Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Passports to Cross Cherokee, Creek and Spanish Land

1815 Cherokee and Creek Nation Map
Not Part of America
Perhaps you had stellar education and was taught this in school, but for most this bit of early American history was left out of the curriculum.In researching a family that settled in Georgia I came across a few spectacular sources validating the need of passports in order to enter (or cross through) Cherokee Nation, Creek Nation and Spanish Territories of the southeast.

Need Passport for Travel Inside USA?
What is now the southeastern states (those east of the Mississippi River to include Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia, Mississippi, Virginia, North and South Carolina) was under Spanish jurisdiction or designated Indian territory. These jurisdictions required travelers to possess Governor issued passports to enter the non-American owned territories. The passport papers included character references and identified the need to enter into Creek Confederacy of Georgia - Creek Nation (Muskogee), Cherokee territory or Spanish territory. Your ancestral migratory path may be verified with the aid of these papers.

Georgia Governor Passports
About 100 of these passports were recorded in Georgia and are held in the Georgia Secretary of State Archives Collection, File II, (Record Group 4-2-46). 
This statement is provided by the website:
From 1785 through 1820, individuals from Georgia or traveling through Georgia from other states who desired to travel to or through Indian Territory were required to obtain a passport from the Governor.
Although original passports were issued to the travelers, you may find the recorded copy in the Executive Department Minutes (Record Group 1-1-3).

Cherokee Treaty Passport Requirements
In 1791, the Cherokee Treaty, Article 9 prevented entry into the Cherokee Nation without a Governor generated passport.  Cherokee Nation required passports began as early as 1785-1820.

South Carolina Passport
State of So. Carolina (at auction) 
Passports to traverse or enter these territories were not limited to your Georgia ancestors.  The following is a three page set from South Carolina Governor declaring Captain John Hughbank worthy to enter the Creek Territory for settlement.  This multi-witnessed 1804 passport sold at auction for $177.75 (http://www.hcaauctions.com/LotDetail.aspx?lotid=26936).

Spanish Territory Passport Needs
All of us have heard of Louis and Clark. But did you know in 1803 the St. Louis Spanish commandant denied the explorers to enter the Louisiana Territory because they did not have a Spanish passport?

For More Information
Transcripts may be found in the following two sources:
Kathleen Brandt
Accurate, accessible answers


  1. wonderful information, I had come to know about your blog  from my friend nandu , hyderabad,i have read atleast 7 posts of yours by now, and let me tell you, your website gives the best and the most interesting information. This is just the kind of information that i had been looking for, i'm already your rss reader now and i would regularly watch out for the new posts, once again hats off to you! Thanks a ton once again, Regards passport agents in hyderabad

  2. Hi Kathleen,
    I am astounded to read your post on the Indian passport requirements. I am in the midst of serious study of one of my ancestors, Thomas C. Holmes who was issued a passport. I wanted to know more about the requirements when I located your blog. I know he was headed to Mississippi to purchase land and once his transactions were completed he returned to NC to escort his wife, children and slaves from their home in SC back to MS. I only wish I could document the family as Thomas traveled back to MS.
    Sincere appreciation for your time and efforts in posting this information. Judy Kimball

    1. Judy,
      We have solved more than one case using these passports. They may be recorded in a variety of Minutes, so keep looking as you trace your ancestors. There are many records that are rarely touched.

    2. To Judy Kimball
      this may help with Thomas Holmes

  3. I understand this mostly applies to people who traveled from the east coast through Georgia and into Mississippi territory. Were there passports issued to those that traveled from Mississippi west to say, Texas in the late 1820s? I am tracing ancestors that were born in the Alabama/Mississippi territory and came to Texas in 1826

  4. Passports were provided to those passing through Native American or foreign lands i.e. Spanish territory, from 1770-1823. Besides Georgia and Mississippi researchers may find pasports in TN, KY, VA and the Carolinas. I have not seen passports for Texas, as it has a more unique past. Be sure to check out this website for tips on early Texas research.