Echoes from a Distant Frontier is an edited, antated selection of the correspondence of Corinna and Ellen Brown, two single women in their twenties, who left a comfortable New England home in 1835 for the Florida frontier. Moving with two aunts and a brother following the deaths of their parents, the Brown sisters settled near the village of Mandarin on the east bank of the St. Johns River, just south of present-day Jacksonville. These two articulate and literate women, both aspiring authors, wrote of their experiences and observations to family members - most important their brother Mannevillette Brown, an artist who lived in various European locales and eventually in Utica, New York. Within a month of their arrival on the shores of the St. Johns, the frontier erupted in Indian war. The Browns witnessed the terror and carnage firsthand, and their letters paint a vivid picture of the Second Semile War (1835-1842). Their letters and those of their correspondents also contain astute observations about everyday life in a time, place, and society for which a very limited record remains. Resolute and independent, the Brown sisters eventually married men who were actively engaged in the conflict - an army officer and a surgeon attached to the army. The sisters corresponded from the many places they lived during their fifteen-year residence in Florida, including St. Augustine, Newnansville, Fort King (Ocala), Pensacola, and Key West. Both as transplanted New Englanders struggling to survive in America's southernmost frontier and as wives of southern-born men, the sisters provide valuable insights on their social and domestic circumstances and on a largely undocumented region of the South.
James M. Denham is a professor of history and director of the Center for Florida History at Florida Southern College. He is the author of A Rogue's Paradise: Crime and Punishment in Antebellum Florida, 1821-1861 and coeditor of Cracker Times and Pioneer Lives: The Florida Reminiscences of George Gillett Keen and Sarah Pamela Williams and Florida Sheriffs: A History, 1821-1945. His articles and reviews have appeared in American Historical Review, Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Georgia Historical Quarterly, and Florida Historical Quarterly. Denham lives in Lakeland. Keith L. Huneycutt is a professor of English and department chair at Florida Southern College. He holds a Ph.D. in English from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. His articles have appeared in Military History of the West and Florida Historical Quarterly. Huneycutt also lives in Lakeland.