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Title: Red Hills of Florida, 1528-1865
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Title: Red Hills of Florida, 1528-1865
Series Title: Red Hills of Florida, 1528-1865
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Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front page 1
        Front page 2
    Half Title
        Page i
        Page ii
    Title Page
        Page iii
        Page iv
        Page v
        Page vi
    Table of Contents
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Red Hills

Clifton Paisley

The University of Alabama Press

Copyright 1989 by
The University of Alabama Press
STuscaloosa, Alabama 35487
All rights reserved
Manufactured in the United States of America
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Paisley, Clifton L.
The Red Hills of Florida, 1528-1865
Bibliography: p.
Includes index.
1. Red Hills (Fla.)-History. I. Title.
F317.R43P35 1989 975.9'8
ISBN 0-8173-0412-6 (alk. paper)
British Library Cataloging-in-Publication Data available

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1,A.lahassee, Florida



my granddaughter, Alice,
my grandsons, Brendan and Ryan

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Preface ix
1. Piedmont Florida 1
2. The Nation of Apalachee, Narvaez, and De Soto 10
3. The Cross in the Hills 23
4. The Old Fields of Apalachee 35
5. Andrew Jackson's Leisurely "Wolf Hunt" in the Red Hills 44
6. The Spring Creek Trail 57
7. The Complaint of Neamathla 69
8. Tallahassee and the "Old Dominion" 82
9. Those Seminoles Again 95
10. King Cotton Takes Control, 1845-1850 107
11. The Florida Cotton Kingdom, 1850:
Jackson and Gadsden Counties 119
12. The Florida Cotton Kingdom, 1850:
Leon County 131
13. The Florida Cotton Kingdom, 1850:
Jefferson and Madison Counties 141
14. The Railroad-Building Boom 156
15. The Blacks 169
16. "A Slight Touch of Ashby de la Zouche"
and Secession 184
17. The Civil War 196
Epilogue 210

viii Contents

Appendixes 215
Abbreviations 228
Notes 229
Bibliography 266
Index 280


"The Red Clay Hills of North Florida" was the name that R. E. Rose,
Florida state chemist seventy-five years ago, gave to a region that
provides the setting for this book. Pamphlet after pamphlet, including
The Lands of Leon, published in 1911, sought to interest "the intelligent
northern immigrant" in taking over the then worn-out cotton fields
of Leon, one of five counties in this region, and making them pros-
perous farms. The invitation to come south was finally accepted prin-
cipally by wealthy northern industrialists who, instead of cultivating
the land, turned the red hills into what the late very colorful politician
Jerry Carter called "pa'tridge pastuahs." I devoted some attention to
these gentry and their winter hunting preserves in From Cotton to Quail
It was evident to me that the Red Hills-in Leon and its neighboring
counties Gadsden and Jackson to the west and Jefferson and Madison
to the east-had attracted people like a magnet, the cotton planters
long before quail planters and the Spanish explorers and missionaries
before them. Everywhere I have lived, nearby footprints of the past
have been an attraction, whether on the site of the Civil War Battle
of Prairie Grove, Arkansas, or at Nashville, Tennessee, where the
footprints were those of Andrew Jackson and Frank James. In Tal-
lahassee, where the Jacksonville Florida Times-Union assigned me as
capital correspondent in December 1954, I found footprints that went
back much farther than they had in any place I had ever lived. The
newspaper indulged me in my suggestion that I go down to St. Marks
and look for the ruins of an old stone fort that the English had found
in 1763 when they took over Florida for twenty years. I was sure
present-day people knew little or nothing about it.
So on a pleasant Saturday in October 1955, Charles H. Schaeffer of
the State Park Service and I rowed the half mile downriver from the


wharf to where the St. Marks and Wakulla rivers come together to
"rediscover" San Marcos de Apalache. The Park Service already had
dreams of acquiring the site and digging what was left of the fort
from a jungle of cedar, palmetto, and hackberry trees. American set-
tlers had had many buildings to build, including a lighthouse, and
the fort had been cannibalized so that its finely cut limestone blocks,
even those of the vaulted ceiling of the "bombproof," could be used
to build these structures. We were able to trace an outline of the fort
from the mounded earth, but the only visible part was a length of
stone wall rising on the Wakulla River side about where old plans
showed the northwestern bastion to have been.
My only information about the fort came from a piece written by
the late Mark F. Boyd in the Florida Historical Quarterly. My family
and I lived across the street from Dr. Boyd on East Sixth Avenue, and
so I went to see him for additional details. What I remember princi-
pally about the interview was his insistence on precision. When I
mentioned a "stone wall," he corrected me; it was a "rubble wall."
He was a physician and was just as clinically incisive in his writing.
After starting research for The Red Hills some fifteen years ago, I dis-
covered that over the course of about twenty years Boyd had brought
together, principally in the Quarterly, what amounts to a documentary
history of this region. The area was under the Spanish flag for more
than three hundred years, and Boyd himself translated many of the
documents. Although he never, to my knowledge, used the term
"Red Hills," he ably documented this region and its coastal ap-
proaches, and I am more indebted to him than to any other historian.
Those who have assisted me in my inquiry include first and fore-
most my wife, Joy Smith Paisley, who has always shared my enthu-
siasm for the region and its history. She is responsible for a survey
that was completed in 1978-but should have been made half a cen-
tury earlier-of the plantation and rural family and church cemeteries
of Leon County. Her book, The Cemeteries of Leon County, Florida, re-
cords information on the stones in about seventy old cemeteries, in-
cluding information about the only known grave of a Revolutionary
War veteran. Joy has backed me all the way, offering suggestions,
reading copy before and after completion of a fresh typescript, en-
couraging me with her enthusiasm for the project. Our daughters,
Mary and Elizabeth, have also lent their support and talents in various
Many others have assisted me. I will mention particularly those
who have read and made suggestions about parts of the book during
various stages of revision: in Tallahassee, LeRoy Collins, James N.

Preface xi

Eaton, Mary Louise Ellis, Charles W. Hendry, Jr., the late Lou Whit-
field (Mrs. J. Frank) Miller, John H. Moore, the late George Lester
Patterson, and the late Amy Goodbody (Mrs. George Lester) Patter-
son, William W. Rogers, Dr. Fred B. Thigpen, Louis Daniel Tesar,
and the late Sally Lines (Mrs. Edward) Thomas; elsewhere in Florida,
the late Edwin B. Browning, Madison; Floie Criglar (Mrs. John C.)
Packard, Marianna; Esther (Mrs. Frederick W.) Connolly, Monticello;
and Lee H. Warner, Sarasota; and outside of Florida, Amy Turner
Bushnell, Mobile, Alabama; Linda Ellsworth, Philadelphia, Pennsyl-
vania; and Robert A. Matter, Seattle, Washington. I also thank Susan
Hamburger, Tallahassee, for expertly typing the manuscript, and
James R. Anderson, Jr., and Peter A. Krafft, Tallahassee, for expertly
drawing the maps.

Tallahassee, Florida CLIFTON PAISLEY

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Red Hills





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Piedmont Florida

The motorist who is southward bound through Georgia leaves the
mountains north of Atlanta but enjoys a replica of them in the hilly-
to-rolling Piedmont and in what are sometimes called "the Red Hills
of Georgia." At Albany the hills seem to have been left behind, and
much of the drive toward Tallahassee on U.S. 19 follows a straight
and level stretch. Below Thomasville and near the Florida line, one
expects U.S. 319 to drop down farther to the sandy, flat coastlands-
for the Gulf of Mexico is only fifty miles away-but the land wrinkles
up again, and one sees more hills and valleys for twenty miles than
appeared in one hundred miles of Georgia. Where the earth has been
gashed, as in road cuts, the traveler also notices the red clay familiar
from the Georgia hills and mountains.
Our upcountry motorist is now in the Red Hills of Florida, a region
that is the setting for this narrative. Travelers from the earliest times
have commented on the beauty of the region, on its hill-and-valley
character, with an abundance of lakes and springs and a vegetation
indicating naturally rich soils. Sidney Lanier, a late nineteenth-cen-
tury visitor, called this strip of land extending for 150 miles along the
border of Alabama and Georgia "Piedmont Florida." Never more than
twenty-five miles wide, the hill country occupies the northernmost
parts of the counties of Jackson, Gadsden, Leon, Jefferson, and Madi-
son in Florida. There are higher elevations in the Panhandle and
Peninsula of Florida, but nowhere is the up-and-down character of
the land more impressive. After Lanier's train had crossed the Su-
wannee River, he discovered "a country differing wholly in appear-
ance from the lumber and turpentine regions of Duval, Baker,
Columbia and Suwannee counties" through which he had passed on
the way from Jacksonville, a region having, said he, "as fair a set of
arable hills as one could wish to see."1

Piedmont Florida

The New England naturalist Bradford Torrey, making this rail trip
in 1893, noted the same change from level country to hills and "from
white sand to red clay."2 Entering the region from the west in June
1827, the Right Reverend Michael Portier, Catholic bishop of Alabama
and Florida, found an overnight haven from the pine forests of the
Panhandle in what is today called Orange Hill in Washington County.
This was only a foretaste, though, of what Portier found in the "Chi-
pola country" in Jackson County twenty miles farther along, with its
reddish soils, rolling lands, cool brooks and fine hardwood forests.
Finding this land after passing through "interminable tracts of stunted
pine trees" was "like escaping suddenly from the infernal Taenarus
into paradise."3
The novelist Maurice Thompson described a trip of thirty-five miles
by hack from Thomasville, Georgia, to Tallahassee in 1880 during
which the road left level sandy pinelands for the hill country. He
found around Tallahassee "a region at once the most fertile, the most
picturesque and the most salubrious to be found south of the North
Georgia mountains."4 The road taken by Thompson is still called the
Thomasville Road but as U.S. 319 is today a busy thoroughfare in
places four lanes wide. A better introduction to the natural setting of
the Red Hills is by way of the Meridian Road five miles to the west
via State Road 12.
Hardwood forests press against the twenty-foot-wide asphalt strip
of Meridian along the seventeen-mile drive into Tallahassee. Al-
though there are many, many pines, one is now likely to see white-
trunked beeches, oaks and hickories of many kinds, sweetgums, tulip
poplars, and dogwoods, with an understory of sumac, wild plum,
French mulberry, haw, and elder. In winter these forests are stark
and bare except for the shiny-leaved magnolias and hollies, and the
open ground is as brown as a Tennessee sedgefield. The brown fields
turn as white as a Vermont snowdrift on a sharp, frosty morning, but
it is often summertime in the afternoon. Wealthy northerners who
bought up the worn-out cotton lands at the turn of the century and
turned them into "quail plantations" showed local people the charm
of these winter woods. In the spring the light greens of hickories and
gum join the duller tones of evergreens, but as summer wears on, all
of the greens become subdued, muted also by the dark limbs and
massive trunks of the live oaks. These with their ever-present Spanish
moss-great streamers of it almost reach the ground-appear in in-
creasing numbers. When fall comes, the woods light up with a merry
medley of reds, purples, and yellows, showing outlanders how much
autumn color can be found even in Florida.


Piedmont Florida

Meridian Road rises and falls in gentle slopes from elevations of
100 feet above sea level along the western end of Lake Iamonia to 240
feet along the eastern side of Lake Jackson. Nearby, just off Orchard
Pond Road, is a peak of 279 feet less than three-fourths of a mile from
a backwater of the lake called Mallard Pond, surface eighty-seven
feet.5 For the most part, Meridian runs straight along the zero merid-
ian of the 1825 land surveys. An observant botanist-geographer, Ro-
land M. Harper, marveled in 1914 at the way road builders in Leon
County often ran the roads straight regardless of hills, traveling across
rather than around them. The red clay stuck together so well that the
deep, perfectly vertical sides of the roadways stood in place for years,
becoming covered with a gray-green lichen that Harper had rarely
seen elsewhere.6
Six miles south of State Road 12, as Meridian begins to cross the
higher ridges, these road cuts with their crust of lichens sometimes
rise in sheer walls of eight or ten feet. There is no evidence of agri-
culture today, but the deep road cuts now provide a telltale sign of
the agriculture of 1850, when Leon County grew more than a third
of all the cotton grown in Florida.7 In taking the cotton to market,
six-mule-team wagons bearing two or three tons of baled cotton were
the real road builders, wearing roads like Meridian to their present
level. Live oaks along the sides grew large, their limbs and branches
intertwining over the roadway, shading the lichen-covered banks,
and providing a pleasant canopy for the summer traveler. This canopy
ends just to the south of Maclay School, and the traveler also sees
fewer of the interesting gray-green banks, for modern road builders
favor slanted rather than vertical side ditches, and the lichens refuse
to grow on banks that bake in the sun.
The drive is nevertheless pleasant as Meridian proceeds into Tal-
lahassee and joins the Thomasville Road. On Monroe Street the trav-
eler ascends a gentle slope to the restored "old capitol," eighteen
miles from the Georgia line. At the intersection of Adams Street, a
block to the west, and Pensacola Street is the twenty-two-story "new
capitol," built during the 1970s. It was here, from a porch of the City
Hotel, that Lanier looked out on the hill country and, reminded of
the fertile hills around Macon, Georgia, his old home, felt prompted
to speak of "Piedmont Florida."8
The land at the base of the two capitols is 215 feet above sea level,
but just to the south it falls off steeply to less than 100 feet. The traveler
is at the edge of the Red Hills and from the glassed-in observation
deck at the top of the new capitol surveys a vast stretch of level
pineland. The horizon to the south shows no evidence of the blue

waters of the Gulf, but on a very clear day a guide may identify a
pinpoint on the horizon as the St. Marks lighthouse.
Geologists call the drop of land separating the Red Hills from the
coastal lowlands the Cody Scarp. Rarely is the escarpment as pro-
nounced as it is near Tallahassee, but it extends eastward to the With-
lacoochee River, a tributary of the Suwannee, and westward to the
Apalachicola, with some manifestations beyond.9 Back on Monroe
Street, one can drive southward toward St. Marks to look at the low-
lands. The drive descends a steep grade which is the valley of an
ancient stream that here cuts through a southward-tending thrust of
the Scarp as it comes from the west. A stream-still evident as a
drainage ditch on Franklin Boulevard-flowed around the south-
eastern corner of early Tallahassee and, south of that hamlet,
dropped in a sixteen-foot waterfall called "the cascade" into a rock
sink.10 The ancestor stream formed the first valley across which Mon-
roe Street now runs, and a second was formed by a stream, now also
a drainage ditch, that flowed through Indian Head Acres and along
Orange Avenue. Near present-day Monroe Street these waters were
used by George Washington Scott, a nineteenth-century planter (and
later founder of Agnes Scott College), to turn a sixteen-foot water-
wheel that powered a cotton gin and corn-grinding machinery, giving
the flow here the name "Scott's Ditch."11
The motorist is still in the Red Hills as the roadway rises from the
second valley. A detour via Paul Russell Road some two miles south
of the old capitol takes the motorist to a high ridge on the eastward-
running course of the Cody Scarp. The view of residents with houses
here has been about the same as that from the top of the capitol.
Although the lighthouse cannot be seen,the glow from its light has
been discernible on clear nights.12 Lookouts at the seventeenth-cen-
tury mission of San Martin de Tomoli here had this same view of the
flatlands, as did John McIver, an early Leon County settler who built
his house in the ruins of this mission.13
Back on the Woodville Highway, the motorist is at an elevation of
about fifty feet above sea level where Old Tram Road strikes off to
the southeast near the base of the Cody Scarp. A drive southward
crosses increasingly low shorelines of Pleistocene times. White sands
everywhere replace the red and yellow clays and dark topsoils of the
hills. Longleaf pine still grows in small natural stands from a floor of
wiregrass that has never felt the touch of a plow. But the forests often
are of even-age slash pines, standing in military ranks, the universal
imprint of the pulp paper industry. Where these trees have been cut
down, ragged-looking turkey oaks have taken their place. Beyond

Piedmont Florida


Piedmont Florida 5

Woodville, as the elevation falls almost to sea level, these lowlands
become a "watery wilderness."14
Geologists explain that the Red Hills comprise an accumulation of
clays, sands, and other rock fragments deposited on a limestone bed
that were washed down from the Appalachian Mountains beginning
about 20 million years ago, following an uplift of these mountains.
Originally the clayey sands formed a level plain about three hundred
feet above present sea level. The runoff from heavy rains-today this
coastal area averages about sixty inches a year-carved the plain into
the hills and valleys seen today, while at the Cody Scarp these uplands
were sheared off abruptly and worn down, most likely by several
higher stands of sea level. East of the Ochlockonee River, which di-
vides Leon County from Gadsden, some of the deeper valleys were
eroded enough to reach the most recent of several layers of underlying
limestone, a brittle and sandy stratum called the St. Marks formation.
Acids in the downward-percolating surface waters dissolved portions
of the bedrock, creating fissures and caves. Streams flowing through
these valleys then entered underground passages.15 Some geologists
maintain that the large Lakes lamonia, Jackson, and Lafayette in Leon
County, and Miccosukee on the border of Leon and Jefferson counties,
were at one time streams and that their beds, made deeper and
broader by erosion and collapse of the underlying caves (sinkholes),
became lakes.16 All still have sinkholes and, in the absence of man-
made dams and other structures, become "disappearing lakes" that
during very long and continued dry spells shrink to a third of their
normal size.
In Gadsden and Liberty counties west of the Ochlockonee, the lime-
stone bedrock subsided in the distant past into a coastward-sloping
trough, and this trough accumulated more of the Appalachian frag-
ments than the counties to the east. Streams have never been able to
penetrate these deep clays and sands far enough to reach the bed-
Jackson, the westernmost Red Hills county, has still another geo-
logical history. The northern part is assigned to what has been called
"the Marianna River Valley Lowlands," but these lowlands consist
of rolling land between 100 and 170 feet above sea level. In ancient
times broad rivers-the ancestors of the Chattahoochee-Apalachicola
system-left their deposits and eroded them more evenly and thor-
oughly, forming a lower plain tIhn east of the river before valleys
were carved by smaller streams. Older bedrock is nearer the surface,
and the more recent erosion has carved out numerous, now relatively
dry, underground caves, for example the Florida Caverns near Mari-

Piedmont Florida

anna. Sandy remnant hills in the southern part of the county stand
at much higher elevations, but the hills in northern Jackson County
are linked with the Red Hills parts of four counties east of the Apa-
William Bartram, who wrote so enchantingly about the Alachua
country and the valley of the St. Johns River, never saw the Red Hills
in his travels of 1774, but the keenly observant botanist and geog-
rapher Roland M. Harper is a good substitute in recording the native
plant life. Noting topography and soils as well as trees, shrubs, and
herbs, Harper left a record of what he saw in 1914 from west to east.19
In the central and northwestern part of Jackson County, on both
sides of the Chipola River, Harper found in what he called the "Mari-
anna Red Lands" one of the richest soils in Florida. There was a
tendency here toward dense forests of oaks, magnolias, sweetgums,
beeches, and hollies, with rather more cedars, maples, walnuts, and
redbuds than he had found elsewhere in northern Florida. Longleaf
pines were found in considerable numbers on sandy uplands, in ad-
dition to blackjack oaks, but loblolly or "old field" pines were more
frequent than longleaf.20 The eastern side of the county, except for
the floodplain of the Chattahoochee and Apalachicola, was a place
for naval stores and lumber enterprises, and only 15 percent of this
"lime sink or cypress pond" region lay in improved lands. Harper
guessed that longleaf pines comprised 60 percent of the original stand
of timber. These pines in 1914 stood in forests that were "so open
that a wagon could be driven through them almost anywhere." Fire
burned through the woods nearly every year, assuring the survival
of the longleaf.21
To the east the floodplain of the Apalachicola provided rich land
for farming that, however, could be undertaken only with great peril
because of the spring floods; the Apalachicola near the forks some-
times changed its level by thirty feet in a short time. Harper noted
that all other Florida rivers originated in the coastal plain but that the
Chattahoochee, flowing "out of the hills of Habersham, down the
valleys of Hall," came all the way from the Blue Ridge, bearing melting
snows of spring thaws. Like many botanists before him, Harper was
fascinated with the plant life on the eastern shore of the Apalachicola.
Much of it was the same as that in northern climes. On this eastern
shore a high ridge extended northward into Georgia along the eastern
side of the Flint River, but in Florida tributary streams had cut this
ridge into many precipitous valleys. The Apalachicola River on the
western side and the rugged topography of this area combined to
protect it from fire. Probably, said Harper, it had suffered fewer wild-


