In November of 1817, the First Seminole Indian War was started when General Edmund P. Gaines attacked Fowltown, a Seminole Indian settlement on the Flint River in Georgia, just north of the Florida border. The following month, General Andrew Jackson, without permission of the U.S. Congress, swept southward into Florida to bring the Seminole Indians under control.
By April 16, 1818, Jackson and his troops had reached Suwannee Old Town, a large Seminole Indian settlement which was under the leadership of Chief Billy Bowlegs. However, the town had already been warned of Jackson’s advance and he found the area abandoned. Frustrated by his findings, Jackson captured two British traders, Alexander Arbuthnot and Robert Ambrister, and took them prisoner. Jackson ordered Arbuthnot be hanged and Ambrister shot.
Arbuthnot was hanged from the yardarm of his own ship, the CHANCE and Ambrister was shot by a small firing squad of American soldiers. The British were outraged and the American Congress went into an uproar because Jackson invaded Spanish territory and hung and shot British citizens. Jackson had to defend his actions for many years to come.
Several years ago, H. Dale Herring, local Dixie County businessman and rancher, his wife Kim, and their children took up residency on 400 acres of land about a mile from the Suwannee River. Herring was surprised to discover that 200 years prior his property was the site of Bowlegs Town. Herring lost no time partnering with the Seminole Indian Nation to preserve history.
As the caretaker of Bowlegs Town, Herring hired professional archaeologists to undertake a thorough examination of the site. For the past three years, John Edwards of Chiefland has found more than 3,400 artifacts on the site once known as Bowlegs Town. Edwards catalogued and photographed each of the interesting items he found.
You can learn more about Mr. Herrings’ discovery at 2:00 PM on Saturday, January 20, 2018, when the Levy County Historical Society presents the first of three presentations on the Seminole Indians. A number of artifacts, encased in glass display cases, will be exhibited and Herring will have on sale his recent book BOWLEGS TOWN, a story of the Seminole Indians, Bowlegs Town, and Billy Bowlegs.
The presentation will be held in the Club House of the Cedar Key RV Resort, 11980 SW Shiloh Road, Sumner, Florida. For more information and directions, please visit www.levycountyhistoricalsociety.com or call (352) 490-5636.