On Saturday, March 25, the Fort Clark Historical Society (FCHS) and the Seminole Indian Scout Cemetery Association (SISCA) teamed up to celebrate National Medal of Honor Day, which is the day that has been designated to honor those who have been awarded the military’s highest honor.
The day was warm. Above us was a brilliantly blue, cloudless sky. It was truly a beautiful day to honor our nation’s bravest. At 2 PM, we gathered in front of the memorial flagpole located in front of Dickman Hall. Mr. Russell Nowell was the master of ceremonies for this part of the ceremony. He engaged and educated the crowd by telling us about the origins of the Medal of Honor award, how National Medal of Honor Day came to be, and some of the gentlemen who received the award while stationed at Fort Clark. Five men, in particular, were highlighted and honored. They were four Black Seminole Indian Scouts and Claron A. Windus, who had once been a deputy in Brackettville. During his presentation, Mr. Nowell invited descendants of the Black Seminole Medal of Honor recipients to place commemorative bricks that had been created with their names on them in their resting place in front of the memorial flagpole. Ms. Beverly A. Kelly and Mr. Joe Louis Factor did the honors. Following the end of this program, we hopped into our vehicles and drove to the Seminole Indian Scout Cemetery.
As we arrived at the Seminole Indian Scout Cemetery, we were greeted by thousands of tiny wildflowers. Surely, this was a gift from Mother Nature. The beauty of this only emboldened our reverence for those that we had come to honor. At the cemetery, we gathered the four Black Seminole Indian Scouts who had received the Medal of Honor. They were Pompey Factor, Adam Payne (Paine), Isaac Payne (Paine), and John Ward. Pompey Factor, Isaac Payne, and John Ward received their Medals of Honor for their bravery during the same battle. On April 25, 1875, these three men participated in a charge against “twenty-five hostiles while on a scouting patrol,” according to their Medals of Honor citation. The fourth Black Seminole who received the Medal of Honor was Adam Payne. He served as a private in Texas at Blanco Canyon, a tributary of the Red River, where he participated in an engagement that occurred on September 19, 1874. Adam Payne "rendered invaluable service to Col. R. S. Mackenzie, 4th U.S. Cavalry, during this engagement," according to the Medal of Honor citation.
This information was presented by four Black Seminole descendants, Ms. Beverly A. Kelly, Mr. Joe Louis Factor, Mr. Larvell Blanks, and myself. Following our presentation, a beautiful wreath was laid at the Seminole Indian Scout Cemetery marker. From there, several of us walked to each of their graves and paid our respects to these four brave men.
Following the ceremony at the Seminole Indian Scout Cemetery Association, we hopped in our cars again and traveled to the Masonic Cemetery. It is at this cemetery that Claron A. Windus has been laid to rest. He received the Medal of Honor for bravery while serving as a bugler during a battle with the Kiowa in northern Texas on July 12, 1870. His citation reads: “For the President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to Bugler Claron Augustus Windus, United States Army, for gallantry in action on 12 July 1870, while serving with Company L, 6th U.S. Cavalry, at Wichita River, Texas.” A wreath was also placed at his grave in reverence and in honor of his bravery.
This was the first time that the FCHS and SISCA have celebrated National Medal of Honor Day. I am so happy that we did, and I am certainly looking forward to commemorating this day again next year.
Note: This blog appeared as an article in the 3/30/17 edition of the Kinney County Post.
National Medal of Honor DayRead Now
This Saturday, March 25, the Fort Clark Historical Society and the Seminole Indian Scout Cemetery Association will observe National Medal of Honor Day. This is the first year that we will be marking this very sacred day. I must admit that I am very excited about this coming Saturday.
What is National Medal of Honor Day? National Medal of Honor Day is a day dedicated to all Medal of Honor recipients. According to www.nationalcalendarday.com, “It was on March 25, 1863, when the first Medals of Honor were presented. Secretary of War Edwin Stanton presented Medals of Honor (Army) to six members of ‘Andrews Raiders’ for their volunteering and participation during an American Civil War raid in April of 1862. In 1990, the United States Congress designated March 25th of each year as National Medal of Honor Day. Since its creation, there have been 3,468 Medals of Honor awarded to the country’s soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and coast guardsmen.” Use #MedalOfHonorDay to post on social media.
There are four medal of honor recipients buried at the Seminole Indian Scout Cemetery. Outside of the Arlington National Cemetery, the Seminole Indian Scout Cemetery has the most medal of honor recipients laid to rest. The four gentlemen are Pompey Factor, Adam Payne, Issac Payne, and John Ward.
In 1873, Colonel Ranald S. Mackenzie decided to go on a mission. This would be a punitive expedition. He wanted to cross the border and fight the Lipan Apaches. He decided that the Seminole Negro Indian Scouts would lead the way. On September 19, 1874, three Seminole Negro Indian Scouts and two Tonkawa Scouts went out, searching for the enemy. Very soon, they were ambushed by about forty Kiowas. The only thing that they could do was fight. Although the exact details about what happened during this skirmish are not clear, at the end of it, Adam Payne was awarded the Medal of Honor. He had risked his life to save his fellow scouts. According to Wikipedia, Payne was decorated for his habitual courage though there is no evidence that he received his medal.
Pompey Factor, Isaac Payne, and John Ward received their medals following an attack on April 5, 1875. The three men were with Lieutenant Bullis. They were scouting Comanches who had built a camp on the lower Pecos Rives. Upon discovery of the Comanches’ habitat, a battle ensued. According to Wikipedia, the scouts dismounted and positioned themselves behind some rocks so that they would appear to be a larger force. According to Bullis’ report, “we twice took their horses from and killed three Indians and wounded a fourth,” but the hostiles, about thirty of them, eventually discovered the size of the scouting party and attempted to surround them in order to cut the scouts off from their horses. The scouts were able to maneuver away from them and get to their horses. As they were on their way back to safety, they realized that Lieutenant Bullis had been left behind. Under heavy fire, the scouts returned to the battle and rescued their commander. The three men received their medals on April 25, 1875 (Source: Wikipedia).
