Honoring Three Cherokee Survivors of the Trail of Tears

In Oct 2018 the Oklahoma Chapter of the Trail of Tears Association (TOTA) held a grave-marking dedication at the Hungry Mountain Cemetery near Stilwell, Oklahoma for three Cherokee members. Bronze plaques were placed on the headstones for these three survivors of the Trail of Tears:

Information needed to certify the three Cherokees as survivors of the Trail of Tears was researched and compiled by TOTA member, David Hampton, who also developed their genealogies. Perhaps in the future we will see honorees selected from the Choctaw survivors. See my blog Against All Odds for eight Choctaw women who survived the Trail of Tears AND have known burial locations and headstone. Location is critical; a headstone honoring the person can always be added.

Catherine “Katie” Bigby is particularly interesting, as she brings evidence of the Scottish bloodlines within the Indian people of the Indian Territory. According to her bio on Find-a-Grave, her father, Anthony Foreman, “was a Scotsman here in the service of the British during the Revolutionary War. He became disgruntled with the war, deserted the British ranks and decided to settle down in America with an Indian lass named Susie Bark, a full-blood Cherokee.” Katie was also half-sister to well-known Rev. Stephen Foreman.

The TOTA Fall newsletter also included historical letters from the National Archives regarding the Cherokee Removal between the army officers charged with conducting the Cherokee Removal. The letters are a factual, impersonal account of what we know was a devastating and difficult march on the Trail of Tears.

As one reporter states, “All appear willing to move to the west.” We have witnessed this type of faulty observation before – see my blog The Emigrating Choctaws on the reporting done by the Arkansas Gazette about the Choctaw Removal, during which the term “Trail of Tears” was first used. Cooperative and non-threatening attitudes do not equate to happy and content people.

Where was the sorrow and the mind-numbing grief over the loss of their loved ones and former homes? It appears that people see what they want to see or expect to see.  Something for us – in our own lives – to think about!

1838 May 18 - letter to Gen Scott

1838 Aug 7 - letter to Gen Scott

1838 Oct 26 - letter to Gen Scott

1838 Nov 11 - letter to Gen Scott



***YAHOKE, ikana! Thank you, friends. Much GRATITUDE for spending time on a Choctaw Journey with me.***
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All credit for the content of this blog goes to the Trail of Tears Association.

Visit their website HERE for latest news and membership information.

2 thoughts on “Honoring Three Cherokee Survivors of the Trail of Tears

  1. How can I find out if their are any records of my Choctaw family members maintained by the Choctaw Nation?
    The Records I do have come from Fold 3 concerning Native American’s within the U.S. Military.
    The Family name I am inquiring about are
    In particular,
    From the Carolina’s, North and South?
    Id appreciate any help you can give me.

  2. Choctaw Nation does not keep historical records. They do have a genealogical office to provide some help to people wanting to enroll in the Choctaw Nation. What historical records still available are either part of the National Archives (Dawes enrollment cards/packets, known as the Final Roll) or at the Oklahoma Historical Society (Oklahoma City) – mainly governmental documents.
    The Choctaw Nation website has a very helpful PDF that gives great tips on researching you family history – https://www.choctawnation.com/sites/default/files/import/Researching_Your_Choctaw_Ancestry.pdf
    Contact info for the genealogy office
    Phone: (580) 924-8280 or (800) 522-6170 Ext. 5117
    Email: Genealogy@choctawnation.com
    But the genealogical office will want to know if your family member lived in the Choctaw Nation during the enrollment period – roughly 1896-1906. There was the 1896 Choctaw Roll (done by the Choctaw Nation) that listed all people living in the Nation – available through Ancestry – available at your public library if you do not have a membership. People who are not on that 1896 roll had a tough time getting enrolled and usually had to have a witness vouch for them.

    There is a status called “intermarried white” – where a white man or woman legally married a recognized member of the tribe. You might have an old marriage license that shows the names of the Choctaw and thus establish a link.

    The 1900 U.S. Census for the Indian Territory (not the Oklahoma Territory) that covered the ten counties in SE Oklahoma gave some tribal affiliation and blood percentage for people of Indian blood. So that may give you a name to research if your relative married into the tribe after the 1896 roll – and many people did. Where do you find your relative in the 1900 census? That is important information. If your family never came to the Choctaw Nation, then you have to reply on the basic ways to research families – census, marriage, obits, probate, newspaper stories, etc.

    There are online newspapers (pre 1922) for free thru the Oklahoma Historical Society which can help.
    You library might have access to Newspapers.com or other pay sites.

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