William C. Thompson et al vs. Choctaw Nation

1895-1909

 

William Clyde Thompson was born in 1839 near Fort Towson in the Choctaw Nation. His father and family were very much a part of a group of Choctaw Indians residing in east Texas. Several times throughout his life he resided in the Choctaw Nation, while at other times he lived in Mississippi and Texas. During the American Civil War he achieved some degree of fame for his actions at the battle of Shiloh. He was commissioned a Captain in the Confederate Army but was later captured by Union forces. For his valor, he was promoted while in captivity to Lieutenant Colonel. Following the war he served as a judge in Texas and businessman before relocating first to Atoka in the Choctaw Nation and then to Ardmore in the Chickasaw Nation in 1895. He made his final residence at Marlow in the Chickasaw Nation, where he served as one of the towns' founders and one of its first mayors. Along with him were numerous relatives that came to join him from Texas and Mississippi.

When the Congress of the United States decided to open up Indian Territory for white settlement, they decided to allot lands within the tribal domain to the Native peoples. The commission set up to handle this work was the Dawes Commission. From the beginning this commission was fraught with problems in squabbles over jurisdiction with the Choctaw Nation. William was unfortunate enough to get caught up in one of these problem areas. William, along with a number of his other Thompson relatives were initially granted citizenship by the Choctaw Nation, but then turned down by the Dawes Commission. Later when the commission approved, certain elements within the Choctaw Nation opposed their enrollment. For most of the Thompson Choctaws, the cost and stress of seeking enrollment was too much and they returned to Texas where their descendants remain today. A few others did remain, and although they did not get the enrollment they wished for, their descendants inter-married with other Choctaw families in Oklahoma, providing at least a measure of redemption. For William and a die-hard few others, there would be no surrender.

William filed suit in federal court to keep his enrollment. Although his number as listed on the Final Roll of the Choctaw Nation say "stricken from roll" his case went all the way to the United States Supreme Court who ordered that he and other relatives who had remained in Indian Territory be placed upon the Final Roll. This created a supplemental roll of the Choctaw Nation which remains in use till today.

For those Thompson-Choctaws who left due to the costs of pursuing the enrollment, their applications disappeared, which seems like a deliberate attempt to keep them from filing suit as well. In one appeal case of Althea Thompson, she was told that she had never even applied and was therefore ineligible to appeal. In all some forty-two Choctaws were disenfranchised this way.

In response to the treatment that the Thompson-Choctaws received and the attempted denial of citizenship, Frank L. Campbell Assistant United States Attorney General stated in 1906, "This is purely an afterthought, begotten by expediency, when the communal property was about to be divided to the tribal members, with of view to expatriating many members for benefit of others no more meritorious".

In the end William proved to be a leader of the Texas Choctaws, helping many to be able to settle in the Chickasaw Nation and receive an allotment. However, for many others their fate would be like that of their brethren the Jena Choctaws in Louisiana. They too were denied citizenship and were forced to seek federal acknowledgment as a separate group, finally gaining it in 1995.

So today, the Texas Band of Choctaw Indians have changed their direction and are determined to fulfill the goals of such leaders as Martin Luther Thompson, Robert Lee Thompson and William Starr Jones. The goal is the reestablishment of the government to government relationship that was previously enjoyed by our people. In other words to gain back, what the Dawes Commission took away.

The links below are just a small portion of the volumes of paperwork that existed in the William C. Thompson case. It will provide the reader with a glimpse of the headaches that our people went to in securing our blood right, all because of the actions of others. We hope you will enjoy a little information, including some genealogical data from the William C. Thompson et al vs. Choctaw Nation case.

Charles Thompson, Chairman of the Board, Thompson-Choctaws

 

WILLIAM C. THOMPSON ET AL VS. CHOCTAW NATION LINKS

Interior Department Letter of April 29, 1904

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Adverse Letter-no date

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Interior Department Letter of March 3, 1905

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Interior Department Letter of March 10, 1906

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Letter of March 24, 1906 Interior Department to R. O. Kenley Attorney At Law

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Letter of March 24, 1906 Interior Department to W. C. Thompson

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Appendix: Some Descendants of Margaret McCoy Thompson and Ann Jones Mangum BIA Files MCR 341 & 7124

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Interior Department Directive-Supplemental List to the Final Rolls of the Choctaw Nation February 20, 1909

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William Clyde Thompson Choctaw Census Card number 5943, roll number 15995

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Dave McCoy Affidavit of September 2, 1899

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Related Thompson-Choctaw Family Cases

 

Althea Thompson et al vs. Choctaw Nation 1908

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William Starr Jones et al vs. Choctaw Nation 1906

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Letter of February 15, 1906 from J.M. Humphrey to Martin Luther Thompson

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For more information on the William C. Thompson et al vs. Choctaw Nation case contact the Texas Band of Choctaw Indians, P.O. Box 562, Overton, Texas 75684 or the Oklahoma Historical Society at the State Capitol Complex, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. For additional information on the 1909 Choctaw supplemental roll to the Final Rolls of the Five Civilized Tribes, contact the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, P.O. Box 1210, Durant, Oklahoma 74702.

 

Texas Band of Choctaw Indians

© 2001 Thompson-Choctaw Indian Descendants Association, All Rights Reserved

 

CHOCTAW SELF-DETERMINATION