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Guide to Cherokee Indians ancestry, family history and genealogy: birth records, marriage records, death records, census records, parish registers, and other agency records.
|Regions with significant populations|
| Ancestral Homelands: Alabama to Virginia, northern Georgia, western North Carolina, and southern Tennessee|
Southern Appalachian Mountains
|Other Related Ethnic Groups|
One of what is often called the "Five Civilized Tribes"
Leaders: Sequoyah, Elias Boudinot, Nancy Ward
Clans: Wolf (Aniwahya), Wild Potato (Anigatogewi) , Deer (Anikawi), Bird (Ani Tsiskwa), Paint (Aniwodi), Blue (Anisahoni), and Long Hair (Anigilohi)
- Eastern Band Cherokee
- United Keetoowah: many are descendants of the "Old Settlers", Cherokee who migrated to Arkansas and Oklahoma about 1817.
- Echota Cherokee Tribe of Alabama
- Oconaluftee Cherokee
- Texas Band of Cherokee Indians
- Western Band Of Cherokee
- 1 Tribal Headquarters
- 2 History
- 3 Brief Timeline
- 4 Jurisdictions
- 5 Records
- 6 Enrollment Records
- 7 Removal
- 8 Newspapers
- 9 School Records
- 10 Correspondence
- 11 Treaties
- 12 Vital Records
- 13 Indian Pioneer Papers
- 14 Websites
- 15 For Further Reading
- 16 References
Cherokee Nation Tribal Headquarters
P.O. Box 948
Tahlequah, OK 74465
- Official Web Site of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma
Cherokee Heritage Center - Cherokee National Historical Society
21192 S. Keller Drive
Park Hill, OK 74451
PO Box 515 Tahlequah,OK 74465-0515
The Spanish explorer De Soto was the first to encounter the Cherokee in the1540's.
During the French and Indian War and the Revolutionary War the tribe supported the British.
By 1820 a group that had tired of the encroachment by settler migrated to Indian Territory which is now Arkansas.
Sequoya (George Grist) a mixed blood, developed the Cherokee alphabet, helping to make the tribe a literate people.
In the 1830's gold was discovered in their Nation, this became a catalyst for removal. With the signing of the Treaty of New Echota, December 29, 1835 the tribe sold their remaining land and agreed to move west of the Mississippi.
The removal to Indian Territory (Oklahoma) occurred in the winter of 1838-1839, with a 800 mile journey, this became known as the "Trail of Tears", with a loss of one-fourth of their tribe. They joined an earlier group known as "old settlers" who had been in Arkansas. Another group that had been in Mexico (Texas) was forced by government troops to move, they went to the mountains of North Carolina where in 1842, they obtained permission to stay. The Texas group are now a part of the Eastern Band of Cherokee.
The Cherokee were slave owners, and resided in areas encompassed by southern influence many of them enlisted in the Confederate Army. A Treaty signed in 1866 remitted them to the United States. They were required to release their slaves. Others had joined the Union Army.
- 1689-1763: French and Indian War, the Cherokee supported the English
- 1710-1715 The Cherokee and Chickasaw were allies with the British and fought the Shawnee who were alies with the French
- 1721: The Governor of the Carolinas signed the Cherokee Treaty. This was one of the first concession of land.
- 1736: Jesuit Mission was founded
- 1738-1750: Smallpox epidemics
- 1775-83: During Revolutionary War supported the British
- 1800: "Moravian," Protestant missionaries of German origin, established the first mission at Spring Place.
- 1801-1823: An Indian agent, Return J. Meigs, lived among the Cherokee.
- 1805-1833: The State of Georgia holds eight lotteries to distribute land seized from the Cherokee and Creeks
- 1806: a Federal road from Savannah, Georgia to Knoxville, Tennessee was built through Cherokee land.
- 1816: Lovely's Purchase. Osage agreed to cede land in Arkansas to the United States for the Cherokee people.
