This past Saturday (July 15), several members of my family traveled from Brackettville to Big Lake, Texas, for our first annual family reunion. I couldn’t wait to see everyone, and I couldn’t wait to eat some of my brothers’ BBQ.
The idea of everyone coming together isn’t lost on my family. We come together during the good times to celebrate things like weddings and births. We also come together in times of need, when a loved one is sick or when a loved one dies.
During the family reunion, I was able to see our history and our future. The oldest people there were me and my siblings. We are the children of Dora Phillips Goodloe and Johnny Goodloe. All of my siblings were there. There are only nine of us now. My brothers John (Bumpy) and Frank (Bootsie) have passed away.
I am very aware of my mortality, but I also see how families live on. Many people know my family because of our smiles, and it seems that the Goodloe smile has been handed out in abundance. But there is also the Goodloe spirit, and that seems to be a trait that has been passed on to each family member. During our reunion, we all exhibited the same joy, hope, and laughter that my grandma Anna Grace had. She loved life and lived it to the fullest for the eighty years that she was on this earth. And from the youngest to the oldest, each person that was there seems to possess that same joie de vivre.
All day Saturday, I kept thinking about the journey that my ancestors made. Starting in Western Africa, they were captured, placed in ships like sardines, and enslaved against their will. We are the descendants of, at least, one enslaved African, who decided to run away. Instead of running North, this ancient ancestor went South, finding refuge in Florida. After three wars, the group that this ancestor had joined, now known as the Black Seminoles, were moved from Florida with the Seminoles. In Oklahoma, they did not find a home. The land they were given was not what they had been promised, and they were located near hostile Native American tribes and were under the constant threat of slave catchers, so they left Oklahoma and arrived in Mexico in 1850. From this time to 1870, the Black Seminoles patrolled the border for the Mexicans. For their efforts, they were given land, which they still own today. This place is called El Nacimiento de los Negros Mascogos. In 1870, several Black Seminoles returned to Texas to perform the same job they had done in Mexico for the United States. From 1870 to 1914, the Seminole Negro Indian Scouts served honorably and valiantly. After the Scouts were disbanded in 1914, many of the Black Seminoles took up residence in Brackettville. This is where my family comes from, and we are so proud of how we came to be.
Note: This blog appeared as an article in the 7/20/17 edition of the Kinney County Post.
This past Saturday (July 8) was very busy for the members of the Seminole Indian Scout Cemetery Association. We had a cemetery cleanup. While the cemetery was being cleaned, back at the museum, several ladies were cleaning and reorganizing our back room. Our goal is to make it a resource room. At one, we had our monthly meeting, and following our monthly meeting, we opened the museum and were delighted by our visitors. Every Saturday, at the museum, I get to immerse myself in history. Lately, I’ve been thinking about beginnings and origins. I’ve always been intrigued by how the Seminoles and the Black Seminoles came to be.
Historians believe that Africans and Native Americans first came into contact with each other in April 1502, when the first enslaved African arrived in Hispaniola. Thus began an intriguing relationship between two distinct groups that has lasted centuries.
The Seminoles were originally known as the Creeks. They became known as the Seminoles, which means “runaway” or “untamed”, when they broke away from the Creeks and sought refuge in Florida. Native American refugees from the northern wars, such as the Yuchi and Yamasee after the Yamasee War in South Carolina, migrated into Florida in the early 18th century. More arrived in the second half of the 18th century. The Lower Creeks, who were part of the Muscogee people, began to migrate from several of their towns into Florida to evade the dominance of the Upper Creeks and colonists (Wikipedia).
Around 1689, enslaved Africans began seeking refuge in Spanish Florida in earnest. They were encouraged to do so by the Spanish. The Spanish were hoping that this influx of runaway slaves and Native Americans would help to bolster their numbers after several other tribes of Native Americans had died after contracting European infectious diseases.
The enslaved Africans who were seeking freedom had fled from South Carolina Lowcountry. Those who reached Florida were given freedom under an edict from King Charles II. All they had to do was promise to defend the Spanish settlers at St. Augustine. Soon, the Spanish had organized these once-enslaved Africans into a militia. And in 1738, their settlement at Fort Mose was founded. It was the first legally sanctioned free black town in North America (Wikipedia).
Even though the British defeated the French in the Seven Years’ War in 1763, which meant that the British took over rule in Florida, many enslaved Africans continued to seek refuge in this area because it was lightly settled. The only difference was that now they made sure to settle near Native American (Seminole) settlements.
This trend grew and continued. By the time of the American Revolution (1775-1783), Florida had been a sanctuary for runaway slaves for nearly seventy years. Communities of Black Seminoles generally began where the Seminole communities ended. The war, which was a time of upheaval and unrest, encouraged more slaves to seek freedom in Florida.
By the time that the War of 1812 began, there were two distinct communities of Seminoles and Black Seminoles that came together to fight. They sided with the British against the United States. Going to war together strengthen and tied these two groups closer together.
Note: The blog appeared as an article in the 7/13/17 edition of the Kinney County Post.
We, as a town, celebrated the Fourth of July on Saturday, July 1. It was a busy, fun-filled, action-packed day, to say the least. There were so many events scheduled for that day, and I felt it was my duty to attend as many as possible.
Independence Day or the Fourth of July is a federal holiday that commemorates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. The Continental Congress declared that the thirteen colonies regarded themselves as a new nation, the United States of America, and were no longer part of the British Empire. The Congress actually voted to declare independence two days earlier, on July 2 (Wikipedia).
On July 3, 1776, John Adams wrote the following to his wife Abigail: “The second day of July 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with the pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.”
In 1777, thirteen gunshots were fired in salute, once in the morning and once again as evening fell on July 4, on Bristol, Rhode Island. Philadelphia celebrated the first anniversary in a manner that we modern Americans would find quite familiar: an official dinner for the Continental Congress, toasts, 13-gun salute, speeches, prayers, music, parades, troop reviews, and fireworks. Ships in port were decked with red, white, and blue bunting (Wikipedia).
Here in Brackettville, we did just that. The patriotic program and the fireworks were highlights. This past weekend was full of festivities that highlighted our freedom and our love for our country.