One of the little known facts about the island, at least to local residents is that Seminole Indians were interned on the island in the 1800's prior to them being relocated to reservations in Oklahoma and Arkansas. Fewer people still, know the story of Polly Parker (Madeloyee) and her escape from captivity and eventual return to her home near Lake Okeechobee.
The story of the Seminoles begins with the capture of a band of Indians led by warrior leader Billy Bowlegs (Holata Micco which means Alligator Chief) near Fort Myers in 1858 at the end of the Third Seminole War. On May 4th, 1858, he and his band of warriors and families numbering 123 were loaded on the steamer Grey Cloud and after stopping at Egmont Key to add 41 Seminoles that had been interned there and continued on to St. Marks.
While stopped at St. Marks to take on wood for its boilers, Polly Parker and a band of about a dozen Seminoles asked to go ashore to gather roots and herbs to make medicines. They were accompanied a guard from the ship. On her signal the group scattered and although some were recaptured, Polly and most of the others escaped. They traveled by foot, mostly at night nearly 400 miles back to Fisheating Creek near where it empties in to lake Okeechobee. She had many children and live more than 100 years, passing away in 1921. Many of her descendants achieved leadership roles within the tribe and she is revered to this day. Her story is told to all the Seminole children as a part of their history.