TY THE JOURNAL OF THE HISTORICAL
r t4C A:g ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHERN FLORIDA
Editor: Charlton W. Tebeau
NUMBER XXIX 1969
Sponge Fishing on Florida's East Coast 3
By David Shubow
The Iron Horse on the Florida Keys 17
By Carlton I. Corliss
Pioneering on Elliott Key, 1934-1935 27
By Charlotte Niedhauk
Who was the Frenchman of Frenchman's Creek? 45
By Walter P. Fuller
A Scottish View of West Florida in 1769 61
By Charles A. Gauld
Richard Keith Call's 1836 Campaign 67
By George C. Bittle
Sketches of the Florida Keys 1829-1833 73
By E. A. Hammond
The Association's Historical Marker Program 96, 97
Financial Statement 98, 99
List of Members 100
Officers and Directors 107
COPYRIGHT 1969 BY THE HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHERN FLORIDA
( s4esCt.:A. is published annually by the Historical Association of Southern
I Florida. Communications should be addressed to the Corresponding
Secretary of the Society, 2010 North Bayshore Drive, Miami, Florida 33137. The Associ-
ation does not assume responsibility for statements of fact or opinion made by contributors.
This Page Blank in Original
Sponge Fishing on Florida's East Coast
By DAVID SHUBOW
When sponge fishing in Florida is referred to, Tarpon Springs or Key
West generally come to mind. It is common knowledge that sponging in Flor-
ida began in Key West, where next to cigar making, it was long the most
important industry there, and Tarpon Springs has become synonymous with
sponges. The East coast which has had a little known but colorful role in that
industry is seldom associated with it.
A movie titled Beneath the Twelve Mile Reef, in which Key West Conchs
and Greek sponge divers from Tarpon Springs engaged in several violent en-
counters, gave an additional dimension to the popularity of these two areas as
sponge centers. Little, however, has been recorded about the activity of the
sponge industry on Florida's East coast.
Perhaps the main reason so little is known about sponging on the Atlantic
side of Florida is that there never has been a sponge market there such as those
in Key West or Tarpon Springs. It is difficult to account for this shortsighted-
ness on the part of Miami merchants, since sponging has always been an im-
portant part of the community's economy, except for the period 1938-1952
when a blight struck the sponge beds in the waters off both coasts of Florida
dealing the industry a blow from which is has only recently recovered.
In the eighteen nineties as many as one hundred and fifty schooners could
be seen each year around the sponge beds of Elliott Key, Soldiers Key, and as
far north as Miami. The vessels were manned by Conchs and Bahamians from
Key West and included crews of both whites and Negroes. Each ship carried
several dinghies from which the sponges were dumped into the numerous
crawls that dotted the inlets and coves along the shore from Miami to Key
West. The crawls were crude, wooden enclosures at the water's edge, set up to
hold the week's catch. The crawls also made it possible for spongers with
smaller boats to stay away from the home port for longer periods of time.
Sponge fishermen of the East coast were not limited to Conchs and Ba-
hamians. Often a Greek sponging vessel was seen in Biscayne Bay. The Greek
crews, however, made no attempt to bring their catches to Miami. Instead
they sailed south and sold their loads at Key West where a few Greek buyers
and packers made an unsuccessful effort to dominate the industry.
By 1910, Greek sponge merchants extended their operations to Nassau
and by the start of World War I they had a monopoly of the industry in the
Bahamas and most of the Caribbean, which they held until the blight depleted
most of the sponge beds in these areas. As a matter of fact, the only sponge
center of any importance in the Western Hemisphere in which there had been
little Greek influence is Key West, where local residents have always held a
By 1890, sponging was a business that netted Monroe County almost one
million dollars annually. A fleet of five hundred vessels was engaged in the
industry which employed about eighteen hundred men. Much of the sponge
crop brought to the docks at Key West was fished from the waters of Biscayne
Bay by local residents who were instrumental in making the island city one of
the largest sponge markets in the world by 1900.
Between the years 1850 and 1900 there was a worldwide demand for
Florida sponges. England in particular, was a good market for grass sponges
which were probably needed for its expanding industrial economy. The volume
of export, however, was kept down by increasing domestic demand. The supply
was so far behind demand during the years 1870-1894 that the United States
imported $5,503,000 worth of sponges during this period.1
Shortly after the turn of the century Tarpon Springs replaced Key West
as the sponge capital of the world and many of the sponge fishermen who plied
their trade along the East coast of Florida from Biscayne Bay as far south as
Key Largo now had a choice of sponge markets in which to sell their catches.
There was a sentimental attachment to Key West, however, where sponge
auctions began shortly after the Civil War and were held continuously until
1947. Many of the sponge fishermen who had fished the waters around Miami
1 Rowland H. Rerick, Memoirs of Florida (Atlanta: The Southern Historical Associa-
tion, Vol. 11), p. 284.
were transplanted Conchs and gravitated to the Key West docks where auctions
became the scene of reunions between friends and relatives.
Other East coast fishermen sold their loads at the Tarpon Springs Sponge
Exchange. Most complained less about the long trek across state than the gen-
eral antagonism of Tarpon Springs' sponge fraternity to outsiders. Also, an
additional two per cent charge for the privilege of using the exchange facilities
did not set too well with the spongers.
Through the years the Tarpon Springs Sponge Exchange had become a
close-knit organization, with boat captains, buyers, and wholesalers forming
a tight inner circle, made even tighter by its ties with the Greek Orthodox
Church, appropriately named St. Nicholas, in honor of all mariners and spong-
ers. The church became the hub of the activities of the Greek community, most
of whose members had come from the Aegean Islands following the news of
the rich deposits of sponges in the Gulf. It was this friendly but exclusive
atmosphere that many other sponge fishermen found difficult to break through.
There was one thing that the East coast spongers liked about the Tarpon
Springs auctions. They were not really auctions. The highest bidder did not
always get the sponges, for, according to the rules of the exchange, the seller
had the choice of selling to the highest bidder or holding the sponges if he
thought they might bring a higher price at the next auction. A cagey sponger
could usually size up the market and play it from both ends. This offered little
consolation for the absence of a sponge market. Yet enterprising Miami busi-
nessmen completely overlooked the rich potential that existed.
If a sponge center were established exclusively for the benefit of the resi-
dents of Biscayne Bay and the keys to the south, it more than likely would
have been a success, considering the large number of families engaged in
sponging there. The families of Walter Thompson, Sr., Norwood Roberts, and
John Russell were among the pioneers who hooked sponges in the waters
around Miami. In Marathon the Feltons were the most prominent sponge fish-
ermen, and in Key Largo, Beauregard Albury, one of the most colorful char-
acters in the keys, engaged in sponging for over fifty years.
The Thompson family probably collected sponges on the East coast of
Florida longer than any other. Thomas Thompson began hooking along the
keys in the eighteen eighties. His five sons also continued in the sponge busi-
ness. One of them, Walter Thompson, Sr., moved to Miami, where he plied
the trade until 1964. His son, Walter Thompson, Jr., pursued the same occu-
pation until 1968, when he switched to crawfishing. One of the last holdouts is
William "Sonny" Larson who is still sponge fishing out of Big Pine Key. Lar-
son learned the trade from his grandfather, a Norwegian sailor shipwrecked
off Key West in 1898. Larson is the last of the pioneer sponge fishermen still
actively engaged in the trade.
A check through the records of the old Miami Board of Trade, now the
Miami Chamber of Commerce, revealed that an attempt was made in 1915 to
investigate the feasability of establishing a sponge market in Miami. The city
fathers of Miami had always been on the alert for new industries, particularly
the type that could take up the slack during the summer months. J. W. John-
son, a former sponge hunter from Key West, was appointed to do a survey
among local fishermen to determine whether or not sponge collecting could be
developed into a profitable venture in Miami.
Captain G. Duncan Brossier, President of the Miami Board of Trade,
wrote to the Department of the Interior at Washington requesting a report on
the quality of sponges hooked in Biscayne Bay. The answer that came back
was very encouraging. The report read in part, "Your sponges are very su-
perior to the sponges harvested in Key West or Tarpon Springs because Bis-
cayne Bay sponges are softer and are more absorbent.""
Considerable interest was displayed after the report was made public.
Hasty meetings were called and even a site was considered for the erection of
a building. Unlike the real estate boom that caught on ten years later, the plans
for a sponge market never materialized.
It wasn't until thirty-five years later that any great interest was shown in
merchandising sponges out of Miami when Andres Dworin, a former sponge
dealer in Batabano, Cuba, arrived in Miami and started the East Coast Sponge
Company. He was followed by the Arellano brothers, also from Batabano, who
set up a packing house on the Miami River. By 1960, many Cubans who had
fished the waters around Cuba, were engaged in hooking sponges in Biscayne
Bay and the keys to the south. By 1968, it was estimated that there were
approximately fifty Cubans in Florida actively engaged in the sponge business.
The contrast was startling, since there were only two or three full-time spong-
ers in Biscayne Bay in the fifties.
Before they became political exiles, the Arellano brothers operated a
large sponge business, specializing in exports. In 1962, they opened a modest
2 Agnes Ash, Miami News, May 1, 1966.
plant in Miami from where they made a trip once a week to Key West, where
there is no longer a market, buying sponges from Cuban fishermen. Spongers
along the way came to look for the two brothers and their two-ton truck each
Having a dependable outlet is important to small fishermen who must
rely on a broker to convert their hauls into cash. The Arellano brothers rec-
ognize the importance of a regular run and have established a good relation-
ship with the spongers. They have even attracted Americans who formerly
made the long trip to Tarpon Springs to sell their catches.
Now almost all spongers from Miami to Key West are selling to the
Cuban buyers, with the result that the Arellano brothers have a near monop-
oly of the sponge market on the East coast.
Dworin's firm is more interested in buying from the islands in the Ba-
hamas and selling to markets throughout the world. Though there is a rivalry
between the two companies for local sponges it is not very intense since each
engages in a different method of distribution.
At the Arellano packing house the brothers employ several skilled work-
ers who trim, sort, grade, and pack the sponges in burlap bags, which are
then shipped to various wholesale outlets throughout the country. In the past
few years the brothers have built up a large following and indicate that they
can sell all the sponges they purchase. Their major problem is getting enough
sponges to meet the demand.
According to Julio Arellano, a former English teacher in Havana, the
total number of sponge hookers plying their trade between Miami and Key
West is approximately one hundred, equally divided between Cubans and
Americans. The Cubans are heavily concentrated in Miami and Key West,
while the Americans work out of Marathon, Sugar Loaf Key, and Big Pine
In order to get the Cuban refugees started, the Arellano brothers, in
many cases, financed them. They bought the men boats, hooking equipment,
food, gasoline, even gave cash advances to help them pay their rent. According
to Julio Arellano, this was the nudge needed by the Cuban fishermen who had
arrived practically destitute.
It was good business, too. The men, with few exceptions, paid back their
loans and are now independent operators in good standing. By putting the
men in business, the brothers actually helped themselves since it greatly in-
creased their primary source of supply.
The Arellano brothers have visions of Miami eventually becoming a
sponge center. They are quick to point out some of the obstacles, however.
One of them is that for almost one hundred years the Rock Island wool sponge
found in the waters north of Tarpon Springs has been publicized as the finest
in the world. As a result, wholesalers buying Florida sponges have been wary
about the quality of sponges that did not emanate from the West coast. Tradi-
tion dies hard in the sponge business. Once a wholesaler bought East coast
sponges there was no trouble obtaining repeat orders. The problem was in
getting the first order.
At the East Coast Sponge Company warehouse sponges from Exuma,
Abaco, Andros, and Turk Island are piled high in endless rows. Once a month
Dworin makes a trip to the Bahamas to buy up all the sponges on the islands.
These are shipped to Nassau by mail boat. In Nassau one of his agents for-
wards the sponges to Miami.
During the past nineteen years Dworin has built up a trade with such
countries as Japan, France, England, Canada, Argentina, Brazil, and Chile.
In addition, the firm ships to many of the major sponge wholesalers in the
United States. Dworin, who travels to ten or twelve countries each year to line
up his buyers, compared the sponges from the Mediterranean to those of
Florida. It takes from two to three years to grow marketable sponges in the
Mediterranean countries, he said, while sponges harvested in Florida waters
take only a fraction of that time. Rain is a big factor in the growth of sponges,
he explained, and Florida has more rain than most of the countries along the
With one firm specializing in international trade, and the other in na-
tional outlets, both Dworin and the Arellanos agreed that Miami could easily
become the nucleus for a world sponge center. Besides, they asked, now that
sponging has been revived on Florida's East coast and with Miami's location
as a bridge between the Americas, isn't it time that serious consideration is
given to the establishment of an international sponge mart?
To obtain a better understanding of one of Florida's most important
maritime industries, which never received appropriate credit for its signif-
icant role in the state's history, it is necessary to go back to the origins of the
Florida sponge industry.
The industry actually began in the Bahamas from where it came to Key
West about the time Florida became a territory. Sponging was not treated
seriously until Alejandre Piestro, a turtle fisherman, financed the first recorded
sponging operation in Key West around 1850.a
About the time Piestro organized his sponge fleet, William Kemp, a Key
West merchant, shipped a cargo of sponges to New York which narrowly
missed being dumped overboard because it was considered worthless. The
shipment, however, caused a sensation among New York buyers, who eagerly
signed contracts with Kemp for all the sponges he could deliver.
From Key West sponging spread to the Keys on the East coast and to
Tampa, Cedar Key, and Carrabelle on the West coast as far north as Apala-
chicola.4 In 1879, Carrabelle had the largest sponge fleet in Florida next to
The sponges were brought up by fishermen who used poles sometimes as
long as forty feet attached to a four-pronged rake. A glass bottomed bucket
was added later for better vision of the ocean floor. This method of collecting
sponges, called hooking, is still in use in the shallower waters and accounts
for about forty per cent of the sponges harvested in Florida, the only area
in the United States where sponges grow and are gathered commercially. The
bulk of the sponges brought in are collected by divers, however, who work
the deeper waters out of specially designed and equipped diving boats. These
boats comprise the sponge diving fleet of Tarpon Springs, which at one time
was as large as some navies. Since divers use the air hose and diving suit they
can descend to depths where sponges are washed more vigorously by the ocean
currents resulting in finer sponges, which bring higher prices.
