'F %THE JOURNAL OF THE HISTORICAL
e uceta ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHERN FLORIDA
Editor: Charlton W. Tebeau
NUMBER XXVIII 1968
The Orange Grove House of Refuge No. 3 3
By Gilbert Voss
Jupiter Inlet 19
By Bessie Wilson DuBois
The Rockets Come to Florida 37
By James W. Covington
Workers on Relief, 1934-1938, in Key West 53
By Durward Long
A Lost "Psyche": Kirk Munroe's Log of a 1,600 Mile 63
Canoe Cruise in Florida Waters, 1881-1882
Edited by Irving A. Leonard
Juan Baptista Franco and Tampa Bay, 1756 91
By Jack D. L. Holmes and John D. Ware
The Juan Baptista Franco Document of Tampa Bay, 1756 99
By Charles W. Arnade
A Communication: Aurelio Tio to Charles W. Arnade 103
Treasurer's Report 108
List of Members 110
Officers and Directors 117
COPYRIGHT 1968 BY THE HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHERN FLORIDA
4'C t f, : is published annually by the Historical Association of Southern
Florida. Communications should be addressed to the Corresponding
Secretary of the Society, 2010 North Bayshore Drive, Miami, Florida 33137. The Associa-
tion does not assume responsibility for statements of fact or opinion made by contributors.
This Page Blank in Original
The Orange Grove House of Refuge No. 3
By GILBERT L. Voss
This paper was delivered at Delray Beach, Florida, February
18, 1968, as an address at the dedication of a bronze plaque
that marks the site where formerly stood the Orange Grove
House of Refuge No. 3. It has been somewhat amended and
certain additions have been made to the original text. I am
indebted to my aunt, Mrs. Charles W. Pierce of Boynton Beach,
Florida, for the opportunity to examine certain manuscripts
written by my late uncle, referring to the building of the station.
If we were gathered where we are now in the year 1873 a very different
scene would lie before us. Instead of standing by a busy highway with
passing cars, amidst hotels and villas, we would be surrounded by a dense
ocean hammock with tall banyans, gumbo-limbos, and sea grapes, beach
grass and open sand with not a sign of man or his works. Looking out,
however, across the beach to the ocean we might see, instead of passing oil
tankers and cruise ships, the tall spars and sails of a square rigger or the
raking masts and stacks of a Morgan, Ward, or Mallory Line steamer.
Now were we to stand on the deck of one of these vessels looking
shoreward, we would see a long curving line of breakers dashing upon a
golden sand beach backed by a long, low, line of forest or jungle as far as
the eye could see. And on that beach there would not be a house, a jetty
protected inlet, or any sign to indicate that any other than Indians lived
there. In fact, from Cape Canaveral to Key Biscayne, the only interruptions
in that green wilderness would be the tall, slender, red tower of Jupiter Light
and the shorter white brick structure of Cape Florida Lighthouse at the
entrance to Biscayne Bay.
If you didn't care for ocean travel in the first place or were of a nervous
nature, you might well wonder what would happen to you on that desolate
stretch of coast if by chance your ship was cast onto the reefs through storms
or faulty navigation. Where would you get help, food, water, shelter and
And well you might wonder, for this beautiful stretch of the Straits of
Florida was a veritable graveyard of ships. In 1825 no less than sixty-four
vessels were wrecked on the southeast Florida coast.1 With increased shipping
in and out of the Gulf ports the toll rose. Between the years 1848 and 1857,
499 ships valued at over 16 million dollars2 were disposed of by libel at
Key West. The crews, cargoes and passengers were rescued by the industry
of the Key West wreckers. Licensed by the government as Master Wreckers,
these men belonged to an honorable profession maligned by romantic writers
who depicted them as lurking behind the reefs luring innocent ships to their
doom with false lights and other means.
At first there were not even any lighthouses. Although the Spaniards
probably had one at St. Augustine, the first United States light was built
there in 1824, followed by one at Key West in 1825. Cape Florida light
went into operation in December, 1825. But all these lights were far apart
and unpredictable and left an immense area of unlighted, dangerous coast.
Jupiter Light was first lighted in 1857 and Fowey Rocks replaced Cape
Florida in 1878. Hillsborough Light, the most powerful in the U.S. Coast
Guard system with originally 5,500,000 candle power, was not established
But what happened to the seaman when his ship went ashore on this
inhospitable coast? In the 1860s and 1870s the entire area was a wilderness.
About a dozen people lived in a small community on Biscayne Bay around
the mouth of the Miami River and at what is now Coconut Grove. On New
River at Fort Lauderdale, no one was living at that time, and not another
soul could be encountered until one reached Lake Worth. Prior to the mid-
1870s, indeed, even here there was only one man to be found, Charlie Moore,
an ex-sailor and beachcomber, living near the site of present Palm Beach.
Permanent dwellers were first found at Jupiter, consisting of the head keeper
of the light, his two assistants and their families.
7 Adamson, Hans Christian, Keepers of the Lights, Greenberg, 1955.
2 Shepard, Birse, Lore of the Wreckers, Beacon Press, 1961.
a Adamson, H. C. op. cit. (1955).
GILBERT L. VOSS
The entire coast was windswept and throughout most of the year infested
with mosquitoes in numbers only remembered by the older inhabitants.
North of Jupiter the coast was, if anything, even worse. Fresh water was
difficult to obtain on the east side of Indian River and most of the settlements
were on the mainland side. Shipwrecked men could have a fearful time in
the midst of what later has been termed a sub-tropical Paradise. There was
desperate need for rescue facilities.
The problem was brought to a head during the hurricane of October,
1873, when a vessel was wrecked about half way between Biscayne Bay and
New River. The ship was a total loss but all the crew reached the supposed
safety of the beach. There was no food, however, and the only drinking
water was brackish in the salt marsh back of the beach ridge.
For the first two days they lived off fish washed up by the seas of the
storm but a few days later when they were found by a man who had walked
up the beach from Biscayne Bay, the half-starved crew were existing on
The story of their hardships and near death was told in the New York
papers and when this was brought to the attention of the government, Sumner
I. Kimball, Superintendent of the Life Saving Service,ordered the immediate
construction of five "houses of refuge" for shipwrecked people on the east
coast of Florida.4
These houses of refuge would not be life saving stations with fully
manned life boats to go out to ships, but lonely human outposts to which
sailors could make their way to be assured of shelter, food and clothing all
under the care of the single keeper.
By an Act of Congress dated June 20, 1874, this concept was put into
force calling for the establishment of five Houses of Refuge to be located as
follows: "about 18 miles north of the Indian River Inlet, a house of refuge;
Gilbert's Bar, a house of refuge; near Orange Grove, a house of refuge;
between Hillsborough and New River Inlet, a house of refuge; about ten
miles south of New River Inlet, a house of refuge."5
a Pierce, Charles W., Manuscript memoirs.
5 Anonymous, 1884. Revised Regulations for the Government of the Life-Saving Service
of the United States and the Laws upon which they are based. Gov. Printing Office.
These houses, unique to the Florida coast, were numbered from one to
five, beginning with Bethel Creek Station No. 1 and ending at Biscayne Bay
Station No. 5. Among the early settlers they were called usually by their
number. The construction contract was given to Mr. Albert BlaisdalIl and
construction began in 1875. That little time was spent in erecting the houses
is attested to by the fact that the Orange Grove House of Refuge No. 3 was
finished and ready for occupancy in April, 1876. The name "Orange Grove"
was derived from an old sour orange grove near the site of the station.
Possibly the earliest reference to the area is to be found in an account of
a skirmish with Indians at the "orange grove haulover" just to the south
during the Indian wars.'
The Orange Grove Station was situated about a quarter of a mile north
of the grove and on the flat east of the regular beach ridge." It was a wooden
frame house of clapboard siding, roughly rectangular in shape, with a broad
porch or verandah running entirely around it. The broad roof sloped down
overhanging the porch, keeping it and the house reasonably cool in the
summer. The ground floor consisted of four large rooms in which the
keeper lived with his family. Upstairs there was a single large airy room,
with several large windows, equipped with cots and bedding for twenty men,
clothing, and staple dried provisions and salted meats. All these were kept
sealed for use only by shipwreck victims. In addition, there were several
medicine chests equally sealed and portable chests of books.
In an adjacent building were the Station's two life boats, one a large
surfboat requiring about five men to man and a smaller two-man boat.
There were also tackle for setting up breeches buoys to bring men ashore
from stranded wrecks, and signalling flares. The life saving manual was very
explicit about the care of this equipment: the need for airing bedding and
clothing, the inspection of the salt pork, preservation of the medicine
Behind the Station lay the ocean ridge behind which the ground sloped
down to the marsh or swamp that extended for a mile or two towards the
a Swarthout, Zola. Miami Herald, Monday, June 11, 1956.
* Sprague, John T. The Origin, Progress, and Conclusion of the Florida War. D. Apple-
ton & Co., 1848.
SPierce, Charles W. op. cit.
a Henshall, James A. Camping and Hunting in Florida. Robert Clarke & Co., 1884.
0o Anonymous, op, cit. (1884)
GILBERT L. VOSS
interior pineland. The swamp was full of herons; Louisianas, little blues,
whites, and egrets, purple grackles, red-winged blackbirds and marsh hens
all wading or perching about in the saw grass, arrow-root and lily pads.
There were also a number of alligators. The ridge itself was covered with
mastic, banyans, gumbo-limbos, sea grapes and cocoplums. When the sea
grapes and cocoplums were ripe, or when the turtles were crawling, the bears
came out to the beach to eat grapes or dig for turtle eggs. Panthers were
common and there were numerous wildcats and racoons. Deer and turkey
were easily shot. And not far away were the "Caves," nearly destroyed today,
where in earlier times beach walkers hid from the Indians by day and the
mailman took shelter in before the building of the Station."
These caves were west of the ocean ridge, surrounded by hammock
growth, and facing westward. The larger one was about 20 by 20 feet, high
enough for a grown man to stand upright in, and had a large squarish stone
on one side, often used as a table. The other cave opened into the main one
by a crawl way and was pitch black inside. Even in the hottest summer day
the caves were cool. They were located near the present site of Briney Breezes
Trailer Park and I believe were partially destroyed during recent road
building. John Hollman who carried the mail from St. Augustine to the Bay
during the Civil War used the cave for overnight stops and as a hideout. Local
tradition claimed a pirate treasure was buried under the great slab but no one
was ever able to move the stone.
The Station was finished in April, 1876, and in May of that year the
first keeper of the station moved his family to the house and assumed his
duties, being paid the munificent sum of $400 per year. This was my grand-
father, Capt. H. D. Pierce. He was accompanied by his wife Margretta and
their only son, Charles.
Grandfather was born November 16, 1834, in Fayette, Maine, and at
the early age of 16 he ran away to sea as so many boys of that era and
state had done before him. He sailed in Donald McKay clipper ships and
made one famous run aboard the Black Baller James Baines from Land's
End, England, to Melbourne, Australia, in the fastest time ever made by a
sailing vessel. In Australia he went into the gold fields but without luck and
soon was back to sea again. He made at least one whaling trip into the
South Seas. Later he was first mate on a schooner, the Three Charlies, on
SVoss, Lillie Elder Pierce, Manuscripts.
the Great Lakes. This vessel was driven ashore in a violent storm onto the
breakwater off Waukegan, Illinois. The crew was rescued by the townspeople
without loss of life and quartered in various homes until other arrangements
could be made. Grandfather was sent to the home of Mr. James Moore where
he met my grandmother, Margretta, and shortly after married her.
When the Civil War began, he and his brother-in-law, Will Moore,
joined the Federal Army and fought throughout the war in the 17th Illinois
Cavalry. Afterwards, he and grandmother moved to Chicago and it was
there that Will Moore persuaded them to move to Florida. Uncle Will had
been there only the year before near Jacksonville, sent south by his doctor
to recover from tuberculosis.
Once the decision was made, grandfather and Uncle Will found and
bought a 28-ft. sloop, the Fairy Belle, outfitted it completely, and had it on
the stocks in a boatyard in Chicago when the Great Fire broke out one
evening in October, 1871. At first the Pierce's home was endangered but the
wind shifted and the fire passed only a block away, swept on to the water-
front, and burned down everything except the Fairy Belle which they found
the next day sitting in the midst of ruin, miraculously unharmed.
Even though they were not prepared for so early a start, the Pierces,
grandfather, grandmother, their young son Charles, and Uncle Will hastily
finished their outfitting and left for Florida. That winter they were frozen in
on the river and lived aboard the Fairy Belle until the Spring thaw. In the
Spring they reached New Orleans and came out onto the Gulf. When they
reached Cedar Keys they sold the Fairy Belle to a local boat builder who
wanted to use her as a model because of her fine lines. She brought one
hundred and sixty dollars, just one hundred dollars more than they had
paid for her in Chicago.
From Cedar Keys they came across to Jacksonville on David Yulee's
Florida Railroad. Here, Will Moore remained for some time practising his
trade of tinsmith. But the Pierce's destination was Indian River and they
boarded a steamer at Jacksonville and went down the St. John's River to its
headwaters at Enterprise and from there by oxcart to Titusville on the lower
part of the Indian River. Here they took up a homestead at Ankona Heights.
They arrived in the middle of the summer to be met by the greatest hordes
of mosquitoes imaginable. Life was intolerable. To add to their troubles,
GILBERT L. VOSS
their house burned down and with it many of grandmother's belongings. In
the midst of despair, a sailboat anchored off the beach and a man waded
ashore. It was Captain Armour, head keeper of Jupiter Lighthouse. There
was need of a new assistant keeper at Jupiter Light and Capt. Armour had
sailed up to see if grandfather would take the position. In 1872 the family,
probably with a sigh of relief, moved into the assistant keeper's house.
It was here that grandmother got her first sewing machine, which came
drifting up the Loxahatchee River in its packing crate from a wreck ashore
on the beach. Father pulled it ashore almost from under the hand of an
Indian who was also salvaging flotsam from the wreck.
But the Pierces had come to homestead a new home in Florida and
from the light grandfather could see to the south towards Lake Worth from
which he heard such wonderful reports. There was even a large tropical
island in the south end. It had no name but it sounded ideal. So, in October,
1873, the Pierces packed their things into one of the lifeboats from the
steamer Victor from which the sewing machine had come, and with their
skiff in tow set out. On the way they were met by the October hurricane
which resulted in the building of the house of refuge. This storm they passed
under the overturned rowboat which Grandfather shifted as the wind
changed, to keep the bow pointed upwind. Finally, they reached Lake Worth
and the unnamed island. It was eventually named Hypoluxo by Mrs. Pierce
who got the name from an Indian who said it meant: "Big water all around,
no can get out." And so Hypoluxo, the oldest settlement on Lake Worth,
first got its name.'2
The Pierce house was built of heavy ship's timbers for corner posts, the
siding from ship's planking, all gathered from the beach; the shingles were
rived on the beach from ranging timbers and smoothed down by hand with
a drawshave. The ceiling came from the nearest saw mill at Daytona Beach
from timber carried up by boat, milled and returned, a round trip of about
three or four weeks. This house is still standing on Hypoluxo Island as part
of the servant's quarters on the former Col. Jacques Balsan estate, now a
The first year was hard work. Land had to be cleared and planted, but
it was rich and crops were good. At that time, of course, there was no
1a Voss, Lillie Elder Pierce, op. cit.
place to sell them. The house had to be built. The Pierces, like all pioneers,
lived off the land; what they could grow, game that they shot, and of course
the treasures cast up on the beach. The beach often was their store and it was
worked hard. Lumber was salvaged, barrels of food, cans of butter, kegs of
wine, olives packed in oil, all found their way to the beach eventually, but
there was little or no way to earn hard cash. And even there it was needed
desperately. Life on Hypoluxo Island in the first few years was very difficult
Just at this time word came to the Island that a house was being built
near the orange grove by workmen put ashore by a schooner. Capt. Pierce
went down at once to learn what was going on and met the superintendent of
construction, Lieutenant Travis of the Revenue Marine Service and the sub-
contractor, Gates, who happened to be a fellow State-of-Mainer. Grandfather
made application for the job, was accepted, and moved his family into the
station in May, 1876.
As keeper of Station No. 3, Capt. Pierce had certain duties to attend
to. Each day he had to fill out the daily weather log, note the number of
ships that passed by and, according to the written instructions in the manual:
"Keepers of Houses of Refuge will be expected to reside at their stations
with their families, throughout the year, and immediately after storms they
will go personally, and send such members of their families as are available,
along the shore in both directions, to as great a distance as practicable, with
a view to ascertaining if any shipwreck has occurred, and of finding and
succoring any persons that may have been cast ashore."13
The Station was equipped with some rather odd things. The clothing
was mainly heavy winter gear better suited to Hatteras or New Jersey in the
winter than the usual Florida climate, and Capt. Pierce groaned at the
thought of ever launching one of the life boats. The big one would have
taken every able-bodied man on the Lake to launch and pull it, and the
Lake was twenty-seven miles long and five miles away from the Station at
its closest point. In fact, until then the only time all five men on the Lake
had gotten together was in the national elections to cast their ballots in the
palmetto hat of Polls Inspector H. D. Pierce at Hypoluxo.'* Apparently the
idea was that if some of the crew got ashore safely they could, under the
as Anonymous, op. cit. (1884)
14 Douglas, Marjorie Stoneman, Florida, the Long Frontier, 1967.
GILBERT L. VOSS
supervision of the keeper of the Station, man the surfboats and breeches
buoys to assist their fellow crewmen off the wreck.
Mrs. Pierce never really liked the Station. She loved their island home
and missed their few neighbors. The only visitors at the Orange Grove were
the occasional inspections by House of Refuge Superintendent Champ
Spencer, infrequent beach travellers and passing small boats. Other visitors
were the Indians; they came walking up the hammock trail from their
hunting grounds to the westward or passed, during good weather, in their
canoes on their way up or down the beach.
There was no inlet then at Boynton Beach. Instead there was a narrow
strip of land between the lake and the ocean known as Lake Worth Haulover,
where, since the Lake ended there, the Indians hauled their canoes over into
the ocean. Only a short distance below the station was the Orange Grove
Haulover where the canoes were again dragged into the narrow reaches of
the river which formerly opened into the ocean at Boca Ratones, now Boca
Raton Inlet, then closed.
On August 15, 1876, only three months after coming to the Station, the
Pierce's only daughter was born, Lillie Elder Pierce, the first white girl
born between Jupiter and the Bay. Mother grew up on the Lake with only a
brief tour at Station No. 5 at Biscayne Bay and probably looked like an
Indian. She sailed her skiff like a boy, carried her own shotgun on her trips
through the hammocks alone with her dog, and played the violin with her
brother. Later she married a blond young State-of-Mainer, Frederick Christian
Voss, and lived most of her life in Hypoluxo. She passed away only a few
months ago (September 14, 1967) in Delray not far from the House of
Refuge Station No. 3 where she was born 91 years ago.
There was a little excitement for Mrs. Pierce. One day while Grandfather
was gone up to the Lake, two tall, turbanned Indians carrying rifles and with
murderous-looking hunting knives in their beaded belts, stalked silently up
to the house where Grandmother sat on the porch.
"Where's Pierce?" asked the leader. Grandmother replied that he had
gone to the Lake and would be back shortly. Nervously she pulled her
brightly colored wool shawl about her shoulders for she recognized the Indian
as one who had been implicated in the murder of a white settler a few years
before. Grandmother was used to Indians, indeed an Indian midwife had been
with her mother when she was born at Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, November
11, 1840, and she had been raised around them. But she was terrified when
the Indian drew his huge knife from his belt, advanced on her, and laid the
knife blade on her shoulder against her neck.
"Where you get?" he asked.
With quaking heart she realized that he intended no injury but was
inquiring about the shawl because he wanted one like it for a turban. When
she told him that she had gotten it in Titusville he regarded her for a
moment, thrust his knife into his belt, said "Tell Pierce I come back" and
On another occasion, Grandfather was building one of the large wooden
"safes" or screened cupboards used for keeping food away from the flies and
cool when some Indians came up and watched him hammering away. Finally
curiosity got the better of the younger one and he asked, "What you make?"
Grandfather stopped long enough to indicate the baby on the porch
and said "I'm making a cage to put my squaw and pickininy in." The Indian
looked at the baby, the safe, and Grandfather with his big black beard and
said, "Pierce, you heap big liar," and walked away.
The "safe" was a permanent and well-used part of our kitchen furniture
at home in Hypoluxo until the house was sold a few years ago. Grandfather
liked the Seminoles and was great friends with them.
Insects were indeed a problem, mostly mosquitoes. Even when I was a
little boy in Hypoluxo each house had a mosquito smudge in front of the
door, often of coconut husks, and a mosquito switch hanging beside the door
to brush them off with before one entered. We also usually carried one made
of palmetto fan to brush them off with when walking outside. At the station,
mosquitoes were nearly always present but they were particularly bad in the
summer except when there was a good sea breeze. Sandflies were plentiful.
We do not know how these first evenings were spent at the Station, but
writing about life a few years later at Hypoluxo Island when she was a
15 Voss, Lillie Elder Pierce, op. cit.
GILBERT L. VOSS
young girl, Mother described a typical evening.15 Before dusk, all chores were
done up and everyone went inside to stay until morning. Screens kept much
of the insects out but on bad evenings the lamps were not even lighted. Mostly
the family sat around talking quietly or singing songs. Grandfather had a
tremendous deep bass voice and Grandmother a clear light one. Favorite
tunes were "Irish Molly, Oh," "Within a mile of Edinburgh Town," "Sweet
Afton," "Oh, Willy, we have missed you," "Sweet Belle Mahone," "Nellie
Gray," or Moody and Sankey hymns. Grandfather's favorite songs were
"From Greenland's Icy Mountains" or the old sea chanty "High Barbaree."
It didn't take much for entertainment in those days.
Thirteen months of Station No. 3 and Mrs. Pierce declared she wanted
to go back to Hypoluxo Island. Their house was there, their boats, gardens
and grandmother's brother. Superintendent Spencer had to find a replacement
which he did in the form of a young twenty-one year old Londoner, Stephen
M. Andrews. Steve, as he was called, had only recently come to the States in
the company of Charles Peacock who was lured to Florida by the exciting
letters of his brother Jack Peacock of Biscayne Bay fame.1o Steve was then
a bachelor and moved into the Station in late June, 1877.
Steve lived alone at the Station and was a great favorite with the early
settlers on the Lake. But he was not a bachelor long. In 1879 Mr. Hubble
and family moved down from Michigan and built a home at what is now
Boynton Beach, right at the intersection of Ocean Avenue and the ocean
boulevard."~ The Hubbies had two daughters, Mahalie and Anne, and when
the Hubbles gave up a year later and moved back to Michigan young Steve
followed shortly thereafter with the avowed intention of marrying Mahalie.
Somewhat to the surprise of the other families on the Lake, when he returned,
Mrs. Andrews turned out to be the other sister, Annie. Eventually Steve and
Annie inherited the Hubble homestead but sold it in 1895 to Major Boynton,
the founder of Boynton Beach.
Steve planted vegetable gardens, fruit trees and even had chickens and
hogs. The latter were his favorites, of which he was very proud. He also had
a pen in which he kept gophers, the large Florida land turtles so liked by
the early settlers as a variation in their table fare. Steve's dog Nellie liked
-i Monroe, Ralph Middleton. The Commodore's Story, Ives Washburn, 1930.
17 Voss, Gilbert L., The Early History of Boynton Beach, Literary Florida, vol. 5, No.
nothing better than to go out to the gopher pen and turn the turtles over and
then bark until someone came out and righted them again. (Told by my
sister, Mrs. Harvey E. Oyer, Boynton Beach.)
As the town of Delray, or Linton as it was originally called, began to
grow, there was need of a post office closer than Hypoluxo Island and what
better place to have it than at the Station where the mail carrier stayed the
night. Mrs. Andrews ran it from 1888 to 1892 under the name of Zion. The
Andrews lived at the Station until it was finally closed down and sold in
1896. But the name of the keeper of the Station No. 3 has survived, com-
memorated in the name Andrews Avenue, long after the Orange Grove House
of Refuge had been all but forgotten.
In 1882 Capt. Pierce went back into the Life Saving Service. He moved
his family down to Biscayne Bay Station No. 5, one of the most desolate
Stations in Florida. It was located on the ocean beach near the north end
of Biscayne Bay and about five miles by water from Brickell's Trading
Post at the mouth of the Miami River, and seven miles from Norris Cut.
The beach ridge was mainly a long expanse of scrub palmetto bordered by
mangroves on the Bay side. Ed Barnott, the first keeper, and his wife had
just moved to the mainland near Brickell's. Although the salary of the
keeper had been raised from $400 to $500 per year, the Pierces had a rough
time, as had the Barnotts.
