In the late summer of 1696, fierce winds blew all night and a young English Quaker merchant sailing from Jamaica to Philadelphia, was wide awake in the pre-dawn tempest. He peered into the dark against the terrible gale. His wife and infant son huddled in the hold of the ship along with the crew, ten slaves and an injured ship commander.
The ship’s master and commander had ordered the casting off of most provisions and had the sails l, letting the ship be driven by the relentless force of wind and water. The ship commander, whose leg had been broken by a wind driven boom, said that all was now in God’s hands and all awaited their fate in the shrieking dark tumult. Hours later as if sleep was somehow possible, the merchant was nearly feeling calm when a sudden lurch and groaning sound filled all his senses. He ran, fell, slid across the lurching deck, got up and stumbled toward the hold. The doorway, now a gaping hole let out the sound of the cries of terror of those inside.
Perhaps a merciful lull allowed crew and passengers to lay hold of parts of the wooden ship as she broke into pieces against the shoals while running aground in the shallows. Ultimately, all souls aboard survived shipwreck to face all that awaited them. Where they were was uncertain other than somewhere on the coast of the savage land of Florida. The young merchant was none other than Jonathan Dickinson aboard the Reformation in her last hour.
He wrote later in his journal of the harrowing experience, the shipwreck proving only a prelude to the difficulties ahead. Eventually, stripped of most of their belongings, and even much of their clothing, the party was allowed to make their way to St. Augustine but not without the death of some during the journey.
The “Jobes” burned the ship but gave the castaways food which they feared to eat, thinking the “canibals” so entitled in Dickinson’s journal were desiring to fatten them for the cooking pot.
Eventually, granted possession of the ship’s boat and some of its remaining provisions, the remnant of the merchant party (five died on the journey) made their way toward St. Augustine and Philadelphia. Dickinson’s journal, his first literary work, describing the events in detail and printed twenty two times, made him famous for centuries.
The encounter put Jupiter on the map of the western world.
Little would be known of the Hobe, or more accurately, Jaega, tribe had it not been for the writings of Dickinson and a captive of seventeen years of a relative tribe on the west coast of Florida, Hernando de Escalante Fontaneda.
The city of Jupiter derived its name from inadvertent anglicizing of the term, Jove, which was mis-copied from Hobe on some mapmaker’s work.
Today’s modern residents of Jupiter from Tori Amos to Burt Reynolds would hardly regard the town as bearable much less attractive in its original form. Locals mis-trusted everyone, especially the Spanish whom the Reformation survivors tried to convince the Hobe tribe they were. The Spanish were known for killing or enslaving anyone who ventured too far north to build their fortress at St. Augustine. The Dickinson may have faced a far different fate had their journey taken place a few years earlier.
Jupiter homes and PGA National homes and golf resorts now populate the areas once inhabited by the Hobe Tribe.