Piedmont Florida

fires than any other part of Florida, and humus lay deep on the forest
floor. The botanist-geographer was awed by the high bluffs: "Aspa-
laga Bluff, in Gadsden County, rises about 175 feet in a distance of a
quarter of a mile from the water's edge, and Alum Bluff, in Liberty
County, has a very precipitous face about 160 feet high, which is
perhaps the most conspicuous topographic feature in all Florida."22
East of the steep hills and valleys of Gadsden County were what
Harper called the "West Florida Pine Hills," which greatly resembled
the pinelands of the Panhandle far to the west and did not offer the
best land for farming.23 In contrast, eastern Gadsden County had
excellent land, part of the "Middle Florida Hammock Belt." Here,
although longleaf pine still was the dominant tree, Harper found a
stronger mixture of shortleaf and old field pines, as well as hardwoods
such as magnolias, and there was more farming than in western Gads-
den County.24
The "Tallahassee Red Hills" in Leon County east of the Ochlock-
onee, like the Marianna Red Lands in Jackson County, had "richer,
redder soils, more hilly topography, [and] a scarcity of longleaf pine"
when compared with lands to the east and west. And although Leon
County was more hilly than any other place Harper had encountered
in Florida, it had "almost no bluffs, ravines or hills too steep for
wagons to climb." Gullies were rare and farmers frequently ran fur-
rows up the side of a hill without fear of erosion. The drier uplands
appeared to have been covered originally with comparatively open
forests of shortleaf pine, red oak, hickory, dogwood, and other hard-
woods. On sandier soil near the center of these uplands, there were
limited areas of longleaf pine forest. On some hillsides and richer
uplands dense forests of hardwoods were found, with a considerable
accumulation of humus. Among pine trees, the shortleaf was the most
prominent; the old field pine came next. These together might com-
prise a third of the arboreal cover, while the remaining two-thirds
was made up largely of sweetgum, dogwoods, red oaks, live oaks,
water oaks, magnolia, wild cherry, hickories, post oaks, and other
hardwoods, with hardly a corporal's guard of longleaf pine. Harper
found evidence aplenty "that this region has been longer and more
extensively cultivated than any other area of the same size in Florida,"
part of this evidence being the large number of weeds in old fields
and on roadsides and railroad rights-of-way. The land had been cul-
tivated by Indians long before the white man came.25
The typical vegetation of Leon County's red hills extended over the
Georgia line and into Jefferson County. But Harper noted that most
of the rolling lands of Jefferson and Madison counties were typical of


Piedmont Florida

what he called the "Hammock Belt" of eastern Gadsden County.26
"Tallahassee Red Hills," the name Harper gave to the 340 square miles
of rich lands that were principally in Leon County, was shortened by
geologists to "The Tallahassee Hills," which they defined as covering
all of the rolling country between the Withlacoochee and the Apa-
lachicola. In this history I treat the Red Hills of Florida as extending
across the wide Apalachicola-just as Lanier did in describing Pied-
mont Florida-to include the old "Chipola country" around Mari-
anna. This hilly region, clinging to the Georgia line for most of its
length, seems more like a southern intrusion of the Peach State than
a part of the Sunshine State. But although its five Florida counties
resemble their neighbors just across the line, they seem even more
akin to the Georgia of the Piedmont or to the Red Hills of Georgia
that extend from the area of Houston County to Stewart County and
then southward along the Chattahoochee River to Early County,
Except for the Apalachicola, which runs one hundred miles and
empties into the Gulf with a flow of 24,700 cubic feet per second,
making it the twenty-third largest river in the United States,28 this is
not a region of large or important rivers. The Withlacoochee on the
eastern side and Holmes Creek on the western are tiny streams, while
the Suwannee into which the Withlacoochee flows is less than half
the size of the Apalachicola.29 All of the other rivers are small: the
Chipola, with headwaters above the Alabama line, flows through
Jackson and Calhoun counties before joining the Apalachicola in Gulf
County; the Ochlockonee begins its lazy journey in Worth County,
Georgia, gains some size from Gadsden County streams, and empties
into the west side of Apalachee Bay in a wide estuary. The St. Marks,
rising in northeastern Leon County, never reaches a respectable size
until, at the Natural Bridge, it is fed by large springs, after which it
is joined by the Wakulla before flowing nine more miles to Apalachee
Bay. The Aucilla, rising just above the Georgia line and running be-
tween Jefferson and Madison counties, becomes a formidable river-
at least to cross-only because of the wide swamps along much of
its length, then in the lower reaches, below Nuttall Rise, receives some
of the waters of the Wacissa to the west. The region is more a country
of lakes than rivers, and the Florida Division of Water Resources has
counted six hundred that either are named lakes or are as large as
ten acres, half of the entire number being in Jackson County. The
largest lake of all, Miccosukee, covering 6,226 acres, is shared by Leon
and Jefferson counties, while Leon alone has the large lakes lamonia,
Jackson, and Lafayette.30


Piedmont Florida 9

With more hardwood forests than other parts of Florida, the Red
Hills also, before the widespread use of fertilizers, enjoyed a repu-
tation for having better soils. Orangeburg sandy loams, found prin-
cipally on higher ground, and Norfolk soils have been the most
favored for crop production and give the area a richness for cultivated
crops that has made it the envy of counties to the east and west.31
Cooled by the breezes and rains from the Gulf in the subtropical
summers and warmed by the Gulf in the frosty winters, with their
rich soils, interesting terrain, woods full of game, broad lakes and
rivers full of fish, and many crystal springs, the Red Hills of Florida
seemed likely to attract a large population, especially of farmers. This
they did long before they were discovered by the white man on the
journeys of Panfilo de Narvaez and Hernando de Soto in 1528 and


The Nation of
Apalachee, Narviez,
and De Soto

The most popular resort near the Red Hills since the early settlement
of Tallahassee has been Wakulla Springs, sixteen miles south of town.
Here a tremendous flow from the Floridan Aquifer boils up out of a
cave and forms a deep basin, the water then flowing away as a full-
sized river to the Gulf. Visitors through the years, including Sidney
Lanier, have floated face down on the surface of the basin and on a
clear day have been able to follow the descent of a dime one hundred
feet to the limestone bottom. Not until a sparkling day in April 1850
did a newcomer to Tallahassee, twenty-year-old Sarah H. Smith of
Fayetteville, North Carolina, identify large bones and tusks long seen
on the bottom as those of a mastodon.1 And not until 1930 was the
full skeleton of a mastodon retrieved from the bottom. The skeleton
was displayed for years in the office of the Florida Geological Survey
and was eventually taken apart. It did not see the light of day again
until May 1977, when, reassembled and standing eight feet eleven
inches high at the shoulder, it was erected near the entrance of the
new Museum of Florida History, where it is a formidable presence
that sometimes sends frightened youngsters into the arms of their
No one up to and including Geological Survey Director Herman
Gunter, who wrote about the retrieval of the Wakulla skeleton in 1941,
associated mastodons with the first presence of man in Florida. How-
ever, during the 1930s, discoveries near Clovis, New Mexico, trig-
gered a nationwide effort to date the earliest appearance of man in a
locality by his encounter with a mammoth or mastodon. Florida began
to figure in this man-and-elephant hunt in 1941 when long, pointed
artifacts made of bone or ivory retrieved from the Ichatucknee River,
which also abounded in mastodon bones, were found to be "typo-

Apalachee, Narvaez, De Soto

logically the same" as bone points associated with Clovis kills. Florida
appeared to have had big game hunters ten or more millennia ago.3
At Silver Springs in Marion County, the archaeologist Wilfred T.
Neill found a large "Clovis-like" stone point, the "Suwannee," at the
bottom of eight feet of strata marking several prehistoric hunting
camps, showing the Suwannee to be the earliest lithic point in Florida
and contemporary with the mastodon.4 Neill then explored the idea
that, at a time near the end of the Ice Age when sea level was 80 to
135 feet lower than it is at present (the sea's water being locked up
in polar ice), and when the water table was also much lower and
watering places fewer, the great springs and sinks of the present
lowlands of Florida had been water holes for big game. Mastodons
came to them for a drink, and hunters followed for a kill. That Silver
Springs did, apparently, provide such a watering place, and was also
the resort of ancient hunters, was suggested by the find within a cave
of the main spring, in mud on a ledge of the cave near its entrance
and thirty-five feet beneath the water surface, of a fragment of a
mastodon tooth and a Suwannee point. The ledge would have been
above water in ancient times and overlooking a water hole.5
Until 1954 Wakulla Cave had never been explored beyond its sunny
underwater entrance. In that year six graduate students at Florida
State University began an exploration using scuba gear. From a ledge
above the cave entrance thirty feet below the surface of the basin, the
divers dropped to the floor of the cave 103 feet below the surface.
The sandy floor sloped abruptly for 200 feet to a depth of 180, then
leveled off at about 200 for the next 300 feet. Large and small fragments
of limestone, which had apparently broken off from the high ceiling,
littered the floor here. In the litter were found bones of mastodon,
sloth, deer, and mammoth, all extinct species from the Ice Age. In
the midst of the litter the divers retrieved only a few flint points,
including the Suwannee, but there was a vast array of bone points,
six hundred of them, and some of these greatly resembled the points
from the Ichatucknee River. Near the deposits of animal bones and
artifacts they found some charcoal, leading them to call this place "the
camp fire."6
Unlike the Silver Springs cave, Wakulla Cave appeared to have no
part that had been dry land at a time when man could have been
there. It was therefore thought that the bones and artifacts had
reached their position from the cave-in of a sinkhole-and indeed
there is a sinkhole on the surface directly above. Some of the divers,
including Garry Salsman and Wally Jenkins, returned to the Springs


Apalachee, Narvaiez, De Soto

for dives during the 1960s and 1970s, commuting from their homes
in Panama City. Jenkins estimated in 1974 that he had made 160 dives
in all. The idea that the bones and artifacts had come from the sinkhole
was suddenly dashed one day in 1972. Two divers, carrying heavy
weights used to speed the seventy-foot drop at the cave entrance,
decided that the water was too murky, dropped their weights twenty
feet from the bottom and returned to the basin outside. Before sur-
facing they saw the normally clear water cloud up suddenly with silt
and discovered later that the weights had somehow dislodged an
eight-foot vertical section of the cave entrance and a giant landslide
had littered the level area inside with sand and additional prehistoric
bones and artifacts, along with charcoal, Coke bottles, and pennies.
The litter they had found earlier was evidently from an earlier land-
It remained for C. J. Clausen and others, continuing the underwater
research that interested Neill, to document the presence of Paleo-
Indians (although not necessarily mastodon hunters) in Florida as
early as 12,000 years ago. Clausen and his colleagues found, deep
within a sink called Little Salt Spring in Sarasota County, an extinct
giant land tortoise impaled with a pointed wooden stake that was
dated by carbon 14 at 12,030 years before the present.8
The ancient hunters whose weaponry has been found at Wakulla
Springs along with the bones of Ice Age mammals seem not to have
been interested in the Red Hills. The same kind of artifacts and bones
have been retrieved in equally large numbers by amateur archaeolo-
gists from the lower reaches of the Chipola, St. Marks, Wacissa, and
Aucilla rivers, all running south of the Red Hills.9 The only Paleo-
Indian site so far recorded in Leon County is the Johnson Sand Pit
Site on the edge of the Cody Scarp overlooking a relic channel of the
Ochlockonee River.10 Following the Paleo-Indians were hunters of
the Archaic Period, 8000 to 1000 B.c., and although these were some-
what more partial to the Red Hills, their projectile points and camps
have been found as frequently in the lowlands.11
After these Indians in this northwestern part of Florida, the first
settled communities were along the Gulf coast beginning sometime
before the birth of Christ. Except for limited hammock lands near the
shores of estuaries, there was no land for farming, and these hunter-
gatherers lived on the land animals they hunted, the plant foods they
could gather, and the shellfish that abounded in the shallows. The
coastal Indians included those of the Weeden Island culture, from
between A.D. 400 or 500 to A.D. 900 or 1000, which was subject to
several inland influences.12 Some of the Weeden Islanders had some-


Apalachee, Narvaez, De Soto

how learned enough about corn culture for evidence of this knowl-
edge (an impression of a corncob on an earthen cooking vessel and
grains of corn in food wastes) to be found in the house of one family,
part of an extensive community, at a site dug in 1973 by Jerald T.
Milanich. This, called the Sycamore site, was, significantly, in the
middle of the Red Hills. The house stood in the Torreya Ravines that
were so dear to Roland Harper, near an abutment of the Interstate
10 bridge over the Apalachicola River, in Gadsden County. The site,
carbon-dated to A.D. 860, showed Milanich a connection with "the
Cartersville peoples" up the Chattahoochee River Valley in the Geor-
gia Piedmont. There was a "heavy utilization of the natural resources
of the Torreya woodlands" habitats that greatly resembled the for-
ested Piedmont, and the site had "only one artifact of coastal ori-
The Weeden Isand culture soon disappeared, though, perhaps from
the pressures of a growing population that demanded better farm-
ing.14 It was succeeded in the Red Hills by a cultural tradition called
the Mississippian that had long exploited the secrets of intensive corn
agriculture. This culture was present in the Mississippi Valley by
about A.D. 900, having apparently come from Mexico, and rapidly
spread westward and eastward. By 1000 A.D. it had reached the La-
mar-Macon Plateau in Georgia, and it seems to have appeared in
Florida some time between 1000 and 1200 A.D. around the forks of
the Chattahoochee and Flint rivers only half a dozen miles north of
the oval-shaped Torreya Ravines house. Based on a farm economy
that accommodated large populations, a division of labor, and social
stratification-with commoners, lords, and a ruling chief who held
considerable power-the Mississippian culture was also characterized
by territorial federations made up of several towns. Each federation
had a central political capital and religious and ceremonial center.
Towns were permanent and sometimes large and their most char-
acteristic physical structures, which often remain today, were large
earthen mounds of flat-topped pyramidal form, upon which were
erected the temples of the priests and rulers and the houses of these
important men.15
In Florida, this culture gained the name of Fort Walton. Its mani-
festations have been found far down the Apalachicola River but prin-
cipally near the large lakes in Leon County, reaching into Jefferson
County. There is a mound just to the north of Lake Lafayette, and
the highest of all, called the Letchworth mound, just south of Lake
Miccosukee at the edge of Jefferson County, stands forty-six feet high.
But the principal cluster of mounds is on Lake Jackson, and this was


Apalachee, Narvaez, De Soto

evidently the "capital" of a political and religious federation extending
over a considerable area. On the western edge of Meginniss Arm,
just north of Tallahassee, the Lake Jackson complex originally had
seven mounds, six of the ceremonial type. There is evidence of a trade
in whelk and other shells from the Lake Jackson site that circulated
through a broad Mississippian region extending from Etowah in Geor-
gia to Spiro in Oklahoma. Lake Jackson was at the southeastern corner
of this vast complex and only a thirty-mile walk straight down what
later became the Shell Point Road to the sandy and shell-laden beaches
of the Gulf.16
The principal mound, now in a state park, is 36 feet high and mea-
sures 213 by 157 feet at the base. The level top measures 100 feet
across. From this elevation lookouts could scan the southern half of
Lake Jackson and communicate with a smaller mound across the lake
at Rollins Point, which had the remainder of the lake in view. Gordon
R. Willey made a preliminary dig at Lake Jackson in 1940, and John
Griffin a dig in 1947. Griffin noticed enough difference in the pottery
to show that a cultural change had been under way while the mounds
were in use.17
In 1975-1976 another dig was made, under the following circum-
stances. A friend called the archaeologist B. Calvin Jones about a
copper artifact found in some fill dirt that had just been placed on
his Tallahassee yard. The artifact proved to be a small copper cere-
monial axe head, or celt. It was traced to dirt that had come from a
sixteen-foot-high mound on private property that the owner was be-
ginning to raze. Jones obtained permission to dig the mound and did
so between November 1975 and February 1976. He dug through
twelve successive floors of wooden houses below which were graves
of priests or chieftains who had apparently lived in the houses and
who wore all of the paraphernalia of their rank into the grave. Pieces
of logs showed carbon-14 dates from about A.D. 1200 to 1500. Five
skeletons in the deepest graves wore copper breastplates embossed
with a dancing human figure identical to that found at Etowah, while
copper celts suggested Spiro. The Lake Jackson assemblage connected
the Indians here unmistakably with the "Southern Cult," or cere-
monial complex, that accompanied the Mississippian culture through
the Southeast.18
The mound-building Indians after three hundred years suddenly
disappeared, as though from a devastating military defeat. Did com-
moners, or minor barons, dictate their Magna Charta and then depose
the lords of the mounds? Did a strike (in a very literal sense) of their
shell workers and carriers undermine their economy? Whatever hap-


Apalachee, Narvaez, De Soto

opened, by the time the Spaniards-having completed the conquest
of Mexico and having begun that of Peru-had arrived to begin the
conquest of Florida, these Indians' place in the Red Hills had been
taken by a tribe called the Apalachee. Chroniclers of the expeditions
of Panfilo de Narvaez in 1528 and Hernando de Soto in 1539-1540
and missionaries after them have left descriptions of the Apalachee.
We know more about these Indians than we do about any of their
Members of the Muskhogean linguistic family, the Apalachee set-
tled on the uplands between the Ochlockonee River and Aucilla River.
On the north, their farms and habitations appear not to have extended
much, if at all, farther than the Georgia line. On the south, their
towns, or those allied with them, went to the Gulf coast, but the
lowland towns were few in number, limited to hammock lands that
would support the culture of corn, beans, and squash. The province
of Apalachee was largely confined to the highlands of just two pres-
ent-day Florida counties, Leon and Jefferson.20
The Apalachee were ruled by chiefs and nobles as their predecessors
had been. Yet the Apalachee had little of the love for display, luxury,
and ceremony that was exhibited by the royalty of Lake Jackson, and
rather than building on mounds, they placed the houses of their chiefs
on natural hilltops, where many of their towns were also located.
Archaeological evidence confirms that the Apalachee built their
houses and towns on higher elevations.21
Each of the towns had its own chief, or cacique, who lived off the
tribute paid by the farmers of the neighborhood. The Catholic bishop
of Cuba, Gabriel Diaz Vara Calder6n, visited Apalachee in 1674-1675
and wrote: "In April they commence to sow, and as the man goes
along opening the trench, the woman follows sowing. All in common
cultivate and sow the lands of the caciques."22 Early Spanish friars
considering the missionization of Apalachee estimated the population
at 30,000 or 34,000, and there were said to be 107 towns. Some eth-
nologists consider these estimates much inflated, but Milanich and
Charles H. Fairbanks believe that the population of Apalachee at the
time of first European contact was "at least 25,000."23
Houses of the common people were round, built of poles and
thatched with palmetto leaves or grass, with a door only 2.8 feet high.
Inside was a raised shelf along the wall which was used as a bed,
"with a bear skin laid upon it and without any cover, the fire they
build in the center of the house serving in place of a blanket." Outside
the house a granary "supported by twelve beams" was used to store
the corn crop. The plaza of the mounds people survived, and the


Apalachee, Narvaez, De Soto

principal building in every considerable village was the council house.
Constructed of wood and covered with straw, "round, with a very
large opening in the top," it was a public building built to accom-
modate two thousand to three thousand persons, said the bishop.
"They are furnished all around the interior with niches called barba-
coas, which serve as beds and seats for the caciques and chiefs, and
as lodgings for soldiers and transients. Dances and festivals are held
in them around a great fire in the center. The missionary priest attends
these festivities in order to prevent indecent and lewd conduct, and
they last until the bell strikes the hour of las dnimas."24 The extraor-
dinary size of the council houses was confirmed in a 1985 archaeo-
logical dig by Gary Shapiro at San Luis in present Tallahassee. Shapiro
found evidence of a round structure 120 feet in diameter. Some of
the support poles were twenty inches thick and had been inserted 6
feet into the ground.25
Corn was the principal crop of the Apalachee, and like Central
Americans, they used alkali cooking techniques that made the small
amount of the protein lysine in corn available. "Their ordinary diet
consists of porridge which they make of corn with ashes, pumpkins,
beans which they call frijoles, with game and fish from the rivers and
lakes," wrote the touring bishop in 1675. The beans, fish, and meat-
the last taken in winter hunts-provided additional protein for a lar-
der that depended principally on corn.26 The most notable of all their
accomplishments was their horticulture, which, according to Bishop
Calder6n, was sufficient in 1675 to supply the several hundred resi-
dents of St. Augustine, who could produce but little corn in the nearby
sands and then only with much labor. "Thus the inhabitants are com-
pelled regularly to depend for their sustenance upon the products of
the province of Apalache," he said.27
Panfilo de Narvaez, the first European to explore Florida, never
discovered the abundance of Apalachee's farm economy, for he never
quite reached the Red Hills. He did, however, discover another note-
worthy characteristic of the Apalachee, namely a fierce determination
to defend their homeland against any outsiders daring to trespass on
it. Narvaez and three hundred men, with forty-two horses, landed
at Tampa Bay on 14 April 1528. Hearing about "a province called
Apalachen in which there was much gold" as well as food, Narvdez
led a march across the flatwoods up the Florida peninsula. On 25 June
the expedition came to a town called Apalachen, but it was a miserable
little place of forty houses in the midst of dense woods and large
lakes. The country thereabouts was nothing like the fertile farmland
the Spaniards expected, nor was there any gold, yet when they in-


Apalachee, Narvaez, De Soto

quired of the natives they were told that Apalachen was the most
populous town of the province and that to the north the land was
"little occupied" and full of "great lakes, dense forests, immense des-
erts and solitudes." But, said the natives, toward the south was the
town of Aute, "the inhabitants whereof had much maize, beans and
pumpkins, and being near the sea they had fish."28
It is difficult to guess where Apalachen was, but plainly it was in
the lowlands, perhaps in the vicinity of the former community of
Walker Springs about eight miles south of Lamont, a town only allied
with Apalachee or an outlying village. On the journey of nine days
that the party now took to the west and south, the Spaniards evidently
never saw the Cody Scarp that marked virtually the southern
boundary of Apalachee. The journey led across territory so wild and
difficult that even the Indians shunned it. At the outset, though, the
warriors of Apalachee, probably from the great town of Ivitachuco on
the edge of lamonia Lake, came out to interdict their passage across
a chest-deep lake and impressed the Spaniards with their military
prowess. Said the account of Alvar Nufiez Cabeza de Vaca: "Some
of our men were wounded in this conflict, for whom the good armor
they wore did not avail." The Indians' bows were as thick as the arm
and these "they will discharge at two hundred paces with so great
precision that they miss nothing."29
Aute, the objective of their journey, appears to have been in the
vicinity of Wakulla Springs or Crawfordville. They did not tarry here,
but hopeful of being picked up by one of the five vessels that had
been dismissed after the landing at Tampa Bay, they pitched their
camp on the edge of an inlet of Apalachee Bay, probably Oyster Bay.
Hopes of a rescue dimmed through the summer, and fifty men died
of hunger or disease, others from the arrows of Indians. Finally the
men, killing one of the ten remaining horses every third day for food
and using their skin for water bottles and their tails and manes for
ropes and rigging, built five crude rafts in which they set out from
what came to be called the Bahia de Caballos for the Mexican coast.
Only four survivors arrived, eight years later, in the settlements
around Mexico City.30
The next explorer, Hernando De Soto, one of the principal lieuten-
ants of Francisco Pizarro in the conquest of Peru, landed with six
hundred men and three hundred horses on the last day of May 1539,
not far from the place where Narvaez had landed at Tampa Bay. Like
Narviez, De Soto headed for Apalachee, but his route lay more in-
land, along a ridge of highlands that is today called "the lake country"
and that in 1539 supported several prosperous towns of the Timucuan


