General History of Indian KeyThere are letters from Charles Howe in Part I, the Goodyear family in Part II and miscellaneous letters during the Third Seminole War in Part III . You may select from the links below or browse:
Civilian Letters about Indian Key (1830 - 1860)
By Jerry Wilkinson
Part I. Charles Howe letters
Part II. The Goodyear family letters
Part III. Third Seminole War letters
All the originals of the Charles Howe letters are at the Library of Mystic Museum. It is a great source for early Keys history. Our history does not show it but the Mystic fishermen were in our waters before there was a Monroe County and continued to contribute to its development. The Tift family of Key West were from Mystic. Their address is Mystic Seaport Museum, PO Box 6000, Mystic, Conn., 06355-0990. The first Key West Baptist Church was formed by the Mystic group, one named Elim [Elam] Eldridge and I wonder if he was not the same as below? All letters were written from Indian Key unless otherwise noted.
Disclaimer: These letter were transcribed at Mystic for historic content and attention to the details salutations and closing were sometimes omitted. J.W.
-May, 1838. To Capt. Elam Eldridge on the Florida Reef.
Howe Letter 1
"Dear Sir, I herewith enclose you Three hundred and Fifty Dollars - $350 - which I wish you and your Brother George to appropriate as far as it will go towards building the boat a description of which I have already given you and your brother - I shall remit you by our September mail three hundred more. There are a few things respecting the Boat which I beg your special attention (1) Be sure and obtain one of those Patent Staves that will shut up tight to prevent any accident by fire - and it would be well to have the floor where it is to stand Coppered that in case there should any fire fall out, it will not burn the floor, and have the Galley or Camboase House similar to yours on board the Sloop George Eldridge only of course smaller. (2) Be sure & have the Privies, or Round Houses so constructed as to cover a persons body, if no more - the same as in large vessels only on a smaller scale - like that the Light Ship has upon her deck and also the mail boat and many others I could name to all those there is a door to enter, but the top is a lid to open - that when a person goes in, he cannot stand upright or even set, unless he hoists the lid but when he sits down, his body is covered, but not his head, still it answers every purpose then again if children go in there is no danger of their falling overboard, wherein was there no house with the other conveniences a person must stand and hold them. I do not think that the Round houses on board the mail boat exceed two feet square and they are certainly not above 4 feet high, and they are sufficiently large, and if they were even smaller they would answer the purpose - and I should suppose there would be sufficient room in the stern sheets of my Boat to admit of tyro sufficiently large, at any rate for a child, it not for a grown person - and I hope you will be able to have them to answer the purpose of women as well as children. (3) Be sure and have the extra Chains fastened on her Bow & stern to secure her from Thieves.
I wish you to have a good pair of Can-hooks made & sent out with the Boat (note: Webster -"Can-hook. A device consisting of a short rope or jointed bar with flat hooks at each end, for hoisting casks of barrels by the ends of the staves."
Very Respectfully - your friend and obt. svt.
Howe Letter 2
Note: This Elam and George (Jr) Eldridge were probably the sons of George and Hannah Eldridge of Mystic, Ct.
May 14th, 1838.
To Capt. Elam & George Eldridge at Mystic Bridge, Ct.
I am really afraid that if my Boat is as flat as the description I gave you, she will not Sail at all -- however, I judge merely from my old scow, which I was fitting up while your Cdr. Elam was here. I never was so completely beat & vexed with any Boat before - You may imagine when I tell you that I tried for about 2 hours to beat her out of this channel to go around the Key, and after making a dozen or more tacks I found myself so far to 1 leeward that I was obliged to down Sail and row her home.
She would neither steer nor sail - - I thought to myself if the boat I am having built, & which will probably cost me Six or seven hundred dollars, should serve me in this manner, I believe, I should be almost tempted to set fire to her - I never before knew how truly mortifying it was to have a dull sailing boat - it has so happened that I always have had tolerable fast boats.
I therefore have determined to say no more respecting the model of my boat, but wi11 leave the whole entirely to you and the builder. I have already said enough in my former letters to let you know what I want a Boat that will sail well, i.e. beat to windward, and carry a large load, and draw no water or not more than what I named. If any man can build me such a Boat, I will certainly make him a handsome present - But should it be impossible to have all I want, then of course I must take up with what I can get.
July 4, 1838.
Howe Letter 3
"There has nothing of much importance occurred since you left - no wrecks except a Ship with a Cargo Cotton struck with lightning in the Gulf of Lue Key, the crew took their boats and got into Key West. The ship burnt to the waters edge before the wreckers reached her, and they were only able to save 65 Bales Cotton and some of that, much damaged.
Your brother [William] is well & hearty, and is now here - has just brought me a letter for you, which you will receive by this mail - he says that he is caulking the Sloop as she leaks a little in her upper works - he lost one anchor during the late blow we had on the 11-12-13-14 & 15 June. It was more severe than any Gale we ever experienced at this season of the year. The Schr. MONTGOMERY' Capt. Sawyer left here on the 14th to New York. Capt. James Packer was on board - we apprehend they must have had a bad time, as the Gale was worse that night & the following day than any time prior. I hope however they have arrived safe.
I can think of nothing now to say respecting my Boat - only that if it should not be convenient to have 2 privies - one will answer.
