906 they went out and enrolled Illegitimate Children of those that refused to enroll or there was not a clear picture who the parents were and they enrolled those. The Commission took about 8 years to accomplish there work and during that time they returned over and over in field teams  to clear up any issues that they found.

What are our conclusions regarding the Dawes Roll?

1) That the Dawes Roll was a citizenship Roll of members of the Tribe That they lived within the boundaries within the Cherokee Nation.

2) These individuals/families were recognized by the Tribe that they were Cherokee. 3) That they were still alive during the time of the commission. So what does this Roll mean for present-day Cherokees that are wanting to Enroll in the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma and for that matter the United Keetoowah to some extent? You must provide primary documents that prove you are a direct descendant of someone that is enrolled on this roll. So starting with your self then your parent's grandparents and then great grandparents and so on. The Tribal Registrar will not do genealogy research for you however they do have a list on the Cherokee website of some great Researchers. Do not waste money on DNA research although these same websites tout that you could discover Native American “roots” in no way shape or form could they tell you what Tribe! They are much like the shyster lawyers at the beginning of the 1900's advertising throughout the East that they could get you enrolled and “Free” LAND! No, you must do research the hard way and that is by primary documents, Birth Records certified by the State, Death Records certified by the State and provide those documents to the Tribal Registrar.

Guion Miller Roll aka  Eastern Cherokee Roll of 1909

This Roll is a list of Cherokees that applied for compensation arising from the judgment of the United States Court of Claims on May 28, 1906, for the Eastern Cherokee Tribe.  Approximately 46,000 people applied for compensation but not all were admitted.  Basically, this was a payment roll ($133.33 per person) for the Eastern Cherokee and their descendants that had been removed from the Southeast.  It was not a citizenship roll as the Dawes Roll was.  The Guion Miller Roll lists Cherokees in two broad categories: Cherokees residing East of the Mississippi and Cherokees residing West of the Mississippi. This compensation did not apply to those Cherokees that had left the East prior to 1835 and were covered by the Treaty of 1828, what we today call the Old Settlers. The Old Settlers received compensation in 1896 for loss of lands and other goods promised them by treaties of 1828 and 1832. The commission would take the application and determine if they could trace either the applicant or descendants of the applicant to either the Drennon, Chapman or Henderson Rolls. These three rolls were of Cherokee that resided in Indian Territory in 1851 (Drennon), Resided in Eastern Cherokee lands in 1849 (Chapman) or the Emigration Roll of those that were forcibly removed from the east in 1835-1838 (Henderson).

To apply for compensation a person gave testimony of their family as far back as they could recall, depending on the applicants age the commission would determine through research if it was the applicant or the parents of and in some cases even the Grandparents that would have been listed on one of the three Rolls in question (Drennon,Chapman or Old Settlers). The focus of this roll was to determine if the applicant was an Eastern Cherokee or a Descendant of one. In the case of this roll, they were only concerned with if an applicant could list anyone maternal or paternal either directly or indirectly such as uncles, aunts, cousins ect ect. It is a Wealth of Information for unlike the Dawes Roll that was only concerned if that person was listed on a roll in the 1890 or 1880's, On this Roll they would show some 2 or 3 generations of Cherokees along with siblings aunts uncles and their Indian Name; Another important fact was female applicants would have their maiden names listed! For genealogists, it is a very important roll and perhaps the most important one ever done of Cherokees. For it TRANSLATES names from Cherokee into English it determines how the names were written for the commission did the research at that time to determine the eligibility of the Applicant. This brings up several important points regarding these two rolls: most full blood Cherokees refused to enroll with the Dawes Commission for they did not want to lose their government nor did they want to live on the land that the government decided for them (You could pick your allotted land but only if you enrolled with the commission). However with the Miller roll not only did full bloods apply but any Cherokee did and those that were not enrolled with the Dawes Commission because they lived outside the boundaries were counted on the Miller Roll if they could trace to an ancestor and meet the criteria of the roll. The other fact was Married couples could apply separately, all previous rolls they only took an application from the Male head of the house, and would only take an application from the female if she was a widow. For the first time, it would not only show the female side but would list her maiden name and who her parents were!

