HELP WITH OKLAHOMA RESEARCH
August 21, 2011
A few years ago when I was actively researching Oklahoma records I found my search was blocked by insufficient accessibility leaving me flustered. A records clerk was allowed to search, but not the researcher. As any of you who have conducted vital records searches, that policy usually is unacceptable. Later on, I just ordered by mail, as I had done in other states. I ordered the older birth and death records and enclosed a check for the search fee and a self-addressed and stamped envelope. If a record was not found, the clerk notified me and of course kept my money, a practice that is most frustrating.
Even though some Oklahoma areas were not supposed to have white settlers at that time, there were a few. Five of those were mine.
The marriage records I sought for Oklahoma Territory prior to statehood were not in Oklahoma City. I traveled downstate to yet another county repository, namely Cleveland. There the clerk had me sit in a chair with my back to her as she found the record and read it to me. She was able to read the record and give me most of the information I asked for. As I have told my genealogy students for years, “Genealogists should be proud of whatever they can get their hands on.”
Finally, Oklahoma grew up and out of the ‘dark ages.’ Now, most of the records are online and available to search using an index. I’ve just Googled several counties that I once long ago searched with difficulty and found most are online and accessible for free.
Cleveland County has a nice website. It found the records I knew were there and asked me to click to view the two records. Simple. Not. I was transferred to Archives.com that is free for seven days but not afterwards. That is good and bad. Viewing is free for the short term but if the researcher fails to cancel the ‘membership’ before the end of the seven days, your credit card will be charged.
A further search did not disappoint me. The user-friendly site broken down by counties called TravelOK.com/genealogy provided a wealth of information to someone beginning his or her search of the state. It has tips and such that only a seasoned researcher would know. It has information on the territories, statehood, American Indian tribes, pioneer settlers and the migration during the period of the Dust Bowl. It guides the user to repositories of the Dawes Rolls, courthouses with original land patents to cemeteries and historical societies.
Oklahoma researchers please use www.travelOK.com/genealogy to begin or to continue your research of the state. I wish that had been around when I was hunting ancestors in Oklahoma. Of course, back then the Internet and PCs had not made their debut.
DROUGHT REVEALS CEMETERY IN RICHLAND CHAMBERS LAKE: The long lost slave cemetery was first unearthed by the drought in 2009 but our current drought has revealed it once again. Bruce McManus, chair of the Navarro County Historical Commission, told WFAA-TV the commission has been searching for these lost cemeteries for a long time. It is thought to contain remains of freed slaves after the Civil War.
Archeologists always comb the area prior to the building of lakes. Richland Chambers Reservoir was built in the 1980s. The U.S. Corps of Engineers posts the results on their website. This cemetery with unmarked graves was not found until the drought exposed this piece of American History.
The remains will be removed to another site. Read more on this subject at http://abcnews.go.com/US/texas-drought-unearths-long-lost-slave-cemetery/story?id=14232904.
Brenda Kellow has a bachelor's degree in history, teaches, and lectures on genealogy. Before retiring to publish her family’s histories in 2007, Brenda held certification as a Certified Genealogist and as a Certified Genealogical Instructor. Send reunion announcements, books to review, and genealogy queries to: TracingOurRoots@gmail.com.