I must now close this hand scrawl - hoping this will find you & your families enjoying the blessing of health.
(Mrs. H. requests to be kindly remembered to you & your family)
(I forgot to tell you that I got my scow to sail very well, and work like a top by putting the mast further forward.)
-"August 2, 1838.
Howe Letter 4
"My dear sir:
"I wish also another small handy Anchor extra for pleasant weather, sent out with her, in addition to the two to be attached to chains. I want it to use with a hemp cable, having fallen in with a good cable very cheap, I bought it for the purpose of using while turtleing, as chains are apt to frighten Turtle.
I would also state, that as vessels seldom or ever can make it convenient to stop at Indian Key, I wish it perfectly understood that she is to be shipped to Key West, without any reference to this place at all, as I shall endeavour to be at Key West myself when she arrives... I shall go down about the 10th or 12th of October...
We have had no wrecks as yet - times you must know is very dull.
The Sloop America arrived here on the 24th July - 14 days from New York - We have had a good deal of calm hot weather this Summer more than usual.
P.S. Will you be so kind when you come out, if its not giving you to much trouble, to bring me one Barrel, or a part of a Barrel of Gravel. I have got entirely out, and find my fowl are getting sickly for the want of it.
Howe Letter 5"Sept. 1, 1838.
"The weather for the last two weeks has been so calm that it has been impossible for any vessel to come from Key West. I am much pleased with the descriptions you gave me of my Boat and do think it will be a very great improvement to have the deck run as far aft as the mainmast with a large hatch between the two masts to admit of a cow or bulky articles as you mention.
If you should have any spare rigging after the boat is rigged, send it, as it will always come in use, and will cost double to buy it here.
Times are still extremely dull - no wrecks since I last wrote - money very scarce on the whole coast.
P.S. I have been disappointed in obtaining a draft or bills to enclose in this letter but have given the Captain (Griffith) of the mail boat 23 doubloons @ $16. each which makes $368 - to get changed in Charleston which I think he can do without a discount.
Howe Letter 6Oct. 31, 1838 written from Key West:
"I have been here two weeks waiting anxiously for my Boat - but Mr. Tift who arrived yesterday informs me that it probably will be two weeks longer before she will reach here. I have therefore concluded to go up in the Mail Boat which vessel sails tomorrow but will leave my Boy Sam at Mr. Spencers who will be at your service to assist in bringing the boat to me at Indian Key. You will therefore call for him as soon as you arrive - and should you want any more help, you must hire them at my expense. Mr. Tift informs me that you are a coming in the same vessel with the Boat, which I am very glad to hear - and I hope you will come up in her to Indian Key.
The invoice for the boat (built by John Palmer, builder) amounted to $917.21. In addition Chas. Howe paid Elam Eldridge $60, for his services in getting it built.
-Jany. 28, 1839.
Howe Letter 7
To Capt . Elam Eldridge of the Sloop Geo. Eldridge, Tortugas, c/o Mason Packer Key lest. from Indian Key.
"I have only time to say that I have received my Boat safe, and am very much pleased with her. She is every thing I could expect, sails well, and appears to be faithfully built, and I can truly say I never had any thing to please me better. Have taken one cruise of one week in her & enjoyed myself very much - she being so large and roomy . ... She was launched from the deck of the Bark VIRGINIA at Key West on the 1st Jany . ... I presume you have heard before this that your brother George & Capt. J. B. Smith got a wreck a few days since - the Brig FALCON with corn, oats, bread, etc. - the salvage is about 50 percent."
-Sept. 12, 1839. To Elam Eldridge at Mystic Bridge, Ct.
Howe Letter 8
"My Dear Sir:
"I did intend to have written you by our last mail, but my absence from home prevented me - I had nothing however of much interest to communicate, neither have I now, but to fulfill my promise I shall try to say something, and as I know you feel interested in everything that happens on the Florida reef, I shall first mention the disasters. I returned last night from Pickles reef, where there had been a ship ashore for about 20 hours, but got off and proceeded on her voyage before I reached there, the Capt. & crew of the Schr. SYLPH assisted him, for which the captain of the ship gave him an order on New Orleans for $800 - which Capt. H. says is not worth one cent. She was the same ship that ran ashore abreast Caesar Creek winter before last and to the dissatisfaction you know of Capt. J. B. Smith & Capt. Sanderson her name is OAKERMULLENGO. I do not believe this is the way it is spelt, but the Captain of the Sylph gave it to me in this way, the present master of the ship is P.G. Notes from New York to New Orleans with an assorted cargo...
As respects the Indian War, there is just about as much prospect of its being over now as there was three years ago - the treaty I believe was made with them before you left. They were to be within their limits at a certain time, accordingly Col. Harney with about 20 men went at the time appointed, to meet them there. A store was established to supply all their wants, but the Indians could not stand so great a temptation - fell upon them in the night and murdered 17 of their number and took all their 8 shot Rifles - provisions & the store. Col. Harney barely escaped with his life.
My boat CHARLES & EDWARD was in Government service 4 months, and when they supposed the war was over, they gave her up, which was a most fortunate thing to me, for if they had have kept her two months longer I believe she would have been ruined, as it was, she was injured more than you would possible believe -however, I have got her again, and after about one months work of three men, have put her in complete order and have taken several very pleasant cruises in her. They have again applied to me for her, but I very plainly told them no - that until they would learn to take better care of their boats they could have no more that belonged to me.
