General History of Indian Key
By Jerry Wilkinson

      The following three documents, one a petition and a legal argument, evidently to support Jacob Housman's claim against the government for $144,630.00, provide a pretty good summary of Housman's defense effort of Indian Key:
      "We the undersigned inhabitants on the coast of south Florida do certify that at the commencement of the Florida War, Jacob Housman the proprietor of, and resident on Indian Key, applied to the Governor of this territory for protection against the hostile Seminole Indians - he also applied to the Commanding Officer at Tampa Bay for the same protection, but received none from neither. Application was then made to the Secretary of War who paid no attention to his request. At the time the Indians were committing murders and destroying property in the immediate neighborhood. Captain Housman found it necessary for the protection of the inhabitants and property of Indian Key to employ 40 men which were kept at his expense for 18 months. At the expiration of this time, Captain Rudolph of the cutter DEXTER came to the assistance and the 40 men were discharged. After Captain Rudolph remained a length of time at Indian Key he was relieved by Lt. Commander McLaughlin of the U.S. Schooner WAVE, who made Indian Key a place of deposit for about one year by storing his provisions, powder, etc., after which he was relieved by U.S. Steamer POINSETT, Captain Mayo, who also made Indian Key a Military Post by depositing stores, ammunition, etc., as well as stationing troops on the Key for the protection of the inhabitants and Government property. There was also a hospital for the sick U.S. sailors and soldiers. Captain Mayo was relieved by the return of Lt. McLaughlin commander of expeditions, who established a Naval Post at Tea Table Key, a small island nearby Indian Key on the other side of its small bay or harbor, which he considered would afford the inhabitants of Indian Key equally the same protection as if he had kept his post on Indian Key, and the inhabitants themselves considered that they were as much under the protection of the Naval Post as they could be if said post was actually on Indian Key, otherwise they would have relied upon their own resources for the protection as they did at the commencement of the war. Immediately after the massacre of the inhabitants and the burning by the savages, the post was again removed from Tea Table Key to Indian Key, which latter place it still remains." 
        The above document is dated April 12, 1842 and signed by William H. Bethell, W.C. Maloney, Charles Howe, Lemuel Otis and 40 other individuals.

      The second document by Colonel Charles Downing, delegate from Florida, argued on March 25, 1840: "In January, 1836 I was on Indian Key and found a wall around it, built of every sort of material imaginable necessity could furnish. A vessel belonging to Jacob Housman was prepared with port holes, a bulwark around the docks, and armaments, and moved a short distance from the island as a place of refuge for the men and women in the event of a successful attack. The Indians were around them on the Maine, and the neighboring islands ready with blanket sail canoes to cross at any moment. Two of these Indians were taken in a canoe attempting to reconnoiter the 'works' at the Key, were turned over to the U.S. Authorities and __ (can't read)."
      Part of a petition by Abraham Housman:   " On January 1, 1836 by authority of the United States Marshall for the district of Key West, an attempt to recruit "faithful souls" to serve for a period of four months in the defense of Indian Key and at government pay. Those who signed their names to the paper and enlisted and willing to obey the officers placed over them:
Jacob Housman
George his X mark Stafford
His X mark Davis
G. F. Biglett
Solomon Taylor
Henry Smith
Samuel Holmes
David H. Johnson
Samuel A. Spencer
Thomas C. Corkle
* David Howe
 Benjamin his X mark Murray
John Bebe
Samuel his X mark Niles
Joseph his X mark Pratt
Wm. H. Fletcher
Isaac Spencer
Lemuel Otis
* March his X mark Howe
Charles Howe
Joseph B. Tift
Robert his X mark Alling
Wm. Reed
G. W. Johnson his
John his X mark White
William M. Spencer
John P. Green
Thomas Green
* Henry his X mark Howe
* James his X mark Housman 
Charles B. Benton
George his X mark Taylor 
Isaac his X mark Hunter
James Spencer
James Glass
*  Wm. his  X mark Howe
* Billy his X mark Housman 
Silas Fletcher"

His X mark = could not sign his name and made a "X"
       There are other affidavits, military and civilian, reasonably establishing that Housman did maintain the militia at considerable expense, however there was a question was it adequately authorized so the government would have to reimburse expenses. The final decision was that it was not.
     On Jan. 13, 1836, Major Thomas Easton in a dispatch to Jacob Housman from Key West suggested a retreat to that city if the enemy should "Press" upon you with a superior force. A sufficient force will be established at Key best to defend ourselves in every emergency.

     In another dispatch from Major Thomas Easton, which was not dated, ordered Captain Jacob Housman to call into service on Indian Key all able bodied men over 18 and under 45  and such sailors that are considered residents of the area.

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