Jolly Albert

One of the unpublished census records is the 1869 census of the Cherokee Nation West.  This census holds a great deal of information.  The Cherokee Nation West is present day Oklahoma.  The only people who were supposed to be there were indeed Cherokees and their families.

At the end of the Civil War (which was anything but), the Cherokee by treaty agreed to free their slaves and include them in the tribe.  There were certain restrictions on who could be a tribal member.  For former slaves, they had 6 months to moved back to Indian Territory, if they had left, and to apply to join the tribe.  White people could be tribal members, but only if they were married into the tribe.

The great thing about this census is that there are notes about the people and who is eligible for citizenship in the tribe.  No notes at all mean they are citizens. Other notes say  things like “white intruder” and “colored person not eligible for citizenship.”  So in essence, if the people aren’t tribal members, it tells us who they are and why they are living there.

I ran across Jolly Albert.  What a wonderful name.  Who could not like someone named Jolly Albert….and how could Jolly Albert be anything but happy?  In 1869, he surely was, because he was free.  He was noted in the Cherokee West census as a “colored person” which implies by what it does not say, that he is eligible for citizenship.  This means that he was a former slave, now a Freedman.  He probably got his wonderful name as a slave.

I tried to find more about Jolly Albert, but Indian Tribal members were not included in the 1870 or 1880 census.  By 1900, they were included on a special schedule.  We find lots of Alberts living in Indian Territory, but sadly Jolly is not among them, at least not by that name.  He could have passed on by then.  In 1869 he would have been an adult, so born in 1849 or earlier. By 1900, he was at least 50 and possibly significantly older.

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About Roberta Estes

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