I intended to have made you a shipment of Turtle during this Summer & would have been very glad to have done so, as I have had a large quantity on hand - but no opportunity has offered direct to New York since you left, except the Brig LILA., Capt. Morrill, who was chartered by Capt. Housman & Mr. Taylor. I was very anxious that the Captain should take some, but he said he could not, but thought Mr. Taylor would. On speaking to Cdr. T. he said he could not take them on freight, but would take a few on his own account, consequently I let him have about 1000 lbs. since which however, I have heard that Turtle was down to 5¢ a lb. in New York.
The Sloop KEY WEST is nearly finished, and will go on the next week. I do not know who takes charge of her.
P.S. Septr. 13. Since writing you above I have been informed that the mail packet Schr. HOPE in going from here to Key West on the night of the 7th inst. ran ashore on the Wash Woman Shoal and is a total loss. Capt. Griffith came here last night for the purpose of chartering the Schr. SYLPH to take the mail to Charleston on the 15th but cannot get her and it is uncertain whether he can procure any vessel."
-May 6, 1840.
I herewith enclose your bill for Turtle, and the first thing you will be so kind to do for me on your arrival in Mystic it to pay Dea. John Palmer Fifty Dollars a small tribute for the very faithful manner he built my boat CHARLES & EDWARD.
The next thing you will pay yourself $75, as also a small tribute for your kind attention to the same boat.
The next thing you will pay for Charles Stewarts Skiff, which you will have built according to the dimensions which are herewith enclosed. . .
Please accept my warmest wishes for your safe passage home...
Howe Letter 10June 15, 1840.
I am truly unfortunate in procuring Turtle for you this season. My boat returned from a cruise of two weeks and only caught 13 Green and 20 Loggerhead. The Green Turtle I immediately sent to Mr. Tift on the 11th inst. and wrote him a letter stating the whole circumstance. Their weight total 13- deduct for loss in passage 20#, leaving 1326# @ 6¢ - $79.56.
In consequence of my misfortunes, I shall be obliged to reduce my list of articles which I requested you to purchase for me. You will therefore please destroy the list I gave you, and only get for me the following:
4 water cags [sic]
3 striking lines
4 bbls. Potatoes
2 " Onions
2 " Beets put up in gravel
1 " Apples .
1 " Dried Apples
1 bbl. Kiln dried corn meal
1 " Pilot Bread
1 Keg butter
2 Highland shawls, or French plaid - one smaller than the other for Mrs. Howe & my daughter
We had no mail in May in consequence of the new packet not being finished. She arrived here only a few days since. She is to proceed every trip to Havana - leaves Charleston on the first of every month - leaves Havana on the 15th, Key West on the 16th & Indian Key on the 17th - but I think it very doubtful if he can always do this - or even fake twelve trips in the year.
My health not very good, my cough still very troublesome. Mrs. Howe is also complaining & my woman Jinny is quite sick.
-July 18, 1840.
Howe Letter 11
"My Dear Sir:
"In addition to the list in my last letter, you will greatly oblige me by having the following additions made 4 oil Barrels 1 whaleman lance 1 shark hoop with about 4 foot chain with a swivel 2 shark harpoons like those used by whalemen, only smaller - In regard to the Indian war, an order has been received from the War Department requesting every post to hoist the White Flag & invite the Indians to come in and remain peaceable and that they shall not be further molested. This makes the Indians laugh, but what say they in reply !'that they are willing to remain peaceable provided they can have the country, and the whites will acknowledge themselves fairly & honourably whipped; otherwise they will continue the war another five years. Several families have been murdered since this order has been received But a short time since three families consisting of 13 persons men- women & children were massacred in one night in middle Florida, and many other attacks have been made & murders committed. The Indians are determined to destroy every thing that comes in their way, for five years has this struggle continued with unremitted horror. The fall of every house, and the destruction of every family add to the vigour & dominion of the savages. And for five years to come will this disastrous & harassing conflict continue, except the war is conducted on a different plan, and with increased energy.
The work on my Boat is not yet finished She has now 10 comfortable berths, four in her cabin and six in her hold not too good, . . . . Mrs. H. is still complaining and my own health is not too good.
Howe Letter 12A Howe Letter from Indian Key to Pensacola after the massacre
" Indian Key
Novr 8th 1840
"Wm H. Fletcher Esqr.