- 1817: "Treaty of Turkeytown" finalized the exchange for land in Arkansas. The "Old Settlers" begin their migration.
- 1819-1821: Sequoyah (George Gist) created the Cherokee alphabet.
- 1827: Tribal leaders recorded their constitution
- 1828: Georgia held a lottery for Cherokee lands.
- 1828: Cherokee Phoenix, a bilingual newspaper, contained columns in both English and Cherokee. Editor -- Elias Boudinot
- December 1835: Treaty of New Echota, traded Cherokee lands in the southeast for land in Indian Territory (Oklahoma)
- 1838: First Group; Start of Trail of Tears, 800-mile journey; 1838-39 - Second group; 4,000 Cherokees died
- Cherokee Nation created and divided into the following districts or counties: Canadian, Cooweescoowee, Delaware, Going Snake, Flint, Illinois, Saline, Sequoyah and Tahlequah
- 1851 Drennen Roll, Is a roll of the Cherokee Emigrants who were forced to remove from the Cherokee Nation and the Old Settlers who moved voluntarily before the forced removal.
- 1861: Beginning of the Civil War. A treaty was signed between the Cherokee Nation and the Confederate government.
- 1861-1865: Civil War Some Cherokee fought with the Confederate and others with the Union
- 1865: Eastern Band lost many to a smallpox epidemic
- 1866: July 19, Treaty provided for the cession of the Cherokee "neutral lands" in Kansas. Indians living on the land could receive a patent to 320 acres but stipulated that they would no longer be members of the Cherokee nation.The treaty also gave emancipation to all the Cherokee slaves. and citizenship to the Cherokee freedmen.
- 1880: Cherokee Nation Census FHL film 989204
- 1887: General Allotment Act passed. This act required individual ownership of lands once held in common by the Cherokee people.
- 1889: Unassigned lands in Indian Territory were opened to white settlers. (Oklahoma Land Rush)
- 1893: Cherokee Outlet was opened for white settlers.
- 1898: The Curtis Act dismantled tribal governments.
- 1906: A final agreement was reached between the federal government and the Cherokee people.The Dawes Commission (all Five Civilized Tribes: Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Cree and Seminole) created the enrollment records.
- 1907: Oklahoma became the 46th State.
- Cherokee Nation divided into ten counties: Adair, Cherokee, Craig, Delaware, Maynes, Nowata, Rogers, Sequoyah, Tulsa, and Washington
- 1909: Guion Miller Rolls, Cherokee only, who applied for a share of the money from a law suit settlement against the United States
- 1953: U.S. Congress began a new policy of termination for the Indian tribes. The policy ended the protected trust status of all Indian-owned lands. The BIA began a voluntary urban relocation program. American Indians could move from their rural tribes to a metropolitan area. Many Indians relocated to Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dallas and Seattle.It is estimated that 750,000 Native American migrated to the cities between 1950-1980.
- 1968: Indian Civil Rights Act restored the right to hold popular elections.
Additional References to the History of the Tribe and/or Bands
- Frederick Webb Hodge, in his Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico, gave a more complete history of the Cherokee tribe, with estimations of the population of the tribe at various time periods. Additional details are given in John Swanton's The Indian Tribes of North America.
