SKETCH OF THE HISTORY
KEY WEST, FLORIDA,
WALTER C. MALONEY.
A FACSIMILE REPRODUCTION
of the 1876 EDITION
INTRODUCTION and INDEX
by THELMA PETERS
FLORIDIANA FACSIMILE & REPRINT SERIES
University of Florida Press
FLORIDIANA FACSIMILE & REPRINT SERIES
of the 1876 EDITION
with PREFATORY MATERIAL and INDEX
NEW MATERIAL COPYRIGHT @ 1968
BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
STATE INSTITUTIONS OF FLORIDA
Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 68-21658
Second printing, 1983
Printed in the U.S.A.
Beginning with Fisher Island just south of Miami Beach a
chain of islands, or keys, extends south, southwest, and west
for approximately 225 miles to form an arc around the tip of
the Florida peninsula. From Key Largo to Key West the islands
are relatively large and close together. Beyond Key West the
islands are small and almost forty-five miles of water lies be-
tween the Marquesas Keys and the Dry Tortugas. Although
the keys were discovered by Ponce de Leon in 1513, Spanish
colonists passed them by to settle at more attractive mainland
places. In 1822, the year after the United States acquired
Florida, the navy used the wide, deep, natural harbor at Key
West as a base in stamping out the pirates of the Caribbean.
Two years later Monroe County was created with its county
seat at Key West. For decades the salvaging of wrecked ships
and the military establishment gave the island community its
economic life. Immigrants from the Bahama Islands and Cuba
arrived to earn their living by fishing in the waters surround-
ing the island or by rolling cigars in the newly established to-
bacco factories. By 1860 Key West was the second largest city
in Florida with only 44 fewer residents than the 2,876 of Pen-
During the Civil War the military forces at Key West pre-
vented the city from becoming Confederate territory. Former
United States Senator Stephen Russell Mallory, Secretary of
the Confederate Navy, grew up in Key West, and William Mar-
vin, who was appointed governor of the state after the war,
was a resident of the city. Protected by the military, the
strategically located Key West grew strong during the Civil
War and Reconstruction eras. For a third of a century it
was Florida's largest city. By 1890 its 18,080 inhabitants out-
numbered those of Pensacola by more than 6,000 and were al-
most 1,000 more than the residents of fast-growing Jackson-
ville. But in the 1890's Jacksonville went ahead of Key West,
and during the twentieth century the island city suffered both
absolute and relative decline.
Located on an island three and a half miles long and a mile
wide, Key West has an unusual history. Only ninety miles
north of Havana, Cuba, it became a second home and a base of
operations for patriotic Cubans who demanded independence
from Spain. After 1900 and until the late 1950's it was the
principal haven for Cubans who sought to regain power or to
overthrow the existing regime in Cuba. Even in the 1960's,
when the majority of Cuban refugees found new homes in Mi-
ami (by then Florida's largest city), Key West was the base
for much activity against the Communist regime of Castro.
For many decades the only drinking water for Key West resi-
dents came from rainfall stored in cisterns, and the only trans-
portation to and from the city was by boat. In 1912 Flagler's
East Coast Railroad connected Key West to the mainland of
Florida, but the hurricane of 1935 destroyed the railway. To-
day the Overseas Highway, airplanes, and ships provide access
to the resort city, which before the admission of Hawaii into
the Union was the southernmost city in the United States.
Despite its historical significance, Key West has interested
few lay or professional historians. Much of the city's written
history is based on a speech given by Walter Cathcart Maloney
in 1876 and later published as a pamphlet. Jefferson B.
Browne relied on this source in producing his Key West, the
Old and New in 1912. Scholars and writers of the Works
Projects Administration project collected materials and wrote
a guide to Key West in the 1930's, but as yet a complete his-
tory of Florida's unique city has not been written.
Thelma Peters, Chairman of the Social Science Division of
Miami-Dade Junior College, is a novelist and a historian. Her
dissertation at the University of Florida traced the movements
of British subjects who left East Florida in 1784 to settle in
the Bahama Islands. Many of these Loyalists and their de-
scendants later established homes in the Florida Keys. She
writes with the authority of a scholar in her biographical
sketch of Maloney and the evaluation of his pioneer history.
The University of Florida Press acknowledges its indebted-
ness to Mrs. Margaret Knox Goggin, head of the University of
Florida Libraries, and to Elizabeth Alexander, librarian of the
P. K. Yonge Memorial Library of Florida History, for the use
of a copy of Maloney's book to produce this facsimile. Dr.
Peters was given aid by the staff of the Otto G. Richter Li-
brary, University of Miami, in the research for her introduc-
REMBERT W. PATRICK
GENERAL EDITOR of the
Had it not been for a fortuitous chain of events which hap-
pened on a clear hot Fourth of July, the only history of Key
West written in the nineteenth century might never have got-
ten into print. The year was 1876 and an entire nation had
paused to commemorate a significant milestone in its history-
the Centennial of the Declaration of Independence.
In that year Key West was Florida's largest city. In its re-
lation to the peninsula it was-and is-like the dot at the base
of an exclamation point: of Florida, but at the same time de-
tached and unique.
By daylight of that Tuesday morning in July the firecrackers
could be heard along Whitehead and Front Streets and from
across the Salt Pond. Children too excited to finish their
breakfasts danced into the streets, wearing their summer
whites. The first of several parades of the day began at nine
o'clock, the parade of firemen. Led by the Isle of the Sea Band
and a shining new fire engine, the seventy-five men of the new-
ly reorganized Hook and Ladder Company stepped along
proudly in their handsome uniforms. They marched toward the
city hall, which was to be dedicated that morning with suitable
ceremonies, one part of which was the installing of the fire de-
partment in new accommodations.
In the glaring sunshine, with flags flying and music playing,
with men marching and parasols bobbing at the curb, there
was no one to notice that a celebrating cannon had discharged
a shot into Mr. George Alderslade's roof-he owned the Gem
Saloon-and that it was continuing to smolder between ceiling
The new city hall was a two-storied frame building with
arched windows and doors and a cupola up top like a cherry on
a cupcake. Above the cupola the Stars and Stripes made a
spot of color against the pale blue sky.
Today you will look in vain for this city hall. In 1886 the
fire engine which had been so admired in the parade of 1876
was sent to New York for repairs, and while it was gone Key
West experienced its most disastrous fire. Raging for twelve
hours out of control, the fire destroyed the city hall, much of
the business area, and some of the docks, for a loss of two mil-
lion dollars' worth of property and the inestimable loss of valu-
able records and other papers.
The most important event in Key West on July 4, 1876, was
the dedication of the city hall. The exercises were held in the
assembly room of the hall, which was not large enough to ac-
commodate half the people who wanted to attend, and therefore
the room was packed to overflowing. The main speaker for the
occasion was a highly respected long-time resident and civic
leader, Walter C. Maloney.
The- program's pace was slow and the oratory flowery. Pre-
siding was the Honorable William McClintock, president of the
board of common council. The actual dedication was made by
Key West Mayor C. M. de Cespedes, a Cuban-American and the
son of a Cuban patriot, who spoke at some length on recent im-
provements made in the city. Then McClintock read the Dec-
laration of Independence and there was a hymn and a prayer.
Mr. Maloney fingered his notes with impatience as he awaited
his turn, while a few blocks away the fire in the Alderslade
attic continued to smolder.
It must have been nearly noon when Mr. McClintock got
around to introducing Mr. Maloney who, he said, would give
a concise history of Key West from the 1820's when it had a
population of 300 to the present booming city of 12,750.
By this time the audience was restless and in little mood for
history. In the first issue of the local paper following the
Fourth, "An Observer," in a letter to the editor, complained of
the behavior of the audience "during the reading of the very
able and interesting address by Col. W. C. Maloney." Observer
called the behavior "simply disgraceful" and attributed it to
"a few full grown men, half grown boys and would-be young
Ladies."' He went on to say: "I would here emplore you, Mr.
Editor, in the name of decency and for the reputation of our
city to ask through the columns of your excellent paper that all
persons who have not the brains to understand, and the self-
respect to behave, are henceforth and forever more invited to
stay away from such places."
If "Colonel" Maloney had undertaken to speak everything
which went into the printed form of his speech, the delivery
would have taken about three hours. The audience was spared
such an ordeal, however, for at twelve o'clock the fire blazed
through the Alderslade roof, the alarm sounded, and "the im-
mense concourse of citizens who were following the Speaker
with marked attention dispersed to engage in the emergency of
the hour."2 As for the seventy-five elegant firemen, "like a
flash they darted to the scene and nobly combatted their nat-
ural enemy, with such vigor, as to completely subdue the flame
in less than ten minutes." According to the Key of the Gulf,
cheers came from the lungs of thousands and the fire was
called a "pleasing incident." Although his house suffered more
damage from water than from fire, Mr. Alderslade, the good-
natured English barkeeper, politely thanked the firemen for
putting out the fire.
It is hardly likely that the audience drifted back to the city
hall to resume listening to history. Three lodges were having
a noon parade and later in the afternoon the United Order of
the True Reformers, the Good Templars, and the Templars of
Honor and Temperance were scheduled to parade, with music
furnished by Professor Blake's Band. And there were other
exciting events. The skating rink was having a contest to dis-
cover the "most graceful lady," and there was still the night to
look forward to, with illuminations, fireworks, and a tableau
of Washington, Lincoln, and Grant by children of San Carlos
School. It was a great day in Key West. The editor bragged
in the Key of the Gulf that "not a single finger was lost or
hair scorched." In the day-long excitement Maloney's history
was not only overshadowed, it was scuttled midway along, and
this may account for Maloney's decision to have the speech
To the sixty-eight pages of "speech" which Maloney had pre-
pared in the space of two weeks he now added several pages of
appendix and sent the manuscript to the Advertiser Printing
House in Newark, New Jersey. Before the year was out, A
Sketch of the History of Key West, Florida was published.
There were probably not more than two hundred copies and
today the book is very rare indeed.
In 1876 Maloney spoke of himself as having reached "an
advanced age," though he was only sixty-three and was to live
another eight years. He was white of hair and beard, his
slightness of build was disguised by his upright carriage and
the dignity of his long coat and his cane. An aquiline nose bi-
sected his rubicund face, and although his eyesight was some-
what impaired, his blue eyes glinted with irascibility or glowed
with geniality. His temper was attributed to the Irish in him.
In one of his last appearances as a trial lawyer, during a
salvage case, Maloney became so incensed at what he con-
sidered a violation of courtroom decorum on the part of oppos-
ing counsel, Treadwell Cleveland of New York, that he shook a
trembling, bony finger in the latter's face. "If the gentleman
will do me the courtesy to step outside the courthouse and re-
peat the words he has used within," Maloney said, coldly main-
taining his dignity, "I will put a buttonhole in his waistcoat
which no seamstress can sew up."3
For forty years there had been few major public events in
Key West in which Maloney had not been involved. In his
enthusiasm for his adopted town he was a one-man Chamber of
Commerce. The new city hall was only one of the many city
improvements in which he had had a part. It was Maloney, in
1871, who had persuaded Miss Florida Simonton, the sole sur-
viving heir of John W. Simonton, who had purchased the island
in 1822, and Miss Mary B. Jones, the trustee for Miss Simon-
ton, to donate the necessary land for the city hall, land which
originally had been part of a shallow tidal pond. In his his-
tory Maloney refers to this maneuver as "going to Equity"
before two ladies, declaring it was safer to court ladies on a
point of honor and patriotism than it was to argue before
judge and jury.
Walter Cathcart Maloney was born at Darien, Georgia, Feb-
ruary 7, 1813, the younger of two sons. His parents were
mavericks, far from their birthplaces and alienated from their
families. Most of what is known about the parentage of Mr.
Maloney is contained in a letter written by him to his son
Frank, in 1874.4 He wrote:
The information which I can give you in relation to
your forefathers is very small.
Your Grandfather Maloney was born in Ireland and
educated for the Catholic ministry. He refused to take
the vows of ordination and joined Emmet and Lord Fitz-
gerald in the revolution against King George the Third
which so offended his father who was a wealthy merchant
that he cut him off with one shilling. The war getting
too warm for your grandfather he got on board a vessel
and made his way to this country.
Your Grandmother, a Scotch Lady, was a niece of Gen-
eral Cathcart who was taken prisoner and carried into
Savannah where she met my father and they were mar-
With the loss of my elder brother who perished at sea
with his wife and three children in 1865 I have every
reason to believe that I am the only representative of the
family of Maloney.
Your Grandmother's father was a colonel in the British
Army commanding a Scotch Regiment. He took yellow
fever and in one of the paroxysms of the disease when
his nurse was absent he blew his brains out at St. Kitts
in the West Indies. The Cathcart family took no notice
of your Grandmother and refused to answer her letters.
Thus in both families we were renounced.
I have a copy of the will of my father's father, also of
his aunt which I will show you on your return. The sub-
ject is a painful one to me which I do not care about
dwelling upon, but for your satisfaction I have written
this. At all events you need not be ashamed of the an-
cestry from which you sprang.
Walter C. Maloney's boyhood was spent on a Georgia planta-
tion, and his education was entrusted to a Catholic priest. It
is believed his parents intended him for the priesthood. But
Walter was a restless, independent youth and when his parents
died, first his mother, then his father, he charted his own des-
tiny and went to sea. When his brother asked him to stay and
run the plantation, Walter's reply was that "he was determined
not to be a negro driver."5
In 1837, when he was twenty-four, Maloney visited Key
West and decided to settle there. The following year he mar-
ried Mary Elizabeth Rigby, a girl of eighteen who had been
born in the Bahama Islands and whose family had been among
the first families to move from the Bahamas to Key West. Six
sons and a daughter were born to the Maloneys before the un-
timely death of Mary Elizabeth in 1855. "A blameless life was
hers, so gentle and so good," reads the marble plaque on the
tomb she shares with her husband in the Key West cemetery.
In 1839 Maloney and his wife were living at Indian Key
and Maloney was employed as a clerk by the notorious wrecker
Jacob Housman, who considered the jewel-like island of twelve
acres, lying at midpoint between Key West and Cape Florida,
as his private domain. There Housman sat like a crafty spider
waiting for ships to run afoul of the reefs. There he built an
elegant mansion to which he brought a beautiful bride, and
there was his Tropical Hotel, not only serving transients but
making a definite bid for tourists. A number of smaller
houses were occupied by employees and slaves. The entire
island was neatly laid out and landscaped, the docks were good,
and there were several cisterns, one of which cost as much as
$4,000 to blast out of solid rock.6
Housman had a perpetual quarrel with salvage courts, es-
pecially when they were located in Key West. Once he towed
a wrecked vessel all the way to St. Augustine rather than sub-
mit to adjudication in Key West. Several times Housman was
convicted of embezzling goods from wrecks, and eventually his
wrecker's license was revoked.
In 1832 the federal government appointed a customs inspec-
tor for Indian Key and two years later opened a post office on
the pint-sized island. The customs inspector, Charles Howe,
reported the arrival of 637 ships in 1834 and 703 in 1835, and
even though most of these were small fishing boats or turtlers,
it is evident that Indian Key was a lively place.7
In 1836 Housman enjoyed a sweet triumph over the Key
Westers-Indian Key was removed from Monroe County and
made temporary county seat of the new county of Dade. Hous-
man's name not only headed the petition asking the territorial
legislative council for the new county, but he went to Talla-
hassee in person. It may have been he who named the county,
the name having been suggested by the Indian massacre of
Major Francis L. Dade and his men which had occurred near
Tampa a few weeks earlier. The new county was wild, beauti-
ful, and almost uninhabited. The only small settlements be-
sides Indian Key were at Cape Florida and at Key Vaca.
The courthouse at Indian Key was paid for by Housman and
all offices were held by Housman's men. A superior court was
assigned to Indian Key to hold one term each year. Maloney
became the clerk of this court for a short time, resigning in
1839.8 In 1840 Maloney had three jobs: in addition to being
clerk in Housman's business office, he was justice of the peace
and auctioneer.9 It is not to be implied that Maloney was party
to his employer's schemes. Maloney was a neat and accurate
record-keeper whom Housman found useful in his business; he
was not in any sense a colleague.
In 1838 Dr. Henry Perrine and his family moved to South
Florida to begin experimentation with tropical plants. Dr. Per-
rine had been given a federal grant on Biscayne Bay, but be-
cause of Indian unrest his friends persuaded him to live at
Indian Key and do his experimenting on nearby islands. The
Perrines lived in a large house which belonged to Charles Howe
and was adjacent to the house occupied by the Howe family.
The two houses owned by Howe were somewhat separate from
the complex of buildings belonging to Housman. Socially there
was little or no contact between the Perrines and the Howes on
the one side, and the Housmans on the other.10
In the early morning hours of August 7, 1840, occurred the
savage Indian attack on Indian Key which destroyed most of
Housman's material wealth and crumpled his power. The In-
dians came silently in canoes and were ashore before any warn-
ing was given. Dr. Perrine was trapped by the Indians in the
top floor of his home and burned to death, one of seven who
lost their lives. The others managed to get away in boats or to
hide in shrubbery or turtle crawls until the Indians withdrew.
Mrs. Perrine and her three children hid in a bathing pool under
a dock in front of the house, and by lying low in the water they
managed to escape detection as well as a fiery death. When the
Indians had gone the Perrines managed to get away from the
island in a small boat using makeshift oars and were picked up
by a schooner.1l
Walter Maloney had moved his wife and baby son to Key
West only a few days before the massacre. He himself was at
Indian Key the evening before the massacre on his way from
Key West to Cape Florida. When he returned two days later,
he heard the story of the night of horror from survivors
gathered on nearby Tea Table Key, and visited Indian Key to
see the damage that had been done there.
Housman lost all; his rich store was looted of goods, the
hotel and other buildings were burned, the boats seized and
used to carry away the prize. Charles Howe was somewhat
more fortunate. He lost his "new house," the one occupied by
the Perrines, but his own house, its detached kitchen, a car-
penter shop, and some Negro houses were plundered but not
burned. Among the things taken were clothing, bedding, silver,
jewelry, cooking utensils, water-kegs, and boats. His books,
papers, glassware, mirrors, and a clock were left undisturbed.12
Maloney had his own explanation of the strange partiality
which the Indians showed toward Charles Howe. In a Letter to
the Editor, May 26, 1877, Maloney, evidently inspired by a
series of "Reminiscences" in a Key West newspaper, wrote:
There is another incident connected with the destruc-
tion of Indian Key by the Indians, and the immunity of
the property of Mr. Charles Howe, that does not appear
to have been known to the author of the interesting
"Reminiscences of Key West" now going through your
paper. I had been a resident of that place for about two
years, and had removed my family here, only two or
three weeks before the attack. On my way to Cape Flor-
ida on business, the vessel in which I was making the
trip put into the harbor of Indian Key on the afternoon
previous to the attack, and got underway at 8 o'clock in
the evening. Two days afterwards, returning, we were
informed of the circumstance. At Tea Table Key I found
Mr. H. and family, the family of Dr. Perrine, Housman
Mr. Biglett (known here as Block) had reported hav-
ing escaped from the cistern under the large Warehouse
on the island when it was on fire, and had left behind him
a youth, the nephew of Capt. Elliott Smith, who was
missing. The water in the cistern having cooled by this
time, several of the survivors with myself removed the
debris, and found the body completely boiled. On this
occasion Mr. H. took me into the room in his dwelling
which he had used as the Post-office of the island, to
show me how fortunate he was in not losing his papers
or other things in that room. Drawing from his desk a
long tin case, he removed from it his Masonic Diploma,
which he said he had not seen for twenty years, until he
found it lying on the table, with a book on each corner,
with other masonic emblems on his return to the island.
Question, Are the Seminole Indians connected with the
Mystic Craft? or why their apparent respect for these
According to Charles Howe, the child found boiled in the
cistern was twelve-year-old Frank Sturdy, the brother of Mrs.
Elliott Smith, not Captain Smith's nephew.14
After the Indian Key massacre Dade County lost most of its
1840 population of 446 and, for all practical purposes, ceased
to exist. Within three months Housman had left the Key for
good, selling the boats and slaves he had left at auction in Key
West. In 1841 he was crushed to death between two rolling
boats during a salvage operation.
Maloney was now in an awkward position, residing in Mon-
roe County but still the acting clerk of Dade County. In 1843
he wrote the governor that there was not in the whole of Dade
County a person competent to become clerk. He stated that he
had the Seal in his possession and had entered records and
election returns in a book "simply because no one else would
do it." He also mentioned that he had received no pay for his
The governor and the legislative council of the Territory
finally came through with a pat on the back for the conscien-
tious Maloney. In 1844 they declared valid and good all pro-
ceedings and acts done by the acting clerk of Dade County in
the interval between the "abandonment of Dade County and
the current date, March 6, 1844."16
Maloney now began to teach school in a two-story, jalousied,
West Indian type house at Front and Fitzpatrick Streets. He
furnished the school room and received one dollar a month from
each student who could afford to pay. Of the thirty students, a
few were "charity" and paid for by public funds. In 1844
Maloney served as postmaster for a time and the following
year, when Florida became a state and a new set of courts was
established, he became clerk of the circuit court of Monroe
County. In 1849 he became United States marshal under Zach-
ary Taylor's Whig administration.
