Four years after an earthquake devastated the once infamous pirate lair of Port Royal, Jamaica, Jonathan Dickinson set sail from Port Royal, on the barkentine vessel, the Reformation, with his wife, child and 21 other passengers including 12 slaves. The son of a wealthy English Quaker with large plantations and commercial interests in Jamaica, Dickinson was carrying valuable cargo to establish his family business in the port city of Philadelphia.
While en route, a vicious September storm shipwrecked them north of the Jupiter Inlet. The survivors were set upon by the Jobe Indians who were quick to identify them as English, although the party feigned to be Spanish, believing it would save their lives.
The cacique (“cas-see-key,” chief/king) let them live and took them to the Jupiter Inlet where they spent many a sleepless night at what is today DuBois Park. The Jobe plundered the Reformation of goods while Dickinson observed,
“On the other side was the Indian town, being little wigwams made of small poles stuck in the ground, which they bended one to another, making an arch, and covered them with thatch of small palmetto-leaves.”
Jonathan Dickinson recorded the arduous and life-threatening journey he and his companions made from Jupiter Inlet north to St. Augustine. Dickinson gives a personal account of the customs of the Jobe and other Florida Native Indians and his writing, although biased, remains a significant Contact Period reference. Jonathan Dickinson, later mayor of Philadelphia, eventually braved more sea voyages between Jamaica and Philadelphia without incident. His Journal is still in print 300 years later and is available today in the museum Gift Shop.
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The Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse & Museum is operated by the Loxahatchee River Historical Society, managing partner in the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse Outstanding Natural Area.
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