There were no deer or turkey in scrub palmetto country and only man-
grove snapper in this part of the Bay but there were small delicious coon
oysters on the mangrove roots. Basic food was salt pork and potatoes,
relieved by dry beans, biscuits, and canned tomatoes. A few groceries could
be gotten at Brickell's: quart cans of tomatoes at 60 cents each, occasionally
eggs at 75 cents a dozen. Butter came in sealed cans put up for the Cuban
trade. Vegetables could not be grown here and mother used to walk the beach
for miles gathering and eating the edible sea kale with its peculiar bitter
taste but delicious to a person starved for greens. The Pierces were relieved
at Station No. 5 by Jack Peacock who later was also keeper of Station No. 4
at New River.
Back at Hypoluxo, Grandfather had the Post Office. This was the jump-
ing off place for the barefoot mailman, so called because he walked the
beach, the only road, from the south end of Lake Worth to the Bay staying
GILBERT L. VOSS
overnight at the various stations. There were other routes and other methods
of carrying the mail but in the mid-1880s through until the barefoot trail
was ended the route was as follows.
The mail started off from the upper end of the Lake where the mailman
left on Monday morning in his sailing skiff and sailed down to Hypoluxo
where he got the last of the Lake mail. (Later the route was shortened and
originated at the Hypoluxo Post Office.) He then sailed to the Haulover,
tied up his boat and crossed the ridge to the beach. Here he took off his
shoes, rolled up his pants legs and with mailbag and shoes over his shoulder
struck off down the beach. There was a knack to beach walking; above the
wash the sand is soft and wearying to pled through; down in the water the
waves soften it as well but right at the edge of the damp sand it is usually
hard as cement and the walking is easy and fast except that the beach slopes
so that one leg has to be a little longer than the other and move a little faster.
Walking thus developed a peculiar lope.
From the haulover it was five miles to Station No. 3 where he stayed
overnight. Supper, bed and breakfast were free to the carrier. The next day's
walk (Tuesday) was twenty-five miles to the New River Station No. 4. The
following day's walk (Wednesday) was about eighteen miles to Dum-
foundling Bay near Baker's Haulover, where he took his mail skiff and crossed
the Bay to the post office eight miles away. Here he paid for his meal and
room out of his $10 a week. The following morning (Thursday) he started
back, arriving at Palm Beach on Saturday, three days each way, 136 miles
of beach walking a week, about 7000 miles a year for the sum of $600!
The only real tragedy to strike Station No. 3 was the mysterious death
of a barefoot mailman, Ed Hamilton, a young Kentuckian about 32 years
old. On October 10, 1887, he left Hypoluxo in his sailing skiff with my
mother, now 11 years old. He turned the skiff over into her keeping for the
week at the haulover and started over the ridge. That night he stayed with
Steve and Annie Andrews at the Orange Grove and the next morning early,
October II, set off down the beach with that peculiar lope used by the
beach walkers. It was the last time that he was ever seen.
Two days after he was supposed to return, Charlie Coman, keeper of
Station No. 4 at New River, sailed up to the Orange Grove to find out
why Ed had not come through with the mail. The replacement carrier went
back down the beach with Coman expecting to meet him but on the north
bank of the Hillsborough River they found only his mail bag hanging from
a seagrape tree along with his shirt and pants. Near the water's edge they
found his underclothing and on the opposite bank, the U.S. Mail skiff. A
beach tramp had taken the mailboat across and Ed had tried to swim the
swollen river to get it back and was either drowned or eaten by sharks or
alligators. A bronze tablet now stands on the banks of the Hillsborough Inlet
on the lighthouse reservation, commemorating his loss in the line of duty.
This was the last major event in the history of the Orange Grove House
of Refuge No. 3. Delray was growing and the coast was filling up with
settlers. In 1896 the Station was closed after twenty years of service and
finally burned on March 2, 1927.
It has long been believed by historians that only five Houses of Refuge
were built: Bethel Shoal Station No. 1, Gilbert's Bar Station No. 2, Orange
Grove Station No. 3, New River Station No. 4, and Biscayne Bay Station
No. 5. However, in 1882 an Act of Congress authorized the construction of
five more and the contract for their construction was let to Francis M. Smith.
These Stations were: Smith's Creek Station No. 1, Mosquito Lagoon Station
No. 2, Chester Shoal Station No. 3, Cape Malabar Station No. 4, and Indian
River Inlet Station No. 5. Of all of these ten stations, the one at Cape Malabar
was closed after only five years of operation. Orange Grove was next after
twenty years and the rest went on into this century. Gilbert's Bar Station
on Hutchinson Island was operated by the Coast Guard as a surf station
before World War II, was closed, and then recommissioned during the War.
Today it is the last of the stations and now is the Martin County House of
Keepers of the houses of refuge usually did not last long at their jobs
for the stations were in desolate areas and the loneliness was overpowering.
Actually few rescues were made by the Stations as they were built just at
the time that the east coast of Florida was beginning to build up. A full
history of the role of the stations and their keepers has yet to be written.
The logs and reports of the stations are all on record in Washington and
will make exciting reading when they are finally given to the public. A partial
list of the keepers of stations 3-5 include the following, hopefully in the
GILBERT L. VOSS
Orange Grove House of Refuge No. 3,-First keeper, Capt. Hannibal
Dillingham Pierce, May, 1876 to June, 1877. Second keeper, Stephen M.
Andrews, June 15, 1877, to 1896 when the station was closed.
New River House of Refuge No. 4,-four miles north of New River
Inlet. First keeper, Washington (Wash) Jenkens, 1877-1882. Second keeper
Mr. E. R. Bradley of Hypoluxo (father of Guy Bradley, game warden shot at
Cape Sable) who stayed only seven months. Mr. Jack T. Peacock of Biscayne
Bay for a brief period. Fourth keeper, Mr. Charles Coman, a college man
studying marine biology. Fifth keeper, Mr. Dennis O'Neill, a Boston Irishman
described as having a "dark red beard and a big heart." The last keeper was
Mr. Jack Fromberger who held the position until the town of Ft. Lauderdale
Biscayne Bay House of Refuge No. 5,-First keeper, Mr. Edward
Barnott; second keeper, Capt. H. D. Pierce; third keeper, Mr. Jack Peacock.
Of subsequent keepers no record is available to me.1'
The Gilbert's Bar House of Refuge No. 2 was closely linked with the
stations mentioned above. A partial record of its keepers include the first
keeper, Fred Whitehead, Dec. 1, 1876 to Feb. 8, 1879; Ezra Stoner, Feb.
1879 to May 26, 1881 (?); Mr. McMillan (or McWilIiam) to 1882; David
E. Brown of Lake Worth 1882 to March, 1885, followed by that veteran
Station keeper Jack T. Peacock of Biscayne Bay, Sam Bunker and the final
keeper, Mr. Bessey.20
What good did the stations do? Wrecks were numerous before and after
but few occurred during the years of their operation. What they did was
serve as a way-station for travellers, a haven for the mailmen, and a comfort
to the ships in passing. Sailors knew that here in these desolate dwellings
were men and women dedicated to helping them in case of disaster. The
Houses of Refuge were unique to Florida and with their passing went the
end of an era. Few today who drive the ocean boulevards of this State know
of or remember the brave men and women who manned these lonely
GILBERT L. Voss-Feb. 18, 1968
is Voss, Lillie Elder Pierce, op. cit.
19 Voss, Lillie Elder Pierce, op. cit.
so Stuart News, Nov. 9, 1950, quoted in Voss, Lillie Elder Pierce, op. cit.
This Page Blank in Original
By BESSIE WILSON DuBoIs
Jupiter is a place of great natural beauty. It is also one of the most
historic areas on the southeast coast of Florida. Motorists driving across the
Loxahatchee River bridge on U.S. Highway 1, may see in one brief glance
a beautiful panorama of this historic place.
The red brick tower of the 108 year old Jupiter Lighthouse stands close
to the bridge. It is still in service and seemingly untouched by time. Beyond,
east of the lighthouse, is the mouth of the Indian River, where in the 1890s,
steamers rounded the bend to dock across from the tall tower. There they
transferred passengers and freight to the narrow gauge, seven and one half
mile railroad known as the Celestial railroad.
Farther east there is a marvelous view of the Jupiter Inlet, with a
white line of breakers showing their teeth on the bar, and the wide Atlantic
ocean beyond. The incoming tide brings the clear, blue green water far up
the Loxahatchee, under the bridges to the fork of the river, where General
Jessup's soldiers raised the first palmetto log stockade of Fort Jupiter after
the Battle of the Loxahatchee in the Second Seminole War, January 20th,
Of all this varied and fascinating history, that of Jupiter Inlet, a natural
break in the barrier reef since pre-historic times, is most interesting. History
has gathered around it like barnacles on a rock or snapper in the shade of a
wreck. The Jupiter Inlet has a past that has been recorded, in bits and parts,
in almost every book that has been written concerning the lower east coast
Jupiter Inlet has been known by several names. First it was known
as Hobe, or Jobe for a tribe of the aboriginal Jeaga Indians who lived near
1 James F. Sunderman, ed., Journey Into Wilderness: An Army Surgeon's Account of life
in Field and Camp During the Creek and Seminole Wars, 1836-1838, by Dr. Jacob
Rhett Motte (Gainesville, University of Florida Press, 1953), 201.
the inlet. On the Spanish maps the river appeared as Jobe River named for
these Indians. The English interpretation of Jobe was Jove which in turn
became Jupiter. On the DeBrahm map of 1770, it is given as Grenville Inlet,
formerly Jupiter. Hobe or Hoe-Bay continues as the nearby Hobe Sound.
All are related terms.2
Jupiter Inlet has a history of opening and closing many times throughout
the centuries. Maps alternately mark it "open" and a few years later "closed".
Either fall floods have burst the barrier of sands or human hands have dug
it out in periods of high water. However it was accomplished, the re-opening
of the inlet has always been a great joy to all who have lived in this vicinity.
The green tides surging in have vitalized the entire area. Life from the Gulf
Stream, fish large and small, enter the three branches of the Loxahatchee River.
The outgoing tides brown the ocean far out to sea, cleansing the river of the
debris and stagnation of a closed inlet.
In early days the inlet was at times, several hundred yards south of
the present location. The map of the Fort Jupiter Reservation dated 1855
shows the inlet in this position.3 The present location of the inlet was fixed,
when by a special act of the Florida Legislature, a Jupiter Inlet District was
formed in 1921.4
In 1921 land values were very low and only a few hundred people lived
in the newly formed district. The deepening of the Inland Waterway north
and south of the inlet relieved much of the pressure that in olden days had
burst the inlet open at times of fall floods. Funds for dredging were not
always available. There were sad times when the inlet closed.
Related to the history of the inlet are the great shell mounds that used
to be in this area. Oyster shells found in the mounds often measured six
inches in length, an indication that the inlet stayed open many years at a
time in pre-historic times. Oysters die when the water in the river becomes
2 Charles and Evangeline Andrews, Jonathan Dickinson's Journal (New Haven, Yale
University Press, 1961), 151.
a National Archives map of Fort Jupiter Reservation with 61/2 acres, reserved by Presi-
dent Franklin Pierce for Jupiter Lighthouse.
4 Special Report by Brockway, Weber and Brockway Engineers, Inc., West Palm Beach,
Florida, 1962 for the Jupiter Inlet Commission.
BESSIE WILSON DuBOIS
In January of 1896, a noted archaeologist, Professor Clarence B. Moore
probed the Jupiter mounds but to our knowledge no record of his findings
in this area has ever been published. He has written much of his other
archeological journeys by houseboat in Florida.- This is unfortunate since
with the coming of Mr. FIagler's railroad these mounds became accessible and
the shell was used for early road buildings. Their sherds and artifacts were
lost forever. The first large mound to go was at the south end of the railroad
bridge. Mr. Fred M. Cabot, early hotel owner and contractor owned this
mound. The shell was loaded into flat cars and used to pave streets in West
Palm Beach and New River. Mr. Cabot had a contract to open Jupiter Inlet
and to complete the canal between Jupiter and Lake Worth. He did open
the inlet in the fall of 1896.- In December of this same years this enterprising
man met a tragic death when he was killed by a freight train at Jupiter.t
On the south side of the inlet was another shell mound twenty feet high
and over six-hundred feet long. Evidence of pre-historic inhabitants were
found in this mound. Blackened ash from fires form layers between the
oyster shells, bones of fish and animals, celts, shell tools and sherds of pottery
gave mute evidence of these people who lived on the bounty near the inlet
so long ago.
In 1917 much of the shell from this mound was removed for use in
building the Silver Beach road in Lake Park, Florida. John R. DuBois
supervised the removal of this shell and preserved many of the relics found
at this time. His family home, built atop the shell mound in 1898 by his
father Harry DuBois, still occupies the high middle section of the mound.
Some of the relics from the mound were taken to the State Museum at Gaines-
ville where they were classified by Mr. Ripley P. Bulletin of the Florida State
Museum as belonging to many eras as far back as one fibre-tempered bit of
pottery from 500 B.C. Mr. & Mrs. Leo Vickers, present owners of the old
DuBois house, in 1965 invited Dr. William Sears of Florida Atlantic Uni-
versity to come up with his students and dig in the mound. Dr. Sears and his
group spent several week ends digging in a proper archaeological manner.
Bits of bones and pottery were found but no rare finds were made.
The historical record of Jupiter Inlet is almost as old as the white man's
first visit to these shores. When Memendez sailed down the coast of Florida
s Florida Times Union (Jacksonville), January 30, 1896.
e Ibid, July 23, 1896.
* Ibid., December 12, 1896.
in 1565 en route to Havana, he stopped at Gilbert's Bar and Jupiter Inlets.
With him in his two open boats were fifty of his own men and twenty of
the French prisoners spared at Mantanzas.s Barcia tells us "Pedro Menendez
had only one son, a gentleman of the royal household, who while sailing as
a general of a fleet from New Spain was beset by a tempest near Bermuda,
which is close to Florida. His ship disappeared and must certainly have been
When Menendez petitioned the King of Spain to be allowed to come to
Florida, his yearning hope was to find his son. While the shipwreck is placed
off Bermuda, Fontenada in his Memoir relates that two vessels of the 1563
fleet of New Spain, of which Menendez son was the General were sunk off
Florida. One starving survivor was found by the Indians and helped by
Fontenada.1o Shortly thereafter the Indians from Ais came to the Calusa
country laden with gold and jewels from the wrecks. Fontenada writes, "The
chiefs of Ais and Jeaga (Jupiter Inlet) are rich-only by the sea, from
the many vessels that have been lost well laden with these metals."it
Certainly it seems that Menendez did seek for his son in this area. When
he visited Gilbert's Bar the local chief greeted him warmly but when Menendez
saw the frontlets of gold worn by the chief and his men, he knew they could
only have been looted from a Spanish ship.12 The chief at Jupiter Inlet was
also effusive. Menendez responded pleasantly although he knew these Indians
could well have been the ones who had murdered his son and other luckless
During the years of 1566-67, Menendez established a series of block-
houses along the coast of southeastern Florida. One report locates one of
these blockhouses in the Jeaga country and it seems quite probable it was
near Jupiter Inlet. The crews manning these blockhouses were to protect and
s Woodbury Lowery, The Spanish Settlements Within the Present Limits of the United
States, Florida 1562-1574 (New York, Russell and Russell, 1959), 217.
SAndre G. Barcia Carballido y Zuniga, Chronological History of the Continent of
Florida, 1512-1722, trans. by Anthony Kerrigan (Gainesville, University of Florida
Press, 1951), 69.
10 d'Escalante Fontenada, Memoir of Respecting Florida, written in Spain about the
year 1575, trans. by Buckingham Smith, Washington, 1854. Reprinted with revisions,
Miami, 1944, p. 33.
12 Lowery, op. cit., 216.
BESSIE WILSON DuBOIS
succor persons shipwrecked in Spanish vessels and to prevent the looting of
valuable cargoes by the Indians.13
One of the relics found on the DuBois property was a large gray glazed
jar with one handle. Mr. Ripley P. Bullen at the Florida State Museum
when shown a picture of this jar said it was undoubtedly of Spanish origin.
An old brick oven made of yellow handmade bricks was also found on this
site. Near the oven were bits of blue and white china resembling willow
ware. Unfortunately this land has been filled and except for the jar, none of
these relics were preserved.
Shortly after 1570, an English ship seized a Spanish ship loaded with
hides in the Bahama Channel. Its occupants were landed in the district of
Jeaga (Jupiter Inlet). The Indians killed all except a mother, her children
(two sons and a daughter( and a sailor who was wounded almost unto death.
These were handed over to the chief of Ais who was the father-in-law of the
chief of Jeaga who exchanged them for six Indians held by the Spaniards.14
This relationship may explain why they also shared the loot from the Spanish
In 1696, a century later we have a first hand account of these Indians
from the pen of Jonathan Dickinson who had the misfortune to be ship-
wrecked among them.
Dickinson, a Quaker merchant was en route from Port Royal, Jamaica
to Philadelphia aboard the Barkentine Reformation, when a hurricane tossed
his vessel upon Hobe Sound beach. There were twenty-five persons aboard
including Dickinson's wife and six-months old son and his servants. The
Captain of the vessel, Joseph Kirle, had suffered a broken leg during the
storm. A saintly and revered Quaker missionary Robert Barrow was aboard
as was one of Dickinson's kinsmen, Benjamin Alien. One member of the
crew, Soloman Cressen spoke Spanish fluently which proved helpful.
As the crew and those able attempted to make a shelter of sail on the
beach and carry foodstuffs from the stranded vessel, Indians came from the
south. These were followed by many more. These Indians were very fierce
and naked except for a breech clout of plaited straw.
3 Irving Rouse, A Survey of Indian River Archaeology (New Haven, Yale University
Press, 1951), 52.
The devout Quakers had counseled together and resolved to meet their
fate with prayerful resignation, determined to offer no resistance. The In-
dians tore off their clothing and standing behind them holding them by the
hair prepared to slay them with Spanish knives. Suddenly they appeared
changed, and instead fell to looting the vessel. The Quakers believed this to
be a Divine intervention. The next morning loaded with all they could carry
from the vessel, they were herded down the beach. When they reached the
inlet a dugout came across from the south side and ferried them across a few
at a time to an Indian mound where the Indian huts were situated.-1 This
account finds Jupiter Inlet open in 1696. The Dickinson party were finally
allowed to travel north along the beach, meeting other tribes of aboriginal
Indians at every inlet and suffering starvation and all manner of hardship
before they were discovered by a Spanish patrol and led to St. Augustine
where they were kindly received by the Governor and eventually reached
The first edition of the Dickinson Journal appeared in print in 1699.
Pious Quakers had it printed as a religious tract for fifteen later editions.
In 1935, a Yale professor emeritus, Dr. Charles M. Andrews and his
wife Evangeline Walker Andrews, leased the old DuBois home on top of
the Indian mound near Jupiter Inlet. They were visited by one of Dr.
Andrew's former students, Mr. Louis Capron of West Palm Beach. He
brought, as a gift to the Andrews, one of the old copies of the Jonathan
Dickinson Journal. When Dr. and Mrs. Andrews learned that they were
indeed living on the very site of Dickinson's captivity, they became completely
fascinated and engrossed by the Journal. The next seven years were spent
in exhaustive research, editing and preparing the Dickinson Journal which
was published in 1945 by Mrs. Andrews who shared in the labor and of
course by Yale University Press. Dr. Andrews, alas! did not live to see this
his last book in print. He left as his legacy to Florida and Jupiter Inlet, a
record of the aboriginal Indians of this lower east coast of Florida, their
customs and appearance. He researched that memorable journey with all the
skill of a dedicated historian. Due to this book, the nearby state park has
been named Jonathan Dickinson Park. The park entrance is almost directly
across from the beach where the Reformation was wrecked.
L5 Andrews, op. cit., 33-34.
BESSIE WILSON DuBOIS
Our next report on Jupiter Inlet comes some seventy-three years later
from the pen of a Dutch civil engineer named Bernard Romans. He relates
"A small schooner drawing five feet of water was by our people
brought through here and out at Hobe (Jupiter Inlet). This inlet
was shut for many years before 1769, but I have seen it open until
1773, our people have encamped on the same spot where now
water allows egress and regress to such craft as the above mentioned
schooner, just sufficient to pass it."16
John Lee Williams writes in 1837 that;
"Jupiter Inlet has opened and closed three times within seventy
years. In 1837 Jupiter Inlet was shoal and appeared to be closing
which it did in 1838."1'
Jacob Rhett Motte, a surgeon with General Jessup at Fort Jupiter in
the Second Seminole War, wrote that he often visited the inlet;
"On one of our visits we found the inlet completely closed up
by a dry sandbar formed across its mouth in one night. The day
previous we had left a broad channel capable of admitting the
smaller vessels that sail the ocean."'8
The Memoir accompanying the Ive's Military Map of 1856 reports
Jupiter Inlet closed between 1840 and 1844. In 1844 there was a hurricane
with the most tremendous rainfall, flooding the back country. Following this
storm Indian River Inlet, Gilbert's Bar and Jupiter Inlet were all opened.
This was a great relief to the Armed Occupation settlers who were supplied
with necessities by schooner through these inlets."
The story of the opening of Jupiter Inlet is related in the Ives report
during the 1844 flood:
"Captain Davis, the mail carrier from Fort Capron to Cape
Florida endeavored with a party of four men to evacuate a channel.
1x Bernard Romans, A Concise and Natural History of East and rest Florida (New
York, 1775), 287.
1? John Lee Williams, Territory of Florida, facsimile reprint (Gainesville, University of
Florida Press, 1962), originally printed 1837, p. 53.
isSunderman, op. cit., 212.
x9 Robert Ransome, East Coast of Florida Memoirs (1926), 12, 13.
After digging for several hours, they succeeded by nightfall in
starting outward a stream of water four inches in depth. Upon this
they desisted from labor and went to their camp which was some
fifty feet from the ditch. The river inside was unusually high, from
a freshet in the Everglades and a strong north wind was blowing.
At night the sleeping party were awakened by a flood of water, and
had to abandon their camp equipage and flee for their lives, barely
escaping being carried out to sea. The next day there was a channel
nearly a quarter mile wide and the rush of water could be traced
far out upon the ocean. The inlet stayed open until 1847, when it
closed until 1853, during which year it opened itself, but remained
in that condition only a short time. In 1855 Major Haskin, First
Artillery, in command of the post (Fort Jupiter) endeavored again
to clear the channel. Sand hills of a considerable size, which had
accumulated were cut through, and the attempt would doubtless
have been successful but for the low condition of the water during
that unusually dry year. A small amount of labor expended under
favorable conditions would in all probability, effectually open
this inlet, and render the harbor one of the best on the eastern coast.
At times it has admitted vessels drawing eight feet, and the entrance
is protected from the north by a ledge of rocks."20
The closing of the inlet at this time was most inopportune. It was impos-
sible to supply the military post Fort Jupiter, from the sea and as the river
became fresh, the stagnant growth was said to make the locality unhealthy
for the troops stationed there. The men began to suffer from a fever that
was known for lack of a better name as "Jupiter fever."21
Captain James O. Webster in a letter to the Jupiter Inlet Commission
quoted his friend and pioneer resident Mr. Charles Doyle Leffler as saying
"Captain Capron occupied Fort Jupiter in 1856 and recruited
120 men from Fort Meade. They worked eighteen days with shovels
and opened the inlet. They did this because the stagnant waters
2o The Ives Memoir to Accompany a Military Map, "Florida South of Tampa Bay"
21 Elsie Jackson, unpublished history of Jupiter.
22 Letter of Capt. J. O. Webster to Jupiter Inlet Commission.
BESSIE WILSON DuBOIS
made the mosquitoes so bad they could not stand it. After the
inlet opened again the mosquitoes cleared up to a great extent."
In 1855 the Jupiter lighthouse was under construction and if supplies
could have been brought in through the inlet much difficult labor could
have been avoided. The expense would have been half the eventual cost.
