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The Choctaw McAlvains
Pictures & Records
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It all began in Mississippi ... sort of...
In 1831, a man by the name of Benjamin A. McKelvain found his way into the Choctaw Nation (present day Mississippi) and was enumerated on the Kemper County Mississippi Census for that year living near man named Isaac McKelvain.
Somewhere along Benjamin's path, he met a Choctaw woman named Mary and together they had at least one son, Polk.
For some reason, in 1838 Mary took Polk and left the Old Choctaw Nation in Mississippi and went on the removal to the Indian Territory (present day S.E. Oklahoma for the Choctaws.) Their removal party was under the superintendence of S.T. Cross and the account of their particular removal party is given in Grant Foreman's "Indian Removal."
Mary appears on the 1855 Choctaw Payroll Record in Sugar Loaf County, Choctaw Nation, Indian Territory along with her brother, Elap Ambi, and other family members whose exact relationship is difficult to determine. However, there is no mention of her in futher Choctaw documents and I can only surmise that she died during the pre-Civil War Era.
Polk appears on a roster of the 1st Choctaw-Chickasaw Mounted Rifles, 1st Brigade, Company K, for the Confederacy.
He later is found on an 1870 Skullyville County, Choctaw Nation Census, but thereafter is always found in Sugar Loaf County.
Polk was thrice married, the first time to one Sinah Perry with whom he had one daughter named Randy on February 14, 1874. This information was gathered from his "day book" or what we might call today a "planner." In it he wrote down all the names of his family, their dates of birth and death. Sadly, Polk lost both Sinnie and baby girl Randy in a house fire.
About December of 1876 Polk took another wife named Mary Choate. (No marriage records exist for the first two marriages and I can only assume they were done according to Choctaw Custom.)
Mary Choate is also found on the 1855 Choctaw Nation Payroll Records in Sugar Loaf County, Choctaw Nation, Indian Territory enumerated with family members surnamed Loven (later Loving) and Fox.
Polk and Mary had three sons, Stonewall Jackson McAlvain, born 10 September 1877; Robert Lee McAlvain, born 21 Jan 1879; and Lewis Riley McAlvain, born 19 April 1881.
Once again tragedy struck Polk McAlvain's life in that he lost his wife. The details aren't clear but it is assumed that Mary Choate McAlvain died shortly after Lewis Riley's birth.
On July 12, 1886, Polk was married to Louisa Matilda Bowers by Choctaw Judge N.J. Holsen at the McAlvain home in a town once known as Kennedy in present day Leflore County, Oklahoma.
Of this marriage there were born 10 children:
John Walter, Charles, William Richard, Thomas Jay, Florence Alice, David Warren, Martha, Audie Carl, Jewell, Lulabelle.
Of these 10 children, only 6 survived until adulthood, Audie Carl dying as a young man, the others in infancy.
Polk was very active in the Choctaw Community, speaking broken English, but fluent Choctaw serving as election judge on numerous occasion and was present at the Last Legal Execution of the Choctaw Nation along with his son Robert Lee McAlvain who recalled this event to many a family member.
(The photo attached to this story page is one of the McAlvain family taken at Kennedy, Sugar Loaf County, Choctaw Nation.)
- Kemper County, Mississippi