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Last week I had someone say on the facebook group, that a professor of a college or university in West Palm Beach, told them that the Seminoles were not the original inhabitants in Florida.  He stated that they were kicked out of the Timuquan, Tequesta, Calusa, and Jupiter tribes. I am getting pretty tired of college professors making asinine statements.  Then I see the same thing a couple days later repeated in the West Palm Beach newspaper, and the Gainesville newspaper.  I guess he was writing a blog for them.

First off, there is no Jupiter Tribe. The people around Jupiter north of Palm Beach have been identified as being at Hobe Sound, Jaega or Ais Indians. Second, if they were kicked out of the tribes (and they were not), then they still would still be from there. You are indigenous to the area because you live there and are from there. The tribal differences and politics, and being chased out of the local village make no difference saying if someone is an aboriginal inhabitant. They are undoubtedly indigenous people, and there is no doubt in anyone's mind about that. 

But these are minor issues.

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Thanks from information by John Missall, I can now take credit card orders for books at my talks and reenactments. So I am now able to sell books directly to someone who wants to purchase using credit card. 

This will work out great for me, because I am not at all happy with Amazon taking most of the profit or royalties from my book sales. So, if I can cut out Amazon because they make more money off my books than I do, then that’s great. Because of the difficulties I had with CreateSpace and Amazon a few months ago, all my future books will be through a different publisher. 

I also found out that a digital copy of my timeline book is being passed around. I don’t know if it was a kindle copy or pdf they had gotten from kindle. This is pirating my work, and the same as people who download music without paying for it. So, I am discontinuing digital or kindle copies. 

Lastly, I gave a historical talk recently. Afterwards, some people were asking me to come to their festivals and reenactments. There is a good reason why I don’t do these anymore. The main reason is that it costs me several hundred dollars out of my pocket to attend a single event as a participant. I cannot reimburse the cost to myself if I sell $20 worth of books, which is about how much I usually sell at events. So, if I do events in the future, they will have to be worth my time, money, & effort. 

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For the past ten years I have maintained my family genealogy research on Ancestry. I have found some interesting things, like my great-grandfather who had another wife that we didn’t know about.

But to verify all of this, was through careful research to make sure that I was not adding someone just because they had the same name. It has not been easy!

Unfortunately, other people have not been such good researchers, so that there is a lot of junk now on Ancestry.  Other people using my research and family photos has somewhat irritated me, especially when they started adding erroneous information. Someone added a family tree where my father lived in New York City, which he never did. But they added the New York residence because my Dad had a common name as other people the same name and born the same year. 

Now it seems to be a problem with Ancestry full of erroneous family trees that will make genealogy research even more difficult to unravel. People have been connecting erroneous information and then claiming most assuredly that they are related to Seminole leaders like John Hicks, Osceola, or Sam Jones. Regardless that the information they have is all wrong. And, why can’t they be related to a Seminole who was never famous? Why only the famous characters?

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I just found a copy of Flamingo Magazine from November 2018. I tried to restrain my comments, and believe me, this came out a lot shorter than originally written. In the magazine, there is an article on Osceola and Major William Lauderdale, from whom Fort Lauderdale was named. The article has some beautiful photos and layout. Unfortunately, the text of the article is total crap.


The article starts out with telling the tragedy of Negro Fort / Prospect Bluff, and says that Osceola, as young Billy Powell, and his mother were there. “Out of the rubble of the old fort, as he rose from the piles of bodies left behind in the summer sun.” 


We have no evidence that they were there. As part of Peter McQueen’s band, there is no evidence that Peter McQueen and his people were ever there. We do know that McQueen’s band was defeated and many captured in 1818 by forces under Creek leader and American ally William MacIntosh on the Econfina River. Osceola and his grandmother were among those captured at Econfina. If there is any connection between Osceola and the destroyed fort at Prospect Bluff, there are no historical documents that I have seen to connect the two. It seems to me that the author is combining two fashionable subjects—Osceola and the fort as Prospect Bluff—for his own agenda. This is a disservice to the many people and warriors who participated in history and who are largely forgotten. It wasn’t all just about Osceola.


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For those of you participating in the two different Seminole War reenactments this weekend, have fun, and I hope your festivals are successful and nobody gets hurt. I will not be there for very specific reasons.

And specifically; my background as a former safety supervisor with the state parks has made me a marked man and libel if anything goes wrong at your festival.

Back starting in 2007, when I worked for the Florida State Parks, I was a participant with establishing the blackpowder safety standards and rules developed for the reenactments and living history programs. The state parks have a written policy and guidebook that is published for all to see. The manuals of Florida State Parks Historic Weapons Firing Safety Program cover either muskets and small arms, or artillery. And I was very proud to be a Safety Supervisor at various events at state parks for a few years.