Apalachee, Narvaez, De Soto

Hernando De Soto, the first European to visit the Red Hills, wintered in 1539-40 at a
site in the middle of present Tallahassee. (From an eighteenth-century engraving, cour-
tesy of Florida State Archives)

confederation. Unlike Narvaez, De Soto encountered large popula-
tions and found bitter opposition from these agricultural tribes before
ever reaching Apalachee.31
After De Soto crossed the Suwannee, he clearly entered the Red
Hills of Florida (as Narvaez had not). The entry into these lands that
rise in Madison County from the low pinelands to the south and east


Apalachee, Narvaez, De Soto

is signaled in the account of Rodrigo Ranjel, De Soto's private sec-
retary, who reported that they "passed by a high mountain."32 In
the deserted town of Osachile, the principal settlement of a Timucuan
province that is often called Yustaga, in the vicinity of Sampala Lake,
were found good supplies of maize, beans, and pumpkins, produce
that was more in evidence here than anywhere else the Spaniards
had been in Florida.33 The Spaniards had heard of the fertility of
Apalachee and of the military prowess of its warriors, who "would
shoot them with arrows, quarter, burn and destroy them." It was
now late in September and the Spaniards were determined to press
on toward Apalachee "and if it were as fertile as it had been repre-
sented, to pass the winter there."34 Crossing an unpopulated wil-
derness lying between Yustaga and Apalachee, they came to the Asile
(Aucilla) River. The army aimed for Asile, a town that one chronicler,
Luys Hernandez de Biedma, factor of the expedition, described as
being "on the confines of Apalachee"35 and another, Ranjel, as being
"subject to Apalachee."36 Archaeological evidence seems to indicate
that Asile, at least in later mission times, stood on the western side
of the river about four miles south of present Lamont.37 Somewhere
in this vicinity De Soto made his crossing. The rains had swollen the
river, normally with a forty-foot channel, and it was now more than
a mile wide, spreading across the forest on both sides.38
The Spaniards camped at Ivitachuco, whose inhabitants had fled,
leaving the town burning. On the next morning, the army set out for
Iniahica, the principal town of Apalachee, traveling through "great
fields of corn, beans, squash and other vegetables which had been
sown on both sides of the road and were spread out as far as the eye
could see across two leagues of the plain."39
Garcilaso reported there was a last-ditch stand of the Apalachee at
a "deep ravine filled with water,"and it was four leagues (10.4 miles)
from this point to Iniahica.40 This,. the site of De Soto's winter en-
campment of 1539-1540, has been known to have been in or near
Tallahassee, but only in March 1987 was the first archaeological evi-
dence found to mark the site. B. Calvin Jones discovered a single tiny
link of chain mail in a test hole and during an intensive dig in the
spring and summer located several hundred others, fourteen of them
still forming a tiny piece of armor. The dig uncovered the foundations
of a building measuring twenty-eight by thirty feet that appeared to
be of European construction. It was rectangular, while the Indians
built round houses, but unlike the later mission churches and con-
vents, it apparently lacked hinges, locks or other hardware, or white-
wash, all of which were used in the missions. Quantities of olive jar


20 Apalachee, Narvaiez, De Soto

isml%8 w .- ,.

Archaeologist B. Calvin Jones, who discovered the Spanish site on Lafayette Street,
was about to complete a dig in July 1987 before bulldozers cleared the way for an office
complex. (Photo by Clifton Paisley)


Apalachee, Narv iez, De Soto

sherds were found in and around the building and were thinner
walled than the olive jars of later mission times. In July a copper four-
maravedi piece minted near the time of King Ferdinand and Queen
Isabella was found, followed by several other coins and by the one-
and-a-half-inch iron point of a crossbow bolt. Quantities of blown
glass beads used in early sixteenth-century trade with the Indians,
along with faceted chevron beads with tints of red, white, and blue,
were also found. Fragments of human skeletons were found, bones
of pigs (the Spaniards drove a herd of pigs), and in a contemporary
cistern the tooth of a horse.41
The site, on Lafayette Street a mile east of Florida's capitol, had
been chosen for an office complex whose construction was postponed
while the dig went on. In July, bulldozers moved onto one part of
the dig, and a concrete floor was soon in place. In September the
archaeologists had to move away from the acre or more of land re-
served for the office complex. The site is on a ridge of land two
hundred feet above sea level that forms a watershed between the St.
Marks and Wakulla rivers, in a heavily built-over part of Tallahassee.
Jones is convinced that this is the site of Iniahica and that in traveling
to it De Soto took a route to the south of Lake Lafayette.42 Probably
he traveled along U.S. 27 and the Old St. Augustine Road. If so, and
if the St. Marks River is the "deep ravine," the distance, 10.7 miles,
closely matches Garcilaso's 10.4 miles. Interestingly, a mile or so east
of the site high red clay banks mark the location of a mid-nineteenth-
century plantation called "De Soto."43
Iniahica was ideally located for the principal town of the Apalachee.
From it the Indians could walk straight south to the juncture of the
St. Marks and Wakulla rivers and the "fishing near the sea" that they
enjoyed. In no hurry to reveal this route to the Europeans, the Indians
directed the Spaniards to reach the sea by way of Aute, the town
visited by Narvaez. The Spaniards therefore traveled along "a very
excellent road, both wide and flat"-apparently the same one used
by the mounds people in pursuit of their shell business, following
today's Crawfordville, Wakulla, and Shell Point roads to the edge of
Apalachee Bay. Here the party led by Captain Juan de Afiasco came
on Narvaez's unhappy encampment, still marked after eleven years
by skulls and headpieces of horses, charcoal from a forge, logs carved
as mortars, and a few crosses carved on trees.44
The Spaniards left their winter camp in March 1540. Throughout
their journey across the South, members of the De Soto expedition
recalled "the bellicose province of Apalachee."45 Garcilaso's final trib-
ute to the horticultural skill of the Apalachee was his statement that


Apalachee, Narvaez, De Soto

1 2 3
Among hundreds of artifacts that marked the site as that of De Soto's encampment in
the principal town of the Apalachee Indians, Iniahica, were a four-maravedi piece, the
iron point of a crossbow bolt, and many links of chain mail. (Florida Division of His-
torical Resources)

the whole Spanish army, along with their Indian servants, fifteen
hundred persons, and more than three hundred horses, during the
five months' encampment "fed upon the foods which they gathered
when they first arrived there; and when they needed more, they
found it in neighboring hamlets in such quantity that they never went
so far as a league and a half [four miles] from the principal village to
obtain it."46



The Cross
in the Hills

For nearly a century after the departure of De Soto from Iniahica,
Spain ignored Apalachee, "tierra fertil y de gran cosecha de maiz y
otras cosas." St. Augustine was settled in 1565, and missions were
set up in the hinterland of this presidio.1 The missionaries, of the
Franciscan Order, were full of Christian zeal, not only to win converts
but to see that these converts followed a strict code of conduct. "Being
pregnant, have you killed the unborn child or wished to kill it by
taking some drink or striking yourself or squeezing your belly to choke
it as you used to do?" read a confessionario used by the friars in
Timucua. "Have you some [black female] slave or servant as your
mistress?" The Franciscans were also anxious to stamp out every ves-
tige of heathenish superstition. The confessionario proposed asking:
"Have you believed that when the blue jay or another bird sings, that
it is a signal that people are coming or that something important is
about to happen?"2
Yet while opposing magic and superstition, some of the friars were
quick to believe in miraculous occurrences when these promoted the
Christian faith. Fray Martin Prieto traveled in 1606 to Potano, the
Timucuan district in the neighborhood of present Gainesville, preach-
ing the word of God and erecting churches where there had been
only one convert before he arrived. At the town of Santa Anna, Prieto
insisted on visiting a very old cacique who as a boy had been captured
and held by De Soto and thus had acquired a lifetime hatred of Span-
iards and Christians. When Prieto went into his house, the old man
lost his temper and ordered him beaten and thrown out. Prieto related
ten years later: "At that moment there was a thunderclap . ac-
companied by so strong a wind that. . there remained neither a
house nor a barn standing. . Only a cross and a church in which
mass had been said remained standing." Within six days he baptized

The Cross in the Hills

this chief and four hundred other persons.3 Prieto now carried the
gospel to Utina north of this district. Utina then being at war with
Apalachee one hundred miles to the west, Father Prieto determined
to go to Apalachee to end the conflict; he would carry the gospel
there. In the middle of July 1608 he set out, accompanied by 150
Indians from Potano and Utina. The cacique of Ivitachuco, the most
important among seventy chiefs who had assembled in this town,
along with a large number of other Indians, agreed to the peace plan.
The missionary and the delegation from Potano and Utina were guests
for six days. When they left, the Apalachee instructed the chief of
Iniahica to accompany them to St. Augustine "and in the name of
all, give obedience to the governor" as the representative of the king.4
But not until 15 November 1633 was Florida governor Luis de Hor-
ruytiner able to inform the king that two friars, Pedro Muifioz and
Francisco Martinez, had entered Apalachee on 16 October and
founded the first mission.5 Governor Horruytiner soon encountered
the problem of relaying supplies to missionaries who were nearly two
hundred miles away from St. Augustine. Although Apalachee had
an abundance of corn, Spanish friars much preferred wheat flour,
which could be made into the bread familiar to them in Spain.6 There
were other things to transport also. As Franciscans, the friars were
obligated to live on alms, and since Florida had no gold or any other
wealth, the King had decreed that each was to receive from royal
funds three reales a day in clothing, medicine, and other necessities
along with wine and other furnishings for the mass. The friars called
these "the alms which your majesty gives us."7 At first the supplies
were carried by Indians on their shoulders, but in 1637 Horruytiner
sent a fragata to Cuba, where it was loaded with needed supplies.
The ship's arrival in Apalachee Bay gave great pleasure not only to
the friars but also to the Indians, who celebrated with fiestas.8 How-
ever, in 1639 Apalachee with its rich grain and vegetable fields became
more of a supplier than a receiver of necessities; with St. Augustine
suffering one of its frequent food shortages that year, a fragata sailed
from the presidio to Apalachee Bay, eight hundred miles away, and
returned with corn and other edibles. Thereafter St. Augustine came
to depend on Apalachee for much of its food supply.9
Apalachee still had only two friars as late as 1639, but there were
one thousand converts. There was one very notable conversion that
year, of the cacique of Cupahica, lord of two hundred vassals. This
cacique went to St. Augustine to be baptized and took the Christian
name Balthazar. He returned to Apalachee with a Franciscan father
who may have founded the mission of San Damian de Cupahica, later


The Cross in the Hills

called Escambi, whose site has been found a mile west of the Old
Bainbridge Road near Tallahassee along the side of Interstate 10.10
Possibly at this time, and certainly within a few years, San Luis de
Talimali, the headquarters of the mission system of Apalachee, was
founded as a mission. San Luis and Cupahica appeared on a list of
the nine Apalachee missions in 1655.11
San Luis stood on a high hill two miles south of Cupahica and about
the same distance west of present uptown Tallahassee. On the west-
ern edge of Apalachee, San Luis overlooked the valley of the Och-
lockonee River, standing guard against danger from the west. At the
same time it was near the sea approaches through what became the
port of St. Marks, which was already being visited by vessels from
St. Augustine and Havana. While Iniahica, the one-time capital of
Apalachee, was directly north of St. Marks, San Luis was three miles
west of Iniahica and was reached from the port by a road slanting a
little to the west of north, even as the St. Marks-Tallahassee road
runs today. In mission times St. Marks was also connected with San
Luis by a secret canoe route. This proceeded up the Wakulla River
and thence to within a few miles of San Luis, as indicated by a remnant
stream valley that today links Lake Munson with the Wakulla.12
Missions were established in the western part of Timucua, about
the same time as in Apalachee, and by 1675 these, in Madison County,
included San Pedro y San Pablo de Potohiriba, Santa Elena de Macha-
ba, and San Mateo de Tolapatafi. Another mission was established
on the Asile River. Mark F. Boyd, a transplanted native of St. Paul,
Minnesota, who came to Tallahassee in the 1930s, compiled Spanish
documentary sources and began a search for the Apalachee missions,
of which there were thirteen in 1675. Until he began his studies, only
the site of San Luis in the present city of Tallahassee was known. The
archaeologist B. Calvin Jones, using documents provided by Boyd,
established most of the other locations in archaeological digs during
the late 1960s and 1970s.13
In 1675, at the time of a visit by Gabriel Diaz Vara Calder6n, bishop
of Cuba, the Apalachee mission chain stretched westward from San
Lorenzo de Ivitachuco, with a population of 1,200 (but a one-time
population of 2,500) on Iamonia Lake, almost on the edge of the Cody
Scarp.14 The next mission to the west was Nuestra Sefiora de la Puris-
sima Concepci6n de Ayubale (800) two miles south of present-day
Waukeenah.15 The missions continued in present Jefferson County,
with San Francisco de Oconi (200), San Juan de Aspalaga (800), and
San Joseph de Ocuya (900). The last was near the crossing of Burnt
Mill Creek by U.S. Highway 27, some three miles north of the com-


26 The Cross in the Hills

/ "4

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E- -


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/I I-

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1 I 0
E-4: ::
fn E ~:f P-WA
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The Cross in the Hills

munity of Cody, for which the Cody Scarp was named. The sites of
Aspalaga and Ocuya were on the early American road that is now
called "the Old St. Augustine Road."16
If the line of missions had continued westward in Leon County
along this road, it would have reached San Luis, the principal mission,
by a route south of Lake Lafayette. Instead the line now bent sharply
to the northwest, heading north of Lake Lafayette. In ten miles was
San Pedro y San Pablo de Patale (500) on a beautiful hilltop on Buck
Lake Road. The mission line now traveled due west along the line of
present Buck Lake Road and Tharpe Street, passing San Antonio de
Bacuqua (120) in five miles and coming in five more to Cupahica, or
Escambi (900), just to the north of this line and San Luis (1,400) just
to the south of it. San Luis was connected directly with St. Augustine
by the St. Augustine Road and was also in communication with a
cluster of four nearby missions, these being south of Lake Lafayette.17
According to Jones, the largest and most prominent building in a
mission compound was the church, typically thirty-five by seventy
feet in dimensions. The convents were a third as large, both being of
rectangular construction, these buildings rising, as did houses of the
Apalachee Indians, from a floor of sun- or fire-hardened red clay.
Walls of churches and convents were built of wattlee and daub"-
mud or plaster applied to a lattice frame between the wooden posts
supporting the roof-and the roof was gabled and thatched. The
churches and convents were European in appearance, constructed
with iron nails, hinges, and locks, and the structures were white-
washed, so that they stood out on a hilltop, on which also spread the
surrounding village of low, thatched houses.18 The churches and con-
vents were the centers not only of religious study and worship but
of instruction in the Spanish language and Spanish arts.
As important as these were the great council houses, sometimes
just across the town plaza, where Indian law and Indian tradition
held sway. San Luis was acquired by the state of Florida in 1984. The
first discovery in an archaeological dig there was the foundations of
a council house. The council house on the other, eastern, side of
Apalachee at Ivitachuco must have been even more impressive, the
meeting place no doubt of the great assembly that witnessed the peace
pact between Apalachee and Utina in 1608.19
At the time of Calder6n's visit, the Florida missions were in their
Golden Age. Two-thirds of the 13,152 Christian Indians in Florida
were in Apalachee, the others in Timucua and Guale to the east.
Everywhere the Spanish friars had succeeded in converting the In-
dians to the Christian faith and also in teaching them the Spanish


The Cross in the Hills

language and Spanish arts. But the Spaniards made a series of mis-
takes, particularly in Apalachee, that, combined with English rivalry
for empire, resulted in the destruction of the Apalachee missions only
three-quarters of a century after their founding in 1633.
The first blunder occurred in 1647, when Governor Benito Ruiz de
Salazar Vallecilla established his short-lived "Asile hacienda and
wheat and maize farm" in the vicinity of the town of Asile. The cacique
of Asile would never have tolerated this farm except that, as critical
friars pointed out, "the powerful hand of the governor" lay behind
it. Cows trampled Indian crops, and the principal enterprise, the cul-
tivation of wheat, was almost impossible in the Red Hills, as American
experience showed through the mid-twentieth century. The principal
complaint against the enterprise was that Indians were used as burden
bearers, carrying heavy tools and equipment from St. Augustine. A
bloody revolt broke out in Apalachee. Seven of the eight churches
and convents were burned, and three friars were killed. The deputy
governor in command of soldiers in Apalachee was also killed, along
with his family. The Spaniards garroted twelve leaders of the rebellion
and condemned many others to forced labor in St. Augustine.20
The penalty of having to work without pay on the St. Augustine
castillo-a series of wooden forts that always seemed to need repair
and a stone one that needed to be built-was applied freely to delin-
quents. Even when the work was for pay, the wages were as little as
one real a day, and hunger, disease, and frequently death accom-
panied assignment to St. Augustine. The Indians, particularly in the
western pueblos, detested this work because they had to abandon
their own crops and leave their families, sometimes for as long as a
year. They dreaded the long trip to St. Augustine, a journey of from
170 to 220 miles if they traveled from Apalachee, always on foot and
frequently with their food supply on their backs, for St. Augustine
was nearly always short of food.
The issue of carrying loads to St. Augustine resulted in a second
revolt in 1657, this one in Timucua. This rebellion hardly touched
Apalachee, although during the eight months it continued, the friars
in Apalachee, greatly alarmed, fought the St. Augustine establish-
ment with condemnation and a dose of civil disobedience. The revolt
was brutally put down, and eleven chiefs were executed.21
In addition to providing cheap labor, the Indians of Apalachee in-
creasingly took on the duties of "surrogate Spaniards" with military
assignments. As Herbert Bolton, the great historian of the Spanish
borderlands, said of the colonial and mission policy adopted by Spain:
"Lacking Spaniards to colonize the frontier, she would colonize it


The Cross in the Hills

Beads often were the most valuable possessions of Apalachee mission Indians in graves
like these in church cemeteries extensively dug by archaeologists in the 1970s. (Courtesy
of B. Calvin Jones)

with the aborigines."22 The Indians of Apalachee became a Spanish
militia, seeing some practice as soldiers in settling some of their own
disputes. In 1677 they traced to the Chiscas (Euchee) living one
hundred miles to the west some misdeeds by roving bands, and 30
arquebusiers and 160 archers attacked the Chisca stockade in the mid-
dle of the night, not even sparing women and small children.23
In the late seventeenth century, though, the Indians' principal mili-
tary duty became taking the field for the glory of the king in a war
of empire with the English. The English settled Jamestown, Virginia,
in 1607 and in 1670 came dangerously close to Florida missions by
founding Charles Town, South Carolina. The English there estab-
lished a trade with the Creek Indians, settled in several villages at
the falls of the Chattahoochee River, only about one hundred miles
from Apalachee. The Spaniards, claiming this territory as their own,
now attempted to missionize the Creeks, but when four Creek towns
showed their unwillingness to have missions, a rash Spanish com-
mander, Lieutenant Antonio Matheos, burned these towns. Now
there was a wholesale desertion of the Apalachicolas-the Spanish
name for the Lower Creeks. Many Creeks now moved across present


The Cross in the Hills

Georgia to the Ocmulgee River, and the area became the center for
slave taking and other raids on Florida mission villages.24
Meanwhile the Spaniards strengthened their Florida defenses
against this increasing presence of San Jorge, as they called the
Charles Town establishment. There had been several wooden forts
at St. Augustine, and in 1672 work began on the great stone castillo.
This construction was only another aggravation for the Apalachee,
three hundred of whom were sometimes housed there to work on
the fort. The Spanish also built a wooden fort of sorts at the forks of
the St. Marks and Wakulla rivers, whitewashed so that it would re-
semble a stone fort. This ruse did not fool a pirate band that, on the
night of 20 March 1682, sent two pirogues ashore and surprised the
few Spaniards there, captured and held them for a fortnight, looted
and then burned the fort, and in a leisurely manner sailed out to
Finally the Spaniards in 1696-1697 built a blockhouse of massive
timbers at San Luis de Talimali. It was surrounded by a high palisade
wall with a moat outside. On top of the blockhouse the Spaniards
installed eight cannon. The work turned this headquarters village of
the Apalachee missions into a strong outpost. Palisade walls were
built around some other missions, making these also defensible. Even
in the building of the blockhouse the Spaniards blindly continued to
offend and mistreat the Indians. The peons cut and hauled the big
logs to the mission hilltop and provided the labor to build the block-
house, whose construction dragged on for months. Since they had
"volunteered" their labor, they were paid nothing for the work. They
were merely provided with tools and the corn necessary to sustain
Meanwhile permission had been given a few favored families in
the St. Augustine bureaucracy to establish cattle ranches in Apala-
chee, particularly the San Luis area. These ranchers particularly ir-
ritated the Apalachee. Creoles, hidalgos whose salaries as treasury
officials did not support the lifestyle demanded of the gentlemanly
class, these ranchers became Florida's landed gentry. The Florencia
family and its in-laws and friends were the principal operators of the
nine ranches in Apalachee. Descended from a Portuguese pilot who
came to Florida in 1591, the family provided most of the deputy gov-
ernors assigned to Apalachee. One of them was killed with his family
in the 1647 revolt. The Florencias considered Apalachee "a private
According to a complaint addressed on 12 February 1699 to the king


