Chippewa-Munsee Allotment and Heirship

Posted By BrokenClaw on January 18, 2007

Allotment, or allotment in severalty, was the process of assigning specific plots of land on the reservation to specific individuals. Allotment, authorized by US Congress in the Dawes Severalty Act of 1887, was another means to assimilate Indians into white culture, but its main result was to provide a means to sell reservation land to white owners. Alloted lands quickly became sliced into smaller and smaller parcels, tied up in complicated heirships, which made them suitable for nothing more than leasing or selling. In 1933, the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, John Collier, admitted that the program “turned out to be principally an instrument to deprive the Indians of their lands.” A year later Congress passed the Indian Reorganization Act which reversed its earlier position and ended further allotment.

In the case of the Chippewa-Munsee, the original Treaty of 1859 had already provided that the reservation would be divided into forty acre parcels to be assigned to each member of the two tribes. This process of allotment, combined with the Kansas laws of descent, led to incredibly convoluted heirships. As an example, I am reproducing here an excerpt from the official 1899 Commission of Indian Affairs report. My copy comes from a transcription in the possession of the Neff family. This portion describes the heirs to the allotment of Francis McCoonse, the patriarch of the Kansas Chippewa.

Thirty years had passed since his death, so when the property rights were being legalized, his allotment had to be divided into 2,640 parts in order to make an equitable distribution to his heirs. In other words, his forty acre allotment had to be divided into virtual parcels of land about 4 feet square! As you read this document, keep in mind that this section only describes these individuals’ interest in Francis McCoonse’s allotment and does not include their own allotment or other interests they may have inherited from other relatives. For clarity, I edited some punctuation and indentation, and I added my own footnotes. All of the people mentioned in the document and in the footnotes are also included in my Genealogy Database.


Ottawa, Kansas
December 9, 1899
Hon. W. A. Jones
Commissioner of Indian Affairs
Washington D.C.

I transmit herewith an amendatory report, as Commmissioner, as a substitute for my report of October 12, 1899, upon the individual titles to the lands on the reservation of the united band of Chippewa and Muncie Indians in Franklin County, Kansas. In this amendatory report I have endeavored to answer one question, to-wit: who now owns each of the 104 allotments constituting this reservation? I also send herewith the affidavits upon which I base my conclusions. In addition to these affidavits I took a large amount of evidence orally, examining witnesses under oath, from which I obtained a vast amount of information that does not appear in full in these affidavits. In the consideration of this matter I take up these allotments consecutively, and begin with:


This allottee died January 25th, 1868, leaving surviving him as sole heirs at law his wife, Ku-pe-was1, and Edward McCoonse, Alfred McCooonse, heirs of Mrs. P. Turner2, the heirs of Anna McCoonse, the heirs of Julia Ann McCoonse (this is the first Julia Ann), children of Francis McCoonse by his first wife; also Joseph McCoonse, Robert McCoonse, Julia Ann Bittenbender3, William McCoonse and James Elliott4 as the sole heir of Lucy McCoonse — all children of Francis McCoonse by Ku-pe-was, his second wife. Upon the death of Francis McCoonse this allotment… is now owned as follows:By his first wife, Musnah, (who died before her husband or any of her children except Mrs. P. Turner and Julia Ann McCoonse) Francis McCoonse had five children, viz:

  1. Edward McCoonse, who died March 8, 1888, leaving a widow and five children:
    1. Oscar
    2. Anna
    3. Albert
    4. Mary
    5. Joseph

    Nos. 2, 3, 4 died after their father, unmarried and without issue.

  2. Alfred McCoonse, died February 15, 1891, (as shown by church records, page 62), leaving a widow, Ellen5, former wife of Edward McCoonse, and one child, Lena Barney, a daughter by a former marriage.
  3. Mrs. P. Turner, died January 17, 1861, leaving a husband, William Turner, and five children, Thomas, Lizzie, William R., Mary and Sarah. William, the husband, died May 9, 1862, leaving these five children as his sole heirs.
  4. Anna McCoonse, who intermarried with Antoin Gokey6, by whom she had five children; died February 21, 1868.
    1. James, who married a white woman now named Ellen Samuel, by whom he had three children, Jacob, Francis, and baby, named Arthur.
    2. John, married a woman not a member of the tribe, and died leaving as his sole heir at law his son, Leo. (John’s wife died before he did.)
    3. Jane, intermarried with one John Shap, not a member of the tribe, by whom she had one child, Peter (still living). Shap dying, his widow married one Alec Conley, by whom she had a daughter, Lettie Conley.
    4. Susan, died the fall of 1897, leaving a husband, Edward Waukatch, and three daughters, Margaret Wiscoba, Susan Waukatch and Josephine Waukatch.
    5. Sarah, resides at Keshena, Wisconsin, her present name is Sarah Satterlee.

