THE SEMINOLES OF FLORIDA
MOFFAT, YARD AND COMPANY
I M KE r-TI C LE. IATTL G. IRL. 'Fh ill- BRIGIIT EYLS
Copyright 1896, 1910, 1911 by
Revised Edition, November, 1911
MRS. ELIZABETH STAUFFER-MOORE
IN GRATEFUL RECOGNITION OF HER SYMPATHY AND
PHILANTHROPIC INTEREST IN BEHALF OF THIS BRAVE
AND HEROIC REMNANT OF THE ABORIGINAL AMERI-
CANS, THE SEMINOLES OF FLORIDA, THIS BOOK IS
BY THE AUTHOR.
When most of the Seminoles were moved from
Florida to Indian Territory, a few score of them
were unwilling to go. Of these who remained, the
defendants, ten years ago, numbered about six hun-
dred. An effort was made at that time to buy for
this band the land on which they lived and a few
hundred dollars was given for that purpose.
In the study of this fragment in their singular sur-
roundings as portrayed in the pages of this book, one
gets, as it were, a glimpse of their camp-fire life, a
view of their sun-bleached wigwams and an insight
into the character of these proud but homeless people.
Not much apparently can be done for this home-
keeping remnant of the Florida aborigines, but it is
help and a protection to them that their continuing
presence in Florida and the conditions of their life
there should be known to the rest of the Americans
and especially to those who go to Florida or are
concerned with the development of that State.
To diffuse this helpful knowledge and give these
Indians such protection as may come from it, is the
aim of the present book.
EDWARD S. MARTIN.
New, York, Nov. 9, 1909.
THAT there is yet a tribe, or tribes of Indians in
Florida is a fact unknown to a large part of the
people of this country; there are even students of
history who have scarcely known it. These people,
driven, about seventy or more years ago, into the
dreary Everglades of that Southern Peninsular, have
kept themselves secluded from the ever encroaching
white population of the State. Only occasionally
would a very small number visit a town or a city-to
engage in traffic. They have had no faith in the white
man, or the white man's government. They have
aimed to be peaceful, but have, with inveterate pur-
pose, abstained from intercourse with any of the
agencies of our government. My friends, Mr. and
Mrs. J. M. Willson, Jr., of Kissimmee,. Florida,
have found their way to a large degree of confidence
in the hearts of this people. They have learned
something of their history, and have studied their
manner of life, their character and habits.
Mr. Willson has been allowed, and invited to go
with some of their men on familiar hunting expedi-
tions. He has seen them in the swamps, in their
homes, and in their general life environments. He
has been admitted to their confidence and friendship.
He has consequently become deeply interested in
them. Mrs. Willson also has become acquainted
with some of their chief personages. Both have
learned to sympathize with these Indians in their
hardships and in their treatment at the hands of the
Mrs. Willson began to write about them and her
writing has grown into a book; and she has been en-
couraged to give this book to the world, in the hope
that the attention of good people may be drawn to-
ward them, and that at least a true interest may be
awakened in their moral and material well-being.
They are truly an interesting people, living, although
secluded, almost at our doors.
Mrs. Willson has written earnestly, enthusiastic-
ally, and lovingly regarding them, and it is to be
hoped that a new interest may soon be taken in them
both by the churches and the government, and that
they may soon enter upon new realizations, and be
encouraged to place a confidence in the white race to
which, until quite recently, they have been utter
Mr. Willson has prepared the vocabulary. The
words and phrases here given have been gathered by
him in the course of ten or fifteen years of friendly
intercourse with members of the tribe. They have
assisted him in getting the true Indian or Seminole
word and in finding its signification. Old Chief Talla-
hassee has been especially and kindly helpful; so has
Chief Tom Tiger. This vocabulary of this peculiar
Indian tribe, though not complete, ought to prove
helpful to those who are interested in the languages
of the people who roamed the forests of this great
land before it became the home and the domain of
those who now live and rule in it.
This book, in its first part, gives some account of
the earlier years of the Seminole history. In the
second part the reader is introduced to the later and
present state of things and facts regarding them.
In the third part is found the vocabulary -a num-
ber of Seminole words, phrases and names, with their
interpretation into our own tongue.
This little book is given to the world in the hope
that it will be found both interesting and valuable to
R. BROADEN MOORE.
In this enlarged and illustrated edition of The
Seminoles of Florida," the demand for which seems
to come insistently from every hand, the author
wishes to acknowledge the courtesy and great kind-
ness of Mr. C. B. Reynolds and Mr. E. W. Histed
for their assistance in its illustrations.
FACTS OF THE EARLIER DAYS .
ORIGIN OF TROUBLES .
EFFORTS AT INDIAN REMOVAL .
THE MASSACRE OF GENERAL THOMPSON AND OF
A DISHONORED TREATY .
AS-SE-HO-LAR, THE RISING SUN, OR OSCEOLA .
OSCEOLA'S CAPTURE .
THE HIDDEN WAR CAMP .
WILD CAT AND GENERAL WORTH
INDIAN WARFARE .
"DAT SEMINOLE TREATY DINNER"
DADE'S FORCES 15
THE PRESENT CONDITION AND ATTITUDE OF THE SEMINOLES 53
NATIONAL INDIAN ASSOCIATION, ITS WORK AND ITS RESULTS,
EPISCOPAL MISSION 65
THE FRIENDS OF THE FLORIDA SEMINOLES 68
OUR DUTY TO THESE WARDS OF THE NATION 76
CHIEFTAIN TALLAHASSEE 79
APPEARANCE AND DRESS 87
INDEPENDENCE AND HONOR 90
THE SEMINOLE'S UNWRITTEN VERDICT OF THE WHITE RACE 93
ENDURANCE AND FEASTS 95
THE HUNTING DANCE 100
UNWRITTEN LAWS .
GENS AND MARRIAGE .
BEAUTY AND MUSIC .
RELATIONSHIP TO THE AZTECS AND EASTERN TRIBES .
SEMINOLES AT HOME-THE EVERGLADES .
ALLIGATOR HUNTING .
BEAR HUNTING WITH THE SEMINOLES .
CAPTAIN TOM TIGER (MIC-CO-TUS-TE-NUG-GE)
NANCY OSCEOLA .
BILLY BOWLEGS .
BOUGHT BACK .
PICTURE WRITING .
ABIDING WORDS OF BEAUTY .
THE PROBLEM OF THE SEMINOLES .
THE PASSING OF FLORIDA'S PICTURESQUE INHABITANTS
IS THE SEMINOLES' FUTURE BRIGHTENING? .
VISITORS FROM THE EVERGLADES .
SHALL OSCEOLA'S BONES BE REMOVED? .
A BRONZE STATUE IN THE EVERGLADES
INTRODUCTION TO VOCABULARY .
WORDS REGARDING PERSONS
PARTS OF THE BODY .
DRESS AND ORNAMENTS .
DWELLINGS, IMPLEMENTS, ETC .
DIVISIONS OF TIME .
ANIMALS, PARTS OF BODY, ETC .
FISH AND REPTILES .
THE FIRMAMENT, PHYSICAL PHENOMENA, ETC.
VERBS, PHRASES, SENTENCES .
INDIAN NAMES OF SOME PRESENT SEMINOLES
RHYTHMICAL NAMES OF SOME FLORIDA RIVERS AND TOWNS
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
Hoke-ti-chee, Little Girl with the Bright
Florida Indians Carrying Their Crops to the
An Indian Retreat During the Seminole War
One of the Last Seminole Battle Grounds
Martha Jane, Bandanna Mammy "
A Seminole Dwelling
A Seminole Camp-fire
Chieftain Tallahassee .
A Seminole Group of the Tallahassee Band
Chief Tallahassee, Martha Tiger, She Yo
Hee, Tommy Hill and Milakee
Billy Bowlegs and Tommy Doctor
Hannah, the Only Remaining Slave of the
A Picturesque Group .
An Enchanting Study of the Younger
Seminoles on the Miami River
Tiger Tail .
. .* 30
Indian Mode of Hunting Alligators in
Captain Tom Tiger .
The Indian's Hunting Ground
A Section of a Saw Grass Swamp .
Hi-a-tee, Captain Tom Tiger, Ho-ti-yee and
"Little Tiger" .
Dr. Jimmie Tustanogee with His Two
Wives and the Children
Billy Buster, Tommy Hill, Tallahassee and
The Wild Heron in Domestication
The White Plumed Egret in a Florida Yard
Latest Photograph of Billy Bowlegs .
Billy Bowlegs and His Sister
Osceola, the Napoleon of the Seminoles
Billy Bowlegs Photographed While Visiting
the Author .
THE SEMINOLES OF FLORIDA
FACTS OF EARLIER DAYS
THE history of the American Indian is a very
Iliad of tragedy. From the day Columbus made the
first footprints of the European in the damp sands of
Cat Island, the story of the original owners of fair
America has been full of melancholy, and fills with
its dark pages every day of a quartet of centuries.
Columbus describes the innocent happiness of these
people. They were no wild savages, but very gen-
tle and courteous," he says, without knowing what
evil is, without stealing, without killing." They
gave to him a new world for Castile and Leon, while
in exchange he gave to them some glass beads and
little red caps." The tragedy of the new world be-
gan when we find this same admiral writing to the
Spanish majesties that he would be able to furnish
them with gold, cotton, spices, and slaves -" slaves I
as many as their Highnesses shall command to be
shipped "; and thus, this land, a paradise of almost
primeval loveliness, was transformed into a land of
cruel bondage, desolation and death.
History scarcely records an instance when hospital-
2 THE SEMINOLES OF FLORIDA
ity was not extended by the red man to our first ex-
plorers. Swift canoes shot out from the shaded
shores, filled with men clad in gorgeous mantles, and,
in broken accents, their greeting was Welcome "
" Come, see the people from Heaven," they cried,
but were soon destined to believe they were from a
very different region.
From old Spanish accounts we conclude that the
Indian population of De Soto's time was very large,
and that the natives were in a higher state of civil-
ization than at any later period; that their speech,
though brief, was chaste, unaffected, and evinced a
generous sentiment. Cortez found the Aztecs and
their dependencies challenging comparison with the
proudest nations of the world, and in their barbarous
magnificence rivaling the splendors of the Orient.
Advanced in the arts, dwelling in cities, and living
under a well-organized government, they were happy
in their position and circumstances.
Who were the barbarians of the early history of
America, our Mayflower ancestors, or the Red
Men of the forest?
With a careful study of the early records, the ques-
tion answers itself.
Four hundred years ago Indian warfare began.
Shall it continue until we exterminate the race?
When it is, alas, too late, the American people will
awaken to the fact that the preservation of the In-
dian race will be a theme that will stir the very heart
of the Nation.
Shall Justice blush as the future historian pens the
THE SEMINOLES OF FLORIDA
account of the vanished Indian and our treatment
of his race? Will Patriotism hang her head in
shame and confusion as the pen portrays the history
of the red heroes, who gave up their lives for their
home and liberty?
Since that sunny day in May, 1539, when De Soto,
amid the salutes of artillery, the music of trumpets,
the cheers of thousands of Castilians, sailed into
Tampa Bay, Florida, has been the scene of stirring
events with the Aborigines forming a tragical
Marching across the flower-bedecked country with
his gallant men of Spain, with his cavalry, with
fleet greyhounds and furious bloodhounds to turn
loose upon the savages, also handcuffs, chains and
collars to secure them, with priests, workmen and
provisions, this proud adventurer reached the present
site of Tallahassee. Here, in this vicinity, they
came upon a fruitful land, thickly populated.
Ever pressing onward for the gold that was sup-
posed to abound in this new land, one village after
another was passed, when provisions and welcome
were furnished by the Laziques.
On, on, the proud and haughty Spaniards
marched, until they reached the province of Cofaqui.
Here the splendor of the reception would amaze us,
even to-day. The chieftain and the people gave up
their village for the Spanish quarters, moving to
another town for the occasion. The following day
the chief returned, offering De Soto 8,000 armed In-
dians, with maize, dried fruits and meat for the
4 THE SEMINOLES OF FLORIDA
journey, 4,000 to act as defenders, 4,000 as
burden bearers, to escort the Spaniards through a
wilderness of several days' journey. Such were the
proud and generous people the Caucasians found in
The haughty Castilian continued his march till he
reached the banks of the Mississippi, where he halted
and sent his carrier to the chief on the opposite shore,
with the usual message, that he was the Offspring
of the Sunne, and required submission and a visit
from the chief." But the chieftain sent back a re-
ply, both magnanimous and proud, that if he were
" the Childe of the Sunne, if he would drie up the
River, he would believe him; that he was wont to visit
none; therefore, if he desired to see him he would
come thither, that if he came in peace he would re-
ceive him in special good will, and if in Warre in
like manner he would attend him in the Towne where
he was and for him or any other he would not
shrinke one foot backe"
Old history says this haughty repulse aggravated
the illness of De Soto, "because he was not able to
passe presently to the River and seeke him, to see if
he could abate that Pride of his."
Notwithstanding the hospitable treatment shown
by the natives to the newcomers, the Castilians de-
stroyed them by the thousands: One explorer after
another wrote of these friendly people in the new
land. They are very liberal," says the narrator,
" for they give what they have." Sir Ralph Lane
describes the welcome by the natives, who came with
THE SEMINOLES OF FLORIDA
" Tobacco, Core and furs and kindly gestures to be
friends with the strange white men," etc., etc., but
adds, the Indians stole a Silver Cup, wherefore we
burnt their Towne and spoylt their Come," etc., etc.
