Citation
Interview with Mr. Dan House, July 8, 1972

Material Information

Title:
Interview with Mr. Dan House, July 8, 1972
Creator:
House, Dan ( Interviewee )
Publication Date:
Language:
English

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Seminole Indians
Seminoles -- Florida
Seminole Oral History Collection ( local )

Notes

Funding:
This text has been transcribed from an audio or video oral history. Digitization was funded by a gift from Caleb J. and Michele B. Grimes.

Record Information

Source Institution:
Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, Department of History, University of Florida
Holding Location:
This interview is part of the 'Seminoles' collection of interviews held by the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program of the Department of History at the University of Florida
Rights Management:
Made available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 4.0 International license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/.
Resource Identifier:
SEM 57 ( SPOHP IDENTIFIER )

Downloads

This item has the following downloads:


Full Text

SOUTHEASTERN INDIAN ORAL HISTORY PROJECT

UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA

In cooperation with The Seminole Indian Tribe of Florida

INTERVIEWEE: Mr. Dan House
INTERVIEWER: Dr. Harry Kersey

DATE: July 8, 1972

















SUMMARY



In this transcript, Dan House, a trader on Chokoloskee Island until 1926, discusses the early trade in the area specifically of McKinney, Smallwood, Stranahan, Storter and himself. He gives details of the trade with Indians, wholesalers in Key West and Tampa, pricing, alligator and plume trade. Mr. and Mrs. House also mention the early education of white children and of Josie Billie.













INDEX



Allen's River (early settlers), 13-15 Billie, Josie, 21-23 Billy Miami, 23 Collier Corporation, 43 Education (early in area), 21-24 Employment of Indians, 20-21 Fewell, Billy, 23 endry, Capt., 23 McKinney store (later Smallwood's store), 4-5, 7, 17-18, 29 Santina, Dolf, 10, 24, 39 Starter, Rob, 45-6 Starter store, 17, 19, 29 Stranahan store, 17, 29 Trade

alligator hides, 2, 12, 15-17, 26-27
Indian, 2-8, 28-33, 40-41
Key West, 9-11, 34, 39
museum, 36-38
plume, 3-4, 35-37
pricing, 8-9, 28, 32-33, 43
Tampa, 11-12

Tiger Tail, 1, 23-24




















Today is July 8, 1972. This is Dr. Harry Kersey, Florida
Atlantic University. Today we are interviewing Mr. Dan House of Naples who is going to tell us some of his experiences on
Chokoloskee Island, in the southwest area of Florida. Mr.
House, if you would, sir, just start talking. This will pick
you up.

S: Yeah?

1: You don't have to hold it or you can hold it.

S: Well, just put it down there then. I'll just tell you I was
a little boy when I started in.

I: That would be fine, that's just.

S: I lived on Turner's River, and the Indians used to come down
and stay with us a lot. We had a big barn and some officetype buildings on our place, 01' Doctor Harris owned it before
we went there, and they'd come there and stay in that with us
a lot of times. And after I growled up, well, I got to trading
with them, and buying plume birds, and alligator hides, and buckskin, and lemon seeds, and all that stuff. I would buy
it from them and resell it, of course, and make a profit. And
they'd come leave stuff with us under my house on Chokoloskee
for years; 01' Tiger Tail, he was an old bachelor for a long
time. He finally got married to that young gal, and she died
pretty soon with, when they had that flu down there. It was back, you know, in them days. And he come around and left a
roll of money under there in a tin can, God knows how much was in it--twenty-dollar bills, one wouldn't.go around it-under the house. I didn't even know it was there at all.
One day I happened to go out there and riase that lid up and
looked in there and there was that roll of money in there.
Scared me to death! I just thought, you know, if somebody had
come there and stole that money . he'd of always swore to God I'd done it. I picked it up then and carried it in the house because I was going to take care of it. And they'd come leave
stuff with us, and come in there and sell the hides to me all
along, plume birds,.














I: How much would a hide bring on the average?

S: Well, it's just according. In them days, hides wasn't worth
what as they are now, I'd rather have had coon hides, anywheres from twenty-five to seventy-five cents for a coon hide,
and an otter hide would bring anywheres from eight to ten dollars, and alligator hides I believe was about, about a
dollar and a quarter for seven foot wasn't it, Mama? I think
that's what it was, a dollar and a quarter for a seven foot
alligator, where now they're probably worth about five or six
dollars a foot, you know.

1: Right. What period was this were talking about now, when
you were paying these prices? What years were these?

S: Well, that was back in, when was it we lived on the east side
of the island, Mama, '25?

W: I imagine.

S: Along about then.

I: So as late as '25 you were still trading.

S: Yeah.

1: Before the Tamiami went through?

S: Oh yeah, yeah, a long time before the Tamiami went through.

1: What did you do with the hides after you bought them? How
did you resale?

S: I sold a lot of them to a fellow by the name of Mann in Jacksonvtlle.

I: Mann?

S: Yeah. He had a hide buyer come down there for them from up
in there. In fact I bought for him there for a year or two
and I'd just sell to him all together, you know. And I pile
them up on my back porch, I've had as high as 2,500 coon
hides on there at a time.

I: wow!

S: That would be from the white men though . and the Indians,














you know? Most of them was from the white men on account of in them days they was coon hunting they would fire hunt them
islands and kill them coons, you know, and the white men
would kill a lot of them.

Say if you paid, let's just take for the sake of argument, if
you paid a dollar and a quarter to the Indian for a sevenfoot alligator hide, what could you expect from the middle
man in Jacksonville, this fellow Mann? What did he pay for
them?

S: Well, we'd get about a dollar and a half, a dollar seventyfive [cents].

1: This is just about what I've heard from other people who were
trading. The mark up wasn't very high.

S: No, it sure wasn't, on nothing.

1: Yeah.

S: On plume birds, I made more clear money on plume birds than
anything else.

1: Tell me about that.

S: In them days, you know, plume birds was legal. And you could
buy them and sell them and these northern people would come down there and I'd buy them. Lots of times.I've paid the Indians two and a half to five dollars for them, and some of
them, the very best of them, I'd get ten dollars for them.

I: This was for the individual plume?

S: Yeah, but it would be an extra fine one, you know.

1: Right.

S: It'd be cleaned up good and have it nice and pretty, and have
forty or fifty spray in it.

I: Um huh.

S: But most of the times we sold them for five dollars.


I: Hmmm.





S: Just generally run tight through five dollars. I: Now when they passed all those laws, about 1910, did this
really knock out the pluming, or were people still trading
plumes?

S: Oh, well, they quit, they had to quit to stop the women
from wearing them, you know. So there was no sale for them. I: Right, um huh.

S: You had to quit.

I: So the plumes, you were doing that much earlier? S: Oh, yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I: How long did you live on Chokoloskee? S: Oh, god, I don't know. From the time I was about ten years
old I guess until fifteen years old. I left there about. W: 1926.

S: There you go.

1: You left there in '26? W: Moved up here in '26. I: You weren't born there, though? S: Oh, no. I was born in Arcadia, Florida. She was born there. 1: Oh. You're an islander then? S: Yeah, yeah, we stayed there a long time. I: What was your family, may I ask? W: McKinney.

I: Oh, you were a McKinney. You know Clarence. W: Right. He used to have a store, run a store there. I: Then you were brought up in the island trade, too. What, was














this pretty much the same story over at the McKinney store,
the same prices and structure., too? W: Yes.

I: And the Indians traded there a good bit, I take it? W: Well, a little bit they did, he didn't. S: He sold cheaper than the others did. I: Oh, he did?

S: Yeah. He, the old rascal, he was right down to the penny.
Yes, sir, and if you owed him a penny you better have it when you go back there, too because he'd darn sure dun you for it.
And if he owed you a penny, when you come back you got it,
they couldn't make change, you know? You know, they didn't have a bank down there for change in them days like there is now and sometimes they wouldnTt have enough change., you know,
to make it come out just right. But when you come in there if you owed him one penny you better have it ready when you
get in. And he'd be, the same way with him. But he was a
fine old feller.

I: Right.

S: I used to be as scared of him as I was of a damn bear, but
then, I was just a kid you know. He was a tall, 'course,
but still he couldn't bumb me away from his gal, I got her. 1: That was a good move. The, the Indians. S: She says it was a bad one. 1: The Indians used to come in there regularly, then? W: Oh, yeah. They used to camp on our beach, and they'd just
raise sand and get drunk and sing and holler. S: Hi-oh hicki hawki-wa. They did Bull horn. I: How often did they come in? Was there any set time? S: No. Once a week, some of them would; some of them two or
three weeks.














I: Um huh.

S: They'd load up with groceries and take off and whenever they
got enough, about to run out of groceries, why, they'd come
in and get some more.

I: Right.

S: And they'd eat a lot of grits, they ate sofkee.

I: Um huh.

S: You know what that is?

I: Right. Oh, yeah.

S: They'd have a big spoon in a pot of sofkee and there'd be a
bunch of men sitting around like that, you know, with their
legs crossed, and they'd be sitting that way. And they'd all
eat and then the women would eat.

I: They quit making the, using the coontie when they found the
grits were better, I guess.

S: And they made sofkee, they called it. They had that big old
wooden spoon and they used to eat a little bit, you know, and they needed something to wash it down with; they'd reach over
and get that old spoon and go. take a big mouthful, then they'd put it over to the other fellow and go all the way
around like that. Every one on that same, all of them drink
out of the same spoon.

1: You say you bought lemon seeds from them?

$: Yeah.

1: Where did they get the lemon seeds?

S: Off of the, down there them hammocks around different places
that had been planted and they'd grow them. They'd come
along-they used to eat a lot of rough lemons. I think it
was on account of that lime water. They used so much lime
water, they loved to have a lot of lemons, and they loved to
have plenty of whiskey to drink when they could get it.

W: He bought it for five dollars a quart and sold it for ten
[dollars].














S: Iwas a.

I: The lemon seeds? S: Yeah. The rough lemons. I: Um huh. What was it used for. S: For planting, making a nursery. W: They used them to plant these oranges into it. S: Plant a little nursery and bud the orange into them and the
grapefruit into them. That was the stock that they budded
into them.

I: mmm.

S: The grove growers up in this country, you know. I: Five dollars. S: I'd ship them all around. I'd buy them by the gallon. I: Five dollars a quart and sell them for ten. Now that's a
good price. That's a good profit there. S: That's a good profit there. I: Um huh. What about the kinds of things that would be sold
to the Indians? What would they buy,.say, from your father's
store,.from the McKinney store.? W: They would buy just common groceries. S: Grits, flour, lard, and meat. I: Um huh.

W: They would bring in venison and sell dried venison or fresh
venison or whatever you wanted.

I: How did you give them credit? Did you pay them in coins, or
keep a, keep a book, or a ledger? W: No, we paid them in coins.














1: In coins. ? Did you ever keep any records of. ? W: No.

1: Did they ever go on credit? S: No, they didn't do no credit. I'd sell every once in awhile,
I'd let them have a little stuff on credit, but they'd pay
you when they come in again.

I: The Storters let some have credit. S: Yeah.

I: Kirby Storter says that they. S: Well, they run a store up there for years, 01' George, old
man George did.

I: Urn huh. Yeah. He said that his dad sometimes would let
them, what they call "making book" out there, keep them in
a book.

S: Yeah.

1: But not too much.

S: But there wasn't much of that going on, they paid the cash
mostly.

I: Um huh. The, what.do you remember any of the prices? One
of the most difficult things we've run into, we're finding out from all the people we've talked to how much, say, you
paid for an alligator hide and how much you could sell it
for. Do you recall how much, for example, you would charge
the Indian for things like grits or flour or coffee? Do you
recall any of those prices? Those are difficult to find
today.

S: No, I don't remember that. W: Well, I wouldn't know, but we. S: They' re just regular prices that sold out of the store, though.


I: What?














S: It was just a regular price that they sold everybody out of
the store.

I: In other words, if we looked at some of the national prices
for that period, this would be pretty well the same price
as down there?

S: Yeah.

W: Right.

I: What, we were wondering, for example, would it cost the people
over on Chokoloskee any more to buy a pound of coffee to put
in the store? Say if you were buying from a wholesaler out
of Miami or a wholesaler. S: Well, we bought from Key West. I: . or Key West? S: Yeah.

I: I just wondered if. S: I'd just boat it in there. I: Um huh.

S: I used to run a boat to Key West and haul it over there. I: Oh, you did? S: Yeah, I hauled it to here, her dad, and my brother-in-law,
too; to their store, both of them.

I: Which boat was this? What was the name of the boat? S: Roseanna.

I: Roseanna?

S: The schooner Roseanna. I: Uh huh. The Bertie Lee was one of the Storter's.


S: A Storter boat, yeah.














I: Yeah, that was theirs.

S: Yeah.

I: Yeah. No, what I was getting at. S: The Bertie Bee and the Bertie Lee, they had both of them.
And I had the Roseanna. 01' Dolf Santina built the Roseanna.
right there on Chokoloskee Island. I: Santina built your boat? S: Right there where the Smallwood store is, he built it right
there.

I: In fact, some of the rails are still there. S: Huh?

I: Some of the rails are still there they brought them in on. 5: Well, he didn't build her on . them rails weren't there when
he built her. He just built her out there on that shell
land and rolled her over on rollers. She was fifty-two feet
long.

I: Philip Santina just gave us a lot of their papers to use,
things in the family.

S: He built her right there. He was a good boat builder and he
built a good boat.

I: So you'd buy your goods right out of the stores down in Key
West, or from the.?

5: We bought from them over there after they hauled it in there,
most of it. Sometimes we'd buy some stuff like sugar. Arnd
maybe lard from Key West and bringing it home. But other
than that, we'd go right to the stores there and buy it. I: Right.

5: Yeah.

I: The people that.who were the big traders down in Key West?
Was Thompson doing business down in Key West then? The Thompson store down there?





S: There was a Thompson, and there was a Sweeney, and a Curry. I: Sweeney, Curry, right. These are familiar names. S: They run a big auction room down there, too, you know. We'd
carry stuff over there and auction it off. I: What kind of. ?

S: Vegetables.

I: Oh, vegetables. Yeah. S: Yeah. I used to haul oysters and sugar cane and bananas and
stuff like that over there. And then tomatoes and onions and stuff like that was raised there in the country, well,
they'd bring there to the boat you know, and I'd haul it
there and sell it for them.

1: Just a regular auction market there? S: Yeah.