In the 1850's Maloney tried his hand, none too successfully,
at running a store. When this venture failed, he worked for
two years as a clerk in the A. F. Tift Mercantile Company. At
this time Tift was probably the most important merchant in
Key XWest. In addition to his retail store he had a large elevated
coal wharf for ease in loading steamers, and even imported ice.
In 1855 Mrs. Maloney died and Maloney married again, to
Miss Marie S. Debois of Brooklyn, New York. There were no
children by this marriage and Maloney was outlived by his
During the 1850's Maloney was studying law and he finally
was admitted to practice. Horatio Crain says of his law career:
"Though in entering the profession late in life he entered it at
a disadvantage, he adorned the bar by his industry, research,
dignity, courtesy, and thorough integrity."17 It was not long
before his worth as an attorney was recognized and he had all
the clients he could handle.
In his mature years Maloney served a term as mayor of Key
West, was elected to the state legislature for one term, was
employed as judge advocate of several naval courts-martial
held in Key West by order of the United States Naval Squad-
ron stationed there, and for a time edited a local newspaper, the
Key West Dispatch, published by his son Walter C. Maloney,
Jr. To add to this diversity of interest and talent, at the time
of his death he was also vice-consul for Sweden.
One of his dreams was to connect Key West to the mainland
by a railroad, a dream some called impractical, even foolish. He
had hoped that he would be given the honor of driving the last
spike. The year before he died in 1884, a franchise for building
an overseas railroad was given by the state legislature to Gen-
eral John B. Gordon of Georgia, but the project was soon aban-
doned. It was not until 1912 that Henry M. Flagler, riding the
first train into Key West, made Maloney's dream a reality.
During Maloney's day Key West was well known for its pic-
turesque goat carts, attended by NegrQ boys and serving as
one-seated taxis or as delivery wagons. The carts were taxed
and Maloney remarks in his history that Key West was prob-
ably the only city in the nation that derived income from such
a source. Milk goats were also a familiar sight in Key West
streets. The milking was done in front of a customer's house.
Key West streets were described as "so narrow dogs had to
wag their tails vertically."'8
Maloney's interest in transportation carried over to his son
and namesake. In 1885 Walter C. Maloney, Jr., was one of a
company which organized a street railway system for Key
West.19 The cars consisted of two long seats with an entrance
door in the rear, and each car held about a dozen people. Mules
supplied the power. In the 1880's a popular pastime was to ride
a car to the end of the line and visit Mrs. Alicia Carey's ice-
cream parlor. One famous mule known as Tom used to climb
onto the sidewalk, whereupon the passengers would have to get
out and cajole him back into the street.
The issues of the Civil War split Key West into two factions
and divided the Maloney family. The senior Maloney, who had
once been a Whig, staunchly supported the Union. At a meet-
ing held in the courthouse for the purpose of choosing delegates
from Monroe County to a state convention to meet in Talla-
hassee in January, 1861, to decide the secession question, Ma-
loney was the only speaker who favored remaining in the Un-
ion.20 His son, Walter, Junior, took the more popular side and
lined up with the upper-class citizens of Key West who de-
clared for secession. Since at all times during the Civil War
the city was in the control of federal troops, the local seces-
sionists who wanted to fight for the Confederacy were obliged
to sneak away from the island. This Maloney, Junior, managed
to do by leaving the guarded harbor in a small boat and follow-
ing the Gulf Coast to Tampa where he enlisted in the Southern
army. Other Key Westers stowed away on a schooner for Nas-
sau, found a vessel there which dropped them off at Cape Flor-
ida, and then walked north along the coast.
Those Confederates who could not get away from the island
behaved as defiantly as they dared, waving Confederate flags
and sneering at federal soldiers in the streets. A local drayman,
W. D. Cash, was jailed for publicly wishing that every Union
officer and soldier would die of yellow fever.21 Union sympa-
thizers were likewise "loud and offensive in their so-called loy-
alty to the Union."22 They enjoyed spying on Confederates and
rejoiced when a "victim" was locked in the fort.
Maloney was too mature to resort. to such tactics. He did,
however, help to organize a union volunteer corps and per-
suaded the federal commander at Fort Taylor, Major W. H.
French, to supply the corps with flag, arms, and instruction.
A good many of the more than one hundred volunteers were
former Bahamians who had migrated to the Florida Keys in
the 1830's and 1840's. Some of these were descendants of
American Loyalists who had once lived in the Carolinas or
Georgia, and had gone into exile when they were proscribed
and their property confiscated during the American Revolution.
In 1784 they had been settled on plantations in the Bahamas by
the British government. These Bahamians in two generations
had reversed their stand-now they favored the United States.
The rupture in the Maloney family apparently was not per-
manent. After the war the young Maloney returned to Key
West, and father and son were soon cooperating in a news-
paper venture. Horatio Crain explained Maloney's attitude:
"Deploring the fact that a son was in the Confederate Army
he was proud to think he filled a worthy position. A moving
conscience impelled him; hence, he was just to his own son, and
in this way a parent might take a lesson from Walter C.
But was the reconciliation genuine? In his Sketch Maloney
saves the Civil War to the last and then says he approaches it
"with great repugnance" because of the "mad passion of the
hour" and "the danger of reopening wounds not yet fully
Maloney lived on Division Street between Elizabeth Street
and Windsor Lane. His house was surrounded by a garden and
fruit grove of which he was very proud. He enjoyed having
guests and on one occasion at least he gave a watermelon party
in his garden. In 1867 when Jefferson Davis, the recent presi-
dent of the Confederacy, broken in health and on his way to
Cuba to spend the winter, stopped over in Key West, Maloney
sent him a basket of fruit from his garden. Jefferson Browne,
who was a boy at the time, remembered the Davises as guests
in his father's home, and he described the Maloney gift of fruit,
which he called "a delicate and thoughtful attention," as con-
taining a coconut in the center surrounded by sprigs of coco-
nut blossoms, with delicate green anonas contrasting with
brown sapodillas, with mangoes of red and yellow, and pink
West India cherries which he said was Maloney's favorite
fruit.23 Crain says the growing of fruits and vegetables was
one of Maloney's hobbies and that in his later years the garden
was his cherished retreat. It was there that he died the after-
noon of August 6, 1884, having become ill while at his office
earlier in the day.
In style Maloney's Sketch is stiff, factual, and impersonal.
Maloney is concerned with population, taxes, shipping, im-
provements in the postal service, lodges, churches, fires, and
hurricanes. Interspersed with statistics is an occasional Latin
phrase or line of poetry. Sentiment is rare but not entirely
missing. In a -burst of feeling, Maloney paid tribute to the
mother of Stephen R. Mallory, Mrs. Ellen Mallory, who had
befriended him when he came to Key West "as a poor young
man." "Methinks I hear her musical voice today, as she was
wpnt to speak, standing at the bedside of the sick and dying,
in days gone by," he wrote. But there is little such writing.
Though Maloney is a careful recorder, he is seldom anecdotal
and never intimate. His facts are valuable for historians, but
it is to be regretted that he keeps the door closed on his fancies.
It must be remembered that he prepared a speech and not
If ever the father lives again in the son, it can be said that
Maloney's history lives again in another volume which is its
literary descendant. This other and later volume is the much
better known Key West, the Old and the New by Jefferson
Browne, which was published in 1912. In his Preface, Browne
acknowledges that his first intention was to copy Maloney's
history and bring it down to date. He writes: "In collecting
the data, however, I found that there were a great many inter-
esting events connected with the early history of Key West
which Colonel Maloney had omitted, and concluded that if my
work was to be as complete as was possible with available data,
I would have to write it anew. This I have done, using, how-
ever, such data as his history contains, and at times preserving
even his phraseology."
Browne describes Maloney as "one of the great lawyers of
his time" and, in another connection, lists Maloney with sev-
eral others as "men of the highest character, distinguished
alike for their ability as lawyers, and general intellectual at-
tainments. Dignified and courtly, scrupulous and conscientious,
they placed the profession of law on the high plane tradition
tells us it once occupied."24
He calls the brevity of the Maloney book no reflection on
Maloney's effort but says it was written in a few weeks, where-
as he himself spent a year combing various state and federal
records so that "the historian who writes of Key West thirty
or forty years from now will have no occasion to cover the
Having made his statement that he has borrowed freely from
Maloney's Sketch, Browne proceeds to incorporate whole para-
graphs written by Maloney into his own book without further
identification or acknowledgment. Browne's volume spans a
longer period of time, is more detailed than Maloney's, and is
even more mundane and less literary.
There is no basic disagreement between Maloney and
Browne; both are stalwart citizens speaking fondly and
earnestly of their island city.
Miami-Dade Junior College
1. Key of the Gulf, July 8, 1876. As a result of fire and hurri-
canes, few Key West newspapers of the nineteenth century have
been preserved. This copy is in the P. K. Yonge Memorial Library
of Florida History, University of Florida, Gainesville.
3. Jefferson B. Browne, Key West, the Old and the New (St
Augustine, Fla., 1912), 182.
4. Letter from Walter C. Maloney to his son Frank, Key West,
December 30, 1874, now in the possession of Mrs. Robert Spotts-
wood, Key West, the great-granddaughter of W. C. Maloney.
5. Horatio Crain, "Col. Walter C. Maloney, a Tribute and a
Sketch," Key of the Gulf, August 8 (?), 1884.
6. Dorothy Dodd, "Jacob Housman of Indian Key," Tequesta
7. Ibid., 5. 8. Ibid., 12. 9. Ibid., 10.
10. Jeanne Bellamy (ed.), "The Perrines at Indian Key, Florida,
1838-1840," Tequesta, VII, 71.
11. Ibid., 76.
12. Letter from Charles Howe, written at Indian Key, October
15, 1840, printed in "Reminiscences of Key West," by W. A. W.
(William Adee Whitehead [?]), in a Key West newspaper (prob-
ably Key of the Gulf), May 16, 1877, a clipping of which is pasted
in a copy of Maloney, A Sketch of the History of Key West, in the
Otto G. Richter Library, University of Miami, Coral Gables, Fla.
13. Letter from Walter C. Maloney, May 26, 1877, clipped from
a Key West newspaper (Key of the Gulf[?]), and pasted in a copy
of Maloney in the Richter Library.
14. Howe letter, October 15, 1840.
15. F. M. Hudson, "Beginnings in Dade County," Tequesta, I,
16. Ibid., 14. 17. Crain.
18. William Meyers, "The Old Key West," The Miami News,
June 10, 1951.
19. Browne, 103. 20. Ibid., 91. 21. Ibid., 94.
22. Ibid., 92. 23. Ibid., 17. 24. Ibid., 64-65.
SKETCH OF THE HISTORY
KEY WEST, FLORIDA,
WALTER C. MALONEY.
DELIVERED AT THE DEDICATION OF THE NEW CITY HALL,
JULY 4, 1876,
AT THE REQUEST OF THE COMMON COUNCIL OF THE CITY.
NEW A RK. N. J..
PRINTED AT THE ADVERTISER PR I-INTNG Ii',-lE,
1 8 7 6.
Mf. Mayor and Gentlemen of the City Council:
It is scarcely more than two weeks since I had the honor
of being informed that, it was the pleasure of your Honor-
able body to have me deliver the address on this occasion; in
compliance with the Proclamation of the President of the
United States, issued in pursuance of a Resolution of Congress
recommending that, the commemorative exercises of the day
should be of a historical character.
The shortness of the time, advanced age, impaired eye-
sight, to an extent which has seriously interfered for more
than two years with my professional business, and more than
all else, an unfeigned distrust of my ability to interest or
instruct an audience, whose critical acumen and literary taste
might lead them to expect much more than it is in my power
to submit, might well lead me to hesitate about assuming
the task. Indeed, gentlemen, I see before me now scores of
citizens better qualified for the task, the advantage on my side
lying only in a longer residence in your city than many
others. But the invitation was in my view .a work of
distinction which no citizen, thus highly honored, could with
propriety treat with indifference or neglect, and therefore I
appear before you, prepared to discharge the duty assigned
to me to the best of my ability.
Passant quia passe videntur."
Happily my labors have been lessened by finding prepared
to my hand much of the early history of your city, from the
pen of Mr. William A. Whitehead, with whose name, at
least, all are familiar, as the gentlemen who surveyed and
mapped out the city in the days of its earliest settlement,
and who subsequently bore a conspicuous part in its affairs
for many years. To the kindness of several other gentlemen
of the city am I also indebted for favors in the preparation
of this paper, which I here gratefully acknowledge.
Zadies and Getlw,'n :
Doubtless material enough exists which, by diligent search
and industrious application, might suffice to fill a book
in making a history of your city, but the labor of as
many months will scarcely be expected in a work occu-
pying only fifteen days in its preparation. I will not
weary your patience, nor unprofitably consume your time by
narrating the earlier history of Florida in the times of Ponce
de Leon or De Soto. The object of the present address is to
give a succinct and truthful sketch of the history of the
"City of Key West," and, inasmuch as Key West is the
County seat of Monroe County, some attention will also be
given to the history of the County. In short, I propose to
give such statistical data as will no longer leave it doubtful
that there is a certain portion of the State known as, or at
least called South Florida," of which Key West, the
largest City in the State, is the commercial emporium.
"It is probable," says Mr. Whitehead, that, from the
time of the first visit of Ponce de Leon until the cession
"of the Floridas to the United States, the Islands (or
Keys as they are termed, a corruption of the Spanish
word Cayo') which extended in a South Westerly direc-
tion from Cape Florida, were only resorted to by the
aborigines of the country, the piratical crews with which
the neighboring seas were infested, and the fishermen (many
of them from St. Augustine) who were engaged in supply-
ing the market of Havana from the finnyy tribes' that
abounded in their vicinity. Of the occasional presence of
"the first, we have evidence in the marks of ancient fortifica-
tions, or mounds of stone, found in various localities (in one
of which, opened some years since, human bones of a large
size were discovered) and tradition has in addition, brought
down to us notices of them which deserve all the credit
conferred upon the same authority in other parts of the
country. The oldest settler in this section of the country,
one whose residence in the neighborhood of Charlotte
"Harbor, dated back to about 1785, used to say that, in his
"early years lie had heard it stated that some eighty or ninety
years previous, (probably about the commencement of the
eighteenth century) the Indians inhabiting the Islands
along the coast, and those on the main land, were of diff-
"erent tribes, and as the Islanders frequently visited the
"main for the purpose of hunting, a feud arose between the
two tribes, and those from the main having made an irrup-
tion into the Islands, their inhabitants were driven from
"island to island until they reached Key West. Here, as
they could flee no farther, they were compelled to risk a
final battle, which resulted in the almost entire extermina-
tion of the islanders. Only a few escaped, (and that by a
miracle, as they embarked in canoes upon the ocean) whose
descendants, it is said, were known to have been met with
in the Island of Cuba.
This sanguinary battle strewed this island with bones, as
"it is probable the conquerors tarried not to commit the
"bodies of the dead to the ground, hence the name of
" the Island Cayo Hueso (in Spanish 'Bone Island') which
" the English, with the same facility which enabled them to
" transform the name of the wine Xeres seco into Sherry
"sack,' corrupted into "Key West."
That the harbor of Key West was the occasional resort
"of pirates, has been proven by the evidence of many who
" were connected with them in their lawless depredations,
" and by the discovery of hidden articles, that could only
" have been secreted by them."
We are not left to conjecture that this island was known,
and resorted to by the Fishermen supplying the market of
Havana, years previous to the change of flags from Spain to
the United States. One of our most worthy citizens, who
I hope is within the sound of my voice on this Centennial
Jubilee, Captain John H. Geiger, a native of St. Augustine,
was a frequent visitor to the waters of our harbor, before
that interesting period in the history of our country.
"On the 26 August, 1815," continues Mr. Whitehead,
"for some military services rendered to the Government by
"Juan P. Salas, Don Juan- de Estrado, then Governor of
" Florida, granted to him the Island of Key West, but noth-
" ing was done by Salas in the way of settlement or improve-
" ment, and the Island bore the same wild aspect it had worn
" for ages, when, on the 20th of December, 1821, Salas sold
"his right, title and interest to John W. Simonton, then of
" Mobile, who met with Salas in Havana. Having heard of
"the advantageous situation and capacity of the harbor, etc.,
"Mr. Simonton was induced, from the certain prospect of
" improvement throughout the country, by the cession to the
' United States, which his mercantile experience led him to
"foresee must advance the interests of a settlement at this
" point, he consummated the purchase of the Island for the
"sum of Two thousand dollars, and, on the 19th of January,
"1822, he took possession.1
"Soon after making the purchase of the Island, Mr.
Simonton sold one undivided quarter of his interest to
John Warner and John Mountain,2 and two other quarters
"to John Whitehead and John W. C. Fleeming," also of
Mobile at that time. The interest of Messrs. Warner and
Mountain was soon after transferred to Pardon C. Greene,
SSee Appendix, Note A.
Personal friends of Mr, Simonton. The first was United States Consul, and
the other Commercial Agent of the United States at Havana.
3 See Appendix, Note B.
who became a permanent resident of the Island from that
Mr. Whitehead notices the remarkable connection of the
name "John with all those who figure prominently at that
time in the acquisition and settlement of the island,
-thus-" John de Estrada, the Spanish Governor of Florida,
granted the island to John P. Salas, who made a condi-
tional sale to John B. Strong, who conveyed his title, such
"as it was, to John W. Simonton. John W. Simonton hav-
ing secured the title of John P. Salas, disposed of a portion
of it to John Whitehead and John W. C. Fleeming,
John Warner and John Mountain, and John B. Strong
transferred his claim such as it was to John Geddes, who
having the countenance of the commander of a United
States Vessel in the harbor, effected a landing and took
"possession in April, 1822.' A suit at law was there-
upon commenced, and John W. Simonton engaged as his
counsel, John Rodman, and John Gadsden." This suit it
will not be improper to remark here, was finally terminated
by a compromise.
The Commissioners appointed under the Treaty of Cession
with Spain, having reported favorably upon the validity of
the grant to Salas, the same was confirmed by Congress thus
1See Appendix, Note C.
2 One of the legal documents connected with this claim, states, that the con-
sideration given for the island by Strong, in the first instance, was a small
sloop of about thirty-one tons burden, "called the Leopard of Glastenbury,"
for which he had paid $575. Strong's title proving imperfect, Salas, in order
to obtain the restoration of the island, conveyed to him five hundred acres of
a track at the "Big Spring, East Florida."
A Doctor Montgomery and George M. Geddes were in charge of the party
sent by John Geddes to take possession in his name. The-party consisted of
two carpenters and three negroes, with provisions and lumber to build a shed.
The Proprietors on the island were disposed to resist their proceedings, but a
Captain Hamersley, of the U. S. Schooner Revenge, having taken them under
his protection, they had to be satisfied with simply protesting. How long the
party remained on the island is not known.
settling perfectly and forever, all title to lands on the island
of Key West derived legally through John P. Salas, and
John W. Simonton.
It is remarkable that the successors of these numerous
Johns, upon seeking the name of a titular saint for ecclesias-
tical, purposes selected that of Paul. It may have been owing
to the fact that, St. Paul was more identified with islands and
the sea than was St. John.
A Territorial government having been established for
Florida in March, 1819, several persons from St. Augustine,
the Bahama Islands, South Carolina and other States of the
Union, repaired to this Island shortly after it was taken pos-
session of, and were hospitably received by the proprietors.
Building lots were given to some of them within that part of
the island intended to be laid out for a city. Among the
first settlers were Joseph C. Whalton and family; Michael
Mabrity and family, William W. Rigby and family, Antonio
Giraldo and family, Mr. Richard Fitzpatrick, and others.
On the 7th of February, 1822, Lieut. M. C. Perry, Com-
mander of the U. S. Schooner Shark, received orders to visit
and examine the island and harbor and to take possession as
part of the territory ceded by Spain; and on tlhe 25th of
March following, the interesting ceremony was witnessed by
the few residents, of raising a staff and displaying therefrom
the flag of the United States, while at the same time their
sovereignty over this and the neighboring islands was form-
ally proclaimed. Captain Perry named the island Thomp-
son's Island," and the harbor "Port Rodgers; the first in
honor of the then Secretary of the Navy, and the other after
Commodore Rodgers, the President of the Navy Board.
These cognomens according to the report of Commander
Perry, seem to have originated with him, and were in accord-
ance with the wishes of the Proprietors of the island, three
of whom were present,' but they have long ceased to be
1Warner, Fleeming and Whitehead.
used.' During the summer some officers and men were left
on the island, dwelling in tents.
In February, 1822, Captain L. T. Patterson and Lieut.
