1939-Federal Writers Project article about Holmes County, Florida “Dominickers”

The narrative below is an article published in 1939 in the Florida volume of the Federal  Writer’s Project State Guide Series.  This effort was a part of President Roosevelt’s many Works Progress Administration (WPA) projects that were implemented to create employment for people during the Depression, and is credited with helping many troubled Americans.

“PONCE DE LEON, 45.2m (64 alt, 382 pop), is the site of Ponce De Leon Springs, one of the many fountains of youth named for the Spanish explorer. In adjacent back country live ‘Dominickers,’ part Negro and part white, whose history goes back to the early 1860s. [Origin story #1A—Thomas family] Just before the War Between the States, Thomas, a white, lived on a plantation here, with his wife, two children, and several Negro slaves. After his death his wife married one of the slaves, by whom she had five children. As slaves often took the name of their masters, her Negro husband was also known as Thomas. Of the five children, three married whites, two married Negroes. Today their numerous descendants live in the backwoods, for the most part in poverty. The men are of good physique, but the women are often thin and worn in early life. All have large families, and the fairest daughter may have a brother distinctly Negroid in appearance. The name originated, it is said, when a white in suing for a divorce described his wife as ‘black and white, like an old Dominicker chicken.’ Dominickers children are not permitted to attend white schools, nor do they associate with Negroes. About 20 children attend a one-room school. As no rural bus is provided, he pupils often walk several miles to attend classes. An old cemetery, containing a large number of Dominicker graves, adjoins the school. Numerous curves and steep hills make driving west of Ponce de Leon somewhat dangerous; care and caution are advised. “

Excerpted from the Federal Writers’ Project (Fla.). Florida: A Guide to the Southernmost State. Sponsored by the State of Florida, Department of Public Instruction. New York: Oxford University Press, 1939.

 

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