Pirate lore and treasure trove
 Medical events in the history of...
 Some reflections on the Florida...
 The adjudication of shipwrecking...
 Population growth in Miami and...
 Select bibliography for history...
 Back Matter

Title: Tequesta
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00101446/00006
 Material Information
Title: Tequesta
Physical Description: Serial
Language: English
Creator: Historical Association of Southern Florida
Publisher: (multiple)
Publication Date: 1946
Copyright Date: 2010
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00101446
Volume ID: VID00006
Source Institution: Historical Museum of Southern Florida
Holding Location: Florida International University: Florida History and Heritage
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 2096319
lccn - 42015131
issn - 0363-3705


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Table of Contents
        Page 1
        Page 2
    Pirate lore and treasure trove
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
    Medical events in the history of Key West
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
        Page 37
    Some reflections on the Florida of long ago
        Page 38
        Page 39
        Page 40
        Page 41
        Page 42
        Page 43
    The adjudication of shipwrecking in Florida in 1831
        Page 44
        Page 45
        Page 46
        Page 47
        Page 48
        Page 49
    Population growth in Miami and Dade County, Florida
        Page 50
        Page 51
        Page 52
        Page 53
        Page 54
        Page 55
    Select bibliography for history of South Florida
        Page 56
        Page 57
        Page 58
        Page 59
        Page 60
        Page 61
    Back Matter
        Page 62
        Page 63
        Page 64
Full Text


Editor: Charlton W. Tebeau


Pirate Lore and Treasure Trove 3
David O. True

Medical Events in the History of Key West 14
Albert W. Diddle

Some Reflections on the Florida of Long Ago 38
John C. Gifford

The Adjudication of Shipwrecking in Florida in 1831 44
Albert W. Diddle

Population Growth in Miami and Dade County, Florida 50
James J. Carney

Select Bibliography for History of South Florida 56
The Publications Committee

Contributors 61


t esf is published annually by the Historical Association of Southern Florida
Sand the University of Miami as a bulletin of the University. Subscrip-
tion, $1.00. Communications should be addressed to the editor at the University of Miami.
Neither the Association nor the University assumes responsibility for statements of fact
or of opinion made by the contributors.

This Page Blank in Original
Source Document

Pirates and Treasure Trove
of South Florida

The history of piracy in America had its roots in Hakluyt's compilation
of the "Principall Navigations, Voiages and Discoveries of the English
Nation" in 1589. Almost one hundred years later, in 1678, Esquemeling's
classic "Bucaniers of America" was printed in Dutch. It was received
with a flood of enthusiasm, being translated into Spanish, French and
English. In England it was the best seller of its times, and it was issued
in tides of editions and additions. Not since then has there been a better
account written of the doughty Henry Morgan, his butchering contem-
poraries or their bloody cohorts, than was so indelibly inscribed by this
erudite Dutchman who 'went a piriting' with them. In 1724 Capt. Chas.
Johnson issued his "History of the Pyrates," another monumental work
on the latter day champions of individualism, and by many it is regarded
as the greatest of all pirate books.
In the early years of piracy, the Spanish treasure fleets sailed by way
of the Windward Passage east of Cuba or the Old Bahama Channel
along its north coast. But the English occupancy of Jamaica and the
French pirates at Tortuga made these routes too dangerous. The golden
argosies, making up at Havana, coasted along with the Gulf Stream in
the New Bahama Channel, flanking the east coast of Florida. Thus
these ships became doubly vulnerable to depredations from bases on this
peninsula. First when sailing in "the great arc" along the north coast
of the Gulf of Mexico the "Flota" made its way from Vera Cruz to
Havana, when the west coast pirates took toll. Again, when the almost
unmanageable, but gorgeous galleons wallowed, drifted and sailed to-
ward the north tip of the Bahamas, the east coast pirates had oppor-
tunity to assault them once more. The Spanish held St. Augustine,
Pensacola, St. Marks, and some other small centers, but the few sorties


that they made toward the suppression of piracy were totally ineffective.
Florida became a great golden horseshoe, from which pirates operated
almost at will, cutting out rich galleons and snuggling down in the
recesses of her coves, bays and rivers. Nature, too, took sides in the
unequal struggle; many great fleets of Spain were caught in hurricanes
and tossed to their doom on our reefs and shores. There was no Esquem-
eling or Dampier to record the exploits of these early years. We find
an account here and there in Spanish records, and piece the picture from
other information that we glean much as an archaeologist unfolds the
forgotten past. The towns of Florida were more apt to be sites of poverty,
and too often of starvation, not of riches, and there was no glamour
where there was no loot. In respect to the period beginning a century
and a half ago, history has been treated more generously and we know,
sometimes in detail, what the pirates of those days were like.
Under the waters of Choctawhatchee Bay are the wrecks of a dozen
pirate ships, some dating after the American occupation, and culminating
with the glamorous story of Billy "Bowlegs" Rogers and his millions.
Farther down the coast, near Apalachicola, is a place on the Costal
Highway where the sign reads "Money Bayou." Here it is recorded,
the pirate Copeland in late years buried money in three kegs, which
were duly discovered according to directions on the chart, but disappeared
into the quick sands when disturbed. Up the river from Apalachicola is
another kind of treasure, the sunken steamer "Alice," which went down
with 300 barrels of whiskey on board, worth somewhere between $300,000
and $600,000. She lies under twenty-eight feet of accumulated clay and
sand, and a well known diver has twice made his way down to the hull,
and vows that he will get the cargo next time.
Near St. Marks, I am told, the pirate Lewis Leland made his head-
quarters. Along the northwest coast are five different headstones, bearing
his name and date of birth and death, and each was a marker for a
treasure that he had buried. He had the happy habit of marooningg"
large numbers of his crew, so it is not too surprising that he passed in
his chips with a knife in his back.
Farther south along the shore are the Anclote Keys, one of the few
names according to Mr. Marchman that have come down to us un-
changed. These keys were the home of a nest of pirates sufficiently strong
to capture Ft. St. Marks, as detailed by Dr. Boyd of Tallahassee.*
Charlotte Harbor was the home of numerous pirates, the best known
of whom was Gasparilla, to whom Tampa owes so much of her fame and
* "The Fortifications of San Marcos de Apalache," a pamphlet reprinted from the
Florida Historical Society Quarterly, Vol. XV, No. 1, 1936.


glory. According to charts, the treasures that he and his men buried
are to be found on various islands in the bay and at some places on the
adjoining mainland.
On Sanibel Island, Black Caesar spent a last couple of years, after
leaving Biscayne Bay and before having his career ended for him at
Key West.
Just north of Miami, near the little town of Ojus, a couple of pirates,
famous two centuries ago, careened their ships and made their head-
quarters on Snake Creek, then known as Rattlesnake Creek.
Farther north along the coast, numerous inlets provided shelter to
various purveyors of misery and misfortune, all the way to Amelia
Island and one time sleepy Fernandina, whose history alone would fill
a modest volume.
All the books that contain any worth while data on piracy in Florida
would constitute a very scant private library. Those that tell us about
our own small corner of the state are very few.
There are the Spanish and the English "Cotejas," pertaining to the
wrecks, and containing acrimonious accusations in both languages. "Flight
into Oblivion" by Prof. J. A. Hanna of Rollins College, details an
engagement between the fleeing General Breckinridge and pirates oc-
cupying Ft. Dallas, in what is now the downtown area of Miami.
Dau's "Florida, Old and New" and two of Verrill's books, "They Found
Gold" and "Romantic & Historic Florida" contain some accounts of
interest. Both authors mention the plate fleet that went down near
Carysfort, and from the lucidity of one relation, the author must have
been on at least one of the wrecked ships as she was battered to pieces
on the reefs amid spume and spray. Residents of Miami will be de-
lighted to read the story of the colored man who dug up a treasure chest
and purchased a large interest in one of our principal department stores
with the proceeds. Those of us who heed current gossip will recognize
both the individual and the estate on which the iron bound chest was
Both authors, too, relate the loss of the Santa Margarita, the site of
which they place near Palm Beach. This was one of the world's fab-
ulously rich ships, and there is hardly a book regarding treasure that
does not mention her. Various writers and salvage experts have placed
the wreck all the way from Palm Beach to the Mona Passage. A deep
sea diver, repairing a cable to Cuba during the Spanish American War,
announced that he had found this wreck, and a ship was especially fitted


out to salvage its millions. Only some souvenirs were found, the salvage
ship was wrecked and a book was written about the venture. If a writer
can place a deep sea cable at Palm Beach or near there, I see no reason
why he cannot place the galleon there too! One of the earliest works
that I have is a copy of a small pamphlet of a dozen pages, printed in
Havana in 1622. It tells of the wrecking of the Santa Margarita, together
with the flagship of the plate fleet, off Matacumbe. Miraculously, many
of the passengers and crew escaped.
Another book that is admittedly fiction is "Coral Ship" by Kirk
Munroe. Any boy of sixty or so can light his pipe and get one more thrill
by reading this fascinating yarn spun around a treasure ship of Black
Caesar's era, located on one of the keys of Biscayne Bay.
One more book, the "Commodore's Story," by Munroe and Gilpin,
should be read by every resident of South Florida. It contains an inimit-
able history of early beginnings of Coconut Grove and Miami. Mention
is made of Black Caesar and Parson Jones. There is one short chapter
devoted to local treasures, including the find of Ned Pent, also the "Sil-
ver Ship" at New River.
On page 301, we read as follows: "Wide interest was excited iin the
early days of the Bay by a report that 'old man Brown', beachcomber,
had found a fortune. He was an early settler who had a small and solitary
house on New River Sound, not far from the south end. Walking the
beach after a severe hurricane he found two bars of metal exposed by
the cutting away of the sand, which he took to be lead. Shortly after,
in Key West, he sold them as lead, and very soon after heard that they
were really silver! Hastening back to New River, he found that the surf
had already covered the spot with sand so deeply that he could find
nothing more.
For many years there were frequent attempts to find the timbers of
this wreck again, without success. Every spring the boys-Dick Carney,
Harry Peacock and others-would go to New River turtling, making
a grand lark of the affair, and staying a month or more. There was a
small canal, cut during the Seminole War, between New River and Hills-
boro, by which they could go quite near to Hillsboro Rocks, where Brown
was said to have picked up his bars, and of course a considerable amount
of the turtlers' time was spent in that neighborhood! At last Jennings-
a Carolinian, who had started an extensive planting of tomatoes, with
contract labor, south of Coconut Grove-became so much interested in
this quest that he offered to finance a more carefully planned effort.


A company was formed and incorporated in order to insure exclusive
right to what might be found, and for a few shares of stock the Com-
modore designed a caisson whereby the wreck might be uncovered when
found. The whole affair got into the papers, with a solid page in the New
York Sunday 'Herald', which rather annoyed Jennings. The Commodore
told him, jokingly, that this was a 'wonderful opportunity. Nothing
attracts the public as much as a treasure, and' if you were mean enough
you could make a fortune by selling this stock.' He took it half seriously,
and answered with great indignation, 'Well, I might be a gambler and
a blackleg-but I wouldn't do that', and the Commodore could only
answer heartily, 'Bully for you'.
They went at the search with determination, eventually got on the
timbers of the wreck, and actually found some curiosities and a few
coins, but never recovered anything of substantial value. In the course
of the search they discovered the remains of an old privateer, surrounded
by cast-iron guns. Several of these were recovered, and mounted as
decorations in the lakefront sea-wall of the Clarke property at Palm
Beach, which now occupies the site of "Cap" Dimmick's old hotel, the
Coconut Grove House."
I have talked with some of the men who camped on the sand ridge
about nine miles north of Ft. Lauderdale, where this treasure ship had been
driven ashore in a hurricane. Some of the group who worked on the
wreck, said that a stranger with a chart had stopped with a local judge.
He told that thirteen sailors had survived the storm, had packed
gold about their persons and started trudging north along the beach.
Their burdens became too heavy, so they buried this money about four
miles north of the wreck, and almost every year someone does a lot of heavy
digging around Boca Raton. All but one of these men were killed by
Indians, and the one who escaped gave the chart to the man who brought
it to Miami. A local group put up enough money to purchase a diving
outfit, in which one of the men explored the ship,, finding that the silver
bars had corroded into a solid mass that they were unble to break up.
They placed a half stick of dynamite on it, and it all sank out of sight;
so they gave up. All but the persistent man who had done the diving.
He sold off his real estate, hired salvaging equipment at Jacksonville,
and without anyone knowing about it except the hired crew, he took up
all the silver. Then he went to New York City,, where he joined an ex-
clusive club and bought a membership on the New York Stock Exchange;
a man of means, even in that part of the world. Finally, a local resident
firmly anchored his ship with the stern against the old hulk, and let the


propeller wash her out. Some dozens of wine jars were broken to bits,
and the captain told me that he had been advised later that these had
contained gold ore, and that he had washed a fortune into the sands
along side.
Since the earliest dates of Florida history there have been recorded
the wrecking of ships along our south coast. During the first century
after its discovery, Indians salvaged valuables from the wrecks, and mur-
dered various of the survivors. Private wreckers came from Cuba and
found their salvaging adventures so profitable that the Governor of
Cuba wrote to His Majesty suggesting that the government take a
hand in the recoveries. It was not until 1714 that one of the events of
greatest importance in our region took place; the wrecking of a whole
plate fleet, except one vessel, on Carysfort Reef. This one ship brought
back the sad tidings that thirteen others had been lost, some of them
great galleons, loaded with silver from Peru, gold from South America
and the Philippines, silks from China, and spices and dyes from the Indies.
Also, nearly all the passengers and crews had been lost. Almost no time
was lost in bringing divers and diving bells from Spain to begin 'fishing"
on the wrecks. The pirates of Florida, from Providence across the chan-
nel, and even from Jamaica, swarmed like vultures on the reef. Within
two years the thrifty Governor Spotswood of Virginia had dispatched a
ship, the "Virgin" of Virginia, to hunt up the wrecks and take a hand.
Incidentally, and unfortunately for the "Virgin," she met up with a
Spanish Man of War within a couple of days out, and was promptly
escorted to Puerto Rico. Just ten years later Capt. Chas. Johnson, al-
ready mentioned in the Introduction to this book, tells of these wrecks
in this fashion.:
"It was about two years before, that the Spanish Galleons, or Plate
Fleet, had been cast away in the Gulf of Florida; and several Vessels from
Havana, were at work, with diving Engines, to fish up the Silver that
was on board the Galleons.
The Spaniards had recovered some Millions of Pieces of Eight, and
had carried it all to Havana; but they had present about 350,000
Pieces of Eight in Silver, then upon the Spot, and were daily taking up
more. In the meantime, two ships, and three Sloops, fitted out from
Jamaica, Barbadoes, etc., under Captain Henry Jennings, sail'd to the
Gulf, and found the Spaniards there upon the Wreck; the Money before
spoken of, was left on Shore, deposited in a Storehouse, under the gov-
ernment of two Commissaries, and a Guard of about 60 Soldiers.


