Miami Indian Microfilm Collection in The Genealogy Center at the Allen County Public Library

Article Covers
Indiana, United States
Year range
1800 - 1900

by Mary D. Kraeszig

The Genealogy Center collection includes several rolls of microfilm concerning the Miami Indian tribe during the 19th century. Some of these are best suited to local historians or ethnographers, but others contain hard-to-find genealogical information about tribe members. The Miami Indian census of 1881 lists 321 members of the tribe from Indiana who were entitled to share in the proceeds of the Treaty of St. Mary’s. Information recorded for each individual includes their enumeration number in the 1854, 1880, and 1881 censuses; names as originally spelled, with English aliases; relationship to the head of family; age; sex; number of the ancestor on the 1854 census; name of ancestor as originally spelled in the 1854 census; relation to ancestor; current spelling of name; residence (broad, such as “Near Ft. Wayne, Ind.”); and remarks (errors in previous censuses, birth dates, recent deaths, previous spellings of the name, etc.). The same roll of microfilm also contains the 1895 Annuity Pay-Roll which lists 440 Miami, each of whom received $99.49 from the U.S. government. The annuity roll includes “last” and “present” numbers, names (with English aliases when a native name is used), age, sex, payment, marks and signatures, signatures of witnesses, the date of receipt, and remarks. Researchers should keep in mind that the native name of a Miami adult could change throughout his or her life.

Other microfilm in our collection includes The Account of Traditions, Manners and Customs of the Twaatwaa or Miami Indians by C.C. Trowbridge, a handwritten manuscript from about 1825 describing the culture of the Miami people. The other three microfilm rolls pertaining to the Miami were filmed by the National Archives and include letters received by the Office of Indian Affairs. Roll 416 includes letters relating to the Miami Agency from 1824-1841 and 1846-1850, and Roll 417 contains letters regarding the land reserved for the Miami. Both of these microfilm rolls have greater historical than genealogical significance. However, Roll 418 contains correspondence regarding the Miami forced emigration from 1842-1853, including several different lists of tribe members who were moved or exempt from being moved. Some lists, such as the Miami Indians descended from Frances Slocum (a white woman captured by the Delaware who eventually married Miami chief Shepoconah), includes each individual’s native name, age, and relationship to Frances Slocum (also known as Maconaquah). Other lists, such as the Miami families not permitted to remain in Indiana, included only the native name of the head of household and the total number of individuals in that family. The lists in Roll 418 plus the 1881 census and 1895 annuity roll may be helpful to researchers trying to identify Miami ancestors who lived in northern Indiana during the 19th century. Historians and ethnographers should find all of this microfilm useful and interesting. The only drawback to these materials is that none are indexed.

Article taken from the Genealogy Gems[1]: News from the Fort Wayne Library
No. 41, July 31, 2007