Escambia County Flor. [Pensacola]
"My Dear Brother,
"I could not write you by our last mail, and I regretted it very much, but the mail Boat having arrived some days before I expected her, & the captain being in a great hurry, allowed me only time to close the mail. I received your favor of Augt 13th by the return mail from Key West, last month, and I cannot but hope, that I have some gone to Key West by the mail, which I shall probably get when the packet returns I am happy to say "that we are all in tolerable health at present our little Amelia has been quite sick since I last wrote she still appears very puny but we trust she will soon become more hearty -- We are now the only family remaining on this island, & your sister the only woman nearer than Key West - Capt. H. [Housman] has cleared out for good - took everything he had left, to Key West, about a fortnight since, to sell at Auction - his Negros - Boats vessels & I think I see his object, he is as usual very schemy, he is a good deal in debt & it was thought before the invasion, that he could not stand it more than a year or two longer - had mortgaged all his property on this island, to two different persons in Charleston, to the amt - of about $16,000 - they were sent to me to have them executed & I could not but feel sorry for the man, notwithstanding his unprincipled disposition - I never mentioned it to anyone, and I believe but one or two besides the clerk of the Co. Court knew of it he cannot now pay 10 per cent - and I doubt if he is ever able - he will pay more - Mr Goodyear [Henry Bateman, brother of Charles Goodyear, see Part II below] who has been clerk to Capt - H - for sometime past, kept open a small store, or Grog Shop, on the wharf ever since the destruction of the island, and was surprised when Capt. H. came & informed him of his determination to take every thing to Key West & Sell out. Mr. G - said he thought he should return & open a store on his own acct - but I have not heard since he left, whether he intends doing so or not - I must now mention another very serious misfortune which I have recently met with My Scho[oner] Chas & Edward was hauled up at the time of the attack here, within just 20 feet of my new House, as I believe I have before mentioned to you, the House burnt down & she [the boat] did not take fire notwithstanding the wind blew this fire directly upon her the Indians had previously striped of her sails awnings and finding she did not burn, they set fire to her side just before leaving the island, but it only burnt a small hole, and did not injure her but trifling - I soon had her repaired and put in first rate order in every respect - new sails Rigging, Awnings & Chas Stewart who had charge of her & Wm. Wilson than took her & made a trip in the Bay & brought home a fine load of Turtle, - they again left her on the 6th Octor. & was to have returned on the 17" or 18", but not coming at the time appointed, I began to feel uneasy, but waited until the 24th when I was confident something had happened, and addressed a note to Capt Rodgers of the U. S. Schc. Wave which vessel, was then lying here, expressing my fears concerning her fate & those on board, this Gallant & praiseworthy officer immediately started with the forces under his command and after searching for two days with his Boats in the Bay, discovered the Schooner ran ashore in the Mangroves, in Barnses [sic] Sound, Striped of all her sails, Rigging Awnings Turtle Nets water Kegs boats in fact of every individual thing & Scuttled in two or three places & had been set on fire but did not burn she had on board about 50 Turtle, some of which would exceed 400 and the barbarous savages had even cut off the heads of more than half of them & they were in a very putrid State they have all the Turtle overboard, cleaned her out, stopped up the holes where she was scuttled & got her off, and by means of a few Blankets which they managed to rig into a sail & come down here, where they arrived on the 28th - No tidings of the poor fellows on board, but we of course must suppose they were both Massacred by those demons in human form - She was in a most deplorable state, but I have already had her repaired in the best manner, and have sent for new sails & Rigging, which I expect shortly, & intend again to put her in first rate order, and see if the Indians will get her the third time, as this is the second time they have had her in full possession & endeavored to destroy her, but without success - this last time I have lost about $500 - She had 4 new Turtle Netts, and they were knitting another, altogether cost me about two hundred. her sails, Rigging, Small Boats - Awnings & cost me three hundred dollars - but I would not think of the loss, if the unfortunate crew were saved I always have until the last two trips let Peter go with them, but unfortunately I wanted him at home for a short time & this is why he was not on board I cannot but feel grateful to Capt. Rodgers for this benevolent act - for it is certain, I never should have got the Schooner, had it not been for him, and I am truly thankful that I have saved her. She now stands me in about $2,000 - and I do not think I would take that for her this day for I am sure I never should get another her equal. The Indians are lurking all around us, a few days since two Turtling Boats were chased by them in the vicinity of Sand Key, near Cape Sable - but they had a good breese [sic] & got out of their reach - & returned to Key Vacas and sent an express up here to inform the Troops they report that there was a large body of Indians on Sand Key, and that they had several of the Boats taken from this Key - my Rev - Boat for one, & some of Capt- Housemans [sic] were also seen - but I cannot but hope something decisive will be done this winter, as there is now a new General, who spares none but hangs them all by the neck it is also reported here that the whole Squadron from Pensacola is ordered her[e] to cruise among the Keys & along the main - land this winter - whether it is true or not I cannot say - but we now feel as safe on this island & I believe we are more so than at any other place on this coast for two reasons - 1st there is no inducement for the Indians to come again. - 2d we have a Good Guard of about 20 men & the prospect of more very shortly, besides several armed vessels most of the time, and the assurance that this post will be kept up as long as the War continues for this reason your Sister & myself