The Rovers came directly upon the place, bringing their little Fleet
to an Anchor, and in a Word, landing 300 Men, they attacked the Guard,
who immediately ran away; and thus they seized the Treasure, which
they carried off, making the best of their way to Jamaica."
Thus was the art of highjacking introduced to Florida not far from
Miami's own door steps. And not so far either from Key West, which
spawned those hardy acquisitive wreckers of a century later. Off Key
Largo the pirates assembled a whole fleet to do their own salvaging
on these wrecks; all were under the direction of this same Henry Jen-
It was just a little north of this that Black Caesar had his base of
operations until he was driven out by fear, leaving so suddenly that
part of his men were still at sea when a pilot guided him to the West
coast. Since he is sort of "home folks," we regard him with more than
ordinary interest. Many years ago, a colored preacher reached Miami,
coming from the Carolinas, according to Munroe and Gilpin. He con-
fided to Dr. Gifford that he had brought with him a chart to some treasure
locations, probably Caesar's, and had made recovery of three out of four
locations. At the meeting of the State Society at the Biltmore Hotel,
there was displayed a chart of Black Caesar's treasure location. It
was loaned by Miss Marie Cappick of Key West, who has a wealth of
treasure lore. From another source, I quote as follows: "Caesar was an
escaped negro slave, half Scotch from his father and a negro mother.
Escaped and joined the pirates, and worked himself up. He moved to
San Carlos Bay on the west coast when settlers began to settle along
the east coast. Was finally whipped and captured and taken to Key
West by U. S. Sailors where he was burned to death tied to a tree,
fire lit by widow of the preacher from Baltimore whose eyes he had
burned out and who engineered his capture on Sanibel Island. When he
moved he took his treasures except the 26 tons of silver which he did
not care much about-Caesar got the silver bars on a ship 800 miles east
of Cuba and sailed the ship to Caesar's Creek, took off the silver and
let the old merchant ship pile up on the reef or rocks north of the creek
where it was destroyed by a storm."
I have further data, but it involves treasure on Sanibel Island, and
with gas rationing, it might not be wholly fair to tell of the fabulous
treasure which is at present so far away.**

**Note: This article was written and read at a meeting of the Association
during the era of restrictions.


But there have been times when residents of Miami took an interest
in ventures beyond walking distance. One of the first radio detectors was
brought into this country by a local syndicate. The instrument was
brought in by plane from Panama. When I was in Pensacola I heard
of the locations around that section, known to the son of a man to whom
the charts had been given. This man had left Pensacola and lived in
Dania, and he had a number of locations. Near Camp Walton there is a
huge oak which directs one to a chest at Spanish Cove. In a near bayou
is a ship,directions to which are markings on trees along the shore. And
in another bayou, according to charts, were seven great concrete boxes,
in which were the millions captured from seven plate fleets of Spain.
There were some fifty "expeditions" all told, that at one time or another
took a hand in investigating the locations on Choctawhatchee Bay, and a
list of the men who went there from Miami would constitute a blue book
of the business and professional men of the city.
One may add, in a whisper, that the land on which the famous Su-
wanee River treasure is supposed to be located, is owned by Miamians,
and for twenty-five years or so, other Miamians have been some of the
"also present" who have donated money, hope and exertion on this story-
book treasure. Others have sought in vain along the St. Johns River near
Green Cove Springs; have uncovered an old English ship off Soldier's
Key, and a fellow member of our society has told of uncovering another
old ship, as detailed in the National Geographic Magazine.
Before the lighthouse at Carysfort had been constructed, a light ship
had been anchored there. The Captain of the lightship had a small garden
on shore and had built a wharf. He is also said to have had buried in
his garden some 1600 or 16,000 gold doubloons. One day he was ashore
with two or three other white men, when they were attacked by Indians,
and the Captain was killed. Since then there have been many searching
for his hidden horde, but it has never been found.
Many years ago a Spanish ship was driven on shore at Duck Key,
and all but one of the crew were lost in the storm. The son of this survivor
told my friend of the approximate location, but he had not been able to
locate the money, which his father had salvaged from the wrecked ship.
On Oct. 20, 1940, an announcement was made in a local paper that a
group of leading attorneys, with Mr. Harry Gwinn, were on a trip to Key
West to hunt for treasure. A party, of which I was a member, had been
to this location a short time previously. Our guide had lived in Key West,
and when about ten years old, at play, found a round piece of


leather, sewn like a ball, and within it was a written description. It was
dated 1876, and stated that on a certain "hill" on Boca Chica "the treas-
ure of Pirate Demons was buried." It gave explicit enough directions
from a certain marked tree. Our train from Miami obligingly stopped
at a trestle about four miles north of Key West, right on Boca Chica it-
self. All day long mosquitos attacked us by the billions, for it was sum-
mer time, and the sun bore down in its most scorching mood. Head
nets and rain coats gave us little enough protection. Near the supposed
location we found some broken pottery and a few old bricks, and these
were our only rewards for a day of hard work. When we got onto the
train for home, the porter sprayed us with a flit gun, to keep the "var-
mints" as he called them, from coming on board.
A resident of bygone years, living on Elliott's Key, had a negro helper
whom he put to work one day, digging a well in one of the old pot-holes.
A little digging, and he had uncovered a skeleton I Nothing would in-
duce the colored brother to dig there any longer. So the white man con-
tinued the work, and just beneath the skeleton, he came upon a treasure.
He at once retired to a life of ease in Key West, on the gold coins and bars
that the "bogie" had failed any longer to protect.
I first heard of treasure on Upper Matacumbe, when told that chil-
dren of a local resident had been found playing with some gold coins that
the narrator had purchased. They were part of a small lot found in a pot
hole near the railroad track. Some time later I was told that a man by
the name of Curry lived on the island, and while digging a well in 1832,
he had come upon a large concrete box. Within it were wine jars con-
taining a huge treasure. He finally moved to Key West when some
friends of his were killed by Indians on a neighboring key. He is said
to have returned in a ship by night, and that he then removed the treas-
ure, which he had left in his hurry to escape the Indians.
Don Dickerman, who operated the "Pirates Den" here, introduced me
to a man who was born in Spain, and whose father brought him to this
country when he was but eight years old. Some of his ancestors had been
pirates. One was "Bartalomeo el Tigre Negro," who operated from
1578 to 1600 and was hanged by his own crew. Another was "Ricardo
al Rojo," who lasted as a pirate from 1786 until 1793, when he met a
violent death, trying to highjack a load of slaves off Cuba.
According to this man's story, he visited Spain in 1910, being as-
signed to a sub chaser that made a call there. He managed to visit the
old castle that had been his ancestral home. His family had been very
rich, for one of the ancestors had recovered nine million dollars buried


near Havana. Politically, they were on the wrong side, and his father
had been fortunate to escape with his life, only to be pursued by his
enemies and killed by them in this country. In the castle was one old
fireplace, from which our narrator, following directions, lifted some
loose tiles. This disclosed a passageway thru a hollow column that
extended below the wine cellar. There he found charts to seven different
treasures, all in the region of North Miami. These he kept in an
aluminum fishing rod case on board his house boat on the Miami River.
When the 1926 hurricane struck, other boats and debris that washed down
in the high and rapid waters pounded his own boat to pieces, and his
charts were washed out to sea.
He remembers but one location near Arch Creek. One of his ancestors
owned the pirate ship "Carazon" and while it was careened and most of
the crew away, other pirates highjacked his treasure, and a deserter
from this other ship told of where the money had been buried. A chest
with fifteen bars of gold was buried on the east. side of Arch Creek, and
another chest with forty-five bars was buried on the farther side. A very old
gumbo limbo tree stood near the road, not far from the rock arch, a few
years ago. It was marked when I saw it, with a curved arrow, and certain
directions and measurements took one to the site of the fifteen bars of
gold. Doubtless, one band of pirates, or the other, took it up, for it was
not there when we tested the location some years ago.
When I was visiting Key West, on one of my trips, a resident said
that some time before he had found a small brass cannon in shallow
water, and that its muzzle was plugged up. It was too heavy for him
to salvage in his skiff, and was not then worth a special trip to go
back after it. Later he heard that it contained a deposit of coins and
jewels. I did not have time then to make a trip for it, and later on the
papers carried the story that the treasure had been recovered.
In a Miami paper, under the date of August 3, 1940, was a headline
to the effect that a six year old negro girl was to inherit a fortune of
$150,000. Mr. Merrick told me how this fortune had been acquired,
and it is information pretty generally known by Miamians. Years ago
some men arrived from the north, with a treasure chart and hired the
negro to sail them about the keys to the south of us. They spent long
and disappointing days in a vain effort to find the right key, and at last
were on the point of giving up. Finally they told their pilot that they
were looking for a key with two big palm trees. This was sufficient identi-
fication; their guide took them directly to the right key, and they re-
covered the treasure, which they took back north with them. From the


proceeds they sent him what is said to have been 15% of what they had
found. His honesty and trustworthiness were thus adequately rewarded.
One treasure that has not been recovered to my knowledge, is one to
which a chart has been in circulation for long years. The original is
on, an old piece of sacking, which was sent by a man, dying in a Balti-
more hospital, more than one hundred years ago, to a friend in Key
West. The chart reads "For guide, Captain Key 20 miles South by West
there lies seventy thousand dollars in pieces of eight in a barrell. Turtle
Island, Florida. Capt. Sanford." Now, eighty thousand dollars is pretty
small potatoes compared with all the ten million dollar locations that lie
beneath the sea, or hidden back behind the bushes. I have been on
Captains Key often enough to know that this is not the location. One
can go there from Miami by boat, as we once did. It rained, and we
found that the cabin leaked in every part of the roof and on all sides.
We got plenty wet, but no pieces of eight. At another time we went to
Tavernier and hired a skiff to which we attached an outboard motor.
Just as we left the key to return, the motor ran dry. In filling it, by
some chance the motor and boat got on fire. We managed to beat the
fire out with an old cap, and then had to row all seven miles back in.
If you want to find this barrel for yourself, take a chart of the keys,
put it on the dining room table as I did, calibrate a string twenty miles,
pivoting on Captains Key, and see if you can cross anything that looks
to you like Turtle Key.
The last pirates that I heard of in this region, were two who were
pursued in 1888, only a few miles north of Miami. One was killed,
and the other lived until a few years ago, so old that he could not re-
cover three caches that they had hidden. But he confided in a friend,
and this man not long ago found one of them. It was an iron wash pot,
encrusted with coral, located almost under a side walk near 79th street. It
contained a hundred pounds in gold coins and bars, and a friend of mine
saw the imprint of the coins on the sides of the old iron pot.
If one goes hunting for treasure for fun, he will at least have fun.
It is one of the few domains of adventure left open to civilized men.
Enough people have found treasure to make the risk somewhat better
than a slot machine, at least. Governments and government officials
have taken such ventures seriously, and have been successful many times.
The stories of people who buried treasures, or lost them in wrecks; those
who robbed and murdered, and those who have made recovery, all to-
gether fill no small niche in history, particularly in Florida. And the
stories, both of fact and fiction, have contributed largely to our literature.

Medical Events In the History
of Key West

CLOSURE of the United States Marine Hospital, Key West Florida, on
February 15, 1943, marked the termination of hospital facilities
rendered by the U. S. Public Health Service 1 for approximately 98 years
to seamen and to citizens of Key West. Its history was associated with
trials and tribulations modified by political bureaucracy, wars, epidemics
of contagion, climatic conditions and geographic location. In spite of
various unsatisfactory conditions, it was an oracle for the art of healing in
the community. Now that a new order is to be established, it has been
regarded worthwhile to give an insight into the medical situation of this
locality by recording some of the more important past events concerning
the institution.
Historical facts and legends go back beyond the eighteenth century
when the Indians inhabited the Florida Keys. According to tradition,
tribes from the isles trespassed on hunting grounds of those living on the
continent. Subsequently the latter drove the former to Key West and
slaughtered most of them. Skeletal remains found, thereon, ironically
accounted for the original name, "Cayo Hueso," meaning, Bone Island.
Several decades later the title was altered to Thompson's Island and
finally to Key West, which is the corrupted English pronunciation of the
Spanish title.
The first white people to set foot on Key West were pirates and ship-
wrecked victims, who probably came in the latter part of the sixteenth
century, from Cuba. Permanent settlers did not arrive until near the end
of the eighteenth century. On August 26, 1815, Don Juan de Estrada,

Reprinted from Bulletin of the History of Medicine, Vol. XV, No. 5, 1944
Prior to 1898, the Marine Hospital Service was a part of the U. S. Treasury


then Spanish Governor of Florida, presented the territory of Key West
to Teniente Juan Pablo Salas of Havana, Cuba, for services rendered in
the Royal Artillery Corps. Salas had no particular; use for the property.
Thus he welcomed the prospective buyers. John Simonton and John B.
Strong, Simonton eventually purchased the 2000-acre tract for $2,000.00
on January 19, 1822. Through business relations in Mobile, Alabama
and the State of New Jersey, and political connections in Washington,
D. C., he became cognizant of the strategic value of the island for com-
mercial and military purposes. In addition, he believed climatic conditions
ideal to construct a salt processing plant.
Prior to Simonton's transactions, Salas had made a conditional sale to
Strong, who transferred his claim to John Geddes. The latter effected a
landing in conjunction with Doctor Montgomery and took possession of
Key West in April 1822, by countenance of Captain Hammersley of the
United States Naval Schooner "Revenge" which was then at anchor in
the harbor.
Within the next two months, Salas made a compromise between the
two by settling the claim in favor of Simonton and forfeiting 500 acres of
land on the Florida coast to Strong.
One month before Geddes' foray, the island had been officially occupied
and taken possession of, by Lieutenant M. C. Perry, Commander of the
U. S. Schooner "Shark" in the name of the United States, under the title
of Thompson's Island.
By the year's end, Commodore David D. Porter had established head-
quarters in Key West from where he was to command a task force ordered
to rid the Caribbean Sea of pirates known as the "Brethren of the Coast."
In the course of events, hospital quarters were erected for his men. These
were the first housing facilities ever provided here by the U. S. Govern-
ment for the care of sick seamen. Doctor; Thomas Williamson from the
"Seagull" was appointed hospital surgeon on April 8, 1823. He served
in that capacity until October 21, 1823. During Porter's stay (1822-24)
of duty, he was continually appealing for more medical aid., However,
help was seldom obtained. From July to September of both years, yellow
fever was prevalent. In a report to the Secretary of the Navy in 1825,
we find sickness appeared to a "distressing extent," but was "less severe
than heretofore."
According to the Annual Register of the Navy Department for 1826,
Surgeon's Mate Samuel Biddle was stationed at Thompson's Island from
July 1825 to February 14, 1826, when he died.


