Sunday, 22 June 2014



Photos: Courtesy
Emet B. Huntsman, Curator, Fort Clark Museum - Brackettville, Texas
Albert and Verne Chennault - West Bloomfield, Michigan

"1788] A messenger was sent by the Colonial Government of south Carolina to demand the return of those fugitive slaves who had found an asylum in Florida. The demand was made upon the Governor of St. Augustine, but was promptly rejected. This was the commencement of a controversy which has continued for more than a century, involving our nation in a vast expenditure of blood and treasure, and it yet remains undetermined.The constant escape of slaves, and the difficulties resulting therefrom, constituted the principal object for establishing a free colony between South Carolina and Florida, which was called Georgia. It was thought that this colony, being free, would afford the planters of Carolina protection against the further escape of their slaves from service.
These Exiles were by the Creek Indians called "Seminoles,"which in their dialect signifies "runaways," and the term being frequently used while conversing with the Indians, came into almost constant practice among the whites; and although it has now come to be applied to a certain tribe of Indians, yet it was originally used in reference to these Exiles long before the Seminole Indians had separated from the Creeks." Joshua R. Giddings - THE EXILES OF FLORIDA: The Crimes Committed by Our Government Against the Maroons Who Fled From South Carolina and Other Slaves States. First Published 1858. Republished by Black Classic Press, Baltimore, 1997.
"One of the most remarkable personalities produced by the African race in this country before general emancipation was an illiterate runaway slave who spent almost all his mature life among Seminole Indians. This judgment is, perhaps, either too cautious to be meaningful or too bold to be convincing, according to the direction from which one chooses to approach it. 'One of the most remarkable?' Half a dozen? A dozen? Or perhaps a hundred? If one of the smaller numbers is selected, the question arises: Where does this 'remarkable personality' rank with such a writer as Phyllis Wheatley? such a scientist as Benjamin Banneker? such a minister and theologian as Lemuel Haynes? such insurrectionists as Gabriel, Denmark Vesey, and Nat Turner? such propagandists, orators, and abolitionists as David Walker, William Wells Brown, Samuel Ringgold Ward, Jermain W. Loguen, Lewis Hayden, not to mention Frederick Douglass? Obviously this illiterate runaway slave could have played no significant part in the same arena with any of these, save, perhaps, the insurrectionists; but none of these, on the other hand, could claim to have been so directly and importantly influential in first bringing about and, ultimately, terminating a serious, protracted, and expensive war. It could, I think, be said, at any rate, that our subject received at one important period in his life more general and, at the same time, more generally respectful attention, South and North, than any of others mentioned for comparison, for though he was greatly admired by some and strongly disliked by others, his great ability and influence were recognized by all." Kenneth Wiggins Porter - THE NEGRO ABRAHAM. The Florida Historical Quarterly, Volume 25, 1946, Jacksonville.

"John Horse, John Kibbetts, Cuffy, three Factors-Hardy, Thomas, and Dembo, Sampson July, and Jim Bowlegs headed the early Seminole maroon community in Coahuila. John Horse remained the undisputed head of the Mascogos, and the Mexican authorities referred to him as Capitรกn of the group. John Kibbetts, formerly owned by the Seminole Kubichee, was his military second-in-command, and Hardy Factor, his counselor. The maroons recognized Cuffy, who had played a leading role in the Walking Joe incident at Wewoka in June 1849, as leader in the absence of John Horse. Horse's leading advisers were Thomas and Dembo Factor and Sampson July, the uncles and brother respectively of his wife Susan, and Jim Bowlegs, his successor as leader of the Seminole blacks in the Indian Territory. Prominent women in the maroon community at Nacimiento were Susan and Juana, the wife and sister of John Horse; Nancy Kibbetts, the wife of John Kibbetts; and Nancy Kibbetts's daughter Kitty Johnson.
Border tribes continued to devastate the Mexican interior. Early in 1852, for example, Indian raiders twice stole or killed livestock belonging to the Mascogos and Seminoles at Nacimiento. Again, Mexican officials sought assistance to help curb these incursions. Several parties of maroons under John Horse and Seminoles under Parsakee subsequently took part in a campaign against Comanches that extended as far as the Laguna de Jaco in Chihuahua. During the expedition, the Mascogos and Seminoles. took many Comanche scalps. Between January 6 and May 15, for example, they presented seventy-four scalps and prisoners, for which the state of Chihuahua paid eighteen thousand dollars. The maroon campaigners returned to Nacimiento in June to find that their kinsmen had established a thriving settlement based on agriculture and hunting."  Kevin Mulroy - FREEDOM ON THE BORDER: The Seminole Maroons in Florida, the Indian Territory, Coahuila, and Texas. Lubbock: Texas Tech University Press, 1993.

"Black Seminoles played a prominent role in the Seminole battle against the United States Army in Florida during the Seminole Wars, and eventually were forced to emigrate to Indian Territory in Oklahoma in the 1840's along with the rest of the Seminoles. Hounded by slavers and tired of the terrible living conditions on the reservation, a group of Black Seminoles under the leadership of John Horse joined the Seminole sub chief Wild Cat and his followers as they fled to Mexico in the early 1850's to become military colonists under the Mexican government. There they defended the Mexican border against the attacks of Indians and Texans for a country that acknowledged their freedom and gave them land and pay for their service in the military.
By 1870 the political situation in Mexico had deteriorated and life was becoming difficult for the Mascogos. Slavery had ended in the U.S., so when Captain Perry of the U. S. Army came to Mexico to persuade the Mascogos and their allies the Kickapoo to return to the US and settle in Indian Territory, the Mascogos decided it would be a good idea.

On July 4th, 1870, a large group of the Mascogos crossed the Rio Grande back into the United States, to wait at Fort Duncan for transportation to Indian Territory, where they had been promised land to farm. While waiting, they offered to work as scouts for the U.S. Army, in order to earn money and provide for their families. The army jumped at the chance to have such seasoned fighters who were so knowledgeable of the ways of the Indians in the area. 11 Mascogos were mustered in as the Seminole Negro Indian Scouts on August 16th, 1870.

The Mascogos were excellent warriors and farmers, fiercely independent and never subjugated - the only sovereign nation to have voluntarily left the United States and then voluntarily agreed to return. Culturally a blend of Seminole Indian and Afro/Baptist, they now had some Mexican Catholic mixed in. They spoke Spanish, the Seminole languages Hitchiti or Muskogee, some English, and their own language, very similar to African based Gullah, which they called Seminole. " Katarina Wittich - THE WILD WEST OF THE SEMINOLE NEGRO INDIAN SCOUTS. Lest We Forget Website, 2001.