Allison Family in the 1869 Cherokee West Census

The Allison family isn’t particularly unusual in these records, that’s why I’m using them for an example.

There were 4 families with that surname.  We have no way of knowing if they are related to each other, based on the census.

There were several census districts, and these families are found in three different districts.

Jack Allison is simply called a colored person. From this we can conclude that he is a Freedman because it does not say he is ineligible for citizenship.  He may have belonged to one of the other Allison families before obtaining his freedom….or not.

In another district, we find James Allison with 1 female adult 1 male child and 2 female children.  He is designated as “whites with Cherokee families.”  So from this, we know that James is white and his wife is Cherokee.  His female children will carry their mother’s Native mitochondrial DNA, assuming her mother is genetically Native, and their male child will carry his non-Native DNA.  Based on what this record says, we’ll assume his DNA is European. 

The next two are in the same district, which is a different district from the two above.

J.R. Allison is noted as “whites not entitled to citizenship.”  So from this, we know that he is not married to a Native woman, or a Cherokee tribal member.  Remember that whites can be adopted into the tribe, and if he was married to a white woman adopted in to the tribe, she would be considered Native and he would be eligible for citizenship based on her tribal status.

Another person, M.T. Allison is noted as a “Cherokee who is not citizenized – NC.”  This means that they are a member of the Eastern Cherokee band, not the Western band.  This could prove quite confusing for someone looking for M.T. and his tribal membership. One would not think to look in the West for an eastern band member, or vice versa. 

Of these four people, we know that one is “colored” but would later be found among the Cherokee as a Freedman.  One is white but has a Native family and will therefore be found in the tribal records as well.  One is white and will not be found among the records and one is Native but won’t be found in the western records, but the eastern band instead.  Of course, those two using initials only will be devilishly hard to find anyplace.

It’s nice to be able to analyze this type of information.  However, it tells us a lot about the pitfalls of making assumptions when we don’t have this type of detailed information.  What this information doesn’t tell us is anything about admixture. It’s very likely that some of these people who are labeled “white”, “Native” and “colored” are already admixed.  That, unfortunately, we will never know from these records.  That information, if available at all would be on the 1900 Indian census schedule or, in some cases applications such as for the Guion Miller rolls and the Eastern Cherokee Applications.


About Roberta Estes

Scientist, author, genetic genealogist. Documenting Native Heritage through contemporaneous records and DNA.
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