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.