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Mississippi Choctaw Application-Testimony of Samuel G. Bittick and Others

[See: "Research Breakthrough", Melson Family; found in the National Archives, Washington D. C., by Tom Milson; The Gems, Volume 6 No. 4, Fall 1996 & Volume 8, No. 2, Spring 1997.]



The following information is extracted from records of the Commission to the Five Civilized Tribes formed in 1893 by the U.S. government to exchange lands of the five tribes for individual land allotments in Indian Territory, now Oklahoma. It is from Application File MCR 206 for Samuel G. Bittick et. al. MCR stands for Mississippi Choctaw Rejected. This claim, based on the 14th Article of the Treaty of 1830 also known as the Teaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek, was rejected because there was no proof to show they qualified under Article 14.

MCR 206

Samuel G. Bittick et. al.

This case contained the original application and testimony of Mary Ann Bittick. In the final decision of the commission consolidating all the cases of this family it says this about the her application

"The next in order of the above applications is that of Mary Ann Bittick and the record therein shows that on September 21, 1898 said Mary Ann Bittick appeared before the Commission at Ardmore, Indian Territory, and there made personal application for the identification of herself as a Mississippi Choctaw claiming to be a descendant of Choctaw Indians who resided in the state of Mississippi in 1830 and took advantage of the provisions of article fourteen of the treaty made between the United States government and the Choctaw tribe of Indians concluded September 27, 1830 ... She claims descent from Rosa Ann Ballew an alleged one quarter blood Choctaw woman who married James Green (Guinn) Melson, a white man, and who are the parents of this applicant ... By the oral statement of the applicant it is attempted to be shown that she was born in the state of Mississippi ... She does not state how much Choctaw blood she is possessed of but states that her mother was a one quarter blood Choctaw. She attempts to trace her alledged Choctaw descent from her mother to her grandmother Sarah Jones and her great grandfather Tom Jones who she alleged was a full blood Choctaw Indian ... The records of the Commission show that the applicant herein Mary Ann Bittick died on November 15, 1898."

Samuel G. Bittick appeared before the Commission at Colbert, Indian Territory, now Oklahoma, on June 12, 1900 and made personal application for the identification of himself and his three minor children. Samuel G. Bittick being first duly sworn by Acting Chairman Bixby testified, as follows:


QUESTION: What is your name?

ANSWER: Samuel G. Bittick.


QUESTION: What is your age?

ANSWER: 52 years.

He indicates his postoffice address as Ryan, Indian Territory and previously lived at Henretta (sp), Texas and was born in Arkansas.


QUESTION: What is the name of your father?

ANSWER: Francis Bittick.


QUESTION: What is the name of your mother?

ANSWER: Nancy A. Bittick.

He submits correction of mother's name Mary Ann Bittick to the commission on October 30, 1900.


QUESTION: What was her name before she was married?

ANSWER: Melson.


QUESTION: Did you ever know your grandmother Melson?

ANSWER: I was very small when she died. I remember seeing her.


QUESTION: Do you remember your uncle Melson, your mother's brother?

ANSWER: Yes, I remember him very well.


QUESTION: Is he living or dead?



QUESTION: When did you first learn or hear from your mother that she claimed to be part Choctaw Indian?

ANSWER: Ever since I can remember. Some forty years ago probably.


QUESTION: Did your uncle Melson make the same claim? Your uncle Sol. Melson?

ANSWER: I was too small to remember.


QUESTION: Do you desire the testimony of your mother Mary A. Bittick that was taken before the Commission at Ardmore on September 1898 to be considered as a part of your testimony?



Samuel G. Bittick appeared again before the Commission at Muskogee, Indian Territory on December 20, 1901 offering additional testimony. Samuel G. Bittick having been first duly sworn, upon his oath testifies, as follows:


QUESTION: What is your name?

ANSWER: Samuel G. Bittick.


QUESTION: What is your age?

ANSWER: I was fifty four last September.

Samuel G. Bittick indicates his post office address as Ryan, Chickasaw Nation, Indian Territory and was born in Arkansas. He says he moved to the Chickasaw Nation in 1898 and to Ryan he "thinks" in October 1898. He indicates he is the same Samuel G. Bittick who appeared before the Commission on June 12, 1900 at Colbert.


QUESTION: What is the name of your father?

ANSWER: Francis Bittick.


QUESTION: What is the name of your mother?

ANSWER: Mary Ann Bittick.


QUESTION: Through which one of your parents do you claim your Choctaw blood?

ANSWER: My mother.


QUESTION: Is your mother living?

ANSWER: No sir, she is dead.


QUESTION: When did she die?