The Cross in the Hills

by Don Patricio de Hinachuba of Ivitachuco, principal cacique of Apa-
lachee, and Don Andr6s, the cacique of San Luis, Indians after com-
pleting their work on the fort were kept busy, still without pay,
building houses for Diego and Francisco Florencia, brothers-in-law of
the lieutenant governor in command at San Luis, Captain Jacinto
Roque Perez, who with other Spanish settlers lorded it over them on
the ranches.
As for Perez, said they: "We receive considerable injury to our fields
from his cattle, as well as from those of Diego Florencia and Francisco
Florencia, his brothers-in-law, who reside with him." Moreover,
Juana Caterina, wife of Perez, and sister of the Florencias, "gave two
slaps in the face to the cacique of the Indians of San Luis, because he
had not brought her fish on one Friday, and obliged the village to
furnish six Indian women for the grinding every day without payment
for their work." She also wanted an Indian to come every day with
a pitcher of milk for the house of Perez.28
The same group of well-connected criollos had so angered the chief
of the village of Tama, a skilled tanner, that he had fled and joined
the English at San Jorge; the Spanish had required him to prepare
skins for them without paying him. Everywhere the Apalachee were
running away, many of them to San Jorge, to escape from the oppres-
sion of the ranchers, whose cattle were frequently in the villages,
"with no effort to remove them to their ranches."29
Yet these Apalachee, irritated by mistreatment and now only half
loyal to the Spanish cause, were those sent out, some armed only
with bow and arrow, against the gun-carrying allies of the English,
to punish raids on Timucua that were being made with ever greater
frequency. After one such raid in 1702, eight hundred Apalachee set
out with a few Spanish infantrymen under the command of Captain
Don Francisco de Uriza to attack the Apalachicola. English allies
learned of the plan and led five hundred Apalachicola to a big bend
of the Flint River (then called the Pedernales), surprised the Florida
invaders, routed them, and sent the survivors back to Apalachee.30
By this time the succession of the Spanish crown from a Hapsburg
to a Bourbon, Philip of Anjou, had touched off a war that in Europe
was called the War of the Spanish Succession, lasting from 1701 to
1713. Spain's old enemy France, finally settling on the Gulf coast, now
became a somewhat wary ally of Spain as well as the principal rival
of San Jorge. The Spaniards and French now planned military actions
against the English, but the Carolinians struck next. Governor James
Moore of South Carolina led an expedition by sea against the Spanish


The Cross in the Hills

presidio St. Augustine. Unsuccessful in this, Moore raised another
large force in December 1703 at his own expense, crossed south-
western Georgia, and entered Apalachee.31
Following somewhat the route of U.S. 19, Moore's party of fifty
whites and one thousand or more Creek Indians crossed almost the
entire extent of the Red Hills from north to south without being de-
tected and at dawn on 25 January 1704 entered the mission village of
Ayubale, some twenty-three miles east of San Luis. The English took
a position beside the great council house and stockade. No Spanish
soldier was around, but the brave young parish priest, Fray Angel
de Miranda, mobilized a force barely numbering fifty Indians in the
church, with as many women and children also present. Assault after
assault was made against the door but Miranda held out for nine
hours, until his ammunition was exhausted. After that the church
was burned and the priest and his small army captured. On the fol-
lowing day Moore's forces had a much easier time defeating a force
of thirty Spaniards and four hundred Apalachee Indians who arrived
from San Luis.32
Altogether the Spanish and Apalachee forces in two days lost more
than two hundred dead and wounded. The worst fate of all was
reserved for forty Indian defenders who, over the protest of Father
Miranda, were tied to stakes and burned to death by Indians of
Moore's party. Most were burned quickly, but a worse fate was re-
served for such leaders as Antonio Acuipa Feliciano and Luis Dom-
ingo of San Luis, who, according to one witness, were burned "little
by little" all day. After resting from the battle Moore now visited at
least half a dozen other Indian villages, five of which were destroyed.
Ivitachuco, according to his account, purchased its freedom with the
church plate. Moore's biggest haul was in prisoners, including many
women and children who were taken as slaves. By his own account
Moore's losses in men killed were only four whites and fifteen In-
The stronghold of San Luis still stood, however, and Ivitachuco,
Patale, Escambi, and Aspalaga were still intact. The province had been
given such a scare, however, that there were now many more de-
sertions. Fulano, an Indian of the village of Patale, was one of the
deserters. He five months later assisted a second party of Carolina
raiders that consisted entirely or almost entirely of Creek Indians.
Fulano led some of these to the door of the Patale convent on the
night of 23 June 1704. He called out to the padre in charge, Fray
Manuel de Mendoza, in a familiar voice: "Good, you may open,


The Cross in the Hills

Father .. We will do you no harm." Mendoza came to a window,
opened it, and was killed by a gunshot. The invading force then
burned the convent, captured villagers, and encamped on the site to
prepare for raids in the next few days on other missions, even San
Adjutant Manuel Solano, now in charge at San Luis, led forty-three
Spaniards, ninety-three Indians armed with guns, and sixty Indians
armed with bows and arrows on an expedition to Patale on the night
of 3 July. A force from Ivitachuco was to meet them a league away
from Patale, but this force had not arrived when the fighting began
the next day. There was a wholesale retreat of the San Luis force and
many were captured. Spanish soldiers were among the seventeen
persons who were bound to stations of the cross in Patale and set
Of the burning of Balthazar Francisco, a soldier from the Canary
Islands, one witness reported: "They cut out his tongue and eyes,
cut off his ears, scalped him, and put a crown on him, which in Indian
style is placed on the Indian warriors when they dance .. slashed
him all over and placed burning splinters in the wounds; and as soon
as they set him afire, they mocked and insulted him, laughing on
hearing what the said Balthazar Francisco told the pagans in the Span-
ish and Apalachian languages while he called on the Most Holy Virgin
to help him."36
Although the San Luis blockhouse had never been attacked during
the two raids, the Spaniards burned it and left. Missionaries deserted
whatever missions remained, and surviving Apalachee resettled near
St. Augustine or traveled westward to Pensacola and Mobile. Those
traveling east included the principal chief of Apalachee and headman
of Ivitachuco, Don Patricio de Hinachuba, and all of his village. As
Amy Bushnell described him in an article lovingly entitled "Patricio
de Hinachuba: Defender of the Word of God, the Crown of the King,
and the Little Children of Ivitachuco," this prince of Apalachee
emerges as the first hero of the Red Hills. He was, she said, "a devout
son of the Church who did not let the friar run his town, a brave
captain who fought no unnecessary battle, and a loyal supporter of
the Crown whom the Spanish could not take for granted." But Hina-
chuba and his party were harassed by bands of the English allies the
Creeks, and soon they were all dead.37
A week and two days after the battle of Patale, a council of war at
St. Augustine reported that the Apalachee, who had recently num-
bered eight thousand in fourteen villages, were now reduced to only


34 The Cross in the Hills

two hundred persons, and these wished to leave. Neighboring parts
of Timucua were depopulated by raids during the next few years.
The Red Hills became a deserted place, with only the ruins of villages
and mission compounds, along with the "old fields" of Apalachee
horticulture, to mark the place where there had once been a pros-
perous province.3


The Old Fields
of Apalachee

When Lieutenant Diego Pefia traveled from St. Augustine to the
Lower Creek country in 1716, he did not encounter a soul in Apa-
lachee. However, the destruction of the missions had brought an
unfamiliar animal, the bison, even to the once populous San Luis area
where, on the shore of Lake Jackson, his party also encountered many
cattle from the one-time ranches. A melancholy note entered the sol-
dier's journal as his party crossed Ivitachuco Swamp and visited the
ruins of Ayubale and Patale. The final downfall of Apalachee occurred
at Patale. When Pefia reached the hilltop here on 6 September, he
noted that at this spot "the Rev. Father Fray Manuel de Mendoza
sacrificed his life." The last Spaniards to visit Patale before Pefia had
evidently been in a search party that, following the battle of 4 July
1704, found Mendoza's body "beneath a fragment of mud wall and
burned wattle" of the convent. In 1971 when archaeologist B. Calvin
Jones dug the ruins of Patale, a student assistant uncovered a long
beam just, perhaps, as it had fallen on or been lifted off the body of
Father Mendoza.1
Pefia's instructions were to invite Creeks who had returned to their
old homeland on the Chattahoochee to come to Apalachee and estab-
lish villages. There was reason to believe that some would be inter-
ested in doing so, for they had now been defeated and humiliated
by the English in the Yamassee War of 1715. To encourage the re-
population of Apalachee, Captain Joseph Primo de Rivera arrived at
St. Marks with sixty men in 1718 with instructions to build a fort to
house one hundred men, a storehouse for supplies, and a powder
house. But there was no onrush of settlers, and in 1728 there were
only two towns in Apalachee, including San Juan de Guacara near
the fort.2
Beginning about 1750 Spain began building a stone fort at St. Marks,

The Old Fields of Apalachee

using great blocks of limestone mined near the site. At the time that
Spain, a loser in the Seven Years' War, turned Florida over to Great
Britain in 1763, the fort was still far from complete. However, there
was a massive bombproof with walls four feet thick and arched ceil-
ings divided into four rooms of twenty-one by thirty-one feet that
were fifteen feet six inches high. These casemates on the landward
side joined a massive stone wall that then extended westward to a
bastion at the shore of the Wakulla River. The bombproof had been
built halfway between the Wakulla and St. Marks rivers some 150 feet
from where the rivers joined. The Spaniards had expected to extend
the stone wall to the St. Marks River, but this extension was never
made. However the wall lay behind a wide moat connecting the two
rivers, and a high wooden palisade back of this extended to the St.
Marks and southward to enclose a compound with several wooden
buildings, finally connecting with the bastion on the northwest corner
of the fort. The fort could accommodate a garrison of one hundred
soldiers who could not be dislodged as long as supplies could be
received by sea, particularly when the men retreated to the interior
of the bombproof.3
But the sixty British soldiers and sailors who garrisoned Fort St.
Marks in 1764 found as dreary and uncomfortable a place to live as
could be imagined, and in 1769 Great Britain withdrew the garrison.4
English cartographers left us much valuable information about the
Red Hills north of St. Marks, having tramped over these highlands.
A 1767 map notes about the "Old Fields" at the edge of the Cody
Scarp: "Here the land begins to become pretty good."5 A map of
1778 has a wealth of additional detail.6 These English mapmakers
showed for the first time the existence of two named Indian towns,
Tallahassa Taloofa, or "Tonaby's Town," and Mikasuki, or "New
Town." The 1767 map shows a "path" leading directly northward
from the fort that after several miles forks, the right branch then
traveling in a northeasterly direction toward Mikasuki on a lake that
still bears the name Miccosukee. The forks of the road are in the
vicinity of a landmark shown on the map as a "well in the solid rock
six fathoms deep about 30 ft in diameter & 20 ft below the surface of
the ground," these dimensions marking it as what is today called the
"Natural Well" a mile southeast of Woodville and has been known
to generations as a picnic site.7
The western branch of the road fork at Natural Well leads north-
ward and, following a course that appears to approximate present
Meridian Road, passes on the left a "pond" that appears to be present-
day Lake Ella. Thereafter it joins a path toward the west that im-


The Old Fields of Apalachee


Part of the four-foot-thick stone wall of a long bombproof is almost all that remains of
Fort St. Marks that was built shortly before the Spaniards turned Florida over to Great
Britain in 1763. Student archaeologists are shown digging out the wall in 1965. (Courtesy
of Florida State University)


The Old Fields of Apalachee

Mikasuki o New Town
......** -,
,/ '-" _

014 Thi1s,


Tnmk 1.' amur

vw a '~vvv uu *
.et~e~ ':~-
a S., *** .


Old JjaniA~


.OakMAtele 4lftdory
with V44~w Noles

pond ,loo

.4 -, /

4c ha~s bke'i for.wiw'frCUlMw t

So tet.tMLewd .

This is a redrawing
a Gulf Coast chart,

M ir aboud joorstac,,w.Ofiullof
8aIltphc: 4 no fw#./.eo-Mov~abk

* 9
* U


1803 (copy, Florida State
University Library),
that picks up an English
survey, 1767, locating
Seminole Tallahassa.

Fort ,d Mark



Tallahassa w


* Oaduw













b - A-440,444tiolo

4 0 CO, /004.0,

The Old Fields of Apalachee

mediately brings the traveler to Tallahassa Taloofa. This map and that
of 1778 with additional detail make it almost certain that Tallahassa
lay on the broad flat hilltop in the northern part of present Tallahassee
on which the Northwood and Tallahassee Malls were built, a hilltop
reaching one of the highest elevations in Tallahassee, approximately
230 feet above sea level, in the vicinity of Albertson's store.
The Stuart-Purcell map informs us that in 1778 Tallahassa Taloofa
had thirty-six houses, a square, sixteen families, and thirty gunmen
and that the headman was still Tonaby. Meanwhile Mikasuki, its
neighbor eighteen and one-half miles to the northeast, had become
the more important town. Mikasuki had sixty houses, a square,
twenty-eight families, and seventy gunmen, and the headman was
Senetahago (Kinhagee).8
By his own account Tonaby, the founder and chief of Tallahassa
Taloofa, was a loyal ally of the Spaniards before Florida became a
British possession in 1763 and continued his loyalty in the 1770s, when
he appears to have been the most important chief in the Red Hills.
Tonaby was one of the Florida Indians, ultimate successors to the
Apalachee and Timucuans, who were sometimes called "the wild
ones" or "runaways" from the Creek Confederation. Although they
long retained some loyalty to the Creek Nation, they came to be
known as the Seminoles.9
Tonaby was born in the principal Lower Creek town of Coweta,
according to his own account, and accompanied his father on a visit
to St. Augustine between 1718 and 1734 as a boy of nine or ten. From
the time he learned to handle firearms, Tonaby served the Spanish
commandant at St. Marks for twenty years, carrying letters to and
from the garrison. Finally-and presumably not long before the En-
glish came in-he established a village that, instead of being in the
flatlands, was in the Red Hills. By his account, as understood by the
Spaniards in 1777, the village was "on the site of San Luis de Talimali,"
although, as we have seen, Tallahassa was actually two miles north-
east of San Luis, on an even higher hilltop.10
After theAmerican Revolution broke out, Tonaby, a Uchise Creek
who by now was the principal spokesman for the Creek villages of
Apalachee, began to show his friendship with Spain. Far to the east,
the Seminole chief Cowkeeper, an Oconi Creek, remained a confirmed
loyalist. His braves took the field on several occasions to help put
down the American revolt that the English colony of Florida had never
joined. In contrast to Cowkeeper's Oconi Indians, Indians of the Mi-
kasuki and Tallahassa settlements remained neutral, heeding the ad-


The Old Fields of Apalachee

vice of the American Indian agent George Galphin that they should
stay out of "the white man's war."11
Tonaby, however, went even further and attempted to make an
Indian alliance with the Spaniards, who although neutral for most of
the war, eventually entered it as enemies of the British. Creeks of the
lower villages of the Creek Confederation maintained some contact
with Spaniards during the British period, and on 13 December 1777,
Tonaby and eleven of his followers were carried by a Spanish fishing
boat to Havana for talks with the Spaniards. Tonaby saw an important
official and sometime resident of Florida, Juan Joseph Eligio de la
Puente, and boldly asked the Spaniards to repossess the fort at St.
Marks and, if not that, at least to provide him with a Spanish flag
that he could raise over the now vacant fort "in order that all who
see it will know that castle belongs to the Great King of Spain." He
promised "to defend it until the last drop of his blood is shed," ac-
cording to Puente. Despite the Spaniards' wish to embarrass the Brit-
ish in any way they could, they were hardly interested in going to
the extremes suggested by this big-talking chief. And so the sugges-
tion of taking over Fort St. Marks was rejected. However, Puente
seems to have granted Tonaby's request for a Spanish flag.12
As a result the banner of Spain shortly began to fly in the plaza of
the Seminole town of Tallahassa, a surprising sight to a recruiting
agent in the service of His Majesty King George III who showed up
on the morning of 6 August 1778. Lieutenant David Holmes was
making the rounds of the lower villages to recruit reluctant Creeks
for a Loyalist campaign to the east. Holmes first demanded that Ton-
aby haul down the Spanish flag and substitute the Union Jack. The
chief was hardly prepared to do anything else, and his ardor for
combat with the English had cooled. He hedged when he was asked
to join the expedition, however. His men would do whatever their
neighbors the Mikasuki did. So Holmes now went to Senetahago-
usually known as Kinhagee-who was to lead the Mikasuki band for
another forty years. Kinhagee agreed to the expedition. Forty-one
warriors from Mikasuki and twenty-six from the Apalachee Old Fields
(Tallahassa) were among a band of one hundred that made what was
evidently an uneventful and unimportant expedition to the Altamaha
River to help Loyalists fend off an American threat to St. Augustine.13
Otherwise the long war hardly touched the neutralists of Apala-
chee. Tonaby disappeared from view, and Kinhagee became the
leader. Afterward, when Spain repossessed Florida, Creeks of the
lower villages, having traded with the English, were willing to support
the Spaniards, provided that they could obtain trade goods that were


The Old Fields of Apalachee

the equivalent of those that had been supplied by Britain. During the
English period the Indian population of Old Apalachee and its en-
virons had increased substantially. Spain, in possession of Florida
and with an "Indian problem," and now aware of the value of trade
in maintaining friendly Indians along Florida's border, turned over a
virtual monopoly of Indian trade to a British-American firm, Panton,
Leslie and Company. In 1784 this company set up a trading post on
the western shore of the Wakulla River four miles from the fort, leav-
ing it in the hands of Charles McLatchey.14
Panton, Leslie expanded its trade to the Upper Creek settlements
in central Alabama, and the Indians there began to trade with a Panton
store in Pensacola. The firm even traded to some extent with Choc-
taws and Chickasaws to the west. Big profits were now returned to
the company, and the Spaniards for a time enjoyed friendlier Indian
relations than ever. In time, however, the Creeks began to grumble
about high prices. Coupled with this complaint, particularly in the
lower villages, was anger against Alexander McGillivray, the principal
Creek chief and mainstay of Panton; McGillivray had quietly signed
a treaty with the new United States of America in 1790 that established
a boundary line, unpopular with the Lower Creeks, between the
Creeks and the state of Georgia.15
Capitalizing on the unpopularity of both McGillivray and Panton,
Leslie, a young Marylander, William Augustus Bowles, landed in
Florida in 1791 with ambitions of organizing the Creeks into a bor-
derland nation. A Loyalist during the Revolution, Bowles had fought
a losing battle against the Spaniards in the Battle of Pensacola while
still in his teens. He lived among the Creeks for a time and married
the daughter of a borderland micco, Perryman. After an absence from
Florida and one unsuccessful return in 1788, Bowles now, with the
backing of British merchants in the Bahamas who dreamed of breaking
the Panton monopoly, set up a ramshackle store near the broad mouth
of the Ochlockonee River a few miles from St. Marks. Mustering
support from Creek villages, Bowles had himself declared the "Di-
rector General" of what was called "the Nation of Muskogee." He
not only challenged the leadership of the now dying McGillivray but
declared that the treaty line agreed upon by him should never be
Bowles's Nassau backers failed, however, to provide him with trad-
ing goods that had already been promised the Indians. He decided
upon a bold stroke. On 16 January 1792, Bowles and an aide, William
Cunningham, with several other white men and perhaps one hundred
Indians, presented themselves at the Panton store near St. Marks and


42 The Old Fields of Apalachee

demanded its surrender. There was nothing to do but comply, and
guns, blankets, shirts, and boots were passed around. Some fifteen
thousand dollars' worth of additional goods were held for later dis-
tribution. William Panton stormed in a letter to his Indian friend and
protector, Alexander McGillivray: "I demand the Life of that Villain
Bowls," or that he be delivered to the Spaniards for trial. At the first
opportunity Bowles was seized and packed off for imprisonment in
Havana, Spain, and the Philippines.17
While Bowles was in prison, an even more unpopular boundary
line was agreed upon in the Pinckney Treaty of 1795 between Spain
and the United States. This line split the lower Creek settlements near
the forks of the Chattahoochee and Flint rivers, setting the Georgia-
Florida border near its present location and opening more Creek hunt-
ing land for American settlement. In 1799 the American surveyor
Andrew Ellicott ran this line eastward from the Mississippi River, but
when he reached the forks of the Flint and Chattahoochee, he found
Kinhagee and a party of Mikasuki barring a further advance. Ellicott
abandoned the survey for the time and retreated to the mouth of the
Apalachicola, where, in September 1799, he encountered, of all men,
the terrible Mr. Bowles. Having escaped from prison, Bowles had
returned to Florida by way of England and now claimed the support
of Britain's might in achieving greater goals. He had approached St.
George Sound aboard a British sloop, the Fox, which was loaded with
munitions and supplies. The vessel foundered and sank off the east-
ern tip of St. George Island, giving it the name Fox Point, but this
mishap did not deter Bowles, who boasted to the American surveyor
that he intended to capture Fort St. Marks from the Spaniards.18
Bowles reorganized the forces of Muskogee and established a "capi-
tal" in the hometown of his friend Kinhagee. Here at Mikasuki in the
spring of 1800, Bowles and Muskogee declared war on Spain, and on
9 April the Fort St. Marks commandant, Thomas Portell, could
scarcely believe what his eyes now told him-the Indians emerging
from the pine forest approaches to the fort wore war paint! Shortly
they numbered seven hundred or more, while Bowles himself-who
held an old commission as general in the British army-and a handful
of white followers were also on hand.19
To Bowles's demand that the fort be surrendered, however, Portell
returned a haughty "no." With twelve fair-sized cannon and eighty-
eight men behind walls that had never been breached, the comman-
dant felt secure against the motley force that faced him, even though
the Spaniards were badly outnumbered. Week after week a siege went
on, and Portell began to be more polite. He was more than sixty years