Some Final Thoughts

Regarding the Dawes rolls, large groups of Cherokee refused to enroll and yet were enrolled without their consent and allotted land. On the other hand, those same Cherokees stepped forward to enroll because of the money that was involved (although not a huge amount by today's standards). A researcher that was attempting to trace family genealogy could and should research both rolls using them to gain a better insight into the thoughts of both commissions at the turn of  century



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37 thoughts on “Myths, Misinformation and Motivations regarding the 1907 Dawes Roll and 1909 Miller Rolls

  1. Sheila Vanderbilt says:

    My Paternal Grand Mother’s family were enrolled on DawesCreek Roll as are myself and my children. My Maternal GrandFather told me storied about growing up on a Choctaw Reservation in southern Oklahoma but never mentioned or presented any documentation that his family heritage was documented. I’m 76 years old and very interested in tracing any information about my Papaw for myself and my grand children. Unfortunately all known members of my grandfathers family are now deceased so I have no one to contact. I would appreciate it if you can offer a direction to take at this late date?
    Looking forward to your suggestions
    Sheila Vanderbilt

  2. Steve Johnson says:

    My wife’s grandmother was full blood Cherokee from West Virginia. How or can we claim her Cherokee connection?

  3. Looking for information on my family. There is so much that is just muddy. Can anyone help me? I have started a tree on, but cant seem to get any where.

    • I dont need help with family search just help finding my native american past. I have many cousins that have OCIB cards, but I dont know them well enough to talk to them, ot live that close. I have some information on my family back a ways (if its correct as correct as I can get it). Just looking for my native americans past. I just want to know more about it.

    • Josiah Hair says:

      Perhaps the most common question I am asked: “How do I get Started with tracing my past?”, Followed by “How do I find my Native American Past?”
      Step one, on a blank sheet of paper write down your full name, then your parent’s names along with where they were born. Next grandparent’s names (including Maiden names) year they were born and WHERE they were born. Ok most people can answer these simple questions and for those of you that are adopted or you don’t know your Grandparents well it will get complicated. But first let us address those that can reach this point, can I assume that you suspect you are Cherokee or a member of the other 5 civilized Tribes (Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, Seminole)? This is important in our search, look at the place that your Grandparents were born if it was Oklahoma we can proceed to the date of birth. The 5 Civilized Tribes all use the Dawes Rolls as there “Base Roll” and you must trace to a person on that roll that was accepted as a Citizen of one of the 5 nations that is listed there. This is why we need the Birthdate of your Grandparents for this will tell us it were possible they would be listed on the Rolls! For instance my Grandma was born in 1907 thus she is not listed but her parents are, So you go back each generation until there age will intersect the dates when the Rolls were done. In most cases they were done 1898-1904 by 1905 they were allotting land and all rolls were finalized the Spring of 1907, Thus the name “Final Rolls of the 5 Civilized Tribes 1907”. Ok this was the easy scenario, now lets get into the What Ifs: My Grandparents were born in 1920: You must find their parents names look at the 1930 census for your grandparents. But all of this becomes moot if you determine they lived outside of Oklahoma previous to 1900! This is because there was a residency requirement for those that were listed on the Dawes Roll. IF you find that they lived outside of Oklahoma or have never lived in Oklahoma it will become very difficult to trace let alone prove you are any sort of Native American. Its not impossible but it will require more resources to accomplish your goals.

      • I to am just beginning my research. My mother was adopted and knew little to nothing about her heritage until this week when I stumbled upon the Allen County Library in Fort Wayne. They have a marvelous genealogy section and I was able to find her birth family and connect her to her blood brother.

        All that being said, she has a great great grandfather named William M Black Sizemore, also known as Black Hawk Sizemore. Born January 19, 1853..I think (I didn’t see that exact date on Amy census or official documents just on family trees people have done). Soo how would I go about confirming his birth location and if he was indeed Cherokee. Her blood aunts obituary claims relations to George Hinting Short Sizemore.. are there professional Cherokee researchers that can help?

        • Josiah Hair says:

          The Sizemore case is very famous amongst researchers that study Cherokee Genealogy, they are a rather large group of folks that claim to descend from one Cherokee Man that lived in North Carolina. In 1907 thru 1910 the Federal Government spent a considerable amount of time and researchers in tracking down there claims. The Sizemore case actually encompasses one whole volume of Testimony in the Miller Guion Roll archives. In the end there claim was found to be without merit and disallowed.
          I have added this insert from a Genealogy page that studies the Sizemore case:

          Few researchers encounter as much challenge in separating fact from legend as does the Sizemore family researcher. For over two hundred years there has been a widespread tradition of Cherokee Indian ancestry in multiple branches of the Sizemore family. This writer works on the premise of “Where there’s smoke, There’s fire”. As such I strongly believe that there are one or more Indian connections in various branches of this family. BUT, I have NOT succeeded in proving the exact individual and generation where the Indian blood line enters this family.

          We do know that the Sizemore name is of English origin and that William and Martha Sizemore were in Charles City, VA (near Jamestown) as early as 1619. Sizemore records in Virginia have not been located by this compiler from the time of William and Martha until more than 80 years later when a Margery Sizemore witnessed a will in 1712 in Henrico County, VA. No further information on Virginia Sizemores has been located until William Sizemore pays for a survey in Henrico County in 1736. This 1712 Margery and 1736 William appear to be of the same Sizemore group that is then found in 1741 Lunenburg Co, VA and leaves plentiful records thereafter.

