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Vol. VII December, 1954 No. 4
AN HISTORIC SEMINOLE BURIAL IN A HIALEAH MIDDEN .... D. D. Laxson 111
CORACLES OR SKIN BOATS OF THE SOUTHEASTERN INDIANS
...... ................................. Wilfred T. Neill 119
INDEX, VOLUMES I-VII .................... .................. 127
CONTRIBUTORS TO THIS ISSUE ...... .......... ............ .. 133
Fig. 1. Top Row: Bullet mold, lead fragments, two pieces of stag or bone knife-handle, bullet resembling
Minnie ball, silver cone and bangle, gun flint.
Second Row: Glass section of circular mirror, six-inch section of rifle barrel (breach end), ladle.
Third Row: Top part of circular mirror, brass butt-plate, brass lock-plates, trigger plate, iron
Fourth Row: Brass wood-screws, patch-box cover and hinge.
Fifth Row: Trigger-guard assembly, ramrod keeper, fore-end cap.
Sixth Row: Glass beads, pipe bowl and fragments, buttons, copper plate.
AN HISTORIC SEMINOLE BURIAL
IN A HIALEA-H MIDDEN
D. D. Laxson
Realizing the rapid encroachment of the dragline and bulldozer into pos-
sible midden sites, the author has thought it advantageous to excavate test
pits in as many hammocks as possible in the fast growing communities
north and west of Hialeah, Dade County, Florida. The midden discussed
in this paper is roughly a mile northeast of the sites excavated in 1952 and
1953 and previously reported in The Florida Anthropologist (Vol. VI, Nos.
1 and 3; Vol. VII, No. 3).
It is located in an irregular oval-shaped hammock, 155 feet wide and
400 feet long, 140 feet north of Gratigny Road and 1.1 miles west of its
intersection with Red Road (Fig. 2). This area falls in the SE quarter of
the SE quarter of Section 26, Township 52 south, Range 40 east. Land to
the west and north is used for truck farming, and there are also some aban-
doned rock pits. To the east is farm and pasture land; to the south, the
Edgemere Dairy. The west end of the hammock is occupied by Mr. and Mrs.
J. Long. The portion containing the midden is on property belonging to
Mr. Ernest R. Graham.
Vegetation is typical: ficus, trema, paw-paw, groundsel, elderberry,
scarlet bush, etc.
A cursory surface examination of the area turned up numerous Glades
Plain sherds, bleached by exposure to the sun (probably exposed by the
scratching of chickens roosting in the hammock). A shallow layer of
black organic soil blended with sand at depths of less than a foot. Under-
lying the sand were pockets of calcified marl. There were a good many
bone and shell fragments in the marl, but they were too small to be identi-
fiable. The base seemed to be creamy limestone, which could be seen
exposed on the surface in the western part of the hammock.
Part of the midden area had been bulldozed. A deep semi-circular
swath had been cut into the eastern end of the hammock. No material was
found in this recently-turned sandy soil. A road had been cut through from
north to south; as it crossed the central portion of the hammock, a sharp
rise in the ground was evident. This location seemed to be 30 or more
inches above the surrounding land. It was marked by a large multi-trunked
ficus. A metal disk was inserted in the trunk of the large tree to be used
as a bench mark. With a transit, all measurements were made from this
point. Work was carried on close to the large trees because it was thought
improbable the tractors and bulldozers could get close to that area.
Three test pits were dug; their location is shown in Figure 2. Pit 1
was dug parallel to a large horizontal ficus on its west side. Excavation
was carried downward a foot to a hard breccia of bone and shell fragments.
In the upper 6 inches of the test were found a unique incised sherd, 3
Glades Red, 9 Glades Tooled, and 67 Glades Plain sherds, a lead bullet,
and 2 faceted blue-glass beads. The lower 6 inches produced only 15
Glades Plain sherds and fragments of 2 bone awls.
Pit 2 was dug on the west side of the midden, about 20 feet northwest
of Pit 1, adjoining the bisecting road through the midden (Fig. 2). This
pit was also shallow. Fifty-three Glades Plain and 2 St. Johns Plain
sherds were found. One St. Johns Plain sherd was in both the 0-6 and 6-12
inch levels. Several Macrocallista shell fragments were noted, also a
rabbit and an otter dentary. A considerable portion of the excavated
material was charred and numerous limestone particles were noted.
Pit 3 was dug on the eastern side of the multi-trunked ficus (Fig. 2).
In it were found a total of 73 pieces of Glades Plain, a single Glades
Tooled rim, and a sherd each of Key Largo and of Matecumbe Incised.
As can be seen, after excavating these three test pits, stratigraphic
results showed nothing unusual in this small midden. It is typical of
several in the immediate vicinity to the north and south. The site was
probably occupied by a small family group or groups, governed autono-
mously, and linked by common technological and economic traits with
their neighbors. Bones found in the upper zones of the midden were
those of deer, turtle, alligator, bird, and fish. All these are characteristic
of Glades area subsistence.
The tests finished, plans were made to abandon the site. At this
point, an object was seen protruding from the central trunk of the large
ficus that dominated the midden. It was at first thought to be a piece of
Several hours of work finally resulted in the removal of the object, in
two pieces. It was found to be an octagon-shaped rifle barrel, badly pitted
and rusted. A greased stick, possibly the ramrod, had been jammed into
the barrel. This proved beneficial as the bore had been kept in excellent
In the course of the removal of the gun barrel, faceted blue-glass
beads and brass buttons came to light. Plans were then made to cut
away some of the roots and continue digging. In a very short time, and
from a shallow depth, were uncovered brass gun-parts, consisting of butt
plate, trigger-guard assembly, fore-end cap, ramrod keeper, patch-box
cover, patch-box cover hinge in Fleur-de-Lis shape, and two brass lock-
parts. At this point the site was covered up and plans made to continue
digging next day.