In recent years the synthetic sponge has made a bid to supplant the
natural sponge, but thus far has not posed a real threat, since the demand
for natural sponges has always been greater than the supply. Antiquated
methods of production and periodic blights, however, may accomplish what
competition from the synthetic sponge could never do.
The unusual qualities of the natural sponge are difficult to duplicate. To
begin with, the sponge has a natural filter of a highly complex nature. Its
structure is so nearly perfect that each part can perform many functions after
a Carlos Barker, "Fifty Years of a Sponge Fisher's Life," The Independent, April 21,
1904, p. 884..
Along the East coast sponges have never been harvested commercially north of Miami.
the sponge is hacked into a lifeless state. As a matter of fact, the sponge is
useful only after it is dead and everything is removed except the skeleton.
Sponge processing has changed little since the time Greek soldiers used
sponges to line their helmets. Basically, many of the methods employed by
sponge fishermen to clean and trim sponges during the time of Aristotle, are
still in use today.
In the eighteen fifties Rock Island wool sponges brought one dollar to
a dollar and a half a pound at the Key West dock. This unheard of price
induced mullet and turtle fishermen to leave their trades and become sponge
fishermen. By 1880, the sponge business was the most profitable of all mari-
The picture changed with the advent of the Spanish-American War. In
order to avoid enemy warships, sponge boats sailed north to dispose of their
catches.- The spongers made their way to Tarpon Springs, a sleepy little fish-
ing village on the Anclote River. Here John K. Cheney, a wealthy Philadelphia
banker, who opened one of the first packing houses on the West coast, bought
most of the sponges. Cheney became interested in sponges when he sailed his
yacht to Key West and was intrigued by sponge fishermen spearing sponges
off the reefs.
By 1890, though no threat to Key West, Tarpon Springs became a market
for spongers around the Tampa Bay area. After the Spanish-American War
the sponge volume at Tarpon Springs climbed steadily, while Key West sales
went into a gradual decline.
Rivalry between the two areas began in earnest after suit diving was
introduced at Tarpon Springs in 1905. Many Greek divers were not content
to remain in the waters around Tampa Bay and extended their operations to
Monroe County. This was the beginning of a long smoldering feud between
the divers of Tarpon Springs and the hookers of Key West.
Key Westers claimed that the divers had ruined the young sponge beds
by walking over the sponges with their heavy leaden boots. The result was a
series of clashes that ended in the burning of boats, some gun play, and
several arrests. The enmity was real and long lasting. When the movie Beneath
the Twelve Mile Reef was shown at a Key West theater in 1954, the audience
showed where its sympathies lay. Robert Wagner, who played the part of a
SGeorge Th. Frantzis, Strangers at Ithaca (St. Petersburg, Florida: Great Outdoors
Publishing Company, 1962) p. 45.
Greek sponge diver, tangled with an octopus. To a man, the Key Westers
rooted for the octopus.
Diving operations quadrupled the volume of sponges brought up from
the waters off the West coast, and sponging reached its greatest heights as
Tarpon Springs not only became the center of an industry, but brought with
it the customs, traditions, and religion of Greece to the shores of Florida.
Tarpon Springs grew rapidly. The port was deepened, piers and boat installa-
tions were added. Boisterous and booming, the community took on the ap-
pearance of a frontier town. Moreover, Tarpon Springs spearheaded an
industry that was now an important part of the state's economy.
At the very time that Tarpon Springs was making its mark as the greatest
sponge center in the world, a small group of men was working on a project
at Sugar Loaf Key, about twenty miles north of Key West, that was earmarked
to make the volume of sponges coming out of Tarpon Springs appear small
This group was engaged in a grandiose experiment in sponge cultivation
which was calculated to outstrip by far the harvesting of natural sponges. In
fact, if plans materialized, the project would soon become the largest industry
in the Florida keys and the fastest growing in the state.
At a time when few people, sponge fishermen included, had ever heard
of sponge cultivation, the Florida Keys Sponge and Fruit Company set up
operations on a secluded stretch of land and began one of the strangest enter-
prises ever attempted on the East coast of Florida.
It all began when Charles W. Chase, a British theatrical producer,
stranded with his troupe in Key West, heard about the sponge cultivation
experiments that had been conducted by Dr. H. F. Moore, head of the Bureau
of Fisheries of the United States government. Dr. Moore's experiments were
the latest in a series that started in 1867 when Gregor Buccich made plantings
off the coast of Trieste. The experiments were conducted on Sugar Loaf Key
on land owned by Dr. J. V. Harris, who was also interested in the cultivation
Dr. Moore had already compiled much information on this comparatively
new field from Jeremy Fogarty, a sponge buyer and packer from Key West,
who had conducted several successful growing experiments in the lower keys.
Fogarty's main problem was coping with the marauders who swooped down
on his sponge farm and cleaned out the crop just as the sponges were about
Additional information was obtained from "Commodore" Ralph M.
Munroe, of Miami, who had conducted experiments near Elliott Key, where
seventy-five per cent of the cuttings survived and doubled in size in six
months. But again, as in the case of Buccich and Fogarty, he was plagued
by sponge pirates.
Munroe saw the tremendous possibilities in sponge cultivation but was
practical enough to realize that little headway could be made unless legislation
was passed which would reserve specific areas for cultivation somewhat along
the lines that oil drilling rights are protected in offshore waters.0
Munroe and Fogarty joined forces in getting a bill passed in the State
Senate, but it failed in the House when word leaked out that one of the
senators was privately interested in the experiments. Thus, an overzealous law-
maker with a political axe to grind wrecked whatever chances there were of
setting aside a large tract in Biscayne Bay for the cultivation of sponges.
After the "Commodore's" experiments in Biscayne Bay, little is heard of
sponge cultivation until 1901 when Dr. Moore began his project on Sugar
Loaf Key. As an official government undertaking, Dr. Moore's experiment
was supplied with ample resources, equipment and manpower, which was not
the case in many of the privately conducted experiments.
In 1908, Dr. Moore claimed that sponge cultivation was feasible and
that success in this field depended on the following five steps:
1. Complete absence of fresh water.
2. Protection from marauders.
3. Freedom from sand.
4. Use of concrete discs ten inches in diameter and two inches
thick tied with aluminum wire.
5. Water shallow enough to make planting and harvesting not
6 Ralph M. Munroe and Vincent Gilpin, The Commodore's Story, (Narbert, Pennsyl-
vania: Livingston Publishing Company, 1966) pp. 197-198.
Through a strange series of circumstances Charles Chase, whose theatri-
cal bookings ran into a snag with an unethical Key West impresario, heard of
the sponge cultivation experiments just north of Key West. He was so im-
pressed with the results of Dr. Moore's findings that he decided to start a
sponge farm on the very site where the experiments had taken place.
Charles Chase was joined by his brother George, and a friend, Henry
Bate, all three London residents. They purchased the land from Dr. Harris
and became majority stockholders in the Florida Sponge and Fruit Company.-
By following Dr. Moore's advice to the letter, the project went ahead
rapidly, but with very little fanfare or publicity. As a matter of fact, the
British government was more familiar with certain aspects of the enterprise
than were many of the residents along the lower keys. The Foreign Office even
sent down a representative, Douglas Gent, to investigate the possibility of
growing sisal on the key.
By 1912, the sponge propogation project had evolved into a small town.
Henry Bate had already brought over his entire family from London to
Sugar Loaf Key, now known as Chase, Florida. The community which em-
ployed over one hundred, had up-to-date concrete residences, office buildings,
stores, machine shops, a boat building shed, a refrigeration plant, telephone
wires, marine ways, a disc factory, lime and fig groves, and a truck farm.
The Florida East Coast Railway tracks ran through five miles of the firm's
property. The site was wholly owned by the company, which was self sufficient,
and on its way to becoming the largest community in the keys north of
The sponge farm was operated on an assembly line basis. Two large
schooners carrying ten men each, brought in thousands of natural sponges
which were cut up into two inch cubes, tied to discs and dropped into shallow
water. In the first two years of operation it is estimated that enough natural
sponges were harvested to produce one hundred thousand cuttings.
By 1913, the natives along the lower keys were beginning to show a
little interest in the strange goings on at Sugar Loaf Key as barges of cement
and other supplies were shipped north from Key West. Spongers from sur-
rounding areas were becoming concerned about the inroads the company
might make by cultivation and the first feelings of resentment began to crop up.
1 Arthur Bate, son of Henry Bate, is a long time resident of Miami.
When attempts were made to poach, the company built a huge tower
overlooking the sponge farm and even made arrangements for Chase's son,
C. W. "Pete" Chase, Jr., to become a deputy sheriff for Monroe County, so
he could legally drive off the trespassers. According to Chase, a long time
resident of Miami Beach, the stiffest judgment he ever meted out was a
strong warning, which was usually enough to send the would-be poachers on
Pete Chase eventually joined forces with Carl Fisher and became one
of the pioneers in the development of Miami Beach.
The company could have paid a dividend in 1913, but the stockholders
decided to wait and cut up the sponges that were already growing and gamble
on a windfall. Sponges of three years' growth averaged ten cuttings each,
and 630,000 cuttings at the bottom of the sea, would mean 6,300,000 sponges
in a little over two years.
The firm expected to enter the commercial sponge business with an
anticipated annual output of 2,000,000 sponges. The market was there. Neither
Key West nor Tarpon Springs could fill the domestic demand, not to mention
the rapidly increasingly volume of the export market. Besides, the sponges
were high grade and would have brought an excellent return. An article in
the Scientific American had this to say about the quality of the sponges.
"These sponges like so many things cultivated, are superior to nature's prod-
ucts, for they are not damaged by the hook or divers. They do not have to
be torn from coral rock basis, or cut or trimmed, and are consequently the
most perfect sponges in the world.8
Everything went according to plan. In another six months the sponges
would have been ready for market. There was only one flaw. No one had fore-
seen England going to war.
When World War I broke out, Great Britain froze the firm's assets. The
future of the project appeared very dismal. The major stockholders of the
corporation were British subjects and had their capital on deposit in a London
bank. As a result, the project was left with insufficient funds to operate. What
had been the most promising industry in Florida a few short months earlier
was beginning to appear more and more like a financial disaster.
In order to rescue the tottering enterprise, a Miami Beach realty firm,
Tatum Brothers, was called in to sell shares to American investors wintering
a Norton S. Roberts, "Scientific Sponging," Scientific American, June 27, 1917, p. 99.
in Florida. The Tatum brothers, pre-occupied with numerous other real estate
ventures, turned over the job of raising capital for the Florida Keys Sponge
and Fruit Company to R. C. Perky, one of the firm's crack real estate salesmen.
Investing in a sponge cultivation project did not appeal to northern tour-
ists who were more interested in turning a fast dollar. Before long, the firm
filed for bankruptcy. At the bankruptcy sale Perky was high bidder and wound
up with practically all of Sugar Loaf Key, which he turned into a real estate
Several hundred thousand sponges in various stages of growth were left
to the poachers who fished the waters off Sugar Loaf Key for many years
afterward. Today, the only reminder of this dream that almost materialized,
is a collection of concrete discs which serve as stepping stones in front of a
few residences on the key.
Thus ended an interesting venture in sponging along the East coast of
Florida. The Conchs came and went. The British tried a fabulous scheme and
lost. Even the Greek spongers sampled Biscayne Bay and left it for the waters
of the Gulf. Maybe the Cubans can succeed where others have failed... and
finally establish a sponge center on the East coast of Florida.
This Page Blank in Original
The Iron Horse on the Florida Keys
By CARLTON J. CORLISS
We are here today to dedicate a marker in commemoration of an extraor-
dinary era in the long and romantic history of these islands-the era of rail-
Curious as it may seem, the island city of Key West was one of the first,
if not the first, city in Florida to manifest an interest in railroads. As early
as 1831, shortly after Peter Cooper's experimental locomotive, the "Tom
Thumb" made its trial run at Baltimore, the enterprising editor of the Key
West Gazette was suggesting a railroad to link Key West with the mainland of
A few years later, in 1835, another Key West newspaper, the Inquirer,
was urging that steps be taken to build such a railroad.
In the 1850's, South Florida's leading statesman, United States Senator
Stephen R. Mallory, of Key West, was stressing the advantages of a railroad
to what he termed "America's Gibraltar."
In 1879, the Florida legislature chartered the Jacksonville, Tampa and
Key West Railroad Company. One of the directors of that railroad in the
1880's was Henry M. Flagler, then a new name in Florida.
Mr. Flagler had started his business career as a clerk in a country store
in New York State and had advanced by his own efforts to become a part
owner of the Standard Oil Company, which he helped to organize.
Mr. Flagler visited Florida for the first time in 1883. He was then 53
years of age. He came, perhaps, as Edwin LeFevre once wrote, seeking the
precious gold of the sunlight, or the turquoise sky, or, perhaps, merely a com-
fortable rocking chair on a hotel veranda."
But he found something far more fascinating, far more exciting. He
found his great adventure. He "found a wilderness and out of it created an
Have you ever wondered what Florida would be like today if that imag-
inative, adventurous, and amazingly enterprising man, Henry M. Flagler, had
sought his holiday at Aiken, South Carolina, or at Thomasville or Sea Island,
Georgia, instead of Florida?
FLORIDA IN 1880
The Florida that Mr. Flagler discovered in 1883 had a population, at the
last census, of 269,000-less than one-twentieth of what it is today. Transpor-
tationwise and economically, Florida was the most backward of the Atlantic
Seaboard states. Its few railway lines were located for the most part in the
northern tier of counties, bordering on Georgia.
At that time, Key West was the largest city in Florida, with a population
of about 10,000. Jacksonville, the chief city on the mainland with 7,000, was
about the size of Marathon today. Tampa had less than 1,000; and many now-
populous cities of Florida were not on the map. The principal towns on the
East Coast of Florida, between Jacksonville and Key West, were St. Augustine,
with 2,300 inhabitants, and Daytona, with 321 inhabitants. All the counties in
which the Florida East Coast Railway now operates, put together, had fewer
people than there are today in the city of West Palm Beach.