          There is a record of a Jacob Sisemore or Visemore in Craven Co, NC in 1707; then in 1716, a Samuel Sizemore appears in Chowan County, NC records. Samuel is found in several land transactions in 1719-1720, but was deceased by 1723 when his widow remarried. He did leave one or more sons who carried on the Chowan County Sizemore name. I have found no evidence to link these early VA and NC Sizemore groups, and further have found no evidence that William and Martha of 1619-1626 Charles City, VA left any children. Most of this document will deal with descendants of the Sizemores who are found in Lunenburg Co, VA by 1741.

          Some researchers have theorized (and unfortunately published information on the Internet) that a William Sismore, the son of Michael and Martha Sismore, who was christened in London in 1670 and apprenticed to Francis and Elizabeth Weeks in 1685, came to Virginia and is the progenitor of the Virginia Sizemores. That is a theory which I certainly cannot disprove, but neither can I find any documentation to prove it. That theory is apparently based on the following: William Sizemore was apprenticed to Francis and Elizabeth Weeks of London in 1685 Francis Weeks’, unmarried, will probated in London in 1714 mentions land on the Rappahannock River in VA The 1704/1705 Virginia Rent Roll includes Francis Weeks in Middlesex Co, VA which is on the Rappahannock River. The 1704/1705 Virginia Rent Roll also includes a William Seamour with 236 acres in King & Queen Co, VA which borders Middlesex County. In 1708 in Middlesex Co, VA, Thomas Seamour, son of William and Joannah Seamour was baptized.

          To base such theory on this limited information is a “stretch”, but it is currently the best theory that we have. However, the fact that the given name Michael was non existent in the early Virginia Sizemore families has to raise a “red flag” that seriously questions the theory of William, son of Michael, as the progenitor of the Virginia Sizemore families.

          Beginning on the following page, I will list several pages of early chronology of Sizemore families and then discuss some of the families included in the chronology. Very little is known of the descendants of these more than 20 early Sizemores listed in the pre 1750 portion of the Chronology. The genealogy portion of this paper will deal with descendants of Sizemores born in the 1750 timeframe without attempting to guess the identity of the parent, with few exceptions. Deep gratitude for much of this chronology goes to two individuals: (1) Joy King whom I consider to be the pre-eminent researcher in documenting early Sizemore records, and (2) Dawn Westfall who is the editor and publisher of the quarterly Sizemore newsletter SEEKING SIZEMORE which began publication in early 1996 and continues today (July, 1999). Most of the early Sizemore chronology listed below has been published in SEEKING SIZEMORE based on data submitted by Mrs. King. Dawn Westfall, editor has given approval to this writer for non commercial use of information published in SEEKING SIZEMORE. Mrs. Westfall has also provided the suggested format of referencing the source for each entry taken from the newsletter. It is my intent to personally verify from original sources all chronology data prior to publication of any information on the Sizemore family.

          12. Edward “Old Ned” Sizemore1; born prior to 1725; possibly died 1780; is first found in Lunenburg, VA records in 1746. He apparently remained in Virginia for at least three years to 1749, then possibly moved to South Carolina for about 15 years, then to Georgia for about 8 years, then was on a Surry Co, NC Tax List in 1774, and in Virginia signing a loyalty oath in 1776, and in court there for his Tory activities in 1779. Records indicate that Ned, and his sons Owen and George were apparently Tories during the Revolutionary War, and it is possible that Ned was “the Tory Sizemore” hung by Col. Benjamin Cleveland in Wilkesboro, NC in 1780. Virginia records show that Edward Sizemore was closely connected with the Green, Griffin and Jackson families.

          Edward Sizemore is found in the Lunenburg, VA records beginning in 1746 when he entered 400 acres of land “below the Little Rock House above mouth of Little Polecat Creek on the south side of Banister River” in what is today probably Halifax County. His name then appears in 1748 on the Lunenburg, VA Tithables List and on two more land transactions, one a 270 acre survey on both sides of Winn’s Creek on Banister River, the other for 400 acres on Little Buffalo Creek, and also he witnessed the will of Henry Green in 1748. Then in 1749, he again appears on the Lunenburg, VA tithables List. After 1749, I am unable to locate him anywhere until 1764 when an Edward Sizemore is found petitioning for land in Georgia in the Parish of St. George on the north side of great Ogechee, (with that March, 1764 petition indicating that he had only been in Georgia from South Carolina for 8 months). He is involved in subsequent related land transactions in St. George Parish with records indicating that he had five or six children. In 1772, his land in St. Pauls Parish, GA is deeded to William Jones.