- Benjamin Greenleaf. Cherokee Almanac. 1860. FHL Film 989199 item 3
- Fredrea Marilyn Hermann Cook. Forgotten Oklahoma Records. Cullman, Alabama: Gregath Co., 1981. FHL Book 970.3 C424co
The Cherokee Tribe was under the following jurisdictions:
The majority of records of individuals were those created by the agencies. Some records may be available to tribal members through the tribal headquarters.They were (and are) the local office of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and were charged with maintaining records of the activities of those under their responsibility. Among these records are:
- Allotment records
- Annuity rolls
- Census records
- Health records
- School census and records
- Vital records
- Qualla Reservation for Eastern Cherokees, in Swain and Jackson counties, North Carolina
- Cheowah Reservation in Graham county, North Carolina
Cherokee Nation. Oklahoma Historical Society. Indian Archives (Vital, Land and Property, Court, Probate, and School records) FHL film 1666294 first of 129 films
- Genealogy; Cherokee Notes by James Manford Carselowey. 1980. FHL Book: 970.3 C424jmc
- Records of the Cherokee Indian Agency in Tennessee, 1801-1835. FHL film 1024418
- Cherokee Almanac, 1860. by Benjamin Greenleaf FHL Film 989199 Item 3
- Cherokee Almanac, 1861. By Benjamin Greenleaf FHL Fiche 6333956
Agency Records 1898-1950 (East) Cherokee Agency. United States. Bureau of Indian Affairs. FHL film 1249974 first film of 7
Cherokee Indian Agency in Tennessee, 1801-1835. United States. Bureau of Indian Affairs. (M0208) FHL 1024418 first of 14 films
- Five Civilized Indian Tribes Land Allotment Records, 1899-1907, (NARA RG 75) Oklahoma, Indian Territory, Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. On Line. FHL film 4124879 first film
- Forgotten Oklahoma Records ( Allotment) by Fredrea Marilyn Hermann Cook. 1981. Film: 1035512 item 4 or FHL Book: 970.3 C424co
- Township Plats, Cherokee Nation. Tahlequah, Oklahoma. FHL Film: 989209
Annuity Records, 1905-1910 FHL film 1030883
- 1835 Cherokee Nation
- 1835 Henderson Roll (Eastern Cherokee) (most detailed census) enumerated 16,000 Cherokees residing in Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina and Tennessee. Film: 833322
- 1835,1837,1838 Cherokee Muster Rolls (Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee) Film: 908999 Item 2
- 1848 Mullay Roll Census of Cherokees remaining in North Carolina.
- 1851 Chapman Roll
- 1851 Drennen Roll (Eastern Cherokees who came west after 1835) Film: 924606 item 5
- 1851 Old Settler Roll (A list of Cherokee still living in1851 who lived in Indian Territory before 1839)
- 1851 Siler Roll, list of Eastern Cherokees entitled to payments per the 1835
- 1852 Siler Roll Book: 970.3 C424sd
- 1852: Chapman Roll, supplement to the Siler Roll
- 1854 Roll Cherokee Indians prepared by Mallay www.accessgenealogy.com
- 1867 Powell Roll, census of North Carolina Cherokees entitled to annuity payments
- 1869 Swetland Roll updated the Mullay Roll made to facilitate removal payments
- 1880 Cherokee Census www.accessgenealogy.com Film: 989204
- 1884 Hester Roll census of the remaining Eastern Cherokees in 1883
- 1890 Wallace Roll - Cherokee Freedmen (African Americans - Cherokee citizenship)
- 1890 Eastern Band of Cherokees FHL film: 1009060 item 5
- 1890 Census of the Cherokee Nation, Canadian District.FHL film 1666296
- 1896 Tahlequah District Film: 989203 item 2
- 1896-1897 Kern - Clifton Roll www.accessgenealogy.com (contains 4523 individuals missed on the Wallace Roll.)
- 1898-1939 Indian Census rolls, Cherokee FHL film 573869 first of five
- 1924 Baker Roll also on Film: 847744 and Film: 847745
- Maude Bliss Allen, Census Records and Cherokee Muster Rolls. Washington, 1935. FHL Book 970.1 Al #54
- 1896 Census of Citizens of Tahlequah District, Cherokee Nation FHL Film 989203 item 2
The Bureau of Indian Affairs compiled annual Indian Census rolls on many of the reservations from 1885-1940. They list the names of individuals, their age, and other details about each person enumerated. For more information about these records click here.