The artifacts seemed concentrated in a narrow rectangular area among
the roots. (See Figure 3 for horizontal distribution of objects.) Working
with a small trowel the second day, digging also proved fruitful. Two iron
gunlock parts, numerous beads, brass buttons, a pipe stem, a trapezoid-
shaped copper plate with small holes punched around its edge, a trigger
DISTRIBUTION OF 1. TRADE HOE
ARTIFACTS BETWEEN 2. BULLET MOLD
TREE TRUNKS 3. PIPE BOWL AND STEM
O 4. MIRROR
4 5. LEAD
Sm----- N 6. TRIBGER GUARD
7. BUTT PLATE AND LOCK PLATES
FICUS FICUS S. RAMROD KEEPER
TRUNK TR NK FORE-END CAP
Ol 10. LOCK PARTS
II. PATCH BOX HINGE AND COVER
S014. RIFLE BARREL
IS. SILVER CONE
IS. SILVER BANGLE
4 3 IT. COPPER PLATE
/ / /BONE
MIDDLEE i BUTTONS
SCALE: APPROX I COT
plate marked with the number 3, and some bone fragments were found.
An hour's work on the third day disclosed lead fragments; more beads
and buttons; a brass wood-screw; 2 pieces of stag or bone knife-handle;
a small, notched shark's tooth; and a single gun flint.
Findings on the fourth day proved interesting. First uncovered were
both parts of a single-ball bullet mold. The two sections were separated
12 inches from one another. A crude copper-ladle, iron knife-blade frag-
ments, a large hoe blade, remnants of a white-clay pipe bowl, and a cir-
cular mirror were among the day's findings.
Numerous limestone rocks, averaging somewhat smaller than a man's
fist, were interlaced among the artifacts. It is not known whether these
represented the remains of a cairn of some sort or not. Several small
iron objects, too badly rusted to be identified, but probably gun parts,
were also found.
At this point it became impossible to extricate anything more from
amongst the root system unless the tree was uprooted or blown over.
Plans are now being made to use a metal locator in an effort to localize
the position of any other artifacts buried under the tree.
IDENTIFICATION OF OBJECTS
Specimens are illustrated in Figure 1 (frontispiece). They have been
given to the Florida State Museum, Gainesville, Florida, where they are
available for future research (Accession No. 3897). Some of the most im-
portant items are currently on display in the museum.
The small single-ball bullet mold was made of soapstone. This rock is
composed of talc and chlorite, has a satiny luster, and is heat resistant.
Closest deposits of soapstone to the Florida area are located in Georgia
and North Carolina. It is interesting to note in this connection that the
Delaware Indians were known to have constructed stone molds. This
tribe was also among the Indians enlisted by the United States against
the Seminoles at one stage of the war.
The large hoe blade, 9 inches wide and 9 inches high, was the type
used in cotton cultivation throughout the 19th century. It was a common
Lead fragments were probably sprue, cut from the edge of the mold
and saved for recasting. One lead object resembled the conical bullet
known as the "Minnie" ball.
Over 50 faceted trade beads were found, mostly blue in color. How-
ever, there were a few white and green beads. A single spherical black
bead, 12 mm. outside diameter with a 3 mm. hole, was uncovered. There
is the possibility they may have been part of a pouch or catchall bag.
The ladle was too crudely curved around the rim to be used for eating.
It was probably used to pour lead into the bullet mold.
The circular mirror, 3 1/8 inches in diameter, somewhat resembled a
modern compact, without the extra compartment. It was unmarked except
for a raised circle, 1 3/16 inches in diameter, made by pressing upward
from the inside of the front cover. Silvering had worn off the glass, and
it was cracked. The mirror was found in two pieces, separated about 8
inches. It appeared to have been broken in two. The possibility that it
might have been a part of a signalling device or heliograph was considered.
The only information available seemed to discount this theory. Instructions
For Using The Heliograph Of The Signal Corps, United States Army, author-
ized by General Orders No. 99, 1888, Headquarters of The Army, Adjutant-
General's Office, and as amended, lists no shape other than square for
heliograph mirrors; nor is there any record of circular mirrors being used.
Fragmentary material included 5 pieces of an iron knife-blade. When
assembled, the pieces made a blade 8 inches long and 1 1/2 inches wide
with a beveled point. The fragments were in poor shape and crumbled
when handled. A small silver cone, resembling piping, and a silver
bangle were found close together. The white-clay pipe stem was marked
with the words, Peter on one side of the stem and Dorn on the other. The
bowl was milled around the rim. The angle between the stem and the
bowl approximated a right angle. The two pieces were close together but
appeared deliberately broken.
The buttons, totaling 20 in number, were given a thorough examination
by the manufacturer, Scovill Manufacturing Co., Waterbury, Conn., who
dated them as having been made between 1830 and 1840. The following
is taken from their report: "Corrosion had gone too far to determine face
design. The mark indicates a Uniform or Insignia button: dress buttons
of the period bore Quality marks only. The obvious parallel lines indicate
a 'lined field' behind the design and are to be taken as horizontal. There
is a bare suggestion of two figures (originally embossed) at left and right,
and there is in the lower left quadrant a suggestion of vertical lines, as
on a shield. This would suggest a State seal, with no legend." The date
was established at Scovill by the shell structure and by the markings on
the back. There is a possibility that the buttons were originally gilded,
but no spectro-analysis was made to prove this.
It was not too difficult to reconstruct the rifle. It was found to be a
trading grade, brass mounted, Kentucky 36-caliber, percussion-fired rifle.
The barrel length was 43 inches; rifling, 8 grooves; twisting, left. A
wooden stock extended one half to three quarters of the barrel length. The
gun was equipped with open front-and-rear sights and probably equipped
with a cane ramrod.
Despite the presence of a single gun flint of imported Irish or English
flint, examination of the lock parts and plates showed the gun was per-
cussion-fired. No markings, other than the number 3 stamped on the trigger
plate and rear section of the trigger guard, were found. This number was
probably a proof mark denoting the gun had been tested by firing a triple
charge of powder, a common proofing method at that time.