have concluded "that it is best for us to remain here at least for a year or two to come - but . . . [one or two words illegible] know that your sister is very lonely in her present situation - no female associate less than 80 miles distance, and I am sometimes compelled to be from home for several days together, and I shall soon be obliged to send my three eldest children away for schooling, which will make it still more lonesome to her - we have therefore after due reflection, made up our minds, to Solicit & to insist on your Mothers coming to live with us - While you was single, we could not ask this favour, but as you now have a good help-mate, we do think you ought to be willing to let your mother come to us - that is, if she is willing & I sincerely hope she will be, and you will please tell her from me, that she must come - We think this season of the year her passage will be so short, that she will not suffer much from sea sickness, and when she arrives at Key West, there will be no difficulty in getting a passage here, as there is opportunities almost any day. She will however stop at Mrs Mallorys, until a good one offers or if I hear of her arrival I will . . . [one line illegible] dollar Note to defray her expenses, and should it not be sufficient, when she arrives at Key West, she is only to speak to Mr Mallory, who will advance her as much as she wishes, I will write him upon the subject I do wish most sincerely I could prevail on you & your (good Lady to accompany her. Your Sister & myself have both endeavoured to think of something you might do to advantage, but the prospect appears dull & we are afraid to advise, but one thing I would say "that you shall have a home with us, if you can put up with our fare as long as we remain here, and then wherever we conclude to locate, we can all go together ___ ____ if I was sure the war would end this winter, of which I have now some faint hope, I would certainly advise you to come, for I believe we should find a spot in this country, that we could not help but be delighted with, and I think we could be a help to each other in getting underway - Tell your mother, that we have already commenced preparing for her reception and she must not disappoint us, even if you cannot come with her - Your Sister writes her by this mail ____ ____ I hope when the mail Boat returns I shall have letters ___ _____ from you __ ___- I must now close Your sister & the children all join in kind Remembrance to you & family - Sincerely wishing you every blessing this world can afford
I remain very truly your fr. & Brother
P.S. Nov - 15 I cannot get a fifty dollar note and therefore am obliged to enclose 2 dubloons @ 17 - $34 -- 1 Sovereigns 5 - the balance in paper which makes $50 -"
-June 4th, 1841: To Elam Eldridge - Florida Reef.
Howe Letter 13
"I heard a few days since that your Brother Thomas was soon expected at Key West. If so, I hope you will be able to get him to stop here for my children . ... I do not wish either of you to put yourselves to much inconvenience on my account, therefore, if you find it not practicable to stop, you will nevertheless, etc.
P.S. I enclose you $45. to pay the passage of my three children viz - Sarah Ann 13 years of age, Charles 11 years, Edward 9 years of age. Should this amt. not be sufficient, I will make it up when you call for them.
-"Sept. 17, 1841.
Howe Letter 14
"I am happy to inform you that the epidemic which for a time proved so fatal among our small population has entirely subsided, and our coast assumes once more its usual healthy appearance. Old Mr. Goodyear [Amasa Goodyear, father of Henry and Charles Goodyear, see part II below] died the day after the mail boat left - last trip - and since then there has been 2 or 3 deaths among the soldiers here, but none more recent or within the last two weeks.
Mrs. Howe presented me with a fine Daughter last Sunday morning, and I am happy to say that both mother & child are doing well. Her mother arrived in safety with us from Alabama about a fortnight since, and I can assure you she met with a welcome reception.
Capt. Wm. C. Bethell of Key Vacas wished me to say to you, that if you should come out in the fall, and would bring him 1 keg Good Brandy, about 12 Galls. & 1 Key Hollands Gin he would pay you for your trouble & be greatly obliged to you.
P.S. Capt Kimmer is removed from the Light Ship, and old Sistare is appointed in his place.
Howe Letter 15This was the last letter from Indian Key:
May 31, 1842.
To Elam Eldridge in Key West.
"I am sorry to say that Mrs. Howe is no better and thinks she should never stand the voyage to go north, therefore you need not give yourself any trouble in getting a vessel to stop here for she declines going altogether, and I cannot persuade her into the belief that it will benefit her health. I am much obliged to you however for your kind offer.
There is a lot of Turtle here in my crawl, which Henry Brown offered to me for 4¢. I wish I could get them to Key West before you leave. I think they would be just what you want, as they have been in the crawl about 2 months and would do better than those just caught.
Statement attached shows the following cost of food brought to Howe:
4 Bbls. Potatoes @ $2.50 $10.00 (reed. of Capt. Fitch)
6 " " pr. Schr. COMET 8.72
2 " Beets " 3.33
2 " Onions pr. " 3.81
1 " K.D. Meal 3.62
1/2 " Dried Apples 2.46
Your commissions on the above at 10% 3.2
Howe Letter 16The remaining letters were from Key West.
July 18, 1842.
From Key West.
"Mrs. Howe left Indian Key about 5 weeks ago for Nassau. I have heard once from her soon after her arrival, her health had improved from the voyage she had five days passage. I have given Capt. Sawyer charge of a small package for you and shall attach this letter to it - it is simply a jug - such as I want you should git me in the fall about 1000 of them as cheap as they can be had in New York. I have no idea what they will cost but have been informed that they can be had from 3 to 5¢ a pc. If not over 5¢ you will much oblige me by sending the above quantity, and also a sufficient quantity of cork wood to make corks for them. But should they cost much over that you will purchase a less number and have them snugly packed & shipped to me at this place, by some vessel bound here in the fall. I want them to put up Oysters, altho- will please say nothing about it - I hope you will write me in the course of the summer & let me know how your health is.
Howe Letter 17Sept. 16, 1842, Key West.
