Introduction by Kyle S. VanLandingham


The Kissimmee Leader, in late 1886, reprinted an article from the Jacksonville Herald, which stated that the Indians, in Dade and Monroe Counties were greatly agitated over depredations (killing the hogs and cattle of the Indians) by a group of white men who where camped near Lake Okeechobee. The Indians were planning to seek redress from the Mayor of Titusville. Many of the citizens were alarmed and some were leaving the area. The newspaper clipping from the Kissimmee paper was sent to President Cleveland and Daniel Lamont by persons who requested that the matter be investigated. There is no information to indicate that the Seminoles attacked or killed any white persons or that the matter was ever investigated. The following article from the Titusville Florida Star, by John Addison, presents his view and the view of others in the settlements of western Brevard County. John Addison was not an educated man so it is likely that the letter was actually written by Robert LaMartin, who is mentioned early in the letter. LaMartin, who lived at Basinger, and who had married into the Raulerson family, was well educated, wrote frequently for newspapers and had been a schoolteacher.

Ada Coats Williams, in The East Coast of Florida, Vol. 1, p. 287, reported that

"At that particular time some of the settlers had been catching and killing Indians' hogs, taking the same liberty with the hogs that they did with the wild game they found in the woods. The Indians became incensed over this injustice and were meeting and pow-wowing, planning an attack on the settlers whom the Indians greatly outnumbered. One Indian, a friend of the owner of a trading post [at Fort Pierce], informed the lady of the intended massacre. All women and children of the settlers were gathered up and sailed across the river to the protection of the government House of Refuge. Jim Bell, together with a few of the men went into the piney woods to met with the Indians. The Indians received Jim Bell because he had grown up with a number of them and was liked and trusted by them. It was finally agreed that the settlers had to raise two hundred dollars to pay for the hogs. This was great deal of money in those days, and the men had to ride and sail all up and down the river to raise the funds for the Indians from the settlers. Somehow the amount was gathered in the required amount of time, the massacre was averted, and once again the Indians and settlers were at peace."



John Addison's 1887 Letter to the Florida Star
with original spelling and punctuation



From the Titusville, FL Florida Star, February 9, 1887

Editor of the Florida Star:

I see in your issue of Nov. 17th that I am accused of having originated the news of the Indian outbreak as given to you by your St. Lucie itemizer. I had nothing to do with it as it was reported over the country before I went to Hogg's store. On our way down to the store we met Messrs. Morgan Swain and Robert LaMartin encamped at what we call Eagle Island. We spoke to each other and all agreed to camp together that night as the Ten Mile Creek was very high in order to cross it in the day time on account of the alligators, for one came very near catching an indian just a few weeks before. Each of the party enquired the news of the others and I said I had none. One of the party asked me if the indians were still dancing, and I told them they were. They then asked me if they had held their green corn dance as usual before this last dance. I told them yes, they had held it a few months before. Mr. Swain then told me it was reported where he had been that the indians were going to war and asked my opinion. I told him I did not know but they acted strangely. We bid each other farewell and proceeded on our way crossing the creek which took us more than a half a day to cross. Just in sight of Five mile creek we met Justice Bell in his carriage who had been down to carry his wife to his fathers. We did not stop and talk long as we wanted to cross the creek before dark. Next morning we went to the store, did our trading and started back homeward. As we passed Justice Bell’s house I requested that he come down to our camp as he was absent at the time. Next morning he came and asked more about the indians . I told him they were thoroughly equipped and acted strangely and that I did not know what to make of it. Mr. Bell then said if I saw any hostile signs that he would order an armed force and suppress It. I told him that the indians may mean no harm by their actions and not to order any armed force, and if I saw any hostile signs that I would let all the white people know it as soon as possible. The man with me seemed to favor the idea of Bell and we talked it over on our way home. I thought but little more about the indian question and several days had passed away when my wife and self had started down to the hammock field and when about a quarter from the house we saw three men mounted on gigantic steeds coming meeting us. When they rode up who should it be but the bright and intelligent John C. Hendry and Will Myers escorted by Mr. John Storman. I soon enquired their business and they told me that they had started down to the indian dance to see them and try to enter into negotiations for peace. The Seminoles were surprised to think that the white men would send two such men as Myers and John Hendry to treat for peace when they intended no harm and was just having what they called their christmas. They also had a warrant for the arrest of Bill Addison, my brother, and Doc Gilllispie my brother-in-law, on the charge of having killed some indian hogs, gotten out from an affidavit of one Frank Storman, an accomplice in the same act who was hired to me but left my work to engage in other affairs. Henry and Myers after visiting the indians proceeded on to Fort Bassinger pressing into service Messrs Watley and Bowen to help to take the accused criminals who bad been gone several days with a bunch of beef cattle to Mr. Roberts, but when they overtook them, told them their business and read them their warrant they were as badly surprised at finding that they would not be arrested by them as the indians were at their presence among them to make peace. When they returned home they made a flowery report of what they did while visiting the indians. They said the first indian camps they came to that the warriors all took refuge to the nearest thicket, all but one old man that was sick and could not run. Presently the indians began to come in one at a time to see what their business was. From what people said of John Hendry he looked as though he had been into an indian engagement and got out unwounded. His coat buttons were pulled off, leaving holes that would remind one of the use of the old fashioned muzzle-loading rifle. It was said that Mr. Alex Bell had ridden for a whole day and could not find an indian. I have lived in Brevard county for several years and have never heard of Mr. Bell being that far distant from Indian River in his life. If he was ever west of the Ten mile creek in the direction of the indian nation it was to cut cabbage or catch fish or hunt, for I am very sure he never went to see anything about the indians. It was also said that on my return I saw the indians and told them that the whites were going to make war upon them and in a few days several of their chiefs came in to see the white men who were going to make war upon them. This is all a fixed up affair gotten up by Frank Bell to establish his notoriety for he dont care what it costs county or State or the United States if he can have something said about Frank. He would, I believe sink Brevard county to acquire his wishes. No one feared the Indians but the Bell family, they all took refuge over on the ocean beach, as they thought the river protected them from starvation, the ocean beach would protect them from indian bullets. Now, Mr. Editor you will see by this that I had nothing to do with the indian report. I can prove nearly all that I have said In this and have nothing more to do with the indians than to keep them from killing my property. I know very well that they kill my stock for I have missed them and know they could not have gone any other way from the fact that no white persons have been there to interfere with stock. The idea of such a report causing so much fear and trouble that the Governor of the State should send out men to look into the matter caused by the infernal lies of some scoundrel that had nothing to do but to lie. The indians want nothing to do with white people except that which is necessary. If they had a future interest in the country they would be far from trying to finally exterminate what game there is. They would try to save as much of it as they could for they are no fools. They go every where over the plains and kill up the deer just taking the hams, surloins and hide leaving the balance In the woods for the buzzards to eat. I think our legislators ought to try to enact a statute to protect the game question and to prohibit the merchants from the buying of these skins. If such an act is not passed, in a few years more there will be no deer in the country. I know that they have damaged the game in Brevard county not less than seventy-five per cent, within the last several years. It is equally as bad in Monroe county and everywhere they go. They burn the woods at all times and thus damaged the cattle this winter ten per cent. where I live, as I have found a great many that starved to death on the little burns that they made during the severest time of the winter.

John Addison.