Tuttle, of the U. S. Navy, arrived with orders from the gov-
ernment to survey the coast and harbor, and they were soon
followed by various government vessels bringing stores and
materials, and by the end of the year the island was a regu-
larly constituted Naval Depot and station, under the command
of Commodore Porter. 2
The government of the United States since the early period
thus briefly reviewed, has made, by fits and starts, some pro-
gress in the military defences of the island; and, it is to be
regretted, oftener from the importunities of our congressmen
on mere party exigencies, than from any statesmanlike views
of the absolute necessity of such works in times of national
In 1824, a company of United States Marines was sta-
tioned here, and barracks erected for them, fronting upon the
harbor between Duval and Whitehead streets. These build-
ings stood in a dilapidated condition until about 1831, when
they were sold and removed.
In February 1831, Major James M. Glassel arrived in com-
mand of a detachment of two companies of Infantry, leading
to the purchase of about ten acres of land in the north
eastern section of the city, and the erection of buildings for
the accommodation of the troops. In 1844 these structures
were removed, and the present spacious and ornamental
buildings erected. They are, however, abandoned at this
time to the care of a citizen watchman, on the plea of appre-
Commodore Porter, subsequently, seemed disposed to distinguished the
settlement still further by dating his letters at "Allenton," but the title was
even shorter lived than the others.
SSee Appendix, Note D.
ended sickness, where no sickness exists to which the oldest
inhabitants are not liable.
In 1845, Fort Taylor was commenced, and so much of the
work as had been accomplished up to October, 1846, was, by
the disastrous hurricane of that year, washed away, together
with the light house on Whitehead's point. Another light
house was constructed a few years after, and stands on the
extended line of Whitehead street, a short distance south of
the line of the city.
The work on Fort Taylor, although interrupted, was not
suspended, and was so far completed as to be available for
garrison purposes from 1861 to 1865. At present it is unoc-
cupied, and is under the care of the Engineer Department.
In 1856, a United States Depot or store house was com-
menced, at the corner of Whitehead and Front streets,
contiguous to the Custom House. In April, 1857, when the
walls were ready to receive the roof, for want of an appropri-
ation by Congress, work on this building was suspended, and
so remained for several years, and at the outbreak of the
civil war was in this unfinished condition. Whether by design
or apathy, this strategic point in the defences of the nation
was unprovided with a single ton of coal for the use of the
navy, and the steamship "Atlantic," after conveying troops
for the relief of Fort Pickens, having touched at this port
for a supply, found none, and was compelled to sail to Havana
The incalculable advantages afforded by the experience of
the war, in having and holding this harbor as a naval depot
and rendezvous for the East Gulf Squadron, seems to have
faded from the minds of those charged with the welfare of
the nation. They have not heeded the wise suggestion of
General Washington, "In time of peace prepare for war."
After the commencement of the civil war, and during its
progress, a machine shop and foundry were erected because
indispensable to the operations of the East Gulf Blockading
Squadron in these waters; but these valuable works are now
occupied by land-crabs and other of the amphibious genus
Between the Custom House, and Fort Taylor, both adinir-
ably located for their respective uses, a Marine Hospital
was constructed in 1845. This building, well adapted for its
purposes, is nevertheless of comparatively small value to the
seamen for whose benefit it is ostensibly maintained, as they
are rigorously excluded by regulations, emanating from the
Treasury Department, in the event of being afflicted with
contagious or epidemic diseases contracted abroad. When
it is borne in mind that Marine Hospitals are erected
and maintained from a direct tax of forty cents per month
from the earnings of seamen, the exclusion from their benefits,
under such circumstances, is aggravated in its hardship by its
manifest injustice. The fact that the Hospital here is in
the immediate proximity of a thickly settled portion of
your city, should not be suffered to be mentioned as, an
excuse for these exclusions. If this fact necessitates the
exclusion, the present building need not be vacated or
demolished. The government should erect another, more
remote from the city, applicable to treatment of these exclu-
ded cases. To say, that it will increase expenditures or
diminish the fund, neither removes the stigma from the gov-
ernment, nor refunds to the distressed seaman his proportion
of this compulsory tax.
If I speak warmly on this subject, my excuse must be
found in the fact that, a portion of my early life was spent on
the ocean, and though fortunately escaping the necessity of
requiring treatment in any of these institutions, I necessarily
feel the hardships imposed upon a class with whom I was
once professionally associated;
Two Martello Towers and a sand Battery have been con-
structed on the Southern and Eastern beach of the island,
and another Sand Battery on the Southeastern side between
Fort Taylor and the Marine Hospital, The Towers were
commenced in 1861, and the Sand Batteries in 1873, and are
as yet unfinished.
We look to-day with aching eyes for the National flag on
Fortress or Cantonment. It is not to be seen, although the
Flag-staffs are visible to the naked eye, and we fail to hear
from either place the sound of booming cannon. Paymaster
Mellach, United States Navy, has attempted to atone for the
omission of the first, by a bounteous display of hunting over
and around the Naval Depot, and our patriotic fellow towns-
man, Captain Dixon whose collection of Marine and other
curiosities attracts so much attention, regales us with the
smell of gunpowder, and distracts our attention by the noise
of his four pounder.
COURTS AND JUDICIARY.
In 1828, a Territorial or Federal Court was established by
act of Congress, under the title of the "Supreme Court for
the Southern Judicial District of the Territory of Florida;" '
with Civil and Criminal Jurisdiction as well for offences
against the laws of the Territory of Florida, as of the United
States, and embracing admiralty and maritime jurisdiction,
thus superceding the jurisdiction of local inferior magistrates,
and special commissioners for the adjudication of questions
of salvage, arising out of the frequent wrecks occurring in
the vicinity. The establishment of this Court, the first term
of which commenced on November 3d, 1828, led to the immi-
gration hither of a large number of lawyers, but the business
of the Court not proving very extensive, the stay of most
of them was of limited duration.'
'Approved, May 23d, 1828. The district included that part of the Terri-
tory which lies north of a line from Indian River on the east, and Charlotte
Harbor on the west, including the latter harbor." The northern line of the
present district, runs due east from the northern part of Charlotte Harbor.
'Considerable amusement was excited at the time, by an announcement in the
newly established Register," of the arrival of a vessel from middle Florida,
with "an assorted cargo and seven lawyers," as if they had been imported in
James Webb, of Georgia, had the honor of being commis-
sioned as the first Judge of this Court in 1828; the appoint-
ment to the office being made by the President of the
United States, subject to the conirination of the Senate.
He retired from the office in April, 1838.' and was succeeded
by William Marvin in 1839, who occupied the bench of this
court until Florida was admitted as a state into the Union
in 1845, on the occurrence of which event, Isaac H. Bronson
was commissioned as Judge for the whole state. Judge
Marvin, however, was restored to the Bench in 1847, under a
new commission as Judge of the District Court of the United
States, for the Southern District of Florida, from which
office he also retired in 1863. Judge Marvin is at present
residing in the State of New York, and occasionally engages
in the practice of his profession ; chiefly in matters of Admir-
alty Jurisdiction, on which branch of the law while on the
bench, he wrote and published a work entitled, "A Treatise
on the Law of Wreck and Salvage," which has earned him
an enviable reputation.
It is but justice to this gentleman to say, that he occupies
to-day a high place in the esteem and regard of those of us,
who were his fellow citizens on this island during the many
years in which he occupied the bench, with so much honor to
himself, and the profession."
On the resignation of Judge Marvin, he was succeed
by Thomas J. Boynton, perhaps the youngest man ever
appointed to the bench of the United States. He in turn
resigned in consequence of impaired health, the result
Judge Webb removed to Texas, and for a time was Secretary of State in
that republic, prior to its admission into the Union.
SJudge Marvin's decided stand for the Union on the breaking out of the
Civil War, tended in a great measure to sustain the authority of the United
States at Key West. His services were fully recognized by the Government,
and for some time he held the important position of Provisional Governor of
of intense application to other sciences than that of his
profession. The resignation of Judge Boynton produced
the appointment of John H. McKinney, in 1871. With
melancholy feelings is the name of this gentleman -in-
troduced modest, dignified, urbane, diligent and learned, he
gave promise of much usefulness: alas! how short his judi-
cial career, leaving the island with the expressed intention of
removing his family hither for permanent settlement, he
failed to reach the city of New York alive; his death is
reported to have occurred just previous to the arrival of the
steamer, in which he was a passenger.
Of the present incumbent, James W. Locke, it would be
indelicate at this time to speak, further than to give expres-
sion to the hope that, when the judicial ermine falls from his
shoulders, it will be as unspotted as it now is and was, when
worn by his predecessors.'
The civil and criminal business before this Court is in-
considerable. Only three persons have been convicted of capi-
tal felonies during its existence, one of which occurred in
this city, and the others on the high seas, two were capitally
punished,' and the sentence of the other commuted to im-
prisonment for life. The Court is principally occupied in
matters of salvage connected with shipwrecks.
For purposes of municipal government, an act of the Leg-
islative Council of the Territory of Florida was obtained in
January, 1828, to incorporate the lla~d of Key West. No
copy of this Act is at present within reach, nor is it material
to the matter in hand, as in November of the same year it
SSee Appendix, Note E.
'-One of these cases was in the latter part of 1830. The culprit, an inoffen-
sive fellow ordinarily, who had killed a man in a drunken broil. had taken no
advantage of numberless opportunities for escaping, and on being asked why
he did not. replied that they wanted to hang some one for a pattern, and he
thought he would gratify them.'
was repealed by an Act to incorporate the Town of Key
West. This latter Act incorporates the free white inhabi-
tants of that part of the Island of Key West in the County
of Monroe, comprehended within the limits prescribed by
the plan of said Town, then on file in the Clerk's office of
said county, (which limits are at this day the same as they
were then, as delineated on the original map of the town) all
free white male persons over the age of twenty-one years, hav-
ing had a residence for three whole months within these
limits being qualified electors.
The government of the Town was vested in a person to be
called a President, and in a council to consist of six persons.
This President and Council were not only empowered to en-
force the laws of their own body, but also, all the Laws of
the Legislative Council of the Territory; and yet more
singular, their power to levy taxes was confined to taxing
and licensing Hawkers and Peddlers and transient traders,"
and to the levying of a "poll tax;" unless the power to levy
and collect other taxes shall be found in the other granted
powers,-" to provide for the interior police and good gov-
ernment of said town,"-a question which lawyers might
find pregnant with doubts. "ELpressio unius est exclusion
The members of the Town Council elected under this Act
of incorporation were, D. C. Pinkham, President, Pardon C.
Greene, B. B. Strobel, W. A. Whitehead, Joseph Cottrell, F.
A. Browne and G. E. Weaver, who elected for their officers
William H. Wall, Clerk, P. B. Prior, Marshal, H. S. Water-
The incorporated Town gave place to an incorporated City
in 1832. The Act of incorporation gave more general and
specific powers to the City authorities, especially in regard
to the subject of taxation, regulating and restraining the
retailing of spirituous liquors, etc.
Under this act of incorporation of the City (proper) the
first evidence of a valuation of real estate is to be found
for purposes of taxation. The assessed value of all the real
estate in the City at that time amounted to $65,923.75; the
improved portion was assessed at $61,005,00; the unimproved,
at the rate of $25. per acre, $3,918.75.
No power of taxation on personal property was given by
this charter, and consequently no tax upon it was assessed or
collected. The total amount of taxes collected on this assess-
ment of real estate was $329.61. The number of buildings
within the City at that time (1832) was 81, including sheds for
storage of wrecked cotton, and other articles, blacksmiths'
shops, etc. The two principal buildings were the warehouses of
Pardon C. Greene, and Fielding A. Browne; the assessed
value of each, $6,000, including the lands and wharf prop-
erty. In 1835 this charter was revoked, and in 1836 renewed
and, as amended in 1838, lasted during our Territorial exis-
The last charter (in 1846, under the State administration)
continued to be the protection of the well disposed, and the
restraint of those otherwise disposed, during the period of the
unhappy civil war until in 1869, when it was superceded by
a general law of the legislature enacted under the provisions
of the present state constitution, which requires laws of this
character to be general; constructing a procrustean bed upon
which the infant or the giant must of necessity lie.
From 1832 the date of the first charter as a city, until the
present, (1876,) the following named individuals have success-
ively been elected to the office of Mayor: Oliver O'Hara,
Fielding A. Browne, William A. Whitehead, Thomas
Socarty,' William C. Green, P. J. Fontane, Alex. Patterson,
Benjamin Sawyer, W. C. Maloney, F. J. Moreno, John P.
Baldwin, John W. Porter, William Curry, P. J. Fontand,
Alex. Patterson, Benjamin Sawyer, John P. Baldwin, Wm.
'So called, but his signature reads Tomaso Sacheci Ti. He was elected by
those who wished to nullify the then existing Charter by casting ridicule upon
the office, and for a time they were successful-discord and misrule prevailed.
Marvin, A. Patterson, E. O. Gwynn, W. S. Allen, Dr. W.
Whitehurst, Henry Mulrenon, J. B. Browne, W. D. Cash,
Winer Bethel, E. 0. Gwynn and C. M. de Cespedes now in
The returns for the election of the first mayor show a total
vote of 39 ballots. The last total vote was 754 for the same
office. The total population of the Town in 1831 is recorded
at 300.1 At the present time it is ascertained to be 12,733.
With such a population representing almost all nations,
peoples, and tongues, we may safely challenge the world for
morality and observance of law. At the present time, (and
the present reflects tre past in this particular at least,) our
Jail is comparatively tenantless; the number of the Jailor's
family being almost, if not quite, as large as those occupying
the building as prisoners, the latter numbering only six.
The names of the former mayors who survive are, William
A. Whitehead, William Marvin, W. C. Maloney, F. J. Moreno,
William Curry, E. O. Gwynn, J. B. Browne, W. S. Allen,
W. D. Cash, Winer Bethel.
The office of Mayor, (allow me to say, my friends, for
I speak from experience) has never been a bed of roses
to the incumbent. The language of the poet most fitly
illustrates its character;
"Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown." 2
Key West derives its importance in the commercial world
First. Its geographical position, it being the extreme
southern point of the United States;
1 In 1835, Mr. Whitehead estimated the population at 600. If my recollec-
tion is correct, an enumeration of the inhabitants was taken in 1835, which
gave the total resident population as 582, including black, white and all other
colors, lame, lazy and blind.
SSee Appendix, Note F.
Second. For its capacious harbor, the great depth of water
over its bar and the ease of ingress and egress to and from its
outer and inner roadsteads, and
Third. From its affording, as has been already stated,
such ready protection to her shipping, naval and otherwise,
in time of war and stress of weather.
From these considerations, and other facts and statistical
information which I shall proceed to introduce, we claim for
Key West that it is the Commercial Emporium of the State
By special legislation, the President was authorized to
establish a Custom House at Key West in 1822. A Col-
lector and other officers were appointed, and the following
year a revenue cutter was attached to the port; but not until
1828 was a collection district regularly established for South
Florida. Key West was constituted the Port of Entry, which
it continues to be at the present time.'
There are no detailed statistics at hand prior to 1831, but
from that year to 1835, we are indebted to a report from
Mr. William A. Whitehead, of the number of Vessels entered
and cleared and the amount of Imports and.Exports during
that period, as follows:
1831 1832 1833 1834 1835
American Vessels Entered, 268 283 201 297 321
Foreign Vessels Entered, 22 20 10 16 10
of these there were
1831 1832 1833 1834 1833
From American Ports, 118 141 106 135 158
From Foreign Ports, 172 162 105 178 173
1831 1832 1833 1834 1835
American Vessels, Cleared 261 256 205 249 248
Foreign Vessels, Cleared 21 15 11 15 12
'See Appendix, Note G.
of these there were
1831 1832 1833 1834 1835
For American Ports, 124 94 110 81 89
For Foreign Ports, 158 177 106 183 171
VALUE OF IMPORTS FROM FOREIGN PORTS.
1831 1832 1833 1834 1835
$67,863. $108,778. $39,024. $107,856. $27,657.
1831 1832 1833 1834 1835
$35,152. $63,943. $35,138. $86,947. $27,657.
"To the amount of Exports should be added annually,"
says Mr. Whitehead, "from fifteen to twenty thousand dol-
lars, the proceeds of live fish caught within the district, for
foreign markets, principally that of Havana, which amounts,
it should be borne in mind, do not enter into the Custom
"The revenues of the Custom House at this port show an
average of about $45,000 annually from 1828 to 1832; 1835
Want of time as well as lack of sufficient statistical com-
piled data, compels me to pass over the intervening years
down to 1874. And notwithstanding the City of Charles-
ton, S. C., and the City of Savannah, Ga. are to-day cel-
ebrating their Centennial as Cities, and we barely more than
a Semi-Cetennial, the figures given from the Report of the
" Bureau of Statistics of Commerce and Navigation for the
year 1874, will tend to show the gratifying progress of our
City in Commerce and Navigation.
The comparative number of entrances into .these several
collection districts from foreign countries was as follows:
AMERICAN AMER. OCEAN FOR. OCEAN
VESSELS. STEAMERS. STEAMERS.
Charleston, S. C.,............ 52 1 9
Savannah, Ga.,.............. 71 0 10
Mobile, Ala.,................. 44 0 2
St. John's, Fla.,.............. 46 0 0
Key West, Fla.,............. 301 63 10
For the year ending June 30th, 1876, the total numbers of
arrivals and clearances at Key West, as shown by the Cus-
tom House Records, are as follows:
Steamers...... ... ............ .... 153
Schooners................ ........ 66
Barks ..................... ............. 2
Brigs.. ....... ...................... 5
Ships ...................... .. ...... ... 1
Total,....... ....... 227
Steamers.............. .. ....... ...... 52
Sloops........................ ........ 26
Barks................................ .. 12
Brigs................ .............. 7
Ships............... ................ 2
The Amount of Dutiable goods imported into this
District in 1874,........ ............... $641,335.00
Free of Duty. ......... .............. 19,077.00
Making the Total importation, ..................... $660,432.00
PENSACOLA imported (same time),.............. 23,964.00
ST. JOHN'S (JACKSONVILLE)............. .........0.00
Amount of Duties paid into the Custom House for the
past three years, ending June, on Imports,
1874,................................ ... $222,371.35
Tonnage Dues................................. 2,520.83
Hospital Dues............................. .. 2,728.51
Total 1874 ............... $227,620.72
For 1875,,............ ................. $297,238.96
For 1876,.................. ............... 245,514.73
Other Commercial Statistics are given in the Appendix.'
SSee Appendix, Note H.
Prior to 1853, all vessels needing repairs, or cleaning, were
hove-down by means of tackles at one of the wharves in the
city, or banked on some sand bar to allow the scrubbing off
of the moss which generally gathers on the bottom of a
vessel. Although no serious accident has resulted to any
vessel from the use of the first method, it is notwithstanding
regarded as hazardous, and creates no little uneasiness to the
master, inasmuch as tardiness or mischance in righting up,
in the event of a sudden squall of wind might endanger the
masts of the vessel. It is also attended with expense by
obliging the crew to live on shore and in keeping the vessel
free of water by use of the pumps, and can never be resorted
to in the case of steam boats, which within a few years have
almost monopolized the domestic carrying trade of the gulf.
In March 1853, Messrs. Browne and Curry, merchants of
this city, caused to be constructed a Marine Railway for the
better convenience of commerce. This railway has been in
constant operation to the present time. The number of ves-
sels taken up on these ways has been 2,277; the largest vessel
was of 519 tons.
The power and strength of the ways are considered as
sufficient for taking up vessels of much larger size; the ob-
stacle lies in the insufficiency of water to admit the entrance
of a vessel drawing over eight feet forward.
The valuable unoccupied water front which affords a depth
of water of twenty feet, will, it is to be hoped, at some time
not far distant, supply a much needed desideratum to the
operations of commerce in a "screw," or dry dock."
Facilities in aid of commerce of such character as these,
are of public as well as private benefit, in reducing freights
and insurance, and as a consequence reducing the price of
necessary articles for consumption.
The original proprietors and first settlers of Key West
considered the manufacture of salt as the most probable
means of making it known in the commercial world. Small
quantities had been gathered from the natural salt pond in
the interior, without any special facilities, and that portion
of the island was regarded as destined to be the source of
future wealth to any enterprising individuals who might un-
dertake to turn its advantages to account. The resident pro-
prietors, however, were not themselves possessed of sufficient
capital, beyond the requirements of their commercial under-
takings, to engage in the business. Consequently the first
regular attempt at the manufacture, was not made until 1830.
Mr. Richard Fitzpatrick, of South Carolina, then a resident
on the island, leased that year the Whitehead interest in the
pond. An intelligent, educated colored man named Hart,
was brought from the Bahamas and placed in charge of the
works, but notwithstanding that several seasons promised
favorable results,' they were never realized, partly, as was
thought at the time, from the demand for labor around the
wharves in the town, at high rates, drawing off the hands.
Prompt returns therefrom, very naturally inducing tlhe mas-
ter to disregard future prospects for present realization from
the labor of his slaves. Mr. Fitzpatrick abandoned his works
in 1834. The reduction of the duty on salt soon after he
commenced operations, had some effect probably in produc-
ing this result, but at one time he had over thirty hands em-
The next attempt was made under the auspices of the "La
Fayette Salt Company," organized through the exertions of
Mr. Simonton; the principal stockholders being residents of
Mobile and New Orleans. Operations were commenced early
in 1835, but success was not achieved, and their works passed
'In the summer of 1832, the prospect was thought good for 60.000 bushels,
but they were all lost.
in a few years into the hands of another company, Messrs.