The Old Fields of Apalachee

old and nearing retirement, only recently having been assigned to St.
Marks after service on the Mississippi River in the vicinity of Mem-
phis. With him in the fort was Sefiora Portell, who may by this time
have regretted having scolded Kinhagee; sometime earlier at a con-
ference with the commandant the chief had been ordered by this
fastidious lady to take his smelly pipe from his mouth. Finally the
unlucky Portell, after five weeks and the Indians' capture of two sup-
ply vessels sent to sustain the Spaniards, surrendered Fort St. Marks
on 19 May 1800. All of the occupants boarded small vessels and sailed
off to Pensacola, where the commandant was imprisoned and sent
to Havana to await trial for having so ingloriously given up the fort.
In the fort meanwhile the flag of Muskogee, a brilliant sunburst on
a field of blue, was hoisted, to the accompaniment, no doubt, of Indian
war whoops and English huzzahs.20
But Bowles held the fort for only a month. A small Spanish fleet
arrived from Pensacola in mid-June, and after a ninety-minute bom-
bardment the fort was Spain's again. Bowles escaped and was soon
directing a Muskogee "navy" that harassed Spanish shipping. The
American government was becoming more restive by the minute at
the activities of this bold adventurer on the southern frontier. Alex-
ander Hawkins, an American Indian agent, finally proved to be
Bowles's undoing. While attending a conference of the Creeks at Hick-
ory Ground in Alabama, Bowles was captured and bound through
the machinations of Hawkins and was turned over to the Spaniards.
In Havana's Morro Castle, where the St. Marks commandant Portell
was also imprisoned to await trial, Bowles died on 23 December



Andrew Jackson's
Leisurely "Wolf Hunt"
in the Red Hills

Relative quiet returned to the Red Hills after Bowles's downfall. But
the bitter memory of the robbery of the store of Panton, Leslie rankled
in the heart of William Panton, the principal partner in the firm.
Immediately following the robbery in 1792 he added the firm's losses
in this looting to store debts owed by the Creeks and hit upon the
idea of collecting the combined debt by persuading the Indians to
cede land. He first tried to obtain this land within American bound-
aries. This notion was rejected outright by the Creeks, who lived
principally in Georgia and Alabama; they ridiculed the idea of having
to pay for robberies "committed by Bowles and his Seminoles" in
Spanish Florida. Meanwhile in 1800, at the time Bowles took St. Marks
fort, his Indians raided and looted the store a second time, and Pan-
ton, Leslie withdrew from St. Marks.1
Forbes & Company, succeeding Panton, Leslie, was finally per-
mitted by Spain to recoup the losses by obtaining 1,500,000 acres of
land, called the Forbes Purchase. Almost entirely worthless for ag-
riculture and all below the Cody Scarp, the big acreage extended from
the St. Marks to the Apalachicola River. Forbes established a trading
post at Prospect Bluff, twenty-five miles from the mouth of the Apa-
lachicola, on the east side, and left it in the hands of the traders
William Hambly and Edmund Doyle, who for a time seem to have
been the only white residents in this part of Florida except for the
Spanish garrison at St. Marks.2
During the Napoleonic wars Spain came under the virtual control
of Great Britain, and with the outbreak of the War of 1812, English
Major Edward Nicolls stirred up a hornet's nest of anti-American
Indian activity in the Florida borderlands. Rebel Red Sticks among
the Alabama Creeks fled to the Florida Panhandle by the hundreds
after their defeat by General Andrew Jackson at Horseshoe Bend in

Andrew Jackson's "Wolf Hunt"

1814, and Nicolls recruited them to continue their hostility.3 His most
provocative act, following the end of the war in 1815, was to leave a
vast store of powder, guns, cannon, and other military supplies in a
fort he had built at Prospect Bluff, and this immediately fell into the
possession of three hundred blacks, some of them runaway slaves
from American plantations. Called "the negro fort," this installation
blocked American plans for supplying a new fort that the United
States built near the forks of the Chattahoochee and Flint rivers just
above the Florida line-for it was planned to supply the fort from
New Orleans by way of the Apalachicola River through Spanish
Florida. Elimination of the Negro Fort, now a necessity, was accom-
plished in 1816 when one lucky shot from an American gunboat with
a cannonball heated red hot in the range landed in the powder stores.
The explosion killed 275 occupants.4
The destruction of the Negro Fort brought quiet briefly to the Florida
Indian frontier. The army withdrew for a time the garrison that had
been stationed at Fort Scott. There was talk of annexing Florida to
the United States, and friends of General Andrew Jackson at Nashville
invested in land near Pensacola. However, resentment grew among
Indians, especially the Red Stick Creeks, at the loss of their lands in
the Treaty of Fort Jackson. General Jackson had dictated this treaty
to a small, captive delegation of Creeks not representative of the na-
tion, and in it some 20 million acres of Creek lands were signed away.
These extended down through Alabama to the Florida line and in an
L shape, then ran in a seventy-mile-wide strip across the southern
extremity of Georgia, below the principal Lower Creek villages. The
lands were opened up for American settlement, bringing increasing
trouble to the frontier. Borderland Indians particularly disliked the
presence of Fort Scott on some of this land.5
Before leaving Florida in 1815, Colonel Nicolls had seized upon an
idea that the new Treaty of Ghent ending the War of 1812 had
superseded the land cession in the Fort Jackson treaty, and he en-
couraged the Red Sticks in believing that Great Britain would help
the Creeks regain this land. Nicolls took with him to England the
Indian Hillis Hadjo, also called Francis the Prophet, leader of the Red
Sticks now in Florida. In England Francis was presented with a com-
mission and the uniform of a brigadier, was hailed as "the patriot
Francis," and in a great show of friendship was given an audience
with the prince regent. When he returned to Florida in 1817 after
several months, Francis called a meeting at Tallahassa to make known
a message said to be from the prince regent. Francis believed that the
British Crown was now going to assist the Red Sticks militarily in


Andrew Jackson's "Wolf Hunt"

recovering the treaty lands-even though Britain had no intention of
doing so.6 A newcomer to Florida, the Scotsman Alexander Arbuth-
not, joined Francis in protesting the terms of the treaty. From a base
in the Bahama Islands, this merchant had set up a trading store on
the edge of Ochlockonee Sound. The twelve chiefs who later autho-
rized the Scot to speak for them included the Red Sticks Hillis Hadjo
and Peter McQueen, Chief Kinhagee of Mikasuki on the Florida side
of the border, and Chief Neamathla of Fowltown, above the line in
Georgia, a village of sixty warriors less than fifteen miles east of Fort
The Treaty of Fort Jackson had taken away the land on which Fowl-
town stood. Since this treaty land was opened for settlement, it
brought the American frontier nearer also to Mikasuki across the
Florida border. Indians had sometimes made known their anger by
stealing cattle, firing cabins, and murdering the settlers. However,
according to former Georgia governor David B. Mitchell, who suc-
ceeded Alexander Hawkins as Indian Agent on his death in 1816,
aggression was equally frequent on the part of whites. When Major
General Edmund P. Gaines, the military commander for this region,
demanded that murderers of a woman and two children in the St.
Mary's River area in southeastern Georgia be turned over to the
American authorities-these murders having been traced to a war
party from Mikasuki-Chief Kinhagee replied on 11 September 1817
in a letter which had been shown to nine other border chiefs saying
that in three years whites had killed nine or ten Indians, while the
Indians in retaliation had not killed as many whites. "The white peo-
ple killed our people first, and the Indians then took satisfaction.
There are yet three men that the red people have never taken satis-
faction for." The letter was sent to Washington as an indication of
Indian belligerence. The Indians, said Gaines, "admit by necessary
implication, that they have killed seven of our citizens."8
President Monroe reacted by directing that a large force be stationed
at Fort Scott again and that the Indians be required to make repara-
tions for any killings. If no reparations were made, then, if they were
on treaty land, they must be moved. He advised, however, against
crossing the Florida line.9 At this juncture a provocative gesture oc-
curred on the treaty land in the village of Fowltown. Major D. E.
Twiggs, in command at Fort Scott before the arrival there of General
Gaines, reported that Neamathla, chief of Fowltown, had told him
"that if ever a detachment of United States troops crossed the Flint
river he would resist them by force. He also cautioned me not to turn
over there, either horses or cattle, nor to get any timber from off the


Andrew Jackson's "Wolf Hunt"

land as he was determined it should not be done except by force."
Twiggs told his superior, General Gaines, he had no doubt that Nea-
mathla and his allies in Florida would "commence hostilities" if the
Flint were crossed, "and they have 2,700 warriors."10
Gaines, arriving at Fort Scott on 17 November, sent a message to
Neamathla, asking him to come in for a talk. Neamathla refused,
adding that all he had to say he had said to Twiggs. Gaines now
directed this officer to go to Fowltown with a detachment "and re-
move them." If there was any resistance, he was to "treat them as
enemies." On 21 November 1817, Twiggs and three hundred soldiers
showed up at Fowltown before dawn and were fired on "without
effect," according to the official report. Then the Americans "briskly
returned" the fire, killing five Indians, including one woman, and
wounding many others. There was still another attack with other
deaths, and the Indians fled to the swamps, some going then to Mi-
kasuki. Twiggs searched Fowltown and in Neamathla's hut found the
scarlet coat of a British uniform along with a note from Major Nicolls
calling Neamathla a "friend of the British." The town was burned.11
Tempers now boiled in the Indian towns around the forks. The
black drink was passed around, and red war poles went up. Nine
days after the attack, a band of Indians lying in the bushes along the
Apalachicola River just below the forks waited until a barge loaded
with forty soldiers from Fort Scott, the wives of seven of them, and
several small children, rowed near the shore. Then the Indians fired
volley after volley at close range. All but five in the barge were killed
and scalped or bound and carried off; the dead included the leader,
Lieutenant Richard W. Scott.12
On 26 December 1817, Secretary of War John C. Calhoun wrote
General Jackson at Nashville, ordering him to assemble and march
his forces to Fort Scott. Old Hickory was ready enough to do so. His
response to "the Scott massacre" had been: "Should . their hos-
tility continue, the protection of our citizens will require that the wolf
be struck in his den." Quickly mustering several hundred Tennes-
seans, Kentuckians, and regulars, Jackson marched to Hartford, Geor-
gia, where nine hundred Georgia militia joined the army, as fifteen
hundred Lower Creek warriors from the main Confederation soon
did also. Many of the mainstream Upper and Lower Creeks had been
as distressed as the Red Sticks by the Fort Jackson treaty, for their
land as well as that of the rebel Red Sticks had been taken away for
the benefit of the advancing American frontier. Now, however, the
Creeks seemed to have dropped this issue and seized the opportunity
to punish the Red Stick rebels and enforce Creek law among the


Andrew Jackson's "Wolf Hunt"

rebellious Seminoles. Jackson's orders sanctioned a military campaign
across the Florida border, and Washington left what he might do there
up to the general whom Indians called "The Sharp Knife." Old Hick-
ory lost no time, after arriving at Fort Scott, in crossing the Florida
border. Evidently his reputation as a fighter preceded him, for the
army marched one hundred miles in Florida before encountering more
than a handful of hostiles.13
Captain Hugh Young, the topographical engineer accompanying
General Jackson, proved invaluable in mapping out the route of the
march. His knowledge and skill enabled him to leave a description
of the topography, soils, vegetation, and Indian population of the
Red Hills that is invaluable. Most of the Indians were now concen-
trated in the Mikasuki villages which, according to Young, had 160
warriors and perhaps eight or nine times as many women and chil-
dren, for a total population of about 1,400. These were still mainly
Hitchiti speaking, and Young indicates that the other Hitchiti speakers
in this region included the Fowltown Indians with thirty or forty
warriors. These and a few Uchees now lived near the Mikasuki peo-
ple. Young said several Muskogee-speaking Indians were in the Apa-
lachicola River valley: the Ocheesees at a bluff of the same name, with
twenty-five warriors; the Ehawhohasles twelve miles below Ochee-
see, with fifteen to twenty warriors; and the Tamatles seven miles
above Ocheesee, with twenty-five warriors. The Indians of Tallahassa,
now with only fifteen warriors, were commanded by a chief named
Okiakhija, who was described as "worthless, dishonest and invet-
erately hostile." But until the army reached the neighborhood of Mi-
kasuki, the Indians scattered at the approach of Jackson. The only big
concentration of Seminoles apart from those at Mikasuki was in Bo-
leck's Town on the Suwannee River, and near them were some two
hundred Negro allies.14
Jackson's first move was not toward the enemy towns but toward
a food supply for his army, now with a force of eight hundred vol-
unteers and regulars, including some men already at Fort Scott, nine
hundred Georgia militia, and some Creeks. They were down to only
three more days of rations. Jackson had arranged for vessels to bring
food to Apalachicola Bay and then upriver, and so at noon on 10
March, only a day after arriving at Fort Scott, he turned his army
southward into Florida and toward this food supply. Marching along
the east side of the Apalachicola, the army came on 16 March to
Prospect Bluff. There Lieutenant James Gadsden, Jackson's aide-de-
camp and engineer, was directed to build a fort where the Negro Fort
had stood. Having now intercepted the food supply, the army rested



Andrew Jackson's "Wolf Hunt"

Andrew Jackson, known to the Indians as "Sharp Knife," led an army of 3,000
through the Red Hills in March and April 1818 in what came to be called the
First Seminole War, the Seminoles having replaced the Apalachee here. (Pho-
tographed from Benson J. Loring, The Pictorial Fieldbook of the War of 1812 [New
York: Harper & Brothers, 1869], p. 1020)

Andrew Jackson's "Wolf Hunt"

here for ten days while the fort, named Gadsden for its builder, was
being erected.15
The army then set out on 26 March for the Mikasuki towns, crossing
the flat pinelands and swamps of present Liberty County. On 29
March it reached the Ochlockonee River, here running fifty-six yards
wide between high banks, the one on the east rising to what still is
called Jackson's Bluff. Nineteen canoes were built. By 8:00 P.M. of the
twenty-ninth more than half of the army had crossed, the remainder
getting over the next morning in time for the whole army to resume
its march at 11:00 A.M. on 30 March. Heading along the course of
present State Road 20, the march for several miles crossed the Oke-
fenokee Dunes, then entered the Red Hills. Young's account now
begins to fill with superlatives as he describes this rich farming coun-
try. The land was "fertile with a growth of oak and hickory." The
army camped for the night at a pond that was just four miles from
This encampment appears to have been in the lowlands along West
Tharpe Street, about four miles west of North Monroe (U.S. 27). There
is no pond here today, but water flows southward through several
drainage ditches. The army marched toward Tallahassa on 31 March.
"Four miles to Tallehassa T," wrote Topographical Engineer Young,
"through an excellent body of land, the soil adapted to any kind of
culture growth, oak and hickory." There was a "small miry branch
near the village," said Young, and beyond it: "The town was hand-
somely situated on a hill and consisted of ten or twelve houses with
a large clearing cultivated in common." Today this hill has been se-
verely bulldozed and scraped down in places by the building of the
Northwood and particularly Tallahassee malls. The one place on the
hilltop with a sweeping view to the west is at the intersection of U.S.
27 and John Knox Road. Knox Road here becomes Monticello Drive,
which falls steeply off the hilltop to what was evidently the "miry
branch," now a drainage ditch running along Boone Boulevard to-
ward Lake Jackson. Beyond the ditch Monticello Drive runs straight
up a hill beyond. Standing today at U.S. 27 and Monticello-although
Jackson seems to have marched a little to the south of this point-
one can picture Jackson's army as it came into view. The army doubt-
less marched three abreast to guard against surprise attacks in the
manner of the Creek campaign of 1813-1814.17
The army did not march, however, until a company led by Major
D. E. Twiggs, accompanied by two hundred Indian warriors, had
gone ahead to scout the town, the first thought likely to offer resis-
tance. The people of Tallahassa, said Young, "have neither arts nor


Andrew Jackson's "Wolf Hunt"

cattle, but their land is excellent and gave them fine crops with very
little labour." However, Twiggs found the town deserted, its in-
habitants having fled "som days before." The main body of the army
now marched, passing throu the village at noon and then pressing
on toward Mikasuki eighteen mi s away.18
On the way to the Mikasuki vil ages, the army encountered the
same kind of land that it had seen just west of Tallahassa. The villages
lay beside a lake that was twelve to fourteen miles long, north to
south, and two or three miles wide. The surrounding land was "fertile
and of beautiful aspect," wrote Young. "Here the Indians raised abun-
dance of corn, rice, potatoes, peas, beans, and gound nuts-the soil
yielding plentiful crops without much labor of cultivation. They had
immense droves of cattle and hogs roaming through the woods, and
the abundance of game gave them plenty of venison and skins. They
also raised numbers of small but hardy horses." Their agriculture was
"of the simplest kind. The looseness of the soil obviated the necessity
of heavy labour and the work of a few hoes soon opened a field and
prepared a crop." The Mikasuki were still under the leadership of
Kinhagee, then about seventy or eighty years of age. But while this
chief exercised political control, the war chief was Coche-Tustenug-
gee, "a brave man and a better soldier than Kinhega."19
The American army encamped a few miles from the Mikasuki vil-
lages and here was joined by a four-hundred-member contingent of
Tennessee Volunteers tardily reaching the theater of war. It was also
joined by a fifteen-hundred-man force of friendly Creeks commanded
by their chief, William McIntosh, now commissioned an American
army brigadier general. Jackson's army of thirty-three hundred men
was the largest military force ever to march across the Red Hills before
or since. Against this force were opposed an estimated twelve
hundred warriors (not Twiggs's estimated twenty-seven hundred),
and these were never available in sufficient strength at any one place
to offer serious resistance to Jackson.20
Only a small band of Mikasuki had dug in a mile and a half west
of the villages when on 1 April Jackson's army reached the place, a
point of land extending into a swamp. For a while the hostiles re-
turned brisk rifle fire directed from two flanks, and then the Indians
retreated, leaving fourteen dead. When the Americans marched into
the main Mikasuki village, it was deserted. The army burned three
hundred houses, rounded up a thousand head of cattle and took three
hundred bushels of corn. "Every indication of a hostile spirit was
found in the habitations of the chiefs," Jackson reported. "In the
council houses of Kinhaje's town, the king of the Mekasykians, more


Andrew Jackson's "Wolf Hunt"

than fifty fresh scalps were found, and in the center of the public
square, the old red stick's standard, a red pole, was erected, crowned
with scalps, recognized by the hair, as torn from the heads of the
unfortunate companions of Scott." The body of the old Chief Kin-
hagee was found after the Mikasuki action. His death brought to an
end a regime that had begun forty years before.21
The army marched southward toward St. Marks on 5 April, perhaps
via the old Spanish road that traveled past the Natural Well, reaching
the fort on the evening of 6 April. The next day Jackson took this
stronghold from the hands of the protesting Spanish commandant,
Don Francisco Caso y Luengo.22 Two more military objectives re-
mained, Suwannee Old Town, where Chief Boleck (or Bowlegs) pre-
sided, and the Negro town nearby. These lay 107 miles to the
southeast, across many swamps and palmetto thickets, and on 9 April
an army of whites and Indians started the five-day march. On the
night of 12 April, in the vicinity of Econfino Creek, the sound of lowing
cattle and barking dogs signaled the nearness of hostiles. On the
morning of 13 April, the next day, McIntosh and his Creeks set out
in pursuit. It turned out to be the band of the Red Stick chief, Peter
McQueen. This party of two hundred was pursued for three miles in
a running battle. Thirty-seven of its warriors were left dead on the
field, while Jackson's force lost only three men killed. The Suwannee
River villages were deserted when the Americans marched in. The
army now returned to St. Marks, arriving on 25 April. The Georgia
militia and McIntosh's Creeks were released to return to their
McQueen, who escaped to the coastal swamps following his band's
encounter, was luckier than his fellow Red Stick, Francis. Francis
appears to have continued at his home on the south bank of the
Wakulla River, a few miles from St. Marks, almost until the arrival
there of General Jackson. When Jackson had left Prospect Bluff for
Mikasuki he had instructed Captain Isaac McKeever of the navy to
sail eastward, searching the coast for hostiles, "white, red or black."
Along the way McKeever picked up the traders William Hambly and
Edmund Doyle who, like their former employer, Forbes & Company,
had changed like chameleons from loyalty to Spain, then Great Britain
and now the victorious United States. In 1817 Hambly, especially,
began to inform the Americans of the Indians' every movement. After
the Fowltown incident a band of Indians, including some from Fowl-
town, visited the homes of Hambly and Doyle on the Apalachicola
River and made both men prisoners. Death seemed to be in store for
them, but instead they were imprisoned, first at Mikasuki, then at

Andrew Jackson's "Wolf Hunt"