The time will soon be over for the study of the
Aborigines of America. We have in 250 years
wasted them from uncounted numbers to a scattering
population of only about 275,000, while in the same
length of time a cargo of dusky slaves from the
African shores have become a people of millions,
slaves no longer, but protected citizens. In the red-
skin, whom we have dispossessed of his native rights,
we recognize no equality; yet the descendant of the
barbarous black, whose tribe on the Golden Coast
still trembles before a fetish, may now sit at the desk
of Clay or Calhoun. Truly the tangled threads of
modern morals are hard to unravel.
The first explorers made captives of the Indians,
and carried them in irons to Spain, where they were
sold as slaves to the Spanish grandees. Two hun-
dred years later the people of Carolina sought to
enslave those among them. The red men rebelled
at the subjection, and in order to escape bondage,
began to make their way to the Indian country,"
the present site of Georgia. African bondsmen soon
followed the example of the Indiain captives, and in
time continued their journey to Florida.
In the attempts to recapture runaway slaves, is
based the primeval cause of the Seminole wars.
6 THE SEMINOLES OF FLORIDA
ORIGIN OF TROUBLES.
The history of the Seminoles of Florida begins
with their separation from the Creeks of Georgia as
early as 1750, the name Seminole, in Indian dia-
lect meaning wild wanderers or runaways. Sea-
coffee, their leader, conducted them to the territory
of Florida, then under Spanish colonial policy.
Here, they sought the protection of Spanish laws,
refused in all after times to be represented in Creek
councils, elected their own chiefs, and became, in all
respects, a separate tribe.
To-day the Seminoles of Florida are only a frail
remnant of that powerful tribe of Osceola's day.
Their history presents a character, a power, and a
romance that impels respect and an acknowledgment
of their superiority. Of the private life of the Semi-
nole less is known, perhaps, than of any other band
in the United States. His life has been one long
struggle for a resting-place; he has fought for home,
happy hunting grounds and the burial place of his
fathers. At present we can only see a race whose
destiny says extinction.
The wilds of Florida became a home for these
Indians as well as for the fugitive negro slaves of the
Southern States. The Indian and the negro refugee,
settling in the same sections, became friendly, and in
time some of their people intermarried. The same
American spirit that refused to submit to Taxation
without Representation," was strong in the breast of
the Seminole, and Florida, belonging to Spain, af-
THE SEMINOLES OF FLORIDA
forded him a retreat for his independent pursuits.
Subject only to the Spanish crown, the exiles found a
home safe from the inexorable slave catchers. The
Seminoles were now enjoying liberty, and a social
solitude, and refused to make a treaty with the colo-
nial government, or with the Creeks from whom
they had separated. One demand after another was
made upon the Spanish government at St. Augustine
for the return of the fugitives, which was always
rejected. African slaves continued to flee from
their masters to find refuge with the exiles and the
Indians. They were eagerly received, and kindly
treated, and soon admitted to a footing of equality.
The growing demand for slaves in the southern colo-
nies now made the outlook serious, and from the
attempts to compel the return of the negroes grew
the first hostilities.
One of the first communications ever sent to Con-
gress after it met was by the Georgia colony, stating
that a large number of continental troops would be
required to prevent the slaves from deserting their
masters." But, in that momentous year of 1776,
Congress had more important duties on hand, and it
was not until 1790 that a treaty was entered into be-
tween the Creeks and the United States. In this
treaty, the Creeks, now at enmity with the Seminoles,
agreed to restore the slaves of the Georgia planters
who had taken refuge among them. The Seminoles
refused to recognize the treaty; they were no
longer a part of the Creeks, they resided in Florida
and considered themselves subject only to the crown
8 THE SEMINOLES OF FLORIDA
of Spain. One can readily believe that the Spanish
authorities encouraged their independence. Legally
the exiles had become a free people.
The Creeks now found themselves utterly unable
to comply with their treaty. The planters of Geor-
gia began to press the Government for the return of
their fugitive slaves. Secretary Knox, foreseeing the
difficulty of recovering runaway slaves, wrote to
the President advising that the Georgia people be
paid by the Government for the loss of their bond-
men. The message was tabled, and until I8o1 the
Seminoles and negroes lived in comparative peace.
The people of Georgia, now seeing the only appar-
ent way to obtain possession of their slaves would be
by the annexation of Florida, began to petition for
this, but the United States, feeling less interest in
slave catching than did the State of Georgia, manipu-
lated affairs so slowly that Georgia determined to
redress her own grievances, entered Florida and be-
gan hostilities. The United States was too much
occupied with the war with Great Britian to take
cognizance of Indian troubles in a Spanish province,
hence the Georgia intruders met with defeat. For a
short time after these hostilities ceased the Seminoles
and their allies enjoyed prosperity, cultivated their
fields, told their traditions and sang their rude lays
around their peaceful camp fires. Seventy-five years
had passed since their ancestors had found a home in
Florida, and it was hard for them to understand the
claims of the southern planters.
The year 1816 found the Seminoles at peace with
THE SEMINOLES OF FLORIDA
the white race. In a district inhabited by many of
the Indians on the Appalachicola river was Blount's
The fort, although Spanish property, was reported
as an asylum for runaway negroes." General
Jackson, now in military command, ordered the
"blowing up of the fort, and the return of the ne-
groes to their rightful owners." The exiles know-
ing little of scientific warfare believed themselves safe
in this retreat; and when in 1816 an expedition un-
der Colonel Duncan L. Clinch was planned, the hap-
less Indians and negroes unknowingly rushed into the
very jaws of death. A shot from a gunboat ex-
ploded the magazines and destroyed the garrison.
History records that of 334 souls in the fort, 270
were instantly killed! The groans of the wounded
and dying, the savage war whoops of the Indians in-
spired the most fiendish revenge in the hearts of those
who escaped, and marks the beginning of the First
Savage vengeance was now on fire, and Blount's
Fort" became the magnetic war cry of the Seminole
chiefs as they urged their warriors to retaliation.
This barbarous sacrifice of innocent women and chil-
dren conducted by a Christian nation against a help-
less race, and for no other cause than that their
ancestors, one hundred years before, had been born-in
slavery, marks a period of cruelty, one of the most
wanton in the history of our nation.
The inhuman way in which the massacre was con-
ducted was never published at large, nor does the
io THE SEMINOLES OF FLORIDA
War Department have any record of the taking of
Blount's Fort, as is shown by the following:
An examination of the records of this Department has
been made, but no information bearing upon the subject of
the taking of Blount's Fort, Florida, in the year 1816, has
been found of record.
By authority of the Secretary of War,
F. C. AINswoRTH,
Colonel, U. S. Army, Chief of Office.
Washington, July 25, 1895.
History does not dwell on the cruel treatment the
Indians received from the United States authorities
during the Seminole Wars, yet pages of our National
Library are devoted to the barbarity of the Sem-
inoles. There are two sides to every question, and
it is only what the Indian does to the white man that
is published, and not what the white man does to the
The facts show that instead of seeking to injure
the people of the United States, the Seminoles were,
and have been, only anxious to be free from all con-
tact with our government. In no official correspond-
ence is there any reference made to acts of hostility
by the Indians, prior to the massacre at Blount's
But Floridians, who had urged the war with the
hope of seizing and enslaving the maroons of the
interior, now saw their own plantations laid waste,
villages abandoned to the enemy, and families suffer-
ing for bread. The war had been commenced for
THE SEMINOLES OF FLORIDA
an ignoble purpose, to re-enslave fellow-men, and
taught that every violation of justice is followed
by appropriate penalties.
Few of the people of the United States knew the
true cause of the war, nor the real inwardness of the
purposes of those in command, as history and official
documents show that affairs were in the hands of the
Executive rather than in those of Congress. The
first war was in itself an act of hostility to the King
of Spain; yet nothing was gained by our government
except possession of part of the fugitives. Military
forces could not pursue the Indians into the fastnesses
of the Everglades, and after two years of bloodshed
and expenditure of thousands of dollars, peace was in
a manner restored, and the army was withdrawn
without any treaty being signed.
EFFORTS AT INDIAN REMOVAL.
The Indians had set the American government
at defiance. The slaves of Southern States con-
tinued to run away, taking refuge with the exiles and
Seminoles; the slave-holders of Georgia became more
clamorous than ever. The Spanish crown could not
protect herself from the invasion of the Americans
when in pursuit of runaway negroes. She had seen
her own subjects massacred, her forts destroyed or
captured, and her rights as a nation insulted by an
American army. In 1819, by a combination of force
and negotiation, Florida was purchased from Spain
12 THE SEMINOLES OF FLORIDA
Thus the Seminoles were brought under the do-
minion they so much dreaded. Slave-holders once
more petitioned to the United States for aid in the
capture of their escaped property. The United
States, foiled in their treaty with the Creeks, now
recognized the Seminoles as a distinct tribe, and in-
vited their chiefs to meet our commissioners and
negotiate a treaty. The Seminoles agreed in this
treaty to take certain reservations assigned to them,
the United States covenanting to take the Florida
Indians under her care and to afford them protection
against all persons whatsoever, and to restrain and
prevent all white persons from hunting, settling or
otherwise intruding upon said lands.
By this treaty all their cultivated lands were given
up to the whites, and the Seminoles retired to the in-
terior. Once more this-long persecuted people found
refuge, but it was only for a short time. The value
of slaves in States North caused slave catchers with
chains and bloodhounds to enter Florida. They
seized the slaves of the Indians, stole their horses and
cattle and depredated their property. With such a
violation of the treaty, renewed hostilities were in-
The Indians petitioned for redress, but received
none. Affairs grew worse until 1828, when the idea
of emigration for the Indians was submitted to the
chiefs. After much persuasion, a few of the tribal
leaders were induced to visit the Western country.
They found the climate cold, and a land where
" snow covers the ground, and frosts chill the bodies
THE SEMINOLES OF FLORIDA
of men," and on general principles, Arkansas a delu- -
sion and a snare. The chiefs had been told they
might go and see for themselves, but they were not
obliged to move unless they liked the land. In their
speech to the Commissioner they said: "We are
not willing to go. If our tongues say 'yes,' our
hearts cry 'no.' You would send us among bad In-
dians, with whom we could never be at rest. Even
our horses were stolen by the Pawnees, and we were
obliged to carry our packs on our backs. We are
not hungry for other lands; we are happy here.
If we are torn from these forests our heartstrings
will snap." Notwithstanding the opposition to a
treaty, by a system of coercion a part of the chiefs
were induced to sign, and fifteen undoubted Sem-
inole cross-marks were affixed to the paper. This
was not enough, according to Indian laws, to compel
emigration. The stipulations read, Prepare to
emigrate West, and join the Creeks." There was
no agreement that their negroes should accompany
them, and they refused to move. To expect a tribe
which had lived at enmity with the Creeks since their
separation in 1750 to emigrate and live with them
was but to put weapons into their hands, and did not
coincide with the ideas of the Seminoles.
The United States prepared to execute; not a
redskin was ready, and troops were sent. The In-
dians began immediately to gather their crops, re-
move the squaws and pickaninnies to places of safety,
secure war equipment in short, prepare for battle.
It was a question of wonderment many times
14 THE SEMINOLES OF FLORIDA
among the officers how the Indians procured their
ammunition in such quantities, and how they kept
from actual starvation. Hidden as they were in their
strong fortresses the fastnesses of the swamps -
many believed that they would be starved out, and
would either stand a fair field fight or sue for peace.
An old Florida settler who carried his rifle through
seven years of Indian warfare explains the mystery.
He says: "The Indians had been gathering pow-
der and lead for years, ever since the time Chief
Neamathla made his treaty with General Jackson.
Besides, Cuban fishing smacks were always bringing
it in, and trading with the redskins for hides and furs.
As for provisions, they had their 'Koontie' flour,
the acorn of the live oak, which is fair eating when
roasted, and the cabbage of the palmetto tree. For
meat, the woods were full of it. Deer and bear
were abundant, to say nothing of small game, such
as wild turkey, turtle and squirrel." The Seminoles
at this time, 1834, owned, perhaps, two hundred
slaves, their people had intermarried with the ma-
roons, and in fighting for these allies they were fight-
ing for blood and kin. To remove the Indians and
not the negroes was a difficult thing to do. The
Seminoles, now pressed by the United States troops,
committed depredations upon the whites; bloody
tragedies occurred, and the horrors of the second
Seminole War were chronicled throughout the land.
THE SEMINOLES OF FLORIDA
THE MASSACRE OF GENERAL THOMPSON AND OF
It was now that the young and daring warrior,
Osceola, came into prominence. He had recently
married the daughter of an Indian chief, but whose --
mother was the descendant of a fugitive slave y "-
slave-holding laws, the child follows the condition of -
the mother, and Osceola's wife was called an African
slave. The young warrior, in company with his 1 rt 7 -
wife, visited the trading post of Fort King for the ift '
purpose of buying supplies. While there the young pF
wife was seized and carried off in chains. Osceola j. 7 3
became wild with grief and rage, and no knight of G
cavalier days ever showed more valor than did this ,,
Spartan Indian in the attempts to recapture his wife.
