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 Annie Jumper Tommie
The Idol Dancer and The Love Flower - Two films made by DW Griffith in Fort Lauderdale.

Annie Jumper Tommie:
20th Century Seminole Matriarch

by Susan Gillis 

Seminole medicine woman Annie Jumper Tommie (Panther clan) was born at Horsehead Hammock in what was the Everglades wetlands of today’s North Miami in 1856, during the Third Seminole War. Her parents, "Old John" and Sallie (aka "Mammy Jumper") later moved the family to Pine Island, in what is now Davie. Today, Pine Island is the site of Tree Tops Park and the Forest Ridge Development in the Town of Davie.

The Jumpers also maintained a seasonal camp and garden in the Colee Hammock area of Fort Lauderdale near Frank Stranahan’s trading post and stage line camp on the New River, which was established in 1893. They relocated to a site on the North Fork of New River, just north of today’s Broward Boulevard where North Fork Elementary School now stands, in about 1902 after the death of John Jumper.

The Seminole people are a matrilineal society; one’s lineage or clan is traced through the female line and campsites belong to the matriarch, in this case Mammy Jumper and later her daughter Annie, who were Panther Clan. At the North Fork camp, Mammy Jumper lived with Annie and Annie’s husband, Doctor Tommie, her brother Willie Jumper, Annie’s children (including Sam Tommie and Tony Tommie, who were well known to local residents), adopted son Cory Osceola and clan relatives the Huff and Fewell families. This was the last permanent Seminole camp in the city limits of Fort Lauderdale.

The camp consisted of a cooking chickee, work and sleeping chickees and, on the riverside, a canoe landing and work area for processing a staple food, coontie starch. A large cooking fire provided heat, pest control and a venue for storytelling with a large black pot of corn sofki always available on the fire. A baseball diamond was an important component of the camp; the Seminoles practiced for games against local school teams there.

 Seminole scenes - All photos this page courtesy of
From top - Seminole Indians in front of a chickee
Seminole camp - Fort Lauderdale, Florida 1917
Visitors to the Seminole’s home on New River - Fort
Lauderdale, Florida, 1909
The camp also served as an informal tourist attraction; historic photographs show the locals posing with camp residents. Annie pioneered the manufacture of "Seminole Indian dolls" for sale to the local tourists at this camp - a catalyst for the important Seminole tribal craft industry in South Florida. Annie and her family were some of the first Seminoles to work for white farmers, picking crops in the Progresso area by 1917.

By 1915, Mammy Jumper had passed away and responsibility for the camp and its residents passed to Annie. She was respected and well known by the local Seminole and area residents in the growing town of Fort Lauderdale. Her camp served as the principal point of contact between the two cultures in the 1910s and ’20s.

By the mid-1920s, Fort Lauderdale was experiencing terrific growth as a result of the Florida land boom. Local citizens’ eyes turned enviously to Annie’s camp, once considered the outskirts of town and now prime real estate. Fort Lauderdale pioneer Ivy Stranahan, well known to Annie and her family, was a frequent visitor to this camp. It was she who convinced Annie and her family to move to the new federal Seminole Indian reservation west of Dania (Big City Island) in 1926.

The Indians, justifiably suspicious of the government, had been reluctant to take up residence on the land that had been set aside for their use. Mrs. Stranahan, well known for her Indian activism, had been recruited by Indian agent Lucien Spencer to convince Indian families to claim their reservation land. Ivy recalled driving to Annie’s camp on a Tuesday morning to take the residents to view the reservation.

"I just prayed they would decide to go, because I knew the Indians had no choice. And in time they came out…I opened the door of my car as I saw them coming, Annie Tommie leading…"

That June morning Annie and her family decided to make a move that forever changed the fortunes of what was to become the Seminole Tribe of Florida. Today, that reservation is the Hollywood Reservation and the Hard Rock Hollywood attraction.

At the new reservation, Annie quickly became the leading matriarch and medicine woman, knowledgeable in the traditional healing arts of her people. Annie died in December 1946 at the age of 90.



Broward County Cultural Division
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