Because the inlet was closed the five hundred tons of materials were brought
in deep sea sailing vessels to Indian River Inlet, unloaded onto shallow draft
barges and ferried down the Indian River to the lighthouse site. This route
was very shallow in places and the labor of dragging the heavily laden
scows over the shallows amid mosquitoes and sandflies tried the hardiest men
almost beyond endurance.23
There must have been some good fall rains before 1859, the year the
lighthouse was completed, for we learn that the U.S. Schooner Delaware
was anchored in Jupiter Inlet, and intercepted a small boat rowing in from
the ocean. The six occupants told a strange story. They claimed their schooner
the Enterprise had run aground and that their Captain Morentes had fallen
overboard and drowned. They said they were penniless, but when searched,
each had $1925. in gold on his person. They were turned over to Lt. Randolph
of the revenue cutter John Appleton who delivered them to the U.S. Marshall
at Key West. Here it was learned that they were mutineers who had murdered
their Captain most cruelly and robbed the ship's strong box. No trace of the
ship was ever found but the U.S. Marshall and Lt. Reynolds found the grave
of Captain Morentes as the men described it. The body was disinterred and
reburied with Masonic rites.24
In 1861, the Jupiter lighthouse was darkened for the duration of the
Civil War. The inlet however stayed open wide and deep, offering haven
for blockade runners. The passages up the Indian River with its coves and
high mangroves made pursuit by the Federal patrol boats a grand game of
high and seek once the inlet was safely navigated. Among the various Union
ships which operated in this area were the U.S.S. Sagamore Roebuck,
Honeysuckle, and Beauregard. A number of blockade running sloops were
captured laden with dry goods, soap, coffee, flour, salt and usually a few
cases of gin from the Bahamas.-z James A. Armour, later keeper of Jupiter
a2 Bessie Wilson DuBois, "Jupiter Lighthouse," Tequesta, XX (1960), 5-17.
24 Wesley Stout, "The Beachcombers," Ft. Lauderdale News, April 19, 1964.
-s William J. Schellings, "On Blockade Duty in Florida Waters," Tequesta, XV (1955),
lighthouse served as pilot on these vessels and gave valuable assistance since
he was well acquainted with local waterways.26
Two cannon balls have been found that were quite possibly fired by
Federal patrol boats at this time. One was dug up on the DuBois place many
years ago. It is ten inches in diameter and weighs 135 pounds. It was
probably thrown by a mortar. The other ball is about half this size. It was
found by the sons of Clifford Seabrook up the inland waterway past the
After the Civil War the inlet closed again. The story is told of a
Captain Stone who found a Spanish chest on the beach containing some
gold coins. He would never tell how many. He went to New York where he
chartered a schooner. He sailed it through Jupiter Inlet and with a crew
began to cut palmetto logs, which he planned to sell for dock piling in Key
West. During the work the inlet sanded up and he could not get the schooner
out. The vessel with its cargo of logs rotted there. Stone finally gave up and
walked the beach to Canaveral. For three weeks he subsisted mainly upon
turtle eggs which he dug on the beach and some rum he found washed up.
He developed a marked distaste for both. The DuBois property was known
for many years as Stone's Point.a'
In 1872 we again find the Jupiter Inlet open wide enough to admit the
salvage from the Steamer Victor which surged up to the lighthouse dock on
the incoming tide.28
A Guide to Florida describes Jupiter in 1875 as follows:
"The most notable spot for fishermen is Jupiter. The traveller
however will find no accommodations, he must control a guide and
camp out. Fish fairly choke the inlet. Schools of bluefish, pompano
and cavallo lash its waters into foam, the strongest tackle is in
danger of being carried away. Men absolutely tire of working the
reel. Their arms swell with the continual strain and what is called
sport becomes the hardest kind of work. From Jupiter parties can
a6 Florida Star Newspaper, July 8, 1910, on death of Captain Armour.
27 Ransome, op. cit., appendix vii.
28 Bessie Wilson DuBois, "The Wreck of the Victor," Tequesta, XXIII (1963), 15-22.
BESSIE WILSON DuBOIS
organize for a manatee hunt. These monsters sometimes weigh
In 1884 when Dr. James A. Henshall visited Jupiter Inlet he reported
sailing across the bar with no difficulty. The fishing was fabulous and the
good doctor writes of reclining on the cabin of his boat after a supper of
raw oysters and broiled pompano and looking at the stars as he smoked his
pipe. The surf on the bar and the beam of the lighthouse completed the
picture of a fisherman's paradise.30
An unpublished account of a Dr. Herrold of Newark, New Jersey
who visited the inlet the same year substantiates Dr. Henshall's account.
Melville Spencer, an assistant keeper at the lighthouse made the fishing
a matter of record with his priceless photographs.
Ten years later the Tropical Sun, the Juno newspaper, describes Jupiter
Inlet in November 1894;
"Jupiter Inlet is in the best shape it has been in years. Sound-
ings by the Life Saving Crew show a depth of 9 feet on the outer
bar and 71/2 feet on the inner bar. On up the river to the railroad
wharf there is twenty feet for a long distance. The people of Jupiter
feel proud of their inlet and well they should."31
The U.S. Life Saving Station, a short distance south of the inlet was
established in 1886. Captain Charles R. Carlin had entire charge of the
Station and command of the crew from its beginning until it was discon-
tinued in 1896 after the Flagler railroad began bringing in the passengers
and freight and the deepening of the inland waterway made it unnecessary
for boats to go outside on their way south.
At the heyday of the Jupiter Life Saving Station a Lieutenant William
Henn, well known Naval officer and yachtsman wrote an article which
appeared in the Century Magazine, June 1893. He describes camping near
ao "Rambler," pseud., A Guide to Florida (New York, The American News Co., 1873),
Facsimile edition, University of Florida Press, 1964.
o3 James A. Henshall, M.D., Camping and Cruising in Florida (Cincinnati, R. Clarke
& Co., 1884), 139.
sl The Tropical Sun, November 8, 1894.
the inlet on Stone's Point. Later he made a trip to the Keys. On the return
trip a storm arose, Captain Carlin and his crew brought their lifeboat
alongside the sloop Minnehaha and took off Mrs. Henn and the steward who
could not swim. As soon as the storm subsided sufficiently, Capt. Carlin
guided the sloop in through the inlet in a novel fashion. He stationed his
men on the bar pointing the way in. The article is illustrated with skeches
showing the camp, the men launching the surf boat and the sloop making
passage into the inlet. Lt. Henn has great praise for Capt. Carlin and his
well trained crew.32
The site of the Jupiter Life Saving Station has been marked by the
Seminole Chapter of the D.A.R. The names of Captain Carlin and his crew,
John Grant, Harry DuBois, Dan Ross, Graham King, Charles Carlin (son of
Captain Carlin) and Fred Powell all appear on the marker. All of these
men have descendants in this area.
On October 25, 1892, the keepers of Jupiter lighthouse were amazed to
see a very large stern wheel steamer come in through Jupiter inlet. This
was the Santa Lucia and her arrival at Jupiter Inlet was the climax of a
historic voyage of nearly 3000 miles from Pittsburg, down the Ohio and
Mississippi rivers and around Cape Sable. Captain Richard Paddison a
veteran Indian River Captain had at the direction of Mr. Henry Flagler
brought this steamer to Indian River to haul materials for the Royal Pon-
ciana Hotel. With a jubilant toot the Santa Lucia disappeared up the Indian
River for her home dock at Titusville.a
On May 24, 1898 an exciting bit of history took place off Jupiter Inlet
when the U.S. battleship Oregon anchored off the inlet and sent in boats to
telegraph from the lighthouse to Washington D.C. for orders before pro-
ceeding to Cuba to join the North Atlantic Squadron at Santiago. The Oregon
had also just completed a historic voyage, having left Tacoma Washington
March 7, 1898 coming through the straits of Magellan during a terrible
storm, dodging Spanish torpedo boats as the ship proceeded up the coast
of South America with stops along the way for coal. The stop of the
Oregon caused quite a flurry among Jupiter residents who at first thought
3s Lt. William Henn, "Caught on a Lee Shore," Century Magazine, June 1893, pp.
as A. J. and K. A. Hanna, Florida's Golden Sands (Indianapolis, Bobbs-Merrill, 1950),
217. Also, reminiscences of Judge Richard Robbins, Lake Worth Pioneers, May 1960.
BESSIE WILSON DuBOIS
the lighthouse was being attacked by the Spaniards. The Oregon was ordered
to Key West where she arrived May 26, and left for Santiago May 30th.34
In February 1901, the inlet was again reported closed. Senator James P.
Taliaferro was reported to have prevailed upon the Army Engineers to open
the Inlet."3 High water came in June, the Jupiter people did not wait for
the Army engineers. They went down and opened the inlet themselves.-a
The autumn of 1910 found Jupiter Inlet closed again. The fall rains
were torrential and Jupiter experienced its worst flood. Storekeepers waited
upon customers in bathing suits wading in water. Cows had to be led up to
high ground to be milked. Boats, the only means of travel in those days,
could not pass under the railroad bridge since the water came up to the
bridge ties. The residents went down to the inlet with shovels and a mule
and scoop. The water went out so fast they had to run for high ground to
escape being washed out to sea. In a few hours the channel was a quarter
mile wide.39 The river water browned the ocean far out to sea. One resident
said that every leaf bore a cargo of insects. If one so much as touched a
worker the insects were upon him biting lustity. Five years later the inlet
closed again. Fall rains came and the villagers opened the inlet in the same
fashion once more.
In 1921 to raise money by taxes, the Jupiter Inlet District was formed
by a special act of the Florida Legislature. The District included Hobe
Sound which was then in Palm Beach County as Martin County had not
yet been formed. The District, under Department of Army permits, has spent
about $319,000 for improvement and maintenance of this inlet.38 The first
commissioners were J. T. Ziegler, Herbert Pennock, and E. Frank Bowers.
J. C. Wagen was the first engineer and Captain J. O. Webster of Miami
contracted to place the rock for the first jetties. His tug Salvor was used
to begin the work which was directed by Weston Hempstead in the summer
SFrederick Stanhope Hill, Twenty-six Historic Ships (New York, Putnam's 1903),
465, 471, 474.
3s Florida Times Union, February 6, 1901.
as Ibid., June 20, 1901.
3 Jackson, op. cit.
as Special Report to Jupiter Inlet Commission, 1962, Brockway, Weber and Brockway,
West Palm Beach, Florida.
During the prohibition era, Jupiter Inlet stayed open and it would be
interesting to know how many cases of liquor crossed this bar in the dark
hours before dawn. Often in the night, the sound of a high powered motor
could be heard above the breaking of ground swells as the heavily laden
rum boats entered the inlet. The three branches of the Loxahatchee, the
inland waterway and the Indian River offered coves and dense cover where
the liquor could be concealed or unloaded.
One dark and windy night in February 1925 such a boat loaded with
choice liquors, capsized on the bar. The rum runners jumped for their lives.
As they swam in the chilly water, the boat unbelievably righted itself,
circled them and then ran upon the beach south of the inlet. The rum run-
ners managed to swim ashore. At daybreak another boat arrived and began
to salvage the precious "hams" of liquor as the burlap sacks holding the
bottles were called. When townspeople and fishermen began to arrive the rum
runners withdrew. Fishermen hooking into the burlap bags spilled into the
surf had a memorable day of sport.
In 1928, Captain Webster again had a contract to place granite on the
inlet jetties. The Captain, a state of Maine man and a hard hat diver, ful-
filled his contract in various ways. The first granite arrived by flatcar from
Parkhill, S.C. Soon after, the sailing vessel Camelia May Page, arrived from
Stonington, Maine with 800 tons of granite. The tug Eugene, named for
Captain Webster's only son, hurried out to meet the sailing vessel as she
anchored three-quarters of a mile off shore. The deck load of 175 tons was
unloaded at once. Weston Hempstead who was in charge of the work was
anxious to take advantage of the good weather and to be ready when the
next schooner, the Lucia P. Dow would arrive the following week with
another 1,400 tons of granite. Each block weighed from three to twelve tons.3
The Lucia P. Dow was commanded by Captain Alvin Loeshe, a young
German. His wife Joanna was on board with him. The ship was spotless and
the crew a cheerful lot. Mrs. Loeshe had made hooked rugs on her three
weeks voyage. These rugs were regarded with great pride by the crew espe-
cially the cook, since his undershirt was incorporated in one of them.
The storm season was approaching and the work of unloading this last
schooner proceeded at top speed. It was accomplished none too soon. In
as Post Times, Palm Beach, June 11, 1928.
BESSIE WILSON DuBOIS
September of 1928 came the tremendous and fearful hurricane that caused
so much death and destruction in this part of Florida. The huge blocks of
granite so recently placed on the inlet jetties, held up well under the mighty
seas that broke over them. Jupiter Inlet was open and drained the flood waters
from the back country.
In 1931 Captain Webster again contracted to place rock on the inlet.
This time Weston Hempstead's brother Art was in charge. Part of the
material was native rock from Ojus, Florida brought from the quarries by
flatcar. For the rest the men went to Moselle Shoal, off North Rock, Bahamas.
There Captain Webster had salvage rights to the windjammer Horace Mc-
Cumber which sank in a gale in 1909. The ship was bound from Rockport,
Maine to Galveston, Texas loaded with granite. Captain Webster did his own
diving on this job. Several trips were made to Jupiter Inlet with granite
salvaged from this vessel. During rough weather on the last trip one of the
barges broke loose. The tug with another barge also in tow, could not turn
back to retrieve it so Neptune reclaimed this granite.
The north jetty had been extended about 200 feet and the south jetty
75 feet in 1928. In 1931, the north jetty which had settled was recapped.
The channel was dredged again in 1936 but in two years had shoaled again
so that only small boats could use the channel. Two steel groins were con-
structed on the north side in 1940 to stop inside erosion near the shoreward
side of the north jetty and a converging steel pile groin was constructed on
the seaward side of the south jetty to increase current velocities and induce
scouring between the jetties. In 1941 the inlet was dredged again. The inlet
was closed in 1942 and remained closed until 1947.
In February 1942, the empty tanker Republic was torpedoed by a
German submarine off Hobe Sound. A young man, D. Leonard Smith, went
out in his boat the next morning and salvaged one of the life boats of the
Republic. He towed it in through the inlet which was so nearly closed that
he had to await a big wave to boost him over the bar. His was the last
boat through the inlet until it was opened again after the war. The Coast
Guard had observed his activities from the lighthouse tower and took charge
of the lifeboat when he reached shore. The inlet was banked with sand from
jetty to jetty which made it much easier for the Coast Guardsmen on horse-
back to patrol the shore.
Frank Webber, one of the Marines at the Jupiter Navy Station told of
a trip to the sand bar across the inlet. There the Marine detachment took
the crew of a German submarine under guard. They were placed on a train
and sent to a prisoner of war camp in Kentucky. He described the submarine
Captain as a man with a great black beard.
The 1930s were a period of great frustration for the men who served as
inlet commissioners. One of these, John R. DuBois, served for twenty of
the leanest years. There were times during the depression when the Inlet
District barely had money to pay the interest on the bonds. There was no
money for maintenance or improvements. Appeals to Washington brought a
concerned response from Congresswoman Ruth Bryan Owen who visited the
inlet several times and did all in her power to secure government aid without
success. Her successor J. Mark Wilcox also interested himself in the problems
of Jupiter Inlet as did Congressman Dwight Rogers and in turn his son
Paul Rogers our present Congressman from this district. Several surveys
have been made but the sad conclusion was that the benefits did not justify
Since 1921 when the Jupiter Inlet District was formed the northern
part of the District, Hobe Sound had been made into part of Martin County.
Although the two thirds of the area drained by Jupiter Inlet was in Martin
county, the tax paying citizens did not want to be taxed for an inlet in
Palm Beach County so they withdrew from the district in 1945.
For many years the sand dredged from the inlet had been pumped on
the north side of the inlet filling in what had been a marshy area. In 1954,
this large tract of wilderness fronting on the ocean and river was purchased
by developer Charles Martyn. It became the Jupiter Inlet Beach Colony, an
area of beautiful homes. In 1956 Mr. Martyn developed Tequesta further up
the Loxahatchee. These two developments attracted many outstanding resi-
dents to Jupiter.
The Pratt and Whitney and RCA plants brought more homeowners.
Suddenly from a sleepy little village of only a few hundred people there
are now several thousand.
All this has benefited the inlet, for at last, tax monies are available for
dredging and improvements. Both commercial and pleasure boats are more
BESSIE WILSON DuBOIS
numerous than ever before. The Loxahatchee so far due to zealous efforts of
conservationists is unpolluted. The deep green tides flow deep into the three
branches of the river.
The present Commissioners are, Robert Kleiser, Ransom F. Gladwin
Jr. and Dr. Rudolph Steinhauser. At this writing 1800 tons of granite have
just been placed extending the south jetty about 100 feet and other improve-
ments are planned.
The Coastal Engineering department of the University of Florida is also
making a survey of Jupiter Inlet. Eight Tide Clocks have been installed on
piling to measure the volume and direction of the tides. Currents will be
studied. A large scale model of the inlet will be built so that by careful
evaluation much future expenditure will be saved.
Historic Jupiter Inlet is basking in all this attention. From 1565 to 1968
is over four hundred years of recorded history. The pre-historic period may
well be said to be a thousand years more.
Truly Jupiter Inlet has a place in Florida history!
This Page Blank in Original
The Rockets Come to Florida
By JAMES W. COVINGTON
At present, the United States is involved in the most costly peace time
program in its history-Project Apollo which has as a goal the placing of
Americans on the surface of the Moon. Such an undertaking includes not
only the facilities of the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, but various manu-
facturing, testing, assembling, research, and administrative complexes scat-
tered throughout the United States. Among these, the Apollo Project involves
such awesome plants as Launch Complex 39 on Merritt Island, Florida; the
rocket assembly plant at Michoud, Louisiana; the development, testing, and
operations facilities at Houston, Texas; the Marshall Space Flight Center
at Huntsville, Alabama; and the Bay St. Louis, Mississippi Test Center. Cer-
tainly, the aerospace business is most impressive and has changed in a most
dramatic fashion the way of life in parts of the South including Florida.1
It is the purpose of this article to review the period in Florida history
when the initial rockets were launched from the area known at that time as
Cape Canaveral. The setting, amidst pine trees, sandy beaches, and abundant
wild life, was relatively primitive and costs were measured in terms of mil-
lions and not billions of dollars. In order to fully understand certain relation-
ships, events which took place in 1945 should be mentioned. At the close of
World War II, the United States Army had captured some German rockets,
much technical data, and almost all of Germany's top rocket technicians,
including Wernher von Braun, Walter Dornberger, and Kurt Debus. At first,
the Americans did not know what to do with the materials and scientists, but
finally, in "Operation Paperelip" four hundred and ninety-two persons were
offered contracts to work for the United States Government. Within a short
time after the Europeans had accepted the offer, they, together with approxi-
mately one hundred V-2 rockets and forty tons of documents, were dis-
SFor the economic effect of the Apollo program upon the South see Loyd S. Swenson, Jr.
"The Fertile Crescent: the South's Role in the National Space Program," Southwestern
Historical Quarterly LXXI (January, 1968), 377-392; Mary A. Holman and Ronald M.
Konkel "Manned Space Flight and Employment," Monthly Labor Reviews XC (March,
patched to the United States., By May, 1948, the 492 specialists had been
placed in the various services: Army, 177; Navy, 72; Air Force, 205; and
Department of Commerce, 38.
There were several important American projects for the development of
guided missiles which must be noted at this time. As early as 1936 a group
of California Institute of Technology scientists under the leadership of
Theodore von Karman began research on the design of a high altitude
sounding rocket and by 1939 had become involved in a group effort known
as the Rocket Research Project-the first team of American scientists in-
volved in research and development of propulsion systems. By November
1943, persons involved in the project had named it the Jet Propulsion Labo-
ratory and Army Ordnance in January 1944, requested the laboratory to
engage in research and development activities concerning long range jet
propelled missiles.- By December 1, 1944, the Private A, the first successful
American missile propelled by a long duration solid-propellant engine was
being successfully tested at Camp Irwin, California (Project ORDCIT). On
November 15, 1944, a contract was signed with General Electric Company
to plan and produce long range guided missiles and surface to air missiles:
this was known as the Hermes Project.4
Even before the inauguration of the ORDCIT and Hermes projects, it
had become obvious that a large area for the testing of missiles was needed.
Finally in a wise choice, government owned land, near Fort Bliss, was
selected by a committee and was activated as the White Sands Proving
a For details of "Project Paperclip" see Peter Van Slingerland, "How We Let the Mis-
sile Secrets Get Away," Look, (February 4, 1959) ; Wesley Craven and James L. Cate,
History of the Army Air Force in World War II, VII (Chicago, 1955). The project as
seen through the eyes of the German scientists can be found in Willy Ley, Rockets,
Missiles, and Space Travel, (New York, 1957), 244-247; Walter Dornberger, V-n, (New
York, 1954) ( 271-273; and Dieter Huzel, Peenemunde and Canaveral (Englewood
Cliffs, 1962) passim.
a Frank J. Malina, "Origins and First Decade of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory," in
Eugene M. Emme ed. of The History of Rocket Technology: Essays on Research,
Development, and 'Utility (Detroit, 1964), 36-37. Of course, Robert H. Goddard had
received a patent for a liquid fueled rocket engine as early as 1914 but his efforts
certainly could not be classied as a team project. For conflicting views concerning the
start of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory compare Malina, "Origins," 60 and David S.
Akens, "Historical Origins of the George C. Marshall Space Flight Center," Marshall
Space Flight Center Monograph Number One, Huntsville, Alabama, December, 1960, 24.
Eugene M. Emme Aeronautics and Astronautics, an American C hronology of Science
and Techonology in the Exploration of Space, 1915-1960 (Washington, 1961) 48;
Francis E. Jarrett, Jr. and Robert A. Lindemann, "Historical Origins of NASA's
Launch Operations Center to July 1, 1962," Kennedy Space Center Historical Mono-
graph Number One (Cocoa Beach, 1962), 6.
JAMES W. COVINGTON
Grounds (WSPG), New Mexico, July 13, 1945. Within a short time, both
American and German rockets were being fired at White Sands which by
1950 became the upper atmosphere research center of the United States.
Although the one hundred and twenty-five mile long range proved to be
exceedingly useful for the testing of short range guided missiles and upper
atmosphere sounding rockets, it was not adequate for the intermediate range
guided missiles. Testing of a modified V-2 on May 29, 1947, for the Hermes
B program brought about a most unusual turn of events. The rocket instead
of going northward took off on a forty-seven mile trip to the south and
after passing over a fiesta celebration at Juarez, Mexico, landed on an
uninhabited hill." As a result, all launching activities were curtailed at
WSPG until better methods were devised to protect the nearby inhabitants
from straying rockets.e
The ideal missile testing range as initially proposed in November 1945,
by the Guided Missiles Committee of the Joint Chiefs .of Staff would be
one which would be utilized by all branches of the armed forces and private
concerns that wished to make certain tests. In order to find such a range,
the Joint Research and Development Board, Joint Chiefs of Staff, established
an organization known as the Committee on Long Range Proving Ground in
October 1946, to study available sites and determine if a single testing area
might be suitable.7 After considering and rejecting such foreign and domestic
sites including Key West, Florida, an isolated area in Canada, certain islands
in the Pacific, Cape Flattery, Washington, White Sands, New Mexico, and
Point Arena, California, the committee headed by Brigadier General William
L. Richardson, recommended in June 1947, as first choice the El Centro,
California-Gulf of California range and second choice Banana River, Florida-
sDavid S. Akens and Paul H. Satterfield, "Army Ordnance Satellite Program," His-
torical Monograph, Historical Office, George C. Marshall Space Center, Reprint, De-
cember 1, 1962, 43-44.
o Probably there were other incidents regarding straying rockets in New Mexico and
Mexico. One person recalled that the State Department did take care of some un-
pleasant incidents at Juarez and Alamogordo. See remarks by Lt. Col. C. T. Schooley,
Minutes of Contractor Conference, March 6, 1951, at Long Range Proving Ground
Division USAF, LRPG Division Contractor Conference, 4.4, Files, Office of Historian,
Kennedy Space Center. Hereafter cited as O.H., KSC.
7 Marven R. Whipple Brief Explanation of the Origin and Lineage of the Following
Entities: Headquarters, Air Force Eastern Test Range, Office of Information, etc.," Air
Force Eastern Test Range, Office of Information, 1.
Bahama Island area." It was estimated that cost of the California range
would be $119,290,000 and it could be extended to 4,500 miles from its
original 450 mile figure. The Florida range costing $142,055,000 could be
extended to a length of 10,000 miles from its original 725 miles. When
preliminary negotiations revealed that Mexico was not anxious to have the
range, the Banana River-Bahama Islands site was selected. Five years later,
Pereira and Luckman drew up a master plan for the missile test center and
in the introduction to that plan gave the following reasons why the Florida-
Bahamas area had been selected as the site of the range:
1. The line of observation sites available on islands of the South
Atlantic provided the greatest number of observation points
over the longest range necessary for missile testing.