          Two years later in 1774, a court case settlement in Tryon County, NC involving George Sizemore, includes language “William Gilbert came into open court and releases and acquits Edward Sizemore of the above sum recovered against George Sizemore. (Joy King speculates that this language may indicate a father and son relationship between Edward and George Sizemore.) In that same year well north of Tryon County, Edward Sizemore and James Hart are listed as taxables in the same household in Surry Co, NC. In 1776, Edward Sizemore signs an oath of allegiance to the United States in Botetourt County, VA. The Draper Manuscript contains several references to the 1780 hanging of “the Tory Sizemore” by Col. Benjamin Cleveland in Wilkesboro, NC (part of Surry County in 1774). (Researcher Jack Goins reasons that Edward “Ned” Sizemore may very likely be the Sizemore hung by Col. Benjamin Cleveland in 1780, based on the fact that Edward was the only Sizemore listed in Col. Cleveland’s District in that 1774 tax list.) In 1781, South Carolina Loyalists pay records include Edward, Owen and George Sizemore. If Old Ned was the Tory hung in 1780, this 1781 record for an Edward may be his oldest son. Owen Sizemore in that 1781 South Carolina Loyalist pay record is the son of Ned, and George is believed to be the George that was Edward’s son. Likewise it is believed by this writer and selected others that the Edward Sizemore who died in Hawkins County, TN by 1810 was Ned’s oldest son. (Readers should note that it is possible that the chronology of Edward Sizemore discussed herein may refer to two different men, one of whom may be Ned’s son.)

          Since earliest childhood, this writer (Ron Blevins) has been made very much aware that my 3rd great grandmother Lydia (Sizemore) Blevins was a descendant of “Indian Ned Sizemore” I was brought up with the tradition that Ned Sizemore was a full blood Cherokee, a tradition which I believe is NOT supported by facts. He may have been part Indian and his wife is referred to in numerous Eastern Cherokee Applications (ECA’s) as a Cherokee. In all probability, Ned was the son of one of the four Sizemores who appear in the first land records of Lunenburg County, VA in 1741, i.e. William, Mary, Ephraim or Henry Sizemore. It should be noted that a 1753 court record in Orange County, NC refers to Ephraim Sizemore as a mulatto, the designation then used for any person of mixed race whether it be Black, Indian or otherwise. In fact, I don’t consider it out of the realm of possibility that all of the Sizemores who have claimed Indian ancestry may be descendants of Ephraim. There is at least one source who speculates that Ned’s wife may have been Elizabeth Jackson. (Note that the Sizemore family was in the same area as the Jackson family in both Henrico and Pittsylvania, VA.) The fact that both Ned and George and George’s children were landowners raises serious questions in my mind as to whether either could have been a full blood Indian. I have difficulty believing that our Indian hating “WASP” (White Anglo Saxon Protestant) forebears would have welcomed an Indian or half blood as a land owning neighbor, voter and church member.

          I have been fortunate in researching this part of the Sizemore family because of the wealth of information contained in the Eastern Cherokee Applications (ECA’s) in The National Archives in Washington, DC These ECA’s are in the form of applications, affidavits, and supporting letters to obtain benefits under an Act of Congress approved June 30, 1906 in accordance with Court instructions. ECA’s frequently provide up to five generations of a family back to the mid to late 18th century. The fund provided by Congress was to reimburse the descendants of Cherokee Indians for loss of their lands when they were forced to abandon their homes for the infamous “Trail of Tears” to reservation lands in Oklahoma in the 1830’s on the orders of President Andrew Jackson. Benefits were payable to descendants of Cherokees who had participated in the Indian Census enumeration’s of 1835, 1846 or 1851.

          The rest of the article can be found here:
          Good luck

  4. marilyn shober says:

    I found my ancestor’s application for Cherokee (#90). I am trying to find the testimony in 1902? after he was denied. I have found several for others but not his.
    William B Tidwell and family. Any help as to where I can search would be appreciated.

    • josiah says:

      Was William B Tidwell Cherokee#90?
      I did a lookup for him and he is not listed on the Rejected Rolls

  5. Josiah Hair says:

    As I wrote in the article, a person had to be physically living within the boundaries of the Cherokee Nation prior to 1900. More importantly they had to be recognized as a citizen by the Cherokee Nation. If he was listed on either the 1896 or 1880 census rolls then he was a citizen. And the Dawes commissionwould have enrolled him. I have not ran across a case where the person was not physically present for enrollment unless they were already a citizen and the commission could determine they were living and resided in the Cherokee Nation theses cherokees were generally Keetoowahs and fullbloods who refused enrollment. But there citizenship was never an issue Nd were enrolled against there will.

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