The vast undeveloped areas of Florida were a challenge to Mr. Flagler.
He quickly saw the immense possibilities of the state, both agriculturally
and as a winter resort. His first important venture in Florida was at St. Augus-
tine, where he built a luxurious hotel, the Ponce de Leon, opened in 1888. The
Ponce de Leon was the first of twelve magnificent hotels which he ultimately
built, forming a chain extending from Atlantic Beach near Jacksonville to
Key West and to the Bahama Islands.
To facilitate travel to and from his hotels, Mr. Flagler purchased a
dilapidated narrow-gauge railroad running between St. Augustine and South
Jacksonville. He rebuilt the road to standard-gauge and built a bridge across
the St. Johns River. By 1890, through passenger trains from northern cities
were running directly into St. Augustine, without change. This railroad line
became the nucleus of the Florida East Coast Railway.
FLAGLER WAS ON HIS WAY
Once he got into the railroad business, Mr. Flagler began to push his line
southward through virgin territory, acquiring land, laying out townsites,
CARLTON I. CORLISS
erecting stations, hotels, building water works, gas and power plants, even
schools, churches, and hospitals.
At Palm Beach, under his direction, a swampy jungle wasteland was
transformed into a winter paradise. There he built two magnificent hotels-
the Royal Poinciana and the Breakers-and there he also built his fabulous
Pressing south, Mr. Flagler's railroad reached the Miami River in April,
1896, where his forces were already engaged in clearing land, laying out
streets, erecting homes for workmen, and building still another Flagler hotel,
the Royal Palm. Mr. Flagler built a beautiful memorial church, donated lots
for other churches and for schools, built Miami's first hospital, and established
Miami's first newspaper. Thus the "magic city" of Miami began to take form.
But Mr. Flagler wasn't through. His greatest challenge was still ahead.
At Miami he had found it necessary to dredge a channel across Biscayne Bay,
at heavy personal expense, so as to operate steamships of narrow draft to and
from Nassau. He knew that if his railroad was to prosper, it must reach out
and promote trade with Cuba and other Latin neighbors to the south. To do
this, he must have a deep-water port. The deepest harbor in Florida -in fact,
the deepest harbor south of Norfolk-was at Key West.
MIAMI LEFT OUT IN S-A WAR
The importance of having access to a deep-water harbor was forcibly
and painfully impressed upon Mr. Flagler during the Spanish-American War,
in 1898, when the War and Navy Departments routed all troop movements
and military equipment and supplies through Tampa, instead of Miami, be-
cause Tampa could accommodate ships of deeper draft. Then and there Mr.
Flagler determined to carry his railroad to a deep-water port.
Then, shortly after the turn of the century, the Federal Government,
under President Theodore Roosevelt, started preparations for the construction
of the Panama Canal. Commercial and transportation interests throughout the
country began planning to put themselves in readiness to reap to the fullest
whatever advantages the Canal might bring.
An extension to Key West would put the Florida East Coast Railway 300
miles nearer the Panama Canal than any other railroad in the United States.
It would put the railroad within 90 miles of Cuba, trade with which was grow-
ing under American occupation.
Mr. Flagler moved promptly. In 1902, he sent his engineers into the re-
gion south of Miami-then but partly explored-with instructions to find the
most feasible route for a railroad to Key West. His engineers spent many
months in the field. They surveyed routes through the Everglades with a view
to spanning the Bay of Florida with a long bridge from Cape Sable to Big
Pine Key. And they surveyed routes over the full length of the Florida Keys.
In 1904, they submitted their reports, maps, and cost estimates. After careful
study and extensive consultations with the engineers, Mr. Flagler, then in his
75th year, called in his vice-president, Joseph R. Parrott, and issued his fa-
mous order-"Go ahead; go to Key West." The route recommended by the
engineers was the exact route followed by the Key West Extension, or as we
call it today, the Overseas Railway, and is now followed by the Overseas
A BOLD UNDERTAKING
Certainly the Key West Extension was a hold undertaking. Only the most
courageous of men would ever have tackled it. Mr. Flagler not only had cour-
age; he had the determination to see it through. And he had unbounded faith
"Flagler has faith in Florida," wrote J. E. Ingraham, vice-president of
the Florida East Coast Railway, in 1909, "such faith as removes jungles and
builds railways in the midst of the sea. Looking south he sees a new Cuba, too
busy and prosperous for revolutions. He sees the shuttling of ships through
the Panama Canal. He sees the union of North and South America in a con-
federacy of commerce. He sees Florida as a great central state, sending the
products of her farms northward, and the output of her factories southward.
Such is Flagler's confident vision of the future, and he has backed his judg-
ment with most of his immense fortune and with his high reputation as a man
During the construction of the Key West Extension, three hurricanes of
great severity swept over the islands, each causing loss of life and extensive
damage to work and equipment. Each time there were many who feared Mr.
Flagler would become discouraged and order the project abandoned. But each
time he promptly gave orders to repair the damage and get on with the work.
RAILS TO KEY WEST
Finally, after eight years of ceaseless struggle, and the expenditure of
more than 27 million dollars, the rails from the north and the rails from the
CARLTON I. CORLISS
south were joined; and the last spike was driven at Span 36 on the Seven-Mile
Bridge. On the morning of January 22, 1912, Henry M. Flagler and his
friends, aboard a special train, followed by a second train carrying Senators,
Representatives and Diplomats from Washington, as well as newspapermen,
passed over the entire line to Key West-setting off the greatest celebration
in the city's history.
Seldom had a railroad project attracted such widespread interest and
attention. It was acclaimed by newspaper and magazine editors as "a marvel
of engineering skill". . "one of the engineering triumphs of the age." Dun's
International Review called it "one of the most difficult construction feats ever
carried to completion in the United States." And Railway Age called it "one
of the most remarkable railroads on earth."
THE EAST COAST OF FLORIDA HIS MONUMENT
Mr. Flagler lived only a few months after the railroad was opened to
Key West. Like many another pioneer, he did not live to witness the full result
of his effort. He and his railroad had transformed the East Coast of Florida
from a semi-tropical wasteland into a productive agricultural region and a
winter playground unequalled on this continent. He and his railroad had
brought many towns and cities into existence and given them their start-
Marathon among them. Since his death in 1913, the East Coast of Florida has
undergone a development in some respects without a parallel anywhere in the
Where there was one winter visitor in Mr. Flagler's time, there are scores
today. Agricultural production has multiplied many times over. Palm Beach,
West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood, Homestead, and numerous
other communities which began as railway stations have become flourishing
cities. Miami, which started from scratch with the coming of the railroad, had
attained a population of 7 or 8 thousand when Mr. Flagler passed from the
scene. Miami Beach was just beginning. Today Miami and Miami Beach
have a population four times as great as that of the entire state of Florida in
the eighties, when Mr. Flagler began his great development program.
NEW EPOCH ON FLORIDA KEYS
The introduction of railway transportation marked the beginning of a
new era on these islands, as it did elsewhere in Florida. Indeed, the coming of
the railroad was probably the most significant event in the history of the
Florida Keys. It was the railroad that blazed the way and laid the foundations
for settlement and development. It was the railroad that erected, at enormous
expense, the viaducts and bridges of steel and concrete which support the Over-
seas Highway. It was the railroad that cleared the jungle and erected the
many miles of fills and embankments upon which much of the highway rests.
The railroad came; and, for the first time, island after island became
conveniently accessible to the settler and the visitor. For the first time, the
Florida Keys had dependable transportation and communication with the
mainland of Florida and with all parts of the country.
For the first time, fresh water-so vital to life-was available in adequate
supply at all points on the Keys.
For the first time, the Florida Keys, from one end to the other, became
a closely-knit community, linked by a continuous avenue of transportation
For the first time, fishing camps were established in the Keys area, attract-
ing some of the most notable sportsmen and fishing enthusiasts in the country.
Among them, Charles Frederick Holder, a California deep-sea fisherman of
renown, who, in his writings, declared the Florida Keys to be "the greatest
salt-water fishing grounds in the world."
From the time railway service was introduced, settlers and vacationists
started to come, communities and resorts began to take form, permanent
homes were built, schools and churches were established, and businesses grew
From the day the railroad was opened, the people of the Florida Keys
enjoyed the same transportation advantages that had contributed so greatly
to the growth, prosperity, and well-being of other parts of the country. The
Florida Keys entered upon an era of progress which continued when railway
transportation was replaced by highway transportation.
DAILY RAILWAY SERVICE
For 27 years, Marathon and the Upper Keys enjoyed the benefits of un-
interrupted passenger, freight, express, and United States mail service. Com-
munities below Marathon, including Key West, enjoyed railway service for
CARLTON I. CORLISS
Deluxe passenger trains, carrying Pullman drawing-room, compartment,
and open-section sleeping cars, dining cars, club cars, and observation cars
ran on daily schedules, in each direction, between New York, Philadelphia,
and Washington and the Marathon-Knights Key terminal beginning January
22, 1908, and the Key West terminal beginning January 22, 1912.
At Knights Key Dock, trains met the Peninsular & Occidental steamships
which ran daily to and from Havana, Cuba. Later car-ferries were also oper-
ated between Key West and Havana. In addition to local and long-distance
passenger trains, the railroad provided daily freight service to accommodate
all communities along the route.
MARATHON A BUSY CENTER
All trains to Knights Key Dock were backed up and turned around at the
Marathon Wye Track, which also served the Marathon Materials Dock. The
Wye Track was not long enough to accommodate the longest passenger trains,
so they were broken in two for turning, each turnaround required several
Immediately below Marathon, at the west end of Key Vaca, were the
Boot Key Machine Shops and Marine Ways for repairing and servicing
steamboats, tugboats, dredges, derrick barges, houseboats, and other floating
equipment engaged on the construction.
In the lagoon directly south of Marathon Station was a spur track several
hundred feet in length leading to extensive marl deposits in that area. Hun-
dreds of trainloads of marl were dredged from this deposit for surfacing the
Marathon was the headquarters for the entire Key West Extension project.
Here were located the offices of the chief constructing engineer, the engineer
of bridges, the mechanical engineer, the procurement officer, the auditor of con-
struction, the chief steward, and the storekeepers in charge of three large
warehouses. It was the principal labor recruiting and distributing center, as
well as the major supply and transfer point for the construction, where lum-
ber, piling, crossties, oil, structural steel, and a great variety of materials and
supplies were received, unloaded, stored, and trans-shipped by water or by
rail to the various construction sites and camps up and down the Keys.
TRAFFIC THROUGH MARATHON
Some of us who remember those days recall trainload after trainload of
pineapples from Cuba rolling north; trains laden with packing-house products,
dairy products, petroleum products, coal, machinery, lumber, and what-not
rolling south-for the Army, the Navy, or for export. And there were train-
loads of fresh water in tank cars from the mainland to supply the needs of all
points along the Keys and Key West.
I remember how people would gather at the railway station, some for no
other reason than to watch the train come in, but often to meet incoming pas-
sengers or to bid goodbye to friends, or, perhaps, to catch a glimpse of a
celebrity passing through. I remember Sir William Van Horne of Canadian
Pacific Railway fame, who traveled in his palatial private car, the "Saskatche-
wan." The visit of President William Howard Taft in a special Presidential
train was a notable event. He was enroute to the Panama Canal, which was
then under construction. His train stopped at Marathon for some time, afford-
ing many of the townspeople an opportunity to shake his hand.
Marathon had some important visitors in those days. I remember the fa-
mous botanist-explorer, Dr. David Fairchild, and Mrs. Fairchild, the daughter
of Alexander Graham Bell. And there was Alexander Agassiz, a distinguished
zoologist. And Zane Gray, renowned deep-sea fisherman and novelist. And of
course the visits of Mr. Flagler and other high officials of the railway com-
pany were always events of special interest.
Those were the days of the steam locomotive, and many an engineer had
his own way of sounding his whistle. Folks living along the railroad could tell
the name of the engineer the moment he came within hearing distance. I re-
member Lon Bunnell, who used to run the old switcher at Marathon Yard.
Lon rigged up an ingenious whistle in the Boot Key Shops; and when he got
the thing working right, he could make it sound off like a steam caliope in a
circus parade. Regulations banned unnecessary locomotive whistling on the
mainland. But all restrictions seemed to end once a train, especially a freight,
passed south of Jewfish Draw. If there were rules, no one on the Keys was
mean enough to enforce them; so the boys often broke loose. If an engineer
felt like playing "Home Sweet Home" or "Polly Put the Kettle On," he played
I can't vouch for the authenticity of the story that one Sunday morning
the pastor of a little church up around Tavernier had to halt his sermon when
CARLTON I. CORLISS
the strains of "The Old Rugged Cross" came wafting through the open win-
dows from a big freight locomotive pulling in from the north. "Brethren,"
said the pastor, "do listen! Only a truly religious man could make an engine
whistle like that!" Then, as the train pulled away, the whistle started again;
but this time the tune was "How Dry I am! How Dry I Am!"
Finally, on that fateful Labor Day in 1935, came the hurricane which
silenced the "lonesome wail," the shrill voice of the locomotive forever on the
Florida Keys! It was a time when the faith and resolute courage of Henry M.
Flagler was sorely needed. But he was gone. The nation was in the throes of
the worst economic depression in its history. Railway earnings were the lowest
in many years. Nearly a hundred railroads in the United States were in bank-
ruptcy the Florida East Coast among them. Ninety per cent of the people of
Key West were on relief. The outlook was so gloomy that the receivers of the
railroad decided to abandon operations on that portion of the line south of
Florida City. Public authorities approved. As a result, the entire railway prop-
erty from Florida City to Key West was sold to the State of Florida for about
one and a half million dollars and converted to the now-famous Overseas
IF FLAGLER WERE LIVING
Some people believe that if Mr. Flagler had been living and in control
in 1935, he would have ordered the railroad repaired and restored to service.
Of course, no one knows what he would have done under the circumstances.
He would, in all probability, have done what he felt was best for the public
good. His program had embraced about all forms of transportation-rail-
roads, steamboats, steamships, ferry boats, car ferries, motorboats whatever
served best. If conversion from railroad to highway best served the public
need, it would probably have received his hearty approval.
