Susan Wolf Johnson

Gasparilla King Blog

Who is Samuel Westcott?

The night Becca hid beneath the live oak waiting for Adam, she opened her suitcase and pulled out the first volume of Rebecca's diary. The floodlight, positioned to illuminate the tree, shone on the journal while Becca remained unseen within the remaining darkness under the oak. Becca remembered the story that Rebecca had recorded in the diaries that dated back to the mid-1800's. Here is an excerpt from that journal.
Who is Samuel Westcott?

The night Becca hid beneath the live oak waiting for Adam, she opened her suitcase and pulled out the first volume of Rebecca's diary.  The floodlight, positioned to illuminate the tree, shone on the journal while Becca remained unseen within the remaining darkness under the oak. Becca remembered the story that Rebecca had recorded in the diaries that dated back to the mid-1800's.  Here is an excerpt from that journal. 

Silva (Becca's great-great-grandmother) often passed the pen where the Indians were held like cattle waiting deportment to Egmont Key. How lucky Osceola had died and been spared to witness the army built stockade where his people were herded to wait shipment out.  Always from Tampa Bay--the deportment, the bitter wailings of a people half-starved, the old, the women with infants, the weak, rounded up from the fringes of the river. Silva heard the Seminole cries hover over the dusty town.

One summer day, a Seminole mother thrust her infant son into Silva's arms. Later, Silva would say she would do it all again—first for the mother in that pen whose gaze had captured Silva's and beckoned her close that August day before the sky burst open.  And then for the infant that was laid in her arms, wrapped in deerskin, his hair a black sunburst around his head, and his lips pressed tight as if having tasted life's venom.  Silva fled with the child, ran home with him under her coat, her head a rattle, but her heart aimed straight through the squalling wind and needled rain. Silva hid the child until he was two years old. When the wars were over they christened him Samuel Vaugh, and together, she and Charles raised him as their own.  Years later, Rebecca added his name to the Westcott Family Tree.

Becca didn't know it at the time, but the family who took in Julia's child who was born out wedlock were descendants of Samuel Westcott.  They lived in a bungalow located on the corner of Seminole and Powhatan which was five miles north of downtown Tampa in the Heights. 

Beneath the live oak that night, Becca pictured the infant son and his mother together before she thrust him into Silva's arms.  Becca was just beginning to uncover the secrets that had been lost in a murky past and had plagued the Westcott family for years. 

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