Seminole Days 2002 - Remembrances
By Gwen Ashby
Kansas City, Missouri
When I first started researching the genealogy of my Seminole Great-grandfather, William (Charley) Smith, I had no idea that it would take me on a journey to Texas and Mexico. I was very curious about the interrelationship between Africans and the Five Civilized Tribes. Their story of the "Trail of Tears" from Florida to Indian Territory in the late 1830's was an American Tragedy.
My research started in the early 90's. I found very little information about this hidden history and heritage. After attending a seminar on American Indians, I obtained a list of books which weren't helpful. It was only after reading Kevin Mulroy's book, FREEDOM ON THE BORDER, that I was able to get a clearer picture of this history. I began to read Kenneth Porter's material and William Loren Katz's books, and became fascinated by the subject.
My late brother, James L. Smith, remembered Mexican artifacts in my Grand-parent's home. They were things that we were never allowed to touch. We decided to attend the 1996 Seminole Days. One thing that we noticed that was similar to our background was the use of nicknames. Everyone in our immediate and extended family had nicknames. Also, we had attended HomeComing Celebrations each year.
At the 1996 Celebration, we met William and Ethel Warrior, Izola and Will Raspberry, Charles Emily Wilson and others. Izola lived in St. Louis, and I was able to correspond and telephone her quite often. Through our conversation, I was able to learn more about the Seminoles in the Texas and Mexico area. She invited me to visit The Camp, which was their residence at Fort Clark, Tx.
When I returned for Seminole Days 2002, I had the occasion to visit The Camp. Their family gatherings were wonderful. There was good food, laughter, and good fun for all reminiscing about the past. So, I felt at home.
The parade participants and the Bexar County, Tx Buffalo Soldiers got the Celebration off to a good start. I enjoyed the speaker, Paulina del Moral. Her research and presentation gave me insight into the lives of the Seminole Mascogos in Mexico.
Clarence Ward, Beverly Wright and those who helped them are to be commended for their efforts in making the 130th Anniversary Celebration a tremendous success. Bennie McRae and those who helped him did an outstanding job in conducting an informative program and seminar.
Remembering Seminole Days 2002 means to me good food, great hospitality, interesting and nice people, relaxing, doing research and appreciating this great group of Black Seminole Descendants tenacity in preserving their heritage.