The era 1822 to 1830 revealed a young village in its infancy struggling
to organize a local government. The inhabitants' principal occupation
included: salvaging wrecked ships, which had been incapacitated either
by storms or by running aground in the shallow straits nearby; and fish-
ing for thq Havana market.
By 1828, the Town was incorporated. February 1829 it was surveyed.
The next year the census was recorded as 517 (368 white; 149 negroes,
66 of whom were slaves). Almost every nationality was represented.
In May 1831 Key West had its first burial of one of the oldest settlers.
The same year a company of infantry was established on the island. Sev-
eral months afterward, Doctor Benjamin B. Strobel was mentioned as
the Surgeon of the Army Post. By this time, the increase of commercial
and military activity had. made Key West the largest city in Florida. It
was to retain that prominence until 1860. Very early the need for a hos-
pital, where sick seamen could be treated, was manifest.
The allowance for ports south of the Potomac at that time were: "for
suitable boarding, lodging and nursing three dollars per week; for neces-
sary medicines, the usual apothecary rates; for medical services, twenty-
five cents for each day, when the aggregate time for which rendered shall
average less than twenty-five days to each patient. When the average time
to each patient does not exceed ten, six dollars and twenty-five cents for
each patient, and when there is a greater number than ten, three dollars
and twelve and a half cents for each patient; and for funeral charges six
This was so inadequate that Monroe County demanded redress. In
1835 William Whitehead called attention to the need for a Marine Hos-
pital at this port.
An object long had in view by the citizens of Key West is the es-
tablishment here of a Mraine Hospital, or accommodations for the
sick of a more general character than exist at present.
Situated as Key West is, itf is calculated at all times to become a
receptacle for the sick of vessels leaving the ports of West Florida,
Alabama and Louisiana, and also of those bound to the northward
from the Coast of Mexico, as there is no port offering equal advan-
tages as a stopping place, and none between Charleston and Pensa-
cola possessing the superior attraction of a hospital. Such being the
case, seamen are brought here sick to be letf to the care of strangers,
dependent upon private charity (there being no municipal regulations
for their support), and the hospital fund of the United States for their


nursing and subsistence. We would therefore recommend an applica-
tion to Congress, through our delegate, for the establishment here of
some public accommodations for the sick seaman, whereby his com-
fort may be in some measure secured while incapacitated by disease-
to which they are liable-from pursuing his usual vocations.

In February 1836, the territorial delegate from Florida, Colonel Joseph
M. White, introduced in Congress a resolution inquiring into provisions
for greater care of disabled and sick seamen in Key West than those pro-
vided for by the disbursement of the Marine Hospital Funds. This was
a step forward but the motion failed to carry. In short order a memorial
was prepared and sent to Congress setting forth the many reasons why a
hospital was especially needed. After repeated efforts by citizens of Key
West, the building of a hospital was sanctioned by tht U. S. Treasury
Department. The site selected was a piece of land, "which was covered
by a mortgage to John Bancroft as Trustee from John Simonton," who
in turn, because of business interests, was largely responsible in starting
the move to obtain a hospital at this port.
On July 8, 1844, A. Gordon, who also had a small interest in the hos-
pital site and who was Collector of Key West, set forth the opinion that
the proper location for the hospital was on the waterfront of the harbor
adjoining the town lots (now the corner of Emma and Front Streets)
just outside the "corporate limits of the town." Here, "it is near enough
to allow the physician to render medical services to the citizens as well
as to the patients in the hospital. The sick may be landed at the spot from
boats or vessels without being carried through the town." He went on to
say that he believed one thousand dollars per acre, the price demanded by
Colonel Simonton, too much for the grounds. His comments on how to
build the structure were adopted with little modification. "Permanency,"
he said, "requires that the principal material should either be brick or the
stone of the Islands-if of the latter, which would be cheaper and equally
good, it should be covered on the outside by a coat of cement mortar,
which would effectively prevent the absorption of moisture."

The building was erected under the guidance of Colonel Simonton in
1844. It was two stories high, measured 100 x 45 feet and was equipped
with 60 beds. A wharf was constructed on the west side to enable small
boats to come alongside and anchor, Few alterations were made in the
structure for many years except to repair damages wrought by storms.


During the Civil War the grounds, etc., were not maintained properly,
largely because there were not sufficient appropriations. A report by
Doctor William F. Cornick, Surgeon of the Marine Hospital, to the
Commissioner of Customs, in December 1869 disclosed: "The Hospital
building is very much out of repair. The fences are old and broken down.
With reference to the recordsz, there is but one book and that a 'Register
of the Sick.' . There is one steward, one matron, one cook, three at-
tendants and one washerwoman," In 1870, he wrote several letters asking
about the regulations regarding the washing of the clothing of the Chief
Surgeon and the matron of the hospital.
In 1871 an apothecary was requested for the hospital. However, it was
many months before that office was filled. Previously, medical supplies
had been purchased by contract from a local pharmacist. December 31,
1873, a horse was requisitioned to transport patients to and from the
Eventually a third story was added to the building. Here dwelled the
Surgeon in charge with his family. Other personnel lived in an adjacent
house, except the nurses who had quarters in the city. Not till 1917 was
a home built for occupancy by the Chief Physician. When he moved from
the third floor, this permitted doubling the capacity for patients to 125
About 1907 and 1917, respectively, the north portion of the hospital
grounds and the waterfront were transferred to the U. S. Navy .The
beach area west of the institution was filled in for a distance of several
rods beyond the water's edge. Thereon, wharves and buildings were
From 1835 to 1919, inclusive, the island was hit by several severe
hurricanes and the population affected repeatedly by either smallpox or
yellow fever. Hurricanes came in the fall of 1835. ,46, '73, '94, 1909,
'10, and '19. During these storms buildings were frequently damaged
and sometimes some of the inhabitants injured or killed. With the tempest
of 1846, many of the dead were disinterred from their graves. Thereafter,
burials were no longer made in the graveyard to the northeast of the
hospital, approximately where the Marine Barracks now stands. Instead,
the bodies have been laid to rest in an area on the higher, central portion
of the island. As late as 1855, interments were completed in Saint Paul
Episcopal Churchyard.
2 A letter from The National Archives, Washington, D. C., on February 5, 1943,
revealed that most of the records of the Marine Hospital made before 1869 were
either lost or destroyed.


A hurricane of violent character occurred October 6, 1873, destroying
window blinds, breaking glass panes, tearing plaster from the ceiling and
ripping doors from their hinges in the hospital.
Other minor storms through the seventies stimulated the acting head
of the Marine Hospital to request of the Surgeon General of the U. S.
Marine Hospital Service, in the year 1880, that a seawall be erected along
the adjacent waterfront to protect the building from the southwest
breakers. Two plans were presented for the construction: first, by
piling; second, by using cement and rubblestone. Since the cost of the
two was estimated to be approximately the same, the concrete was recom-
mended for its greater durability. However, since the appropriations were
limited, only the 150 feet in front of the hospital was finished. In later
years, it was extended.
The worst hurricane struck October 11, 1909, causing total damage to
the extent of between two and three million dollars in Key West. Water
stood four feet deep on the hospital grounds. The lower floor of the
building was flooded, the kitchen put out of commission temporarily and
the yard covered with debris. The seawall and wharf were partially de-
molished and a great deal of the sandy beach was washed away. Repair
and replacement, respectively, were made during the next few months.
The following year another windstorm visited the city. It was a "recur-
ring hurricane." Apparently having finished with the vicinity, it returned
with renewed violence. Again tht seawall was destroyed in part. Subse-
quently it was rebuilt and extended the entire length of the waterfront
(about 600 feet).
Besides the destructive storms, the natives experienced several epidemics
of yellow fever and smallpox. The transient nature of the population and
the ingress of travelers increased the possibility of outbreaks of disease
for several decades. During these periods the citizens often became pan-
icky. Sometimes the sick were abandoned and left to die. In other parts
of the state, the migrants saw lights burning and food cooking on the
stoves in houses of the neighbors who jettisoned all property to be the
first to flee. The terror-stricken in other sections were turned back at
county borders at the point of a gun. Laws were formed at one time to
prevent people having the contagions to disembark at this port. In the
early years (fifties) where there was a "hint of the appearance of yellow
fever in the city, trunks were hurriedly packed and the first steamer leav-
ing Key West took the family away," not to return until the "Northers"
blew away "the poison of disease" in the late fall. In the early days the
malady was known as "Stranger's fever" because newcomers other than


children were usually the only individuals susceptible. The majority of
native adults had had the fever. The illnesses amongst the older people
generally ended fatally while the children experienced mild attacks. Obser-
vation, even in those days, proved that having the disease gave a perma-
nent immunity.
The first severe epidemic of yellow fever came in 1835. No other
authentic reports of disease appear until, "In June 1852, the steamer
'Philadelphia' of the Panama R. R. Line, lay near Sand Key, seven miles
off with cholera on board. No cases were brought on shore. In July of
the same year the 'Eldorado' of the same line anchored three miles off
with about 300 passengers, 75 of whom were sick with cholera, yellow
fever and chagres fever. The disease broke out on passage from Colon,
proving very fatal. The vessels lay here for about one week; the dead
were thrown overboard, some bodies drifting to the shore and were picked
up and buried. A few passengers from the 'Eldorado' landed, but no
cases of cholera or yellow fever occurred among them." Elsewhere it is
related that the "Star of the West"3 was cut loose from her moorings
as soon as the local authorities learned that disease existed on board the
vessel. The floating dead, which had been dumped overboard, were gath-
ered by boat hooks and towed out of the harbor by small boats into the
tide channel, from which they went to sea," probably to be eaten by
sharks." It seems certain that cholera did not spread amongst the natives
of Key West, for in 1874, the Marine Hospital authorities in a letter to
the U. S. Treasury Department said that "cholera had never existed here."
During 1857, '58, the years of Civil War, '67, '69, '70, '73, '74, '75,
'76, '78 and '84, yellow fever prevailed as an epidemic each summer. The
usual mortality was 50 to 33 per cent. During the first two years men-
tioned, Doctor George Troupe Maxwell, was surgeon in charge of the
Marine Hospital. Sometime within that interval, he and his nephew per-
formed a postmortem examination on a sailor who had died of yellow
fever at the hospital. "The nephew and his wife, and Mrs. Maxwell and
some of the negrof servants contracted fever. The two ladies died, as did
also some of the servants." It was reported that the nephew "took" the
fever "from the postmortem, the uncle escaped because he had had it
before coming to Key West."
December 4, 1861, the Marine Hospital was designated to accept
patients of the U. S. Navy. In a letter dated March 24, 1862, Flag Officer,
3 Although it was not possible to confirm absolutely the identity, it is probable that the
"Eldorado" and "Star of the West" were the same ship.


William W. McKean, at Key West wrote, "I sent by the 'Carolina' 22 sick
men from the Marine Hospital at this place, the surgeon having recom-
mended their return to the north. I would bring to the notice of the De-
partment that no surgeon has yet been ordered to this hospital. It has
been attended for some months by an Army Surgeon, but a few days
since, General Brannon informed me that he should be compelled to
withdraw this officer, and applied to me to detail a naval surgeon to take
charge of the hospital. This I was unable to do. ...."
The next summer Doctor David T. Lewis was appointed Surgeon of
the Marine Hospital. He died a few weeks later (September 3rd) of
yellow fever after an eleven-day illness. While he was ill and for about
three weeks afterwards, Doctor Horner, Surgeon of the Fleet, visited the
hospital daily, and administered medical aid. On September third and
tenth, Charles Howe of Key West, Collector, submitted a request to the
Secretary of the Treasury for, "furniture, beds and bedding" to provide
for the increasing number of patients and to replace much of the furniture
"unavoidably destroyed during the epidemic." Between July first and
September tenth, 49 deaths had occurred, "and nearly all by yellow fever
-black vomit-more than one half this number were naval seamen."
In this same year and .during the following one, as many as 30 cases
of yellow fever were hospitalized at one time. Many soldiers stationed in
Key West died of the disease within this interval. The local Catholic
priest, Father S. Hunincq, made note of having fortified one group of ten
soldiers with the Sacraments. These men apparently died suddenly within
the same interval.
Treatment of the illness often touched ridiculousness and as Doctor
Porter, Senior, in later years said, "It demonstrated First, the amount
of ignorant medication the human system can stand and throw off. .. ."
An exemplary case drawn from The Journal of Practice signed by sur-
geon's steward, J. W. Plummer of the U. S. S. Honduras, reads as fol-
lows: "Samuel D. Holt, acting third engineer, age 27, . was ushered
in, August 8, 1863. Fever started with a chill and colic.. A week previous
given dosages of compound spirits of ether and whiskey. Ensuing day,
fever strong and marked intense pains in the head. Gave calomel and
rhubarb-15 grains each. Cold to head. Treatment afterwards consisted
of acid drinks, liquid potasse citrate, and occasionally one ounce of castor
oil. Thirty drops of laudanum and six drops of oil of turpentine to check
bilious discharge . ."
Since the rules of the Marine Hospital excluded contagious diseases,


vessels infected had to proceed north in 1862 and 1864 when yellow fever
prevailed in Key West.
It was not until 1872. that a dreadful epidemic of smallpox appeared.
Shortly thereafter, Doctor Robert Murray, whose life history deserves
some comment, was appointed Surgeon to the hospital. This man was
to be associated intermittently with this institution for 31 years. He
eventually attained national reputation as an authority on how to re-
strain the march of yellow fever from points without the United States
to adjacent territory of this country. During a 31 year interval he
gave aid in 17 of 24 epidemics. Another version claimed he encountered
the disease 25 times in 31 summers in 50 towns, 11 states, besides on
board ship. Death came accidentally while he was en route to investigate
an outbreak of the disease at Laredo, Texas, in 1903. His earlier life
had been spent in Ohio. During the Civil War, he ran away from home
at the age of 15 years and joined the Union Army. He was wounded
five times and finally imprisoned by the Confederacy at Richmond for
one year. One of the injuries involved the right eye leaving a permanent
defect. As a result, lachrymation was chronic. It is said he was quite
sensitive about the disfigurement, and in an effort to hide the blemish,
he would turn his head off to the side when carrying on a conversation.
There is also the story that one kidney had been removed in earlier life.
Several years later while serving at a northern post, the Chief of the
Marine Hospital Service received a telegram saying, "Stop sweating,
going to Key West." It was ascertained that the impulsive move had
been made because he reasoned that the remaining kidney was being
overworked concomitant with the onset of colder weather and lessened
activity of the sweat glands.
Doctor Murray had studied medicine by apprenticeship as well as
graduating from two medical schools: Cleveland, Ohio, and Jefferson in
Philadelphia. An interneship was spent at "Blockley" Hospital, other-
wise known as the "Philadelphia City Hospital." Then, after a year
in the regular Navy from 1871 to 1872, he entered the U. S. Marine
Hospital Service. It appears that during his career, he brought more
improvements to medical standards in Key West than any other man
outside of Doctor Porter, Senior. Soon after assuming duty at this
station, he prepared a report to the Acting Secretary of the U. S. Treasury,
W. A. Richardson, emphasizing the inadequate facilities to meet the
catastrophe of 1872.
In reply, I will premise by stating that Key West is an isolated


province town with a population of over 8000 which is rapidly
increasing. The island is comparatively barren, almost all supplies
having to be brought by water and in consequence the prices of
articles are very high in comparison with Cuba and New York. Even
fruits of this and neighboring islands are dearer than in New York.
When the smallpox broke out last autumn a degree of fear and
terror affected all classes surprising to one so familiar with the disease
as myself. The laws of Florida make no provision for public hospital
or care of the poor and no epidemic of smallpox ever having occurred
here, there was no provision at all for the care of the unfortunate
poor nor isolation of the more favored. Application was made by the
city authorities to allow the smallpox patients to be admitted to the
Marine Hospital which was referred by the Collector to the Depart-
ment. The answer by telegraph was that the request could not be
granted and also that affected seamen could not be admitted. The
military authorities also refused the use; isolated four unoccupied
buildings. The city authorities built a couple of plain houses which
were put under the charge of the Health Officer, Doctor Joseph Otto..
The poor were admitted and treated free, the Sisters of Charity
giving their services; those able to pay were required to give $2.00
per day for the use of the buildings alone. Subsistence and medical
attendance not considered. In consequence of the telegram the Col-
lector sent all the affected, seamen who applied to him for relief, to
the city hospital. It should be stated that on the outbreak of the
disease, Doctor Baron, the Surgeon of the hospital, began to arrange
a ward for their reception of seamen supposing of course he would
have the care of them; but for the reason alone given none were sent
at all nor was the doctor informed of those who were sent to the city
The terrible conditions under which patients were nursed is revealed
in a report concerning William Turner, who died after the epidemic had
subsided and after the hospital had been closed for extra accommodations.
The doctor charge ($35.00 for seven days) is reasonable as he had to
go a mile and a half twice a day to see the man. The nurse was
($18.00 per week) cheap at any price as it was almost impossible to
procure anyone to attend such cases. Several deaths occurred for want
4 Doctor Otto, as a young man, fled from Prussia during the student's revolution. He
escaped the country in a load of hay, found passage to New York City and subsequently
became attached to the U. S. Army as a physician during the Seminole War. After-
wards, he remained as contract surgeon for the Army at Key West.


