Many isolate groups still resist the idea of African-American ancestry. Yet, if the genealogy of these families is to be studied with any hope of success, descendants who identify themselves with Indians must be willing to consider frankly the possibility of both white and African-American components. Similarly, families whose current social definition is white will have to consider the possibility of Indian and African-American components. To do so otherwise is simply to wear blinders.
Dr. Virginia DeMarce, National Genealogical Society Quarterly
When I started researching the STEVENSON Family, our family tree contained 4 branches -- Joe, Bankston, Dudley and Dave. From our oral history, we knew that these men were brothers. Using the family history and records relating to the Five Civilized Tribes, I started researching and determined that the parents of Joe, Bankston, Dudley and Dave were Mobile STEVENSON and Lanie COLBERT and not Mary Stevenson and Naho as stated in our oral history, in the 1987 Essence Magazine article, and elsewhere on the worldwide web. I have not discounted the information about Mary STEVENSON and Naho, and I speculate that they may be the parents of Mobile STEVENSON, yet, I have found no evidence, to confirm this; or even evidence of their existence. I have not included their names in the STEVENSON Family genealogy because I feel to do so is placing a "bit" of informaion . I also "found" the remaining 11 children of Mobile Stevenson and Lanie Colbert which are the siblings of Joe, Bankston, Dudley and Dave.
Mobile STEVENSON and Lanie COLBERT are the earliest known common progenitors of the STEVENSON Family. Mobile STEVENSON and Lanie COLBERT were lawfully married in Chulahoma, Mississippi. They had 15 children. These children make up the 15 branches of the STEVENSON Family tree. The children of Mobile STEVENSON and Lanie COLBERT are: Elsie, Gattis, Louisa, Banks, Dick, Louis, Cornelius, Sarah, Elmira, Dinah, Bob, Joe, Dud, Dave and one infant, deceased.
Much is not known about Mobile STEVENSON. He was owned by Susan COLBERT nee JAMES, wife of James COLBERT. I suspect that he was born about 1800-1810. He died sometime before 1898. His parents may be Mary STEVENSON and Naho; however, this is not confirmed.
Lanie COLBERT was born in 1812. Lanie STEVENSON nee COLBERT was the daughter of (Major) James COLBERT and a woman who was the slave of (Major) James COLBERT. Lanie COLBERT was freed by her father early in her life.
In 1814, when Laney was two years and nine months old, GUNN freed her (as a favor to her father) in writing and recorded the action with the Chickasaw Agency. At the time of the manumission, Laney since she was young continued living with her mother (who was still a slave of GUNN) until GUNN died in 1823. Therefore, all of Lanie's children were born free. (1847 Appellate Case). However, due the the Chickasaws insistence to deny people of African/Indian mixed ancestry their Chickasaw status, the descendants of Lanie had to record themselves as the "slaves" of an Indian in order to be placed on the "Freedmen" roll and receive some compensation as part of the removal.
The earliest mention of Mobile STEVENSON and Lanie COLBERT that I have been able to find is their baptism in the Monore Church. Around the 1820's, Lanie COLBERT and Mobile STEVENSON were at the Monroe Mission (6 miles south of present day Pontotoc, Mississippi - Marshall County), under the directorship of Rev. Thomas C. Stuart. Lanie and Mobile applied for admission to communion of the church and were received into membership on March 31,1827 and April 25, 1828 respectively. On June 3, 1827, Mobile and Lanie's daughter, Elsie, was baptized. On June 30, 1830, Mobile and Lanie's daughter, Lousia was received into the church. Later, on July 8, 1832, Bankston, the son of Mobile and Lanie was baptized.
It is interesting to note that Susan COLBERT nee JAMES was also baptised at the Monroe Church on December 31, 1828. Two of her children with (Major) James COLBERT were also baptised: Tennessee BYNUM nee COLBERT on December 4, 1824 and James Isaac COLBERT, Jr. on June 14, 1828. And Lanie STEVENSON nee COLBERT, daughter of (Major) James COLBERT was also present and baptized at the Monroe Mission.
During the mid to later 1820's (Major) James COLBERT was surveying land, participating in removal talks, and exploring the Indian Territory. Don MARTINI, in his book, states that "by 1830 he (Major James COLBERT) was apparently insolvent and divorced".
In 1893, Lanie COLBERT asserted in sworn testimony that "a good many years ago she was examined before a council, or court, as to her Indian blood, and on that occassion she as duly placed upon said record as a Chickasaw Indian by blood, that she is the daughter of James COLBERT..." In a sworn affidavit made by Rhoda HOWELL, a Chickasaw by blood, she stated that James COLBERT was the father of Lanie and that Lanie was considered an Indian entitled to the rights of an Indian. Later, in 1896, when Lanie was approximatley 100 years old, she asserted in a sworn affidavit that she was entitled to citizenship.
Established in 1893 by Congress, the Dawes Commissions purpose was to negotiate agreements with the Five Civilized Tribes that would permit the division of tribal land into allotments for individual members. The Curtis Act of 1889 required that the Dawes Commission make seperate rolls of Choctaw Citizens, Chickasaw Citizens, Choctaw Freedmen, Chickasaw Freedmen, and the Mississippi Choctaws.
Many people had problems in trying to establish their citizenship. Problems such as inaccurate or incorrect tribal rolls, corruption by tribal officials, and missing rolls were encountered by the Dawes Commission and individuals trying to establish citizenship. Kent CARTER, in his article Choctaw-Chickasaw Enrollment, states the "any roll that did exist could not be trusted because 'names had been stricken from it, added to it, and restored to it without notice, or rehearing, or power of review, to further political ends, with enitre disregard of rights affected therby.' ...No matter how inaccurate the existing rolls were, the Dawes Commission had to start with them as the basis for its enrollment work, so it became essential to get custody of them."
I have (yet) been unable to find any rolls that list Mobile STEVENSON or Lanie COLBERT. Lanie COLBERT's petition to get her name added to the "by blood" roll was denied, mainly because she could not establish that her name was on any of the previous "official" rolls. Mobile STEVENSON and Lanie COLBERT died before the The Final Rolls were finalized, however, their children and descendants, were enrolled as Freedmen. As late as 1906, the children and grand children of Lanie were still fighting to get their names transferred to the "by blood" roll. They hired an attorney and submitted a petition to the Commissioner to the Five Civilized Tribes, Tams BIXBY. The petition was denied.