If Mr. Flagler were living today, he would without doubt find much satis-
faction first in the fact that the mighty chain of concrete and steel viaducts
and bridges which he built and which for a quarter of a century carried the
railroad structure now carries the highway structure; and second in the fact
that the Overseas Highway has long been one of Florida's outstanding tourist
attractions, as well as a highly important part of Florida's vital transportation
THE MARATHON MARKER
Today the Historical Association of Southern Florida is completing a
project which had its beginning several years ago, when the late William A.
Parrish, Sr., the "Father of Marathon," was alive and active. Years ago,
Mr. Parrish indicated his keen interest in an historical marker at Marathon.
The marker which we are unveiling today is the third and last of a series
sponsored by the Historical Association, in cooperation with local groups (in
this case, the Rotary Club of Marathon) to commemorate the Overseas Rail-
way. The first of these markers is at Homestead, the starting point of the Key
West Extension. The second is at Key West, the southern terminus. Both mark-
ers were dedicated in January, 1962, the 50th anniversary of the completion
of the railroad to Key West.
The Marathon marker will be the only one along the 128-mile stretch of
highway between Homestead and Key West that will acquaint the hundreds of
thousands of visitors who travel over the Highway each year with the pioneer-
ing roles of Henry M. Flagler and his Overseas Railway in the development
of the Florida Keys.
The marker will also acquaint visitors with the fact that Marathon-as
headquarters of construction-had an unique and important part in the build-
ing of this famous sea-going railroad, which has been called "The Eighth
Wonder of the World."
Pioneering on Elliott Key, 1934-1935
By CHARLOTTE NIEDHAUK
The depression of the 1930's has been blamed for many things, but my
husband and I look back on it with a bit of fondness. It made us pioneers for
a time on Elliott Key, and changed the course of our entire lives.
My husband, Russell H. Niedhauk, age 30, and I, age 24, were not faring
as badly as many other victims of the depression. We lived in Fort Lauder-
dale, and Russ worked for most of the year as chief engineer on a 77-foot
yacht owned by the Baldwin Locomotive people. His salary was excellent for
the time-$200 per month and all expenses. During the periods when the yacht
was not in use, he worked in a "filling station" where he met many interesting
characters. Russ' German background and Pennsylvania Dutch rearing had
nurtured the creative ability that enabled him to excel at many things. Build-
ing a house or a sailboat, or putting together an engine from salvaged junk,
was pleasure rather than work for him. In addition, he was both sensitive and
adventurous; he met new people and situations eagerly and easily. And he did
not believe in working wives!
I was a city girl of French heritage, trained as a private secretary and
legal stenographer. My biggest problem was to conceal and ignore my back-
ground and accept and enjoy the speech, mannerisms, and habits of the new
people in my married life. Though I may have been apprehensive at times, I
at least tried never to let it show.
Our adventures on Elliott Key really began when the Ashtons wired Russ
in March, 1934, from the yacht Toddywax: COME AT ONCE. WE ARE
GOING ON A SIX MONTHS CRUISE. LEAVE YOUR WIFE AT HOME.
I vehemently and stubbornly insisted that we would remain together or that
I would find a job. Russ agreed to agree, and so we stayed together in Florida.
A filling-station friend named Bill told Russ about an isolated island with
living quarters where we could stay. In return we would clean out some ne-
glected key lime groves. Income could be derived from selling the limes and
young lime trees, with some additional money from fishing and crawfishing.
It was this challenge to adventure and a new kind of life that brought us to
Elliott (known then as Elliott's) Key in 1934.
The key is located 35 miles east-southeast of Fort Lauderdale. It, and a
few adjacent keys with deep channels through the surrounding shallow waters,
were important areas in the early settlement of southeast Florida. Most of the
original settlers were "Conchs" from Key West. At one time a colony of about
25 people farmed quite a few acres of Elliott Key, growing pineapples, rock
melons, tomatoes, and key limes. Ship builders from the mainland cut madeira
and Jamaica dogwood timbers and "natural knees" there. At one time hogs
that had been abandoned by the early settlers became wild and dangerous,
but they did kill all of the rattlesnakes on the key.
When the Overseas Extension of Flagler's Florida East Coast Railroad
opened up the chain of islands to Key West, Elliott Key was abandoned ex-
cept for a few fishermen and passing smugglers, rumrunners, and other law-
less characters. It was into this situation that we unknowingly entered. When
we arrived we would find the island virtually uninhabited, with only one fam-
ily living on the ocean side several miles south of our homesite during the
crawfishing season and only off and on at other times.
Our parents, who also lived in Fort Lauderdale, were shocked at our
plan to give up our good prospects on the mainland for such an experience.
When they realized that they could not dissuade us, however, they helped us
by storing part of our belongings in their homes. My parents also insisted on
keeping our daughter, Jan, aged 3, while we tried out island life. We moved
out of our apartment but paid a month's rent in advance, thus giving us 6
weeks before that tie with civilization would be cut.
We made a list of supplies to take with us, and with this came my first
realization of just how isolated we would be-no transportation, no refrigera-
tion, and no outside communication. Russ carefully planned for a five weeks'
supply of food, most of it dried, plus a reserve to be touched only in emer-
gencies. When we finished our shopping we had over $50 worth of non-perish-
able groceries (in an era, remember, when $5 bought groceries for two people
for a week!), and the car was jammed so full that I had to ride on Russ' lap
on the way home. In addition, we bought such medical supplies as iodine,
peroxide, bandages, and Oil of Sol, and other items including photographer's
hypo and Kirk's Hardwater Soap. I sorted out those bare essentials that we
would need-bed linens, towels, Russ' work clothes-and then realized that I
had nothing suitable for pioneer dress. I bought myself dungarees, a wide-
brimmed straw hat, and tennis shoes, the first I had worn since childhood.
Early one morning we were finally ready and arrived with all of our pro-
visions at the dock where Bill was to transport us by boat to Elliott Key. After
loading the supplies we bought a 100-pound block of ice, which was put in a
burlap bag and stowed aboard. At last we were on our way. I of course had
been deep-sea fishing, but never before had I been on a straight run such as
this, heading for an unknown island to be put ashore. It was thrilling, but
also more than a bit disconcerting. Almost before I was ready to face what
lay ahead, the boat pulled up to a small, wobbly dock about 10 feet long and
6 feet wide. The dock started at the edge of deep water and the space between
it and the shore was spanned only by a 2 by 6 plank. Over this we carried the
supplies, and then followed a rocky path to a surprisingly pleasant-looking
The house was about 20 by 40 feet, with window openings screened all
around and wooden drop shutters that were propped up to awning height by
sticks. The house had a second story that looked like it had been an after-
thought, as if part of the roof peak had been sawed off and raised up. The
eaves extended over this level, and I could see a small, four-paned window in
the middle facing the ocean.
Bill came from the boat with the last of the supplies and the padlock for
the kitchen door. We soon had everything unloaded and could look around.
The kitchen was separated from the living-dining area by a five-foot partition.
There were shelves for the supplies. The living area was furnished with a long
table, two chairs, and two benches, and was separated from the bedroom
areas by 3-foot partitions and open doorways. There were curtains to draw
The back porch, which ran the whole width of the house, was entered
through a screen door. A door in one corner of the porch led to a small bath-
room with an outhouse-type seat. This toilet had to be emptied by removing
a bucket beneath the seat. Our only "running water" came from an outside
rainwater tank that gravity-fed water to the kitchen sink. There were three
bedrooms in the sleeping area, and between two of these was a ladder leading
to a trapdoor in the ceiling and to the upstairs room. This was the only room
with a door-even though it was in the floor-and I chose this immediately
for our bedroom. Taking our linens and suitcases up that straight ladder was
my first tiring and frustrating task.
Bill had been told that there was an icebox in the house, but at first we
could not find it. Then Russ remembered that the old-time Conchs often put
theirs under the floor. We found a wide, right-angled crack in the floor that
turned out to be a trapdoor. Underneath was a box filled with sawdust and-
we quickly slammed the lid back down!-teeming with roaches. Arming our-
selves with a spray gun, books, and shoes, we attacked the problem. The
roaches ran erratically everywhere after the spraying, and soon they were all
dead or at least had temporarily disappeared. We then wrapped the ice in the
morning Miami Herald, which we had not yet read, and put it in the box. Had
I known that it would be another month before I was to see another paper on
the day that it was printed, I would have thought twice about that. The meat
we had brought was also wrapped in paper and placed on top of the ice, with
more paper on top for insulation.
These activities took some time, and I was surprised when we suddenly
found it difficult to see. As always in the subtropics, night had fallen as if
someone had pulled a shade, and it was of course more noticeable away from
the city lights. Russ lit the Coleman lantern he had brought and we had
enough light to see. Russ and Bill stayed up and talked after we ate the food
I had brought along, but I turned in early, utterly exhausted.
Morning, with sun shining full upon me and no way to escape it, seemed
to arrive almost immediately. With it came new sensations and my first lessons.
My leg muscles rebelled from the unaccustomed flat shoes and the strenuous
activities of the previous day. The one luxury the house offered, a 4-burner
gasoline stove, provided my first lesson. The stove had a dipstick that lived in
its own little fuel reservoir; you removed and lit the dipstick and then lit the
stove with it. The coffee, made with rainwater, tasted marvelous. I hope again
someday to have another taste thrill like the one I experienced with my first
rainwater coffee. Bacon and eggs were soon ready, and I made toast on one
of those pyramid-shaped bread scorchers that sit over the open flame on top
of the stove. Soon after breakfast Bill departed, and Russ and I were really
on our own.
Housekeeping presented some special problems. Opened food packages
were kept in a "safe," a 2-shelved, screened, 2-door cabinet suspended from the
ceiling by iron rods that ran through funnels filled with kerosene-soaked cot-
ton to keep bugs out. I quickly saw that jars would be needed for insect-proof
storage, and we headed our beachcombing list with that item. Dishes were
rinsed in the ocean and then washed in a minimum of water from our precious
supply. Clothing was washed in salt water first, using the special soap that
Russ had been thoughful enough to bring, and rinsed with as little fresh water
as possible. I found the wet sheets and heavy work clothes almost impossible
to lift and wring, and Russ helped me with that task. Those times when we
had to forego the final rinse in rainwater we found that our clothes were not
only prickly but also stayed damp except in the hottest weather. The residue
of salt attracted moisture from the air. Bathing was accomplished in a similar
fashion, with first a salt-water scrub and then a rinse in one quart or less of
water. How I was to miss my twice-a-day showers! But I was determined to
be a good sport, and we soon learned the importance of conserving every
ounce of fresh water that we could.
We learned to wear protective clothing when going into the jungle, bath-
ing suits for beachcombing, and nothing at all when we didn't have to. Our
nearest neighbors traveled only by boat, and we could hear them or any
visitors coming long before they could see us.
Beachcombing on an island in the rocky Florida Keys is quite different
from walking along a lovely sandy beach on the mainland. All sorts of debris
washed in from refuse dumped from ships in the Gulf Stream and drifted in
from elsewhere. Beachcombing was hard work but profitable for obtaining
some of the necessities as well as some niceties for our rustic life. On our first
trip we found large, slat-sided crates with the wilted remains of heads of let-
tuce; a grapefruit uninjured by the salt water, quite ripe and usable; very
large coconuts from far away and smaller ones from nearby; a pint bottle of
Green River whiskey, one-third full; and a 2-quart jar with a lid-empty, but
just what I needed. We eventually made dressers, shelves, and book racks
from the crates. Further searching along the shore delivered up enormous old
demi-johns (pear-shaped bottles of dark green glass holding about 5 gallons
of liquid), which we saved to bring water back from the mainland in the
future. We found a can of Trinidad asphalt, which was promptly utilized by
Russ to caulk an old skiff we found tied up near the dock, and a wooden box
of spar grease that we used as bottom paint on the same boat. We discovered
the remains of an old kerosene stove that we turned into an outdoor grill, and
when I stubbed my toe on an old, rust-encrusted file Russ was jubilant. He
took it to the grindstone and while I dripped water on it, he made a lovely
fish knife. We hauled in all the creosoted two-by-eights or two-by-sixes we
could find for material with which to repair the dock. The possibilities of the
beachcomber's "free market" seemed endless.
Garnering food took only about an hour of each day. We had sapodillas,
with fruit sweet as honey, near at hand. We found many ways to utilize the
milk and meat of the abundant coconuts, and Russ fashioned useful utensils
from the coconut shells. There was a plentiful supply of fish, crawfish, and
conchs in the ocean. Russ patiently taught me each step of fishing, from ex-
tracting the animals from conch shells to use for bait to which fish to keep and
which to release. We often returned handsome snappers to the water in favor
of the smaller moonfish, which were real delicacies. Crawfish could be caught
by hand, with patience, among the rocks. On our want-list for a future trip to
town we added a "crawfish-grabber" to make this task easier. I naively sug-
gested to Russ that it would be nice to have some sort of a corral for conchs,
and later on we actually did devise a method for "anchoring" them that al-
lowed them to roam about a limited area of ocean bottom to forage for food
and yet remain easily handy to be picked out for a meal.
Using the remains of the old stove as a grill, Russ showed me how to
make small, compact fires of Spanish cedar in such a way that the smoke
would curl around and over the cooking food. The food absorbed some of the
delightful fragrance of the cedar, and whenever possible we cooked outside
over cedar fires, both to conserve stove fuel and because it made everything
taste so good. Sandflies usually made it necessary to move inside to eat, how-
ever, and early in our stay we put a mosquito net on the shopping list for the
first trip to town.
Shortly after our arrival, Russ set out to look over the lime groves on
the island. The "little grove," of about 3 acres, was on the "pointy end" of the
key. The "big grove," a couple of miles distant overland, was about 14 acres
in extent. We usually worked in the little grove a while each day. While Russ
cut down gumbo-limbos and other "volunteers" from between the rows of key
limes, I pulled the vines that threatened to strangle the trees. The vines had to
be uprooted, not cut, to insure their not promptly growing back. After much
effort this little grove began to emerge from being just a tangled mess into an
orderly and thriving, if rocky, orchard.