I: When was that held, any particular day of the week? S: Every day of the week. I: Every day?

S: Yeah.

I: Right on the docks there? S: No, down on Front Street. I: On Front.?

S: It was just the other side of the Curry's, where they were. I: Did you ever recall, and maybe at the McKinney store this
would be more appropriate, people buying anything out of
Tampa? I know Knight & Wall was a big company. W: Oh, yes. My dad used to trade with Knight & Wall. S: Yeah, they bought from Knight & Wall some.














I: Um huh. I was.

S: But it was so much further to Tampa than it was to Key West
that the boats went to Key West, you know. I: Right.

S: Most of us bought out of Key West. I: A lot of the hardware seemed to come out of Tampa. S: Yeah.

W: Right.

S: Yeah, that was what Wght & Wall was. W: Yes, we spent a lot of money with them. I: I was out there not long ago, in Tampa, at Knight & Wall;
they're still in business.

S: But we didn't have much hardware in them days, you know. I: Kirby Storter said that it was very rare, but when they did
buy hardware like guns, for example, shotguns or something
of that nature.

S: Yeah. Yeah. Well, we had to have guns, mostly old '38s and
shotguns. The old 138 rifles and shotguns. We'd kill the
alligators with the '38 rifle, and the plume birds with shotguns. So that's who it was. And deer hunt with the rifles. I: With the '38s too?

S: I had an old 138 rifle and you could kill one about 100 yards
with it, you know. If you were lucky.

I: If you were lucky, right. The, some of the stories that we've
read and they're actual, because we've taken them out of.the
old Fort Myers newspaper and so forth, about the thousands of gator hides that were traded back around early in this
century and that's incredible, the numbers that they killed. S: I know of two fellows that killed 800 out of one lake out
there in, or two lakes, Roberts and Lake Sitawba. Killed














800 alligators out of them two lakes.

wow!

S: Back in them days when I was a boy, there was a gator down
there. Yes, sir. We used to live over on Turner Road and
I've seen them old big gators floating up and down the river
there with his head out, swimming along just like a log, lots
of mornings.

I: You say that you were born up in Arcadia? S: Huh?

I: In Arcadia.

S: I was born in Arcadia. I: When was this?

S: I was born in '89. I: In '89?

S: Yeah.

I: And then when did you move down? You say you were ten years
old when you.?

S: About eight or ten years old. I can just remember the old,
my dad going down there and old Captain Arthur Wendell carried
us down there on the boat. He died up here in the hospital
about, I don't know, two or three years ago. He was right at
ninety-six when he died.

I: Were a lot of people moving down? Evidently a lot of people
were coming from the Arcadia-Peace River area down to, what
was it, Allen River at that time?

S: Well, there wasn't many people down in there. I: Yeah, but the ones that were coming seemed to be coming from
the same little area.

S: I know but.

I: I just wondered if they had opened up some land down there.














S: But when we moved down there there was the Storters, 01' Man
John Bannows on Picahatchee, 01' Man McKinney on Chokoloskee, and Smallwood. Smallwood was just a young fellow; he married
my sister.

W: Old Man Critchman on Halfway Creek, you remember him, Dad. S: After we moved down there.There wasn't very many families
there.

I: Yeah.

S: 01' Man Wiggens, and well, there was a few people, one or
two families on Halfway Creek, and two or three, the rest
of the family on Allen River, up there there by 01' Man
George Storter.

I: Um huh.

S: And that's practically all the people there was there. There
wasn't many people there.

I: And, they were the ones doing the farming then? S: Yeah, what farming was done. My dad done a lot of farming
all the time. That's all he ever done was truck farm.

I: Did the people go in there and homestead land? Is that.? S: No.

I: Or did they just buy it out right? S: They just bought it out. I: Um huh.

S: No, they didn't homestead nothing there. I: I just wondered if there was any land available for homesteading at that time?

S: Nope. There wasn't none there for homesteading. I: Um huh. So, who was the Allen that Allen's River was named
after? Was this, this was the man who was there originally?






15







S: Yeah, Old Man Allen, that's who it was named after. I: Right.

S: But I don't know who he was. I never did see him, he wasn't
there when I was there. He was done gone, I guess dead I
reckon, I don't know.

I: Well, Storters bought him out for one thing. S: Yeah.

I: .they bought a lot of his holdings out, I know, when they
came here in the late 1880s. S: Yeah.

I: Well, that's interesting the trade aspect of it. Then you
just sold the hides right on to these people in Jacksonville? S: Well, yeah.

I: How did you ship them? Were they salted or. ? S: Well, the gator hides you'd ship them in barrels and the
others, well, they'd come get them. I'd carry 'em, bring
Vem up to Naples in a boat and they'd put them in their car
and haul them off.

I: In the car?

S: Yeah.

I: That must have been a pleasant drive. S: A young fellow by the name of Thompson used to come down
there and buy them for a man. He died when he was young,
though.

I: How many gator hides could you get in a barrel? S: Oh, I don't know. But a good many, I'll tell you that. I: You had seven feet and kind of rough. S: I don't remember just how many was in there at one time, but
quite a few gator hides in a barrel.














Did you have to salt them pretty well before you could pack
them?

S: Oh, yeah. You salted them then when you went to pack them
you resulted them, you made sure they were good and salty
before you shipped them.

W: He used to tan the hides and make belts. I: Oh?

S: Yeah, I tanned gator hides and made belts and pocketbooks
and things for awhile. I quit it. I didn't like it.

I: When you packed the hide, I'm getting technical on you now,
did you pack the hide with the legs still on or did you
take the leg off the hide?

S: Some of them had the legs off and some of them had them on. I: Well.

S: The small ones you skinned with the legs on, the big ones
you didn't save the legs on a big one. Only just, you know,
down to the skin.

I: Right. Um huh.

S: The rest of it you just left on. Now you take the little
ones that they made pocketbooks and things out of like that,
they'd save the feet on all of them.

1: And some they'd stuff, wouldn't they, to make souvenirs out of? S: Oh, yeah. They stuffed some, yeah. More of them, though,
made pocketbooks and handbags and things out of them.

I: Yeah, there was a place in Jacksonville, I grew up in Jacksonville so I know, they were called Oski's. They were down
there, they used to buy a lot from Stranahans over in Fort
Lauderdale.

S: Yeah.

I: They used to buy a lot. Did you ever do any trading with them?














S: No.

I: Yeah, that was right around the turn of the century that the
Stranahans did a lot of trading in Jacksonville. There must
have been a lot of people in Jacksonville that traded.

S: There was another fellow up in Jacksonville that bought hides,
too. But I can't remember his name now. He was a Jew boy
though.

I: Yeah. Starter, they shipped a lot they said to Bayer Brothers
in New York.

S: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

I: The Bayer Brothers, and that was the one named that I think
Kirby Storter brought up a lot. S: Yeah.

I: This, did this provide a decent living for the island people?
Was there a big volume going on there? Evidently there seemed
to be so many stores, that's why I asked? S: Well, there was about. W: There was just too. S: They hunted and fished and did everything else to make a
living, you know. They didn't just depend on that buying
the gator hide totally.

I: Yeah, um huh.

S: I hunted and fished and farmed, too, truck farmed. And so did
a lot of the rest of them. But all of them fished and farmed
and hunted. That was their main way of making a living in
them days, fishing and hunting.

I: Um huh. Well, the two stores on an island that size seemed
to be unusual.

S: Yeah.

W: It was plenty because there wasn't too many people there.














Well, I just meant that I thought that was almost one too
many, given the number of people. I thought it was unusual
that there would be two stores, really.

S: Well, the ol' man he made a living out of it, and that little
brother-in-law of mine he made big money. I: Your brother-in-law?

S: He sold higher than the old man did, the old man was right
down to the penny, her daddy was, just cheap, he sold everything cheap. And that'd make my brother-in-law so damn
mad he wanted to kill him, you know. And the old man finally
died before Ted did and Ted made good money, half of the
money he left to the family and he bought up quite a little
bit of that land around there and left it to his family.
And he made it out of that store, that's how he made it. I: Hmmm. Well, that's. P: When did the store reach its peak? S: Huh?

P: Say in trading down there? S: When did it?

P: Um huh.

S: Oh, I don't.

I: What were the best years in other words, for the McKinney
store?

S: I can remember the time I was a boy, they had a store there. W: I don't know. He died when I moved up there. S: . until we left there. W: . in 1926. They didn't have no highways and we just moved
in ruts.

S: Finally tourists got to coming in there you know, and.


W: And that would be 1926.














S: And stayed out in Everglades with 01' Man George Storter,
his home.

W: But he stayed pretty busy. I: Yeah. Yeah. And who was the brother-in-law now, what.? W: Ted Smallwood. I: Oh, Ted. Yeah. Yeah. S: There's a little Ted down there now, you know. That's his
son.

I: Yeah.

S: Big Ted is dead, been dead a long time. I: So he was married to your sister? S: Yeah.

I: Um huh, I see. W: He's at Everglades, Little Ted lives at Everglades. I: Oh, yeah. Now you were over on Chokoloskee when, two weeks
ago? Talking to.

S: He don't live on Chokoloskee, Little Ted don't. He lives
at Everglades.

I: Well, he was talking to the Bogguses, and A. C . S: A. C. Hancock, yeah. P: And they said that Mr. Boggus was really the one that, was
the individual who helped out Dr. Tebeau in many of the
histories and. S: Dr. who?

P: Dr. Tebeau. W: The fellow that wrote that book.





S: Oh, I don't know.

I: Yeah, he got a lot of information. S: 01' Man Charlie Boggus is one of the oldest that was down
there and he lived to be about ninety, I think. Fine old
man he was.

I: The island has changed a lot now, now that you can drive
out there.

S: Oh, yeah. It don't look like the same place. I: I was down there when I was a kid a couple of times, and, . S: We used to go around there, and there was nothing but Indian
trails on it, you know, and you'd think it was a pretty big
island. Now it ain't big as nothing. Shrunk up.

I: Yeah, it takes away. When they put in the bridge out to
Sanibel they took away a lot from that. That used to, I
used to love to go there when I was a kid.

S: Used to be a fellow down there by the name Isaac Owens lived
down there, and he was about to cuss, and he got to talking
about Ted and his land. He said, "By God," he says, "the
Smallwoods think that land is worth a dollar a shell!" Well, it's damn near worth that now, $50,000 for that place there
that they just smoothed off there at that graveyard. That
fellow paid $50,000 for it.

P: That's a small piece of land. S: It sure is.

P: $50,000 for that. Let me ask you, Mr. House, did your father
ever employ any Indians within the store? S: Do what?

W: No he didn't.

P: Employ Indians?


S: Oh, no.















I: The Indians wouldn't. S: No, Indians didn't work them days. W: They didn't understand you good. They would just had to point
to what they wanted, you know.

S: In them days they hadn't got to the point where they worked.
After awhile, well, they got.You know, they got more
civilized I reckon, and the hunting give out on them; they
had to do something.

I: Right.

P: How about education in the area there? W: Oh, you couldn't get but an eighth grade. P~: Do you remember the first teacher within the area? W: It was Miss Manny Brannelon wasn't it, Dad? Or Gant? Which
was it?

S: Yeah, Brannelon was first, and Gant was next. W: Manpay Brannelon.

S: I got most of mine up to the eighth grade between the plow
house.

P: Working it out.

S: A pair of seven foot oars. P: Were there any Indians there taking the educational.? S: Tm, one old, one Indian somebody pegged him 01' Josie Billie,
I don't know who done it, and sent him off to school, carried
him off somewheres and sent him off to school. He made a
preacher finally.

I: Right. They sent him up to Lakeland.

S: I don't know where they sent him, but. I: The Southern Baptist sent him.





S: Yeah, they sent him off to school and he got as good an education, he could write a pretty hand. I: Yeah, I know Josie very well. S: You do, huh? I: I was with him two weeks ago. S: Then he made a preacher. Is he still living? I: Oh, yeah. He's still alive. He's very hard of hearing now. S: He used to drive ox teams and take hunting parties out down
there.

I: Yeah. He still lives on Big Cypress. S: Yeah.

I: On Big Cypress Reservation. S: Yeah.

I: Up there in Hendry County. S: Yeah.

I: Down there on the southern end. He has a nice camp. They
built him a concrete block house there, so he lives in a
house now, and.

S: Well, he's getting old. I: Josie is eighty-seven, eighty-seven or eighty-eight. S: Well, I figured he's a little older than I am. W: I used to deal with him with the furs. S: I'm eighty-three. 1: Um huh. You used to deal with him with the furs? W: Yeah, sure did. I: Well now, did he speak decent English then?





W: Well you could, you could understand him.

I: Um huh.

S: Yeah, he talked pretty good English, about the best of everyone down there.

I: Yeah. See Josie's father, as far as we can tell, was the
first Indian to ever learn how to read and write. S: Yeah.

I: Back about 1878-79, he went into Fort Myers and lived with
old Captain Hendry and went to school there with the Hendry
children. Then when he came back he taught Josie and his
other son Billy Fewell and Miami Billy. W: Yeah.

1: Taught them all a little bit of how to read and write, and
they were the only Indians for a long, long time that had
any English, or any education. So that's why I wondered if
they used it much.

S: There was a bunch of Indians named Willies. I: Yeah, the Willies.

S: Willie Willie.

I: Willie Willie.

W: That's my name, by God. That's my name, Willie. S: And they all talked good English, and they can read and write.
Joe or Willie Willie, one of them could, I know.

1: Yeah. What about Tiger Tail, did he have a store? Is he
the one that had his own little store?

S: Well, he had a little power boat with a five horse Losia
engine in it and he had put it in an old big canoe he had made first, and it didn't work good in there. So then he
had a fellow to build him a flat-bottom boat, a big old flat-bottom boat; put a cabin on it, not a cabin but a
standard with curtains, you know.














I: Urn huh.

S: A top all the way around her so he could buckle down and keep
stuff dry.

I: Right.

S: And he'd take her and come in there and get groceries and
then go out back down there somewhere in the woods and leave
her up one of them creeks and take that stuff out in the
woods and sell it to the Indians. I: Right.

S: And he had money, and I've often wished I knowed where he
had it buried at when he died or when he got drownded. He
had some money somewheres. I: Hmmm.

S: But God knows where, I don't. I: Yeah.