As would be expected, expanding roots caused some deviation from the
original position of the gun parts in the ground. However, their approxi-
mate location, the sheared-off condition of the breach end of the barrel,
the trigger support's having been bent sharply at right angles and the rear
portion of the trigger guard's having been broken off all suggest the rifle
had been held by the muzzle and smashed.
The few human bones found were identified as a femur and a fourth
metatarsal. It is possible the root system had damaged the rest of the
bones or that they are beneath the large roots.
Tentative dating of the burial may be made from six of the articles
1. The gun
-Armories started producing percussion arms around 1842.
However, civilians had converted many flintlocks before this
2. The buttons
-These were dated by the manufacturer as after 1830 and no
later than 1840.
3. The hoe
4. The white-clay pipe
-Later than 1700, probably 19th century.
5. The mirror
6. The beads
-If part of a pouch or catchall bag, 1830-60.
The collection is typical of the personal belongings of an Indian.
Considering the dating, evidence of deliberate destruction of grave goods,
obvious shallow interment, profusion of beads, and the human bones, it
is reasonable to presume a mid-19th-century Seminole burial is represented.
Many people collaborated on this project and gave of their time and
energy. Appreciation is expressed to the following; Mr. and Mrs. J. Long,
whose property was trespassed many times; Mr. Ernest R. Graham, owner
of the midden site, who kindly consented for us to dig; Mr. D. W. Copeland,
Mr. E. H. Davis, and Mr. R. W. Belfit of the Scovill Mfg. Co., who did re-
search on the buttons; Mr. J. C. Harrington, Regional Archeologist, National
Park Service, for information on the trade pipe; Mr. Philip Sharpe, National
Rifle Association Technical Staff; Mr. Arthur Schaap of Miami and Mr. Rolfe
Holbrook of Coral Gables, who aided in the reconstruction of the rifle; Dr.
Wilfred T. Neill, Director of Research Division, Ross Alien Reptile Insti-
tute, Silver Springs, for data on the Seminoles; Mr. Ripley Bullen, Curator
of Social Sciences, Florida State Museum, for typology of pottery and iden-
tification of bone material; Lt. Col. M. C. Mautz, Asst. Chief of Staff, G-3,
Ft. Monmouth, N. J., for data on historical heliographs; Mr. E. C. Kendall,
Associate Curator of Manufacturers, and Mr. Remington Kellogg, Director,
Smithsonian Institute, who advised regarding the hoe and mirror; Noel
Herrman for the excellent maps and for help in digging; Raymond Mills for
the photograph; William Reckers for the enlargements of the site area photos;
and Charles Bower for screening and digging.
1954. Antique Guns.
The Muzzle Loading Rifle Then and Now.
Fenton, Carrol and Mildred
The Rock Book.
Goggin, John M., Mary E. Godwin, Earl Hester, David Prange, and Robert
1949. "An Historic Indian Burial, Alachua County, Florida." The
Florida Anthropologist, Vol. II, Nos. 1-2, pp. 10-25. Gainesville.
Goggin, John M.
1951. "Beaded Shoulder Pouches of The Florida Seminole." The
Florida Anthropologist, Vol. IV, Nos. 1-2, pp. 3-17. Gainesville.
Laxson, D. D.
1953a. "Stratigraphy in a Hialeah Midden." The Florida Anthropolo-
gist, Vol. VI, No. 1, pp. 1-8. Gainesville.
1953b. "Further Excavations at Hialeah, Florida." The Florida
Anthropologist, Vol. VI, No. 3, pp. 95-99. Gainesville.
1954. "A Small Hialeah Midden." The Florida Anthropologist,
Vol. VII, No. 3, pp. 91-95. Gainesville.
Neill, Wilfred T.
1951. Florida's Seminole Indians. Ocala.
Swanton, John R.
1946. "The Indians of the Southeastern United States." Bureau of
American Ethnology, Bulletin, No. 137. Washington.
Willey, Gordon R.
1949. "Excavations in Southeastern Florida." Yale University
Publications in Anthropology, No. 42. New Haven.
CORACLES OR SKIN BOATS OF THE
Wilfred T. Neill
A coracle is generally defined as a boat made of animal hide stretched
over a wooden frame. Coracles have been reported in several parts of the
Old World and the New. A tub-shaped vessel of this sort was frequently
used by the Sioux, Mandan, Arikara, and Hidatsa along the Missouri River
(Mason in Hodge, ed., 1907, p. 156). Coracles of the Plains Indians are
often called bull-boats.
The use of coracles among these western tribes has often been remarked
on. George Catlin (1848, pl 240c) figured the Mandan bull-boat and com-
mented (pp. 138-139), "... the skin canoes of the Mandans ... are made
almost round like a tub, by straining a buffalo's skin over a frame of wicker
work, made of willow or other boughs.... These very curious and rudely
constructed canoes, are made in the form of the Welsh coracle; and, if I
mistake not, propelled in the same manner, which is a very curious circum-
stance; inasmuch as they are found in the heart of the great wilderness of
America, when all the other surrounding tribes construct their canoes in
decidedly different forms, and of different materials." (The italics are
Rudolph Kurz also figured bull-boats of the Plains tribes (Hewitt, ed.,
1937, pls. 1, 16, 20, 30, 33, and 37) and remarked (p. 100), "That this
boat made of buffalo hide belongs peculiarly to the Mandan is [most] un-
likely.... All Indians who dwell on the prairies make use of skin boats on
account of the scarcity of wood."
The bull-boat, or something like it, was also made by Indians of the
southeastern United States, but little is known of its use in that area.