It was a long trip overland to the big grove, which made our early efforts
at clearing there seem slow going indeed. Later when we could go around to it
by boat, more time was available to work there. It had been many years since
it had been cleared and then, contrary to all good procedures, the volunteer
trees had been cut off at ground level instead of being dug out. The result was
many prickly branches growing together in complicated tangles. We soon de-
cided to hire some men to assist in removing the young trees, which could
then be sold for ten cents each at a nursery in Princeton. There the trees would
be temporarily planted in black dirt and later sold to Japanese nurserymen on
Miami Beach. Russ hired some men in Princeton and set them up in the small
wooden house in the big grove, giving them fishing and cooking gear and
instructions on the details of the work and how to live from the land. Because
of the hot weather, the men started to work early in the morning and quit in
mid-afternoon. After the trees were pulled from the rocky crevices they were
hauled to shore, using a "fram-pole" that Russ had devised, and then they
were pruned, wrapped, and wetted down to await shipping. Two days after the
men started work the first skiffload was ready for delivery. The pick-up labor-
ers we used in the big grove proved to be the cause of many problems and
some adventures, and so were the many tricky water crossings with skiffloads
of trees headed for market.
The days went quickly by and we lost track of time, but when we had been
on the island about three weeks we heard a boat in the cut. We watched it land
at nearby Sands Key, putting a passenger and supplies ashore. We hailed the
skipper of the boat and, by shouting, exchanged introductions and greetings
with George Deen, a Miami realtor who owned Sands Key and who had
agreed to give a shy hotel clerk named Chester the "privilege" of camping on
a "deserted island." George said that he would return in about two weeks, and
the camper disappeared. A number of days later, Chester hollered to us and
asked for help. He had a frightful case of "muck itch" from sitting on a mud-
bank to fish. His hands, legs, and especially his backside were raw and swollen.
Russ went over by skiff and moved Chester and his gear to our house and
began treating him with our special remedy for poisonwood-wet compresses
of photographer's hypo. Chester lay on his stomach in bed, getting up for
meals but then retiring to be alone in his misery.
Shortly thereafter another boat same to our dock, and we had the plea-
sure of meeting the owner of both the property where we lived and the big
grove on the island, A. D. H. Fossey, Mayor of Miami, and his wife and chil-
dren. We then learned that the Fosseys often came to the island for weekends.
They usually arrived on Saturday, with guests, and we shared the house with
them. Chester begged the Fosseys to take him back to Miami. They were happy
to return him to city life, and we were delighted to inherit his remaining food
supplies. On a subsequent return trip the Fosseys brought us, as a thank-you
for Russ' nursing, a most remarkable variety of gifts from Chester: a pair of
muscovy ducks in a small wooden crate; a mother duck and six ducklings in
another crate; a miniature-sized feeder and water trough; and 50 pounds of
duck mash and 10 pounds of special food for the little ones. In addition there
were thoughtful gifts for us: 12 pairs of white cotton socks; a gross of Bull
Durham sacks of tobacco and cigarette papers to go with them; a large cast-
iron Dutch oven, and some Esquire magazines. (Chester had been impressed
when we had furnished him with an Esquire to read when he was recuperat-
ing.) A final, and fine, gift was a small fish trap and some artificial bait to
use in it.
Another morning we again had visitors, a man named Flip who lived
near the dock on the mainland where we had embarked and who knew Bill.
Flip had his girlfriend and another couple with him. They had supplies and
made breakfast for us before returning. We later learned that Flip was a rum-
runner who had been operating successfully for about a year. Shortly there-
after he was caught and put in prison. Russ asked Flip if he could return to
Fort Lauderdale with him, as he had decided that it was time to sell our car,
buy a powerboat, and give up the apartment in town. Flip acted as if Russ was
doing him a favor to ask, and they departed, leaving me to spend my first
night alone on the island. Russ took the want-list, part of which he filled from
our own stored possessions, bought groceries and ice, made arrangements to
have our car sold and a boat sought, and came back the next evening in his
brother-in-law's boat. Russ hated to borrow anything, but he had decided it
was not wise to be so totally stranded on the island. He also brought back,
filled with water, all of the ten demi-johns that we had found. Funny how you
can suddenly feel very rich even when it is only because of extra drinking
water. And steak, salad, and cake-the treats of civilization-for supper
seemed almost too much.
The next afternoon we were hailed from our dock and saw two uniformed
men getting off a speedboat that they had tied in back of our borrowed boat.
They were Border Patrol officers who approached us with hands holster-high,
suspicious of the new boat at our dock. They were Al Bjornaas and "Happy"
Hood, who were to become our good friends. We brewed a pot of coffee and
got acquainted, and thereafter they stopped often to visit with us. They said
they were glad to have the house occupied again, as it had previously been a
favorite waystation for rumrunners. Our Border Patrol friends were frequent
and welcome callers, but we also had others who stopped by in their boats who
were unquestionably on the other side of the law.
Alien smuggling, mainly of Orientals, was big business in the thirties.
Many aliens were first taken to Cuba, which had no quota, and from there
they obtained passage from alien-runners who used large crawfish boats with
wide overhangs and built-in lockers underneath. The aliens were put into
weighted canvas bags and were hidden in these lockers. If pursued, alien-
runners were known to dump their helpless cargo overboard to be lost in the
dark sea. When not pursued, the smugglers took the aliens to keys near Miami
where the Coast Guard couldn't chase them farther because of the shallow
water. Then the aliens were transferred to powerful speedboats for the run to
We were aware of this traffic, but our first confrontation with it came
after we had been on Elliott Key for some time. Russ was again away for
overnight. I went to bed without undressing, closing the trapdoor behind me,
checking the gun beside my bed, and keeping my sheath knife near me for
comfort. I was drifting off to sleep when I heard the sound of low or distant
voices. I put on my shoes and crept to the window that looked out over the
ocean. The voices became louder and seemed to have a kind of sing-song,
garbled quality. Then I saw people approaching.
I was afraid to stay too close to the window, so I moved to the back win-
dow, ready to "unbutton" it preparatory to leaving, by way of the sloping roof
with its 6-foot drop, into the bushes below. From there I knew I could get into
the jungle where no one could find me, but I wasn't going to leave unless
someone started into the house, and I intended to try shooting them first if
necessary to slow them up. I sneaked to the front window again and saw peo-
ple walking on the path toward the house. I sat quietly and listened to the
thunder of my heart beating in my eardrums. It seemed to take forever, but
eventually they all passed by the house without attempting to enter and con-
tinued down the path to the dock. Minutes were elastic and it seemed an aw-
fully long time before the roaring of a large motor suddenly was close at hand
and a boat pulled in at our dock from the bay side. The talking got louder,
and I thought I heard an American voice telling the people to hurry. Eventually
they all got on board and the boat left in the direction from which it had come.
Everything was silent once more.
I couldn't sleep and decided to go downstairs for coffee. I was afraid to
light a lamp and carefully outlined mentally a quick retreat in case anyone
returned. When the coffee was finally done I sat in the dark sipping it and
watched the faint dawn begin to break in the east. Just at daylight I heard
another powerful motor. In a flash I swarmed up the ladder with the gun (no
small feat) and looked out toward the dock. Border Patrol-I was never so
glad to see anyone in my life! I met Al and Happy on the path and we had
coffee together, but they were soon off to see if they could find the boat in
question. When they returned a few days later they reported that they had cap-
tured 18 Chinese aliens in the Miami River, and they had a newspaper clipping
to prove it. When I had finished telling Russ about this on his return he had
merely said, "Things sure do happen to you when I'm not around," so I got
a great deal of pleasure hearing Al and Happpy tell Russ that I had saved my
life by acting intelligently.
My husband's talents were many. On one trip to the mainland my older
brother Dode (Julien) said he wanted to come back with Russ and spend a
few days with us on the key. When he got aboard with his gear, Russ dis-
covered a stowaway: Dode had with him a 4-pound black and white puppy
with a very large bandage on its left front leg. Dode simply said, "I brought
him for you-I know you can heal him." It was a six-weeks old German
pointer. Dode had a large paper route, and that morning while making a de-
livery at a dog kennel near Hollywood he arrived just as the owner was about
to shoot the pedigreed dog to put it out of its misery. He was a veterinarian
and insisted that the puppy's leg was damaged beyond all repair. But Dode
persuaded him that his brother-in-law needed that puppy. On arriving home
Russ immediately started preparations for attending its injuries. He spread
newspapers on the kitchen floor, scalded the wash basin, and put some Clorox
in boiled water. He got bandages and the Oil of Sol (then called Oil of Salt),
and soaked the pup's bandages loose with the chlorinated water. I was re-
quested to supply some white silk thread. The pale yellow silk I located in my
sewing box was accepted, and then I was barred from surgery. Russ dipped
the dog's leg in the Oil of Sol and tied the torn ligaments of the leg. He then
put pads soaked in the oil on the wounds and wrapped the leg so the dog
couldn't move it and undo the repair job. The next morning when the bandage
was being readjusted to insure the immobilization of the leg, Russ told me
that the mangled foot was turned completely around backwards but that he
hoped to correct that condition by massage after the wounds started to heal.
In the meantime the lively puppy learned to get around on three legs, but
he sort of hop-darted instead of running. Because his gait resembled that of a
fiddler crab, his name became, by unanimous consent, Fiddler. Fiddler became
livelier each day and we began to let him stay outside longer and longer. The
wounds showed visible improvement each day but the foot remained very
twisted. Russ massaged it several times a day and kept stretching the muscles in
the direction that the foot should go. A long time later the tendons and the foot
were back in normal position. When the harness sling that had held Fiddler's
leg against his chest was removed, he looked at his foot in a puzzled way. He
was used to hopping around and was at first annoyed by his strange fourth
appendage, but it wasn't long before he got used to it again. Fiddler shared
our household long after our stay on Elliott Key was over.
Soon after we arrived on the key we established a rewarding friendship.
One afternoon a round-bottom skiff appeared in the creek, sculled by an up-
right, elderly man with a younger man with him. They introduced themselves
as Captain William Reno Russell and his 45-year-old son, Reno, sponge fisher-
men out of Key West "come by for water." After checking the level of our
supply, they requested and received 10 gallons, saying that they would obtain
the rest elsewhere. They apologized for needing to take some of our water, but
explained that since no one had lived in our house for a long time they had
grown dependent on having water available there. We thereafter shared many
interesting times with the Russells when they were sponging in our vicinity.
Our second visit with the Russells came one morning as we were finishing
a leisurely breakfast. We saw Captain Russell sculling toward our dock in his
skiff. He asked if it would be all right with us if he built a sponge crawl near
shore by the big grove. It would be on our "water path" to the big grove, and
he was sure that no one would bother it there when he was down-bay spong-
ing. Russ of course said this was all right with us and that we would keep an
eye on it for him. I couldn't resist wondering what it was we were to watch,
so I asked Captain Russell what a sponge crawl was. At first he thought I was
joking, so Russ felt obliged to tell him that I was just a city girl beginning to
learn Conch ways. Then Russ explained that it was a pen made of stakes
driven into the soft bottom close together, interwoven with light ropes near the
top to make them more or less rigid. The sticks were long enough so that they
stuck above the water 6 inches or more at high tide.
Captain Russell then went on to explain to me that each sponge fisherman
had his own skiff. These were round-bottom boats with a small bow deck on
which the barefoot sponge fisherman stood while poling with a 20-foot pole,
at the end of which was a 3-pronged hook. It required knowledgeable ma-
neuvering in order not to tangle the sponge hook with sea fans or in worthless
sponges such as the loggerhead while poling and probing for marketable
sponges such as the sheepswool or the glove. When the water surface was
riffled by wind gusts, the sponger would reach down on the port side of the
skiff where he kept a quart-size milk bottle tied to the clamp strip to hold it
upright. The bottle was filled with oil and had a thin, long stick in it with a
small rag tied to the end. With a few deft flicks of the wrist, the sponger would
spread oil over the water. About 20 drops was enough to make a hundred-foot,
mirror-clear surface, and in the clear water of the area the spongers could
easily scan depths of 30 feet.
Now I was glad that Russ had told him that I was "just a city girl." When
I asked him what kind of oil was used he told me all about the Key West
shark industry. One type of fisherman concentrated on catching sharks. The
hide was tough and could be used for boots, or, when peeled, for shoes. The
liver of the sharks, when rendered, gave up many quarts of fine oil. Nothing
else served the sponge fishermen's purpose so well, as shark oil gave none of
the distorting highlights that other oils did.
The marketable sponges were thrown into the boat bottom, and out of
the water the minute, jelly-like sponge animals died in the hot sun. At the end
of each day the sponges were put into a sponge crawl where they would not
be washed away but where the moving tide helped rinse them. When the
weather was too rough for the men to sponge, or when the sponge crawl got
too crowded, they devoted their time to curing the sponges. The crawl was
also useful as a pen for the green turtles that formed the main part of the
spongers' "meat" diet. Excess turtles were taken to market in Key West when
the sponges were taken there for sale.
The next morning Captain Russell came to our house to issue an invita-
tion for "Dinner with Reno and I, early this evening." When pressed for a
more definite time, he seemed to indicate any time after four o'clock: "Should
have enough daylight to eat by. We don't carry a lantern except in the rigging
for anchoring at harbor in Key West." It was our first evening out on the
Keys. Russ said I should not wear my usual dungarees and shirt-such an
invitation called for my "sailor whites" usually reserved for trips to town.
When we reached the turtle crawl we saw Reno working rib-deep inside the
crawl. He had a sort of paddle affair in his right hand and was using it to heat
a sponge held in his left hand. The paddle was about a foot long beyond the
handle and about 6 inches wide. Holes at least a half-inch in diameter had
been drilled through the blade. When he hit the sponge, it compressed and a
smelly liquid oozed out. He then put the sponge under water to rinse it and
repeated the process. When he considered it clean enough-the animals all re-
moved-he threw it into the skiff tied alongside the crawl. He said that he had
to give them all one final rinse and that he would meet us at the sailboat. "You
go on to the boat. Papa is waiting."
We tied our boat to a stern line Captain Russell threw us and went
aboard the 24-foot sailboat on which the Russells lived while out sponging.
