Charlotte Tommie Osceola

By Virginia Mitchell

Charlotte T. Osceola, 76, is a member of the Snake Clan and a Hollywood resident whose late husband, Bill Osceola, served as Vice President in the very first Seminole Tribal Administration. Charlotte was a member of the original constitutional committee. She was interviewed by Virginia M. Mitchell.

When I did work I worked in a factory in Miami sewing canvas tents for servicemen, then on to Hollywood sewing bathing suits, later becoming a housewife. Tending to my children and family was a very full time job in itself.

My children are Marcellus, Raymond, Priscilla Sayen, Judy Bill and Cynthia. Judy Bill was adopted into our family at around seven years of age; Cynthia too is adopted but we received her from the hospital. At present I have 14 grandchildren, nine great grandchildren and one great great grandson.

I remember that in the beginning it was kind of hard to get people from the other reservations together to start on organizing. There were just a few of us here in Hollywood, but we had to have Big Cypress and Brighton people involved. Priscilla and Judy Bill were still in school when their dad Bill Osceola, Billy Osceola, John Henry Gopher, Jackie Willie, and Toby Johns were working on forming the Tribe. On Stirling Road and State Road Seven I can remember a big house that had a fence all the way around it. Part of that road that went around the big house still remains as it was then behind the Delaware Chicken farms across from the Council Oak tree.

Old man Stewart Billie was the first Brighton spokesperson and Frank Billie was spokesperson for Big Cypress. The second BIA superintendent, Mr.(Kenneth) Marmon had informed us that there were monies there for our people but we had to be organized before we could get those monies. So from there we started to organize. I was a Board member for Hollywood, Bill (my husband) was President, along with Frank Billie and Willie Frank. Constitution member Jackie Willie Sr. came in the early 30's.

Bill never really brought his work home, so we at home never discussed his work. If he had anything to discuss, problems or obstacles he went to Billy Osceola then they would work whatever it was out together. We still have problems today like we had back then.

I didn't look ahead, I live one day by day. Today I hear others say they thought this or that would happen today, but I think they are lying, for only the fortuneteller knew what was ahead of us, so I tend to not believe them when I hear someone say something like that. I didn't think I'd live this long, to be able to see my grandchildren grown and to know my great grandchildren. I didn't see the future as it is today, don't know if I'll be here tonight or tomorrow. God is the only one to know.

I've been on dialysis for the past six years, so today was a good day to interview me. Tomorrow after I get back I will be so weak that all I want to do is lay down. It feels like if you had been walking or running for a long while and you get real tired, your bones are weak and they ache so much. On dialysis days I want to hurry home, lay down, and not be bothered. I have no patience to even take a phone call. I just refuse to do anything once I get home and in my room. This usually lasts till late afternoon, then I can start moving around. I go three days out of the week for treatment. At first it wasn't like that but it has changed. Some of the patients talk about what they have experienced throughout their years of dialysis. I dread knowing that those big needles will be inserted into my veins, because they hurt. I was diagnosed with diabetes when I had miscarried - the baby was too big - I was maybe around 39 years old; I had my tubes tied after that. High blood pressure later set in after I had started dialysis.

The first families here in Hollywood were: Alice Billieboy, Lena Billie, and Annie Mae Tommie. There was a big house on Stirling, a three or four story building, where the superintendent was housed and worked, next to it was the school house were we went for our education. Annie Tommie, John Fewell, Lena Billie, Alice Billieboy, Sam Huff, Mary Bowers and I lived in houses that were built next to each other near the government building.

There was a dairy right off Stirling, this is where my father worked for Mr. Doan. My dad cleaned around the orange trees. My father was Ben Tommie of the Panther Clan. Betty Mae Tiger, Agnes Bowers, Jack Osceola and Mary Bowers went to school with me. For sixth grade I went to Cherokee BoardingSschool. Mary and I returned after one year, and the others went on. I thought that was enough schooling for me at that time. But I've always told my children to keep going and to finish. Bill, on the other hand, never went to school. He couldn't read or write, but he was one that could remember anything. But we both encouraged our family to continue their educations.

I know that I won't live another 70 years (she chuckles) but I am glad to have known my grandchildren and great grandchildren. I didn't know my Saviour was going to let me live this long. What I would like to tell everyone is to always listen to your parents, God will give you more years for listening to your parents. Your parents are caretakers to nurture, teach and love you with the guidance of the Great Spirit, so as a child of God we all will prosper with His blessings. My parents lived with me even after I had my family. My mother was in her seventies and my father was in his nineties before they left, and I'm very grateful for all the time I was blessed to be with them.

Virginia Mitchell is Editor of The Seminole Tribune.