For this he was arrested by order of General Thomp-
son and put in irons. With the cunning of the In-
dian, Osceola affected penitence and was released;
but revenge was uppermost in his soul. The war
might succeed or fail for all he cared; to avenge
the capture of his wife was his every thought. For
weeks he secreted himself, watching an opportu-
nity to murder General Thompson and his friends.
No influence could dissuade him from his bloody
purpose. Discovering General Thompson and Lieu-
tenant Smith taking a walk one day, Osceola, yelling
the war cry sprang like a mountain cat from his
hiding-place and murdered both men.
His work of vengeance was now complete, and
almost as wild as a Scandinavian Saga was the fight
16 THE SEMINOLES OF FLORIDA
he now gave our generals for nearly two years.
While Osceola lay in wait for General Thompson,
plans were being completed which resulted in the
The enmity of the Indian is proverbial, and when
we reflect that for fifty years the persecutions by the
whites had been talked in their camps, that the
massacre of Blount's Fort was still unavenged, that
within memory fathers and mothers had been torn,
moaning and groaning from their midst, to be sold
into bondage, with their savage natures all on fire
for retaliation, no vengeance was too terrible.
Hostilities around Fort King, now the present site
of Ocala, becoming severe, General Clinch ordered
the troops under Major Dade, then stationed at
Fort Brooke (Tampa), to march to his assistance.
Neither officers nor soldiers were acquainted with the
route, and a negro guide was detailed to lead
them. This unique character was Louis Pacheo, a
negro slave belonging to an old Spanish family, then
living near Fort Brooke. The slave was well ac-
quainted with the Indians, spoke the Seminole tongue
fluently. He was reported by his master, as faithful,
intelligent and trustworthy, and was perfectly famil-
iar with the route to Fort King.
The affair of Dades' Massacre is without a parallel
in the history of Indian warfare. Of the 1Io souls,
who, with flying flags and sounding bugles merrily
responded to General Clinch's order, but two lived
to describe in after years the tragic scenes. One was
\ \ I ,I I I IIZ I I I IZ \ ,, I I I \ i 11 11 1 \ \ \ l
THE SEMINOLES OF FLORIDA
Private Clark, of the 2nd Artillery, who, wounded
and sick crawled on his hands and knees a distance
of sixty miles to Fort Brooke. The other was Louis
Pacheo, the only person of the command who escaped
without a wound.
The assault was made shortly after the troops
crossed the Withlacoochee river, in a broad expanse
of open pine woods, with here and there clumps of
palmettoes and tall wire-grass. The Indians are
supposed to have out-numbered the command, two to
one, and at a given signal, as the troops marched
gayly along, a volley of shot was poured into their
number. The gallant Dade was the first to fall,
pierced by a ball from Micanopy's musket, who was
the King of the Seminole nation. A breastwork was
attempted by the soldiers, but only served as a re-
treat for a short time; the hot missiles from the
Indians soon laid the last man motionless, and the
slaughter was at an end.
On February 20, 1836, almost two months after
the massacre, the dead bodies of the officers and sol-
diers were found just as they had fallen on that fatal
day. History is corroborated by old settlers, who
say that the dead were in no way pillaged; articles
the most esteemed by savages were untouched, their
watches were found in their pockets, and money, in
silver and gold, was left to decay with its owner -
a lesson to all the world a testimony that the In-
dians were not fighting for plunder! The arms and
ammunition were all that had been taken, except the
j8 THE SEMINOLES OF FLORIDA
uniform coat of Major Dade." Their motive was
higher and purer; they were fighting for their rights,
their homes, their very existence.
What became of the negro guide? History re-
cords that Louis, knowing the time and place at
which the attack was to be made, separated himself
from the troops. As soon as the fire commenced, he
joined the Indians and negroes, and lent his efforts in
carrying forth the work of death. An account
printed over forty years ago describes the character
of the negro Louis. It reads as follows:
"The life of the slave Louis is perhaps the most romantic
of any man now living. Born and reared a slave, he found
time to cultivate his intellect -was fond of reading; and
while gentlemen in the House of Representatives were en-
gaged in discussing the value of his bones and sinews, he
could probably speak and write more languages with ease
and facility than any member of that body. In revenge
for the oppression to which he was subjected, he conceived
the purpose of sacrificing a regiment of white men, who
were engaged in the support of slavery. This object effected,
he asserted his own natural right to freedom, joined his
brethren, and made bloody war upon the enemies of liberty.
For two years he was the steady companion of Coacoochee,
or, as he was afterwards called, 'Wild Cat,' who subse-
quently became the most warlike chief in Florida. They
traversed the forests of that territory together, wading
through swamps and everglades, groping their way through
hommocks, and gliding over prairies. For two years they
stood shoulder to shoulder in every battle; shared their vic-
tories and defeats together; and, when General Jessup had
pledged the faith of the nation that all Indians who would
THE SEMINOLES OF FLORIDA
surrender should be protected in the enjoyment of their
slaves, Wild Cat appeared at headquarters, followed by
Louis, whom he claimed as his property, under slaveholding
law, as he said he had captured him at the time of Dade's
Following Louis Pacheo's career, we find him
sharing the fortunes of Wild Cat in the Indian Ter-
ritory. Subsequently, Wild Cat, with a few follow-
ers, Louis among the number, emigrated to Mexico.
Fifty-seven years passed from the date of the Dade
massacre, when Louis Pacheo, venerable and de-
crepit, once more appeared on Florida soil. The old
negro, longing for the scenes of his youth, returned to
end his days in the hospitable home of his "old
missus." In his confession, he claims to be innocent
of the charge of betraying the troops, and asserts
that he was forced into remaining with the Indians.
The vagaries of a childish mind may account for his
diversion from well-established history. The old
slave lived for three years after his return to Florida,
and died in January, 1895, at the age of 95 years.
A DISHONORED TREATY.
The tragic news of the Dade Massacre convinced
the United States that war had commenced in real
earnest. From this time on, skirmish after skirmish
ensued, bloody murders were committed by the red-
skins, thousands of dollars were being expended by
our government, and the white population of Florida
was in a suffering condition. The Indians were not
20 THE SEMINOLES OF FLORIDA
suffering for food. The chameleon-like character of
the war prevented any certainty of success. General
Jessup, considerably chagrined, wrote to Washington
for permission to resign both the glory and baton of
There could scarcely arise a more painful theme,
or one presenting a stranger variety of aspects, as it
whirled scathing and bloodily along, than did the
Indian War. Yet it is a remarkable fact that no
Seminole warrior had ever surrendered, even to supe-
rior numbers. Our military forces had learned what
a hydra-headed monster the war really was, and at-
tempts were again made to induce emigration. The
horrors of the Dade Massacre and of Fort King had
reached the world. General Jessup sought negotia-
tions, but found the same difficulties to encounter as
before, viz.: that the chiefs would not enter into an
agreement that did not guarantee equal rights to
their allies as to the Indians. Official documents
show that General Jessup agreed that the Seminoles
and their allies who come in and emigrate West,
shall be secure in their lives and property; that their
negroes, their bona fide property, shall accompany
them West, and that their cattle and ponies shall be
paid for by the United States." The Indians, under
these terms, now prepared to emigrate. History
records that even Osceola avowed his intention to
accompany them. Every preparation was made to
emigrate, and a tract of land near Tampa was se-
lected on which to gather their people. Hundreds
of Indians and negroes encamped there. Vessels
NHC'\\)PII HE N% \S '[I'l KIN4; '() I HL N\ \11-\N
THE SEMINOLES OF FLORIDA
were anchored to transport them to their new homes.
Peace was apparent everywhere, and the war declared
at an end. At this point a new difficulty arose.
Slave-holders became indignant at the stipulations of
the treaty, and once more commenced to seize ne-
groes. The Seminoles, thinking themselves betrayed,
with clear conceptions of justice, fled to their former
fastnesses in the interior, and once more determined
to defend their liberty.
In the violation of the treaty, to use General Jes-
sup's words, all was lost!
All the vengeance of the Indian was again aroused,
and the wild Seminole war-cry, Yohoehee yohoe-
hee," again broke through the woods.
AS-SE-HE-HO-LAR, THE RISING SUN, OR OSCEOLA.
The fame of Osceola now reached the farthermost
corner of the land. His name, signifying Rising
Sun,' seemed prophetic, and he became at once the
warrior of the Ocklawaha, the hero of the Semi-
noles. The youngest of the chiefs, he possessed a
magnetism that Cyrus might have envied, and in a
manner truly majestic led his warriors where he chose.
In the personal reminiscences of an old Florida
settler, in describing Osceola, he says, I con-
sider him one of the greatest men this country ever
1 Catlin and others give "the black drink" as the significa-
tion of Osceola, or Asseola, from the man's capacity for that
drink. Asseola was doubtless the original and true name. But
"Asse" or "hasse," in the present Seminole tongue, means "the
sun." This, with the affix "ola," or "he-ho-lar," would mean
"the rising sun" rather than "the black drink."
22 THE SEMINOLES OF FLORIDA
produced. He was a great man, and a curious one,
too; but few people know him well enough to appre-
ciate his worth. I was raised within ten miles of
his home, and it was he who gave me my first lessons
in woodcraft. He was a brave and generous foe,
and always protected women and children. An act
of kindness was never forgotten by him. Osceola
had received a favor from one of the officers who led
the battle of the Withlacoochee. Observing him in
the front ranks, he instantly gave orders that this
man should be spared, but every other officer should
be cut down. Osceola's father was an English
trader named Powell, and his mother the daughter
of a chief known as Sallie Marie, a woman very
small in stature, and with high cheekbones. Osceola
lacked this peculiarity, and was one of the finest-
looking men I ever saw. His carriage was erect and
lofty, his motion quick, and he had an air of hauteur
in his countenance which arose from his elevated
pride of soul. His winning smile and wonderful
eyes drew from an army officer these glowing words
of admiration, But the eye, that herald of the
Soul, was in itself constituted to command. Under
excitement it flashed firm and stern resolve; when in
smiling it warmed the very heart of the beholder
with its beams of kindness. I tell you, he was a
great man; education would have made him the equal
of Napoleon. He hated slavery as only such a na-
ture as his could hate. He was Indian to the heart,
and proud of his ancestry. He had too much white
blood in him to yield to the cowardly offers of the
THE SEMINOLES OF FLORIDA
government, and had he not been captured, the Semi-
nole War would have been a more lasting one than
it was. I could talk all day about Osceola," re-
marked the old Captain, as he drew a sigh. Did
the Indians take scalps, Captain? Take scalps?
Well, yes, if Osceola wasn't around. He was too
much of a white man to allow it himself."
The admixture of Caucasian blood stimulated the
ambition of Osceola's Indian nature; his education,
together with the teachings of nature, made him
able to cope with the most learned. Living until he
was almost twelve years of age in the Creek con-
federacy of Georgia, his youthful mind received deep
and lasting impressions from Tecumseh's teachings.
To these teachings, as well as the blood he inherited
from his Spartan ancestors was due, no doubt, his
supremacy in the Seminole War. In the manner in
which he led the Seminoles may be seen the influence
of the great Shawnee.1 Osceola's power was in his
strong personal magnetism; he swayed his warriors
with a look; a shout of command produced an
electric effect upon all. He was a hero among his
people, he was feared and dreaded by our officers.
In this day, as we study his life and character, we
must recognize in the young Seminole fighter the
greatest of chiefs, the boldest of warriors. In an
old Greek fable, a man seeks to prove the superiority
of his race by reading to a lion accounts of various
I As a glimpse into Indian character, it is worth recalling that
Tecumseh, the Shawnee Chief, rose to the distinction of a Briga-
dier General in the British Army under King George III, in the
War of 1812.
24 THE SEMINOLES OF FLORIDA
battles between men and beasts, to which the lion
replied, Ah, had we written that book other tales
would have been told." In the case of the Indian
chieftain no such records exist, yet even from the
testimony of his enemies we must know Osceola.
Interviewing old settlers who well remember
events of those stirring times, one finds the heroic
part of Osceola's character to have been not over-
drawn in history. The Seminole chief, Charles
Omatla, was an ally of the whites, and was attacked
and murdered by Osceola's warriors. On his body
was found gold, which Osceola forbade his men to
touch, but with his own hands he threw the gold
himself as far as he could hurl it, saying, it is the
price of the red man's blood."
Osceola's pride was majestic; he was imperious,
full of honor, but with the quickness of the Indian
he noted the path to popular favor. His power was
recognized by the officers. Talk after talk," with
the Indians was the order of the times. It was at
one of these meetings that Osceola in the presence
of the commissioners attracted attention by saying,
" This is the only treaty I will ever make with the
whites," at the same time drawing his knife and
striking it into the table before him. The cause of
this outburst was that the stipulations of the treaty
guaranteed no protection to the allies. He was ar-
rested for his insolence, but was released on a com-
promise. His vengeance became more terrible than
ever, and in defiance Yohoehee echoed through
the woods and "war to the knife was resumed.
^k- r .-
I ~ -
0\ 1. ();OF 'I'lll. .\ST 1 I I .L1. I VITI.I (,ROL \'1),
THE SEMINOLES OF FLORIDA 25
.It was now that the daring chief made the bold and
well-conducted assault against the fort at Micanopy.