On their sponge boat strong coffee always simmered on top of the small Ship-
mate stove fastened to the deck. Pencil-box sized pieces of buttonwood were
used for fuel. These provided an intense heat and very few ashes. I sat on the
deck with my legs crossed, but Captain Russell and Russ squatted "Conch
style." Over our coffee I asked about some pieces of meat dangling from a fish
line in the rigging. Captain Russell said, "That is the main part of our supper.
Reno got a couple of nice big turtles yesterday evening. Those are parts of the
flippers of one of them. That's the choicest part. Got to 'string' them, though,
and let them drip most of a whole day to get the wild taste out of them, before
they're good to eat."
I then asked why Reno had gone so far offshore to rinse the sponges
again. It was explained that part of the milky sediment I had seen beaten out
of the sponge was "seed." It was important that the sponges get their final
rinsing in deep water on the proper tide drift so that the seed could be carried
offshore-a method of planting sponges for the future.
When Russ asked about the location of the best sponge beds, Captain
Russell told us that these had all changed since Flagler had put in the railroad.
He said that the solid supports for the railroad tracks between the Keys had
disturbed the natural flow of the water and had changed the location of the
sponge beds. "No good can come out of man changing the flow of water like
that. If we get a big blow like we had in '06 when Flagler got his railroad
blown apart before it was finished, it will just ruin the sponges. Lots of stag-
nant water, trapped, where it never was before. When that gets mixed with the
rest, something bad is going to happen." After the Labor Day hurricane Cap-
tain Russell's words came true, and sponge fishermen had slim pickings in the
Keys for many years.
During our conversation, Reno had finished his seeding and had tied his
boat alongside. He reached up over the bow of the sailboat and got a thin
bundle of heavy pieces of twine, a sail needle, and the narrow inside rim of a
coffee can. He measured each sponge against the rim of the can to check for
legal size; if it were large enough and without imperfections, he ran the needle
through the middle of the sponge and strung it on the twine. He added sponges
of comparable size until the line was filled. Each piece of twine was 4 feet 8
inches long, the standard size used by all sponge fishermen. When filled and
tied in a loop it constituted a "string." Most of the sponges were of fine quality
and of the correct size; sponge fishermen's trained eyes usually could gauge
these factors well even in deep water.
Reno put the strings of sponges aboard the bow of the sailboat and bailed
his skiff. I was fascinated by his bailer-the front half of a large horseshoe
crab. He washed his hands a final time in the ocean and climbed aboard,
dripping wet. Going to the bow, he hung the sponges in the rigging to dry and
and then squatted on the deck next to Russ. This canted the boat a bit and the
dripping water ran off the deck. Captain Russell handed him a cup of coffee.
Reno said, "I thank you Papa, I surely hope you aren't going to make me
change into dry clothes." Captain Russell smiled his sweet smile and said, "No,
son, reckon our company been around the water too much to mind."
The captain took some bacon grease and put it in the frying pan, stood up,
untied the steaks from the rigging, and put them on to fry. He then leaned
down into the small cabin and brought out plates and knives and forks. When
the steaks were done he spread the plates on the deck and served the turtle.
Then he opened the stove's tiny oven and took out a coffee can that just barely
fitted into the oven. Inside the can was a loaf of bread, which he cut and
served, one-quarter for each of us. It looked lovely and smelled heavenly. I
glanced around, and since Reno had started to eat, I did too. I don't remem-
ber anything tasting quite as good as that first dinner out on the Keys. The
bread was not buttered, but I saw Reno dipping his into the steak juice so I
did the same. The bread was light, with lots of crisp crust, and the gravy was
the final, delicious touch.
When we had finished our steak and bread, Reno rinsed the plates in
salt water and then some fresh water from a jug. Captain Russell then turned
again to his stove and removed the lid of a 2-quart kettle simmering there.
Using a fork, he hooked into a string that was floating on top and lifted out
a 5-pound sugar sack. It was about a third full and had been tied just above
its contents. When I asked what it was he looked surprised and said it was
"plum duff," a favorite Key West dessert. He drained the hot water over the
side and then set the kettle on a slightly scorched piece of wood in front of the
stove. He untied the string, rolled the cloth bag down, and with a quick twist
of his wrist deposited the whole thing upside down on his plate. With a fork
he hooked into the cloth of the bottom of the bag and raised it as he peeled it
up the sides of the duff, which was slightly larger than the round loaf of bread
had been. The duff was also divided into four portions and served. It was
thick in consistency, very chewy like soft caramel, and delicious. Captain
Russell seemed honored when I asked him for the recipe for the duff and
wrote it out for me with a smile. Our first dinner out on Elliott Key was a
One of our major adventures was riding out the 1935 hurricane. Here
are some notations from my husband's Hurricane Log.
Saturday, Aug. 31. Mr. Fossey arrived for his usual weekly visit. Weather
fair, wind moderate NE, with a few mild squalls. The creek between Sands
Key and Elliott is full of fish. Mosquitoes are very bad and fly right into the
wind to bite. Our muscovy ducks appear nervous and did not go swimming on
the incoming tide as usual. They seemed especially hungry and ate facing NE.
Sunday, Sept. 1. Mr. Fossey's party is out fishing. This is the first time
no one caught any fish. I picked a half-crate of limes for them to take back.
Wind fresh, NE, the sky partly cloudy, and the air sultry. 11:00 A.M. A Coast
Guard plane from Dinner Key flew over Sands Key Cut. It circled low and on
the second pass dropped an orange container. We waved to signify that we
had seen it and went out for it in the skiff. It was canvas-covered cork, about
8" x 4" x 2". A hole in one end was plugged with a cork. In it we found a
message wrapped in a piece of oiled silk: U. S. Coast Guard Official Dispatch
2654 headed WARNING TO ALL VESSELS and dated today. WEATHER
FORECAST: JACKSONVILLE TO FLORIDA STRAITS: MODERATE
NORTHEAST WINDS OVER NORTH AND CENTRAL PORTIONS FRESH-
ENING OFF THE COAST AND INCREASING NORTHEAST WINDS
PROBABLY REACHING GALE FORCE OVER EXTREME SOUTH POR-
TION AND POSSIBLY OF HURRICANE FORCE IN THE FLORIDA
STRAITS TONIGHT OR MONDAY WITH HEAVY SQUALLS IN THE
FLORIDA STRAITS. PLEASE PASS THIS INFORMATION TO ALL
VESSELS IN YOUR VICINITY. A personal message from the pilot was also
enclosed. "If you want to be taken off, put some sheets on the lawn. Will see
them on next circle." We signified that we had the message and waved the
pilot off; he headed back toward Miami. Mayor Fossey and his party and
George Deen and his party began to get their gear together to leave imme-
diately. We finally convinced them that we were not afraid to stay on the key.
We pulled our skiffs on shore and went around to the bay side in the power-
boat to warn the sponge fishermen there of the impending blow. We first ap-
proached two boats anchored close together, but the men laughed at us. "What
does Mon who sit at desk know about weather? Fishermen know better." At
the third boat, however, Captain Russell and Reno were grateful for the in-
formation. They said they had seen bad weather signs and were watching
carefully. "When you see crawfish moving in the daytime, heading for deep
water like we did yesterday, it is most unusual." They asked us for a tow to
the entrance of a "hurricane creek" on the west side of Sands Key where their
sailboat and two skiffs would be safe, and we promptly did so. At home we
carefully tied our own boats and then removed the spout between the rain
gutters and the water tank so that liquid mud blown from the wave tops would
not spoil our fresh water. Until 3:30 there was no sign of really bad weather
except for a heavy cloud bank in the west. 4:30 P.M. Many boats are heading
for Miami. The wind is strong NE. Ragged clouds are appearing in the E and
SE. Tide is ebbing fast. Charlotte counted several hundred seabirds heading
ashore. 5:30 P.M. The tide, which should be on ebb, has started to flood. The
wind is rising fast, now about 35 mph, due NE. 7:30 P.M. Wind same, squalls
sharper. Little rain. All our shutters have been nailed shut except one that we
can get out through if we need to retreat to the jungle. For such an eventuality
Charlotte has packed the Boston-bag with bathing suits, a jug of water, crack-
ers, baked beans, can opener, matches, flashlight, and our cherished Seth
Thomas clock. 12 midnight. Almost time for high tide and the water shows
no sign of slacking. Wind NE, nearly 50 mph. Little rain. Very bad squalls
are shaking the house.
Monday, Sept. 2, 3:30 A.M. There is a decided lull with fewer squalls. We
will try to get some sleep. 6:30 A.M. Wind and conditions about the same as
at 3:30, and we've had some sleep. Things are OK at the dock and the house.
12:00 noon. Squalls are increasing. Wind NE and more rain. Tide is about 2
feet above normal. 2:00 P.M. Squalls are very sharp. Wind gusts to 65-70 mph
and NE winds blowing a steady 55-60. The roof is blowing off in chunks.
6:30 P.M. I made it to the dock and the boat is pitching in the waves and
surges in the cut, but will be OK if the many lines hold and the tide doesn't
get much higher. Our heavy crawfish car has been carried away. I'm grateful
it didn't fram the boat in passing. 10:00 P.M. Wind almost SE now, steady,
about same intensity. The house has stopped trembling and is swaying now.
The water is over everything and coming in at speedboat pace, with lots of
debris going by. We just had a squall of 12-minute duration that was the
worst one so far. We had to shout to hear one another. 12:00 midnight. The
wind is SE, way over 90. Just a deafening hiss and roar. No sky visible and
lots of rain. The dogwood trees near the house are bent double and "crying."
Their wood makes a high screaming whine and I don't see how the trees stand
the wind's force. All the other trees near here are broken or gone.
Tuesday, Sept. 3, 3:30 A.M. The worst squall so far, also the heaviest
wind and lots of rain. The tide just now started to ebb. Not much chance to
check the boat now-wind is much too strong. 8:00 A.M. Wind SE about 90,
fairly strong and steady. Tide is just on the turn from ebb to flood, and down
to normal high tide level now. Things are really a mess at the dock. Our boat
is still afloat but looks as if it had been sand-blasted. The skiffs are sunk and
everything is covered with coral rock and debris from the ocean. 10:00 AM.
Well, the salt-laden air has stopped our clock, which was so carefully wrapped
in the tightly closed Boston-bag, so we're timeless now. Wind is SE about 80
in squalls, with steady light rain. The tide is rising slowly and starting to surge
again. I had some stakes on the beach and have just checked them. From 14
inches to 2 feet of sand and rock has disappeared along the entire beach. Will
have to build a new gangway to the dock as the old one is much too short now.
Approx. 12 noon. Wind SE by SSE 60-70 mph. Tide rising and running paral-
lel with shore and taking out sand and rock fast. Steady, light rain with a few
squalls. I feel certain that when the wind reaches SE the storm will be over.
The main part of this hurricane has lasted over 36 hours and it is getting very
cool now. I think this one will set a record for wind violence and low baro-
metric pressure. Charlotte was much affected by the changes of pressure as
some of the violent squalls went by. To get some relief from the headaches
from the pressure she sat in the open doorway watching stuff blow by. She
didn't realize that she swayed back and forth as the changes in pressure caused
the air to rush in and out of the house. Approx. 6:30 P.M. Fowey Rock light
just went on. The tide is way out and has not changed for hours. Approx.
10:00 P.M. Wind a steady 40 now with short, sharp puffs of 45-50. Definitely
S now, and we expect to sleep tonight for a change. The house is like a big
sieve but what does a little water matter! The ocean is a dirty white offshore
and muddy near shore."
On September 4 we ventured out to see if Captain Russell and Reno were
safe. We untangled and bailed out our boat, uncovered and washed off the
motor with fresh water, and finally were able to start the engine. We met
Reno coming to ask us for dry matches and for shovels to dig themselves out
of the mud. We got these and helped dig them out, and then towed them to our
dock where we shared freshly brewed coffee on their boat. Then we all went
inside our house for a gigantic meal of Russ' fabulous coconut pancakes. The
Russells were anxious to sail for Key West to see how their people there had
fared, so we towed them out to where they could catch the wind for the long
We wanted to check around our island, and first went to where the other
sponge fishermen had been, but we saw no signs of either their boats or of
any wreckage. We found the lime grove just about gone. The trees were
splintered and frayed, and limes were on the ground 6 inches deep. We were
just talking about whether to try to save some of the fallen limes when we
found a man's body, and so instead we went back home.
Shortly after we arrived there a small airplane came over, circling slowly.
It had ASSOCIATED PRESS painted on its side. We gathered some linen and
quickly spread it out to form an OK. The plane circled slowly and a passenger
waved frantically. We waved back and Fiddler jumped with excitement. We
later learned that the passenger was my brother. He wrote the story about our
being safe that appeared in the Fort Lauderdale News, our hometown paper.
We were among the very few key-dwelling survivors of the 1935 Labor
Day hurricane. More than 500 people lost their lives in that storm on the keys
south and west of us. Being so isolated suddenly lost its attraction, and we
decided soon thereafter to leave Elliott Key and return to Fort Lauderdale. But
life was never quite the same again. Eventually we returned to island living,
this time to the more accessible Florida Keys. We have no telephone and still
have to go by boat to the mainland, but at least we are now only a mile and a
Who Was the Frenchman of
By WALTER P. FULLER
Alfred Lechevalier, taxidermist of note of Montreal, Canada; wholesale
slaughterer of Florida plume birds for two bloody decades, escaped just con-
demnation of an awakened citizenry for four fifths of a century because no-
body bothered to translate a document written entirely in French but recorded
in the public records of Hillsborough County. Adding to mystery surrounding
the man was the fact that a shrewd or ignorant Spanish lady of Key West
failed to record a couple of deeds in those same records for some 35 years.
Her failure in fact, stretched the wall of silence out for more than a century.
The mystery started exactly on March 9, 1843 when Antonio Maximo
Hernandez signed in Tampa an application under the Armed Occupation Act
of August 4, 1842 for a fractional quarter of a section of land that now houses
Florida Presbyterian College in St. Petersburg. The application was filed the
next day in Newnansville and given the number 303. The south border of
the college land is a broad and deep creek, only 1,700 feet long, and named
Frenchman's Creek-after said Alfred Lechevalier, of course.