S: And he used to bring in money that he would bury in jars.
And you bury it in a jar even though it's air tight, it'll
turn like silver or turn like a fork, you know, when you
wash it in sulphur water. You know how it will look?
That's the way that money would look. You could tell when
it was buried.

W: We used to bury it, too. 1: Oh, you used to bury your money too, huh? S: Yes.

I: No bank on the island, huh? S: Yeah, I'll tell you, way back in them days the banks closed,
you know.

I: Right.

P: When did the first teacher--meander back to this point if I
can--what date. ?














W: Start teaching?

P: Yeah.

S: Well, there was a teacher there before old Miss Manny, as
far as that goes, used to teach 01' Doif Santina's kids,
Willie.

W: I didn't know that.

S: And Nick, but I don't know what her name was. P: About what.

5: The one we went to school to was Miss Manny Brannelon. P: About what period was this? W: I guess I must have been about five years old, they let
them go to school when they was that old, you know. And
I'm eighty, I mean I'm seventy-nine. S: Quite a good while ago. I: So that would have been just before the turn of the century. W: But my dad was a doctor of that Chokoloskee down there in
the Everglades. He did all the doctoring that the people
had to have done. He passed the examination, I don't know how, he didn't have any education much, but they gave him
a permit to doctor and to extract all the teeth down there,
and that's what he did. And 'he delivered all the babies
around in that country. And never lost a case. He was a
midwife for fifty years.

I: Umhh, that's amazing. How old was he when he passed away? W: He was seventy-nine.

I: Um huh.

S: And her mother was ninety-one. So I got to stay here a long
time with her, ain't I?


W: I wouldn't say that.





S: She's been bossing me a long time, but I ain't going to let
her boss me that much longer.

I: Well, after you get used to it you don't let it bother you. S: Yeah.

I: You wouldn't know what to do without it, I wouldn't. S: Well, you let them boss you for fifty-one, you know, years,
that's a long time.

W: Well, I think you better hush up. P: Mr. House, when did, when Mr. Mann of Jacksonville took these
hides, do you know what he did with them? Did he. ?

S: I imagine he sold them to Bayer Brothers, but I don't know. I: He was just sort of a middle man. P: A middle man transporting them. S: Yeah, that's what I Imagine. I: I wonder if they were making any belts and pocketbooks and
things.

S: Oh, yeah. They made belts and pocketbooks. I: In Jacksonville they may have been. S: Like she told you, I used to make them, you know I got me one
of these old leather sewing machines, bought me one of them, had a little house off from my big house, put me up a little
plant in there, you might say. I'd tan them and make belts
and pocketbooks out of them.

I: Tell me about the tanning. What kind of process did you go
through to tan.them?

S: Well now, we put them in lime to take the scale off of them,
and then I'd tan them in that . W: Vat.


. either oak bark or Mangrove, one of them.














W: He had some vats, cement vats. I: Um huh. How long would you have to put them in there? S: Oh, they'd be several days in there and then you'd scrape
them and work them, you know. You have to work the juice
out of them, get good and soft, keep them soft, scrape all
that meat out of them, and then take them out and dress them
up good and slice them up and sew them while they are soft. W: You tanned them with bark, some kind of bark, Mangrave bark,
wasn't it?

S: Yeah, they used oak bark, too. Yeah. I: When you worked on the gators. S: Huh?

I: I said, when you worked on these alligators was there any
problem, I got the impression from talking to the Storters
that they really smell, you know, there was really a stench. S: Well, they didn't smell, they didn't smell like roses, no. W: Neither did the coon hides. 1: The coon hides?

W: Oh, boy!

S: No, we'd keep the coon hides and things back on the back
porch, you know. We wouldn't keep them in the house, didn't
have no place to keep them only on the porch or under the
house.

1: What did they use racoons for, just for regular coats? S: Fur coats, yeah, my God. Yeah, threats a time now when them
coats were worth plenty of money.

I: In the twenties they certainly were. S: And then they made necklaces out of them otter hides, and
they was worth plenty of money.


I: Hmmm.














S: Yes, sir.

I: The collars?

S: Yeah, I've seen collars . otter hides sell as high as $28
apiece.

I: wow!

S: Yes, siree.

I: Twenty-eight [dollars] apiece is a lot.

S: I mean before he was even tanned or anything, just the raw
otter hide.

P: How big was this, in size.o.? S: It'd be around five, I'd say five, five and a half feet long,
from tip to tip.

I: Um huh. That's big. That's pretty good size. P': Did you, during your travels in the boats, ever sell the
Indians sewing machines or guns or anything to help them out? S: No, no, I sold groceries to them, but I never did sell them. I: How about at the store, did they sell sewing machines to them
at the store ever?

W: No, I don't know where they got those sewing machines. S: I don't either, but they got them somewheres. They had these
little old hand cranked sewing machines.

I: Yeah, they got them . Well, one of the things I'm trying
to do is sort of map out how the Indians traveled and traded,
and it looks like they bought their sewing machines pretty
much over at Stranahants in Fort Lauderdale, or up at Frank
Browns, or Bill Browns up at the boat landing up there in Big Cypress because both of them were selling machines to
them.

S: Yeah.

W: Yeah, I guess that's where they got them.














I: And I think that Thelma Smallwood said that her dad sold
them a few machines.

W: I heard that she.

P: Did you ever sell material for their clothes? S: What?

P: Material for their clothes? S: Oh, they had a store there. Her mother run a little dry
goods store.

W: We sold lots of cloth there. S: Bolts, cloth come in bolts, you know, in them days, and
they'd come in there and buying all kinds of that stuff, different pieces, and tear it up, and sew it in different strips
all around, and make different colors in their dresses you know? They sold the cloth, and Smallwood did too, I think.
Did he sell cloth, Willie?

W: Yes, I think so.

S: Yeah, he sold cloth. Both of them did. Storter did too. I: Who?

S: George Storter, Storter did. I: Oh, yeah. Storter. Right. S: Yeah.

I: I think Storter sold them some sewing machines. S: He might have, I don't know. I: They seemed to handle, at least near the end there, they
seemed to handle quite a bit of the hardward, and sewing machines, and things like this,, and guns that they would
order out of Tampa, and things of this nature. But the
early sewing machines in the 1890s, they had them, they were
getting them from Stranahans over in Fort Lauderdale. Because White, the old White sewing machine?















W: Yeah.

I: White used to, Thomas White used to come down and stay in
Fort Lauderdale, bring his yacht in there. W: Yeah?

I: And he sold some of the early sewing machines to Stranahan,
who sold them to the Indians. So, that's where they were
getting those mostly. Did the Indians when they came, did
they stay on the island, or did they just come and trade and
leave?

W: Oh, they, they would. S: Overnight, sometimes two or three days. W: They would stay three nights at a time there, and have a big
time on the beach, you know, get drunk and dollar all night.
Sing and raise the devil.

I: Ever cause any real trouble or.? S: No.

W: No.

I: Um huh. Stayed pretty much to themselves? W: Yeah.

I: Would they bring their families with them? W: Yeah.

S: Oh yeah.

I: That's pretty common, too, then. They, everywhere they
traded they brought their families.

S: They'd bring stuff up there and leave it under my house.
I had a house that you could walk underneath. Built across
a little valley.

I: Right.

S: And you'd walk underneath it, and they'd bring stuff there,





and like I said that old Indian left a can full of money
under there and I didn't know nothing about it. So I sure.

I: How about water on the island? Was there just.

S: They had cisterns.

I: Just a cistern?

S: In them days we had cisterns and finally Smallwood finally
bored an artesian well. And then some of the rest of us have
bored some since then. I think there're three or four on
the island now. But them days we all made big cisterns.

I: Hmmm.

S: Had to make a big cistern, big enough to hold water enough
to do us the year around. Dry season come, you know, it
takes a lot of water and it's a long time you didn't get no
rain.

I: Did the Indians ever come to get water? That's one thing.

S: Well, when they come there they'd have to, that's where they'd
have to get water was out of your cistern.

I: Um huh.

S: Because there was no fresh water they could get nowhere else.

I: Is that right?

S: Yeah.

I: They seemed to travel around, the Indians. The picture I'm
getting is that when they were hunting, particularly in the
wet season when they could get the otter, when they could
get the gators, that they traded wherever they were closest to. If they were closest to the east coast they'd go on in to the New River there to Stranahan's; if they were closest
down to Everglades they'd come in here.

S: I used to go out in the woods, and buy the hides from them,
right in the woods.


I: Oh really?





S: Yeah. I had me an Indian that went with me and take me out
in a canoe, we went in a canoe. I: When was this, about what. ? S: Well, me and her was married. I imagine it was when, Willie? W: We was married in 1911. S: Yeah, but when I had that little old . Jock Bustard went with
me?

W: Oh, God, I don't know. S: It must have been around. I: Say before 125? S: Oh, yeah.

I: Before you moved up here. S: Yeah. Yeah, when we lived on Chokoloskee. I: Um huh.

S: And I had bought me a canoe, and me and him both could
pole it. I could pole that canoe as good as an Indian could.
I'd get up in one end and him in the other and we'd go to town on it. All our stuff in there; 100 pounds of grits,
and flour, and lard, and stuff.

I: How much could you pick up, 100 pounds you say? S: Yeah, 100 pounds of grits. And we would take a can of lard
and dish it out to them, you know, a little bit. I: How much would you charge them for that? S: I don't remember now, it's been so long, but I made a profit
on it.

I: Yeah.

S: No big profit.

I: Yeah, I was just curious what it was.?





S: But I don't remember now, it's been so long. I don't remember just what I did charge for it.

I: Um huh. We've seen things like a box of shotgun shells would
run about forty-five cents. We've got that pretty well because welve seen this in so many places. Something like that,
you know. We're just trying to get a general picture of the
pricing from.

S: I imagine, I think the cheapest shotgun shells I ever remember down in there were the black powder, seventy-five cents. I: Well, that's higher because we've seen them forty-five cents
in three or four other places.

S: Damned if I've ever seen them for forty-five cents in my life. I: Well, they're in the. S: I've bought a lot of them at seventy-five cents because I
used to coon hunt.

I: How many would that be, about twenty-four? S: Twenty-five.

I: Twenty-four, twenty-five in a box. S: No, twenty-four to a box. I: Twenty-four, twenty-four to a box. W: Yeah, he's right.

I: Well, we've seen it what, down in a couple of ledgers as
forty-five cents?

P: Forty-five cents. Speculates from forty-five cents to fiftyfive cents, depending on the time, the mood, and who was
ahead, and that type of thing.

1: Yeah, and who, where it was being done. S: Me and her brother used to coon hunt a lot together.


I: Uh huh.









































































I


S: And we bought hides, I mean we'd bought shells, and the
cheapest I ever remember buying them is seventy-five cents.
I might of bought them cheaper than that but I don't remember it if I did.

W: I don't think they did.

I: Well, this is what I was getting at. Things may have been
a bit more expensive out of Key West because of the shipping. S: Yeah.

I: . than in some other places. That's why I ask. S: They got it in there on that Mallory Line, you know . And
they got cheaper rates on the freight. I: At Key West?

S: Yeah.

I: Well, then that.

S: Yeah, they got cheaper rates on the freight. We shipped all
of our produce from Key West. We'd haul it to Key West to
ship it on them steamers north, you know.

I: Hmmm.

S: And you got a cheaper rate on it than you could on a railroad. P: How did they keep it from going bad? Was it with ice? S: No, I don't know what they done on the steamer, but we'd pack
it, wrap it, wrap the tomatoes and pack them, you know. I: Um huh.

S: Then in about two days from the time we started we put them
on the boat and carry them to Key West. It takes one day
and night to get to Key West, you might say. You always
figure on about that. And then we'd go down there at the
steamer, like if she left on Wednesday, we'd go in there on Tuesday night, see, and load them on there. They'd go right
on to New York.

I: How long did it take that steamer to get up to New York?














S: It must not have taken it too long because them tomatoes
wouldn't have lasted too long. I don't know just how long
it would take them, but it. I: That's interesting.

S: I'd imagine they'd have cold storage on her too, probably,
to keep that stuff cool. I don't know. I: They could have.

S: Of course, that was way back then, of course, but them big
steamers had cold storage most of them.

I: Tell me, let me move back just for a minute to your plumes.
Who did you sell the plumes to other than indidivual tourists? Did you sell those to anybody in particular? S: Burdines used to buy a lot of them in Miami. I: Would you take them in there or would they come out and get
them?

S: They'd come and get them. I: Hmmm.

S: One of Burdines is still living. I've seen him, he come to
see me a few years ago. That old devil is. I: There's several of them.

S: I don't know whether he's still.ever married or not, but
he had two women with him that day.

P: Did he give you.keep records on it for himself? S: Huh?

P: Did he keep records on the amount of. ?

S: I imagine he did, I don't know. I never did. I just sold
them and stuck the money in my pocket and went home.

W: He used to climb these pine trees, too, and get kite eggs
out of them and sell them.














1: What, what would they be used for, just for eating, or.? S: No. No. They weren't for eating, they was for. W: Museums, I think.

S: . these zoos, all these people liked to have them for a
show you know.

I: Kite eggs?

S: Yeah, forked-tail kites, swallow-tail kites. I: Yeah, the Everglades kites. S: Yeah, they were pretty birds, long sharp wings, you know. I: Well, you'd let them go ahead and hatch then? Or.? S: No, no, no. We blowed them. W: Blow the inside out.

I: I see.

S: Yeah.

I: THmmm.

S: Get fifteen dollars a pair for them. 1: Really?

S: Yeah.

I: I'll be darned.

S: I'd have to climb them damn long, tall pines though to get
the nest, and they was built right in the smallest pine they
could find up in the top. You'd get up there and over to
get them, and it would bend over, you know, like it was going
to break off, scare you to death nearly. I'd carry them
down, I didn't weigh but about 130 pounds then. I'd carry
me a tin can up there with a string attached to it, you
know, and some cotton in it or moss, and-7I'd put them eggs
in that tin can and lower them down to my brother, you know.
Then I'd crawl back down the tree. I nailed cleats on it





until I got to the first limb. After I got to the first limb
I'd go on up by hand.

I: Yeah. Those can be pretty high up to those first limbs. S: You're dad burn right. It's pretty high up to that bird. I: I'd never heard that before, about. S: I wouldn't want to do that now, I'll tell you that. Limber
as I am, I know I wouldn't.

I: Hmmm. Did you do that quite a bit, or was this just. ? W: Yeah, he did.