2. An existing naval air station within the continental United States
was available which was considered adequate for use as a main
3. A launching site was available fifteen miles north of the main
base which fulfilled certain safety requirements in regard to dis-
tance from population centers.'
In anticipation of a satisfactory agreement with the British Government
regarding use of sites in the Bahamas, the deactivated Banana River Naval
Air Station was transferred to the Department of the Air Force, Air Materiel
Command in September 1948, on a standby basis. A law which gave authority
for the Secretary of the Air Force to develop a long range missile proving
ground to be shared by the Air Force, Army, and Navy was signed by
President Harry S. Truman on May 11, 1949. Finally, the Banana River
Naval Station, was transferred from the Air Materiel Command to the
jurisdiction of the Air Force Division and became an active base on October
a Report of Committee on Long Range Proving Ground, prepared by Committee on
LRPG, June 20, 1947, P.G. 27/4, Joint Research and Development Board. In addition,
the committee recommended that a single Joint Range Proving Ground be established
and that if the Florida site were accepted, part of Merritt Island be included in the
tract. If this action were taken at this time, the United States Governmen would have
saved a considerable sum of money by acquiring Merritt Island when land prices
were much more reasonable.
SPereira and Luckman, General Master Plan, Air Force Missile Test Center, August,
1952, 4.11 O.H., KSC.
JAMES W. COVINGTON
1, 1949.10 After all of these transfers of title, the most important transaction
was signed on July 21, 1950-the Bahamas Long Range Proving Ground
Agreement between the United States of America and the United Kingdom of
Great Britain and Northern Ireland.- This pact gave the United States use of
a one thousand mile range extending southeastward through the Bahamas
and Antilles with observation stations situated at Cape Canaveral, Point
Jupiter, Florida, Grand Bahamas Bank, Eleuthera, San Salvador, Mayaguana,
Grand Turk Island, and Puerto Rico. When the range was opened, observers
noted that it was capable of being extended five thousand miles to Ascension
Island in the South Atlantic.
Among the many air bases and training stations established along the
east coast of Florida during World War II, the Banana River Naval Air
Station, situated some eighteen miles south of Cape Canaveral, occupied a
most beautiful site between the Atlantic Ocean and the Banana River. Acti-
vated in October, 1940, the air station served as a base for the Martin Patrol
Bombers which searched the nearby Atlantic shipping lanes for German
submarines. Although the eighteen hundred and twenty-two acre base served
a useful function, the total strength never arose above two thousand persons
and when the war ended, the Navy found it relatively easy to curtain opera-
tions. On August 1, 1947, the station was deactivated and notwithstanding
the services of a caretaker force of forty persons, the wooden buildings
began to show signs of needed paint and repair work and persons speculated
at what time the station would return to local authority for use as a college
site or some other project.
When news reached Brevard County that the base would become
headquarters for a missile range, civil leaders in Cocoa and Melbourne were
xo Land included within the Banana River Naval Air Station was transferred from the
State of Florida on November 27, 1939; June 22, 1940; and November 22, 1940. The
naval air base was formally opened on October 1, 1940, and deactivated on August 1,
1947. For life at Banana River Naval Air Force Station, see Patrick Air Force Base
Newspaper, The Missileer, December 3, 1951 and December 10, 1951 issues. For a
summary of the various transfers of titles and service designations see Marven R.
Whipple, "Index of Military Units Assigned and Attached to AFMTC, 1949-1950",
Historical Branch, Office of Information, Air Force Missile Test Center, Patrick Air
Force Base, Florida, 1960.
n As early as January 18 and February 21, 1946, letters regarding range were exchanged
between American and British authorities. In December, 1949, a team composed of
Colonel Carl Swyter AF and Group Captain G. P. Woodhause RAF visited Nassau and
met with the acting governor of the Bahamas regarding possible station sites. For a
copy of the pact signed on July 21, 1950 and correspondence regarding the matter
see Bahamian Agreement File, Historical Division, Office of Information, Air Force
Eastern Test Range.
indeed most pleased. The nearby communities had felt the absence of the
air station personnel and now they wanted to demonstrate that they would
do their best to show their appreciations for the change of fortune. Officials
of the City of Melbourne scheduled construction of a sewage disposal plant
and a two million dollar causeway to the beach. The President of the Cocoa
Chamber of Commerce who had submitted a fourteen page report to Wash-
ington in the successful drive to have the area selected for the range site,
reported "People are walking a little faster here today."1'
Since the base needed extensive painting and other restoration work,
efforts were made to up-grade gradually the appearance of the hangars, bar-
racks, offices, and other buildings. When the Air Materiel Command, Air
Force, received jurisdiction from the Navy on September 1, 1948, a limited
number of Air Force repair and maintenance people were assigned to the
base. When it was apparent that the installation was going to be changed
from standby to active status, activities were accelerated, but witnesses state
that the greatest amount of refurbishment took place after the base was
declared active. On October 1, 1949, Advance Headquarters, Joint Long Range
Proving Ground was activated with Colonel Harold R. Turner, U.S. Army,
serving as commander.- Turner served until April 10, 1950, when Brigadier
General William L. Richardson took command and the organization was
redesignated Headquarters, Joint Long Range Proving Ground.
Although the range headquarters had been established, the land and
facilities for the actual launch area were not yet available. Situated approxi-
mately fifteen miles to the north was Cape Canaveral, one of the most
historic sites in North America. Spanish treasure ships had used it as a
navigation point on their trips northward from Havana, thence to the Ber-
mudas and Spain. Six hundred and eighty-six acres on Cape Canaveral lay
within the jurisdiction of the United States Coast Guard which had main-
tained a lighthouse for many years, but the greater portion of the Cape was
1 Miami Daily News, May 5, 1949.
sa Joint Long Range Proving Ground Historical Data, October 1, 1949-December 31,
1941", compiled by Historical Office under jurisdiction of Public Information Office,
Joint Long Range Proving Ground, 1950, 55-57. Headquarters, Joint Long Range
Proving Ground (LRPG) had Division added to its title but effective June 30, 1951
Hq. LRPG was designated Headquarters, Air Force Missile Test Center. The air base
went through a number of name changes. In May 1950, it was designated Long Range
Proving Ground Air Force Base but in August 1950, it was named Patrick Air Force
Base in honor of Major General Mason M. Patrick. For a well written account of
these name changes see Whipple, "Brief Explanation".
JAMES W. COVINGTON
owned and occupied by a varied group of citizens. In February 1950, the
Coast Guard granted permission for the range to use what land was needed,
and the government proceeded to obtain the remainder from the private
owners. What could not be purchased by negotiation was acquired as a
result of condemnation proceedings on April 17, 1950, and June 3, 1950.14
The 11,728.32 acre tract was designated Cape Canaveral Auxiliary Air Force
Base on October 5, 1951, and was placed within the jurisdiction of the 6541st
Missile Test Wing, Air Force Missile Test Center, Patrick Air Force Base.
Cape Canaveral, at this time, was indeed a comparatively unsettled but
lovely place-complete with beautiful beaches, a cemetery, game refuge,
excellent fishing, a lighthouse, scattered private residences, the Canaveral
Inn (utilized as Cape Canaveral Auxiliary Air Force Base Headquarters), a
few unpaved roads or trails, Canaveral Pier (a dock previously used by
shrimpers), and a considerable population of wildlife including deer, rattle-
snakes and millions of mosquitoes.- In a clearing, made by first burning
the underbrush and then uprooting the palmettoes with bulldozers, the con-
struction of a concrete pad necessary for the launching of missiles was
begun on May 9, 1950, and completed on June 20, 1950. This missile launch
pad area was situated just north of the lighthouse. All land within one mile
of the proposed launch site was cleared of underbrush.
The first rocket scheduled for testing at the launch site was the two-stage
"Bumper" missile. The first stage was a V-2 rocket combined with the
second stage "WAC Corporal". The "Bumper" had been developed as a
result of a need to learn more about ignition, separation, and stability of
second stage rockets and reflected the combined efforts in research of Army
Ordnance, Douglas Aircraft, the German technicians, General Electric, and
scientists from California Institute of Technology. From its beginning, the
"Bumper" was successful; in a flight on February 24, 1949, from White
Sands, the missile, speeding at a rate of 5,000 miles per hour, soared to the
height of 250 miles. Altogether, six "Bumpers" were fired in New Mexico;
but since the range's limitations in size prevented full scale testing, it was
necessary to test the rocket at the newly established range on the Atlantic
14 Civil Actions 489 and 493 were filed in the United States District Court for South
Florida, Whipple, "Index", 155.
15 Orlando Morning Sentinel, January 6, 1952.
During the 1950s, a suitable range was one on which the missile could
be tested under actual conditions and information supplied by various
measuring instruments situated along the range used to analyze missile
design. The means of measurement which developed throughout the years
ranged from visual observation to the most delicate of instruments including
optical sightings and radar and telemetering receivers. The missile consti-
tuted a flying laboratory gathering data and testing design, operation tech-
niques, and future developments.-" It was as Major General Leighton Davis
explained: "If we suspected for example that a valve was not working
properly we hooked a radio transponder to the valve inside the missile. The
transponder would then transmit back coded data which told us what the
valve was doing at any given point of time."'"
The physical layout of the observation stations for the range scheduled
for construction at San Salvador, Jupiter, Grand Bahama, and Eleuthera
included instrumentation buildings erected by the Navy's Bureau of Yards
and Docks on public land leased to the United States Government for
twenty-five years by the British Government. Since it took some time to
activate these various bases, the only stations that could be deemed opera-
tional by 1951 would be Canaveral, Jupiter, and Grand Bahama.1-
In a memorandum dated October 20, 1948, the basic concepts of the
Joint Long Range Proving Grounds were stated. It was pointed out that the
JLRPG was not a research or development instrument but solely a flight test
facility. The contractor was expected to furnish the missile, assemble and
pre-flight test it and fire the missile from a launcher provided by the con-
tractor. Of course, the government would provide services of a basic nature
including transportation, assembly shop, laboratory space, launching plat-
form, utilities, fuel storage facilities, protection at time of firing for launch
crew and means to record and observe the flight of the missile.1"
ie W. S. Hines, "Development of Ranges," Space Age Facilities, Aero-Space Transport
Division, Specialists Conference, Cocoa Beach, Florida, November 17-19, 1965 (Cocoa
Beach, 1966), 88.
17 Address before Joint Session of the Florida Legislature, April 17, 1963.
is Jupiter Auxiliary Air Force Base was ready for operations in June 1951, and supplied
information for the test of the Matador on June 20, 1951. It was placed on stand-by
status on September 23, 1953, Whipple, "Index," no page indicated. Construction
was started on Grand Bahama Island in November, 1950, and the equipment was
used on the first time for the June 20, 1951, Matador launch. Missiles and Rockets
VII (August 1, 1960), 40.
Is Basic Concepts of the Joint Long Range Proving Ground, October 20, 1948 C 9-2406
AF JLRPG File 4.6 O.H., KSC.
JAMES W. COVINGTON
There were two concepts concerning the location of facilities on a mis-
sile test center. One philosophy which was followed until 1955, stipulated
that in order to insure desirable efficiency of support operations, there should
be as many functions as possible situated on the base and only the actual
launching operations be available at the launching site. The other point of
view argued that missile assembly and launch operations should be available
at the launch site but most of the major support functions be placed at the
base. Opponents of this plan pointed out that once assembly of the missiles
was moved to the launch area, other operations would follow and dispersion
of the support effort would be uneconomic.
From 1950 until the summer of 1953, the philosophy of siting the
principal support functions at Patrick and using Canaveral as a firing site
was followed. The missiles were flown in to the Patrick field in sections,
assembled in special buildings, static tested and made ready for launch by
employees of the various missile companies. Finally, the missile was taken
by truck to Canaveral for the firing tests.20
The guidelines for the use of the range were as one officer put it so well
in the following words: "We own the rifle range, you might say. You have
a new gun; okay, you bring it and shoot it. We see to it you don't kill any
bystanders and we tell you if you hit the target and if not, why not."21
It was the General Electric Company, assisted by other concerns and
Federal agencies that brought the first missile, the "Bumper", for testing on
the Air Force's range.22 General Electric prepared the missile for flight and
were the ones to launch it. Other firms or institutions involved included
California Institute of Technology which investigated modifications of the
V-2 and WAC Corporal; Douglas Aircraft Corporation which engineered,
designed, and fabricated the modifications; and Ballistics Research Labora-
tories which was responsible for in-flight data. The First Guided Missile
Battalion from White Sands assisted in preparation of the missile for launch-
ing and other assistance. Actually, with units from the Signal Corps to install
20 Pereira and Luckman, Grand Master Plan.
21 Miami Daily News, July 10, 1953.
22 The range was known as the Joint Long Range Proving Ground in 1949; in May
1950, it became the Long Range Proving Ground. When the Long Range Proving
Ground Division was designated the Air Force Missile Test Center, the range by
common usage was called the Florida Missile Test Range; a designation that became
official in 1952.
and operate communications equipment, detachments from the Army for
guard duty and ships from the Navy at Key West for off-shore instrumenta-
tion, this venture represented full cooperation from all of the Armed
The "Bumper" was assembled in Building 312, Patrick Air Base by
employees of the General Electric Company working under the supervision
of Army Ordnance and military personnel from the First Guided Missile
Battalion, White Sands Proving Ground and taken to the Cape in a Meiler-
wagon: a vehicle which could place the rocket in a vertical position for
launching. After the rocket was placed in the proper position, a gantry tower
constructed of painter's pipe scaffolding was erected about the "Bumper"
and scientific instruments installed. After working from midnight prior to
launch time, the General Electric crew pumped into the rocket the liquid
oxygen and alcohol fuel by 6 a.m. and placed aboard a destruct package
which was capable of destroying the missile.
The first launch was scheduled for July 19, but everything seemed to go
wrong and only a "popping noise" resulted. It was discovered that a fuel
pump had failed. Bumper 7 was removed in disgrace from the pad, re-named
"The Reluctant Dragon", and Bumper 8 roared from the launch pad at 9:29
a.m., July 24, 1950. The blockhouse shook as the crew inside crouched on
the floor, but a successful launch had been made. The first stage of Bumper
8-the V-2 part, reached a distance of eighty miles, the second stage, the
American designed Corporal went one hundred eighty-nine miles; the sum
total making a successful launch.24
After the two Bumper shots, crews representing other firms moved to
the range. By 1956, it was said that eleven contractors working with missiles
or missile sub-systems were busy testing their products. Included among
these firms were Boeing, the Bomarc; Martin, the Matador; North American,
the Navaho; Chrysler, the Redstone and the Jupiter; and Northrop, the
Snark. In the testing of the Matador, more than one hundred Martin em-
ployees, mostly engineers, moved to Florida to assemble, test, and fire the
as Brochure dated July, 1950, Public Information Office, Long Range Proving Ground
Division, Cocoa, Florida.
24 Walter B. Hendrickson, The Study of Rockets, Missiles, and Space Made Simple,
(Garden City, 1963), 19. Florida Times Union, July 20, 1950. Orlando Evening Star,
July 24, 1950.
2a Aviation Week, LXV, August 6, 1956, 115-116.
IAMES W. COVINGTON
The first step in the missile testing was the request by the contractor to
the Wright Air Development Center for a test. If the missile were large and
long range, it was scheduled for Florida. The contractors and officers of the
6541st Operations Group planned a definite firing schedule for one week and
a second following week to take care of all flight abortions.2a When all
down range stations reported that all was ready, work began on the launching
pad at midnight prior to the firing and all crew members worked throughout
the night. All non-government planes and boats were cleared from the area
and everybody was ready for the firing. Since the failures which resulted in
a missile falling into the water needed investigation to determine what had
gone wrong, an elaborate system of sea floor surveillance was arranged.
Louis Berger had a contract to recover missiles and bring them back to
the Cape for analysis. Included in his task force to recover Matadors and
Snarks was a fleet of three ninety-nine ton Army utility boats, each with a
crew of three and two divers. Before the time for blast-off, the boat would
be stationed several miles off-shore and listen to the events at Canaveral by
radio. Difficulties encountered included poisonous propellants, explosives,
dark waters, and the barracudas and other ocean animals that might move
into the empty shells.2"
In order to secure good relations with the citizens of the Bahamas a
team was organized by the public information officer at Patrick to tour the
islands. A full size missile mock-up was built from discarded parts, loaded
on a trailer called the "Blue Tail Fly" and was taken with the team. At
each stop, they unloaded their balloons, rocket and charts and gave their
talk in the school house, church or village square. They told the people
about the use of the missile range, emphasized the need for recovery of
missiles and as a climax fired up the rocket's pulsajet engine known as
"Liberty's Stinger". It was a frightening, but educational experience.
With the movement of technicians and engineers from the aircraft com-
panies to Florida for the testing of the missiles, a considerable number of
civilian workers representing these companies could be seen at Patrick Air
Force Base. In December 1953, the force numbered 506 persons; June 1954,
544 persons; and December 1954, 714 persons. Most of them stayed at
ze Aviation Week, LIX, August 17, 1953, 178.
i William Shelton, American Space Exploration, (Boston, 1967), 21-23.
s8 Aviation Week, LIX, August 17, 1953, 176.
Patrick for the tests; only less than one hundred made their way to
Canaveral for the actual missile firings.
In order to man the various instruments needed to record flight of the
missile, pre-test them and provide various types of support for them, the
work force at Patrick rapidly expanded. In December 1950, there were
1559 persons, including 98 officers, 697 enlisted men, and 764 civilians. By
December 1952, the number had grown to a total of 6,983 which included
663 officers, 4,374 enlisted men, and 1,946 civilians. In mid-1956, the 9,500
persons serving the entire range included 4,000 employed by range contrac-
tors, 2,200 members of the military, 1,600 civil servants, and 1,600 missile
Relations between the Air Force which was manager of the range and
the various tenant aerospace companies were good. No one questioned the
authority of the Air Force to run its own range and the companies were
pleased with the excellent facilities and high standard of test score results
furnished by the Air Force. The situation became somewhat strained when
personnel from Redstone Arsenal, Army Ordnance, Huntsville, Alabama came
to Florida to arrange for the testing of the Redstone missiIe.30 AFMTC
pointed out that all missile assembly facilities were situated at Patrick, but
the Redstone representatives with experience at security conscious Peene-
munde and White Sands were not pleased with the fishbowl atmosphere at
Patrick Air Force Base. They seemed to think that easy accessibility by land
and sea made security difficult and "base gate guards and vehicle registration
measures are ineffectual."31 Even more important they wanted the distance
between where the missile was assembled and where it was launched reduced.
When the missile was assembled at Patrick and launched at Canaveral, it was
necessary to check out the missile at each point and time and money were
z In 1953, Pan American World Airways was given operation of the range by the Air
Force. Radio Corporation of America served as primary sub-contractor. For an account
of Pan American's activities see U.S. Congress, House of Representatives, Report of
the Committee on Science and Astronautics, Management and Operation of the
Atlantic Missile Range (86th Congress, 2nd Session), (Washington, 1960), 1-11.
3o Officials of Redstone Arsenal showed interest in using the range as early as November
1951 when Captain James Hoey and T. M. Moore representing the Experimental
Firing Branch visited Patrick. Even in this initial contact, the Ordnance people noted
that assembly of the missiles at Patrick would delay the firing rate of the Major or
soon to be named Redstone and the steady stream of visitors and phone calls from
Alabama to Florida pressed for construction of assembly buildings at Canaveral. The
files containing the reports of the various trips made by Debus, Gruene, and the others
are found in Trip Reports 5.3.10 O.H., KSC.
sa Captain James F. Fail, Trip Report, July 21, 1952, ibid.
JAMES W. COVINGTON
lost in the process. The facilities at Patrick were extremely crowded and the
Redstone staff was forced to share space with the workers from Boeing and
Northrop.sa Brigadier General Holger N. Toftoy, Director of Ordnance Mis-
sile Laboratories and prime mover of "Operation Paperclip", estimated that
due to the crowded conditions at Patrick and the unavailability of proper
facilities at Canaveral, the Redstone program was delayed from three to six
months and each month's delay cost the taxpayers a million dollars. He made
several phone calls to Patrick and exerted great pressure upon Major General
William Richardson but finally decided that Richardson had done as much
as he could do for Redstone.33
During the period when the Redstone people commuted from Alabama
to Florida they found some restrictions imposed by the Air Force as land-
lord, particularly irritating for at least one tenant. On April 23, 1952, Dr.
Kurt Debus expressed it on the following words: "It has become increasingly
difficult for Major Stempin to secure transportation within the Base and
Cape areas, sufficient to accommodate R.A.'s (Redstone Arsenals) manifold
business missions.... It was due to lack of transportation on two consecutive
days that the undersigned had to stay in the Base area and could not attend
telemeter operations nor preparations for the launching of a missile which
was to be part of the mission of the trip."!4
Of course, when the Vanguard people wanted to share the Redstone
facilities in the Fall of 1955, they were "turned down abruptly by the Army
on the basis that any interference with the Redstone program would be
harmful to the U.S. Ballistic Missile Program".35 The shoe was on the other
foot this time.
Actually, since only the Air Force budget could provide funds for any
buildings to be erected at Canaveral, it is difficult to find great fault with the
Air Force for it was the use of their land and money that Redstone wanted.
It took some time for the matter to be resolved; but by January 1953, the
construction of the assembly building at Canaveral was approved by the
8s Colonel A. C. Gay to Commanding General Redstone Arsenal, February 6, 1953,
Completion of Facilities, 5.3.2, O.H., KSC.
. Transcripts of the phone conversations between Toftoy and Richardson can be found
in ibid. For a survey of this 1952-1955 period see Jarrett and Lindemann, "Historical
04 Trip Report of Kurt Debus April 23, 1952, Trip Reports 5.3.10, O.H., KSC.
as John P. Hagen, "The Viking and the Vanguard", The History of Rocket Technology,
Eugene M. Emme ed. (Detroit, 1964) 131.
Air Force and Department of Defense. Due to the delay in construction lead
time, temporary facilities were used for the first shots but finally, adequate
assembly facilities were available for the Redstone at Cape Canaveral.38 It
took almost as much time to approve and construct the small Redstone
assembly building as it did to approve and contract Launch Complex 39
-"The Moonport". Redstone Missile number one was launched from Pad 4
on August 20, 1953 by the Missile Firing laboratory. From that time until
June 30, 1962, this MFL-LOD organization was responsible for some one
hundred and thirty successful launches from Cape Canaveral.
Although missile firings were made under cover of military security, it
was most difficult to conceal certain facts from those who lived near Cape
Canaveral. No announcements were made of planned launching in the press
but yet when the time came, thousands of people lined the beaches for a view
of the proceedings. Even those construction workmen who outfitted the Red-
stone assembly building needed security clearance but important matters
concerning the Redstone were discussed by children in Brevard County
schools. It was difficult to conceal a missile or news of a planned launch
when a single thoroughfare connected Patrick and Canaveral and unusual
traffic was sure indication of a possible launching.
Creation of the range had an enormous effect upon Brevard County.
Prior to 1940, the economy depended upon citrus and truck crop cultivation,
fishing, and raising of cattle. After 1950, the annual rate of employment
growth rose by twenty percent, and more of the labor force moved into the
manufacture of ordnance, instruments, fabricated metals, communication
equipment, and electronic components and less into agriculture. In 1950, the
per capital income of Brevard County was less than the average in Florida but
it rapidly rose and passed the state and nation by 1964. Retail sales in Brevard
County more than doubled between 1950 and 1955 and increased at an
annual rate of eighteen percent."7
Naturally, such growth brought grave strains upon the roads, public
utilities, educational and medical facilities of the area. Housing was in
s The scheduled completion date for use of Missile Assembly Building D was March 1,
1954, ibid. For an account of the early Redstone days when the Missile Firing Labora-
tory people travelled back and forth from Alabama to Florida to launch the vehicles
see Spaceport News, II, August 15, 1963, 4. The Redstone Program moved into Com-
plex 5 and 6 and Assembly Building D in February 1955 and took actual possession
in March 1955. The first ring from Pad 6 took place on April 20, 1955.
37 "Labor in the South", 35.
JAMES W. COVINGTON
short supply and until sub-divisions began making rapid increases, converted
garages, boat houses and other types of makeshift housing were commonplace.