A short time after, this savage hero performed a
piece of strategy before unheard of in the annals of
war. Surrounded by two armies of equal strength
with his own, he carried away his warriors without
leaving a trace of his retreat. That host of Indian
braves melted out of sight as if by magic, and our
disappointed generals could not but agree that a dis-
ciplined army was not adapted to the work of sur-
prising Indians. They were learning to recognize
the character of the men our nation had to deal with.
The Indian method is to decoy by a broad plain
trail, then at a certain distance the foremost of the
band makes a high, long step, leaves the trail and,
alighting on the tip of his toe, carefully smoothes
out the brushed blades behind him. The rest of the
band go on a few yards farther and make their exit
the same way, and so on till the end is reached.
Many times our troops made long night marches to
find--what? Nothing but a few smouldering
The war raged on in defiance of the power of a
mighty nation, a nation that had said to old King
George, attend to your own affairs" and he
What shall we say of the capture of the great
Indian chief. Is not the seizure of Osceola Amer-
ica's blackest chapter? Was Osceola treacherous?
The United States failed to observe even one im-
portant article of the three treaties made with the
26 THE SEMINOLES OF FLORIDA
Seminoles. Was Osceola a savage? It is not denied
that he protected women and children when he could.
It is not denied that the soldiers of the United States
shot down women and children, destroyed all dwell-
ings, crops and fruit trees they could reach.
After months of warfare, a conference among the
Indians with a view to a treaty of peace was held.
An Indian chief was sent to the American quarters.
Picture, if you will, an American camp, in the
wooded wilds of Florida, and peer beyond the con-
fines of the magnolia and the palms and you see a
single Seminole chieftan, heralding his white flag.
He approaches our General, the representative of
proud and free America, and presents him with a.
white plume plucked from the egret, with a message
from Osceola, with these words, the path shall
be white and safe from the great white chieftain's
camp to the lodge of Osceola."
General Hernandez immediately despatched Coa-
coochee with a pipe of peace, kindly messages and
What was the result? Osceola, in company with
Wild Cat and other chiefs, accepted the truce and,
under the sacred emblem of the white flag, met Gen-
eral Hernandez on October 21, 1837 at St. Augus-
With that grave dignity characteristic of the red
man, dressed in costume becoming their station,
with as courtly a bearing as ever graced Kings,
THE SEMINOLES OF FLORIDA 27
heralding their white flags they approached the place
History verifies the Seminole account of this blot
on our nation that, as the officers approached, they
asked of Osceola: Are you prepared to deliver up
the negroes taken from the citizens? Why have you
not surrendered them as promised by your chief
According to history, this promise had been made
by a sub-chief and without the consent of the tribe.
A signal, preconcerted, was at this moment given
and armed soldiers rushed in and made prisoners of
An account of this violated honor, recently given by
the venerable John S. Masters, of St. Augustine,
Florida, is opportune at this point. The old soldier
in speaking of the affair said, I was one of the
party sent out to meet Osceola when he was coming
to St. Augustine under a flag of truce." Did you
honor that truce?" was asked. Did we? No sir;
no sooner was he safe within our lines than the
order to seize him, kill if necessary, was given, and
one of the soldiers knocked him down with the butt
of his musket. He was then bound and we brought
him to Fort Marion and he was put in the dungeon.
We were all outraged by the cowardly way he was
betrayed into being captured."
At this violation of the sanctity of the white flag
our officers wrote: The end justifies the means;
they have made fools of us too often."
The foul means used to capture the young Semin-
28 THE SEMINOLES OF FLORIDA
ole leader was not blessed by victory, as a continu-
ance of the bloody war for five years proved that the
God of justice was not wholly on the white man's
side. The stain on our national honor will last as
long as we have a history. Osceola with the other
chiefs was confined for a short time in St. Augus-
tine, but the daring savage was too valuable a prize
to trust on Florida territory, and he was taken to
Fort Moultrie where he died January 30, 1838, at
the age of thirty-four years.
It is related that Osceola on being questioned as
to why he did not make his escape, as did some of
the other chiefs from Fort Marion, replied, I
have done nothing to be ashamed of; it is for those
to feel shame who entrapped me." Chas. H. Coe,
in his Red Patriots says, If the painter of the world-
famed picture, Christ before Pilate, should seek in
American history a subject worthy of his brush, we
should commend to him, Osceola, before General
Jessup. Osceola, the despised Seminole, a cap-
tive and in chains; Jessup, in all the pomp and
circumstances of an American Major-General; Osce-
ola, who had done nothing to be ashamed of,"
calmly confronting his captor, who cowers under the
steady gaze of a brave and honorable man I "
But such is the Irony of Fate. Osceola, the free
son of the forest, fettered by the chains of Injustice,
was destined to eat out his heart in a musty dun-
Thoroughly and thrillingly dramatic was the death
scene of the noble Osceola as given by Dr. Weedon
THE SEMINOLES OF FLORIDA 29
his attending surgeon. Confinement no doubt hast-
ened his death, and his proud spirit sank under the
doom of prison life. He seemed to feel the ap-
proach of death, and about half an hour before the
summons came he signified by signs he could not
speak--that he wished to see the chiefs and offi-
cers of the post. Making known that he wished his
full dress, which he wore in time of war, it was
brought him, and rising from his bed he dressed
himself in the insignia of a chief. Exhausted by
these efforts the swelling heart of the tempest-tossed
frame subsided into stillest melancholy. With the
death sweat already upon his brow, Osceola lay
down a few minutes to recover his strength. Then,
rising as before, with gloom dispelled, and a face
agleam with smiles, the young warrior reached forth
his hand and in dead silence bade each and all the offi-
cers and chiefs a last farewell. By his couch knelt
his two wives and his little children. With the
same oppressive silence he tenderly shook hands with
these loved ones. Then signifying his wish to be
lowered on his bed, with slow hand he drew from his
war belt his scalping knife which he firmly grasped
in his right hand, laying it across the other on his
breast. In another moment he smiled away his last
breath, without a struggle or a groan. In that
death chamber there was not one tearless eye.
Friends and foes alike wept over the dying chief.
Osceola died as he lived a hero among men.
OSCEOLA PATRIOT AND WARRIOR,
DIED, JAN. 30,- 1838.
30 THE SEMINOLES OF FLORIDA
Such is the inscription, that marks the grave of the
hero of the Seminoles.
Even at this writing, it is a melancholy satisfaction
to know that the great Indian leader was buried with
the honor and respect due so worthy a foe.
A detachment of the United States troops followed
by the medical men and many private citizens, to-
gether with all the chiefs, and warriors, women and
children of the garrison in a body, escorted the re-
mains to the grave, which was located near the en-
trance to Fort Moultrie, Charleston Harbor. A
military salute was fired over the grave and as the
sound reverberated over the dark waters of the bay,
Justice and Patriotism, must have pointed with fin-
gers of scorn to our great Nation, yet with tender
pity, said "Osceola the Rising Sun, may the
Great Spirit avenge you, keep you, love you and
cherish you,- the Defender of your country."
THE HIDDEN WAR CAMP.
WILD CAT and Cohadjo were allowed to remain
in old Fort Marion the prison at St. Augustine,
Florida. Wild Cat feigned sickness and was per-
mitted, under guard, to go to the woods to obtain
some roots; with these he reduced his size until
he was able to crawl through an aperture that ad-
mitted light into the cell. Letting himself down by
ropes made of the bedding, a distance of fifty feet,
he made his escape, joined his tribe and once more
rallied his forces against our army. Latter day
\ I~ floilll CalLlill" pa.(l itill'-'.
THE SEMINOLES OF FLORIDA
critics have questioned the correctness of this bit of
written history. Last winter, during the height of
the season, the Ponce de Leon guests enjoyed a
unique entertainment. A wealthy tourist made a
wager of one hundred dollars that Wild Cat never
could have made his escape through the little win-
dow in the old castle." Sergeant Brown accepted
the wager and himself performed the feat, to the
great delight of the excited spectators.
Our soldiers fighting in an unexplored wilderness,
along the dark borders of swamp and morass, crawl-
ing many times on hands and kness through the
tangled matted underbrush, fighting these children of
the forest who knew every inch of their ground could
hope for little less than defeat. Even General
Jessup in writing to the President said: We are at-
tempting to remove the Indians when they are not in
the way of the white settlers, and when the greater
portion of the country is an unexplored wilderness,
of the interior of which we are as ignorant as of the
interior of China."
By way of illustrating the enormity of the task the
government had in subduing the Seminoles, it is only
necessary to describe one of the many Indian strong-
holds in the swamps of Florida. About ten miles
from Kissimmee, west by south, is a cypress swamp
made by the junction of the Davenport, Reedy and
Bonnett creeks. It is an aquatic jungle, full of fallen
trees, brush, vines and tangled undergrowth, all dark-
ened by the dense shadows of the tall cypress trees.
The surface is covered with water, which, from ap-
32 THE SEMINOLES OF FLORIDA
pearance may be any depth, from six inches to six
feet; this infested with alligators and moccasins
would have been an unsurmountable barrier to the
A few years ago when the Seminoles yet fre-
quented this section for trading purposes old settlers
have seen them coming from the swamp carrying bags
of oranges. Interrogations received no answers and
white settlers year after year searched for the tra-
ditional orange grove, but without success.
So difficult to penetrate and so dangerous to ex-
plore is the swamp that is was not until fifty years
after the Indians had left their island home that a
venturesome hunter, during a very dry season, acci-
dentally discovered the old Seminole camp. The In-
dian mound, the broken pottery and the long hunted
for sweet orange grove were proofs of the old camp.
The majestic orange trees laden with golden fruit
were an incentive to further research. With a sur-
veyor working his way, as guided by the point of the
compass, this wonderland was explored, and proved
to be a complete chain of small hommocks or islands
running through from one side of the swamp to the
other; the topography of the marsh being such that
a skirmish could take place on one side of the jungle
and an hour later, by means of the secret route
through the swamp, the Indians could be ready for an
attack on the other side, while for the troops to reach
the same point, by following the only road known to
them, it would have required nearly a day's march-
ing. The Indian trail is lost in the almost impene-
THE SEMINOLES OF FLORIDA 33
trable jungle; but the tomahawk blazes are perfectly
discernible. The Seminoles held the key to these
mysterious islands and in the heart of the great
swamps they lived free from any danger of surprise.
This retreat must have been a grand rendezvous for
them, as its geographical position was almost central
between the principal forts. Lying between Fort
Brooke (Tampa) and Fort King (Ocala), within
a distance of thirty miles from the scene of the Dade
massacre, about forty miles from Fort Mellon, the
present site of Sanford, the camp could have been
reached in a few hours by Indian runners after spy-
ing the movements of the troops at any of the forts.
The old government road, over which the soldiers
passed in going from Fort Brooke to Fort Mellon,
passes so close to the old Indian camping ground
that all travel could have been watched by the keen-
WILD CAT AND GENERAL WORTH.
AT this period of our national history we are un-
able to picture or appreciate the condition of those
slave days, when all blacks of Southern States were
regarded as the property of the whites. The fear,
the torture, the grief suffered by the negroes and half
breeds, who had been a people with the Seminoles al-
most one hundred years, is beyond our conception.
When Indian husbands were separated from wives,
selected from the exiles, when children were torn
from their homes and carried to slavery, the venge-
34 THE SEMINOLES OF FLORIDA
ance of these persecuted people was constantly
alive. Persons of disreputable character gam-
blers, horse thieves were employed as slave catch-
ers and showed no mercy to the helpless victim.
After the violation of the treaty at Tampa, and
the capture of Osceola and Wild Cat, under the
sacred truce of the white flag, Wild Cat became a
most daring enemy to the troops, and kept his war-
riors inspired to the most savage hostilities.
General Scott was now placed in command of the
army, yet the same harassing marches continued, and
it was not until seven generals had been defeated at
the game of Indian warfare by the wily chieftains
that any sign of success was apparent.
Our government, discouraged at being unable to
conquer the Indians or protect the white settlers,
again negotiated for peace, but using a more power-
ful weapon than in former years, that of moral
suasion. Executive documents show that, all
through the war, artifice and bad faith were practiced
upon the Indians. The ,government was astonished
that a few Indians and their negro allies could defy
United States troops. All efforts had failed, even
to the horrible policy of employing bloodhounds.
To-day we shudder at the barbarity of such an act,
but official documents show how much the subject was
discussed by Congress and war authorities. A
schooner was dispatched to Cuba and returned with
thirty-five bloodhounds costing the Government
one hundred and fifty dollars apiece. They were
speedily put upon the scent of Indian scouting parties,
THE SEMINOLES OF FLORIDA 35
but proved utterly inefficient. The public believed
the hounds were to trail Indians, but reports show
their use was to capture negro slaves. The Semi-
noles were a species of game to which Cuban hounds
were unaccustomed and they refused to form ac-
quaintance with the new and strange objects. The
Indians had a secret peculiarly their own of throwing
the dogs off the scent, and the experiment, to close
the war thus, proved a failure and served no other
purpose than to reflect dishonor on our nation.