ANSWER: She died in November, 1898.


QUESTION: How old was your mother when she died?

ANSWER: To the best of my information, to the best of her information, she was eighty nine.


QUESTION: Where was your mother born?

ANSWER: She always claimed to have been born in Mississippi within seven miles of Natches.


QUESTION: If your mother was eighty nine years old when she died she would have been born about 1812?

ANSWER: No sir, she would have been born about the year 1809. Perhaps I had better explain about her age. I stated that, that was the best information that I had and the best information that she had. The record sent us by my uncle Sol. Melson, a record of my mother's age, made out her mother to be about twelve years older than my mother, but I never did think that was correct for the reason that her mother was evidently more than twelve years older than her. But it showed there might be some mistake about her exact age.


QUESTION: When and where were your father and mother married?

ANSWER: I don't remember, they were married in Arkansas, but I don't remember the year they were married in.


QUESTION: Whom did your mother get her Choctaw blood from?

ANSWER: Got it from her mother, claimed to have got it from her mother.


QUESTION: What was your grandmother's name? Your mother's mother?

ANSWER: She was named Rosanna Melson, her maiden name was Rosanna Balleu, B-a-l-l-e-u, that is the way I spell it. She married my grandfather and her name was Rosanna Melson after she married.

QUESTION: Through whom did Rosanna Balleu derive her Choctaw blood?

ANSWER: From Sarah Jones who married William Balleu.


QUESTION: Whom did Sarah Jones derive her Choctaw blood from?

ANSWER: My mother said she derived it from Tobe Jones, a full blood Choctaw, or Tom Jones, generally called him Tobe.


QUESTION: Did she (Rosanna Melson, nee Balleu) ever go back to Mississippi after she moved from Mississippi to Arkansas?

ANSWER: I don't know that, if she did, I don't know it.


QUESTION: Did your grandmother, Rosanna Melson, own any land in Mississippi when she moved from there ?

ANSWER: I don't know, but I think she did, that is I think my grandfather owned some land.


QUESTION: Your grandfather, James Green Melson?

ANSWER: His name was James Gwin (Guinn) Melson. I don't know whether he owned land or not, I don't remember about that, don't remember of hearing my mother say whether he owned land or not. It would be guess work on my part, for I don't know for certain about it.


QUESTION: How many brothers and sisters do you have?

ANSWER: I just had one sister and no brothers.


QUESTION: What was her name?

ANSWER: Leona Agnes.


QUESTION: Is she living?

ANSWER: She is dead.


QUESTION: Whom did she marry?

ANSWER: She married a man by name of Williams.


QUESTION: Did they have any children?

ANSWER: They have one living child, John M.B. Williams.


QUESTION: Was Mary A. Bittick the only child of Rosanna Melson?

ANSWER: No sir.


QUESTION: How many brothers and sisters did your mother have?

ANSWER: She had two brothers and some sisters. I don't know how many sisters.


QUESTION: Do you know where they are?

ANSWER: They are all dead.


QUESTION: Have you any co-relatives who have made application for identification as Mississippi Choctaws as descendants of Rosanna Melson?

ANSWER: I have a cousin who tried to make application at Ardmore in 1898 at the time my mother tried to make application. He had General Turner employed and General Turner died, and I don't think he has done anything since.


QUESTION: What was his name?

ANSWER: A Milson, M-i-l-s-o-n.


QUESTION: Milson Bittick?

ANSWER: No, Howard Milson. I don't think he and his children have done anything since. My other cousins I don't know where any of them are. He is the only one that is living near us. He made application but his application was not received. The Commission did not receive his application and did not receive my mother's application, but they both made out their applications and wanted them received and the Commission refused to receive them.


QUESTION: On what ground then do you base your claim for identification as Mississippi Choctaws?

ANSWER: Simply because my ancestors lived and died there.


QUESTION: Irrespective of any compliance on the part of those ancestors with the provisions of the fourteenth article?

ANSWER: I don't know whether they complied or not. But my mother's grandmother (Sarah Balleu or Ballew, nee Jones) lived and died there.


QUESTION: How old were you when you left the state of Arkansas?

ANSWER: My father left there in 1852 and I was born in 1847. I was about four or five years old.


QUESTION: Do you remember ever seeing your grandmother, Rosanna Melson?

ANSWER: Yes, I just can remember seeing her. She was in bed sick and died at my father's house and I wouldn't remember her then except for a little incident. I cut some fringe off her shawl and I remember her raising up in bed and scolding me and that is the only recollection I have of seeing her.


QUESTION: When did you first hear your mother speak of having Choctaw blood in her, being part Choctaw?

