Second Seminole War African American Slave Claims
From the Second Spanish Period


Executive Documents of the 13th Congress, 2d session
These documents are part of the claims that people made against the Seminole indians for slaves. These claims dated
back to 1803 and were part of the effort to reenslave the African Americans that were part of the Seminole tribe.The
St.
Augustine Herald
said that E. B. Gould, George Center and George McLellan, esqrs., were appointed commissioners to
receive claims and take testimony concerning Indian depredations for the eastern district of Florida by 1841.

Headquarters, Army of the South,
Tampa Bay, May 8, 1837

Sir: I enclose a copy of a communication received from E. B. Gould, Esq., of St. Augustine, in relation to negroes taken
by the Seminole Indians in 1802 and 1803. If I am not mistaken in the principle of public law applicable to the case, the
claim is barred by subsequent treaties. The United States have always treated with the Indians as
independent
people,
and with all the formalities attending the intercourse with foreign nations. If this practice be the proper one,
(and it is not for me to say that it is not,) the treaty of Payne's Landing transfers the accountability from the Indians to
the Government, and the claimants are entitled
pro rata to the sum of seven thousand dollars stipulated to be paid for
property taken by the Indians. The case is analogous to that which occurred during the late war with Great Britain, and
which was referred to and decided by the Emperor of Russia --- a certain sum was accepted by the Government for
slaves taken by the British, and divided among those from whom they had been taken, in proportion to their losses.

The Indians cannot be removed if any interference with their negroes be permitted; and I will permit no interference,
without positive orders from Government.

I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,
Thomas S. Jesup,
Major General commanding

Hon. J. R. Poinsett,
Secretary of War, Washington city.


The claim:

                                                          
Letter of E. B. Gould Attorney
St. Augustine, April 27, 1837

Sir: in behalf of the heirs of the estate of Josiah Dupont, deceased, I have the honor to enclose to you the proofs in a
claim they have for certain negroes taken away under the circumstances stated in the proceedings, copies of which you
have herewith.

The attorney of the claimants had prepared to make person investigation and demand for the restitution of their
negroes and their
natural increase, when he became acquainted with the contents of order No. ___, of the 5th instant.
Against the course suggested in that order he respectfully, on their behalf, protests; and is instructed to advise you that
they are fully prepared to establish according to the principles of equity and justice, their rights in this case; and for all
the consequences and injuries that may arise from the prohibition, the claimants must and will look to the Government
for compensation.

I have the honor to be, sir,

E. B. Gould,
Attorney for claimants.

Major General Jesup,
Commanding army of the South.

P. S. Mrs. Ann Bryck also claims five negroes, and their increase, taken away at the same time that the above negroes
were. Their names were James or Jimmy, and his wife Phillis, Prince and Sally, their children and George. Prince was 20
years and Sally 18 years old when they were taken. These I claim, as Mrs. Bryck's attorney.

The claim and description of negroes belonging to Philip Solano are herewith, also, sent; and I entertain the assurance
that you have not willingly or unnecessarily debarred the claimants of the means of gaining possession of their property;
but, for all the consequences, &c., they will look to you, and, through you, to the Government, for relief.

E. B. Gould,
Attorney for claimants.

                                                                
Deposition of Elias B. Gould
District of East Florida, St. John's county, ss.
Elias B. Gould, being duly sworn, says, that the annexed papers, containing the affidavits of Antonia Leonardy, and a
supplemental affidavit thereto annexed, of Joseph M. Hernandez, George J. F. Clarke, Gabriel W. Perpall, and Philip
Solano, are true and literal copies of the originals; and, also, that the annexed papers, purporting to be a "copy of a
dispatch from the Governor of East Florida to the Captain General of Cuba," is a correct and literal copy of a certified
translation from the Spanish language, purporting to be the original now on file in the office of the keeper of the public
archives of East Florida, at St. Augustine; which said documents were transmitted to General Wiley Thompson, agent of
the Seminole Indians, some time in the year 1835, at which time he resided and transacted his business at Fort King, in
the Territory of Florida.