In April 1907, the descendants of Lanie COLBERT joined suit with 2,000 other Freedmen who claimed Indian blood in a suit filed in the U. S. Court. The case was dismissed for want of jurisdiction. The case was appealed to the United States Supreme Court and in 1911 was dimissed because the appelants failed to file printed briefs.
I have located the 1906 petition and the U. S. Court Case as well as other documents relating to other families (COHEEs, NEWBERRYs, LIGONs, BUTLERs, and PERRYs who also have had their citizenship claims rejected.
What did these Freedmen lose by not getting their names transferred to the "by blood" roll? At first glance the lost may seem financial. Each person on the "freedmen" roll received 40 acres of land, while, each person on the "by blood" roll received 160 acres of land. But there was more at stake than financial gains. One of the most fundamental rights lost was that of citizenship. Because the Chickasaws did not adopt their Freedmen, the Freedmen were without basic rights while residing in Indian Terriority. They had no civil rights, were denied schooling for their children, denied the right to vote, denied protection from incroachment on their land, denied protection under the law, and had no legal rights or recourses. Since, they were residing in Indian Terriority, they were not United States Citizens. The most important right lost, for those of mixed blood, like Lanie STEVENSON nee COLBERT, was that of a denied heritage.
Affidavit of Lany COLBERT
3d Judicial Division
On this 18th day of August 1893 personally appeared before me a Notary Public within and for the 3d Judicial Division, Chickasaw Nation Ind. Territory, Mrs. Lany COLBERT, who being duly sworn says: That a good many years ago she was examined before a council or court as to her Indian blood, and that on that occasion she was duly placed upon said record as a Chickasaw Indian by blood, that she is the daughter of James COLBERT, who was a full blood Chickasaw Indian; that she has never received any of the disbursements made by the United States to the Chickasaw Nation, that the court before which she was examined was in seccession (sic) in Paris, Texas, and declared her to be a Chickasaw Indian by blood. She does not remember the time but it was before the negroes were liberated. She makes this statement for the purpose of being again placed on the rolls, and receiving whatever may be done her as a Chickasaw Indian by blood.
Lany (her X mark) COLBERT
Subscribed and sworn to before me this 18th day of August 1893
Affidavit of Rhoda HOWELL
3rd Jud Div.
Be it known that on this the 29 day of Aug. 1893 personally appeared before me a Notary Public for the aboved named Jud. Div. Ind. Ter. Mrs. Rhoda HOWELL a resident of the Chickasaw Nation, 82 yrs old and a Choctaw Indian by blood after being sworn by me deposeth and says that she knew James COLBERT the father of Lany COLBERT and knew him to be a full blood Chickasaw Indian. The affidivant further testifies that she has known Lany COLBERT for 60 years and that she was all that time considered an Indian entittled to the right of an Indian. The affivant makes this sworn statement from her personal acquaintance with Lany COLBERT and her father James.
The affivant says her post office is Davis Chickasaw Nation Ind. Ter.
Rhoda (her X mark) HOWELL
Subscribed and sworn to before me this Aug 29, 1893
M. F. MYERS
3rd Jud. Div, I. T.
Third Judical Division
County of Pickens
Affidavit of Lany STEPHESON
Personally appeared before me, a Notary Public, Laney STEPHESON formerly Lany COLBERT, after being duly sworn by me deposeth and says: My name is Lany STEPHESON, formerly Lany COLBERT; I am about one hundred years old; I was lawfully married to Mobile STEPHESON, at Chillihoma, in the state of Mississippi; my father was a full-blooded Chickasaw Indian; I came to his country with the Chickasaw Indians when they came here; my mother was a slave, owned by my father, James COLBERT; I rasied 15 children by my husband, Mobile STEPHESON, and are named as follows: Esla, Gaddis, Lousia, Banks, Dick, Lanis, Cornelis, Sarah, Elmira, Diner, Bob, Joe, Dud, David and one infant, deceased; there is nine of my children, out of the above names, who lived to be grown and raised families, that are dead, who are as follows: Gaddis, Banks, Louisa, Cornelis, Sarah, Bob, Diner, Louis, Dud, which their children are entitled to citizendhip; also this evidence is from my own personal knowledge; I am not aided or prompted, or dictated by any written statement, or by any person.
Witness my hand and seal this Aug. 27, A. D., 1896.
Lany (her X mark) STEPHESON
King L. CHAPMAN
Subscribed and sworn to before me a notary public this the 27 day of Aug A. D. 1896
Jasper N. BLACK
3rd Judicial Div, Ind. Terxs.
Affidavit of H. F. MURRAY
Before me, the undersigned authority, on this day personally appeared H. F. MURRAY, who, being first sworn, deposes and says: My name is H. F. MURRAY; I am 77 years of age, and have resided in the Indian Territory ever since 1854, and have been in the Chickasaw Nation since 1870; I am a practicing lawyer in the Indian Courts; I have been attorney general of the Chickasaw Nation; District Judge, County Judge; Delegate to Washington in the interest of the Chickasaws, and have been intimately acquainted with the affairs of the Nation for the past 26 years; I was well acquainted with Laney STEPHESON, through whom the appliants claim; she was a slave owned my James COLBERT, who set her free when she was quite young; her husband's name was Mobile, and he was a negro slave who belonged to Susan COLBERT, the grandmother of my wife; and said Susan COLBERT was the widow of James COLBERT; if these applicants claim through Laney STEPHESON, they are all negroes, or bastards; Laney STEPHESON was not a Chickasaw; neither was her husband; they were both negroes, as stated above. Laney and all her descendants were free negroes, and were not even Chickasaw slaves at the time of the Emancipation.
H. F. MURRAY
Subscribed and sworn to beofre me on this the 26th day of October, A. D., 1896.