Adam Gordon, F. A. Browne and Wim. H. Wall being among
the stockholders; and subsequently, about 1843, Charles Howe
obtained the controlling interest, and after the hurricane of
1846, became the sole proprietor. In 1850 the crop amounted
to thirty-five thousand bushels, and Mr. Howe was encouraged
to enlarge his works by the purchase of the Whitehead portion
of the pond, which had been abandoned by Mr. Fitzpatrick;
and in 1851 sold half of his interest to W. C. Dennis, to whom
the management of the works was entrusted. The amount of
salt produced annually, varied materially, ranging from
fifteen to twenty thousand bushels to seventy-five thousand,
the largest crop raked in any one year. Mr. Dennis contin-
ued the manufacture until his death, which occurred in 1854.
During the Civil War, the manufacture of salt on the island
was suspended, in consequence of one of the principal sources
of demand-the Charlotte Harbor fisheries-having been cut
off; the military authorities being apprehensive that the salt
furnished to them would find its way into the Confederacy.
The fisheries at Charlotte Harbor were established many years
before the settlement of the island, and at the present time
consume from ten to fifteen thousand bushels of salt an-
In 1865, Mr. W. R. Livermore, a lieutenant in the U. S.
Engineer Corps, purchased the works and commenced the
manufacture, but after spending a large amount of money in
the prosecution of the business, was unsuccessful; and in 1871,
the works passed into the hands of Messrs. C. and E. Howe,
who are now the owners.
I know that I shall astonish some of my hearers, when I
state that the Custom House records exhibit the fact, that in
that year (1871), there was imported into.this city for the con-
sumption of our fisheries, 1,028,279 lbs., nearly 14,000 bushels,
of foreign salt. Those directly engaged in the fisheries in
our county, know the fact as well as the merchants who im-
ported it. The calt ponds of this island, capable of producing
seventy-five thousand bushels, or 5,700,000 lbs. per annum were
idle during that year, while the fish were in great abundance.
Mr. Livermore's want of success was in a great measure due
to the enforced substitution of free labor. No place in the
South, at the time of emancipation, had a better class of ne-
groes than Key West, and as a general thing their behavior
under the circumstances, was such as entitled them to words
of gratifying commendation. It was not to be expected that
those who had, previously, generally labored from no other
motive than fear of punishment, having the boon of freedom
thrust upon them,-accompanied by teachings of bold, bad
men, of further privileges to be acquired, by some means, with-
out labor-should ever become useful to themselves or
others. There has been a large immigration of colored per-
sons from the Bahamas, within the last four years, and while
the statistician may rejoice over the number thus added to
the population, the philanthropist and moralist must be moved
with compassion on witnessing the approaches to degradation
and vice which are apparent.
As the season for raking salt is limited, generally to a few
weeks, tihe present operators employ temporary laborers, each
man raking up and wheeling out from sixty to seventy bushels
per day. For much of the time since the manufacture com-
menced, foreign salt has been free of duty, effecting preju-
dicially the result of the home producers. That impediment
to success, however, has not existed for some years, but still
the manufacture of salt falls far short of the anticipation of
the early settlers on the island.1
The remark was made a few days ago in my presence that
no single industrial pursuit in this city had acquired such
rapid growth and dimensions as the manufacture of segars.
This is only partially true, for this particular manufacture of
Key West, has a history dating back many years.
1 See Appendix, Note I.
We find as early as 1831, an advertisement in the Key
West Gazette," by W. H. Wall, of the establishment of a
segar factory by himself. This factory employed about fifty
operatives, and exported segars. It was located in the rear of
what is now known as the St. James Hotel, between Duval
and Fitzpatrick streets, and was eventually destroyed by
Estava and Williams, in 1837 and 1838, also operated a
factory in which sixteen men were employed, and made ship-
ments to New York. Communication between New York
and this island, it will be borne in mind, was exceedingly irreg-
ular and uncertain at that date, being dependent, chiefly.
upon vessels going north with cotton from St. Marks or other
gulf ports, and often the long time elapsing between oppor-
tunities worked serious injury to the business.
Odet Phillippe and Shubael Brown, also engaged in this
business with a force of six men, about the same time.
The Arnan Brothers, Francisco and James, as far back as
1834, down to the time of the death of both, were constantly
employed in the manufacture, and in 1838 were joined by
Albert, another brother. They did not aspire however beyond
Messrs. Francisco Sintas, Manuel Farino and E. O. Gwynn,
also at different times, and for short periods, were engaged in
the business, so that you will observe that tie growth of this
industrial pursuit has been otherwise than rapid. The dimen-
sions which it has acquired, however, are truly gratifying. At
present the number of factories is twenty-nine, giving em-
ployment to about 2,100 persons in our city. The average
daily product of these factories is estimated at 171,000, or
The amount disbursed by these factories for labor alone in
our city, may be stated within bounds to be one million of
dollars annually. Three of these factories, employ over
1,500 hands. The factory "La Rosa Espanola employ over
600, and is owned by Messrs. Seidenburg and Company. The
"Principe de Gales," Mr. Martinez Ybor, proprietor, employs
over 400. The "Club de Yate," (intended for The Yacht
Olub,) Messrs. McFall and Lawson, employ 100. These are the
leading houses, importing the best quality of Cuba wrappers
and fillers, and employing skilled Havana workmen ; many
of these workmen earn from forty to fifty dollars per week,
and the segar packers as high as sixty dollars per week.
The growth of the business of late years may be considered
as due, in a great measure, to the immigration from Cuba,
which commenced about 1872, growing out of the political
commotions in that island.
The revenues of the city paid into its own Treasury, the
Customs revenue and Internal taxes paid into thie Treasury of
the United States, as well as the revenues paid into the
Treasury of the State and County, from the property and
business of this city, confirm its claim to be, considered the
Commercial Emporium of the State of Florida.
To be as brief as possible, I will give only the revenues of
the City for certain years.
In 1831, $1,300. 1870, $ 5,300.
1860, $2,900. 1875, $11,728.
Up to 1829, the island had been l.eld in common by the
four proprietors, Messrs. Siionton, Greene, Fleeming and
John Whitehead. In that year it was surveyed and divided
among these gentlemen according to their several interests;
the drawing for the separate lots and tracts of land taking
place under the supervision of William A. Whitehead.
In 1831, we find the population of the city to have been
about 300, and by the United States census returns, that in
1850 it was 2,367; in 1860, 2,832; and in 1870, 5,016. At
the present time it is over 12,000 as has been before stated.
The estimated value of property in the city in 1831, was
$65,923, as assessed for taxable purposes. In 1875, it was
$1,505,720; showing an increase of values amounting to
over one million four hundred thousand dollars.
In 1831, we paid city taxes to the amount of $1,300. In
1875, we paid $11,728; showing an increase of ten thousand
four hundred and twenty-eight dollars.'
The amount of County and State taxes raised from this
city in its earlier years cannot be ascertained; but in .1873,
the amount levied in this city for county purposes was
$10,807, exclusive of auction taxes. In 1874, the amount
of taxes levied on this city for state purposes was $18,500;
for county purposes, $16,300.
These amounts do not embrace the State and County
auction tax, which in 1874, as appears by the Comptroller's
report, was $1,796 from the entire state; of which amount
Key West paid $1,654.
In 1875, the amount of taxes levied on this city for state
purposes was $19,346; for county purposes, $16,253.00.
For Internal Revenue to the United States, this city paid,
For th.e year ending June 30th, 1872.. $ 75,800.00
S" 1874. 110,165.32
S" -1875.. 164,870.48
"' 1876.. 192,035.80
It is estimated that the receipts from this source for the
year 1877, will be $225,000;. an amount not only larger
than is paid by any other city in the State, but more than is
paid by all the other cities in the State put together.
The yearly average amount of money for money orders
SIt is worthy of remark that a portion of the amount thus raised, was
from a license-tax on from twenty to twenty-five small carts, drawn by single
goats, and driven by boys from eight to twelve years of age-used for the
transportation of light articles from point to point in the city. It is doubtful if
such a source of revenue exists in any other place in the United States.
issued at this Post Office, is $133,343; amount received
for stamps and postage for year ending March 31st, 1876,
Let me pray you to possess your souls in peace my fellow
citizens, or those of you who rise in the morning and retire
in the evening with the ever enduring cry, the mail steamer
is not yet in sig ,t." How enviable seems your case to-day
to those of us who remember the postal facilities of forty
The first P1ost O(ffice was established in February, 1829, and
the first contract for mail service was awarded to the owners
of a small sailing vessel called "-The Post Boy," of about ten
tons, to be performed mrfonthly between Charleston and this
city. My old friend, Captain David Cole (now deceased), with
all the advantages of good seamanship, knowledge of the
coast, and superior education, was in command of this vessel,
but for some ever good reason, the monthly trips generally
consumed nearer fifty days than thirty. Cape Canaveral
was to be doubled in the route, and never did the mariner
scan the clouds in the effort to double Cape Horn with more
solicitude than did this worthy skipper to effect the same
result at C(ape Canaveral, but from far different motives; the
one being proverbial for its storms, the other for its calms.
Fretting did not bring the vessel any sooner than the winds
and the current would permit.
The mails were brought then with regular irregularity, as
they are to-day, only a little more so, still some of us sur-
vive the calamity, even at this distance of time. When they
did arrive every body knew it. He who was not certain
that his expected letter would be prepaid by his corres-
pondent, put a quarter (twenty-five cents) in his pocket to
satisfy good old "Uncle Sam," for the cost of transportation
-for that was the rate per letter at the time I speak of-and
were you of the finer mould of clay, and patronized a news-
paper, five cents more would put you all right with the Post
Master, for this then enviable means of information that other
nations existed beside Key West.
For part of the time in 1833, there was only one regular
mail per month, and that via. St. Marks; but this inconven-
ient arrangement did not last long, a semi-monthly mail
being established from Charleston; and about 1835, Messrs.
Lord and Stocker of Charleston, obtained the contract, and a
better class of vessels served on the route.
About 1848, Messrs. Mordecai and Company of Charleston,
were contractors for this line, on which they placed a remark-
ably fast and comfortable steamer called "Isabel," of about
eleven hundred tons. The service was continued by this
steamer until the commencement of the civil war. At the
same time we were supplied with mails from New Orleans
via. St. Marks and gulf ports, by a line of steamers owned in
New York by Messrs. Morgan and Company, up to the same
During the time of service of the steamers before men-
tioned, one could calculate with some certainty on the day,
if not the hour, of their arrival.
We have now a line of very fine steamers, owned by
Messrs. Mallory and Company, large, safe and comfortable,
which provide us with mails weekly, and as a general thing,
their arrival from New York may be looked for each Thurs-
day P. M. These vessels on their departure, which is a few
hours after arrival, convey our western mail matter to Gal-
A line between Cedar Keys ;ind this place has been in ex-
istence for. twelve years past, supplied by steam vessels. It
has been in the hands of several contractors, who, it is believed,
have made no money under the contract; but who if objur-
gations could fatten, might rival the obesity of a Daniel Lam-
bert. They contract, it is said; for the performance of a
weekly service. It might be to our advantage to cause the
contract to be examined, for the purpose of ascertaining
whether the stipulation is for a weekly or weakly service. True,
we get our letters for only three cents now, and our papers for
two cents, and it is quite probable we shall soon get them for
less. The cash down principle works well. You not only
pay as you go, but pay before you go by way of correspondence.
How great cause for happiness, indeed, have our young
people to-day with these advantages, superadded to which is
the correspondence by means of electricity. Is the subject
Love, Marriage or other business, post you to the telegraph
office on Greene street, near Fitzpatrick street, and the gen-
tlemanly operator will transmit your every thought and ex-
pression over the apparently silent wire, lying on the bottom
of the ocean, a hundred fathoms or more below its surface.
The Inter-Ocean Telegraph Company, in 1867, com-
menced to lay their sub-marine line of telegraph cable from
this island to the island of Cuba, and another to Punta Rassa,
the former a distance of ninety-seven miles, and the latter of
one hundred and twenty-three miles, connecting it by a line
of wires three hundred and fifty miles on the main land, with
the Western Union Telegraph Company. This places us in
connection with the West.Indies via Jamaica, and the nations
of the old world via New York, and the Atlantic Cable via
Thus, you see, living as we do on an island in the sea, we
possess advantages which those great men whose names to-day
inspire thoughts leading to devotion, did not dream of, much
less enjoy. Nevertheless, it is their work. Of the tree of
Liberty, planted by them one hundred years ago, we gather
the fruit to-day. The silken cord attached to the kite flown
in the air by Benjamin Franklin, in the fields near tile city
of Paris, in France, aided by the ingenuity and skill of a
Morse, has furnished the happy opportunity of sending greet.
ings to our fellow citizens assembled in Independence Hall in
Philadelphia, as rapidly as the words can escape the lips,
and before the echo has passed away.'
SSee Appendix, Note J.
For several years the inhabitants of Key West, held public
religious services, in what is now known as the County Court
House. The occasions were few, as only when some clergy-
man might be transiently on the island, on his way to or from
some other place, did an opportunity offer to engage in them.
In March, 1831, by a resolution of the Town Council proposed
by Mr. William A. Whitehead, a public meeting of the citi-
zens was called for the purpose of adopting measures for
obtaining the services of a clergyman, and the establishment
of a school. The accession of several ladies of education
and refinement to the society of the island, by the arrival of
the families of several judicial and military officers, had
worked a considerable change in the manners and customs of
the place, so that the movement was made under more favor-
able auspices than had previously existed.1
It is unnecessary to go through the particulars which, after
a delay of many months, led to the formation of the first
Protestant Episcopal congregation in this city-that being
the denomination that pioneered the way to our. present
ecclesiastical status. Suffice it to say that the entire church
desiring portion of the population, however differently
trained in matters of ritual, peculiarities of religious dog-
mas, and sectarian prejudices, united for purposes of public
devotion, under the name of the Protestant Episcopal Church.
A large number of the residents were attached to that com-
munion, and all others accorded to it their second choice, as
their own preference could not then be gratified.
It may be interesting to many of my hearers, to learn the
names of the gentlemen who first enrolled themselves for the
'See Appendix, Note K.
very commendable purpose of forming a congregation, in the
year 1832. The act of association being signed on Christmas
day, after morning service by the Rev. S. K. Brunot, who
had arrived not long before and
S WM. A. WHITEHEAD,
DAVID C. PINKHAM,
FIELDING A. BROWNE,
A. H. DAY,
JOHN W. SIMONTON,
WILLIAM H. SHAW,
J. R. WESTERN,
WILLIAM H. WALL,
L. A. EDMONSTON,
been placed in charge of the
HENRY K. NEWCOMB.
FRANCIS D. NEWCOMB,
HENRY S. WATERHOUSE,
AMOS C. TIFT,
E. VAN EVOUR.
PARDON C. GREENE.
GEORGE E. WEAVER,
PHILIP J. FONTANA,
JOHN J. SANDS,
STEPHEN R. MALLORY,
CHARLES M. WELLS,
JOHN P. BALDWIN.
That winter, an Act of Legislature was obtained, incorpor-
ating this congregation under the name of St. Paul's
Protestant Episcopal Church." The Rev. Mr. Brunot was
from Pittsburg, Pa. He was only twenty-four years of age,
and had not been long in the ministry. Being apprehensive,
that he might become, like many of his family, a victim to
consumption, if he continued a resident of the colder climate
of the northern states, he determined to commence his servi-
ces at Key West. He was warmly welcomed, and became
the guest of Mr. William A. Whitehead; but his health soon
began to fail. After officiating only a few times, frequent
hemorrhages put a stop effectually to further public services.
In November, 1832, a Sunday-school was commenced, which
in January, 1833, had between fifty and sixty children in
attendance. Mr. Brunot left the island for Pittsburgh in
May, 1833. and died soon after his arrival there in June.
There were frequent vacancies in the Rectorship thereafter,
between the departure of one and the arrival of another
clergyman, during some of which, attempts were made to
keep up the interest of the congregation, by having Lay-
readers and a Sunday-school.
The following clergymen were in charge of the church
during the periods named, Rev. Alvah Bennett of New York,
from the Autumn of 1834, to April, 1835; Rev. Robert Dyce
of Scotland, from August, 1836 to 1840: Rev. Gabriel Ford of
New Jersey, 1840 to 1841; Rev. Mr. Hanson, succeeded him,
and the Rev. C. C. Adams had charge from 1846 to March,
1855. When he left, there were one hundred and two com-
municants, and between thirty and forty candidates for
confirmation. Subsequently, among others, were the Rev.
O. E. Herrick, for some time, prior to 1871, and the Rev.
John Reuther, in 1873. The gentleman who now holds the
relation of Rector to that Church, the Rev. J. L. Steele, D.D.,
is before you officiating on this occasion.
Happy the man whose mind ordains,
Good works his hands to do;
[ie on this earth reward obtains
And marches heavenward too."
The site for the erection of the Church was the free gift
of the widow of Mr. Fleeming, before spoken of, one of the
original proprietors of the island.
A lime stone church was erected on the corner of Eaton
and Duval streets in 1840 '-which was totally destroyed by
the memorable hurricane of 1846; and in 1847, the present
wooden edifice was erected.
The membership at the present time is six hundred and
forty. Number of Sunday-school children, three hundred and
seventy. Teachers, forty.
1It cost $6,500, and its dimensions were thirty -six feet by fo-tv-six feet, and
twenty-two feet high. It was finished in March, 1841, and contained thirty-six
pews and a gallery at one end.
During the latter part of the last year, another Protestant
Episcopal Congregation has been organized under the name
of St. Peter's Protestant Episcopal Church. This society
numbers about one hundred, with a Sunday-school attend-
ance of forty pupils. It is composed of the colored members
of the Protestant Episcopal Church. At present they wor-
ship in the Douglass school house on Jackson Square, and
the services are conducted by the Rev. Dr. Steele.
There is also connected with the Protestant Episcopal
Church of this city, a Cuban Mission, organized among the
Cuban inhabitants through the zealous labors of the same
clergyman. The individual membership has not been fully
ascertained, as they are enrolled chiefly as families,-eighty
in number. A Sunday-school for the children has not yet
been organized, but it is in a fair way to be established.
Mr. J. B. Baez, a Cuban gentleman, is the Lay-reader to this
Among the many very worthy persons who came among
us in the year 1837, may be specially named one, who though
dead, still lives in the sacred regards of his contemporaries.
I allude to Mr. Samuel Kemp. This gentleman, good and
pious, worshipped with those of us who resorted to the Court
House for that purpose, for some time; but soon after erected
at his own expense (assisted in the labor by some of his
neighbors who were mechanics) a small building for public
worship, on land owned by himself, immediately opposite the
present residence of Dr. Harris, on Caroline street near
Grinnell. This was the first place of public worship in which
the denomination known as Wesleyan Methodists," congre-
gated in this city; and which gave rise to all the others.
Father Kemp," as he was usually called from reason of
his advanced age, and his somewhat clerical demeanor, offici-
ated as the pastor of this small congregation, and was often
assisted in the devotional exercises of his church, or chapel,
by Captain Ogden, of the United States army, stationed here
at the time.
The congregation becoming too numerous to be accom-
modated in this small building, a large one was erected
on the lot on Caroline street, on which stands at present, the
house occupied by Mr. William Weatherford, between Simon-
ton and Elizabeth streets; this, in its turn, becoming too
uncomfortably filled, produced the necessity for another loca-
tion, which was happily supplied by Mr. William C. Greene,
who presented the congregation with the lot on which now
stands the present house of worship, known as the First Meth-
odist Episcopal Church, at the corner of Eaton and Simonton
It was the intention of the members of this congregation
to have a stone building for its use, and this intention was so
far carried into effect as to erect the four walls; but the
hurricane of 1846 levelled them to the ground. Simon Peter
Richardson, the minister then in charge, was not the man to
sit down and weep long over this great calamity. He took
ship, and making his and our distresses known, secured funds
to erect the present church. The building has, however, been
lengthened, and is now forty by sixty feet, and will seat com-
fortably eight hundred persons.
Its membership in 1872, was sixty-eight. Its present mem-
bership is two hundred and fifty-three,-forty-six of whom
are Cubans. The number of its Sabbath-school scholars is
three hundred and twenty. Teachers, twenty-seven. The
present Pastor is the Rev. C. A. Fulwood.
The first African Methodist Episcopal Church on the
Island is situated on Whitehead street extended, just outside
the present city limits. Its erection is principally due to the
energy of Sandy Cornish and Cataline Simmons, both col-
ored men; the former since dead, the latter now in charge of
a church in the city of Jacksonville, where he is highly
respected by all the principal citizens of that place. This
church was erected in 1865, and there being no ordained col-
ored minister here at that time, services were chiefly conduc-
ted by Sandy and Cataline. Its membership is about three
hundred. Sunday-school scholars, one hundred and forty-five.
