TALK PRESENTED BY
MR. ARTHUR E. FORSTER
THE PENSACOLA HISTORICAL SOCIETY
20 JANUARY 1964
Mr. Forster was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1890. He came to
Pensacola in 1916, was employed by the U. S. Naval Aeronautical
Station. He was Senior Civilian Supervisor from 1917 to his re-
tirement, after he held the position of Master Mechanic for 36
years, with a total of 39 years service at the Naval Air Station.
Since his retirement in 1955, he has, as his hobby, collected
genealogical information on old Pensacola families.
You have probably heard on the radio and TV that some of their pro-
grams are documented. Well, this small program I consider inma
sense is a documented program. When I finish, I will welcome
comment, and will .try to answer any questions on our subject.
According to the notice you received about this meeting, you
probably think that I will talk about all of the old families of
Pensacola. I do not believe that I should talk about any families
in particular, because I have received information from so many
families, that to mention only a few may make some of my good
friends feel slighted. However, I hope during the next half hour
to be able to give you some information that will be interesting
as well as informative.
First, I would like to dwell a little on how I got started on this
venture. I will read part of a letter I received June 28, 1934.
This letter is from a Mr. J. M. Black of Salt Lake City, Utah, to
Mr. Frank R. Pou. Mr. Pou died in December 1923, ten years before
this letter was written.
"Dear Mr. Pou:
I am engaged in compiling a Golson and Pou
Family History. My second great-grandmother was Ann
Baxter Pou, wife of Gasper Golson of Autauga County,
Alabama, and daughter of William and Ruth Shilling Pou
of Orangeburg District, South Carolina......."
and he went on with more about the family. This letter started a
friendship where other letters carrying information about the
families concerned were a regular thing for a good many years.
In the meantime, he had some church missions to attend to through-
out the South, and spent a night with our family in Pensacola.
At a later date, in 1939, I spent some time with him in Salt Lake
City, looking over his library and all the records then being kept
by him. Some of what I saw were the microfilming machines, the
machines that make these rolls of microfilms.
I received some large one-family record sheets from the West; but
when I was in Philadelphia in 1952, I found a much smaller sheet,
and in the meantime I have filled between 2000 and 3000 of these
sheets with one-family records, and have them stacked in books for
ready reference, mostly local families. Most of these records I
have received from family Bibles, family records (booklets, etc.),
no"-'";0cp: clipyin^is, -'-.:'*L""at... '
newspaper clippings, obituaries, cemetery records, tombstones, etc.,
legal documents, Pensacola News-Journal Sunday profiles, etc.
(Here, give out Record Sheets and explain them.)
During the last ten to twelve years, I have probably copied 75 to
100 family Bibles and other family records. Meeting and talking
to so many people about these records, I can't venture to guess how
many, has been a wonderful experience, because I like people and
enjoy talking to them.
If you will bear with me, I would like to read a part of another
letter from Mr. Black dated January 12, 1953:
"Dear Mr. Forster:
Your nice Christmas card and the enclosed letter
reached us before Christmas. It was nice to hear from
My work at the Genealogical Society keeps me active and often
on the go. Being in charge of the microfilming program, and
also on the convention staff of the Society, I am away from
:home frequently. We are getting into our library a vast col-
lection of records from foreign countries and from the
Eastern States, and ours is fast becoming the finest library
in the world of its kind. Our present building is not ade-
quate for our growing needs, but plans have been drawn for a
fine spacious building that will be one of the best in the
country. We plan to build a mountain vault in which to store
the negative copies of our microfilms, where they will be
housed away from our regular library building. We have fin-
ished copying all of the Church Records, Census Records,
Military Records and Probate Records for all of Denmark,
Norway, Finland, much of Sweden, all of Scotland, most of
the Netherlands, all of Iceland, and much of Germany, England,
Ireland, Switzerland, some of France, Belgium, and Italy.
Of the States, we are rapidly copying all of the Court Records,
Church Collections, Vital Records, etc., of the States along
the eastern coast,!.and have a copy of most of the U. S.
Census records for all of the States. Personally, I think
this is a wonderful work that is being done by our Society,
and I am glad to be connected with it. It is a religious
belief that the records of the people who have lived on the
earth should be preserved. But even if we were thinking of
the monetary value, our work would be worthwhile. Our col-
lection is priceless, and is attracting scholars and researchers
If you notice, in this last paragraph he states, "We are rapidly
copying all of the Court Records, Church, and Vital Records, etc.,
in the States." From letters received from him lately, he expects
to get down to this area in the not too distant future. When he
does, he hopes to copy my records, and we can get-some microfilms
made for permanent records.
Going back again to Mr. Black and what he is doing, I will read a
newspaper clipping dated October 10, 1963, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
This is an Associated Press Release.