Swanton (1946, pp. 597-598) supplied three records of bull-boats in the
Southeast, only one of which, however, was concerned with aboriginal use
of the device. Several other literature references exist; and it is of some
interest to consider the various citations, which may be taken up in their
The first record of bull-boats in the Southeast, and perhaps in the en-
tire United States, is that of the German-Swiss, John Tobler, in 1737. Tob-
ler, deposed governor of a Swiss province, led a group of his countrymen to
Carolina. Many of the party eventually settled at what was then called
Savannah Town or Savaneton, in the Beech Island section of Aiken County,
South Carolina. The locality is about five miles south of present-day
Augusta, Georgia, on the opposite side of the Savannah River.
At Savannah Town, Tobler encountered Indians. His brief remarks on
them (translated from the German) were as follows, ... the king of the
savages, beside 4 others, stood beside me. They looked at me very sharply,
also showed the treaty of peace which they had made with the king of
England.... They painted themselves strangely with red color. The king
wore a beautiful brass breastpiece over his heart" (Cordle, ed., 1939,
Tobler supplied one other ethnological comment, of interest here
(p. 93): "This day the savages brought the merchant in Savaneton buffalo,
bear, & deer hides very cheaply, in fact, even a leather boat, which can be
folded up & carried easily, & afterwards 4 or 5 persons can travel in it
across the rivers. Indeed they bring those people meat of all kinds of game
& of most beautiful birds for a very low price."
The Augusta area had been inhabited by many Indian tribes in the cen-
tury preceding Tobler's arrival. The villages of Cofitachequi and Ilapi,
mentioned in the De Soto narratives, are thought by some to have been
located not far below Augusta. These may have been the Muskogee settle-
ments later called Kasihta and Hilibi (Swanton, 1922, pp. 216-218, 258).
However, the Muskogee had abandoned the Augusta region before 1670.
The Westo, presumably a Yuchi band, were on the Savannah River a little
above Augusta in the early 1670's. They remained there until 1681, when
they were driven out by the Savannah or Shawnee Indians (Swanton, 1946,
p. 213). Nevertheless, quite a few Yuchi (perhaps not of the Westo band)
were living on the Savannah River just above Augusta until 1715; and some
Yuchi resided on the stream below Augusta for a few years after the Yamasee
War. In 1704 the Apalachee, following their defeat by Col. James Moore,
were settled at or very near Savannah Town (Milling, 1940, p. 172). They
remained there until 1715, when they joined the hostiles at the outbreak of
the Yamasee War.
The Shawnee or Savannah Indians made their appearance in the area as
early as 1674; and shortly thereafter, many of them settled in the vicinity
of Augusta. They gave their name to the Savannah River; and their main
settlement was called Savannah Town or Savaneton. However, the Shawnee
soon began to depart from the area, the last of them leaving around 1731
videe Swanton, 1946, p. 184); Shawnee war parties continued to make raids
into South Carolina until the eve of the American Revolution (Milling, op.
cit., p. 90).
The departure of the Shawnee from the Augusta area was probably
hastened by the arrival of their old enemies, the Chickasaw, in considerable
numbers. The Chickasaw reached the area not later than the early 1730's
and soon usurped all the Shawnee territory including Savannah Town
(Milling, op. cit., 186-202; Swanton, 1946, pp. 117-118). In 1737, when
Tobler arrived, the Chickasaw were the dominant tribe in the vicinity if
not the only one.
Thus, the skin boat seen by Tobler was probably made by the Chickasaw,
although one cannot conclude that such vessels were originated or intro-
duced by this tribe.
The next written reference to coracles in the Southeast is that of James
Adair, a trader who, between 1735 and 1750, had lived among the Cherokee,
Catawba, and Chickasaw, and who was familiar with still other tribes. He
commented, "[This is] the method we commonly use in crossing deep rivers
- When we expect high rivers, each company of traders carry a canoe, made
of tanned leather, the sides over-lapped about three fingers breadth, and
well sewed with three seams. Around the gunnels, which are made of sap-
lings, are strong loop-holes, for large deer-skin strings to hang down both
the sides: with two of these, is securely tied to the stem and stern, a well-
shaped sappling [sic], for a keel, and in like manner the ribs. Thus, they
usually rig out a canoe, fit to carry over ten horse loads at once, in the
space of half an hour: the apparatus is afterwards commonly hidden with
great care, on the opposite shore. Few take the trouble to paddle the canoe
[but] usually jump into the river, with their leather barge ahead of them,
and thrust it through the deep part of the water, to the opposite shore"
(Adair, 1775, p. 272).
This reference suggests that the coracle was a device of traders. How-
ever, in 1768 Adair saw and apparently was surprised by the use of a
simple skin vessel by a party of roving "Ohchai" Indians. (Adair's
"Ohchai" were, of course, the Okchai, a Muskogee tribe.) He stated (p.
273), "[the Okchai] opened their packs, spread out some hairy bear and
deer skins with the fleshy side undermost, and having first placed on them
their heavy things, and then the lighter, with the guns which lay uppermost,
each made two knots with the shanks of a skin, and in the space of a few
minutes, they had their leather barge afloat, which they soon thrust before
them to the other shore, with a surprisingly small deviation from a straight
course, considering the strong current of the water."
Apparently the Indians used no wooden framework in this case, the guns
and accouterments sufficing to support the contrivance. When Adair made
this observation, he was traveling eastward en route to Augusta, which he
reached soon after.
William Bartram also remarked on the coracle. In 1778, he, like Adair
before him, was traveling eastward on the way to Augusta. He described
his crossing of the Ocmulgee River: "[We] sat about rigging our portable
leather boat, about eight feet long, which was of thick soal [sic] leather,
folded up and carried on the top of a pack of deer-skins.... We ... cut down
a White-Oak sapling, and by notching this at each end, bent it up, which
formed the keel, stem, and stern post of one piece; this was placed in the
bottom of the boat, and pretty strong hoop-poles being fixed in the bottom
across the keel, turning up their ends, expanded the hull of the boat, which
being fastened by thongs to two other poles bent round, the outside of the
rim formed the gunwhales [sic]: thus in an hour's time our bark was rigged,
to which afterwards we added two little oars or sculls" (Bartram, 1792, p.
