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Decision Rendered in James M. Buckholts, et al

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Office Of The Secretary,
Washington, I). C., February 24, 1904

The Commission to the Five Civilized Tribes,
Muscogee, Ind. T.

GENTLEMEN: There is enclosed herewith a copy of an opinion of the Assistant Attorney-General for this Department of February 18, 11)01, in the matter of the application for the enrollment of James M. Buckholts, Rebecca Buckholts, and Alice Dwight, formerly Buckholts, which opinion has been approved by the Department.

In accordance therewith your decision in favor of the applicants is hereby affirmed.

A copy of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs letter of December 1, 1903, submitting the case, is enclosed. Respectfully,

Thos Ryan, Acting Secretary

Office Of The Assistant Attorney-General

Washington, D. C., February 18, 1904

The Secretary of the Interior

SIR: I am in receipt, by reference of the Acting Secretary, December 5, 1903, of the papers, for my opinion, in the case of James 51. Buckholts and his children, Rebecca Buckholts and Allie Dwight (nee Buckholts), applicants for enrollment as citizens by blood of the Choctaw Nation.

The Commission to the Five Civilized Tribes found that

James M. Buckholts is the son of William Buckholts, a citizen of the Choctaw Nation, who was admitted as such by a judgment of the supreme court of the Choctaw Nation, rendered in October, 1872 (certified copy attached), and Matilda Buckholts (deceased) a noncitizen, and that applicants, Rebecca Buckholts and Allie Dwight, are the issue of the marriage of the said James M. Buckholts and Jennetta Buckholts (nee Ferryman), a noncitizen white woman.

James M. Buckholts (as James Buckholts), Rebecca Buckholts, and Allie Dwight (as Alice Buckholts) are identified on the 1893 Choctaw leased district pay roll, Blue County, as citizens by blood of the Choctaw Nation also identified on the 1896 Choctaw census roll, as citizens by blood of said nation.

All of the applicants herein were residents in good faith of Indian Territory on June 28, 1898

The Choctaw Nation, through its attorneys, has protested against the enrollment of the applicants herein on the ground that the name of the principal applicant, James M. Buckholts, was not included in the judgment of the Choctaw supreme court admitting his father, although the said James M. Buckholts was living at that time; that therefore the applicants herein can acquire no rights to Choctaw citizenship by virtue of the admission of the said William Buckholts.

Reciting the Choctaw act of March 20, 1872, vesting the judges of the Choc taw supreme court with jurisdiction to admit claimants to citizenship, the Commission further found that

The applicants herein contend that their ancestor, William Buckholts, applied under this act to the supreme judges of the Choctaw Nation to have his citizenship rights determined ; that the said William Buckholts attempted to include the names of” his descendants in his application, but was informed by the chief justice that this was unnecessary, and that his (William Buckholts s) recognition as a Choctaw by blood carried with it the recognition of his children ; that for this reason, and following the general custom in such cases at that time, the names of his descendants were not included in said application.

The Commission found this contention to be supported by the testimony of the supreme judge presiding at the time of William Buckholts s admission and by the tribal recognition given his descendants on all the rolls of citizens prepared by the nation after that time, and adjudged that

James M. Buckholts, Rebecca Buckholts, and Allie Dwight should be enrolled as citizens by blood of the Choctaw Nation under the provisions of section 21 of the act of Congress approved June 28, 1898 (30 Stat., 495), and it is so ordered.

The evidence further shows that William Buckholts was the son of Betsy Buckles, otherwise known as Elizabeth Buckholts, mentioned by these names in letters of the Indian Office of September 22 and October 7, 1837, a reservee and beneficiary under the fourteenth article of the treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek, who received 41 sections of land in Sumter County, Ala., for herself and nine children, four over and five under 10 years of age. In the fall of 1850 William Buckholts, one of these children, moved from Mississippi to Texas and there resided until 1872, when he removed with his family, taking James M. Buckholts, his son, with him to Indian Territory, where they have ever since resided. James M. Buckholts made his application for enrollment by the Commission prior to December 4, 1900, and some testimony in his case was taken on that day, so that were he not entitled to enrollment as a citizen by virtue of his father s admission in 1872, the record shows him entitled to identification as a Mississippi Choctaw within the strict terms of section 41 of the act of July 1, 1902 (32 Slat., 641-651).

But authority for his enrollment need not, in my opinion, be referred to that section. The effect of the judicial admission of William Buckholts must be determined by the law of the Choctaw Nation and the practice of its courts there under. The act of the Choctaw Nation of March 20, 1872, vested jurisdiction in the supreme court of the nation, during the terms of the court, to take evidence and hear the applications of persons of Choctaw or Chickasaw descent claiming rights and privileges of citizenship. The interpretation of the law by that court and the practice of the court under the act are conclusive upon the nation, not to be changed to the prejudice of those whose cases were adjudged, and who, relying upon such judgment, identified themselves with the nation and have ever since cooperated in its upbuilding and development. It is abundantly proven by other testimony, and by that of the judge presiding at the time of William Buckholts s admission, that he then called to the court’s attention the fact that he had children who with him had moved to the nation and desired a decree in their favor, if such were necessary to be made, and that the chief justice there presiding over the court there sitting announced that such was the effect of the decree made. The supreme court certainly had jurisdiction to construe and announce the effect and force of its decree and to conclude the Choctaw Nation by such interpretation of its law.

