THE FLORIDA STATE UNIVERSITY
COLLEGE OF ARTS AND SCIENCES
UNION COLONY IN THE CONFEDERATE SOUTH
LYNN HAVEN, FLORIDA
Glenda Jane Walters
A Dissertation submitted to the
Department of History
in partial fulfillment of the
requirements for the degree of
Doctorate of Philosophy
Fall Semester, 1995
Glenda J. Walters
All Rights Reserved
The members of the Committee approve the dissertation of
Glenda J. Walters defended on November 1, 1995.
Edward F. Keuchel
Professor Directing Dissertation
John P Lunstrum
Outside Committee Member
Neil B. Betten
Edward D Wynot
My appreciation is extended to Glenn H. Arnold, my father, who
showed me education never ends. An immeasurable gift.
A word of appreciation is extended to Donald D. Mowat who
gallantly led me down memory lane.
Thanks are extended to the staff of the Osceola Historical
Society for their hospitality and assistance.
Thanks are also extended to the staff of the Bay County Library
Historical Room for their continued help and encouragement.
Above all, the encouragement, support and faith bestowed by
my husband, Leon L. Walters, and my children will always be
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Florida's East and West Coast Development 1
The First Union Colonies 38
The Migration Begins 81
Churches and Schools Established 129
Recreational, Social and Civic Activities 181
Government and Business Begin 225
Survival: The Twenties 287
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH 332
UNION COLONY IN THE CONFEDERATE SOUTH
LYNN HAVEN, FLORIDA
Glenda J. Walters, PhD
Florida State University, 1995
Edward Keuchel, PhD
Union Colony in the Confederate South studies a retirement
community in North Florida developed for veterans of the Union
army. Hundreds of acres of virgin pine and palmetto along St.
Andrews Bay were purchased by William Harcourt Lynn as
president of a Delaware chartered company, the St Andrews Bay
Development Company. The project was promoted by the Grand
Army of The Republic, a Union veteran's organization. Lots in the
planned colony were advertised in The National Tribune, a G.A.R.
publication and sold by agents throughout the country. In 1911,
aged men and their families took possession of their property in
the new town, Lynn Haven Over the next two years, the colony
experienced a period of astounding growth. These twentieth-
century pioneers/retirees built homes, businesses, and churches
First Presbyterian Church Lynn Haven
Florida Banking Records
George M. West Collection
Gladys Porter Collection
Lynn Haven Literary Society
Lynn Haven Methodist Church Records
Washington County Property Deeds
Bay County Property Deeds
Lynn Haven Commission Minutes, Books 1, 2, 4.
INTERVIEWS AND PERSONAL NOTES
Anderson, Ruth. History Center, St. Paul, Minnesota, to
Glenda Walters, response telephone inquiry, July, 1994.
Clothier, Jane Bailey. Interview with Glenda J. Walters, 24
Green, George Interview with Glenda J Walters, Lynn
Haven, Florida, 15 August 1994.
there. They established social and civic clubs and instituted
local government Both Lynn Haven and the new Bay County were
chartered in 1913. The veterans provided a school for the
children and educational opportunities for all citizens. Their
experiences demonstrate that the west coast was promoted much
as the east coast, but developed in its own unique manner. Many
lived out their years enjoying the Florida environment, but
survival of the town became questionable as economic problems
developed and the population declined as the settlers died.
Unfortunately. the developer, Lynn, and his company did not
realize the financial rewards they anticipated. By 1915, the
community bank failed and by 1917, the St. Andrews Bay Company
went into receivership. William Lynn turned his attention to
other promotions, and the town bearing his name was left to fend
for itself. By 1920 the population had declined from two
thousand to seven hundred. Only through the concerted efforts of
the transplanted Northerners who had grown to love their
Land, Luther and Margaret. Interview with Glenda J.
Walters, Summer 1982.
Morar, William and Sigrid Interview with Glenda J.
Walters, 7 November 1994.
Peach, Fred and Ruth Interviewed by Ann Richards,
Bay County Beacon-Tribune
Lynn Haven Citizen
Lynn Haven Free Press
Lynn Haven Tribune
New Rochelle Standard Star
Panama City Pilot
Pensacola News Journel
St. Cloud Tribune
St. Paul Pioneer Press
The National Tribune
Akin, Edward N. Flagler, Rockefeller Partner and Florida Barron.
Gainesville- University of Florida Press, 1992.
Beath, Robert. B. History of the Grand Army of the Republic. New
York: Bryan, Taylor & Co., 1889. (369 15G751B)
Bell, Harold W. Glmpses of the Panhandle. Chicago: Adams Press,
community in the South did Lynn Haven survive to become the
prosperous community that today approaches its centennial.
FLORIDA'S EAST AND WEST COAST DEVELOPMENT
During the late nineteenth century, Florida again became the
focus of an expansionist movement. Long sought and awaited
immigrants flocked to the state. The efforts to attract settlers
begun by the state immediately upon the conclusion of the Civil War
began to bring results. Renewal of the pre-war tourism business
alone would not be sufficient to move the young state into the
twentieth century so there were certain basic needs identified.
Financial investments were necessary to establish a viable
economic foundation. With the promise of profit, both credible
businessmen and clever promoters eyed investment opportunities.
However, most needed were individuals willing to commit their time
and labor to establish a strong social foundation. In order to
satisfy Florida's needs, the state and many progressive citizens
sought individuals ready to invest their lives in the state's future.
Their task was to push the young state into the twentieth century
and beyond to achieve its perceived potential.
Louisiana instituted an immigration bureau as early as 1866
and South Carolina followed suit in 1867. Both states sent agents to
the northern states and to Europe to recruit settlers. Tennessee
also organized overseas recruitment ventures. Florida soon joined
her sister states in the search for immigrants. The Florida
Constitution of 1868 established a cabinet level Commissioner of
Immigration and under its first commissioner, J. S. Adams, the state
of Florida promoted a campaign lauding its attractions. The basis
for that campaign was the assertion that Florida offered many
benefits to the settler. "Inducements to immigration to Florida
consist in the cheapness of the lands, ease of tillage, wide scope of
crops, heavy profits and healthfulness of climate."' When asked if it
was safe for a northern man to come to Florida, Adams responded,
"The Immigrant of good character and habits will be readily received
by all. Southern men and women are not super-human, and cannot be
expected suddenly to absolve themselves from the domination of
those trains of political thought and those prevalent social notions
that have ruled them for years or to sympathize at once with the
political ideas of a triumphant radicalism. But the whole population
of the State is rapidly convinced that 'men. money and labor,' are to
be watch-words in the success of the future of Florida."2
The offices of Commissioner of Immigration and Surveyor
General were combined by a Constitutional Amendment in 1871 to
form the Commission of Lands and Immigration.3 This office
continued to promote Florida in the North although competition from
other southern states was keen. Throughout the remainder of the
1 R. S. Gardiner, A Guide to Florida: Land of Flowers, (New York:
Cushing, Barduga & Company, 1872), 28.
3 Mark A. Sannino, "The Immigration Movement and the Promotion of
Florida." (Master's Thesis, Florida State University, 1982).
nineteenth century, Florida joined other Southern states in an
attempt to discourage European laborers from settling north of the
Mason-Dixon line Those efforts were not particularly rewarding.
However, population growth did reflect the limited success of
Florida's promotional campaign, both in the states and abroad.
William Dunnington Bloxham was elected governor in 1880. In his
inaugural address, he "stressed the need for immigrants,
transportation and education to achieve growth and prosperity for
the state."4 Considered the most important achievement of his term,
the 1881 Disston Sale relieved the state's debt. Moreover, it drew
investments from the outside world and brought "an influx of
population -- an advertisement such as we never had, and which has
called public attention not only in this country but in Europe, to our
resources and climatic advantages...."5 During each year of
Bloxham's first term (1881 to 1885) as governor, 14,000 settlers
were drawn to Florida.6 During the decade of the 1880s, the state's
population increased 45.2 percent.
The Constitution of 1885 placed the Bureau of Lands and
Immigration under the new State Department of Agriculture which
handled the promotional efforts and land sales until 1925.7
4 Carlton W. Tebeau, A History of Florida, (Coral Gables University
of Miami Press, 1971), 277.
5 Caroline Mays Brevard, Florida as a State, A History of Florida
from the Treaty of 1763 to Our Own Times, ed. James Alexander
Robertson, Vol. II (Deland, Florida: State Historical Society, 1925),
20. address by Governor Bloxham in 1883.
6 J. E. Dovell. Florida, Historic, Dramatic, Contemporary, (New York:
Lewis Historical Publishing Co. 1952), 593
7 Tebeau, 292.
Ultimately, it was the state's intensive efforts to present a positive
picture of Florida coupled with the advertisements of the railroad
companies and the initiative of individual developers that drew the
most rewarding attention to Florida's frontier. Talented writers,
enlisted to aid the effort, sparked the curiosity of readers with
their imagery Their promotional literature generated interest in
the state's exotic features and the merits of Florida, fictitious or
otherwise, began to spread over the nation and abroad. With little
help, Florida indeed sold itself
Sidney Lanler, engaged by the Atlantic Coast Line Railway
Company in 1875, wrote a pamphlet entitled, Flornda, Its Scenery,
Climate and History Describing and praising the state with his
words, he wrote, ". Florida possesses a coast line of about twelve
hundred miles, of which greatly the larger half is washed by the Gulf
of Mexico."8 As assigned, Lanler found cause to recommend Florida,
in spite of its ruggedness, to all possible visitors. "To the tourist
and sportsman desiring a mild flavor of adventure, this portion of
Florida offers a charming field, and any invalid who is able to endure
the comparative rudeness of this manner of life cannot but find
benefit from the liberal air and genial appetites which range
together along these quiet shores."9 Laner visited the entire state,
primarily traveling the rivers and waterways by steamer. Ten
chapters of his work describe the state by geographic sections he
8 Sidney Lanier, Florida, Its Scenery, Climate and History,
(Philadelphia: J. B. Llppincott, 1875), 62.
9 Ibid., 64
devised. Another chapter of his publication concerned the history of
the state The journalist also devoted an entire chapter to the
state's climate which he believed to be Florida's most enjoyable
feature. Although Lanier relates few encounters with individuals,
his descriptions of the scenery reveal his talents as both a poet and
composer. He wrote of an April morning on the Florida coast as "...
a morning woven out of some miraculous tissue, which shows two
shimmering aspects, the one stillness, the other glory, a morning
which mingles infinite repose with infinite glittering, as if God
should smile in his sleep "10 Truly a picture few could resist.
Another spokesman for the merits of Florida arrived in 1879.
While visiting as a correspondent for the Chicago Times. George
Barbour discovered there was a "real demand for an adequate and
trustworthy descriptive work on Florida."" He claimed since he was
not in the employ of any corporation, promotional scheme or
locality, he could write with a "sincere desire to do justice to all
parts of the state."12 A widely read guidebook, Florida for Tourists,
Invalids, and Settlers, was the result of his observations. In this
popular work, published in 1882 and reprinted an additional four
times that decade, Barbour attempted to answer the myriad of
questions concerning Florida that were foremost in the minds of his
10 Ibid, 25
11 George Barbour, Florida for Tourists, Invalids, and Settlers, A
Facsimile reproduction of 1882 ed., with introduction by Emmett B.
Peter Jr. (Gainsville. University of Florida Press, 1964), 4.
audience who lived in the "less favored regions of our country."13
His unique experiences during this visit to Florida provided him with
the information that he imparted to his readers. In 1880, the State
Commissioner of Immigration, Seth French, made an official tour of
the middle and southern portions of the state and invited Barbour to
accompany him. Along the way, local residents hosted the party of
travelers thus giving them personal contact with the people they
met and places they visited Later that spring, Barbour toured North
Florida in the company of the Assistant Commissioner of
Immigration, Captain Samuel Fairbanks. On these excursions, the
writer saw the great triangle of Florida, from Jacksonville to the
Keys and back to Pensacola and Tallahassee. Drawing on his
experience as a reporter, his descriptions were attentive to detail
His personal accounts were candid, quite opinionated and frequently
very prejudiced Some of his remarks were actually rude and
ungracious. However, he expressed the feelings and emotions
surrounding his experiences surprisingly well He gave the reader a
clear picture of Florida as it appeared through his eyes. His two
traveling companions, French and Fairbanks, as well as Governor
Bloxham endorsed Barbour's publication in its preface as,
"Trustworthy and comprehensive "
As evidenced by the title, the author directed his information
to three particular segments of the population Some chapters
recommended attractions and gave transportation tips for the
tourist. Others reported the latest medical findings related to
Florida's climate to the infirm and aged However, attractions for
the potential settler were the most emphasized feature of the book.
Barbour strongly echoed the state's claim that Florida offered
abundant opportunity for the immigrant. The settler in Florida, he
claimed, "Can live with more ease and personal comfort, can live
more cheaply, can enjoy more genuine luxuries, can obtain a greater
income from a smaller investment and by less labor and sooner
secure a competency, than in any other accessible portion of North
Magazines with national circulation such as Harpers and
Scr bners, reflected the public interest in Florida as they began to
feature the state in their articles. Scrbners monthly magazine
sought to present to the public through the medium of their
periodical, a view of the true conditions in the southern states.
With that objective, they dispatched Mr. Edward King, journalist, and
Mr. J Wells Champney, endorsed as "an able artist in the production
of characteristic sketches," to visit fourteen former slave states
and complete a series of illustrated articles to be published in the
magazine. The articles were later compiled and published as a book
entitled, The Southern States of North America. The pair traveled
over twenty-five thousand miles during 1873 and 1874 Arriving in
Florida, they assured readers that they were not absent from the
"accessories of civilization but quite the contrary "15 They reported
15 Edward King, The Southern States of North America, (London:
Blackie and Son. Glasco and Edinburgh, 1875), 382.
Florida, is to love it as the land of promise and the home of
health "20 The article continued its adulation by relating that the
"capabilities of the future of Florida are immense. It excels in
richness of soil. Its products are preeminent and extraordinarily
prolific Its fruit culture has made rapid progress It excels in
health in a broad and comprehensive sense It excels in the fertility
of soil and, greatest of all, it excels in its health giving
The delirious prose extolling Florida's virtues produced the
desired effect Wealthy Northerners sought relief from the cold
weather and the constraints that it brought. The infirm sought a
refuge from winter and the sickness that accompanied it. The weary
or restless pursued the opportunity to make a new start or to find
their vision of paradise. Promise of fortune and success lured still
others Entrepreneurs with an eye toward financial reward followed
the rails and populated the coast from Jacksonville to Key West and
across to Tampa. hawking the paradise to be found. Florda promised
sunshine, good health, opportunity and adventure By fulfilling these
promises, the state became both the nation's sanitarium and resort.