    Antoin Gokey died after his first wife, October 30, 1868, and before any of her children, leaving a widow, Emmeline7, and said five children by his first wife. Said Emmeline subsequently married a man by the name of Sutton, from whom it is alleged she was afterwards divorced. They had no children. She next married a man by the name of Geaubo, by whom she had children, but they all died in childhood unmarried and without issue. After the death of Geaubo, she married Jerry Supernaw, by whom she had no children; they separated and were divorced, it is alleged, by the customs of the tribe. She then married a man by the name of Hicks Staton, by whom she had three children: Ella, Frank and Nettie, who are now at Haskell Institute. She died leaving her husband, Hicks Staton, and said three children.

  5. Julia Ann McCoonse (first Julia Ann), died before her father and mother, leaving a husband, Lewis Gokey8, who died August 30, 1889, but no children.

By his second wife, Ku-pe-was (who died January 18, 1890), Francis McCoonse had seven children, viz:

  1. Joseph McCoonse, living
  2. Robert McCoonse, living
  3. Julia Ann Bittenbender, living
  4. William McCoonse, living
  5. Lucy McCoonse, died October 11, 1870, leaving a husband, James Elliott, now living, and one child, Matilda Jane Elliott, who died December 30, 1870.
  6. Naw-quah-kash-ko-quah, died before her father and mother, unmarried and without issue.
  7. Mary McCoonse, died April, 1873, unmarried and without issue, after her father but before her mother.

By the laws of descent of Kansas, the widow, Ku-pe-was, inherited one half of his estate, and his children or the heirs of deceased children, the other half. The allotment of Francis McCoonse divided into 2640 parts should be partitioned, under the laws of descent of Kansas, as follows:

  1. Heirs of Edward McCoonse
  2. Heirs of Alfred McCoonse
  3. Heirs of Mrs. P. Turner
  4. Heirs of Anna McCoonse
  5. Heirs of Julia Ann (1st)
    Heirs of Ku-pe-was
  6. Joseph McCoonse
  7. Robert McCoonse
  8. Julia A. Bittenbender
  9. William McCoonse
  10. Heirs of Lucy McCoonse
  11. Naw-qua-kash-ko-quah9
  12. Heir of Mary McCoonse, her mother, Ku-pe-was

When Ku-pe-was died, January 18, 1890, her 1320 shares and the 120 shares inherited from Mary McCoonse were inherited by her four living children and the heir of Lucy McCoonse, as follows:

  1. Joseph McCoonse (264 shares + 24 shares)
  2. Robert McCoonse
  3. Julia A. Bittenbender
  4. William McCoonse
  5. Heirs of Lucy McCoonse
  1. Heirs of Edward McCoonse, are as follows:
    1. Ellen Mc-ko-se-to, widow, entitled to 60 shares as widow and to 36 shares as heir of her three deceased children: Anna, Albert, and Mary — 96 shares
    2. Oscar McCoonse — 12 shares
    3. Joseph McCoonse, Jr. — 12 shares
  2. Heirs of Alfred McCoonse are:
    1. Ellen Mc-ko-se-to, his widow — 60 shares
    2. Lena Barney, his daughter by former marriage — 60 shares
  3. Heirs of Mrs. P. Turner, who died — were her husband, W. A. Turner (who died May 7, 1862, but never remarried), and her five children: Thomas, Lizzie, Mary, William R., and Sarah.Thomas Turner, died February 13, 1871, leaving a widow, Olivia, who died March 27, 1871. They had two children, viz: Mary L. Turner, who died before her father or mother, and a child, which lived but a day. Olivia died without remarrying and without issue. Her heir was her mother, Frederica Samuel, under Kansas law, though she died December 13, 1867, and her sole heir was her grandson, Joab Samuel, who inherited the whole of Thomas Turner’s share. Lizzie Turner, died September 27, 1871, leaving a husband, Moses Keech-en-in-nee, and an only child, Mary Neff. Moses died, he left no widow and his sole heir his daughter, Mary Neff. She inherited the whole of Lizzie’s share. Mary Turner, died —, leaving a husband, Moses Keech-en-in-nee, and Eliza Conley, an illegitimate child. Her heirs were Eliza Conly and Moses Keech-en-in-nee. When Moses died, his daughter, Mary Neff, because his sole heir, thus giving to Mary Neff 12 shares, added to her 24 shares as heir of her father, husband of Lizzie Turner, making 36 shares. William R. Turner, died April 23, 1873, leaving Louisa10, his widow, (now Mrs. George Viex.) They had only one child, Benjamin, who died February 2, 1890, unmarried and without issue, therefore Louisa Veix inherited William R. Turner’s 24 shares. Sarah Harris, nee Turner, living.Mrs. P. Turner’s heirs, therefore are:
    1. Joab Samuel — 24 shares
    2. Mary Neff — 36 shares
    3. Eliza Conley — 12 shares
    4. Louisa Veix — 24 shares
    5. Sarah Harris — 24 shares
  4. Heirs of Anna McCoonse, who died February 21, 1868, intermarried with Antoin Gokey, who died October 30, 1868, leaving as her heir her husband, Antoin Gokey, and five children: Susan, Sarah, John, James, and Jane, as her heirs. After the death of Anna, Antoine Gokey married Emmeline, by whom he had no children. His heirs are his widow and these five children…