of attentions. Doctor Otto was often compelled to attend personally
to the care of the patients, to lay out the dead and in two instances
to assist in burial, reading the services by lantern light and filling up
the grave. The difficulties which beset the care of the patients
during a period of three months are inconceivable to those who live
where the disease is more common.
Political jealousy and misunderstanding soon developed between the
civilian and Marine Hospital authorities. Up to the time of closure of
the institution, differences and distrustfulness continued more or less.
Such circumstances were to develop during Doctor Murray's term of duty,
partially because he was a very righteous person who believed that it
was a physician's duty to adhere strictly to the Hippocratic oath and aid
all the sick regardless of their station in life. This opinion indirectly
was opposed by the Collector of the Port and the Mayor when he
offered treatment to merchantmen ill with yellow fever. Antagonism
grew largely out of ignorance on the part of the officials. They had the
idea that disease would be introduced to the hospital and spread amongst
the population therefrom. Although it was not known at that time, their
ideas contained some truth. Nevertheless, an example of the situation
is demonstrated in the handling of the U. S. S. Ticonderoga, which had
arrived from Brazil in August, 1873. The captain's clerk, Nathaniel
White, had died of a fever on August 12th, after a 90 hour illness.
Immediately Admiral Mallany, of the Fleet, inquired of the local authori-
ties, that in case any other men became sick could they be sent to the
Marine Hospital. The Health Officer of the City replied that no objec-
tions would be tendered provided the cases were transported to the hos-
pital by water rather than through the city. The same day the Board of
Health sanctioned the action. The ship was quarantined the usual seven
days. On the eighth day the forehole of the vessel was broken out. Three
days later four men were ill with fever. Doctor Penrose, the naval
surgeon, in conjunction with Doctor Perry (USN) and the Health
Officer confirmed the diagnosis of yellow fever. Permission to bring the
patients to the Marine Hospital were not completed till late that after-
noon. Since the ship had received imperative orders to put to sea at once,
it was necessary to move the patients ashore promptly. They were loaded
into a boat by Doctor Penrose and brought abreast of the hospital about
sundown. As a landing was about to be effected, a messenger from the
Collector's Office appeared and forbade the hospital steward to admit the
patients. At the same time the Health Officer came alongside in a boat


and delivered an order from the Mayor that they were not to land
anywhere on the island. The naval surgeon returned to the ship with
the sick men, but reappeared about one hour later accompanied by a
group of marines, commanded by Lieutenant Fisher, who had been
ordered by the Admiral to put the four men in the hospital, by force if
necessary. Doctor Murray and his staff were taken by surprise in the halls
of the hospital and arrested while the men with yellow fever were placed
in bed. After Doctor Penrose had apologized to the staff for the turn of
events, the ship's crew withdrew and left word from the Admiral that,
"Any complaints could be made to him."
Although Doctor Murray was in sympathy with the Navy, he felt it
his duty to report the incident immediately to the Collector. This he did
by personal interview about one hour later. The Collector swore ven-
geance on the Admiral. He overruled the Board of Health and in con-
junction with the Mayor placed everyone in the hospital under quaran-
tine. Doctor Murray and the Health Officer felt the order "nonsensical"
and that it "arose from fear and jealousy.." The hospital staff was pro-
hibited in procuring ice, food, coffins, etc. The yellow quarantine flag was
run up by the city officials in front of the hospital. Two hours later it was
purposely torn down by Doctor Murray. This move compelled the Mayor
to keep a policeman at the gate through whom the hospital staff was
able to maintain contact with the outside world for the next several days
while the local authorities "cooled off." Doctor Murray went on to say,
There have never been any restrictions nor contentions about the
admission of yellow fever patients to this hospital prior to this
(This is not entirely true; for in 1862 and 1864 such cases coming
from ships were not permitted to land). In fact the hospital was
built chiefly to accommodate them and pernicious remittent fever
from the lower Gulf Coast, there being no available relief short of
400 oi 500 miles. Almost every year yellow fever has been treated
here. In 1862 and 1863 there were as many as 30 cases here at one
time. Also in 1854, '5, '8 and '9 cases were admitted without question.
In August 1872 this same health officer brought a man here with
diagnosis of yellow fever. Smallpox was always admitted and during
the epidemic of 1872 the surgeon, Doctor C. S. Baron expressed his
willingness to provide for cases. The few cases occurring then, among
the seamen had previously been sent to a shanty hastily erected by
the city, where they were allowed to remain at an enormous cost to
the service. . This building is large enough to accommodate any


number likely to come and if cases of smallpox come a tent can be
placed in the lot, completely isolated from the hospital and the town.
He later said he felt that as a physician he should have the right to
decide who was ill and with whom he was to associate. The objections
of the local authorities of Key West "arose from spiteful jealousy ..
The. Collector charged him with a desire to run the hospital and to get
a cheap notoriety among naval officers."
The next few years were essentially uneventful until February 22,
1887, when the Honorable I. G. Harris, Chairman of the Committee
of Epidemis Diseases in the U. S. Senate, presented a bill for an appropria-
tior, of $50,000.00 to make one of the Dry Tortugas Keys a quarantine
station for ships going north from southern waters. Six months later a
severe epidemic of yellow fever appeared in Key West. It was believed
to have been conveyed by a man named Bolio, whose family was in the
hotel business with establishments in Havana and Key West. Ostensibly
while on business in this city, he became ill with the disease. According
to the annual hospital report, the first case became known May 21, 1887.
Seven days later there were five cases and three deaths and on the
first of June the existence of the disease was reported in four different
localities in the city. The War Department authorized the President
of the Board of Health to use the hospital attached to the military
barracks for the treatment of yellow fever patients, and upon the
request of the state and local authorities, bedsteads, bedding, sub-
sistence and medical supplies were furnished from the Marine Hos-
pital stores. The Secretary of the Treasury also authorized the em-
ployment of nurses and guards to assist the local Board of Health at
the Barracks hospital and in guarding infected premises. June 10,
1887, 22 cases and eight deaths reported to date.
Upon the request of the President of Board of Health of Tampa,
Florida, and the recommendation of the Bureau, extra help was em-
ployed by the Post Office Department to disinfect all mails coming
from Key West and Havana before landing at Tampa. The require-
ments of local quarantine at Tampa, as reported by the Board of
Health, were 15 day detentions of passengers and disinfection of bag-
gage. But the period of detention was finally cut to 10 days at my
The incidence of disease continued to increase. Two hundred and
eighty-two cases and 62 deaths from yellow fever were reported in Key
West up to September 14, 1887. A majority of the latter were native


children. After that date the epidemic gradually subsided.
This epidemic gave weight to the measures recommended by the Com-
mittee of Epidemic Disease. Ships arriving a't Key West were either
treated by isolation or sent to the government refuge stations at Sapelo
Sound, Dry Tortugas, or Chandeleur Island. The Board was fearless
in its action as shown in 1895 when the Spanish cruiser, "Infanta
Isabella," directly from Havana, sought to enter the port of Key West.
It was forbidden the right to do so without complying with the govern-
mental regulations. The ship's captain was given the option to proceed
to sea. This was accepted. However, instead of remaining thereon, she
went directly to Tampa Bay, and passed without stopping at the station
at Mullet Key. Early the next morning, the State Quarantine Launch
"Germ," sighted, captured and boarded the vessel. The ship was forced
to return to the Quarantine Station and undergo the required treatment.
Yellow fever was responsible for quarantine of this port for two months
in 1892. In 1897 and 1899, respectively, severe epidemics occurred.
During the outbreak of 1897, attempts were made to gather epidemio-
logical data in Key West by the U. S. Marine Hospital Service. This
was met with suspicion and insurmountable difficulties. Doctor Eugene
Wasdin, passed assistant surgeon, wrote the Surgeon General of the U. S.
Marine Hospital Service in September of the same year, saying,
In explaining the difficulty of obtaining autopsies and bacteriologic
studies, . strange as it may seem, it is next to impossible to get
this material. This is due to two causes: one to the evident antagon-
ism of local physicians and the outspoken hostility of the mass of
the populace. The former, at this place, still refuse to diagnose cases
of yellow fever, the latter are loud in their denunciation of "experts,"
in which class are numbered all quarantine officials. The proposition
of taking blood from a foot vein by hypodermic puncture has been
resisted and finger tip puncture can alone be done. Even this pro-
cedure has aroused unfavorable comment. Again and again it has
been refused.. A number of deaths have occurred and strenuous
efforts made to get autopsies have failed.
Within the same interval all of the Sisters s of the Convent of Mary
Immaculate had yellow fever. None died. Quarantine was maintained
5 Sister Louis Gabriel was among those who contracted yellow fever. She came to the
Convent in 1896, served as a nurse during the period when the U. S. Army took over
the institution for a hospital during the Spanish-American War, and has remained on
as a very active member of the school these 47 years.


for several weeks. This regulation necessitated the keeping of a messenger
who maintained contact with civilian activities, brought in medicines and
food and other provisions by procuring information, etc. respectively,
by shuttling to and from a fire station nearby.
The epidemic of 1899 was the worst in the history of the island. Many
cases were in the hospital. A total of 1320 persons had the disease, 68
died. Assistant Surgeon, W. R. Adams, of the Marine Hospital was in
active charge of the patients. He contracted the fever and died after a
six-day illness. The state health officer of Florida estimated that ap-
proximately 6000 persons, who were susceptible, had arrived or had been
born in the city since the outbreak of 1887. Of this number about 13
per cent had the disease.
Two other contagions were to spring forth in Key West in the nineties.
The first was smallpox which appeared among the civilians in 1896 follow-
ing an incorrect diganosis of chickenpox in the case of an adult negress.
Since it showed evidence of becoming widespread, medical aid was soon
obtained from the State Board of Health. In spite of the existing danger,
a report reveals that the citizens were still uncooperative. Doctor J. H.
White, surgeon of the Marine Hospital, "was contacted by Doctor Joseph
Y. Porter r on July 14th." Up to that time 28 cases with seven deaths
were recorded. A detention camp (Camp Harrison) "on the South
Beach of the Island, some three miles from the center of the city, a hos-
pital was built by Dr. Porter." The structure was 186 x 30 feet., "East of
this some 1000 yards or more, Doctor Porter had placed the 25 tents
provided by the service." A request was then sent to the mayor to have
those people infected isolated in the new quarters. Compliance with the
plan was refused. The State Board of Health issued immediately an order
to the mayor to have all the patients moved in 12 hours or else medical
assistance would be withdrawn and the city placed under strict quaran-
tine. Through telegraphic communication, cooperation was obtained from
the U. S. Navy Department and the U. S. Marine Hospital Service to
enforce the edict. Captain Sigebee of the U. S. Battleship "Maine" was
asked, "that no vessel or person thereon should be permitted to leave
the harbor of Key West without written permit from the State Board of
Health stating that the passengers and crew, had been satisfactorily vac-

SDoctor Porter was one of the committee members to establish a public health service
in Florida. He served as the first State Health Officer from 1889 to 1917. During his
term of office he contributed much to the elevation of medical standards in the state,
particularly in the fields of sanitation and disease control.


cinated." The main channel was guarded by a motor boat from the
"Maine" while the upper harbor was controlled by the launch of the Board
of Health. Events moved peacefully until one day a rumor was circulated
that a vessel from Galveston, Texas had run aground several miles outside
the main channel. Immediately everyone with a boat scurried forth from
shore toward the wreck. The motor boat was kept busy sending small
boats back to port. However, the captain of a tug boasted that he would
not be stopped even though he did not possess the required certificate.
On the way out of the harbor his vessel outdistanced the motor boat.
In the meantime, the deck officer of the "Maine" had been watching
the progress of events, and as a warning, fired a blank shot in the direction
of the fleeing tug. Since the ship continued to advance, a shot was dropped
just ahead of its course. The effect was instantaneous.. A "hard about"
was executed and members of the guilty crew proceeded hurriedly to the
State Health Officer for vaccination. This incident had a lasting effect,
for during subsequent quarantines the people retained the idea that the
U. S. Government stood behind regulations protecting the life and health
of its citizens.
Early in the course of trying to enforce the order to isolate infected
patients, the populace threatened violence. In some instances the parties
to be moved declared their intention to fight to the death before they
would go. Nevertheless, it was only a short time before one family agreed
to be detained. Thereafter objections ceased and all were placed in the
A major obstacle in the care of the patients was shortage of water.
Rainwater collected in cisterns constituted the only source for drinking
water on the isle. No rain had fallen all summer so that most of the wells
were dry.. Water to bathe and remove the pus laden scabs from the in-
dividuals with varipla had to be bought and hauled from the Masonic
Temple cisterns at 50 cents per barrel. It was worth 62 cents a barrel
in Key West for civilian use.
During this epidemic only one person with smallpox died. Doctor
Porter completed the tremendous task of a house to house inspection and
saw that approximately 13,000 of the 16,500 inhabitants had good
The war of 1898 also brought problems. Many injured and sick sea-
men were housed in the Marine Hospital. The majority of Army person-
nel went to the Army hospital located on the Convent of Mary Immacu-
late, which had been offered, gratis, to the War Department by the Mother