Dominga Hernandez, widow of Antonio Maximo, compounded the mys-
tery by not recording until January 4, 1887 the patent deed she got October
1, 1852 from President Millard Fillmore, by which time she had become Do-
minga (sometimes spelled Domingo) Gomez. Whether this were guile, igno-
rance or just plain resentment and suspicion of the United States of America
will probably never be known. But one thing is sure; until the deed was re-
corded she paid no taxes, and guile or no, she avoided taxes for 35 years. Not
that they amounted to much in those simple days.
Further confusion was added because the March 10, 1843 application
eventually proved to be for Government Lot 2 in the Southeast Quarter of
Section 10, Township 32 South, Range 16 East and was supposed to contain
136.25 acres, whereas the President Fillmore deed for no apparent reason
added the East Half of the Northeast Quarter (being 80 acres).
Which brings into play the Great Gale of September 23-25, 1848 and the
remarks of George Watson, U. S. Government Surveyor in his field notes of
May, 1848 as he made the original survey which was "By request of Maximo
Hernandez, settler under the Armed Occupation Act I assign him the SE quar-
ter of 10-32-16 (Fractional). He notes, which has no bearing on the matter,
that John W. Parrish and Hiram Parrish were his chainmen and Herman
Miller his Marker. (Watson said "SE quarter" and not "Govt Lot 2".) The
Parrish brothers and Miller had first worked for Watson in their home county
of Manatee, whose rich farm lands were surveyed before the arid sands of
A day or so later Watson refers to Indian Key which later became known
as Bird Key.
None of which would have been so hopelessly confusing or of any par-
ticular moment had it not been for the fact that nobody bothered until 1966
to get translated Deed F, Page 278, written entirely in French, signed in
Montreal, Canada October 28, 1880 by A. Lechevalier, L. L. Maillet and L.
Bedard, filed November 10, 1880 and recorded March 16, 1881 in Tampa
(Hillsborough County). Eighty-six years of utterly unbelievable non-curiosity
on the part of scores, maybe hundreds of people!
But it was confusing that Dominga's deed to Lechevalier was not re-
corded either. It never was. And where in this tangled skein fitted the deed
dated April 21, 1886 from Dominga Gomez, who by now had moved to Key
West, to Claude Van Bibber, son of W. Chew Van Bibber, William Whitridge,
William C. Chase and A. F. Dulin, doctors, all of Baltimore, Md. (recorded
deed Book O, Page 495, Hillsborough), and what did Dr. W. Chew Van Bibber
have to do with it? The Van Bibber who at the National Convention of the
American Medical Association at New Orleans on April 29, 1885 declared
Maximo Point the healthiest spot on earth-and then had his son and asso-
ciates cannily buy the Point?
A pretty big mystery for a little old creek called Frenchman's Creek;
only some 1700 feet long and starting a few feet west of Maximo Road (31st
Street South, St. Petersburg), and starting full grown from a spray of sev-
eral springs to run deep and wide southwest to Boca Ciega Bay some 500 feet
north of Indian Key. The city-owned Maximo Park, beautiful with heavy
growth of oaks and cedars and palms, atop a huge Indian Mound (no pines
-pines don't grow on Indian kitchen middens) lies on the south bank and
Florida Presbyterian College on the north bank (and traffic thunders all day
and night across it at 34th Street (U. S. 19 or State 55, take your choice).
WALTER P. FULLER
And then there is stout old John Bethell, British descended, turtler, ship
builder, early settler on Big Bayou, who despised Lechevalier because he
slaughtered birds for plumes instead of food. John was raised in a school of
survival not finery. But Alfred's bloody greed enraged him.
So perhaps all this is worth unravelling.
Antonio Maximo Hernandez was one of that surprisingly large number
of Spaniards, Indians and Negroes who beginning as early as 1797 lived on the
Gulf Coast of Peninsular Florida notably the shores of Sarasota Bay, at
Shaw's Point on the north bank of the Manatee River, Spanish Town on the
West bank of the Hillsborough River at Tampa; from April, to early Novem-
ber each year when the fishing ranchos were not operating. The Ranchos
operated from November through April. Houses were mostly palmetto thatch.
But the owners had good gardens and considerable fruit trees, notably man-
goes, limes, oranges, guavas and pineapples.
A Rancho was a peculiar Cuban-Spanish institution that was the great
civilizing force of the lower Gulf Coast of Florida and the most dependable
way to make a living for perhaps two centuries of Spanish rule of Florida.
So strong an institution was the Rancho that it survived the Florida take over
by the United States Government from Spain in 1822 and was ended only by
the Great Gale of September 23-25, 1848.
There was great demand for fish in Cuba. Most of the people lived on
the north coast but the water was too deep on that side for good or depend-
able fishing as all fans of "The Old Man and the Sea" know. The south coast
was shallow, there were few people, few fish, no ice, no transportation. So the
poor of Cuba depended on the Florida Gulf Coast for their meat-mostly
The government of Cuba had a rigid control of the Ranchos because of
its monopoly of salt. Only a licensed Rancho operator could buy the huge
quantity of salt needed for a mullet operation. (There was no ice and smoked
mullet keep very poorly.)
There were about six ranchos operating on the coast. They were huge
operations, with sometimes 200 people working at the site during the fishing
season; a weird mixture of Spanish and Seminole Indians, Negroes and
Spaniards; living in amiable marital integration.
William Bunce, after whom Bunces Pass is named, the only United
States citizen ever to head a Rancho, had one first at Shaw's Point on the
south bank of the Manatee in 1834 and Maximo almost surely worked there
as well as Sarasota. Bunce moved to Cabbage Key in 1835 (now part of
Tierra Verde) because of trouble with the Seminoles and was operating there
when he died about 1840. Maximo apparently moved about when Bunce did
and set up for himself at the Point. What factual data exists to establish these
facts is found in the testimony in homestead application hearings before
U. S. land agency officials. But wary of the U. S. Government as represented
by the soldiery at Fort Brooke; with economic allegiance to Havana, their
home base as well as the market for their salt and smoked mullet and fish roe,
the vital essentials of their livelihood; the squatters on the shores of Sarasota
Bay failed to file for their U. S. homestead claims under the 1824 law after
the United States took over Florida in 1822 until the right by law had expired.
Their claims in the form of numerous affidavits sound honest and factual.
These documents were compiled by the Federal Writers Project in the Nine-
teen Thirties in five typewritten tomes, copies being in the possession of this
writer. Antonio Maximo Hernandez signed one such affidavit in 1828. In it
he mentioned residence under date of 1812. He worked for Wm. Bunce at
Shaw's Point in 1835. When the Seminoles backed into the Tampa Bay area
at the start of the Seminole War Bunce went to Palm Island (Tierra Verde)
and Antonio Maximo to "the site of an old fishery" at what became known
as time passed as Maximo Point. The following data is taken from Volume I,
Federal Writers Project, recording rejected claims and is to help solve the
question of when and where and why in the Lechevalier story.
"Jose Maria Caldez claims 640 acres under the donation act of 1824
on the north side of Oyster River (Whittaker Bayou, near Sarasota)
nine miles from Tampa Bay area where he has been a settler since
"Maximo Hernandez, illiterate, swears June 2, 1828 before Owen
Marsh that he has known Caldez and his farm since 1814."
"Domingo Alvarez, illiterate, swears before Edward Dixon that he
knows Maximo Hernandez and also knows of his farm at Angola
"Macamos Ernandez, illiterate, deposes before R. D. C. Collins in
1828 that he is over 21 years of age and is the head of a family;
that he has lived on and cultivated the land at Sarasota Bay since
about 1812. He claims no other land." (Collins was not a very good
linguist to spell Antonio Maximo as poorly as he did.)
WALTER P. FULLER
"Antonio Gomez claims 640 acres since 1812."
"Jose Maria Dania swears he has known Antonio Gomez ten years
and that he has a wife and five children, has cultivated his land
since 1819 and planted several lime and mango trees."
"Andrew Gonzalez claims to have lived at Sarasota since 1798 and
to have planted lime and orange trees and raised ten acres of corn
"Antonio Pania claims 640 acres on Key Puebla, about eight miles
north of Charlotte Harbor."
"Maximo Henandez deposes on June 28, 1828 that he has known
Antonio Pania about 15 years and that he has occupied the land
about 12 years."
It is reasonable to assume that when Maximo first knew Antonio Pania
some 12 to 15 years prior to 1828, let's say 1812, he was a late teen ager or
barely 21 but adult enough to be a commercial fisherman and that when he
filed homestead claim No. 303 under the Armed Occupation Act of August
4, 1842, on March 10, 1843 he was probably 45 years old or a little older.
Let the story now take up again the hurricane of September 23-25, 1848
for that September hurricane of 1848 finished off Hernandez's Rancho. It was
the most destructive storm ever to hit the Tampa Bay area. Its climax was on
September 25, a Sunday. The storm had swept up the Florida West coast
parallel to the coast and a few miles off shore. At exactly a fatal time it
veered northeast and at a slow circular wind speed of about 85 miles an hour
but an unusual forward speed of about 20 miles an hour came straight up
Tampa Bay. It drove a huge water surge with it. It then veered again toward
the west to give a full frontal attack on the western prong, Old Tampa Bay.
The in surge began about 10 in the morning. By 4 P.M. the after part of the
vicious circle had pushed the water out. In that six hours the water rose 13.5
feet at Tampa and presumably still higher on the West shore of Old Tampa
Bay. Tannehill, perhaps the best authority on hurricanes, explains why a
surge rises higher on the west side of a constricted water area than on the
east shore. The more conservative Jacksonville Army engineers' office sets
the water rise that day at 11.9 feet. In any event the water utterly destroyed
the Hernandez Rancho. The Indian Mound on the south bank of Frenchman's
creek is some 20 feet above sea level. The people of the Rancho, it is presumed,
took refuge there. But Antonio had died the month before and had left his widow
Dominga in charge.
If a person has ever been exposed to the full brunt of a major hurricane
his imagination can flare into pretty gaudy pyrotechnics contemplating this
situation. (This writer has been exposed to six such.) And, surely, that person
will end up with a very deep admiration for Dominga Hernandez. Antonio,
the husband, had died on August 15, 1848, only a bit more than a month
before the great storm. Furthermore Dominga had given birth the year before
to a son. Then charged with principal responsibility for the lives and safety
of probably several score of persons she witnessed the fearful and total de-
struction of property that represented a lifetime of hard and dangerous toil
on the part of the pair.
Accuracy of the facts as to death of the husband, the existence of the
infant son, and details as to the "great gale" are gleaned from various official
documents reposing in the national archives in Washington. The principal
document is an affidavit signed by Dominga Hernandez January 25, 1849
before Hugh Archer, land agent for the U. S. Treasury in the course of seek-
ing a deed to the land. Dominga says "The lands are surveyed but the claim-
ant is unable to identify the lands having lost her papers in the Gale," that
the original permit was No. 303 and issued March 25, 1843 by Samuel Rus-
sell, registrar of the land office at Newnanville, and that Maximo occupied the
land from that date "until the 15th day of August, 1848 when he departed
this life intestate"-having died as above set forth leaving a widow Dominga
Hernandez and one child, Antonio, one year old, and that the widow claims
This affidavit was supported by another signed the same day by John
M. Palmer at Tampa. Palmer was a prominent attorney of that then small vil-
lage; his son Tom Palmer eventually becoming a famed attorney, also a citizen
of Tampa and for many years the owner of what is now Philippe Park.
Archer reported on March 12, 1849 he believed Dominga and that
she should get the land. The bureaucrats let the matter lie until 1852 when
under prodding from Thomas P. Kennedy at Tampa on January 15, 1852
James Gettiz, land agent at Tampa, granted her another Homestead applica-
tion numbered 386 and under that at long last she got her deed from Presi-
Kennedy was quite eloquent. He said:
"There is residing at this place an old Spanish Lady the relick of one
Maximore [sic] Hernandez. The widow is old and in very indigent circum-
WALTER P. FULLER
One experiences a mixture of amusement and amazement to learn that
this "old Spanish Lady" shortly thereafter married one Gomez, in due course
mothered three children for him and some 30 years later sold the land; not
once but twice. Quite a remarkable "old lady." An astonishment it is too to
learn that because of that infant son and his descendants and the vagaries of
history and life two sisters and a brother, grandchildren of the original An-
tonio today live in Tarpon Springs, the direct descendants of the first legal
owner of land in Pinellas County. Quite a record!
But back to the great storm. It spread its destruction along a 60 mile
stretch of the Gulf Coast. It cut Casey's pass at Venice. It swept away Passage
Key lying between Anna Maria and Egmont Key at the Southwest mouth of
Tampa Bay. It buried Egmont Key under 9 feet of water, and so badly twisted
and wracked the new lighthouse, which had been but just finished in May,
1848, that it had to be torn down and rebuilt. It cut Mullet Key to ribbons of
land, about as it exists today. It cut Johns Pass. It destroyed Jim Stevenson's
new orange grove on the bluff overlooking Stevenson's creek, which is the
line between Clearwater and Dunedin. It sheared off a part of the giant In-
dian Mound at Philippe Park. It destroyed Fort Brooke at Tampa-it never
was rebuilt-and flooded every store on Franklin Street in Tampa. It washed
away a large part of the high pine land on Old Tampa Bay where the Fuller
farm is now. It drowned tens of thousands of cattle. And it ran Dominga out
of Pinellas but not out of the land business. On April 25, 1886 she signed a
deed in the County of Monroe (presumably at Key West) to William Whit-
ridge, Claude Van Bibber, William C. Chase and A. F. Dulin, all of the City
of Baltimore, Maryland. The deed was recorded in Deed Book O, Page 495.
The deed was acknowledged by Peter O. Knight, Clerk of the Circuit Court.
While Dominga (this time the name is spelled with an "a") signed as Do-
minga Henandez (with an X. She also was illiterate). Peter meticulously said,
in his acknowledgment, "Dominga Gomez formerly Dominga Hernandez."
Mr. Knight soon thereafter moved to Tampa and at the time of his death was
the greatest financial, civic and political figure in Tampa and the Tampa Bay
area. He was head of the Tampa Electric Company, ran many other enter-
The deed conveyed the East half of the Northeast quarter and Govern-
ment Lot 2, both of Section 10, Township 32 South, Range 16 East, and
claimed to contain the original 136.25 acres. As the east half of the Northeast
quarter contained approximately 80 acres, apparently more than half of Max-
imo Hernandez's land was swept away by the 1848 hurricane.
