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The Florida agriculturist. [volume] (DeLand, Fla.) 1878-1911, September 11, 1878, Image 1

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The Florida Agriculturist.
y6i i.
Contents of this Number.
.Page 137—Indian Key Massacre.
Page 138 —David Grey’s Estate, poetry ;
Our Prout Room: Tim’s Kit: A Blighted
Pleasure; Recipes.
Page 139—Legal Notices: Advents.
Page 140—No Yellow Fever in Florida;
Have Your Own Paper; Hog Gum
or Boar Gum; Hedges: Reduction ot
raxes; From Our Daytona Correspond
ent; Orange County Lemons; Prepair
ing Guavas ; Answers to Correspondents;
Floridiana. , .
Page 141—Locals; Adv’mtsX *jL
Page 142—Strawberries in FllSn<%; Kero
sene as an Insect Destroyer. Y
Page 143—How to Observe Sunday; Mer
Page 144—Telegraphic News; Adv'mts.
Death of Dr. Perrine.
•v 4k .. .
We clip the following interesting
history of the “Massacre at Indian
Key” from the .Fanner's, Register
published Septembei 30th, 1840. We
have no doubt but what acme of our
Key West readers remember the par
ticulars of this horrible affair, as we
recognize many of the names men
tioned therein now citizens of Key
* * * * * *
The foregoing extract derives a
melancholy interest from the fact,
now known to our readers generally,
that within a few days after it was
written, its author fell a victim to
the Seminole savages, who invaded
and sacked Indian Key, aud butch
ered such of its helpless inhabitants,
ol every age and sex, as could not
escape. The lives of the wife and
young daughters of ,t>r. Perrine were
UnlV jvvfefi? ™: I
shot, while speaking flfi Spanish) to
the Indians, and probably in the
hope of diverting their attention
from the escape of the more helpless
family. His bones w ere afterwards
found araoDg the ashes of his house.
With his corpse, the flames destroyed
his numerous manuscripts, and his
valuable botanical and other collec
tions. Indeed, all the fruits of Iris
patriotic and benevolent labors have
perished with him, except the repu
tation earned with the few' who have
fully appreciated the value of his
long-continued and unrequited exer
tion for the benefit of his country
and the human race.
For many years and through the
prime of his life, Dr. Perrine had de
voted all his energies and talents to
the ons dearly cherished object of ex
growth of valuable trop
ical gradual acclimation,
into the colder temperate region of the
United States. The continued pro
gress of the savage war was the latest
and greatest obstacle to the fruition
of his hopes, and it>f'orbadc his even
touching the designed scene of his
operations, on the southern part of
the mainland of Florida. In the
meantime, while waiting for what
seems further off than ever, the over
coming and the removal of a handful
of hostile savages, by all the power
of the arms and the treasure of the
United States, he attempted to carry
on preparatory operations by a resi
dence at the nearest point deemed
safe from the murderous attacks of
the Seminoles. But illy placed Was
this confidence, and most disastrous
the result. Indian Key though sep
arated from the mainland by thirty
miles of sea, was invaded by a body
of Indians, in canoes, and attacked in,
the sight of an American vessel, aad |
plunderd, and every house burnt*
after the putting to death every per
son who could not escape. This was
not all. The Indians kept possession
of the island as long as they pleased,
and long enough for them to be at
tacked by, and to defeat and drive
back a small military force of the
United States army, armed with ar
tillery, from an adjacent island. The
horrors and disgraces of this war
with a few hundred savages increase
instead of diminishing, after years of
duration, aud after sacrifices made
by this country'beyond all precedent,
or what would previously have been
beyond all relief.
The following extract from a
southern newspaper presents some
oi the particulars of this last act of
the Florida war.
• About two o'clock on the morn
ing of the 7th inst., a Mr. Glass, in
the employ of Mr. Houseman, hap
pening to be up, saw boats approach
ing, and informed a person in the
same employ, when they passed into
Mr. Houseman’s garden and were
satisfied that they were boats con
taining Indians. The Indians com
menced their firing upon the houses
ot Mr. Houseman and Dr. Perrine;
the former of whom with his family,
and that ot Mr. Charles Howe, suc
ceeded in escaping to boats and
crossing over to Tea Table Bay.
The family of Dr. Perrine passed
through a trap door into their bath
ingjrooms, from whence theyjgot in
to the turtle crawl, and by great
effort removed the logs and escaped
They went to a boat at the wharf,
which six Indians, all who remained,
had partly filled, and were in the
store after a further supply. They
then pushed off, and pulled with an
oar, a paddle, and two poles, toward
the schooner Medium. They were
met by a boat when they had rowed
a mile, and then taken to the
‘ Mr. Motte and his wife, and Mrs.