S: A couple years we did, in the laying season. W: He did anything to make money. I: That's the way it sounds, that people were just very flexible; whatever was selling then. The plumes, you hear so
much about the people making big profits off of volumes of plumes. Like the Storters talked about stuffing mattresses
full of plumes, and taking them.

S: Well, I've heard them say that the boats that went over to
Honduras would stuff mattresses full 6f plumes and brought them back, but I never heard of anyone stuffing any plumes
in a mattresses in this country. 1: Yeah, well.

S: 'Cause I never had to. You didn't have to, they was legal. 1: Yeah.

S: So why would you put them in a mattress, huh? 1: Well, he was saying that that was the easiest way of, when
they first started trading them, just to keep them together
at one time. Not a sleeping mattress, just had a ticking, I guess, and stuffed them in there. Not to sleep on, but
just to carry down to Key West. You've never seen that, then? S: Ilve never seen nothing like that, and I sold more plumes
than they did.





W: My mother used to catch grasshoppers, and I'd help her, of
course, she had a lot of kids hired to help catch them.
She got a cent and a quarter apiece for these gray grasshoppers, and she caught those. Every day she'd go and catch those grasshoppers, and she hire the kids to go.
She'd pay them a quarter of a cent, and she got a cent
and a quarter. I used to help her pack them in the barrels,
and pack grass around them, and then. S: And jars.

W: . we'd send them to Brooklyn. I: Brooklyn?

W: Yeah, to the American Entymological Company, Brooklyn, New
York.

I: Hmm.

W: And she'd get her check from them. How about that? I: Now I hadn't heard that either. S: So you see, we got it any way we could. 1: Right, right. The. W: And she'd catch wasps and butterflies and beetles and all
kind of insects, and preserve them in that formaldehyde.
a third formaldehyde and two-thirds water. I: Yeah.

W: . in half-gallon jars, and then we'd pack them in barrels,
and I'd address them and they'd go to New York.

I: Um huh. Hmmm. When did your father open his store on the
island?

W: Well, he had a store I guess ever since I was born. I: Um huh. Yeah, he was about the first one permanently there
wasn't he?


W: No.





I: Wasn't he?

S: No, the Santina was first. W: Santina was there, but he was there right after. I: Um huh. Santina was there just before. The store, or his
store was there long before Smallwood's. S: Yeah.

W: A long time.

I: Well, they sound like they were very flexible people as far
as surviving down there.

W: Oh yes, they had.

I: So the Indians. traded with him a good bit even before Smallwood?

S: Oh yes.

W: Yeah. They had to do something because that was all there
was to do.

S: We cut buttonwood, carried it to Key West. In them days
they didn't have no gas in Key West, you know. I: Yeah.

S: And they used buttonwood to cook with, heat with, everything. I: Hmmm.

S: We carried in there fifteen, eighteen, twenty cords at a time
on a boat, you know? Load it on them docks and get six or
seven dollars a cord for it, loaded on the docks. Cut it
up there in that swamp and the mosquitos and water and mud, tote it out on your shoulder to the edge of the river, and haul it down the river in the skiff, and then load it on to
that schooner, and carry it to Key West, and get six or
seven dollars,.a cord for it, just according to how scarce
it was. If there was plenty on the dock, well, they got six dollars for it, and if it was getting pretty scarce they got
seven dollars. So there you are. Four-foot lengths.














I: Well that's, that's what we need. S: That's a hard way of getting it, too, I'll tell you that.
I done it.

I: Sure was. Sure was. S: I cut $900 worth, me and my brother, out of that buttonwood
for an old boat, schooner we bought.

I: Would you say that the Indians traded equally between your
father's store and Smallwood's? or.?

W: They traded more at my fathers I think because he got it
cheaper there.

I: It was cheaper? W: Yeah.

I: That's interesting. You'd think getting the same supply
that it would cost them about the same. But just had a
bigger markup down at Smallwood's. W: Yes.

I: And then they moved on down. Of course, the Smallwood store
continued on, and is still here. Just because your father
passed away.

S: Yeah, but they don't sell nothing there now. I: No.

S: The girls don't fool with it, Thelma don't anymore. I: After your father died no one continued the store, or did
it continue it on?

W: Yes, I think someone bought it out, I think. S: Yeah.

W: I don't remember who it was. Who was it Dan? S: I was trying to think. He lived out there at Ochopee, but I
can't think of his name now.





41







What I was thinking of. S: He didn't run it too long. P: Did Clarence run it after your dad died for . there for awhile? W: No, Clarence didn't. He was quite a young fellow. S: You was thinking about Clarence Brown? P: Clarence and Charles, Charlie, McKinney, and several of the
other people I want to go over and see again within the area. I: They didn't keep any books at your dad's store then that you
know of that would be available?

W: They didn't do that, he didn't sell on credit. I: Well, no, I meant just. W: No. Nope.

S: They didn't keep no books in them days. W: No, they didn't have to. P: By any chance would you have pictures of your dad's store
or the area within the time? Old pictures of that area? W: I don't have any pictures of his store. P: There was none taken then? I: No, the only people that we found that kept ledgers were the
Stranahans. I don't think the Browns up at the boat landing up there at Big Cypress, I know they didn't keep any records. S: No, none of them. Nobody did in those days. W: No.

I: Just sort of paid by cash? S: Yeah, that's right. I: Knew what you had to charge? S: Once you got your stuff in your pocket you went home. That's





the way they all done. I doubt if 01' Man Storter kept any
books.

Well, they said they had some that got washed out in a hurricane, didn't they? Some books. S: Yeah.

I: But it was mostly what he owed other people, not what he was
selling for.

S: Yeah, yeah.

1: And we're going up to Fort Myers later this evening and try
and locate the Henderson family up there. Was it R. A.
Henderson?

S: He's been dead and gone a long time. I: But the family is still there. S: Yeah, I know what you mean. I: And we're hoping maybe they would have something. S: There was a young R. A. and I think he's dead and gone. 1: Yes, but his wife is still alive. S: Yeah, yeah.

1: And we had some information that she might have some records.
How complete they are we donIt know. Again, this is the sort of thing that, it gets frustrating when you want to
come back and write history so long after the time that.
I know when people are living through a period, they don't
think so much about keeping records because they don't
need to.

W: That's right.

I: Today, anyone who goes back 100 years from now and tries to
write about this period today, they're going to have so
many records and computer readouts and books and everything they'll never get it done because there's so much extraneous
stuff today that you don't really need. But when you're





trying to look back and say, well, here's really what the
economy was like, heels how the people down in this region
of southwest Florida really operated, about the only thing
you can say is (A) They were honest, and (B) they worked with just a reasonable markup--what they had to have to meet their
bills and still have something left over.

S: Yeah, you go up and borrow money from some of them, you
didn't give no note or no security, your words all you got.

I: But they remembered?

S: Oh, yeah. Old boy died over here in the hospital that I
borrowed $500 from one time. Never gave him a scratch of
a pen. I loaned him some the same way. And he died owing
me $50, but I didn't hold it against him. He had done me a lot of favors when he was alive, and he was a good old
boy, old Hamlin. Boy, down there on one of them Keys.
They claimed he had nigger blood in him., he was a little
yellow, curly haired a little bit, kinky-haired, and they called him Nigger Hamlin. But the old man said he wasn't
no nigger, he was a Choctaw Indian. Old Man Jim Owens
said, "By God, hets chock full of nigger."

I: What did you do after you left the island, when you came
over here? What brought you off the island into Naples?

S: Oh, I decided that.fooled around here, bought a little
land . and one thing and another like that. Traded, I used
to be a pretty shrewd trader. Dealt pretty good.

I: Wound up with electronics, I see.

S: Yeah.

I: How about the coming of Collier and the Collier Corporation?

S: Well.

I: As you look back on it, was it good bad or indifferent to
the area?

S: Well, it helped the area in a way. He made more work for
the people down in here-, you know. He bought this land
mighty cheap, about fifty cents an acre I think, when he
bought out the whole county. You know, except any private
property.














Yeah. Then do they still own large chunks of it or have outfits like G.A.C. and so forth bought it up?

S: I think they sold off practically most of it.

I: I noticed that there is a Collier Land Company here still.

S: Yeah, yeah, there's still an agent here or something, but
I think they sold most of that land, and they got a good
price for it, too. They made a big profit on it.

I: Oh, yeah. Places like Marco Island that you used to, that
you wouldn't go to on a dare. Now they've made it a garden
spot.

S: Yeah, Yeah.

I: No, I was just wondering when one corporation comes into a
place like and they have a lot of power.

S: Yeah.

W: Yeah.

I: And they have a lot of control generally, and of course, any
man with enough power to get the legislature to name the county after him and change the whole thing around, I was
just wondering if life changed a good deal after he came in?
What you're saying.

S: I'll never forget, when I went to draw Social Security I
had to tell them, you know, I didn't have a birth certificate
so I had to give them a reference some way or another so
they could find out how old I was, you know. So I told them
about being drafted to go to the war and how they turned me
down on account of my eyes. And the old boy, he went down
to Everglades and looked for it, you know, because they
changed . In them days it was Lee County, you see. I went
up to Fort Myers for the draft. And when he went to look
for them, the record on it, he went to Everglades. He comes
back he says, "You weren't never down there to go to no be drafted." I said, "The hell I wasn't!" He says, "Well, I
can't find it down there at Everglades on the record nowhere."
I says, "I guess you can't. I'll bet if you go to Fort Myers
though, you'll find it." So he went to Fort Myers and he















finally found it.

I: The whole history of this area is very interesting. It's
amazing that the families are all still around here, so
many of them. Not many of them moved away. W: That's right.

I: . .that were here originally. How about the families that
were down on Chokoloskee when you were there? Are most of them still there? I know Smallwood, as you say, is still
in the area.

W: Well, I guess the Smallwoods and the Browns. I: I guess the Storters are gone. S: The Shelleys and her brother is still there. There ain't
no Santinas there.

W: They're the only ones that I knew of. I: The Storters are gone. W: Yeah.

I: . to Miami and here, some here, too. P: George is here in town. S: What?

P': George Storter lives here in town. S: The boy? Yeah. He's in bad shape. He had a cancer of the ear. I: Hmmm.

S: And they cut it all off, whole side of the face off about,
and he's still living. Well, he ain't able to do nothing
and Rob, his brother, is here, too. And he's about gone
now, arthritis and he can't do nothing. W: Our daughter married Rob Storter. I: Oh really? If you, or can you think of anyone right now that





46







might have any records that you know of from those days?
Either family diaries, family Bibles, old pictures, things
of this nature that we might look at. Sometimes in old
pictures, for example, it shows the kinds of materials that
were being used.

W: I'll tell you where to find that. You can find that from
this Rob Storter that my daughter married, I'll tell you.
Because he, he wrote a book of his life, and along on
every page he put a picture of this kind of boat he operated,
and the houses that he built to live in and everything, and
the other houses that was his then in Naples.

Hnmm.

S: He lived over here at Naples. P: Rob?

S: Rob Storter.

P: And his brother George has collected some of the history from
the family we understand, also. S: He done what?

P: Is collecting some of the history of the family right now. S: I don't know about that. I: Rob's brother?

P: George.

S: Yeah, Rob, I mean George lives here, too. I: Yeah, evidently a lot of people are interested in this, and
at least the Storter family is trying to get all their family
history together.

W: Well, he wrote a book on his experiences since he was a kid. I: Um huh. And how old is he now, roughly? W: He's about the age of my daughter, fifty-one or two.





S: Who's got that book, Willie, that all my pictures are in in
the school?

W: Oh he, you've seen that. I: Which one is this now? W: That blue-backed book. I: Oh, the Tebeau? W: Yeah.

I: It has a picture of the school house? W: Yeah, that was in it. I: Now who all was in there? Were you in that picture? S: Yeah, me, too. W: And I was in that picture. I: You were in there, too. That's that picture on the side of
the wall.

P: Dan House, right. 1: Oh, everybody there, and somebody was holding a turnip or
something in that picture as I remember. W: Yeah.

1: I've got the picture. W: Yeah?

I: Right. I wish I had it with me. I'd have you point out who
was in that. Kirby told me one day and we ought to write it
down on the back. S: He wasn't there. I: No, but he gave me the picture. S: Oh.





He had a copy of it in his.

W: Wasn't it listed underneath from left to right who it was? I: No, but he knew. He knew who it was. W: Yeah?

I: And he gave us all the names, but he never did write it
down. We were supposed to go back and he was going to do
a lot of writing. He gave us a whole bunch of pictures. W: Yeah?

1: And we took them up to the university and had them duplicated,
and gave him his pictures back, and then he never has written
down a lot of the dates. Like the old store that they had
there at Everglades that had the two roofs on the thing? S: Yeah.

I: I've got several pictures of that and he was going to put
the dates of when those pictures were made, and I've got to
get that. Of course, hels out with his.

S: Didn't it have a boat shed on the side of it? I: Yeah.

S: The old man that lived there, her grandad, built boats in
there.

I: Huh.

S: That old guy, 01' Man Storter. I: I've got a picture of him. He was quite a character. S: Yes he was.

I: Old George Storter, the big, lean fellow with the white beard? S: Yeah.

I: He, well, he must have lived into the twenties. He was still
alive.





S: He was a funny old man when he died, I know.

W: I think so.

1: Yes, because Kirby was the youngest of the boys I think,
and he told me I think that he was ten when this grandfather
died. So.

S: Kirby and Bruce and Neal. Neal is the oldest.

I: Yeah, Neal was the oldest. So I've got a lot of pictures
that we've been collecting. What we do is we take peoples
pictures, take them to the university and copy them and
give them theirs back. But we've got to go back and get
some dates on these things because, well, the place changed.
Like Everglades is changed so much in just the last five years. The last time I was through there was about five
years ago, just traveling through.

S: Well hell, when we moved to Naples here there wasn't but
five or six families up here. Look at it now.

W: That's right.

I: Yeah, there's a.

S: Another fifty years it'll be a solid town from here to Miami.

