Friday, August 27, 2021

DAP: Haunted by the past


This is the back of my first calendar. I'm thinking of doing this again. Maybe in December. Any takers? Hit up my inbox.

So… I have a secret. Weirdness happens to me, well, a lot. Mr. Cheese calls me his psychic kitty and asks me to use the force when he wants to find a parking space. I’d like to believe my weirdness can be coincidence or just science that hasn’t been explained as yet. #NeutrinosY’all 

OK; onto the weirdness. 

If my sleep gets interrupted for… whatever reason, it takes a while before I go back into REM sleep. These strange dreams never seem to match what is going on in my current life. When that happens, I wake with a headache and a desperate need to remember the dream. In two hours, or so, I forget most of the details. Cheese and I are fond of reading dreams but these strange blips usually stomp us. These kinds of dreams invade my mind once or twice a year. 

I love dreaming. It gives me most of my story ideas and these strange blips have inspired another book idea. That makes 28 in total. *Sigh* I’m writing – I promise! 

It takes me at least 15 mins to write as much detail as I can remember and then I go hunting online. Sometimes I get whole names and even songs. Then I go scare the Cheese with my findings. Usually it ends when I laugh it off, saying something like – If this is dead people connecting with me, then why don’t they send me what I what… lotto numbers. LOL!

Today’s dream, however, scared me so much that I had to tell y’all about it.

I don’t remember much about how it started, but I remember the ending.

Mahershala Ali was wearing a blue civil war uniform and was trekking through an orchard with another solider. I could see through Mahershala’s eyes as I tried to reassure the guy that we were OK to walk through that land because I used to work there. My reasoning didn’t comfort him. We were interrupted by a well-dressed white dude who was apologizing for not coming with us. Mahershala walks closer to him, caresses his face and leans in for a kiss. Then, as in a movie, there is a black to close-up transition and Mahershala is now actress Amandla Stenberg. Yikes!

Amandla was broadly smiling and hugging his guy. She’s short, so her face was pressed up against his chest. I don’t remember what she said. I just thought that she looked like a cutie puppy in the uniform.

When I woke, my head was splitting. I kept thinking that it was a silly idea that a black woman would be brave enough to dress as a man in the civil war era. Why would she do that? Then the answer came. It was a ghost of a thought; freedom. Soldiers were paid. Money meant freedom. So I stepped over to the computer to look her up. I typed… black woman who dressed as a man in civil war.

A photo of Cathay Williams popped up and my breath was trapped in my throat. She was short and resembled Amandla Stenberg.

Here’s the kicker… I was born in Trinidad and Cathay Williams died in Trinidad… Colorado.

Yikes, y’all! 

Yup, weirdness. Anywhoo… Check out some of my practice sketches as I work on my new book with my little beanie girl. I’m hoping to be finished by November. Hmm, maybe just in time for all souls day, tee hee.

Here is the info I found on Cathay:

Cathay Williams was born to an enslaved mother and a free father in Independence, Missouri in 1844.  During her adolescence, she worked as a house slave on the Johnson plantation on the outskirts of Jefferson City, Missouri. In 1861, Union forces occupied Jefferson City during the early stages of the Civil War. At this time, captured slaves were officially designated as contraband and were forced to serve in military support roles such as cooks, laundresses, or nurses. Before her voluntary enlistment, at just 17 years old, Williams served as an Army cook and a washerwoman. In this role she accompanied the infantry all over the country. Williams served under the service of General Philip Sheridan and witnessed the Red River Campaign and the Battle of Pea Ridge.

Despite the prohibition against women serving in the military, Williams enlisted in the U.S. Regular Army under the false name of "William Cathay" on November 15, 1866. She enlisted for a three-year engagement, passing herself off as a man. Williams was assigned to the 38th U.S. Infantry Regiment after she passed the cursory medical examination. Though this exam should have outed her as a woman, the Army did not require full medical exams at this time.

Shortly after her enlistment, she contracted smallpox and was hospitalized. Williams rejoined her unit in New Mexico. There, possibly due to the effects of smallpox, the heat, or the years of marching, her body began to show signs of strain. Due to her frequent hospitalization, the post surgeon finally discovered she was a woman and informed the post commander. She was honorably discharged by her commanding officer, Captain Charles E. Clarke on October 14, 1868. Though her disability discharge meant the end of her tenure with the Army, her adventure continued. She signed up with an emerging all-black regiment that would eventually become part of the legendary Buffalo Soldiers.

Following her discharge, Williams went on to work as a cook at Fort Union, New Mexico (now Fort Union National Monument) and later moved to Pueblo, Colorado. Though she married, it ended badly after her husband stole her money and a team of horses. Williams had him arrested and then moved to Trinidad, Colorado, where she worked as a seamstress. It was during this time that her story first became public. A reporter from St. Louis heard rumors of a female African-American who had served in the army and came to interview her. Her life and military service narrative was published in the St. Louis Daily Times on January 2, 1876.

Around 1889 or 1890, Williams entered a local hospital and applied for a disability pension based on her military service. Though there was a precedent for granting pension to female soldiers, (Deborah Sampson,  Anna Maria Lane and Molly Williams disguised themselves as men in the Revolutionary War), Williams request was denied. In September 1893, a doctor examined Williams. She suffered from neuralgia and diabetes, and had all her toes amputated and walked with a crutch. The doctor decided that she did not qualify for disability payments. The exact date of her death is unknown, but it is believed she died shortly after she was denied.