Not long thereafter, Bartram crossed the Oconee River in similar
fashion (p. 458). He apparently considered the leather boat to be a device
of the traders rather than of the aborigines.
In 1790, Caleb Swan was traveling southward with some Creek Indians
who had attended the Treaty of New York. The party arrived at the Alapaha
River (which arises in Georgia and empties into the Suwannee in Florida).
The stream was in flood, and for some reason Swan and the Indians were
unable to swim it; probably they were carrying documents, ornaments, and
weapons that would have been damaged by the water. In any event, they
searched fruitlessly for some way to cross the stream. The Indians
attempted to make a dugout, but there was only one hatchet among them
and they abandoned the effort. Swan stated, "[Eventually the] Indians
killed a stray cow in the woods, and stretched her skin over hoops, into
the shape of a bowl, with which to make the experiment of getting over the
river ... the Indians commenced the business by swimming and towing the
skin by a string, which they held in their teeth, getting up a general war-
hoop [sic], to frighten away the voracious alligators that inhabit this river
in vast numbers" (Swan in Schoolcraft, 1855, p. 253).
We next hear of skin boats among the Mikasuki Seminole of Florida. In
1802 a band of nine Mikasuki attacked Matanzas, then a little community
about 18 miles below St. Augustine. They killed a settler, Thomas Bonelly,
and took into captivity his wife, two sons, and three daughters. One of the
boys escaped, and the remainder of the family was eventually ransomed.
In later years, one of the daughters testified before a justice of the peace
as to her experiences. Her remarks were recorded as follows: "On the
second day after they started from the Matanzas, they crossed a small river,
and afterwards they crossed the St. Johns, where it was very wide [prob-
ably a little lake], she recollects also crossing a river called Sawannee,
in a skin. The skin was stretched out by two cross sticks, and a rim made
of wood; she played down in the bottom very still whilst crossing ... On the
twenty-fourth day they arrived at a town called Mickasuky, the chief of
which she recollects was called Ken-ha-jah" (Sanchez in U. S. War Dept.,
1836, p. 114).
Finally, in 1823, Dr. William H. Simmons traveled overland from St.
Augustine to St. Marks, Florida. He was looking for a site upon which a
new state capital could be located. With him were two guides; he did not
state whether they were Indian or white. He remarked, ... we reached
the Ausilly [Aucilla River] itself, which was now very high. We formed our
hide into a boat, which conveyed across our baggage, and swam over our-
selves on horseback" (Quoted in Whitman, 1938, p. 28).
Evidently skin boats were used by the Chickasaw, Mikasuki, and Musko-
gee, at least, as well as by white traders and explorers. The area of known
use included southern Georgia, south-central Georgia, and immediately
adjacent areas of South Carolina, northern Florida, and perhaps eastern
Alabama (the Okchai country).
Recently I queried two Muskogee-speaking Seminole and one Mikasuki
as to the leather boat; they had not heard of such a vessel. This circum-
stance does not preclude the possibility that some elderly Indian might re-
call the coracle, but it does suggest that the device was not widely used
by the ancestors of the Seminole.
One can but speculate as to the origin of the southeastern coracle.
Perhaps it was a local invention. Swanton (1946, p. 597) commented that
this vessel was "of particular interest as recalling the bull-boat of the
Missouri, though there can have been no direct connection between the
two." The Chickasaw and Shawnee territories once extended well up the
Mississippi Valley, but it certainly does seem improbable that the use of
coracles spread from the upper Missouri to the middle Mississippi and
thence to Georgia without having been noted in the intervening area.
In the popular mind, coracles are often associated with the British
Isles. Indeed, the word coracle came into English from the Welsh and has
a close cognate in Gaelic. Coracles have been used in Scotland, Wales,
and Ireland since the earliest times of which we have record. Even today
they are used on the Wye, Severn, and Dee rivers, and on the Irish coast
(Vizetelly, ed., 1948, p. 420). It will be recalled that the early settlers
of Georgia and South Carolina were largely from the British Isles. British
colonists arrived in South Carolina in 1670. The leaders of the colonists
established friendly relations with the Indians; and, less than 15 years
after the first settlers arrived, the Charles Town traders were drawing
trade from as far as the Oconee and Ocmulgee rivers (Salley in Milling,
op. cit., p. vii). The first serious attempt to settle southern Georgia was
made in 1717 by a Scotch nobleman, who secured a grant of land (the
"Margravate of Azilia") lying between the Savannah and Altamaha rivers.
In 1733, James Oglethorpe brought a shipload of debtors from English
prisons, establishing them on the lower Savannah; and in 1736 he settled
a party of Scotch Highlanders on the lower Altamaha.
It is at least conceivable that the early British settlers introduced
the coracle to the southeastern Indians. This circumstance would help
to explain the limited distribution of the coracle in the Southeast, as well
as Adair's and Bartram's impression that this type of boat was not of
Among the Missouri River tribes, the bull-boat was greatly favored,
for wooden dugouts or rafts were not easilymanufactured in the Plains
region where trees were scarce. In the Southeast, however, trees were
abundant, and the dugout was almost universally employed by the Indian
tribes (Swanton, 1946, p. 589). We might therefore ask why leather boats
found acceptance at all among the Muskogee and their neighbors.
The literature accounts suggest that the coracle had several advantages.
An animal hide could be folded and carried or easily hidden near the stream
crossing; a suitable wooden frame could be chopped from the bushes at any
riverside. If not at hand, a hide could be obtained from a stray cow or other
It might also be asked why the Indians did not cross streams simply by
swimming. Swanton (1946, p. 581) commented, "The great bane of the
American [Indian] archer, as of his European brother, seems to have been
rain." This remark could be extended to water in any form. War parties
sometimes turned back when rain threatened; and of course a raiding band
of warriors likewise could not risk soaking their archery tackle in a stream.