As the number of visitors grew, the construction of lodges, hotels
and resorts reached a fevered pace Land sales brought investments
from all over the nation. "Like a magnet, Florida is drawing to its
borders, capital from all parts of the world, and is soon destined to
20 Florida Semi-Trooical News, January, 1889.
sprang up along the tracks and the populations of established cities
A Connecticut man, Henry B. Plant, visited Florida in 1853 with
his ailing wife and returned after the Civil War to play a major role
in the development of Florida railroads and infant tourist Industry.
As president and owner of the Southern Express Company of Atlanta,
Plant began buying small railroads in foreclosure proceedings. In
1879, he organized the Savannah, Florida and Western Railroad line
from bankrupt short line railroads in Georgia and South Carolina.25
He linked Florida to Waycross and Savannah by short lines going into
Jacksonville "Attracted by the liberal land subsidy offered by the
state, he secured control of the South Florida railroad, from Sanford
to Kissimmee. and bought an undeveloped charter to extend the line
to Tampa in 1884 "26 Thus his rails extended south from
Jacksonville diagonally across the state to the west coast. In 1892,
after acquiring more than two dozen small lines in Florida, Georgia
and South Carolina, he formed the Plant Investment Company By
1902, the Plant Investment Company controlled some six hundred
miles of railway in Florida.27 They were also responsible for
development of docking and shipping facilities at the Tampa port. To
promote this network of railroads, land development and hotels in
Florida, the Plant Company maintained its own agriculture and
immigration bureau The famed Tampa Bay Hotel and six other resort
25 Tebeau, 283.
thousand residents There Flagler built two luxury hotels; the
Breakers and the Poinciana. Palm Beach attracted both wealthy
Northerners and Europeans, as well as status seeking families of
successful middle class businessmen At a cost of $2 5 million he
built a palatial home, Whitehall, for his third wife Many of the
nation's millionaires followed suit and built winter mansions there.
Never one to do anything in a less than perfect manner himself,
Flagler's great hotels at Palm Beach became the most fashionable
resort sites during the Gilded Age The Washington's Day Birthday
Ball at Whitehall marked the height of the southern social season.29
It seemed that Flagler would conclude his push southward at
that point, much to the disappointment of landowners in Miami, until
the record freeze of 1894-95 persuaded him to move on.
Construction of lines further south began immediately. The first
trains reached Miami in April 1896, Homestead in 1903, and finally
Key West in 191230 Flagler's railroad and hotel construction were
inseparably linked, and resorts followed the rails drawing guests
deeper into the state His string of palatial resorts such as Hotel
Ormond at Ormond, the Royal Poinciana Hotel on Lake Worth and the
Royal Palm at Miami became legendary.
In 1870, literature on Florida informed readers, "The country
west of the Apalachicola River has not yet been brought in railroad
communication with the other parts of the State."31 Although
29 Akin, 151.
30 Tebeau, 287.
31 Gardiner, 71
"West Florida would develop as a major part of the state if the
woodlands were bridged by rails from Pensacola to the Jacksonville
and Tallahassee connection that had been completed from Quincy to
the eastern bank of the Apalachicola River at Chattahoochee."3s
Consolidation of the Loulsville & Nashville Railroad was the link to
Alabama's hinterland, but tracks to the East to connect the
Pensacola port and the rest of the state became Chipley's goal. He
was ready to claim a share for the Pensacola and Atlantic railroad,
incorporated by the legislature in March 1881, when the Disston
revenues made new land grants available to railroad developers.
Two months later, he secured a total of 3,888,600 acres and became
vice president and general superintendent of the Pensacola &
Atlantic Railroad Company with a new charter to build rails
eastward to the Apalachicola River On May 9, 1881, the Louisville &
Nashville Railroad gained control of the Pensacola & Atlantic
Railroad in a stock buy out fashioned by Chipley 36
For the next two years, steel rails pushed through the pine
forests toward Tallahassee. Chipley, known as Mr Railroad of West
Florida, "...was a great man with the people for having done his share
in promoting the railroad."37 The completion of Pensacola & Atlantic
link in 1883 immediately affected Pensacola and Marianna, the only
established towns along the route. But settlers followed the tracks
and soon towns like Chipley, Cottondale, and DeFuniak sprang up
36 Ibid., 20-21.
visionaries. Florida's future was first planned on its ability to draw
visitors, vacationers, and retirees to the state. Next, there was a
plan to become the nation's major producer of fruits and vegetables;
thus, early promotions of Florida set idyllic goals for agriculture
Unfortunately the sun does not always shine, nor does the cold
always stay away. It would take more than promises to draw
visitors and more than plans to grow the crops, and so it was that
the role of the settler became the center of attention Plans and
promises meant nothing without the perseverance of permanent
settlers who could tame the environment, perfect the horticulture of
Florida's most profitable crops and offer warm hospitality to
visitors in any weather
Florida had been searching for such settlers since the late
1860s By the turn of the century, many people throughout the
country had read the books and articles promoting Florida Some of
those readers heeded the call, packed their belongings and moved to
the state. They came with their dreams and with the determination
to fulfill them They did not seek the resorts of the wealthy, but a
place of their own. To them the west coast offered such an
opportunity Unique but just as attractive as the east coast, the
west coast was farther from and not along a direct route from the
large northern cities. For that reason the fashionable resorts, so
abundant on the Atlantic coast, did not rise on the shores of the Gulf.
There other attractions drew curious visitors.
Upon his visit to the area, Sidney Lanier accurately observed,
"West Florida is sparsely inhabited: ... Its main industries are
communities recall the names of these early settlers. In addition,
parks, schools, public buildings and bridges also bear their names
However, more important than any commemorative marker is the
contribution they made to the area's development Their legacy, the
churches, schools, farms and industries they built, became the
foundation upon which twentieth century Florida rests
In the Panhandle area of North Florida, many families still
nurture the stories of their pioneer ancestors Their stories, oral or
written, are an important part of Florida history. Since Northwest
Florida was the last area to feel the results of the many promotional
schemes designed to attract visitors and settlers, there is still a
close awareness of the past Many descendants of early Florldlans
still cling to the branches of their family tree, and proudly boast of
their heritage. Annually they gather in parks or at old homesites, in
churchyards or cemeteries for reunions At these gatherings, they
retell the stories of their ancestors' arrival in Florida Usually not
sensational but always interesting, there are tales of adventure and
tragedy There are tales of long journeys and lost causes. There are
tales of peaceful serenity and early death Although the settlers
represented a wide variety of backgrounds and localities, ambition
and a willingness to work were common traits. Their differences
became part of the collage that is Florida's unique culture. The
preservation of their stories is important to all, because they give
meaning and clarity to Florida's diversity in the twentieth century.
A unique example of diverse cultures assimilated over time in
the Florida Panhandle, developed not by fate, but as the result of
1863.46 For next decade the land lay quietly beneath the oaks, Then,
family by family, settlers began to drift back to the site of the
saltworks. The fishing village of St. Andrews became active again
in the late 1870s The waterfront area of the rebuilt community
was called Old Town. in reference to the settlement there destroyed
by the war
In 1884, the United States government deeded a large tract of
land further east along that same bay to Samuel J. Ervin The land
changed hands again in April 1887. The new owner was Captain
George W. Jenks who sold a portion of the property to C. J Demorest,
a veteran of the Union Army from Rochester, New York. Together the
two settlers platted their land under the name, Park Resort Jenks
erected a hotel in the new development n 1888 and Demorest built a
store which he operated himself The pair sold only a few lots in
Park Resort, and those homesteaders settled along the waterfront
and inland three or four blocks. In 1889, during the presidency of
Benjamin Harrison, the area acquired its first post office. The
name, Park Resort, was then changed to Harrison in honor of the
president. Mrs. Jenks operated both the post office and the Harrison
Hotel. The anticipated town did not develop in Jenks' lifetime since
the boom of the 1880s was ended by the Depression of 1893.
Seeking a more financially secure life, Demorest moved his family
to the western frontier leaving only Jenks and a few old settlers in
Harrison.47 Jenks died in March 1902, but his name has remained on
47 Pilot, 23 January 1908
mill began production in July 1885, and operated with a capacity of
eight to ten thousand board feet per day Most of the lumber was
sold in St. Andrews since, in the mid 1880s, that reborn area was
experiencing rapid growth so To Gay also goes the credit for making
and shipping the first spirits of turpentine from the bay area. He
began construction of a still in late 1897. With the help of workers
hired in both North Florida and South Georgia, the first nine barrels
of spirits were shipped to Carabelle, Florida aboard the schooner,
Ame.ia, in April 1898.51 Gay was directly responsible for the
development of two of the most attractive industries, timber and
turpentine, in the area. His investment in land, equipment and hard
work richly rewarded him as well as the Panhandle.
As a result of his prosperity, he could be generous with his
time and resources. A. J. Gay's civic contributions cannot be
overlooked He was active in the chartering of Panama City and was
elected to serve as president of that city's first town council He
aided in securing the railroad to St. Andrews Bay. Mr. Gay served on
the Board of Directors for the Bank of Panama City and in later
years, the Lynn Haven Bank. He did much to secure telephone lines
between St. Andrews and Chipley, and "was director in nearly every
public utility that the town possessed in its early days."52
George Mortimer West, lawyer, railroad executive and
newspaper publisher, shared the vision of his predecessors.
50 EPilt, 3 October 1907
51 Pilt., 28 November 1907
52 .ELLt, 4 May 1922.
country and that with properly directed effort a great future
awaited it."56 The development company's first local office was a
small wooden building on the waterfront in Harrison The Gulf Coast
Development Company purchased vast amounts of land around
Harrison, along Massalina Bayou, and in the community known as Gay.
on the shores of North Bay.
Recognizing the vital importance of transportation in
developing these properties, West sought to interest some railroad
in the building of a line to St. Andrews Bay. "Having received what
he considered rather favorable results from his extended and
repeated attempts to interest railways in the subject,"57 he sought a
suitable site for a terminus. A piece of property at the western end
of East Bay, purchased earlier from G W Jenks, was his choice. The
development group began a succession of correspondence and visits
to railroad magnates around the country On his third attempt to
bring a rail line to the bay, West met Mr. A. B. Steel, a lumberman
from Georgia, and found success. Steel had first seen the bay area in
November 1904. "Like every other man of keen business acumen he
foresaw the possibilities of this magnificent body of water and
thought that it could be made a wonderful shipping port.. "s5 He was
unable to purchase suitable land there, however, he committed the
spot to memory.
57 Plot. 2 July 1908
sightseers from Dothan, rolled into Harrison.60 West did not receive
news of their impending arrival and expressed regret that he had not
prepared to entertain the crowd. However, he quickly organized free
boat rides for them throughout the afternoon.
Although both West and Steel enjoyed lives filled with
successes and services to their fellow man and to their
communities, their single most important contribution must be
considered their cooperative effort in bringing the rails to St.
Andrews Bay Steel was a resident of Atlanta, Georgia, but his
impact upon North Florida could not have been stronger had it been
his own native territory. In conjunction with the railroad, Steel
established a steamship line with his purchase of the Manteo,
intending to secure connection "for all Gulf ports, Cuba and central
American points "61 Tradition holds that when the town was
chartered in 1909, Steel's vision of the port as a link to the Panama
Canal was the inspiration for naming Panama City. In later years, he
was described as ".. ever at the forefront in works that tended to
the development of his beloved Southland."62 Successful at bringing
the railroad into the area, West remained an advocate of good
transportation and ceaselessly worked with the federal government
to deepen and maintain the waterways and harbor.
The continued development of the young community was the
focus of West's business and social activities. He was instrumental
60 Ibid., 4
61 Pilot, 10 September 1908.
62 Pilot. 12 December 1916.
purchased stock in the financial institution. The bank charter was
drawn the next day. West served as president of the Bank of Panama
City from 1912 to 1926. There were very few events in the early
days of Panama City that do not reflect the influence of George M.
West. Upon his death in 1926 he was memorialized in these words:
"a loyal and energetic supporter of every movement inaugurated for
the betterment of Panama City, the St. Andrews Bay County and all
West's friend, associate, and partner in many ventures, Robert
Lee McKenzie, was equally important in the evolution of Panama City
and Northwest Florida Already a successful businessman, he rode
into Washington County on horseback from Georgia in 1902, bringing
a crew of turpentine workers with him. Impressed by the beauty of
the oaks and magnolias along the shoreline and the inspiring view of
the bay, he too envisioned a pleasant and prosperous town there. His
destiny was to become an integral part of the business, political and
social life of this conception Using experience gained in Georgia,
McKenzie continued in the naval stores business, and launched his
Florida career as a partner in the Vickers and McKenzie Still, located
north of Millville. Many of the men who had come from Georgia with
him were among the 75 employees there.
In 1904, he joined George West in the inception of the Gulf
Coast Development Company and served as its vice president from
1905 to 1914 McKenzie, described as a warm and amusing man,
considered community improvement his chief aim. In order to
63 Epiot, 14 November 1926.
Although McKenzie himself did not cast a vote, his political
career had begun. He served as mayor for the next two years and
signed the first thirty-one ordinances. In March 1911, he was
succeeded by his brother, G. H McKenzie The total population at the
date of incorporation, including men, women, and children, white and
black, was 403.67 Continuing his career in politics and community
service, McKenzie served as a representative for Washington County
in both the 1909 and the 1911 Florida legislative sessions, He had
the distinction of receiving the last commission issued by Governor
Gilchrist when he was appointed St. Andrews Bay's first harbor
master in January 1913 6
While serving in the legislature, McKenzie diligently nurtured
sentiments for the formation of a new county from Southern
Washington County Vernon, the county seat, was a day's travel away
from the people of Panama City The young city was growing quite
rapidly and it was inconvenient for its citizens and businessmen to
have the county offices so distant. During the 1913 session of the
Florida Legislature, McKenzie's successor, Representative L. H.
Howell, introduced a bill to divide Washington County and create a
new county from its southern territory. McKenzie knew that when
the bill came before the legislators, the vote would be close.
Therefore, he contrived a plan to assure passage of the measure by
distracting the opposition with a clever ploy. He traveled to
67 Bell, 83.
68 pilot, 9 January 1913.
July 1, 1913, was the date set for the new county to begin
functioning as a separate entity. Before that date, the state
required that a primary be held for the election of a slate of county
officials. The first primary was held on June 7, with a second one
set for June 21, to decide races in which there was no clear
majority. Governor Trammell designated Panama City as the
temporary county seat The first Bay County commissioners elected
were: R. L McKenzie, T. E. Crawford, L. C. Gay, T. B Young and A. J.
Gainer. The commissioners chose McKenzie as their first chairman.
Both McKenzie and Representative Howell, who had legislated
himself out of office with the new county's creation, received many
honors that summer for their part in the county's creation.
