By a treaty of March 24, 1832, the Creek Indians ceded to the United States all of their land east of the Mississippi River. Heads of families were entitled to tracts of land, which, if possible, were to include their improvements. In 1833 Benjamin S. Parsons and Thomas J. Abbott prepared a census of Creek Indian heads of families, which gave their names and the number of males, females, and slaves in each family. The entries were arranged by town and numbered; these numbers were used for identification in later records.
The census of 1832/1833 has come to be called the Parsons and Abbott Roll, and is the most comprehensive pre-removal document, as it was the result of a village-to-village trek on the part of the census-takers, and contains the names of all the heads of households arranged by Creek towns. The genealogical researcher who is able to locate an ancestor on this document is most fortunate, as it forms the basis for many other documents relating to Creek claims cases through the 1960’s.
While few and far between, there are some free blacks listed within this census – a total of 11 as heads of household one referred to by name as the husband of an Indian woman. Many slaves gained their freedom from their Creek Tribe; once their freedom was obtained, they often received citizenship within the tribe and several are listed by name.
You can see the rolls of the individual Creek towns at this link:
This roll is interesting for a variety of reasons.
First, it includes a total of 6279 households with 22,240 individuals, including 884 slaves, 10,265 males and 11,002 females. Given the household breakdown, it appears to include children, but it doesn’t list anyone by name except the head of household. Twenty seven households may have been duplicates, based on the same name, but I have included them in the totals because we don’t know if they are duplicates or not.
There are a total of 84 towns, as best I can tell, attempting to account for variant spellings. This equates on average to 264 people per town, although this is kind of deceptive because there were a few really large towns and then several smaller towns as well. There were, on average, about 3.54 people per household, including slaves. However, all of the slaves were held by only 160 households, so most of the families did not own slaves. Only 31 families owned 10 slaves or more and 45 households owned only one slave.
Several slaveholding households owned quite a few slaves, the most being 35. Of the top slaveholders, the third highest was a woman, Fanny Lovett who lived alone and had 30 slaves. Twenty-one of the slaveholders were principal chiefs and at least 42 were women heads of households. There may have been more women. The only way I can discern a woman head of household is if she has an English name or there are no men in the household. If a Creek woman had a son and no English name, I would have no way of knowing if the household was a family headed by a woman or by the male in the household. One woman is noted as a half negro and having a negro slave for a husband.
The most surprising aspect of this census, to me, is that by 1832 I expected that most or at least the majority of Native people had taken some sort of English name, even if just a one name nickname, but that is very clearly not the case. The Creek were heavy traders, as were the Cherokee, and I would have expected more of the English language and culture would have crept in. I did notice that an interpreter is also included, Benjamin Marshall, so many people obviously did not speak English. Some of the chiefs have Native names, but not all. In total, there are 82 principal chiefs listed of their various villages of which 17 have English or partially English names, or about 21%, twice that of the Creek population as a whole.
In addition to the Creeks, there is one Cherokee missionary, Robert Rogers, sixteen noted as “a Euchee” and eleven noted as a free negro heads of household. One additional free negro is noted as a spouse.
In some cases, I was uncertain if a name was English or Native. For example is An ne the same as Anne? Same question for Fan ny, and what about if Fan ny is the wife of a white man?
Some names were found a lot in Creek names as part of a longer name string. For example, the word Micco. Did it become a Creek surname? Are the words Tallissee Micco an English name or Creek words that have no English meaning – indicating that later, Tallissee Micco took an English name that did not include either name? Is Tommy har jo and Tom my har jo the same? And is Tom my the English name Tommy or a Creek word or words? I don’t know. The only example I have is one Micco Buiecar whose alias is given as Old King.
Other questions are equally as puzzling. Should Cooper Pack be shown under Cooper or Pack, or neither. Is Mike y the same as Mikey? Are Lotta and Low ey Native words or English names or nicknames? I don’t have the answers, but for the Native names project, I have included the questionable names. It’s easier to include too many and problematic to omit one that later turns out to be important. In the case of Cooper Pack and other similarly problematic names, I’ve indexed them under both words.
Out of the total 6279 households, about 580 have English or partly anglicized names, or about 9% of the total.
To understand more about the Creek villages, village names and history, click here to visit the University of Oklahoma Western History Collection and specifically, an interview by Thomas Meagher with the Creek Indians after their removal.