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Interview with John DuBois, December 14, 1973

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Title:
Interview with John DuBois, December 14, 1973
Creator:
DuBois, John ( Interviewee )
Publication Date:
Language:
English

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

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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.

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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
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Made available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 4.0 International license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/.
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SEM 104 ( SPOHP IDENTIFIER )

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SOUTHEASTERN INDIAN ORAL HISTORY PROJECT


UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA


In cooperation with The Seminole Tribe of Florida


INTERVIEWEE: INTERVIEWER:


JOHN DuBOIS TOM KING


DATE: December 14, 1973





SUMMARY



John DuBois, a native of Jupiter, Florida, shares his memories of the Seminole Indians in that area, since the turn of the century. Briefly, he discusses trade, hunting, diet, and Indian relations in the white community. He also tells about the wreck of the Victor and the Indians' participation in salvaging it. His interview is seemingly limited by a lack of much personal contact with the Indians, particularly because Indian trade in Jupiter ended around 1915.















INDEX



animals; domesticated, 5 Armour, Capt. James A. (Jupiter lighthouse keeper), 3-4 Bowers, Frank, 1, 6; Joe, 6-7 Bowlegs, Billy, 5 Capron, Louis, 3 employment and income, 5-6 food; diet, 3-4 hunting, 2

Indiantown, 1-2, 6 Oklahoma Indians, 6 Seminole Sun Dance (West Palm Beach), 3 trade; Seminoles and white traders, 1-2 transcultural contacts; Indian-white relations, 3 Victor, wreck of, 4-5






















K: Mr. DuBois, you told me earlier that there was quite a lot
of trading going on in this area between Seminoles and white
traders in the early part of the twentieth century. Could you
go into that in some detail, please?

D: Well, the Indians lived at Indiantown., supposedly in the 1900s.
They came in with their ox. covered wagons, brought their family,
their chickens, their dogs and their pigs, and would camp in-the woods about a half a mile away from Bower's general store. Then
they would come down there and sell their coon, alligator, and
otter hides to the store, and then buy their supplies. I remember
one incident there where this Indian was buying a can of lard.
The Indian had furnished the can to put it in, so Mr. Bowers
took the little wood paddle and dipped up the lard out of the
fifty gallon wooden tub, and pressed it down into the can. He put it on his computing scale, said to the Indian--how much it
was. The Indian says, "Hub!" He took the heel of his hand and
pressed it down good and tight in the can, and there was room for about a quarter of a can more. So Mr. Bowers very calmly
took the can, filled it up again, and put it on the scales, and
that was all right that time.

K: Did they buy all of their goods at one time?

D: I really don't know, but they would only come in every two or
three months. They'd have to buy the essentials, I suppose-cloth, salt, and lard.

K: What were they using for currency? Did they trade, or did they
have money?

D: I couldn't tell you that; I was only a ten year old boy. I
suppose that the storekeeper must have paid them in money,
because they were pretty particular about their dealings.
They would buy one thing at a time, and pay for it.
In later years, the story goes that out at Indiantown-, they
had electricity in their chickens. When they'd come in to pay
the bill, they'd put a dollar bill down onthe counter, and
look at the man, and he'd shake his head. They'd put another one
down until they had the amount there to pay for anything.

















K: How much hunting was going on at that time for plumes and furs
and so forth? Did the Indians depend on that for their livelihood?

D: Well, there were several of the homesteaders here in Jupiter who
eked out their living by hunting alligators. Instead of having
a dugout canoe like the Seminoles, they made theirs out of
cypress boards. They'd have a long pole, and pole through the
shallow streams in the Everglades, and shoot the gators and bring them in. They really made a big business out of it-that is, worked hard at it. I've seen these great piles of fur, mostly coon hides, some otter, and alligator hides that the Indians brought in, piled up in the warehouse behind the
Bower's store.

K: How were these Indians affected by the Depression?

D: Well, I couldn't tell you. I don't know when the Brighton
Reservation was, and then the reservation down near Miami;
the Indians that came into Jupiter moved out, and then we didn't
have many more. I can't remember whether that would be by
1915, or before that. It was in the days when I was just a
small boy that they were around in Jupiter, that is, trading.

K: You can't remember when they stopped trading in Jupiter?

D: Possibly before 1915, it might have been before 1912, 1 don't
know.

K: Then it was a good while ago.

D: Yes, a long time. Out at Indiantown,. the white settlers came in
and took over the land, and put in orange groves. I guess when they opened up this Brighton place and helped them get started
in the cattle business, they went there where they owned the
land.and weren't just squatting on it like they would be there
at Indiantown.

K: Do you know whether or not the Indians that used to come into
this area were Cow Creeks or Miccosukees?


D: I couldn't tell you.

















K: Well, what about Green Corn Dances? Were they ever held anywhere
near Stuart, Jupiter, Fort Pierce and so on?

D: I don't know anything about a Green Corn Dance, though they
used to have what they called a Seminole Sun Dance down in
West Palm Beach. It was kind of like the Mardi Gras over in, where is it, Louisiana. They'd have boat races and all kinds
of things. Among them, they had an Indian village there.
That was along from 1917 and on up from there.
Mr. Capron [Louis Capron], who has written articles for The
National Geographic m magazine on the Green Corn Dance, was the sponsor or leader of the Indians. He saw that their camp was set up in a good place, and that they got food and were taken
care of. I think they marched in the parades and things like that.
Then people could go and look at their villages where they had their tents and things set up. But I think those Indians probably came in from Brighton.

K: Was there ever any conflict between Seminoles and whites in
Jupiter?

D: I never heard of it. They used to bring in deer meat to sell
to the settlers. Captain James Arango Armour in his story tells
about Indians coming in and bringing him venison.

K: Do you know whether or not Indians in your lifetime ever did much
saltwater fishing around here?

D: No. I can remember one time that five or six of them come poling
down the river in a dugout with this long pole that he poles the boat with. One end of it had a two-pronged spear on it.
He landed there on our point by the boathouse, and he waded out
in the water, crouching down. All of a sudden he threw this pole, and came up with a fish on the end of it. That surprised me, but
I think they was just out on a hunting trip, rowing around.
They weren't looking for anything particular, just something to
eat on the way as they went.

K: Would you say then that saltwater fish and shell-fish were
not a very big part of their diet?

D: Well, the aboriginal Indians, before the Seminoles came, built
these huge shell mounds all up and down the east coast of Florida,


















and on the west coast too. They show what they call kitchen middens,
where they cooked--burnt ashes and things like that--and evidently
they ate a lot of oysters. In the digging and moving of the
shell mounds, I found lots of fish bones, turtle bones, and deer
bones that they had cooked and eaten there when they were here.
I don't think that they were agriculturists at all. The aboriginal
Indians--like the Tequestas, or the Ais or on that order--ate palmetto berries, coco plums, any wild fruit or fish, oysters
and clams.

K: What about the Seminoles--you think they did not?

D. They came to Florida,, and after the war they had driven them
out into the central part, into the Everglades where it was All
fresh water. They didn't stay on the coast very much. They
were back inland.
In 1873 when the steamship Victor was wrecked off Garlan
Park, just about a mile south of Jupiter inlet, some Indians appeared
on the scene. They were quite friendly with Captain Armour.
There wasn't very many people living around, so whenever they camne
to Jupiter, they came to see him. So this time, the Captain was
down trying to see about the wreck,- to rescue the people and
what have you. So these Indians came to Mrs. Armour, and she
told them where the Captain was, and that they could go up
the lighthouse, look down there, and see the ship in the water off the shore. So they very carefully, one at a time, went up
the lighthouse spiral stairway, out onto the platform, and looked
down at the ship. One came back down and then th 'e next one
would go up. Evidently they didn't trustithat lighthouse too
much. "If you get all of them up there it might fall down.
On this.vessel that was wrecked, there were some cows, pigs,
and goats. They tell a story about this . they threw them
overboard so they'd swim ashore, and these goats evidently didn't know the shore was about 200 yards away, so they just swam around
and around the vessel there until they drowned. I don't know
whether the cattle got drowned coming ashore or whether the Indians
just killed them, but when they got down there, they camped there.
The vessel started breaking up after about three days, and it
was loaded with general cargo; all kinds of cloth and shoes,
and goodness knows, sewing machines. This one lighthouse keeper
got a sewing machine- that they used for years, come floating in
the inlet, in its box yet.

















These Indians butchered the cattle and had the biggest party
you ever heard of. They found some Attwood bitters, and the
lighthouse keeper claimed that you could hear them hollering all
the way up to the lighthouse. It was about a mile and a half
away. That was really a party. My wife wrote up the story
about the Victor, and she heard about these Indians being there,
so she wondered if Billy Bowlegs was amongst the crowd. He said, no, he was only a teenager then, and he didn't get to
go along with the crowd. But he knew the names of all of them-I couldn't tell you what they were--and what they brought home
and all that. All these yards of cloth, and suits. The captain
at the lighthouse there, the head man, I think they said he
had thirty-five suits of clothes and I don't know how many pairs
of shoes, that he'd rescued out of the water.

K: Do you know if the Seminoles in this area ever domesticated any
animals?

D: Well, they had dogs, and pigs, and chickens.

K: They kept pigs and chickens?

D: Oh yeah. The story was that they'd bring these pigs with them,
but they hold their foot up and beat on it with a stick to make
it so tender that they wouldn't.go far away from the camp.

K: Did they have any method of marking the pigs so that they'd know
who they belonged to?

D: Back in those days, the Jupiter deer hunters lots of times killed
wild pigs- out in the Allipattah Flats, and I suppose they're the
ones that originally escaped from the Spaniards when they were exploring Florida looking for gold. They came and they brought
their horses and pigs and everything with them to have food.
Naturally some of the pigs got away, and that's where the razorback hog came from here in Florida.

K: Did any of the Seminoles ever become employed by white men? Did
they ever seek any kind of work?

D: Well, in later years, I've seen them working for a contractor
along the roads, planting grass. They worked in the tomato
fields, picking tomatoes and beans and things like that.

















K: What about during the early part of the century, let's say up
until 1920?

D: I think they mostly hunted and lived off the land. It took years
and years for them to trust a white man after the-there was
only a few that they would trust.

K: Do you haveany idea approximately how many Indians there were
living between Jupiter and Lake Okeechobee?

D: No, no idea.

K: Was there ever any attempt by Oklahoma Indians either to convert
the Seminoles to Christianity or to try to get them to go to
Oklahoma?

D: I can remember one time when there were some Indians from
the Oklahoma reservation came to see the Indians here at
Jupiter. I don't know whether they came on a train . I suppose
they did,. because they were there at the railroad station and talking to them. This kind of impressed me just because this
Indian woman was all dressed up just like a white woman,
wearing high-beeled shoes and everything. She was talking to
the old chief who was old and grey and fat and only had on
a long-tailed shirt.

K: Do you remember his name?

D: No, I don't think that they got anybody to go back to Oklahoma
with them. That's the idea that I I got, that they were there
trying to convert them into going out to Oklahoma. The story
goes that out in Oklahoma they were very unhappy, because there
wasn't any iight-wood,-that is white pine, to cook with. They had to cook with cow chips or something like that, and that was
kind of a comedown. They could just put three or four bright
wood posts in a star shape, and start a fire, and just keep shoving them in, not even bother to chop it up with the ax.

K: Did you ever know anyone who ever hunted with the Seminoles or
had any experience of Seminole hunting?

D: Well, this Bowers store that I was telling you about here in
Jupiter was run by Mr. Frank Bowers. He had a brother who had
an orange grove and a store out at Indiantbwn., named Joe Bowers.

















He also got into the cattle business, and he sold things to the Indians out there. The story goes that he fell in love with one
of the young Indian girls and wanted to marry her. But the
older Indians wouldn't agree to it.

K: Can you give me an indication of how Seminoles went about hunting
game in the early part of the century? I'm curious as to
whether or not it was a group enterprise or whether individual
Seminoles went out into the woods to hunt.

D: I couldn't tell you that. I lived on the coast, and got my
living catching fish. I never saw a live deer in my life in the woods. No, I can't think of anything. I was just a little old boy, and I didn't know any of their names or anything like that.

K: Well, thank you. I really appreciate the interview.




Full Text

PAGE 1

SOUTHEASTERN INDIAN ORAL HISTORY PROJECT UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA In cooperation with The Seminole Tribe of Florida INTERVIEWEE: JOHN DuBOIS INTERVIEWER: TOM KING DATE: December 14, 1973

PAGE 2

SUMMARY John DuBois, a native of Jupiter, Florida, shares his memories of the Seminole Indians in that area, since the turn of the century. Briefly, he discusses trade, hunting, diet, and Indian relations in the white community. He also tells about the wreck of the Victor and the Indians' participation in salvaging it. His interview is seemingly limited by a lack of much per sonal contact with the Indians, particularly because Indian trade in Jupiter ended around 1915.

PAGE 3

INDEX animals; domesticated, 5 Armour, Capt. James A. (Jupiter lighthouse keeper), 3-4 Bowers, Frank, 1, 6; Joe, 6-7 Bowlegs, Billy, 5 Capron, Louis, 3 employment and income, 5-6 food; diet, 3-4 hunting, 2 Indiantown, 1-2, 6 Oklahoma Indians, 6 Seminole Sun Dance (West Palm Beach), 3 trade; Seminoles and white traders, 1-2 transcultural contacts; Indian-white relations, 3 Victor, wreck of, 4-5

PAGE 4

K: Mr. DuBois, you told me earlier that there was quite a lot of trading going on in this area between Seminoles and white traders in the early part of the twentieth century. Could you go into that in some detail, please? D: Well, the Indians lived at Indiantown, supposedly in the 1900s. They came in with their ox ... covered wagons, brought their family, their chickens, their dogs and their pigs, and would camp in_the woods about a half a mile away from Bower's general store. Then they would come down there and sell their coon, alligator, and otter hides to the store, and then buy their supplies. I remember one incident there where this Indian was buying a can of lard. The Indian had furnished the can to put it in, so Mr. Bowers took the little wood paddle and dipped up the lard out of the fifty gallon wooden tub, and pressed it down into the can. He put it on his computing scale, said to the Indian--how much it was. The Indian says, "Huh!" He took the heel of his hand and pressed it down good and tight in the can, and there was room for about a quarter of a can more. So Mr. Bowers very calmly took the can, filled it up again, and put it on the scales, and that was all right that time. K: Did they buy all of their goods at one time? D: I really don't know, but they would only come in every two or three months. They'd have to buy the essentials, I supposecloth, salt, and lard. K: What were they using for currency? Did they trade, or did they have money? D: I couldn't tell you that; I was only a ten year old boy. I suppose that the storekeeper must have paid them in money, because they were pretty particular about their dealings. They would buy one thing at a time, and pay for it. In later years, the story goes that out at Indiantown;, they had electricity in their chickees. When they'd come in to pay the bill, they'd put a dollar bill down on the counter, and look at the man, and he'd shake his head. They'd put another one down until they had the amount there to pay for anything.

PAGE 5

2 K: How much hunting was going on at that time for plumes and furs and so forth? Did the Indians depend on that for their live lihood? D: Well, there were several of the homesteaders here in Jupiter who eked out their living by hunting alligators. Instead of having a dugout canoe like the Seminoles, they made theirs out of cypress boards. They'd have a long pole, and pole through the shallow streams in the Everglades, and shoot the gators and bring them in. They really made a big business out of it-that is, worked hard at it. I've seen these great piles of fur, mostly coon hides, some otter, and alligator hides that the Indians brought in, piled up in the warehouse behind the Bower's store. K: How were these Indians affected by the Depression? D: Well, I couldn't tell you. I don't know when the Brighton Reservation was, and then the reservation down near Miami; the Indians that came into Jupiter moved out, and then we didn't have many more. I can't remember whether that would be by 1915, or before that. It was in the days when I was just a small boy that they were around in Jupiter, that is, trading. K: You can't remember when they stopped trading in Jupiter? D: Possibly before 1915, it might have been before 1912, I don't know. K: Then it was a good while ago. D: Yes, a long time. Out at Indiantown, the white settlers came in and took over the land, and put in orange groves. I guess when they opened up this Brighton place and helped them get started in the cattle business, they went there where they owned the land and weren't just squatting on it like they would be there at Indian town .. K: Do you know whether or not the Indians that used to come into this area were Cow Creeks or Miccosukees? D: I couldn't tell you.

PAGE 6

3 K: Well, what about Green Corn Dances? Were they ever held anywhere near Stuart, Jupiter, Fort Pierce and so on? D: I don't know anything about a Green Corn Dance, though they used to have what they called a Seminole Sun Dance down in West Palm Beach. It was kind of like the Mardi Gras over in, where is it, Louisiana. They'd have boat races and all kinds of things. Among them, they had an Indian village there. That was along from 1917 and on up from there. Mr. Capron [Louis Capron], who has written articles for The National Geographic magazine on the Green Corn Dance, was the sponsor or leader of the Indians. He saw that their camp was set up in a good place, and that they got food and were taken care of. I think they marched in the parades and things like that. Then people could go and look at their villages where they had their tents and things set up. But I think those Indians pro bably came in from Brighton. K: Was there ever any conflict between Seminoles and whites in Jupiter? D: I never heard of it. They used to bring in deer meat to sell to the settlers. Captain James Arango Armour in his story tells about Indians coming in and bringing him venison. K: Do you know whether or not Indians in your lifetime ever did much saltwater fishing around here? D: No. I can remember one time that five or six of them come poling down the river in a dugout with this long pole that he poles the boat with. One end of it had a two-pronged spear on it. He landed there on our point by the boathouse, and he waded out in the water, crouching down. All of a sudden he threw this pole, and came up with a fish on the end of it. That surprised me, but I think they was just out on a hunting trip, rowing around. They weren't looking for anything particular, just something to eat on the way as they went. K: Would you say then that saltwater fish and shell-fish were not a very big part of their diet? D: Well, the aboriginal Indians, before the Seminoles came, built these huge shell mounds all up and down the east coast of Florida,

PAGE 7

4 and on the west coast too. They show what they call kitchen middens, where they cooked--burnt ashes and things like that--and evidently they ate a lot of oysters. In the digging and moving of the shell mounds, I found lots of fish bones, turtle bones, and deer bones that they had cooked and eaten there when they were here. I don't think that they were agriculturists at all. The aboriginal Indians--like the Tequestas, or the Ais or on that order--ate palmetto berries, coco plums, any wild fruit or fish, oysters and clams. K: What about the Seminoles--you think they did not? D: They came to Florida, and after the war they had driven them out into the central part, into the Everglades where it was all fresh water. They didn't stay on the coast very much. They were back inland. In 1873 when the steamship Victor was wrecked off Carlan Park, just about a mile south of Jupiter inlet, some Indians appeared on the scene. They were quite friendly with Captain Armour. There wasn't very many people living around, so whenever they came to Jupiter, they came to see him. So this time, the Captain was down trying to see about the wreck; to rescue the people and what have you. So these Indians came to Mrs. Armour, and she told them where the Captain was, and that they could go up the lighthouse, look down there, and see the ship in the water off the shore. So they very carefully, one at a time, went up the lighthouse spiral stairway, out onto the platform, and looked down at the ship. One came back down and then the next one would go up. Evidently they didn't trust that li'ghthouse too much. u you get all of them up there it might fall down. On this.vessel that was wrecked, there were some cows, pigs, and goats. They tell a story about this.;.they threw them overboard so they'd swim ashore, and these goats evidently didn't know the shore was about 200 yards away, so they just swam around and around the vessel there until they drowned. I don't know whether the cattle got drowned coming ashore or whether the Indians just killed them, but when they got down there, they camped there. The vessel started breaking up after about three days, and it was loaded with general cargo; all kinds of cloth and shoes, and goodness knows, sewing machines. This one lighthouse keeper got a sewing machine.that they used for years, come floating in the inlet, in its box yet.

PAGE 8

5 These Indians butchered the cattle and had the biggest party you ever heard of. They found some Attwood bitters, and the lighthouse keeper claimed that you could hear them hollering all the way up to the lighthouse. It was about a mile and a half away. That was really a party. My wife wrote up the story about the Victor, and she heard about these Indians being there, so she wondered if Billy Bowlegs was amongst the crowd. He said, no, he was only a teenager then, and he didn't get to go along with the crowd. But he knew the names of all of themI couldn't tell you what they were--and what they brought home and all that. All these yards of cloth, and suits. The captain at the lighthouse there, the head man, I think they said he had thirty-five suits of clothes and I don't know how many pairs of shoes, that he'd rescued out of the water. K: Do you know if the Seminoles in this area ever domesticated any animals? D: Well, they had dogs, and pigs, and chickens. K: They kept pigs and chickens? D: Oh yeah. The story was that they'd bring these pigs with them, but they hold their foot up and beat on it with a stick to make it so tender that they wouldn't go far away from the camp. K: Did they have any method of marking the pigs so that they'd know who they belonged to? D: Back in those days, the Jupiter deer hunters lots of times killed wild pigs out in the Allipattah Flats, and I suppose they're the ones that orignially escaped from the Spaniards when they were exploring Florida looking for gold. They came and they brought their horses and pigs and everything with them to have food. Naturally some of the pigs got away, and that's where the razor back hog came from here in Florida. K: Did any of the Seminoles ever become employed by white men? Did they ever seek any kind of work? D: Well, in later years, I've seen them working for a contractor along the roads, planting grass. They worked in the tomato fields, picking tomatoes and beans and things like that.

PAGE 9

6 K: What about during the early part of the century, let's say up until 1920? D: I think they mostly hunted and lived off the land. It took years and years for them to trust a white man after the .•. there was only a few that they would trust. K: Do you have .any idea approximately how many Indians there were living between Jupiter and Lake Okeechobee? D: No, no idea. K: Was there ever any attempt by Oklahoma Indians either to convert the Seminoles to Christianity or to try to get them to go to Oklahoma? D: I can remember one time when there were some Indians from the Oklahoma reservation came to see the Indians here at Jupiter. I don't know whether they came on a train. I suppose they did, because they were there at the railroad station and talking to them. This kind of impressed me just because this Indian woman was all dressed up just like a white woman, wearing high-heeled shoes and everything. She was talking to the old chief who was old and grey and fat and only had on a long-tailed shirt. K: Do you remember his name? D: No, I don't think that they got anybody to go back to Oklahoma with them. That's the idea that ,I got, that they were there trying to convert them into going out to Oklahoma. The story goes that out in Oklahoma they were very unhappy, because there wasn't any light wood, that is white pine, to cook with. They had to cook with cow chips or something like that, and that was kind of a comedown. They could just put three or four bright wood posts in a star shape, and start a fire, and just keep shoving them in, not even bother to chop it up with the ax. K: Did you ever know anyone who ever hunted with the Seminoles or had any experience of Seminole hunting? D: Well, this Bowers store that I was telling you about here in Jupiter was run by Mr. Frank Bowers. He had a brother who had an orange grove and a store out at Indiantown ... named J@e Bowers.

PAGE 10

7 He also got into the cattle business, and he sold things to the Indians out there. The story goes that he fell in love with one of the young Indian girls and wanted to marry her. But the older Indians wouldn't agree to it. K: Can you give me an indication of how Seminoles went about hunting game in the early part of the century? I'm curious as to whether or not it was a group enterprise or whether individual Seminoles went out into the woods to hunt. D: I couldn't tell you that. I lived on the coast, and got my living catching fish. I never saw a live deer in my life in the woods. No, I can't think of anything. I was just a little old boy, and I didn't know any of their names or anything like that. K: Well, thank you. I really appreciate the interview.