Celebration of Bay County's Natal Day, July 1, 1913, began with
the first minute of the day when the citizens rang bells, lighted
fireworks, and sang in the streets. Crowds of people, estimated to
be as many as three thousand, from throughout the new county
converged in the bay front city park for a day of food, fun and
tribute. A water baseball game and a motor boat parade provided
novel entertainment for the celebrants. Local dignitaries addressed
the gathering. Their speeches that day emphasized the beauty and
abundant resources of the area. They also predicted an era of
cooperation between the new Bay County and its neighbor,
Not one to rest on his laurels, McKenzie continued to place
community service at the forefront of his endeavors. He was a close
71 Lynn Haven Tribune, 26 June 1913.
to provide every attraction and convenience for the citizens of
Panama City. Above all, each of them constantly searched for any
opportunity that would further development of the city. In their
travels, these civic leaders continually boasted of the area's
advantages and opportunities while they encouraged others to make
it their home
Their efforts to create a prosperous city were supported by
many hard working businessmen. Men who sold dry goods or
groceries, operated the ice plant or the hotel felt that they had just
as much stake in the town's success as did the bankers and railroad
men. When new residents came, they too joined efforts to make the
town an ideal place to call home. Enthusiasm and optimism were
apparent Civic pride was a serious matter to settlers and
promoters. At that point in time, every individual was expected to
contribute to the well being of the community These attitudes and
qualities, although intangible, were an important factor in the
success of the young town. The Panama City Pilot reflected this
view when it reminded its readers to make a favorable impression
on visitors and potential investors "Clean up your premises and the
street in front of them. The town will for the next few months be
filled with visitors and its appearance will have much to do in the
matter of its becoming a popular or unpopular resort."73
By August 1908, Panama City boasted over sixty completed
structures, among them businesses, shops and houses, representing
an investment over $100,000. Although proud of the many
73 Pilot, 2 June 1910.
The Floridian told Lynn of the most "wonderful undeveloped sections
on earth," referring to the gulf coast.76 McKenzie urged the
businessman to visit North Florida and see the area for himself.
Lynn agreed to consider such a visit sometime in the future. This
meeting between McKenzie and Lynn proved advantageous to the
future of both men and to the future of West Florida. Lynn accepted
McKenzie's invitation to visit and arnved in the St. Andrews Bay
area in June 1910. Thus these two entrepreneurs began their role in
the development of a unique community. Thus began the story of
Lynn Haven, Florida.
76 Eilot, 29 May 1930.
assistance brought a quick response Georgia, a state of the Old
South much devastated by the war, was the first and most generous
to respond with two trainloads of provisions for the people and the
livestock in Nebraska This gesture so impressed Fitzgerald that he
wrote to Governor William J. Northen of Georgia He told him of his
dream of a Southern colony and his search for the most suitable and
hospitable site on which to build. Surely the place that "could raise
such products as was sent to the cold and bleak Northwest was the
place for a people clamoring for a home in a climate where outdoor
work could be carried on twelve months in the year...."3 The governor
responded immediately with encouragement and offered his
assistance. Fitzgerald, accompanied by Dr. H V Manzer of Michigan,
soon paid a visit to Georgia. The pair toured the state with Northen,
who had recently completed his term as governor, and inspected
possible sites for the colony they envisioned.4
Their primary objective was to locate a truly ideal spot that
they could develop The two chose the center of South Georgia,
"where the warm winds of the Atlantic and the Gulf each about 100
miles equidistant make the winters comfortable."5 "On a ridge to
the east of which every creek and river flows into the ocean and to
the west of which they flow into the gulf, the desired site was
4 "Fitzgerald," The South Illustrated, (Atlanta, Georgia: April, 1896).
1-8. Reprinted by Bank South, Fitzgerald, Georgia, in celebration of
their fortieth anniversary, 18 July 1988.
5 Jay, "The Unique Story of a Unique City"
allotment and the other four shares stood as an investment. The
Colony Plan gave the investor a choice. "The party investing can pay
down for the lot at the valuation placed upon it by the colony
company when he receives his allotment and take a deed for the
same, or he can let it stand until the profits from the sale of
alternate lots will equal its valuation with the fixed incidental
charges that may accrue added: when he will be credited with the
same and receive a deed in fee."9 If additional profits were made on
the sale of alternate sections, the shareholder received his portion
of them. As was the custom in developments of this type, the
company held the alternate lots and planned to sell them later when
property values increased.
As soon as the purchase of land for the colony was announced,
many people in the North and West began to move southward. The
first colonist arrived in early August; many more quickly followed.
They came by wagon and by train. While they waited for surveys of
the land to be completed, the would-be colonists camped in tents,
shacks, and covered wagons. Although advertised as a colony open to
all 'good people,' Northern veterans were the primary target of the
sales promotions. Of those who came, twenty-seven hundred were
Union veterans. Many were farmers from Midwestern states such as
Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois.10 The
possibility of year round crop production drew their interest. Others
were small businessmen or craftsmen who knew a new town needed
$5,000. Lots nearest the heart of the city were five acre tracts and
tracts of ten and the twenty acres were available farther out. A
boulevard formed a four mile drive around the city. On the north side
the boulevard was "known as Sultana Drive, on the south side as
Roanoke Drive, on the east as Monitor Drive, and on the west side as
Merrimac Drive."14 The streets to the east of Main Street were
named for generals of the Union armies and the streets to the west
of Main Street were named for generals of the Confederacy. Soon the
site of many community activities, the city park was named the
Blue-Gray Park. From the beginning, the town celebrated two
Memorial Days: the national Memorial Day on May 30 for the Union
and Georgia's Confederate Memorial Day on April 26 for the
The city of Fitzgerald was incorporated on December 2, 1896.
Within the boundaries of the new town, there was an old village
known as Swan. When P. H. Fitzgerald first saw the territory in
1895. Swan had a population of forty and a tax value of $100. By
December of that year, the new town's population, including Swan,
reached twenty-five hundred. Soon there were hundreds of homes,
250 businesses, and 11 churches; all were linked by 25 miles of
roads. The Colony Bank and the Bank of Fitzgerald were doing so
well that a third bank was proposed. The Colony Company
constructed a 1,200 seat auditorium for the community as well as
the 150 room Lee-Grant Hotel to accommodate the many visitors
donated to all plants that will come to the city."18 The development
company claimed to have several manufacturing industries already
under contract to open factories in Fitzgerald. The plants
committed to open were: E. Mahon & Son; sash and blind factory, B. C
Adams & Co., Fly Poison factory: A J. Hunt, planning mill; R. N.
Anguish, ice factory.19 Not only did the developers plan for the
immediate success of the settlement, but they added the correct
ingredients necessary to insure the future of their investment as
Promotional material boasted, "The religious and moral tone of
the colony is far above the average."20 Good schools and churches
were planned. There were civic clubs as well as social groups, and
all were working for the improvement of their new Southern
community. Those who settled in the colony were described as law-
abiding, quiet and orderly people who respect themselves and have
respect for others. They were said to be quite pleased with their
circumstances "The G.A.R. people are delighted with Georgia and the
South. At their home in Fitzgerald they have met many natives of
this State and by whom they have been so cordially received and
treated that the spirit of friendliness and love between them is
In its issue of June 2, 1910, the Panama City Pilot reported "a
visit of importance" by several Northern business men to the local
18 "Fitzgerald," The South Illustrated. 7.
20 Ibid., 8
circulation, The Tribune was the voice of a Union veterans' group
known as the Grand Army of The Republic (G.A.R.). The newspaper,
published by the G.A.R. and sent to veterans on a weekly basis, kept
them apprised of any events or legislation that affected veterans. H.
M. Nevius, one of the important visitors, was a past Grand
Commander of the G.A.R. and was reported "to be interested in the
colonization of the old soldiers at various points in this section of
the country."26 William Lynn was also know to be affiliated with the
newspaper and the G.A.R. colonization projects. Florida's first
veterans' colony, St. Cloud, was the result of that organization's
efforts. Stories of that colony's success had motivated R. L
McKenzie to invite Lynn to visit Panama City. He hoped that through
Lynn the developers of the city could get advice or assistance in
promoting their area.
The Tribune article informed its readers, "Florida is attracting
serious attention for purposes of responsible investment and the
development of its natural resources."27 Typical of this type of
investment are communities for people of moderate or small means
"that have sprung up representing hundreds of thousands of dollars in
value where there was practically no value before the development
commenced "28 The publication cited the unbelievable
accomplishments that had taken place at the recently established St
Cloud colony as an example. Located in central Florida, this colony
26 Pilt, 23 June 1910.
27 The National Tribune, 2 June 1910.
However, even with all of these details released, the
disclosure of the property's exact location was not included. The
publication cautioned that only when negotiations were completed
could they release specific information The Tribune then proceeded
to describe the beautiful site under consideration and its abundant
resources. "There are fresh-water lakes and streams on the
property abounding in many kinds of fish; there is also game in
abundance-all sufficient to supply the needs of a large community ..
the conditions are altogether delightful and such that a comfortable
and luxurious living can be made here with but little effort or
This G.A.R. organization had indeed played a role in the
successful establishment of retirement homes and colonies for the
Union veterans of the Civil War, although the sect was not formed
for that purpose "According to legend, the Grand Army of the
Republic was founded by an idealistic army chaplain and an army
doctor, who whiled away long days in camp discussing a great
brotherhood of veterans when peace had severed army ties. This
society would unite the former soldiers in bonds of mutual affection
and common memories."34 Dr. Benjamin F Stephenson and William J
Rutledge realized their dream early in 1866. The first meetings
were in Dr. Stephenson's office and later in that of Colonel John
Snyder, private secretary to Illinois Governor Richard J Oglesby. On
33 The National Tribune, 2 June 1910.
34 Mary R. Dearing, Veterans in Politics. The Story of the G.A.R.,
(Baton Rouge: Louisiana State Press, 1952), 81
Governor Richard Oglesby determined to replace his state's senior
senator, Lyman Trumbull, with a military candidate. General John
Alexander Logan appeared to be the candidate with the best chance
of success; therefore, the Governor adopted his cause and
immediately set a course of action. "While Trumbull's advocates
worried about Logan's increasing popularity among veterans, the two
schemers turned to the possibility of uniting servicemen in an
ostensibly charitably but basically political organization "38
At this point, Dr Stephenson, since returned from the wars and
now a small time practitioner of both medicine and local politics,
entered the plot. Dearing writes that although Stephenson many
have had plans for the great fraternity of veterans, he was the tool
of others when he founded the organization In his report to General
Logan in January 1868, Stephenson assured the General he would,
"Keep you posted on the internal Workings of the Capital for I will be
on the inside of Every ring without anyone suspecting that I take any
interest in it "39
The founders most likely drew ideas from other similar
veterans societies or clubs, such as the Strong Band, the Loyal
Legion or the Soldiers' and Sailors' League, already in existence.
Recruits participated in ceremonial ritual in which they pledged
obedience to the local organization and to the national headquarters.
They also swore to extend charity to comrades and their families,
38 Ibid., 83.
39 Ibid., 84. Quotation from B. B Stephenson to Logan, 30 January
benefits were the focus of their political interest. They now sought
assistance in the acquiring benefits they were due and adequate
nursing homes to care for them in their infirmity. Internal struggles
for power and influence among its leaders were also a thing of the
past, but local G.A.R. posts did remain active. They promoted
patriotic values and honor for all the nations' veterans. More and
more the humanitarian aims of the organization appealed to the
aging soldiers. The camaraderie and support of other veterans were
increasingly important to them. The national encampments became
reunion events where the surviving warriors retold their stories and
shared memories. In 1920. the last encampment was held; local
posts closed one by one as its last veteran died.
On June 23, 1910, the Panama City Pilot continued its
coverage of the possible G.A.R. land purchase in Northwest Florida.
The paper shared with its readers additional information gained
from an article published in The National Tribune and entitled, "New
Florida Colony." Of interest in that article to the residents of
Panama City was the claim, "A large tract of land has been secured
and negotiations are under way for the purchase of another tract.
When these negotiations are completed it will make one of the
largest and most attractive propositions in the State of Florida."43
The publication promised additional information for its subscribers
as it was available but concluded, "It is enough to state that the
location will be one of most desirable in Florida on account of its
43 pilot. 23 June 1910.
business under the name, St. Andrews Bay Development Company
Apparently, the Northerners recognized the potential for another
profitable development in Florida when they made their initial visit
to the Panhandle However, there is evidence to indicate that Lynn
made other trips to the Panhandle in the months after his June visit
According to documents on file at the Washington County
Courthouse, William Lynn made his first purchases of Washington
County land in September 1910, and continued to make others that
fall and winter The records reveal that he purchased the land as a
private citizen and do not indicate that he acted as an agent for or in
the name of any company or organization. At some point that fall, he
formed a development company for the purpose of improving and
marketing the accumulated property Lynn, the link between the
Southern promoters and the G.A.R., was the company's president.
That company, named The St Andrews Bay Development Company,
was chartered in Delaware where costs of incorporation were low
and state regulations of the company were very lenient. The
company's headquarters were located at 300 Broadway in New York
City, but they later opened a local office in Panama City.
Some of the purchases are particularly interesting either for
the vast amount of acreage involved or for the unbelievably low
prices that Lynn paid. The Sale-Davis Company of Doughtery County,
Georgia, sold to William H. Lynn a 421 acre tract of land in
Washington County, Florida, for the sum of $1,705 00 on September
7, 1910. According to the agreement, the company retained rights to
the timber on the land for five years and to timber fifty feet on
indicate that Lynn purchased some 38 pieces of property in
Washington County in later 1910 and early 1911.51
Vernon, in the northern most part of Washington County, was
the county seat during this time. Due to its distance from the bay
and the difficulty in traveling, sales were not recorded when they
took place but when sufficient sales had taken place to warrant the
trip to Vernon to record the transactions. For this reason, some
transactions were possibly overlooked and never registered or dates
may not be entirely accurate. However, these purchases and others
on record produced an aggregate of at least 41.000 acres on which to
begin the new community
In light of the vast land purchases, the local press commented,
"Their Panama City holdings gives them over a mile and a half of the
finest frontage on St. Andrews' Bay, and land enough contiguous
thereto to provide for homes for many thousand people. This portion
of the property will undoubtedly be quickly settled up as soon as
thrown upon the market, which from the prospectus put out by the
company in The National Tribune it is expected will be done soon."52
Actually, that publication had offered to take deposits by mail on
lots in the new colony, site unseen and location unknown, as early as
June 1910. As events surrounding the land purchases and impending
colonization in North Florida unfolded, The Tribune continued to
relay the latest information. Its editor attempted to keep veterans
all across the nation abreast of the developments in Florida.
