It seems like we are reading an eyewitness account of the Seminole Wars when we look at the descriptions found in the booklet about the life of King Stockton—until we realize that not all of the names mentioned seem to lead to corroborating historic accounts of the time period. At first, that might lead some to dismiss what was written in A. L. Lewis' biography of King Stockton, but immersing oneself in the recounting of the time period leads to a different conclusion: perhaps this was a report from the point of view of one local person, embedded in a mosaic of multiple wide-ranging atrocities inflicted by both sides of a complex series of conflicts.
King Stockton was likely born in 1830. Coupling that with the time period of the second Seminole war—1835 to 1842—lets us realize that this turmoil occurred during the early lifetime of a boy, from five to twelve years of age. While it is true that Native attacks on settlers in northern Florida did come as close as four miles from the plantation where he lived, it is unlikely that he would be aware of news of battles raging throughout the rest of the Florida peninsula, especially when only a child.
I did, however, search through several reports on the personnel involved among the United States' military leaders. King Stockton had mentioned a Captain Martin preceding his recounting of the Alston-Read duel. In addition, he told of an Ebenezer Jinks,
sent to Florida to try to adjust the situation with the Indians. He brought several hundred men with him and a retinue of servants. But he did not know how to handle the situation, so accomplished practically nothing.
Following that, the biography mentions "one Varnedoe" whose coming to Florida "gradually brought peace," but just as had happened when I tried to determine the identity of the Ebenezer Jinks he had mentioned, I am unable to determine who that "Varnedoe" might have been—though there was a Captain Leander Lewis Varnedoe from the South, who subsequently fought in the Civil War.
Since a third Seminole War followed somewhat after the second—occurring much later, from 1855 to 1858—that would have been when King Stockton was by then an adult. Perhaps some of the names were ones he remembered from that later conflict. Still, the skirmishes of this series of wars were wide-ranging across the peninsula. Some of the earlier events occurring close to home in northern Florida might have been the setting for the names recalled in this biography, just on account of the geographic closeness to home. In addition, the sheer number of troops lost over the stretch of three sets of wars gives indication of just how many commanding officers and ranking positions would have been involved across all locations and time periods, thus pointing out the difficulty of ascertaining just who any of these military leaders might have been.
What was interesting in this recounting, though, was any absence of mention about one man close to home for King Stockton—that of the master of the very plantation on which he lived. George McClellan was cited, in some history reports, as having organized the first militia for the territory of Florida, a muster roll at the end of November in 1840 showing a company of ninety six men under his command. While this was a local militia, rather than the U.S. troops being sent in for territorial protection, McClellan would have been a name familiar to King Stockton, at least in his earlier years. Determining just how it was that Stockton recalled those specific names and not others might reveal something about the connections and his position in his later years. Those whom he regularly talked to as an adult would be more likely to shape his recollection of the news from earlier days, and thus, the names he recalled for his biographer toward the end of his life.
Still, mention in the Stockton biography of some of the names of victims of local massacres did align with other reports of those events sparking the formation of the militia, as well as the plea for help from the federal government during that era. Let's look next at what can be corroborated about the stories of those families whose lost lives demanded such a response.