I: Well, I think they are going to buy all that land out there.
I think the federal government is about to buy the Big Cypress
the watershed, and then when they buy that to keep the water
flowing to the Everglades National Park, then I think the state is going to buy about a million acres out here, too.
And then that will cut it off. But otherwise you are probably
right. Except that over on the east coast they're not going
to let them take all those water conservation areas or they
won't have any water for Miami and Fort Lauderdale. They've
got to have a lot of land out there to hold the water.
That's the only thing that would keep it from happening,
though. If the state and the federal government didn't buy
up some of that land people would just, because of the weather
and the climate, they would be right here. You're right.
Well, I think you've answered a lot of questions. You've
given us some wonderful information. We appreciate it very much, your taking the time and giving us this. If you ever
think of anything more I'll leave you my card and address and





so forth and we'll be back here off and on because we are going to see Mrs. Scott some more. She's got just lots of
records that we are going through down there. W: She's getting pretty old, isn't she? I: Well, I guess. It's hard . I'm no judge of age. When you
told me you were eighty-three I would not have guessed that,
see.

P: She's fifty-nine or sixty-two, the two numbers rattle in my
mind somewhere.

I: I have no idea.

S: She's around sixty-nine, I bet. 1: Might be.

S: I know she run for reelection here several years ago, and
she said if she make it one more time she could go on pension
for the rest of her life. She just wanted one more time.
Hell, she's run two or three times since then. She's going
to run again this time they tell me. I: Not bad politics. P: From '59 on she's been in office. S: Right.

I: Well, Mr. and Mrs. House, thank you very much, and we'll get
you a copy of.this tape if you'd like to have it. S: No.


I: Okay, thank you very much.




Full Text

PAGE 1

SOUTHEASTERN INDIAN ORAL HISTORY PROJECT UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA . In cooperation with The Seminole Indian Tribe of Florida INTERVIEWEE: Mr. Dan House INTERVIEWER: Dr. Harry Kersey DATE: July 8, 1972

PAGE 2

SUMMARY In this transcript, Dan House, a trader on Chokoloskee island until 1926, discusses the early trade in the area specifically of McKinney, Smallwood, Stranahan, Storter and himself. He gives details of the trade with Indians, whole salers in Key West and Tampa, pricing, alligator and plume trade. Mr. and Mrs. House also mention the early education of white children and of Josie Billie.

PAGE 3

INDEX Allen's River (early settlers), 13-15 Billie, Josie, 21-23 Billy Miami, 23 Collier Corporation, 43 Education (early in area), 21-24 Employment of Indians, 20-21 Fewell, Billy, 23 Hendry, Capt., 23 McKinney store (later Smallwood's store), 4-5, 7, 17-18, 29 Santina, Dolf, 10, 24, 39 Starter, Rob, 45-6 Starter store, 17, 19, 29 Stranahan store, 17, 29 Trade alligator hides, 2, 12, 15-17, 26-27 Indian, 2-8, 28-33, 40-41 Key West, 9-11, 34, 39 museum, 36-38 plume, 3-4, 35-37 pricing, 8-9, 28, 32-33, 43 Tampa, 11-12 Tiger Tail, 1, 23-24

PAGE 4

I: Today is July 8, 1972. This is Dr. Harry Kersey, Florida Atlantic University. Today we are interviewing Mr. Dan House of Naples who is going to tell us some of his experiences on Chokoloskee Island, in the southwest area of Florida. Mr. House, if you would, sir, just start talking. This will pick you up. S: Yeah? I: You don't have to hold it or you can hold it. S: Well, just put it down there then. I'll just tell you I was a little boy when I started in. I: That would be fine, that's just S: I lived on Turner's River, and the Indians used to come down and stay with us a lot. We had a big barn and some office type buildings on our place, 01' Doctor Harris owned it before we went there, and they'd come there and stay in that with us a lot of times. And after I growed up, well, I got to trading with them, and buying plume birds, and alligator hides, and buckskin, and lemon seeds, and all that stuff. I would buy it from them and resell it, of course, and make a profit. And they'd come leave stuff with us under my house on Chokoloskee for years; Ol' Tiger Tail, he was an old bachelor for a long time. He finally got married to that young gal, and she died pretty soon with, when they had that flu down there. It was back, you know, in them days. And he come around and left a roll of money under there in a tin can, God knows how much was in it--twenty-dollar bills, one wouldn't go around itunder the house. I didn't even know it was there at all. One day I happened to go out there and riase that lid up and looked in there and there was that roll of money in there. Scared me to death! I just thought, you know, if somebody had come there and stole that money he'd of always swore to God ~'d done it. I picked it up then and carried it in the house because I was going to take care of it. And they'd come leave stuff with us, and come in there and sell the hides to me all along, plume birds,

PAGE 5

2 I: How much would a hide bring on the average? S: Well, it's just according. In them days, hides wasn't worth what as they are now, I'd rather have had coon hides, any wheres from twenty-five to seventy-five cents for a coon hide, and an otter hide would bring anywheres from eight to ten dollars, and alligator hides I believe was about, about a dollar and a quarter for seven foot wasn't it, Mama? I think that's what it was, a dollar and a quarter for a seven foot alligator, where now they're probably worth about five or six dollars a foot, you know. I: Right. What period was this we•re talking about now, when you were paying these prices? What years were these? S: Well, that was back in, when was it we lived on the east side of the island, Mama, '25? W: I imagine. S: Along about then. I: So as late as '25 you we~e still trading. S: Yeah. I: Before the Tamiami went through? S: Oh yeah, yeah, a long time before the Tamiami went through. I: What did you do with the hides after you bought them? How did you resale? S: I sold a lot of them to a fellow by the name of Mann in Jack sonville. I: Mann? S: Yeah. He had a hide buyer come down there for them from up in there. In fact I bought for him there for a year or two and I'd just sell to him all together, you know. And I pile them up on my back porch, I've had as high as 2,500 coon hides on there at a time. I: Wow! S: That would be from the white men though and the Indians,

PAGE 6

3 you know? Most of them was from the white men on account of in them days they was coon hunting they would fire hunt them islands and kill them coons, you know, and the white men would kill a lot of them. I: Say if you paid, let's just take for the sake of argument, if you paid a dollar and a quarter to the Indian for a seven foot alligator hide, what could you expect from the middle man in Jacksonville, this fellow Mann? What did he pay for them? S: Well, we'd get about a dollar and a half, a dollar seventy five [cents]. I: This is just about what I've heard from other people who were trading. The mark up wasn't very high. S: No, it sure wasn't, on nothing. I: Yeah. S: On plume birds, I made more clear money on plume birds than anything else. I: Tell me about that. S: In them days, you know, plume birds was legal. And you could buy them and sell them and these northern people would come down there and I'd buy them. Lots of times I've paid the Indians two and a half to five dollars for them, and some of them, the very best of them, I'd get ten dollars for them. I: This was for the individual plume? S: Yeah, but it would be an extra fine one, you know. I: Right. S: It'd be cleaned up good and have it nice and pretty, and have forty or fifty spray in it. I: Um huh. S: But most of the times we sold them for five dollars. I: Hmmm.

PAGE 7

4 S: Just generally run tight through five dollars. I: Now when they passed all those laws, about 1910, did this really knock out the pluming, or were people still trading plumes? S: Oh, well, they quit, they had to quit to stop the women from wearing them, you know. So there was no sale for them. I: Right, um huh. S: You had to quit. I: So the plumes, you were doing that much earlier? S: Oh, yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I: How long did you live on Chokoloskee? S: Oh, god, I don't know. From the time I was about ten years old I guess until fifteen years old. I left there about W: 1926. S: There you go. I: You left there in '26? W: Moved up here in 1 26. I: You weren't born there, though? S: Oh, no. I was born in Arcadia, Florida. She was born there. I: Oh. You're an islander then? S: Yeah, yeah, we stayed there a long time. I: What was your family, may I ask? W: McKinney. I: Oh, you were a McKinney. You know Clarence. W: Right. He used to have a store, run a store there. I: Then you were brought up in the island trade, too. What, was

PAGE 8

5 this pretty much the same story over at the McKinney store, the same prices and structure, too? W: Yes. I: And the Indians traded there a good bit, I take it? W: Well, a little bit they did, he didn't S: He sold cheaper than the others did. I: Oh, he did? S: Yeah. He, the old rascal, he was right down to the penny. Yes, sir, and if you owed him a penny you better have it when you go back there, too because he'd darn sure dun you for it. And if he owed you a penny, when you come back you got it, they couldn't make change, you know? You know, they didn't have a bank down there for change in them days like there is now and sometimes they wouldn't have enough change, you know, to make it come out just right. But when you come in there if you owed him one penny you better have it ready when you get in. And he'd be, the same way with him. But he was a fine old feller. I: Right. S: I used to be as scared of him as I was of a damn bear, but then, I was just a kid you know. He was a tall, 'course, but still he couldn't bumb me away from his gal, I got her. I: That was a good move. The, the Indians S: She says it was a bad one. I: The Indians used to come in there regularly, then? W: Oh, yeah. They used to camp on our beach, and they'd just raise sand and get drunk and sing and holler. S: Hi-oh hicki hawki-wa. They did Bull horn. I: How often did they come in? Was there any set time? S: No. Once a week, some of them would; some of them two or three weeks.

PAGE 9

6 I: Um huh. S: They'd load up with groceries and take off and whenever they got enough, about to run out of groceries, why, they'd come in and get some more. I: Right. S: And they'd eat a lot of grits, they ate sofkee. I: Um huh. S: You know what that is? I: Right. Oh, yeah. S: They'd have a big spoon in a pot of sofkee and there'd be a bunch of men sitting around like that, you know, with their legs crossed, and they'd be sitting that way. And they'd all eat and then the women would eat. I: They quit making the, using the coontie when they found the grits were better, I guess. S: And they made sofkee, they called it. They had that big old wooden spoon and they used to eat a little bit, you know, and they needed something to wash it down with; they'd reach over and get that old spoon and go take a big mouthful, then they'd put it over to the other fellow and go all the way around like that. Every one on that same, all of them drink out of the same spoon. I: You say you bought lemon seeds from them? S: Yeah. I: Where did they get the lemon seeds? S: Off of the, down there them hammocks around different places that had been planted and they'd grow them. They'd come along they used to eat a lot of rough lemons. I think it was on account of that lime water. They used so much lime water, they loved to have a lot of lemons, and they loved to have plenty of whiskey to drink when they could get it. W: He bought it for five dollars a quart and sold it for ten [dollars].

PAGE 10

7 S: I was a I: The lemon seeds? S: Yeah. The rough lemons. I: Um huh. What was it used for. S: For planting, making a nursery. W: They used them to plant these oranges into it. S: Plant a little nursery and bud the orange into them and the grapefruit into them. That was the stock that they budded into them. I: Hnnnm. S: The grove growers up in this country, you know. I: Five dollars S: I'd ship them all around. I'd buy them by the gallon. I: Five dollars a quart and sell them for ten. Now that's a good price. That's a good profit there. S: That's a good profit there. I: Um huh. What about the kinds of things that would be sold to the Indians? What would they buy, say, from your father's store, from the McKinney store ? W: They would buy just connnon groceries. S: Grits, flour, lard, and meat. I: Um huh. W: They would bring in venison and sell dried venison or fresh venison or whatever you wanted. I: How did you give them credit? Did you pay them in coins, or keep a, keep a book, or a ledger? W: No, we paid them in coins.

PAGE 11

8 I: In coins ? Did you eyer keep any records of ? W: No. I: Did they ever go on credit? S: No, they didn't do no credit. I'd sell every once in awhile, I'd let them have a little stuff on credit, but they'd pay you when they come in again. I: The Storters let some have credit. S: Yeah. I: Kirby Storter says that they S: Well, they run a store up there for years, 01' George, old man George did. I: Um huh. Yeah. He said that his dad sometimes would let them, what they call "making book" out there, keep them in a book. S: Yeah. I: But not too much. S: But there wasn't much of that going on, they paid the cash mostly. I: Um huh. The, what do you remember any of the prices? One of the most difficult tliings we've run into, we're finding out from all the people we've talked to how much, say, you paid for an alligator hide and how much you could sell it for. Do you recall how much, for example, you would charge the Indian for things like grits or flour or coffee? Do you recall any of those prices? Those are difficult to find today. S: No, I don't remember that. W: Well, I wouldn't know, but we S: They're just regular prices that sold out of the store, though. I: What?

PAGE 12

9 S: It was just a regular price that they sold everybody out of the store. I: In other words, if we looked at some of the national prices for that period, this would be pretty well the same price as down there? S: Yeah. W: Right. I: What, we were wondering, for example, would it cost the people over on Chokoloskee any more to buy a pound of coffee to put in the store? Say if you were buying from a wholesaler out of Miami or a wholesaler S: Well, we bought from Key West. I: or Key West? S: Yeah. I: I just wondered if S: I'd just boat it in there. I: Um huh. S: I used to run a boat to Key West and haul it over there. I: Oh, you did? S: Yeah, I hauled it to here, her dad, and my brother-in-law, too; to their store, both of them. I: Which boat was this? What was the name of the boat? S: Roseanna. I: Roseanna? S: The schooner Roseanna. I: Uh huh. The Bertie Lee was one of the Storter's. S: A Starter boat, yeah.

PAGE 13

10 I: Yeah, that was theirs. S: Yeah. I: Yeah. No, what I was getting at S: The Bertie Bee and the Bertie Lee, they had both of them. And I had the Roseanna. Ol' Dolf Santina built the Roseanna right there on Chokoloskee Island. I: Santina built your boat? S: Right there where the Smallwood store is, he built it right there. I: In fact, some of the rails are still there. S: Huh? I: Some of the rails are still there they brought them in on. S: Well, he didn't build her on them rails weren't there when he built her. He just built her out there on that shell land and rolled her over on rollers. She was fifty-two feet long. I: Philip Santina just gave us a lot of their papers to use, things in the family. S: He built her right there. He was a good boat builder and he built a good boat. I: So you'd buy your goods right out of the stores down in Key West, or from the ? S: We bought from them over there after they hauled it in there, most of it. Sometimes we'd buy some stuff like sugar. And maybe lard from Key West and bringing it home. But other than that, we'd go right to the stores there and buy it. I: Right. S: Yeah. I: The people that who were the big traders down in Key West? Was Thompson doing business down in Key West then? The Thomp son store down there?