Johnson, a iady seventy years of age,
fled into an out-house, whence Mrs.
Motte was dragged by an Indian, and
while in the act of calling on her hus
band. “John, save me,” she was killed.
Mr. Motte shared the same fate,
and was scalped, and tho'old lady,fas
she was dragged forth, suddenly jerk
ing from the Indian, broke his hold
and escaped under a house. Her
grandchild, a daughter of Mrs. Mottc>
eleven years, was killed w ith a club,
the infant was then strangled and
thrown into the water. This was
seen by Mrs. Johnson from her hid
ing place but the Indians fired this
building and she vras again forced
to flee, and escaped to Maloney’s
Wharf, where she secreted herself,
and was finally rescued. A. Sturdy,
a boy about eleven of age, hid
himself in the cistern under Mr.
1 Houseman’s house, and was scalaed
to death by the burning Jsuiltiug
, heating the water. The r of
an adult skeleton were found
among the ruins of Dr. Perrine’s
house, supposed to be the Doctor’s,
as well as a child thought to have
been a slave to Mr. Houseman.”
Mrs. Perrine’s account of the es
cape of the family of Dr. Perrine, as
published in the Wayne (N. Y.) Sen
tinel :
Mrs. Perrine and her three chil
dren, two daughters, (young women,)
DeLand, Florida, Wednesday, September 11, 1878.
and a son about thirteen years of age,
survivprs of the dreadful massacre at
Indian Key, Florida, on t|je 7th of
August last, arrived on the
night of the sth instant, in compara
tive good health. Their intense suf
fering and miraculous escape, arc
among the most thrilling incidents
upon the annals of Indian warfare in
our country. We doubt .whether for
self-possession, cool determination
aud daring bravery, under such ap
palling circumstances, an equal can be
found ou the records of female hero
ism, in ancient or modem times. A
special Providence seems to have in
spired and directed Xkom from au
awful death. The facts as we learn
them from the family are as fol
lows ; ,
_ This Key is a small.island off the
south-east coast of Florida, contain
ing only about 12 acres of land, and
5 families, in all about 60 inhabitants.
Around Indiau Ivey, is a chain of
keys on the north-west, extending to
wards the main land, the most noted
of which is Matacumba. This is dis
tant from Indian Key about one
mile, and extends to within 20 miles
of the peninsular or main land,
being the nearest point from any of
tbe keys in this direction. Owing to
the distance from the main shore,
and the known habits of the Florida
Indians, during the present war—
scarcely daring jto venture beyond
the confines of their own impenetra
ble swamps .and fastnesses—and
from the fact that a small force was
stationed on one of tfye group—Tea
naval depot, the security was
never interrupted, nor ftbe thought
or possibility of danger entertained.
The inhabitants there were as care
less and unconcerned as in the most
profound peace. But, alas! the infu
riated savages—those demons in
human form—like their counterpart,
the spirit of evil, chose for their vic
tims the most ungarded, those least
prepared to resist. They sprung
from their jungle upon the innocent
and unsuspecting, like the tiger upon
his prey. There is but one onset,
and the bloody work is done.
In the attack upon this island, it
was'thcjplan,ol'tho t lndians’to strike
but one blow, amVmake that decisive.
They approached it at an unusual
point, where it was deemed inacces
sible They were about 80 in num
ber*. It was their plan to divide
their force, and make a simultane
ous attack upon every house on the
island, and cut oft - at once every
possibility ol escapo; but fortu
nately, their presence was detected
before their hellish work could be
executed. Two laborers of Mr.
Houseman, who for some reason
were abroad, (It being about 2 ©.’clock
in the morning) first discovered the
canoes of the savages, IT in number,
drawn up on an obscure part of the
island. There could be but one ex
planation to this strange appearance.
That was quickly apprehended by
the workmen. Indians were present,
and death and plunder could bo
their only object; and they were
soon discovered, in their skulkin"
attitudes, filing for the different
houses, the inmates of which were
all enjoying their quiet slumber
little dreaming of the impending
storm that was about to burst upon
them. The alarm was instantly giv-
en, and in a manner so as to frustrate,
partially, the designs of the savages,
and by the providence of God, a part
of the devoted victims, snatched from
swift destruction, were permitted to
escape their intended doom. But as
full account of the bloody tragedy is
intended to be given from another
source, we shall narative
to the part acted by the family of
Dr. Perrine.
At the time of the attack, the fam
ily were sleeping in the second story
of their dwelling, and the lights for
the first time in a number of nights
rine and lier eldest daughter were
still invalids, having been indisposed
and confined to their rooms for some
weeks previous. The first intimation
of danger was the savage war-hoop
and the discharge of rifles’aceompan
ied by the falling of glass, as the shots
passed through the windows around
them. This was an awful change in
the quiet stillness of that hour; but
the family at once realized their per
ilous situation. The danger was too
near at hand to admit of a doubt—
too startling and sensible to be imag
ined as a dream, or an illusion of the
It appears that the dwelling of Dr.