|Tribe||Agency||Location of Original records||
Post - 1885 Census
M595 RG 75 Rolls 693
Cherokee Indian Agency,
|Atlanta||Roll 22||FHL Films: 573,868-573,872|
Additional Census Records Available through the Family History Library
- Mullary Roll 1848, Siler Roll 1851, 1852, Chapman Roll 1852, Swetland Roll 1869 and Hester Roll 1883 Film: 847743 Item 2
- Revised Roll 1924-1970 Films: 847746-847748
- Historical Roll 1908, Churchill Roll 1908, Baker Roll 1924, Miller Roll 1909, Baker-revised Roll 1967 Film: 847749
- The Cherokee Phoenix, 1828-1835. Film: 825726
- Cherokee Advocate, October 1844-September 1846, Film: 989202 item 7
- Cherokee One Feather, 1969-1973.
- Probate Records 1892-1908, Northern District Cherokee Nation by Orpha Jewell Wever Book: 976.6 P2w
1817- 1861 The American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions
1803 Moravian Missions
1817 Baptist Missions and Missionaries
1822 Methodist Missions
See: Moravian Church Records
Crews, C. Daniel and Richard W. Starbuck. Records of the Moravians Among the Cherokees. Early Contact and the Establishment of the First Mission 1752-1802. Cherokee National Press. Tahlequah, OK FHL book 970.3 C424cdm Vol. C. 2010. WorldCat
Crews, Daniel C. and Richard W. Starbuck. With Courage for the Future: The Story of the Moravian Church Southern Province Winston-Salem: Moravian Church in America, Southern Province, 2002.FHL 973 K3cw WorldCat
McLoughlin. William G. Cherokees and Missionaries, 1789-1839. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1984.FHL 970.3 mw WorldCat
Mc Clinton, Rowena. The Moravian Springplace Mission to the Cherokees Lincoln and London: University of Nebraska Press, 2007. FHL 970.1 C424gir WorldCat
Starr, Emmet. Early History of the Cherokees Embracing Aboriginal Customs, Religion, Laws, Fork Lore and Civilization. 1917. FHL 970.3 C424sea WorldCat
Cherokee citizenship documents, 1880. Oklahoma Historical Society Indian Archives Division.
Find out if you are a Cherokee by having your ancestor's name checked to the 1924 Baker Roll.
Only the Names Remain. by Sandi Garrett FHL book 970.3 C424gs Vol 1-6
The Indian Removal Act was signed May 26, 1830 by President Andrew Jackson. The Act initiated a policy of removal of American Indians tribes living east of the Mississippi River to land west of the river.
- Cherokee Emigration Rolls, 1817-1835. by Jack D. Baker. FHL Book: 970.3 C424be
- Lists of North Carolina Cherokee who removed to the Cherokee Nation West, Cherokee (Tahlequah). Oklahoma Historical Society. Indian Archives Division FHL film 1666295 item 3
- Garrett,Sandi. AKA Also Known As. Cherokee and Pioneer names they were known by before and after the forced removal FHL book 9703 424ak These books link the Drennen Roll (1851) and the Guion Miller (1906-1910) Applications together to help establish family connections.
|Years of Emigration||
stayed in Southeast
|Information of Interest|
Georgia Governor: Gilmer,
Gen. Nat Smith
Benjamin F. Currey,
Gen. John Ellis Wool,
R.H.K . Whiteley,
March 30,1830 Removal Bill
New Echota December 29,1835
Nocowee, John Martin,William Shorey Coodey,
John Walker Jr., James Starr,
1830 - 500 James Rogers and mixed blood members of tribe
1831 - 626 tribal members emigrated
20,000 + 2,000 Slaves
Agent George Vashon
Cherokee vs. United States - Supreme court; Chief Justice Marshall
Jeremiah Evarts (Missionary)
Rev. Jesse Bushyhead, Rev. Evan Jones,
- "Indexes to Compiled Service Records of Volunteer Soldiers who Served During the Cherokee Disturbances and Removal in Organizations From the State of Tennessee and the Field and Staff of the Army of the Cherokee Nation" (NARA M908) (FHL film 1205384) (Worldcat) The compiled service records have not been microfilmed.