Superior for the duration of the conflict. Actually it was used from April
to August of that year for a total of four months. Many cases of typhoid
fever were treated there. Only one soldier had yellow fever; he died.
Toward the end of the summer, the members of the State Board of Health
and the U. S. Public Health Service were involved in a major dispute with
the naval authorities at this station when an undefinable fever of short
duration suddenly broke out among a contingent of Marines who were
encamped in an unoccupied cigar factory. A short while before the sick-
ness began, a young, enthusiastic assistant surgeon, recently out of school,
arrived from New Orleans to act as the naval surgeon. At the onset of
the disease, he promptly made the diagnosis of yellow fever: so convincing
was he, that some of the local practitioners became of the same opinion.
This diagnosis was quite disturbing because thousands of susceptible
people including hundreds of service men were in port. Immediately
the U. S. Public Health Service sent Doctor A. H. Glennan, a former
surgeon at the Marine Hospital, here during the epidemic of yellow fever
in 1887, to Key West to make an investigation. First of all, when he
arrived, he was surprised to find that he must put on a rubber hat and coat
over his clothing in order to be permitted to examine the patients. This
being the hotter part of the summer, it was quite an ordeal to see a
hundred men. On the basis of clinical history and physical findings, he
agreed with the State Board of Health that this was not yellow fever
but probably dengue. Three days later the characteristic skin rash ap-
peared confirming his opinion. Between five and six thousand persons
had the disease before the epidemic ended. No deaths resulted. In spite
of the obviousness of their mistake, the naval authorities refused to
relinquish their original diagnosis. They were so cocksure that they
succeeded in having the entire Fleet, which was anchored in these waters,
ordered to northern ports. During the cruise northward, several more of
the seamen evacuated also developed dengue and had to be left in Miami
and Jacksonville, where 300 and 1,000 cases, respectively, occurred.
Merchants in Key West had purchased large stores of food and other
provisions to meet the military demands. Sudden transfer of the Navy
personnel left the business men with much perishable stores on hand.
This was a total loss. As a result of the entire affair, many of the local
officials among the U. S. Public Health and State Health Services and
citizens were left embittered toward the Navy.
Fear of other epidemics led Doctor Porter to certify in 1901, that
machinery to disinfect baggage be purchased from the State, Board of


Health. Two years later, he informed the Surgeon General of the U. S.
Public Health Service that there was no further need to fumigate baggage
of passengers coming into Key West, as those ships with infections on
board were sent to Tampa.Bay or Mullet Bay. Also it was about this
time that Finlay's work on the role of mosquito in carrying yellow
fever had been reported. Thus previous methods of restraining the spread
of the disease were being regarded with skepticism.
After the war, the out-patient clinic of the Marine Hospital became
a source of political graft. A letter from the chief surgeon in June 1905,
disclosed the fact that the dispensary service had degenerated into a
gigantic system of outdoor relief for the negroes of Key West. This
skufl-duggery was accompanied by "owners" and "agents" ("Not
bona-fide by captains") issuing certificates.
From the medical log of the Marine Hospital, a summary given for
the previous year on June 30, 1906, reads:
Hospital and Out-patient Service: During the past fiscal year
there were 104 hospital cases treated, being a decrease of 74 from the
previous year. The out-patient relief was 526, a falling off of 674
cases from the previous year . The decrease in cases treated is
due to the collapse of the sponging industry of Key West its old
and only maritime enterprise except fishing and wrecking . Div-
ing for sponges has been introduced by Greeks who have driven the
old style method of "hooking" out of business and Congress has
been appealed to in the matter to regulate the new rivalry. It is ap-
parent that this trade is lost to Key West and thus a large source
of alleged "seamen" cut off from the hospital relief.
For the fiscal year 1916, 31 naval personnel were transferred to
the Marine Hospital for treatment. Then, the average complement of the
U. S. Naval Station was 131.
Between 1906 and 1922 the town continued to grow rapidly because
of the tobacco industry. Within this period Surgeons S. E. Banks, E. K.
Sprague, John T. Burkhalter, H. M. Manning and G. M. Guiteras suc-
cessively occupied the headship of the hospital. In 1911 and 1917 res-
pectively, Drs. John B. Maloney and W. R. Warren, who were local
practitioners, were appointed consultants to the institution.
Like all other Marine Hospitals, this one was filled to capacity during
the epidemic of influenza in 1918. The disease apparently began Septem-
ber 12th. The clinical course among the early cases was mild but later
it became more severe with deaths following in a few hours. The con-


tagion spread so rapidly that physicians were unable to cope with the
situation. In response to a request from Doctor Guiteras, officials in
Washington, D. C. sent a physician and two nurses to Key West on
October 15th at the height of the epidemic. A telegram from Surgeon
G. M. Guiteras to the Public Health Service in Washington, on October
25th, states:
Influenza report October 15-25. Naval training camp admitted
23, discharged 37, remaining 7. U. S. Marine Hospital admitted 10,
discharged 14, died one, remaining 14. Naval Hospital admitted 12,
discharged 98, deaths 4, remaining 152. Army Barracks admitted
13, discharged 7, remaining 6. Civilian population estimated total
cases to date 4000 with 23 deaths. Total deaths of influenza in Key
West from October 1 to date from all sources 54. Epidemic declining.
From March to November, 1918, Doctor Guiteras had charge of a
large force concerned with the sanitation as a war measure to protect
the unusual large personnel of the Navy and Army in Key West. Under
his guidance a commendable degree of cleanliness was maintained.
As soon as the conflict was over, this organization was eliminated and
the naval sanitary corps cut to zero. During the first half of 1919,
repeated requests were made to the City to keep the premises clean, but
a report to the Secretary of the Navy for that year reveals the sanitary
conditions "left much to be desired."
Activity of the clinic receded after the war. It gradually became a
haven for the more destitute by 1932. In 1928 care for the veterans
of the Spanish-American and World War I was authorized officially.
The next year, Joe La Scala, a patient in the Marine Hospital, and Francis
C. Brady, a veteran of the Spanish-American War, brought charges of
vice, graft, and other abuses against the hospital staff. A federal investi-
gation proved the matter a hoax. In fact, one of the complainants was
found insane while the other had been a victim of bribery.
In 1930 the Marine Hospital was one of 24 institutions accredited by
the American College of Surgeons for internships. Key West was then
the thirteenth largest city within the state and one of 16 centers having a
certified hospital. The same year the Miami Daily News on September
27th quoted the following figures from the annual report of the Marine
Hospital: "312 major operations" with "no deaths" had been per-
formed. There had been "30,440 hospital days."
The financial collapse in 1929 was accompanied by a progressive dimi-
nution of financial enterprises at the port. Approximately 85 per cent


of the civilians eventually had to seek relief. Military operations practic-
ally ceased. The naval dispensary closed in 1932 so that out-patients of the
Navy had again to go to the Marine Hospital. This had not been neces-
sary since 1908, but continued as such until 1939 when the Naval Dis-
pensary was reopened. The city was caught with no facilities to give
proper medical aid to the poor. Even so, it was apparent that local phy-
sicians were largely responsible in blocking several attempts by the Feder-
al Government, the Commonwealth Fund and the Rockefeller Foundation
to endow a municipal hospital. They and the citizens could not agree
as to the management of such an institution, because the local practittion-
ers were without the qualifications to staff such a hospital. The result end-
ed with Public Health Service taking the brunt of the responsibility for
all emergency medical care requiring hospitalization. Those who could
afford it frequently went to Miami, Havana or other large city for con-
sultations. After the depression had gained momentum, the hospital
frequently ran into the "red" financially. Compared with the standard
rate of $3.75 per patient-day charged by the U. S. Treasury, this institu-
tion would often have to ask a fee of five to seven dollars a day to break
even. This remained true to the day the clinic closed its doors. Desperate
circumstances in Monroe County led to an agreement whereby a special
rate of $2.00 per case was made for cases from the Community Clinic.
This arrangement was never discontinued after the depression. Although
the Good Samaritan deeds were supreme in importance to the vicinity,
most of the civilians remained unwilling to try and help defray expenses
incurred by them.
Evidence of another World Conflict in the future caused the Navy to
enlarge the Naval Station promptly from 1940 onward. The city grew
rapidly from a population of 12,927 to an estimated 35,000 in 1943, due
largely to military men and defense workers coming with their families.
The Hospital became the base for administering medical aid to the
severely injured survivors of the ships torpedoed by the Axis in the upper
Caribbean during 1942. Naval and Army personnel requiring hospitaliza-
tion were admitted here until November 1942 and the summer of 1942,
respectively, when the Naval and Army hospitals were completed.
Since there were no official regulations providing for hospitalization
of naval and marine dependents, facilities had to be obtained elsewhere
outside the jurisdiction of the Navy. The Marine Hospital offered the
only feasible place. With the consent and aid of Captain Robert B. Team,
USN, who was then Senior Medical Officer of the Naval Station in Key


West, Lieutenant R. L. Pearse, USNR, in charge of the Family Clinic,
made arrangements with Doctor Anthony P. Rubino, Chief of the Marine
Hospital, to permit admission of naval patients to that institution at
the daily date of $3.75. This courtesy was retained from 1941 till
February 15, 1943.
The latter part of June 1942, Doctor Andrews, the last physician to
serve an internship here, left for duty in the Panama Canal Zone. Shortly
before Doctor Rubino had been replaced by Dr. T. H. Rose. He and
Doctor P. D. Holloway constituted the permanent medical staff for the
next few months.
With the progress of events, it became necessary to enlarge the Naval
Base. This required condemning scme of the city property and the site
of the hospital. The grounds of the latter were transferred officially to
the U. S. Navy Department on November 21, 1942, with the understand-
ing that the Public Health Service would continue to admit patients until
December 21, 1942, and close January 1, 1943. Before and after the trans-
action, the townsmen of Key West petitioned responsible authorities in
Washington, D. C., to keep the service going under the control of U. S.
Public Health Service or guarantee that adequate hospitalization be pro-
vided elsewhere for the citizens. Even the Maritime Union opposed
the closure on the basis that their members would have no other hospital
available for a distance of several hundred miles radius.
Indirectly the Naval Officials became concerned because according
to Navy Regulation 1186, the medical attendants of the Service in addition
to their regular duties may be required to attend families of officers and
enlisted men in cases of emergency and where other medical aid is un-
At the time of this episode, several naval dependents were due to soon
need hospitalization for obstetrical care. All those expecting delivery
after December 14th were advised to seek medical care elsewhere prompt-
ly. Excerpts from a memorandum submitted to the Commanding Officer
of the Naval Station, on the medical facilities available in Key West
emphasizes the situation:
There are at present six civilian doctors in Key West licensed to
practice in Florida. Two are Cuban and one is very old. One is not
in good repute with the local medical society. The bulk of the medi-
cal practice is performed by three doctors who have been in Key
West many years. All three of them are about 60 years old and suffer
from various disabilities. One of them does only office consultations


and refuses to see patients after 6 P.M. The other two have cottage
hospitals to do some obstetrics and minor surgery but will almost
never answer any calls after 6 P.M. None of the physicians are mem-
bers of the F. A. C. S., or qualified by any of the boards of specialties.
They almost never have county meetings and cordial relations do
not exist among them. They have made nocooperative effort to bene-
fit the inhabitants of Key West. However, when a young doctor
attempted to establish practice in Key West a few years ago, the
older and established doctors were somewhat inimical. He soon left
the island.
There are three civilian hospitals in Key West, none of which are
approved by the F. A. C. S., nor have they trained nurses in attend-
ance, satisfactory laboratories, trained attendants to give anesthesia,
means for giving transfusions rapidly or adequate means for feed-
ing patients.
Because of the absence of qualified practitioners and suitable hos-
pital facilities, the Marine Hospital, in the interest of humanity, has
been forced to admit all patients suffering from major medical and
surgical ailments. This has apparently been going on for generations.
Although the local population is not entitled to the service, they
have come to regard it as their right. The Marine Hospital is ap-
proved by the F. A. C. S., staffed by Public Health Service doctors
and equipped to handle safely all situations usually managed in a
hospital. The patients can be fed, laboratory studies made and train-
ed attendants are available for care and anesthesia..
Local civilians are admitted through the Community Clinic and
pay two dollars daily to the Treasury Department for all services.
Only emergency cases are entitled to this service. Mrs. Robert
Spottswood is the effective member of this clinic and administers
its affairs very unselfishly and honestly. She is the daughter of a
former Key West doctor (Dr. Maloney). Her knowledge of the local
situation has been very helpful.
During the past year the daily census of the Marine Hospital has
revealed a daily average of about three community clinic patients ...
Most of the patients have been suffering from automobile accidents,
acute appendicitis or chronic conditions that have become acute
from neglect. .. The Public Health doctors have quietly and efficient-
ly given the civilian population of Key West a service for years.
In conclusion the opinion was given that, "The local population is both


incapable and unwilling to arrange for their own medical care. Some
agency is necessary ultimately to care for the seriously ill in Key West."
The afternoon of January 1, 1943, several hours after the Marine
Hospital was supposed to have ceased operations, service was extended
another seven weeks by orders from Washington, D. C. Alteration in plans
produced disagreeable circumstances for Doctors T. H. Rose and P. D.
Holloway. Most of their staff of nurses, orderlies and other help had
procured other jobs or made arrangements to accept transfer to other
stations. In addition part of their equipment and the majority of supplies
had been moved out of Key West. It was necessary to struggle along
with an inadequate quantity of everything. However, duties were nobly
performed up to February 15, 1943, when the doors were closed to the
admission of patients. Mr. Neale, steward of the Hospital, took inventory
of all the property and disposed of it through official channels; completing
the task April 1, 1943. About this time the Navy released $70,000.00 to
remodel the interior of the building in preparation for the housing of
It can be said without reservation that this institution probably netted
the city of Key West more humanness than any other establishment
within its limits. The type of work performed will represent a goal for
others to exceed. It appears that benevolence was often demanded and
given to the population at considerable expense to the U. S. Government;
that the citizens were often unwilling to cooperate and help provide their
own medical facilities when extended the opportunity to enlist philan-
thropic aid; and that the Federal Government will have to continue to be
responsible for this hospitalization. Time will tell!*

A large part of the data consulted in preparation of this manuscript
was housed in the attic of the Marine Hospital. When it ceased function-
ing as a hospital, the periodicals, books and other documents were taken
up by the U. S. Public Health Service. Other documental sources are
given in the references while some material was kindly supplied by
these individuals: Sister Louis Gabriel, Convent of Mary Immaculate,
Key West, Florida; Father Terrence King, Catholic Rectory, Key West,
* The opinions or assertions contained within this article are not to be construed as
official or reflecting the views of the U. S. Navy Department or the Naval Service at
large. Released for publication by Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, U. S. Navy,
October 4, 1943.


Florida; Captain H. A. Baldridge, USN (Retired), Curator, U. S. Naval
Academy, Annapolis, Maryland; Captain Dudley Knox, USN (Retired),
Officer-in-Charge, Naval Records and Library, Navy Department, Wash-
ington, D. C.; Lieut. Comdr. R. L. Pearse, USNR, Durham, N. C.; P.
M. Hamer, Director of Reference Service, the National Archives, Wash-
ington, D. C.; Doctor T. H. Rose and P. D. Holloway of U. S. Public
Health Service; Miss Marie L. Cappick, Miss Marguerite Lacedonia and
Mrs. Robert F. Spottswood, all of Key West, Florida.
1. BRowN, J. B.: Key West, The Old and New. The Record Co., Print-
ers and Publishers, Saint Augustine, Florida, 1912.
2. An estimate of appropriations for the Marine Hospital at Key West,
Florida. Document No. 1210 from House of Representatives, 61st
Congress, 3rd Session.
3. Report United States Marine Hospital Service for fiscal year 1887.
Government Printing Office, Washington, D. C.
4. Operations of United States Public Health and Marine Hospital
Service. Government Printing Office, pp. 297, 1903.
5. Miami Daily News, October 31, 1929.
6. Ibid.-December 21, 1930.
7. PORTER, J. Y.: Looking backward over fifty years of health work in
Florida, I. Florida Med. Assoc., serially July 25, 1925 to Jan. 26,
8. Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1873, House Document No. 85, 43rd
Congress, first session.
9. RERICK, R. H.: Memoirs of Florida, The Southern Historical Associ-
ation, Vol. I and II, 1902.
10. CHAPIN, G. A.: Florida. S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., Chicago, Ill.
11. Report of the Secretary of Navy Department for the fiscal year 1916.
Washington, Government Printing Office, pp. 685, 1917.
12. Ibid., for the year 1920, pp. 849, 892, 1921.

