I am praising the Choctaws and Chickasaws this morning. They were certainly great record keepers and I am thankful to be able to use so many of their early legal documents.
One of the things to keep in mind when doing Native American research in Oklahoma is that there were rules and deadlines for enrollment in the Five Civilized Tribes. People were often denied enrollment because they applied after the deadline, were born or married too late to qualify, weren’t living in the Nation at the correct time, or did not have the required direct connection to a tribal member.
My research into Choctaw slaves has shown me that many of them were unaware of these rules and deadlines. Others seemed to go to great lengths to deny understanding them. I’m not sure if they genuinely did not have any concept of years or knowledge of the war or who was president, or if they knew their answers would make their application null and void. Most of us can remember bits and pieces of our childhood, yet some of these applicants claimed to “not recall” where they lived after they were married.
I am happy to have these statements to add to the story of the Fields family.
Sworn before Charles E. McPherren, Notary Public
June 8, 1900
(Note: McDonnell is spelled four different ways within these two statements. I chose one for consistency. In later documents it is McDonald.)
Personally appeared David McCoy before me, the undersigned authority, and after being duly sworn according to Law, makes the following statement:
“My name is David McCoy, my post office is Boggy Deport, Indian Territory, my age is about 100 years. I came to the Choctaw Nation from Mississippi as a slave of Choctaw Indians, formerly held in slavery by one James McCoy, a Choctaw Indian. I was married to Emily McCoy before the war. And that Emily McCoy who was also a slave woman and belonged to George Clark McCoy, had three children born to us- 1 girl by the name of Ellen and the other by the name of Johanna, and one boy the name of Sam. I will state Johanna’s last husband was Andy McDonnell and that Johanna McDonnell, who is now applicant for enrollment, is my daughter, and the daughter of Emily Fields, who was Emily McCoy, and that her descendants are the descendants of ex slaves of the Choctaw. The following children are Johanna McDonnell’s- Eveline Bryant, Robert Lee Townser, Viney McDonnell, Lulu McDonnell, Lener McDonnell, Pearlee McDonnell, Fannie McDonnell, Cleveland McDonnell. That I make this statement from my own personal knowledge and justice.
Signed with the mark of David McCoy, witnessed by Henry Byrnster
Personally appeared Emily Fields before me, the undersigned authority and after being duly sworn according to law states:
My name is Emily Fields, my post office is Caddo, I. T. My age is about 90 years. I am a freedwoman. I was formerly owned by George Clark McCoy, a Choctaw Indian. I was married to David McCoy who was a freedman belong to James McCoy and there was three children born to us. One name Ellen and Johanna, and Sam McCoy and that Johanna McDonnell and her children who are an applicant for enrollment as freedmen are the daughter of myself and David McCoy; and that Johann McDonnell is descendant of ex slave and these her children: Evilene Bryant, Robert Lee Townser, Viney McDonnell, Lulu McDonnell, Lener McDonnell, Pearlee McDonnell, Fannie McDonnell, Cleveland McDonnell. I make this statement from my own personal knowledge and to the best of my belief.
Signed with the mark of Emily Fields. (Does not list a witness, but more than likely was the same Henry Byrnster as above.)
Statement of Peter Maytubby, member of the Chickasaw Citizenship Commission, June 11, 1900 says that he knew Clark “Doc” McCoy, and the slave, Emily. Stated that the McCoys sold their slaves to partners William Spring and John Cothlin from Texas. (Did not state when.)
This photo is in the museum at Caddo and is labeled "Saralee McDonald- Czerny's (Bilbo) nurse". Since this is typed, making it a modern label, I believe it may be an error. I think my research will show that it is Pearlee McDonald. Mrs. Bilbo was a McCoy. After the death of both of Mrs. Bilbo's children, Miss McDonald went to work for the Burch family.