Beale’s Report from 1956
“A VISIT TO THE “DOMINICKER” MIXED-RACIAL GROUP IN HOLMES COUNTY, FLORIDA
November 28, 1956
By Calvin Beale
I first went to Bonifay, the county seat, and visited the county health nurses, Mrs. Lee and Mrs. Sims. They immediately mentioned he letter of inquiry from Dr. Witkop of Public Health Service and asked if I had any connection with it. I allowed as how I did. Both were glad to talk about the Dominicker group. Only one family is among their current patients. The patient is an elderly man, Jim Simmons, who has diabetes. The nurses, especially Mrs. Sims, a native of the county, knew other Dominickers. The term Dominicker is not acceptable to the group and is not used in their presence. They do not wish to be considered colored. One became very angry with Mrs. Lee when she, not knowing the family, listed a new-born child as Negro because of the somewhat Negroid appearance of the family. I believe she changed the record after the protest. The appearance of the group was said to be variable. Jim Simmons claims to be part Spanish and Indian. The nurses knew of the Forehand, Goddin (the present spelling), and Thomas families but had not been sure of the connection until I confirmed it. They also mentioned a Curry family. The names were all said to be held by white people too. The teeth of the Dominicker children were said to be better than the average for white children. There is no dentist in the county.
Some in the group suffer from TB. The group extends over into Walton County, where a couple of children in one family have a congenital malformation. (There is a Negro family in Holmes family [sic] with three albino children. I did not get the spelling of the name, which sounded like Hodah or Hoodah.) The nurses knew nothing of the origin of the Dominickers. They said Jim Simmons was approachable and probably would be glad to talk. All in the group were said to be poor. A separate elementary school is still maintained for the group, called the Mt. Zion School. Current enrollment is 12, said once to have been about 25. The nurses estimated the population of the group at 40. I next visited the Soil Conservationist, who knew of the group, but, not being a county native, took me to the man in charge of the Selective Service office. The S.S. man went over some of the same ground covered by the nurses. He said the Dominickers were sensitive on the race question and might not get information unless the questioner were referred in by someone accepted by the group.
It was his opinion that the children attending Mt. Zion school were essentially the darker ones and that some of those who looked white were in surrounding white schools. The teacher of the separate school is a white woman, Miss (?) Dupree, who lives in Westville. The present building was erected after World War II at a cost of $8,000. The S.S. man did not know how the Dominickers were drafted racially during World War II. Some farm, others work in forest industries. He said they were low in culture”
The Mount Zion Community School, known locally as the “Dominicker” School (photo courtesy of Mr. Hood, a scholar and archivist of northern Florida’s history)