Firearms, powder horns, and gunpowder would similarly be damaged by
water, as would some food supplies and ornaments. Apparently coracles
were used in the Southeast mostly to convey possessions across a stream
while the owner swam.
Georgia, and especially its southern portion, is dissected by a great
many stream valleys. For example, if one left Augusta and traveled due
south to McBean, and airline distance of about 13 miles, one would begin
the trip at a river, end it at a creek, and cross seven other streams along
the way. The advantage of a coracle in such country is evident.
1775. The History of the American Indians. London.
1792. Travels through North and South Carolina, Georgia, East and
West Florida, the Cherokee Country, etc. London.
1848. Illustrations of the Manners, Customs, and Condition of the
North American Indians, etc. Vol. 2, 7th ed. London.
Cordle, C. G., editor
1939. "The John Tobler Manuscripts: an Account of German-Swiss
Emigrants in South Carolina, 1737." Journal of Southern
History, Vol. 5, pp. 83-97.
Hewitt, J. N. B., editor
1937. "Journal of Rudolph Friederich Kurz." Translated by Myrtis
Jarrell. Bureau of American Ethnology, Bull. 115. Washington.
Hodge, F. W., editor
1907. "Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico." Bureau of
American Ethnology, Bull. 30, Part 1, Washington.
Mason, O. T.
1907. "Boats." In Hodge, ed., 1907, pp. 156-157.
Milling, C. J.
1940. Red Carolinians. University of North Carolina Press, Chapel
Salley, A. S.
1940. "Foreword." In Milling, 1940, pp. vii-viii.
Sanchez, J. P.
1835. (Letter.) In U. S. War Dept., 1836, pp. 114-115.
Schoolcraft, H. R.
1855. Historical and Statistical Information Respecting the History,
Condition, and Prospects of the Indian Tribes of the United
States. Vol. 5. Philadelphia.
1855. "Position and State of Manners and Arts in the Creek, or
Muscogee Nation in 1791." In Schoolcraft, 1855, pp. 251-283.
Swanton, J. R.
1922. "Early History of the Creek Indians and Their Neighbors."
Bureau of American Ethnology, Bull. 73. Washington.
1946. "The Indians of the Southeastern United States." Bureau of
American Ethnology, Bull. 137. Washington.
U. S. War Dept.
1836. "Seminole Hostilities." 24th Congress, 1st Session. House
Document No. 271.
Vizetelly, F. H., editor
1948. "Coracle." Unsigned article in Funk and Wagnall's New
Standard Encyclopedia of Universal Knowledge, Vol. 7, p. 420.
1938. "Transportation in Territorial Florida." Florida Historical
Quarterly, Vol. 17, No. 1, pp. 25-53.
ROSS ALLEN REPTILE INSTITUTE
SILVER SPRINGS, FLORIDA
INDEX, VOLUMES I-VII
Agriculture of the Early North Florida Indians, The, CHARLES W. SPELLMAN:
Analysis of Belle Glade Plain Rim Sherds from Two Fisheating Creek Sites, An,
RITA KRESTENSEN PORTER: IV, 67
Archaeological Manifestation of a Natchez-Type Burial Ceremony, An, WILLIAM
H. SEARS: V, 1
Archeological Notes on Lower Fisheating Creek, JOHN M. GOGGIN: IV, 50
Archaeological Survey of Amelia Island, Florida, An, RIPLEY P. BULLEN and
JOHN W. GRIFFIN: V, 37
Archaic Horizon in Western Tennessee, The, THOMAS M. N. LEWIS and MADE-
LINE KNEBERG. Reviewed by RIPLEY P. BULLEN: I, 78
Artifacts from the Bluffton Midden, Volusia County, Florida, WILFRED T. NEILL:
Aspects of Social Organization and Material Culture of the Seminole of Big
Cypress Swamp, ROBERT F. GREENLEE: V, 25
Battery Point Site, Bayport, Hernando County, Florida, ADELAIDE K. BULLEN
and RIPLEY P. BULLEN: VI, 85
Beaded Shoulder Pouches of the Florida Seminole, JOHN M. GOGGIN: IV, 2
Big Circle Mounds, The, ROSS ALLEN: I, 17
Bone Artifacts, Resembling Projectile Points, from Preceramic Sites in Volusia
County, Florida, H. JAMES GUT and WILFRED T. NEILL: VI, 93
Building in Florida, EDWARD M. FEARNEY: VI, 139
Burial Patterns in the Burns and Fuller Mounds, Cape Canaveral, Florida, GOR-
DON R. WILLEY: VII, 79
Chronology at South Indian Field, Florida, VERA MASIUS FERGUSON.Reviewed
by JOHN M. GOGGIN: IV, 77
Coracles or Skin Boats of the Southeastern Indians, WILFRED T. NEILL:VII, 119
Crystal River, Florida: A 1949 Visit, GORDON R. WILLEY: II, 41
Cultural Explanation of Geophagy, A, NANCIE L. SOLIEN: VII, 1
Cultural Occupation at Goodland Point, Florida, JOHN M. GOGGIN; II, 65
Davis Mound, Hardee County, Florida, The, RIPLEY P. BULLEN: VII, 97
Development of Cultures in Nuclear America, HALE G. SMITH: VI, 121
Development of High Civilizations in Hot Climates: Symposium Number, ADE-
LAIDE K. BULLEN (introduction), FREDERICK R.WULSIN, HALE G. SMITH,
DONALD R. DYER, ROBERT ANDERSON, EDWARD M. FEARNEY, and
WILLIAM T. ARNETT: VI, 101
Dugouts of the Mikasuki Seminole, WILFRED T. NEILL: VI, 77
Editorial Comments, JOHN W. GRIFFIN: I, 74
Editor's Notes, ROBERT ANDERSON: VI, 39
Everglades: River of Grass, The, MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS.Reviewed by
JOHN W. GRIFFIN: I, 30
Excavations at Kolomoki, Season I 1948, WILLIAM H. SEARS. Reviewed by
RIPLEY P. BULLPEN: IV, 32
Excavations at Kolomoki, Season II 1950, WILLIAM H. SEARS. Reviewed by
RIPLEY P. BULLPEN: IV, 76
Excavations at la Finoa de Dos Marias, Camaguey, Cuba, HALE G. SMITH:
Excavations at Manatee Springs, Florida, RIPLEY P. BULLEN: VI, 53
Experiments with Raw Materials Utilized by the Florida Indians in Ceramic
Construction, HALE G. SMITH and WILLIAM WATSON: IV, 18
Famous Crystal River Site, The, RIPLEY P. BULLEN: VI, 9
Flint River Site, MA048, The, WILLIAM S. WEBB and DAVID L. DEJARNETTE.