"I wrote you by the Schr. COMET in answer to your letter of the 8th August, but we much fear the COMET is lost, as left here on the 3rd inst. which was the day before the most disastrous Gale this coast has ever witnessed... I would be much obliged to you if it was perfectly convenient, to bring me out when you came at least 500 of those jars & sufficient cork wood to stop them up. I am happy to hear that you are coming on the Key to reside this winter, and sincerely hope you may do a good business - My family were as well as usual when I last heard from them. Mrs. Howe is a little better but still suffers very much. The Gale done considerable damage here, and several vessels that was out in it have not since been heard of - some were blown ashore that have not yet been able to get off, among them was the Sloop KEY WEST.
Howe Letter 18(Five years later; from Key West)
"Sept. 20, 1847:
My dear friend -
... My Schooner CHARLES & EDWARD is (as you must know) still alive, and in good bodily health, but is in want of a new suit of sails. I request the favor of you to purchase two cows and some other things for me... I shall enclose you in this letter, one Hundred dollars in a draft if I can get one - if not, in Gold.
Howe Letter 19June 2, 1848, Key West:
"Your brother Thomas sails in about one hour for New York, and I take great pleasure in embracing the opportunity to inform you, that my family are all well, and Mrs. Howe desires to be kindly remembered to you and your family. She appears to enjoy herself very well, and is contented & happy in her new home - for which I desire to feel thankful. She is a very kind Mother to my children, and they are all very fond of her, and she is a very kind and affectionate companion for me, and I do not believe I could have selected a more suitable one to have gone the world over.
I have been favored in my salt business this season, having already raked about 30,000 bushels - and when I can make sales which will be in the fall, I shall be much relieved from my losses by the Gale.
We have had it very pleasant here for the past six months, until within about 2 weeks, when the rains set in, and of course the musquitoes come in swarms, I think I never knew them so bad here as they were last night & this morning.
Your Friend - Charles Howe
(*This new Mrs. Howe number 3 would be Eliza (Brightman) whom he married in Key West Nov. 13, 1847, He had married Mrs. Howe number 2 (Abigal Fletcher Talbert) at Indian Key Dec. 24, 1834. Abigal must have died in Nassau or as a result of the ills she suffered then. (Maybe the result of having the baby in Sept. 1841, for she went to Nassau in June, 1842. See Howe genealogy J. W.)
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- PART II -
- Goodyear Letter 1 -
[From Amasa Munson Goodyear on] "Indian Key
"December 15, 1840
"Brother Isaac [Probably Hine, Amasa's brother-in-law]
According to agreement I now write you as you may feel anxious about our safe arrival. We had a severe passage out of 12 days. It Blew a gale for three days after we left. Malinda was quite seasick during the passage but is now quite well.
We found things on the key quite desolate as I expected. Except a company of 60 soldiers to guard the Key. The Indians are still hovering about this part of Florida and God only knows when the war will be ended unless some more decisive steps are taken by our governor - we are inclined to think that something will be done from present appearing before Spring.
I have to wait patiently until the war is over before I can accomplish all my wishes ? however I have a plenty to do and am now getting up a small Blacksmith Shop where I can do well enough for the present.
We live in something worse than a log cabin but our climate protects us. On the whole I am quite satisfied and if I can judge from appearances & what she says Malinda is also. She sends love to all and will write next mail and give you the particulars. Please write as soon as convenient and able
[Probably Amasa Munson Goodyear, brother of Henry, husband of Malinda (Hine)]
- Goodyear Letter 2 -
[From Amasa Munson Goodyear on] "Indian Key
"June 8, 1841
"Brother Isaac [Hine, his wife, Malinda's, brother],
Your kind favor of May 10th is duly Recvd. I am surprised to hear you did not receive Malindas letter as she wrote at the time I named and gave you all the news of the day. I have so much to write about that I know not where to begin or leave off. I would willingly pay for your passage here to see you one day But I must commence my yarns = in the first place we live in a kind of Shantee on one of Capt. Housmans wharfs the best we can get at present. We suffer some inconvenience on the account. But hope to remedy it before long but then there are benefits arising that some would hardly credit. Malinda very frequently by droping a hook through the floor catches fish for the family of the best kind. I have a Blacksmith shop built & plenty of work to do when I have nothing else to do I earn from 4 to 5 dollars a day ? Captain Housman is dead. He was killed by the unfasting of a boat from one of his vessels which struck him across the chest he died in about two days. It has made quite a change here but I do not think it will effect me in any way =
Fathers [ Amasa Sr.] Health is remarkably good he has not seen a sick day in florida [sic] he believes it to be the [E]den of the world. However is it well known that the Keys can no more compare with the main land than the roughest land in Waterbury. With the most fertile land on the Connecticut River or for should this miserable war ever close I should go in to the Synabel River that Empties in to the Gulf of Mexico. It is said by the officers of the army & others who have been there a most delightful country.
With regard to the Indians, you know nearly as much as we do & probably get the news as given except what relates to this particular post you have probably heard of Col. Harneys expeditions in the Everglades. What Indians he did not hang he brought to this Key our troops from this Key have made three expeditions without effecting much they have captured 4 or 5 two of which are now here. We have all sorts of rumors about the war being brought to a close but God only knows when this desirable Event will take place-
About 3 weeks ago a ship got ashore about 2 miles from this Key with a cargo worth $60,000. Father and I took a small boat and went to give the wrecker notice for doing which we were entitled to three Shares, but owing to the peculiar circumstance we should have six - the ship was lost & the shares are one hundred dollars each so that any how we made a good days work-
Turtle are now coming up on the Beach very plenty we had a green turtle brought in yesterday weighing 500 lbs.