Wild Cat, after his escape from prison, was a ter-
rible and unrelenting foe. Occupying with light
canoes the miry, shallow creeks, and matted brakes
upon their border, he was unapproachable. A flag
was sent him by General Worth, but, remembering
well another flag which had meant betrayal, capture
and chains, the daring hero fired upon it and refused
to meet the general. In the summer of 1841, Gen-
eral Worth's command captured the little daughter
of Wild Cat and held her for ransom. The little
girl,- his only child was the idol of the old war-
rior's heart. On learning of her capture, Wild Cat
relented, and, once more guarded by the white flag,
was conveyed to General Worth's camp. History
gives an interesting account of the old chief's ap-
proach. His little daughter, on seeing him, ran to
meet him, presenting him with musket balls and
powder, which she had in some way obtained from
the soldiers. So much overcome was the fearless
savage on meeting his child that the dignified bear-
36 THE SEMINOLES OF FLORIDA
ing so carefully practiced by all Indians gave way
to the most tender emotions.
The moral suasion, the humanity of General
Worth made a friend of Wild Cat, and he yielded to
The speech of the old chieftain, because it breathes
the same sentiment of the Seminoles of to-day, we
give below. Addressing General Worth, he said:
"The whites dealt unjustly with me. I came
to them when they deceived me. I loved the land
I was upon. My body is made of its sands. The
Great Spirit gave me legs to walk over it, eyes to see
it, hands to aid myself, a head with which I think.
The sun which shines warm and bright brings forth
our crops, and the moon brings back spirits of our
warriors, our fathers, our wives, and our children.
The white man comes, he grows pale and sickly; why
can we not live in peace? They steal our horses and
cattle, cheat us and take our lands. They may shoot
us, chain our hands and feet, but the red man's heart
will be free. I have come to you in peace, and have
taken you by the hand. I will sleep in your camp,
though your soldiers stand around me thick as pine
trees. I am done. When we know each other bet-
ter, I will say more."
Through the gentleness and humanity of the gal-
lant Worth," Wild Cat at this meeting agreed to
emigrate with his people. He was permitted to leave
the camp for this purpose. By some contradictory
order, while on his way to his warriors, he was cap-
THE SEMINOLES OF FLORIDA 37
tured by one of our commands, put in chains and
transported to New Orleans.
When General Worth learned of this violation of
his pledge he felt the honor of our country had
again been betrayed, and acting on his own discre-
tion sent a trusty officer to New Orleans for the re-
turn of Wild Cat. General Worth by this act not
only showed the nobility of his own character, but
proved that the savage heart can be touched with
kindness and is always keenly alive to honor and
faithful pledges. Moreover the justice of the act
had much to do with the successful turning of the
When the ship which brought the chief reached
Tampa General Worth was there to meet it and
publicly apologized to the brave old warrior for the
mistake that had been made. Our gallant com-
mander had proven his humane heart, although at
expense of both time and money. Through the
policy of General Worth, the whole character of the
war was changed. On the 31st of July, 1841, Wild
Cat's entire band was encamped at Tampa, ready to
be transported to their new homes.
The original idea of re-enslaving the fugitives was
abandoned. General Worth and Wild Cat now be-
came the most ardent friends, the general consult-
ing with the famous chieftain until every arrange-
ment for the removal was perfected. Seeing a chief
of such prominence yield to emigration, band after
band gave up the fight and joined their friends at
Tampa. From the time of Wild Cat's removal in
38 THE SEMINOLES OF FLORIDA
the fall of 1841, until August, 1843, small bands of
Indians continued to emigrate. General Worth now
advised the withdrawal of the troops. A few small
bands throughout the State refused to move, signed
terms of peace, however, by which they were to con-
fine themselves to the southern portion of the
Peninsula and abstain from all acts of aggression
upon their white neighbors." As vessel after vessel
anchored in Tampa Bay to carry these wronged and
persecuted people to their distant homes, the cruelty
of the undertaking was apparent to the most callous
heart. With lingering looks the Seminoles saw the
loved scenes of their childhood fade away. The
wails and anguish of those heart-broken people, as the
ships left the shores, touched the hearts of the most
hardened sailor. They were leaving the graves of
their fathers, their happy hunting grounds, beautiful
flowery Florida. But it is the destiny of the Indian.
Among that band there was not one voluntary exile.
Poets and artists picture the gloom, the breaking
hearts of the French leaving Acadia; at a later day
the same sad scenes were witnessed on the Florida
coast, but it was not until years after that a philan-
thropist gave to the world an intimation of the melan-
choly picture of these poor struggling, long hunted
Seminoles leaving the shores of their native lands.
THERE is something intensely sad in the history
of the Indians who were left in Florida at the close
THE SEMINOLES OF FLORIDA 39
of the seven years' war." Keeping faith with their
promise to abstain from all aggression on their white
neighbors, retiring to the uninhabited marshes of
the Southern Peninsula, they lived happy and con-
tented for thirteen years. Then came reports of
outbreaks and the United States again opened mili-
tary tactics with the resolve to drive this brave
and liberty loving remnant from their last foothold
on Florida soil.
According to the most authentic reports, the
trouble was brought on by some white engineers en-
camped near the border of the Big Cypress. It was
in the year 1855 and the United States was making
a general survey of Florida. Old Billy Bowlegs,
recognized as the head of his tribe, and living at
peace with all the world, had a fine garden in this
swamp and in it were some magnificent banana
plants, which were the delight of the old Indian's
As the old warrior visited his garden early one
morning, he discovered some ruthless hand had
ruined his garden. They were deliberately cut and
torn to pieces. Going to the engineers' camp, he ac-
cused the men of the outrage, when they insolently
admitted it, refusing to make amends, and saying that
they wanted to "see old Billy cut up." And they
The government paid for it to the extent of sev-
eral thousand dollars, a number of lives and add-
ing another dark page in the history of our Nation.
No white man would have submitted to the out-
40 THE SEMINOLES OF FLORIDA
rage, neither did the famous Chief. Summoning his
braves early the next morning, the war cry "Yo-
ho-ee-hee," was heard and Lieutenant Hartsuff and
his men were fired upon, some of them being
Like a flash of electricity the news encircled Flor-
ida, and Billy Bowlegs became the target of many old
Then came the clamor of white settlers for the re-
moval of the savages and white guerrillas dressed
and painted as Indians went about the country rob-
bing and murdering mail and express riders, driv-
ing off stock, burning houses and committing other
lawless deeds. Old inhabitants tell of these depre-
dations. But tlere was a reason for such cowardly
acts. The Government at Washington was perplexed
and, not grasping the fact that the raids were perpe-
trated by white men, disguised as Indians, believing
that military forces could do nothing towards break-
ing up the warfare, designed the plan of offering the
sum of $1oo to $500 for living Indians delivered at
Fort Brooke (Tampa) or at Fort Myers. After
Govermental hunting for three years, the white
guerrillas still busy with their malicious depredations,
Old Billy Bowlegs, with his band of one hundred and
fifty persons, was induced to emigrate, but they went
with sore unwillingless, silent or weeping towards the
land of the setting sun, driven before the power of
the white man, a group of broken-hearted exiles.
THE SEMINOLES OF FLORIDA 41
DAT SEMINOLE TREATY DINNER.'
THE author begs the indulgence of the reader in
giving the following dialect story of that historic
Treaty Dinner, when our gallant American General
Worth made peace terms with the Indians in 1842.
The treaty was signed at Fort King, now the pres-
ent site of Ocala, Florida, and as one listens to the
story of that eventful day, a story complete in its
setting as told by our old Bandanna Mammy, the
heart throbs and the pulse grows quicker so vivid
is the recital.
As the tale is related a most picturesque scene
comes before the mind, the garrison with its stack
of arms, dusky warriors mingling with American
soldiery, glittering sunshine and singing birds, tables
spread under the great live oaks, joy on every
countenance the end of the Seven Years' War.
Because this old ante-bellum slave is a bright link,
forging as it were, those olden days of warfare with
the present, a few words of her individuality must
Martha Jane, for so she was christened full ninety-
five years ago when, a little shining black pickaninny,
her birth was announced to the mistress of the old
Carter plantation, is the true type of the old time
loyal, quaintly courteous Bandanna Mammy of ante-
bellum days. Leaving Richmond about 1839, she
42 THE SEMINOLES OF FLORIDA
was brought to Florida with a shipload of slaves.
Since that time her life has been a rugged and an
eventful one a servant for the wealthy, nursing
the sick, sold again and again, hired out, and, since
freedom, working for her daily bread.
This white haired relic of Old Virginia is worthy
a place in the pages of history. She is old, decrepit
and poor, the muscles of her once powerful arms
are shrunken and her hands gnarled with the labor
of years, but she has a memory as keen as when al-
most 80 years ago she watched the stars fall "
from the upper windows of the Old Swan Hotel in
Richmond. She has kept pace with many points in
history, particularly of the wars of the country.
As the old dame a study in ebony rocks back
and forth in the creaking split-bottom chair, memory
runs back to the imperial days of Virginia when the
cavalier was supreme, and she the pampered nurse
girl of the little mistress. She says, Oh, dem was
dream days. I hab nebber seed any days like 'em
since. De mounfulest day I ebber seed was when
dey took me from my mistress, for the sky was a
drippin' tears and de wind was a groanin'."
No, honey, dey ain't stories 'bout dem Seminole
war days, dey is de Lord's blessed truf, what ole
Marthy see wif dese same ole eyes.
Oh, dem wuz high times! I reckelmember dat
Krismas day jest like hit wuz yesterday; the sun wuz
a shinin' an' de birds a singin' (you see, de mokin'
birds didn't sing while dat cruel war wuz a goin' on)
an' ebbery body wuz a laughing' an' a talking' an' de
MARTHA JANE, BANDANNA .I.AIMY
%%ho cooked the Treaty dinner for General Worth in 1842. Now living in
THE SEMINOLES OF FLORIDA 43
white ladies wuz a coquettin' wif de sojers an' dem
Indians wuz as thick as hops an a laughing' an' a jab-
When Colonel Worth see dem long tables setting'
under the big live oaks an' see dem beeves an' mut-
tons an' turkeys an' deer we cooked, he jest natchelly
laughed an' say, 'Clar ter goodness, what kin' o'
Krismas doin's is dis'; an' how dem sojers an' In-
dians did eat.
How come I ter cook de treaty dinner?
"Well, I wuz livin' out on ole Marse Watter-
son' plantation, 'bout four miles from Fort King,
dats to Ocala, now, you know, an' Jim, dat wuz
Colonel Worth's servant, he ride out on dat big white
horse o' de Colonel's an' say 'Colonel Worth want
Marthy Jane ter cook de treaty dinner;' so me an'
Diana Pyles an' Lucinda Pyles cook dat dinner.
Oh, Lordy, what scufflin' roun' an' jumpin' like
chickens wif der heads off as we do dat day.
All de sojers' guns an' de Indians' guns, too,
wuz stacked in dat garrison, an' when de night come,
dey make big camp fires an' de white folks dance an'
de Indians wuz a dancin' too, wif dem ole coutre
(terrapin) shells a strapped 'roun' der legs.
"Tell you 'bout Colonel Worth? He wuz de
gem'men ob all dat crowd; he wuz de nobles' looking'
man an' so kind an' easy; de United States nebber
would hab conquered dem Seminoles if dey had not
induced Colonel Worth ter come down an' argufy
wif dem. Him an' old Captain Holmes wuz de mos'
like our folks ob any ob dem big generals.
44 THE SEMINOLES OF FLORIDA
"Arter dey had all eat, an' eat dem fine wituals
we cook, den dey hab de speech making ; oh, dat wuz
high astronomyy talk I
I reckelmember jest like hit wuz to-day, me an'
Diana Pyles wuz a standing' right inside de garrison
an' dat noble-lookin' Colonel Worth wuz talking' kind
an' persuadin' like ter dem savages an' axin' dem all
ter come up an' sign de treaty.
You see dat treaty wuz foh dem ter quit fighting'
an' go ter Arkansas.
"All dem chiefs walk up but two. Oh, Lordy
mercy I kin jest see dat Sam Jones yit standing' close
'side Colonel Worth. He wuz sut'n'ty a big Indian
an' could talk English good as we alls white folks.
He jest look at de Colonel pizen like an' I smell
de trouble den, an' he up an' say, My mother died
heah, my father died heah, an' be demned I die heah;
yo-ho-ee, hee-ee I '
How dat Indian could gib dat war whoop; an'
he walk right ober yonder ter dat big stack ob guns
an' take his rifle an' ebbery Indian ob his band fol-
low' 'm an' dey walk out ob dat garrison as easy as
a cat arter a mouse.
Colonel Worth did look so peaked, but twan't
no use, foh he couldn't stop dese chiefs; he hab gib
dem the promise dat if dey would all come in he
would treat 'em all right.
Dem wuz cruel days," and old Martha Jane
quivered with indignation as she brought her fat hand
down upon her knee. "But hit wasn't de Indians'
fault. No man what hab a gun is gwine ter let
THE SEMINOLES OF FLORIDA 45
somebody steal the cattle an' horses, an' dat jest what
de white people do ter de Seminoles.
Lord a mercy, I hab seed Paynes' Prairie cov-
ered wif de cattle an' horses dat 'longed ter de In-
dians, an' de white raspcallions would carry 'em off
a hundred at a time. Umph I heah 'em brag how
dey carry off de Indians' horses. Ole Thorpe Rob-
erts he wuz a ole fief. He would say, 'We make
many a good haul ob dem savages' cattle, ten ob us
come in at onct an' drive off a thousand' head.'