51 Washington County Property Deeds, Books 21, 24, 25, 26.
52 Pilot, 13 October 1910
again, the publication reminded its readers that they were taking
subscriptions for property in the new colony. The local writer
observed, "If the G.A.R. people and their organ. The National Tribune
of Washington, do as well by their colony here, as has been done in
the past year at St. Cloud, there will be several thousand additional
people here by Spring."56 Only a week before in its October 6, 1910,
edition, The Tribune demonstrated the kind of support that it had
given the colony in South Florida by devoting page after page to the
success and satisfaction found among those who had elected to
become part of that settlement That feature was intended to
celebrate St Cloud's first year and it recounted the amazing results
of its progress in that short period of time.
St. Cloud's first historian, W. G. King, began his story of the
colony with this account, "Early in the year 1909, the demand for a
warmer and more congenial climate for the veterans of the Civil War
appealed to the owners of The National Tribune of Washington, D. C.
and induced them to seek a suitable location for a soldiers colony in
this state..."57 Evidence indicates it is quite plausible that the "the
colony at St. Cloud was established in response to thousands of
urgent requests extending over many years from the veterans of the
Civil War who desired to get away from the long winters and biting
cold of the north, to some more equitable climate where they could
find relief the disabilities and diseases developed by their arduous
56 EpIt, 13 October 1910
57 The Kissimmee Gazette. 18 May 1961.
offered large tracts of land in Florida. By strange coincidence the ad
referred to property only a few miles from where they sat that
The next day, Moore and Jefferies located Willson and learned
that indeed the land, located in an area already called St. Cloud, was
still available. An inspection revealed that the tract was suitable
for the intended purposes. "The elevation of this tract, it being on
what is known as the back-bone of Florida, on the divide between the
Kissimmee and St Johns rivers was one of the main inducements for
the foundation of his colony."60 It was purchased by Moore's
company, the Seminole Land and Investment Company, "through the
agency of W. B. Makinson and C. A. Larson "6i Ironically, the tract of
some thirty thousand acres on the south of Lake Tohopekaliga had
already played an important role in Florida's history
When Hamilton Disston purchased four million acres of Florida
land in 1881, he became owner of what was Kissimmee City, Orange
County, and the area that was to become St. Cloud. Much of the area
was muckland. Evidence indicates that some parts of the land were
submerged most of the time since a ferry operated at Cross Prairie
between Kissimmee and East Lake Tohopekalinga. Disston planned to
build a system of canals and drainage ditches to drain the waters
from Central and South Florida and put it the land into production.
As a part of that plan, a canal was built between the East and West
60 W. G. King, St Cloud Tribune, 1 April 1926. Reprinted The
Kissimmee Gazette, 6 July 1961
accounts say a mill worker named it for his French birthplace. The
firm, Lebaudy Freres, made millions for the Lebaudy family through
the production of sugar at its plant in St Cloud, France. Some
historians claim that the Florida colony derived its name from that
town.65 Perhaps the name was given the American mil in the hope
that it would be as successful as its European namesake. Others
assume the area was named for St. Cloud, Minnesota.
W. G. King arrived in Osceola County on May 5, 1909, to serve
as land agent for the Seminole Land and Investment Company.66
When King arrived, the town consisted of only one building. Mr.
Miller began the survey of the town. but Byron E. White of Utica. New
York, succeeded him about mid-summer.67 At about the same time,
Mr S. V Godden came from Boston to serve as agricultural
instructor. He set up an experimental farm where he attempted to
show visitors and investors what the soil would grow.
The Seminole Company began to organize excursions of
possible investors into the area. In mid-June, the first group of
some 100 excursionists arrived from Baltimore, Maryland. Company
men on the Florida site had only six days to reopen and make ready
the old hotel in nearby Runnymede to accommodate the visitors. As
the summer of 1909 passed, "lots were surveyed and the town laid
65 The Kissimmee Gazette, 8 October 1959.
66 Catherine W. Beauchap, Look What's Happened in Osceola County,
(Kissimmee, St. Cloud Osceola Co. Art and Culture Center, date
67 St. Cloud Tribune. 1 April 1926.
Cloud opened in October, but unfortunately burned only a few weeks
later in December. Construction began immediately to rebuild and
about six months later the hotel opened again. It was located on the
corner of Tenth Street and New York Avenue. This time the three-
story, seventy-two room hotel was constructed of "Brick, Concrete,
Housed in a small frame building. Miss Hattie Leach and Miss
Lillian Dale began the first session of school with some 85 students
in January, 1910. By November, the two-story, lime-sand brick
school house was completed. On each floor there were two twenty
by thirty foot classrooms with a wide hallway and staircase
separating them. The modern facility was wired for electricity and
piped for water. The optimistic designer planned for the south wall
to be covered with galvanized iron instead of brick so that an
addition could readily be added to the building when the town's
growth made it necessary.72
An attractive two story, Greek colonnaded structure housed
the only National Bank in Osceola County. "The first quarterly report
of the bank's operations as required under the law, appeared June 30,
1910, and showed resources amounting to $131,076,18."73 The
general officers of the bank were W. H. Lynn, president and John M.
Lee, vice president.
In that same month, The Tribune claimed a large brick power-
house was nearing completion "in which is being installed an
72 The National Tribune. 6 October 1910.
Bible study group The Seminole Land Company offered three town
lots each to any religious group provided they would build a house of
worship and a parsonage. Seven Christian denominations took
advantage of the offer. They were Baptist, Presbyterian, Catholic,
Christian, Episcopal and two Methodist. One of the Methodist
congregations was the first to organize and had their building
underway as early as October 1909. This particular denomination
encountered controversy among its members over affiliation with
the Northern or Southern Methodist conference thus the two
Methodist congregations. The next denomination to establish
themselves were the Presbyterians. Thirty individuals organized the
First Presbyterian Church on April 29, 1910 in the Gospel Tent. Soon
they too began clearing ground for a sanctuary During their first
year, the Reverend J H. Rodgers served as their pastor. That same
year the Episcopal Church also held its first services. While the
spiritual upbuilding of the community was in the hands of these
Christian organizations, the edification of their temporal
responsibilities was in the hand of other groups. "In 1910 the first
circle of the Ladies of the Grand Army of the Republic was formed;
its purpose to teach patriotism and lessons of good citizenship and
to perpetuate the deeds and sacrifices of the Grand Army of the
Testimonials from happy and contented residents presented
the verbal picture of St. Cloud in the celebration of its first
anniversary. W. J Casley, a New York veteran, told The National
78 Hetherington, The Kissimmee Gazette, 10 April 1959.
among the settlers. They were usually dismissed with some
comment that it is not possible to satisfy everyone. With that in
mind, an elderly settler wrote to The Tribune editor to express her
satisfaction and to give advice to the disgruntled. "The ones who
make the biggest kicks about St. Cloud Colony we don't need, and
wouldn't be any help to us if they stayed, so the best thing for them
to do is just leave and stop annoying those who can tell an
opportunity when they see it in the road with the name written on
One of the more serious charges was directed at one of the
colony's most outspoken promoters. At the 1909 National
Encampment of the G.A.R., Tribune editor, John McElroy, was publicly
accused of swindling his old comrades. Apparently some investors
or settlers did not feel they had gotten their money's worth from
investments in the Seminole Development Company, but supporters
spoke out in the promoters behalf. Using his best means of defense,
he printed their rebuttals on the pages of The Tribune. McElroy
received a humorous letter from St. Cloud resident, G. W. Marsh.
"Now John, if we have been wronged in any way by you we never
should have known it if those fellows who have never been here and
those chronic grumblers who were never satisfied anywhere, nor
will be in heaven, if they ever get there, had not told us. We have
the finest climate, the best people and the neatest town on earth,
and don't you forget it."84 Another testimonial read, "I have lived in
83 The National Tribune, 13 October 1910.
town site, they promised, "will be located on St. Andrews Bay, the
largest and best natural harbor on the Florida coast."88 The
subscriptions began to arrive.
To spur sales, The Tribune offered a free round trip to both St
Cloud and St. Andrews Bay to its agent who sold the most property
between October 25 and December 1, 1910. Any agent in the states,
from California to Maine could be the lucky winner of a winter trip
to the sunshine of Florida In announcing the contest, The Tribune
was quick to point out that the two colonies, only 475 miles apart
by rail, were not in competition with one another; only the agents
were "The same powerful interest is behind both and no expense
will be spared to keep them right at the head of of the procession of
growth in the peninsular state. The sale of all the farm land at St.
Cloud and the inability to get additional acreage at reasonable cost
compelled the company to seek a new location, owing to the
increasing demands from the national tribune readers for lands.
...the interests of the two colonies do not in anyways conflict, and
may of our subscribers have investment in both places."89
The Panama City Pilot reported in its October 13, 1910,
edition that the plans for a G.A.R colony "have now reached that
point where active operations and settlement will soon begin."o9
Not yet knowing the location of the property they had come to settle
nor even the exact location of the planned development, a number of
89 The National Tribune. 20 October 1910.
90 The National Tribune, 13 October 1910
house was assured that "would be the most profitable thing that
anyone could do."93 As the year came to a close, the people of
Panama City were poised for the prosperous adventure to begin.
It was the intention of the G A.R and its agents to promote the
new colonies nationally and to encourage the old soldiers to spend
their last years there. They promised to provide them with a
comfortable and pleasant environment In so doing the organization
met the goal printed each week on its front page, "To care for him
who has borne the battle,.. Even the youngest soldier of the Civil
War was in his sixties by 1910, and ready to enjoy a more leisurely
lifestyle. The promoters also suggested to the veterans that buying
colony property was a wise decision. The land would increase in
value whether used for retirement or held as an investment. The
Tribune stated, "It is an indisputable and demonstrable fact that an
investment of $100 has shown within a period of six or eight months
and increase in some instances In value of more than $1,000; and
there are very few cases which have not shown an increase from 100
to 800 percent."94 The veterans could not lose; the offer of a better
environment and future riches was waiting for their response. It
was evident from the number of veterans who flocked to the
Southern communities that the idea was quite appealing.
However, the establishment of veterans' colonies was not an
act of charity The developer/promoters working under the auspices
of the G.A.R. had powerful desires to see the colonies succeed
94 The National Tribune. 2 June 1910
telephone service to the new community By establishing and
controlling a bank in the new community, they had access to cash
with which they could continue to finance their schemes These
speculators found many ways to profit from the successful
development of a new town.
However, the profit motive was not unique to the Northern
promoters. In the case of the Bay area, the local politicians and
developers sought the expertise of more accomplished promoters to
increase local property values. Many of them owned vast tracts of
land and sought greater profits for themselves. Additional settlers
and capital were needed give the young town the boost that would
raise property values. To develop the port that they envisioned,
more railroad lines were needed. They believed the Northerners had
the necessary influence to link the local railroad "with all the large
and principal railroad systems in the South."96 When that happened.
everyone in the area, from merchants to bankers to undertakers,
stood to benefit from the colonization project. At the time Lynn
was invited to come South, area businessmen felt any attention
would be a great help to Northwest Florida, Within a few short
months of his arrival, the general feeling was, "As the principle part
of this company's lands on main St Andrews Bay are within the
limits of Panama City, and the whole tract being on the northeast,
north, and northwest sides of the town, the development of the same
can but be very helpful in further building up this Town."97
97 Pilot. 13 October 1910
personality clash that prevented West and Lynn from ever becoming
friends. Ironically, the two had many things in common; they were
both bank presidents, newspaper publishers, Northerners and
developers. They were also strong willed men with an agenda. In
addition, both saw the potential for St. Andrews Bay.
However, the friction between the two was most likely based
on West's appraisal of Lynn's business credentials. Evidence
indicated that West's concerns were not completely unfounded. From
his counterparts in the banking business and from credit
institutions, West received several inquiries concerning Lynn's
background. Those letters only served to reinforced his doubts.
When the Bradstreet Company of Mobile inquired about one of Lynn's
business deals, West responded, "The whole matter is carried on in a
secret manner, and no one but Mr. Lynn knows anything about what
has been done or is going to be done "98 On the other hand, the
inquiries that West made on his own did not resolve any issues
either He revealed in response to another inquirer, "I have no faith
in Lynn and have never been able to get a line upon his financial
William H Lynn was indeed a mysterious individual. No
information indicates that his background was checked or his claims
verified by the individuals who sought his presence in the area. His
98 G. M. West letter to Linton S Lewis, November 1912. Collection
of West Personal Papers 1911-1913 Box 'K', Local History Room, Bay
County Library, Panama City, Florida.
99 G. M. West letter to Mr. Webb Floyd, 3 December 1912, Collection
of Personal Papers 1911-1913 Box 'D'. Local History Room, Bay
County Library, Panama City, Florida.
that title. On the other hand, the newspaper frequently gave him
that distinction by 1917. The settlers of Lynn Haven commonly
referred to Lynn as a 'Senator' from New York. However, William H.
Lynn did not serve that state either as a state or federal senator.101
Although his home was in New York when he first came to the
Panhandle, he had previously lived in Minnesota and had served in
that state's legislature. Lynn was also referred to as 'Colonel,' but
again no references to his military service were supported by facts.
Considering the level of activity that Lynn maintained and the few
biographical facts that are known, it was unlikely that he was a
veteran of the Civil War. Occasionally, that title was used in the
South as a term of respect, not necessarily in reference to military
rank. Possibly that may account for its use in addressing Lynn.
Regardless of his somewhat mysterious background, he invested
time, money and hope in the North Florida development. Those
investments put h m under pressure to succeed. Lynn spent a decade
of his life in North Florida working to make the colony which bore
his name a success.
With such diverse motives and goals, it was only natural that
conflicts and power struggles loomed on the horizon. Strong minded
men, developers of Panama City and the proposed colony, were sure
to clash when money and power were at stake. Even local leaders
had differed on how best to develop the area, so it was not long
before the conflict between the old timers and the newcomers
101 New York State Archives, Mark Van Ells, archivist, telephone
conversation with Glenda J Walters, July 1994.
THE MIGRATION BEGINS
As colonization plans developed, George West maintained a
steady flow of correspondence with his old friend in Chicago, W. J
Jackson, vice president and general manager for the Frisco Lines.
Jackson and West had once worked together in Chicago for the
railroad. The Frisco Lines operated the Chicago & Eastern Illinois
Railroad Company and the Evansville & Terre Haute Railroad
Company. Jackson was also one of the original members of the board
of the Gulf Coast Development Company, developers of Panama City.
In his correspondence with Jackson, West recorded his observations
on William Lynn, his G.A R. companions, and their ambitious schemes.
