Peeking out from four-foot snow drifts (with the wind still blowing)…

It is impossible to get warm in Utah today or tonight–the snow has stopped falling, the wind just keeps blowing. And I have studied and read all day wrapped in a heating pad and blanket. What did I read?

Rev. Aloysius Plaisance,” The Chickasaw Bluffs Factory and its Removal to the Arkansas River, 1818-1822,” Tennessee Historical Quarterly 11 (Mar 1952): 41-56. Factories were trading houses established by the United States Government as early as 1796 to trade with the Indians.

  1. Tellico to trade with the Cherokees
  2. Colerain, on St. Mary’s River, to trade with the Creeks
  3. Chickasaw Bluffs est. 1802 to trade with the Chickasaw

What interested me were the records, part of Record Group 75, records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs in the National Archives. Here is the inventory of surviving records at the federal level:

__Ledger Accounts, 1803-05
__Indent Book, 1804-1819
__Invoices inward, 1796-1805
__Letters sent, 5 vols, 1807-1820
__Letter received, 1817-1824
__List of goods needed, 1808
__Journals, 1814

American State Papers: Indian Affairs volumes were also cited. Remember that I read the footnotes first and one of the rich elements in reading periodical literature, are the footnotes required for a scholarly article.

You will note in the inventory above that there is no mention of genealogy. And most genealogists ignore business records. Bad idea! On the frontier where formal government is in the hands of an agent or factor, these business records  will name your ancestor if he does business with the trading post–regardless of what his contact is.

Frontier business records can also include private documents as well. The newly established federal government took immediate  control of Native American affairs under the Constitution and supporting authority from Congress. If you want to document your ancestor on the frontier, you will be plunged directly into military or business sources.

Break your losing streak! Plunge in–you just may enjoy the real world in which your ancestor moved, rather than speculation from afar as genealogists write about the family tree in a vacuum. Your favorite genealogist, Arlene Eakle

PS Some of the most informative articles were written years ago by historians and economists you have never heard of. Plaisance’s credentials are given in a footnote at the beginning of his article. Please don’t reject learnings because they carry a date before you were born–remember that these articles are closer by several generations to the time your ancestor lived in Tennessee and moved west across the Mississippi River.




This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.