Seminole Chief Billy Bowlegs


"Billy Bowlegs" was O-lac-to-mi-co or "Holato Mico" (circa 1810-circa 1864), a Seminole chief who was part of a ruling Seminole family. Bowlegs met up with Andrew Jackson during the Indian uprisings of the early 1800's. In the 1850's, when the few remaining Florida Seminoles were living peacefully on their own lands in south Florida, 'the old Chieftain' was provoked into war by Colonel Harney's surveying corps. One night Harney's men slipped into Bowleg's thriving banana plantation and hacked the plants to bits. When confronted by the outraged chieftain, the surveyors brazenly admitted to ruining the plantation because they wanted "to see old Billy cut up". The incident led to the Third Seminole War (1855-1858), bringing federal troops and bloodhounds into South Florida. Chief Bowlegs and his war-weary band surrendered on May 7, 1858. Thirty-eight warriors and eighty-five women and children, including Billy's wife, boarded the steamer, Grey Cloud, at Egmont Key to begin their journey to Oklahoma. Bowlegs died soon after his arrival, on April 27, 1859. 

Photograph of Seminole Chief, Billy Bowlegs


Excerpts taken from Biography prepared by Gail Clement, Florida International University.

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