On occasion he sought advice from his Northern friends through
On June 3, 1910, he wrote Jackson that a group of Northerners
was in town "closing up a land deal with and through McKenzie, Gay,
Jones and the Southport Lumber Co."1 The deal encompassed about
"75,000 acres of land, the uncompleted road from Chipley, ... and the
work of colonization that they have been carrying on throughout
1 George West to W. H Jackson, 3 June 1910, George West
Collection, Personal Papers 1911-1913 Box 'D', Local History Room,
Bay County Library, Panama City, Florida.
terminus at the Cove, and will give away about all he has to secure
it. I think that the New York outfit will flim flam Gay and McKenzie
out of what they have before they quit. They wanted us to give them
some of our property but there is no earthly reason why we should do
On October 10, 1910, West described to Jackson an encounter
that he and Lynn had over the location and promotion of the new
colony. "And this morning I had my first set to with senator Linn
(sic) of that company He and others came in yesterday to start the
ball rolling He wished to know what we could do together to
amalgamate the two towns. I asked what town and he stated the one
they would start on the east side of the bayou and Panama City."6 In
relaying the story to Jackson, West said he explained to Lynn that
the company's Bunkers Cove property was within the boundaries of
Panama City. Lynn protested, "It could not be kept within Panama
City or be a part of it without the consent of the owners."7 West
reasoned, "As the owners were the ones who were prominent in
organizing the town two years and more ago, and their Bunker Cove
property was in it then, and no objection has ever been made to the
towns limits, .. it seems to me to be absurd that Linn assumes that
they will organize a new town without the consent of our citizens
5 West to Jackson, 22 July 1910. George West Collection, Personal
Papers 1911-1913 Box 'D', Local History Room, Bay County Library,
Panama City, Florida.
6 West to Jackson, 10 October 1910. George West Collection,
Personal Papers 1911-1913, Box 'D', Local History Room, Bay County
Library, Panama City. Florida.
restructuring of local governments was not. West rejected the
proposal, and so it was that the new colony would not be located on
the Bunker's Cove tract within the bounds of Panama City Lynn and
his cohorts had to face the reality that Panama City would not be
part of their plans. Its future was someone else's dream.
In their next correspondence dated November 11, 1910, West
wrote Jackson, "I enclose a circular of the St. Andrews Bay
Development Company which they are just beginning to circulate...
Just where their two town sites are going to be located is not as yet
made public, but they cannot keep quiet much longer as the allotment
must begin this month according to their contracts "12 West pointed
out the existence of Panama City is ignored in the circular, but that
many of the pictures used were ones he loaned to them He also
claimed many of the terms used to describe the countryside were his
"catchwords." The letter went on to inform Jackson that the
company's agent who recently visited the West's home, "expressed
surprise at what he saw in way of growing fruit and vegetables.
That agent presumed to ask Mrs. West's permission that he might be
allowed to bring colonists there to show them what could be done
here "13 With a note of irony, George West observed, "Looks as
though they also banked on what we have done to satisfy their
12 West to Jackson 11 November 1910, George West Collection
Personal Papers 1911-1913. Box 'D', Local History Room, Bay County
Library, Panama City, Florida
source of Information on local happenings or events around the
world. Citizens often communicated directly with the newspaper's
staff to get answers to their questions or to express their opinions.
The Piot's staff reported that they received many inquiries into the
number and identity of the veterans moving into the area. In
response to those inquires, the newspaper published its list of the
newcomers who registered with their office. The veterans' names
and family members, as well as the name of the units in which they
served during the war and their hometown appeared on December 29,
1910. The list continued to appear in the Pilo each week through
February, 1911. with new arrivals added to keep it current.
J L. Throckmorton, Company A, 8th Iowa Cavalry. From Fort
Collins, Col. accompanied by his wife.
I. S. Henry, Company I, 19th Ohio Infantry. From McClure, Ohio,
accompanied by his wife.
A. A. Saunders, Company K, 14th New York Heavy Artillery.
Comes from Lower Lake. Cal, accompanied by his wife.
J. W. Duvall. 2nd Ohio Heavy Artillery, Battery G, Comes from
Dayton, Ohio, accompanied by his wife.
J. S. Wintermute, Company C, 3rd Ohio Cavalry Comes from
A. Bosworth, Company G, 46th Pennsylvania Infantry. Comes
from White Cloud. Michigan, accompanied by his son.
G. W. Goldsmith, Company 1,14th Illinois Cavalry. From Johnson
County. Arkansas, accompanied by his wife and son.
N. A. Beach Company A, 2nd Massachusetts Cavalry From North
Derby, Vt., accompanied by his wife.
Frank L. Smiley, Company C, 1st Battalion Maine Infantry. from
Kennebec County, Maine, accompanied by his brother.
0. E. Cox, Company A, 3rd Iowa Infantry and Company F, 9th
Iowa Cavalry. From Los Angeles, Cal., accompanied by his wife.
L. R. Mann. Company K. 103rd Ohio Infantry. Comes from Medina,
Ohio. Accompanied by his son and son in law.
T. C. Hirsh, Company A, 94th Ohio Infantry and 1st. Lieut. 180th
Ohio Infantry. From Yellow Springs, Ohio.
A. F. Hopkins. Company A, 154th Ohio Infantry From Yellow
M. H. Frank. Company K, 146th Indiana Infantry. From
W.H. Mershon, Company I, 30th Indiana Infantry and 15th
Regulars, From Warsaw, Ind.
G. C. Ermsberg Company G, 54th Ohio Infantry, From
Jacob Laub. Company I, 53th Pennslyvania Infantry, From
Reding, Shasta County, Cal.
W. M. Sleeth, Company G, 5th Indiana Calvary. From Morristown,
Indiana, accompanied wife and son.
August Brestel, Company D, 6th Ohio Infantry. From Cincinnati,
Ohio. accompanied by his son.
C. F. Coates, Company G, 187th Ohio Infantry. From Plattsburg,
William C. Wright, U S. Marine Corps. From Rio, III.
John McLaughlin, Company B, 35th Missouri Infantry. From
Letcher, South Dakota.
J. W. Scott, 83th Iowa Infantry. From Moherly, Mo accompanied
by his wife.
D. Guilds. Company D. 23rd Michigan Infantry. From Fitzgerald,
Charles Ellsasser, Company G, 103rd Ohio Infantry. From
Henry Loss, 6th Michigan Artillery From Detroit, Mich.
J. T. Eaton, Company B, 2nd Iowa Infantry, From Hereford, Cal.
C. S. Jones, Company B, 43rd Wisconsin Infantry. From
Benjamin Funk, Co. A, 5th Missouri Infantry. From Hillsboro,
III., accompanied by his wife.
Edwin Forbes, Company G. 47th New York Infantry. From
Valparaiso, Ind accompanied by his wife.
Thomas J. Gilbert, Company C. 25th Michigan Infantry. From
M S Pratt, Company C, 12th Wisconsin Infantry. From Grand
S. J. Baldwin, Company G, 24th New York Infantry. From
F. W Scott. Company H, 14th Iowa Infantry From Ashville, N. C.
by railway men ... that there was no way of reaching St Andrew's
Bay by rail."17 The Pijot expressed concern that immigrants were
being told in Pensacola that there was "nothing here for them to see
or invest in."18 They assured travelers that launches were in
readiness at the railway station, which was on the wharf, to take
visitors to any point around the bay. They also explained that
travelers could hire teams to take them to the G.A.R. settlement, six
miles away, or to any other points between St. Andrews and
Callaway. Many people traveled south in response to ads offering
inexpensive railroad rates to prospective land buyers. These were
known as "Home-seeker Excursions."19 In 1911, a typical
advertisement for such a trip offered a round trip from Cairo,
Illinois, to St. Andrews Bay for twenty dollars and twenty cents.20
Local leaders did not want to lose any possible settlers to another
city along the coast as a result of misinformation.
According to the Pilot, no officials of the St. Andrews Bay
Development Company were in Panama City to answer inquiries
during the first week of December However, they observed that
surveyors were working on the south side of North Bay opposite
Grassy Point. After weeks of reporting the land purchases along St.
Andrews Bay and predicting that the colony would be located there,
an article in the December 15, 1910, Pilot, finally revealed the
17 eilot, 26 January 1911.
19 Harold W. Bell, Glimpses of the Panhandle, (Chicago: Adams Press,
development company set up a Panama City office in the Panama City
Real Estate Company's building at the corner of Harrison Avenue and
Second Street.23 The Pilot regularly reported the comings and
goings of Lynn himself and commented, "Mr. Lynn is right on the
ground, and hustling this, as well as other Lynn Haven
improvements."24 An automobile arrived by rail in early March to be
used by the development company "on the route between Panama City
and Lynnhaven."25 Employees of the St Andrews company composed
next group of newcomers in the area.
Before the lots could be assigned or the colonists could begin
building, the platting and surveying of the property had to be
completed. The St. Andrews Bay Development Company employed W.
H. Parker and H. Roelofs, civil engineer, to survey the town site.26
Mr. Parker, from the area community known as 'Parker,' was in
charge of the subdivision of the five acre tracts. Ed Wilbur came to
Lynn Haven from Ohio in February, 1911, and he also became a
member of the survey team. Most accounts of the earliest days refer
to Mr. Wilbur as the company man who was the town's original
surveyor 27 There were four hundred sixty-six blocks with sixteen
to twenty lots per block in the city plat. Streets and avenues
intersected at right angles. The nineteen streets running from east
23 Pilt, 2 March 1911.
24 ilotI, 6 April 1911
25 Pilot, 16 March 1911.
26 Pilot, 13 October 1910.
27 Fred and Ruth Peach, interview with Ann Richards, Lynn Haven,
Florida, July 1974.
settlers, In the beginning, the price for either was only $50.00. The
lots were awarded in a lottery system. Each perspective buyer
bought a lottery number for the price of $50.00 dollars. The
developers encouraged buyers to purchase two lottery numbers. The
lots to be sold were given a number and those numbers placed in a
container. Then the development company held a drawing. The
number drawn from the container indicated the lot offered to the
veteran with the matching number.29 As an extra incentive, the
buyer received the bonus of five acres outside the city for every lot
purchased within the city. Sometimes, the bonus land was several
miles outside the town site, inaccessible. and rather useless to the
buyer. The company did not offer all the lots in a block, but rather
offered only a few thus spreading the population over a larger area.
Because the residents were spread over a larger area, the town also
appeared larger and more populated than it actually was. It was also
a common practice among developers to withhold a number of lots
from early sale because as the town grew, the unsold lots increased
in value. The first drawing was so successful for the developers
that they held a second lottery and doubled the price for a number.
By the time they held the third drawing, the price of a number had
gone from the beginning price of $50.00 to $150.00.30
The last sale notice was issued on October 1, 1912, by the St.
Andrews Bay Development Company. The announcement stated
29 Fred and Ruth Peach. interview with Ann Richards, Lynn Haven,
Florida, July 1974
quarters for new arrivals.36 For the convenience of the workers and
the campers, a stand selling eatables and ice was soon erected by an
ambitious businessman 37
Mail for the settlers was delivered to the already active post
office at Gay, Florida, just outside the new town site However, the
trek through the uncut path and a "little ole wobbley footbridge on
Eighth Street"38 to reach the post office proved too time consuming
and strenuous for the colonists so another route was devised The
mail sack was loaded into a wheel barrow and carried around the
waterfront by Joe Hughey. He carried the sack to one of the stores
in town where an obliging shopkeeper dumped it out on the counter
and called out the names of the addressees to the waiting crowd.
Once a month, however, most residents had to make the trip to the
post office for themselves "When pension day came, however, all
the veterans had to go in person to get that particular piece of
mail "39 During the colony's first year, the amount of incoming mail
increased from the one sack per week to four sacks per day. On
February 1, 1912, the post office was moved into Lynn Haven. The
announcement said, "Mrs L. C. Gay is in possession of the necessary
order for transfernng the office for the receipt and dispatch of mail
from the quarters in her home ... to the newly equipped, large and
36 Tommy Smith, "The Cracker Barrel and Pot-Bellied Stove," Beach
Bay News, 17 May 1990.
37 Pilot, 9 February 1911.
38 Fred and Ruth Peach, interview with Ann Richards, Lynn Haven,
Florida, July 1974.
39 Ernestine Cooley, "Lynn Haven Established a Southern Home for
Union Veterans," Panama City News-Herald. 15 November 1946.
Union Army pursued General Early and his Confederates. At the
Battle of Petersburg, Mr. Truesdell was injured when his horse was
shot from under him thus ending his career in the army.42
At the conclusion of the Civil War, he married Mary
Cottingham, daughter of a Union major. Truesdell obtained
employment as a salesman with the McCormick Harvester Company
in Nebraska.43 With Mary's assistance in sales, the couple enjoyed
financial success. Later the Champion Company employed him as a
salesman in Iowa. Once again, "the business acumen and untiring
efforts of Mrs. Truesdell contributed very largely to an immediate
success and it was not long until she took charge of the territory
and 16 traveling agents."44 Mr Truesdell, "who had exhibited an
extraordinary aptitude for such work,"45 was sent from state to
state to placate dissatisfied customers In 1893, he managed the
Champion Company's exhibit at the Chicago World's Fair 46 Three
years later, citing poor health, he retired from the company
In 1909, Mr and Mrs. Truesdell moved south to Edwardsville,
Alabama, in search of rest and retirement, but inactivity did not
agree with them 47 They were among the first settlers to arrive in
the new veterans' colony at Lynn Haven in 1911 They were not
seeking employment, "But their capacity for achievement quickly
47 St. Andrews Bay News, 30 December 1930.
try and locate the lot we had bought sight unseen. Workmen, with
teams of oxen, were cutting through the streets and avenues, and
dragging away the pine logs and brush and heaping them in piles for
burning. There was not a completed building on this whole town
site, but a surveyor's tent and commissary near 13th and Illinois."49
She recalled the Adamson family was living in a tent near the dock,
They had arrived in the colony only three days earlier.
It seems that work could have proceeded faster but for the
lack of workers. The area was already suffering from a labor
shortage, and the colony project intensified the problem. In the
first week of February 1911, the Panama City newspaper stated,
"With the requirements at Lynnhaven and the other places building up
on the bay, there are required at once, a large additional force of
carpenters and laborers."50 They encouraged potential workers with
the promise. "Wages are good, climate unsurpassed and work for all
who wish it."51 The needs of the new colony were specific. "Mr.
Lynn states that he requires at once 50 carpenters and 100 laborers
at Lynnhaven "52
The following week the Pilot further addressed the labor
problem. ".. The G A.R. colonization people, are advertising for 250
laborers to work at Lynnhaven. Besides the shortage at that point of
laborers and carpenters, there exists as great a shortage here, and
49 Cora Bailey, "Reminiscences of Early Lynn Haven, A Narrative
Account of the City's History," Lynn Haven Free Press, 13 April 1929.