Adam Payne passed away on January 1, 1877. Isaac Payne passed away in 1904. John Ward passed away on March 24, 1911. Pompey Factor passed away March 29, 1928. All four of these remarkable men, these Medal of Honor recipients, are buried at the Seminole Indian Scout Cemetery.
Note: This blog appeared as an article in the 3/23/17 edition of the Kinney County Post.
Comfort FoodRead Now
The past few days have been gray and filled with clouds. Whenever the weather is like this, I can’t help but want to stay at home, wrap myself in a soft blanket, and indulge in some good ol’ comfort food.
Yesterday, I made a big pot of stew. I will admit that I made enough to feed an army, but I don’t think you can make comfort food in some quantities. Part of the fun of this food and why it is loved by so many is that, by definition, you should be able to return for as many helpings as you like.
I began by cutting up the vegetables that would go into the stew. There were carrots, celery, onions, potatoes, and green bell peppers. While I was cutting them, I couldn’t help but think of the many times I’ve been at my counter preparing a meal that I hoped would sooth my or someone else’s soul.
Of course, two of the best chefs in the world taught me about the importance of comfort food. They were my parents, Johnny and Dora Goodloe. My dad was a professional chef, so every meal that he was able to cook at home was thoroughly appreciated and enjoyed. Because he worked so much, having him home for a meal was very rare, so the cooking of the meals, especially the evening meal, was my mom’s duty. While we never had very much, my mom was always able to go in the kitchen and work her magic. After stepping into the kitchen, following her long day, she would call my siblings and I in within thirty minutes to an hour to come and eat. And the dishes she made were always varied and very delicious. Many of the foods we ate when I was a little girl are still a part of my comfort food repertoire when I am feeling a little sad or nostalgic. We ate a lot of chicken and dumplings, cornbread, goulash, and beans and rice, and I still eat and love these foods today.
When my mom was at the start of her decline, she would often request that I make her or buy her the foods that she was so fond of in her youth. Most of those things were easily created or obtained, but there was one request that she had that I had never heard of before. One day, out of the blue, she talked about how much she loved tomato pie and how she would eat it every day if she could. Tomato pie? I was bewildered. I’d never heard of it before. And I couldn’t recall my mom ever talking about it or making it before. But because it sounded so interesting and because she was my amazing mom, I decided to see if I could find it. First, I asked my siblings if they’d every heard of it, but they hadn’t. Then I asked some of my mom’s friends, and they’d never heard of it either. Finally, I asked Google. And I was surprised and delighted to find a recipe. After going over it with my mom and determining that this was what she wanted, she and I went into her kitchen and went to work, baking this pie from her youth.
I watched my mom as she moved about the kitchen. She wasn’t as agile as she used to be, but she was still graceful. She and I enjoyed ourselves that day. It was the first time in a long time that she had cooked in her kitchen. When the pie was ready, I carefully removed it from the oven and placed it on the counter. The smile that spread across my mom’s face was priceless. Although at that time, she was in her early eighties, I could see the ten-year-old Dora in her. In that moment, I understood how powerful this memory would be for me and her. Over food, my mom and I were able to time travel. Over food, my mom and I were able to connect in a real and meaningful way. Over food, my mom and I were able to make our love for each other tangible. And even though she is now gone, it is memories like these that I take comfort in.
Note: This blog appeared as an article in the 3/16/17 edition of the Kinney County Post.
Fun at Fort Clark DaysRead Now
This past weekend, I had a lot of fun. I had been looking forward to attending Fort Clark Days since last year. Like Seminole Days and Juneteenth, Fort Clark Days is a chance for everyone to come together and have a good time. It doesn’t matter if you’re five or ninety-five, fun is sure to be had by all. Every year, I learn something new, and I make new friends. I don’t think there is anything better than that.
Of course, our only worry was the weather. And as soon as Corina, our secretary, and I had set up our booth it began to rain. No worries. We didn’t mind. I know that I am always happy to see rain. Once it started raining harder, we decided to close up. From there, I walked to Seminole Hall and met with John Woolf, who had a booth. He was demonstrating a new product. I also met an amazing artist named Joe Escamilla from Pearsall who made the most beautiful creations out of deer horns. His work was impressive.
While Mr. Escamilla was from out of town, I am always fascinated by the talent that resides right here in my hometown. People that I see at the grocery store or attend church with turn out to be extremely talented fine artists, crafters, and musicians. Often they are too modest to brag about their abilities, so when we have events like Fort Clark Days, I get to see their work on display.
And have we talked about the food? I think I was saving that for last. I had the most amazing hamburger on Saturday. I think what made it so good was that I hadn’t planned on eating it. Someone was kind enough to buy it for me. At first I declined, but then the wind sent the aroma over to my nose and I could no longer resist. It was one of the juiciest burgers I’ve ever had. As you can see, it’s been a few days, and I am still thinking about that delicious burger.
Later that day, I gave a tour of the Black Seminole museum to a kind group. They were eager to hear about the history of the Black Seminoles, and they asked some really interesting questions. To be honest, many of them were already pretty well versed in our history, so the conversation was a memorable, intellectual exchange. I was happy that they seemed pleased with what they saw in the museum. I am thankful that they took the time to come and visit.
Note: This blog appeared as an article in the 3/9/17 edition of the Kinney County Post.