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Jonathan Dickinson Captured!

Posted by Lorea Thomson on Tuesday, March 8th, 2016 at 12:28pm.

Jonathan Dickinson State Park was named for a Quaker merchant from Port Royal, Jamaica. Jonathan Dickinson was born in 1663.  Dickinson was shipwrecked on the southeast coast of Florida in 1696.  He was traveling with his family, his slaves, other passengers, and crewmembers of the ship. Hostile Native American Indians captured them on the Jupiter coastline.

In his journal, Dickinson recounted his family’s encounter with the Native Americans and their 230-mile journey to St. Augustine. The party was held captive by Jobe ("Hoe-bay") Indians. Dickinson and his family, which included his wife, Mary, their six-month-old son, Jonathan, and his ten slaves, took route on the ship Reformation. The Reformation unintentionally separated from the other ships in their passage. They thought Spanish or French fleets might be in the area and wanted to avoid them. A storm, probably a hurricane, drove the ship onto a reef and then onto shore on Jupiter Island, Florida. Jobe Indians held the captured party for several days. They took the survivors to their village at the Jupiter Inlet.  The Dubois Pioneer House Museum at the Jupiter Inlet stands atop the Indian mound described by Dickinson as the place they were held captive.

Somehow, they were able to communicate to their captures that they wished to travel to St Augustine. They group traveled with Jobe escorts to by small boat and on foot the 230 miles up the coast to Saint Augustine. They captors thought they would verify if their hostages were truly English or Spanish, as they claimed.  The Native Americans respected the Spanish but greatly disliked the English. They were stripped of their clothing, unprotected, and physically abused on the journey to Saint Augustine. Five members of the party died from exposure and starvation on the way for they refused to eat because they feared they were being fattened up for the cooking.

The Spanish, the established order in Saint Augustine, treated the surviving captives of the party well according to Dickinson’s journal. They then travelled by abandoned an abandoned boat from another shipwreck to Charles Town (now Charleston, South Carolina).  It is Charles Town they were able to find passage to Philadelphia.

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