GENEALOGICAL DATA WILL BE PRESERVED
GRANITE VAULT TO HOLD MORMON RECORDS
Salt Lake City---High on a canyon wall about 20 miles southeast
of here, a series of portals jut from the granite rock surface,
pinpointing the location of one of the world's most impregnable
It is there that the Church of Jesus Christ ofLatter-Day Saints
(Mormon) has gouged a maze of under-rock caverns designed to
safeguard the millions of dollars worth of its genealogical records.
Called the Little Cottonwood project (after the canyon where it
is located) the network of tunnels and vaults cost the church more
than $1.5 million. More than three years in the making, it should
be completed this year.
The tunnels include three 600-foot-long storage vaults which
have been lined with 11 feet of concrete and heavy corrugated
steel. Three large bank vault doors have been installed for added
security. The three main passages will be intersected by three
others more than 400 feet long.
Destined for storage in the vaults at controlled temperatures
and humidity are more than 500 million microfilmed pages of gen-
The church places considerable weight on the eternal nature of
the family relationship.
In recent years, the church's record-gathering chore has been
facilitated through a cooperating program with thousands of arch-
ivists and priests in foreign countries.
Most archivists and priests are happy to cooperate when the
microfilming crews promise them free microfilm copies of their
records, pointing out that books can disintegrate, while micro-
film is of a much more permanent nature.
Because of the zeal of thousands of dedicated church workers, the
Church genealogical library includes more ,than 1,700,000 micro-
The Golson-Pou Family Book Mr. Black started 30 years or more ago
has been finished. Since starting this book, he married, is raising
a family of four children, went through a war, and he has been
holding a responsible position in charge of the microfilming section
and has had a lot to do with this underground vault in Salt Lake
The Golson-Pou Family Book has about 825 pages of information,
family names, pictures, legal documents, and almost any other inform-
ation that you can think of relating to these families. You can see
that he is the fellow who got me started in this genealogical busi-
ness. It is a lot better than playing solitaire and working crossword*
puzzles. This is nothing but a continuous cross-name puzzle, and.
it is fascinating and I love it.
There is one thing that you should bear in mind, and that is:
as you go from one generation to another, families will remember
the soldiers, the doctors, judges, teachers, preachers, and all
the good folks, and leave out saying "He was a horse thief, he
set fire to the barn, or spent time in jail", and that is as it
should be. Say nothing but good of the dead, and also of the
living, and see how well you can get along in this world.
The following is a story from Pensacola history. After the pur-
chase of Louisiana in 1803, the Spanish, fearful of losing their
commanding position along the Gulf Coast, invited the British to
use the city and harbor as a base of supplies in the War of 1812.
Following this breach of international relations on the part of
the Spanish, General Andrew Jackson (the future seventh President
of the United States) entered Pensacola and, meeting little resist-
ance, captured the city on November 7, 1814. After dispersing
the British, Jackson let the Spanish resume control and proceeded
to New Orleans, where he won one of the most brilliant victories
of the war. In the years that followed, the Spanish and the
Indians constantly needled the New Republic with forays into
Georgia and Alabama. Following another expedition by Andrew
Jackson, the United States concluded a treaty with Spain whereby
the Floridas were purchased and became the permanent possessions
of the United States on February 19,, 1821.
Without mentioning any names, there was a Major born in Virginia
in 1778. He was in Andrew Jackson's army when it fought the
British in Pensacola and New Orleans in 1814. After his army
service, he came back to Pensacola and met and married a niece of
Commandant Woolsey in 1829, and lived in Pensacola until 1833.
Being a mill man, he wanted to get out and find a mill site for
himself. He went 23 miles north of Pensacola and found Durant's
Bluff on Escambia River. He bought 833 acres of land and .built
his home and sawmill. There were no railroads then. In order to
get his timber to Pensacola, he had to float it to Escambia River
where he would raft it and then tow it to Pensacola. He had a
small tugboat which he named the "Water Witch". Escambia County.
was densely covered with long-leaf yellow pine trees, and the
,river swamp was full of big, tall cypress-trees, with bears,
panthers, and wildcats roaming through the woods. He had ten
children. The fourth child married in Pensacola and has a lot
of descendants now living here, and so have some of his other
children. One of his sons fought and died for the South. He
died in the Battle of Antietam at Shardsburg, Md. The Major's
tenth child, a son, also fought for the South. He was a 3rd Lieut.
in Company D, First Confederate Cavalry. After his return from
the war, he married and lived in Louisiana.for a while, where two
of his children were born. He returned to Molino, where he
raised six children. He died in 1931. This man, the Major's
tenth child, was the father of a man who called me on the phone
not Long ago and wanted to know if I had any information on his
family. With the aid of this man, a grandchild of the Major, I
now have three complete generations of his family.
