I just finished adding the rest of the Dawes Packets for the children of Jane Willis Ridley, the granddaughter of Sanford and Jane Higginbotham, through their daughter Matilda Higginbotham Willis. You can view them all HERE.
This chart will show you how I relate to Jane Ridley:
I haven’t even gone through all of the pictures I took at the Fordyce courthouse for Sanford’s Estate, but that is next on the agenda. It may have some clues, or answer some questions and now that I have reviewed all the packets, here are my notes and things I will now have to research, or find the answer to:
as of June 12, 1900:
- Mary Jane Ridley goes by Jane, has black hair mixed with gray, dark brown eyes. Doesn’t speak Choctaw.
- 60 years old
- born in Alabama, Chambers County, oldest child to Matilda Higginbotham and Paul Willis.
- Lives at Post Office Duncan in Indian Territory (for six years now), they rent lands to make a crop
- Moved to Texas in 1858 from Georgia
- Sanford and Jane lived in Mississippi, but moved from Alabama to Arkansas. Sanford had lands in Mississippi, Alabama, and Arkansas. [Search Land Records in these States, I have previously only searched Arkansas]
- Jane Higginbotham was a Holla. [Really?? What about Holley?? Research this]
- Mother to Jane R. – Matilda Higginbotham 1/2 Choctaw Indian and was 26 years old when she died in 1850. [Research date of death]
- Father to Jane R.- Paul Willis is also 1/2 Choctaw Indian. [See if I can locate any Willis information in Indian documentation]
- Evidence shows that Matilda and Paul were married and head of a household prior to 27 Sep 1830. [I show their wedding date as 08 Aug 1839, verify correct marriage date]
- husband to Jane R. - W.M. (William) Ridley they married in 1858 in AL and they have two children under the age of 21, Homer age 19, and Charles age 14. [Find marriage record]
- brother to Jane R. – George Willis living in Atlanta, Texas. Doesn’t know anything about his family, hasn’t talked to him in quite a while. [Look for information on George Willis]
- son to Jane R. – H.M. (Henry) Ridley, (43 years old) states his grandmother was a Holla, and married a Higginbotham and they lived in Mississippi. He was originally the lawyer who represented Jane at the time she made her original application. Wife name Lena, children Walter (21), Cleo, and Annie May
- Other attorneys were Gilbert and Gilbert
- son to Jane R. – William Ridley, (40 years old) lives where Jane lives.
- daughter to Jane R. – Hattie Pruitt, (37 years old) husband W.S. Pruitt, married three times but has no children by last husband at this time, I think she does later. Children to first husband [W.M. McDonald, and B.F. Glover, both deceased at this time], son Nellie McDonald, and son Leslie Glover.
- son to Jane R. – George Washington Ridley, (29 years old) wife Georgia A. Holley [Georgia's father's name is John Thomas Holley, related to Jane Higginbotham?] Children Leafy Mabel, Mary Leta, George William, and male infant born in May, not yet named.
- daughter to Jane R.- Carrie Hart, (24 years old) husband Tom Hart. She was born in Texas about 1877, resided in Indian Territory for nine years preceding the making of her application, she says she is 1/4 Choctaw.
- daughter to Jane R.- Mattie Studebaker, (26 years old) husband Andy Studebaker. Daughter Inez.
- son to Jane R.- Robert Ridley (30 years old) lives in Lawton, Ok. Wife Annie, girl infant.
- son to Jane R. – Homer Ridley (19 years old)
- son to Jane R. - Charlie Ridley (15 years old)
- witness – Henry Byington a full blood Choctaw Indian Lawyer states that he has printed records of proceedings of the United States Court of Claims (Case No: 12742) “Choctaw Nation of Indians vs. the United States” and that the name Holla is found in Vol.1 on pages 190, 436 and 437, as residing on certain lands in the State of Mississippi. [Locate this information for confirmation, would be good to have a list of these Holla's]
- Court Claims this evidence can’t be submitted under the 14th article of the 1830 treaty because they can’t prove relationship between Jane Higginbotham and the Holla’s listed in the records. [Research this treaty]
- witness – Charles Smith - [confusion about his true age which makes his testimony a little wishy washy] He states he is 81 years old, full-blood Choctaw freedman, says he knew Sanford and Jane in AL, they spoke like full blood Choctaw and were recognized as Choctaw.
