Everglades Biographies

Minnie Moore-Willson

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 Miami

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 , an unpublished typescript (ca. 1915), with annotations and corrections, from Minnie Moore Willson papers, University of Miami.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 ITSELF!!

Florida accepted 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 Everglades lands.

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

This site is designed and maintained by the Digital Collections Center -
Everglades Information Network & Digital Library at Florida International University Libraries
Copyright © Florida International University Libraries. All rights reserved.