Some Reflections on the South Florida
of Long Ago
WHAT I shall have to say is probably not what many would call
history. There is the old saying, "Happy is the land without a
history." The originator of this saying had in mind conflicts and
tales relating to the so-called great-which are not unlike the yells of
triumph of the primitive man over his kill or the exaggerated tales of
hunters and fishermen of today.
No matter how commonplace, the man who does constructive work well
measures big in my estimation. I am interested in the inventor of the
wheel, the man or woman who first milked a cow, the man who discovered
bread, the man who made the first barrel, and adove all, the men who
introduced or developed the many things necessary for food, medicine
and clothing. The school, the church, and the home are pillars of civiliza-
tion, but there is a bigger pillar on which all depend, and that is food.
Therefore, the science of subsistence is truly basic, and the history of this
science in this Antillean Area is what has interested me.
Otis Barrett says "that agriology, the comparative study of mankind's
modes of living before the civilized epoch, is one of the most interesting,
yet most difficult of natural sciences".
Archaelogy and history merge. One is dependent upon artifacts, the
other on written records. When I find potshards (and they exist by thou-
sands in kitchen middens everywhere) I wonder who molded the pot, and
the source of the clay, but I wonder more as to the source and kind of
food it once contained. The pre-Columbian man did his part and passed
it on to the early settlers. The Indian chewed gum, ate corn on the cob,
and gave to the white man such things as tobacco,(according to some
historians tobacco first crossed the Atlantic from Florida to Portugal)
chocolate and quinine. It is the part played by these early plant products
that has puzzled me. I can often locate an old Indian camp-site by the
wild cotton plants and cacti growing around it, both brought, no doubt,
ages ago from nearby Cuba or Yucatan. The Yucatecan peninsula points


toward Florida and is not far away. Early travellers tell of meeting their
large canoes far out at sea, and among the things for trade was chocolate.
When it finally reached Europe it was mixed with milk to furnish the
milk-chocolate of today, and the name no doubt is an imitation of the
splashing sound when the Indian agitated the mixture of water and
ground chocolate with his home-made molinet(the original egg-beater).
It is hard to segregate the indigenous from the naturalized immigrants.
The hand of man has been working for a long time. The plant, the place,
and the people cannot be separated. Bows, lances and clubs came first,
after these the ox yoke, whip-stock, tool handle and the like, then finally
the age of the match, toothpick and lead-pencil. We are now in the
lead-pencil age. Over a billion lead-pencils are used each year in this
country, and Florida cedar has been almost exhausted by this demand.
It has no peer in this regard. It is light, easily sharpened, and rests
comfortably over the ear or in the hair. It has been one of the most
important adjuncts of our so-called civilization. Even the fact that its
mark can be rubbed out is an advantage which gave rise to the common
name, rubber, another great American Indian product. Our tropical
Indian played with rubber balls, and the word caoutchoucc" is probably
in imitation of the sneeze produced by the smoke in coagulating the
gum of the tree. It is said that Mr. Goodyear of rubber fame, a member
of Dr. Perrine's company, sought refuge in a wild rubber tree on the
night of the Indian Key Massacre.
Chewing gum, so essential to the world, comes from the juice of the
sapodilla, a sturdy tree common on the Florida Keys. The ancient
Mayan used it and mixed it with various medicines for the teeth and
gums. It is now one of our greatest pacifiers. Stock in these companies
is bought and sold in Wall Street in great volume by big traders. It has
led to the discovery of many ancient ruins. About one out of every ten
billboards along the highway advertise chewing gum. It has probably
reduced the demand for chewing-tobacco, which is another plant of In-
dian origin. The plant first used was not tobacco. The Y-shaped tubes
inserted in the nose were called "tabacs," but the substance smoked was
powdered cahoba, a drug that deadened the conscious self, and brought
the subconscious to the fore so that the subject told the truth, a drug
which might be used to good effect on many people. Finally tobacco
came into general use so that the tax on cigarettes alone amounts to
$350,000,000 a year, $50,000,000 more than the annual cost of our Navy.
(Not so today.)


Another common plant was a species of holly similar to the famous
mate of South America. It was called the Black-drink of the Creeks.
It contains caffeine, and when consumed in quantity clarifies the brain
and body, and fitted the Indian for service in his council meetings. It
is common in Florida and ought to be used when our legislature meets,
instead of other kinds of liquors. The word "Osceola" is from "asi-ya-
hola," "asi" the name of the leaves of the plant, and "yahola" the long-
drawn-out cry when they started to drink. It is possible that our word
"hello" comes from "yahola."
Intermittent fevers were common throughout the South, and among
many bitter barks the Florida-quinine, or Georgia-fever-bark, was a
common household remedy. The bark was soaked in rum, and at regular
intervals the family and slaves lined up for their proper doses. Down
on the Keys prince-wood bark was used. Both belong to the quinine
family and have been almost exhausted. Dr. Perrine introduced the first
powdered quinine into this country from France. Without this quinine
exploration of the tropics would have been much delayed. It is still neces-
sary in many places. During the Civil War the supply of quinine and other
drugs was short in the South, and my friend, Dr. Charles Mohr of Mobile,
now dead, was delegated to find substitutes in our own fields and woods.
In this line he was very successful, and we have many things now not
used, quite as good as articles imported from foreign parts. We need to
study what the Indians and early settlers knew before it is too late.
When I first settled in South Florida the country was still wild. It was
covered with a thick growth of Caribbean-Pine on the rocky highland.
Although much of the land was unsurveyed there were many blazes on the
pine trees. I soon learned that these blazes marked the tasks for the
comptie gatherers. There were homesteaders here and there, and their
only cash crop was comptie starch. Barrels of snow white starch were
shipped by sailboat to Key West and then elsewhere by steamer. Here
and there were little comptie mills. Nearby were bad-smelling heaps
consisting of comptie refuse, much used for fertilizer. Many of these
settlers depended on this starch while waiting for their groves to grow.
The Indian hollowed out a pine log in the shape of a trough. After
washing off the dirt, the squaws pounded these roots into pulp with
heavy wooden pestles. They filled the troughs with water, the floating
roughage was cast aside, and the white farina settled to the bottom.
After thoroughly washing the starch it was dried in the sun and furn-
ished an essential food for the whites, reds and blacks. It was superseded


in time by grits, but in the early days it was essential to the life of the
backwoods settler. The comptie grew only on high dry land, and it was
a picturesque sight to see Indians, negroes and whites together, digging
these wild roots in the dense pinewoods. In those days the horseflies
were troublesome, and rattlesnakes not uncommon. The red water
resulting from the washings was poisonous, and if a dog or other animal
drank from the puddles he soon died a painful death. It is more than
likely that some aboriginal experimenters lost their lives in testing comp-
tie. This water and refuse, however, were rich in nitrogen, so that
limes, guavas and other trees planted in the clearings grew in great
profusion. This industry died a natural death with the exhaustion of
the comptie, and was followed by the sawmill which left very little in
the way of natural resources.
The early settlers depended also on the cabbage palmetto, once so
common in the Florida of old. The berries yielded a healthful medi-
cinal drink called "metto." Canned palmetto salad is now famous, but
it is a crime to sacrifice a tree which has been many years in the grow-
ing for a dish of salad. Many Indian and Cracker children have been
reared on palmetto cabbage and alligators' tails. Of course, those near
the sea had plenty of sea truck, including the famous turtle-egg pancakes.
In 1831 a forester, Patrick Matthew by name, wrote a book on "Naval
Timber and Arboriculture." Mr. Matthew believed the only way to have
peace was by universal empire: one powerful but just people must rule
the world, and of course, the British Empire was his choice. This re-
quired a great navy, and since steel was not in use for ships at that
time, Mr. Matthew felt that the greatest occupation for man was the
production of crooked timber for ship construction, also, of course, for
casks for water on ship-board and containers in which to age and trans-
port their precious liquors. About two years previous to this book, a
forest reservation of live oaks under the control of the Navy was estab-
lished on Santa Rosa Peninsula near Pensacola. This was the first forest
reservation in the Western Hemisphere, and its purpose was to provide
live oak for the navy. They needed timber with natural crooks for
ship-construction. This reservation lasted only two years because "the
artificial propagation or culture of live oak was not authorized, nor nec-
essary, in view of the existing forests of natural trees." The country must
have been well supplied with timber a century ago, plenty of choice
yellow pine for planking, and live oak natural crooks for timbers, al-
though both Spanish and English must have used a lot of it near tide-


water for ship-construction. There are many famous live-oaks through-
out the South, duel oaks where old timers shot at each other at dawn;
suicide oaks, and oaks in the shade of which many important events
occurred. They afforded grateful shade on old plantations where they
served as shelters for farm machinery and stately avenues to Colonial
homes. The Indians extracted a cooking oil from the live-oak acorns,
and ate the sweet acorns of the cow-oak, the ribbons of the wood of
which furnished the fine cotton baskets and woven chair seats of the
The lime was essential in those days. Pirates and buccaneers, for the
sake of their health, planted limes by water holes in the West Indies
to have the fruit handy for the prevention of the dreaded scurvy. Mouldy
flour, wormy cheese and salt meat, without fruits or vegetables in time
always produced the deadening sea-scurvy. Old English ships were called
"lime-juicers." For many years there were lime trees around such springs
as Harney's Punch Bowl in Miami. They are still there. Canova, an
Indian hunter during the Seminole War, tells how they landed at Fort
Dallas to deposit some captured Indians and then proceeded to Harney's
Punch Bowl for water and limes. He tells also how he would have starved
to death in the Glades without the chocolate-like substance in the seed
of the fruit of the cocoplum. The coconut although not native was
probably introduced very early by the Spainards to supply oil for
lighthouses and cooking.
The pineapple industry was once the largest in the world on the East
Coast of Florida and on the Keys. It is now almost a thing of the past,
and like several other things, has gone to Cuba, Hawaii, and the East
The great sisal industry of Yucatan owes its impetus to the elder
Mr. Deering, who once lived in Coconut Grove where he planted a few
acres of sisal. Dr. Perrine introduced it into Florida. Later Mexico
prohibited its exportation from Yucatan and Quintana Roo. Mr. Deering
found in its fibre the best twine for the reaper-and-binder. I was on the
old ship Lizzie Henderson, which took sisal slips from Lignum Vitae
Key, where Dr. Perrine first planted them, to Nassau and Cuba.
In 1892 I saw grapefruit for the first time in Tampa. It was used only
for ornament, for because of its bitterness only Negroes ate it. Today
it is America's greatest breakfast fruit. Florida has the leadership in
this industry, but will surely lose it if she ships green immature fruit.
In the early days cassava, or yucca, or tapioca was a common Florida


plant. It is still the mainstay of many tropical peoples, and probably
the easiest of all crops to produce. It yields a famous starch, also the
pepper-pot or cassareep, which is still the basis of some of our best food
dressings, such as Worcestershire sauce. People circled around the old
iron pot which was constantly simmering. Into the stew they threw
many things, but by means of it there was warm food of some kind at all
times. Our Seminole had the same with comptie for a base. In it there
was a big wooden spoon from which all ate at any time. The heat killed
the germs on the spoon when it fell back into the steaming stew.
I have mentioned only a few of the things which have helped to mold
the Florida of today. There are many others, and to me the past re-
lationship of plant, place and people is real history. From the days of
Doctors Turnbull and Perrine, Florida, has been the proving ground of
many soil industries. Just why so many finally failed and prospered else-
where is hard to explain, unless it was due to the constant influx of new
people, not soil and plant conscious, and not accustomed to the producing
and processing of tropical and sub-tropical crops. They had other tradi-
tions and tradition is still as strong as ever in the lives of most of us.

Adjudication of Shipwrecking Claims

at Key West in 1831

On April 20, 1831, an announcement was made, "to the Public" con-
cerning the settlement of civil cases for the Maritime Industry of Wreck-
ing in the Carribbean, in the primary edition of the Key West Gazette*.
The notice read: "All vessels arriving at, or departing from this place,
shall be reported at as early a day as possible. . .In the event of a
wreck being brought to this place, we shall endeavor to transmit the
earliest information, and in every instance, when it is practicable, we shall
publish in what manner the salvage may be determined, whether by
arbitration or the decision of court."
Previously methods of handling wrecking claims had gone through a
series of modifications. In the early twenties and before, no established
rule existed. During that period most of the cargoes and ships rescued
had usually been taken to Nassau or Havana for adjudication. As early
as 1823 a wrecker law adopted by the Territorial Council of Florida
permitted a notary or justice of the peace to call a jury of five persons
to determine the disposition of "rescued property and the quantum of
salvage." It was charged that wreckers along the coast generally carried
their goods to Key West and under summary proceedings were allowed
an exhorbitant percentage, sometimes amounting to 57 to 95 per cent
of the goods saved. That law was declared "invalid" by Judges Smith
and Lee of "The Admiralty Court of the South Carolina District," and
the tribunal incompetent.
"Loud complaints had gone up regarding the doings of the Justice
intrusted with the important work. Consequently the superior courts
were given original and exclusive jurisdiction in all civil cases of Admir-
alty of Maritime jurisdiction." Nevertheless, the wrecker courts had
defenders. It is on record that 95 per cent of the net proceeds of the
property saved went to the salvagers in the celebrated case of the
Brig Revenge.