Questioning of Charles COHEE
COMMISSION TO THE FIVE CIVILIZED TRIBES
Ardmore, Indian Territory, November 23rd, A..D., 1898
H. F. MURRAY, being duly sworn by Commissioner A. S. McKENNON, on his oath, testified as follows: I knew a colored woman named Lana, who was a free woman before the war in '49 or '50; she was set free by Jim COLBERT in Mississippi, and afterwards came to the Territory. Her husband was named Mobile and was a slave of Susan COLBERT. The children of this woman were born free. I am seventy-nine years old and have lived in the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nation forty years; am an intermarried citizen of the Chickasaw Nation.
William L. BYRD, being duly sworn by Commissioner A. S. McKENNON, on his oath, testified as follows: I am fifty-four years old and am a member of the Chickasaw Tribe of Indians. I knew a woman named Lana who was free before the war and was the wife of a colored man named Mobile, who belonged to Jim COLBERT's mother. She had children as follows: Bankston, Louis, Cornelius, Dick and Gattis. These were all free before the war.
Charles COHEE, being duly sworn by Commissioner A. S. McKENNON, on his oath, testified as follows: There was Dick, Gattis and Cornelius, was up here on the farm; know that Holmes COLBERT followed them to Paris, Texas.
Q: (By Mr. McKENNON) Did you understand that they were taken out to Texas by someone and sold?
A: yes sir, they were sold.
Q: Just gathered up in the country and sold?
A: Yes sir.
Q: And that Holmes COLBERT claimed them and there was a trial of the rights of property and he recovered them and brought them back to the Territory?
A: Yes sir.
Q: Go on with your statement?
A: Then after he brought them back he put some of them up here on Caddo on his farm, that is to tend a farm for him. They stayed there until about '62 I think. After the war got up, the soldiers being there at Fort Arbuckle, they came down there and took them off and sold them again to the highest bidder. Just as soon as Holmes learned they were sold he demanded them and he took them all home, and they were freed right there in the yard. All but the old lady. They never did slave her but, of course, they had to take these otheres and slave them. My father was on Holmes' ranch, and him and one of the boys, Marks HAMILTON, and they come and got him and carried him up there at the same time.
Q: How old were you then?
A: I was between sixteen and seventeen years old I reckon.
Q: Now these remained on the COLBERT farm until they were freed you say?
A: Yes sir. Myra that you speak of was right there with Holmes, she was on his place, so was Dick, Marks and George. Marks was right there on the ranch and Ed COLBERT went with them when they carried them up to the Fort and he bought Marks and took him back, and told my father that he belonged on the ranch just the same as he did before, and my father told him no, that they might come and get him again.
Q: And Holmes COLBERT came down and got him?
A: Yes sir.
(By Mr. Peter MAYTUBB"Y, Chickasaw Com'r.) I don't understand that thoroughly, about being sold to the highest bidder and Holmes COLBERT buying them.
(Witness) Holmes didn't buy them. Ed COLBERT bought Marks HAMILTON. He was living up on Caddo.
Q: Was he a free born or a slave when be bought them?
Q: Yes sir. You said as soon as be bought them and brought them home they were free. I understood you to say that?
A: I didn't say they was free, I said when Ed COLBERT bought Marks he brought him back to Holmes COLBERT's ranch where they got him from and told him to take him again and use him just as he had done on the ranch, and my father told him no, that they might come back and get him.
(By Mr. MAYTUBBY) I understood him to say they were sold to the highest bidder.
(By Mr. McKENNON) The soldiers took them and sold them to the highest bidder.
(Witness) They just came down and took them by force and carried them up there and put them up and auctioned them off to the highest bidder.
(By Mr. MAYTUBBY) I want to understand that, about putting them up and selling them. The colored people were kinder turned loose in my neighborhood and they bought them in to hold them in places. They were sold just like any other property, only to hold for their labor.
(By Mr. McKENNON) But they were held in bondage. They were having to render involuntary services.
(By Mr. MAYTUBBY) They were in bondage but they were kinder reckless, just running over the country, and they would take them up just like you would take up a team, or something like that, and sold like a team or something like that.
Q: (By Mr. McKENNON) You have stated it as you understand it?
A: They were put in bondage, there is no question about that.
William L. BYRD, being recalled, testified as follows: The wives of these persons, the sons of Lana, above mentioned, belonged to Chickasaw Indians and were freed with the other people at the close of the war.
Overton LOVE, being duly sworn by Commissioner A. S. McKENNON, on his oath testified as follows: The children of Lana I understand were taken up and sold as freed people and that Holmes COLBERT bought them and sent them up on the farm where Charles COHEE's father was living.
Mrs. Sallie L. CAMPBELL, being duly sworn by Commissioner A. S. McKENNON, on her oath, testified as follows: I am a half sister to Holmes COLBERT. These colored people were freed by the grand father of my brother Holmes COLBERT and for that reason my brother was always trying to protect them, and I know that when I was a child they were put on the block and sold in the Chickasaw Nation and my brother Holmes COLBERT bought them. He didn't, therefore, hold them as slaves, sometimes they were about him and at other times they were off. He finally put them on a ranch with Charley COHEE on Caddo Creek, where they remained until the close of the war. I was born in '52 and while a little girl I remember the one sale to which I have referred.
Mrs. Mary RENNIE, being duly sworn by Commissioner A. S. McKENNON, on her other testified as follows: I understand the facts to be just as stated by my sister, Mrs. Campbell.
Mrs. Louisa PATTERSON, being duly sworn by Commissioner A. S. McKENNON, on her other testified as follows: I am a sister to Holmes COLBERT and during the war I was living at Arbuckle with Joseph COLBERT, my father-in-law. Two of Lana's children, Louisa and Cornelius, were taken up and sold and Mr. MONCRIEF bought Louisa and she afterwards run away from him and went down on Red River to my brother's. I don't remember who bought the other one, he died on my place before the close of the war. Some of these people stayed there on the place with my brother, others did not all the while. I don't remember whether he held them as slaves or not, but I know that he was always protecting them.
Mrs. Mary RENNIE, being recalled, says: I know that my brother Holmes COLBERT went to Texas before the war and brought these negroes back with him. I know that they were free, and his grand father had requested that they remain free, and when I asked my mother why he went to Texas and brought them back she told me that he was just carrying out his grand father's request. He was just doing this for their protection. He let them stay at his home and one of the women helped my mother a great deal, but when she wanted to she went away from home and returned when when wanted to.
