Showing posts with label Florida. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Florida. Show all posts

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Quaker Merchant Jonathan Dickinson

God's Protecting Providence written by Jonathan Dickinson (1663–1722) wealthy Quaker merchant and first published by the Society of Friends in Philadelphia in 1699 recounts the experiences of Dickinson's travels with his wife ans son, a family member Benjamin Allen, and Quaker missionary Robert Barrow on the ship Reformation commanded by Captain Joseph Kirle. A journey from West Indies to Philadelphia ended up in a hurricane and Florida. "The diary gives one of the first and most detailed accounts of early Florida. It discusses seventeenth-century plants, animals, and Spanish missions or "churches". More importantly, the journal describes the now-extinct local tribes he encountered along Florida's east coast, including the local Jaega, Ais, and Timucua tribes in central and north Florida, and the Apalachee in the Panhandle." (John R. Reis, The Life and Times of Jonathan Dickinson) 

Jonathan Dickinson, son of Captain Francis Dickinson (1632-1704) and Margaret Crook. He married Mary Gail, sister of Colonel John Gale of Jamaica in Philadelphia. More information on family in The Papers of William Penn, Volume 4: 1701-1718, Volume 4

He was Member of the Colonial Assembly: Philadelphia County, 1710-1711, 1716-1717, 1718-1720; Philadelphia City, 1717-1718, 1720-1721. Affiliation: Quaker, Pro-Proprietary. And was elected  Mayor.
As Speaker, Dickinson lead the Assembly as issues over Pennsylvania’s proprietorship were addressed after the death of William Penn. He owned one of the first carriages in the city.

As described by John R. Reis, in "The Life and Times of Jonathan Dickinson," "The mood of the natives changed constantly from friendship to hostility, keeping the crew of the Reformation on edge and fearing for their lives. One native shoved a fistful of sand into baby Jonathan's mouth when they first came ashore. But at another time, a native woman nursed baby Jonathan when his mother no longer had milk. At one point, the natives placed knives to the throats of the Dickinson party-but yet not long after, Jonathan was invited to the Indian chief's hut. There, he dined on boiled fish on a palmetto leaf. At times the natives were rough. At one point, they stripped the survivors of most of their clothes. But later, the natives would sit quietly listening to the Quakers read from the Bible." 
Photo from Early Visions of Florida erected in 1961 by Florida Board of Parks and Historic Memorials with Jonathan Dickinson Chapter D.A.R. 

The Tampa Tribune Sunday May 8 1988
The Wreck of the Reformation
Florida's coast was a deadly place for seventeenth-century castaways. Amy Turner Bushnell HUMANITIES, January/February 2013, Volume 34, Number 1

Jonathan Dickinson's journal, first published in 1699, is a harrowing narrative of shipwreck and captivity on a stretch of Florida’s Atlantic coast well outside of Spanish control and seldom seen by any English speaker, much less a Quaker merchant from Jamaica. The journey is the subject for an audio moment on the website of the Florida Humanities Council’s Viva Florida program, marking the five hundredth anniversary of Ponce de León’s arrival.

Dickinson sailed from Port Royal, Jamaica, on September 2, 1696, on the barkentine Reformation, bound for Philadelphia. With him were his wife and baby son, a kinsman, a Quaker missionary, eleven slaves including a child named Cajoe, and nine mariners. The voyage was ill fated: The ship fell out of convoy, the shipmaster broke his leg, and an Indian slave girl fell ill and died.

After a month of waiting at sea, a storm caught them in the Bahama Channel. Hencoops blew open and filled with seabirds, sheep and hogs washed overboard, and early in the morning of October 3, the vessel ran aground. Dickinson got his people and baggage ashore and out of the rain under a tent of spars and sails. They were soon sighted. Two men in breechclouts of woven grass ran up, snatched the tobacco and pipes that Dickinson held out, and, “making a snuffing noise,” ran away.

Although only one of them spoke Spanish, the twenty-four castaways agreed to say that they were headed toward St. Augustine, 230 miles to the north. To reach the Spanish settlement, they had to cross the territories of four hunting and gathering peoples: the Jaega, Santaluz, Ais, and Surruque. The Wild Coast was not part of Spanish Florida.

The Jaega who came to salvage the wreck ordered the party to unlock their chests, trunks, and boxes. The chief took the money; the warriors divided the clothes, including some that the party was wearing. At the town of Jobe, several miles away, they were given a meal of fish and set to work repairing locks and mending tears, while the chief ’s wife dandled and nursed the Dickinsons’ baby, Jonathan. In the distance they could see the smoke of a great fire, the burning Reformation.