E. B. Gould.

Sworn to before me, the 27th day of April, 1837.
M. Deysdall,
Justice Peace, St. Johns county.

                                                                
Deposition of Antonia Leonardy
Territory of Florida, St. John's county.

Personally appeared before me, Joseph S. Sanchez, commissioned and duly qualified justice of the peace for the
county aforesaid, Antonia Leonardy, who deposeth and saith, that some time in the year 1802 there came a party of
nine Seminole Indians to Mr. Pellicer's plantation, situated upon the Matanzas river, about twenty miles south of the city
of St. Augustine, for the purpose of killing and plundering the inhabitants; and, finding no white person upon the said
plantation, they destroyed everything they could find upon it, and took and carried away a negro woman named Jenny,
belonging to Pellicer. The Indians then proceeded to Mr. Josiah Dupont's plantation, lying on the east side of said river,
and nearly opposite to the plantation of Pellicer, and lay in ambush until Mr. Dupont and his son left this plantation to go
to another, which he cultivated in a swamp, about four or five miles from the first; they met him on the road, and took
from him and his son their horses and guns, after which; Dupont and his son, finding themselves disarmed and robbed,
fled for safety into the swamp, where they remained concealed fro some time. The Indians after this proceeded to Mr.
Dupont's house, and took and carried away all of Dupont's negroes that were on his plantation. Deponent thinks that
there were ten or eleven, namely: Big Filis, Little Filis, Molly, Tyra, Clarissa, and Florida, are the only names that
deponent, after the lapse of so many years, recollects of. The Indians took and carried away at the same time five large
horses and some cattle belonging to Dupont, and they took and carried away with them an English lad who was living
with Dupont at the time. Deponent supposes that Dupont's negroes were worth from four hundred to four hundred and
fifty dollars each, and his horses about one hundred dollars each. The cattle, some of which the Indians killed for food,
deponent supposes to have been worth from ten to twelve dollars per head. Two of Dupont's negroes having made their
escape from the Indians, and come down to deponent's father's house, was the cause of the Indians, who were in
pursuit of them, coming to deponent's father's plantation, which was situated about five miles north of Dupont's, where
they found deponent, her mother two sisters, and two brothers. One of deponent's brothers was fired upon by the
Indians, and killed; after which, the Indians commenced destroying everything upon the plantation. They killed and
destroyed about ten dozen head of poultry and several head of hogs that were confined in an enclosure belonging to
deponent's father; and destroyed, also, a lime-kiln, containing, as deponent supposes, about five thousand bushels of
line. Then the Indians started for the nation, taking along with them the property which they had plundered, and the
deponent's mother, two sisters, and brother, and two horses belonging to deponent's father, which deponent knows had
cost fifty dollars each. Deponent's mother, two sisters and brother were detained by the Indians in the Indian nation
seven months, after which time they were redeemed by deponent's father, who paid the Indians five hundred dollars for
their redemption, and returned to St. Augustine; one of the deponent's brothers escaping from the Indian nation, and
going over to the island of Cuba a short time after he was taken by the Indians. Deponent was herself detained by the
Indians twenty-two months before she was permitted to return to her parents in St. Augustine. Deponent further says,
that while in the Indian nation she often saw Mr. Dupont's negroes; and she knows, with the exception of Molly, who was
given up by the Indians and returned to St. Augustine at the time deponent's mother and family were delivered up, all
the other negroes belonging to Mr. Dupont were held and detained by them; which negroes deponent knows were never
recovered by Mr. Dupont, but were entirely lost by him. And deponent further says, that Mr. Dupont never received
payment for his losses either from the Spanish Government or the Indians, Dupont having left Florida shortly after he
was robbed by the Indians, and moved to South Carolina, where deponent understood he (Dupont) died.

Deponent further says, that she is now forty-eight years of age, and that she has resided ever since her rescue from the
Indians in the city of St. Augustine.

Antonia Leonardy, her + mark.