One witness claimed that two hundred dollars were charged for the rent of
a two-room apartment and the owner insisted that the used furniture be
purchased on a monthly basis.8 Another told about renting a single hotel
room without bath for one hundred and seventy-five dollars a month. Long
lines in the food stores, doctors' and dentists' offices and on the roads leading
to the Cape were a matter of life in "Missile Land". Prices seemed higher
in Brevard than in the interior sections of Florida. Yet, bargains like beach
front lots which sold for three hundred dollars were overlooked.-a The high
prices like the missile age had only seen a beginning in the 1950-1953 period
and no one could forecast what changes would take place by 1968. Some of
the finest minds in educational, scientific and business circles would be
drawn to Florida by the missiles and certainly Florida benefited by this new
type of citizen who looked not at the cattle or the beaches and blue water or
the oranges but into the sky.40
as Marian Van Atta, "Homestead on the Missile Range", unpublished manuscript.
40 This article was prepared by James W. Covington who is writing a history of the
Apollo Launch Facilities under terms of a contract which was awarded to Florida
Institute of Technology by NASA. He is grateful for assistance given by Marven
Whipple, Chief, Historical Division, Office of Information, Air Force Eastern Test
Range, and Dr. Robert Lindemann, Chief Historical and Library Services Branch and
Frank Jarrett Historian Kennedy Space Center.
This Page Blank in Original
Workers on Relief, 1934-1938, in Key West
By DURWARD LONG
The economic base of Key West throughout most of its history has
depended in great measure upon its military and naval establishments and
its cigar manufacturing industry. Although the extension of the Florida East
Coast Railroad to Key West in 1912 offered additional grounds for economic
expansion, it was actually the strengthening of naval and military posts in
Key West during World War I that provided the basis of growth during that
period. Following World War I the real estate and building boom continued
the temporary war-time prosperity of the island city; but the shattering of
that boom, the subsequent reduction and elimination of the military and
naval bases in Key West, and the severe decline in cigar manufacturing after
1926 eroded almost completely the economic basis for the continuance of
the city and its inhabitants. Manufacturing establishments decreased from
69 in 1919 to 26 in 1929 and the average number of wage earners of manu-
facturing declined from 2,313 in 1919 to 756 in 1929. Salaries paid wage
earners in manufacturing dropped from $2,094,461 in 1919 to only $648,404
in 1929.1 The undesirable economic situation in the island city prompted
many families to move away during this period and as a result the population
was reduced from 18,749 in 1920 to 13,445 in 1930.2 Of those remaining in
1934, over one-fourth was categorized as "Latins,"- many of whom had fol-
lowed the cigar manufacturing industry to Key West from Cuba and who
had no intention of leaving their new tropical home although jobs comparable
to their skills were totally unavailable.
1U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, Fourteenth Census of the United
States (1920), Manufacturing: 1919, IX (Washington, 1923), pp. 260-261; and fif-
teenth Census of the United States (1930), Manufacturing: 1929, III (Washington,
1933), p. 116.
z U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, Fourteenth Census of the United
States (1920), Population, III (Washington, 1921), p. 195; and Fifteenth Census of
the United States (1930), Population, III, Part I (Washington, 1932), p. 145.
a Report by Harold Ballou, Director of the Department of Research and Statistics of the
Key West Administration, to the F.E.R.A., "Population on August 1, 1932," in un-
published manuscripts of the Federal Writers Project Archives for Key West, Florida.
Located in the P.K. Yonge Library of Florida History, University of Florida. The
archives will be referred to hereafter as FWPA.
Because of these factors, unemployment grew rapidly during the early
thirties. The county authorities attempted to provide relief for families of
the unemployed, investing $2,045 in relief in 1929, nearly half again as
much in 1930,* and $21,892 in 1931.s The program of relief was helpful
but inadequate as shrinking tax revenues made it difficult even to pay current
governmental operating expenses. By October, 1933, Monroe County had
nearly five thousand persons on its relief rolls." Funds for relief payments
were received from the Reconstruction Finance Corporation and channeled
into the county through the state government. By the summer of 1934 local
sources of funds were completely exhausted and the governmental authorities
found themselves with over $100,000 in debts for operational costs that
they could not pay.
In this bankrupt situation, Monroe County and Key West officials decided
that continuance as governmental units was no longer fiscally possible. On
July 2, 1934, they relinquished governing authority to the Governor, David
Sholtz. He accepted the responsibility and requested Julius Stone, the Federal
Emergency Relief Administrator in Florida, to act as his representative to
provide whatever relief was possible through federal funds.7
Assuming this task, the F.E.R.A. soon thereafter embarked upon a pro-
gram designed to rebuild Key West as a tourist resort, planning to spend
$1 million during the first eighteen months of the program. Stone took the
position that the agency was authorized to provide direct relief but was not
permitted to spend funds for labor in rehabilitation projects, a position he
later changed. At the outset, however, he stated that the labor necessary to
accomplish the "rebuilding" of Key West would have to be voluntary labor.-
(Construction projects at that time were under the direction of the Civil
Works Administration which was building an aquarium in Key West.) The
heads of families in need would receive direct relief grants from the F.E.R.A.
upon establishing eligibility.
4 State Board of Public Welfare, Florida Welfare Progress, II, 6 (September), 1931
(Gainesville, 1931), p. 3.
sOrganization and Activities of the State Board of Public PWelfare, January 1, 1931 to
January 1, 1933 (Tallahassee, 1931), p. 32.
o Federal Emergency Relief Administration, Unemployment Relief Census, Report Num-
ber 2 (Washington, 1932), p. 117.
SKey West Administration, Key West in Transition (Key West, 1934), pp. 6, 62. This
surrender of authority to the Governor was validated by the Florida Legislature of
1935. See the Laws of Florida Enacted by the Legislature of 1935, II (Tallahassee,
1935), pp. 238-240.
s Key West in Transition, pp. i-vii.
The citizens of Key West responded well to the request for voluntary
labor. According to one source, over four thousand persons enlisted in the
Volunteer Work Corps and contributed nearly two million hours of work.'o
Although the voluntary work force began some of the early projects of
refurbishing buildings and making sanitary improvements, the F.E.R.A.
quickly inaugurated a work relief program and paid wages for work on
the projects. The rates established were: 300 an hour for unskilled workers,
50# for semi-skilled, and 80 for skilled workers.-
Through the combined efforts of work relief provided by the Civil
Works Administration and the F.E.R.A., direct relief administered through
the latter agency, and improvement in the tourist trade of more than fifty
percent over the previous winter,12 the Key West workers' situation was
more tolerable throughout the winter of 1934-35. The number of persons on
relief dropped twenty-five percent between November, 1934 and March,
1935.13 In addition to the sources of relief and tourist trade income, the
workers and their families were provided health service and foods from
the surplus commodity program and from the relief agency's vegetable farm
After the successful winter of 1934-35, the F.E.R.A. administrative unit
in Key West (the Key West Administration) announced a new wage scale
on a monthly basis. Under the new rates, unskilled workers would receive
$22; semiskilled workers $32; and skilled workers $42 for a month of four-
day work weeks (128 hours per month). The scale was lower per hour
than the former F.E.R.A. rate and was designed to transfer all work relief
to the Works Progress Administration.14
The Key West workers responded to the new wage scale by staging a
demonstration at the headquarters of the Key West Administration on May
9 New York Times, July 22, 1934.
io The Florida Keys Sun, Supplement, July 5, 1935, p. 7. See also, Elmer Davis, "New
World Symphony," Harper's Monthly Magazine, May, 1935, p. 646.
u Key West Citizen, June 27, 1935. Descriptions of some of the projects undertaken may
be found in the Florida Motorist, October, 1935, and the Florida Keys Sun, Supplement,
July 5, 1935.
z Florida Keys Sun, Supplement, July 5, 1935, and Julius F. Stone, Jr., "Facts About
the Rehabilitation of Key West," unpublished manuscript in the FWPA, n.p.
a1 Stone, "Facts About the Rehabilitation of Key West," loc. cit., n.p.
14 Florida Social Security Survey, published by the Florida State Board of Social Welfare
in cooperation with the Works Progress Administration, June 1937, p. 3.
28, 1935.15 The local editor pointed out that the protest came from a small
number who felt that the government was not doing enough for them, and
supported administrator M. E. Gilfond in taking the stand that the officials
would "not be threatened nor browbeaten by recalcitrant relief workers."
The journalist promised the "fullest endorsement of the better class of citizens
of Key West." L Shortly afterward, however, the editor agreed that the new
scale of wages was too low since transportation charges made the cost of
living higher in Key West and the price of food especially was 15-20 percent
higher than in many other places." This position was agreed to by C. B.
Treadway, the W.P.A. administrator in Florida, and he informed local offi-
cials in July that the wage scale was increased 10 percent in view of the
"distinctive set of conditions in Key West."'8
It appeared, therefore, that the dissatisfaction of the workers had been
overcome when the W.P.A. assumed direction of the work relief program
in August with a gradual transfer of laborers to its payrolls. The aura of
good relations was shattered quickly, however, as the workers experienced
the new payroll procedure of the W.P.A. Whereas the F.E.R.A. drew checks
locally and issued them on time, the W.P.A. checks were drawn by the state
disbursing office of the U.S. Treasury and were often received late. A combi-
nation of factors causing delay and irregularity of payment included "changes
in procedures emanating from the Washington office, misinterpretations of
state office instructions by local divisions, and general unfamiliarity with
the new set-up.. ."t" Furthermore, merchants exacted a fee of five cents to
cash each check. These conditions were not quickly resolved and the initial
unrest of the workers became greater as the number enrolled by the W.P.A.
increased. An additional cause of grievance appeared in September, after the
hurricane of that month destroyed most of the bridges in the Keys and Dade
County workers were brought into Monroe to assist in repairing the damage.
The Key West laborers discovered in their contact with the workers from
Miami that the latter were receiving higher wages even though they were
doing the same work.so
1s Key Vest Citizen, May 29, 1935.
is Ibid., May 31, 1935.
17 Ibid., June 27, 1935.
18 Ibid., July 19, 1935.
lo "Key West W.P.A. Strike," unpublished manuscript in the FWPA, p. 3.
On October 15, shortly after contact with the Dade workmen, about 200
Key West laborers staged a walkout as a beginning of what was to become
three months of stormy relations with W.P.A. officials.-1 The spokesman for
the strikers, Juan Jara, Jr., presented four grievances for which relief was
demanded. The initial cause of the walkout was the cessation of serving ice
water to the workers by the W.P.A. The first demand, therefore, was the
restoration of that practice. They also demanded: (1) a higher wage scale;
(2) fewer hours of work per week; and (3) ending of the fee required to
M. E. Gilfond, district W.P.A. director, explained that the funds for
the ice had previously come from the F.E.R.A. which had ended the allow-
ance. In response to the workers' protest, however, Gilfond promised to pro-
vide the ice water if the workers would return to their jobs. The laborers
accepted Gilfond's gesture of compliance and returned to work with assur-
ance that their other grievances would be given attention by the state offi-
cials.23 In fact, three days after the strike, two W.P.A. officials, Gertrude C.
Huntsman, statistician for the Washington office, and John F. Carpenter,
labor relations representative of the state office, went to Key West to inves-
tigate labor problems there.2" Their findings were not released, however,
nor were steps taken to improve the situation described by the workers.
Shortly after that brief flurry of activity, the Key West Citizen featured
an editorial entitled, "Maladministration of Relief," in which the writer
accused the local relief administrators of ignoring the requirements for
eligibility to participate in the relief programs25 and which received wide-
spread coverage in the state's press. The state F.E.R.A. director, Conrad
Van Hyning, immediately replied that an investigation of the Citizen's
charges would be undertaken.-" He promptly arranged for William Beehler,
former F.E.R.A. administrator for West Virginia, to visit Key West to conduct
an inquiry into the charges of maladministration.27 The Key West Adminis-
l Key West Ciitzen, October 15, 1935.
22 Miami Herald, October 16, 1935.
23 Key West Citizen, October 15, 1935.
s Ibid., October 19, 1935; Miami Herald, October 19, 1935.
2sKey West Citizen, October 31, 1935.
n Tampa Morning Tribune, November 9, 1935; Jacksonville Florida Times-Union,
November 14, 1935.
27 Jacksonville Journal, November 13, 1935; Florida Times-Union, November 14, 1935;
and Palm Beach Post, November 14, 1935.
tration welcomed the investigation and asked that the findings be made
In the meantime a local election for mayor defeated the candidate most
critical of the relief activities. The re-elected mayor, Dr. Harry E. Galey,
organized a committee to go to Washington to negotiate with the W.P.A.
national administrator, Harry Hopkins, for an increase in wages for the
Key West workmen.2 The committee consistedof Galey, State Senator
Arthur Gomez, and Bernie C. Papy. The latter was a state representative from
Monroe County who was selected by the workers as their representative on
the committee.so The three mediators travelled to Washington on their mis-
sion but the Key West laborers exhausted their patience with the wage scale
and payroll arrangements and struck on December 3.
The strike was no doubt precipitated by the emergence of a leader
among the workers in late November. Luis Avalo emerged as spokesman for
the dissatisfied laborers after he was discharged for refusing to lead his work
detail through intolerable work conditions. Avalo stated that he was foreman
of a crew of about eighty-five men doing work on a drainage canal which
required "wading and working among broken glass, snakes, and swarms of
mosquitoes." According to Avalo, the group consisted mainly of old men,
some of whom were eighty-five years old and most of whom were unable to
do the kind of work assigned. When Avalo refused to lead them and protested
the working conditions to his supervisor, he was fired.31 Sympathy for Avalo
among the Cuban workers combined with the general dissatisfaction with
the new pay system led directly to the strike.
The walkout of the workers on December 3 assumed more serious
proportions than had the sporadic demonstrations of previous months. The
strike threatened the continuance of the only source of work for pay for
most of the workers in the island. Furthermore, there was an effort to split
the laborers into an "American" faction and a "Cuban" faction. As a result
feelings ran high and on occasions these feelings could have led to violence
had not the non-violent leadership of Avalo prevailed.A He quickly won
as Miami Daily News, November 16, 1935.
29 Miami Herald, November 18, 1935.
31 "Key West W.P.A. Strike," loc. cit.
2a "Significant Highlights of Avalo's Leadership," unpublished manuscript in the FWPA,
leadership over the great majority of all the workmen and led 1,300 (of a
total of slightly less than 1,400) off their jobs the first day of the strike.a3
All activities and projects of the W.P.A. with few exceptions were shut down.
The strikers had hardly walked out and made their demands for more
pay when the Galey Committee telegraphed from Washington that a ten
percent raise in monthly wages had been secured. This new pay scale would
require the workers to work a five-day work week (160 hours per month)
instead of a four-day week (128 hours per month).34 Avalo and his strike
committee refused to accept the terms of the increase because of the extra
work required. In the meantime he directed the striking workers not to
solicit money or assistance to feed their families, "neither to beg nor to steal."
He did advocate organizing fishing groups to provide food but was unsuc-
cessful in getting volunteers to join him.35
The strikers' refusal to return to work on the terms offered was met
with a prompt announcement from the state W.P.A. administrator E. A.
Pynchon. He declared that all W.P.A. projects in the island would be ter-
minated and the aid given to other communities unless the men returned to
work immediately.- Avalo called a mass meeting of the strikers and asked
for a vote on whether to return to work. The strikers voted "no" by a large
At this point in the negotiations, according to a rumor, the Ku Klux Klan
organized a demonstration "to get Avalo." One account of the KKK parade
described it as "twenty-one men robed in sheets, with pillow cases on their
heads,... [who] carried revolvers in their hands." Although the "parade"
followed by "a long line of people on bicycles and automobiles," came to
the corner of the street where Avalo lived, they did not march in front of
his house. Avalo described the episode as follows:
"I took both pistols, one in each hand and went out and stood on
my porch. I made up my mind that if the Klan turned the corner to
march in front of my house that they intended to kill me, so I
33 Key West Citizen, December 3, 4, 1935.
as "Significant Highlights of Avalo's Leadership," loe. cit., n. p.
aa Key West Citizen, December 5, 1935.
a8 Ibid., December 6, 1935.
planned to throw myself down on the ground and begin shooting.
When they got to the corner, they looked down my street and seen
(sic.) me standing there with two pistols and seen (sic.) the attitude
I was in, they kept on marching and did not turn the corner."-3
Following the demonstration by the Klan, the strike committee telegraphed
Governor Sholtz urging his intervention to protect the lives of the workers
but no reply was ever received. Avalo also appeared before the local authori-
ties to ask for protection and announced that he would advise the workers to
return to work to prevent bloodshed. The workers did so and all projects
were operating on December 10, one week after the strike had begun.3"
An after effect of the strike was the investigation of Avalo as a possible
communist. When he was asked by the government's investigator whether he
was a communist, he replied:
"My idea of a communist is somebody with a red beard, big and
hungry. All I know about communists and what they stand for is
what I read in the papers. However, if I knew their program and
accepted it, became a member, I would be proud to state that I am
one-and you can tell that to Washington. But up to today, it hasn't
entered my head to join them because I don't even know what they
Shortly afterward Key West was visited by recruiters from the Leftist National
Workers Alliance. They succeeded in enlisting seventeen workers including
Avalo. The small group soon collapsed, however, because of what Avalo
called "too strong intimidation," by the W.P.A. foremen.4
Although cleavages created during the early fall and in the strike of
December remained to cause minor labor relations difficulty between the
workers and the W.P.A., the workmen continued to improve their economic
position in 1936 and the following years. The continued improvement of
the tourist trade and the increasing availability of jobs, both in privately
as "Key West W.P.A. Strike," loc. cit., n.p.; Jacksonville Journal, December 7, 1935.
31 Florida Times-Union, December 8, 9, 1935; Key West Citizen, December 9, 14, 1935;
Tampa Morning Tribune, December 14, 1935; and St. Augustine Evening Record,
December 9, 1935.
o4 "Key West W.P.A. Strike," loc. cit., n. p.
41 "Significant Highlights of Avalo's Leadership," loc. cit., u. p.
DURWARD LONG 61
financed projects and in additional governmental programs, almost elimi-
nated serious unemployment in Key West by 1938.42 The workers in the
island community had come through rough times indeed but through inter-
governmental cooperation and dogged determination they and their city had
survived. The experience of the thirties, the opening of the Overseas Highway
in 1938, and the ending of the depression, ushered in a new era for Key West
as a progressive city of renewed vitality.
42 Unemployment in Monroe County decreased from 3557 in March, 1935 to 841 by
the end of 1936. See Works Progress Administration, Workers on Relief in the United
States, March, 1935, I, "A Census of Usual Occupations" (Washington, 1938), p. 281;
and Works Progress Administration, Census of Unemployment, 1937, I, "Final Report
on Total and Partial Unemployment," Washington, 1938, p. 486. See also, Durward
Long. "Key West and the New Deal, 1934-1936," Florida Historical Quarterly, Janu-
ary, 1968, pp. 209-218.
This Page Blank in Original
A Lost "Psyche": Kirk Munroe's Log of
a 1,600 Mile Canoe Cruise in
Florida Waters, 1881-1882
Edited By IRVING A. LEONARD
The popularity of the decked sailing canoe swept the United States in
the 1870s, and wherever localities had access to suitable bodies of water,
enthusiasts formed canoe clubs, held regattas, and organized cruises. One of
the most ardent devotees of the new sport was an attractive young man, a
journalist, editor, and later a celebrated writer of boys' stories, Kirk Munroe
(1850-1930). In 1879, after three years as a reporter of the New York Sun
and at that date the editor of the newly established magazine Harper's Young
People, he joined the New York Canoe Club. With his accustomed zest he
threw himself heartily into all its activities, serving as its Commodore for
five years, founding the American Canoe Association, organizing and re-
porting its annual summer meets, and acting as editor of its official organ
The American Canoeist from October, 1882 to August, 1883. A facile writer
he penned numerous articles about his favorite pastime, not only for this
periodical but for others, including The Wheelman which soon became
Outing Magazine and devoted to all sports.
About this time in his life apparently began Kirk Munroe's interest in
Florida, which resulted in nearly a half century residence in that state. He
had already had an adventurous career in the American Southwest where,
as a seventeen year old boy, he had traveled with a surveying party through
Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and California to determine routes
for the later Southern Pacific and Santa Fe railroads. A year or two later
his eagerness for experience had taken him through the Dakotas, Montana,
and the State of Washington to explore and lay out a similar route for the
Northern Pacific railroad. His love of the wilderness and his "inextinguish-
able wanderlust" inevitably turned his thoughts in time to the southern
peninsula of Florida which was experiencing a modest boom with the
growing migration of tourists, invalids in quest of health, and settlers to its
benign climate and alluring opportunities. Already Hamilton Disston was
negotiating the great purchase of four million acres at twenty-five cents each
in the Okeechobee region and was making contracts to drain its adjacent
lands. But the southern extremity of the peninsula, however, still remained
a largely untrammeled frontier whose siren call Kirk Munroe's adventurous
spirit could scarcely resist and whose innumerable waterways for cruises
presented irresistible challenges to his enthusiasm as a canoeist.
Family circumstances opportunely crystalized a resolve that was already
taking shape in his mind. His older sister, Susan, had recently married
Charles Stowe, the youngest son of Harriet Beecher Stowe of Uncle Tom's
Cabin fame, who had a winter home at Mandarin on the St. Johns River not
far from Jacksonville. This alliance appears to have made Kirk Munroe's
intimacy with the Beecher Stowes very close-he collaborated with his
brother-in-law on a biography of Harriet Beecher Stowe-and, with an invi-
tation to come to Mandarin in 1881, he left New York in early October of
that year for what was very likely the occasion of his first visit to Florida.
With characteristic zeal Kirk Munroe seized this opportunity to bring his
sailing canoe Psyche with him to make a venturesome 1,600 mile cruise in
After a brief stay at Mandarin he journeyed by railroad from Jackson-
ville to Ellaville where he launched his craft in the Suwanee river and
cruised down to Cedar Key, on the Gulf of Mexico, then an important
terminal. Continuing along the Gulf coast to Tampa, an invitation received
there to go by steamer to Key West and the Dry Tortugas interrupted his
cruise by canoe which he presently resumed at Punta Rassa at the mouth of
the Caloosahatchee river. Working his way up its twisty course toward Lake
Okeechobee, he was unable to enter this body of water directly and had to
arrange to have his canoe portaged to Fish Eating Creek. Paddling down
this stream he entered the broad expanse of the lake and, for a harrowing
week, he vainly sought the mouth of the Kissimmee river amidst the dense
sawgrass. In desperation he finally tied his canoe to a cypress tree and
plunged through the razor-like vegetation to high ground and eventually
reached Fort Bassinger on foot. After recovering his lost Psyche some five
miles from the mouth of the river, he boarded a steamer to Kissimmee City
whence his canoe was portaged by oxen team and railroad to Sanford.
IRVING A. LEONARD
There he resumed his cruise, paddling and sailing a leisurely course down
the St. Johns river to his point of departure at Mandarin. From there he
dispatched a summary account of his adventures to the Secretary of the New
York Canoe Club which was published in the May, 1882 issue of The
American Canoeist under the title "A Lost Psyche." As this printed report
provides some additional details, pertinent parts are intercalated, between
brackets, in appropriate places in Kirk Munroe's log of the cruise reproduced
Though he nearly lost his life on the watery wastes of Lake Okeechobee
-the climactic event of this notable cruise-that misadventure in no way
diminished his enthusiasm for Florida and for the exploration of its water-
ways. On the contrary, it seems to have decided him not only to undertake
further expeditions of the same sort, but to make the Florida frontier his
permanent home. Even before he embarked on this first long canoe trip in
the fall of 1881 he had resigned the editorship of Harper's Young People,
having determined to become a free lance writer and an author of books
for boys. In an unpublished autobiographical sketch written in the third
person when he was sixty years old, Kirk Munroe stated: "The following
winter [1882-1883] he took another lonely canoe cruise through the little
known center of Florida by way of its network of rivers, lakes, and swamps.
But the third winter [1883-1884] saw him and his wife taking a three months
wedding trip down the Indian river from St. Augustine to Lake Worth. The
wife, who from that day to this has been his staunch cruising friend, was
Mary Barr, a daughter of Amelia Barr, the novelist.
The Munroes bought a place on Lake Worth and expected to live there
but when, during the following winter, 1885-1886, they cruised up the Great
Florida Reef to Biscayne Bay, they knew that they had found the most
beautiful and desirable place in the state for a home in Florida, and there
they have dwelt ever since."*
Ralph Middleton Munroe (no relative) tells in his book The Commo-
dore's Story (1930) of his meeting with Kirk Munroe and of the latter's
settling at Coconut Grove in 1886 (page 151): "... while returning from a
fishing trip I noticed two men on the beach at the Punch Bowl, apparently
strangers, which was an event in those days... Mr. Ewan of Fort Dallas
asked me to come ashore and meet another Munroe, and thus I became
acquainted with Kirk Munroe... It seems that being in Key West with his
wife he heard of a Munroe in Biscayne Bay and came up to investigate. His
first impressions of the country were evidently favorable, for he soon brought
Mrs. Munroe from Key West, and they looked about for a piece of land to
build on. Eventually they bought a tract south of my new purchase and
built a home which they named "Scrububs" and occupied, with additions,
until recent years."
