Sunday, June 15, 2014

Reviving Family Talents

I sat here today struggling over a tatting pattern.  "This is too hard", I thought.  Then, I reflected over the last 20 years or so that I have been working to revive my family talents.

Many years ago, after the death of Grandma Bowser, I received some of her crochet needles, patterns, and yarn.  I was self taught, but worked year after year to learn the skill.  "Perhaps Grandma would be proud", I imagined.  Last year, I entered my crocheting into the county fair...and won first place.  I was delighted!

My first place crocheted table cloth
About 6 years ago, I was remembering back to the 'good ole days' at Grandma Cole's house.  The Cole family would gather there for Thanksgiving and Christmas and after dinner we would gather round for some singin'.  Guitars, amplifiers, and chairs would spring up in the same corner of the family room and it was time to sing the old gospel hymns of their past.  My sisters and I did not grow up Pentecostal, (we were raised Mormon) however, we loved the 'old time religion' of the songs they sang.  I decided someone in our family should learn to play the guitar and pass on the music to the new generation of children.  My husband saw I was determined and purchased me my first guitar.  I again was self taught (this time I used you tube) and every once in awhile I would get a chance to visit with my Uncle Willard and Uncle Ray who would show me how to play.  Now, at Sunday dinner with my own parents, sisters, and our families, we bring out the guitar and have a singin'.  The kids know many of the songs.

Singing the gospel hymns at the Cole Family Reunion.  Left to right:  Uncle Willard, my mother, Willie Cole in the back, me on the right with the guitar and Aunt Mary in pink

And today, I am trying to learn how to tat.  Again, a skill that Grandma Bowser enjoyed.  I want to learn to make the pretty things she did.

While I learn these talents, I think about my ancestors who did them.  What would they think about as they sat and sewed or watched the children see them picking a guitar?  Would they pick up these things because they were stressed or had a bad day?  Was it difficult for them to learn or were they just naturals?

I have many more family talents to yet revive and I am sure that as I learn more about my ancestors, more talents will be added to the list.  It is a neat way to pass on the history.  As a side note, I have noticed my sisters have done this reviving as well...though I don't know if they have done it for the same reason!  Thank you to Mandie for trying to learn the violin like Grandpa Bowser.  Thank you to Chrissie for learning to embroider like Grandma Cole and Great Aunt Margaret used to do.

Sister Mandie learning the violin

What talents would you like to revive from your family history?  Here is my list:
1.  Violin (Grandpa Clyde "Ed" Bowser)
2.  Speaking French (Dad)
3.  Quilting (Mom)
4.  Recognizing herbs in the woods (Grandma Cole and cousins Michael, Ray, and Phillip Nimety)
5.  Painting with oils and watercolors (Great Grandma Lillie Bowser)
6.  Square dance calling (Great-great Grandpa John Bowser)

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Southeastern Native American Research

Southeastern Native American researchers are pretty familiar with the term "5 Civilized Tribes".  They are the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek and Seminole.  They were deemed "civilized" by the white man for the following reasons:

           "Americans, and sometimes American Indians, called the five Southeastern nations "civilized" because they seemed to be assimilating to Anglo-American norms.  The term indicated the adoption of horticulture and other European cultural patterns and institutions, including widespread Christianity, written constitutions, centralized governments, intermarriage with white Americans, market participation, literacy, animal husbandry, patrilineal descent, and even slaveholding.  None of these attributes characterized all of the nations or all of the citizens that they encompassed.  The term was also used to distinguish these five nations from other so-called "wild" Indians who continued to rely on hunting for survival."  Oklahoma Historical Society's Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, "Five Civilized Tribes",  :  accessed 11 Jun 2014.

While researching my own family lines of supposed Native Americans, I wondered if they had applied for enrollment in the Five Civilized Tribes.  In 1893, an act of Congress approved the establishment of a commission to negotiate agreements with the Choctaw, Creek, Chickasaw, Seminole, and Cherokee Indian tribes.  The commission became known as the Dawes commission.  The commission was to divide tribal land into plots which were then divided among the members of the tribe.  The Commission either accepted or rejected applicants for tribal membership based on whether the tribal government had previously recognized the applicant as a member of the tribe.  Applicants were categorized as Citizens by Blood, Citizens by Marriage, Minor Citizens by Blood, New Born Citizens by Blood, Freedmen (African Americans formerly enslaved by tribal members), New Born Freedmen, and Minor Freedman.

The first step in locating whether your ancestor had applied for enrollment is to check the index.  Go to the card catalog online at  (If you are not a subscriber to, you might wish to check at your local library or family history center as many of them have subscriptions for their patrons.)

Then you will type in “five civilized tribes” in the keyword field as show below.

Click “Search” and 6 results come up.  You will first need to check the two indexes.  One index is for those applicants who were admitted into the tribes and the other index is for applications that were overturned.

I first checked the admitted applicants index for my targeted ancestor, Jacob Cole, and found no matches.  Next, I checked the overturned index.

I only fill in the name fields and leave everything else blank.  Then click "Search".

My results found Jacob Cole and several other names I recognized!

Use the "Tribe" column and the "Case number" column to find the actual application they filled out.  In this case, I will use Jacob's tribe as Cherokee and the case number 639.  Go back to the card catalog results and choose between the two application databases.

Because I found my ancestor in the overturned index, I would expect to find his application in the overturned applications.  This is the difficult part.  When you click on the database and enter in the name of the person you are searching for, the application or case number, and the tribe; the system only brings up the index page which you have already seen.

Instead you need to enter the information you have in the fields to the right. Choose which tribe in the first field.  I was looking for "Cherokee".  Then choose which roll based on the case number you found on the index.  Jacob Cole was case number 639.  Then click "ALL".

Now the database takes you to that roll of microfilm and guess have to search through image by image until you find the right application.  Don't be discouraged, it is worth it to look through hundreds if necessary!  Here are some of the "goodies" I found in Jacob's application on image number 1408.

This is the only record I have found with the two daughters, Martha age 19 and Mary J. age 1.  Martha was from Jacob's first marriage and Mary J. was from the second marriage.  I do not know what becomes of either of them, but it was a delight to find them in this record and to know of their existence.

Further research into the applications of other family members led to several previously unknown children, a name of an unknown grandfather, and a location of residence for that grandfather.  In areas where birth and death records are scarce, searching unusual databases for information can add to your genealogical data and family history.  If you suspect that you have a Southeastern Native American ancestor, I would highly suggest taking some time to review this neat resource!  Happy Hunting!

Read more about finding your Native American heritage at: