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Extreme Perils and Suffering of the Natchez Refugees

During the siege of Pensacola, a series of events, of an interesting and romantic character, began at Natchez, and afterwards ended, with unparalleled sufferings, in the vast Indian wilderness, which extended from thence to the Ogechee River, in the distant province of Georgia. Some citizens of the Natchez district, the most prominent of whom were Philip Alston, Colonel Hutchens, John Alston, Captain Thaddeus Lyman, Thompson Lyman, Jacob Blomont, and Jacob Winfrey, put themselves at the head of a large party of royalists, for the purpose of seizing Fort Panmure, and expelling there from the Spanish troops, who had held it since September, 1780. They had learned that a powerful British fleet was off the Florida coast, whose object was the re-occupation of the country, and, believing that Don Galvez had already been defeated at Pensacola, they resolved immediately to anticipate what they supposed would be the desire of their King. Having assembled a large body of Choctaws, the insurgents assumed a position upon an eminence, above the town of Natchez, in full view of the fort. At night they advanced and planted their artillery so as to bear upon the works; but, when day approached, the Spanish cannonade compelled them to retire. During the succeeding twenty-four hours, the firing continued between the parties. Apr. 29 1781: The commandant sent a flag to Colonel Hutchens, representing the danger of rebellion, and promising the clemency of his government, if the people would disperse, after they should have surrendered the ringleaders. An answer was promised, to be returned the next day. During the interval, the malcontents arrested a man bearing a dispatch...

Journey of Bartram Through Alabama

William Bartram, the botanist, passed through the Creek nation, and went from thence to Mobile. He found that that town extended back from the river nearly half a mile. Some of the houses were vacant, and others were in ruins. Yet a few good buildings were inhabited by the French gentlemen, and others by refined emigrants of Ireland, Scotland, England, and the Northern British Colonies. The Indian trade was under management of Messrs. Swanson and McGillivray. They conducted an extensive commerce with the Chickasaws, Choctaws, and Creeks. Their buildings were commodious, and well arranged for that purpose. The principal houses of the French were of brick, of one story, of a square form, and on a large scale, embracing courts in their rears. Those of the lower classes were made of strong cypress frames, filled in with plaster. Major Farmar, one of the most respectable inhabitants of West Florida, who formerly had much to do with the colonial government, resided at Tensaw, in sight of the present Stockton, where once lived the tribe of Tensaw Indians. The bluff sustained not only his extensive improvements, but the dwellings of many French families, chiefly his tenants, while his extensive plantations lay up and down the Tensaw River, on the western side. Indeed, all up that river, and particularly on the western branch, were many well cultivated plantations, belonging to various settlers, while others were in ruins, having been abandoned by the French when the English took possession of the country. The plantations on the Mobile River, as seen five years before, have already been mentioned. At one of these Bartram stayed...

The End of the Florida War, The Fate of the Seminoles – Indian Wars

The close of the troubles with the Florida Indians resulted in their removal to a reservation almost within the shadow of the Rocky Mountains. The tribe, the Seminoles, lost much of their prestige, and became discouraged upon the death of Osceola. The last battle of those terrible swamp skirmishes could be called by the legitimate term of regular pitched battles and occurred December 8th, 1842. The first conflict occurred on the 19th of July, 1835. This second war followed closely upon the treaty which was supposed to have removed beyond any possibility the chance of another outbreak. But only with his total extinction will the Indian forget a wrong either fancied or real. They still brooded over their fancied wrongs. For them, as is told of those who wanted opportunity, the opportunity was made. A settler, newly arrived, and who had located near one of the largest of the Seminole towns, lost two or three of his horses, and entertaining the idea that the Indians were naturally thieves, at once proceeded to the nearest military post and made complaint with such additions and exaggerations to his story as he thought necessary to insure a prompt reprisal and rescue of his property from the depredators. This fermented the ill-feeling of the Indians, who in reality had not taken the horses, for they were afterwards found in a swamp some miles away from their owner’s house, whither they had strayed. One night the settler’s house was fired by a band of about thirty Indians, his wife murdered, and he himself escaping by the merest chance from a similar fate. Thus began...

Narrative of the Captivity of John Ortiz – Indian Captivities

John Ortiz, a Spaniard, Who was Eleven Years a Prisoner Among the Indians of Florida In the year 1528 Pamphilo de Narvaez, with a commission, constituting him governor of Florida, or “all the lands lying from the river of Palms to the cape of Florida,” sailed for that country with 400 foot and 20 horse, in five ships. With this expedition went a Spaniard, named John Ortiz, a native of Seville, whose connections were among the nobility of Castile. Although we have no account of what part Ortiz acted in Narvaez‘s expedition, or how he escaped its disastrous issue, yet it may not be deemed out of place to notice briefly here that issue. This Narvaez had acquired some notoriety by the manner in which he had executed a commission against Cortez. He had been ordered by the governor of Cuba to seize the destroyer of Mexico, but was himself overthrown and deserted by his men. On falling into the hands of Cortez, his arrogance did not forsake him, and he addressed him thus: “Esteem it good fortune that you have taken me prisoner.” “Nay,” replied Cortez, “it is the least of the things I have done in Mexico.” To return to the expedition of which we have promised to speak. Narvaez landed in Florida not very far from or perhaps at the Bay of Apalachee, in the month of April, and marched into the country with his men. They knew no other direction but that pointed out by the Indians, whom they compelled to act as guides. Their first disappointment was on their arrival at the village of...

Second Seminole War – Indian Wars

The second Seminole war against the Indians and runaway Blacks in Florida commenced in 1835. A treaty had been concluded with the Seminole warriors, by which they agreed to remove beyond the Mississippi. A party of the Indians had proceeded to the territory appointed for their reception, and reported favorably upon their return. Everything promised a speedy conformity to the wishes of the government. But at this juncture, John Hext, the most influential chief of the tribe, died, and was succeeded in power, by Osceola. This chief wielded his power for far different purposes. Being opposed to emigration, he inflamed the minds of his people against the whites, and used every art to induce them to remain on their old hunting grounds. His conduct became so violent, that he was arrested by the Indian agent, and put in irons; but, promising to give up his opposition, he was set free. On the 19th of July, 1835, some Indians who had met by appointment near Jogstown settlement, for the purpose of hunting, were attacked by a party of white men and flogged with cowhide whips. While this was going on, two other Indians arrived, who raised the war whoop and fired upon the whites. The firing was returned, one of the Indians killed, and the other wounded. Three of the whites were also wounded. On the evening of August 6th, Dalton, the mail carrier from Tampa Bay to Camp King, was murdered by a party of Indians. General Thompson, the Indian agent, immediately convened the chiefs and demanded that the offenders should be delivered up to justice. The chiefs promised...

The Seminole War of 1816 and 1817 – Indian Wars

After the close of the war with Great Britain, in 1815, when the British forces were withdrawn from the Florida’s, Edward Nicholls, formerly a colonel, and James Woodbine, a captain in the British service, who had both been engaged in exciting the Indians and Blacks to hostility, remained in the territory for the purpose of forming combinations against the southwestern frontier of the United States. Nicholls even went so far as to assume the character of a British agent, promising the Creeks the assistance of the British forces if they would rise and assert their claim to the land which had been ceded to the United States. As an aid in effecting their purposes, Nicholls and Woodbine erected a fort on the Appalachicola River, between East and West Florida, as a rendezvous for runaway Blacks and hostile Indians. In July, 1816, upwards of four hundred Blacks and Indians were collected at this place, which was strong by its position, well supplied with ammunition and provisions, and with twelve pieces of artillery. To break up this horde of outlaws, Colonel Clinch, with a detachment of United States troops and five hundred friendly Indians, under the celebrated McIntosh, proceeded from the head waters of the Appalachicola, and laid siege to the fort on the land side. After exacting an oath from their followers not to suffer an American to approach the fort alive, Nicholls and Woodbine left the fort to their keeping. To supply Colonel Clinch’s forces with munitions and provisions for the siege, two schooners, from New Orleans, proceeded up the river on the 10th of July, under convoy of...

The Creek War – Indian Wars

In the spring of the year 1812, the southern Indian tribal were visited by the bold and enterprising Tecumseh. His stirring appeals to their patriotism and valor were heard with attention, and he succeeded in stimulating them to open hostility. It is to be regretted that no specimen of the orations of this great Indian have been preserved. Judging from their effects, they would be ranked among the highest models of true eloquence. Tecumseh particularly appealed to the powerful Creek nation. These Indians had long been on friendly terms with the whites, and a portion of them were, therefore, unwilling to begin a war-fare against those to whom they had become attached. But the body of the nation consented. The worst effects soon followed. Parties of Creeks began their depredations upon the frontier settlements. The first regular demonstration of hostility, however, was made by the Seminoles and the Creeks residing within the limits of Florida. Having been joined by a number of fugitive Blacks from the United States, they commenced a cruel and harassing warfare. In the month of September, 1812, a party of volunteers from Georgia, under Colonel Newman, to the number of one hundred and seventeen, were attacked near the Lachway towns, by a superior force of Indians. A sharp conflict ensued, which ended in the retreat of the latter into a swamp, with the loss of their leader, who bore the title of king. Finding that his body remained in the hands of their opponents, they renewed the attack, for the purpose of obtaining it; and with a loyalty and valor, which among civilized nations, would have...

Indian Wars of Carolina – Previous to the Revolution

When the English settled in South Carolina, it was found that the State was inhabited by about twenty different tribes of Indians. The whites made gradual encroachments without meeting with any opposition from the Indians, until the latter saw that if these advances were continued, they would be completely driven from their country. A struggle was immediately begun, in which the colonists suffered so much from the number and fury of their enemies that a price was fixed upon every Indian who should be brought captive to Charleston, from whence they were sold into slavery for the West Indies. The hostility of the southern Indians was instigated by the Spaniards, who supplied them with arms and ammunition. In the year 1702, Governor Moore marched into the country of the Appalachian Indians, took a great number of prisoners, and compelled the remainder to submit to the supremacy of the English government. A more important contest occurred in 1712. The Tuscaroras, and other powerful tribes, whose country extended from Cape Fear River to the peninsula of Florida, united in a league, the object of which was, to wage a war of extermination against the whites. Every part of the design was laid with secrecy and ingenuity. They fortified their principal village, in order to shelter their women and children, and there the warriors met and matured their scheme. When the favorable moment arrived, they scattered in small bands, and entering the houses of the planters, demanded something to eat. They then murmured at the provisions set before them, and pretending to be angry, they immediately began to murder men, women, and...

Early Indian Wars in Florida

Previous to the permanent establishment of the English in North America, the French and Spaniards made many attempts to get possession of various parts of the country. The coasts were carefully explored, and colonies planted, but they were soon given up as expensive, and involving too much hardship and danger. The first expedition to the coast of Florida was made in 1512, by Juan Ponce de Leon, renowned for his courage and warlike abilities. Ponce de Leon, becoming governor of Porto Rico (Puerto Rico), and hearing from the Indians that there existed a beautiful and fertile country to the northward, containing the waters of perpetual youth, resolved to attempt its conquest. He sailed from Porto Rico with three ships, and finally, reached the continent at about eight degrees thirty minutes, north latitude. Landing on Palm Sunday, Ponce de Leon gave the country the name of Florida. He explored the coast from north to south, and had several engagements with the Indians; and though he failed to obtain the youth and treasures that he sought, he returned to Porto Rico, crowned with the luster of making a great discovery. The report of the achievements of Cortez in Mexico, again kindled the ambition of Ponce de Leon; and he set out in 1521, with two of his own ships, to make a settlement in Florida. But the Indians advanced against him; most of his men were killed, and himself so badly wounded, that he died a few days after his return to Cuba. Another expedition, under Vasquez de Ayllon, attempted to form a settlement, in 1524. The Indians on the coast...

I – Florida Indian Villages, Towns and Settlements

A complete listing of all the Indian villages, towns and settlements as listed in Handbook of Americans North of Mexico. Iniahico A principal Apalachee village in 1539, near the site of Tallahassee, Florida. Itafi A district of Florida where one of the Timuquanan dialects was spoken.1 Itara A former village in North Florida, visited by De Soto’s troops in 1539. Ivitachuco A former principal town of the Apalachee, possibly near the present Wacahotee, Florida.FootnotesPareja (ca. 1614), Arte Leng. Timuq., xxi,...
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