Subscribed and sworn to before me, the 31st March, 1835.
Joseph S. Sanchez.
Justice of the Peace St. John's county.

                                                
  Supplemental Affidavit of Antonia Leonardy
Territory of Florida, County of St. John's ss.

Personally appeared before Joseph S. Sanchez, justice of the peace for said county of St. John's, Antonia Bonelly
Leonardy, who being duly sworn, in explanation and continuation, says, that at the them the Indians made the descent
upon the settlements of Josiah Dupont, Mr. Pellicer, and deponent's father's, in 1802, she (this deponent) was about
thirteen years of age. The persons of her father's family taken by the Indians were, her mother, Mrs. Mary Bonelly, and
five children namely, this deponent, Joseph, Theresa, Catharine, and Jone. The nine Indians set out immediately with all
the plunder that they and the prisoners could carry, and travelled by circuitous routes and by-paths for the interior of
the country. Deponent's family were made prisoners about 3 o'clock in the afternoon, and were forced to march that day
and the following night until day-light the second day, when they halted and encamped until the morning of the third day,
when they started again on the fourth day, and for twenty-four days from the time of their capture. The party could not
travel fast, as the plunder was heavy; and deponent and her sister Mary, who, who was seven years old, were obliged to
carry alternately their brother John, who was about twenty months old. On the second day after they stared from the
Matanzas, they crossed a small river, and afterwards they crossed the St. John's, where it was very wide, (probably at
Little lake.) She recollects, also, crossing a river called Suwannee in a skin; the skin was stretched out by two cross
sticks, and a rim made of wood; she lay down in the bottom very still, and remembers that she was afraid to look up. The
banks of this river were very steep. On the twenty-fourth day they arrived at a town called Mickasuky, the chief of which,
she recollects was called Ken-ha-jah. When we were within a short distance of the town, the party halted, and
proceeded to make a division of their plunder and prisoners; after which, we were turned over to some Indian women,
who came out to meet us; after which the Indian men went another way to dance over the scalp of deponent's brother.
Whilst living with these Indians, which she learned were called by the name of the Mickasuky tribe, she experienced
many hardships and cruelties, and her trails were very severe; and the circumstances and history of her captivity and
that of her family were so peculiar and barbarous that every thing now appears to be fresh to her mind, and she does
not think any thing but death can efface them from her memory. The Mickasuky town, where she was, deponent
understood was about a day's journey from St. Mark's, on the Gulf of Mexico, and a considerable distance from
Apalachicola, and within the Spanish boundary of the two provinces of East and West Florida. Deponent's mother, and
Catharine, Theresa, and John, were detained seven months, and at the end of this time deponent's father sent a Mr.
Jack Forrester with three hundred dollars to redeem the family; but the Indians not considering that a sufficient sum,
detained deponent and her brother Joseph. Deponent was detained fifteen months longer; her brother Joseph escaped
previously to that time, and got down to St. Mark's, from whence he was sent by the commandant to Pensacola, and
from thence to Mobile, New Orleans, and Cuba; and finally he reached St. Augustine in a vessel commanded by
Captain
Stephen Benet.

About twenty-two months after deponent's captivity, her father sent $200, being the additional sum demanded by the
Indians; and she was then released, and delivered up to her brother-in-law, Thomas Pasetty, who brought her to St.
Augustine, accompanied by Payne, the chief of the Seminoles, and a negro slave belonging to said chief.

Deponent further says that her father and her mother, the said Jack Forrester, the said
Captain Stephen Benet, and her
brother-in-law Thomas Passetty, are long since dead. Her sister Mary resides at St. Mary's, Georgia; and the rest of her
family that are living reside in the island of Cuba. She has always understood that the Mickasuky Indians were
considered by the Spanish Government to be under the military jurisdiction of the Governor of West Florida, and not of
East Florida.

Antonia Leonardy, her X mark.

