Monday, February 23, 2009
Milly Francis - Florida's Pocahontas
One of the most remarkable events in Florida history took place on the banks of the Wakulla River near St. Marks, Florida, during the spring of 1818. The monument seen here was erected in her memory by the Daughters of the American Revolution and can be seen on the grounds of San Marcos de Apalache Historic State Park in St. Marks.
The First Seminole War was raging in 1818 and an American soldiers, Private Duncan McKrimmon of the Georgia Militia, had wandered away from his post at Fort Gadsden on the Apalachicola River and been captured by warriors loyal to the Prophet Josiah Francis. A Creek leader and holy man allied with the Seminoles in the war, Francis had fled to Florida from Alabama with his followers and family at the end of the Creek War of 1813-1814.
Taken to Francis' village, McKrimmon was stripped of his clothes and tied to a post in anticipation of his execution. As the sad scene was about to be enacted, however, the Prophet's 15-year-old daughter, Milly, intervened on his behalf.
Going first to her father, she pleaded for the soldier's life. Francis explained that it was beyond his power to spare the man as under Creek law his fate rested in the hand of the warrior who had captured him. He instructed his daughter to talk to this warrior. Milly did so, but found the man embittered and determined to take McKrimmon's life to avenge the death of his sister during the Creek War. She reasoned with him, explaining that McKrimmon was so young that he had "no head to go to war" on his own and that his death would not bring the enraged warrior's sister back to life.
Considering the matter, he relented and agreed to spare the young soldier's life on the condition that he agree to join the tribe and have his head shaved in the style of a Creek warrior. McKrimmon immediately agreed to do so and was released from his bonds.
When the story became known, it electrified newspaper readers across the United States and Milly Francis became one of the best known women in America. Unfortunately, her tragic story was far from over.
To learn more, please visit www.exploresouthernhistory.com/millyfrancis.