For.those who do not know where Durant's Bluff is, it is now known
as Molino. The Government set up a Post Office there in 1866.
I have seen a list of all the postmasters of Molino in one of our
local newspapers not long ago.
Speaking further, I would like to tell you something of the history
of the old Navy Yard after the United States took possession of
Pensacola on that February 19, 1821.
The acquisition of the Floridas came shortly after Mexico and the
other Latin American Republics had thrown off the Spanish yoke.
With a revengeful Spain firmly entrenched in Cuba and Puerto Rico,
and with Prussia, Russia, Austria, and France irritated by the
Monroe Doctrine of 1823, the Navy Department recognized the neces-
sity for a strong Naval base on the Gulf of Mexico. Accordingly,
in 1825 President John Quincy Adams appointed a Board consisting
of three famous Naval officers: Captain William Bainbridge, USN,
Capt. Lewis Warrington, USN, and Capt. James Biddle, USN, to
select a site on'Pensacola Bay for a Navy Yard, and they recommended
the present site of the Naval Air Station for the Navy Yard that
was in 1825.
In view of the lack of transportation to and from the Navy Yard
and Pensacola, the Navy granted permits to their employees who so
desired to build homes, churches, schools, stores, and other build-
ings for public usage, on the reservation outside of the Navy Yard
wall. Two.towns were set up, Warrington and Woolsey. At one time,
about 1500 people lived in the two towns. Over the years, when a
man came to work at the Navy Yard, he would have to live with
some of the families who were already there, or until he could
build his own home.
Again without mentioning names, but tying in with the above is a
story about a young man born in St. Albans, Vermont, in 1805. The
information covering this story came from (a) several family Bibles
of different generations, (b) a lot of news clippings, (c) census
records of Escambia County, Florida, dated Nov. 28, 1950, page 289,
and family and dwelling house no. 157, (d) information from the
National Archives in Washington, D. C., and (e) monuments and
records of St. John's Cemetery, Pensacola.
This man was born in Vermont in 1805 and came to this area when he
was 20 years old. That was the year the Navy Yard was authorized.
He married in Pensacola in 1829; and through these years, he worked
at different jobs at the Navy Yard. From the census records of 1850,
he was a carpenter, and he lived in Warrington with his wife and ten
children. Also according to the 1850-census records, he had living
in his dwelling house with his family, 9 mechanics. They were
machinists, carpenters, blacksmiths., masons, and painters, whose
ages were from 23 to 40 years. These men came from New Hampshire,
Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, England, and Ireland. Later
one of these roomers or boarders married.his eldest daughter.
A newspaper clipping dated January 1, 1886, his obituary, stated
that he held many.responsible positions at the Navy-Yard and was
Master Mechanic until the termination of the late Civil War. He
a Methodist and a charter member of Naval Lodge 24, F&AM, of
Warrington, and was the oldest living representative of the Masonic
Order in the State of Florida. When he died in 1886, all of his
ten children were married and living in the Pensacola area. There
were 5 daughters and 5 sons. Three of the sons were bar pilots in
the Pensacola Bay area.
Doing further research on this family, I received the following from
the National Archives in Washington, D. C. This young man left
behind in Vermont his father and mother and three older brothers.
His three brothers were all in the War of 1812, but he was only 7 or
8 years old at that time. His father was a soldier.in the Revolu-
tionary War; and while a soldier, he did a lot of guard duty with his
company, as well as a lot of marching. He had to march from where
he enlisted in Massachusetts to West Point, New York, then to
Philadelphia, Pa., to Long Island, N. Y., to West Point again, where
he was discharged on Christmas Day, December 25, 1785. The records
also show that this old man received a grant of 160 acres of land,
being a Canadian volunteer. -I believe this Revolutionary War record
would help members of this family to become eligible to join the
D.A.R. or other organizations, if they were interested.
I don't believe you could make as complete a record of all families,
but I think everyone should put down in writing everything that
possibly can be said that is good about their own families.
As I stated in the beginning, I will now be glad to answer any
comments or questions;you may have regarding the forms or other
portions of my talk.
PENSACOLA, FLORIDA JANUARY 1, 1886
Thomas Stearns, Sr., a native of Vermont, came to Pensacola in the
year 1825. The Navy Yard was projected, and he left Boston to
engage upon the work offered in this new field of labor. In 1829,
he married his estimable relict in Pensacola and returned to Tartar
Point to help build in that then wilderness, the yard which since
has arisen to such great proportions and accomplished such a full
measure of usefulness. At that place, he occupied many positions
and was a Master Mechanic until the termination of the late Civil
War, then he removed to Pensacola. Mr. Stearns was the father of
five sons and five daughters, all of whom survive him, the youngest
of whom is twenty-five years of age. Thirty-five years ago, he
became connected with the M.E. Church and was for many years a
Mason. Serenely he passed away without pain on the morning of the
30th inst., and on the 31st was buried at St. John's Cemetery.