"Yes, Mistis, dat ole Seminole war make a heap
o' white folks rich in Florida.
"Oh, Lord hab mercy on all dem souls. Dey
wuz hard times, times o' misery, chile, but de Indians
wuzn't ter blame. God make 'em an' dey hab ter
hab a place ter stay, jest same as we alls white folks.
"De white people bring all dat 'struction on der
own heads foh dey commence dat war. I see hit wif
my own eyes; I see 'em kill de Indians' slaves. You
see de Seminoles hab slaves jest de same as white
folks, an' some ob der niggers wuz as fine-lookin'
black men as you ebber 'spect ter see in Ole Vir-
When de Indians would come 'roun' ter esquire
'bout der cattle de white rapscallions (an' a heap o'
dem wuz dem low down nigger traders too) dem
white men would up an' shoot de Indians.
Lordy chile, when I gits ter ruminatin' 'bout dem
days I sees de longes' line o' haunts whats obtained in
dis world o' sin an' sorrow."
I laid down my tablet and looked up; the old wom-
46 THE SEMINOLES OF FLORIDA
an's lip was quivering from suppressed emotion.
Passing over the tragic she began again.
No, chile, 'xcusin' ob de truf, de United States
nebber whipped de Seminoles; she whipped dem Brit-
ishers when George Washington wuz de captain, an'
de Mexicans, den she tuck a little 'xcursion 'cross ter
Cuba an' whipped dem Spaniards; but she nebber
whipped the Seminoles. Umph; where wuz de In-
dians when de sojers wuz all shinin' in dem new uni-
forms an' der ammunition all packed up? Dem sav-
ages wuz all gone, hidin' in dem hammocks an'
swamps what wuz so thick wif trees an' bushes dat a
black snake could skacely wiggle through.
De sojers would go marchin' 'long an' way up in
de tops ob some ob dem big trees some ob dem sly ole
Indian scouts would be sitting' wifout any clothes on,
a watching' an' a laughing' at de sojers."
You want ter heah 'bout dat battle o' Micanopy?
De Seminoles didn't hab no battles like dem Brit-
ishers in George Washington times; no chile, but dey
hab scrummages an' kill de white people jest like dey
wuz black birds," and the old negress, seemingly
oblivious to the fact that cruel time has bowed her
frame and dimmed the once bright eye, lives over
again the story of those days so long ago, when she
was the pampared slave of the old aristocracy.
How come I ter see dat big fight, I belonged ter
Marster Mundane; de Mundane fambly wuz power-
ful rich and owned the big hotel where the officers
THE SEMINOLES OF FLORIDA 47
Der warn't no Indians 'roun' der jest den, an'
ebbery thing wuz peaceful an' quiet, an' I heah de
sojers a jokin' an' sayin' day wuz jest a spending' de
winter in de Sunny South an' de Governmen' wuz
payin' de grub bills.
I reckelmember jest like I am tellin' you ter day,
I wuz standing' on dat big piazza 'side o' Missus;
you know I wuz riz up ter be 'roun' white folks, foh
I wuz allus so peart dat my ole Missus in Virginia
would call me in ter de parlor ter show me off ter de
Well, honey, dis morning' de sojers wuz a cleaning'
der guns an' laughing' an' dey ax Mistis, 'How many
deer you want foh dinner?' Den anudder likely
young sojer would say, How many turkeys you want,
Mistress Mundane?' an' den dey went off a whistlin'
an' a singin'; but oh, my God, what lamentations der
wuz dat same night.
Twan't long will I heah, bang bang bang,
an' I says ter myself, Marthy Jane, too many deer,
too many wild turkey, sound ter me like Indian
shooting ; 'spect dem rapscallions sneak up on de so-
jers, an' dis black chile gwine ter see foh herself. I
jest slipped out o' de house an' kachunk! kachunkl
I went down that big lane as fas' as a horse can trot
till I come ter de prairie an' den I dumb in ter a big
oak tree, den de nex' thing I do I wrap dat gray moss
'roun' me so dem debbils couldn't see me.
How dem Indians did shoot I If dat sight didn't
beat de lan'! Zipp zipp bang bang, an'
ebbery time dey shoot dey yell like debbils, yo-ho-c-
48 THE SEMINOLES OF FLORIDA
hee-eee bang, den fall on de groun' an' load dat mus-
ket, stan' up an' shoot again; de sojers a dropping'
ebbery time a Indian shoot.
De sojers wuz so skeered dey couldn't load der
guns when de Indians would gib dat Satan screech.
An' den de poor sojers jest dropped guns an' run
in ter de lake an' de woods an' dem savages would go
an' take de guns an' de ammunition offen de dead
bodies an' den go running' like a deer.
Lord a mercy, hit seems ter me I heah de wind
blowin' ghosts an' de sperits ob de brave gem'men
what wuz killed on dat field ebbery time I talks 'bout
Yes, Mistis, dat scrummage wuz called de battle
oh Payne's Prairie. When de Colonel found out de
Indians killed so many ob de sojers, he tore roun' like
a wild bear an' clar 'foh de Almighty dat he wuz
gwine ter sen' off an' fetch de whole United States
troops ter come down an' kill ebbery Indian in Flor-
But what good wuz all dat big talk; dey hab two
regimen's stayin' der den, and 'foh dey could git outen
de garrison de sly ole Indians wuz all gone an' didn't
leave a track behind' dem, nuther.
Dem wuz days ob 'struction, ter be shure! but
dey mought ha' knowed dat war wuz a coming kase
Daddy Charles see dem divisions in Virginia an' tell
de white people great 'struction ob war wuz a coming ,
he tell dem dat hit gwine ter wrestle wif a foreign
country, an' den 'sides de divisions, de wild pigeons
come an' dey wuz so thick you couldn't see de trees
THE SEMINOLES OF FLORIDA 49
and de slaves kill 'em wif der hoe handles in de corn
Yes, dat big Seminole war did come," said
Martha Jane triumphantly, "jest like dat ole saint
o' black man tole de people.
I ain't nebber seed no lonesomer place like dat
Payne's Prairie from dat day ter dis arter dey hab
I see de folks lyin' on de grass an' de tall grass
blowin' backards and forrerds, but dem sojers nebber
move. Den de men come an' carry 'em ter de hos-
pital. I shrouded so many dat night dat I got har-
dened jest like a dog wifout a soul.
Colonel Whisler, he wuz a Yankee man, he sayd,
'Marthy Jane, you orter hab been a man, you is so
nervy.' Dat why I can't eat hominy ter dis day, I
make so many poultices endurin' ob de war ter draw
out de bullets; dey didn't hab dem pizen balls o'
Satan like dey do in dese regenerate days since sur-
Arter dem scanlous time, Colonel Worth an'
Colonel Whisler 'cided dat dey mus' go ter Fort
Myers to see how dem scrummagers wuz goin' on
down dat way.
De headquarter men 'low dey mighty nigh per-
ish'd foh sumptin' good ter eat an' tell ole Mistis
dey 'bliged ter hab me go 'long ter do de cooking .
Colonel Whisler wuz one ob dese kind o' captains
what want his coffee hot an' all de victuals on de
Dem wuz high camp-meetin' times all de way.
50 THE SEMINOLES OF FLORIDA
In dem days de game wuz powerful plentiful, an'
dem victuals I cooked wuz a plum sight; deer, wild
turkey an' ducks wuz a flyin' wherebber der wuz a
pond o' water. Um-um-m, didn't I cook 'em de fine
Colonel Worth 'cided dey couldn't kill de Indians
so he say he would jest campaign along an' destroy
all der crops an' burn der houses; he 'lowed dat wuz
better dan shooting' dem; an' oh Lordy, didn't we eat
de corn an' watermelons dem Indians raise.
We march an' we stop, an' we march an' we
stop, till hit wuz de Lord's blessin' dat we hab so
many horses an' wagons.
Oh, dem long wagon trains, wif sojers betwixt,
sojers in front an' sojers behind.
You see, de officers hab der wives along an' some
mighty fine white ladies what wuz a visiting' at de
garrison. Dem wuz shure camp-meetin' days.
Ole Billy Daniels an' old man Strafford, dey wuz
along too; dey wuz ole men den. I 'spect dey both
dead afoh now."
I wuzn't anyways skeery, but we sut'n'ty wuz a
long way from ole Mistress, mighty nigh two hun-
Arter all dat camp-meetin' frolickin' Colonel
Worth 'cided he would come back ter Fort King an'
leave de sojers ter keep on destroyin' at Fort Myers.
Billy Daniels wuz obliged to 'scort us back, kase
he is de man what drawed de map of Florida an' put
THE SEMINOLES OF FLORIDA
all de lakes an' islan's in foh Colonel Worth. He
couldn't read, nuther write, but he could 'cite de
Seminole language like he hab book learning ; he wuz
de interpreter foh Colonel Worth too.
Hit sut'n'ty wuz scrumagen' times arter me an'
Diana Pyles cooked dat treaty dinner foh Colonel
Mos' generally de troops went a troopin' north,
but dey lef' some ob de sassiest white men I ebber
see top o' earth ter guard de State; low down white
You see, hit wuz dis away, terrectly dey fin' out
de Indians wuz all gone south dey make up dat dey
bes' skeer our people so de United States would keep
payin' dem government money.
No, Mistis, hit wuzn't de Indians dat did de
skirmishin,' hit wuz de white rapscallions what wuz
hankerin' foh dem government rations.
Our people wuz rich den wif de big sugar planta-
tions an' cotton fields an' a heap o' slaves an' cattle
an' horses; our folks didn't want no war, but hit wuz
de poor white people dat rousted 'roun' at night an'
kill de cattle an' put moccasins on der ole foots, what
look as rough as alligators' hides, den dey go an'
make tracks all roun' like a hundred Indians been a
spyin'. Hit sholy did skeer our people, but twan't
de Seminoles, kase de Indian is a debbil, but he ain't
gwine ter stay 'roun' Fort King when he done prom-
ise Colonel Worth he gwine go 'way.
Dem white men keep up dat debbilment till de
52 THE SEMINOLES OF FLORIDA
United States find out 'bout hit, an' she say if dey
any moh o' dat meanness foun' out dat dey will
hang ebbery rapscallion what prowlin' 'roun' we alls
white folks houses."
The Florida Seminoles of To-day
THE PRESENT CONDITION AND ATTITUDE OF THE
TO-DAY the Seminoles of Florida are a beggared
and spectral type of a once powerful race. And in
their swamp homes we find these brown-skinned peo-
ple, living in the primeval customs of their fathers,
little changed from the Indians De Soto found in the
" Land of Flowers," or Columbus upon the little
island upon which he landed the weary and anxious
cargo of the frail Pinta, and of whom he wrote to his
Queen, Because they showed much kindliness for
us, and because I know they would be more easily
made Christians through love than fear, I gave to
them some glass beads for their necks, some red caps
with which they were so delighted and entirely ours,
it was a marvel to see."
Thus we have dispossessed the original owners of
as goodly a land as the sun ever shone upon, a land
that cost us nothing but the beads of the early adven-
turers and the bullets of their successors, a race,
savages 'tis true, but heroes many of them, and proud
and courtly as their conquerors.
The American people expend thousands of dollars
annually in scientific research for antiquities and
many more thousands are spent by the antiquarian
54 THE SEMINOLES OF FLORIDA
for the preservation of the relics and ancient records.
The North American Indian is fast vanishing from
the continent. Are not the Seminoles of Florida,
the descendants of the old monarchs, this race around
which shadowy romance hovers, as worthy of preser-
vation as the inanimate treasures of ancient Egypt?
Are there no Rameses in American history? In the
old turbaned tribe of Florida, we have a remnant of
the most picturesque, deserving and moral of all the
Aborigines of America, and they belong to a type
that is everywhere else extinct. Are they not worth
preserving and protecting to a point worthy the
proud and historic name of Seminole?
Secure in the mysterious marshes, these Indians
present an eloquent picture of a helpless wandering
At the close of the war, a few bands of the Indians
refused to submit to banishment and, concealing
themselves in the fastnesses of the Everglades, made
their removal an impossibility. This part of the
tribe, according to their traditions, belonged orig-
inally to the Aztec race and for this reason they
claim a preeminence over all the tribes of Aborigines
Though defeated in war, they never submitted to
the Government of the United States, and hence re-
gard themselves as more valiant in defense, more de-
termined in purpose than that part of the tribe which
succumbed to emigration to the Indian Territory;
in fact, the old chieftains say of the Indians who emi-
grated, Arkansas Indians, cowards and traitors."
THE SEMINOLES OF FLORIDA 55
So to-day the Seminoles of Florida occupy a unique
position with respect to the United States Govern-
ment, as, being unconquered and unsubdued, having
no legal existence nor allegiance to our Nation; in
short, so far as the United States is concerned offi-
cially, there are no Indians in Florida.
The tribe to-day numbers about 600 souls, living
at peace with all mankind, independent, but suspici-
ous of Washington officials, only asking to be let
alone, a homeless people in a free land, ever push-
ing on before the insatiable cupidity of the white man.