- witness – Alsie Ervine - 90 years of age
- witness – Charles Lane - 90 years of age
- witness – Prime Harvey - 80 years of age, citizen of creek nation
- witness – Zack Shoals - Berwyn, Indian Territory
- witness – Cassie Franklin - Wynnewood, Indian Territory
And just in case you are as unschooled about this time period and what all was going on between the United States and the Native Americans at that time, here is some information that I looked up pertaining to the above information:
The Five Civilized Tribes were the five Native American nations—the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, and Seminole—that were considered civilized by Anglo-European settlers during the colonial and early federal period because they adopted many of the colonists’ customs and had generally good relations with their neighbors.
The Choctaw at this crucial time became two distinct groups: the Nation in Oklahoma and the Tribe in Mississippi. The nation retained its autonomy to regulate itself, but the tribe left in Mississippi had to submit to state and U.S. laws. Under article XIV, in 1830 the Mississippi Choctaws became the first major non-European ethnic group to gain U.S. citizenship. The Choctaw sought to elect a representative to the U.S. House of Representatives.
The Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek was one of the largest land transfers ever signed between the United States Government and American Indians in time of peace. The Choctaw ceded their remaining traditional homeland to the United States. Article 14 allowed for some Choctaw to remain in the state of Mississippi, if they wanted to become citizens:
- “ART. XIV. Each Choctaw head of a family being desirous to remain and become a citizen of the States, shall be permitted to do so, by signifying his intention to the Agent within six months from the ratification of this Treaty, and he or she shall thereupon be entitled to a reservation of one section of six hundred and forty acres of land, to be bounded by sectional lines of survey; in like manner shall be entitled to one half that quantity for each unmarried child which is living with him over ten years of age; and a quarter section to such child as may be under 10 years of age, to adjoin the location of the parent. If they reside upon said lands intending to become citizens of the States for five years after the ratification of this Treaty, in that case a grant in fee simple shall issue; said reservation shall include the present improvement of the head of the family, or a portion of it. Persons who claim under this article shall not lose the privilege of a Choctaw citizen, but if they ever remove are not to be entitled to any portion of the Choctaw annuity.”
- Regarding the Court Case:
Late Arrivals in Indian Territory and “Net Proceeds Case”
Choctaws in small and large groups continued to travel to Indian Territory throughout the nineteenth century. Most were well received by their brethren previously removed to the territory and did not return to the south. Under the terms of the treaty, Those Choctaws in Indian Territory were eligible to participate in an annuity, which was supposed to be paid them by the United States government to cover the land lost in Mississippi and the costs of removal for those who went to Indian Territory unassisted. The Choctaws remaining in Mississippi, Alabama, and Texas were not eligible for this annuity. The annuity was never paid in full, but resulted in an extensive litigation in a claims case (Choctaw Nation of Indians vs. The United States: U.S. Court of Claims No. 12742, 1882) which came to be called the Net Proceeds Case. The records of this case include extensive testimony about the misdeeds of the U.S. agent William Ward, who breached his trust to the Choctaws by refusing to register many Choctaws who wished to remain in Mississippi.
These records are also full of testimony about names, relationships, and those Indians who did not remove. They are a genealogical treasure trove. Unfortunately, copies of the testimony are hard to find outside of the U.S. Archives. A hardbound edition of the testimony was published for public sale in 1886, but it has never been reprinted. The Oklahoma State Historical Commission in Oklahoma City has a copy of it, as well as an index. There are also copies in the U.S. Archives.
It seems to me that this Agent William Ward and the Government were in Cahoots to deny my Choctaw ancestors (and their people) their natural-born rights, the rights they agreed upon with the Treaty’s.
From reading all the above, I tend to think that this William Ward comes to town and doesn’t register my people. Then, they try to claim their rights, and OH!!! They aren’t on the list so they must not be Choctaw, so the government then deny’s their application.
I hope to find this isn’t the case after I do more digging, but it’s not looking good. I mean how in the world will I prove that my ancestors were Choctaw, when the paperwork is not there to support it, and so much time has passed?? Has anyone else out there gone through this or had the same issues with your Ancestors?
If any of you Higginbotham researchers have the answers to any or all of this, let’s work together. That makes all the work so much more fun!