I am therefore of opinion that the Commission to the Five Civilized Tribes properly admitted the applicants to enrollment, and that its action in that respect should be approved, and that the protest of the Choctaw Nation should be overruled.

Very respectfully,
Frank L. Campbell,
Assistant Attorney-General.

Approved February 18, 11)04.

E. A. Hitchcock, Secretary

Office Of Indian Affairs, Washington, D. C.

December 1, 1903

The honorable the Secretary of the Interior

SIR : I have the honor to submit for your consideration record of the Com mission to the Five Civilized Tribes in the matter of the application for enrollment as citizens by blood of the Choctaw Nation of James M. Buckholts, Rebecca Buckholts, and Allie Dwight, where a decision enrolling them was rendered by the Commission on July 20, 1003. It appears from the record in this case that the principal applicant, James M. Buckholts, is the son of William Buckholts, a citizen by blood of the Choctaw Nation, the father having been admitted as such by a judgment of the supreme court of the Choctaw Nation rendered in October, 1872, and Matilda Buckholts, deceased, a noncitizen, and that the applicants Rebecca Buckholts and Allie Dwight are the issue of the marriage of James M. Buck holts and Jeimetta Buckholts, nee Ferryman, a non-citizen white woman.

On an examination of the tribal rolls of the Choctaw Nation in the possession of the Commission it is set out in the record that the names of James M. Buckholts as James Buckholts, Rebecca as Rebaeca Buckholts, and Allie Dwight as Alice Buckholts are identified on the 1893 Choctaw leased district pay roll, Blue County, page 13, Nos. 139, 140, and 141, respectively, enrolled as citizens by blood of the Choctaw Nation. The names of James M. Buckholts as J. M. Buckholts, Rebecca Buckholts, and Allie Dwight as Allie Buckholts are also identified on the 1896 Choctaw census roll, Nos. 1536, 1537, and 1538, respectively, enrolled as citizens by blood of said nation. It further appears from the census card records of the Commission that all of the applicants herein were residents in good faith of Indian Territory on June 28, 1898, all applicants listed for enrollment on census cards of 1899 having been first examined as to such fact, although their testimony was not reduced to writing. It is shown by the testimony of William Buckholts that he is the son of Betsey Buckles, a beneficiary” under the fourteenth article of the Choctaw treaty of 1830, it being his contention that she received 4¼ sections of land in Sumter County, Ala., in behalf of herself and four children over 5 and under 10. He explains the difference in names arising through the fact that there was another person of the name of Buckles living in the neighborhood where he resided and the misunderstanding arising from the similarity of the names resulted in his being called Buckholts. He was 84 years of age in January, 1902. Having been admitted to citizenship in the Choctaw Nation in 1872, immediately succeeding his arrival there from Texas, where he had previously resided, his admission was based on proof of his Choctaw blood derived through Betsey Buckles, his mother.

The records of this office show that Betsey Buckles received, for herself and three children over 5 and under 10, 3¾ sections of land, described as follows: The north fractional half section 15, the northeast and southwest quarters section 10, the east half section 3, all of section 2, all in township 17 north, range 1 west, and all section 34 and the southwest quarter of section 35, both in township 18 north, range 1 west, Sumter County, Ala. The witness says a patent was received by his mother for this land; a patent was, in fact, issued to her for the land.

The Choctaw Nation, through its attorneys, has protested against the enrollment of the applicants herein, on the ground that the name of the principal applicant, James M. Buckholts, was not included in the judgment of the Choctaw supreme court admitting his father, William Buckholts, to citizenship in the nation, although James M. Buckholts was living at that time; that therefore the applicants herein can acquire no right to Choctaw citizenship by virtue of the admission of William Buckholts, and that none of the applicants has ever been admitted to Choctaw citizenship by the legally constituted authorities of the nation. The Commission sets out the act of the Choctaw Nation, dated March 20, 1872, authorizing the supreme judges to take evidence through the terms of the supreme court of all persons claiming to be of Choctaw or Chickasaw descent. The applicants contend that their ancestor, William Buckholts, applied under this act to the supreme judges of the Choctaw Nation to have his citizenship rights determined ; that William Buckholts offered to include the names of his descendants in his application, but was informed by the chief justice that this was unnecessary, and that his (William Buckholts s) recognition as a Choctaw by blood carried with it the recognition of his children ; that for this reason, and following the general custom in such cases at that time, the names of his descendants were not included in said application.