An inexorable decree has forced the Florida In-
dian into the most desolate lands of Florida. Where
they once trod as masters they now fear to place foot.
We cannot be unmoved by the thought that here are
the tattered and poverty stricken handfuls of a tribe
of warriors that held at bay a strong government for
half a century, a tribe that counted their cattle,
their lands and their slaves in magnificent propor-
tions. At the present time, to avoid complications
with the South Florida cattle herders none of the race
are permitted to own cattle. There is a certain
pathos in the Indian's story of his relation to the
white race, which arrests our attention and compels
sympathy. But, it is destiny What of the future?
Touch any point in the red man's history, where you
will, or how you will, and the helpless savage always
gets the worst of it.
There is no use in muck-raking about it. We are
leisurely taking our time at finishing the extermina-
tion of the original American. Whether or not the
56 THE SEMINOLES OF FLORIDA
future historian chronicles this as a century of dis-
honor, the fac. remains that, since he could not with-
stand the white faces, the Indian will go pass out
We judge the Indian too harshly. It is hard to
give up old traditions, especially if the adherence to
them means a life of ease. We are all in the pursuit
of that which will make us happy.
The story is the old one of merciless extinction of
the lower race before the higher. It is a story of
the survival of the fittest." The Florida Indian
can go no further. An old anecdote is brought to
light which illustrates the Indian's own view of the
case. The famous Seneca chief, Red Jacket, once
met a government agent, and after pleasant greetings
they both sat down on a log, when Red Jacket asked
the agent to move along." The agent did so and
the chief followed. This was done several times,
the agent humoring the whim of the old chief, until
he had reached the end of the log, when the same re-
quest, move along" was repeated. Why,
man," angrily replied the agent, I can't move along
further without getting off the log into the mud."
" Ugh I Just so white man want Indian to move
along move along; can't go no further, yet he say
move along." And so with the Seminole to-day.
The clearings they have made in the forests and the
only homes they have ever known have been bought
from the State by speculators and they are compelled
to move along." The history of the western In-
dian as he sells or surrenders the heart of his great
THE SEMINOLES OF FLORIDA
reservation proves that the white man will have his
way. The broken treaties of the past the Seminole
has not forgotten. The old chiefs are as proud as
the most imperious king. They regard these lands
as their own, and cannot understand the Govern-
ment's claim. They say "What right has the big
white chief at Washington to give to us what is al-
ready ours the lands of our fathers? The white
man who receives any confidence from the Florida
Indian must indeed possess great magnetism, for the
Seminole is suspicious of every overture and will mis-
lead his questioner on all occasions. And while the
white man is studying poor Lo," poor Lo is
similarly engaged in studying him, and continually
revolving in his suspicious mind, what can pale face
want from the Indian anyway? "
The chiefs have taught the young braves all about
the outrages perpetrated upon their tribe by unscru-
pulous agents during the wars; and while the Indians
themselves in many cases practiced cruelty, it was
always in retaliation for some previous wrong of
anterior date. History records case after case of
robberies and enormities committed on the Seminoles
previous to the war and during its progress. Mican-
opy requested a lawyer to draw a form of writing
for him which soon after proved to be a conveyance
of a valuable tract of land Afterwards the war-
whoop and the deadly hand of Micanopy was heard
and felt among the swamps and prairies. Micanopy
was one of the most powerful, as well as one of the
wealthiest Seminole chieftains. His estate, a mile
58 THE SEMINOLES OF FLORIDA
square, he ceded to the United States. Of the dis-
position of his slaves he had eighty nothing
In connection with the portrait of Micanopy as
used in this volume, this bit of almost forgotten his-
tory is worth mention. When the famous Indian
portrait painter, Catlin, was commissioned by the
War Department to paint the most prominent chiefs
then in captivity at Fort Moultrie, Micanopy, as
chief of the Nation, was first approached, but posi-
tively refused to be painted. After much persua-
sion, he at last consented, saying, If you make a
fair likeness of my legs," which he had very taste-
fully dressed in a handsome pair of red leggins,
" you may paint Micanopy for the Great Father,"
" upon which, I at once began," says Catlin, as he
sat cross legged, by painting them upon the lower
part of the canvas, leaving room for the body and
When the chief saw every line and curve brought
out on the canvas he smiled his approval, and the
work proceeded, to the delight of both artist and
In the mutual relations between the whites and the
Indians it requires no skilled advocate to show on
which side must lie the wrongs unrepaired and una-
venged. Without doubt the Indian has always been
the victim. One thing is certain, the Indian chiefs,
when fairly dealt with, have always evinced an ear-
nest desire to make just terms. Ever since the Cau-
casian landed on the shores of America, a white man
THE SEMINOLES OF FLORIDA 59
with a gun has been watching the Indian. Four cen-
turies have gone and with them a record of broken
treaties and violated pledges. The records of the
Indian Bureau support the statement that, before the
first half of the present century had passed, we had
broken seven solemn treaties with the Creeks, eleven
with the Cherokees; the Chickasaws and Choctaws
suffered too, saying nothing of smaller tribes. His-
tory reveals how well the Delawares fought for us in
the Revolutionary War. They were brave allies,"
fightifig out of loyalty to the Alliance," and inspired
by the promised reward, viz.: The territorial
right to a State as large as Pennsylvania and a right
to representation in our Congress." But where are
the Delawares to-day? One remove after another
was made until we find only a remnant existing-
some with the Cherokees, and a few with the Wichita
A great deal has been written about the Florida
Indian which is not in accordance with facts. There
are many obstacles in the way of an intimate ac-
quaintance with their customs and home life. Living
as they do in the almost inaccessible morasses, their
contact with civilization has been regulated by their
own volition. Visitors, traders and government
agents have been denied their confidence, and it is
only on their visits to settlements for the purpose of
trading that they meet the white man. At such times
the Seminole is on the alert, ever suspicious, and to
the numerous interrogations applied to him by the
inquisitive stranger, his answer is an indifferent
60 THE SEMINOLES OF FLORIDA
" Me don't know." When questions become of a
personal character, touching upon subjects sacred to a
Seminole, he quietly walks away, leaving his ques-
The Seminoles live to themselves, shun all intimacy
with the Caucasian, and their personal appearance is
therefore almost unknown to Americans. The
greater part of the tribe seldom, if ever, leave their
marshy homes. To reach their camps uninhabitable
wilds must be traversed and sometimes miles of mud
and water waded, then perhaps only to find the
camp deserted. For, while the Seminole has reg-
ular settlements, at various times during the year the
entire camp will assemble at some point where game
is abundant and a big hunt" will occupy a few
weeks. Again syrup boiling will be the festival all
will join in; at another time a large quantity of
koonti (wild cassava) will be made into flour. At
these gatherings the tribe or families occupy tem-
porary dwellings called lodges.
The innate dislike of the Seminole toward
strangers is his hardest prejudice to overcome; yet he
is hospitable when he convinces himself that the vis-
itor is no Government agent, nor come for any mer-
cenary motive. The person who is fortunate enough
to reach their hunting grounds, secure their confi-
dence, observe their weird home life, and their
childish untutored ways, meets with an attractive
spectacle of romance and may study these aborigines
in their primeval customs. For to-day, with the
exception of the chiefs and a few of the adventur-
By the courtesy of the IAmriicl an B I'ueau of Ethnology.
A SEMINOLE DWELLING
THE SEMINOLES OF FLORIDA 61
some warriors, they know nothing of the innovations
of the last half century. So strong are they in their
resolution to hold no intercourse with our nation, that
neither bribery nor cajolery will have any effect upon
them. A few years ago an effort was made by the
authorities of the Sub-Tropical Exposition at Jack-
sonville, Florida, to secure a few of the Seminole
braves for exhibition. After many proffered bribes,
the young warriors with the adventurous spirit of
youth consented to go to the big city." A council
was held and the chiefs said halwuk (it is bad);
if you go you never come back." The council of the
chiefs is always respected and the young braves re-
mained with their fathers.
The life of the Seminole has been without any aid
or instruction from the white man. He has adopted
a few of the implements, weapons and utensils of
civilization; but in no other way has he imitated his
pale-faced brother. In the natural course of evolu-
tion he has made some progress; he has not de-
Government reports show an annual appropriation
of almost $7,000,000 for the Indian service; yet the
Florida Indian has not received any part of it, and
without it he has shown a prosperous condition.
The Smithsonian report, in comparing this interest-
ing people with the native white settlers, says "that
success in agriculture and domestic industries is not
to be attributed wholly to the favorable character of
the climate and soil; for, surrounded by the same
conditions, many white men are lazy and improvi-
62 THE SEMINOLES OF FLORIDA
dent, while the Seminoles are industrious and frugal."
President Cleveland in his message for 1895 per-
tinently says, In these days, when white agricultur-
ists and stock raisers of experience and intelligence
find their lot a hard one, we ought not to expect In-
dians to support themselves on lands usually allotted
Years later, while the late lamented ex-President
was fishing in New River at the edge of the Ever-
glades, he said, This country was made for the
Seminoles and they should be permitted to live here
Yet in Florida, we find the red race not only self-
sustaining, but refusing any aid from our Govern-
ment. Twenty years ago the Government appro-
priated $6,000, to enable the Seminoles of Florida
to obtain homesteads upon the public lands, and to
establish themselves thereon." A few of the Indians
consented to accept; but the agent, on investigation,
found that the lands which the Indians desired had
passed into State or Improvement Companies. To-
day the Seminole is embittered; and, having been
driven from one reservation to another, he refuses to
exchange Indian's good lands for white man's bad
lands," and in the bitterness of his conquered spirit,
takes his dusky tribe to the dark shadows of the cy-
press swamps, where no pale-faced Government offi-
cer dare disturb him. Again Congress tacked an
item to the appropriation act, giving $7,000 for the
support of the Seminoles of Florida, for the erection
and furnishing of a school for teachers and the fur-
THE SEMINOLES OF FLORIDA
nishing of seeds and implements for agricultural pur-
poses." In the winter of 1889, an agent inspired
with confidence in himself, and with the hope of
manipulating a $12,000 appropriation, came to
Florida by appointment from Washington to renew
the effort to find suitable lands upon which to settle
the Indians, and to furnish the seat of an educational
establishment." Securing an interpreter the agent
visited the Indian camp. A council of chiefs lis-
tened quietly to his overtures, but with the same
proud spirit of Osceola's day, they refused firmly to
accept any aid from a Government which they regard
as having stolen from them the lands of their fathers.
As the agent dwelt on the presents the red men of
Florida should receive from the big white chief,
Tiger Tail, a worthy descendant of the invulnerable
Tustenuggee, replied, You came from Great Chief?
You say that Great Chief give Indian plow, wagon,
hoe?" Then pointing in the direction of a small
settlement of shiftless whites, he added, He poor
man, give 'em him. Indian no want 'em." Deliv-
ering his speech with the spirit of an old Norse King,
the chief strode majestically away, leaving the agent
no nearer the fulfillment of his trust.
An Indian Agency was established, however, in
Florida in 1892, located east of Fort Myers, and
about thirty-five miles from the nearest Seminole
camp. It was supported by a yearly appropriation
of $6,ooo, the appropriation act reading, "For the
support, civilization and instruction of the Seminole
Indians in Florida $6,000, one-half of which sum
64 THE SEMINOLES OF FLORIDA
may be expended at the discretion of the Secretary
of Interior in procuring permanent homes for said
The Government built a saw mill, and attempted
a school, but the Indians, according to the statement
of Col. C. C. Duncan, U. S. Indian Inspector at
that time, refused to send their children to the school
or to work at the saw mill. Many white traders who
purchase hides, plumes and furs from the Indians,
tell them that the establishment of an agency is for
the purpose of rounding them up and sending them
west. These Indians have been cheated and baffled
so often by knaves, who go among them for that pur-
pose, that they imagine all whites to be of the same
character, and cannot tell whether a talk comes
from their great white father at Washington, or
whether some imposter be imposing upon them for
his own gains; hence, the Seminole never removed his
cloak of suspicion. Little progress was made and
the work of the agency as a government institution
Once or twice it has been tried to locate the Semi-
noles, but when the chiefs examined the land, they
found it ho-lo-wa-gus (no good) and they re-
fused the offer.
THE SEMINOLES OF FLORIDA
NATIONAL INDIAN ASSOCIATION
ITS WORK AND ITS RESULTS
WHEN the National Indian Association first or-
ganized, like many innovations in humanitarian work,
it met with rebuffs and criticisms, and not until after
five years of petitioning to Congress, newspaper
recognition and the circulation of leaflets, did the
splendid body receive legal recognition and protec-
tion for the United States Indians. With this much
accomplished, the work became easier and plans to
evangelize the Indians of the United States were in-
It became the duty of the Association to gather
money for the work, establish stations, one by one,
finance the expense of building mission cottages and
chapels, and then when established, give the station,
with all its property, to whichever of the denomina-
tional boards should ask for it.
The work has been one of the noblest of pioneer
mission labor, for its activities are directed to Amer-
ica's original owners, whose God-given inheritance
should never be questioned by any patriot, whether
he be Christian or moralist.
In 1891, this organization entered Florida and the
Seminole Indians received recognition and the first
ray of Christian light pierced the dark camps of the
While the missionary in charge found the work
66 THE SEMINOLES OF FLORIDA
difficult and results were not flattering, still, the seeds
were sown that have brought later and better results,
and in I893 the Mission was transferred to the
Episcopal Church of the South Florida Diocese.