[The following is included here because it enumerates some of the children of Lanie COLBERT, as well as her grand children and great grand children. T
This document contains the testimony of Albert LEE, an attorney, who was hired by various Freedmen who were trying to get therir names transferred from the freedmen rolls to the citizens by blood roll. I have included an excerpt of the document pertaining, for the most part, to the descendants of Lana STEVENSON. This document is important for it's historical and genealogical significance.]
TESTIMONY OF Mr. ALBERT J. LEE
Direct examination of Mr.BALLINGER.
Mr. BALLINGER. Please state your residence and occupation?
Mr. LEE. I reside at Ardmore, Ind. T. By occupation I am an attorney.
Mr.BALLINGER. Did you secure a copy of the application made in the case of Joe and Dillard Perry?
Mr. LEE. I did.
Mr. BALLINGER. If so, state the circumstances
Mr. LEE. I appeared at the office of the Commission in Muskogee and stated that I was attorney employed in that case and asked to see the record of the case. After some consultation as to whether or not I would be allowed to see the record, it was finally produced. They brought to me a jacket similar to that [exhibiting] except that there was no writing whatever upon the jacket. This is not the jacket of the Perry case, but the jacket was similar to that. There was nothing whatever on it except a number on the corner. On opening the jacket I found the original application filed by Joe and Dillard Perry's mother in 1896, which I copied. The copy I took out and had a stenographer transcribe.
THE CHAIRMAN. Was that an application for citizenship?
Mr. LEE. Yes, sir; and I found no other record which showed that any entry had ever been made on that application. No docket record had ever been presented to me that it had ever been received.
SENATOR TELLER. Was it filed?
Mr. LEE. There was nothing to show that it had been filed. On the application itself there was a stamp "Received by Jacoby," secretary to the Commission in 1896.
Mr.BALLINGER. Have you ever had any difficulty in getting access to the records or copies of the records in those cases?.
Mr. LEE. Yes; I have had considerable difficulty.
Mr.BALLINGER. If so, state the circumstances.
Mr. LEE. When I first became employed by a number of people seeking to be transferred I made a list of the cases and went to Muskogee to inspect the records, in order that I might see whether there was anything in the cases or not and how to prepare the cases. I presented that list to the commissioner. I believe I presented it to Mr. Beall first, and he said they could not furnish me those cases to look them over and on my protest he took the matter up with Mr. Bixby, who called in Mr. Rodgers, and they consulted whether they would let me see the records. I stated that I was duly employed, and they put me off until afternoon. In the afternoon I came back, and they stated that they had decided that they could not let me see those records; that I had asked for a list of cases, and that if they let me see those, some other attorney might come up with a list of fifty cases; that they could not permit that; that they would not permit attorneys to see the cases.
I thereupon told Mr. Bixby that I should appeal from his decision in the matter, and in his presence I asked for a telegraph blank. He protested against a telegram, saying that I could not make it plain in a telegram. I told him that I would make it plain to his satisfaction and did so, telling the Secretary of the Interior that Mr. Bixby had refused me permission to see the records in those cases and please advise the commissioner by wire in the matter.
Mr.BALLINGER. Is this a copy of the telegram you sent the Secretary? [Handing paper to witness.]
Mr. LEE. This is the carbon copy made in the office.
Mr.BALLINGER. I should like to have that go into the record. The telegram is as follows:
MUSKOGEE, IND. T., November 9, 1905
THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR.
Commissioner Bixby refuses inspection of enrollment records in cases of Albert Thompson, Emily Franklin, and a number of other cases, all Chickasaw freedmen, by whom I am employed as attorney, on ground that cases are closed and parties enrolled as freedmen. Advise commissioner by wire.
Albert J. LEE.
Mr.BALLINGER. Is this the answer you received from the Secretary? [Handing another paper to witness].
Mr. LEE. This is the answer that I received from the Secretary.
The Chairman. Have you any objection, Mr. Rogers, to this going into the record?
Mr. ROGERS. No objection. The letter is as follows:
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR,
Washington, November 10, 1905
Mr. ALBERT J. LEE, Muskogee, Ind. T.
SIR: The Department is in receipt of your telegram dated November 9, 1905, complaining that the Commissioner to the Five Civilized Tribes refuses to allow you to inspect the records relative to the enrollment of certain parties as Chickasaw freedmen.
You are advised that the Commissioner has been requested to make immediately report concerning the statement made by you.
First Assistant Secretary
Mr. LEE. That reply from the Department simply says that they have asked for a report. Subsequently a report was made by the Commissioner recommending that I should not be allowed to see the record, and the Department adhered to the request of the Commissioner declining to let me see the records. The reply of the Department was put in evidence. It is as follows:
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR,
Washington, November 10, 1905
Mr. ALBERT J. LEE, Muskogee, Ind. T.
SIR: In further reply to your telegram of November 9, 1905, concerning the refusal of the Commissioner to the Five Civilized Tribes to allow inspection of the enrollment records in a number of Chickasaw freedmen cases, in which you claim to represent such freedmen, you are advised that on November 15, 1905, the Commissioner reported in the matter.
It appears from your letter to the Commissioner of November 10, 905, that your request was made for the reason that each of the parties you represent claim to be entitled to enrollment as Chickasaws by blood and state that they were enrolled as freedmen, notwithstanding the fact they applied to the Commission to the Five Civilized Tribes for enrollment as citizens by blood. These parties further state that they reluctantly accepted their allotments as freedmen, but they insist now as they did at their first appearance before the Commission that they should be on the roll by blood, and in order to prepare a petition to the Secretary of the Interior in an intelligent manner properly setting out a statement of facts it is necessary that an inspection of the enrollment records above mentioned be had
The Commissioner states that the persons in whose cases you desire to examine the records have all been enrolled as freedmen and that they have voluntarily selected their allotments as freedmen and that certificates of allotments as such have been delivered to them; that in none of the cases referred to by you does he find that any citizens of either the Choctaw or Chickasaw nations; that therefore he did not consider that he was authorized to accede to your request.