When you speak of the wet and cold weather I cannot but think myself fortunate in being away from it Everything is as green with us in January as in summer this has been the coldest winter known for several years yet I have seen but one day that I wanted a coat on. We have the most of the comforts of life except the want of a comfortable house which we do not feel quite able to build at present. Mrs. High & Henry [his brother] are doing a fair business in the trading line their business increases daily - as Malinda wishes to write a few lines I must give way trust you will write me often -
[PS] "Give my respects to your wife father Mother and
all enquiring friends which cannot be numerous &
[Amasa Munson Goodyear]
[Wife Malinda's letter (#2a below) was written on the bottom of the this letter. JW]
- Goodyear Letter 2a -
[This was written on the bottom of letter number 2, page 2, above of her husband, Amasa Munson Goodyear, June 8, 1841 JW]
"Dear Brother [Isaac Hine,
We were right glad to hear from you as Amasa and I had both written and waited so long for an answer that we despaired of ever hearing from you Accident.
We can get almost all kinds of Northern produce but fresh meat but we have plenty of Turtle and Fish - Lobster & Conchs and game if we can spend time to go after it.
Amasa and Father have got Orange and Lemon, pea vines and Mulberrys growing on Matacumba [Key].
Mrs. Houseman has offered them all they can get from Ligumvitie [Key] if they will take care of it which would be a good sum.
Harriet [their daughter] is well and grows very fast she has got some very handsome shells for Rollin.
I think Father will come on after Mother this summer if he does he will come and see you
[Malinda (Hine) Goodyear]
- Goodyear Letter 3 -
[From Henry Bateman Goodyear on]
"Indian Key, August 16th 1841
I am under the painful necessity of communicating to you the death of our dear Brother Amasa and also his wife [Malinda] and child [Harriet]. I was in Key West & left there the 28th of June and then to all appearances it was perfectly healthy on my way home I found Amasa going down he had not been there since he came out.
He went down in my Fathers [Amasa Sr.] Schr [schooner] boat to get some things for his wife. He was there 3 or 4 days and started to come home but had not got far when it became calm and very hot and he went back. By that time the yellow fever had broke out. He took it on Monday & died on Wednesday the 7th of July that was the first news we had of him I immediately gave up the idea of coming North and made preparation as fast as possible for Father and Malinda & child to have had everything packed up and expected a vessel any day when Malinda from taking it so hard. She no doubt got her system much deranged. She first complained of a cold which proved to be the fever which is common in this country but quite different from what they have had at Key West. Her being in a family way was much against her. We have a good Physician but could not save her.
The next night after she was taken Father by enposing (exposing) himself was taken verry sick and for 4 or 5 days. I had not the least hopes he could live but thank God he is getting better fast now and I am in hopes in a few days will be on his way to N. York. The morning after Malinda died, Harriet was taken with a violent fever and lived but 4 days. [His father, Amasa Sr. died three days after this letter.] You may imagine something what a trial I have had to go through with it is impossible for me to give you any thing like a good account of this lamentable occurrence and it is with great difficulty that I write this.
This is the only letter I shall write and therefore I wish you should communicate this to all our friends go and see mother and comfort her all you can until father comes an I very likely shall come with him. I have a great deal more to write but my mind is so completely confused it is impossible to communicate my ideas to you on paper for I have not had two hours sleep at one time for over 2 weeks but other ways I am very well.
[Henry Bateman Goodyear]
- Goodyear Letter 4 -
- [Written from Roxbury, Mass., October 14, late 1838 or early 1839 where Charles was engaged in rubber making. Note that daughter, Harriet, was very young weighing 20 pounds and one tooth (guess from 6 to 8 months). Probably in preparation to travel to Indian Key]
"Roxbury 14 [October 1838 or 1839]
"Brother Isaac [Hine],
Probably you will be surprised at getting a letter from me but you will excuse me I think when I give my reasons for troubling you. Amasa wrote to Agusta soon after we got here and I wrote [sister] Hannah within three weeks but got no answer and a fortnight ago I wrote Father to have him send my things as I intended going to housekeeping. I requested him to answer my letter but have not heard from him yet if he has not sent the things please have them sent soon as possible as we wish to move before cold weather. Amasa is at work at Woburn [North Boston area of Mass.] and will get a house there but is waiting to hear from Father before he engages it he has to pay three dollars a week for his board, one dollar for a passage to and from this place to Woburn.
Charles [Goodyear] seems to being on the way to make a fortune by his business [rubber vulcanizing]. You can have no idea how many uses India rubber can be put to. I have an apron _ a beautiful thing. Should I have an opportunity I will make your wife one and little Rollin an apron that never will want washing.
Little Harriet grows finely. She weighs 20 pounds and has got one tooth and more coming.
I wrote Father to direct my things to Amasa M. Goodyear [Munson Goodyear, her husband] care of the Commercial Line Boston if he has not sent them please see that he directs them right. I hope you will answer this as soon as you get it. Be sure you direct your letter to Roxbury Massachusetts as it otherwise might go Roxbury in Connecticut
"Give my love to all
your affectionate Sister
[I believe Malinda (Hine) Goodyear - JW]
[Written on letter's left margin] "Please write whether Hannah [her sister] has left and where she has gone to."
