Minnie Moore-Willson was born near the town of West Newton,
Pennsylvania, on August 14, 1859. She married James Mallory Willson on
September 3, 1890. Her acquaintance with Kissimmee, Florida, began in the
early 1880s when she visited the area during the winter season and
developed an interest in the Seminole Indians. Both Willsons were nature
lovers and Minnie wrote for a number of wild-life magazines. The Willsons
were active members of the Audubon Society of Florida and through Mrs.
Willson's writings and influences, the town of Kissimmee served as one of
the first towns in the state to become a bird sanctuary. The Willsons
proved instrumental in the passage of an act by the Florida Legislature in
1913, setting apart 100,000 acres in the extreme southern portion of the
state for use by the Seminole Indians. The Willsons worked closely with
the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the resident Indian Agent, and the National
Indian Association, and their efforts culminated with passage of the bill.
Minnie Moore Willson served as first president of the Kissimmee Women's
Club and thereafter was elected honorary president for life. She was also
a member of the American Pen Women and other literary groups. Willson
authored many short stories and published The Seminoles of Florida in
1895. Willson's last works included a short history of Osceola County and
a monograph of the Indian Chief, Osceola. Willson died in Kissimmee,
Florida on August 12, 1937.
Biography prepared by Ruthanne Vogel, University of
Excerpt from Minnie Moore
Willson's' The Florida Seminoles
and their rights in the Everglades.
, an unpublished typescript
(ca. 1915), with annotations and corrections, from Minnie Moore Willson
papers, University of Miami.
In 1855 when the U.S. Government deeded to
Florida all her "swamp and over-flowed lands" the Indians came as a part
of the possessions, as they occupied the Everglades territory. Thus they
became a STATE PROBLEM AS MUCH A PART OF FLORIDA AS THE LAND
this gift of the Everglades country from the National Government. Can
she repudiate her responsibility to her Indian subjects that came as
part of this gift? Of the 58,000 square miles we call the Land of
Flowers little remains for the original owners.So today we find our
Florida Seminoles stranded in these great morasses, a Nation haunted by
famine and extinction. Will the democracy of Florida allow a helpless
people to be crushed out of existence by a handful of speculators, whose
highest thought is the jingle of dollars? This forlorn remnant of a once
powerful race are being pushed on and on, by a brute force totally
unworthy of Floridians and the white speculator says, "There is no land
left for the Seminole, let him make bricks without straw."...Surely the
Everglades country has had enough ugly and destructive publicity, for
all Florida suffers today for the high pressure sales of water covered
The hour has arrived when the voice of Floridians should
be heard and the call to right and justice should be sounded from every
hamlet, town and city of this fair State. No longer should these wards
of Florida be denied homes in the country they love so well, and no
longer should a stigma on the fair name of Florida be heralded in
flaming headlines to the world."
Photograph of Minnie Moore Willson.
Photo printed in The least known
wilderness of America: the Everglades of Florida. 1917