He states, however, that if in the final disposition by the Department of the application of Joe and Dillard Perry to be transfer from the roll of Chickasaw freedmen to the roll of citizens by blood of the Chickasaw Nation any rights are granted persons of this class petitions by others could then he considered; that if your clients should eventually come within any ruling of the Department you could then file petitions on behalf of or present our clients in person for the purpose of examination under oath.
Your attention is called to the opinion of the Assistant Attorney-General of November 11, 1905, in the case of Joe and Dillard Perry approved by the Department, a copy of which was furnished the Commissioner November 18, 1905.
In view of that opinion, it would appear probable that your clients have no rights to enrollment as citizens by blood. Besides, the Department sees no reason why you should be able to prepare any petition you may desire to present, in accordance with the Commissioner's suggestions, for the statements made to you by your clients.
The action of the Commission is therefore sustained.
First Assistant Secretary
Mr. LEE. I then filed a statement showing my interest and asking the Department to review the decision of the Commissioner, and it was referred to the Attorney-General as to whether, under the facts stated, I was entitled to see the records in these cases as attorney. Thereupon, the Department rescinded its decision adhering to Mr. Bixby's decision, and notified Mr. Bixby that the records in his charge in all citizenship cases were considered to be open in all proper cases to attorneys. Since that time I had to use that decision repeatedly in order to get opportunity to see the records.
SENATOR LONG. But you have succeeded since then in seeing the records?
Mr. LEE. Oh, yes; but I have had to use the decision.
Mr. BALLINGER. Have you made application to the Commission for certified copies of records, and have you enclosed money orders, and been denied?
Mr. LEE. I have.
Mr. BALLINGER. If so, state when.
Mr. LEE. In the transfer case of Dick Stevenson and others. I asked for a certified copy of that portion of the Chickasaw annuity roll of 1878 showing the enrollment of James COLBERT.
Mr. BALLINGER. Is this the Commissioner's letter?
Mr. LEE. That is the Commissioner's letter. I requested that under the act relating to money orders.
The letter was put in evidence, and is as follows:
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR,
COMMISSIONER TO THE FIVE CIVILIZED TRIBES,
Muskogee, Ind. T., June 25, 1906
ALBERT J. LEE,
Ardmore, Ind. T.
DEAR SIR: Receipt is hereby acknowledged of your letter of June 20, 1906, enclosing post-office money order in the sum of fifty cents which you state is in payement (sic) for a certified copy of that portion of the 1878 Chickasaw annuity roll as to James COLBERT and family.
In reply you are informed that this office does not deem it advisable to undertake to furnish certified copies of the roll referred to by you, and your money order is respectfully returned.
Mr. BALLINGER. Did you receive a communication from the Assistant Secretary, Jesse E. Wilson, in reference to this matter?
Mr. LEE. Yes; I appealed from the decision refusing to give me the copy of the annuity roll.
Mr. BALLINGER. Is this a copy?
Mr. LEE. No; that is the original.
Mr. BALLINGER. I want that in the record.
Mr. LEE. A report has never been make to my knowledge.
The letter is as follows:
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR,
Washington, July 14, 1906
Mr. Albert J. LEE, Ardmore, Ind. T
SIR: You are advised that your communication of the 9th inst. enclosing a copy of a letter from the Commissioner to the Five Civilized Tribes denying your request for a certified copy of that portion of the 1878 Choctaw annuity roll as to James COLBERT and family has been referred to said Commissioner for report. Upon receipt thereof you will be further advised in the premises.
Jesse E. WILSON
Mr. BALLINGER. Did you receive a communication from the Secretary in which you were informed that you could have access to the records?
Mr. LEE. Yes; in regard to the first time that I asked for it and took it up with the Secretary; that is the letter in which the Secretary directed that the records be furnished.
Mr. BALLINGER. I desire that to go into the record.
THE CHAIRMAN. Pass it to Mr. ROGERS, and see if he has any objection.
Mr. BALLINGER. Is that a letter which you received from the Secretary with reference to this matter?
Mr. LEE. That is the letter of notification to me that the Commissioner had been so notified.
Mr. BALLINGER. I desire this to go into the record, if there be no objection.
No objection being offered, the letter was put in evidence. It is as follows:
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR,
Washington, December 20, 1905
Albert J. LEE, Ardmore, Ind. T.
SIR: In reply to your letter of December 14, 1905, relative to the refusal of the Commissioner to the Five Civilized Tribes to grant your request to be allowed to inspect the record of certain Chickasaw freedman citizenship cases and in which you state that the Department has sustained the action of the Commissioner you are advised that the Department merely informed you in its letter of November 24, 1905, that it did not appear, in view of the opinion of the Assistant Attorney-General approved by the Department, that your clients had any lefts as citizens by blood and that it saw no reason why you should not be able to prepare any petition you desired, in accordance with the Commissioner's suggestions, from the statements made to you by your clients.
However, you are informed that the Commissioner has been instructed in the matter by letter of even date. For further information you are referred to him.
First Assistant Secretary
The following was also put in evidence:
December 20, 1905
COMMISSIONER TO THE FIVE CIVILIZED TRIBES,
Muskogee, Ind. T.
SIR: Calling attention to your letter of November 15, 1902, reporting relative to telegram form Albert J. LEE, complaining of your refusal to allow him, as attorney, to inspect the enrollment records of your office in certain Chickasaw freedmen cases, and to Departmental letter of November 24, 1905, enclosing to you a letter to Mr. LEE, in which he was advised, in view of the opinion of the Assistant Attorney General, approved, in the case of Joe and Dillard Perry, that apparently his clients have no lefts to enrollment as citizens by blood, you are informed that the Department is in receipt of a letter from Mr. LEE, in which he asserts, contrary to your understanding, that certain persons he represents did claim their lefts to be enrolled as citizens by blood of the Chickasaw Nation, when before the Commission to the Five Civilized Tribes for enrollment, which resulted in their enrollment as freedmen, and that how much of that assertion is of record and how much of it was not made of record can only be determined by an inspection of your records. He, therefore, insists upon his right to have access to such files, etc.
The Department considers the record of your office in any enrollment case open to inspection, under proper regulations, by parties in interest, or their duly authorized attorneys or agents. You are, therefore, directed to advise Mr. LEE, at Ardmore, Ind. T., if duly admitted to practice before you, and if otherwise qualified, that the records in question are open to his inspection under the usual regulations.