PAGE 14

11 S: There was a Thompson, and there was a Sweeney, and a Curry. I: Sweeney, Curry, right. These are familiar names. S: They run a big auction room down there, too, you know. We'd carry stuff over there and auction it off. I: What kind of ? S: Vegetables. I: Oh, vegetables. Yeah. S: Yeah. I used to haul oysters and sugar cane and bananas and stuff like that over there. And then tomatoes and onions and stuff like that was raised there in the country, well, they'd bring there to the boat you know, and I'd haul it there and sell it for them. I: Just a regular auction market there? S: Yeah. I: When was that held, any particular day of the week? S: Every day of the week. I: Every day? S: Yeah. I: Right on the docks there? S: No, down on Front Street. I: On Front ? S: It was just the other side of the Curry's, where they were. I: Did you ever recall, and maybe at the McKinney store this would be more appropriate, people buying anything out of Tampa? I know Knight & Wall was a big company W: Oh, yes. My dad used to trade with Knight & Wall. S: Yeah, they bought from Knight & Wall some.

PAGE 15

12 I: Um huh. I was S: But it was so much further to Tampa than it was to Key West that the boats went to Key West, you know. I: Right. S: Most of us bought out of Key West. I: A lot of the hardware seemed to come out of Tampa. S: Yeah. W: Right. S: Yeah, that was what Knight & Wall was. W: Yes, we spent a lot of money with them. I: I was out there not long ago, in Tampa, at Knight & Wall; they're still in business. S: But we didn't have much hardware in them days, you know. I: Kirby Storter said that it was very rare, but when they did buy hardware like guns, for example, shotguns or something of that nature. S: Yeah. Yeah. Well, we had to have guns, mostly old '38s and shotguns. The old '38 rifles and shotguns. We'd kill the alligators with the '38 rifle, and the plume birds with shot guns. So that's who it was. And deer hunt with the rifles. I: With the '38s too? S: I had an old '38 rifle and you could kill one about 100 yards with it, you know. If you were lucky. I: If you were lucky, right. The, some of the stories that we've read and they're actual, because we've taken them out of the old Fort Myers newspaper and so forth, about the thousands of gator hides that were traded back around early in this century and that's incredible, the numbers that they killed. S: I know of two fellows that killed 800 out of one lake out there in, or two lakes, Roberts and Lake Sitawba. Killed

PAGE 16

13 800 alligators out of them two lakes. I: Wow! S: Back in them days when I was a boy, there was a gator down there. Yes, sir. We used to live over on Turner Road and I've seen them old big gators floating up and down the river there with his head out, swimming along just like a log, lots of mornings. I: You say that you were born up in Arcadia? S: Huh? I: In Arcadia S: I was born in Arcadia. I: When was this? S: I was born in 1 89. I: In '89? S: Yeah. I: And then when did you move down? You say you were ten years old when you ? S: About eight or ten years old. I can just remember the old, my dad going down there and old Captain Arthur Wendell carried us down there on the boat. He died up here in the hospital about, I don't know, two or three years ago. He was right at ninety-six when he died. I: Were a lot of people moving down? Evidently a lot of people were coming from the Arcadia-Peace River area down to, what was it, Allen River at that time? S: Well, there wasn't many people down in there. I: Yeah, but the ones that were coming seemed to be coming from the same little area. S: I know but I: I just wondered if they had opened up some land down there.

PAGE 17

14 S: But when we moved down there there was the Starters, 01 1 Man John Bannows on Picahatchee, 01 1 Man McKinney on Chokoloskee, and Smallwood. Smallwood was just a young fellow; he married my sister. W: Old Man Critchman on Halfway Creek, you remember him, Dad. S: After we moved down there There wasn't very many families there. I: Yeah. S: Ol' Man Wiggens, and well, there was a few people, one or two families on Halfway Creek, and two or three, the rest of the family on Allen River, up there there by 01' Man George Starter. I: Um huh. S: And that's practically all the people there was there. There wasn't many people there. I: And, they were the ones doing the farming then? S: Yeah, what farming was done. My dad done a lot of farming all the time. That's all he ever done was truck farm. I: Did the people go in there and homestead land? Is that ? S: No. I: Or did they just buy it out right? S: They just bought it out. I: Um huh. S: No, they didn't homestead nothing there. I: I just wondered if there was any land available for home steading at that time? S: Nope. There wasn't none there for homesteading. I: Um huh. So, who was the Allen that Allen's River was named after? Was this, this was the man who was there originally?

PAGE 18

15 S: Yeah, Old Man Allen, that's who it was named after. I: Right. S: But I don't know who he was. I never did see him, he wasn't there when I was there. He was done gone, I guess dead I reckon, I don't know. I: Well, Starters bought him out for one thing S: Yeah. I: they bought a lot of his holdings out, I know, when they came here in the late 188Os. S: Yeah. I: Well, that's interesting the trade aspect of it. Then you just sold the hides right on to these people in Jacksonville? S: Well, yeah. I: How did you ship them? Were they salted or ? S: Well, the gator hides you'd ship them in barrels and the others, well, they'd come get them. I'd carry 'em, bring 'em up to Naples in a boat and they'd put them in their car and haul them off. I: In the car? S: Yeah. I: That must have been a pleasant drive. S: A young fellow by the name of Thompson used to come down there and buy them for a man. He died when he was young, though. I: How many gator hides could you get in a barrel? S: Oh, I don't know. But a good many, I'll tell you that. I: You had seven feet and kind of rough S: I don't remember just how many was in there at one time, but quite a few gator hides in a barrel.

PAGE 19

16 I: Did you have to salt them pretty well before you could pack them? S: Oh, yeah. You salted them then when you went to pack them you resalted them, you made sure they were good and salty before you shipped them. W: He used to tan the hides and make belts. I: Oh? S: Yeah, I tanned gator hides and made belts and pocketbooks and things for awhile. I quit it. I didn't like it. I: When you packed the hide, I'm getting technical on you now, did you pack the hide with the legs still on or did you take the leg off the hide? S: Some of them had the legs off and some of them had them on. I: Well S: The small ones you skinned with the legs on, the big ones you didn't save the legs on a big one. Only just, you know, down to the skin. I: Right. Um huh. S: The rest of it you just left on. Now you take the little ones that they made pocketbooks and things out of like that, they'd save the feet on all of them. I: And some they'd stuff, wouldn't they, to make souvenirs out of? S: Oh, yeah. They stuffed some, yeah. More of them, though, made pocketbooks and handbags and things out of them. I: Yeah, there was a place in Jacksonville, I grew up in Jack sonville so I know, they were called Oski's. They were down there, they used to buy a lot from Stranahans over in Fort Lauderdale. S: Yeah. I: They used to buy a lot. Did you ever do any trading with them?

PAGE 20

17 S: No. I: Yeah, that was right around the turn of the century that the Stranahans did a lot of trading in Jacksonville. There must have been a lot of people in Jacksonville that traded. S: There was another fellow up in Jacksonville that bought hides, too. But I can't remember his name now. He was a Jew boy though. I: Yeah. Starter, they shipped a lot they said to Bayer Brothers in New York. S: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I: The Bayer Brothers, and that was the one named that I think Kirby Storter brought up a lot. S: Yeah. I: This, did this provide a decent living for the island people? Was there a big volume going on there? Evidently there seemed to be so many stores, that's why I asked? S: Well, there was about W: There was just too S: They hunted and fished and did everything else to make a living, you know. They didn't just depend on that buying the gator hide totally. I: Yeah, um huh. S: I hunted and fished and farmed, too, truck farmed. And so did a lot of the rest of them. But all of them fished and farmed and hunted. That was their main way of making a living in them days, fishing and hunting. I: Um huh. Well, the two stores on an island that size seemed to be unusual. S: Yeah. W: It was plenty because there wasn't too many people there.

PAGE 21

18 I: Well, I just meant that I thought that was almost one too many, given the number of people. I thought it was unusual that there would be two stores, really. S: Well, the ol' man he made a living out of it, and that little brother-in-law of mine he made big money. I: Your brother-in-law? S: He sold higher than the old man did, the old man was right down to the penny, her daddy was, just cheap, he sold every thing cheap. And that'd make my brother-in-law so damn mad he wanted to kill him, you know. And the old man finally died before Ted did and Ted made good money, half of the money he left to the family and he bought up quite a little bit of that land around there and left it to his family. And he made it out of that score, that's how he made it. I: Hmmm. Well, that's P: When did the store reach its peak? S: Huh? P: Say in trading down there? S: When did it? P: Um huh. S: Oh, I don't I: What were the best years in other words, for the McKinney store? S: I can remember the time I was a boy, they had a store there W: I don't know. He died when I moved up there S: until we left there. W: in 1926. They didn't have no highways and we just moved in ruts. S: Finally tourists got to coming in there you know, and W: And that would be 1926.

PAGE 22

19 S: And stayed out in Everglades with 01' Man George Storter, his home. W: But he stayed pretty busy. I: Yeah. Yeah. And who was the brother-in-law now, what ? W: Ted Smallwood. I: Oh, Ted. Yeah. Yeah. S: There's a little Ted down there now, you know. That's his son. I: Yeah. S: Big Ted is dead, been dead a long time. I: So he was married to your sister? S: Yeah. I: Um huh, I see. W: He's at Everglades, Little Ted lives at Everglades. I: Oh, yeah. Now you were over on Chokoloskee when, two weeks ago? Talking to S: He don't live on Chokoloskee, Little Ted don't. He lives at Everglades. I: Well, he was talking to the Bogguses, and A. c S: A. C. Hancock, yeah. P: And they said that Mr. Boggus was really the one that, was the individual who helped out Dr. Tebeau in many of the histories and S: Dr. who? P: Dr. Tebeau. W: The fellow that wrote that book.

PAGE 23

20 S: Oh, I don't know. I: Yeah, he got a lot of information S: 01' Man Charlie Boggus is one of the oldest that was down there and he lived to be about ninety, I think. Fine old man he was. I: The island has changed a lot now, now that you can drive out there. S: Oh, yeah. It don't look like the same place. I: I was down there when I was a kid a couple of times, and S: We used to go around there, and there was nothing but Indian trails on it, you know, and you'd think it was a pretty big island. Now it ain't big as nothing. Shrunk up. I: Yeah, it takes away. When they put in the bridge out to Sanibel they took away a lot from that. That used to, I used to love to go there when I was a kid. S: Used to be a fellow down there by the name Isaac Owens lived down there, and he was about to cuss, and he got to talking about Ted and his land. He said, "By God," he says, "the Smallwoods think that land is worth a dollar a shell!" Well, it's damn near worth that now. $50,000 for that place there that they just smoothed off there at that graveyard. That fellow paid $50,000 for it. P: That's a small piece of land. S: It sure is. P: $50,000 for that. Let me ask you, Mr. House, did your father ever employ any Indians within the store? S: Do what? W: No he didn't. P: Employ Indians? S: Oh, no.

PAGE 24

21 I: The Indians wouldn't S: No, Indians didn't work them days. W: They didn't understand you good. They would just had to point to what they wanted, you know. S: In them days they hadn't got to the point where they worked. After awhile, well, they got You know, they got more civilized I reckon, and the hunting give out on them; they had to do something. I: Right. P: How about education in the area there? W: Oh, you couldn't get but an eighth grade. P: Do you remember the first teacher within the area? W: It was Miss Manny Brannelon wasn't it, Dad? Or Gant? Which was it? S: Yeah, Brannelon was first, and Gant was next. W: Many Brannelon. S: I got most of mine up to the eighth grade between the plow house. P: Working it out. S: A pair of seven foot oars. P: Were there any Indians there taking the educational ? S: Uh, one old, one Indian somebody pegged him 01' Josie Billie, I don't know who done it, and sent him off to school, carried him off somewheres and sent him off to school. He made a preacher finally. I: Right. They sent him up to Lakeland. S: I don't know where they sent him, but I: The Southern Baptist sent him.

PAGE 25

22 S: Yeah, they sent him off to school and he got as good an education, he could write a pretty hand. I: Yeah, I know Josie very well. S: You do, huh? I: I was with him two weeks ago. S: Then he made a preacher. Is he still living? I: Oh, yeah. He's still alive. He's very hard of hearing now. S: He used to drive ox teams and take hunting parties out down there. I: Yeah. He still lives on Big Cypress. S: Yeah. I: On Big Cypress Reservation. S: Yeah. I: Up there in Hendry County. S: Yeah. I: Down there on the southern end. He has a nice camp. They built him a concrete block house there, so he lives in a house now, and S: Well, he's getting old. I: Josie is eighty-seven, eighty-seven or eighty-eight. S: Well, I figured he's a little older than I am. W: I used to deal with him with the furs. S: I'm eighty-three. I: Um huh. You used to deal with him with the furs? W: Yeah, sure did. I: Well now, did he speak decent English then?

PAGE 26

23 W: Well you could, you could understand him. I: Um huh. S: Yeah, he talked pretty good English, about the best of every one down there. I: Yeah. See Josie's father, as far as we can tell, was the first Indian to ever learn how to read and write S: Yeah. I: Back about 1878-79, he went into Fort Myers and lived with old Captain Hendry and went to school there with the Hendry children. Then when he came back he taught Josie and his other son Billy Fewell and Miami Billy W: Yeah. I: Taught them all a little bit of how to read and write, and they were the only Indians for a long, long time that had any English, or any education. So that's why I wondered if they used it much. S: There was a bunch of Indians named Willies I: Yeah, the Willies. S: Willie Willie. I: Willie Willie. W: That's my name, by God. That's my name, Willie. S: And they all talked good English, and they can read and write. Joe or Willie Willie, one of them could, I know. I: Yeah. What about Tiger Tail, did he have a store? Is he the one that had his own little store? S: Well, he had a little power boat with a five horse Losia engine in it and he had put it in an old big canoe he had made first, and it didn't work good in there. So then he had a fellow to build him a flat-bottom boat, a big old flat-bottom boat; put a cabin on it, not a cabin but a standard with curtains, you know

PAGE 27

24 I: Um huh. S: A top all the way around her so he could buckle down and keep stuff dry. I: Right. S: And he'd take her and come in there and get groceries and then go out back down there somewhere in the woods and leave her up one of them creeks and take that stuff out in the woods and sell it to the Indians. I: Right. S: And he had money, and I've often wished I knowed where he had it buried at when he died or when he got drownded. He had some money somewheres. I: Hmmm S: But God knows where, I don't. I: Yeah. S: And he used to bring in money that he would bury in jars. And you bury it in a jar even though it's air tight, it'll turn like silver or turn like a fork, you know, when you wash it in sulphur water. You know how it will look? That's the way that money would look. You could tell when it was buried. W: We used to bury it, too. I: Oh, you used to bury your money too, huh? S: Yes. I: No bank on the island, huh? S: Yeah, I'll tell you, way back in them days the banks closed, you know. I: Right. P: When did the first teacher--meander back to this point if I can--what date ?