Suwannee Old Town, and finally they were placed in the custody of
the Spanish commander at St. Marks. They somehow escaped from
the fort and sought greater safety from the Indians aboard McKeever's
vessel. According to the diary of a Tennessee officer in Jackson's army,
J. B. Rodgers, they helped design a stratagem for capturing the
Prophet Francis, telling McKeever about this Indian's "ardent desire
for, and constant expectation of the arrival of supplies to carry on the
war against the United States." The captain therefore conspicuously
displayed the Union Jack above his ship while it lay at anchor near
the mouth of the St. Mark's River.24
The ruse worked. A canoe bearing Hillis Hadjo, and a fellow Red
Stick, Himollemico, soon pulled alongside McKeever's ship, after hav-
ing been paddled ten miles across the bay. On this very day, 6 April,
but a few hours later, Jackson arrived at Fort St. Marks. McKeever
greeted the Indians cordially and took them below decks for a drink.
Here they were seized, bound, and taken ashore. Upon arriving,
Jackson lost no time in ordering that the Prophet Francis and his
companion be hanged without any trial. This summary sentence has
troubled Jackson biographers and historians. Himollemico, they say,
was a scoundrel who may have deserved this fate-he had led the
massacre of the Scott party. But Francis had most of the virtues that
Americans valued-courage, dignity, compassion, and the rest. He
was, as one Jackson biographer reported, "humane in his disposition,
by no means barbarous-a model chief." His manners were pleasing,
he conversed well in English and Spanish, and he was a man of
comfortable wealth, with property that included a number of slaves.
The only thing Jackson had against him was that he was also a Creek
patriot, opposing the march of Manifest Destiny-but patriotism was
also a virtue. Instead of placing Francis before a firing squad, and
thereby giving him a death more honorable, Jackson decreed that he
should receive the execution of a villain. So on 8 April, Himollemico,
"morose and taciturn," and Francis were hanged. Francis was tied
up-despite his protest that this measure was not necessary-and
shortly afterward this "handsome man," slender, six feet tall, and
now about forty, swung in the air, wearing the gray frock coat that
had been given to him in England.25
The Indians nearby who witnessed this terrible event probably in-
cluded Francis's daughter, Milly (also called Malee). A girl of about
fifteen or seventeen, this black-haired beauty was celebrated in the
St. Marks compound for her charm and intelligence. She reacted with
sorrow three weeks later when two British nationals were put to
death. One of them was the Scottish trader Alexander Arbuthnot,


Andrew Jackson's "Wolf Hunt"

now about seventy years old. He had constantly befriended the In-
dians, had taken their complaints to American authorities, and also,
toward the end of the Jackson campaign, had warned Boleck of the
impending march on Suwannee Old Town. A fourteen-member mili-
tary court of Jackson cronies found Arbuthnot guilty of aiding the
Indians and sentenced him to be hanged. Richard C. Ambrister,
thirty-three, a captain in the British Marines and a wounded veteran
of the Battle of Waterloo, was far less involved in what was considered
anti-American activity. He was tried by the same court, was also found
guilty, and was sentenced to death. Relenting, the court then changed
the sentence to fifty lashes and a year in prison, but Old Hickory
would have none of this clemency and approved the original sentence.
On the morning of 29 April, Ambrister was the first to be marched
outside the fort gate, to be shot by a firing squad at the edge of a
freshly dug grave that shortly received also the body of Arbuthnot,
who was hanged for twenty minutes from the yardarm of his own
vessel, his white flowing hair and black suit presenting a memorable
The diarist Rodgers said Francis' Town was three miles from the
fort. Milly, knowing English and Spanish like her father, had served
the young officer Ambrister as interpreter. But there was a stronger
tie between Ambrister and Milly. The officer lived at Francis's house,
and Milly was "extremely, though chastely, intimate" with him. After
Ambrister's death it was said by the Spanish commandant's family
that Malee "went to their house and there gave full vent to her feel-
A few weeks earlier, Milly had saved the life of a frightened Georgia
militiaman who was about to be shot and had been captured by her
father's warriors, stripped naked, and tied to a tree. The story was
circulated widely in the United States, and she became known as "the
Florida Pocahontas." Later Milly was removed along with other
Florida Seminoles to the Indian Territory, where she settled among
the Creeks near Muskogee. She died of tuberculosis in 1848, too early
to receive the ninety-six-dollar pension provided by Congress in 1844,
along with a medal, but after hearing about them. Both were the result
of efforts by Army Colonel (and later Major General) Ethan Allen
Hitchcock, who visited her in 1842 while investigating fraud in con-
tracting for supplies in the Indian Territory.28
Jackson's army, reduced to twelve hundred after the Suwannee
campaign, hardly rested at Fort Gadsden. Listening to the tattletale
Hambly's story that fugitive Indians were being protected in Spanish
Pensacola, Jackson began a march on 10 May toward this capital of


Andrew Jackson's "Wolf Hunt"

West Florida. He took over and briefly held the fortifications there,
then returned to Nashville with his old ambition of possessing the
Floridas for the United States practically an assured reality. Now home
from the "wolf-hunt," the crusty Tennessean boasted that the Indians
"have not the power, if the will remains, of again annoying our fron-
tier." Certainly such would appear to have been the case: Jackson's
big army, with minimal losses of its own, had killed one hundred or
more Indians, had burned more than six hundred houses, had driven
off hundreds of cattle, and had scattered the populations of the old
border towns in Florida.29
Captain Young's "Topographical Memoir" reads like a real estate
salesman's brochure inviting people all over the United States to come
to a soil-rich region that was still Spanish territory. The soil of the
Apalachicola River bottom, according to Young, "equals that of the
Mississippi," while the Apalachicola's tributary, the Chipola, "runs
through the finest body of land in the southern country." The Red
Hills presented in many places "an aspect of most prepossessing
beauty-a surface gently rolling, fine large timber, good water and
generally deep red soil with strength and fertility equal to any kind
of culture. It would be unfair to estimate the prospective agricultural
importance of this country from the crops of the Seminoles. The In-
dians make no experiments, having few wants, and despising luxu-
ries, they prefer raising a sufficiency of corn and potatoes to the labour
of a trial which might have proved the aptitude of their soil for cotton
and sugar." Neither had been tried here, Young declared, but both
would succeed.30
Young, moreover, was the very first writer about this region to
remark insightfully regarding the geography of the Red Hills that the
region lay near the sea with its shipping lanes. Proximity to the sea
had been important to the mound builders at Lake Jackson, to the
Apalachee Indians at Iniahica, to the Spanish missionaries at San Luis,
and perhaps to the Seminole Indians at Mikasuki and Tallahassa Ta-
loofa. But Young, with the mind of an economic geographer, first
called attention to the way in which the Gulf takes a huge bite of land
below the hills in the form of a crescent with its points at Cape San
Blas and the mouth of the Suwannee River. At the old Spanish port
of St. Marks at the middle of this crescent, the fertile hills were less
than twenty miles away, so that the fertile cotton-growing region lay
very close to shipping.31
Young's report was not made available to the public; it gathered
dust for more than one hundred years in the archives of the Corps
of Engineers. But two thousand American soldiers, Tennesseans,


56 Andrew Jackson's "Wolf Hunt"

Kentuckians, and Georgians, as well as regulars with homes to the
north of these states, had been exposed to the pleasant uplands during
two months of the year, March and April, when they are at their most
attractive. The Florida War was not a strenuous one, and these sol-
diers had time to enjoy the Red Hills. Theirs was the first "Springtime
Tallahassee Parade."32 Some of these soldiers would return, and
many others who would learn about this country would soon come
as settlers.


The Spring Creek

Following what he called Jackson's "luxuriant frolic" in Spanish
Florida, U.S. Attorney General William Wirt proposed "the temporary
occupation" of Texas.1 The South Carolinian James Gadsden, fresh
from the Florida campaign as aide-de-camp to Old Hickory, suggested
a more permanent occupation of Florida alone, calling Jackson's at-
tention, in a report on 1 August 1818, to the military advantages and
saying that, north of St. Marks, "an extensive and rich back country"
would "invite a populous settlement."2 A treaty transferring Florida
to the United States was signed only seven months after Gadsden's
report but because of delays in Spain was not finally ratified until 22
February 1821, after which, on 17 July, the United States took pos-
session of the territory.
The start of a "populous settlement" did not wait for ratification of
the treaty. Between 1819 and 1821 a community of thirty-one families
was formed, not in the hills immediately north of St. Marks, but across
the Apalachicola River in what is presently the northwestern corner
of Jackson County. Holmes Creek is the western boundary of the
county here. In the uplands, rising from the creek bottom, the topsoil
with every spring plowing lights up a bright red, the same color as
the subsoil. Farmers around here swear that this soil, which with the
fresh green crops give a Christmas-in-May appearance to the land, is
in every way as good as the brown soils covering most of the Red
Hills.3 From these uplands, and from some just across the border in
Alabama, flow several springs that form Spring Creek. This, after
flowing eastward for a mile or so in Alabama, crosses the Florida line.
The creek flows south for a mile, then southeast for another, then
northeast for four or five more miles to cross the Alabama border
again and become a tributary of the Chipola River. Alabamans today
scarcely notice the tiny stream as they speed over it a mile south of

The Spring Creek Trail

the state line along U.S. Highway 231 on the way to their favorite
Florida beach resort, Panama City.
Our information today about the 31 heads of household and their
families, perhaps 150 persons in all, who settled along the Florida
course of Spring Creek, principally in 1820 and 1821, is contained in
an old record book of the Florida Land Claims Commission. The hand-
writing of the clerk records the testimony of settlers who swore that
they had settled on a tract and were cultivating it on 17 July 1821
along with the testimony of witnesses. Any settler who was twenty-
one years old and the head of a family at the time was then enabled
by an act of Congress to claim the land as his own up to a maximum
of 640 acres.4 The testimony, recorded in 1824, often provides clues
to the location of these early settlers within the Spring Creek com-
munity, while early public land purchases suggest the location of
other settlers, for instance the Williams brothers, John and Owen.
John had land at the Alabama line just over two miles west of Highway
231, and Owen about two miles to the south along the course of a
small stream joining Spring Creek from the south as it bends to the
John Williams's land was at the Alabama line, and James Falk and
William T. Nelson cultivated theirs near him, all west of Spring Creek
as it flows south. On the west side also was Abraham Philips, whose
neighbor to the south was Benjamin Hamilton, his claim joining that
of Owen Williams on the south. Owen Williams had two neighbors
not far west of him, Micajah Cadwell and Joseph Parrot, but there
were several settlers still farther west, among them John Ward and
south of him Nathan A. Ward, with William Philips to the south of
Nathan. There was a third Ward in the settlement, James. Nathan
Ward's claim on the west adjoined that of Andrew Farmer, who de-
scribed his land as being on Holmes Creek, as was that of Robert
Thomas. Farmer and Thomas can be considered part of the Spring
Creek community. Well to the south of Owen Williams was the claim
of John Hays.
On the east side of Spring Creek, as it flows from the Alabama line,
and about halfway to the first bend, was the land of Samuel C. Fowler.
Below him were Nathaniel Hudson and Wilie (or Wiley) Blount. For
three-fourths of a mile, Spring Creek takes a southeasterly course,
then bends northeast. It is joined at the latter bend by a substantial
flow of water in a branch that begins in present Campbellton. The
settler of the land where this stream enters Spring Creek was Moses
Brentley, or Brantley (Brantley Pond appears to perpetuate this name),
with Robert Thompson to the south of him and on the east side of


The Spring Creek Trail

the branch. Settlements continued eastward along the south shore of
Spring Creek with Guthrie Moore, Stephen Daniel (whose land was
at the present U.S. 231 bridge), John Gwinn, and John Jones. North
of Daniel was Allaway Roach, and settlers on the north side of Spring
Creek included Henry Moses, Joel Porter, and Simeon Cook. As the
settlements continued, that of James C. Roach was at the Alabama
line, while a neighbor there was John Smith, below him on Spring
Creek. Presley Scurlock claimed land "on Spring Creek of the Chi-
pola," although early land records bring him no closer to the settle-
ment than the western edge of Waddell's Mill Pond.
Nothing in the record shows where these Spring Creek settlers came
from or just who they were, but they and a good many other early
settlers in Jackson County were probably in a backwash from a flood
of Georgians trying to obtain Alabama lands opened up by the Treaty
of Fort Jackson. A land office was opened in 1817 at Milledgeville,
the capital of Georgia, to sell these Alabama lands. Land sales began
in August 1817, the first land to be sold being around present Mont-
gomery in the heart of the Alabama Black Prairie, a prime cotton soil.
Squatters already present could, of course, bid on land that they had
settled-provided they could get to the Milledgeville land office two
hundred miles away. Few of these or other small farmers, though,
could outbid speculators or more substantial planters.6
Farmers frustrated in their attempt to settle the Alabama blacklands
and river bottoms could, of course, turn to the strip of Georgia below
present Albany that was also in the Fort Jackson treaty, but most of
the southern Georgia treaty lands were regarded as a worthless "pine
barren."7 Many of the Georgians who moved to Alabama and then
to Florida were only a generation away from North Carolina. Such
was the case with the family of John and Owen Williams, one of the
best-known families in Jackson County today, whose widely attended
reunion is held annually near Graceville on the edge of the Spring
Creek community. Their father, Frederick Williams, moved from Du-
plin County, North Carolina, to Bulloch County, Georgia, in about
1793, and some members were in Conecuh County, Alabama, in
Spring Creek seemed fair ground for settlement to these and other
Florida "sooners"-a rolling country of many oaks, hickories, mag-
nolias, and beech trees, the sort where cotton could be grown. How-
ever, all of the settlers, at least at first, were only subsistence farmers,
and none of them grew cotton. At most they had cleared and were
cultivating as many as forty acres but more often between ten and
fifteen, while few used slave labor. Life was bitterly difficult in this


The Spring Creek Trail

log cabin frontier. By the latter part of 1824, four of the settlers-
Nelson, Brantley, Porter, and Gwinn-had died, and their widows
filed claims for the land. Others disappeared from view in the first
years of the Florida territory. When a special census was made in
August 1825, only sixteen of the thirty-one were counted in Jackson
The 1825 manuscript census adds only fragments of information
about the sixteen Spring Creek "survivors." Nine of the heads of
household owned no slaves (Hudson, Parrot, Cook, Allaway Roach,
John and Nathan Ward, John and Owen Williams, and Robert
Thomas) and evidently still depended on members of the family,
numbering from three to thirteen, for much or all of the labor.
The thirty-one Spring Creek families were among sixty-two families
or individual claimants shown in Land Claims Commission Record
Book 2 to have settled in Jackson County before the change of flags.
Six took up land to the east of the Spring Creek settlement, on or
very near the Chipola River: Robert Sullivan, Hugh Robertson, James
Dennard, Joshua Scurlock, John Hopson, and Jonathan Hagan. Two
others claimed land at the Big Spring (presently called Blue Springs),
several miles northeast of present Marianna: William Pyles and Wil-
liam McDonald, his claim being "for the benefit and advantage of
Charles Trippe," to whom he had sold the title.
McDonald earlier, in 1820, had settled on the Chattahoochee River,
whose west bank together with that of the Apalachicola River, next
to Spring Creek, saw the greatest number of settlers before the change
of flags, seventeen in all.10 From the vicinity of Conchatty Hatchy or
Red Ground Creek near the Chattahoochee the settlers included James
Irwin, James Brown, Joseph Brooks, William Brown, William H. Pyke,
Allis Wood, William Chamblis, Adam Kimbrough, and George Sharp.
Adam Hunter claimed land on the Apalachicola, apparently some-
where west of the forks, and downstream were Charles Barnes, John
H. King, Reuben Littleton, Lovin McClinton, and, at Ocheesee Bluff
a dozen miles south of the forks, Thomas C. Richards and a kinsman,
Stephen Richards. Stephen Richards is better known in Florida history
than any of the sixty-one other early settlers in Jackson County, for
he served in the early years of the territory as an interpreter for talks
between American agents and Indian chiefs. We can trace this family
from France through England to North Carolina. A native of North
Carolina, Stephen moved to Georgia as a child and was in his teens
at the time of the War of 1812. He enlisted in a militia company
commanded by Captain West Whitaker in the regiment of Major John
H. Broadnax.11 Others settled to the west and south in present-day


The Spring Creek Trail

counties that were at first part of Jackson. These were Eli Scurlock,
John Bush, David Durgan, Samuel Story, John Guerra, Joseph Cobb,
and Daniel Lyran.
When the 1825 census was taken, Jackson County had been reduced
to its present size, except that it included an almost vacant portion
which is now Calhoun County. However, the approximately 300 per-
sons in sixty-two households who were present in 1821 had increased
to 2,156 persons, as shown by this special census.12 The manuscript
census shows not only the heaviest early American settlement of the
Red Hills in Jackson County but a change from subsistence farming
toward plantation agriculture, with a large number of black slaves,
808, or 37 percent of the total population. That cotton was beginning
to replace subsistence farming in Jackson County even before the
transfer of flags is evident from an item in Niles' Register on 1 June
1822. It reported that the brig William and Jane had arrived at New
York from Apalachicola Bay loaded with 266 bales of cotton, "the
product of the first seed ever planted in the neighborhood, which has
succeeded beyond expectation." Cotton was to be planted especially
in the rich Chipola country, which could wagon its crop to steamboats
on the Chattahoochee or barge it down the Chipola River to the Apa-
lachicola. By the 1824-1825 crop season, the port at the mouth of the
Apalachicola was expecting to ship eight hundred bales of cotton.13
The Spring Creek settlement itself was changing and adapting to
the South's increasing interest in cotton. Some of the early settlers
had begun to drift away. Settlement, more and more of it permanent,
expanded the old Spring Creek community to the south, this part
becoming the town of Campbellton. Enough settlers had moved into
this area for what was called Bethlehem (later Campbellton Baptist)
Church to be opened on 12 March 1825, the second Baptist church in
all of Florida.14 (It still holds services in a building constructed, it is
said, in 1858.) A Jackson County map on which are plotted 1826 and
1827 sales of public land is black with purchases in the Spring Creek-
Campbellton area and along much of the route of U.S. 231 to the
junction with State Road 73. The settlements extended east from U.S.
231 across the Chipola River and from the vicinity of Florida Caverns
State Park to Blue Springs.
The 1825 census reveals that 19 of the 213 heads of household in
the county owned 15 or more slaves. Forty or more were owned by
Jacob Robinson, one of four brothers from Jefferson County, Geor-
gia,15 Jonas Daniel, and Joseph W. Russ, one of three brothers from
Brunswick County, North Carolina.16 The 19 with 15 slaves or more
owned 447 of the 808 slaves in the county. Thus at an early date this


The Spring Creek Trail

county set a pattern for the remainder of the Red Hills, with a com-
munity of large and moderate-sized slaveholders, many of whom also
had a considerable acreage of farmland, that would dominate politics,
social life, and business. Of the 213 heads of household, however,
118 had no slaves at all. Jackson County would continue for much of
the antebellum period with a large number of small farmers and a
relatively small black population.
The county also remained for a time a rough frontier, with occa-
sional flareups of violence of the kind reported by the Pensacola Flori-
dian on 30 August 1823: "On the night of Tuesday, the first of July,
Dr. John H. Keddie of Chipoli, Jackson County, was murdered in his
bed by a gun fired through an aperture in the chimney of his house,
the contents of which lodged in his head and knee and killed him
instantly." The culprit was apparently never caught. Following an-
other murder two years later, justice moved swiftly. John Carroll was
tried in Superior Court for the murder of Mrs. Elvira B. H. Northrup,
with attorneys Webb, Call, and Stone representing the prosecution
and Allen, Baltzell, and Gordon the defendant. Carroll was found
guilty and on 27 January 1826 was hanged in what the Pensacola Gazette
and West Florida Advertiser called the first administration of capital
punishment in the new territory of Florida.17
The county remained a rural and agricultural society, with no for-
mally organized towns, for several years. In 1822 the Florida Territorial
Council designated Big Spring as the site for a superior court that
would hold sessions twice a year.18 The next year there was still no
town, and in an election for congressional delegate the voting took
place in one precinct at the house of the Spring Creek settler Owen
Williams, with Williams as one election judge and John Smith, another
Spring Creek pioneer, as the other. Forty votes were cast here and
thirteen at the house of Thomas Russ in what was called the Chipola
area, with Russ and William G. Mooring as election judges.19 The
County Court met on 18 April 1825 at "the house of the widow Hull"
in the Chipola settlement.20 The organized town of Webbville shortly
emerged nearby but then became a ghost town after Marianna, settled
late in the 1820s, won a bitter battle to become county seat.21
In Gadsden County across the Apalachicola River, a much smaller
number of newcomers settled before this became American territory.
This early settlement acquired a distinct character thanks to Henry
Yonge, who was forty-three when he arrived in June 1819 to look
over land on the east side of the Apalachicola River at a point called
"The Cutoff." From a family in colonial Georgia, Yonge put more
than twenty hands to work in 1820 on his Apalachicola River plan-