Although I no longer work for the state parks, I still have the manuals of the safety program we developed. It has changed for later time periods, but I agree with the program that we developed for our antebellum period. 

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A few years back, I met a woman at the Miccosukee festival who was a member of the Miccosukee Tribe. When I mentioned that I I’ve done reenactments, she bristled and said, “They just want to kill Indians all over again!” It made me stop and think of her sentiment, and why she thought that way. Are we just glorifying the bad part of history? Our goal as interpreters is not to show death and bloodshed, or just have a battle. 

The woman had a very good point. It was a very difficult part of her history. A documentary I saw of Creek people in Oklahoma, explained that they did not speak about the Battle of Horseshoe Bend and the Creek War that happened 200 years ago at their community grounds because of the bad memories that it brought up. I talked to a Creek friend from Oklahoma who was visiting this past summer, and they do not talk about the history that happened here in the east. These are bad memories for them, even if they were six or seven generations ago.

Jack Martin in his book, “Sacred Revolt,” one of the best that covers the Creek War causes & effects, in my opinion, starts out with a very good point. He writes:

“I was disturbed at the way historians left those people dead on the battlefield without ever bothering to ask who they were and why the fought? It was as if scholars were killing them over and over again by failing to imagine their lives, symbols, desires, and perspectives.”

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I have had several comments and issues on the Seminole War Facebook page this past month that I want to address.


The DNA ancestry tests are more popular than ever. There are several different DNA tests on the market. People are taking them to see if they have Native American Indian ancestry. Often, the results are confusing.

 

Sometimes these results bring up more questions than answers. My test said that my ancestry was about 12 percent of Italian and Spanish ancestry, of which I had no idea, and do not know where that came from. I thought that most of my ancestors are fairly well document, but I guess not.


Then according to National Geographic, we all came out of Africa 100,000 years ago, and I have some DNA from Denisovan and Neanderthal. Denisovan is related to Australian Aborigine; maybe I should claim that?


This is all very interesting, and fun to talk about, but totally meaningless in the long run. It won’t get me anything. Records written down by my great-grandmother are more meaningful than this test.


People want to take these tests and prove they are Native American Indian. Some even told me to prove they are Creek or Seminole. If they need a box with a test tube to spit in to prove they are Creek or Seminole, then I will tell them that they are not. The only way that you are going to prove to me that you are Creek or Seminole is by the scratches on your arm. It has always been about community and culture, not spitting in a bottle.


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Recently, I saw a fuss raised on facebook. Usually, I would not comment about it. But it has to do with a change of an upcoming event at Dade Battlefield.


Dade Battlefield does an annual World War II event and has for probably the past 20 years. This is relevant to what happened there. Back in World War II, the Army Air Corp took over the park and turned it into a training base and prevented outsiders from visiting, due to the secrecy of the training. I am not sure how long this lasted, but I believe that the dates on Wikipedia are wrong, which only say about five months. There is much more information in the state archives of what happened at the park during that time.


For those not familiar with Dade Battlefield Historic State Park, the park was established in 1921 or 22. The monuments, stone bridges, and a band kiosk are the oldest structures in the park. The museum was not built until 1957. Other than that, there is an activity lodge with a kitchen that can be rented, picnic pavilions with a restroom, and a playground. A nature trail, and in total, 80 acres. It is a small park, and I am not aware of anything that remains from WWII. But, that is still part of the history.


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I enjoyed recently the new program on PBS, “Secrets of the Dead: Spanish Florida.”

This two-hour documentary tells the history of Spanish Florida from Spanish colonization by Pedro Menendez and the slaughter of the French Huguenots to the cessation of the territory over to the US. Apparently, it will be a four-hour program released on DVD.

My favorite parts were some of the marine archaeology and the archival work done by Dr. J. Michael Francis, of whom I am a big fan. Overall, I thought that it was a very good program.

Now, the reason I do not work with film productions and documentaries is because I will tell them where they are getting it wrong. That is why the only recent documentary I worked with, was the New Orleans 200th that I did with the 7th Infantry, and we did everything ourselves, including buying our own camera equipment, to writing and filming all ourselves.

What I think this Secrets of the Dead documentary got seriously wrong was that it highlighted two individuals who claim to be descendants of the Yamasee Tribe. Their claims are dubious.

One individual is shown in one still shot, standing next to a person wearing a t-shirt of the Empire of Washita. Which is a cult that claims to have migrated from Africa 200,000 years ago and built the Native American earth mounds east of the Mississippi. Any association with that group makes me suspicious. I can talk about them some other time.