While usually spending his summers in the north or on extensive
travels about the world in search of material for his stories and journalistic
writings, Kirk Munroe and his wife invariably returned for long seasons
to Coconut Grove where he wrote most of his popular books for boys and
many articles that appeared in Harper's Weekly, Scribners, Outing, and in
DIARY OF KIRK MUNROEx
(Monday, November 28, 1881 to Sunday, March 12, 1882)
Monday, November 28, 1881. Left Mandarins at 10 o'clock this A.M. in
canoe Psyche.3 Paddled to Jacksonville against tide and wind. Reached there
at 1:30 P.M. Distance 12 miles. Bought Shotgun and a few stores. Spent
night at St. Marks Hotel. Received final directions as to route from Dr.
Kenworthy" in evening. Day cold, rainy, and generally disagreeable. Received
letter from home.
"Typescript in the possession of Rollins College Library, Winter Park, Florida.
SA typescript copy in the possession of the Rollins College Library, at Winter Park,
Florida, with the caption "Kirk Munroe's Okeechobee Diary-1881" is here used.
It was made from a typescript loaned by Professor Lewis Leary of Columbia University
who, apparently, contemplated writing a biography of this author at one time. The
original is unavailable but in 1964 Mr. Eliot O'Hara, husband of Kirk Munroe's niece,
deposited a collection of approximately 2,500 items pertaining to Kirk Munroe in the
Library of Congress, among which are numerous diaries, and possibly the original
of the one here reproduced with inserted quotations from the report of the cruise
published in the May, 1882 number of The American Canoeist.
2 Mandarin was the winter home of Harriet Beecher Stowe in the 1870s and 1880s.
(See Mary B. Graff. Mandarin on the St. Johns. University of Florida Press, Gaines-
ville, 1953, chaps. 5 to 10). ". . on the east shore is Mandarin, a cozy, prosperous
village of roomy, airy, neat homes; the orange-groves, gardens, lawns, roads, and
fences and pier all giving unmistakable evidence of comfort and good taste. Here,
showing prominently from the river, is the home of Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe."
(George M. Barbour. Florida for Tourists, Invalids, and Settlers, etc. New York,
1887, revised edition, p. 111).
IRVING A. LEONARD
Tuesday, November 29, 1881. Left Jacksonville at 7 A.M. on Florida
Central Rail Road. Canoe in box car 476. At Lake City transferred to
J. P. & M RR [Jacksonville, Pensacola and Mobile Railroad] and went to
Ellaville on Suwanee river. Canoe was left at Lake City. Found conductor of
J. P. & M train pleasant fellow, Hollinger by name. Returned with him to
Lake City, got canoe, and reached EllavilIe second time 4 o'clock A.M. Cold
Wednesday, November 30, 1881. Slept two hours on floor of railroad
station. At daylight took traps to river. Left Ellaville at 7 o'clock, rainy and
thick fog. Canoe very deeply laden. A mile below town ran three rapids-
foundered in second, had to jump overboard to save canoe from upset.
Shipped considerable water and got blankets wet. Went into camp five miles
down Suwanee river on left bank. Sun came out and I hung everything out
a Regarding his fourteen foot canoe Psyche Kirk Munroe wrote in an article "Canoeing
in the Adirondacks" in Harper's Weekly, Sept. 22, 1888 ". .She is the oldest and one
of the best known canoes registered in the American Canoe Association, and still is
in active service. She was built in Ithaca, New York, in 1876, and has since cruised
in an infinite variety of waters, from the swift rivers of Canada and the placid lakes
of the Adirondacks to the dim lagoons and trackless swamps of the far South. She has
traversed half the coast line of the Gulf of Mexico, and skimmed lightly over the
glistening coral banks of the Dry Tortugas. She has penetrated the Everglades of
Florida and the great Okefinokee Swamp of Georgia. But her most noteworthy claim
is that she was the first sailing craft to proceed up the Caloonsahatchee River from
the Gulf of Mexico, and force her way through the "big saw grass" into the great
lake Okeechobee, then almost unknown to white men. Here she was abandoned while
her captain, lost and bewildered, struggled for his life, swimming, clambering, and
wading amid the slimy mazes of the dark swamps surrounding the great lake. After
weeks of loneliness she was recovered, and her voyage resumed toward her native
Northern waters. Now she is at home, and on almost any pleasant afternoon she may
be seen dancing over the waters of New York Bay off Staten Island."
In a letter dated May 5, 1931 to the second Mrs. Munroe after Kirk Munroe's
death, his former clubmate, W. P. Stephens, wrote: "His canoe Psyche, was built by
Jarvis in Ithaca, N. Y., in 1876 for our fellow member, Dr. Henry G. Piffard, who sold
her to Kirk in 1879. .."
R. B. Burchard in an article "True Canoeing" published in the September, 1895,
number of Outing magazine, refers to Kirk Munroe and his canoe. "The Psyche was
no "duffer" of a boat, for all her hard cruising, I have not seen a prettier one among
the later craft, nor have I witnessed more exciting races than the ones in which Psyche
competed. ." Psyche was the name of the one of the canoes in Kirk Munroe's story
Canoemates, A Story of the Florida Reef and Everglades 1892).
SDr. Charles J. Kenworthy was President of the Florida Medical Association who, at
various times since 1844, had "navigated the larger streams of the State, visited the
Everglades and Lake Okeechobee and almost every bay, inlet ,and river from Cape
Sable to the Suwance River, and for over two months at a time slept in an open
boat, with nothing but a simple awning over the boat's boom..." quoted in Barbour,
op, cit., 203.
to dry. Stayed quietly in camp all day. Very wild country and have not seen
a human being either on river or shore. Turned in at 8 o'clock.
Thursday, December 1, 1881. Made late start on account of trouble with
mast. Got off at 10 o'clock. Warm, pleasant day. Noticed trees just beginning
to turn. Passed Horton's Ferry at 1 o'clock, had talk with Horton, first man
seen on river. Two miles below stopped at Tooles. He was boiling syrup.
Tasted sugar beer for first time and liked it very much. Went into camp a
mile below Tooles on left bank near Charles Irving's house at 3:30. Day's
run 30 miles. Saw plenty of duck but did not try for any; they were very shy.
Friday, December 2, 1881. Irving and family saw me off, after having
sold me a quart of milk for 15 cents. I carelessly grounded in a rapid about
a mile after starting. In the afternoon passed Irving's Ferry and Morgan's
Place. Found Morgan making sugar and got some sweet potatoes which I
boiled for supper and ate with milk. Ran another easy rapid and at 4 o'clock
went into camp on Peacock's place, left bank of river, house about half mile
back. Got more milk from Peacock. Rainy, disagreeable night.
Saturday, December 3, 1881. Everything wet, did not start until 9:30
as was only 15 miles from New Troy. Got more milk. Peacock and wife saw
me off. About 6 miles above Troy encountered a series of bad rapids extend-
ing two miles, but found good channels behind the Islands. Passed a boom
at 1 o'clock and a few minutes later reached a mill and ferry which proved
to belong to Troy. The village consisting of four stores and as many houses
is 8/ of a mile back from bank of river in Pine woods. Camped on bluff on
left bank. Saw first alligator today, 12 ft. long.
Sunday, December 4, 1881. Have staid quietly in camp all day. Have
written home and "Mala".5 Saw two men, Brayant [sic] and Bass, who
committed a murder Saturday week, killing Robert Moore for $11, carried
off to Tallahassee in chains. Went to church about one and a half miles
in the woods. No house nearer than mile to church. Log building with neither
windows or doors. Most primitive building, congregation, preacher, and
sermon I ever heard. Got milk at Lee's a mile away. Had visit in afternoon
a "Mala" was, apparently, Kirk Munroe's pet name for his fiancee and later wife,
the Scottish born Mary Barr (1852-1922), a daughter of Amelia Barr, the novelist.
It is possibly a playful use of the Spanish word mala-bad, i.e., bad girl. Kirk Munroe
had met her in 1880 when he was editor of Harper's Young People and she an occa-
IRVING A. LEONARD
from principal Barkeeper of the place who conversed fluently on adulterated
Monday, December 5, 1881. Rose early, but did not get early start
because walked to Lee's for milk, two miles. Got off at 9:15. Passed Roland's
Bluff, 2 houses and Gin, at 10:30. Passed mouth of Santa Fe creek, 10 o'clock.
Used mainsail part of time in afternoon. Reached Fayetteville, a town con-
taining three families when they are all at home, at 5 o'clock. Town on right
bank contains two small stores. Plenty of cattle in the country, but no milk
to be had. No fruit, no meat, no vegetables, excepting sweet potatoes.
Tuesday, December 6, 1881. Left Fayetteville at 9:15 o'clock. Reached
Oldtown on edge of Oldtown Hammock, right bank of river, at noon. Here
saw Miss McQueen, first pretty girl in Florida since Jacksonville, but she
chews gum. Passed Ft. Fanning on left bank at 1 o'clock. Met steamer D. L.
Yulee, Capt. Reddick of Cedar Key at 3 o'clock. Went out after squirrels
with captain in afternoon, got six. Am spending night on Yulee. Very warm
day, but very cold nights.
Wednesday, December 7, 1881. Two months since leaving New York.
Left Yulee at 9 o'clock, went lazily down river to Chair's timber camp,
10 miles on right bank. He is cutting cedar timber for Faber's pencil factory.6
Spent two hours there, then came on 10 miles farther to Boom. Am spending
night in shanty of Dorsett, boom tender, on edge of great cypress swamp.
Steamer Erie went up this evening. Feel very happy at idea of leaving
Thursday, December 8, 1881. Left Boom 9 o'clock, went down two miles
into East Pass at 10 o'clock, turning sharp bend came in sight of open
waters of Gulf of Mexico. Went out of river at 11 o'clock, reached Cedar Key"
at 4 o'clock. Found friend J. Y. Jennes keeping Suwannee House. Am stop-
6 Located near Cedar Key on "... Atsenna Otie Island, where there is a large saw-mill
and machine-shop owned by Faber Brothers, of New York, giving employment to a
colony of thirty families, mostly Germans, engaged in cutting and preparing the
cedar-wood for the famous lead-pencils... (Barbour, op. cit., p. 64).
SThen a terminus of the Atlantic, Gulf, and West India Transit Company Railroad
from Fernandina, 154 miles away, and port of entry for steamship lines, particularly
Henderson Gulf Line plying between New Orleans, Pensacola, St. Marks, Key West
and Havana. Barbour, op. cit., describes Cedar Keys about the time of Kirk Munroe's
visit on pages 65 and 146.
ping with him. Got letters from home and New York. Distance travelled from
Ellaville 225 miles.
Friday, December 9, 1881. Am spending day quietly in Cedar Key.
Brought Psyche up to the hotel this morning and placed her in reading room
where she is an object of curiosity and admiration to natives. Rainy,
unpleasant day. Met Major Parsons (John), wealthiest man here and owner
of Bayfront settlement 60 miles down the coast.
Saturday, December 10, 1881. Met Rev. Mr. Meeny, clergyman of this
place and Gainesville, Oxford graduate. Also met party of excursionists
from Illinois who go to Tampa and Manatee for winter.
Sunday, December 11, 1881. Went to church this A.M. to hear Mr.
Meeny. Walked with Major Parsons this P.M. and visited old Indian mounds
of which 12 to 15 are to be found on this island. Picked up arrow heads,
stone cut pottery and bones.
Monday, December 12, 1881. Intended to leave today, but was prevented
by strong head wind. Met young Italian Comte de Calry who is looking for
land in this state upon which to plant an Italian colony.
Tuesday, December 13, 1881. Got off this morning though in teeth of
strong East wind against which I have paddled all day making 20 miles.
Am spending night on Hickory Island in storehouse owned by Dr. Hodges.
House nearby is deserted and there is not a soul on island. Found graveyard
in midst of grove of bitter oranges. Navigation today has been very difficult
on account of numberless small Keys and reefs of oyster rock. Crossed
Waccassa Bay and am within four miles of mouth of Withlacoochie river.
Wednesday, December 14, 1881. Shortly after daylight saw Dr. Hodges'
sloop with him on board standing in towards island. Cooked breakfast and
had coffee ready for Dr. when he landed. Then took Psyche a mile up creek
where Dr. has landing. Team met us there and we drove 5 miles to Dr's place
on Withlacoochie, stopping at Bonita, another of his places, on way. Went
hunting with negro boys in Gulf Hammock in afternoon. Saw one deer but
got nothing. Similar success on Fire Hunt in evening. Got very wet on
latter during hard rain which lasted nearly all night. Cold norther is setting
IRVING A. LEONARD
Thursday, December 15, 1881. Cold day with strong "Norther" blowing.
Left Hickory island at noon and made Crystal River, which is marked by
shell island on south side of mouth at 3:30 o'clock. Made Willis Island 4
miles up the river shortly before 5 o'clock and am stopping with Willis-
regular Cracker family, windows with shutters instead of glass. Navigation
today horrible on account of reefs, and dangerous on account of fall. Several
seas washed completely over me. Used sail but little on account of ignorance
of channel and reefs. Most unpleasant day of trip so far.
Friday, December 16, 1881. Intended to run through Salt River to
Homosassa today but wind-the Norther which still continues-has blown
all water out of the river so that navigation is impossible. Ran up to Head
of Crystal river 4 miles. Small settlement at Head. Have been loafing here
all day. Visited Hunter's Spring but found it uninteresting on account of
lowness of water. Oldest inhabitant cannot remember such low water. Am
stopping with James Milles, principal trader who has very comfortable place
a mile from the settlement. Very cold night and fears of frost if wind lulls.
Saturday, December 17, 1881. Wind has moderated and weather is
warm again. Found water rising slightly, so left Crystal River (The Head)
at 1 o'clock and ran down and into Salt River, got 3 miles and was there.
Stopped by bare mud flat extending across river. Am camped near house
of man named Foster. Water has run out of well on account of low tide.
Child was buried at Crystal River today in home-made coffin covered with
white muslin trimmed with black lace and rosettes. Am eating oranges tonight
to satisfy thirst, there being no water.
Sunday, December 18, 1881. Wind still further abating. Decided to start
when tide began to rise and got off at 3 o'clock with Foster as guide. Worst
river I ever saw. Had to haul over two oyster banks and mud flat on which
there was no water. Foster left me three miles from Homossassa, assuring
me that way was plain. It was then dark and I soon got lost. Found myself
in Little Homosassa and luckily found man and woman in boat. For $1 they
consented to act as guides over mile yet to be run, so finally reached Jones'
about 7 o'clock and received most hospital welcome. Crossed Bear Ford,
Bare, Bear, Bar.
Monday, December 19, 1881. Decided to spend day on Homosassa.
Have had most delightful time, perfect weather and pleasant companions.
Went up to head of river this morning in canoe with Mr. Curtis and Mr. and
Mrs. Joseph Howland of Fishkill on Hudson. River rises five miles above
house in large spring 100 ft. in diameter and 50 or 60 in depth, clear as
crystal. Near spring was scene of massacre of Swedish colony of Seminoles.
On return found Capt. A. P. Jones had arrived with sloop yacht Ella Little.
The Jones house is surrounded by roses and orange grove. Mrs. J. sets best
table in Florida.
Tuesday, December 20, 1881. Got away at 10 o'clock this A.M. on sloop
yacht Vanessa, owned by Mr. Louis Giles, who kindly offered me a tow to
Bayfort. His cousin, Mr. G. W. Curtis, accompanies us. Had light winds
and only made Bayport, 25 miles, by sundown. Found letters and papers here.
Bayport is beastly, dull, uninteresting place, one store and four or five houses
all owned by Maj. John Parsons. Water is so shoal that all vessels have to
run out five miles to make offing. Dr. Bruner (Burer?) is head man of
place in Parson's absence. Sent letters from here to Mom, M[ala], and Mrs.
J. B. Brown.
Wednesday, December 21, 1881. The Vanessa left for home as soon as
tide served this morning, leaving me to wait the pleasure of Capt. Bob John-
son, who offered me a tow behind his trading schooner Maggie to Clearwater
Harbor. Did not get off until noon, and with winds light and baffling sunset
found us only just off Cootee River in sight of Anclote Keys. Crackers talk of
Caloo town and Clearwater.
Thursday, December 22, 1881. Ran all night and made Yellow Bluff
at north end of Clearwater harbor, just inside Hog Islands at 3 o'clock A.M.
This is much better looking country than that about Bayport. I slept on
deck last night. Day broke lowering, with Rainbow in West. Walked four
miles in pouring rain to get team to carry me six miles across country. Finally
got one of Walton Whitehurst for $3. Got over and launched on head of Old
Tampa Bay at 3:30 P.M. Ran about 3 miles and made lonely camp in
Hammock on point lower side of small bay opposite Booth's Point. Many
porpoises running close inshore.
Friday, December 23, 1881. Tampa at last. Broke camp at 8 A.M. and
started out into Old Tampa Bay in which sea was running very high before
gale from N.W. Gale increased in fury as I got out under lee of land and
s Now more euphoniously called "Honeymoon Isle."
IRVING A. LEONARD
several heavy seas swept completely over Psyche, filling her half full of water.
At 12 o'clock had run 18 miles and reached Capt. Oliver's place on east side
of bay. Got carried across Gadsden's Point 4 miles to Tampa in mill cart,
thereby saving 30 mile sail. Launched in Hillsborough river and paddled
across to Tampa where came to anchor in stream off the Steamboat Wharf.
Found 21 letters and many papers in Post Office. Am lodged at Mrs. Hand-
fords. Run thus far 350 miles.
Saturday, December 24, 1881. Wrote six letters this A.M. Army officers,
Maj. Barston, Capt. Adams, Lieuts. Califf and Humphreys, of 3rd, are sta-
tioned here at Ft. Brooke and get meals at Mrs. H's. Have been invited by
Califf and Adams to go with them to Key West on Government Schooner
Matchless some time next week. Gathered cedar, Holly, Palmettos, and Moss
this P.M. with which to decorate Lieut. Humphrey's quarters. Played croquet
with Mrs. Davis, wife of Lieut. Davis of 3rd Artillery. Spent evening with
Califf and Humphreys in latter's quarters, where we opened bottle of
Italian wine which I have carried on whole cruise and drank to absent dear
ones. Day is warm as June and air is full of noise of crackers, guns, and
glare of rockets.
Sunday, December 25, 1881. Went to church this A.M. and found
building decorated with roses, lillies, and other flowers instead of evergreens.
Warm, beautiful day, like June day in north. Went to African church this
evening, where upon conclusion of service congregation joined in a dance
resembling that of Nautch girls. Had turkey and plus pudding for dinner,
but with that exception and the exchange at the breakfast table of the
compliments of the season, there has been nothing to remind one of
Monday, December 26, 1881. Pouring rain during morning, but bright
and clear afternoon. Christmas was celebrated here in Tampa by a Tourna-
ment of the Knights of Hillsborough held in the afternoon on Parade Ground
of Ft. Brooke. The Knights were those of Florida West Tampa South Florida
Girls Seven Stars Calisthenics Blue Mull, Balast Point, Six Mile Creek,
Gadsden's Point, Navarre of the Ball, etc. Each rode three tilts for 3 rings
each at a distance of 90 yards.0 Crowned queen and two maids of Honor.
Ball at Orange Grove Hotel in evening.
Tuesday, December 27, 1881. Sent letters to Charles Scribner, Starey,
and C[hristian] Union this A.M. Hauled boat out of water for varnishing.
Most perfect day of winter. Unclouded sky. Temperature 80 degrees, etc.
Went to ride to Sulphur Spring 5 miles north of town with Dr. Wall. Rode
through Florida and Nebraska Avenues, lined with young orange groves.
Moonlight on fort was too beautiful for description.
Wednesday, December 28, 1881. Still in Tampa. Nothing seen yet of
Matchless. Sent letters to Scribner, Christian Union and H. Harper today.-o
Gave Psyche a coat of varnish. Received several letters by day's mail and
beautiful Xmas card from Grace Furniss. Also got Xmas box from Mala.
Thursday, December 29, 1881. No news from Matchless. Received letter
from home and Xmas cards from Swee and Yet (both?). One of the most
perfect days of season.
Friday, December 30, 1881. Court martial at Garrison this morning.
Played croquet all the afternoon with Mrs. Davis against Lieuts. Humphreys
Saturday, December 31, 1881. Wrote letter on Tampa (A Gulf Coast
City) this morning for C [hristian] Union." Went hunting this afternoon with
Lieuts. Humphreys and Califf, but got nothing. Received letter from home
today saying house had been entered by thieves and $200 of jewelry stolen.
Wrote New Year's Eve letter to Julia, Ida, and Gen this evening. Day has
been bright and clear, but cold. Played croquet after coming in from hunting.
No signs of the Matchless yet.
o A curious survival of the chivalric "Joust of the Ring" dating from the Middle Ages.
It was basically a contest of skill in running a lance or spear through a small metal
ring while riding a horse at full speed. Starting from an agreed line the mounted
contestants, with lance couched, charged at full tilt, each in turn, at a suspended
circlet, seeking to penetrate deftly this small opening with the knightly weapon. For
a detailed description of a "Joust of the Ring" held in the high Andes in 1607 with
one of the "knights" dressed as Don Quixote, see Irving A. Leonard. Books of the
Brave, Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 1949; New York, Gordian Press, 1964,
loKirk Munroe was doing journalistic work for the New York publishers, Charles
Scribner, and Harper Brothers at this time.
1 This letter "A Gulf Coast City" was published in the January 19, 1882 issue of the
IRVING A. LEONARD
Sunday, January 1, 1882. As yet no signs of Matchless. Put canoe in
water and went over to see fine house of artificial stone made from sand,
owned by Mr. Morrison. Called in evening on Chief Engineer Carter of
Jacksonville, Tampa and Key West Railroad at Orange Grove Hotel. Day
has been uncomfortably cold, with heavy rain in morning, but bright and
pleasant in afternoon.
Monday, January 2, 1882. Still in Tampa.
Tuesday, January 3, 1882. No Matchless yet.
Wednesday, January 4, 1882. Matchless came in this evening and we
shall get off tomorrow. Glorious day, like Indian summer at North. Had
children's party this evening at Mrs. Hanford's. Sailed down bay to anchor-
age, 4 miles, this morning.
Thursday, January 5, 1882. Left Tampa in U.S. Schooner Matchless,
Captain Russell, with Lieut. Califf, 3rd Art., Lieut. Adams, 5th Art., and
Willie Hanford for Key West this afternoon. Got under way at 4 P.M. Light
breeze from E.N.N. Passed Egmont Light 35 miles at midnight. Steamer
Ellie Knight passed us shortly before. Noticed Gulls stealing fish from
Friday, January 6, 1882. Fine day with good breeze from N.E. in
morning, but died out by noon and left us becalmed off Cinnabel [Sanibel]
island until Sunset. Just before sunset an immense school of sharks sur-
rounded the schooner. Fine effect of breeze coming over water. Moonlight is
wonderfully beautiful, moon being full.
Saturday, January 7, 1882. Key West in sight at 8 o'clock. Ship
surrounded by fleet of Nautilus (portuguese men-of-war), beautiful colors,
pink, blue, purple, irridescent. Reached Key West, Cayo Hueso (Bone Key)
at 12 M. Drove out to Ft. Taylor in afternoon, went to skating rink in evening.
Sunday, January 8, 1882. Key West at last. Went out to garrison this
A.M. Saw superb Banyan tree in front of officers' quarters, believed to be
only one in America. Took long walk P.M. Town contains 12,000 people,
mostly Conchs from Bahamas, Minorcas from St. Augustine, Negroes, Cubans,
not more than 100 Americans in place. Highest point of island is 16 ft.
above mean tide. Sent off letters on Mallory Steamship Colorada from Galves-
ton for New York. Found man named Henry Curry with wooden bicycle.12
Monday, January 9, 1882. Put Psyche in water and visited sponging
fleet this A.M. Saw little nigs diving in crowds. $17,000 worth of sponges
sold at auction on wharf today. Sponges come from Rock Island, Anclotes,
St. Marks, and Bay Biscayne. Saw fruit sold at Auction3--Cocoanuts, Sapo-
dillas, Mannel (?), Sapota, Mangoes, Pawpaws, Plantains, Bananas, Sugar-
cane, Oranges, Lemons, Limes, Sugar Apples, Alligator Pears, Jamaica
Apples, etc. Trees in Key West-Date and Cocoa Palm, Australian Fir, Royal
Poinciana, Geiger, Sapodilla, Gooseberry, Cedar, Spanish Laurel, Cactus
Giganticus, Almond, Sea Grape, Gumalama or Gumalimbo, Banana and dozen
Tuesday, January 10, 1882. Went to barracks and visited cemetery,
all overgrown with rank chaparal, many graves marked "unknown." Very
warm day, like midsummer at north, with scent of Oleander, Jasmine,
Oppaponac and roses which grow in greatest luxuriance. Bought sixteen
cocoanuts for 50 cents. Called on officers of Rev. Cutter, John A. Dix this
Wednesday, January 11, 1882. Took long drive with Califf over island
this P.M., visited Salt works, abandoned, and Martello tower, unfinished.