[and on and on...]

I base my conclusions upon the affidavit of Joseph McCoonse, giving a history of the McCoonse family; upon the affidavit of George Veix, giving a history of Thomas Turner, and the affidavit of Joab Samuel and of Eliza Gokey, giving a history of Antoine Gokey. This land is in the possession of Robert McCoonse by consent of the other members of the McCoonse family. It will be observed that George Veix, in his affidavit states that Elizabeth Turner was not married to Keech-en-in-nee, but that they lived in adultery, but I deem the affidavit of Joseph McCoonse, upon that matter, the more trustworthy as he is a much older man, and, in my knowledge, has a better knowledge of the family history of the Turner people.

As this land cannot be partitioned I recommend its sale.


The issue, of course, is the fact that none of these heirships were defined in a will. Traditionally, inheritance was simply a matter of family consent and agreement, just as the commissioner noted when he reported that Francis McCoonse’s land was “in the possession of Robert McCoonse by consent of the other members of the McCoonse family.” But when the heirship had to be legalized, it had to fall back solely on Kansas laws of descent. So by that time, in this case thirty years later, they often created some seemingly incongruous assignments. For example, the heirship of Pa-mon-qui-to-qua McCoonse Turner (no. III above) gave Joab Samuel, who was the nephew of her daughter-in-law, twice as large a share as her own granddaughter, Eliza Conley. And her other granddaughter, Mary Keecheninnee Neff, received three times as large a share. Other shares were inherited by people who were not only not part of the tribe, they weren’t even related. For example, the heirship of Anna McCoonse Gokey (no. IV above) gave part of her share to the Staton children, who were the children of Anna’s husband’s second wife’s fifth husband, Hicks Staton.


  1. Ku-pe-was was also known by her English name, Susan Wolf. She was an Ottawa Indian from Canada.
  2. Pa-mon-qui-to-qua McCoonse married William Turner, the son of a white man and a Potawatomie Indian woman. William was one of the signers of the Treaty of 1859.
  3. Frances McCoonse had two daughters named Julia Ann. This Julia Ann II was the widow of Joseph Herron and the wife of Alfred Bittenbender, a white man of German descent from Pennsylvania.
  4. James Elliott was the son of Sabilla Caleb, the matriarch of the Kansas Munsee. Lucy McCoonse was his first wife, to whom one child was born but died in infancy. At the time of this document James was married to Minnie Marks, by whom he had three sons.
  5. Ellen married three different men of the Chippewa-Munsee. She was generally known as Ellen McCoonse, the surname of her first husband. At the time of this document she was married to Ma-ko-se-to of the Sac & Fox tribe. On the 1900 census, Ellen reported that both of her parents were Otoe.
  6. Antoine Gokey was the son of a French man and a Menominee Indian woman. He and his brothers were Indian interpreters, and Antoine was a signer of several treaties, including the Treaty of 1859.
  7. After Anna died, Antoine Gokey married Emeline Pooler, an Ottawa Indian woman, but he died a few months later.
  8. Louis Gokey was a brother of Antoine. After Julia died, he married Eliza Wilson, an Ottawa Indian woman, with whom he had two sons.
  9. Naw-qua-kash-ko-quah received no interest in Francis’s allotment because she had preceeded him. However, she did receive an allotment in her own right, which, of course, had to be divided in essentially the same manner.
  10. Louisa Wilson was the granddaughter of Sabilla Caleb. At the time of this document she was married to George Veix, the son of a German immigrant and a Munsee Indian woman. Louisa and George had ten children.


One Response to “Chippewa-Munsee Allotment and Heirship”

  1. Velma Williams says:

    What happened to Macounce’s first family? Were they the childlren of Musnah
    or another wife? Is the reason they are not included here because
    they did not immigrate with the others??
    It is astounding how the government authorities
    planned ahead in the Native population control
    at the time and for the future.

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