By 1826 the U. S. Government had effected a law requiring all salvage
claims along the Florida Coast and from the waters thereabouts to be
arbitrated in the U. S. Under the new ruling most of the legal business
was transferred to Saint Augustine. Since the headquarters of wrecking
was in Key West, the location was inconvenient. Therefore, in 1828
Congress gave Florida another judge, establishing the Southern Judicial
District with the seat of justice in Key West. James Webb was the
first man appointed to the bench in November 1828. He remained in
office ten years. After his resignation William Marvin served this office
from 1839 to 1845.
No other modifications in the laws governing this business were in-
stituted until February 23, 1847 when Congress drafted a rule, to make
all salvors obtain an occupational license from the judge of the District
Court of Florida. The court was obligated to see that each master
had a seaworthy and well-equipped ship and to ascertain that the owner
of the vessel was a reputable person.
Regardless of where settlement was tendered various arrangements
for making payment to the salvaging crews were employed. Individual
circumstances frequently required different procedures. For purpose
of illustration cases have been taken from the Gazette news weekly in
1831.1 The first libel suit published in this paper was brought by L. T.
Sellers, claimant, against Thomas Rooke, libellant. The salvaged prop-
erty was sugar from the schooner Waverly, which had been grounded
March 24th on Florida Key 150 miles from Key West. April 12th
Judge Webb executed this verdict: "Exertions of the libellant and crew
perserved the cargo (with) extreme peril and labor" on their part. They
shall receive "one-half of the amount of the sales." This was usually the
maximum obtained by the salvor through the court. However, not
less than one-third of the net value of the cargo or vessel was ordinarily
accepted as full payment.
Occasionally one-half of the property rather than cash was forfeited.
Compensation of this nature was recommended when the Exertion, of
Eden, mastered by Captain John Thomas, went on the rocks near
Tortugas with cotton on board. The barque, en route to Providence, R. I.,
from New Orleans, was a total loss "having bilged before assistance
could reach her." The damaged cargo, sails and rigging were rescued
by Captain Hoxie of the Schooner Pizarro aided by five or six fishing
If the shipowner could not pay cash, part of the spoil was decreed


for sale. This was done when the Brig William Tell, which was com-
manded by Captain Riley, was grounded on the night of April 11th at one
o'clock in the morning on Bird Key near Tortugas Light. The voyage had
begun eleven days previously at New York. The next port was to be
New Orleans. The cargo consisted of an assortment of dry goods,
cutlery, etc. Some of the commodities were shifted to the wrecker of
Captain Hoxie and the Brig with its crew brought to Key West. The
court allowed $3,000 to be paid by sale of a portion of the freight to
meet the charge.
Sometimes the libellant and the claimant compromised upon a certain
price for service rendered. Such was true in the case of the Brig Mary
Hart eight days out of New Orleans headed for New York with 180
hogsheads of molasses below deck. The vessel cast away in "heavy
Weather" on Mosquito Shoal near Key Tavernier on May 30th.
Wrecking parties from the Sloops Brillant, Packer, Martha-Jane and
Johnson and Schooners Thistle and Weden removed part of the cargo.
Shortly thereafter the damaged ship was towed to this port. One thous-
and dollars was the settlement made to the salvors for their work.
As would be expected the fall or hurricane season increased the
relative number of disasters in the Caribbean. One of the initial catas-
trophies of the autumn of 1831 was associated with considerable bicker-
ing as to how much the salvors were entitled to for the work expended
when the Brig Concord, commanded by Captain M'Known, was wrecked
on Tortugas Reef October second. The vessel was 27 days out of New
York en route to Mobile with $15,000 worth of groceries, dry goods and
other material on board. During the first three weeks, stormy weather
had been encountered repeatedly along the Atlantic Coast. The ship's
sails were torn to shreds. Agroundment occurred at night in a thick,
heavy, blowing gale. Rescue of the balance of cargo and crew was per-
formed under the direction of Captain Clift of the Sloop Spermacetti
from Tortugus Light. When the case came to trial, the keeper of the
beacon, Edward Glover, received $750 and expenses from the U. S.
Court for his aid in the effort. Many persons were under the impression
that a much larger sum should have been allowed. "Some thought that
at least $5,000 would be given." However, Judge Webb voiced the opinion
that lighthouse keepers might be "induced to operate their light for other
than preservation" particularly if "temptation" of large fees was made
available. In addition to the above sum the final judgement entailed
payment of one-half of the net proceeds from the auctioned commodities


after miiscellaneous expenses were deducted to the libellant, John
Similar arbitration was ordered when the Brig Doris of Matazas on
the way to Portland, Maine, went on the rocks at Carysford Reef
November 16th. Though damaged, most of the cargo of 300 hogshead
of molasses were removed. Thirty percent of the amount collected from
the sale of the goods or an equivalent of $2,145 went to the wreckers.
Although the Good Samaritan Spirit to. save lives and seacraft usually
existed, business interests stirred the scavengers forth. Rumor of a
shipwreck resulted in a frantic effort on the part of all persons engaged
in the salvage industry to seek out and raze the incapacitated ships.
Naturally the rescuers were not always successful in finding their game.
For instance, on October 21st the Spanish Schooner Segunda anchored
at Key West. The crew gave out information to the effect that on the
way from Charlotte Harbor they saw the Schooner Ploughboy stranded
at Key Andote. As soon as the news had spread about town three fishing
smacks and the Schooners Florida, Rooke, Ariel and Bizeul were ready
to join the prospecting party. In the meantime there was mutiny
aboard the Ploughboy. The crew deserted leaving no one on deck except
the mate and Captain Stover. The two men heaved overboard "20
hogshead tobacco and a quantity of Pig Lead . .. one anchor and chain."
Then the craft floated free with the incoming tide. Ultimately they
maneuvered the ship into Key West without further aid.
Adjudication of the case of the Florence demonstrates how the ship-
master contacting the wrecked vessel first, reaped the greater portion of
the spoils. The barque carried 300 tons of dry goods, furniture and
other commodities. She had been off the ways only two months when
damage on Tortugas Reef occurred November 9th. The total value of
ship and cargo came to $20,000. For salvaging the vessel and part
of the load the wrecking chief was given $3,000. Another $200 was
distributed among the crew.
Generally the citizens of the islet directly or indirectly benefitted by
the wrecking industry. On the other hand they were often burdened
with the care of the survivors who had to be clothed, sheltered and
provisioned. Most of these unfortunates awaited means to continue
their travel. Others took up residence in the community. The majority
were law abiding but occasionally there were those who made a nuisance
of themselves., A case in point was when the passengers from the Maria,
which was mastered by Captan McMullin, became belligerent and


created a rumpus in town. The ship had become stranded on Carysford
Reef November 25th, 15 days out of Philadelphia. The haul consisted
of dry Goods, provisions and 230 laborers for the "Canal." Captain
Houseman and Barker, respectively, of the Sloop Sara Isabella and
Schooner Motto removed the cargo, crew and passengers. The latter
were sheltered in a temporary encampment in Key West. Tents were
provided. On December first the laborers had "free indulgence in their
orisions to Bacchus." They threatened McMullin and his men. On a
Friday so many of them congregated on Brown's Wharf that business
had to be suspended. The citizens appealed to the Commandant of the
Post, Major Glassel and Captain Shubrick of the U. S. Sloop of War
Vincennes for military aid. Cooperation was granted promptly. A
group of Marines under the command of Lieut. Engle landed at Greene's
warehouse while troops under Lieut. Manning patrolled the streets.
There was no further trouble.
In conjunction with the establishment of a policy for the civil cases
coming under the Admiralty Courts, it became necessary to clarify the
position of U. S. Naval Craft in lending aid to ships in distress. This
was done officially in September 1831. The Federal Government is-
sued a memorandum to the effect that "No compensation will be tendered
for aid to distressed vessels (by any) ship of war."
Before dismissing our subject a brief account on the economical side
of the wrecking industry is worthwhile. "Early in the thirties 250 to 320
American vessels" entered Key West annually and "ten to twenty
foreign" were also included. See Table I. The imports and exports were
less than $100,000 a year. From December 1824 to December 1825,
$293,353 worth of salvaged property was sold here. The same year
$100,000 was paid for duties.
By 1835, there were 20 good sized vessels engaged regularly in wreck-
ing. In addition there were some few of small tonnage. From 1848 to
1859, 618 ships were damaged on the Florida coasts with cargoes valued
at $22,000,000. Salvors collected $1,595,000 for bonuses plus $2,666,-
000 for expenses incurred in the trade. At the time the statistical re-
port was made it was estimated that an equal number of wrecks south
of Cape Canaveral remained unadjudicated. 2


Number of ships entering Key West 1826 to 1830;
Entrance at the Customs House.'
Year 1826 1827 1828 1829 1830 Total
Foreign ships 30 16 23 19 30 118
American ships 167 247 304 264 260 1242
Total 197 263 327 283 290 1360

1. Key West Gazette, Volume I, 1831.
2. Rerick, R. H.: Memoir of Florida. Southern Historical Assoc-
iation, Atlanta, Ga. Volume II, 72, 1902.
3. Dodd, Dorothy: The Wrecking Business on the Florida Reef.
The Florida Historical Quarterly. 22, 171-199, 1944.

Population Growth in Miami and
Dade County, Florida

In several respects the growth of the population of Dade County is
an interesting, if not unique, phenomenon. In an age when national
trends disclose a definite movement away from the cities, Miami con-
tinues to expand with rapid vigor. In a nation, which, according to some
(pessimistic) observers, is approaching economic maturity, Dade County
exhibits potentialities which are proving an irresistable lure to men whose
pioneering instincts lie close to the surface. In such a community, the
reasons for population growth lie in the strength of inducements to immi-
gration-the study of birth and mortality rates is unimportant.
The spectacular growth of Dade County's population began in the
years immediately following World War I (Table 1). In each five-year
period since 1920, Dade's population has increased by 56,247 persons on
an average. Assuming this rate to continue-and there is every reason
to suppose that it will-Dade County should have a population of nearly
500,000 in 1960.
The tourist traffic has been the most important single cause of this
growth. The influx of tourists has been stimulated through promotion,
improved means of transportation, and the increasing importance of
leisure in the average American's scale of values. It has resulted in
the creation of many jobs, especially in retail and wholesale trade, and
in services in general. Job opportunities are the most important factor
in the growth of population through migration.
There is a definite correlation between business activity, especially in
trade and construction, and the rate of population growth in Dade County.
The period of prosperity in the 1920's witnessed an increase in total popu-
lation of approximately 100,000. The collapse in the construction industry
towards the end of that decade preceded the general industrial depression
by several years, and its effects upon Miami's population growth were
evident at once., Between 1930 and 1935, Dade's population increase was
37,000-admittedly great, but only 65% of the average increase for the
five-year periods since 1920. Between 1935 and 1940, returning pros-


perity increased job opportunities, and the population gain was roughly
During the war years, the population growth was retarded to some
extent. The 1940-1945 increment was approximately 47,000, some 9,000
below average. War industry and military installations largely, but not
wholly, compensated for the loss in the tourist traffic in this period.
The war gave Dade County an opportunity to begin a program of
economic diversification through encouragement to industry. Dade County
has established a Coordinating and Planning Committee to prepare for
the undoubted growth which the county will experience in the future.
Intelligent planning promises to lend considerable impetus to industrial
growth, and the prospects for increased population based upon the job
opportunities thus created are good. Economic diversification will expand
as a result of the technological developments in aircraft transportation
coupled with Miami's strategic location.
The study of the distribution of Dade County's population shows that
it is over-whelmingly urban (Table 2). Until 1930, the city of Miami
grew more rapidly than the county as a whole. At that time, 77.4% of
the county's population lived in Miami. Since then, the ratio has steadily
declined until today it is 62..8%. Between 1930 and 1945, many large
cities in this country have experienced a decline in total population, and
although Miami has continued to gain, its rate of growth reflects the
national trend. Between 1940 and 1945, the most rapidly growing com-
munities were those north and west of Miami. Three factors are basically
responsible for this movement. Industrial development is appearing
north and west of Miami; the location of military installations is in the
same area; and the tourist traffic, virtually excluded from Miami Beach
during the war, moved into communities directly north of Miami.
Between 1935 and 1940, the tourist traffic, in an era of prosperity, was
the decisive factor in the distribution of Dade County's population. The
mortgage insurance policy of the Federal Housing Agency played a major
role in the growth of Miami Shores, Miami Beach, and Miami Springs
as well as other rapidly developing communities. There is an interesting
contrast in the types of cities which grew more rapidly between 1935 and
1940 on the one hand, and between 1930 and 1935 on the other. In the
former period, the communities experiencing the most rapid growth were
those catering to the tourist traffic. In the latter period, such cities as
Homestead and Florida City, which service agricultural pursuits, took
their place among the more rapidly growing communities. This is a
natural concomitant of industrial depression.
With the ending of the war, several factors promise to influence popu-
lation distribution during the next few years. Among these the most im-


portant are: reopening of Miami Beach to tourists; the retention or
abandonment of military installations; industrial growth; the develop-
ment of airports, roads, and so on; the promotion of real estate develop-
ments; and the overflow of population from the center of density into
adjacent areas on the north and west.
The colored population of Dade County is increasing at the rate of
8,649 every five years (Table 3), but this is proportionately less than the
rate of total population growth. In 1920, nearly 30% of the total popu-
lation was colored, compared with 17.7% in 1945.
There is a slight tendency for colored people to seek outlying com-
munities (Table 4). The proportion of colored in Homestead and South
Miami is Pradually increasing, while it is declining in Miami and
Hialeah. The great decline in colored population in Miami Beach and
Coral Gables between 1940 and 1945 (Table 4) reflects the transfer from
domestic employment to war activities, and may be expected to reverse
itself in the near future.
In comparing the 1930 census data with the 1940 (Table 5), it is
evident that throughout the United States as a whole, children under 15
are becoming a smaller percentage of the total population, while the per-
centage of persons aged 15 through 19 remains fairly constant. In other
words, the average age of the nation's population is increasing. In Dade
County each age group under 20 is becoming a smaller percentage of
the total population. and, in addition, Dade County shows a smaller
percentage of its population in each of these age groups than the country
as a whole.
In the 20 through 24 age group, Dade and the Country as a whole
have the same proportion,approximatelv: and this proportion did not
materially change between 1930 and 1940.
In comparison with the country as a whole, Dade County has an ap-
nreciably higher proportion of its population in all age brackets from
25 through 44. This was also true in 1930. Dade's population in the age
groups from 45 through 64 is somewhat greater than the country's as
a whole, although the discrepancy is small. On the other hand. the pro-
portion of the country's population over 64 is larger than Dade's.
A community which shows a smaller than average percentage of its
population in the young and in the old age groups, and which at the
same time shows a decidedly greater proportion of individuals in the age
groups from 20 to 64, is not a community to which the aged come to
retire. Rather, it is a pioneering community-one to which people come
with the evident expectation of creating a home and gaining a livelihood.
In what economic activities do these people gain their livelihood? The
United States Census reveals that in 1940 there were approximately


111,000 persons gainfully employed in Dade County (Table 6). Of these,
28,500 were employed in trade and another 25,000 in personal services.
Thus nearly 50% of the workers were dependent in great measure on
the tourist traffic. The construction industry was third on the list, but
it employed only 10,500 persons, and was consequently far less important
than the other two. Small numbers of people found employment in
utilities, manufacturing, and professional services.
This situation is obviously unhealthy. An appreciable measure of
economic diversification is urgently needed. Miami is not suitable, be-
cause of its location, for heavy industry, but it is hoped that the develop-
ment of light and medium industry will be forthcoming in the years
ahead. The removal of Miami's dependence upon the tourist traffic as
virtually a sole means of economic growth should go far to stimulate the
increase in Dade County's population. Care must be taken to avoid
interference with the tourist traffic, however, for this will remain the major
factor in the economic background of Dade County. Development in
other economic activities must supplement and not supplant the basis
on which Miami and Dade County have grown in the past. The pros-
pects for continued expansion are excellent.

(Five-year increment, 56,247)
1920 42,753 42,753
1925 111,332 99,000
1930 142,955 155,247
1935 180,998 211,494
1940 267,739 267,741
1945 315,060 323,998
1950 380,235
1955 436,482
1960 492,729
Source: United States and State Censuses

1920 12,680 12,680
1925 28,869 21,329
1930 29,894 29,978
1935 35,924 38,627
1940 49,518 47,276
1945 55,877 55,925
1950 64,574
1955 73,223
1960 81,872
Source: United States and State Censuses


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18,219 6.8 6.3

15,854 5.9 5.5
12,130 4.5 4.4




15,955 11.2

10,102 3.8 3.6
17,239 6.5 6.9 6,531

4.6 5.3



Persons employed
Forestry and Fishing
Transportation and other U
Wholesale and Retail Trad
Finance, Insurance, Real
Business and Repair Servic
Personal Service
Amusement, Recreation, Et
Professional Service
Ind. not specified
Source: United States Feder.