First Assistant Secretary
Mr. LEE. If you will alow me to make a statement, I will give as a conrete case this NEWBERRY case that has just been quoted. A senator of the Chickasaw legislature stated under oath, and his affidavit will be offered in this case, that those NEWBERRY boys appeared at an election to vote; a question was raised as to whether they were entitled to vote, and, that certain old well-known citizens of the nation and officers of that election determined that they were entitled to vote and were citizens of the nation; and this senator goes further and states that he considered that the both of these men elected him a senator of the nation.
The affidavit is as follows:
Affidavit of James A. ALEXANDER
INDIAN TERRIITORY,southern district, ss:
James A. ALEXANDER, first being duly sworn, on his oath states that he is 43 ears of age, a resident of the city of Ardmore, Chickasaw Nation, Indian Territory; that he was born and raised in the Indian Territory. Deponent states that his grandmother on his mother's side, who died about eight years ago at the age of 90, was a LOVE and the aunt of one Ben LOVE. Deponent states that he has ofter heard his grandmother say that Caldonia NEWBERRY was the daughter of Ben LOVE, a Chickasaw Indian of about seven-eights blood.
Deponent further states that at an Indain election held at Rock Srings in the year 1890 he was candidate for election to the Indian senate at which election the NEWBERRY boys, sons of the said Caldonia NEWBERRY, who appeared to cast their votes, were questioned as to their right to do so, whereupon deponent's uncle, Frank COLBERT, stated to the judges that the NEWBERRYs were descendants of Ben LOVE and a mixed breed woman, and wer entitled to vote in said election; that it was so ordered and they did vote, electing deponent to the state.
Further, deponent says that the Caldonia NEWBERRY above referred to, who is makin this application, is the same as has been pointed out to him all his life by his grandmother as the daughter of the said Ben LOVE.
James Aruthur ALEXANDER
Subscribed and sworn to before me this 22d day of June, 1905.
Notary Public for the Southern District, Indian Territory.
Senatir WARNER. And the NEWBERRY boys were what?
Mr. LEE. They were that class of persons-mixed Indian and negro-who are now enrolled as freedmen by the Commission.
Mr. CORNISH. There may be an isolated case of that kind.
Mr. BALLINGER. This is no isolated case. The rule applied in all cases, and I assert from the record in this case that these people have been citizens and are citizens to-day
1847 Texas Supreme Court Appellate Case
Sometime prior to 1847 a case was filed with a lower court. This original case has not been found and may have burned in a fire which occurred at the Lamar County Courthouse in Paris, Texas. Following (below) is the Texas Supreme Court Appellate case that was filed in 1847 to appeal the decision of the lower court.
The plaintiff/appellant in the case was Robert M. JONES and the defendant/appellee was Laney COLBERT STEVENSON. In both cases, the original and the appealed case, Laney was victorious.
The report gives Laney's family history. Laney was born in 1811 the slave of James GUNN from the Chickasaw Nation in Mississippi. GUNN was an Indian living with his Indian wife in the Chickasaw Nation. In 1814, when Laney was two years and nine months old, GUNN freed her (as a favor to her father) in writing and recorded the action with the Chickasaw Agency. At the time of the manumission, Laney since she was young continued living with her mother (who was still a slave of GUNN) until GUNN died in 1823, but not as a slave, nor had she, during the time, been treated as a slave. During this time Laney had several children. After the death of James GUNN, Laney and her children went to live with Susan COLBERT who was the owner of Mobile STEVENSON.
James GUNN had a will in which he named several slaves and left the balance of his slaves, unamed in the will, to his daughter Rhoda. Rhoda and her husband, Joseph B. POTTS, and James GUNN'S widow Molly GUNN, sold these slaves to Robert M. JONES. The GUNNS and JONES considered Laney and her children included in the sale even though they were not named. The daughter and widow claimed that they did not know of GUNNs manumission of Laney.
JONES went to court to get Laney and her children as his slaves by right of the purchase.
The state Supreme Court affirmed the judgement of the trial court that Laney and her family were indeed free as proven by the written document of manumission, which James GUNN had voluntarily executed.
Texas. Supreme Court. Reports of cases argued and decided in the Supreme Court of the State of Texas during December term, 1847. Volume 2. Galveston. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth28572
A transcription of the following document is below.
The following is a transcribed copy of the above record.
ROBERT M. JONES vs. LANEY ET AL., by their next friend,
JAMES COLBERT-Appeal from Lamar County
The right of those Indian nations, residing within the limits of a state, to regulate their own civil polity has never been questioned, unless the state authority has, by some affirmative act, claimed a jurisdiction incompatible with such right. Their laws and customs regulating property, contracts, and the relations between husband and wife, have been respected when drawn into controversy in the courts of the state and of the United States.
The Statutes of a State cannot be judicially known to the courts of another state, and they must be proven as other foreign laws. The courts can only judicially know the acts of congress and public treaties.
Where the plaintiffs, who were negroes, sued to establish the fact of their freedom, and gave in evidence thereof a deed of manumission in their favor, executed by their master whilst a citizen of the Chickasaw nation of Indians, and who, together with such negroes, then resided therein; and the judge charged the jury, “That in the absence of proof of any law, custom or usage of the Chickasaws forbidding the emancipation of a slave, if the deed presented was fully proven and they believed it to be good, genuine and authentic, the plaintiffs were entitled to their freedom -- Held, that such charge was correct.
Where the relation of master and slave is proven to have existed and the latter was freed by the former, the presumption is that such act was rightfully done, on the general principle that the right of property connects with it the right of relinquishing that property. This presumption can only be rebutted by proof of some municipal regulation applicable in restraint of such right, the onus of proving which must devolve on the party denying the right.
Where a witness swore to a fact as happening in 1821 or 1822, and other testimony was introduced showing that the fact did not happen until after 1823, it was not error in the court to charge the jury that it did not destroy the credibility of the witness as to other facts -- the witness being only presumed to swear as to the time according to his best recollection and belief.
The material facts of this case will be found stated in the opinion of the court.