Then they highlighted this woman from the Ocklawaha Seminole Band (Not federally recognized.) This group is now claiming to be Yamasee. They have claimed to be from numerous tribal backgrounds over the years, as their claims have constantly changed.

They did not always claim to be Yamasee. I have attached below, their own history, provided by the group founder and grandmother of the woman who was featured on the documentary.

Nowhere in this Marion County history booklet is any mention of being Yamasee and coming to St. Augustine after the Yamasee War of 1715. In fact, what Mrs. Little Dove Buford describes is totally contrary. But remember, this whole history itself is totally fabricated. Any historian or person knowledgeable in Florida and Seminole history who reads this will know that it is total balderdash!

This is the same group that made friends with James "Flaming Eagle" (Scamming Eagle) Mooney, that I told about here back in 2011/2012. Who claimed to be a member of this group. He is a self-proclaimed shaman, claimed to be a descendant of Osceola, and was arrested in Utah for possession and distribution of Peyote with false claims of being associated with the Native American Church, which he was not. He later got in trouble in Phoenix with a prostitution cult. I don't know if the Ocklawaha Band and James Mooney have severed ties, but last time Mooney was trolling this site, he was still claiming to be a member.

I am doing this because this falsehood should not be passed off as fact. What these people claim needs to be challenged.

PBS really should have talked to me first, because I could have saved them some embarrassment. I am not the only one who knows this!

Click on the page to read the full size. Then right click to download your own copy!

From: Marion County Remembers, “Salty Crackers” Number Sever by Sybil Brown Bray 1989, cover. Sketch a copy of George Catlin’s painting/sketch of Seminole Chief Coa Hadjo.



Inside Cover

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(Native words on this page are probably taken from a Ben Hunt Indian Lore craft book.)
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(Image above: Fort Fraser from the book, “Florida’s Peace River Frontier” by Canter Brown, Jr. We don’t have many images of Florida forts during the Seminole Wars, and this is your classic style fort. What is unusual is that the horse stable is inside the fort, which would lead to unhealthy living conditions.)

However you spell it, Fort Fraser, Frazer, or even Frazier, is spelled different ways on the Post returns from 1837 and 1838. It depends on which officer was writing it out. The fort was named for Lieutenant Upton Fraser, who was killed with Major Dade’s command. The fort was established in late 1837 during General Jesup’s three-column movement down the peninsula.


Image above: Historical marker, which unfortunately doesn't give enough information because it is outdated. Beside the bike trail.

The Post Returns only cover the months from December 1837 to April 1838. There are no returns for the Florida Militia activity during the Third Seminole War. Fort history is covered in the book, “Florida’s Peace River Frontier,” by Canter Brown, Jr., which is the best history on the area.

As Col. Taylor’s column moved south before the battle of Okeechobee, Lt.Col. William S. Foster ordered construction of a bridge and causeway ahead of the fort in mid-November 1837. The fort was constructed at the former site of Seminole Chief Oponey’s plantation by Lake Hancock. Col. Taylor came through and deposited supplies, and moved on down towards the Kissimmee.

The Post Returns for December 1837 tell us that, Bvt. Major Henry Wilson of the 4th Infantry assumed command of the post on December 20, 1837. Earlier that month at Fort Brooke, Lt.Col. Foster had said that Wilson was one of the few officers who wasn’t sick. Also present were 2d Lt. James McLure, 1st Infantry, fulfilling duties of quartermaster and assistant commander. 2d Lt. R. A. Suthers, 2d Artillery, Commanding the Company. And L. Carswell-Ely, from the Missouri Volunteers, as post Surgeon. Capt. H.L. Thistle’s 2 companies of Philadelphia Volunteers numbered 139 rank & file were listed as attached to the post but not present. Total number present for duty at the post, officers and men, was only 27.

Of the Pennsylvania Volunteers under Captain Hezekiah Thistle, they spent their time constructing bridges and causeways, and constructed the first bridge over the Peace River. For many years thereafter called Thistle Bridge.

Dr. Joe also just reminded me that Capt. Thistle invented and patented a saddle. So I found a picture of it in the Army and Navy Chronicle. It is a stretcher that fits on a horse, for removing sick and injured men off the battlefield. Very ingenious! Not that different from what you have today, used by rescue services and the Coast Guard. (Except with a helicopter instead of a horse.)



Above: Thistle’s stretcher saddle from the Army & Navy Chronicle.


The following month, on January 15, 1838, 2d Lt. James McClure assumed command of the post, still doing his duties as QM. 2d Lt. R. A. Luther of the 2d Artillery became the Company Commander. L. Carswell-Ely from the Mo. Volunteers still remained as the surgeon. The 35 men on the post were composed of the 4th and 6th Infantry, with 3 from the Pennsylvania Volunteers, and almost all the men present are counted as sick, including all the officers.

