Posted By BrokenClaw on January 9, 2007
The Chippewa-Munsee genealogy database includes members, ancestors, and descendants of the Swan Creek and Black River Band Chippewa and the Christian Munsee, who shared a reservation in Franklin County, Kansas, during the latter half of the nineteenth century. These two independent bands had a diverse history which eventually led to their coexistence on a tiny rectangle of twelve square miles in northeast Kansas, hundreds of miles from their ancestral homelands.
Go to the Chippewa-Munsee Genealogy Database on RootsWeb.com.
The database also includes other members of families, particularly those from Franklin County, who married into the Chippewa and Munsee. My research is conducted primarily online. Census data cannot provide a complete picture of genealogy, so I have to rely on oral history to clarify natural parent–child relationships. I welcome additions to the genealogy database. Those who wish to add their family to the database, or contribute additional information about someone already included, please go to the Contact page. Keep in mind that any additions should follow these guidelines:
- The genealogy must include at least one member from the 1859 census or the final enrollment of 1900.
- Please include as much specific data as possible, including dates of birth and death.
- Unless you send me digital photocopies of documents, digital photos of tombstones, etc., the source will be noted as family history.
By default, I protect the private information of anyone whose birth date falls after 1930 (the last published census) and who does not have a date of death recorded in the database. However, I will gladly hide or remove other individuals on request.
The Chippewa, or Ojibwe, consisted of a large group of independent bands who inhabited a vast region around the Great Lakes. Chippewa history can be found on many websites and is beyond the scope of this article. The particular group which is included in this database originally lived in what is now Ontario, Canada. At that time, the region was often referred to as Upper Canada or simply French Canada. In the early part of the 1800s, they relocated across the river into southeast Michigan, where they joined other Ojibwe around Lake St. Clair, along the Swan Creek and Black River. Like so many others, when their land became increasingly desirable for white settlers, they were compelled to move. In 1836, they signed a Treaty which took their homeland in exchange for promises of future annuities and relocation to undisclosed land west of the Mississippi River.
That new land turned out to be in Franklin County, Kansas. However, only a small portion of the Swan Creek and Black River band actually relocated to Kansas. Apparently, most of them simply moved to outlying areas, maintaining their identity and presence in southeast Michigan, where they remain today. Those that moved to Kansas lived there in relative peace for about twenty years. But once again they became the target of land-hungry settlers. Owing to their small number, the displaced Swan Creek and Black River Band of Chippewa signed a new Treaty in 1859, which reduced their reservation to a plot of land two miles wide and six miles long, part of which they agreed to sell to another small band, the Christian Munsee. Signing the treaty for the Chippewa were Chief Francis McCoonse and his son, Edward, along with William Turner and Antoine Gokey.
The Christian Munsee were a small group of Indians, primarily Munsee, who had converted to Christianity during the latter half of the eighteenth century, having been ministered to by the Moravian Church for several generations. The story of how they ended up in Kansas is told in a separate History page. Incidentally, one of the Moravian missionaries, Christian Denke, fits into the history of both the Munsee and the Chippewa. While he was working at the Fairfield mission in Ontario, in 1801 the Mission Board assigned him to start a mission among the St. Clair Chippewa. Over the next few years, Denke tried unsuccessfully to establish a mission, but he had considerable dealings with the Chippewa Chief Nangi and his successor, Chief Macounce. Although they took completely different paths, fifty years later in Kansas, Macounce’s descendants would sign a treaty with descendants of Denke’s congregation at Fairfield.
The two tribes would share a reservation for the next forty years. By the end of the century, land patents were issued to the remaining tribe, and the entire reservation was alloted. In 1900, the final disbursement of federal funds was paid, and all benefits were subsequently dissolved, meaning that the Kansas Chippewa and Munsee were fully assimilated and would no longer be recognized as Native American Indians. The list of people who made up that final roll in 1900 forms the basis of this genealogy. The database was compiled by a descendant of the Munsee, Ignatius Caleb, so its scope naturally leans more toward the Munsee families. Genealogy sources are cited on the References page and are duly footnoted in the genealogy database.