Present minister Rev. Thomas Darley. This Church now
bears the name, Zion African Methodist Episcopal Church."
In 1860, a portion of ttion of thecore ion of the "First
Methodist Episcopal Church South,"? discontinuing their con-
nection with that church, organized- themselves into a society
under the name of "Sparks' Chapel," and Rev. J. 0. A.
Sparks became the first regular pastor.
At the time of its organization it numbered eighty-seven
members, with a Sabbath-school attendance of tfoty children.
It now numbers one hundred and ninety-eight members, with
a Sabbath-school of one hundred and fifty pupils. The
church is situated at the corner of Fleeming and William
streets. Present pastor, Rev W. R. Johnson.
There is also a congregation of colored Methodists known
as "African Methodist Episcopal, of the Bethel Connection,"
under the care of the Rev. B. W. Roberts. The Church is
situated on Duval street, and was built principally through
the exertions of the Rev. Allen Dean, (colored) in 1870.
Its present membership is one hundred and seventy-three.
Sabbath-school scholars, forty.
The Missionary Baptist Church on Eaton street, between
Simonton and Duval streets, under the charge of the Rev.
Mr. Tripp, was erected in 1S48. Present membership,
seventy. Sabbath-school scholars, thirty. Rev. C. S. Rey-
nolds, is the pastor.
A portion of the colored population of the city of this
denomination, preferring to worship in a church under their
exclusive control, caused to be erected in 1870, the present
edifice on Thomas street extended, beyond the city limits.
which is now under the pastoral charge of Rev. Albert Lewis.
Its membership is about one hundred. Number of children
attending the Sabbath-school, ninety-three.
THE ROMAN CATHOLICS.
Previous to 1845, the visits of a Roman Catholic Priest
seldom occurred. About that time, however, Rev. Father
Corcoran came to the city, and occasionally celebrated mass
in the then City Hall at the foot of Duval street The Roman
Catholic families at that time were not more than fifteen;
numbering, probably, not more than one hundred persons.
Between 1850 and 1852, a church was erected, and still stands
on Duval Street, between Eaton and Fleeming Streets. In
1852, this church was consecrated by the Right Rev. Father
Gartland, Bishop of Savannah; the dedication sermon being
preached by the Rev. Dr. Cumming. The Church is known
by the name of St. Mary's Star of the Sea."
The Roman Catholic population had but little increased at
that time in numbers, but considerably in wealth. In 1870,
the church was repaired and enlarged to its present size, for
the better accommodation of the very large addition to the
population of the city from Cuban immigration, the majority of
whom are of the Roman Catholic Faith. The number of
American origin may be estimated at one thousand, and of
Cuban and of other foreign countries, four thousand. The
number of Sunday-school children two hundred and fifty.
The church is at present supplied with two clergymen;
Rev. Father La Rocque Pastor, assisted by Rev. Father Ber-
Thus, my friends, from the pious forethought of the thirty
gentlemen whose names to-day survive the mortal frames of
almost all of them, the gratifying picture of the ecclesiastical
portion of the history of your city is presented; and well may
the two survivors of that highly privileged number, (Messrs.
Whitehead and Watlington) view with pride the fruits spring-
ing from that grain of mustard seed sown by their hands.
The numerous Benevolent Societies which exist in our city,
constitute one of its marked features.
The Free and Accepted Masons," first in point of time,
organized in this city January 31st, 1844, with eight members.
It consists to-day of one hundred and fifty members. An
organization known as the Sons of Temperance," existed in
1845, and continued in existence until 1862. Francis Wat-
lington and Joseph C. Whalton, Senior, were prominent in
bringing this society into existence. It effected much good,
and many live to-day to acknowledge its advantages to indi-
viduals, and to society at large.
In 1868, another society known as Island Royal Arch
Chapter, No. 21," was organized, and now numbers fifty; in
1870, the "Munroe Council, No. 4," now numbering thirty-
two; and in 1872 the the Baron Commandery," which now
The same year another society was organized under the
name of "Dr. Felix Varela Lodge, No. 64," composed of
Cuban residents, which now numbers fifty-five.
Of the "Independent Order of Odd Fellows," the Key
West Lodge, No. 13," with a present membership of sixty,
was organized 1872. The Key West Encampment, No. 5,"
organized July 4, 1875,now has thirty members. The "Cuba
Lodge, No. 15," organized 1875, has thirty members.
Of Grand United Order Odd Fellows, "St. Michael's, No.
1530," organized 1873, has eighty members. "St. Agnes',
No. 169(,," organized in 1875, has thirty-five members. "St
Rafael, No. 1706," (Cuban), organized in 1876, has thirty
The "Mount Moriah Lodge, No. 12," (colored), organized
in 1875, has forty members.
Of the Independent Order of Grand Templars, "Island
City Lodge, No. 9," organized in 1874, numbers eight hun-
dred; Sons of the Future, No. 10," organized in 1874, has
one hundred and eighty members. "Unity, No. 11," or-
ganized in 1874, has three hundred and eighty members.
"Rising Star, No. 13," organized in 1875, has eighty mem-
The United Order True Reformers "Crystal Fountain,
No. 1," organized in 1875, numbers two hundred.
The Knights of Jericho, Austral Lodge, No. 18," organ-
ized in 1875, has thirty-five members.
The Templars of Honor and Temperance, Coral Tem-
ple," organized in 1875, numbers seventy-two. "Southern
Star Council," organized in 1876, has thirty members. "Clin-
ton Benevolent Society," organized in 1865, has a member-
ship of two hundred.
We find from the last census that fifteen hundred children
in this city were attending school in 1875. In going back for
data on a subject which must interest all of us, we find very
little information on the subject, The earliest school of
which we have any information, was kept by the Rev.
Alvah Bennett in 1834-5, he being then in charge of St. Paul's
Congregation. It was only kept a few months, as Mr. Ben-
nett returned to the north in April, 1835. During its contin-
uance, Mr. Bennett realized from it about thirty dollars per
week. The next, as appears from an advertisement, in April,
1835, by Mr. Alden A. Jackson, a son-in-law of Judge Webb,
was taught by him in the County Court House at from two to
four dollars per month, according to the branches studied.
What success attended his effort I know not. Subsequently
(about 1839), Rev. Mr. Dyce, of St. Paul's Church, taught in
the same place. At this period, no public funds for schools
In 1843, provision was made for paying from the county
taxes for the education of the children of those persons who
were unable to pay; about thirty scholars were at that time
taught at the public expense. For each scholar, one dollar
per month was paid, the teacher providing his own school-
room. The school-house, in that year and the next, was sit-
uated on Front street. There are some present who doubtless
remember it, and the hand that wielded the ferule within,
without my being more particular.
Attention to the subject of education began thus to impress
the minds of our citizens, and we will pass over the inter-
vening period to refer more particularly to the institutions of
learning now existing among us.
In September, 1870, a public school, now bearing the name
of Sears' School," was opened in Masonic Hall, on Simon-
ton street, between Caroline and Eaton streets, with about
two hundred scholars and a corps of four teachers.
In 1874, this school was removed into the new building
erected for its accommodation on Simonton street, between
Fleeming and Southard streets; having at that time three
hundred pupils and five teachers. At present the number of
scholars is five hundred and fifty, with eight teachers. Mr.
Justin M. Copeland is the present principal.
Another public school called The Douglass' School," was
organized in 1870, for the education of the colored children of
our city. It now numbers about three hundred pupils, Mr.
William M. Artrell being the principal.
There are also quite a number of private schools, the prin-
cipal one of which is taught by Miss Euphemia Lightbourn,
assisted by Miss Mellie Bethel. They have eighty pupils.
The next, as regards numbers, is that of Mrs. Henry Baldwin,
which has about forty.
Previous to 1868 there was no school kept separately for the
education of children of persons professing the Roman Catholic
faith. In that year a number of ladies, known as the "Sisters
of the Holy Name of Jesus and Mary," of the faith inculcated
by that Church, came from Canada to this island, and imme-
diately located themselves in a frame building immediately
opposite the present light-house,-on or near the dividing line
between tracts three and four, on the original map of the
island, or at the junction of Whitehead and Division streets,
as shown by Tift's map,-and commenced teaching a school
for white girls. In 1875, they laid the foundation of a new
building, or convent, in tract twelve (original survey) where
they now teach a large number of young ladies, both of our
city and from abroad. This building is of limestone, quar-
ried on this island. It is not yet finished, but when com-
pleted it will rank among the finest educational institutions
of the State, both in its structure as a building, and as to the
finished instruction given to the youthful attendants.
The same community of Sisters in 1869 established a
school for white boys, which is now a select Parochial school,
under the supervision of the pastor of St. Mary's Church,
and is conducted by a lay teacher, Mr. I. Cappick. The
number of pupils attending this school is about fifty. The
course of studies consists chiefly of the English and Com-
mercial branches, with the Latin elements.
Under the direction of the same Sisters, a school for Cuban
girls (Spanish speaking) was established in 1873, and in 1875
a school for colored girls. The number of girls educated in
these three schools exceed three hundred.
Many young ladies have graduated in the convent school,
and upon several occasions, I have by invitation, served on
Committees of Examination, thus enabling me to speak ad-
visedly of the institution. Many of the graduates have been
of the Protestant faith, and reflect great credit on the capa-
bilities of the devout Sisters.
STORMS AND FIRES.
The hurricane of 1846, before referred to, was perhaps the
most destructive of any that had visited these latitudes
within the memory of man. The light house on Whitehead's
point on our island was totally destroyed, with all the mem-
bers of the keeper's family, seven in number; most of the
dwellings in the city were seriously injured or totally de-
stroyed, and a large number of horses and horned cattle blown
into the sea, or killed by missiles of timber and slate from
surrounding buildings. The yearly apprehended equinoctial
storms which have since prevailed, have left no record of
violence of sufficient importance to notice.'
The first fire of (ny consequence was in 1843, when the
large wooden warehouse of F. A. Browne, standing on the
south side of Simonton street, near the water, was destroyed.
A fire company existed at that time which was organized
about 1836, with Mr. Joseph A. Thouron, foreman, and about
twenty-five members. The engine belonging to this company
was purchased by means of subscription, was never of much
use, and after the removal of Mr. Thouron to Charleston,
was entirely neglected. At the time of the destruction of
Mr. Browne's warehouse it was brought upon the scene, but
proving unfit for use, was contemptuously and indignantly
hurled into the sea from the wharf.
SOn the 19th and 20th of October, 1876, as these pages were passing through
the press, an unusually violent gale was experienced. Some indications
of its approach were manifest on the 18th, and from 1 A. M. of the 19th, the
barometer gave sure evidence of its presence. At that hour the mercurial
column stood at 29.55 inches, and each hour thereafter it was lower, until at
8 P. M. it stood at 28.73 inches. It then commenced rising, and at 4 A. M. of
the 2Cth had returned to 29.50 inches, but the storm did not abate its fury un-
til about 2 P. M. of that day. During part of the time the wind travelled at
the rate of sixty-six miles per hour. The heavy rain and the breaches from
the sea caused an overflow of the streets iu the business part of the city. Con-
siderable damage was done to roofs, fences, and trees, and missiles hurled
through the air, rendered it, at times, dangerous to be in the streets, some of
which were greatly obstructed by the accumulation of boats, lumber, etc.,
floated into them. The vessels in the harbor were all more or less injured,
while along the reef were some cases of shipwreck. The salt works suffered
greatly, as did also all kinds of tropical fruits. When the tempest was at its
height, especially during the night, great anxiety prevailed. It was very dark,
excepting when the vivid flashes of lightning revealed the devastating pro-
cesses at work, but the amount of damage was less than there was reason to
anticipate. The wind was from Northeast to East, but toward the close veered
to the Northwest and Southwest with equal fury. The report of the Signal
Bureau at Washington states that the first notice of this gale was on the
17th, on the South side of Cuba, whence its central path was directly over
Havana and slightly to the eastward of Key West. It left the Peninsula on
its undefined course North Eastwardly, south of Indian River.
Thereafter, happily, and almost miraculously, were the
ravages of that destructive element "Fire," escaped for a
period longer perhaps thkn follow the fortunes of cities con-
structed almost entirely of wood. But the time at last
arrived when we were made to feel its blighting breath.
While locked in the arms of sleep and fancied security, the
"Fire King," took possession, and for eight long hours of the
19th of May, 1859, revelled in his wanton fury. From the
corner of Sitnonton street to Whitehead street, including
every building save two, in the four blocks between Front
and Greene streets, all that remained was ashes. No organ-
ized body of firemen existed in the city at that time, and no
hooks-and-ladders, fire buckets or other apparatus necessary
for the occasion were on hand. The extensive warehouses,
and other stores of Messrs. O'Hara and Wells, occupying the
place where Curry's warehouse and Cash's store now stands,
between Simonton and Duval streets; the store-houses of
Fontane and Weaver, Wall and Company, Packer and Boye,
P. A. Gandolfo, C. and E. Howe, and, in fact, all the busi-
ness portion of the town, before the sun had passed its zenith
on that day became smouldering ruins.
Many of our citizens attribute the preservation of the
remaining portion of the city to the thoughtful and daring
action of Mr. Henry Mulrenon, who, having procured a keg
of gunpowder from Fort Taylor, entered his own house on
the corner of Fitzpatrick and Greene streets, then in immi
nent peril, but as yet unharmed, and placing the keg in
position laid the train and blew the house up, to prevent the
fire crossing the street and communicating with the large
building occupied by Captain Geiger.
These two events, the hurricane and the fire, measurably
interrupted our progress at the times of their occurrence, but
the effects were speedily overcome by the activity and energy
of the sufferers. Fortunately no lives were lost on this occa-
sion, nor did we stop to shed unavailing tears over our
misfortunes. The sun rose on the morning after the fire, to
behold active limbs and stout hearts clearing the ground of
the debris, and the waning moon of the succeeding night
shone upon the bright hammer of the mechanic, as he drove
firmly home the yielding nail, in the construction of tempo-
rary buildings, soon to become, once more, the busy bustling
mart of trade.
On the morning of 17th February of the present year, a
fire was discovered in a building owned by Mr. John White
on Front street, (lot 2, square 16) occupied by a Cuban family.
The days of miracles, it is said, have passed: but our present
gallant fire company, organized in November, 1875, claim
the merit of having saved from destruction the residence of
Judge Locke, in such close proximity to the scene, as to make
its preservation marvelous if not miraculous. The visible
agency and commendable exertions of the fire company on
the occasion, being admitted, and warmly acknowledged on
all sides, their claim must be allowed to stand, until over-
borne by other and superior evidence. The loss of two lives
by suffocation in the burning building, before the alarm was
given, detracts nothing from the claim preferred by the fire
company, and can only be regarded as a distressing incident
of tie occurrence.
This is the only opportunity the company, (having Mr. A.
H. Dorsett for foreman, and one hundred and three members)
has had to exhibit its efficiency, and long may it be ere other
or greater use will have to be made of its apparatus, than has
been afforded by the pleasant joyous parade of to-day.'
My fellow citizens, could another have occupied the place,
where the authorities of your city have graciously permitted
me to stand, many events connected with our early history,
might have been recounted which would have added to the
'A fire took place at Captain Alderslade's residence on the 4th, while read-
ing this sketch, which was extinguished without any material loss.
interest of the occasion. To Mr. William A. Whitehead,
now of New Jersey, should be awarded the credit of having
been the first to engage in the preparation and preservation
of the earliest incidents connected with the settlement of
your island, even before you had the right to claim the proud
title of "citizens of the United States." Mr. Whitehead
ceased to be one of your citizens in 1838, and returned to
To his consideration we are this day indebted for bound
volumes of the newspapers published in this city in the
years 1831, 1832, and those from 1834 to 1836. These vol-
umes so illustrative. of your early existence as a city, were
presented by him in 1869, for "preservation in the office of
the clerk of Monroe county," as the inscription testifies.
Probably not more than a dozen of my hearers in this over-
crowded hall, know this fact. Although the thanks of the
County Commissioners were formerly voted to Mr. White-
head in August 3d, 1871, no one (including myself,) has ever
learned, that public acknowledgment has ever been tendered
to that gentleman.
It must be mentioned regretfully, that at the present time
it is not possible to obtain a full edition of any of the other
newspapers previous by or subsequently published in the city.
The first newspaper The Register," was commenced in
January, 1829, under the management of Thomas Eastin, sub-
sequently United States Marshal, but was short lived. The
" Gazette and The Inquirer;" were the next in order,
and are those above referred to as received from Mr. White-
A few copies only of the Light of the Reef," published
by Ware and Scarborough in 1844-45, are known to be in
existence, and the same may be said of all the following.
In 1845, "' The Key of the Gulf," made its first appearance
under the editorial auspices of E. L. Ware, our present
SSee Appendix, Note L.
efficient Post Master, and after years of death-like slumber
awoke to life in 1857. guided by the genial, but erratic pen of
William H. Ward, who in obedience to what he doubtless
considered obligatory as a patriotic citizen of his state, aban-
doned the field of argument in 1861; laying aside the weapon
of the sage for that of the soldier, to try issues of law and
ethics on the field of battle, whence he never returned.
In 1862-63, a paper called the "New Era," was published
by R. B. Locke, an officer of the Ninetieth Regiment, New
In 1867, the "Key West Dispatch," published by W. C.
Maloney, Jr., appeared, and continued to be published by the
same gentleman, until 1872, when it passed into the hands of
H. A. Crane, as editor and publisher. It is at the present
time under the editorial guidance of E. L. Ware, and pub-
lished by C. T. F. Clarke.
In 1870, the Key West Guardian," arose with porcupine
armor to correct the evils of the day, and after a brief exis-
tence, our brother of the quill. Mr. R. C. Neeld philosophically
bethought himself, that
; He that fights and runs away,
May live to fight another day."
Having discovered a star in the north, he seized his dagger,
and putting a period to the life of our Guardian," hastily
made a dash for Tampa, making there a re't, and spreading
his sheet in that ancient village. It was, however, soon folded
.up; the want of' pace being a serious bar to the develop-
ment of the genius of its perambulating author.
The "Key of the Gulf" in 1874, once more made its ap-
pearance under the editorial charge of Mr. Crane, and is
conducted at the present time by the same gentleman, who
has recently associated with him, C. S. Reynolds.
This last named paper and the Dispatch," are believed
to be well supported, considering the very few English-speak-
ing people of the city, who take an interest in affairs of
which newspapers treat.
A paper printed in the Spanish language called El Repub-
licano," has been printed in the city for the past four years.
The struggle for Liberty in Cuba, seems to animate all classes
and sexes of the people of that misgoverned island who have
sought our shores, and the patronage of the paper may be
said to be all sufficient to sustain it.
HEALTH OF THE CITY.
There can be no subject embraced in the history of your
city, gentlemen of the City Council, of more importance to
its welfare than the measure of health to be enjoyed by its
citizens. I regret that statistics bearing upon the topic have
been so grossly neglected.
From a table compiled by Mr. Whitehead, I am enabled
to give a statement of the mortality of your city, at a com-
paratively early period; and from your present Health
Officer .that of the past and present year. Mr. Whitehead's
record gives the total of deaths in eight years as two hundred
and thirteen, including both residents and non-residents,.
many of the latter having been brought to the island sick;
but not including a few soldiers who died during the two
last years of the period.
MALE. FEMALE. TOTAL.
In 1829 33 16 491
1830 10 4 14
1831 18 4 22
1832 18 3 21
1833 20 7 27
1834 23 7 .30
1835 (Sexes not stated.) 13
1836 16 11 16
1837 (Sexes not stated.) 21
Total in nine years, 213
The diseases producing these deaths are also given, but the
details would be tiresome for you to listen to. Let it suffice
1 Some fevers prevailed. 'Some few cases of Cholera.
to say that, intemperance and consumption-notwithstanding
cholera to some small extent prevailed, gave the greatest num-
ber to the grave. It should be borne in mind also that this
was upon the very threshold of the settlement of the Island.
when it was necessary to clear the land of its native growth,
in order to make room for the habitations of men: and when
the residents were necessarily subjected to many privations,
and without proper means for the preservation or recovering
of their health.
From the present Health Officers' report, it appears that
the number of deaths in the year 1875, was two hundred and
sixty-eight. Remember that this was one of our yellow
fever years, and what do we find from this report to have
been the number of cases of that disease, so much dreaded as
to have caused the army to retreat in haste, if not in disor-
der, and the navy to abandon our waters? The insignificant
number of thirty-five; whereas, we find by the same report
that deaths to the number of thirty-nine, (four more than that
from yellow fever) were caused by Phthisis Pulmonalis;
otherwise called Consumption. And to the last day of the
past month, the first six months of the present year, the
number of deaths was one hundred and forty-six, a fraction
over fourteen to the thousand. Of this number seventy-eight
were infants under seven years, (sixty-eight of whom were
under two years,) and twenty-two between fifty and ninety.'