The February 1838 Post returns are especially interesting as the Commanding Officers page lists all 32 men on the post by name. It lists their regiment, and their status if they are sick or on duty elsewhere.

On March 26, 1838, 2d Lt. Luther assumes command of the post. J.A. Hannah becomes the acting surgeon with the departure of the Carswell-Ely on the 21st. 2d Lt. McClure is sick at the hospital at Ft. Brooke. He will not recover and be dead at Ft. Brooke on April 5, 1838. One death is listed on the returns, although Sprague lists two, and they are down to 23 men total at the post.

In April, Capt. John Munroe of the 4th Artillery assumed command on April 18th. 2d Lt. Luther became company commander, and 2d Lt. Bates was the QM and subsistence agent. Soldiers of Co. G, 4th Artillery arrived and increased the garrison number to 62. This is the last month on microfilm, then the post was abandoned in May.

In Sprague’s history, I found listed three deaths at Fort Fraser/Frazer. Since they did not die from gallant action or circumstances, it is very possible that they were buried on the spot and still remain. Only the enlisted men who died under heroic actions were reinterred under the pyramids in St. Augustine. And I found another death during the Third Seminole War at Fort Frasier from Durrance’s company of the Florida Militia.

Fort Fraser possible burials:
2d Regt Artillery:
Pvt. Stephen Scennet, Co. I, Oct. 16, 1837. Drowned. Since this was before the fort was established, it may have happened during construction of the road and bridge before the fort.
Pvt. Nathaniel Hicks, Co. I, March 14, 1838. Run over by a wagon.
4th Regt Artillery: Pvt William Ponton, Co. K, March 5, 1838. Fever.
Florida Militia, Durrance’s Company of Independent Fla. Mounted Volunteers (Third Seminole War): Thomas W. Hill, age 23, died Apr. 30, 1857.

At the end of Col. Taylor’s campaign, 325 Indians and 30 Blacks were at Fort Fraser before moving on to Fort Brooke for removal to the west. When Fort Fraser was closed in May 1838, Taylor declared it the perfect graveyard, where not ten men in a hundred would survive a summer there.

Fort Fraser was almost reactivated during the Panic of 1849, but it was found that the road could not be used between the old fort site and the Kissimmee River. So, the action stayed further south to Fort Meade.

In the 1840’s, people were taking advantage of the land made available by the Armed Occupation Act. In 1854, a community developed around Fort Fraser, just as it did around Fort Meade, and a road was constructed between the two communities. When the Third Seminole War broke out in December 1855, a stockade was rebuilt at Fraser.

The worst battle of the Third Seminole War was in June 1856 near Fort Meade, when Seminoles attacked the homestead of Willoughby Tillis. (I’ve written about this before.) It was initially fought by seven militia soldiers from Fort Meade. The next day, more militia soldiers arrived from Fort Fraser under the command of Francis Marion Durrance, who was also the brother of Mrs. Tillis. Fighting continued along the Peace River for two more days. This was the bloodiest and longest battle of the Third Seminole War, with several killed on both sides.


Image: Monument in Fort Meade to the Battle of Tillis Farm and burials.

Fort Fraser played a short but important role in both the Second and Third Seminole Wars. The Durrance family are important settlers in the area, and buried all over the county. Later on, famous Florida cattle baron Jacob Summerlin owned Fort Fraser, who was known to only pay his bills in Spanish gold coins. So it is an important, yet forgotten place in Florida history. (Don't go there digging holes, looking for Summerlin's gold stash!)

Fort Fraser is part of the Seminole Wars Heritage Trail along with the monument in Fort Meade where the soldiers are buried from the Battle of Tillis Farm. Get your copy of the booklet here: http://dos.myflorida.com/media/695430/seminole_war_heritage_trail.pdf

Although many forts were established in Florida during the antebellum period covering the Seminole Wars, only a few of these places are marked. Nearly all of these places are now developed. You can see which ones to visit in the Seminole Wars Heritage Trail booklet.



Image above: Modern bike trail bridge using an abandoned railroad grade, part of the Seminole War Heritage Trail.

We are rapidly losing are historical sites as Florida is being developed quickly. I have seen us lose many of them over the past 50 years. When we lose them, we lose our heritage. We do not get them back. Even places that we thought were safe two years ago are apparently not safe. Even these sites on the Heritage Trail are not safe forever. The actual site where the fort stood, the owner is selling the property. We are losing our historical, cultural, and archaeological sites.
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