PAGE 28

25 W: Start teaching? P: Yeah. S: Well, there was a teacher there before old Miss Manny, as far as that goes, used to teach 01' Dolf Santina's kids, Willie. W: I didn't know that. S: And Nick, but I don't know what her name was. P: About what S: The one we went to school to was Miss Manny Brannelon. P: About what period was this? W: I guess I must have been about five years old, they let them go to school when they was that old, you know. And I'm eighty, I mean I'm seventy-nine. S: Quite a good while ago. I: So that would have been just before the turn of the century. W: But my dad was a doctor of that Chokoloskee down there in the Everglades. He did all the doctoring that the people had to have done. He passed the examination, I don't know how, he didn't have any education much, but they gave him a permit to doctor and to extract all the teeth down there, and that's what he did. And he delivered all the babies around in that country. And never lost a case. He was a midwife for fifty years. I: Umhh, that's amazing. How old was he when he passed away? W: He was seventy-nine. I: Um huh. S: And her mother was ninety-one. So I got to stay here a long time with her, ain't I? W: I wouldn't say that.

PAGE 29

26 S: She's been bossing me a long time, but I ain't going to let her boss me that much longer. I: Well, after you get used to it you don't let it bother you. S: Yeah. I: You wouldn't know what to do without it, I wouldn't. S: Well, you let them boss you for fifty-one, you know, years, that's a long time. W: Well, I think you better hush up. P: Mr. House, when did, when Mr. Mann of Jacksonville took these hides, do you know what he did with them? Did he .•. ? S: I imagine he sold them to Bayer Brothers, but I don't know. I: He was just sort of a middle man. P: A middle man transporting them. S: Yeah, that's what I Imagine. I: I wonder if they were making any belts and pocketbooks and things .... S: Oh, yeah. They made belts and pocketbooks. I: In Jacksonville they may have been .... S: Like she told you, I used to make them, you know I got me one of these old leather sewing machines, bought me one of them, had a little house off from my big house, put me up a little plant in there, you might say. I'd tan them and make belts and pocketbooks out of them. I: Tell me about the tanning. lvhat kind of process did you go throgh to tan them? S: Well now, we put them in lime to take the scale off of them, and then I'd tan them in that .•. W: Vat. S: ..• either oak bark or Mangrove, one of them.

PAGE 30

27 W: He had some vats, cement vats. I: Um huh. How long would you have to put them in there? S: Oh, they'd be several days in there and then you'd scrape them and work them, you know. You have to work the juice out of them, get good and soft, keep them soft, scrape all that meat out of them, and then take them out and dress them up good and slice them up and sew them while they are soft. W: You tanned them with bark, some kind of bark, Mangrave bark, wasn't it? S: Yeah, they used oak bark, too. Yeah. I: When you worked on the gators S: Huh? I: I said, when you worked on these alligators was there any problem, I got the impression from talking to the Storters that they really smell, you know, there was really a stench. S: Well, they didn't smell, they didn't smell like roses, no. W: Neither did the coon hides. I: The coon hides? W: Oh, boy! S: No, we'd keep the coon hides and things back on the back porch, you know. We wouldn't keep them in the house, didn't have no place to keep them only on the porch or under the house. I: What did they use racoons for, just for regular coats? S: Fur coats, yeah, my God. Yeah, there's a time now when them coats were worth plenty of money. I: In the twenties they certainly were. S: And then they made necklaces out of them otter hides, and they was worth plenty of money. I: Hmmm.

PAGE 31

28 S: Yes, sir. I: The collars? S: Yeah, I've seen collars otter hides sell as high as $28 apiece. I: Wow! S: Yes, siree. I: Twenty-eight [dollars] apiece is a lot. S: I mean before he was even tanned or anything, just the raw otter hide. P: How big was this, in size ? S: It'd be around five, I'd say five, five and a half feet long, from tip to tip. I: Um huh. That's big. That's pretty good size. P: Did you, during your travels in the boats, ever sell the Indians sewing machines or guns or anything to help them out? S: No, no, I sold groceries to them, but I never did sell them I: How about at the store, did they sell sewing machines to them at the store ever? W: No, I don't know where they got those sewing machines. S: I don't either, but they got them somewheres. They had these little old hand cranked sewing machines. I: Yeah, they got them Well, one of the things I'm trying to do is sort of map out how the Indians traveled and traded, and it looks like they bought their sewing machines pretty much over at Stranahan's in Fort Lauderdale, or up at Frank Browns, or Bill Browns up at the boat landing up there in Big Cypress because both of them were selling machines to them. S: Yeah. W: Yeah, I guess that's where they got them.

PAGE 32

29 I: And I think that Thelma Smallwood said that her dad sold them a few machines. W: I heard that she P: Did you ever sell material for their clothes? S: What? P: Material for their clothes? S: Oh, they had a store there. Her mother run a little dry goods store. W: We sold lots of cloth there. S: Bolts, cloth come in bolts, you know, in them days, and they'd come in there and buying all kinds of that stuff, dif ferent pieces, and tear it up, and sew it in different strips all around, and make different colors in their dresses you know? They sold the cloth, and Smallwood did too, I think. Did he sell cloth, Willie? W: Yes, I think so. S: Yeah, he sold cloth. Both of them did. Starter did too. I: Who? S: George Starter, Starter did. I: Oh, yeah. Starter. Right. S: Yeah. I: I think Starter sold them some sewing machines. S: He might have, I don't know. I: They seemed to handle, at least near the end there, they seemed to handle quite a bit of the hardware, and sewing machines, and things like this, and guns that they would order out of Tampa, and things of this nature. But the early sewing machines in the 1890s, they had them, they were getting them from Stranahans over in Fort Lauderdale. Be cause White, the old White sewing machine?

PAGE 33

30 W: Yeah. I: White used to, Thomas White used to come down and stay in Fort Lauderdale, bring his yacht in there. W: Yeah? I: And he sold some of the early sewing machines to Stranahan, who sold them to the Indians. So, that's where they were getting those mostly. Did the Indians when they came, did they stay on the island, or did they just come and trade and leave? W: Oh, they, they would S: Overnight, sometimes two or three days. W: They would stay three nights at a time there, and have a big time on the beach, you know, get drunk and hollar all night. Sing and raise the devil. I: Ever cause any real trouble or ? S: No. W: No. I: Um huh. Stayed pretty much to themselves? W: Yeah. I: Would they bring their families with them? W: Yeah. S: Oh yeah. I: That's pretty common, too, then. They, everywhere they traded they brought their families. S: They'd bring stuff up there and leave it under my house. I had a house that you could walk underneath. Built across a little valley I: Right. S: And you'd walk underneath it, and they'd bring stuff there,

PAGE 34

31 and like I said that old Indian left a can full of money under there and I didn't know nothing about it. So I sure I: How about water on the island? Was there just S: They had cisterns. I: Just a cistern? S: In them days we had cisterns and finally Smallwood finally bored an artesian well. And then some of the rest of us have bored some since then. I think there're three or four on the island now. But them days we all made big cisterns. I: Hmmm. S: Had to to do takes rain. make a big cistern, big enough to hold water enough us the year around. Dry season come, you know, it a lot of water and it's a long time you didn't get no I: Did the Indians ever come to get water? That's one thing S: Well, when they come there they'd have to, that's where they'd have to get water was out of your cistern. I: Um huh. S: Because there was no fresh water they could get nowheres else. I: Is that right? S: Yeah. I: They seemed to travel around, the Indians. The picture I'm getting is that when they were hunting, particularly in the wet season when they could get the otter, when they could get the gators, that they traded wherever they were closest to. If they were closest to the east coast they'd go on in to the New River there to Stranahan's; if they were closest down to Everglades they'd come in here. S: I used to go out in the woods, and buy the hides from them, right in the woods. I: Oh really?

PAGE 35

32 S: Yeah. I had me an Indian that went with me and take me out in a canoe, we went in a canoe. I: When was this, about what ? S: Well, me and her was married. I imagine it was when, Willie? W: We was married in 1911. S: Yeah, but when I had that little old Jock Bustard went with me? W: Oh, God, I don't know. S: It must have been around I: Say before 1 25? S: Oh, yeah. I: Before you moved up here. S: Yeah. Yeah, when we lived on Chokoloskee. I: Um huh. S: And I had bought me a canoe, and me and him both could pole it. I could pole that canoe as good as an Indian could. I'd get up in one end and him in the other and we'd go to town on it. All our stuff in there; 100 pounds of grits, and flour, and lard, and stuff I: How much could you pick up, 100 pounds you say? S: Yeah, 100 pounds of grits. And we would take a can of lard and dish it out to them, you know, a little bit I: How much would you charge them for that? S: I don't remember now, it's been so long, but I made a profit on it. I: Yeah. S: No big profit. I: Yeah, I was just curious what it was ?

PAGE 36

33 S: But I don't remember now, it's been so long. I don't remem ber just what I did charge for it. I: Um huh. We've seen things like a box of shotgun shells would run about forty-five cents. We've got that pretty well be cause we've seen this in so many places. Something like that, you know. We're just trying to get a general picture of the pricing from S: I imagine, I think the cheapest shotgun shells I ever remem ber down in there were the black powder, seventy-five cents. I: Well, that's higher because we've seen them forty-five cents in three or four other places. S: Damned if I've ever seen them for forty-five cents in my life. I: Well, they're in the S: I've bought a lot of them at seventy-five cents because I used to coon hunt. I: How many would that be, about twenty-four? S: Twenty-five. I: Twenty-four, twenty-five in a box. S: No, twenty-four to a box. I: Twenty-four, twenty-four to a box. W: Yeah, he's right. I: Well, we've seen it what, down in a couple of ledgers as forty-five cents? P: Forty-five cents. Speculates from forty-five cents to fifty five cents, depending on the time, the mood, and who was ahead, and that type of thing. I: Yeah, and who, where it was being done. S: Me and her brother used to coon hunt a lot together. I: Uh huh.

PAGE 37

34 S: And we bought hides, I mean we'd bought shells, and the cheapest I ever remember buying them is seventy-five cents. I might of bought them cheaper than that but I don't remem ber it if I did. W: I don't think they did. I: Well, this is what I was getting at. Things may have been a bit more expensive out of Key West because of the shipping S: Yeah. I: than in some other places. That's why I ask S: They got it in there on that Mallory Line, you know And they got cheaper rates on the freight. I: At Key West? S: Yeah. I: Well, then that S: Yeah, they got cheaper rates on the freight. We shipped all of our produce from Key West. We'd haul it to Key West to ship it on them steamers north, you know. I: Hmnnn. S: And you got a cheaper rate on it than you could on a railroad. P: How did they keep it from going bad? Was it with ice? S: No, I don't know what they done on the steamer, but we'd pack it, wrap it, wrap the tomatoes and pack them, you know I: Um huh. S: Then in about two days from the time we started we put them on the boat and carry them to Key West. It takes one day and night to get to Key West, you might say. You always figure on about that. And then we'd go down there at the steamer, like if she left on Wednesday, we'd go in there on Tuesday night, see, and load them on there. They'd go right on to New York. I: How long did it take that steamer to get up to New York?

PAGE 38

35 S: It must not have taken it too long because them tomatoes wouldn't have lasted too long. I don't know just how long it would take them, but it I: That's interesting. S: I'd imagine they'd have cold storage on her too, probably, to keep that stuff cool. I don't know. I: They could have. S: Of course, that was way back then, of course, but them big steamers had cold storage most of them. I: Tell me, let me move back just for a minute to your plumes. Who did you sell the plumes to other than indidivual tour ists? Did you sell those to anybody in particular? S: Burdines used to buy a lot of them in Miami. I: Would you take them in there or would they come out and get them? S: They'd come and get them. I: Hmmm. S: One of Burdines is still living. I've seen him, he come to see me a few years ago. That old devil is I: There's several of them. S: I don't know whether he's still ever married or not, but he had two women with him that day. P: Did he give you keep records on it for himself? S: Huh? P: Did he keep records on the amount of ? S: I imagine he did, I don't know. I never did. I just sold them and stuck the money in my pocket and went home. W: He used to climb these pine trees, too, and get kite eggs out of them and sell them.

PAGE 39

36 I: What, what would they be used for, just for eating, or ? S: No. No. They weren't for eating, they was for W: Museums, I think. S: these zoos, all these people liked to have them for a show you know. I: Kite eggs? S: Yeah, forked-tail kites, swallow-tail kites. I: Yeah, the Everglades kites. S: Yeah, they were pretty birds, long sharp wings, you know. I: Well, you'd let them go ahead and hatch then? Or ? S: No, no, no. We blowed them. W: Blow the inside out. I: I see. S: Yeah. I: Hmmm. S: Get fifteen dollars a pair for them. I: Really? S: Yeah. I: I'll be darned. S: I'd have to climb them damn long, tall pines though to get the nest, and they was built right in the smallest pine they could find up in the top. You'd get up there and over to get them, and it would bend over, you know, like it was going to break off, scare you to death nearly. I'd carry them down, I didn't weigh but about 130 pounds then. I'd carry me a tin can up there with a string attached to it, you know, and some cotton in it or moss, and~.I'd put them eggs in that tin can and lower them down to my brother, you know. Then I'd crawl back down the tree. I nailed cleats on it

PAGE 40

37 until I got to the first limb. After I got to the first limb I'd go on up by hand. I: Yeah. Those can be pretty high up to those first limbs. S: You're dad burn right. It's pretty high up to that bird. I: I'd never heard that before, about S: I wouldn't want to do that now, I'll tell you that. Limber as I am, I know I wouldn't. I: Hmmm. Did you do that quite a bit, or was this just ? W: Yeah, he did. S: A couple years we did, in the laying season. W: He did anything to make money. I: That's the way it sounds, that people were just very flex ible; whatever was selling then. The plumes, you hear so much about the people making big profits off of volumes of plumes. Like the Storters talked about stuffing mattresses full of plumes, and taking them S: Well, I've heard them say that the boats that went over to Honduras would stuff mattresses full 6f plumes and brought them back, but I never heard of anyone stuffing any plumes in a mattresses in this country. I: Yeah, well. S: 'Cause I never had to. You didn't have to, they was legal. I: Yeah. S: So why would you put them in a mattress, huh? I: Well, he was saying that that was the easiest way of, when they first started trading them, just to keep them together at one time. Not a sle?ping mattress, just had a ticking, I guess, and stuffed them in there. Not to sleep on, but just to carry down to Key West. You've never seen that, then? S: I've never seen nothing like that, and I sold more plumes than they did.