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- PART III -
" Key West Fla. Jany 30th 1856
"Col. Comg. U S Troops in Fla.
The undersigned residents of Indian Key, Key Vaccas, Summerlin's Key and others of the Florida Keys as well as Key West think it our duty to make known to you the following facts and to ask for the protection of the government.
There were three families residing on Matacomba Key almost adjoining Indian Key, until within a week or two ago, when the news that had reached them of the late Indian outbreak being confirmed, the well known ease with which Indians can reach there and Indian from the main land, made it necessary that at least the families and children should be removed to some place of safety. A few days after this was done one of the men returned to his place and saw what seemed to him unmistakable signs of Indians being already there: moccasin tracks on the beach near the houses, the houses broken open and things scattered about upon their floors, and fire where there should have been none; The next day after this, it was discovered at Indian Key that one of these houses was evidently burning down and a boat dispatched to reconnoitre, presently another one of the houses was seen to be on fire, and when the boat returned it was ascertained beyond doubt that both houses were indeed consumed. This broke up the settlement there at Indian Key entirely; on which latter Key there were two families including U. S. Inspector of customs; and are several large and valuable buildings and five or six fine cisterns from which the U S Coast Survey and light house vessels in the vicinity, as well as many other vessels get their supplies of water. One of the U S light house vessels engaged in the erection of a light house on the Florida reef has her station only about twelve miles from Indian Key and is in danger of midnight attacks. There were families at Key Vaccas about eight miles this side of this vessel, who were also compelled to break up and there are other settlers of the string of Keys all the way to Key West., You are doubtless aware that during the last war with these Indians, Indian was for sometime guarded by an arrangement of some kind, and no sooner was it gone than the Indians attacked the place in the dead of night and revelled in the horrible scenes of bloodshed and conflagration so congenial to their savage natures; that Indian Key and Matacomba Keys are only about thirty miles from Cape Sable, and that the extensive shoals that stretch accross towards the main land make it very easy for Indians to cross in canoes; they are the nearest Keys of any consequence to that Cape; and there is perhaps no reasonable probability that Indians could visit any of the other Keys and settlements mentioned without coming and returning near those two Keys. We think that a company, or part of a company, of troops stationed there sufficiently strong to leave a good guard even when scouts are detached and supplied with boats of light draught, would afford protection to all the persons and settlements mentioned and doubtless in some degree Key West, for it is by no means certain that without dangers of being caught on their return a few Indians might not work their way down to this city set fire to it in half a dozen places of a windy night and thus destroy it entirely, (for that certainly would destroy it), and make their escape. For these reasons we would most respectfully urge upon you and the government the great importance of stationing a company of either regular or irregular troops at Indian Key with boats for scouting.
"Your obt. Servts.,
Temple Pent of Key Vaccas
William H. Bethell of Indian Key
Jame I Douglas
John Curry Maticombie
J. B. Browne
W. Carrington Walthuss, Lieut,
R. W. Welch
J. F. Tucker
W. A. Wall
G. S. Browne
P. J. Fontaine
O. B. Hart
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- Letter 2 -
"Indian Key Feb 25/56
"Mr S Mowry
Your favour of the 29 of January has been received and I notice what you say about your not hearing from me in So longer time - i rote you by the Steamer of the 26 of January Giveing you the particulas About the trouble downe hear with the indians - They visited mattacomba the 21 of January & Burnt the houses witch the settlers had left but A few days before previous to that i had sent my family to Key West for i expected they Wood pay indian Key a visit before this time - i did Not considder My Self Safe to remain on the Key Anny Longer - So i deemed it nesessary to Leave it for a while - I informed the particulars Immediately as soon as i discovered the burning of The houses on mattacomba witch you now is only About Six Miles from heare - Every Settler on The Coast from Miamma River downe to Key West has abandoned there homes and i dont consider my Self Safe on indian Key - They are Driving the indians from the main land And they will be Sure to viset the Keys - every Boddy has Great fear of them i do assure you I have vised the Key once or twice and i find Every Thing Still Standing firm - i shall not stay There untill i heare what they intend to do For i dont feel My Self Safe on the Key - if they dont put a stop to they Surely will Viset indian Key any information you can Give me - You will oblige me by doing So and please do Let me hear from you as soon as convienant -
And yo will oblige yours truly
Wm. H. Bethell"
-"Indian Key March 10th/56
- Letter 3 -
"Mr S Mowry
I received your letter The Six of March and i was happy to Hear from you - i am Sorry to inform You that the indians has bin committing Some more deppredations over in the bay - They have Killed Some men over there and Burnt a mans house - I am Still living on indian Key alone - my family is Still in Key West - you Say You will try and Get some troops and send Downe - i hope will try and Get them - If possible you can do So - if any troops is sent Here i shall move my family up here as soon As i can - i havent Seen any Sines of them About here yet only that accident that hapened The other day - Nothing New downe here - Please to let me hear from you as soon As you can make it convienant - i have Nothing more today at present But Still -
Remain Your truly
Wm H Bethell"
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