John Horse was born about 1812 in Spanish Florida. His mother was of African descent and his father a Native American, Charles Cavallo, a Seminole town chief. He also had a sister named Juana or Wannah John Horse, or Gopher John as nicknamed by military following turtle ruse with Major George M. Brooke. Over a period of several weeks John sold the major’s cook the same turtle several times (soldiers savored the turtles, they called gophers). Discovering John’s fraud, Brooke opted for leniency and let John go on condition he make good on the missing turtles which he apparently did. This began a lifelong relationship between John Horse and the American military and earned his nickname, Gopher John.