Subscribed and sworn to before me, the 1st day of October, 1835.
Joseph S. Sanchez,
Justice of the Peace

[
Editor's Notes on the Bonelli family - Joseph Bonelli was one of the original Minorcan colony from Toscana, Italy.
Born 1740 died September 2, 1811. He married
Maria Moll from Ciudadela, Minorca, born 1758 died around 1840. She
was fourteen when she left Minorca. They were married in 1775. Their first child,
Thomas,  was born at New Smyrna in
1776. Their second child was born in St. Augustine. They worked their way up to owing two 600 acre land grants one at
Matanzas and the other at Turnbull Bay. In all they had 10 children.The ten children were
Thomas Bonelli born 1776
died 1802.
Maria Catalina Bonelli born 1778 St. Augustine died an infant in St. Augustine. Antonio Francisco Bonelli
born 1780 St. Augustine died in Cuba.  
Antonia Teresa Bonelli born 1782 died 1782. Maria Catalina Bonelli born
1784, married
Thomas Pacetti (5 children) on November 16, 1801. She was living in St. Augustine with Thomas Pacetti
at the time of the attack.  
Joseph S. Arnow 1822 (2 children), died Oct 1835. Antonia Paula de la Resurreccion
Bonelli
born 1786 died 1870 in St. Augustine. In captivity "married"  a Miccouskee Indian Medicine doctor and had one
child - Maria antonia Demeccia Bonelly born Dec 19 1803 and died September 24, 1810. Married
Bartolome Josef
Leonardi
July 27, 1808. Jose Francisco Bonelli born 1788 died unknown. Teresa Maria Rosa Bonelli born 1790
died after 1840 married a Robinson.
Catarina Martha Bonelli born 1792 in St. Augustine died 1803 in St. Augustine.
Juan Josef Bonelli born 1800 in St. Augustine died after 1820. Joseph Bonelli - the father is buried in Tolomato
cemetery in St. Augustine. It is expected that Maria Moll Bonelli is buried next to him.]

                                                                   
 Deposition of Joseph M. Hernandez
Territory of Florida, St. John's county:
Personally appeared before me, Joseph S. Sanchez, justice of the peace for the county of St. John's, in the Territory
aforesaid, Joseph M. Hernandez, who, being first duly sworn, deposeth and saith: That he is a native of Florida, and
recollects to have heard that, about the year 1802, Josiah Dupont, a settler at the head of the Matanzas river, about
thirty miles south of the city of St. Augustine, sustained great loss in consequence of a descent that was made upon him
on or about that time by a party of Indians belonging to one of the provinces. Dupont, in consequence thereof,
abandoned the country, having lost several negroes and other property.

A family by the name of Bonelly, who were living in the immediate neighborhood of Dupont's plantation, were also
attacked, and one of Bonelly's sons killed, and others of them carried into captivity by the Indians, with whom they
remained a long time in bondage, until redeemed. Affiant is well acquainted with Mrs. Leonardy, who was the daughter
of Bonelly, and who was one of those who were taken and held in bondage. She has always maintained a good
reputation for intelligence, industry, honesty, and veracity, under Spanish Government, as well as under present
Government.

He never has heard her word doubted upon any occasion, and he would give to her statement, on oath, the most implicit
credit. Affiant thinks that the price of negroes in 1802, in East Florida, did not vary much from the present prices: they
were worth from $300 to $400.

Joseph M. Hernandez

Subscribed and sworn to before me, the 11th day of April, 1835.
Joseph S. Sanchez,
Justice of the Peace, St. John's county.
Justice of the Peace.

