05 November 2012

Hail to the Chief - Osceola

Osceola's Grave, Fort Moultrie, Sullivan's Island, S.C.

Not THAT Chief. I can't watch another minute of pre-election dramavision. We are visiting Fort Moultrie with this evening's picture to pay homage to the tomb of Chief Osceola. 

Osceola was born as Billy Powell. That strikes my funny bone. Billy Powell. Chief Billy Powell doesn't have quite the same ring to it, does it?

Born in 1804 to parents of Creek, Scots Irish and English decent, he migrated to Florida as a child. His mother's tribe was matrilineal so he was raised Creek and soon led a band of warriors in the battles of Seminole as they fought to protect their land. He was finally captured in what seemed like a dirty trick and it caused a national uproar. He was initially imprisoned in St. Augustine and then transferred to Fort Moultrie on Sullivan's Island where he was a minor celebrity. He was visited by townspeople, posed for paintings and attended the theater and a dinner party on Queen St. He died of Malaria less than three months after his capture and was buried with full military honors

After his death, army doctor Dr. Frederick Weedon persuaded the Seminoles to allow him to make a death mask of Osceola and for some reason removed Osceola's head and embalmed it. He gave the head to his son-in-law who eventually sent it to a New York physician. Mott placed it in his collection where it was said to be lost when a fire destroyed the museum in 1866. Rumours abound about the chief's head and belongings. This book suggests more information but costs $10 to download so it is still a mystery to me.