Portfolio Naples October 2017 - Page 54

mid-nineteenth century or earlier, while the Big Cypress and the Everglades were home to Seminole Indians whose ancestors first had made their homes there in the nine- teenth century. e Ten ousand Islands themselves were sparsely populated. A glance at the U.S. census from 1900 supports the contention that the frontier reached down the Gulf coast only to south- west Florida at the time the Dimocks were there. In that year, all of south Florida below Lake Okeechobee—then comprised of only three counties: Dade, Lee, and Monroe—had a total population of 26,000 people, of whom 18,000 were in Key West (Monroe County), 4,955 in Dade County, and 3,071 in Lee County, including fewer than 1,000 in Fort Myers. At the same time, Florida’s total pop- ulation was 528,000, while New York City held a whopping 3.44 million residents. In 1900, southwest Florida was the sticks and Fort Myers was a frontier town, though 52 PORTFOLIO MAGAZINE its citizens probably would have contested that characterization. e Dimocks, on the other hand, would have agreed. In “A Sum- mer Florida Vacation,” a magazine article he published in July 1905, Julian wrote that though he loved Marco, if one wanted a newspaper, one had to go all the way to Sara- sota, a town with regular railroad connec- tions and other “superfluities of the modern day.” Fort Myers apparently did not enter into his thinking as an outpost of civilization. e Dimocks would discover that the Ten ousand Islands, the “in-between,” served as a common ground where Anglos and Seminole Indians came in contact with one another. At places like Storter’s trading post and store in Everglades City at the north end of the Ten ousand Islands, white settlers and tourists came face to face with Seminole Indians who brought hides, feathers, and other goods to sell and trade for the items they wanted. Otter pelts, buckskin, and alli- gator hides moved west; cloth, guns, ammu- nition, pails, ceramic jugs, and tobacco went back east; photographs of Seminoles Indians went back north. P HOTOGRAPHING S OUTHWEST F LORIDA It was at Storter’s store in April 1905 that Julian Dimock and his father first met and photographed Seminole Indians. at initial meeting would lead to the Dimocks making forays into the Big Cypress and Everglades to document the Seminole people in their tra- ditional camps. Sometimes they were guided, not always successfully, by local residents of Everglades City. Other times they employed Seminole Indian guides to lead them and in- troduce them to the native inhabitants of the Big Cypress and Everglades, people still smarting from the horrific attempts by the U.S. government and its armies to forcibly resettle them in Indian Territory west of the Mississippi River.