50 ilot, 2 February 1911
completed, it became the most popular spot to spend leisure time,
whether fishing or just watching. Cora Bailey recalled, "Some of the
old fellows spent more of their time at the dock than they did in
their own homes."58
"Travel between Panama City and North Bay points is
increasing rapidly. The launch Don has announced a schedule of two
round trips daily between Panama City, and St. Andrews, Southport
and Lynn Haven."59 A second vessel, the Mau S., left Lynn Haven
each morning to begin its two round trips. The Petrel departed
Southport each morning and made one round trip. However, the
principal carrier of "every type of merchandise needed by the general
stores in towns on the route," and "a steady passenger load," was the
Taroon.Q 6 This steam powered boat, built in Delaware in 1887, was
brought to the North Florida gulf coast by its Captain, W. G. Barrow
in 1903. The boat made twice weekly runs from Mobile, Alabama to
Carrabelle. Florida, with stops at Pensacola. Panama City, and
Apalachicola At first, its mission was to transport large quantities
of naval stores products such as turpentine and resin from stills
along the coast to the larger ports, but as the number of settlements
grew, its primary cargo became supplies and passengers. The TarLon
added Lynn Haven to its schedule of regular stops in January 1912.
From then on, the boat docked early every Friday morning with
passengers and freight. It departed between 10 and 12 o'clock.61
59 Pilot, 31 August 1911
60 Bell, 194.
61 Tribune, 25 January 1912.
building trades are working like beavers in the upbuilding of Lynn
Competition to erect the first structure ended when Nicholas
Russell of Catskill, New York, completed the first house on March
11, 1911. The frame structure was located at the corner of Ninth
Street and Ohio Avenue. When it was finished, Mr. Russell
immediately leased the house and returned to his home in the North.
There he made preparations to return to Lynn Haven where he planned
to open a butcher shop in his building. The Pilot commented, "Quite a
few of the old soldiers are putting houses upon their lots."68 "Mr M.
J. Thompson will soon say goodbye to the shack that sheltered him
while he built the new residence, which is now ready for
occupancy."69 Many other buildings were underway. Mr. A. J. Best of
Kansas "built a very pretty residence at the corner of Mississippi
Avenue and Tenth Street. It has the added attraction of being well
painted."70 New streets signs made travel about town easier.
Popular floor plans were featured each week in the Pliot. They
were designed by Glenn L. Saxton, an architect in Minneapolis.
Minnesota. These house plans were available by mail for a
reasonable price to bay area builders. The designs were for a
cottage or bungalow style house, typical of homes in the northern
cities. The front door opened from a covered porch directly into a
parlor with a dining and kitchen area behind it. Two bedrooms
67 Tribune, 31 August 1911
68 Pilot, 30 March 1911
69 Tribune, 1 June 1911.
70 tribune, 31 August 1911.
construction site until he could build their home on Michigan
Avenue.72 Mr. F. H. Chichester established an ice route and "served
his patrons with frozen water every day in the week."73
Hotels and rooming houses were important establishments in
early Lynn Haven Since travel was such a rigorous experience.
travelers usually spent several weeks or even months at their
destination. During the first year of the new colony's existence,
some of the property owners came just to see their investment, but
they needed lodging during their visit. Those who became residents
regularly made visits to the North during the summer months to
escape the peak of Florida heat and humidity. Many other investors
began a practice of spending only the winter months in Florida's
balmy temperatures These tourists came in early November and
stayed until late spring. Several large hotels opened during the first
year and were welcomed by the the vacationers. They found pleasant
accommodations at one of the hotels or rooming houses if they did
not own a cottage Their arrival signaled the opening of the
community's social season. In September 1911, the Mclnnis
Hotel was filled with guests and the new Burr House opened for
business under the management of Mrs Cynthia Burr Svendsen. The
three-story structure stood at the corner of Ohio Avenue and
Seventh Street. Beyond the large front veranda, there was a store
and restaurant on the first floor Eleven private, fully furnished
72 Fred and Ruth Peach, interview with Ann Richards, Lynn Haven,
Florida, July 1974.
73 Tribune, 7 September 1911.
time William Lynn worked any railroad scheme that might prove to
be fruitful. Late in 1911, he hosted a group of Philadelphia
politicians in an attempt to draw their support and capital for a plan
to bridge North Bay to Southport and connect with the railroad at
Chipley. Although the reports released were optimistic, the plan
never materialized. Several officials of the Atlanta and St. Andrews
Bay Railroad, accompanied by county commissioner R L. McKenzie,
visited Lynn Haven in late June 1913, to look over the newly
completed line The first train finally traveled down the tracks on
July 1, 1913; it carried a load of well wishers to Panama City for
Bay County's birthday celebration. The Lynn Haven Tribune urged the
the public to use the train. "Let us show these railroad officials
that we have enough townsmen here even in the summer time to keep
a railroad line in operation...."7 No train station was built, but a
platform was located on the east side of Ohio Avenue at Eighth
Street. The train made both a morning and evening trip between
Panama City and Lynn Haven Extra excursions were added for
important baseball games or special entertainment events. The
usual fare was thirty-five cents. Locals affectionately named the
train, 'The Gallberry Special'. in honor of the vegetation through
which it traveled. According to Fred Peach, the trainman carried an
axe so that he could restock the engine's fuel supply from the scrub
oaks along the track
Throughout the spring 1911, settlers continued to stream into
the primitive little colony. The diversity of hometowns claimed by
77 Tribune, 26 June 1913.
shores of North Bay. When James Rice of Richmond, Illinois, moved
to the South, he mailed his impressions of Lynn Haven home to his
brother. "Lynn Haven is a new town and is experiencing quite a boom
at present New buildings are going up in every section of the town
and work on many partially completed structures is at a standstill,
owing in the fact that lumber cannot be shipped in fast enough."79
Mr. Rice found work in construction and was pleased to report that
even though it was December, he was working in shirt sleeves. He
continued, "The houses are neither lathed or plastered. Many are just
celled, while others are boarded up with drop siding leaving the
rafters and studs on the interior all exposed. The majority of the
homes have wide porches covered with screen and the doors are left
open through out the day,"80
The descendents of these early colonists continued to retell
the pioneering stories that they grew up hearing again and again.
With that tradition, the oral history of Lynn Haven began In later
years a few descendents, realizing that the first generation of
settlers was dying out, attempted to put some of the stories in
print. Cora Bailey and Ernestine Cooley regularly wrote stories of
those first years for publication in the local news. Others have
always been glad to share their stories with willing listeners. Some
of the most interesting stories explain why the immigrants made
such a long and arduous trip to settle in a strange and undeveloped
place. Donald Mowat, whose parents immigrated from Scotland to
city".83 She recalled that her parents were living in Idaho when they
received an invitation from her grandparents to come South and join
them. Her Grandfather Martin was a Civil War veteran who had
purchased two Lynn Haven lots through the The National Tribune and
found them to his liking. Her paternal Grandfather Roberts also held
property in the colony but did not develop his. Her own father, a
retired farmer, responded to the invitation by selling all that he
owned in preparation for the move. Mrs. Peach also remembered the
story of her mother packing the family's best china and glass only to
have it emptied into her apron in bits at the journey's end. "The only
thing that wasn't broken was the silverware."84 They made the
entire trip by train, but the trip was delayed when little Ruth
became ill. During a stopover in Topeka, Kansas, where they visited
other relatives, the little six-year-old girl contracted scarlet fever
She was still a very sick child when she first crossed the waters
between Southport and her new home, Lynn Haven The site Ruth
most remembered many years later was of hogs running wild like
stray dogs in the town's streets.
The Bailey family visited Panama City for several weeks in
February 1911, and took a trip up to Lynn Haven to try and locate the
lot they had purchased in the new development. According to their
daughter, Jane, they did not plan to live there.85 However, the colony
83 Fred and Ruth Peach, interview with Ann Richards, Lynn Haven,
Florida, July 1974.
85 Jane Bailey Clothier, interview with Glenda J. Walters, Panama
City, Florida, 25 June 1994
of the Lynn Haven Tribune came off the presses. William H. Lynn was
its publisher and J Walker Mitchell of New York was its editor.
Using the latest equipment, the Tribune was printed every Thursday.
Consequently, the new colony had its own newspaper to tout its
Crime and violence were rarely part of the news for they were
not part of the image that the promoters wished to project. Of
course, that did not mean the community was immune from crime,
but items on the front page of the first edition concentrated on the
lighter side of the news and included reports on sports and
entertainment. The formation of a Lynn Haven baseball team was
complete, and the players were ready for action. The first dance in
the young town had recently taken place at the new home of Mr. C.
Peterson on Indiana Avenue. Mr and Mrs. Ed Ettel Jr. were hosts for
the dance. Other stories related to the building activities underway
in the community. The newspaper reported, "There is business
bustle at the great Lynn Haven wharf these June Days."88 A cargo of
60,000 bricks arrived aboard the Thomas Cotnev from Pensacola.
"The brick will be employed in the erection of the Lynn Haven power
house and bank "89 On the world scene, the new paper boasted, "By
the time the Panama Canal is completed Lynn Haven will be rated as
the greatest land-locked harbor in the South."90
town for the young man of ambition-business opportunities are good
and steadily improving."97
Copies of the first issue were sent to members of the G.A.R.
throughout the country. Just as hoped, many responded with letters
of appreciation and approval Mr. R. Sutton of Wabash, Indiana,
wrote, "I received your copy of first newspaper published at Lynn
Haven, Fla., and I must say I am pleased with it."98 Just as planned
the stories inspired readers to plan a trip south. One veteran
responded, "Please put me down as one of your regular subscribers
as I want to be one of the family." He concluded, "I expect to eat my
dinner Christmas Day, 1911, in Lynn Haven and spend part of 1912
there "99 E. A Bradeen wrote from Onoka, Minnesota, "I am glad to
hear of the activity of the settlers of the new colony and expect to
be with you about Sept. 1."1'o In August, the Tribune received word
from Mr. S. E Flower that he would begin his journey from far-away
Alaska to Lynn Haven in mid-September.
The newspaper office became the hub of community activities
and information Townspeople were invited to check a community
bulletin board outside the office to get their daily news. "The
bulletin will give a summary of the most important events, for
instance on the GAR encampment and the recent terrible railroad
disaster "101 A visit to Lynn Haven was not complete without a stop
98 Tribune, 15 June 1911.
101 Tribune, 31 August 1911.
The early months of 1911 were a series of firsts Most of
them were rather routine and pertained to the establishment of a
good community in new territory. The streets were cleared and
businesses opened. Worship services began. Midst the lumber stacks
and tents, the first house rose. There were organizational meetings
to establish community life. Births were celebrated and deaths
were mourned. Seasons came and ended with the advent of the next.
The colonists settled into the routine of workdays and Sundays,
occasionally broken by holiday festivities.
Some firsts were sad or even tragic and served to remind the
new community of life's fragility. Citizens admitted crimes did
occur, but often boasted that the town was populated by individuals
of such high quality that few unlawful acts took place.
Unfortunately, Lynn Haven's first murder was committed on March
19, 1911. The Panama City Pilot published an account of the violent
crime "The victim was a colored man named Seaborn Jones, whose
home was Marianna 1-o4 He was employed as a worker in Lynn Haven
and usually cashed the pay checks of some of his co-workers. It was
quite possible that on the Saturday night of his murder. Jones could
have had more than $100 on his person. The story began. "At a little
bridge crossing a ditch about half way between the pay office and
the camp he was held up. A party living about 400 feet from the
bridge heard him cry out "Don't rob me, don't rob me, Cap, and then
heard a couple of blows, and the fall of a man, but did not realize
104 Pilot, 23 March 1911.
passed. Apparently by 1916, many residents had forgotten this
dedicatory act of the Ladies Circle and called for the cemetery to be
named. "Lynn Haven is so healthful that people live an awfully long
time, but it might be well for some organization to take steps to
give the 'city of our dead' an appropriate name."109 The cemetery
was originally accessible from Fourteenth Street, but later the
entrance was moved to the opposite side of the property. As a
result, the graves face both the East and the West. The dedication
took place after the burial of Mrs Mary E. Waring, wife of a Civil War
veteran, and the reinterment of Mrs. Edward Calhoun "The site
selected seems designed by nature for a last resting place and our
citizens express themselves as well pleased with it."110 In Mrs.
Waring's obituary the Tribune noted that she had been an invalid for
sixteen years It became the custom of the newspaper to assure
readers that Florida conditions had nothing to do with the cause of
Other firsts were joyous occasions symbolizing the promise of
a happy future in the new town The celebration of marriage and
birth were such events The first romance to end in marriage began
when Miss Stearns and Horrace Dodge met in Panama City. It was
described as a meeting of "strangers in a strange land.""' Miss
Stearns' family was living there while their Lynn Haven home was
under construction The courtship continued once her family moved
109 Tribun, 3 August 1916.
The first church wedding held in Lynn Haven was that of Ann
Ball and William Wagoner, local photographer. The 1913 ceremony
took place in the new Methodist Episcopal sanctuary at the corner of
Pennsylvania Avenue and Ninth Street. In the absence of a minister,
the marriage was performed by Mrs. E. P. Truesdell, notary public.
The maid of honor was Jo Ball and the groomsman was Billy Russell.
Seven little girls, one of whom was Ruth Roberts, served as flower
girls Afterward. a wedding supper was held at the Bay View
July 27, 1912, was indeed a special day for Lynn Haven for on
that day a new baby girl arrived at the Carolina Avenue home of D. J.
and Cora Bailey. Jane was the sixth child born to her parents, but
the first child born in the new colony. The little girl was raised and
educated in Lynn Haven. She was truly its original native. Although
other babies were born as time went on, the community naturally
took pride in this first child. who became an influential educator in
Holiday celebrations bound members of the community to one
another. They also began new traditions that became unique to Lynn
Haven. The two most festive holidays in the new community were
Independence Day and Christmas. Both of those holidays were
celebrated with fun and festivities, but with equal consideration of
their serious meaning. Memorial Day was understandably a very
important day especially in a Union veterans community, and its
observance was always a solemn occasion.
let loose on the Fourth and there will be 'something doing' every
minute of the day."116 Throughout June the newspaper promised: a
parade, speeches, flag raising, music, and finally, fireworks. An old
fashioned picnic was planned for the noon hour The scheduled
baseball game was anxiously anticipated. "Baseball fever has been
epidemic in Lynn Haven for the last two weeks and the young men
have been almost constantly practicing with ball and bat."1'7
When the holiday arrived, the Pilot reported, "About everyone
who could get away went to Lynn Haven, as did the excursionists
who came in on the train at 11 A.M." They continued, "There were a
very large number of people at the celebration...."l18 In spite of a
heavy wind and rain storm around noon, those who spent the day
there enjoyed the baseball game and picnic. The Lynn Haven team
defeated the Panama City team by a score of 2 to 1 that afternoon.
