Born in Spanish Florida of a black mother and Seminole father in 1812, John Horse (also known as Juan Caballo, Juan Cavallo, or Gopher John) was a prominent leader of Seminole blacks during the 2nd Seminole War. After a valiant fight alongside Seminole chief Coacooche (known as Wild Cat), and emancipation by Gen. Thomas S. Jesup, John Horse was removed to the Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma) with hundreds of his people in June 1838, but within a short time John was back in Florida serving the U.S. Army as interpreter, scout, combatant and as a mediator with Seminoles in the latter part of the war. For his services, John was officially granted his freedom by future President Gen. Zachary Taylor.
From his new home in Indian Territory John twice journeyed to Washington, D.C. to plead his people's case to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs. Years later John claimed he and Gen. Jesup met with Pres. Polk to discuss the plight of the Seminole. In late 1849, oppressed and hunted after their freedom was withdrawn by the federal government, two groups of Seminoles and blacks, led by Horse and Coacooche, slipped out of Indian Territory into Texas, enroute to freedom in Mexico. The band rested briefly here at Las Moras spring in early July 1850. In time, John settled his group at Nacimiento on land made available by the Mexican government. In exchange, the Seminoles provided protection from Apache and Comanche. When the Seminole Scout Detachment was formed at Fort Duncan in 1870, John returned to Texas. In 1876, while living in the Seminole camp at Fort Clark, John survived a third attempt on his life in an ambush near this site. After recovering, he returned to Nacimiento, Mexico. Following a trip to meet with Pres. Porfirio Diaz to plead for his people's permanent land rights in Nacimiento, he died in Mexico City in 1882 at the age of 70.