Perrine was situated on the edge of
the island and constructed upon a
pier, so that a part of the house ex
tended ovor the water. Ou top was
a cupola and underneath a cellar, by
means of a trap doov From “the
bathing room there was a narrow
passage under the pier leading to the
mit the influx of the tide to the room.
The passage and* room were now
nearly filled with water. At the end
of the passage and extended out over
the pier above, was a large turtle
crawl, constructed by driving palmet
to posts or piles deeply into the
marl beneath.
Upon the alarm and yell of the In
dians the family instantly sprang from
their beds and sought concealment in
this bathing room. .Jl’he Doctor hav
ing conducted them hither, left them
at the door, telling them that he
and speak witn the In
dians, and see what he could do. He
had no means of defense, ilis re
peating trifle and pistols were useless
to him, as he had no caps for either.
. His only hope was a parley with them,
and with great deliberation he ascend
ed again to the top of the house and
called to the Indians in Spanish,
(these being of that tribe known in
Florida as the Spanish Indians.) and
told them that he was a physician,
and they must spare him. Ii had the
desired effect for the moment. They
listened to his words, gave a shout,
and turned their attacks upon other
dwellings in the vicinity. The Doc
tor then descended, drew a large seed
chest over the trap-door that led to
the bathing room! thinking, no doubt,
by secreting his I'amily, he would be
able to manage tbo savages and save
himself and them from destruction,
lie then returned to the cupalo, and
shortly after the attack was renewed
by the Indians with a determination
not to be again diverted from their
purpose. Seeing that he had nothing
to hope from them, his object then
appears to have been to fasten the
massive trap-door by which he ascend
ed the cupalo, and prevent their
access to him, or knowledge of his
situation. But they burst into the
house and forced their way to his re
treat, and from thejfiendish yells of
the exulting monsters, the family sup
poses his horrid butchery was here
completed. The savages then fired
the house upon the top and com
menced their seargh for
tims and plunder.“ Mrs. Perrine and
family at this juncture retreated'from
the bathing room through the subter
raneous passage leading to the turtle
crawl, and sought that as the only
refuge for a moments safety. In this
place, in each other’s arms, the moth
er and three children, with scarcely
their heads above the water, lay for
nine’longjhoure, still as the*reigning
silence of the grave, awaiting their
fate. . The savages for a long time
were upon the planks over their heads
performing their'f hellish
glutting over their plunder and even
hoisted a plank anil looked dowu'to
wards them, but as Heaven would di
rect, the objects of their search were
undiscovered ! In the meantime the
house was burned to its foundations.
The plank] also*over the turtle crawl
caught smoke and heat from
the burning house and other objects
were becoming so intense that death
from this cause seemed inevitable.
Life was supported for some time by
dashing water in]] each other’s faces,
to keep the air in motion, and by
plastering their hcada*with marl from
the bottom of the crawl to ward off
the scorching beat. At length it
became so oppressive that Henry, the
young lad, could bgjys wu 6 ci.
His ,p. ♦. i* w to lire vent
dij* tKfeBEo by clasping Sis month
with her hands, but be tore away
from her, declaring that ho pre
ferred death by the tomahawk rather
than in] that terrible place. He
made hisj escape through an aper
ture of the turtle crawl [but which
was too small to admit of the egress
of the others, who were now sensi
ble that the’adventure offered
only chance of life. There was now
no way of escape except by] a, re
moval of one of the deeply imbed
ded piles with which their retreat
was constructed. This could only
be done by removing the earth at
the bottom which was far under wa
ter. Mrs. P. set herself about the
task and accomplished it just in
time to avoid the falling timbers un
der which they had been sheltered.
There were
time plundering Mr. Houseman’s
store a snort distance from here.
Near the store was a launch, or
small boat drawn upon the wharf
which they were filling with their
spoils. Mrs. Perrine and girls ap
proached the boat—having to wade
through the water in full view a
hundred yards to do so, (while the
savages had returned to the store
after other articles of plunder) beck
oned to them the boy, (of whose
fate they had been uncertain) who
was standing close upon this den of
murders, and by their united strength
and the most desperate efforts, suc
ceeded in tearing it from Us fasten
ings and dragging it into water of
sufficient depth for it to float.?? They
sprang in, and with ouejpaddle, one
oar, and two poles,exerted,as it were,
the last energies of life in widening
their distance from the ill-fated shore.
By the blessings of God they made
G'oatinuod on page 144,
No. 18.

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