                                                             
  Deposition of George T. F. Clarke
Territory of Florida, County of St. John's

Personally appeared before me, Joseph S. Sanchez, justice of the peace for the county of St. John's, George T. F.
Clarke, who, being duly sworn, deposeth and saith: That he is a brother of Charles W. Clarke, and is a native of Florida,
and resided in the city of St. Augustine in 1802, and was intimately acquainted with Josiah Dupont. Josiah Dupont had a
well settled plantation at Matanzas, about thirty miles south of St. Augustine, and was prosperous in his circumstances.
He remembers well that he was entirely broken up about in 1802, by the Seminole Indians, or a branch of them, residing
either in Alachua or at Mosquito. When this irruption was made by the Indians, he was in St. Augustine, and his brother
Charles resided on a plantation on the Matanzas river, about five miles north of the
Matanzas fort, and fifteen from the
city, and, on hearing of the depredations which the Indians had committed, he went down in a boat to his brother's
plantation, and found it abandoned. Whilst he was examining the premises and other parts of the neighborhood, he met
Mr. Bonelly, who had been driven from his plantation, and his family taken away by the Indians. Deponent knows Mrs.
Leonardy, who, he understands, is the daughter of Bonelly, and he believes her to be a woman of the strictest veracity,
and he has never heard of the least imputation against her character. In 1802, and for some years previous, deponent
was in the confidence of the Spanish Government, and was constantly acquainted with almost every thing that
transpired, either in public or private; and since then he has held many of the most important offices under the
Government, and for some years, until 1821, he was deputy governor of the northern department. He never heard that
Josiah Dupont, or any other person for him, ever recovered any of the property which the Indians took away from him, or
was compensated for them, or for the depredations and wastes which he had suffered by them; if any compensation had
been received, either from the Indians or the Government, it is more than probable he should have known it. The
sufferings of Mr. Dupont were matters of public notoriety, and it is also known that he left the country in consequence of
them.

George J. F. Clarke

Sworn and subscribed to before me, this 8th day of April, 1835.
Joseph S. Sanchez,
Justice of the Peace, St. John's county.

                                                              
Deposition of Gabriel W. Perpall
Territory of Florida, County of St. John's

Personally appeared before Joseph S. Sanchez, justice of the peace for said county of St. John's, Gabriel W. Perpall,
who, being duly sworn, says that he is now -- years of age, and has resided in Florida ever since the year 1803, and
remembers of hearing, in that year, and repeatedly since, circumstantial details of the descent made by the Mickasuky
Indians upon the settlement of Josiah Dupont and others, at Matanzas, in 1802. He has always understood, and has no
doubt of its truth, that the family of Joseph Bonelly was captured by them in that year, and carried off; and he has
personal knowledge of the time when Antonia, now the wife of Bartoloma Leonardy, was redeemed from them, and
returned to her friends. He knows Mrs. Leonardy well, and has never heard the least imputation against her credibility,
and would receive, with confidence, any statement made by her under the solemnity of an oath. He has always
understood that the Mickasuky Indians resided on the west side of the Suwannee; their town was called Mickasuky, and
was situated east of the Apalachicola, and about a day's journey from St. Mark's, on the Gulf of Mexico. St. Mark's was a
Spanish post, with a small garrison, and, though within the geographical limits of East Florida, was considered as
belonging to the western province. The Mickasuky towns were destroyed by General Jackson in 1818 or 1819, and the
occupants driven down amongst the Seminoles, and deponent has understood that they have now become incorporated
with that nation.

Gabriel W. Perpall

Subscribed and sworn to before me, the 7th day of October, 1835.

Joseph S. Sanchez,
Justice of the Peace,

                                                                  
Deposition of Philip Solano
Territory of Florida, County of St. John's:

Personally appeared before Joseph S. Sanchez, justice of the peace for said county of St. John's, Philip Solano, who,
being duly sworn, says that he is a native of East Florida; is now about fifty-three years of age; has most of his life had
intercourse with the different tribes of Indians in Florida, and can converse with some of them in their own dialect. He
was in St. Augustine at the time the Indians made a descent upon the settlements of Josiah Dupont and others, at
Matanzas, in 1802, and he saw the dead body of Thomas Bonelly, who had been killed by them in that affair, lying in the
market-place in St. Augustine, having been brought to town in a boat. From his own personal knowledge, and from what
he always understood, the Indians who committed the depredations upon those settlements were of the Mickasuky tribe;
they resided west of the Suwannee, and about a day's journey northeast of St. Mark's, on the gulf, and within the limits
of the Floridas. The Mickasukies were considered under the military jurisdiction of West Florida, for convenience;
because it was much easier to keep up a correspondence between Pensacola and st. Mark's, than between the latter
place and St. Augustine. When General Jackson entered the Floridas with his army, he destroyed the Mickasuky towns,
and drove those Indians east of the Suwannee; and deponent understands that they have since been incorporated with
the Seminoles.
Philip Solano.