Glorious day, cool sea breeze. Left at midnight for Dry Tortugas, taking as
passengers Chief Calvin Edson, last of the Pequots, and Robert Thompson,
Loggerhead Light Keeper.
Thursday, January 12, 1882. Reached Tortugas and Fort Jefferson
at 8 A.M. Tortugas consists of Garden Key, Sand Key, Bird Key, East Key,
12 This curious observation was probably prompted by Kirk Munroe's active interest in
the new sport of bicycling. He had organized the New York Bicycle Club of which
he was still the Captain, and on May 31, 1880 he had founded the League of American
Wheelmen at Newport, Rhode Island. See Irving A. Leonard, "The Founder of the
First League of American Wheelmen," American Cycling, August, 1967, p. 12-13.
13 Kirk Munroe utilized this experience in his first book-length story Wakulla, A Story
of Adventure in Florida, written in the following year (1883), in Chapter V entitled
"Mark and Ruth Attend An Auction."
14 A letter written about this date was published as "Cayo Hueso (Key West)" in the
February 16, 1882 issue of the Christian Union.
IRVING A. LEONARD
and Loggerhead Key. Ft. Jefferson stands on Garden Key and encloses 9
acres. It is a brick work on which over $30,000,000 is said to have been spent,
was begun in 1846, abandoned in '78, and it is not finished-is second
largest in country and best quarters in any fort. Went fishing over at Logger-
head in catboat Ella with Robert Thompson and Frank Knight. Loggerhead,
152 ft. height, last point on Florida. Reef lights on reef are Cape Florida,
Fowey's Rocks, Cary's Fort, Sombrero Am. shoals, Alligator Sand Key
(Rebecca shoal) and Loggerhead.-'
Friday, January 13, 1882. Had fine sport yesterday and caught Snap-
per, Grouper, Yellow Tail, Mutton Fish, and Grunt. From Loggerhead turned
back and began to retrace my steps on my homeward journey. Left Tortugas
at 4 P.M. with wind dead ahead blowing strong from N.E., beat all night
and in morning only just sighted Marquesas. Made Key West by noon and
left there bound north at 5 o'clock P.M. Got picture of chief.
Sunday, January 15, 1882. Calm continues. Have not made more than
50 miles from Key West.
Monday, January 16, 1882. Good breeze sprang up at daylight from
N.E. Anchored two miles off Sanibel at noon and I was set ashore there.
Felt very lonesome on bidding farewell to Matchless and Mr. Califf. Most
beautiful shells on Sanibel I ever saw. Sailed over to Punta Rassa, where
found some mail. Am spending night in house of Mr. Shultz, the operator.16
Heard queer story this evening of Harry Rice, hermit of Mound Key, whose
sister-in-law married Gov. Rice and who was draughtsman in Selfridge's party
on Panama survey. Mosquitoes are thicker here than any place on coast.
Thursday, January 17, 1882. Left Punta Rassa with fair wind and tide
and ran 18 miles up river to Ft. Myers in four and one half hours. River
about two miles wide and very beautiful. Am camped on Major Evans' place
on edge of orange grove, and between two cocoa palms. Ft. Meyers has
about 50 houses and 3 or 4 hundred people. Found mail from home and
t5. An article "The Dry Tortugas and the Last of the Pequots" by Kirk Munroe appeared
in the June 8, 1882 number of The Independent.
I6 A telegraph and international cable station was located at the time on Punta Rassa,
then an important place of shipment of cattle to Key West and Cuba.
Wednesday, January 18, 1882. Still in Ft. Meyers. Met Capt. Hendry
today. Shot duck and got fish for dinner.
Thursday, January 19, 1882. Still in Ft. Meyers. Have been out sailing.
Also visited South Florida College, small frame building.
Friday, January 20, 1882. Left Ft. Meyers at 8 o'clock and ran under
paddle against wind and tide 25 miles to McKinley's place. Am camped with
man named Waldron, two women and boy who are bound to Ft. Thompson.
Met woman who was hunting for a doctor to have teeth amputated. Heard
alligator story of man named Gibson who was killed year ago last June near
People's bridge on Suwanee river. Our camp is very bad and uncomfortable,
hog wallows and fleas. Went over to McKinley's to sugar boiling this evening.
Saturday, January 21, 1882. Ran 20 miles in company with Waldron
and am camped at Ft. Deynaud.
Sunday, January 22, 1882. Ran 25 miles today and am spending night
on dredge boat Sam'l Grey at Head of Lake Flirt where she began work
yesterday." Cold norther set in this P.M. with rain. Shot six alligators today.
River has been very crooked and full of snags. Struck one and sprung a leak.
Lake Flirt is filled with bonnets, river letuce, and grass, so that navigation
is extremely difficult. Found camp of cattlemen at Ft. Thompson and dined
Monday, January 23, 1882. Norther and rain still continue. Shot
alligator 9 ft. long. Man could not remember name on account of numbers
Tuesday, January 24, 1882. Norther still blowing with occasional spurts
of rain. Very cold and uncomfortable. Ran down lake to Waldron's house
this A.M., but returned to dredge for night. Crossed end of Big Prairie which
looks like Kansas.:s
Wednesday, January 25, 1882. Norther broke today and day came out
clear and bright by noon. Went in canoe three miles up to Coffee Mill
17 Evidently on the three mile canal No. 1. Lake Flirt is described as "really a shallow
mudhole" in Alfred Jackson Hanna and Kathryn Abbey Hanna. Lake Okeechobee,
Wellspring of the Everglades. Indianapolis and New York, 1948, p. 174.
is As a seventeen year old boy Kirk Munroe had been with a surveying party in Kansas.
IRVING A. LEONARD
Hammock. Shot two large alligators. Mosquitoes nearly ate us up tonight.
Met Lone (Tom?) Tiger, Billy Fuel, Charlie Osceola, and two other Seminoles
this P.M. Dress buckskin moccasins and leggins, bright calico shirts and
bright shawls and handkerchiefs about heads. Armed with rifles.
Thursday, January 26, 1882. Moved down to Dave Waldron's house on
Fork Branch and on edge of Big Prairie today. Met Seminole and daughters,
Mrs. McGee, Miss Mizell, and others.
Friday, January 27, 1882. Very warm and beautiful day. Went out
turkey hunting, got two and 8 ducks, blue wings. Mosquitoes powerful bad.
Got washing done.
Saturday, January 28, 1882. Made arrangements with Jenkins to carry
me over to Fish Eating Creek, 18 miles, tomorrow. Got fine mess of squirrels
today. Very hot. Mosquitoes in swarms. Shot five wood Ibis.
Sunday, January 29, 1882. Started with Dempsey Jenkins and his ox
team overland for Old Ft. Centre. Whole route, 18 miles, lay across Big
Prairie. Expected to find Tom Tiger encamped at New Ft. Centre. Found camp
deserted. Camped in hammock beside slough midway between New and Old
Ft. Centre. Were joined by party of Indians, six young braves, who spent
the night with us.
Monday, January 30, 1882. Moved at daybreak to Old Ft. Centre on
Fish Eating Creek. Shall start alone for Kissimmee at daybreak tomorrow.
Frank Lefils name on Cabbage tree.
[Kirk Munroe's report to the Secretary of the New York Canoe Club
deals with the events from January 16 to this date as follows:
"Ascended Caloosahatchee river 75 miles, touching at Punta Rassa,
Fort Meyers and Fort Thompson, to Lake Flirt where found dredge of
Okeechobee Drainage Company at work 28 miles from Lake. Spent
four days on board dredge, then followed up stream 15 miles to
Lake Hickpochee and found entrance to Okeechobee impassable on
account of saw-grass. Returned to Fort Thompson and took ship rail-
way, viz: ox cart across prairie 18 miles to Fish Eating Creek.
Found Seminole Indian village-Tom Tiger, chief of ten lodges.
Camped with Indians one week trying in vain to hire one of their
number to act as Okeechobee pilot.]
Tuesday, January 31, 1882. Started alone an hour before day, 5:30.
Made Okeechobee at 6:30. Gale blowing from South. Shipped many seas
and everything wet. Have run within sight of eastern shore of lake but have
not found Kissimmee. Am spending night in boat, tied to cypress tree in
[Report to Secretary of New York Canoe Club reads: "Finally, last
day of January started alone, descending Fsh Eating Creek to Okee-
chobee. Found tremendous sea running, effect of gale from south. Put
in two reefs, battened hatches, and laid course by compass northeast
by east-which I had been told would bring me to mouth of Kissim-
mee river. Made the distance, 30 miles, by noon but failed to discover
river, nor could I discover any land, the lake being surrounded by
cypress swamps and big saw-grass from one to 12 miles wide. An-
chored and spent night in canoe, provisions and clothing water-soaked
in spite of battened hatches."]
Wednesday, February 1, 1882. Have failed to find Kissimmee and have
run back to try and regain Fish Eating Creek. Another night in boat. Looks
as though I were lost.
[Report: "Next day decided to return to Fish Eating Creek; did so,
but failed to discover mouth of creek on account of saw-grass, which
hid it. Spent another night in boat. Provisions getting mouldy."]
Thursday, February 2, 1882. Spent six hours trying in vain to find
Fish Eating Creek. Have determined to run back and look for Kissimmee.
Landed for the first time on Sandbar at 10 o'clock and spent two hours,
cooking hominy and coffee and in drying cargo. Then started to search
coast to N.E. carefully. Made 12 miles but found no opening. Thunderstorm
came up just at dark and I got pretty wet, but got drink of rainwater. Lack
water fit to drink. Am tied to old log on edge of saw grass. Mosquitoes are
terrible. Lost anchor and sheath knife in storm, two serious losses.
[Report: "Next day started in calm to make further search for
mouth of Kissimmee. Had made only half distance when night over-
took me and I was forced to spend third night in boat."]
19 If at Eagle Bay he had passed mouth of the Kissimmee river.
IRVING A. LEONARD
Friday, February 3, 1882. Started at daylight after most wretched
night. Boat was surrounded by alligators all night. Ran back to what I have
called Eagle Bay but what I am satisfied is mouth of Kissimmee river. Ran
for third time up a wide clear stream of good water with current which
seems as though it must be Kissimmee, but after two miles it breaks into
several small streams which vanish in sawgrass 7 or 8 feet high and keen as
razor. Filled keg and ran to where coast bears S.E. Here found wide straight
Estuary /4 mile long from which several streams lead into gloomy cypress
swamp full of gators. Ran out at dark and am camped on narrow sand beach.
Southerly gale is blowing and sea threatens to inundate my camp. Am in
[Report: "On fourth day cruised to eastern shore of lake and
became involved in the mazes of a dark cypress swamp, so horrible
in all its features that, as a model for an "inferno" it would be a
success; was still lost in its mazes when darkness overtook me and
was forced to spend a night of horror within noisome recesses-was
greatly alarmed during this night by the aggressive presence of innu-
merable alligators and venemous water moccasins.
Succeeded by sunrise in escaping swamp and regaining open
lake. By this time was becoming very weak from inability to eat my
provisions, all of which were rapidly spoiling and nauseated me.
That morning had the rare good fortune to discover a narrow strip
of sand beach on which I landed, stepping from my canoe for the
first time in four days.
After making coffee, cooking a hearty meal, and drying my
clothes by a fire of drift wood, I lay down to sleep. When I awoke
it was dark, and water was dashing over me. A gale had sprung up
from southward, while I slept, and the sea, so quickly raised in
that shallow lake, was already breaking over my sand bar."]
Saturday, February 4, 1882. Gale was heavy all night and all day until
sunset, when it broke. Sea rose higher and higher until it seemed as though
I must be washed away, but was mercifully preserved. Could not launch
canoe through breakers and have spent day here. Climbed tall cypress but
could see nothing. I have but little appetite, which is fortunate as my food
is rapidly spoiling with continued wet. My bread is already covered with
green mould. Day has been bright and clear with exception of one shower
during which I caught some rainwater which refreshed me greatly. Spark
from my fire burned Mosquito bar badly and I have just finished mending it
with a piece of my bread bag. Shall I ever see home again?
[Report to Secretary: "The gale continued all that night and, as I
could not launch my canoe in face of it, I was in great fear lest she
should be torn from me and dashed in pieces among the trees of the
cypress swamp behind me. By sunrise the gale subsided and the waters
receding left me once more on dry land with my boat still uninjured;
but with much of her cargo swept away."]
Sunday, February 5, 1882. Broke camp soon after day break and went
back 3 miles to what I am quite certain must be the mouth of the Kissimmee.
It is a large bay with 20 or more sloughs emptying into it. I explored them
all. Some were a mile or more in length but all ended in the horrible saw-
grass with which I cut my hands quite badly. It seems as though I should
never escape. I wonder how long it will be before my friends send in search
of me and whether I shall be found alive. I have come back to my old camp
on the sand bar thoroughly disheartened. In it mosquitoes and lizards
abound in numbers I have never seen equaled.
[Report to Secretary: "That day I continued my search for an outlet
to the lake, returning at night to the sand bar to sleep. This I did for
three days, until having nearly circumnavigated the lake and finding
no chance of escape, my provisions spoiled as they were, being nearly
exhausted, I decided to abandon Psyche and attempt to force my way
through the saw grass to the mainland."]
Monday, February 6, 1882. This night completes a week of my cap-
tivity in this terrible place. Though hope has almost left me, still I have
much to be thankful for. I have thus far been preserved amid manifold
dangers and have not been called to endure any great physical suffering. I
have made up my mind to penetrate the saw grass as far as possible in
my boat and there abandon her, attempt to force my way through it to solid
ground. I do not think the water is more than waist deep. Have cooked the
last of my provisions and made mittens and mask for my face in preparation
for the undertaking. Shall start at daybreak. God help me!
IRVING A. LEONARD
Tuesday, February 7, 1882. Thank God I have escaped from that
horrible lake and am once more in human company. I broke camp at day-
light and ran up to "Canoe" bay and as far as I could force my boat into the
grass of a small creek emptying into the bay. There, after spreading a rubber
blanket over the boat, I left her tied to a small cypress on which I hoisted the
American flag union down. Then I struck into the terrible sawgrass heading
N.W. by pocket compass. After 3 hours of the most exhausting labor of my
life, I reached a belt of timber on mainland, bloody, cut, wet, and muddy.
Walked 15 miles across prairie and struck trail running east and west.
Turned East and on edge of fine Island found Edward Whitten's House
where I received warm welcome.
[Report to Secretary: "This, after a desperate effort, I finally suc-
ceeded in doing and reached the mainland where I lay some time
in a state of unconsciousness from weakness and exhaustion. The
big "saw-grass" is twelve feet high, closely matted, and its edges cut
like those of razors. In it the water stands from two to four feet deep,
and the bottom is soft mud.
Upon regaining consciousness and refreshing myself with a cup
of brandy and water, and two of my mouldy biscuits, I started across
the prairie in search of settlements. From the effects of my struggle
with the saw grass, my clothing hung in rags and I was covered with
blood from cuts on every portion of my body.
Knowing that there was, on the Kissimmee river, a settlement
called Fort Bassinger, and that a trail must lead eastward from it to
the settlements on the Indian river, and being fully convinced also
that I was east of the Kissimmee, I laid a course by compass north-west
which I knew must lead me to the trail or the river.
After walking 15 miles I struck the east and west trail just at
sunset, and shortly after found a log cabin, in which lived a cow-
hunter by the name of Edward Whitten. Here I was treated with the
Wednesday, February 8, 1882. Walked west across prairie 15 miles to
Ft. Bassinger on west bank of Kissimmee river. Prairie full of deep sloughs,
very wet and hard walking. Started up 20 or more head of deer but gun
was left in boat so could not harm them.
[Report to Secretary: "... and next day I followed the trail west for
17 miles through an uninhabited country to Shake Rag, a settlement
on the Kissimmee, opposite Fort Bassinger."]
Thursday, February 9, 1882. Am going to stay at Ft. Bassinger and
work on Pierce's place for my board until John Pierce comes home from
Indian river. Am at work helping make plow stocks.
Friday, February 10, 1882. Still at work on plow stocks.
Saturday, February 11, 1882. Plow stocks finished. Have been running
ferry. Pierce returned this afternoon.
Sunday, February 12, 1882. Ran ferry this A.M. Pierce thinks he will
go with me to Okeechobee after boat. Billy Smith, Indian, passed East this
A.M. Said that in five days the entire Fish Eating Creek band would cross on
their way to Cow Creek. Frank and Will Lefils came in this evening from
[Lake] Istokpoga bringing some of the fattest turkeys I ever saw. Shall try
to get one of them to go to Okeechobee with me.
Monday, February 13, 1882. Started in skiff with Will Lefils, boy 19
years old, at 11 o'clock this A.M. for Okeechobee. Stopped for dinner at
Pierce's lower hammock and for an hour at Tom Daughtry's last place on
river 10 miles from Bassinger. Are camped in a Buzzard's Roost 20 miles
down. Fine weather.
Tuesday, February 14, 1882. Started at daylight and made the lake at
2 P.M. Found Kissimmee empties into bay west of one I had been searching
and which I have named "Canoe Bay." The stream of clear water running
into Canoe Bay seems to have been heretofore unknown and has been named
"Munroe's Creek." Found Psyche safe in the saw grass where I left her about
5 miles east of Kissimmee. Ran back to sand bar near mouth of river where
we are camped. Mosquito swarm in clouds.
[Report to Secretary: "At Bassinger, I found an alligator hunter, and
engaged him to go with me in his skiff down the Kissimmee to Okee-
IRV1NG A. LEONARD
chobee and recover my canoe. We went and, in three days, returned
with the Psyche, having found her uninjured where I left her."]
Wednesday, February 15, 1882. Made splendid run up river and
reached Prairie camp 25 miles. Very warm day, 110 degrees in sun. Shot
number of gators and caught a young one alive.
Thursday, February 16, 1882. Made late start on account of having
to stop and make bread. Reached Daughtry's in time for the late dinner and
then set out for Bassinger. Last bend before reaching Bassinger is worst on
river, where one has to pull 2 miles against a powerful current to make
straight distance of 100 yards. Reached Bassinger about 5 P.M. Very tired
but happy at having made the quickest trip ever made between Bassinger
and the lake-whole distance travelled in three and a half days, 120 miles.
Friday, February 17, 1882.21 Have been resting quietly in Bassinger
today. Overhauled, oiled her, etc. Gave Will Lefils double Mackinaw blanket
worth $10 and $5 in money for his trip. Very hot day. Pierce and his boys
gone deer hunting.
Saturday, February 18, 1882. Pierce came in today with fine buck. My
ankles are very lame in consequence of red bugs and poison of lake water.
Sunday, February 19, 1882. There was preaching across the river at
Shake Rag today, but my lameness prevented me from going. Old man
Colyer with 3 wives and 14 children came over river with teams, moving to
Charley Apopka creek. They are camped near the house.
Monday, February 20, 1882. Pierce and Mann went with Colyer to
Istokpoga creek today and on return reported steamer in sight of Micko's
Tuesday, February 21, 1882. Steamer Gertrude arrived at 10 this A.M.
and I have made arrangements to go up river on her. All hands are drunk
tonight. Gertrude brought three passengers, Northern men, who wanted to
see country and are disgusted with it.
so Possibly Taylor's Creek, near present site of Okeechobee City.
x Kirk Munroe's article in Harper's Weekly, January 6, 1883, entitled "Adventures with
Alligators" was based on his stay at Fort Bassinger.
[Report to Secretary: "By this time my wounds from the saw grass
had become "water poisoned," and I was so unfit for work that I took
passage for myself and canoe on a small trading steamer that makes
a semi-monthly trip down the Kissimmee as far as Fort Bassinger."]
Wednesday, February 22, 1882. Left Bassinger on Gertrude& at 8 A.M.
Machinery in such bad order that we have made only 35 miles and are tied
up at Micko's Bluff cleaning out flues tonight. I am acting alternately as
cook and Pilot. Have made two batches of bread since coming aboard.
Thursday, February 23, 1882. Left Micko's Bluff at 5 this A.M. with
me as pilot. Made Guy's (Kissimmee Ferry) at 4 P.M., where got wood and
yams. Captain is very sick with measles and needs all bedding, which is
pretty rough on the rest of us as a Norther has set in and the night is very
cold. I acted as pilot from 6 P.M. until midnight and then tied boat up as I
was nearly perished. Are lying in the cut-off. Flues again clogged. Met J. W.
Duggs at Orange Hammock.
Friday, February 24, 1882. Still very cold and strong head wind. Ran
out of the river into Kissimmee Lake at sunset and ran till midnight. Are
anchored off Camp Hammock.3
Saturday, February 25, 1882. Took wood and new deck hand at Camp
Hammock (Quinn Bass) and left at 9 A.M. Kissimmee Lake 15 miles long,
then river for 3 miles, then Lake Hatchenaka 4 miles, then four miles river,
then Lake Cypress four miles long, the 8 miles of the most crooked and
narrowest river on whole route, called Gum Swamp. Just before making Lake
Cypress stopped at McQuaig Hammock near old Fort Gardiner to trade with
is A little over a year later President Chester A. Arthur got as far as 60 miles above
Lake Okeechobee and returned to Kissimmee City on the Gertrude in April, 1883. Cf.
Joe M. Richardson. "The Florida Excursion of President Chester A. Arthur," Tequesta,
No. 24 (1964), p. 41-48.
sa In his log Kirk Munroe included a notation "List of Birds on Kissimmee river.
Water Turkey Coromorants (sic)
Turkeys & Buzzards Great Snowy Heron
Mexican Buzzards Great Blue Heron
Crows Whooping or Sand Hill Crane
Hawks Green Heron
Stake Drivers Two Kinds Egret
Coots Ibis & Wood Ibis
Ducks Scroggins, Blue, White & Green
IRVING A. LEONARD
Tom Tiger and half a dozen Indians, one of them Milly Buster. Are tied up
in Gum Swamp.
Sunday, February 26, 1882. Got into Tohopkelaga 18 miles long at
10 A.M. Made Kissimmee city at 2 P.M. I been cook for two days.
Monday, February 27, 1882. Spent the morning in Kissimmee city.
Place started since Xmas. Very like western town. 20 houses, 2 saw mills
running night and day. Left at 2 o'clock with mule team for Orlando. Reached
Orlando at 8 P.M., 18 miles. Are camped in vacant lot in middle of town.2*
Tuesday, February 28, 1882. Saw George Newell this A.M. Dined at
White's. Left on train of South Florida Railroad at 3 P.M. for Sanford and
reached it at 5 o'clock. Found big mail and Post Office order for $25. Sent
telegram home. Am camped on bank of Lake Munroe, near hotel in company
with four men who have just come up Indian river.
Wednesday, March 1, 1882. Have stayed in Sanford today. Ran across
Lake to Enterprise this P.M. Beautiful day. It is very pleasant to be within
limits of civilization once more. Sent letters home and to New York today.
[Report to Secretary: "... On this steamer, the Gertrude, I reached
Lake Tahopkeligatt, [sic] the head of the Kissimmee, and from
Kissimmee City, a frontier settlement founded since Christmas, I was
carried via ox-cart and rail to Sanford, 40 miles across country, and
there launched my canoe on the waters of the St. Johns."]
Thursday, March 2, 1882. Left Sanford at 10:30 this A.M., ran 5 miles
to foot of Lake Munroe and entered St. Johns and ran to Blue Springs, where
am camped on beautiful point. Moonlight evening and air is heavy with scent
of orange blossoms. Spring is strong with sulphur. Have made 25 miles. Am
running slowly for sake of company. St. Johns here runs through cypress
swamps and is very interesting.
Friday, March 3, 1882. Took bath in sulphur spring this A.M. Made
late start and have only run 18 miles. Am camped on bluff at St. Francis.
Passed Hawkinsville and Crow's Bluff. Stopped steamer Plant this evening
and sent sick man to Jacksonville. Old man Driggers killed two fat turkeys
on bank of river this evening.
