I've got a girl in the 1900 Census living with her father and step-mother.

The father, Charles, as far as I can tell, always lived in the Atlanta region (born 1867 in Carrollton, almost due west to Alabama, there in 1870 and 1880, and in Atlanta for the rest of his life).

His wife Louise moved with her parents from Indiana to Atlanta, where she married Charles and had two children in 1897 and 1898.

Before that, he was married to a woman named (from other research) A.O. who bore him Effie in 1887, and then died from the birth of their son in 1891. (Damn that 1890 census fire!!!)

So now we have 12 year old Effie in the 1900 census, but it says she was born in the Indian Territory.

It's possible that Charles moved to "Oklahoma" and then back during those twenty years, but I'm wondering if there was a region of Georgia still referred to as the Indian Territory. (There's a married woman in the 1910 census who might be her; that woman is recorded as being born in Texas, along with her mother and father.)

TL;DR was there a part of Georgia called the Indian Territory in 1900?

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1 Answer 1



Wikipedia's article Indian Territory says:

Indian Territory later came to refer to an unorganized territory whose general borders were initially set by the Indian Intercourse Act of 1834, and was the successor to the remainder of the Missouri Territory after Missouri received statehood. The borders of Indian Territory were reduced in size as various Organic Acts were passed by Congress to create incorporated territories of the United States. The 1907 Oklahoma Enabling Act created the single state of Oklahoma by combining Oklahoma Territory and Indian Territory, ending the existence of an unorganized unincorporated independent Indian Territory as such. Before Oklahoma statehood, Indian Territory from 1890 onwards consisted of the Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek and Seminole tribes and their territorial holdings.

The Wikipedia article has extensive references to the acts and links to other articles on the Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek and Seminole people.

The problem with Census information:

There are a couple of things to consider.

  1. Except for the 1940 Census, where the enumerators were asked to mark the person in the household who was the informant, we don't have any information about who gave the answers to the census taker.

  2. There's no guarantee that the enumerators followed the instructions correctly, but we can read the instructions to find out what they were supposed to do.


  1. Column 13. Place of birth of person.-The object of this question is to get the birthplace of very person living in your district. If the persons was born in the United States, enter in column 13 the state or territory (not city or town) of the United States in which he was born. A person born in what is now West Virginia, North Dakota, South Dakota, or Oklahoma should be reported as so born, although at the time of his birth the particular region may have had a different name.

Note that the instructions specifically list Oklahoma as one of the places where the enumerator is supposed to record the contemporary place name instead of the name the region had when the person was born.

We can guess about who gave the information to the enumerator, but we can be pretty sure that the informant wasn't Effie's birth mother. It could have been the 2nd wife, or it could have even been a neighbor.

Place Names in Georgia:

The Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) datbase "holds the Federally recognized name of each feature and defines the feature location by state, county, USGS topographic map, and geographic coordinates."

Users can search by State and then County for all entries in the database, or by selected features. The screenshots below are for searches in Georgia for "Indian" and 'Populated Place' or 'Post Office' as the features.

Search results for 'Populated Place' containing 'Indian'

There is one Post Office, Indian Springs.

GNIS database results for Post Office containing 'Indian'

You could try looking for the term in local histories, in gazeteers, in genealogical publications (e.g.by using PERSI, the Periodical Source Index) and other reference works. You might be able to find area diaries or ephemera by searching on ArchiveGrid or contacting the local historical societies or genealogical societies. Have you investigted the Enumerator (i.e. are they from Georgia, and if so, from which part of the state)? Have you looked in historical newspapers around that time for instances of "Indian Territory" referring to Georgia rather than Oklahoma?

Whatever you find, bear in mind that one record doesn't constitute proof about any fact or event. For proof, you need a well-argued proof statement, showing that your research has met the current genealogy standards. For births from the 1880s, there won't be statewide registration for either Georgia or Oklahoma, and you'll need to look for delayed birth records or to build a case from other records.


  • It turns out that my father remembers a story of her being born in a covered wagon, and his brother remember a story of someone (on that side of the family) being born in a covered wagon. Thus, it's reasonable that she actually was born in the Oklahoma Indian Territories.
    – RonJohn
    Dec 1, 2020 at 5:10
  • @RonJohn Why not add that info to your question, or find other evidence and work it up into a self-answer?
    – Jan Murphy
    Dec 1, 2020 at 15:17
  • I thought about that, but decided that it has no relevance to the bottom line: "was there a part of Georgia called the Indian Territory in 1900?"
    – RonJohn
    Dec 1, 2020 at 15:19
  • Although it might make the question irrelevant.
    – RonJohn
    Dec 1, 2020 at 15:20
  • @RonJon Okay, good point, verifying the 'born in a covered wagon' story is actually a new research question. But it wasn't bad to ask the question about Georgia, because it's part of doing a reasonably exhaustive search.
    – Jan Murphy
    Dec 1, 2020 at 17:29

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