HARRIS and MARTIN, for Appellant, contended --
1st. That if the paper purporting to be a deed of manumission was genuine, still it was inoperative, because the same was made in violation of the laws of Georgia, which were then in full force in that portion of the Chickasaw nation where Gunn resided. They cited, in support of this position, the treaty of cession from Georgia to the United States made in 1805.
2d. That if the laws of Georgia did not prevail those of Mississippi did, and should have been the rule of decision; that they, also, were violated in the act of manumission.
3d. That if neither the laws of Georgia or Mississippi controlled, but the laws, usages and customs of the Chickasaw Indians did, then the jury found without evidence, as there was no testimony before them showing that there was a law, usage or custom of the Chickasaw nation governing or in any wise applicable to the case before the court. The plaintiffs, having alleged that such laws, usages, etc., governed the question at issue, should have been required to prove the same. 2 Peters' Dig., 21, Sec's. 50, 57,58;4th Cond. Rep. 395; 4 Wheaton, 77.
MORRiLL and EVERTS, contra, in support of the fact, as charged by the Judge, that the Chickasaws were recognised as a separate and distinct nation, cited U. S. Treaties at large, 7 vol. p. 24; Worcester v. Georgia, 6 Peters'R. 591.
As to the second part of the charge relating to the manumission of slaves, they cited McCutchen v. Marshall, S Peter's R.220.
As to the allegations that Gunn held his property subject to the laws, usages and customes of the Chickasaws, they cited Tutten v. Martin, 3 Yerger's R., 452.
Mr. Justice LIPSCOMB delivered the opinion of the court.
The facts of this case, so far as they are deemed material to be stated, as presented by the record are, that Laney and the other petitioners, who are all the offspring of the said Laney, are negroes, and they filed by their next friend their petition in the court below, praying that they may be adjudged free.
The petition sets out that Laney was born a slave, the property of one James Gunn, in 1811, in the old Chickasaw nation, now in the state of Mississippi. That Gunn was an Indian and married to an Indian woman, and lived in the nation. That in 1814, Gunn, her master, manumitted her by a writing under his seal, recorded in the Chickasaw agency. That at the time of the said manumission, she, Laney, being very young, continued to live with her mother, who was the slave of the said James Gunn, in the family, until the death of her former master in 1823, but not as a slave, nor had she during that time been treated as a slave. That she then went to reside with one Susan Colbert, also a Chickasaw woman residing in the Chickasaw nation, in whose family the said Laney and the other petitioners, who are her children and grandchildren, continued to reside up to the month of November, 1846. The record shows that Jones, the appellant, claims to hold the petitioners as his slaves by purchase made of Rhoda Potts and Joseph B. Potts, her husband claiming to be, together with Molly Gunn, the heirs at law of the said James Gunn. That Rhoda Potts is the daughter of James Gunn, and Molly Gunn is his widow, and the mother of Rhoda. That Rhoda Gunn claims as the residuary legatee, under the will of her father, James Gunn. The evidence shows that the claimants all lived in the Chickasaw nation, in the immediate neighborhood, not more than one and a half miles from Susan Colbert, in whose family the petitioners resided. The will of James Gunn, after making specific devises of two or three slaves by name, devises the balance of his slaves, without designating them by name, to his daughter Rhoda, and the name of the petitioner, Laney, is not mentioned in the will. That the petitioners emigrated with the family of Susan Colbert in 1842 to the Choctaw nation, and continued to live with her as free persons until November, 1846. It is shown that the appellant, Jones, is of Indian descent and lived in the Choctaw nation. The writing under which the appellees claim their freedom is as follows, i. e. “Chickasaw Agency, 28th of January, 1814. To all who shall see these presents Greeting:
“Be it known to all persons, that I, James Gunn, of the Chickasaw nation, being in my proper senses, and owing no individual person any just debt, have thought proper, of my own free will and accord, to enfranchise a mulatto female child named Laney, two years and nine months old, which girl was borne and raised my own property, no other person having any claim to the said girl but myself. I hereby give to Laney her freedom from this date. She is no longer a slave. Given under my hand and seal, the day and date above written. “Present, JAMES GUNN. [Seal.]”
U. S. C. A. "Endoresed," Recorded in the Chickasaw Agent's Office, January 13th, 1844,
A.M. UPSHAW, C.A.
The death of both McCoy and Robertson was proved, and their handwriting, and that the latter was Chickasaw agent, and the former clerk to the agency at the time the instrument bears date, and that the body of the instrument was written in the handwriting of McCoy. The handwriting of Gunn was proven. It was in proof, by two witnesses that they had known Laney from her earliest infancy -- that she had always been called and considered free from the time of her emancipation by her former master -- and, by one of them, that when she was very young, her master said that from the friendship he had for her father, she should never be a slave to any one: And, by one of them, “that he had heard James Gunn say that he had set her free and had given her a freedom paper, and that he had recorded that in the Agency office in the now state of Mississippi.” The same witness testified that Gunn died and was buried in 1821 or 1822.
The evidence of the appellant, to establish the state of slavery of the appellees was the testimony of Molly Gunn, the widow of James Gunn and the mother of Rhoda Potts, under whom the appellant claimed title by purchase. She swears that Laney was born the slave of her husband, James Gunn -- that the mother of Laney belonged to him -- that she had never heard of her emancipation or claim of freedom, until a very short time since -- that she had never heard of the paper purporting to be a letter of emancipation, until not long since -- that Laney lived with James Gunn until his death -- that some time after she went to live with Susan Colbert, two or three years after the death of James Gunn; until that time she had labored as a slave -- that Laney had two children after the death of James Gunn, before she went to live with Susan Colbert. Witness did not make a demand of her, but her daughter Rhoda told Laney to go home; but she replied that her husband would not permit her. She said the Colberts were strong and she was weak, and that was the reason she did not assert her rights -- that the strongest party held possession in the nation -- she thought that it was probably about three years from the date of the will, that her husband died. It was in proof that the will of James Gunn bore date in 1823.