- The above collection is also available online:
- U.S. Army Indian Campaign Service Records Index (Ancestry) ($) - brows-able only.
- The Oklahoma Historical Society site and research center has excellent information on Indian Removal,Census, Freedman Resources, Tribes in Oklahoma, Timelines for the removal of the Cherokee tribe and more.
- 1835 Trail of Tears
- Journal of Rev. Daniel S. Butrick by Trail of Tears Association
- Library and Archives of Thomsas Gilcrease - Institute of American History
The Cherokee Observer The only independent Cherokee Newspaper. of the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma.
The Cherokee Phoenix is a tribal media organization.
Annotated Obituaries from the Cherokee Advance, Canton, Georgia, 1880-1938 by John Carver
2003.Over 600 pages.
- Saline District, Cherokee Nation, School Records 1900 Film: 989202 item 6
- Delaware District, Cherokee Nation. Beatties Prairie School Film: 989203 item 1
- Cherokee National Seminary, Male and Female Seminary Records, 1881-1882. Film: 1025299 item 1
- Cherokee National Female Seminary 1876-1909. Film: 989203 items 3, 6
- Cherokee National Male Seminary 1876-1909. Film: 989202 item 5
- Arcadia School Records, 190. Saline District, Cherokee Nation FHL Film: 989202 item 6
- T. L. Ballenger. Early History of Northeastern State College FHL Film 989203
- Beatties Prairie School, Registers of Pupils, 1876-1881. Delaware Cherokee Nation FHL Film 989203
- Cherokee Agency (East) U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, School Records, 1907-1948 FHL film 1249958 first of two films
|Tribe||Agency||Location of Original Records||
Pre-1880 Correspondence M234
RG 75 Rolls 962
|FHL Film Number|
|Washington D.C.||Rolls 71-118||1,660,801 - 848|
|Cherokee||Union Agency, 1875-1914||Washington D.C. and Fort Worth||Rolls 865-77||1,661,595 - 607|
|Cherokee||Five Civilized Tribes Agency Muskogee, 1914-60||Fort Worth||-||-|
|Cherokee, North Carolina||Cherokee Indian Agency, 1886-1952||Atlanta||-||-|
|Cherokee Eastern||Cherokee Indian Agency, 1886-1952||Atlanta||-||-|
The year link (year of the treaty) will connect to an online copy of the treaty.
During the latter part of the 18th Century and most of the 19th Century, treaties were negotiated between the federal government and individual Indian tribes. The treaties provide helpful information about the history of the tribe, but usually only include the names of those persons who signed the treaty. For more information about treaties, click here.
Treaties to which the Cherokee Indians were a part were:
- 1785 November 28, at Hopewell.