ANSWER: I can't tell you the date or the year but as far back as I can remember. I remember it ever since I was a boy about her talking about her Choctaw blood, talking to my father about it when I was growing up and frequently after I got to be a man, off and on ever since I was a boy.


QUESTION: When you were a child and when she was living with your father, did she or not ever desire to go to the territory and assert her claims as a Choctaw?

ANSWER: Yes, I have heard her myself speak to my father a great many times and insisted upon going to the territory and proving up her right and frequently begged him to do so.


QUESTION: Would he or not consent to that?

ANSWER: No sir, he always treated the matter lightly and didn't want to go to the territory.

QUESTION: Did you ever know any of your mother's brothers?

ANSWER: I know Sol. Melson my mother's brother. I knew him. I was at his house when I was sixteen or seventeen years old. That was the only time I ever remember now of seeing him.


QUESTION: Where was he living at that time?

ANSWER: He was living in Arkansas.


QUESTION: Did you ever carry on any correspondence with him after you grew up and became a grown man?

ANSWER: Yes, he wrote to me several times.


QUESTION: How did you receive the letters?

ANSWER: I got them through the mail.


QUESTION: Do you know what became of those letters?

ANSWER: I saved some of them a long while. When I went to Henrietta I think had three or four letters and my office got burned and they went with it.


QUESTION: Is he living or dead?

ANSWER: He is dead.


QUESTION: Do you remember about when he died?

ANSWER: No sir, I don't remember when now, it has been a good long while ago.


QUESTION: During his lifetime and in this correspondence to you and with you did he or not assert any claims as a Choctaw Indian?

ANSWER: Yes, he wrote me several letters and wanted me to take steps to establish our right in the territory claiming that we were Choctaws and I remember that he stated in his letter(s) that we got the blood from the Jones family, that his grandmother was a Jones, that was the history.



QUESTION: What history did he speak of at that time of the Choctaw blood in the family?

ANSWER: I don't remember now the particulars but I remember very distinctly about his saying that we got it from the Jones family, that his grandmother was a Jones.


QUESTION: Do you not know whether your mother during her lifetime was recognized in the community in which she lived as being of Choctaw Indian blood?

ANSWER: I think she was, that was my impression, because she talked about it a great deal, and talked to her neighbors about it. And she was always trying to hunt up the Jones that came into the community and see if they were part Indian. I have heard that among a great many of our neighbors.


QUESTION: Was it not a part of the history of your family that she was one eighth Choctaw Indian?

ANSWER: Yes, traditional history.


QUESTION: How do you get your information as to the person from whom her Indian blood was derived?

ANSWER: I get it from her, and I got the information about her grandmother from my uncle Sol. Melson and I have heard one of my cousins say that his grandmother and my grandmother, he had heard talk about it lots of times.


QUESTION: Is that name Rosanna or Rosa Ann?

ANSWER: It is Rosanna.


QUESTION: That is one name?

ANSWER: Yes sir, one name.


QUESTION: From whom did you derive your information relative to your mother's uncle Sol Jones?

ANSWER: I have heard my mother talk about him. Sol. Jones was my great uncle. I have just heard her speak about him staying all night with them.


QUESTION: What did she say about his Indian blood?

ANSWER: She said he was Indian, part Indian. She claimed her grandmother was half Indian and Sol Jones was half Indian, he was her brother.


QUESTION: Do you know who Solomon Melson was named for?

ANSWER: I was under the impression he was named for Solomon Jones, his uncle.


QUESTION: Was that Solomon Jones the Sol. Jones your mother said was part Indian?

ANSWER: Yes sir, he was half breed Indian.


QUESTION: Was this Tobe Jones you speak of, has he ever been known in the family by any other name?

ANSWER: Mother said his right name was Tom Jones, but he was known by the name of Tobe. I have heard her speak about that being a nickname.


QUESTION: Did she testify before the Commission prior to her death at Ardmore?

ANSWER: Yes sir.


QUESTION: She was the same Mary A. Bittick whose testimony is on file in this case?

ANSWER: Yes sir, the same Mary A. Bittick.





J. B. Snellgrove was called as a witness on behalf of Samuel G. Bittick et. al. and having been first duly sworn upon his oath testifies as follows:


QUESTION: What is your name?

ANSWER: J. S. Snellgrove.

He says he lives in the Choctaw nation and his post office address is Colgate and he is fifty-three years old born in Arkansas.

QUESTION: Are you acquainted with Dr. S.G. Bittick the principal applicant in this case?

ANSWER: Yes sir.


QUESTION: Did you know the Bittick and Melson families in Arkansas?