The Judge charged the jury “that by the treaty entered into by the United States and the Chickasaws in ____, the same were recognized to be a separate and distinct nation of people. That their laws and customs and usages, within the limits defined to them, governed all property belonging to any one domesticated and living with them: and that in the opinion of the court, neither the laws of Georgia, Mississippi, State or Territory, nor those of Texas, can be the rule of decision in this case. The court also charged, that by the principles of the Civil Law, under which slavery, such as ours, existed, the owner could free his slave, provided no statute prohibiting such manumission existed, by simply discharging him from service and saying “go, you are free.”, This doctrine has been partially recognized in various States of the Union, by ruling that in the absence of Statutes prohibiting manumission, only the fact which amounts to proof of an actual discharge from service, with an expressed determination, either parol or written, of no intention to revoke such discharge, will amount to emancipation. Taking these principles as our guide, in the absence of proof of any law, custom or usage of the Chickasaws, forbidding the emancipation of a slave, if the deed presented be fully proved, and by the jury believed to be good, genuine and authentic, the plaintiffs are entitled to their freedom. The court also charged that it was incumbent upon the defendant, to prove that it was against some law or usage of the Chickasaws for slaves to be freed, as plaintiffs claim to be, or the presumption arose that it was in accordance with such laws and customs.
The court also charged the jury, “that where a witness swore to a fact as happening in 1821 or 1822, and better testimony was introduced to show that the fact did not happen until after 1823, it did not destroy the credibility of the witness as to other facts; the witness only being supposed to swear as to the time, according to his best recollection and belief.”
To the several charges so given, the appellant by his counsel in the court below, excepted; and on the supposed error of the judge in giving them, he relies in this court for a reversal of the judgment rendered on the verdict of the jury in favor of the appellees.
To the first charge, there can be no controversy. The United States have frequently acknowledged these Indians as an independent nation, to the extent accorded to such nations within the boundaries of the United States; and they have treated with them as such, under the Treaty-making power, contained in the Constitution.
To the second, there is believed to be as little doubt as to the correctness of the charge. The right of those Indian nations residing within the limits of a State, to regulate their own civil polity, has never been questioned, at least until the state authority has, by some affirmative act, claimed jurisdiction that would be incompatible with the existence of such rights, in the nation of Indians. Their laws and customs, regulating property, contracts, and the relations between husband and wife, have been respected when drawn into controversy in the courts of the State and of the United States.
The concluding part of the second charge was clearly not objectionable, because it must be borne in mind that the record does not show the shadow of evidence that any law of the description mentioned, was offered on the trial as evidence, to control the right of the Indians to govern themselves as to right of property. If such laws had been offered in evidence, it would have devolved on the court to have decided how far the rights of parties were affected by them. The Statutes of a State cannot be judicially known to the courts of another state; they must be proven as other foreign laws. The court can only judicially know the acts of Congress, and public treaties.
In the third charge, the Judge prefaces it with his reasons for believing the charge about to be given is correct. It has nothing to do with the charge given, even if not sound. It only shows the process by which the mind of the Judge is brought to the conclusion; and if that conclusion is right, it is not material whether the Judge's process of reasoning be so or not; but, in this instance, we believe that he has not only reasoned well, from legitimate premises, but that his conclusion is also right. The conclusion is: “That in the absence of proof of any law, custom or usage of the Chickasaws, forbidding the emancipation of a slave, if the deed presented be fully proved, and by the jury believed to be good, genuine and authentic, the plaintiffs are entitled to their freedom.”
We believe the right of property, connects with it the right of relinquishing that property. If the right of property was in James Gunn, the former owner of the appellee, Laney, the presumption is that there was also a right to dissolve the relation of master and slave. This presumption could only be rebutted by proof of some municipal regulation, in restraint of such right. The appellees, on making proof of the relation of master and slave, subsisting between Laney and James Gunn, and then proof by the writing of manumission, make out, at least ,a prima facie case, that would, by all rules of evidence, throw theonus of proving whatever might operate in restraint of those rights, on the appellant.
The Supreme Court of the United States, say that “as a general proposition, it would seem a little extraordinary to contend that the owner of property is not at liberty to renounce his right to it, either absolutely, or in any modified manner he may think proper. As between the owner and his slave, it would require the most explicit prohibition by law to restrain this right,” 8 Peters, 220.
The 4th charge is embraced in the decision on the preceding one. The last charge is on the effect, or the credibility of a witness, when he swears to a fact happening at a particular date, and better testimony was given showing that it was not true. One of the witnesses swore that Gunn died in 1821 or 1822. It was shown by the Will of Gunn, that it was after 1823. The rule of evidence is never to presume a witness guilty of perjury, if a more charitable construction can be put on his oath. The witness is, in the language of the Judge in the court below, “presumed to swear to the best of his belief;” and where he swears that an event occurred at a particular date, and it should turn out that he is mistaken, not in the event but in the date of its occurrence, it would be an exceedingly rigorous rule that would hold such witness perjured. Then there was no error in the court charging the jury that it did not destroy the credit of the witness who swore to the time when Gunn died -- that it afterwards turned out that he did not die until after 1823.
To prevent misconception, we will again advert to that part of the second charge of the court, as to the laws of Georgia, Mississippi Territory or State, or the State of Texas. So far as the charge of the court refers to the State of Texas, it must be understood as applicable to the time when the rights of the parties accrued, and as they accrued in favor of Laney, in the Chickasaw nation in 1814, the laws of Texas did not govern the rights of emancipation in the master.
In that view, there can be no doubt the charge of the court was correct, and it was doubtless so intended to be understood, and not to extend to laws regulating remedies. We are fully satisfied, that there was no error in any one of the several charges of the court to the jury. On the facts of the case, as presented by the record, the verdict of the jury is well sustained, and there can be no ground for setting aside the judgment. It is therefore affirmed.
This is a case that was filed with the United States Supreme Court. Congressional Record. 59 Cong., 2 Sess., Senate Report 5013
It was filed by the (living) children, grand children, and the great grand children of Laney Colbert Stevenson. This case was filed circa 1907, but references an earlier attempt (circa 1905) of Attorney Albert Lee on behalf of the STEVENSONs. This case is requesting that the names of the (living) descendants of Laney Colbert Stevenson be transferred from the Chickasaw Freedmen roll to the roll of citizens by blood of the Chickasaw Nation. These records list the names and roll numbers of Laney's (living) children, grand children and great grand children.
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