The Spring Creek Trail

station, clearing and cultivating twenty acres and constructing farm
buildings. His efforts here were a complete failure. There was much
damage from flooding, while the work force became ill in the un-
healthful river bottom. After two years Yonge transferred his planting
interests to the east side of Gadsden County, also on Forbes Purchase
land. His home called Retreat appeared on a May 1824 map about
five miles west of the present community of Midway on the west side
of Little River.22
Thereafter the records show Yonge in the role of peacemaker in a
bitter dispute between the rival politicians Richard K. Call and Joseph
M. White that seemed to be leading to a duel (1825) and as a colonel
in the local militia (1827);23 as head of a household of eleven white
persons and twelve Negro slaves (1830 census);24 and as the proud
parent (or grandparent) of Samuel C. Yonge, who won a premium
as a merit scholar at the Quincy Academy (December 1831).25 On 5
February 1833, Henry's second wife, Ann, died, four months after
the birth of her thirteenth child.26 Having devoted much of his income
to educating his family, Yonge was poor when he died a year later.
The sheriff of Gadsden County already had levied on and put up for
sale his two plantations, the four hundred acres on the Apalachicola,
and the "home place."27 But although his planting in Gadsden
County failed to make Yonge rich, it did educate his family; Henry
Yonge therefore left to Florida a vast estate of "human capital." A
son, Chandler Cox Yonge, born in 1818, studied law in Quincy after
getting a degree from the University of Georgia and began his long
career as secretary of the Florida Constitutional Convention in St.
Joseph in 1838. Thereafter he practiced law for many years in Mari-
anna and then in Pensacola, where he died in 1889. Chandler's son
Philip Keyes Yonge after achieving a substantial fortune in the lumber
business made many contributions to education, serving for years on
the Board of Control for higher education. His great interest in Florida
history was recognized in the P. K. Yonge Memorial Library of Florida
History at the University of Florida. Julien C. Yonge of another gen-
eration was editor of the Florida Historical Quarterly from 1924 to 1956.28
The bookish cast of the family is shown in an old Gadsden County
probate file of another son of Henry Yonge, Henry Fernando Yonge,
who died in October 1834 at almost the same time as his father. Only
twenty-three, he had just begun the practice of law in Quincy. His
personal possessions were few but included a much-prized violin, a
gift from his father, and a book collection of exceptional interest.
When word had circulated around Gadsden County that the Yonge
library was for sale, a dozen or more residents came to the courthouse


The Spring Creek Trail

to make purchases: David L. White, The Federalist; J. R. Harris, Ains-
worth's Dictionary, a French grammar, a volume of poetry by Lord
Byron, and other books; Bryan Croom, Goldsmith's Works and Hallam's
Middle Ages; Robert Forbes, Bourienne's Napoleon; R. H. M. Davidson,
Travels in Germany, American Speeches, and Taylor's Enquiry; J. M.
Nixon, a volume of The Spectator; Jesse Gregory, DeStael on the French
Revolution. Other sales included works of Shakespeare, Bacon, and
Scott and novels by Sterne, Fielding, and Bulwer-Lytton.29
"The Cutoff" is a place name no longer familiar, but we can locate
it from the record of John Tanner, another settler, as having been in
the vicinity of Bristol in Liberty County. Tanner took up land twenty-
four miles south of the forks and on the east side of the river "near
the Cutoff." He died, and the claim fell to his widow Elizabeth and
her brother William S. Pope as next friend of two minor children.
None of the family stayed here. After laying out a town called Mount
Vernon at the forks, Mrs. Tanner and Pope moved to land several
miles to the west of the forks in Jackson County.30
Another settler in the same Bristol area was William Ellis, who
migrated from McIntosh County, Georgia, and made crops in 1820
and 1821 "a mile below the Cut-Off." Like the others he was evidently
unsuccessful and moved from the west to the east side of Gadsden
County to settle four miles west of an Ochlockonee River crossing.
In 1824 he was found here "with a large family."31 John Collins fol-
lowed the same course and had finally settled by 1824, a mile south
of Colonel Yonge's Retreat. He died in 1828. His will, signed with a
mark, left seven Negro slaves and eighty head of cattle to his widow
Sarough and four children.32
John Carnochan of Savannah, whose family had become part own-
ers of the Forbes Purchase, was able to choose some of the better land
on the Apalachicola, well upstream from Henry Yonge. Here, ac-
cording to the witness Edmund Doyle, who appeared before the Land
Claims Commission, Carnochan pioneered the introduction of Sea
Island, or black seed, cotton in this part of Florida, along with sugar-
cane. In April 1820 he sent a gang of twenty blacks to the site and
himself arrived in September. Carnochan is said to have spent "a
great deal of money" making various improvements, including the
construction of a sugar mill with copper boilers, the only equipment
of this kind anywhere around. But according to his own account in
1824, "a large and valuable gang of slaves have not for the four years
1820, 1821, 1822, 1823, paid their own and plantation expenses."33
By far the largest planter among the early settlers was Jonathan
Robinson, who appears to have arrived in the spring of 1822, for a


The Spring Creek Trail

visitor to his plantation in October 1823 found that Robinson had tried
the soil for two crop seasons. The visitor was Dr. W. H. Simmons of
St. Augustine, one of the two commissioners who had been directed
to select a site for a territorial capital. He reached the plantation by a
road from St. Marks that crossed the Ochlockonee River and then its
tributary, Little River. The land did not seem too good for cultivation
until he reached the other side of Little River, "to which we crossed
by a handsome plank bridge," as Simmons wr9te in his journal. Then
the soil "did not vary until near Judge Robinson's, when it became
a red loam, resting on clay." Here Robinson's planting "evinced the
raciness of a new and fertile soil," with a crop of long staple cotton
"superior to any I have ever seen," the stalks growing ten to twelve
feet high and some of them fifteen, "yet all were loaded with forms
and opened freely. Some rice and cane had been planted, which also
flourished well."34
Little is known about Robinson's origin, but he is thought to have
been a native of North Carolina. Descendants have picked up his trail,
before he came to Florida, in southeast Georgia. Like other settlers
in this part of Gadsden County, he apparently reached it by vessel
from a southeastern Georgia port to St. Marks. Perhaps he was even
aboard the schooner Harmony, which brought "passengers and a cargo
of sugar cane plants, sugar boilers, cotton seed and plantation in-
struments" from Darien, Georgia, to St. Marks in the spring of 1822.35
Robinson's house was on the north side of a road (County 65B) angling
southwestward and then straight west that is sometimes still called
"the Federal Road," the link between Tallahassee and Pensacola in
territorial times. The site is marked today only by the family cemetery
in which Robinson is buried. His tombstone reads: "Sacred to the
memory of Mr. Jona. Robinson who departed this life Sept. 15 1838
Ae 68."36
Robinson's plantation, stretching northward to within two or three
miles of Quincy, covered about three thousand acres. His slave force
was sixty-nine in 1830. Sarah Ann, his daughter, married John Lines
from Liberty County, Georgia, who died in December 1831 from a
fall from a horse, leaving the widow and eight children. The widow
inherited the Robinson place. It was subsequently called "the Lines
place" and was for a long time the best-known plantation in the
county.37 Some two miles east of Robinson was Sherrod McCall, a
native of South Carolina. McCall and Robinson were the most sub-
stantial planters in the vicinity when a meeting place was needed in
1824 for the Territorial Council in the new territorial capital, Talla-
hassee. They were engaged to bring hands the twenty miles to the


The Spring Creek Trail

site and construct three log buildings to serve as a temporary capitol.
Unlike Henry Fernando Yonge, who was a witness when McCall
made his will, McCall was not a bookish man. He left only "a lot of
books," worth seven dollars, but he was a man of quiet dignity and
eloquence, as evidenced by his instructions for his funeral: "I desire
that my body be interred in a decent Christian like manner, without
parade or ostentation."38
One very early settler was a "Dr. White" who was said to live on
a plantation to the west of Robinson at the time of the Simmons
visit. White's house was a mile north of Forbes Purchase and south
of Quincy on State Road 267 just before this road passes under Inter-
state 10.3 During the four decades that White lived here, he was
unmatched in all of the Red Hills for his energy and a diversified
array of talents. "Slept here" is more appropriate for David L. White's
residence, for much of the time he was "on the road." Originally of
Bladen County, North Carolina, he was in Putnam County, Georgia,
in 1820. White was a Methodist minister, physician, and magistrate
and, apparently having much energy to spare, conducted during
the 1830s a business, managing work forces on plantations through-
out the county. His own farm was practically an experiment station.
All of these activities appear in the diary that he kept, which was
found on the floor of his now abandoned house early in the twen-
tieth century during a moonshine raid: "Off for Quarterly Meeting,
to Dr. Nicholson's at Concord .. Opened Sister Degraffenreid
leg in two places, off for home, arrive for supper. . Robinson will
proved and qualified ... .Clear, listing for corn and clearing at
Yonge place .... Plant Egyptn cotton seed sent me by Mrs. Morat
[Murat?]."40 Dr. White did rest some, at least in his old age, and
when he did so it was likely to be at the end of a cane pole. And so
in the early spring of 1862, at the age of eighty-two, and having rushed
the season by changing into his light Nankeen suit, he wet his line
in Mrs. Lines's mill pond, lingering until the cool of the evening.
Stricken with congestion, he died before the dawn of the next day,
5 April.41
Early sales of public land, beginning in 1826, show a pattern of
settlement, almost all of it north of the largely barren Forbes Purchase
and of present Interstate 10. The heaviest settlement of all was around
Quincy. In contrast with Jackson County, Gadsden almost immedi-
ately established an urban center, Quincy, designated as the county
seat on 10 May 1825. It shortly became a place of comfortable houses,
serviceable stores, and pleasant churches as well as a good school,


The Spring Creek Trail

the Quincy Academy. Quincy remained a small town, though, and
the county remained overwhelmingly rural and agricultural into the
twentieth century.42
The early settlement of Gadsden County showed a strong flow from
North Carolina to Georgia and then to Florida, sometimes with a
generation between the Old North State and the Sunshine Territory.
A stronger flow than is apparent in Jackson County was from South
Carolina to Georgia to Florida. Telfair County in the Georgia coastal
plain was a favored stopover place. Within a vast domain of longleaf
pines growing out of wiregrass, this part of Georgia was not the best
place for farming. Still, the hardy wiregrass, as indifferent to fires as
were the pines, made wonderful feed for cattle. There was also, ac-
cording to the geographer George White, plenty of lighterwood, "the
poor man's fuel."43
Gadsden County had better land, and this fact was evidently known
to Cullen Edwards. Edwards was born about 1770 in North Carolina,
moved to Montgomery County, Georgia, before the turn of the nine-
teenth century, and was in Telfair when this county was created in
1807. Cullen and his sons (John, William, Thomas, and Samuel) had
settled in Gadsden in time for all five to be impaneled for the grand
and petit juries selected at the first session of county court in 1824.44
Another North Carolina family that came by way of Telfair County
was the Love family, members of which settled among other Pres-
byterians around Philadelphia Church. Daniel and Alexander Love
and their families crossed the Florida line (according to family tradi-
tion) on 5 February 1823. A brother, John Love, had been in Florida
before this, as had their sister Jane Love and her husband Archibald
Smith.45 Two natives of Chester County, South Carolina, the brothers
William and Patrick McGriff, sold adjoining farms on the border of
Laurens and Pulaski counties, Georgia, in 1824 and established planta-
tions side by side south of the community of Scotland in Gadsden
Malcolm Nicholson, born in North Carolina in 1799, moved with
his father to South Carolina, received a medical education there, and
practiced in Burke County, Georgia, on the South Carolina line. His
practice was said to be lucrative, but when he was in his thirties he
left it because of his health, hoping to retire from medicine. Nicholson
bought land eventually totaling more than two thousand acres west
of present-day Havana and built a comfortable house with a dogtrot
that remained in the family until the 1970s, when it was sold and
restored. But the "peaceful vocation" of this planter "was often in-


68 The Spring Creek Trail

terrupted by calls for succour from the afflicted, far and near," ac-
cording to Nicholson's newspaper obituary, which called him a
pioneer of Florida medicine.47
No manuscript census of 1825 remains to give details about indi-
viduals in Gadsden County, but the total population was 1,374,813
white persons and 581 blacks. The 1830 census shows several quite
large slaveholders: Malcolm Nicholson, fifty-one; William McGriff,
fifty-two; Jonathan Robinson, sixty-nine; John Carnochan, sixty-three;
Bryan Croom, sixty-three; and Thomas Preston, eighty-eight. Follow-
ing in the footsteps of Jackson County, Gadsden carried the Red Hills
much further toward their destiny as a remote Florida province of the
South's great Cotton Kingdom.48


The Complaint of

The most attractive cotton soils of all lay east of the Ochlockonee River
along the banks of four large lakes, lamonia, Jackson, Miccosukee,
and Lafayette, and between them. This country, once the center of
the agricultural activities of the Apalachee, was also nearer to the
principal cotton port of New York than any other farmland in Florida,
for after the hills stopped eighteen or twenty miles from the Georgia
line, the port of St. Marks was only as many more miles away across
the flat sands.
There was one obstacle to settlement, though, when the change of
flags occurred on 17 July 1821: the Indians who had been humbled
and whose homes had been burned and villages destroyed in 1818
were still present in large numbers in this part of present Leon
County. Andrew Jackson, whose ideas about the place of Indians in
relation to Manifest Destiny were well known, was immediately
placed in command of the new territory. President Monroe appointed
him governor of Florida with almost dictatorial powers of organizing
and running the territory. He arrived in Pensacola on 17 July 1821
with his wife, Rachel, who during the four or five months they spent
in Pensacola was much discomfited by the drinking, gambling, Sab-
bath breaking, and vice in this one of the two capitals of Florida.1
Jackson pounced on the Indian problem. In a series of "Friends and
Brothers" communications, he sought first to ascertain the strength
and distribution of the Seminoles in Florida, particularly in the soil-
rich area just beyond the Ochlockonee that remained out of reach of
the beneficent hand of the American cotton planter. The effort shortly
brought him in contact, ironically, with that Marshal Foch of Fowl-
town, Georgia, whose "ils ne passeront pas" stance had set off the
Florida War of 1818. Neamathla, the head man at Fowltown, disap-
peared after his confrontation with Major Twiggs in 1817, and we

The Complaint of Neamathla

find nothing about him as an actor in the War of 1818. Now, though,
he lived among and spoke for the so-called Fowltown settlements,
fragments of the Georgia population, around the burned Seminole
village of Tallahassa, also for most of the scattered Mikasuki. More-
over, he would soon speak for all of the Indians of Florida.2
Neamathla traveled in September 1821 the 200 miles to Pensacola
to see Jackson. He was accompanied by John Blount, a "friendly In-
dian" who had aided Jackson in the Creek War in Alabama and in
the First Seminole War in Florida and who now lived at Iola or Iolee
south of present Blountstown; Mulatto King, the head man at Co-
conokla on the west side of the Apalachicola River four miles south
of the forks; and the Ocheesee settler Stephen Richards, the inter-
preter. The cagey Neamathla told Jackson only half of the story about
the number, population, and headmen of the Seminole villages, fail-
ing even to mention his own village, Cahallahatchee, three miles east
of present Tallahassee. Neamathla said he knew of fifteen towns and
their chiefs and placed the Seminole population at "about 2,000."3
It was soon ascertained, however, that there were thirty-seven
towns and a population of 4,883, perhaps 2,000 of the number in
some twenty-six towns on or west of the Suwannee River. In present
Leon County were Hiamonee on the east side of the Ochlockonee
River five miles from the Georgia line and not far from it Tuckagulga,
or Ben Burgess' Town. Three miles southeast of Neamathla's town
was one with the same name as Tonaby's Tallahassa; the Americans
spelled the name "Tallahassee." Chefixico, the chief, had one
hundred followers. Four miles to the east was Welika. Farther east,
near the border of Leon and Jefferson counties, lay Yumersee at the
head of the Samulga Hatchee River [Burnt Mill Creek], with Alouko
and Wasupa nearby. The large town of Mikasuki had been broken
up into fragments in the 1818 war. Some of the Mikasuki band now
lived ten miles to the east at Etotulga, while others were at Hatch-
calamocha near Drum Swamp, both in Jefferson County. Much of the
Mikasuki population had fled to the vicinity of present Greenville in
Madison County to establish New Mikasuki, while Topananaulka was
three miles west of this town and Ahosulga five miles south.4
It was never for a moment contemplated that Indians occupying
the rich farming lands of northern Florida, whether east or west of
the Suwannee River, would be allowed to remain for long. In the
conference with Governor Jackson, Neamathla responded to his ques-
tions about population only after the question of removal, of interest
to all three chiefs, had been discussed. Jackson told them that the
president "is anxious to have them collected together at some one


The Complaint of Neamathla

point, where he can protect them, either within the limits of your old
nation the Creeks or at such other point where they can all be to-
gether." Neamathla accepted this as "straight talk."5 Nothing was
decided until Secretary of War John C. Calhoun on 7 April 1823 ap-
pointed a commission to negotiate a treaty with the Florida Indians,
the objective of which would be to move them "south of Charlotte
Harbor" in Florida. Jackson, tiring of the governorship, had sent in
his resignation on 14 November 1821, and his successor William P.
DuVal, a Virginian by way of Kentucky, did not arrive in Pensacola
until June 1822. DuVal was named chairman of the commission. Other
members were Bernard Segui of St. Augustine and Colonel James
Gadsden of Charleston, South Carolina.6
Indians were summoned from different parts of Florida, and sev-
enty of them, with Neamathla the acknowledged chief, began a meet-
ing with the commissioners on 6 September 1823 at an encampment
on Moultrie Creek four miles from St. Augustine. The Indians were
informed that the president, their father, "wishes you to go south,"
where there would be no conflict with white men who were soon to
settle this part of northern Florida. Sufficient good land would be
provided for crops, and the Indians would be given plows and other
farm implements as well as cattle. Neamathla immediately objected
to a move south of Charlotte Harbor "where neither the hickorynut,
the acorn nor the persimmon grows." The commissioners were ready
to concede the point. As the treaty was drawn their reservation of 4
million acres extended from a line drawn across the peninsula at
Tampa Bay to a line drawn across the peninsula just to the north of
present Ocala, the eastern and western boundaries nowhere coming
closer than fifteen miles of the coast. The commissioners made conces-
sions to "six influential chiefs whose assent to the treaty would not
have been obtained without extensive provision for them and their
connexion." Instead of moving to central Florida, Neamathla and his
thirty warriors and their families would be assigned to a four-square-
mile reservation in the middle of Gadsden County, incorporating the
old village of Taphulga, while five other chiefs would be assigned to
reservations (where some already lived) on the west side of the Chat-
tahoochee and Apalachicola: Econchattimicco and his thirty-eight men
four square miles just above the forks; Emathlochee and his twenty-
eight and Mulatto King and his thirty just below the forks; John Blount
and his forty-three between present Blountstown and the river; and
Tuski Hajo or Cochrane and his forty-five just below Blount. The
treaty was signed by thirty-three chiefs on 18 September 1823, and
these included Neamathla.7


The Complaint of Neamathla

Spanish Florida became an American Territory in 1821 but Jackson, in organizing the
territory as governor, soon faced Neamathla, who had in fact touched off the Seminole
War by an "ils ne passerant pas" stand at Fowltown, Georgia, and who became head
man of one of the "fowl towns" near present Tallahassee. (Portrait by Charles Bird
King, from Thomas L. McKenney and James Hall, History of the Indian Tribes of North
America, 3 vols. [Philadelphia: J. T. Bowen, 1848], vol. 1, p. 80, courtesy of Florida State


The Complaint of Neamathla

The ink was hardly dry on the Treaty of Moultrie Creek when, on
26 September, Dr. W. H. Simmons set out from St. Augustine with
instructions to meet John Lee Williams of Pensacola at St. Marks so
that they could jointly explore the territory to the north and select a
new seat of government for the territory. Governor DuVal was de-
termined to plant this capital somewhere in the area of the Fowltowns,
and there was strong sentiment within the Territorial Council for
placing a capital midway between the existing capitals because of the
difficulty some members had in attending meetings at Pensacola or
St. Augustine. There was therefore much support for a resolution
adopted on 18 June 1823, instructing the governor to appoint one
commissioner from East Florida and one from West Florida who
would examine prospective sites between the Ochlockonee and Su-
wannee rivers for "the quality of the soil, the local situation and the
streams by which it was watered" and select "the most eligible and
convenient situation" for a capital and its government buildings. The
commissioners met at the house of William Ellis just west of the Och-
lockonee, and on 26 October 1823 set out, as Simmons observed in
his journal, "to take a view of the situation about [the Indian town
of] Tallahassee, which had been represented as high and healthy and
well watered."8
En route, Simmons left his companion to explore the country to
the north, and so it was Williams who was the first to reach the
Fowltowns. "Seeing a fine stout Indian in a nut patch I left my horse
and accosted him, asking for information where the chief of the village
might be found," Williams reported. "He very strongly demanded
what I wanted and said he was Neamathla. I told him we were sent
him by Governor DuVal to inform him that he wished to build a house
in which he might meet his council; that the distance to St. Augustine
was so great, that he wished to select a spot near the center of the
territory." Neamathla asked several questions, then indicated he
would consider the matter overnight. Williams meanwhile was
treated to special entertainment, a ball game between young men and
young women. The women won the game, after which the men "were
sentenced to bring lightwood for the council fire, which having pro-
cured, they brought it into the great square singing all the while."
Simmons having arrived at Cahallahatchee by nightfall, the guests
were housed overnight under the shed of the council house.9
In the morning Neamathla asked more about the purpose of the
Simmons and Williams visit. After being told for a second time, the
old chief "said that he was much annoyed by people from Georgia,
who endeavored to get his land from him. But at length he told us