So far as health is dependent upon equability of tempera-
ture and salubrious winds, we certainly have no cause for
apprehension. The prevalence of our Trades for nearly two
thirds of the year, affords little scope for the injurious effects
of malarious influences, and the extreme range of the mercury
in the shade, from the meteorological observations made at
different periods, appears to have been only 54 degrees; 950
being the maxinium, recorded in several years, and the
minimum 41, recorded in 1868. The lowest temperature
1 See Appendix, Note M.
previous recorded was 440 in the winter of 1836-7, when
great damage was done to the orange and other fruit trees on
the main land.
The mean temperature of the last year from July 1st, 1875,
to June 30th, 1876, according to the observations of Mr.
Melbourne, was 77.7; differing but little from the result of
observations made at the Custom House from 1829 to 1838
inclusive. The mean during that period being 77.3. The
rain-fall the last year was 39.23 inches, nearly eight inches
above the average of Mr. Whitehead's observations.'
As a precautionary measure against malarial influences,
the city authorities, by the charter of 1838, were prohibited
from filling up the streets running through a portion of the
city at that time known as The Pond." By looking at
Whitehead's original map of the island, it will be perceived
that it covered the land on which the City Hall is erected,
and was in reality an inlet from the waters of the harbor,
the entrance to which was from the north, about midway be-
tween Greene and Front streets, passing the site where stood
for several years the blacksmith shop of the city. Crossing
Simonton street it spread out so as to include at Ann street
nearly the whole space between Greene and Front streets, and
extended southerly fully three hundred and fifty feet in width,
to the south side of Duval street, and then southwesterly, grad-
ually diminishing in width, until it reached Whitehead street
near the corner of Caroline street, where its dimensions were
merely those of a narrow stream, and terminated in the oppo-
site lot, where now stands the stone building used as the United
States Court House. At some stages of the tides the whole
of this area was an unbroken sheet of water. With the ex-
ception of a portion bordering on Ann street, between Front
] See Appendix, Notes N, O, P and Q.
and Greene streets, all this valuable business portion of your
city is now occupied by many large factories, stores and pri-
vate residences. Not only were the authorities of the city
restricted from filling up the streets, but the owners of lots
covered by said pond were also restrained from so filling them
up as to impede the flux and reflux of the tide.
For many years a'foot-bridge existed-on Duval street, com-
mencing near the present St. James Hotel, and running to
within a few feet of the corner of Caroline street. This
bridge was of the rudest construction, built soon after the
settlement, and was often out of repair, but nevertheless was
travelled by the young bloods and damsels of our city at that
day, for the frequent and pleasurable opportunities afforded
of more closely drawing the arm of the timid young lady to
the side of her escort, or, perhaps, of officiously taking the
unnerved hand in assurance of protection. The young gen-
tlemen of to-day enjoy no such happiness.
A shorter bridge, ten or fifteen feet in length afforded a
passage across the entrance to the pond, about on the line
of Simonton street, was a more durable structure and kept
in better repair for the passage of drays and other vehicles,
it being the only crossing place to get to the northern part
of the island, unless the circuitous route via. Whitehead
street was taken, but it fails to awaken the pleasurable recol-
lections of the former. There was also a small bridge over
the stream on Whitehead street. They are of the past;
known to but few; with a sigh, if not a tear, let their exis-
tence be committed to history.
The great gale of October 11th, 1846, so altered the config-
uration of the island by the'washing up of the sand, that the
pond ceased to receive the tides, and the consequences ap-
prehended as the result that might follow (which caused
the restriction in the the charter of 1836, against filling up
the streets or lots in the pond, which restriction was omitted
in subsequent charters,) not having occurred, it was taken up
by.the city authorities themselves in 1853, and an ordinance
passed in November of that year, required the respective
owners of the submerged lots to fill them in.
These lots being now in the hands of various owners, some
of them complied with the terms of the ordinance, others
suffered the work to be done by the city, and paid the costs
of the filling; others again refused either to fill in or pay the
expense incurred therefore.
The particular lot in this pond, on which the City Hall is
erected, was yet owned by Mr. John W. Simonton, the orig-
inal proprietor of the island. This lot was also filled in by
the city, the proprietor being absent. The city went through
the farce of selling the same at auction, and became the pur-
chaser. Mr. Simonton, during his lifetime, took no notice of
these proceedings, but to some of his particular friends inti-
mated his willingness that the city should possess the land.
In 1871, and after the death of Mr. Simonton, the city
authorities engaged my services to clear up the muddle which
attached to the proceedings touching this lot, in consequence
of the negligence of their predecessors, and although a law-
yer, I sedulously avoided the courts of law, having had
many lessons in the "law's delay," and went at once to
"Equity before two ladies. "Strange Judges," I think
I hear from my young student friends. Not strange at all,
young gentlemen. When you have been in the profession
as long as I have, you will have learned that it is more safe
to court two ladies on a point of honor and patriotism than
all the judges of our own sex that ever wore long gowns and
wigs, or any twelve men in a jury box.
Regard for truth, however, compels me to admit that I
was not the only suitor before this honorable Court. I had
the generous aid of Mr. Mallory and Mr. Moreno, the first
the legal adviser, and the other the local agent of Mr. Simon-
ton, during his lifetime.
On June 30th, 1871, Miss Mary B. Jones, Execu-
trix of her father, Dr. Jones, of Washington City, the Trus-
tee of Miss Florida Simonton (the only surviving heir of Mr.
S.) and Miss Simonton, the cestui qu7 trust, (being of lawful
age), gave judgment in my favor, and the city on that day
obtained from Miss Jones. as Trustee ex-oflcio, a conveyance
for this lot.
You will heartily join me. I am assured, in making this
proper and public acknowledgment to these generous ladies.
The first graves were made on the western beach, between
the town and Whitehead's Point, and in 1830, a visitor on the
island described them as being marked by a "few plain
stones to tell that the possessors of the little tenements below,
once lived and died, but the majority have merely the stones
marking the length of each, but-
SWho sleeps below? Who sleeps below ? "
Is an idle question now.
In 131, a committee was appointed by the Town Council
to select a proper site for the permanent location of a general
burial place. Part of tract fifteen, lying between the ter-
mination of Whitehead street on the south beach and the
point, was selected and used until 1847, when the present
cemetery grounds were purchased. The destructive hurri-
cane of 11th October, 1846, not only added largely to the
number of our dead, but disinterred many who had been
buried in the old tract. This circumstance give rise to the
necessity of seeking another place for sepulture.
Up to this time the friends of the Northman and the
Southron, the negro slave and his Caucasian master, the
wealthy and the poor of all religious denominations, content
with the Rites of christian burial, laid the bodies of their
dead side by side to wait the final call at the general resur-
In 1868, the Rt. Rev. the Bishop of St. Augustine, secured
from the City Council, the grant of three hundred feet square
of an unoccupied portion of these grounds, for the considera-
tion of One Dollar: and as the conveyance reads, to be
devoted to the exclusive use of a Catholic burying ground, by
and under the control of the said Bishop and his successors
When in November, 1828, the first division of the Terri-
tory of Florida into counties was made for representative
and other purposes, (the Territory, before that time, having
been governed by an organic law of Congress and a council
authorized by that act) Monroe County. so named after the
then President, comprised no insignificant portion of the
Territory, as reference to the map of the (now) State will
showv. It commenced at Boca Gasparilla. on the Gulf of
Mexico, extending up to the mouth of Charlotte river; thence
np to the northern margin of that river to Lake Macaco;
thence along the margin of that lake to its most eastern
limit; thence in a direct line to the head waters of Poto-
mac river; thence down said river to its entrance into the
ocean: together with all the Keys and Islands off the Cape
In 1836, out of these magnificent boundaries was carved
another county called Dade"-so named to perpetuate the
name of one of the officers sacrificed in the Indian war.
Major Dade, who went with his command from Key West
to fall victims on their way inland from Tampa Bay. The
boundaries of our county have several time since been re-
duced, still it is large. The greater part is covered with
water, but it is nevertheless of great value. Not taking into
account the amount consumed by the population of this city,
we export as the products of these waters annually-
Of Live Fish. ...... .... .. .. ... $100.000
Of Salted Fish............ ............ ... 30,000
Of Live Turtle.......... ........ ... 10,000
Of Sponges............... .. ...... 100.000
Making a total of $240,000, not included in the amount of
exports as shown by Custom House records.
The following figures show the number of inhabitants
within the county at the different decades, according to the
United States' enumerations:
WHITES. COLORED. SLAVES. TOTAL.
1830................ 368 83 66 517
18401................ 516 76 96 688
1850................. 2,088 126 431 2,645
1860.................. 2,302 160 451 2,913
1870 ................. 4,631 1,026 .. 5,657
True, our county cannot show the broad and extensive
acreage of the others in cotton fields, (perhaps a providential
blessing), but sufficient under our semi-tropical climate to be
of great value. Ten years ago the man who talked even of
producing the pineapple as an article of commerce was looked
upon as a fit subject for the pleasant embraces of a straight-
jacket. Behold to-day the pineapples and other tropical
fruits, the result of the enterprise and industry of Benjamin
and Henry Baker at Key Largo,' and of others on our hith-
erto neglected islands, and bear in mind that almost all the
lands in your county are public lands, obtainable under the
Homestead Act of Congress, for such trifling sums as the
perfection of the necessary papers required.
Look around upon our own little island, this Gem of the
Sea," and view the majestic Date-Palm with its many clus-
tered branches of fruit, the tall and stately Cocoanut, the
Lime, Lemon, Grape, Pomegranate, Guava, Sapadillo, Ban-
ana, Orange, Mango, Citron, Fig, Plum, Sugar-cane, and
various other fruits and plants.
All these things we know can be produced on every acre
of land in our county, because we see them daily growing
'Key West only. It appears that no enumeration was made that year at
the other settlements. The population of Dade county since it was set off from
Monroe in 1836, has been as follows: 1840, 446; 1850, 159; 1860, 83; 1870. 85.
SThe hurricane of October 19th and 20th, 1876, before alluded to, destroyed
the pineapple grove of the Messrs. Baker.
around us in our own enclosures, on this comparatively un-
Look at our meteorological records.' The almost uniform
temperature, equalling that of Italy or the South of France,
and not obtainable elsewhere on this broad continent of
North America, gives to the portion of the State which we
inhabit, an almost exclusive monopoly of agricultural pur-
suits, in all the tropical fruits and vegetables raised outside
of the line of frost.
It is asked why South Florida to-day speaks only through
me of capabilities, which she has failed hitherto to make
visibly patent to the world ? The answer is at hand and will
convince the most skeptical. War, cruel war, not such war
as is said to be the game of Kings, whose pawns are mMen,
and stakes are empires ;" but war war with savages the
midnight torch, the tomahawk and scalping knife. For
many long years was the settlement of the county outside
of our island the scene of savage warfare with the Seminole
Indians in our Territory, aided by bands of other tribes from
abroad. The smouldering and blackened ruins of farm-
houses, the mutilated bodies of women and children, testify
to the causes which have impeded settlement and agricul-
Since 1857, we have been happily rid of these treacher-
ous foes, but our land yet feels the scourge of another,
and a fratricidal war at that Let us hope that the day is
not far distant when the spear shall in reality be turned into
the pruning hook, when the extensive factories which sur-
round us and meet our gaze on our several streets in this city,
shall be furnished with the Tobacco necessary for the manu-
facture of the countless millions of sears which they will
put out, grown upon the soil of our own county." Within
1 See Appendix, Notes N, O, P and Q.
2 Since writing the foregoing I have learned from Mr. E. O. Gwynn, an
acknowledged judge of the quality of tobacco, that a few years since he pur-
chased and caused to be made into segars, about 500 pounds of leaf tobacco
raised at the Miami, in the adjacent county of Dade, of very superior quality.
a very recent period forty or more families have settled in
the upper portion of the county, where Indigo, Coffee and
Sisal Hemp may doubtless be cultivated to advantage, with
all the other fruits and products named, and add largely to
The manufacture of salt upon the island has been already
adverted to, but Key West is not the only place in the county
where, by solar evaporation, the manufacture of salt can be
made both productive and remunerative.
Within a distance of ten miles from the place where I
now stand, on the island of Boca Chica," nature has
spread out inviting fields for the profitable investment of
capital, and the labor of enterprising and industrious men
who may engage in the manufacture of this indispensable
article of commerce. Boca Chica," has also a great advan-
tage over many other places where salt can be made, in hav-
ing a secure harbor, safe anchorage, and sufficient depth of
water to allow the lading of a vessel with a draft of ten feet,
from a wharf or pier of less than twenty feet from its shore.
Duck Key" and Knights Key" also possess natural ad-
vantages for the pursuit of the same business.
With a climate where the least clothing is most comfort-
able, and only just so much needed as modesty demands, with
nothing of winter but the name, with waters abounding in
fish and turtle, whose enjoyment is not burdened with tax or
monopoly, with timber sufficient for building purposes, and
an inexhaustible quantity for fuel, and with game in abun-
dance, your county may well be called the poor man's par-
adise." Temperance, frugality and industry are all that is
needed to secure competence, if not wealth, and with flour-
ishing institutions of learning already established on this
island, we can well afford to establish others wherever and
It is gratifying to know that your county is out of debt,
and with a surplus on hand over and above the incoming
taxes of the present year; so that, there being no immediate
demand for funds, your County Commissioners have gener-
ously loaned $1,500 to the Board of Public Instruction. All
must admit the motive to be good, whatever views some may
entertain of the sufficiency of the security.
In this connection, a matter of moment to all of you, seems
to demand a passing notice, inasmuch as it is believed to be
but little known and less understood by the community gen-
erally, and some of the officers of government especially, than
it should be, and which affects the interests of the people in-
habiting that portion of the island particularly subject to the
jurisdiction of the "City of Key West," under and by reason
of its corporate powers. I allude to the proprietary and
possessory title in and to "Jackson square." There are those
of you who are under the impression that, because of the fact
that there is no instrument of writing, in the shape of a con-
veyance from the original proprietors of the island to the
city authorities, granting the "fee," as the lawyers term it,
coupled with the fact that the County Court House and Jail
have been erected upon it, that the title to the Square is
not wholly in "the City.". Let me assure you that your
condition as owners of this Square, is much better than
it would have been if the original proprietors had given an
absolute deed of it in "fee to the city, for in that case
it might have been sold from under your feet, and the
money expended for a banquet to entertain the King of
the Cannibal Islands, or some other illustrious dignitary from
The proprietors of the island, foreseeing that Key West
must become the county seat of Monroe county, and the most
fitting place for the exercise of the judicial powers of the
United States in admiralty and maritime affairs, wisely made
room in your city for the accommodation necessary to these
purposes, and in the plan of the city, Jackson Square" is
delineated, and in the division of the island between the orig-
inal agrarian proprietors, it was treated as "common" or "pub-
lic," and the plan of the city with this delineation, being
made the incorporated area of your city by charter, gave to
you in your corporate capacity all the proprietary rights
vested in the original proprietors, save that of alienation,
and vested in you, and you only, the right of possession.
You hold this Square and also Clinton-place" by the same
terms by which you hold. the streets running through your
city, not by express grant, but by an implied use," or usu-
fruct." You can only lose your right when you suffer them
to be used for other than public purposes, consistent with the
nature of the usufruct.
By examining the original map of the city you will notice
a figure or block marked "Jail," standing at a short distance
from the line of Thomas street, and about midway between
Fleeming and Southard streets. A jail constructed of the
limestoneof the island once stood on the spot indicated on the
map. This jail was authorized to be built by means of the.
auction taxes levied on sales in this city, and Com-
missioners (Messrs. W. A. Whitehead and L. M. Stone) were
appointed by the Legislative Council of the Territory to
superintend its construction. These Comissioners pur-
chased a lot or piece of land on which to erect the jail in
another part of the city in 1831. Whether restrained by a
conscientious regard for the rights and comfort of those set-
tled, or to settle in the neighborhood of their purchase, or
from what other motive does not appear, the fact remains
that they erected this jail on Jackson Square; this they
could not have done lawfully without permission of the
"Town Council." This old jail was completed and placed
in charge of the Sheriff in May, 1835, and was torn down a
1 On submitting this portion of the address to Mr. Whitehead, the following
has been received from him: "I do not now recall the reasons why, after
actually purchasing a lot elsewhere for the jail, the project should have
been abandoned and the building erected in Jackson Square. I do not think that
any considerations of the rights and comforts of those who might settle in
the neighborhood"-which you very kindly suggest may have influenced the
Commissioners-were entertained, but am disposed to attribute their action
to a wish to consult the convenience of the officers of the Court by having the
few years ago. This fact, together with the length of time it
was allowed to stand without question, removes the necessity
of ascertaining by what authority it was erected, whether
tacit or expressed. The lot referred to, as having been pur-
chased by the Commissioners, is lot No. 2, in square 64, and
and was sold by other Commissioners (Messrs. O'Hara, Wall
and Sawyer) under authority of an act of'the Legislature,
approved 29th December, 1845, was purchased by Mr. F.
J. Moreno, and is now occupied by Mr. Win. Martinelly and
The old Court House, or County Court House (so called to
distinguish it from the United States Court-rooms)-the local-
two buildings-the Court House and the Jail-near each other, and to save
some money for the then Territory.
'On laying out the town it was first thought desirable that the Public Square
should be located nearer the water, and the block between Fitzpatrick street
and Clinton place was thought of. Another project was to locate it at the
"middle Spring," as it was then called in square 61, but the fact that there
was already a building on what is now Jackson Square, erected, if I
mistake not, for the use of the county authorities before the survey was made
or the town chartered, led to the selection of that square for the purpose. As
you say in your address, there is no document emanating from the proprietors
conveying the fee of the streets and squares, nor do I recollect that anything
was said or thought of, at the time, relating to the control of Jackson Square.
That, as well as the streets, was informally dedicated to public uses, and that
there should ever arise any difference of opinion, in regard to its control, be-
tween the authorities of the county and the authorities of the town was never
thought of. The former were virtually in possession, and I do not believe that
any application was made to the town authorities for permission to erect the
jail. I am not qualified to discuss the legal points that may be involved, but
knowing as I do the views and wishes of all the original proprietors, I do not
hesitate to affirm that it was their intention the square should be used for any
legitimate purpose, either of town or county; and representing as I do, one-
fourth of the original proprietary interest, I would be pleased to join those
representing the other interests, in signing any document that might legally and
effectually determine the rightful control. As such a course is probably impracti-
cable, I would take the liberty to suggest the appointment of a commission, com-
posed of an equal number of representatives of the city and county authorities,
(with the Judge of the United States District Court as umpire, in 6ase of any
disagreement) charged with all needful control of the premises. I think the
circumstances fully warrant some such concession on both sides."
ity of which is also shown on the map, as being on Jackson
square, fronting on Whitehead street, was erected prior to
1828, and was altered and improved at the expense of the
United States, in 1830, while we were in our infancy as a
Town, and part of the Territory of Florida. The Judges of
the United States Court, used it during the Territorial exis-
tence, and is now used 'to hold the State Court in. The
County Records are kept in the second story of this building,
in the office of the Clerk of the Circuit (State) Court, who is
the recording officer of the Coubty ex oficio.
Near the corner of Fleeming street on the same square, is
the present county jail. This jail was authorized to be built
by an act of the legislature of the State, in December, 1845,
also from the revenues derived from auction sales. It is per-
haps one of the best in the state, built of the lime rock of
the island, and it is gratifying to add that few prisoners at
any time are occupants.
While as citizens of the United States, we take befitting
pride in celebrating this glorious day, and as citizens of Key
West, in our own New City Hall, an ornament to our city,
and a proud triumph over nature-erected on a spot within
the memory of some of us present, which presented to the
eye, a disgusting pond of stagnant water only a few years
ago-let us not be content with the achievements of the past,
but as co-workers as well as spectators of the future, use all
the means we can to invite the settlement of an industrious
population, into our county; cordially receiving those who
may come among us with honest purposes, giving our influ-
ence to deserving enterprises, build up about and around us
institutions of learning, foster commerce, agriculture and the
mechanical arts, and make of South Florida in the near future,
what we could wish she were to-day.
To the Ladies particularly I would now address myself.
Hitherto I have forborne to notice any of your sex, to whom the
present residents are indebted for having, by their example
in the past, sown the seeds of those virtues from which they
are now reaping the fruits.
Let me therefore be permitted (with feelings akin to filial
regard and devotion) to place upon the canvas which is
intended to represent your city, one portrait, one name,
without which the picture would be more incomplete than it
is-that of Mrs. Ellen Mallory, one of the earliest female
settlers upon our island, one whose residence antedates the
existence of our chartered rights as citizens of Key West.
Methinks I hear her musical voice to-day, as she was wont
to speak, standing at the bedside of the'sick and dying in
days gone by. Catholic by rites of baptism, oh! how truly
Catholic, in the better and non-sectarian use of that term,
was her life, devoted as it was to acts of kindness. Her hus-
band having died shortly after their arrival, she kept for many
years the only comfortable boarding house on the island,
located first on the north side of Fitzpatrick street, and subse-
quently, after the Proprietors had expressed their apprecia-
tion of her character and usefulness, by a donation of a lot of
ground, on her own premises, on the south side of Duval
street near Front.