111,002 75,822 35,180 100.00
5,158 4,548 610 4.65
180 175 5 .16
10,518 10,325 193 9.48
7,879 6,990 889 7.10
utilities 8,195 7,358 837 7.38
e 28,562 20,189 8,373 25.73
Estate 6,032 4,015 2,017 5.43
e 2,871 2,603 268 2.59
24,988 8,831 16,157 22.51
c. 3,270 2,850 420 2.95
7,643 3,471 4,172 6.88
3,591 3,075 516 3.24
148 146 2 .13
1,967 1,246 721 1.77
al Census

100.00 100.00
6.00 1.73
.23 .01
13.62 .55
9.22 2.53
9.70 2.38
26.63 23.80
5.30 5.73
3.43 .76
11.65 45.93
3.76 1.19
4.58 11.86
4.05 1.47
.19 .01
1.64 2.05

under 5



over 64

Historical Bibliography of

South Florida
A selected list compiled by the Publications Committee
Jonathan Dickinson's Journal, or God's Protecting Providence. The original
God's Protecting Providence, by Jonathan Dickinson, was published at Philadel-
phia in 1699. It is the narrative of a shipwreck off the lower east coast of Florida,
and the struggle of the survivors against the Indians and bitter weather, in which
some succumbed before reaching St. Augustine. Yale University Press, New
Haven, Conn. 1945.
Journal of John J. Audubon; Made While Obtaining Subscriptions to his "Birds
of America." 1840-1843. Edited by Howard Corning, Cambridge, 1929.
Miami Millions, the Dance of the Dollars in the Great Land Boom of 1925.
Reprinted largely from his articles in the Miami Herald. Franklin Press, Miami,
That Vanishing Eden. "Modern Southern Florida as seen by a naturalist." Publ.
by Little Brown & Co. Boston. 1944.
Mangove Coast. A very readable book about the Florida west coast, ranging from
bolita to advanced botany. Coward McCann, In. N. Y. 1942.
A Guide Book of Florida and the South, Tourists, Emigrants, etc. Published by
George MacLean, 719 Sansom St., Phila., in 1869. 2 folding maps. Scarce.
Petals Plucked from Sunny Climes. Visits to most Florida cities. Reprint of Har-
ney's trip of 1840 across the Everglades. Contains Rand, McNally map ot
Florida for 1879. Southern Methodist Publ. Co. Nashville, Tenn. 1880.
Autobiography of Napoleon D. Broward. A brochure, publ. in 1904 and re-
printed in 1938. Contains account of filibuster operations against Cuban
Key West, the Old and the New. 227 pp. Record Co., St. Augustine, 1912.
A 17th Century Letter of Gabriel Diaa Vara Calderon. Translated by Lucy L.
Wenhold. A brochure. Smithsonian Misc. Coll. Bulletin 95, No. 16. Washington,
1936. Trip by the Bishop of Cuba down the east coast of Florida to the Keys,
in 1675.
Life and Adventure in South Florida. A story of crossing the Everglades during
the Indian Wars. Palatka, 1885. Reprinted by Tampa Tribune Printing Co. in
1906. Scarce.

Historical Sketches and Sidelights of Miami, Florida. Humorous and readable,
Miami since incorporation. University Press, Cambridge, Mass. 209 pp. 1905.
Pedro Menendez de Aviles, Adelantado, Governor and Captain-General of flor-
ida. Memorial by Gonzalo Solis de Meras. Florida's history for the period begin-
ning in 1565, with the defeat of the French. Florida State Historical Soc.,
DeLand 1923. Scarce.
Hunting and Fishing in Florida. Contains the first and still about the best descrip-
tion of Indian Corn Dances, as well as people and hunting.
Exploration of Ancient Key Dwellers Remains on the Gulf Coast of Florida.
120 pp. 11 plates, in Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, Phila-
delphia, 1897.
History of Ponce de Leon's Voyages to Florida. Feature number of Fla. Hist.
Soc., St. Augustine, Quarterly, Vol. XIV, July 1935.
Florida Enchantments. Stokes, 1926. Excellent description of hunting and fishing
in the Ten Thousand Islands, with many background.' glimpses of the people by
a pioneer in sports. Many fine photographs.
Isles of Romance. Contains the story of Fort Jefferson, pp. 3-60. 3 chapters
reprinted from the Saturday Evening Post, including one of Bird Key. The
Century Co., N. Y. 1929.
The History of Florida from its Discovery by Ponce de Leon in 1512, to the
Close of the Florida War in 1842. Lippincott, Phila. 1871 and C. Drew, St.
Augustine, 1871. Scarce. A 3rd revised edition was issued under tide of Florida,
Its History and its Romance, in 1904.
Memoir. Written in about 1575. Translated by Buckingham Smith, with Notes,
in Letter of Hernando de Soto, and Memoir of Hernando de Escalante Fontaneda.
100 copies, Washington, 1854. Rare. Reprinted, with amended translation and
additional notes, 1944, Univ. of Miami and Historical Ass. of Southern Fla.
Reprinted by Glade Publ. Co., 1945. Story of his captivity among the Indians
of South Florida; a boy of thirteen who was rescued seventeen years later. He
was wrecked in 1545.
Oxcart Days to Airplane Era in Southwest Florida. Punta Gorda, Florida, 1939.
Billy Bowlegs and the Seminole War. Kingsport Press, Kingsport, Tenn. 79 pp.
Florida's Indian Key. Illustrated article, in The Rudder, Oct. 1935.
The Commodore's Story. Early sailing days from New York to Florida, mostly
about Biscayne Bay. Publ. by Ives Washburn, N. Y. 1930.

Our Navy and the West Indian Pirates, Story of the Navy operating from Key
West. Reprinted from U. S. Naval Institute Proceedings, 1916.
The Caloosahatchee River and the City of Fort Myers, Florida. Contains also the
story of Gasparilla, the pirate, as told by John Gomez. 132 pp. Publ. by J. B.
Parker & Co., Ft. Myers, 1932.
The Principal Navigations, Voyages, Traffiques and Discoveries of the English
Nation. Contains the account of the discovery of North America to Cape Florida
by the Cabots, and relates the history of various attacks upon St. Augustine. First
published in 1589, followed by many enlarged editions from then until now.
Camping and Cruising in Florida. Visited many places in Florida, early settlers
and Indians. Cincinnati, 1884. 248 pp.
Historia general de los nechos castellanos en los islas y terra fire del Mar oceans
. cuarto decades (1492-1531) and Description de las Indias occidentalis,
Madrid, 1601. Decades 5-8 (1532-1554) Madrid, 1615. Translated by John
Stevens, 1725, 6 Vol., title: A General History of the Vast Continent and Islands
of America, commonly called the West Indies, etc. Rare. Contains the first account
of Ponce de Leon in detail.
Along the Florida Reef. Series of 6 articles in Harpers beginning Feb. 1871.
Tortugas, Key West and trips about Florida. A book by the same title was
written by his nephew, Chas. B. Holder, for boys, in 1892. Natural Science with
a sugar coating.
Florida South of Tampa Bay, April 1865. Publ. by the War Department. De-
scription of the forts of South Florida. Ives' folding map enclosed, of which
a smaller copy was made for Senate Document 89. Rare.
Dania, A Historical Sketch. Fla. Hist. Quart. Vol. X, No. 2 Oct. 1931.
Palmetto Country. Realistic description of contributions to Florida's culture.
DuelI, Sloan and Pearce, N. Y. 1942.
The Romance of the Floridas. Bruce Publishing Co., 1934. Now in process of
revision, to be issued under another title, by Father Kenny.
The Discovery of Florida and Its Discoverer, Juan Ponce de Leon. An enlarge-
ment of the Fountain of youth story and an attempt to prove that Ponce landed
at St. Augustine. Publ. by the author, St. Augustine, 1946.
Spanish Settlements in the Present Limits of the U. S. Vol. I (1513-1561).
Putnam, N. Y. 1901. Vol. II (1562-1574). Putnam, 1905 (subtitle Florida).
The Miracle of Miami Beach. Miami Post Publishing Co. 1944.

The Lures of Manatee. The history of Bradenton and vicinity,, superior to most
other county and local histories. Marshall and Bruce Co., Nashville, Tenn. 1933.
324 pp.
The Magic of Miami Beach. Included also is much data, regarding the Florida
Keys. Beautifully illustrated. David McKay Company, Phila., 1938.
Survey of the Seminole Indians of Florida. The most thorough study of the
Everglades Indians up to the present time, including sound details of their habits
and customs. Sen. Doc. No. 414, 71st Congress, 1931.
Camp Life in Florida. Lively descriptions of hunting and exploration by the first
man to describe Lake Okeechobee in modern times. Forest and Stream Publ. Co.
The Lowery Collection. A Descriptive List of Maps. Including invaluable bibliog-
raphy. A government publication, issued at $1. and now out of print.
The Pathetic and Lamentable Narative of Miss Perine on the Massacre and
Destruction of Indian Key in August, 1840. Lippincott, Phila., 1841. Rare.
Files of the American Eagle, Estero, Fla. A weekly paper published for more
than 40 years, under the continuous editorship of A. H. IAndrews.
Files of the Florida Historical Quarterly, St. Augustine.
A Concise Natural History of East and West Florida. This work was privately
printed in N. Y., 1775. 342 pp. Very rare. At the same time his famous map was
also issued. A reprint was issued by the Fla. State Hist. Soc. DeLand.
The Track of Ponce de Leon in 1513 (article). Am. Geog. Soc. Bulletin, 1913.
Vol. XLV, No. 10.
John Sewell's Memoirs and History of Miami, Florida. Another narrative of
Miami since incorporation. Franklin Press, Miami, 1938.
Ancient Florida. Article in Justin Winsor's Narrative and Critical History of
America. Vol. 2, pp. 285-298.
In Lower Florida Wilds. MacMillan, 1920. Florida Wild Life. MacMillan, 1932.
Explorations in lower Florida by the naturalist who included all nature, and
man, as his province, and who spent his life studying and writing about this
See item under'Fontaneda's Memoir. Also in report No. 242, 30th Congress,
1848, 1st Session, to accompany Senate Bill 338. 133 page report on the Ever-
glades, exploration and draining. Much historical data. Rare. This was later
separately bound under title Everglades of the Peninsula of Florida, wrapper
by J. D. Westcott, Jr., Tallahassee, Fla., dated Sept. 1848. Rare. Excerpts of

this first report were used in making up Senate Document 89, with its small map,
in 1911, but this is almost worthless compared with the original report. Most
of the Buckingham Smith material is in possession of the N. Y. Historical Society.
Origin, Progress and Conclusion of the Florida War. Appleton, N. Y. 1848.
Folding Map. 557 pp. Rare.
Early History of the Creek Indians and Their Neighbors. Bureau of Am. Eth-
nology, Bulletin 73, Washington, 1922.

The Indians of the Southeastern United States. Smithsonian Institution, 1946.
Bureau of Am. Ethnology, No. 137. 943 pp., with maps and many plates. Govt.
Printing Office, paper covers, $2.75.
My Pioneer Reminiscences. Miami, 1940. Early days in Coconut Grove (Miami),
well remembered.
History of Beautiful Palm Beach. Palm Beach Press, 1928. 146 pp. Scarce.
The First Jesuit Mission in Florida. Principally the Jesuit letters of Menendez'
time, in southern Florida. U. S. Cath. Hist. Soc. Historical Records and Studies,
Vol. XXV, 1935.
Observations of the Floridas. N. Y. 1823. Scarce.
Across the Everglades. Trip into the Everglades from Miami, in 1897. Includes
French map of 1731 and a list of some Seminole words. Lippincott, 1898.
Miami, Economic Pattern of a Resort Area. Present day events analyzed in the
light of the past. A sound study of the economics of this area by a distinguished
authority. Univ. of Miami Press, 1945.
Cotejo de las Conducta de S. M. con de el Rey Britanico. By Antonio Marin,
Madrid, 1739. This is known as the Spanish Cotejo, reviewing the English
depredations upon the treasure wrecks of Spain on Florida shores. The English
Cotejo; or, the Cruelties, Depredations and Illicit Trade charged upon the
English in a Spanish libel lately published, Compared with the Murders, Rob-
beries and Clandestine Trade proved upon the Spaniards. By a Sufferer. By
Richard Copithorne. London, 1739. After having written the title, it seems
needless to have added the trim small booklet. The depredations mentioned were
upon the wrecks of the plate fleets at Caryfort Reef. Rare items.

JAMES J. CARNEY, Ph.D., is Professor of Finance and Chairman of the
Departments of Economics and Finance at the University of Miami. His
article is a product of his researches with the Dade County Planning Board.

ALBERT W. DIDDLE, M.D., holds A.B. and M.A. degrees from the Uni-
versity of Missouri, and M.D. degree from Yale University. He spent four
years in naval service in World War II, the greater part of it at Key West,
Florida. There he had access to the old records housed in the United
States Marine Hospital, and became interested in the history of the region.
He has held numerous academic positions and at present is Associate Pro-
fessor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Southwestern Medical College,
Dallas, Texas.

JOHN C. GIFFORD, D. Oec., Munich, 1899, is Professor of Tropical
Forestry and Conservation of Natural Resources at the University of
Miami. He is a long time resident of South Florida, and has written many
articles and books on the natural and social history of the region. He was
President of the Historical Association of Southern Florida in 1943.

DAVID O. TRUE, past president of the University Club of Miami and
of the Miami Stamp Club. His interest, at first confined to pirate lore and
treasure trove, has been extended to include the entire history of early
Florida. He edited our Fontaneda's Memoirs and contributed an article
on "The Freducci Map of 1514-1515" in Tequesta for 1944.


Wirth M. Munroe
Miss Cornelia Leffle
First Vice-Presiden
William Mark Brov
Second Vice-Presidi

A. H. Andrews
Mrs. William J. Krome
Key West
Stephen C. Singleton
Fort Lauderdale
Mrs. Frank Stranahan
Live Oak
Mrs. Henry J. Egger
Miami Beach
Mrs. Jane Fisher
Bowman F. Ashe



Justin P. Havee
Recording Secretary
David O. True
Corresponding Secretary and
William G. Harkins

Alonzo O. Bliss, Jr.
Crate D. Bowen
Thomas P. Caldwell
Mrs. Ruby Leach Carson
J.. K. Dorn
Marjory Stoneman Douglas
Mrs. William L. Freeland
John C. Gifford
Mrs. Florence P. Haden
Frederick M. Hudson
Thelma Peters
Edward C. Romfh
C. W. Tebeau
Gaines R. Wilson

(1) to collect, arrange and preserve all material pertaining to the history
of, or in any manner illustrative of Southern Florida and related areas,
including books, pamphlets, documents, archives, manuscripts, news-
papers, diaries, notes, letters, speeches, maps, plats, surveys, portraits,
photographs or other likenesses of men and women prominent in the
history of Southern Florida, pictorial illustrations of the scenery of
Southern Florida, relics and products; (2) to prepare, edit and publish
articles, sketches, biographies, pamphlets, books and documents, descrip-
tive or illustrative of Southern Florida; (3) to promote and stimulate
public interest in the history of Southern Florida and such related areas
as the Keys, Bahamas, Yucatan, Cuba, and the West Indies generally by
(a) the publication of an annual journal and (b) quarterly programs of
historical papers; (4) to preserve and perpetuate historic spots and
places and to further in every way knowledge of Southern Florida's
historic past.

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