Looking back over the past 30 years that I have been doing the Seminole War living history and reenactments, sometimes it is good to think of what has been accomplished, and where it has brought me. I will try to be brief, if this is even possible.
Although I only do about two living history events a year now, I can look back to 1994, when I was at an event every weekend from January through March. I do not miss that, because it was exhaustive, even 20 years younger than I am today.
I started making the Seminole coats around 1990. Mainly because I wanted one of my own, and the easiest way was to do it myself. Since then, I have lost track of how many I have made. It has been over 30. A few for museums, and one for FSU’s Chief Osceola. The one I am the proudest, is in the Seminole Tribe Veteran’s Museum on the Brighton Reservation, since I am an Army veteran. And many are being worn that you will never see.
We had a newsletter that we did for about seven years. David Mott and Rick Obermeyer started it. I helped out for three or four years. The internet sort of ended mail-out newsletters. Now people just “goggle it.” It seems that with the newsletter, there was a great amount of sharing that was happening. But it did have a lot of work that included cost, a lot of stamps, and a lot of time and work to put together. After a few years, it wears you out.
Then, the internet appeared. When I created a Seminole War web page, there were none at the time, in 1996. I have created three Seminole War related web sites. Only my blog / journal remains now, because that is the only one I can afford. There were groups and chat rooms, but those things seemed to have disappeared.
I recently retired my county-to-county website after 18 years for a number of reasons. First, was that it cost me a lot of money each year to keep the domain, and I no longer get any feedback. I guess everyone goes to Wikipedia. And, I had not updated it since 2007. With the new Seminole War Heritage Trails and website coming out, it makes my website redundant, and really replaces much of that. So I decided that it was time to retire my website, and move some of my articles from the website to my journal, which doesn’t cost me money and is easier for me to edit.
I would have to say that researching the war, I have a library that has grown quite large. I have more books on the Seminoles and Seminole War than many libraries in Florida. That started out with my research when I would find sources from county or local histories that would have small printing and found only locally. In 2000, I started to print my book of battles and skirmishes from the 3 Seminole wars. The first printing in 2001 was from a local print shop, and very expensive. I re-edited it, and had a decade worth of corrections and additions, and republished with a print-on-demand in 2013. I just did a revised version this past month. I don’t know of many who have done as much research in the Seminole War as I have, over the past 23 years of archival research.
Since 1993, I tried to publish a book on sites to visit in Florida that were Seminole War related. When I was turned down by publishers, I created my website. Then other people published similar books along the way, but their books were not close to containing what I would have included. But, patience paid off, because now the Seminole Wars Foundation is publishing the Seminole Wars Heritage Trail booklet. This booklet is the closest thing to what I have wanted to do, and that accomplishes my goal. I don’t mind that it was co-authored by others besides myself, especially when they are my friends and the best authors writing about the Seminole / Florida wars that you can find. I believe that this will be the greatest thing for getting the word out about Florida Seminole War history that has come out in a long time.
There are many things that I helped along the way and will never get credit for, but certainly left my mark. I remember doing a lot of editing with the Fort Cooper interpretive trail panels with Ken and Kathy Hughes, and very pleased with the way those turned out.
And a story that few people will know: one Saturday morning in 1999 when I was driving past the Fort King property and noticed the “for sale” sign. As soon as I got home, I emailed Dr. John Mahon, Brent Weisman, Frank Laumer, anyone I could who has some authority behind them for Seminole War preservation, and blew the whistle on that cause. Not long after, I got a job out of state and moved away, and missed all the meetings in Ocala pressuring to buy the property, which eventually saved it, but I like to think that I am the one who started the ball rolling on saving the property that has now become the park.
So looking over the past 30 years of the living history and reenacting, and into the research of the Seminole War time period, I can say that I have accomplished a tremendous amount towards educating and giving out information. I probably know more about the subject than most people. I have even been asked to review college papers, and I only have a bachelor’s degree and some master’s course work myself.
This has branched off into so many different studies. Anthropology itself is the basis of many different areas of learning, for the studies of beliefs and culture, history of the native people and the United States and Europe as well as Native American history. Cultural / sociological anthropology, and just opening up my mind to a whole cosmos of thinking and ideas which I would not have thought possible if I never went this route. And this, I would say, would be the greatest thing that I have gotten out of all of this. That it has broadened the mind and my whole outlook on everything. I have not only gotten into the history, but sought the very thinking of the people, and into the mind and beliefs. I have gotten outside of one way of thinking and the very paradigm of how the world and universe is viewed. It would be impossible for me to really explain, but just accept me on this. It only makes me appreciate things in the world even more.