- November 28, 1785, referred to
- 1791July 2, on Holston River
- 1794 June 26, at Philadelphia
- 1798 October 2, at Tellico
- 1804 October 24,at Tellico
- 1805 October 25, at Tellico
- 1805 October 27, at Tellico
- 1806January 7, at Washington
- September 11, 1807,
- August 9, 1814, referred to
- 1816 March 22, at Washington
- 1816 September 14, at Chickasaw Council House
- 1817 July 8, at Cherokee Agency
- 1819 February 27, at Washington
- 1828 May 6, at Washington, Western Cherokee
- 1833 February 14, at Fort Gibson
- 1835 March 14, unratified
- 1835 August 24, at Camp Holmes
- 1835 December 29, at New Echota
- March 1, 1836, supplementary
- 1846 August 6, at Washington, with Western Cherokee
- September 13, 1865, at Fort Smith - unratified
- 1866 July 19, at Washington
- 1868 April 27,Western Band Treaties
- May 6, 1828, at Washington
- February 14, 1833,
Prior to the Indian Reorganization Act, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, through their agencies, may have recorded some vital events. Some were recorded on health forms, such as the "Sanitary Record of Sick, Injured, Births, Deaths, etc." Others were recorded as supplements to the "Indian Census Rolls." Some were included in the unindexed reports and other correspondence of the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
Some vital records for the Cherokee Indians include:
- Marriage Records for the Cherokee Indian in Delaware District, 1867-1898 Oklahoma Historical Society. Indian Archives Division. FHL film 1666325 item 1first of four films
- Marriage records for Cooweescoowee District, 1867-1898. Oklahoma Historical Society. Indian Archives Division FHL film 1666317
- Marriages for Flint District, 1874-1895. Oklahoma Historical Society. Indian Archives Division. FHL film 1666331 item 3 and item 8
- Marriages for Going Snake District, 1880-1898 FHL film 1666332
- Marriage Records for Illinois District, 1868-1898 FHL film 1666334
- Marriage Records for the Saline District of the Cherokee Nation, 1868-1894. Oklahoma Historical Society. Indian Archives Division. FHL film 1666337 Item 1 and 2
- Marriage licenses and marks and brands for Sequoyah District in the Cherokee District, 1874-1898 FHL film 1666339
- Marriage records for Tahlelquah District in the Cherokee Nation, 1892-1897. Oklahoma Historical Society, Indian Archives Division. FHL Collection
Indian Pioneer Papers
In 1936, the Oklahoma Historical Society and University of Oklahoma requested a writer's project grant from the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in which interviews would be conducted with early settlers in Oklahoma who had lived on Indian land. More than 100 writers conducted over 11,000 interviews and were asked to "call upon early settlers and (record) the story of the migration to Oklahoma and their early life here."  The University of Oklahoma Western History Collection has digitized the Indian Pioneer Papers which consists of approximately 80,000 indexed entries arranged alphabetically by personal name, place name, or subject.  An index to the Indian Pioneer Papers may also be found at OKGenWeb Oklahoma Genealogy. A separate index of Indians interviewed, including the Cherokee, may be viewed at: “Indians in the Indian Pioneer Papers” Some of the surnames from the Cherokee tribe found in the collection are: Adair (Rider), Anderson, Beaver, Brewer, Bohanan, Burch (Choate), Campbell, Candy, Chambers (Ketcher), Coodey, Crutchfield (Lane), Daniels (Cummins), Daughtery (Morris), Drew, Dugan, Duncan, Harlan (James), Keys (Porter), Ketcher (Langley), Langley, Lynch, Marcham, McClure (Keith), Miller (Watts), Morris, Phillips (Keith), Rider (Howland), Ross, Rutherford (Rider), Starr, Vann, West (Spring). Family History Library microfiche number: 6,016,865 (first fiche number)
Family History Library
The FamilySearch Catalog has over 1670 records of interest to the Cherokee Indians
The following is a Family History Library book which is an ebook and may be downloaded.
- Constitution of the Cherokee Nation
- Official Web Site of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma
- All Things Cherokee website-- a largely commercial website with a free message board and some free information about Cherokee research and records.
- Cherokee Native Americans http://cherokeenativeamericans.blogspot.com
- Cherokee Nation Indian Territory Research
For Further Reading
For background information to help find American Indian ancestors see For Further Reading.
- Eastern Cherokee or Guion Miller Roll
- The U.S. Eastern Cherokee or Guion Miller Roll
- Dawes Commission Enrollment Records
- Dawes Commission Enrollment Records for Five U.S. Indian Tribes
- American Indian Enrollment Records
- Blackburn, Bob L. "Battle Cry for History: The First Century of the Oklahoma Historical Society." n.d. Oklahoma Historical Society. 5 Oct. 1998.
- The University of Oklahoma Western History Collections http://digital.libraries.ou.edu/whc/pioneer/