With many opportunities of becoming rich, she died com-
paratively poor. Next to her God, her devotion centered in
her son Stephen R. Mallory, whom she brought to this
island a child of tender age, and lived to see, occupying a
seat in the Senate of the United States as one of the Senators
Twice as I remember, I had the pleasure of receiving the
proffered hand of this lady. First, with words of welcome"
to your city, when as a poor young man I became one of
your number. Second, on the occasion of a sore affliction,
When the balm of consolation gratefully reached my ears,
and pointed my mind to contemplations of future usefulness.
She died in 1855. Her mortal remains lie in yonder cem-
etery respected of all men. She left no enemy on earth.
Requiescat in pace.
It is with great repugnance, and only after repeated solic-
itations, that I have consented to add to the foregoing address
some references to a few of the incidents which transpired in
your city, during the period embraced within the years 1861
and 1865. My unwilling consent has only been obtained upon
theplea ofjustice to the memory of those now dead, whose
confidence I enjoyed and whose sympathies I shared.
The disruption of social, conjugal, fraternal, political, and
even of religious ties, wrought by real or fancied grievances,
growing out of the mad passions of the hour during that per-
iod, serves as a beacon to warn against the danger of re-open-
ing wounds not yet fully healed. Beside, my close connexion
with many of the stirring and most prominent public events
of that time, would seem to make me unfitted to become the
historian of events so lately enacted. But while yielding to
the desires of my friends, I must persist in confining myself
to such subjects as have already been incorporated into his-
tory by others, and made matters of record elsewhere.
It will be remembered that the year 1860 opened upon our
country at large under circumstances corresponding to those
which had marked each preceding fourth year, in which a
President of the United States had been chosen. From Maine
to Florida, from the Pacific to the Rio Grande, men arranged
themselves into parties, while many sought new alliances and
adopted the shibboleth of their respective organizations. We
of' this city straining our sense of hearing for the cry of
' Wreck ashore," still found time, with our lilliputian voices,
to imitate our more corpulent neighbors in shouting our cries
of anticipated victory for a Breckenridge or a Bell.
Shocked to a great degree, by what some considered at least
bad faith, in many of the leading men of the nation, who
openly sympathized with the John Brown incursion into Vir-
ginia, at Harper's Ferry, and almost driven to despair of the
Republic, by the unsatisfactory condition in which the nation
was left at the adjournment of a boisterous Congress, and
the weakness of the then Federal administration; our citi-
zens, though deeply moved, awaited events with ill-concealed
anxiety. The success of the Free Soil or Republican party
at the election in the Fall of that year, coupled with the ac-
tion of the State of South Carolina,-to which was soon aftar
added a Proclamation by the Governor of Florida for a Con-
vention of the people, to take into consideration the then
present and future relations of Florida toward the Federal
Government,-brought boldly and abruptly to view the ques-
tion of Union or Disunion, by some at that time derisively
and tauntingly expressed as Secession or Submission.
In pursuance of a previous notice for that purpose, the cit-
izens of the island in larger number than had ever before
met to discuss any question, theological or political, assem-
bled at the County Court House on the evening of the 12th
of December, 1860.
What transpired at that meeting was published in the city
newspaper of that time, the Key of the Gulf, edited and pub-
lished by Wm. H. Ward, and reads as follows:
Pursuant to previous notice, a mass meeting of our citi-
zens was convened at the Court House on the evening of the
12th inst., for the purpose of nominating Delegates to the
State Convention, to assemble in Tallahassee on the 3d day
of January, 1861, for the purpose of taking into considera-
tion the dangers incident to the position of this State in the
Federal Union, etc. It was the largest meeting ever held in
"Hon. J. P. Baldwin was called to the Chair, and Charles
Tift and Peter Crusoe, Esqrs., were appointed Secretaries.
The Chairman having explained the object of the meeting,
speeches were made by the following gentlemen:
Hon. Wm. Marvin, U. S. Judge for this District, was for
the Union; wait for the border States and secede with them.
He announced himself as a candidate for the Convention.
Wm. H. Ward, Esq., in favor of Secession and a Southern
S. J. Douglas, Esq., for a Southern Convention, and fail-
ing to get what it should demand, to go out with them.
"W. C. Maloney, Esq., said he was for the Union first.
the Union last, and the Union always."
W. C. Dennis, Esq., favored waiting for the action of the
border States, and announced himself as a candidate for the
"Win. Pinkney, Esq., wished to wait for the border States.
SAsa F. Tift, Esq., would go with the Southern States.
"J. L. Tatum, Esq., for secession.
"At midnight the meeting adjourned to the evening of the
13th, women it again met. After a few speeches were made,
the Hon. Win. Marvin, Winer Bethel, and Win. Pinkney,
Esqs., were placed in nomination and the vote taken by hold-
ing up 'of hands, with the following result:
Marvin, 33 yeas, 26 nays.
Bethel, 66 1 "
Pinkney, 62 2 "
"Very many citizens refused to vote at all, or to be bound
to the nominations. The meeting then adjourned."
Mr. Marvin's official position as Judge of the U. S. Dis.
trict Court, being urged as incompatible with his duties as a
Delegate, Asa F. Tift was subsequently nominated in his
place. The opinions of the Delegates were better known to
themselves than to their constituents, and the result of the la-
bors of the Convention thus attended, you are as well in-
formed as myself.
While the Convention was deliberating, Capt. John M.
Brannan, in command of a company of U. S. Artillery, of
less than 30 men, stationed at this post, following the exam-
ple of Major Anderson, of Fort Sumter celebrity, evacuated
the barracks in the northeastern section of the city, and
moved his men and garrison equipage into Fort Taylor. This
was done by the advice of Judge Marvin and Charles Howe,
Collector of the Customs. It was commenced on a Saturday
night and consummated on the following morning, without
noise or parade. No suspicions were excited, as Capt.
Brananan, as well as the other gentlemen named, and the
rest of the leading citizens, attended the religious services
of Sunday as usual; and although this action was con-
sidered by many truly loyal citizens as uncalled for
under the circumstances, it undoubtedly tended to strengthen
the authority of the United States on the island. It was,
however, seized upon by those who looked forward to self
preferment under a new government, more anxiously than to
peace, honor and prosperity of the whole under the old one,
to inflame the minds of the masses, and not without effect.
No excesses, however, were displayed, the U. S. District
Court kept along the even tenor of its way, the Collector of
Customs entered and cleared vessels as usual, without molest-
ation, and the Post Office was peaceably resorted to for the
receipt and despatch of letters as before.
Thi4igs continued in this unsettled condition even after the
announcement of the secession of South Carolina'and Florida.
Those whose attachment to the Union was at no time very
strong, were daily giving in adhesion to the views of those
with stronger 6r perverted minds, who looked forward with
complacency to the disunion of the States, peaceably it' pos-
sibly, forcibly if necessary.
The necessity which seemed to compel the Chief Magistrate
elect, of the Republic, to reach the capitol in disguise, added
force to the arguments of those, who now openly advocated
secession as a necessary consequence, growing out of the bold-
ness of the rebellious and the timidity of those who were
It.was in vain that the horrors of a civil war were recounted,
as the history of England has revealed them. The pre-
tended disbelief of some that an actual conflict of arms
would occur,-doubtless suggested by the humane expression
of that sterling patriot and soldier, Winfield Scott, "Let our
erring brothers go in peace,"-with the taunting and insult-
ing remarks on the floor of Congress, reflecting upon the
character and determination of the Southern people, served
only to made capital for the vaporing few, who, too often,
are permitted to lead the many unwisely and to their injury.
About the latter part of the month of March, 1861, several
of the vessels of our citizens had openly displayed flags said
to represent that of the Southern Confederacy, while sailing
under papers issued by authority of the Government of the
Happily for the permanent peace of the island, at about
this time, April 6th, Major Wm. H. French, of 5th U. S.
Artillery, reached, here with his command. He had
been stationed at Fort Duncan, Texas, and, in order to avoid
surrender under the terms submitted by Gen. Twiggs, march-
ed his four companies down the Rio Grande to Point Isabel
and there embarked.
This opportune arrival of Major French gave reinvigorated
hopes to those who had so often, with moistened eye and
slowly beating hearts, looked for many anxious days upon
the flag of the Union, not knowing but that it would disap-
pear from their view forever.
Those citizens holding official stations under the govern-
ment, as was to be expected of them, sought the acquaint-
ance of Major French, and having discovered that he came
as a friend, true to the flag he served and the honor of his
sword, lost no time in bringing the joyful news to the ears of
those who had long waited for the assurance, that they might
indulge in the expectation of a reunited family of States.
More by the way of giving moral aid and comfort, than from
any expectations of adding to the efficiency of the troops
under Major French, then only two incomplete companies, ad-
ded to the force of Capt. Brannan-two companies having been
stationed at Fort Jefferson, Tortugas,-a movement was set
on foot by Thos. J. Boynton, then United States Attorney,and
others, for the purpose disclosed by the following document:
"We, the undersigned Citizens of Key West, believing that
the distracted condition of the Country demands that our
services should be offered to her in this her hour of need,
that we may assist in preserving the honor of our Flag, up-
holding the laws, and quelling rebellion, do hereby agree to
form a Volunteer Company, and hold ourselves subject to the
Commander of the United States Forces at Key West."
May 16th, 1861.
Eldridge L. Ware,
George D. Allen,
James P. Lightbourne,
R. W. Welch,
E. O. Gwynn,
S. M. Da vis,
W. C. Maloney,
E. D. Braman,
Hiram B. Dailey,
Joseph B. Kemp,
Charles Howe, Jr.,
Edward C. Howe,
James Wetherford, Jr.,
Edward F. Papy,
G. W. Ferguson,
Josephus F. Packer,
William Saunders, Sen.,
John Braman, Sen.,
Henry Williams, Jr.,
Albert A. Johnson,
Henry Williams, Sen.,
G. Wm. Gibbons,
John O. Braman, Jr.,
Thomas W. Kemp,
Lewis E. Pierce, Jr.,
Lewis E. Pierce, Sen.,
George R. Pearce,
Wm. H. von Pfister,
John Pent, Sen.,
Richard Albury, Sen.,
0. A. Hickey,
Benj. G. Albury,
David W. Marshall,
William Saunders, Jr.,
Charles Howe, Sen.,
T. J. Boynton,
G. F. Ferguson,
Robert B. Bingham,
James Pent, Jr.,
Alonzo A. Austin,
Dennis W. Kelly,
Augustus P. Marillac,
William H. Albury,
Peter T. Williams,
William H. Pearce,
Peter L. Jaycocks,
Francis B. Dailey,
Wm. A. Pitcher,
The individuals thus organized, on the day named, having
assembled in the large room in the building adjacent to the
St. James Hotel, proceeded to Fort Taylor. and to myself
was assigned the pleasing and honorable post of orator for
the occasion. The contents of the paper having been read
in presence of Major French, and mutual assurances of fidel-
ity interchanged, after a kind and hospitable entertainment,
the company-returned to the city and to their several
According to promise the company spoken of were furnished
arms by Major French, and having chosen their officers,
the late Daniel Davis becoming their captain, familiarized
themselves with their use, until Col. Joseph Morgan; of the
90th Regiment, N. Y. Volunteers, military commander of the
island, disarmed them in 1863, and thereupon they disbanded.
Early in February, 1863, great excitement was created by
an order from the commander of the post banishing all per-
sons, both male and female, who had near relatives in any of
the rebellious States. By this order it was estimated that
about six hundred of the citizens, including a number who
were recognized as staunch Union men, were directed to hold
themselves in readiness to embark for Hilton-head, thence to
be transferred to some Confederate post. The town, wrote
a loyal citizen at the time, has been in the utmost state of
excitement. Men sacrificing their property, selling off their
all, getting ready to be shipped off; women and children cry-
ing at the thought of being sent among the rebels. It was
impossible for any good citizen to remain quiet and uncon-
cerned at such a time." Expostulations from the United
States officers, and from the Naval officers on the station,
were fruitless. Col. Morgan, misconstruing his instructions,
was inflexible, one, if not more, of the gentlemen remon-
strating being threatened with arrest for interfering.
On the 27th February a transport was to leave with some
of those who were to be forever banished from their homes.
Their baggage was already on the wharf when deliverance
came. Information having been communicated to General
Hunter at Hilton-head of the state of affairs at Key West,
he immediately despatched Col. J. H. Good with the 47th
Pennsylvania Regiment, to relieve Col. Morgan and his com-
mand; and Col. Good, arriving at the critical moment refer-
red to above, at once directed the return of the banished to
their houses with their goods, and revoked the order of his
predecessor. It need scarcely be said that rejoicing every
where took the place of the grief that had been so manifest.
As to the thousand and one other incidents connected with
this period, some recalling scenes of pleasurable emotion,
others of disgust and alarm, they are written in a Book of
Chronicles to be opened for perusal when the hand which has
recorded them shall have fallen lifeless by the side of an in-
THE necessary limitation as to the time to be devoted to the delivery of the
foregoing address, precluded the introduction of much incidental matter that
would have further illustrated the history of the island. Some of this it has
been thought advisable to introduce here, under the belief that it will prove
interesting to many who may wish to be made -better acquainted with the
men and measures that laid the foundations of our city's welfare, and other
matter, since obtained, has been added also.
NOTE A, PAGE 6.
JOHN WATSON SIMONTON.
MR. SIMONTON was a native of New Jersey, but his business connections
were with several Southern cities and with Cuba. After the settlement of
Key West, his winters for several years were generally spent here, his north-
ern residence being Washington, D. 0. He had an extensive acquaintance
among the members of Congress, and was on intimate terms with several prom-
inent men of the then administration, his influence always being exerted for
the best interests of the island. After the location here of the United States
troops in 1831, lie was for some time sutler of the post, and was subsequently
interested in the manufacture of Salt; as the representative of a company
whose stock was principally held in Mobile and New Orleans. He afterward
engaged in business in the latter city and died 'n Washington in May, 1854. His
social qualities, amiability of temper, energetic business habits, and various
places of residence, caused him to have an extensive circle of friends and ac-
NOTE B, PAGE 6.
MR. JOHN WHITEHEAD was the son of William Whitehead, Cashier of the
Newark Banking and Insurance Company, the first bank chartered in New
Jersey, and his early years were spent as a clerk in that institution. He sub-
sequently entered a mercantile establishment in New York, and was among the
first to organize a partnership and emigrate to Mobile. His first aqquaintarce
with the island was in 1818. Having been shipwrecked on the Ba:hama banks,
on his way to Mobile from New York, the vessel in which his voyage was con-
tinued put into Key West harbor, giving him an opportunity to observe its pe-
culiar adaptation for the purposes to which it was soon after applied. He was
consequently prepared to enter with alacrity into the arrangements of his
friend, Mr. Simonton, for its settlement, so soon as they were made known to
him. His business relations at the island were, at first, on his own individual
account, but from September, 1824, to April, 1827, he was one of the firm of
P. C. Greene & Co. Although that partnership was dissolved, he continued,
with some intermissions, to regard the island as his residence until about the
year 1832, when he established himself at New Orleans in the insurance busi-
ness; and thence, a few years thereafter, removed to New York, where he
died August 29th, 1864, while holding the Vice Presidency of one of the lead-
ing insurance companies of that city. He visited the island for a short time
during the winter of 1863, when on a voyage for his health, accompanied by a
nephew, (a son of his brother, William A.) whose early childhood had been
spent on the island. This visit enabled him to renew his acquaintance with
several with whom he had been associated when a resident. Mr. Whitehead
was a very accomplished merchant. He left no children.
JOHN WILLIAM CHARLES FLEEING.
MR. FLEEMING, like Mr. Whitehead, was a personal friend of Mr. Simonton,
and engaged in mercantile business at Mobile when the purchase and settle-
ment of Key West were first thought of. He accompanied the first party to
the island in 1822, but left before the end of the year for New Bedford, Mass.,
where he married. Taking a warm interest in the projected salt works, he
came to Key West in the autumn of 1832, expecting, ultimately, to make ar-
rangements for commencing the manufacture on his own portions of the Salt
Pond, but died on the 19th of December of that year, and his remains were
deposited where St. Paul's Church now stands. Mr. Fleeming was a gentle-
men of culture and of refined tastes, and Mr. W. A. Whitehead, then Collector
of the Customs, with whom he resided, in a letter written at the time, thus
expressed his own and the public's estimation of their loss:
"On depositing in their last resting place the remains of him who for a short
month had added so much to my pleasure and comfort, I bade adieu to many
fond anticipations of enjoyment which I had expected to realize, not only dur-
ing the present winter, but for many years to come. There was hardly a sub-
ject in literature, the arts or the sciences, on which he could not converse and
give information, and yet unpretending in his manners, mild and amiable to an
extent seldom met with in men of his age and standing.
Everything I do reminds me of him, for his habits and pursuits were so
similar to my own, notwithstanding the difference in our ages, that he seemed
to be connected with me in all my desultory pursuits. Many delightful plans
for amusement and instruction during the winter in which we were to be
partners-our drawing-our music-in fact every employment that could tend
to wile away agreeably the hours not required for our daily duties-has by
this blow been so entirely demolished that it will be long ere my feelings will
resume their wonted elasticity. My private loss is great, but never has Key
West experienced before a calamity to be compared with his death. Many
years will pass away. before our island will have on it a man so able to bring to
light the capabilities of the natural salt ponds, to which we look for the ulti-
mate prosperity of the place, as he had for many years made the manufacture
of salt his study; and probably there is not a man in the United States who
understood it as thoroughly as he did."
Mr. Fleeming left one daughter. His widow became the wife of Mr. George
B. Emerson, of Massachusetts.
NOTE C, PAGE 7.
PARDON C. GREENE.
MB. GRELNE had been for several years master of a vessel in the merchant
service, trading between Northern and Southern ports and Cuba. As stated
in the text, he personally took up his permanent abode on the island soon after
its first settlement, but the residence of his family continued to be in Rhode
Island. He died in the autumn of 1838, having for several years been in ill
health from inflammatory rheumatism. "Greene's Wharf" and "Ware-
houses were for many years the only ones of any prominence. His only
child, William C. Grecne, died at Fort Jefferson, Tortugas, in October, 1860.
NOTE D, PAGE 9.
THz public documents printed by Congress, and the records of the Navy
Department, contain a large amount of interesting information respecting the
views of the Government and the events of this period. Some few extracts
are here given:
REPORT OF SECRETARY OF THI NAVY TO THE PRESIDENT.
NAVY DEPARTMENT, December 29, 1822.
SSI--The Secretary of the Navy, to whom has been referred the resolution
of the House of Representatives of the 20th inst, requesting the President of
the United States to inform the House '- what appropriation will be required to
enable him to fortify Thompson's Island, usually called Key West, and whether
a naval depot established at that Island, protected by fortifications, will not
afford facilities in defending the commerce of the United States, and in clearing
the Gulf of Mexico and the adjacent seas from pirates," has the honor to re-
port: That the geographical situation of the island referred to in the resolu-
tion, has for some time past attracted attention, and been considered peculiarly
important, both as a military position and in reference to the commerce of the
"The commander of one of our public vessels, cruising in that quarter, was
accordingly directed last winter to touch at this island and take possession of
it as a part of the territory ceded by Spain to the United States, and to make
such general examination as might be useful in forming an opinion of the .ad-
vantages of the place, and the propriety of a further and more particular sur-
vey. From the report of Lieutenant Commandant Perry, who was charged
with this duty, it has been satisfactorily ascertained that this position affords
a safe, convenient and extensive harbor for vessels of war and merchant ves-
sels. His instructions, however, did not require him to make so minute a sur-
vey as was'necessary, in order to judge of the extent to which this place might
be safely and advantageously occupied and improved as a naval dep6t.
"Captain Patterson has since been instructed to make a further examination
and survey, and is now engaged in that business; his report may be expected
before the adjournment of Congress. There can be no doubt, however, of the
importance of this island and its contiguous waters, in various points of view.
The harbor affords a safe and convenient rendezvous for our public vessels
cruising in the West Indies and the Gulf of Mexico, and the island a very
suitable depot for provisions and supplies. From the peculiar dangers of the
navigation along the coast and among the Florida Keys, our merchant vessels
are frequently driven by distress to seek a harbor; and, for want of one in our
own waters, are under the necessity of making a port in the island of Cuba,
which subjects them to considerable additional expense. This island also
affords a very eligible dep6t for wrecked property, and which is highly neces-
sary and advantageous when the navigation is attended with so many dangers
and difficulties. We are at this time in a great measure dependent on the
wreckers of New Providence, for the protection of our property in case
of shipwreck. This not only gives employment to a great number of foreign
vessels and seamen, but it subjects our merchants to heavy expenses. These
are some of the obvious benefits of this position in time of peace; but its ad-
vantages in time of war with any European power having West India posses-
sions are still more important, both as it respects the protection of our own
commerce and the annoyance of our enemy. An enemy with- a superior naval
force occupying this position, could completely intercept the whole trade be-
tween those parts of our country lying north and east of it and those to the
west, and seal up all our ports within the Gulf of Mexico. It may therefore
be safely answered, to one branch of" the inquiry made by the resolution, that
ifthis island is susceptible of defence, a naval depot established there would
afford a great facility in protecting our commerce, and aid in the suppression
of piracy. But this Department has not the means at present of forming any
estimate of the appropriation necessary for protecting and defending this po-
sition by permanent fortifications, or of determining whether it is even prac-
ticable. It is believed, however, that it is susceptible of such defence, at an
expense that would be justified by the importance of the place; but to form
any tolerably satisfactory estimate of the amount, an accurate survey and cal-
c lation, by competent engineers, is indispensably necessary.