24 Kirk Munroe's death occurred in Orlando, June 16, 1930.
Saturday, March 4, 1882. Have made 30 miles today and at last left
cypress swamp and are camped on head of Lake George. Passed Bluffton
at noon, 4,000 orange trees there. Passed Volusia, very stupid place. Steam
yacht Chime from Bay Ridge, Capt. Johnson, is anchored off camp.
Sunday, March 5, 1882. Have spent the day quietly at head of Lake
George. Went up Orange Grove this A.M. and got a load of lemons. Had
callers from steam yacht Chime.
Monday, March 6, 1882. Ran across Lake George this A.M. and down
river 25 miles past Welaka and Mouth of Oklawaha to Rogers one mile
above Nashau. Am camped on beautiful Oak Bluff.
Tuesday, March 7, 1882. Ran down river 23 miles to Palatka, reaching
it at 2 P.M. River has been very wide and beautiful today. Thermometer 110
degrees in sun. Palatka pretty place.
Wednesday, March 8, 1882. Have spent the day in Palatka camped
just on edge of town in Oak Grove on bank of river. Palatka is lively place
and is full of northern visitors.
Thursday, March 9 1882. Left Palatka at 9:30 this A.M. and ran
down river to Magnolia, 47 miles, before stiff S.W. breeze in 6 hours. Beat
sloop with the Indian river party more than an hour. Passed Tocoi and
Picolata but did not stop. Stopped at Green Cove Springs a few minutes.
Have beautiful camp on high Oak Bluff near hotel and cottages.
Friday, March 10, 1882. Have spent day quietly at Magnolia.-5 Went
over hotel with Seavey, manager, also of Maplewood at Bethlehem.
Saturday, March 11, 1882. Expected to run to Jacksonville and finish
cruise but a stiff norther compels us to remain in camp at Magnolia. Our
camp attracts attention from visitors, many of whom come to see us under
the impression that we are Indians.
Sunday, March 12, 1882. Day broke clear and warm with light breeze
down river and, as stores were getting low, we decided to go on. Ran down
zs Just north of present day Green Cove Springs.
IRVING A. LEONARD
river past Mandarin to Jacksonville 28 miles and are camped on opposite
side of river and two miles below city at St. Nicholas.
Monday, March 13, 1882. Went into city this A.M. and received most
hearty welcome from friends there among whom I found several Tampa
acquaintances. Got shaved for first time in four months and got hair cut.
Bought two pairs of shoes and started for Mandarin at 3:30 P.M. Wind half
a gale and very squally from west. When half way through under two reefs
had to lower sail and scud. Shipped several heavy seas, but finally reached
Mandarin at 6 o'clock, two and one half hours from Jacksonville, 15 miles.
Received hearty welcome from crowd of people who turned out to meet me.
Am at Mrs. Stowe's once more dressed as a gentleman. Whole length of
cruise 1,600 miles.
[Report to Secretary: "A leisurely trip of two weeks duration
brought me to this place where the Psyche is now on the ways for
general repairs and overhauling.
All of which I have the honor to submit, and am, Mr. Secretary,
Most respectfully yours.
C. K. MUNROE.20
Capt. Canoe Psyche, New York Canoe Club."]
se Munroe's full name was Charles Kirk Munroe. His first public dropping the name
"Charles" appears to have been in the August, 1883 number of The American Canoeist,
of which he was then editor.
This Page Blank in Original
Juan Baptista Franco and Tampa Bay, 1756
By JACK D. L. HOLMES AND JOHN D. WARE
It has become a fact of recent historiography that historians have drawn
upon the advice, experience and knowledge of persons whose training is in
another field. Thus, in recent years, geographers, geologists, naturalists, archi-
tects and other specialists have cooperated with historians in bringing to light
meaningful studies of ancient records. It should come as no surprise, then,
that the two collaborators here approach the subject from varying paths.
Dr. Jack D. L. Holmes, a specialist in the history of the Spanish Borderlands
during the eighteenth century, has written previously concerning voyages of
exploration to the Florida coast.1 Captain John D. Ware, a Tampa Bay Pilot,
has a wealth of experience garnered over a period of thirty-five years as
seafarer and shipmaster along the Florida coast, plus a dedicated interest in
the early history of that area.2
Spain made but disappointing use of the rich timber resources of her
Florida colony, although several Florida governors pleaded for support in
developing a lively trade in these products with Havana. In 1735 Governor
Francisco del Moral SAnchez had taken initial steps to stimulate the produc-
tion of naval stores, spars and masts for use by Cuban shipbuilders, but fol-
lowing his departure in 1737 little was done to follow through. In 1744
Governor Manuel de Montiano planned to erect a factory to produce naval
stores in order to furnish the shipbuilders of the Havana Company with
lumber taken from the tall pines in the mountains north of Apalache. Mon-
tiano envisaged the production of tar, pitch, resin, spars and masts by means
of a new company on the order of the Havana Company. Unfortunately, Mon-
x See Jack D. L. Holmes, "Two Spanish Expeditions to Southwest Florida, 1783-1793,"
Tequesta, XXV (1965), 97-107; "Jos6 del Rio Cosa," ibid., XXVI (1966), 39-52;
"The Southern Boundary Commission, the Chattahoochee River, and the Florida Semi-
noles, 1799," Florida Historical Quarterly, XLIV, No. 4 (April, 1966), 312-41.
2 See John D. Ware, "From Havana to the Port of Tampa, Year of 1757," Unpublished
MS, translated from original in Museo Naval, Vol. II-A (North Atlantic Ocean), MS
Vol. 176, copy in possession of author and the Florida Historical Collection at the
University of Florida.
tiano received little support for his plans. In 1756 and 1757, however,
Ferdinand VI became interested in the Florida timber industry and issued
orders that Floridians might cut royal timber there for use as masts and
In keeping with the new interest in Florida lumber resources, the naval
arsenal or shipyard at Havana sponsored an expedition to West Florida in
1756 under the leadership of Juan Baptista Franco. Franco was a draftsman
at the shipyard, but little is known of his early naval career.4 The following
year, however, Franco did accompany a full-scale reconnaissance of Hills-
borough Bay under the direction of the pilot, Francisco Maria Celi. A river
in Hillsborough Bay was named Rio Franco in honor of this unsung ex-
plorer's 1756 voyage to the Florida coast.5
Although both Franco and Celi issued glowing reports on the advantages
to be derived from the rich lumber resources of West Florida, Havana was
slow to follow their advice. In 1783, when Jose de Evia visited the same
area he also reported on the suitability of developing a trade between Florida
and Havana in the valuable wood, pointing out in his report that prior to
1783 the English shipbuilders at Providence on Nassau in the Bahamas had
regularly sailed to Florida to obtain ship timber for their shipyards.,
Likewise, in 1787, when Jose del Rio Cosa made his voyage to the east
coast of Florida, he drafted some "Observations corresponding to the meas-
ures for re-establishing East Florida in a flourishing state during the present
Spanish government and advantages which may be derived from its products,
particularly the making of pitch and lumber, as interesting and useful to a
maritime nation." His report also included an extensive discussion of naval
stores and ship timbers found in the environs of St. Augustine.7
SJohn Jay TePaske, The Governorship of Spanish Florida, 1700-1763 (Durham, N.C.,
a Ware, "From Havana to the Port of Tampa," 29. Dr. Holmes attempted to locate serv-
ice records of Franco in the Archivo-Museo Alvaro Bazsn Marina de Guerra at El
Viso del Marquis (Spain) in the summer of 1966 but was unsuccessful.
s Ibid., 29, 31, 36. Franco accompanied Celi in his reconnaissance of Hillsborough Bay
on April 24, 1757.
e Holmes, "Two Spanish Expeditions to Southwest Florida," 100, 106.
Holmes, "Jos6 del Rio Cosa," 39-52.
JACK D. L. HOLMES and JOHN D. WARE
It was Juan Baptista Franco, however, who in 1756 first suggested
utilizing the fine timber surrounding Tampa Bay-near the site of Fort
Tocabaga which had been established by Pedro Menhndez de Avilks as early
as 1565. His report, although brief, is a welcome addition to the scanty
literature available concerning the early history of southwest Florida.
Description of Tampa Bay, in the environs of which one finds fertile
sabine," live-oak,'o walnut," and laurel12 trees and innumerable pines, easy
to work and all of them most useful for the construction of vessels.
s Franco's original report, dated Havana, December 7, 1756, has not been located, but a
reliable, certified copy, made at Havana by Domingo de Lavradores on April 6, 1761,
from which Dr. Holmes made the translation, is in the Archive y Biblioteca del Ser-
vicio Hist6rico Militar (Madrid), legajo 5-1-6-5. Dr. Holmes obtained the copy in the
summer of 1966 while in Spain under grants-in-aid from the American Association
for State and Local History and the University of Alabama Research Committee
(Grant No. 502), for whose financial help he wishes to express his thanks.
9 The sabine may have been the cypress or juniper, both of which are found abundantly
in West Florida. See Lillian E. Arnold and Erdman West The Native Trees of Florida
(Gainesville, 1956), 12-14. Luis Fatio, an East Florida planter, wrote of the sabine:
"Sabine is an exquisite wood and does not decay. It is excellent for the upper works
of large ships and for the construction of small, light ships, such as those of the
Bermuda Islands. Besides this, it is a very good wood for lining furniture such as
bookcases, wardrobes, or cupboards. Its odor keeps out bedbugs, cockroaches, or other
vermin that usually breed inside of such furniture." Luis Fatio's "Description of the
Commerce of East Florida," Havana, November 17, 1790, in Arthur P. Whitaker
(trans. & ed.), Documents Relating to the Commercial Policy of Spain in the Floridas
with Incidental Reference to Louisiana (Deland, Fla., 1931), 127.
io Fatio reported: "Live oak is recognized as the best lumber for construction in exis-
tence, and it is highly esteemed in North America, as well as in French shipyards."
Ibid. General Collot may have meant live-oak when he described the "green oak": "The
most valuable wood for naval construction which grows in the Floridas and in
Louisiana, is the green oak.. The quality of the green oak, its solidity and duration,
are generally known. The vessels which are constructed with this wood are of long
duration...." George H. V. Collot, A Journey in North America... (2 vols. & atlas;
Paris, 1826; translated by J. Christian Bay; Florence, 1924), II, 153.
SIt is probable that the walnut referred to by Franco was really the hickory nut, a
tree quite common in the Tampa Bay region. William Bartram also confused the two
trees: William Bartram, Travels of William Bartram (ed. by Francis Harper; New
York, 1958), 544; Arnold, Native Trees of Florida, 22-25.
12 It is possible that Franco meant the laurel or the wax-laurel (Myrica cerifera), two
species quite common in Florida. Jack D. L. Holmes, "Observations on the Wax-Tree in
Colonial Louisiana and the Floridas," The Mississippi Quarterly, XX, No. 1 (Winter,
3a The Commissioner-Ordenador of the Havana arsenal was Lorenzo de Montalbo. Ware,
"From Havana to the Port of Tampa," appendix, viii, ix, showing Celi's chart.
In following the advice which you have seen fit to give me so that I
might give an exact description and account of that which I may have
discovered and passed through in the exploration which I have made of the
coast and mainland of Florida and Apalache, so that from it you may be
able to gain a complete understanding of the timber which may be there
for the outfitting of ship-masts, which are to be constructed on His Majesty's
account in this royal arsenal; I report to you in the following manner:
Having left a second time from this port for the said coast and arrived
at the latitude of twenty-eight degrees,14 [where] I found a large bay with
three very extensive mouths at its entrance15 with sufficient depth in all of
them for any large ship, inasmuch as their channels contain five fathoms
depth.1' The natives give this bay the name Tampa; it is considerably exten-
sive, for from the mouth to the center of said bay the distance is more than
eight leagues. Within it are included two large coves, one of which has more
than sixteen leagues in circumference and the other, about twelve or thirteen.17
Sailing up the stream of the latter cove for about a league and a half distance,
14 It is probable that Franco was rounding off the latitude's figure. A landfall at 280
would have found him near the north end of what is presently called Clearwater Beach
Island, some 26 nautical miles north of his objective!
15 To these three mouths Cell in 1757 gave the names Canal de Santilla, Canal de San
Juan y Navarro and Pozo o Seno de San Tiburcio. Ware, "From Havana to the Port
of Tampa," Appendix, IX, chart. These are presently called Passage Key Inlet,
Southward Pass and Egmont Channel; and the center of each lies in 270 32.51;
270 34.31; and 270 5' respectively.
16 Franco probably exaggerates. Celi's "Piano de la Gran Bahia de Tampa y Nuevamente
San Fernando" of 1757, ibid., chart, shows less than five fathoms for all three chan-
nels; indeed, Cell's Journal and Chart render his Pozo or Seno de San Tiburcio
(Egmont Channel) as useless for navigation by reason of a large unsounded shoal
closing it to the open sea. This was almost certainly a result of incomplete soundings
occasioned by bad weather. Ware, "From Havana to the Port of Tampa," 54, 55.
Otherwise, Celi is supported generally by George Gauld's "A Survey of the Bay of
Espiritu Santo, 1765," original in the Public Records Office, London; Thomas Jeffries'
"The Bay of Espirita Santo, 1769," in William Stork, A Description of East Florida
(London, 1769), cited in Woodbury Lowery, A Descriptive List of Maps of the Spanish
Possessions Within the Present Limits of the United States, 1502-1830 (Washington,
1912), 385 (L.C. 595); Bernard Romans' "Spiritu Santo or Tampe Bay, 1774," ibid.,
370 (L.C. 566); and Jos6 de Evia's 'Plano de la Bahia de Tampa, 1783," published in
Jack D. L. Holmes (ed.), Josi de Evia y sus reconocimientos del Golfo de Mexico,
1783-1796 (Madrid, 1968), appendix.
17 From Franco's description, these are apparently present-day Old Tampa and Hills-
borough Bays. The former has an actual circumference of 15.8 leagues (each of 2.6
statute miles) ; the latter, 8.8 leagues, instead of the 12 to 13 leagues reckoned by
JACK D. L. HOLMES and JOHN D. WARE
I found on the mainland a quantity of very large and healthy pines,'1 and
continuing to the end of the said [cove] I found two excellent rivers-9 which
I entered for about six leagues by my reckoning,-o and found their banks
covered with various trees, among which are sabine, live-oak, walnut, and
laurel, with an immense stand of pine. I examined their banks and found
them covered with pastures and several watery lagoons, abundant in animals,
among which are deer, rabbits, bears, and turkeys.-
I traveled through this land for twenty-two days without finding the least
bit of rock, for there is none anywhere around. But there are beautiful and
vast plains covered with pine suitable for all types of ship timber, from
which I cut three logs and carried them as samples to this port. I found them
pliable, white, and without mark save the resin, which they need for their
preservation, so that there is no necessity for draining them,z" such as takes
place with others that are heavily laden with it. As for the distance between
these said pines, I should mention that they are so close together that one
will have to go no more than two miles to begin cutting from at least half
of the banks of the said rivers.
is It is probable that Franco used leagues which equalled three nautical miles or
1/20 of a degree of latitude for his distances at sea, and leagues which equalled 2.6
statute miles when he was on dry land. The naval league of 3 or 3.14 nautical miles
is given in J. Villasana Haggard, Handbook for Translators of Spanish Historical Docu.
ments (Austin, Texas, 1941), 79.
'I The first river is present-day Hillsborough River; the second is variously known as
Palm River or Six-Mile Creek.
20 Franco's guesswork was apparent here. Celi's longboat, some four months later, was
stopped by the "waterfall" of the Hillsborough River, a distance of some 5.8 leagues.
Ware, "From Havana to the Port of Tampa," 35. Franco's distance in the Hillsborough
would likewise have been limited. Moreover, his entry into Palm River (Six-Mile
Creek) with a similar craft would have been limited to not more than 2.1 leagues
both distances @ 2.6 statute miles per league), rather than "about six leagues."
Cf. Celi's chart of 1757, ibid., appendix.
2z Although Celi did not mention the animals encountered in his voyage by name, his
chart shows interesting illustrations of snakes, alligators, wildcat, deer, turkeys, and
possibly rabbits, foxes, bears and a cow! Celi's chart, ibid., appendix.
22 Collot, Journey in North America, II, 156, noted that the American southern pines
were "of the greatest height, straight, and without knots; they have the same elasticity
as those of Riga, only they are more heavy and less liable to break than the cypress,
and can be more easily repaired...." Francis Baily, Journal of a Tour in Unsettled
parts of North America in 1796 & 1797 (London, 1856), 346, noted: "These pines
are of the species which is called by the inhabitants 'pitch pine,' and grow to an
enormous height and vast size: they are hare of branches to near their tops; so that in
travelling through them they appear like a grove of large masts, which has a very
As for transporting [the logs] to the ships where they will be loaded,
you can carry them between two men almost to shipside3s because the
aforesaid cove has deep, sandy banks and there is no mud. All these facts
are great advantages, and in my opinion we could not find a more delightful
and comfortable place for everything, especially for the desired goal [of
obtaining lumber]. And what makes it even more desirable is my not having
found a single mosquito in the area through which I went; these pests usually
bother me greatly.'* The experience I have had in examining these trees,
as well as those of Tortosa in the Pyrenees,25 of Abete and Coral, those of
the North at the port of Scandinavia, those of Philadelphia, and Guasa-
cualcos,2" has aided me in comparing the quality and condition of the pine
masts. Among all these, the most excellent that I have found are those of
the said Scandinavian Port; to these we can compare the ones recently dis-
covered on the mainland of the said Tampa Bay. Moreover, it seems to me,
according to the information that I have obtained, that they will be of greater
strength and duration.
I sorely regret that a spot as pleasant and abundant and of such benefit
to His Majesty (whom may the Lord protect), as well as to his vassals, is
not settled; for if foreigners manage to take possession of this port and bay,
it would be a serious blow to everything, [especially] since it is no more than
ninety leagues from this city27 in this way:
Thirty from this port to Cayo de Guesso,a" and the remaining sixty from
the said key to the aforementioned Tampa, having at the same time all the
sounding of the said Tortuguilla where all the boats ordinarily turn the point
when heading for this city, and those which go by this way to the Bahama
Channel. For this reason we ought to show considerable concern in this
enterprise and not waste time.
2a It is probable that Franco meant that logs might be transported on carrying sticks
between two men abreast followed in tandem by other two-man teams.
24 Although mosquitoes are rarely encountered in the Tampa Bay area in November or
December, Andrew Ellicott was plagued by the pests at Natchez on December 1, 1797.
The Journal of Andrew Ellicott (Philadelphia, 1803; Chicago, 1962), appendix, 19.
as Franco is in error here. Tortosa is near the Mediterranean coast on the Ebro River
about midway between Valencia and Barcelona, at some distance from the Pyrenees.
saFranco means Coatzacoalcos (Puerto M6xico).
27From Tampa to Havana Franco reckons ninety leagues, or approximately 270 nautical
miles. Captain Ware figures the distance today at 276 nautical miles.
asCayo de Hueso (Bone Key) is present-day Key West. It was observed in 1783 by
Jos4 de Evia as being located at 240 36' North Latitude, or some seven minutes
variation from earlier Spanish charts. Holmes, "Two Spanish Expeditions to South-
west Florida," 99.
JACK D. L. HOLMES and JOHN D. WARE
This is all that I am able to disclose on the matter, and I hereby state
that all I have said and related is certain and the truth as far as I know it,
and I hereby remit it and sign the same in this city of Havana on the seventh
of December in the year one thousand seven hundred and fifty six.
JUAN BAPTISTA FRANCO
[This] is an identical copy of the original; thus I certify it. Havana,
the sixth of April, one thousand seven hundred and sixty-one.
DOMINGO DE LAVRADORES2S
29A diligent search in the archives at El Vise del Marquis failed to discover the service
records of Domingo de Labradores, and it is assumed he was a scribe in the Havana
naval arsenal or shipyard.
This Page Blank in Original
The Juan Baptista Franco Document
of Tampa Bay, 1756
By CHARLES W. ARNADE
I would like to express my thanks to the Lilly Endowment Foundation which gave
me in the summer of 1963 a modest grant to do historical research in the William
Clements Library of the University of Michigan. The same thanks go to the Committee
on International Exchange of Persons that awarded me a Fulbright grant to Spain for the
academic year 1964-65. This article and the discovery of the Franco document are part
of the results of these two grants.
The Holmes and Ware articles on Tampa Bay in 1756 in this issue and the
Ware and Arnade studies published in the recent Florida Historical Quarterly'
about the Cell expedition in 1757 to Tampa Bay complement each other. The
importance of the Cell expedition is correctly given credit in the Holmes-
Ware study for it is unquestionably one of the key events of Florida history.
It suffices to state that regardless of Narvaez, Father Cancer and De Soto
in the sixteenth century the Florida west coast was forgotten, lost to Spain
and memory, and then rediscovered in the eighteenth century.z Tampa Bay
was a key to the rediscovery and the Celi journey of 1757 the cornerstone
to this rediscovery. We (Ware, Holmes and Arnade) now realize that the
Juan Baptista Franco trip of that same year was the prelude to the Celi trip.
The Spanish re-interest in the west coast had several causes related
to the international situation and to strategic considerations. It was also tied
to the enthusiasm for the philosophy of the Enlightenment that was sweeping
over Europe and had penetrated Spain during the Bourbon period, reaching
a high point during the grandiose rule of Charles III (1759-1788).3 The
Bourbons-benevolent autocrats dedicated to administrative reforms-showed
much interest in stimulating the exact sciences including zoology, botany and
agriculture. The results were noticeable in the organization of expeditions
to look for additional natural resources-including timber-on the American
1 See the Ware and Arnade studies of the Celi trip in the Florida Historical Quarterly,
XLVII, No. 1 (July, 1968).
a See W. E. Dunn, Spanish and French Rivalry in the Gulf Region of the United States,
1678-1702 (Austin, 1917), 238 pp.; Irving A. Leonard, Spanish Approach to Pensacola,
1689-1693 (Albuquerque, 1939), 323 pp.
a See Jean Sarrailh, I'Espagne eclairee de la second moitid du XVIII sidcle (Paris,
1954), 779 pp.
continent., The small Franco and later Celi expeditions must be evaluated
in view of this.
The Franco report was first consulted by me in 1965 while on a Ful-
bright grant in Madrid. A microfilm copy was made and is in my possession.
Apparently the report had not been used previously by historians. It was
not difficult to locate the document nor was it hidden to the researcher.
It is true that the document is located in an archive that is little known and
rarely used. The Franco report as correctly stated in note 8 of Holmes-Ware
is available in the Archive y Biblioteca del Servicio Hist6rico Militar of
Madrid as a scribner's copy. The original of 1756 has not been located
but usually the later scribner's copies-this one of 1761-are very reliable.
The Franco report is listed in the Boletin of the Biblioteca Central Mili-
tar of the Servicio Hist6rico Militar of 19495. This number of the Boletin
together with numbers 1 and 2 list all the documents of the Biblioteca
Central Militar. Under Division E which corresponds to America, Secci6n a,
Subsecci6n VI, are listed several dozen Florida documents of the Biblioteca
Central Militar. Document no. 6.605 (22.214.171.124) is the Franco report. It simply
reads "Description of the Bay of Tampa in Florida. Year 1761." The 1761 is
an error as it represents the date of the copy done by the scrivener. It is
certain that the transcription came from an original either from the Archive
of the Indies or from documents of the Crown of Aragon.- As the original
has not been found in the Stetson Collection of early Florida documents which
comes totally from the Archive of the Indies," it is conceivable that it is a
document that was filed away in the Crown papers of Aragon. Why that
should have been is strange. I still prefer to think that the original ended up
in the Archive of the Indies and then was lost.
It is recommendable that more historians of early Florida take a closer
look at the Servicio Hist6rico Militar which together with the Biblioteca
* Arthur P. Whitaker, ed., Latin America and the Enlightenment, 2d revised ed. (Ithaca,
1961), 156 pp.
sSee Estado Mayor Central del Ejhrcito [Spain], Servicio Hist6rico Militar, Boletin de
la Biblioteca Central Militar, No. 5 (1949), p. 206.
SDirecci6n General de Archives y Bibliotecas, Archive de la Corona de Aragdn. Guia
Abreviada (Madrid, 1958), 117 pp. I recall seeing on some of the folders that con-
tain documents of the Servicio Hist6rico Militar old identification stickers from the
Aragon archive. All my inquiries as to the why were unsuccessful.
C. W. Arnade, "Florida History in Spanish Archives: Reproductions at the University
of Florida," Florida Historical Quarterly, XXXIV (1955), 36-50.