ANSWER: Yes, I knew the Melsons and also the Bitticks. I was well acquainted with Solomon Melson and also his brother that got drowned, Wash Melson.


QUESTION: When did you first know them?

ANSWER: I knowed them when I was nothing but a boy and I knowed them until 1877 when I left Arkansas. I left Solomon Melson there.


QUESTION: Did you know Mary A. Bittick after you came to Texas and after she moved to the territory?

ANSWER: Yes sir, I met her several times.


QUESTION: Do you know about the resemblance between her and the Melson family?

ANSWER: As well as I can recollect they are resembled pretty near alike.


QUESTION: Do you know what she claimed in her lifetime?

ANSWER: She claimed Choctaw until she died. The last I seen her she was still claiming Choctaw.


QUESTION: Do you know where it was generally understood that this family came from to Arkansas?

ANSWER: It was understood there that they came from Mississippi. That was my understanding clear on up to 1877 when I left there.





Nettie Sinclair was called as a witness on behalf of Samuel G. Bittick et. al. and having been first duly sworn, upon her oath testifies as follows:


QUESTION: What is your name?

ANSWER: Nettie Sinclair.

She indicates her post office address as Ryan, Indian Territory and is forty nine years old next May. She previously lived at Austin, Texas and was born in Texas.


QUESTION: When did you first become acquainted with Dr. Bittick's family?

ANSWER: In 1870 or 1872.


QUESTION: Where were they living at that time?

ANSWER: They were living in what is Delta county now, it was Hopkins county then.


QUESTION: Did you know Mary A. Bittick?

ANSWER: Yes, everybody called her Aunt Polly.


QUESTION: How far did she live from you?

ANSWER: About half a mile.


QUESTION: What relation did she sustain to Dr. S.G. Bittick?

ANSWER: She was his mother.


QUESTION: Do you know whether or not she claimed to have any Indian blood in her?

ANSWER: Yes sir, everybody said she did.


QUESTION: When did you first know that she claimed to be part Choctaw Indian or part Indian?

ANSWER: As a general thing I used to hate the Indians worse than anything in the world. The Indians killed my daddy. And when I first married to John Sinclair I went to my father-in-law's house and she, my mother-in-law, told me not to be talking about the Indians that way because Aunt Polly was a good old woman but that she was part Choctaw Indian.


QUESTION: When was that?

ANSWER: That was in 1872.


QUESTION: Did you ever ask her about it?

ANSWER: Yes, one day when my baby was little I was at old man Sinclair's house and Aunt Polly was there, and I always looked on her that I didn't like her. And I remember very distinctly because she was sitting there and so friendly, and I had my baby in my lap and I thought I would ask her, and I said: "Aunt Polly, are you sure enough an Indian?" And she said "Yes, I am Choctaw, part."


QUESTION: How long did you know her?

ANSWER: I knew her about eight or ten years.


QUESTION: Where was she living at that time.

ANSWER: It was Hopkins County then, but I knew her too after that got to be Delta County.


QUESTION: During all that time was she or not recognized in the community where she lived as being part Choctaw Indian?

ANSWER: Everybody said she was.


QUESTION: Did she or not claim to be?

ANSWER: She said she was, told me she was, for I asked her.


QUESTION: Do you remember whether she ever said anything about going to the Nation and claiming her right or not?

ANSWER: I remember one time she was talking to old lady Sinclair and she said if she could get Frank (Francis Bittick her husband) to leave there she would go to the nation and prove up and get a heap better land than that and in a heap healthier country.



QUESTION: When was that?

ANSWER: That was when people first said there was coal here, I don't remember when it was.


QUESTION: Do you remember her general appearance?

ANSWER: Yes sir, she was a great big raw-boned dark looking woman.


QUESTION: What was the color of her hair?

ANSWER: Just as black as could be, black eyes.


QUESTION: Did she show any traces of Indian blood in her appearance?

ANSWER: Yes, I know she did, she looked like them and acted like them.


QUESTION: Do you know where she came from?

ANSWER: Yes, I heard her say she came from Mississippi and about the Indians visiting them.


QUESTION: When was that?

ANSWER: In 1872 when she used to be there.


QUESTION: What did she say about the Indians visiting her?

ANSWER: She just said how they did and how they came there.


QUESTION: Did she claim to have any Indian kin folks.

ANSWER: Yes, she said she had some Indian blood folks and she was glad they didn't come to Texas because the people in Texas hated the Indians so bad.


QUESTION: When was that?

ANSWER: In 1872 in Hopkins County when she used to live there by us.



Records of the Commission to the Five Civilized Tribes

MCR 206, Samuel G. Bittick et. al.

National Archives, Washington, D.C.

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