The St. Andrews Band led the parade, followed by Mr. Leslie Gay,
Grand Marshall. So impressed by the music was Mr H. L Ball that he
called for the organization of a Lynn Haven band. Before the month
of July ended, volunteers came forth and practice began. Eventually,
there were thirty-two band members who played for fun and
entertainment throughout the community. Customarily politicians
and civic leaders provide speeches for the Fourth. In Lynn Haven, one
of those speakers was W. H Lynn, president of the St. Andrews Bay
Development Company. "Mr. Lynn gave some good advice relative to a
116 Tribune. 15 June 1911.
117 Tribune, 29 June 1911.
118 Pilot, 6 July 1911
construction was still underway on many others Progress was at
every hand and seemed to have no end. It was a time of even greater
expectation than the previous January had been because now there
was visible evidence to prove dreams could made real. It was
possible to start a new town amidst pine and palmetto. The plan to
sell property in the South to Union veterans certainly appeared to be
effective. Whether or not it was their intention, the G.A.R. and its
leaders created a unique community. People of all different
backgrounds came and settled Lynn Haven. As time went on the
community provided an interesting study of both culture clash and
assimilation. The diverse population, native and immigrant. Union
and Confederate, did have distinctively different backgrounds that
through the years became one.
The initial disputes between the community leaders in Panama
City and the G A R developers had little impact on the colonists who
were occupied with their own issues. Contact between the veterans
and the residents of Panama City were limited both by background as
well as geography. However, contact on excursions, and at holiday
celebrations or ball games was quite cordial. The G A.R. developers,
Lynn in particular, continued to solicit recognition or acceptance for
the colony and for themselves from businessmen and civic leaders of
the older city. They were not content to confine their activities to
the colony alone.
As the year closed, the pioneers just kept coming. In
December, "H. C Shive and wife and Constant Shive and wife and C R.
Shive all of Cherry Vale, Kansas, arrived in Lynn Haven Monday
CHURCHES AND SCHOOLS ESTABLISHED
The colonists indicated at an early stage the type of
community they envisioned. Religion was at once an important
concern for the new town's residents. Under the primitive
conditions of the first few months in the colony, they set their
Christian course. For the most part, they were products of a very
religious generation in America. They were accustomed to religion
and religious services being a part of everyday life. Although the
colonists were from many distant towns and cities, they shared a
desire to institute worship services in the new settlement like
those they had in their previous homes.
Churches already in the area were quick to issue requests to
the colonists to join them for services. T. F. Ward, a Millville
pastor, issued such an invitation through the Panama City Pilot.
"Dear Brethren: We the Baptist church of Millville, invite you to
meet with us, and join in our services whenever it is convenient for
you to do so."] Although such invitations were a welcome overture
and an indication of cordial relations, the colonists proceeded with
their own organizational efforts They were confident that the
colony would someday be an established town, just as godly as any
1 Panama City Pilot, 2 February 1911.
Eventually a rooming house bearing the same name was built in that
The Union Sunday School members elected officers and
secured an organ for use in their exercises. Within a few months,
attendance averaged well over one hundred citizens 2 The Tribune
reported in September, "There is no abatement in the interest in the
Union Sunday School."3 When the weather changed that autunm. the
meetings were moved to the newly constructed G.A.R. Hall where
they were conducted for several years. The nondenominational
character of the Sunday school appealed to many colonists whose
former affiliations were not to be found in the new community, and
even as churches were established, attendance remained high. On
holidays and special occasions, this Union Sunday School group often
planned and performed the inspirational or devotional portion of
"The Daughters of the King Bible Class of the Union Sunday
School was organized on February 16. 1913, with about 37 charter
members."4 Their class motto was, 'Honor the King', and gold and
white were their chosen colors Mrs. Annie Hayward was their
teacher. The group met for devotional study and to plan charitable
activities. The following December they sponsored a bazaar to
benefit the local school fund and other charitable causes.
2 Lynn Haven Tribune. 7 September 1911
3 Tribune, 7 September 1911.
4 Tribune, 10 December 1914.
news of the Methodist efforts spread, the Lynn Haven Tribune
commented in its first edition. "It seems good to see the
development of the towns on the Bay. as well as the interest taken
in church work."6 Throughout the summer attention and attendance
increased. By September, the Tribune reported, "The attendance at
the Methodist services in Temple Grove each Sunday is increasing as
colonists reach our town."7
At its annual meeting in November 1911, the Alabama
Methodist Conference appointed Burdeshaw as the pastor to both the
St. Andrews and the Lynn Haven churches Although the task was
surely difficult, he successfully set a course for the new church.
Building plans were drawn and construction of a sanctuary began.
Christian service and support groups were formed and took a very
active and important part in the new colony's life. Reverend
Burdeshaw served as the minister of the Lynn Haven congregation
until November 1913
The Methodist Conference also instructed Reverend Burdeshaw
to organize a women's group within the Lynn Haven Church, On
December 9, 1911. the Ladies Aid Society of the Lynn Haven
Methodist Episcopal Church was formed. The ladies immediately
began what would become years of dedicated service to the
community in the name of their church. Two short months after
their organization, they sponsored their first activity, a musical and
6 eilot, 17 May 1911
7 Tribune, 7 September 1911.
materials arrived aboard the Tarpon. The church house was of frame
construction with massive exposed beams supporting the interior
ceiling. The church's most impressive feature was a bell tower
above its entrance. The tower housed a large single bell whose
sound became a messenger to the entire community. Not only did it
call the faithful to Sunday services, peal with joy at the conclusion
of each wedding, but when a community member expired, it was
tolled once for each year of their life. Some old timers remember
that when one of the aged veterans died, the bell would sometimes
ring for over an hour.11
According to the reports of the building committee and the
treasurer discovered in 1964, the total cost of the structure was
$4.288.09, Over half of the funds required were raised by
subscription from the members. According to the Tribune, the Lynn
Haven Methodist Episcopal Church formally opened with services
7:00 P. M. on Thursday evening, November 21, 1912. Services were
also held on the following Friday evening and on Sunday morning and
evening However, the dedication was not held until March 24, 1917.
It was not until then that members felt their sanctuary was truly
complete because the $2,000 construction note was paid in full.
Although the church was under the pastorate of Reverend W. M.
Croman at that time, Reverend Burdeshaw returned to the pulpit to
preach the dedication sermon and Dr. J. B. Carnes of Lincoln,
Nebraska, conducted the dedication service.
11 Fred and Ruth Peach, interview with Ann Richards, Lynn Haven,
Florida, July 1974.
the substitute. A group photograph indicates that as many as forty
men, ranging from forty-seven to eighty years of age, regularly
attended the class.'5
One of the most pleasant remembrances of those who spent
their youth n the Lynn Haven congregation was the Epworth League,
a young peoples' fellowship group led first by Harry Jackson The
church placed a strong emphasis on its youth program from the
earliest days. The league, which provided both education and a
social outlet for young people, was well attended and very active.
Many of the settlers recalled in their later years the most enjoyable
place for them to spend time was with the Methodist young people's
group. S The Epworth League later changed its name to the Methodist
When Reverend Burdeshaw concluded his tenure, the Methodist
conference appointed W. R. S Burnette to fill the Lynn Haven pulpit
in 1913. Elder Burnette was already an important leader of the
congregation during the formative years of the church. His work had
also been a great help to the first pastor "In the absence of Rev. R.
W. Burdeshaw, who was detained at his home in St. Andrews last
Sunday, Elder W. R. S. Burnette preached a very practical sermon
before a large congregation in the new bank building. Thus the first
16 Information gathered from interview with Ruth Peach by Ann
Richards, and interview with Luther Land with Glenda J. Walters,
concerning youth activities at the Lynn Haven Methodist Church.
On Sunday afternoon, December 17. 1911, a dozen or so
Baptists who had been attending community services met at the
home of Rose Randall on Georgia Avenue to organize, and at that
time, "took initiatory steps for building a church and providing for
the support of a minister here."21 "On February 1912, at a council
meeting in the Bank Hall with the Rev. W. T. Waller conducting, the
First Baptist Church was officially organized Waller was chosen
chairman pro tern and the Rev. J. F. Black, secretary."22 Their
services held during the morning hour and Christian services during
the afternoon at the new bank building. Unfortunately, according to
present day church officials, no collection of documents or
memorabilia survived to relay the story of their early years.
Scattered newspaper announcements of the church's activities are
the only source of information, and they give an incomplete account
of its development. However, they do indicate that the church
afforded its members a wide variety of opportunities to participate
in Christian programs There were women's service groups and
educational meetings for children of all ages. The church held
revivals regularly and took part in many community activities.
The Reverend David Tucker was the first full time pastor
mentioned in early accounts of Baptist Church news He arrived in
Lynn Haven in October 1913, at the age of 68, and purchased five lots
on Vermont Avenue between Ninth and Tenth Streets. Within three
21 Tribune, 21 December 1911.
22 Ludelle Brannon, "Lynn Haven Protestants," Facts and Facets,
Bay's 75th Anniversy, The News Herld, 24 April 1988, p86.
where it has remained until the present time The old frame building
was donated to the Pilgrim's Holiness to be used as a sanctuary.
Later the building was relocated to 510 W. Tenth Street where it
now serves as the Wesleyan Church 26
The ladies of the church immediately organized themselves and
began their service to the church and community They earned quite
a reputation as good cooks because they often funded their projects
by serving dinners to the community. "The Baptist Ladies Aid
Society will serve a 10 cent dinner at the home of Mrs C. S. Dunbar...
A cordial invitation is given to all "27 Another of the many
newspaper notices reported, "the Ladies Aid Society of the Baptist
church will give a dinner at the home of Rev D. A. Tucker, corner of
Vermont and 10th Everybody Welcome."28 In 1917, the group
sponsored a Bazaar and served a New England Dinner.29 Only a few
months later, the ladies were busy preparing a May Day dinner to be
served at the home of Mr and Mrs. J. L Throckmorton on Kentucky
Avenue. "The Baptist ladies have prepared a splendid menu that will
surprise you, one of their fine $1.00 dinners for the small sum of 25
The Baptist minister, Reverend Tucker, became well known for
his many roles in the community. His favorite organizations were
26 Ludelle Brannon. "Lynn Haven Protestants," Facts and Facets,
Bay's 75th Anniversy, The News Herld, 24 April 1988, p.86.
27 Tribune, 10 December 1914
28 Tribune, 10 February 1916
29 Tribune, 15 February 1917
30 Tribune, 26 April 1917.
active in area church affairs, Mr. Tucker attended the seventy-first
annual Baptist Association meeting at Graceville, Florida, in October
1917.35 That same year, he received a unanimous call to accept the
pastorate of the Southport Baptist Church According to the terms
of the call, he would preach there afternoons and evenings and in no
way would his work in Lynn Haven be affected.36
"Rev. Tucker lived a long and consistent Christian life and for
51 years was actively engaged in the work of the ministry." but his
work came to close on July 10, 1927. When he died at the age of 82,
he left "behind a record of years, well rounded out in usefulness and
service to humanity and loyalty to God and country "37 "For many
years he was patriotic instructor for the G.A.R. and his fervent
loyalty to the old flag, and his patriotism and love of our country and
its institutions, leaves an imperishable monument to his memory."38
His funeral was held n the Lynn Haven G.A.R. Hall; afterward, his
remains were taken by rail to Greensburg, Indiana, where they were
interned in his old home church yard.39
A veteran of the Civil War, Harry G Vandervoort came to Lynn
Haven in 1911 or 1912 and spent each winter there for the rest of
his life. He was the founder of the Christian Church in that Union
colony, "doing much of the work himself and furnishing a goodly part
35 Tribune, 25 October 1917.
37 Lynn Haven Free Press 16 July 1927
disappeared from the newspaper's community directory. It seems
that with the pastor's demise, the church ceased to function.
The First Presbyterian Church of Lynn Haven was another of
the early churches to take advantage of the development company's
land offer. In late 1912, a group of thirty one persons signed a
petition to call the Pastor Evangelist of the Florida Presbytery,
Reverend R. W. Edwards. They too were ready to organize a church of
their own. The Panama City Pilot reported the activities of the
Presbyterian group "A Presbyterian missionary, representing the
southern wing, was here and held a few meetings recently.
Beginning January 12, a Presbyterian missionary representing the
northern Presbyterian wing, from New York city, will hold about a
week of services. In this connection the Presbyterian people hope to
discover just what may be best for them."44 Apparently these
efforts to make an informed decision were successful since the
church was formed immediately after these visits.
The group called for an organizational meeting on January 19,
1913. According to some accounts, they met in the newly built
Methodist Episcopal church house. The twenty-two Christians
present, who can be called charter members, signed the following
statement: "We. in order to form ourselves into a church, do hereby
covenant to weld together according to the teachings of the Holy
Scriptures and the ordinances of God, and promising each other all
Christian effort and sympathy and moral and financial support as we
may be able, we express ourselves as organized according to the
44 Pilt, 9 January 1913.
raised the additional capital necessary for the building which cost
Session minutes indicate that services and meetings were
first held in the newly constructed church house by late February
1916. The little frame sanctuary faced the East. The choir loft and
pulpit were located in the eastern end of the building, thus seating
in the auditorium faced that direction. A large window and the front
doors were also located on that same end. Over the next few years,
members found that to be a serious flaw in the church's design.
Latecomers were uncomfortable entering under the gaze of the
entire congregation, choir and preacher. In addition, the morning
sunlight coming in the window behind the pulpit caused a glare that
made it difficult for the worshipers to see the service. To correct
those problems, the pulpit and choir were later moved to the west
end of the sanctuary. Then the morning sun streamed over the
congregation's shoulders and latecomers could slip into the back of
The Tribune told its readers in October 1916, "You will want
to go to the new Presbyterian church for at least three reasons -to
hear the popular and scholarly Rev. Miller, to see the cosy and
comfortable church, although not quite finished, and to inspect the
Delco electric lighting plant which is not only a thing of beauty but
which will be a joy forever. The church will be beautifully lighted
when all the lamps are installed and when equipped with the soft
ground glass shades the effect will be still better."46 At a later
46 Tribune, 26 October 1916
was paid $1200 by the Lynn Haven congregation, but his income was
supplemented by his salary at the college Records do not indicate
that there was any conflict over his dual responsibilities In fact,
many members of the congregation were also quite active in their
support of the college. Although the college decided to relocated to
Tennessee in 1933, Dr. Hall continued to serve the Lynn Haven
Presbyterian Church until 1935.
With four houses of worship in some stage of construction by
late 1916, the Tribune remarked, "Lynn Haven is proud of her
Churches. The big Methodist edifice on Michigan and 9th is being
finished on the interior and will be a credit to our whole county. The
Presbyterian Church is nearly completed and will soon be ready for
occupancy. Both the Baptist and Christian Churches are buildings we
can show the visitors with pride, and our our churches have been
constructed without incurring grievous debt to the parishioners."49
The Catholic congregation sought financial assistance from the
townspeople in 1917 as they began a drive to erect a church building.
A committee composed of Mrs H. M. Griffith, F 0 Jarvis and Leonard
Emig headed the solicitation project Like their Protestant
neighbors, this Christian group had also received land from William
Lynn and the development company, but lacked the funds with which
to begin construction. "The lots are splendid, well located ones and
the Catholics may well feel proud of their location and when the
church is built, it will add materially to the appearance of New York
49 Tribune, 24 February 1916.
Eventually, he built a church. St. Dominic's, at the corner of Harrison
Avenue and Sixth Street in Panama City 55 So it was that the new
priest, Father Tobin, took charge of the new chapel, St. James.
