Which roll would my Cherokee ancestor be on?

There are several Rolls which might document your Cherokee ancestry. But how do you know which Roll you need to be searching? Here are some general guides to sort it all out.

My Cherokee ancestor lived in the mid 1800s


There were five census rolls taken for the Cherokees in 1851-1854.

  • The Siler, Chapman and Act of Congress Rolls were taken in states east of the Mississippi River.
  • The Drennen Roll in Indian Territory for Cherokees who emigrated at the time of the Removal and prior to 1851.
  • The Old Settler Roll for Cherokees who had emigrated to Indian Territory prior to the Removal.

Where did your family live during the 1850-1855 time period?


East of the Mississippi River

If your family member lived East of the Mississipi in North Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, or Alabama in the area marked in orange on the map below, or in Harrison Co., KY (1 family), Washington, DC (1 individual) , Nashville, TN (1 family), and Savannah, GA (4 families), they should be listed on the Chapman or Siler Rolls of 1851.

Chapman - Silver Rolls of 1851 Map
Area Included in Chapman & Siler Rolls of 1851

The Chapman Roll was taken in 1851 by Alfred Chapman. This roll, which followed the Siler Roll almost immediately, was a result of many complaints by various Cherokees of having been omitted by Siler.

There were a few families who were omitted from both the Siler and Chapman Rolls who were added to a small special roll ordered by an Act of Congress. This resulted in a total of three rolls:

  • Siler Roll of 1851
  • Chapman Roll of 1851
  • Act of Congress Roll

If your family did not live within the boundaries in the map above then you will need to bring the entire family forward to the early 1900’s and proceed with checking the records suggested for that time period.

You may want to find someone who might have applied to the Guion Miller Roll of Eastern Cherokees. This roll would have been the first opportunity for families living outside the limits of the Cherokee Domain to attempt to establish their Cherokee connections.

West of the Mississippi River

If your family lived West of the Mississippi River you will want to check for their names on one of the following rolls:

  • Old Settler’s Roll (National Archives Microfilm M-685, Reel 12)
  • Drennen Roll (National Archives Microfilm M-685, Reel 12)

Where did your family live in 1900?


Did your family live in Indian Territory, NW Arkansas, or Southern Missouri?

You may wish to check the Dawes Roll for your family members. The Dawes required a residency in Indian Territory but sometimes people living in NW Arkansas or Southern Missouri had met that requirement at the time the Dawes Commission began.

Did your Cherokee family live anywhere else in the United States?

You need to check the Guion Miller Index to see if someone in your family applied for enrollment. The Guion Miller Roll was the first roll that people living anywhere in the United States might be eligible for enrollment as a Cherokee.

  • Dawes Roll
  • Guion Miller Roll