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Collier County and the Seminole Wars Part 3 Seminoles During Colonial Period

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I am posting my talk from a recent program I gave at the Marco Island Historical Society. Several people who could not attend wanted to hear it, so I am posting the entire talk here.

Archaeologist Ripley Bullen found a Seminole burial on Pine Island that dated to the mid-1700s due to the artifacts and burial objects examined.

In the 1770s, William Bartram visited Talahasochte, a town on the Suwannee River near present day Fanning Springs. There was a trading house, and the inhabitants would trade all along the Florida coast and down to Cuba. Bartram tells about a large party of Seminoles in canoes who arrived to trade. The visiting Seminoles were said to be from a large town “on the Bay of Carlos” which is now Caloosahatchee Bay. This town is described as catching and drying fish, and trading with the Spanish.

The estuaries in southwest Florida are among the most productive in the world. Trading fish became a very strong industry with the Spanish. The Seminoles and Muskogee people of the southeast call fish, “the corn of the sea.” Fish as iconography on southeastern art often represents sustenance and fertility.

The Spanish recruited local people for the fishing industry in SW Fla. The fish were caught, and then dried and salted before being shipped to Cuba. The main season of operation every year was from August to March. Spanish artifacts found in this area indicate that there ranchos were probably also on Chokoloskee, Pavilion Key, and Addison Key next to Marco (now Addison Bay.)

[Below: Juan Gomez on Panther Key, Ten Thousand Islands, 1898. He lived a life very similar to the Spanish fishermen.]

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