Although warned that the Santaluces would kill them, the group started northward. When night fell they built a fire on the beach and buried themselves in the sand to escape the sand flies and mosquitoes. At daybreak on the second morning, a group of Santaluces with bows and arrows fell upon them, crying “Nickaleer, Nickaleer,” their word for English people. Those in breeches were shaken out of them. Mary Dickinson had her clothes torn from her body and her hair-lace yanked from her head. The walk to the town of Santaluz was a gauntlet of stones, blows, and menacing weapons. At the council house, the castaways were ordered to lie on the floor, nasty with garbage and swarming with scorpions and large, hairy spiders. Unaccountably, an hour later they were brought Indian clothing and a meal of clams, fish, and palm berries. That night they were hurried along to Ais territory, past the wreck of a smaller ship, the Nantwich, lost in the same storm.

The old chief of Ais washed Mary Dickinson’s feet, injured by sunburn and the hot sand. He promised to take his Spanish “comrades” to St. Augustine as soon as he could collect his share of the salvaged cargo, but not the seven Nickaleers from the Nantwich. Food ran short in Ais while the old chief was away, and Jonathan later confessed that when he and Mary thought that they might die and their child be brought up a savage, “it wounded us deep.”

On the twelfth of November, a piragua came in sight and out stepped Captain Sebastián López with a squad of soldiers and the old chief, whom he had met along the way. No longer able to pretend that they were Spaniards, the Jamaicans begged López to escort them to St. Augustine. He agreed to see them as far as the Surruque border, but he had no extra rations. To feed themselves for a two-week trek they had nothing but a bagful of stolen berries.

The weather was turning cold, and they were without blankets or warm clothes. On one terrible day, November 23, five members of the party, including little Cajoe, died on the beach of exposure. As the survivors neared St. Augustine, they took shelter in three successive sentinel houses. The sentinels could not feed them and had no boats to spare, but once they were safely inside the capital, the townspeople lodged, clothed, and fed them, and the governor kindly arranged for them to travel up to Charleston, where they could take ship for Pennsylvania.

No one who experienced the wreck of the Reformation would ever forget it. So that others could profit from their sufferings, the Quaker Meeting in Philadelphia published Dickinson’s account as God’s Protecting Providence. In the next 170 years it would be reprinted sixteen times in English and three times each in Dutch and German, long after Creek and Carolinian slave raiders had depopulated the Wild Coast and the mission provinces of Spanish Florida. 

Palm Beach 1965 DAR

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Gamble Mansion and Judah P. Benjamin

A Share by Dale Cox-author, historian and his blog with adds by Melissa

One of the most interesting stories of the War Between the States in Florida is the escape down the peninsula of Confederate Secretary of State Judah P. Benjamin.

With the Confederacy collapsing around them, President Jefferson Davis and his cabinet fled Richmond in early April of 1865. After stopping briefly at Danville, Virginia, where they met as a full cabinet for the last time, the Southern officials continued to retreat South. Some, like Davis, hoped to somehow reach Texas and continue the war. Others, like Benjamin, were looking for a way to avoid capture, trial and possible hanging at the hands of the Union army.

Although President Davis was captured at Irwinville, Georgia, Secretary Benjamin made his way south into Florida. He stopped briefly at Madison before continuing down the peninsula. Avoiding populated areas and increasing Federal patrols, he  reached the Gamble Mansion on the Manatee River just below Tampa.

Picture below from State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory
  • Maj. Robert Gamble, of Tallahassee and later of Ellenton, Florida, was noted for outstanding bravery at the Battle of the Withlacoochee during the Second Seminole War. He supervised the building of a huge sugar mill and the Gamble Mansion at Ellenton. During the Civil War, a Federal raiding party from the east Gulf Blockading Squadron blew up the sugar mill. The Mansion is now part of a State Historic Memorial on U.S. Highway 301.
  • Robert Gamble was the son of John G. Gamble of Tallahassee, Florida, noted banker, gentlemen farmer, and promoter.

The home had been built between 1845 and 1850 as the center of the sugar plantation of Major Robert Gamble. He had lost a fortune on the operation, however, and by 1865 the house was the residence of Captain Archibald McNeill. A famous blockade runner, Captain McNeill had successfully kept commerce coming and going from South Florida by running his small sloops and schooners out to see under the very guns of the Union blockade squadron.

After allowing Benjamin to rest and prepare for his voyage at the mansion, McNeill slipped into the Gulf of Mexico from the Manatee River in May of 1865. Making his way silently through the web of Union warships, he escaped one final time with important cargo - Secretary of State Judah P. Benjamin. The blockade runner reached Nassau and safety and from there Benjamin went on to England. He spent the rest of his life in Europe, practicing law in England. He is buried in Paris.

The Gamble Mansion was saved from deterioration in 1925 by the United Daughters of the Confederacy. Now owned by the people of Florida, it is the centerpiece of the Gamble Plantation Historic State Park. It is also a memorial to Judah P. Benjamin. To learn more, please visit Explore Gamble History

Also check Out: Sunday Favorites: What the Civil War Meant for Manatee County 150 Years Ago