Documenting my family's past for future generations. My family tree includes the Smith/Mansell families of Alabama and Oklahoma, the Castle/Day families of Kentucky and Oklahoma, the Wheat/Ming families of Texas and Oklahoma, and the Bell/Roberts families of Mississippi, Tennessee, and Oklahoma.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Smiths in Oklahoma

My great-grandfather, Stephen Albert Smith, brought his family to Indian Territory from Waterloo, Alabama, in 1893. Making the trip were his wife, Fannie; daughters Molly Ann, Lou Ellen, and Barbara; and sons Owen Stephen, John Jackson, Albert Cleveland, and Turner Lee. His mother-in-law, Elizabeth Simmons Mansell Cotton, may have also made the trip, although that has been questioned.  My grandfather, Weaver Harris, the youngest of Stephen Albert and Fannie’s children, was born in Indian Territory in 1895. Ella Victoria, the second oldest daughter, stayed behind in Alabama with her husband Len Beckham.

Fannie stated her purpose in coming to Oklahoma in an 1896 affidavit for the Dawes Commission: “I left the State of Alabama and came to this Country with the avowed purpose of becoming a Citizen of the Territory and identifying myself with the Cherokees whom I know to be my people by blood.”  She was denied citizenship. In 1905 she died and is buried in Oak Hill Cemetery in Oologah.  In 1907/1908, still living in Oologah, Stephen again made a claim of Cherokee citizenship on behalf of his minor children, and the Smith children who were by then adults applied on their own behalf.  All their claims were denied because no relationship could be proved with anyone listed on the Cherokee rolls.

Headstone -- Oak Hill Cemetery, Oologah, OK
I have never been able to find any of the Smiths on the 1900 census, and believe me, I have looked—even searching probable locations page by page.  On the 1910 census the family, still mostly intact, is living in Collinsville, probably at the boarding house pictured in my post “Beginnings and Endings,” because the census lists quite a few “boarders” living with the family. Mollie and her children, Jimmy, Alice, and Ella Scott, and Maggie Kirk; Owen, Barbara, Albert, Turner, and Weaver are all living with Stephen Albert. Lou is living with her husband Albert Barlow near Collinsville in Rogers County.

On October 11, 1927, Stephen married his daughter Lou’s mother-in-law Nancy Barlow at age 80+.  It was written up in the Tulsa World. He died July 27, 1938, in Collinsville.  Because he was one of the last Confederate veterans in Oklahoma, that was written up in the paper, too.  He is buried in Ridgelawn Cemetery in Collinsville.  All of his children, except Ella, lived and died in Oklahoma.

Stephen Albert Smith and children

Headstone -- Ridgelawn Cemetery, Collinsville, OK

I knew my Smith relatives in Oklahoma. We visited Uncle Owen and Aunt Lou in Collinsville.  Uncle Turner came by to visit us.  We saw Uncle Albert and his wife Gertrude all the time because they lived near Red Fork in Carbondale, another westside Tulsa community.  I had names and dates of birth, pictures, and funeral cards of the Smith siblings, thanks to my grandmother.  I knew that the Smiths came from Waterloo in Lauderdale County, Alabama.

But then, I found out how little I really knew. 

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