Reviewed by RIPLEY P. BULLEN: I, 75
Florida Archeology 1950, JOHN M. GOGGIN: III, 9
Florida's Seminole Indians, WILFRED T. NEILL. Reviewed by WILLIAM C.
STURTEVANT: V, 65
Folsom-like Points from Florida, J. CLARENCE SIMPSON: I, 11
Foreword (to Vol. VII, No. 3), ADELAIDE K. BULLEN: VII, 78
Further Excavations at Hialeah, Florida, D. D. LAXSON: VI, 95
Further Notes on the Battery Point Site, Bayport, Hernando County, Florida,
ADELAIDE K. BULLEN and RIPLEY P. BULLEN: VII, 103
Card Site, Homosassa Springs, Florida, The, RIPLEY P. BULLEN: IV, 27
Geographic Interpretation of Civilizations in Tropical America, A, DONALD R.
DYER: VI, 123
Graters of the Mikasuki Seminole, WILFRED T. NEILL: VII, 74
Harbor Key Site, Manatee County, Florida, The, RIPLEY P. BULLEN, GRAHAM
R. REEDER, BONNIE BELL, and BLAKE WHISENANT: V, 21
Here They Once Stood: the Tragic End of the Apalachee Missions, MARK F.
BOYD, HALE G. SMITH, and JOHN W. GRIFFIN. Reviewed by JOHN M.
GOGGIN: III, 65
Historic Indian Burial, Alachua County, Florida, An, JOHN M. GOGGIN, MARY
E. GODWIN, EARL HESTER, DAVID PRANGE, and ROBERT SPANGEN-
BERG: II, 10
Historic Metal Plummet Pendants, JOHN M. GOGGIN: VII, 27
Historic Seminole Burial in a Hialeah Midden, An, D. D. LAXSON: VII, 111
Hot Weather and High Achievement, FREDERICK R. WULSIN: VI, 103
Indian Mound at Hypoluxo, Palm Beach County, An, GILBERT L. VOSS: II, 31
Indian Sites at Florida Caverns State Park, RIPLEY P. BULLEN; II, 1
Indian Stone Saw, An, W. J. ARMISTEAD: II, 47
Indians of the Southeastern United States, The, JOHN R. SWANTON. Reviewed
by HALE G. SMITH: I, 29
Introduction (to Symposium: Development of High Civilizations in Hot Climates),
ADELAIDE K. BULLEN: VI, 101
Kunti, a Food Staple of Florida Indians, FREDERICK W. SLEIGHT: VI, 46
Man Enters America, FREDERICK W. SLEIGHT: I, 23
Manufacture of Fluted Points, The, WILFRED T. NEILL: V, 9
Medicine Bundles and Busks of the Florida Seminole, The, WILLIAM C. STUR-
TEVANT: VII, 31
New Dictionary of American History, The, MICHAEL MARTIN and LEONARD
GELBER. Reviewed by ROBERT ANDERSON: VI, 73
New Interpretation of the Carabelle Site, A, ROBERT MACDONALD: III, 45
Note to Members, A, W. W. EHRMANN: I, 16
Notes Concerning an Historic Site of Central Florida, FREDERICK W. SLEIGHT:
Notes on the Archaeology of Useppa Island, JOHN W. GRIFFIN: II, 92
Origins of the St. John's River Seminole: Were They Mikasuki? KENNETH WIG-
GINS PORTER: IV, 39
Perico Island: 1950, RIPLEY P. BULLEN: III, 40
Racial Type of the Seminole Indians of Florida and Oklahoma, The, WILTON
MARION KROGMAN: I, 61
Recent Discoveries of Early Man, FREDERICK W. SLEIGHT: II, 34
Red Man's America: A History of Indians in the United States, RUTH MURRAY
UNDERHILL. Reviewed by ROBERT ANDERSON: VI, 69
Results of an Archaeological Investigation of a Spanish Mission Site in Jefferson
County, Florida, HALE G. SMITH: I, 1
Revised Temporal Chart of Florida Archeology, A, JOHN M. GOGGIN: I, 57
Seminole Indian Clues for Contemporary House Form in Florida, WILLIAM T.
ARNETT: VI, 145
Simpson, J. Clarence: 1910-1952, JOHN W. GRIFFIN: V, 8
Small Hialeah Midden, A, D. D. LAXSON: VII, 91
Snapper Creek Site, The, JOHN M. GOGGIN: III, 50
Some Incised Pottery from Cuba and Florida, RIPLEY P. BULLEN and D. D.
LAXSON: VII, 23
Some Problems in the Practical Application of Somatotyping, A. K. BULLEN:
Some Relations of Geography and Cultural Anthropology, ROBERT ANDERSON:
Southern Cult Specimen from Florida, A, JOHN M. GOGGIN: II, 36
Space and Time Perspective in Northern St. Johns Archeology, Florida, JOHN M.