This island is considered so advantageous and convenient a place of ren-
dezvous for our public vessels on the West India station, that it is intended to
make it a dep6t for provisions and supplies for the expedition against
the pirates, lately authorized by Congress, to be secured in temporary build-
ings, under the protection of a guard of marines.
"All which is respectfully submitted."
"The President of the United States."
Commodore Porter's communications to the Department abound in expres-
sions which show his high appreciation of the advantages likely to result
from the occupation of the island by the United States as a naval station. Un-
der date of May 11th, 1823, when asking for an increased number of vessels and
men, he said:
From the importance of the trade of Cuba and the Gulf of Mexico, the
whole of which is protected from this place, with a force not equal to one
frigate, I presume my requests will not be considered extravagant. The arri-
vals and departures of American vessels from the port of Havana alone, aver-
age about thirty per week, and those from Matanzas about twenty. Not a day
elapses but that great numbers of American vessels are to be met passing
through the Gulf, ard since an establishment here, they daily in numbers pass
in sight of us. 1 mention these facts to give you an idea of the importance of
this station and to show the propriety of augmenting the force by the addi-
tions which I have asked."
Under date of November 19th, 1823, he said: The fixing an establishment
at Thompson's Island for rendezvous and supplies has had a most halpy effect
in attaining the object had in view. Its vicinity to Havana, placed, as it were,
in the thoroughfare of vessels sailing through the Gulf, making it, in many
points of view, an object of great importance to the United States."
Commodore Rodgers thus mentions the island under date-of November 24th:
"Nature has made it the advance post from which to watch and guard our
commerce passing to and from the Mississippi, while at the same time, its pe-
culiar situation, and the excellence of its harbor, point it out as the most' cer-
tain key to the commerce of the Havana, to that of the whole Gulf of Mex-
ico. and to the returning trade of Jamaica; and I venture to predict, that the
first important naval contest in which this country shall be engaged, will be in
the neighborhood of this very island."
On the 16th of April, 1823, as if anticipating the trials that were soon
thereafter experienced, Commodore Porter wrote: In the present state of
the establishment, it will be in vain to look for the comforts, which the fatigue
of the kind of life we now lead make more necessary to us than they would be
at other times, without the convenience which a ship affords." Sickness pre-
vailed this summer to a great extent, and we find the reports of the officers to
the Department and from the Department to the President replete with explan-
nations as to the causes, and apprehensions as to the effects upon the perma-
nency of the establishment. Had the necessary number of medical men been
furnished this year," wrote Commodore Porter, the squadron would have been
no aoubt in a great measure saved from the deplorable consequences which
have resulted, as the disease, in its commencement, was completely under the
control of medicine; but I regret to say that several perished without receiv-
ing any medical aid whatever,' and without ever seeing a physician."
From the depressing influence which this sickness had upon the growth of
the settlement for some years, the following extracts are given from tle report to
Commodore Rodgers made by Surgeons Harris, Washington, Hoffman and
Williamson, dated "U. S. Schooner Shark, Thompson's Island, October 29th,
"To these miasmatic causes of disease were added others of equal if not
greater magnitude. They have arisen, 1st. From the sudden exposure of
Northern constitutions to a tropical climate at a period when the ordinary re-
laxing effects of a change from a cold to a warm season were aggravated by a
difference of 14 or 15 degrees of Southern latitude. From this cause, they
were, in the space of two or three weeks, operated upon by an increase of
temperature of at least 50 degrees.
"2d. From the grelit fatigue and exposure by day and night of the officers
and crews engaged in the boat service, and from the want of comfortable quar-
ters for those who had encamped on the island.
3d. From irregular and frequently intemperate habits.
4th. From being too often deprived of fresh and wholesome provisions.
5th. From the continued annoyance of mosquitoes and flies, which deprived
the men of their accustomed rest. So insupportable, indeed, became these
troublesome insects, that the men were frequently obliged to retire to the beach,
where they walked the greater part of the night. Others, we have been in-
formed by the officers of the station, would row off in boats some distance from
the shore, and thus expose themselves either to the heavy dews or drenching
rains peculiar to the climate.
6th. From being operated upon by the depressing passions arising fiom ap-
prehension awakened by the the prevailing epidemic, and by the obvious want
of comforts by those who were affected with disease.
"These fruitful sources of fevers will abundantly account for their extent and
fatality. Taking into consideration the great liability of persons from the higher
latitudes to disease, when even slightly exposed to hardships in the tropics, it
ought not to be a subject of surprise that the severely arduous service, in
which our officers and crews have been engaged, has occasioned so many sacri-
fices of valuable lives."-
They state that with the exception of one case of yellow fever, bilious fever
prevailed until 20th June, and the cases yielded readily to the agency of
medicine, at which time it assumed in many instances a highly malignant
"This disease now commenced on board the store ship Decoy, which was
rendered unhealthful by the impurity of her hold, a quantity of ballast was put
on board from this island, containing shell-fish and sea-weed, which, by the
heat of a tropical climate, was thrown into a state of putrefactive fermentation.
Two of the cases, however, which occurred on board this vessel, were con-
tracted by imprudent exposure to a noonday heat in the streets of Havana."
The Secretary of the Navy, under date of September 21st, drew the attention
of the President to the impropriety of abandoning the island. "It ought not,"
said he, "readily be deserted. It is very desirable to save it," and Commodore
Rodgers wrote a letter to the Secretary on the 16th November, containing these
"U. S. SCHOONER SHARK, HAMPTON ROADS, Nov. 16, 1823.-From the little ex-
perience I have had, my opinion is that the climate of Thompson's Island is
similar to that of the West India Islands generally; that its air is perhaps less
salubrious than some. but more so than others; and that notwithstanding the
objections which may be urged against it, on account of particular defects aris-
ing from its small elevation above the level of the sea, the unevenness of its
surface, and the many salt and fresh water ponds which it is said to contain,
still, that it is, from the excellence of its harbor and its peculiar station on the
map of this Western Hemisphere, too important an object, in a political and
commercial point of view, to be suffered to remain unoccupied and unregarded,
for, admitting its climate, in its present unimproved state, to be as unfriendly
to health as even that of the Colony of Surinam, it is, notwithstanding, sus-
ceptible of being so improved, or at least, the dangers attending it so much di-
minished, by artificial means (such as I will hereafter describe), as to render
the objections to it, if not harmless, at least comparatively small."
These remonstrances had the desired effect in preventing the abandonment
of the island, but apprehensions of disease continued to exert an influence, as
in more recent periods, to repress the progress of Governmental improvements,
notwithstanding the endorsement of Commodore Porter. "The malady with
which the naval forces wera afflicted," wrote the Commodore, "had its origin
in the excessive severity of the duty performed, and the total absence of every
description of comfort. The disease was contracted among the haunts of the
pirates on the coast of Cuba, and not, as is generally supposed, at Key West."
Although the early recognition by the Government, of the importance of the
island for all commercial and maritime purposes, undoubtedly tended to advance
eventually the interests o^ the proprieters, they were, for a time, subjected to
much inconvenience and loss. They were not allowed to do what they would
with their own, even occupancy of their own buildings being under restraint.
Quantities of wood were cut from their land, sheep and swine that they had
purchased and turned looss upon the island were appropriated to the use of
the land and naval forces, and various other impositions had to be submitted
to, for which they never received any remuneration, mainly on the ground that
their damages ware not sufficiently detailed to admit of a specific valuation in
dollars and cents.
NOTE E, PAGE 14.
LIST OF JUDICIAL OFFICERS OF THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF FLORIDA.
Obtained from the Stato Dopartment through the courtesy of the Hon. John
L. Cadwalader, Acting Secretary of State.
James Webb.........May 26, 1828
S .......March 17, 1832
"t ........March 14, 1836
William Marvin....... March 3, 1847
William A. MeRae... .April 20, 1828
John '. Stower ......May 26, 1829
John K. Campbell.....April 5, 1830
Edward Chandler...... May 8, 1834
William Marvin....... June 20, 1S35
Charles Walker..... .Ma:rc 26, 1839
L. Windsor Smith.....July 21, 1840
George W. Macrao. .August 24, 1842
W. W. Lawrence'.September 9, 1863
Thos. J. Boynton,.... October 19, 1863
John A. McKinney. November 8, 1870
James W. Locke... .February 1, 1872
L. Windsor Smith..November 3, 1847
William R. Hackley. August 27, 18 0
John L. Tatum.......March 1. 1858
Thos. JetY. Boynton. ..April 5, 1861
Homer G. Plantz...... May 28, 1868
C. R1. Mobley..........June 2, 1869
G. B. Patterson... .February 6, 1875
Henry Wilson........ May 26, 1828 Walter C. Maloney..... Sept. 24, 1S50
Lackland M. Stone......Mar. 4, 1830 Fernando J. Moreno....May 15, 1858
Thomas Eastin ..... .Dec 20, 1832 James C. Clapp..... .July 22, 1861
Charles M Wells.......June 8, 1836 George D. Allen.......July 15, 1870
Joseph B. Browne..... May 25, 1840 James G. Joucs.......Feb. 24, 1875
The first name mentioned in Force's Register and Blue Book," in connection
with the Marshalship, is John Dean. but there is no record of any commission
issued to him.
NOTE F, PAGE 17.
THu following named gentlemen constitute the City government at present:
C. M. D CESPEDES, layor.
W. H. McCtLIlocK, Presided of Boiard of Aldermen.
GLO. B. PHILLIPS,
W M. ARTRELL,
JOHN JAY PHILBRTIC,
BENJAtMIN ROBERTS, ,,d~ae .
WILLIAM S. CURnY,
JAtiDs A. ROBERTS,
JosS J. FQUEROA.
JoHN V. CORNELL, Clerk
JOS PI FAGAN, iMarshad.
WILLIAM CURRY, Treasui'r.
W. 0. MAtX aY, J., City Atorney.
Did not aooept.
NOTE G, PAGE 18.
COLLECTORS OF THE CUSTOMS.
KEY WEST was made a District May 7th, 1822. The first Collector, Joel
Yancy, was from Glascow, Kentucky. Mr. Yancy did not remain on the island,
but left a Mr. Dawloy as his Deputy and Mr. Samuel Ayres as Inspector. Mr.
Dawley died in June, 1823, and Mr. Ayres having resigned, the islanders were
subjected to great inconvenience. Mr. Thornton, the purser of the port, took
charge of the office, but at the request of the officer in command, Mr. Ayres
assumed the duties as acting Collector on January 1st, 1824, but only served
until the 15th of January, when, it is thought, some Revenue officer had
arrived to fill the office temporarily, as no name is found to fill the position from
January I5th, 1824, to October 5th, 1824.
DATE OF ENTRANCE
COMMISSION. UPON DUTIES.
Joel Yancy........ .........
Samuel Ayres (Acting). ..........
John Whitehead....... February
William Pinkney....... July
Algernon S. Thurston.. April
William A. Whitehead. November
Adwn Gordon.......... June
Stephen R. Mallory..... July
Samuel J. Douglass.... August
John T. Baldwin....... March
Charles Howe.......... March
W. G.Vance........... April
Charles M. Hamilton... February
Frank N. Wicker....... October
........ December 19, 1822.
........ January 1,1824.
22, 1824. October 5, 1824.
4, 1S29. May 2, 1829.
S, 1830. January 23,1831.
0, 1688. July 1, 1838.
17, 1S45. September 18, 1845.
9,1849. October 1,1849.
[, 1853. May 9, 1S53.
, 1861. May 25,1861.
12,1869. July 27,1889.
10,1873. April 1,1873.
14, 1873. October
January 22, 131.
September 30, 1549.
March 31, 1873.
October 31, 1873.
14, S73 ....... ......
NOTE H, PAGE 20.
COMPw RATIVE statement, showing the total value of Imports from, and of Do-
mestic and Foreign Exports to, the principal Foreign Countries, at the Districts
named, during the fiscal year ending June 30, 1875.
IN TOTAL. DOMESTIC.OREIGN. TOTAL.
St. Johs, Fla.. $472 $1.662 $134 1 79,470 $72 $79.542
Charleston S C. 200.521 479.88 6SA.343 19.655.966 19 655.966
SAvannah b. 5&s.a9( 402.305 75i5 011 s26.666.6f 29,66,666
Mobile, Ai ..... 440,5t9 647,176 1,087,745 10,11,60 9 .132.188
Key West, Fa.. 741,985 9,427 751,412 591,836 32.795 4.651
VALUES .aS DUTIcs on Foreign Merchandise entered into Consumption, etc.
DISTRICTS. VALUES. DUTIES. TOAL TOT
Charleston, S. C....... 21,310 00 07 $658,557 00 $80,656 72
1* 13.727 O0 6,07.; 77t
Savannah, Ga. ....... 44.707 00 5.58 3 758,434 00 60,625 09
Mobile, Ala............ 1* 33,98 00 1 5.320 1 1.094,215 00 19,395 79
it 1,0f;0,929 00 4,075 6.3
Key West, Fla .......544 5 6 756,703 69 290,865 03
St. Johns, Fla......... 2, 51 2,133 51 417 94
ARRIVALS OF PASSENGERS, other than citizens of the United States, and the
NUMBER OF VESSELS BUILT during the fiscal year ending June 30th, 1875, and
the NUMBER OF VESSELS OWNED at each of the Districts.
PASSENGERS ARRIVED. VESSELS VESSELS OWNED.
MALES. ES. TOTAL. NO. TONS. SAI- ST R TOTALNO. TONS.
MALES. ING. MERS.
St. Johns, Fla......... 5 22 27 2,569
Charleston. S. C...... 43 19 62 8 113 152 21 173 6,938
Savannah. G:i.......... 2 32 29 19 4s 9.463
Mobile, Ala................ 3 33 61 29 90 7.555
Key West ......... 929 886 1,815 6 139 104 2 106 2,915
VESSELS BUILT AND OWNED IN KEY WEST.
YEAR. TONS. YEAR. TONS.
1 1835 Sloop Mary McIntosh*... 10 17 1868 Schr. Mary Elizabeth....... 9
2 1846 Schr.Yonlce................. 10 18 186S Schr. Gem of the Sea...... 18
8 184S Schr. G. L. Bowne ......... 120 19 1S9 Schr. Annie....... ....... 18
4 1849 Schr. Enphemia.......... 134 20 1870 Schr. Louisa ... ........ 18
5 1853 Schr. Florida...........:... 171 21 1S70 Schr. W. G. Vance... ..... 18
6 1855 Ship S.R. Mallory-t...... .. 9S 22 1871 Schr. Ada'andNorman...... 9
7 1856 Schr. Libbie Shepard....... 120 23 1871 Schr. Wild Eagle .......... 18
8 1856 Schr. Amelia Ann.......... 139 24 1a72 Schr. Fairy........ 5
9 1857 Schr. Gipsy............... 149 25 1873 Schr. Champion............ 33
10 1857 Schr. Fairy ............... 16 26 1873 Schr. Carrier.............. 10
11 1857 Schr. Dudley..... ....... 36 27 1875 Schr. Rose Bud .............12
12 1858 Schr. Velocity...... ....... 107 28 1875 Schr. Lilly.. ............ 44
13 1859 Schr. Matchless.......... 159 29 1875 Schr. Emma L Low........ 49
14 1853 Schr. Independent.... ..... 9 30 1875 Sloop Nellie Pinder......... 6
15 1(65 Schr Sea Gull.. ..... ...40 31 1876 Schr. Centennial........... 18
16 1668 Schr. Hero ............ ...... 20
*Built by.Mr. John Bartlum, on the north side of Whitehead street, near Caroline
street. She was 32 feet In the keel.
t The largest vessel ever built in Florida; also by Mr. Bartlum.
VESSELS BUILT IN MONROE COUNTY FOR KEY WEST OWNERS.
YEAR. TONS. YEAR. TONS.
1 1840 Schr Lavina, (Kcy Vaccas). 13 4 1873 Sloop Euphemia, Ind'n Key 12
2 1841 Schr. Jane Ann, 9 5 1874 Schr. Clyde, 14
3 1872 Schr. Emma, Indian Key... 12 6 1875 Schr. Race, 28
NOTE I, PAGE 24.
MR. E. C. HOWE has kindly furnished the following statement of the product
of the Salt Pond since 1845:
1845....... 2 ,000 1854.............................. 43.000
1846--Hurricane destroyed it. 1855........ ............. 75,000
1847........ .................. 40.000 1856... ..... ................. 70,000
1848...... .................. ..... 35,000 1857............................ 70.000
1849................................ 40,000 1858.... ........ ........ ... ... 5050
1850............................... 35,000 1859........................ .. ..60.000
1851........ .............. ....... 38.000 1860........................ .. 65,000
1852.................. ...... ..... 48.000 1861..................... ....... 80,000
1853................ .............. 42,000
From 1862 to 1868, on account of the war, nothing was done, and frbm 1868 to 1871,
while settling up the estate of W. C. Dennis, only a few bushels were made by the men.
1871....................... ......... 15,000 1874............................. 20,000
1872................................ 25,000 1875............... ... .... 25,000
1873................ ......... 0,000 1876.... ......................... 28,000
By the recent hurricane of October 19th and 20th. 1876, about 15,000 bushels of salt
were washed away and considerable injury done to the works.
NOTE J, PAGE 30.
LIST OF POSTMASTERS at Key West, Monroe County, Florida, with the dates
of their appointments:
Office established........ ..Feb. 18,1829 Royal L. Hicks ......... ...June 2, 1849
Henry S. Waterhouse... ...Feb. 18,1829 Joseph C. Whalton... ......Mar. 11, 1,53
Alexander Patterson........Apr. 11, 1833 Henry Albury ...............May 7, 1661
Alden A. M. Jackson....... Apr. 12 1826 George Phillips, by the Pres't. Oct. 14, 1865
L. Windsor Smith .........Mar. 29, 1839 The office became Presidential Oct. 14, 1865
Walter C Maloney....... ...Aug. 1, 1844 Eldridge L. Ware............. Apr. 16. 1866
Joseph C. Whalton...........Aug. 2, 1845 who is the present incumbent.
NOTE K. PAGE 31.
[From the Key West Gazette, March 21, 1831.]
AT A MEETING of the Town Council of Key West, on Monday evening, March
On motion of Mr. W. A. Whitehead, it was Resolved, That the President of
the Town Council be requested to call a public meeting of the citizens of Key
West, for the purpose of adopting measures for obtaining the settlement of a
clergyman on the island and the establishment of a school.
In pursuance of this resolution a public meeting of the citizens was held at
the Council Room on the eveningof Tuesday, March 9th.
The Hon. James Webb was called to the chair and W. A. Whitehead ap-
David C. Pinkham, Esq., offered the following resolutions for the considera-
tion of the meeting:
Resolved, That a Committee of six persons be appointed to ascertain, as far
as practicable, the amount which can be raised by subscription for the support
of a minister of the Gospel, and also what number of children would become
scholars upon the establishment of a school.
Resolved Further, That the said Committee be requested to draft a suitable
communication to the Bishop of the Episcopal Church of the State of New
York, setting forth the object of this meeting, and requesting him to procure
and send a person for the purpose here proposed, and that the said Committee
make a report on Saturday evening, 12tl inst.
Messrs. Chandler, Pinkham and Stoddard severally addressed the meeting,
when upon putting the question as to the passing of the resolutions, it waA
carried in the affirmative.
On motion it was
Resolved, That Hon. James WVebb, Judge of the Superior Court for the
Southern Judicial District of Florida, Hon. David Coffin Pinkham, Judge of
the County Court for Monroe County, Wm. A. Whitehead, Esq., Collector of
the Customs of the Port of Key West, Col. L. M. Stone, U. S. Marshal for the
Southern District of Florida, B. B. Strobel, M. D., Surgeon of the Military
Post, and Henry S. Waterhouse, M. D., Postmaster of Key West, be the Com-
mittee for carrying into effect the objects contemplated.
The meeting was adjourned to Saturday evening, March 12th.
A public meeting of the citizens was held at the Council Rooms. on the
evening of Saturday, March 12th. agreeable to adjournment.
Mr. PinKham, from the Committee appointed at the previous meeting, re-
ported that they had obtained tile necessary information called for by the res-
olution then adopted, and laid before the meeting the draft of a letter to the
Right Rev. Benjamin T. Onderdonk, Bishop of the State of New York, which
was approved and accepted of.
On motion of Mr. J. Whitehead, it was
Resolved, That the Committee as it now is, be constituted a Standing Com-