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Historical Society hears story of ‘white medicine man’

By Staff | Feb 9, 2010

The journey of the “white medicine man” began in the late 1800s, when his parents settled in Fort Myers.
Stanley Hanson’s parents, Dr. William Hanson and Julia Allen Hanson, came to Lee County when it was little more than a fledgling outpost, settling here from their native country England.
As amazing as their story was, their son, Stanley, became an important part of Seminole Indian culture, coming to be known as the “white medicine man” by those who took him into their confidence.
Dr. William Hanson’s great grandson — Woody Hanson — shared the story of his family Tuesday during the Historical Society of Cape Coral’s monthly meeting at Cultural Park Theatre.
Though his talk touched upon the lives of his great-grandparents, Hanson focused heavily on his grandfather, who had his hand in many of the historical moments that came to shape Lee County, if not the entire state.
“My grandfather was an uncompromising individual who nearly went broke protecting the Seminoles,” he said.
Stanley Hanson was considered the Seminole Indian’s “white medicine man.”
He grew up with the Seminoles and became a member of the tribe’s council of elders.
Through that vaunted position, he was able to help the tribe through flu epidemics, political upheaval and various courtroom battles.
In return, the Seminoles honored and trusted him, granting him unprecedented access to their lives and history until his death in 1945.
Woody Hanson is working on putting together an archive of photos, letters and paperwork from his family, a lot of which focuses on his grandfather’s time with the Seminoles.
Photos from that era show Stanley Hanson as fully integrated with Seminole culture.
They also display two things his grandson Woody says are rarely seen in photos of Seminoles, smiling faces, and Stanley holding their children.
Hanson said the Seminoles were very spiritual people and came to hold his grandfather in the highest regard, considering him not only a friend but an equal.
Working on the family archives, Hanson said it was important for him to fully flesh out is family’s history, leave no stone unturned, to get a full picture of his family’s beginnings.
“You’re own family can change its history,” he said. “You can’t take it at face value, you have to dig.”