Subscribed and sworn to before me, the 7th day of October, 1835.
Joseph S. Sanchez,
Justice of the Peace.

                         
Dispatch from the Governor of East Florida to the Captain General of Cuba.
To his Lordship the Captain General:

On the evening of the same day on which the schooner
Monica sailed for that port, the inhabitant, Josiah Dupont, Esq. ,
(appeared) before me and said, that ten armed Indians had, after pillaging his house, robbed him of ten negroes out of
twelve he had upon his plantations, and taking with them an English boy that was living with him; and that they had also
taken and carried off from a house near his a white woman with two small sons and three daughters, aged from twelve to
fifteen years; and that he believes that they had killed their older brother, as he was missing, and he had heard a report
of guns.

The father of those unfortunate creatures, who was here on his own business, departed from his home the moment he
had been informed of the occurrence, from whence he returned two days after, bring with him the dead body of his son,
which was pierced by two balls, wounded in several parts, and covered with blood, presenting to the view the most
doleful spectacle.

For these and the previous incidents which I have reported to your excellency, the inhabitants are dismayed, and
disposed to quit the province; and, in order to prevent this occurrence, the measures contained in the annexed
documents have been determined on in council of war.

As the posts which are to be fortified, and those on the Indian frontier, cannot be garrisoned with the corresponding
number of regular troops which the distance and their defenceless state require; and the free blacks who are to aid
them, were they to understand that they were to remain permanently in the service, may become dissatisfied and
probably go over rot the Indians; under these impressions, I pray your excellency will be pleased to send to me from one
hundred and fifty to two hundred men, with their corresponding officers, or at lest complete and make full the third
battalion of Cuba; with the aid of which I may, in some measure, keep myself on the defensive and check the progress of
the savages; though it would be better to make use of the means proposed to your excellency in my previous official
communication. which are those which all nations have availed themselves of for the purpose of punishing their
inhumanities and preserving a permanent peace with them.

The Indians who have committed these depredations not belonging to those of this province, and the chiefs and
headmen of it not having the necessary authority to restrain them under the present circumstances, would produce no
other result than that of causing uselessly to be expended the sums which are necessary to be given to those of this
province; and, besides, it would have a tendency to strengthen them in the opinion which they have formed of us, that
we are cowards, owing to our not daring to attempt to restrain their insolence.

The mounted militia are by no means fit to garrison a post, and they would occasion an enormous expense; wherefore,
the council of war have not thought proper to determine that they should be placed under arms; moreover, that having
to pursue the measures which have been adopted until the Indians are quieted, it would be ruinous to the settlers to
continue them constantly on duty, the assistance or personal labor of all of them being required to take care of their
farms and support their families.

Your excellency well knows that the number of men which I ask for is not great, taking into consideration the actual
strength of the battalion of Cuba, and the number of men belonging to it whose time of service has expired, and to whom
it is by no means convenient to grant their discharge unless I am reinforced; for, on the contrary, I shall have to
abandon all the outposts, and limit myself to the precincts of the city.

If the Indian incursions be not checked in their commencement, it is to be feared that all their towns will be in motion
influenced by the impunity with which their comrades commit their robberies, and by the desire of enriching themselves
as they do; the result of which would be the loss of these provinces to the King, or the necessity of fitting out an
expedition that would be expensive, for the purpose of restraining them; while, at present, the injuries which they
occasion might be remedied without great expense or much spilling of blood. God preserve your excellency many years.

His Lordship The Marquis of Someremlos.
St. Augustine, (Florida,)
February 1, 1802
General Thomas Jesup
Joel Robert Poinsett
Secretary of War
Under Martin Van Buren
Representative Joseph M. Hernandez
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