• Terry Ligon

Trail of Tears, Slave Schedules & Chickasaw Freedmen

Trail of Tears, Slave Schedules & Chickasaw Freedmen

Martin Beasley wrote: “Could make out some names on that list; Sad, so sad that some had perished. Go figure!” I appreciate comments that come from readers because in most cases they make me think deeper about issues concerning the research of Indian Territory Freedmen. This is another case that I immediately took a different position regarding how "sad" the information on the document might be? I take the view we are fortunate as Indian Territory researchers, to have documents like this so readily available. When I look at this document, I see other possibilities! Because we know the enslaver, we can utilize certain information to possibly identify the “slaves” on the emigration roll. Using Jackson KEMP as an example, we may be able to utilize the Chickasaw Freedmen Dawes Roll and the 1860 Arkansas Slave Schedule to identify any of the thirty slaves associated with Jackson KEMP.


Figure 1 M234 Frame #134 Chickasaw Emigration Roll 1842

From the time of the removal; circa 1842 to the enumeration of the slave schedule in 1860, a time frame that would allow us to speculate about someone and their age at the time of the Dawes enrollment that would span the years between 1896-1914. Fortunately, there are about thirty slaves enumerated on the 1860 slave census that fit the profile of people we want to identify. This should allow me to name some of these men and women approximately forty years later when they began to enroll as Chickasaw Freedmen.



There may be two more pieces of information that can help us determine who they are that is part of this document. Logically the first thing to deduce from the schedule is that a sizable portion of the individuals may have the surname of KEMP when they enroll as freedmen. The other aspect of this document may give us a clue to where these individuals eventually resided once they were emancipated in 1866. We know there were only four counties at the time of the 1860 enumeration; Pickens, Panola, Tishomingo and Pontotoc. Tishomingo and Pickens were adjacent to Panola so again we may be able to infer that former slaves of Jackson KEMP may have settled somewhere nearby following their emancipation. With this supporting documentation I feel fairly confident that once I began looking for Freedmen with the surname of KEMP who fit the age range and residency criterion, I would then be able to identify the men and women of Chickasaw emigration roll of the 1840’s. The items I will look for are anyone who survived the Chickasaw Trail of Tears as a slave; they should be from the age of approximately forty six to ninety eight and reside in or near Panola County, Chickasaw Nation.


This is why I love researching this history; there are occasions when an idea or theory pans out and additional information begins to emerge that puts a little meat on the bones. If you look at the 1860 Slave Schedule for Panola County there appears to be approximately six individuals owned by Jackson KEMP. We can speculate if they were also enumerated on the Chickasaw emigration roll back in the 1840’s. One person in my opinion that fits the description, his name was Zack KEMP; Chickasaw Freedman # 1467.


At the tender age of 84 Zack KEMP would have been approximately 28 years old at the time of the Chickasaw removal to Indian Territory. This also means by 1860 Zack was somewhere between 45 – 50 years old. All I have to do now is see if there are any people on the 1860 Arkansas Slave Schedule that fit these parameters.

I would also like to introduce one other individual who may have been on the "Trail of Tears" as a slave of Jackson KEMP, but it will take more research to confirm him. John KEMP was 98 years old when he enrolled in 1898 and lived to the tender age of 102!!! It is unfortunate he doesn't discuss being part of the "removal" in the "summary" of his oral testimony. Ninety-eight-year-old John KEMP does gives pertinent genealogical information that is useful to KEMP researchers. Yes, it is sad some perished during this period but look at how many survived!!! We have an obligation to tell the stories of our ancestors that lived among the Chickasaw Indians so their story is not just a footnote in the history or worse; distorted by the nations that ignore their contributions and toil that helped sustain the Nation before, during and after the removal from their southeastern homes. Our ancestors were vital to their nation as they established their new homes in Indian Territory.


John KEMP'S legacy is the numerous descendants he was able name and preserve in his testimony before the Dawes Commission as a man nearly one hundred years of age. That's nothing to be sad about, it is worth celebrating!








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