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Billy Bowlegs and His Raid on Dr. Braden’s Farm

Billy Bowlegs” was a Seminole chief, and lived in the swamps and Everglades of Florida, and some might ask, what had, he to do with the history of Fort Bend County. Personally, nothing, but Fort Bend has an old Negro woman living at Old Arcola (Lucinda Lawson), who has some interesting reminiscences connected with the exploits of this famous chief. She belonged to Dr. Braden in Florida, who had a fine plantation not a great distance from the stronghold of Chief Bowlegs, who often made raids on the planters and carried off their stock, and even Negroes. United States troops were in the vicinity, but so sudden and swift were the raids of Bowlegs that he often got off scott-free with his booty. On one occasion he made a sudden dash upon the plantation of Dr. Braden. It was at night, and the family was at the supper table, Lucinda waiting upon them. In passing from the kitchen to the dining room she discovered the Indians in the orange orchard creeping towards the house. The master was at once informed, who had every light extinguished, and, seizing his gun approached a window and opened fire on them. They returned the fire and yelled considerably, but finally drew off, with Bowlegs badly wounded, having an arm shattered by a ball. They could not easily burn the doctor’s house, as it was constructed of concrete and oyster shells. Before leaving the place the Seminoles took all of the horses in the lots, making the negroes bring them out, and carried off as many other things as they could, including nearly all of the Negroes, especially the women, whom they intended as wives for the Indians. Lucinda escaped this captivity on account of being at the big house, but one of her children and one of her sisters were with the unfortunate lot. The child cried so much the Indians came near killing it several times during the retreat. The Indians had a river to cross, but were supplied with a great amount of rawhide boats which they came over in, and had concealed. The soldiers, however, had been notified, and were on their trail, and came upon them before they reached the boats. A running fight ensued, but the Seminoles scattered and abandoned all of their stolen property. Only one Indian was killed, but the soldier took off his scalp and brought it back. All of they Negroes and horses were brought back, and the shouting and “glorying to God” on account of the deliverance of the captives by the other Negroes left at the plantation was wonderful to listen to. Although this was the last raid “Billy Bowlegs” made in that locality, Dr. Braden sold out on that account, and moved to Georgia. He died there, and the Widow Braden then came with her Negroes to Texas, and settled in Fort Bend County, afraid to go back to Florida. Old “Aunt Lucinda’ was greatly pleased to think that the white folks were interested in her recollections of “Billy Bowlegs,” when the writer and Judge Oatis Fenn went to interview her. She owns the little farm on which she lives. “Yes,” she says, “dis -is de reason tat I a here now in Texas, all on ‘count of ‘Billy Bowlegs.’ I ain’t no Texas nigger, no suh, I’m Florida nigger.”

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