PAGE 41

38 W: My mother used to catch grasshoppers, and I'd help her, of course, she had a lot of kids hired to help catch them. She got a cent and a quarter apiece for these gray grass hoppers, and she caught those. Every day she'd go and catch those grasshoppers, and she hire the kids to go. She'd pay them a quarter of a cent, and she got a cent and a quarter. I used to help her pack them in the barrels, and pack grass around them, and then S: And jars. W: we'd send them to Brooklyn. I: Brooklyn? W: Yeah, to the American Entymological Company, Brooklyn, New York. I: Hmm. W: And she'd get her check from them. How about that? I: Now I hadn't heard that either. S: So you see, we got it any way we could. I: Right, right. The W: And she'd catch wasps and butterflies and beetles and all kind of insects, and preserve them in that formaldehyde a third formaldehyde and two-thirds water I: Yeah. W: in half-gallon jars, and then we'd pack them in barrels, and I'd address them and they'd go to New York. I: Um huh. Hmmm. When did your father open his store on the island? W: Well, he had a store I guess ever since I was born. I: Um huh. Yeah, he was about the first one permanently there wasn't he? W: No.

PAGE 42

39 I: Wasn't he? S: No, the Santina was first. W: Santina was there, but he was there right after. I: Um huh. Santina was there just before. The store, or his store was there long before Smallwood's. S: Yeah. W: A long time. I: Well, they sound like they were very flexible people as far as surviving down there. W: Oh yes, they had I: So the Indians traded with him a good bit even before Small wood? S: Oh yes. W: Yeah. They had to do something because that was all there was to do. S: We cut buttonwood, carried it to Key West. In them days they didn't have no gas in Key West, you know I: Yeah. S: And they used buttonwood to cook with, heat with, everything. I: Hmmm. S: We carried in there fifteen, eighteen, twenty cords at a time on a boat, you know? Load it on them docks and get six or seven dollars a cord for it, loaded on the docks. Cut it up there in that swamp and the mosquitos and water and mud, tote it out on your shoulder to the edge of the river, and haul it down the river in the skiff, and then load it on to that schooner, and carry it to Key West, and get six or seven dollars 1 a cord for it, just according to how scarce it was. If there was plenty on the dock, well, they got six dollars for it, and if it was getting pretty scarce they got seven dollars. So there you are. Four-foot lengths.

PAGE 43

40 I: Well that's, that's what we need. S: That's a hard way of getting it, too, I'll tell you that. I done it. I: Sure was. Sure was. S: I cut $900 worth, me and my brother, out of that buttonwood for an old boat, schooner we bought. I: Would you say that the Indians traded equally between your father's store and Smallwood's? Or ? W: They traded more at my father's I think because he got it cheaper there. I: It was cheaper? W: Yeah. I: That's interesting. You'd think getting that it would cost them about the same. bigger markup down at Smallwood's. W: Yes. the same supply But just had a I: And then they moved on down. Of course, the Smallwood store continued on, and is still here. Just because your father passed away S: Yeah, but they don't sell nothing there now. I: No. S: The girls don't fool with it, Thelma don't anymore. I: After your father died no one continued the store, or did it continue it on? W: Yes, I think someone bought it out, I think. S: Yeah. W: I don't remember who it was. Who was it Dan? S: I was trying to think. He lived out there at Ochopee, but I can't think of his name now.

PAGE 44

41 I: What I was thinking of S: He didn't run it too long. P: Did Clarence run it after your dad died for there for awhile? W: No, Clarence didn't. He was quite a young fellow. S: You was thinking about Clarence Brown? P: Clarence and Charles, Charlie, McKinney, and several of the other people I want to go over and see again within the area. I: They didn't keep any books at your dad's store then that you know of that would be available? W: They didn't do that, he didn't sell on credit. I: Well, no, I meant just W: No. Nope. S: They didn't keep no books in them days. W: No, they didn't have to. P: By any chance would you have pictures of your dad's store or the area within the time? Old pictures of that area? W: I don't have any pictures of his store. P: There was none taken then? I: No, the only people that we found that kept ledgers were the Stranahans. I don't think the Browns up at the boat landing up there at Big Cypress, I know they didn't keep any records. S: No, none of them. Nobody did in those days. W: No. I: Just sort of paid by cash? S: Yeah, that's right. I: Knew what you had to charge? S: Once you got your stuff in your pocket you went home. That's

PAGE 45

42 the way they all done. I doubt if 01' Man Storter kept any books. I: Well, they said they had some that got washed out in a hur ricane, didn't they? Some books. S: Yeah. I: But it was mostly what he owed other people, not what he was selling for. S: Yeah, yeah. I: And we're going up to Fort Myers later this evening and try and locate the Henderson family up there. Was it R. A. Henderson? S: He's been dead and gone a long time. I: But the family is still there. S: Yeah, I know what you mean. I: And we're hoping maybe they would have something. S: There was a young R. A. and I think he's dead and gone. I: Yes, but his wife is still alive. S: Yeah, yeah. I: And we had some information that she might have some records. How complete they are we don't know. Again, this is the sort of thing that, it gets frustrating when you want to come back and write history so long after the time that I know when people are living through a period, they don't think so much about keeping records because they don't need to. W: That's right. I: Today, anyone who goes back 100 years from now and tries to write about this period today, they're going to have so many records and computer readouts and books and everything they'll never get it done because there's so much extraneous stuff today that you don't really need. But when you're

PAGE 46

43 trying to look back and say, well, here's really what the economy was like, here's how the people down in this region of southwest Florida really operated, about the only thing you can say is (A) They were honest, and (B) they worked with just a reasonable markup--what they had to have to meet their bills and still have something left over. S: Yeah, you go up and borrow money from some of them, you didn't give no note or no security, your words all you got. I: But they remembered? S: Oh, yeah. Old boy died over here in the hospital that I borrowed $500 from one time. Never gave him a scratch of a pen. I loaned him some the same way. And he died owing me $50, but I didn't hold it against him. He had done me a lot of favors when he was alive, and he was a good old boy, old Hamlin. Boy, down there on one of them Keys. They claimed he had nigger blood in him, he was a little yellow, curly haired a little bit, kinky-haired, and they called him Nigger Hamlin. But the old man said he wasn't no nigger, he was a Choctaw Indian. Old Man Jim Owens said, "By God, he's chock full of nigger." I: What did you do after you left the island, when you came over here? What brought you off the island into Naples? S: Oh, I decided that fooled around here, bought a little land and one thing and another like that. Traded, I used to be a pretty shrewd trader. Dealt pretty good. I: Wound up with electronics, I see. S: Yeah. I: How about the coming of Collier and the Collier Corporation? S: Well. I: As you look back on it, was it good bad or indifferent to the area? S: Well, it helped the area in a way. He made more work for the people down in her~1 you know. He bought this land mighty cheap, about fifty cents an acre I think, when he bought out the whole county. You know, except any private property.

PAGE 47

44 I: Yeah. Then do they still own large chunks of it or have outfits like G.A.C. and so forth bought it up? S: I think they sold off practically most of it. I: I noticed that there is a Collier Land Company here still. S: Yeah, yeah, there's still an agent here or something, but I think they sold most of that land, and they got a good price for it, too. They made a big profit on it. I: Oh, yeah. Places like Marco Island that you used to, that you wouldn't go to on a dare. Now they've made it a garden spot. S: Yeah, Yeah. I: No, I was just wondering when one corporation comes into a place like and they have a lot of power. S: Yeah. W: Yeah. I: And they have a lot of control generally, and of course, any man with enough power to get the legislature to name the county after him and change the whole thing around, I was just wondering if life changed a good deal after he came in? What you're saying S: I'll never forget, when I went to draw Social Security I had to tell them, you know, I didn't have a birth certificate so I had to give them a reference some way or another so they could find out how old I was, you know. So I told them about being drafted to go to the war and how they turned me down on account of my eyes. And the old boy, he went down to Everglades and looked for it, you know, because they changed In them days it was Lee County, you see. I went up to Fort Myers for the draft. And when he went to look for them, the record on it, he went to Everglades. He comes back he says, "You weren't never down there to go to no be drafted." I said, "The hell I wasn't!" He says, "Well, I can't find it down there at Everglades on the record nowhere." I says, "I guess you can't. I'll bet if you go to Fort Myers though, you'll find it." So he went to Fort Myers and he

PAGE 48

45 finally found it. I: The whole history of this area is very interesting. It's amazing that the families are all still around here, so many of them. Not many of them moved away W: That's right. I: that were here originally. How about the families that were down on Chokoloskee when you were there? Are most of them still there? I know Smallwood, as you say, is still in the area. W: Well, I guess the Smallwoods and the Browns I: I guess the Storters are gone. S: The Shelleys and her brother is still there. There ain't no Santinas there. W: They're the only ones that I knew of. I: The Storters are gone W: Yeah. I: to Miami and here, some here, too. P: George is here in town. S: What? P: George Storter lives here in town. S: The boy? Yeah. He's in bad shape. He had a cancer of the ear. I: Hmmm. S: And they cut it all off, whole side of the face off about, and he's still living. Well, he ain't able to do nothing and Rob, his brother, is here, too. And he's about gone now, arthritis and he can't do nothing. W: Our daughter married Rob Storter. I: Oh really? If you, or can you think of anyone right now that

PAGE 49

46 might have any records that you know of from those days? Either family diaries, family Bibles, old pictures, things of this nature that we might look at. Sometimes in old pictures, for example, it shows the kinds of materials that were being used. W: I'll tell you where to find that. You can find that from this Rob Starter that my daughter married, I'll tell you. Because he, he wrote a book of his life, and along on every page he put a picture of this kind of boat he operated, and the houses that he built to live in and everything, and the other houses that was his then in Naples. I: Hmmm. S: He lived over here at Naples. P: Rob? S: Rob Starter. P: And his brother George has collected some of the history from the family we understand, also. S: He done what? P: Is collecting some of the history of the family right now. S: I don't know about that. I: Rob's brother? P: George. S: Yeah, Rob, I mean George lives here, too. I: Yeah, evidently a lot of people are interested in this, and at least the Starter family i's trying to get all their family history together. W: Well, he wrote a book on his experiences since he was a kid. I: Um huh. And how old is he now, roughly? W: He's about the age of my daughter, fifty-one or two.

PAGE 50

47 S: Who's got that book, Willie, that all my pictures are in in the school? W: Oh he, you've seen that. I: Which one is this now? W: That blue-backed book. I: Oh, the Tebeau? W: Yeah. I: It has a picture of the school house? W: Yeah, that was in it. I: Now who all was in there? Were you in that picture? S: Yeah, me, too. W: And I was in that picture. I: You were in there, too. That's that picture on the side of the wall. P: Dan House, right. I: Oh, everybody there, and somebody was holding a turnip or something in that picture as I remember. W: Yeah. I: I've got the picture. W: Yeah? I: Right. I wish I had it with me. I'd have you point out who was in that. Kirby told me one day and we ought to write it down on the back. S: He wasn't there. I: No, but he gave me the picture. S: Oh.

PAGE 51

48 I: He had a copy of it in his W: Wasn't it listed underneath from left to right who it was? I: No, but he knew. He knew who it was. W: Yeah? I: And he gave us all the names, but he never did write it down. We were supposed to go back and he was going to do a lot of writing. He gaye us a whole bunch of pictures. W: Yeah? I: And we took them up to the university and had them duplicated, and gave him his pictures back, and then he never has written down a lot of the dates. Like the old store that they had there at Everglades that had the two roofs on the thing? S: Yeah. I: I've got several pictures of that and he was going to put the dates of when those pictures were made, and I've got to get that. Of course, he's out with his S: Didn't it have a boat shed on the side of it? I: Yeah. S: The old man that lived there, her grandad, built boats in there. I: Huh. S: That old guy, 01' Man Starter. I: I've got a picture of him. He was quite a character. S: Yes he was. I: Old George Starter, the big, lean fellow with the white beard? S: Yeah. I: He, well, he must have lived into the twenties. He was still alive

PAGE 52

49 S: He was a funny old man when he died, I know. W: I think so. I: Yes, because Kirby was the youngest of the boys I think, and he told me I think that he was ten when this grandfather died. So S: Kirby and Bruce and Neal. Neal is the oldest. I: Yeah, Neal was the oldest. So I've got a lot of pictures that we've been collecting. What we do is we take peoples pictures, take them to the university and copy them and give them theirs back. But we've got to go back and get some dates on these things because, well, the place changed. Like Everglades is changed so much in just the last five years. The last time I was through there was about five years ago, just traveling through. S: Well hell, when we moved to Naples here there wasn't but five or six families up here. Look at it now. W: That's right. I: Yeah, there's a S: Another fifty years it'll be a solid town from here to Miami. I: Well, I think they are going to buy all that land out there. I think the federal government is about to buy the Big Cypress the watershed, and then when they buy that to keep the water flowing to the Everglades National Park, then I think the state is going to buy about a million acres out here, too. And then that will cut it off. But otherwise you are probably right. Except that over on the east coast they're not going to let them take all those water conservation areas or they won't have any water for Miami and Fort Lauderdale. They've got to have a lot of land out there to hold the water. That's the only thing that would keep it from happening, though. If the state and the federal government didn't buy up some of that land people would just, because of the weather and the climate, they would be right here. You're right. Well, I think you've answered a lot of questions. You've given us some wonderful information. We appreciate it very much, your taking the time and giving us this. If you ever think of anything more I'll leave you my card and address and

PAGE 53

50 so forth and we'll be back here off and on because we are going to see Mrs. Scott some more. She's got just lots of records that we are going through down there. W: She's getting pretty old, isn't she? I: Well, I guess. It's hard I'm no judge of age. When you told me you were eighty-three I would not have guessed that, see. P: She's fifty-nine or sixty-two, the two numbers rattle in my mind somewhere. I: I have no idea. S: She's around sixty-nine, I bet. I: Might be. S: I know she run for reelection here several years ago, and she said if she make it one more time she could go on pension for the rest of her life. She just wanted one more time. Hell, she's run two or three times since then. She's going to run again this time they tell me. I: Not bad politics. P: From '59 on she's been in office. S: Right. I: Well, Mr. and Mrs. House, thank you very much, and we'll get you a copy of this tape if you'd like to have it. S: No. I: Okay, thank you very much.