Mr. Stearns was 81 years of age at his death; for more than a third
of a century had been a consistent Christian of the Methodist faith,
and was the oldest living representative of the Masonic Order in
Among men of all sorts, he was held in the highest esteem, for he
was a man of stern integrity, of unquestioned qualifications in
his selected work of life, and was not only skillful and upright
but was the very impersonation of charity and benevolence. Ripe
in experience, in faith, and in good work, his last hours were
spent amid his own kith and kindred and hosts of friends; and he
passed away conscious of the vanity of mortal achievement, cognizant
of immortal life in the realm beyond the grave, and declaring that
he was homeward bound, for the river he was to cross was not an
unknown water to his apprehension, because the eye of faith had
discerned-to him the happier and brighter world of the beyond.
The old year and the old soldier of Christ have gone to their
burial on the same day. The year will have no return; but he will
be resurrected. The funeral services, both church and Masonic,
,were solemn and impressive; the large attendance of all classes
Sattested the honor in which he was held. As he has gone to his
repose as the Hymnal melody at the Methodist Church said in its
refrain at -
"Home, Home, Sweet, sweet Home -.the bosom of God is the
Home of the soul"
so we say REQUIESCAT IN PACE.
MARCH 28, 1892
A BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION
Mrs. Susan Henry Stearns of West Garden Street, this city, yesterday
celebrated the 80th anniversary of her birthday surrounded by numerous
descendants. Mrs. Stearns is the mother of ten living children, the *
grandmother of forty-three, and the great grandmother of twenty-two,
most of whom were with her on the occasion named. The old lady was
born in London, England, is the mother of Messrs. Thomas, Benjamin,
and James Stearns, the well known pilots.
. .- .i.. *. ; c0.2 1 v. : I. r .-;, VAO.:.1 :
I Q 1 0 2? T
.;.o COtu-r: Liz 2.r ;." DW1l1in.:. or TLor o bUJho
.; ii i te notice se re oc iv. b- re: i: .cn e'. of .W-'":1. .a-.:l d 7oolecy
L:.-.. .o..'cul. h-ve to Vtc te "Lici h-os n i rlr. c0, of bUi 0C" it z It
a,- ,. ;..:cLncu. c.'ock to 2. ce people who had i,"- "ic ,:c ri of c-o-
Scrhip for. : ,
,0:,1 Lc.nj J1 lad- belonI C. to .lie ovcrznment the il"in- l
been c lr c,.- '2eoo eby Cn-Ilr.owners r:d c..h j. n felt as secure oad per-
.::ic. i'..tas .:-on i ha lr.1 i. acto r11; bcl:.,O to 1i:.i.
.3.c firc ortr '. c t.l .. J .0c. ,.a- .i-,_ .A. .: :.Thal ., U. E.
i v". C ..i nnnt of tie -74 :Ai'r St -" .:i, Pensrcolr., ?la. It .c.
dc'd July 18, 1950, : ... r-c delivar:d "to e-.-- f-7ily head or licen-c
IcrvC action order :-.oir 54 ,-ic- .1s
.In .:r:. ": c 'L:0 2."tioas from e Secret. r., ,'-2 :-. :3
follovi-1 inc'tmructo.ns on..n:c:.in. ic ; .. *_n corz *.i::; I.-l zrci.-lly
c-r. villo .- of L.rrlng"."n .c12. :ae :irea locally Lo.-.2 as iccle-y a-re
ohe ret) -;r. u.l U4. lce 0:
(a) Lio v--ii -rlits ' 1" Cr- by ie CO:: :..it foz
use :nil occu:-acy of pr` .e-.7cll^ .1 oriod -cr r: :oca:?tI I n t-e 7vlll-e
of WCrti; uo or ic c ree. locally I '. as 10oolcey.
, ';* (b) :oTu' iu2 ", .-. ::7'2?S :'c; r: .rih.1 i-:ad .ura--vilege o nljoyod
.el cr o::i. :ict licnc-.:z'i. ll be r0. ; y to .i'.'-;i(::t .2 l:ui :.Lore'
properL' is *. V ..o: or is at pro"cnt.uuOC;)iC'. tlie lic,:ie is horoi:.
4 4 .4 4 I;
-1 '1 *. 1' .'
4 4 .4 -.44
* 4 r &4*
-" .4 4:', ,.'-.. t .
* .., 'V* :.
4-.. 44..- 4
4, ~ ~ ~ I444*.
'. i- -
,444 44. -% 4
44 4 4
4 :-* LI
'' .I .