The school site is land partial number 20-1N-17-04000-002-0010 . The site was donated to the Bruce Women’s Club by the Walton School Board. The Bruce Women’s Club then donated the property to the Muscogee Nation of Florida. According to Walton County records, Sale Book 2733, Sale Page 4584, the deed transfer was on 8/30/2006.
The past president of the Bruce Women’s Club was Mazie (Ward) Rossell, who held major positions in the Muscogee Nation and who is the originator of much of the Nation’s “history”. The school is being used by the Muscogee Nation of Florida as it’s headquarters.
2. The size of the area directly North to the school is inadequate for stickball. The total perimeter length is approximately 113 feet (or 38 yards), and the perimeter width is approximately 46 feet (or 15 yards). The actual area for usage as a playing area appears to be approximately 92 feet (or 32 yards ) in length and 39 feet (or 13 yards) in width.
3. Stickball, like other Indian football games, has a religious connotation and are commonly played on or adjacent to the tribal ceremonial or stomp dance grounds. It is not merely a “game”. Played to please the Creator, stickball and similar football games are usually played only twice a year, once at the beginning of the ceremonial cycle, and once at the end. It’s doubtful that any traditional tribe would be playing stickball at this location for any reason.
NOTE: According to the Walton County records, the cemetery and school properties mentioned in the Senate and House bills were obtained by the Muscogee Nation of Florida within an eight month period prior to the introduction of these bills. Although they might have had access to these properties for a longer period through members of the organization who owned or had control over the property, it should be questioned why legal transfer was not made until the time that it occurred.
Sec. 2 (10)(C) in 1912, established a church that is recognized by the Methodist Conference as a Native American church; and
The Bruce United Methodist (Native American Church) is located at 269 Church Rd. Bruce, Fl. 32455 859-2343. The Methodist Archives Center of the Alabama-West Florida Conference has no records on the history of the church except what was provided to them by Mazie (Ward) Rossell. Mrs. Rossell was a “Chief” of the “Choctawhatchee clan” located at Bruce, a member of the “governing council of the Eastern Creeks“, and member of the Northwest Florida Creek Indian Council.
Mrs. Rossell was also a member of the Florida Democratic Committee for over 50 years. As a member of the Florida Silver-Haired Legislature, she was able to draft her own resolutions and send them to the state’s elected officials for consideration.
The only independent record from Mrs. Rossell’s claims about the church is a list of ministers who served the church. This list starts in 1930 with H.W. Chalk. It’s possible that William Joseph Ward, founder of the church, provided services in the early years. It’s said that he had the complete Bible memorized, and many marriage ceremonies took place in the Ward’s homes. However, Mr. Ward died in 1924, which leaves a blank of approximately six years recorded in it’s ministry.
The current minister is Rev. William A. Young, who was appointed to the church in 1998. During a short telephone conversation on 21 August, 2007, he stated that he did not know anything about the history of the church. When asked if there were many Indians who attended the church, he laughed and stated: “It’s kind of ridiculous for anyone to claim to be Indian today“.
According to Mrs. Rossell, the church was supposedly given the designation “Native American Church” by the Methodist Conference in 1991. A research of Conference Journals and minutes for 1991 and 1992 was made by personnel at the Methodist Archives Center in Montgomery, Alabama. There were no records found that indicated the church was recognized as a Native American Church by the Conference during this period, as claimed. There are separate indications that the designation as a Native American Church was initiated during a Ward family reunion, and has taken on that name from common usage by the family. Heavy donations to the church by the Eastern Creek Nation/Muscogee Nation of Florida and yearly Ward family reunion activities at the church have continued to bolster the image of the church as Native American.
An April 1992 church pamphlet authored by Mrs. Rossell, which is on file, describes the dedication of the church:
“It took approximately one-and-a-half years to complete the church building, and when the date was set for dedication, William Joseph Ward (Diamond Joe) sent school children across the dirt road to the one-room school house to locate their History books to follow along as he recited the Declaration of Independence.”
Now, I ask that if the history of the Muskogee Nation is true as given by them, why would they use a document that establishes their worst enemy - the United States - as part of their church dedication?
A farmer in Alabama, he was mustered into Company D of the Fifty-third Alabama Infantry Regiment (Alabama Partisan Rangers, Confederate) at the age of 31 on 1/1/1861. He moved to Walton County sometime after the war, appearing in the 1/1/1870 Walton County Census as a farmer on page 62, Family #406.
His entry from Alabama into CSA service , and moving to Walton County after the Civil War, is an important contrast in reality to the Ward family claims in a lined school composition book diary that: “October 1854: Our people are afraid to get together for any reason” and “October 1859: More than 150 people in this part of Florida was sent West for a bounty…we no longer say the word chief.” (BIA documentation).
A similar attempt to claim a Holmes Valley Church was made by the Eastern Creeks and Ward family, as part of the earlier Lower Muscogee Creek Tribe East of Mississippi BIA petition. This claim was unsubstantiated.