GOGGIN. Reviewed by JOHN W. GRIFFIN: VI, 41
Stone Spud from Florida, A, JOHN W. GRIFFIN: V, 36
Stratigraphy at a Hialeah Midden, D. D. LAXSON: VI, 1
Survey of Indian River Archeology, Florida, A, IRVING ROUSE. Reviewed by
JOHN M. GOGGIN: IV, 77
Tests at the Whittaker Site, Sarasota, Florida, RIPLEY P. BULLEN: III, 21
Theory of Human Culture, The, JAMES FEIBLEMAN. Reviewed by BEVODE
McCALL: 1, 31
Toward Chronology on Coastal Volusia County, JOHN W. GRIFFIN: I, 49
Two Creek Pottery Vessels from Oklahoma, KARL SCHMITT: III, 3
Two Field Trips, FLETCHER MARTIN: III, 35
Unique St. Johns Punctated Vessel, A, RIPLEY P. BULLEN: VII, 72
Unusual Rattles from Silver Springs, Florida, WILFRED T. NEILL: V, 33
Unusual Shell Pendant, An, JOHN W. GRIFFIN: I, 28
Walker, S. T., An Early Florida Archaeologist, RIPLEY P. BULLEN: IV, 46
Weeden Island Zoned Red, JOHN W. GRIFFIN: I, 22
Woodward Site, The, RIPLEY P. BULLEN: II, 49
ALLEN, ROSS: I, 17
ANDERSON, ROBERT: VI, 39,69,73, 129
ARMISTEAD, W. J.: II, 47
ARNETT, W. T.: VI, 145
BELL, BONNIE: V, 21
BOYD, MARK F. (reviewed): III, 65
BULLEN, ADELAIDE K.: V, 17; VI, 85,
101; VII, 78, 103
BULLEN, RIPLEY P.: I, 75, 78; II, 1,
49; III, 21, 40; IV, 27, 32, 46, 76; V,
21,37; VI, 9, 53, 85; VII, 23,72,97, 103
DEJARNETTE, DAVID L. (reviewed):
DOUGLAS, MARJORY S. (reviewed): I, 30
DYER, DONALD R.: VI, 123
EHRMANN, W. W.: I, 16
FEARNEY, EDWARD M.: VI, 139
FEIBLEMAN, JAMES (reviewed): I, 31
FERGUSON, VERA M. (reviewed): IV, 77
GELBER, LEONARD (reviewed): VI, 73
GODWIN, MARY E.: II, 10
GOGGIN, JOHN M.: I, 57; II, 10, 36, 65;
III, 9, 50, 65; IV, 2, 50, 77; VII, 27
GOGGIN, JOHN M. (reviewed): VI, 41
GREENLEE, ROBERT F.: V, 25
GRIFFIN, JOHN W.: I, 22, 28, 30, 49,
74; II, 92; V, 8, 36, 37; VI, 41
GRIFFIN, JOHN W. (reviewed): III, 65
GUT, H. JAMES: VI, 93
HESTER, EARL: II, 10
KNEBERG, MADELINE (reviewed): I, 78
KROGMAN, WILTON M.: I, 61
LAXSON, D. D.: VI, 1, 95; VII, 23,91, 111
LEWIS, T. M. N. (reviewed): I, 78
MACDONALD, ROBERT: III, 45
MARTIN, FLETCHER: III, 35
MARTIN, MICHAEL (reviewed): VI, 73
McCALL, BEVODE: I, 31
NEILL, WILFRED T.: V, 9, 33; VI, 77,
93; VII, 11, 74, 119
NEILL, WILFRED T. (reviewed): V, 65
PORTER, KENNETH W.: IV, 39
PORTER, RITA K.: IV, 67
RANGE, DAVID: II, 10
REEDER, GRAHAM R.: V, 21
ROUSE, IRVING,(reviewed): IV, 77
SCHMITT, KARL: III, 3
SEARS, WILLIAM H.: V, 1
SEARS, WILLIAM H. (reviewed): IV, 32,76
SIMPSON, J. CLARENCE: I, 11
SLEIGHT, FREDERICK W.: I, 23; II, 26,
34; VI, 46
SMITH, HALE G.: I, 1, 29; IV, 18; VI,
121; VII, 19
SMITH, HALE G. (reviewed): III, 65
SOLIEN, NANCIE L.: VII, 1
SPANGENBERG, ROBERT: II, 10
SPELLMAN, CHARLES W.: I, 37
STURTEVANT, WILLIAM 0.: V, 65; VII, 31
SWANTON, JOHN R. (reviewed): I, 29
UNDERHILL, RUTH M. (reviewed): VI, 69
VOSS, GILBERT L.: II, 31
WATSON, WILLIAM: IV, 18
WEBB, WILLIAM S.(reviewed): I, 75
WHISENANT, BLAKE: V, 21
WILLEY, GORDON R.: II, 41; VII, 79
WULSIN, FREDERICK R.: VI, 103
CONTRIBUTORS TO THIS ISSUE
D. D. Laxson, an active member of the Florida Anthropological Society,
contributes another article in his series of investigations in the Hialeah
area near Miami, Florida.
Wilfred T. Neill is president of the Florida Anthropological Society and
director of the research division, Ross Allen Reptile Institute, Silver Springs.
FLORIDA ANTHROPOLOGICAL SOCIETY
First Vice President:
Second Vice President:
Wilfred T. Neill, Silver Springs.
Leigh M. Pearsall, Melrose.
Charlton W. Tebeau, Miami.
Julian M. Granberry, Gainesville.
Ripley P. Bullen, Gainesville.
Adelaide K. Bullen, Gainesville.
Frederick W. Sleight, Mount Dora.
H. James Gut, Sanford.
J. E. Dovell, Gainesville.
Membership in the Florida Anthropological Society is open to everyone
interested in its aims. Dues are $3.00 per year. Student Membership $1.50.
Members receive the Florida Anthropologist, the Newsletter, and other pub-
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Address items for the Newsletter to the President, Research Division,
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