The Catholics were the last church to build in the colony
during that first decade. As time went by, the small congregation
did not always have a full time priest, but were handled as a mission
through diocese office in Mobile, Alabama. Records were not kept
locally but were transported to the distant offices of church
administration thus their history is scattered. According to the
church directory in Lynn Haven's weekly newspaper, Mass was held
at St. James at 7.30 each Sunday morning until 1930. At that time,
Father Charles D Meyer was listed as the priest for St. James. He
heard Confessions just prior to the Mass.56
Early in that decade however, the little parish closed its doors.
Most likely its attendance, like the town's population, declined as
its founders died. The St. James' story is primarily one of old and
very vague memories. Sadly, the vacant and deteriorated church
building burned sometime late in the thirties.
Not all of the Christian groups who met together for worship
during those first years were able to build a permanent facility.
However, they did attempt to organize for worship services. At the
conclusion of the Union Sunday School services on the first Sunday
55 Ludeile Brannon, "Hitching Posts in the Shadow of the Steeple,"
Facts and Facets. Bay's 75th Anniversy. The News Herld, 24 April
56 Lynn Haven Free Press. 12 April 1930.
According to the Lynn Haven Tribune, the first school meeting
was held in Jackson's Store on November 2, 1911. At that meeting,
the Business Men's League appointed W. S. R. Burnette, Dr J. C. Jones,
and H. D Jackson to serve on the newly created Committee on
Education.o6 Early records indicate that J, M. Hughey and H. R. Ball
were also members of the education committee for the year 1912 61
Their stated purpose was to "cooperate with the proper authorities
toward maintaining a public school at Lynn Haven" and "to see that
proper school accommodations and comfortable quarters are
provided for the children and competent teachers employed."62 On
Monday, December 18, 1911. there was meeting of prominent women
who appointed a school committee to work with the men in
organizing a school These men and women felt it was imperative to
immediately resume formal education for the children some of whom
had not been in class since their families moved to the new colony
The committee designated January 2, 1912, the opening day of
school.63 They left themselves only a short time to accomplish the
many tasks necessary for opening the school. Miss Mabel G. Haymond
of Morgantown, West Virginia, was hired as principal of the proposed
school and Miss Blanche McMillon was selected as her assistant.64
In spite of their prestigious titles, these two women were also the
only teachers. They were employed for a five month term The
60 Tribune, 30 October 1913.
61 Tribune, 9 February 1912.
63 Tribune 21 December 1911.
Andrews Bay Development Company to discuss the ways and means
to provide a permanent educational system and a school house for
the youngsters of Lynn Haven. Mrs. Jennie Brandenburg and Mrs.
Mollie Truesdell were the organizers of this movement. At that
meeting, the School Club elected officers to lead them. Mrs. W. H.
Martin was elected president with Mrs. Brandenburg as secretary and
Mrs. T. W. Ryding as treasurer. On May 30, 1913, with a budget of 87
cents, the School Club began its work.68 They predicted that a sum
of several thousand dollars would be needed to build a school house
that they deemed adequate for Lynn Haven's children. Raising funds
for such a school building became their primary objective. Property
on which to build the structure was also a concern, but that cost
was later eliminated when city founder and benefactor, W. H. Lynn
donated a site
The club began its fund raising with a variety of social events
and promotions. Their first major and most successful effort was a
direct mail campaign In early June, the women mailed out three
thousand letters to Lynn Haven property owners and residents and to
interested persons all over the United States and Canada. The
women hoped that subscribers of the Tribune, regardless of where
they lived, would be interested in the success of the project and
recognize its importance to the Union colony Others, who had
visited the area or corresponded with the development company,
received letters The letters explained the need for a school in the
colony and requested a donation of at least one dollar from each
68 1Tribune, 9 July 1914.
solicitation. In a generous display of confidence, he donated six lots
on which to erect the school building.75
The city election committee, W. G Lowe, J, H. Blakesley, and D.
H Fillmore, turned over to the school committee the sum of $14.80,
surplus funds from the recent city election.76 "Everybody is doing
their utmost to place sufficient funds in the hands of the committee.
All are agreed that it is a time when every single citizen must help
and are responding nobly."77 The club's first effort at fund raising
was so successful that they were encouraged to move on to more
On faith that the funds would be collected, construction of the
school building began In early June 1913, the first delivery of
lumber was made to the donated site. The townsmen planned to
raise the frame as soon as the balance of the order arrived As the
summer progressed, the newspaper reported, "The work goes merrily
on "78 The frame of the second story was completed in mid-July As
donations continued to mount, the paper issued a call for continued
support of the project with time and talent. "All those who can and
will donate labor are requested to now let it be known as to the
amount they can give and when it will be convenient."79 The two-
76 Tribune, 26 June 1913.
78 Tribune, 3 July 1913
number of visitors over night and those willing to help entertain
them should report it at once "82 Judges for the various contests and
exhibits were recruited from Southport, St Andrews, and Panama
City as well as Lynn Haven
Newspaper accounts of fair preparations indicate everyone did
their share of the work. "W. S R Burnette will have charge of the
arrangement and building of the booths."83 Mrs. L. J Roberts was
kept busy making homemade candy, using sugar donated by grocer. D.
J. Bailey. J. M. Hutchinson sold the $.25 two day admission tickets or
the $.15 single event tickets and L. J. Roberts collected them at the
gate 84 When asked what she would do at the fair, Mrs. Truesdell
replied, she "would sell coffee and serve a delicious five acre tract."
The Tribune wrote, "It must be remembered that Mrs. Truesdell has
talked five acre tracts for three years and it is hard for her to get
out of the habit of talking them...." 5
A long list of attractions was offered to the fairgoers Many
local residents demonstrated their talents during the fair; and in
addition, a number of professional performers were employed. The
amusement committee, chaired by Miss Ira Bell Hanford, announced
they had obtained the assistance of "a mammoth one ring circus,
combining in one astonishing show, all the marvelous features of
Barnum and Bailey's great performance, clowns, strong arm men and
merchandise while others placed their displays on the first floor of
the school building. The Lynn Haven Planing Mill built a small house
showing all the different forms of mill work. Mr. Hutchinson
exhibited his well digging machine beside the school house well,
which he had installed. Inside, William Wagoner, photographer,
displayed an interesting collection of area photographs while Mr.
Walsh, artist, offered decorative items crafted from sea shells.
Entries in the art competition were located on the second floor of
the nearly completed school building. A panel of judges viewed the
entries and awarded ribbons. Other sights to see at the fair were
typical exhibits of agricultural products and food preservation 91 A
variety of treats and good food were available from the many booths
around the fairgrounds
In addition to Lynn Haven's own band, a host of musicians from
all over Bay county provided plenty of good music for dancing or
listening Mr. H L Ball coordinated the musical performances. On
the first day of the fair, the Panama City band "furnished an
abundance of music,"92 and later in the afternoon there was a
vaudeville show featuring local performers. An outdoor stage was
constructed for speakers and nightly entertainment. The second day
of the fair featured a baseball game between the Panama City Pilots
and the Millville Nines.
Of all the local features, the 'Beautiful Babies' contest was a
high point. This display of nineteen fine contestants "demonstrated
92 elot 11 September 1913
and conducted by women To the ladies of the Lynn Haven School
Club assisted by the ladies of Bay County goes this unique honor."96
On Monday, October 27, 1913. the Lynn Haven School opened
"Our school, splendidly planned, completely equipped, and
substantially constructed, is a source of pride considering the work
that has been accomplished to that end in a short time."97
Instruction for the primary grades, first through third, was held in
one of the two downstairs classrooms while classes for the fourth
through sixth grade were held in the other. Upstairs the seventh and
eighth grades were combined. The ninth grade began the high school
curriculum and was not taught in Lynn Haven. There were four
faculty members employee for the new school building Professor
Davis came with "recommendations as to past work so satisfying as
to preclude any doubt of his ability to fill the position."98 Miss
Grace Yutzy and Miss Manta Bailey, who had taught in the classroom
above the bank, returned for their second year. The increased
number of students made it necessary to employ a fourth teacher to
assist with the primary grades. Mrs Bush described as "fully
qualified and a just disciplinarian,"99 filled that position. The
position of principle was held by E. I. Matthews
While northern colonists planned for the education of their
children, tradition insists that another school also known as the
Lynn Haven School was in operation on the outskirts of the
96 Tribune 18 September 1913
97 Tribune, 30 October 1913.
in a short time as they are awaiting a competent teacher to take
charge of the children."1o2 According to Lynn Haven City Commission
minutes, that year there was a Negro church and school attended by
twenty-five children in the southeast quadrant of the city.103
Residents recall that the property was donated by a local benefactor
for use only as a school site.104 The first building served until the
early 1930's when a new one was erected.
When Bay County was formed from Washington County by act of
the legislature in April 1913, Lynn Haven was ready to assume a
leadership role in the new county. However, during the first year of
county's existence. Lynn Haven citizens became involved in a major
political battle. The primary conflict centered around the location
of the new county seat, but the location of a permanent county high
school was also an issue. All the major Bay area communities,
Panama City, Lynn Haven, St Andrews and Millville, competed for the
county seat Each offered what they deemed a suitable location for
the court house. Through local newspapers, they each expounded on
their unique advantages for the county's inhabitants and pointed out
the disadvantages of their competitors. The rivalry among the four
grew quite spirited even caustic. In a special election held May 7,
1914, Panama City and St. Andrews received the most votes, but
neither had a clear majority as required by law. In a second primary,
102 Lvnn Haven Citizen 17 September 1921.
103 Lynn Haven City Commission Minutes, Book III, 16 March 1921, p.
104 George Green, interview with Glenda J. Walters, Lynn Haven,
Florida, 15 August 1994
having to go outside the county."i06 However, the superintendent's
response to the young lady assured her "Panama City in the matter of
buildings is not just now in a position to start a High School, but
there is no feeling here that such an institution, or two of them,
would not be established wherever the people and the schools can
Need and desire were only two criteria; there were other
obligations. Conditions besides land and funding had to met by the
selected community. "The moral and educational standards of the
community, the class of citizens, the character of the homes and
places where visiting pupils would live while attending school, the
central location etc. are considered"-lo With its quickly established
reputation of religious, patriotic, and civic devotion, the Lynn Haven
colony could certainly meet these requirements
The county school board met on Monday, July 6, 1914, to decide
the location of the new school Mr E. L. Brigman, the superintendent
of schools, was present to assist the board. Mr. D. J. Bailey and Mr.
H D. Jackson, members of the School Committee, represented Lynn
Haven at the meeting.109 They were accompanied by developer W. H.
Lynn as well as a large number of the townspeople who also attended
to lend support to their representatives
At that meeting, although the value of educational
establishment was noted, financial matters seemed to be the
106 Tribune, 9 July 1914.
107 Pilt, 14 May 1914.
108 Pilt, 9 July 1914
Haven's 'WE CAN' won them over."112 Ten acres on which to locate
the school were needed and several thousand dollars were required
for its construction. All civic and community groups, lodges and
societies, from the campfire girls to the welfare club, were put on
notice that they would be expected to do their share of fund raising
for the new school
Again a county fair was planned, but this time it was not
primarily the women's project. When fair organizers met in July,
1914, "The executive committee of the Bay County Agricultural Fair
Association at their meeting this week decided to hold a fair during
Christmas week."113 They reasoned, "It will advertise Bay County to
the winter tourists in Florida. The proceeds are to be used for the
County School Fund for which we are all working so hard.""14
This fair, held on December 16, 17, and 18, 1914, was more
focused on local attractions than the previous one. The first day
was designated Agricultural Day, and its events were under the
auspices of the Bay County Fruit and Truck Growers Association.
Exhibits of livestock, produce, and crafts were featured. The
following day, Prize Day, featured the Baby Contest, with a prize for
all entrants Speakers and concerts provided entertainment during
the afternoon sessions. On the fair's last day, Reverend H. G.
Vandervoort, pastor of the Christian Church, gave a fine address, and
112 Tribune. 9 July 1914
113 Tribune, 9 July 1914.
training to instruction in practically every field beginning a
tradition that would exist for the next fifty years "16
Primarily a northern institution, the Chautauqua sent a party
to the South in 1884 to seek a suitable location for a winter session.
The group was invited to visit a village in West Florida called Lake
de Funiak, later known as Defuniak Springs, not unlike their lakeside
camp in New York. There, in February 1885, they organized the
Florida Chautauqua Association. It was to be modeled after the New
York association, providing courses of lectures and classes in art,
science, philosophy, history, literature, theology and morals.
However, in 1887, the emphasis of their program changed. "Taking
note of the need to increase revenues coupled by the changing
curriculum needs, the management of the Florida Chautauqua
severely reduced the educational programs and moved toward
greater entertainment."'17 It was this program that the citizens of
Lynn Haven mimicked.
The Lynn Haven Chautauqua began on January 24, 1915 with an
evening of music and an address by Frank McMullen entitled, 'Things
that Abide.'"8 In the days that followed, both an afternoon and an
evening program of music, sermons, and lectures were presented.
However. Saturday, January 30, 1915, was a very special day. It was
designated as Education Day "As the Chautauqua is for the benefit
116 Dean Debolt, "The Florida Chauatugua," Threads of Tradition and
Culture along the Gulf Coast, (Proceeding of Gulf Coast History and
Humanities Conference, Vol 10 Pensacola, 1986), 111.
117 Ibid., 122.
118 Tribune, 28 January 1915
Brigman announced the results of the annual school examinations.
From Lynn Haven, Lillie Maud Harrison, Ottis Hobbs, Edward Lovel,
George McCracken. Joe Nixon and Lee Hanson "made the required
average and were given 8th grade diplomas which will entitle them
to the privileges of the ninth grade in any High School in Bay
County."122 A student was required to make a general average of not
less that 75 percent on the exams.123 These students were eligible
to attend the St. Andrews or Panama City school where grades nine
and ten were taught. As yet no school in the county offered the
eleventh and twelfth grades, but Lynn Haven promoters continued
their drive to build a high school.
When Lynn Haven school bells rang on October 4, 1915. one
hundred twenty-seven children began their studies. The community
members and parents were advised to support and encourage the
children to prepare well for their future. At that point in time, the
placement of the county's high school in Lynn Haven would have made
a positive contribution to the town's future. The settlement
definitely needed a boost. As the colony began its fifth year, the
initial boom had ended and the economy was stagnant. Construction
was very limited, since many veterans who bought lots and planned
to retire there, died before they could fulfil their plans. A large
segment of the population continued to be winter visitors who
returned to another residence for the majority of the year. The
Union soldiers who first made the colony their year round home were
122 Tribune, 6 May 1915.