Jeremiah Yancey's

Travels in the Swamps of Central Florida

- 1824 -

Ancestry: Jeremiah Yancey, son of Jechonias, son of Jeremiah, son of Robert, son of Charles, son of Charles Yancey.

Citation from the World Book Encyclopedia:

In the early 1800's, Florida was the only part of Southeastern North America that did not belong to the United States. Runaway slaves and prisoners and thieving Indians took refuge in the Florida region. Florida settlers fought their Spanish rulers, but Spain refused to sell Florida to the United States. In 1812, a group of Eastern Florida settlers rebelled and declared their independence from Spain. But the Spaniards stopped the rebels. During the War of 1812, Spain let England use Pensacola as a naval base. In 1814, American troops led by General Andrew Jackson stormed into Florida and seized Pensaloca. During the first Seminole War (1816-1818), Jackson captured Fort St. Marks on the Gulf of Mexico. He then marched as far east as the Suwannee River, and defeated the Seminole Indians. Finally in 1819, Spain agreed to turn Florida over to the United States. Florida formally came under U.S. control in 1821. Congress organized the Territory of Florida in 1822. Thousands of American settlers poured into Florida. One of the major problems they faced was finding enough land for settlement. Seminole Indians lived in some of the territory's richest farmland. The U.S. government offered land in the Oklahoma region to the Seminole if they would leave Florida Territory. Some of the Seminole accepted the offer, but others refused to leave their homes. In 1835, a band of Seminole attacked and massacred Major Francis L. Dade and his troops near what is now Bushnell. This incident started the Second Seminole War. The Seminole were finally defeated in 1842. Most of the Seminole left the territory after the war, but a small band stayed in Florida.

Jeremiah Yancey [1794-1829]

Taken from a letter found in the National Archives




C. F. 30 JUNE 1824

I have recently taken a circuitous joint of about two hundred miles into the Indian Territory in company with Col. Humphreys Indian Agent. Curiosity, together with a desire to become acquainted from actual observation with the particular situation, manners, and customs of the Indians; the general aspect of the country - etc; were the only objects I had in view.

We visited Thlo-nota-Sassa - Indian town fifteen miles N.E. from this place - it contains about ten families - is situated on a [pine barrier?] branch bordering on two Small ponds - both nearly covered with grass and around these ponds is a narrow stretch of hammock - heavily timbered - the greater part of which is under cultivation although the soil is shallow and of inferior quality - very bad water.

Chickuchatty, next town, thirty miles N.W. from Thlo-Nota-Sassa - situated on a [pine barrier?] - near a miserable pool. There are four settlements (one negro) within six or eight miles of each other, all coming under the general name of Chickuchatty and containing from 20 to 25 families.

Hitchu-Puck-Sassa, thirty miles N.W. from Chickuchatty - near the Big Hammock - the town is also near a pond on Pine land of indifferent quality. The country from Chickuchatti to this place is gently rolling - poor sandy soil, badly watered and the timber Dwarf Pine and "Black Jack".

Within eight or ten miles of Hitchu-Puck-Sassa there are three or four small but poor hammocks besides the Big Hammock - all heavily timbered - but thin soil - in many places not more than three inches deep - and upon a bit of [rotten??] lime stone. The water is scarce and unwholesome, and immediately in the vicinity of all these hammocks there are numerous Aspen prairies - savannahs and Cyprus Swamps - which in the summer and fall generally dry up - leaving unusual quantities of animal and vegetable matter exposed to the sun.

Many of the Indians and negroes are at this [time?] sick - and in the fall season particularly, they are seriously afflicted with fevers and other diseases. For these reasons, the Indians who formerly attempted to cultivate the Big Hammock and others in the vicinity - have abandoned them for more desirable and healthful positions.

Palackakaha - thirty miles E of Hitchu-Puck-Sassa - a negro town; containing about Seventy-five souls  - slaves to Miconopy, and other Indians.  This town is situated upon a small hammock of light soil - which is nearly worn out - its habitants are supplied with water from a small pool of bad water - the negroes also are afflicted with fevers even at this season, and seriously so in the fall. 

Tolok-Chupka or Pease Creek settlement are three in number -  Two Indian and one Negro - the former containing about Fifteen families the latter about thirty souls.  Slaves to Opony-Tolok.  Chupko is about Seventy miles S.E. from Palacklikaha - here to the water is very bad - the indians and negroes sick with fevers etc - only small skirts of hammock - soil of indifferent quality.  It is remarkable that in travelling from Palacklikaha to Tolok-Chupka we did not see an acre of good land - and the only streams of water we met with were two inconsiderable sluggish sewers issuing from cyprus ponds. 

From Tolok -Chupka to Thlo-nota-sassa (the [first] town we visited) is about sixty miles - rolling, poor, badly watered, sandy country.  In our whole route which we were ten days performing, I can safely say that I did not see Two hundred acres of good land.  I can only say that I was greatly disappointed - and had even an imperfect idea of this section of the territory - because from the numerous erroneous and exaggerated accounts given of this country - which originated in fancy rather than in fact.

I was induced to believe that I should find it to be a gently rolling country - well watered with good springs, beautiful brooks and rivers - interspersed all through with rich and extensive live Oak hammocks- the brooks and rivers abounding in a great variety of fish and the country in game - but instead of which I found it to be an open champaign and an extremely poor, sandy bach country - interspersed all through with innumerable and in many instances very extensive cyprus swamps - ponds - low spongy savannahs and prairies - occasionally a live oak, or other hammocks, but when viewed in the aggregate all too poor and insignificant to merit even that particular description which I have attempted to give of them.

                                                                                                 J. Yancey