The contention of the applicants is supported by the deposition of Judge J. Everidge, one of the supreme judges of the Choctaw Nation at the time of the admission of the said William Buckholts ; by the testimony of James S. Standley, Joseph R. Plummer, Alinton Telle, Judge Simon E. Lewis, and William Buckholts, all representative citizens of the Choctaw Nation. These witnesses sup ported the contention that at the time of the admission of William Buckholts he was told by the chief justice of the supreme court that it was not necessary that he should include in the application the names of his descendants, since his enrollment would carry with it theirs, and also that this was the custom with reference to admitting citizens by the supreme court at that time and for years subsequent. Their testimony also sustained the contention of tribal recognition given descendants of William Buckholts, and this is further supported by the fact that the names of these persons appear on the rolls of citizens of the Choctaw Nation prepared since the date of the act of admission referred to.

The Commission therefore were of the opinion that the contention of the applicants herein had been established, and that, therefore, James M. Buck-holts, Rebecca Buckholts, and Allie Dwight should be enrolled as citizens by blood of the Choctaw Nation under the provisions of section 21 of the act of Congress approved June 28, 1898 (30 Stat. L., 495), and it is so ordered.

On September 17 the Department transmitted to this office (I. T. D., 7131, 7959-1903) letter of Messrs. Mansfield, McMurray & Cornish, counsel for the Choctaw and Chickasaw nations, calling attention to the fact that the applicants in this case are related to the applicants in the cases of J. M. Humans et al. and Anna Smith et al. r. Choctaw and Chickasaw nations now pending before the Choctaw and Chickasaw citizenship court, and claim the same blood, family relationship, ancestry, and source of right as a foundation for their respective claims. The authorities, by reason of the relationship, similarity of blood ancestry, and source of right between the applicants in this case and the applicants in the case last above referred to, protested against the enrollment of these persons at this time.

On October 13 the Department transmitted to this office letter of Messrs. Mansfield, McMurray & Cornish, by letter I. T. D. S30JM903, requesting that no action be taken in this case upon their protest and brief or otherwise until a general request with reference to this same class of cases is received and passed upon by the Department. The office is also in receipt of letter of Hon. John II. Stephens, of the 28th ultimo, asking that the Buckholts case be transmitted to the Department for consideration.

The Department has determined (November 18, I. T. D. 7022-1903) that cases now pending before the Department or the Commission involving persons. who were admitted by action of the national authorities of the Choctaw Nation whose ancestry is the same as other persons whose cases are pending before the Choctaw and Chickasaw citizenship court will not at present be disposed of, but the action so taken by the Department was not of such character as to preclude the taking up of cases having special features.

The Choctaw and Chickasaw citizenship court was not established for the purpose of determining the right of persons whose names appear on the Choc taw citizenship rolls by action of the national authorities. It has no jurisdiction over that class of cases. The Commission to the Five Civilized Tribes was vested with authority to investigate all that class of enrollments and has per formed its work in connection with the case now submitted. It appears from the testimony in this case that the immediate ancestor of these applicants, who is still living and testified in the case, was regularly enrolled by the Choctaw supreme court in 1872 under a showing of Choctaw ancestry which was entirely satisfactory to the court. It is also shown in the record that William Buckholts at that time offered to include the names of his children in his application, but was advised that it was not necessary. As throwing light on the views of the authorities at that time, the Choctaw Nation has ever since, until within the last year, recognized and conceded the citizenship of these applicants as vested in them by reason of the admission of William Buckholts, through their names having been placed upon the tribal rolls, apparently without objection.

These parties are holding lands in the Choctaw Nation upon which they wish to file as their allotments, but until their case is determined by the Department they will not be permitted to file by the Commission. Until a short time ago they were subject to having other citizens of the Choctaw Nation, of whose citizenship there was no question, file upon their lands, but I presume since the instructions issued by the Department very recently relative to that matter the Commission is not continuing to allow filings upon lands so situated; but in any event any delay in the case is a source of great embarrassment to the applicants, and no adequate cause is shown why their case should be further suspended. The Department has already announced that it will not be bound by any judgment entered by the Choctaw and Chickasaw citizenship court in this class of cases, and I am therefore of the opinion that in this case at least there is no good reason for further delay, and therefore recommend that the action of the Commission in enrolling these applicants be approved.

Relative to the question of the rights of children to enrollment by reason of the admission of their parents, a question which is involved in this case, permit me to invite the attention of the Department to its decision of May 15, 1903 (I. T. D. 34190-1903), in the case of the application of Florence L. Davenport for the enrollment of her infant daughter, Ida Myrtle Davenport, as a citizen of the Choctaw Nation; to its decision of January 24, 1903 (I. T. D. 7989-1902), in the case of Pruea L. Rowland for the enrollment of herself, her son, Ed. Riley, and wards, Thomas and Susan A. Riley, as citizens by blood of the Cherokee Nation, and to its decision of February 2, 1903 (I. T. D. 844-1903), in the matter of the application of David J. Matthews for the enrollment of himself as a citizen by intermarriage of the Cherokee Nation and for the enrollment of his wife, Addie Matthews, and their children, Mary L., William L., Joseph T., and Jessie M. Matthews, as citizens by blood of the Cherokee Nation.

Very respectfully,
W. A. Jones, Commissioner

 


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