During the period of the National Organization's
stay in Florida, Congressional agitation of the sub-
ject of Seminole lands was aired by deeply interested
friends and pauseless workers, and resulted in the
voting of 800,000 acres of land by the Florida Legis-
lature as a home for the Seminoles, a gift needing ac-
tion on the part of Congress to make it a sure and
permanent home for this long-neglected people. But
this action alas! was never taken.'
In giving the Florida Station over to the Episcopal
Church, the National Indian Association made no
mistake, for through the untiring efforts of the Rt.
Rev. William Crane Gray of the South Florida dio-
cese, the mission has each year been getting better
results. The Station has been named Im-mo-ka-lee
(home), and is situated about thirty-five miles from
Fort Myers. Forty miles farther is a hospital, called
Glade Cross; here an immense white cross has been
erected at the entrance to the glades.
The present arrangement, under the charge of the
estimable Rev. Dr. Godden, seems to be solving
SSince the above writing, the Department of the Interior has
investigated the status of the swamp land and the Government
has guaranteed against purchase 23,000 acres of land to be held
in trust for the Indians. Only a small part of it is arable, but
when all else is wrested from these Indians, they may retire in
safety to this land.
THE SEMINOLES OF FLORIDA 67
the mission question better than any former plan.
The mission owns a store where the Indians may
buy or sell; the missionary in charge may meet and
converse personally with the Indians; he wins their
friendship and is able by degrees to instill religious
thoughts into them. The Rev. Dr. Godden is work-
ing along industrial lines, and says, "We must fit
these Seminoles by education and Christianity to meet
the coming conditions, and teach them to become self-
supporting by industrial pursuits and now is the time
to do it."
The work proposed is to erect suitable houses for
the residence of the missionary and his family with
sufficient room to entertain visiting Indians when in
over night and a barrack or rest room for laborers
employed in clearing land and working crops.
Writing in I909 of the work and Mission, Dr.
To Bishops, Clergy and Laity of
The American Church, Greeting:
I desire to commend most heartily my well-beloved in the
Lord, Rev. Irenaeus Trout, Missionary to the Seminole
Indians in Southern Florida. I believe that God has in a
marvelous way designated him as the very man to go for-
ward with the work in which he has already been signally
blessed, viz: that of leading the Seminoles into the Kingdom
of our Lord Jesus Christ. We are now at the very crisis
Hear him and help him. Here is a cry, not from Europe,
Asia or Africa, but from the Everglades, in your own
Florida: Come and help us! A thousand prayers ac-
company him from this Missionary District.
68 THE SEMINOLES OF FLORIDA
God gives you the privilege of helping this poor Seminole
remnant into the kingdom.
For Christ and the Church,
(Seal) WM. CRANE GRAY,
Bishop of Southern Fla.
The Cathedral Church
Of St. Luke,
Orlando, Fla., Jan. 15, 1909.
THE FRIENDS OF THE FLORIDA SEMINOLES.
A few years ago great interest was manifested in
these Florida wards, when a Society called "The
Friends of the Florida Seminoles was organized at
Kissimmee, Fla., with the Rev. William Crane Gray,
Bishop of the South Florida Episcopal Church, Presi-
dent; Rev. D. A. Dodge, Vice-president; Mr. James
M. Willson, Jr., Secretary, and State Senator C. A.
Carson, Treasurer. Other officers (trustees) were
the late George W. Wilson, Editor-in-chief of the
Florida Times-Union; Hon. J. R. Parrott, President
of the Florida East Coast Railroad Co., and Capt.
F. M. Hendry, Fort Myers, Fla.
This body, assisted by the active interest and
sympathy of Gov. W. D. Bloxam, Mr. P. A. Van
Agnew, and Mr. Kirk Munroe, made it possible for
the Society to accomplish its State-wide results, num-
bering among its members philanthropic people from
Maine to California.
The object of this society was to enlist the sym-
pathy of the American people for these homeless
THE SEMINOLES OF FLORIDA 69
people and to strenuously oppose the removal of the
Seminoles from the State against their consent. No
really true American, whether he be an Indian sym-
pathizer or not, can feel any but sympathy for the
Florida Seminole if he understand the true status of
his condition, and when the Society of the Friends
of the Florida Seminoles was established, a great
wave of sympathy was felt all over the country and
requests for membership came in from all ranks,
the highest circles of finance, from social leaders,
educational centers and government officials. It was
recognized an honor to belong to the organization.
The membership list is still open and the Society
earnestly appeals to the people of America to take a
friendly interest in the future fate of this forlorn rem-
nant, who are one of Florida's most native posses-
sions, and to aid in securing for them permanent
homes in the unsettled portions of the State before it
is too late.
The interest and work of the Society was greatly
aided through the editorial columns of Harper's
Weekly, when Edward S. Martin made an appeal in
behalf of that band of Seminoles known as the Cow
Creeks. The object was to purchase a tract of land
on which was located about seventy-five Indians.
They had lived here for thirty years, cultivating part
of the land and using the rest as a range for their
hogs, but as they had no legal title to the land, they
were at the mercy of squatters who coveted them.
About four hundred dollars were raised, but when
the attempt was made to locate these Indians, cow-
70 THE SEMINOLES OF FLORIDA
boys and land-grabbers had alarmed them, by telling
them that the Government was getting ready to
round them up and take them West, and like fright-
ened deer they left their homes and retired again to
the swamp fastnesses.
The Society purchased some fields upon which the
Indians were camping with Harper's fund the re-
mainder of the funds being held in trust for its orig-
inal purpose. The Society secured great public senti-
ment in their favor, and hoped to obtain lands
through legislation. Centuries of wrong from hands
too powerful to be resisted have taught these red
Americans the patience of despair.
Amid the blessings of Chrisitanity, the Seminole
is an outcast from sympathy and an alien to hope, yet
he has never ceased to be manly. While we protect
the deer and the alligator, the quail and the fish, shall
we leave our brother in bronze a prey to the lawless
and a helpless victim of every loafer?
The only way to protect these wards of Florida is
to buy a reservation, and hold it in trust for them -
Even at this writing, that trackless waste of saw-
grass and water with its scattering islands and la-
goons, constitutes the great political question among
Florida people the drainage of the Everglades.
We cannot but admire the proud and independent
spirit of the Seminole as he rufuses, in firm but Indian-
like measures, the proffered liberality of a Govern-
ment which he believes has wronged him. And,
from his high pinnacle of pride, he certainly bears the
A SIMINOLI; C\ MII'-FIRE
Indialti 111-1c ,f ik !i t',-
THE SEMINOLES OF FLORIDA
distinction of being the only American who has been
found unwilling to share the spoils of the nation.
So he says, We have listened to the great father at
Washington. The Great Spirit wishes no change in
his red children. If you teach our children the
knowledge of the white people, they will cease to be
Indians. To know how to read and write is very
good for white men, but very bad for red men.
Long time ago, some of our fathers wrote upon a lit-
tle piece of paper without the nation knowing any*
thing about it. When the agent called the Indians
together he told them the little paper was a treaty
which their brethren had made with the great father
at Washington, and lo I they found that their brethren
by knowing how to write, had sold their lands and the
graves of their fathers to the white race. Tell our
great father at Washington that we want no schools,
neither books, for reading and writing makes very
bad Indians. We are satisfied. Let us alone."
After this speech delivered in the native tongue, the
council breaks up, and the proud Seminole betakes
himself to the Everglades. The Seminole is dis-
posed to make a child's bargain with the big white
chief: You let me alone, and I will let you alone."
Photographs of the Carlisle Indian boys have been
used to illustrate the improvement which follows edu-
cation; but the Seminole youth turns away with dis-
dain, as he notes the closely shaven head and the
American dress, and says, Indian no want books,
make 'em white man, white man mean heap lie too
much." With a gesture faithful to the Indian, he
72 THE SEMINOLES OF FLORIDA
refers to the long time ago, Seminoles had lands,
cattle, slaves; white man steal 'em." This statement
of the Indians is corroborated by the old white set-
tlers of to-day, who fought the Indians. They tell
that General Jessup's army, on coming to the great
cattle country of South Florida, began a systematic
slaughter of all the cattle found. A body of soldiers,
too large to fear an attack, would round up a herd
of the Indian's cattle and sitting on their horses, shoot
them all down. Up to this time the Indians were
regular stock dealers, their customers being the Cu-
bans and Minorcans. General Jessup's report of his
march into the Indian country," says, On the 28th
(January, 1837), the army moved forward and oc-
cupied a strong position on 'Ta-hop-ka-li-ga' Lake,
where several hundred head of cattle were obtained."
The tribe to-day are taught by the chiefs to regard
the whites, in general, as lacking in honor and courage,
weak and insignificant, or in Seminole dialect, white
man ho-lo-wa-gus" (no good). This is easily
understood when we consider the strong attachment
an Indian bears to his native hunting grounds; and
when the memory runs back to the time when our
Government banished their friends and relatives to
the unknown wilds of the West, and they went silent
and weeping toward the setting sun. Their bitterness
is consistent with their ideas of injustices practiced
History, romance and poetry have held up the
characteristics of the red man to our gaze from
childhood. And while treachery may be a distin-
THE SEMINOLES OF FLORIDA
guishing feature of the Indian nature, yet the lowest
one of them has some conception of honor when
fairly approached. History shows that all through
the Seminole war, misrepresentations and dishonor-
able schemes were practiced against them by the
whites. Almost universal sympathy goes out to this
remnant of people who fought so bravely and so
persistently for the land of their birth, for their
homes, for the burial place of their kindred. As
their traditions tell them of the oppression their peo-
ple suffered as they wandered in the wilderness thrice
forty years, who can tell the secret of their hearts?
To do this, it would be necessary to become, for the
time, an Indian, to put ourselves in his place and
what white man has ever done this? Ask the waters
of Tohopeliga, or the winds that waft across Okee-
chobee. To the elements are whispered the heart
throbs of these red fawns of the forest. The present
Florida Indians are descendants of that invincible
tribe who were never conquered by the force of arms.
Refusing in I842 to accompany their people to the
mysterious West, they ceased to exist save for them-
selves. Finding refuge in the almost inaccessible
Everglades, they were for a time almost lost to the
historian. They have no legal existence, and hence
no rights that a white man is bound, by law, to re-
spect. There are no Indian troubles in Florida at
present, but every few months a cry comes from hun-
gry land-grabbers, or from trappers and hunters, that
the Seminoles are killing off the deer and plume birds.
The changing conditions in the lower peninsular
74 THE SEMINOLES OF FLORIDA
country will eventually lead up to difficulties; and
"Where shall we locate the Indians?" becomes a
The Florida Times-Union editorially says:
All the murderous, cut-throat, unkempt and squalid In-
dians in the United States whom the Government fears are
provided with reservations and such luxuries as they never
before had in their lives, but the Seminoles of Florida, the
finest specimens of Indian manhood in this country, clean in
body, pure in morals, and as brave as the lion that roams the
desert, with whom so many treaties have been wantonly
broken, are being driven farther and farther into the Ever-
glades and their hunting grounds confiscated to the land
grabbers. Is this justice?
Should the whites drive off the Seminoles, and thus
approve their greed for land by taking the posses-
sions the Indians now occupy, what good would it do
them? Internal improvement companies, by their
franchises, would sooner or later take the blood-
stained acres from them. Let settlers in Florida, or
in any part of the country, turn over their accounts
and see how many acres have been credited to them,
either from the State or from the general Govern-
ment, without the equivalent of homesteading or for
cash. The "Western" style of disposing of the
Indian's inheritance must not be followed in fair
Florida. It seems hard that these natives who ask
no aid of our nation, should be forced to the wall
by the march of civilization. To the Western In-
dians, under the protection of the Government, and
supplied in a large measure by the taxes which civil.
THE SEMINOLES OF FLORIDA
ization pays, pages are devoted by philanthropists for
the betterment of their condition. The rights of the
Seminoles of Florida should be defended. The day
is not far distant when they must be made to go to
the reservation in Arkansas or to lands set apart for
them in Florida. To remove them from their trop-
ical homes to the chilling blasts of the Indian Terri-
tory would be an act of cruelty and wholly unneces-
sary. Those of us who have enjoyed life in this land
of the palm, this land of the balmy air and life-giving
sunshine, reveling in the eternal bloom of the flowers
and the ceaseless song of the birds, can well picture
the struggle it would cost the patient Seminole to be
forced to a cold western land. No, fair Florida, the
ancestors of these proud people were forced to the
country of the setting sun silent and dejected. But,
with the spirit of Osceola, if they must perish, it will
be here here upon the land of their birth, upon the
graves of their kindred. The lands they now occupy
are of little value to the white race and might be
made a safe reserve for them forever. Cowboys
who hunt upon the Okeechobee plains, say the In-
dians are peaceably disposed and friendly, and have
never yet disturbed or threatened. They are certainly
not foot-sore for the warpath and are fearful of
doing anything to arouse the whites. Indian no
fight," is the answer to the questioner. They have
sense enough to know that if war should come again
it would mean extermination for them; and their love
for the Flower Land is so deep that the thought
of exile would cost a struggle they dare not attempt.