The Complaint of Neamathla

to go and do as we pleased, but not to tell anybody ... that he had
given us permission to select a site for the seat of government." Wil-
liams observed: "Neamathla is a shrewd, penetrating man; he evi-
dently feels no affection for the white man. His interest restrained
him at this time, so that he wished not to obstruct our progress, but
he feared that his lenity would render him unpopular with his peo-
ple." Three miles away on Lake Lafayette, Chief Chefixico expressed
himself more strongly to the other commissioner. Said Simmons: "He
angrily caught up a handful of dirt, and presenting it asked if that
was not his land; he then mounted his horse and rode off to Nea-
mathla's, to enquire further into the objects of our visit. From the
behavior of this chief and other Indians we met, I am convinced that
these people will not be removed without difficulty."10
It was a foregone conclusion that the commissioners would select
a site at or near present Tallahassee, which they did less than a week
after they met. The site was described as being about a mile from the
old fields of the abandoned town of Tallahassa Taloofa and at a place
"where the old Spanish Road is intersected by a small trail running
southwardly." Simmons's East Florida constituents were not enthu-
siastic about a site so far from St. Augustine; it was almost halfway
between Pensacola and St. Augustine. Consequently, not until 20
November did Williams, having obtained Simmons's final consent,
send in a report of the commissioners, one copy to DuVal and one
to congressional delegate Richard K. Call.11 DuVal made it clear that
the territorial capital was here because the place was at the center of
the largest body of rich land in Florida. He added that this must
"forever remain the center of our population." He issued a procla-
mation in March 1824 calling the Legislative Council together here
for its next meeting, to be held in the fall.12
On 9 April 1824 the first wagonload of settlers arrived, two white
men, two white women and two white children, and a mulatto man.
One of the two white men was evidently John McIver, who brought
his household from Fayetteville, North Carolina. They pitched their
tent on the southern slope of the hill which was to hold the original
town of Tallahassee and at its highest point the capitol. The corre-
spondent of a Pensacola newspaper who told of this event a year and
a half later said the land about the camping site might be called "the
land of the Fairies." At the eastern base of the hill on which the capitol
would be built, "a beautiful rivulet meandered its course through a
rich hammock"-this was later called "the St. Augustine Branch" but
is today a drainage ditch in the center of Franklin Boulevard-that
bent toward the west around the southeastern corner of the original


The Complaint of Neamathla

town. Several springs on the southern slope, where the Duncan U.
Fletcher Building now stands, formed branches of Spring Creek, now
a drainage ditch north of Canal Street.13 Looking out from the McIver
encampment to the south and west, the country "opened to their
view like a magnificent park." To the southeast "the view was more
confined by the thick foliage of the undergrowth, which served to
screen the view, though not the sound, of a beautiful cascade, which
was formed by the rivulet above described, falling over a ledge of
rocks into a deep glen, which forms almost a circle of seventy yards
in diameter, and disappears at the bottom of the same ledge of rocks,
very near the cascade .... The same day in the evening Judge Rob-
inson and S. McCall Esq arrived with hands and put up three build-
ings to accommodate the Legislative Council .. and in a few days
a small store was erected." By November 1824, when the Legislative
Council met, Tallahassee was still only "a woods town," according
to the Pensacola newspaper, but there were "well roofed houses, all
with chimneys-more or less-great plenty of fuel, as old Boon re-
quired it, two lengths of a tree from the doorsill-good beds and
blankets plenty, some chairs and an occasional table," as well as
plenty of food "and all the variety of Bar Comfits and comforts-all
good and plenty."14
In addition, presumably, the Legislative Council members could
stay, as they did in many future sessions, at the Planters Hotel, long
a landmark across Pensacola Street from the capitol square near the
corer of Adams. The builder and innkeeper, William Wyatt, de-
scribed as "a self-made man" from Maryland, seems to have been in
the fledgling town as early as June 1824. The sloop Hector, at any rate,
sailed from Pensacola on 23 June with a Mrs. Wyatt and family aboard,
bound for St. Marks. A month later the same sloop brought a cargo
to St. Marks that included fifteen hundred feet of lumber; this must
have begun a change from the prevailing log cabin architecture. This
shipment was followed a week later by the schooner Tice with thirteen
thousand feet, perhaps for Wyatt's hotel.15 Although more of a fa-
vorite with legislators, the Planters was immediately followed by
Hall's, also on Capitol Square and just to the east of the Planters. This
was the hotel of a former Virginian, Major William Hall, who had
arrived by way of Pulaski and Irwin counties in Georgia.16
While the Legislative Council was in session, a press, type, and
other materials for a printing plant and newspaper arrived from Pen-
sacola via St. Marks. The principal proprietor, Ambrose Crane, did
not start the Tallahassee Florida Intelligencer until 1825, but he had
arrived with his wife and family on the same sloop that had brought


The Complaint of Neamathla

the Wyatt family the previous June. His partner in the publishing
business was a lawyer named Adam Gordon. Like some others, Crane
preferred a suburban home and by December 1824 was living in a
house on 160 acres southwest of town.17
Governor DuVal also liked suburban living and shortly obtained a
quarter section (160 acres) whose northwestern corner was at the
southeastern corner of Tallahassee. He built his house where the ten-
nis courts and softball field are now located in Myers Park, over-
looking the beautiful cascade. This sixteen-foot waterfall was the most
conspicuous landmark found in the vicinity by Commissioner John
Lee Williams. He and Simmons designated the prospective capitol
site as about one-half mile north-northwest of this spot. The fact that
DuVal had obtained his valuable property under the preemption law,
which enabled him to claim residence and cultivation and buy it for
$1.25 an acre, led a political enemy, congressional delegate Joseph
M. White (who succeeded Call), to accuse the governor of having
virtually appropriated the waterfall for his front yard. This hilltop,
covered with majestic live oaks and overlooking the valley through
which the St. Augustine Branch curved around the town, was indeed
a splendid residential area, much later to be called Country Club
Estates. And the hill must have been what in August 1824, before the
town was even laid off, was called "Mount Aventine,"for the south-
ernmost hill of Rome.18
From this location the governor had an easy buggy ride to the
capitol. He had only to follow the general route of Myers Park Drive
and Pensacola Street across a watery ravine and up another steep hill,
his workplace being only seven-tenths of a mile from his residence.
Earlier, in 1824, though, according to an early nineteenth-century
source, DuVal had a log cabin about fifty paces south of the log cabin
capitol used for sessions of the Legislative Council (and probably one
of the three structures erected by Robinson and McCall). Here the
Florida governor caught the eye of Washington Irving, who assigned
him the name Ralph Ringwood, told of his adventurous boyhood in
Virginia and Kentucky, and continued with his residence at this "log
cabin palace" where he lived on "hunters' fare" while coming to grips
with the Indian problem. Previously, however, even at the time the
first settler, McIver, was arriving and Robinson and McCall were
building the first capitol, DuVal was informing the Pensacola Gazette
and West Florida Advertiser of his aims for Tallahassee and "his inten-
tion to proceed shortly to that place and have a town laid off, which
will enable those who intend making establishments there to place
their buildings in the situation in which they will remain perma-


The Complaint of Neamathla

nently." In June he and Colonel George Walton, the territorial secre-
tary for West Florida, were in Tallahassee.19
Perhaps Governor DuVal's greatest contribution as chief executive
was the city plan for Tallahassee. One cannot help suspecting, al-
though there is no evidence, that Judge Augustus Brevoort Wood-
ward had a share in designing it. Arriving in the "woods town" in
the autumn of 1824, Woodward took his oath as judge of Superior
Court for the Middle District of Florida on 4 October and began to
preside over this court.20 A philosopher-scientist as well as judge, he
had lived for a time in Washington and counted Jefferson and Pierre
Charles L'Enfant, the planner of the nation's capital, among his ac-
quaintances. With a nascent but keen interest in city planning, Wood-
ward proved ready to apply some of his ideas when he was assigned
in 1805 to a judgeship at Detroit. Detroit, a new town, had burned
to the ground, and Woodward formulated a plan for its rebuilding.
His plan featured a triangular arrangement of thoroughfares 200 feet
wide combined with a grid of narrower streets, being distinguished
particularly by the numerous open spaces, reserved for public use,
at the intersections of the major boulevards and within the triangles.
Woodward was a cranky and eccentric bachelor, and his abrasive
manner made as many enemies as friends for the plan. Although it
was put into use, it was then largely abandoned by Detroit. Wood-
ward lost ground politically until in 1824 he was demoted to the judge-
ship in Florida.21
DuVal had been accumulating suggested plans for Tallahassee. On
10 November 1824 he submitted to the Legislative Council three sepa-
rate plans laying out streets and blocks of the original quarter-square-
mile town. The plan agreed upon meshed perfectly with DuVal's
ambition of having a Richmond, Lexington, or Philadelphia in this
Florida wilderness. In fact it was modeled on William Penn's original
plan for Philadelphia. According to the historian of American town
planning John W. Reps, the Philadelphia plan of a grid with one or
more central squares was widely copied through the Midwest and
South, but Raleigh, North Carolina, and Tallahassee, Florida, enjoy
the distinction among state capitals of having started with five such
central public squares, so that there was an abundance of open public
meeting places. Four of these squares in the Tallahassee plan were
near the corners of a larger square that was reserved for the capitol
building. Most streets were sixty feet wide, but some were eighty and
two others one hundred feet. Monroe and Adams formed two sides
of Capitol Square. Although no streets were provided along the border
of the square of hilltop that became Tallahassee, space was left at the


The Complaint of Neamathla

four sides for 200-foot-wide boulevards that could be extended as the
town expanded.22
But after the selection of Tallahassee for the capital in November
1823, DuVal was busier with the Indians than with city planning.
Troops that had been stationed at St. Marks had been removed, and
some Indians under Neamathla now killed the cattle of settlers. As
DuVal wrote from Pensacola on 12 January 1824, he was confident
that the Indians "will not remove into the boundary given to them
by the late treaty, unless there is a military force in the vicinity to
overawe them." Around Tallahassee the rapidly increasing presence
of white skins created in the leader Neamathla a feeling that the
whites' sole objective was to kick the redskins out of this fertile land
and give them only a swamp or sandy plain to live in. And even
though Neamathla had agreed to removal in the Treaty of Moultrie
Creek, he now adopted a distinctly warlike stance. Washington Irving
called his plan of action "The Conspiracy of Neamathla," but it might
as well have been called "The Complaint of Neamathla." While he
was in Pensacola, DuVal received on 18 June 1824 an express letter
from the Indian agent at St. Marks, telling about a turn for the worse.23
An infantry company was finally stationed at St. Marks, and Gov-
ernor DuVal summoned sixty or seventy militiamen to be present also
for talks with the Indians. The armed militiamen assembled at Tal-
lahassee. Before a meeting at St. Marks on 26 July 1824, DuVal enlisted
the aid of Blount and the other Apalachicola chiefs, who sent a force
of warriors to aid the militia. DuVal wrote the secretary of war from
St. Marks after they arrived: "This sudden movement so surprised
the Tallahassee and Mickasuky Indians, that they hurried to meet me,
and promised to obey my orders and to respect my authority."24
DuVal first met Neamathla in his own town. The confrontation has
often been pictured as a physical encounter, a kind of David-and-
Goliath match between a governor who was five feet seven inches
tall and an Indian chief who was six feet tall. Neamathla, however,
was seventy-two years old and DuVal only forty. As DuVal later
wrote, "I took the interpreter with me, and went to Neamathla's town.
I found there about 300 warriors, and I saw many of them armed. I
immediately went into their square yard (which is their forum) and
gave them a talk, and ordered them to meet me on the 26th instant
at St. Marks; and assured them that their ruin and destruction was
certain, unless they obeyed my orders." Six hundred Indians attended
the St. Marks meeting, and DuVal, as he put it, "appointed John
Hicks head chief to lead them south to their land. ... I have directed


The Complaint of Neamathla


Succeeding Jackson as governor (1822-34), William P. DuVal, a native Virginian, hum-
bled and replaced Neamathla as the principal Seminole chief in Florida, this chief having
resisted the hundreds of American settlers now coming to the Red Hills, and the
Seminoles were confined to a reservation in central Florida. (Courtesy of Florida State

14* .


a -;N6** lie~c, a~

The Complaint of Neamathla

the Indians to prepare to move, and to be on hand by the first day
of October next."25
October 1824 came, and there was now indeed a considerable move-
ment of Indians to their central Florida reservation. By May 1825,
though, 120 Indians remained west of the Suwannee River. The situa-
tion had worsened by fall 1825, and in August of that year there were,
according to the 1825 census, some 900 settlers between the Och-
lockonee and Suwannee rivers. Nearly all of these were in or near
the new town of Tallahassee. The danger of incidents between reds
and whites increased with a new development reported by Acting
Governor Walton from Tallahassee on 6 October: he had received
information "that most, if not all, of those [Indians] who formerly
resided between the rivers Suwannee and Apalachicola are on their
return hither." The explanation, he added, was that the Indians sim-
ply had no means of subsistence, the country beyond the Suwannee
being less productive than the Red Hills 26
Finally all of the Indians left the Red Hills. Neamathla had spurned
the Gadsden County reservation assigned to him and his people and
had even spurned the offer of a white school for the Seminoles, say-
ing, "We wish our children to remain as the Great Spirit made them,
and as their fathers are, Indians."27 Now, however, he returned to
the Creek Nation after being humbled and replaced by DuVal. He
became the chief of Hitchiti Town on the Hutchechubbee River.28
Always an implacable enemy of the white man although soft-spoken
and cooperative on occasion, Neamathla in pursuing this course of
action was only taking a suggestion that had been made in 1821 by
Andrew Jackson. In a few years, though, Jackson himself had become
the Great White Father in Washington and was committed to sending
all of the eastern tribes, friends like Blount and foes like Neamathla,
to the Indian Territory assigned to all in the West.
And so it was that this noble Hitchiti chief ended his long career
of resistance with one last hurrah in 1836, at the age of eighty-four
leading several hundred of his followers in Alabama in a Creek re-
bellion. The rebellion occurred after the Creeks had been ordered to
dispose of their lands, ceded in a treaty of 24 March 1832, and make
ready to be removed to Oklahoma. It was common knowledge among
both Indians and the whites who had now heavily settled Alabama,
that a group of white speculators centered in Columbus, Georgia,
were engaged in defrauding the Indians of the individual tracts they
had been given under this treaty. There was a suspicion also that
these same speculators fomented the rebellion itself. When the up-
rising occurred, an armed force of ten thousand regulars and citizen

The Complaint of Neamathla

soldiers was assembled to repress it. Neamathla, who is credited with
leading the Lower Creeks in this revolt, was arrested and put in irons.
He and sixteen hundred Indian men, women, and children were held
at nearby Fort Mitchell. Then in the heat of July 1836 they were
marched to Montgomery. An observer of this march said in the Army
and Navy Chronicle that despite the chief's eighty-four years, Nea-
mathla's eyes "indicate intelligence and fire and his countenance
would give the impression that he was a brave and distinguished
man .... They were all handcuffed and chained together; and in this
way they marched to Montgomery, on the Alabama, ninety miles.
Old Eneah Mathla marched all the way, handcuffed and chained like
the others, and I was informed by Captain Page, the agent for moving
the Indians, that he never uttered a complaint."29
The journey continued by boat to Mobile, then to New Orleans and
up the Mississippi, Arkansas, and White rivers to Rock Row, Arkan-
sas, where an overland journey began to the Indian Territory. The
ragged party finally reached Fort Gibson on 3 September 1836, but
there they were met by an angry group of Creeks, members of the
McIntosh faction, which had opposed the Red Sticks in 1813-1814,
had sided with Jackson in the 1818 campaign, and in 1829 had com-
pliantly agreed, the first of all the Creeks, to removal. Only when
Neamathla agreed to submit to the existing government of this faction
were he and his followers accepted on the Creek lands in the West.
This magnificent chieftain and hero of the Red Hills now disappears
from view.30



Tallahassee and
the "Old Dominion"

Between 1825 and 1835 the Red Hills increasingly attracted settlers
from the Carolinas, Virginia, and Maryland and even from New York
and New England, most of the newcomers settling in or around Tal-
lahassee. That this community at the start had an appealing urbanity
and style is shown by an account of a celebration on 8 January 1825,
marking the tenth anniversary of General Jackson's victory over the
British at New Orleans. "The dinner was sumptuous, the wine ex-
cellent and the ladies of our infant metropolis graced the table with
their presence," said a newspaper, while outside Wyatt's Hotel an
old six-pound cannon found at San Luis "performed its functions in
the celebration of the day."'
Judge Woodward presided at the dinner and was a prominent figure
at other celebrations of Washington's birthday and Independence
Day. Woodward himself was honored by a dinner before making a
trip to Washington.2 At a ball on 22 February 1826, ladies and gentle-
men present represented more than half of the twenty-four states. A
cosmopolitan flavor was added by Achille Murat, nephew of Napo-
leon and son of one of his marshals. After Bonaparte's downfall Murat
had come to pursue his fortune in Florida and had a plantation in
what became Jefferson County.3
The most elaborate of all the early celebrations was that on 4 July
1826, when Tallahassee observed the fiftieth anniversary of American
independence. Men of the community gathered at the Capitol Square,
where a new brick capitol was nearing completion. Built by John W.
Levinus, a New Yorker who was one of the first settlers in Tallahassee,
the structure was no thing of beauty, but it established the classic
revival style that became the rule for public buildings and for some
private ones as well.4 Women of the community gathered at the
"meetinghouse," evidently the Methodist Church that had been
erected in 1825 at the northwestern corner of the original town, on

Tallahassee and the "Old Dominion"

the south side of present Park Avenue. This very plain wooden struc-
ture was described as "neither ceiled nor plastered, with no glass in
the windows which were closed by solid shutters, not blinds."5
At the firing of a "national salute," Governor DuVal led a march
of men to the meetinghouse. The Reverend Joseph Smith greeted
the assemblage of 150 there, and after the ceremony there was a pro-
cession to "the arbor"-perhaps a "brush arbor" that had preceded
construction of the church. The cooks had prepared "one ox, one
sheep, two shoats, three dozen fowls, ten hams, fish and vegetables
in the greatest variety." After the feast there were many, many
Some of this style wore off rapidly as the town filled with office-
holders, speculators, and tradesmen: there were 500 persons in 1826,7
932 in 1830,8 and 1,300 to 1,600 in 1835. The traveler Charles Joseph
Latrobe, who visited in 1833, voiced the impression that here was "an
adventuring, speculating and money-making race."9 There was an
immediate need for mills to grind corn, and not surprisingly, Robert
Butler was operating a millhouse just to the north of the cascade by
1827.10 Although the mill was evidently not successful, it was shortly
joined by a lime quarry on the other side of the waterfall.11 A decade
later Tallahassee leased twenty-five acres, including the waterfall, to
Thomas Brown. Although the principal purpose was to place this
beautiful area at the edge of town in the hands of someone who would
take care of it, a provision allowed two acres where several springs
flowed out of the slope south of the capitol to be used for a tanyard.
If a tannery was erected here the stench must have tempered the
welcome that townspeople gave a cooling Gulf breeze.12 The waterfall
itself was finally obliterated by railroad building in the 1850s, leaving
the "gulf" into which it flowed a nauseous pool. All of John McIver's
"land of fairies" persisted as a semiindustrial wasteland well into the
twentieth century.13
Such noisy, dirty operations as sawmills, however, were from the
start of settlement placed well outside the community. The first saw-
mill was located beside a stream (now only a drainage ditch along
the east side of the Mabry Heights subdivision). The land here falls
off from an elevation of one hundred feet to thirty-two feet at Black
Swamp, the water from this flowing through Munson Slough to Lake
Munson. The owner of the sawmill, Brazil R. Bradford, said it was
capable of earning a profit of four thousand dollars a year. Bradford
built his house on "a handsome elevation near the saw mill" that
looked out to the south on a beautiful lake, which was named after
the pioneer lumberman. He shortly went to other enterprises in Ala-
bama and left the mill and 160 acres around it in the hands of a brother,


Tallahassee and the "Old Dominion"

Thomas Madison Bradford. The mill seems to have prospered, for in
March 1829 Bradford's Sawmill advertised forty-seven thousand
board feet of lumber for sale, including weatherboardingg and floor-
ing from the most beautiful yellow pine."14
The original town of Tallahassee, one-quarter of a mile square, was
divided into 322 lots that, offered for sale in the spring of 1825, brought
$45,000.15 Many were bought by speculators, who turned a pretty
penny in their resale. By 1828 the population explosion required an
expansion to the north, into a quarter-mile square extending from the
present Park Avenue to Brevard Street.16 Some speculators, such as
Isham G. Searcy, dreamed of much more growth. He and a partner
owned eighty acres at the southwest corner of original Tallahassee,
and in about 1829 he published a "Plan of the City of Tallahassee"
showing a "city two miles long and one and a half broad" laid out
in streets and blocks that never came into existence.17
Searcy's dream of a populous Tallahassee did not materialize. After
its population reached about 1,500 in 1835, the town quit growing.
However, by 1830, DuVal's prediction that the area near Tallahassee
would become the most populous part of Florida had been fulfilled;
the five Red Hills counties had a population of 19,133, or 55 percent
of the territorial population of 34,730. The Red Hills were increasingly
a rural region, Tallahassee then having 932 persons, Quincy 212, and
Marianna and Monticello a smaller population, while the town of
Madison did not exist.18
Far more realistic than Searcy's conception of Tallahassee was the
description of a visitor in the 1830s: a little town "built round a knoll
and surrounded by dense hammocks through which diverged roads
like the spokes of a wheel." These, today's "canopy roads," are Old
Bainbridge, Meridian, Centerville, Miccosukee, and Old St. Augus-
tine.19 During the 1830s short-staple cotton moved in large wagons
over them from the northern part of Leon County and neighboring
Georgia to Tallahassee. After being weighed in Tallahassee, the cotton
traveled the old Spanish road to St. Marks. In 1825 John and Nathaniel
Hamlin, formerly of Augusta, Maine, were at St. Marks to load the
cotton aboard schooners and brigs and sell in exchange the mer-
chandise in their store. By 1828 the Hamlins had established the town
of Magnolia, six miles upriver, which for a brief time shipped cotton
from planters in Jefferson County, and from some in Leon and a few
in Madison County, who could bypass Tallahassee and wagon their
cotton here. Magnolia flourished for a while and was the second
largest town in Middle Florida in 1830, with a population of 276. The
town declined and disappeared, though, after the completion of a
railroad from Tallahassee to St. Marks in 1837.20


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