Dominga obviously had previously conveyed the same land to Alfred
Lechevalier in the fall of 1880 but he never recorded his deed. Had he not
had a deed, however, it is a safe assumption that a cautious man of money
and the law in Montreal, Canada, one S. S. (L. L.) Maillet would not have
on the afternoon of October 27, 1880 loaned Lechevalier $1,800 for 18
months at 18 per cent interest. However he apparently was not too strongly
impressed with the value of the 136.25 (the mortgage conservatively figures
120 acres) acres of beautiful waterfront property because he required Alfred
to also include under the mortgage "A business consisting of birds, stuffed
animals etc. situated in Montreal."
If Lechevalier eventually paid the mortgage the public record fails to
reveal that fact. No satisfaction was ever recorded. The mortgage was filed
March 16, 1881 in record Book E, Page 278.
The mortgage was written entirely in French. That was the document of
mystery that revealed the whole story. In 1966 Professor Robert O. Davison
of St. Petersburg Junior College translated the mysterious document. It came
out in English like this:
Before Mr. Louis B&dard, undersigned, Notary Public for
the Province of QuBbec, residing in the City of Montreal
Mr. Alfred Lechevalier, naturalist, residing in the City of
Mr. a. Who has by these presents recognized and attested to have
Lechevalier rendered, ceded and transported with warranty from all liens to
to L. L. (S. S.) Maillet, esquire, lawyer of the City of Montreal
S. S. (L. L.) present and accepting possession for himself and his representa-
Maillet tives in the future. Be it known:
#1. A lot of land being the half East of the Quarter North-East
and the lot #no. 2 (2) in the Section ten (10) in the Township
thirty-two (32) South, of the range sixteen (16) East, contain-
ing one hundred thirty-six and twenty-five hundredths acres be-
ing included in the boundaries marked three hundred and three
(303) situated in the County of Hillsborough in the State of
Florida, in North America, according to the official part of the
WALTER P. FULLER
survey of the said lands filed in the General Office of Lands by
the General Surveyor, together with all the rights and privileges
and all that pertaining in any way what-so-ever to the range.
#2. The South-West quarter of the North-East quarter of Sec-
tion ten (10). Township thirty-two (32) range sixteen (16) East
containing forty acres and being situated in the County of Hills-
borough, in the State of Florida, in North America
#3. A business consisting of birds, stuffed animals, etc. situated
The whole belongs to the said seller at least
For the said real estate and business effects to enjoy, to do with
and dispose of by the said purchaser at will, except with privilege
of repurchase mentioned hereafter.
This sale is made in addition for and by the price and sum of
eighteen hundred piastres (dollars), current money of Canada,
which the said seller admits to have had and received from the
purchaser for which he gives general and final quittance.
It has been especially understood between the parties that
the said seller will have the right within eighteen months from
this date to repurchase from the said buyer or from his repre-
sentatives the inscribed real estate as well as the appurtenances,
by reimbursing the said buyer the said sum of eighteen hundred
piastres (dollars), plus the interest, costs and expenses and
money that the said S. S. (L. L.) Maillet might have payed out
in connection with the present purchase; and in case of default by
the said seller to exercise his right of repurchase within eighteen
months from this date, the said S. S. (L.L.) Mailllet will become
the non-transferable owner of everything and may not be sub-
ject to liens in the possession of said real estate and business by
anyone who-so-ever, the said Sire Lechevalier transmitting to
him all the rights that he has or may have.
*domicile in For the execution of these present, the parties have chosen*
home Done and executed in the City of Montreal, in the office of
L.B. Mr. Louis B6dard, under the number seven thousand thirty-one
of his term, in the year one thousand eight hundred and eighty,
the twenty-seventh day of October in the afternoon: And the
parties have signed with the said notary after having read the
Signed A. Lechevalier
S. S. (L.L.) Maillet
L.L. B1dard, N.P.
True copy of the contract drawn up in the office of the
undersigned notary, six words deleted, nul and void-a marginal
Signed L. BEdard
Dominga finally filed her 1852 deed on January 4, 1887 in Tampa. She
had previously filed it at the office of the Department of the Interior in Wash-
ington, D. C. on December 2, 1886. The Hillsborough record is Patent Record
Book 1, Page 46. Her re-filing at Newnansville (Florida) in 1852 recites the
original Antonio Maximo Hernandez application number 303 and to her a
new certificate number 386 was issued adding the 80 additional acres. Her
deed runs to "Domingo [sic] Hernandez widow of Maximo Hernandez, de-
ceased. Alex McCormick, assistant Secretary, signs for Millard Fillmore, Pres-
ident. The deed was issued October 1, 1852.
But a local comment on Alfred Lechevalier is the one this writer likes
best. It was penned in 1914 by the stout mariner and pioneer of Big Bayou,
St. Petersburg, formerly from Key West, before that from the Bahamas, John
A. Bethell. Here let me express appreciation to Charlton Tebeau and a bril-
liant and generous historical student of his who deeply researched the Bethell
family for this writer, tracing the family from Bahama occupancy of about
1600 to Pinellas Point. One oddment, without fail the first male child of the
family has always been named John A. for three and a half centuries!
Bethell authored a small book titled "History of Pinellas Peninsular." It
is replete with human interest, human error, is valuable and reliable to future
historians only as to those things Bethell actually saw. Things he "heard" are
almost invariably wrong. But he saw Lechevalier and hated him with an
almost venomous rage. For John was an honest and humane man. He hunted
when he was hungry. Or he killed alligators and panthers and bears because
they killed his stock and that of his neighbors. In one hunt in the months of
November and December, 1860 he, Miranda and his neighbors and Woods
killed 10 bears, caught three and killed eleven wildcats and three panthers.
WALTER P. FULLER
Here is what he says about Lechevalier:
"The worst scourge that ever came to Pinellas Point was one
Chevalier, a Frenchman, from Montreal, Canada, who located just
west of Point Maximo for the purpose of killing birds for the
plumes, feathers and skins.
I don't know how many birds Chevalier and his ruthless gang
slaughtered during the three years he remained on the Point; for
he brought a gang with him with a complete outfit for the murder-
ous business. I know it was well into the thousands. Even the harm-
less pelicans came in for a share of powder and lead. Their wallets
were made into tobacco pouches.
Two of Chevalier's agents, Pocket and Tetu, told me that one
season they got 11,000 skins and plumes and 30,000 birds' eggs, and
with a force of eleven men with blowpipes it was impossible to blow
the contents out of more than one-half of these eggs before they were
spoiled. Then they had to peck holes in the ends of the balance and
spread them out over the face of creation for the ants to do the rest.
That was the greatest destruction of the feathered tribe at any time
during the three years.
Chevalier would not have remained here in the Point had not
some of our settlers aided him in his nefarious work, from the fact
that the hirelings he brought with him were ignorant of the bird rook-
eries on the land, and as they knew nothing about boats, could not
hunt on the islands. But as some of the settlers enlisted in his hellish
cause, then the war of extermination was waged on everything that
had hide or feathers.
I was told by one of Chevalier's pilots, or bird butchers, that
he piloted some of the gang to a rookery at the head of Long Bayou
in nesting time and killed over 1,000 plume birds, and he said that
about ten days after, while passing by the rookery, the sight and
stench of the dead birds was sickening. The heads and necks of the
young birds were hanging out of the nests by the hundreds. They
had killed the mother birds and their young had died of sheer star-
vation. "I am done bird hunting forever," said he. Did he stick to his
resolve? Not much! In less than one year he was on the warpath
Why the deed to Claude Van Bibber and his three associates? That was
inspired by a speech that Claude's father W. Chew Van Bibber, also a Balti-
more doctor, made at the 1885 convention of the American Medical Associa-
tion on April 29 in the City of New Orleans.
This speech is sacred in St. Petersburg because the burden of the theme
was that Pinellas Peninsula was the healthiest spot on earth.
In his speech, Van Bibber quoted at length several people whom he felt
were experts on Florida climate. One was William C. Chase "who has traveled
extensively over the State with a view of studying its climatology who says
'were I sent abroad to search for a haven for tired men, where new life would
come with every sun, and slumber full of sleep with every moon, I would
select Point Pinellas, Florida.... Its Indian mounds show that it was selected
by the original inhabitants for a popular settlement."
Obviously what happened, the enthusiastic Chase gathered up Messrs.
Whitridge and Dulin and Claude Van Bibber, a son of W. Chew Van Bibber,
and returned to Point Pinellas, looked up Mrs. Dominga Gomez, who had
been Mrs. Dominga Hernandez, and bought Point Pinellas. They believed in
their own medicine. And Chase obviously inspired the famous Van Bibber
speech to the American Medical Association.
Claude Van Bibber had graduated from the University of Maryland
School of Medicine in 1877; he took a vacation and bought a fourth interest
in a piece of St. Petersburg land, as his father had advised.
Lechevalier according to Bethell last operated at Pinellas Point in 1889
or 1890 and then departed for the Everglades and the Ten Thousand Islands.
At this point Charlton Tebeau picks up the trail in his delightful book "Man
In The Everglades," and records the truly remarkable man's activities to his
death in 1895.
Should one wish a history of Lechevalier prior to his 1887-1890 activities
in Pinellas there is much more in Tequesta, Number XXII (1962). Practically
the entire volume consists of "the Cruise of the Bonton" by Charles William
Pierce and the Ornithology of the cruise by William B. Robertson, Jr., Park
Biologist at the Everglades National Park, Homestead, Florida.
The story reveals that Lechevalier in 1885 was living with a Wagner
family and that the "old Frenchman" was a taxidermist, collector of bird
skins and plumes and hired Pierce to circumnavigate the lower Florida penin-
sula up to the Ten Thousand Islands. The trip started in April and extended
WALTER P. FULLER
up the Gulf Coast to Hickory Pass, southwest of Fort Myers and near Punta
Mr. Robertson in his notes quotes a Mr. Scott, which places Lechevalier
at Maximo Point as early as 1880 and as having built a house, which he
occupied for five years. John Bethell and other data indicates that the dating
is correct, although the five years may well be a year or so too long.
The Scott comments were as follows:
"A check of the contemporary ornithological literature soon
revealed that Chevalier had been known on the Gulf Coast as both
plume hunter and collector, and that he had a longer history in
southern Florida than had been suspected. The following from Scott
is the earliest definite reference to him so far found.
When I previously visited this point* A. Lechevalier had located on
the mainland about three-quarters of a mile away; here he had built
a house and was killing birds on the island for the feather market.
He or his assistants had been there a little over a year, and I am told
by persons living here, whom I have every reason to believe, that it
took these men five breeding seasons to break up, by killing and
frightening the birds away, incomparable breeding resort. Of course
there were other plume hunters who aided in the slaughter, but the
old Frenchman and his assistants are mainly responsible for the
wanton destruction. He regarded this as his particular preserve, and
went so far as to order outsiders, who came to kill Herons and other
birds, off the ground. The rookery being destroyed, he had now
given up his residence here.
(*Maximo Rookery, located on an island off Pinellas Point in the
south end of Boca Ciega Bay. Scott's previous visit occurred in the
late winter or early spring of 1880's.)"
This passage identifies Chevalier as perhaps the first large-scale plume
hunter to operate on the Gulf Coast. If Scott's information was correct,
Chevalier must have left the Tampa Bay area only a few months before the
Bonton account places him in Miami. Besides other references to Chevalier
at Maximo, Scott's 1887 paper also mentions hearsay accounts of a plume-
hunting expedition led by Chevalier to Estero Bay and Charlotte Harbor in
1885 that can only have been the cruise of the Bonton.
Scott's reference to Chevalier in the 1887 paper suggest that the two
were not personally acquainted. Scott evidently did not know then that the
blackest figure in his gallery of plume-hunting rogues was also an ornitho-
logical collector. Contact with this side of Chevalier's activities seems to date
from Scott's acquaintance with H. W. Atkins, whom he met for the first time
at Punta Rassa on May 19, 1886.
Time came however when Lechevalier either wore his welcome out with
the settlers in the area or decimated the rookeries to a point that other areas
were more attractive or the crowding in of new arrivals interfered unduly
with his activities and he moved on to the Ten Thousand Islands and the
Miami area. The Van Bibber effort to found a great international health insti-
tution on Maximo Point also failed to get any response. Domingo Gomez also
failed to find any other buyers for her acres on the shores of Boca Ciega Bay
and the edge of Frenchman's creek.
The result was that no one had enough interest in the Point to speculate
further on the land, the Baltimore doctors abandoned their rash speculation,
so the taxes went unpaid and eventually a tax deed speculator acquired title
to the land.
Roy Hanna, a compulsive buyer of lands who settled in St. Petersburg
about 1900 acquired title. Hanna had enlisted in the army for service in the
Spanish-American war of 1898 in Cuba. While stationed at Tampa he became
attached to a unit engaged in ferrying water by ship from Mirror Lake in
present downtown St. Petersburg to the troops in Tampa. Water in that latter
city was very bad; Mirror Lake water was very pure and palatable so the
thousands of troops temporarily at Tampa drank St. Petersburg water.
Hanna fell in love with St. Petersburg, settled there when he was mus-
tered out in Tampa. He became a large land owner and a prominent citizen.
He loved land, once acquired, could never bring himself to part with it, kept
himself in constant financial hot water because of the pressure of taxes. He
was also a rock ribbed Republican, a rare species indeed in crackerland in
those days. Actually there were many such but few had the fortitude of Hanna
in openly admitting an allegiance that was considered pretty damning by the
local Democratic patriots. His courage had its rich reward however. Post-
masterships being political plums in that day Hanna, as the town's most
prominent Republican, was invariably local postmaster whenever a Repub.
lican president was in office. A long time community amusement was the fact
that whenever a Democrat was president-an even more prominent citizen,
St. Petersburg Times' great pioneer editor, William L. Straub, a Democrat,
WALTER P. FULLER
replaced Hanna as postmaster. Despite the rivalry over this plump political
plum Hanna and Straub were warm friends.
Hanna finally lost title to the land on tax deed, the city of St. Petersburg
acquired it. When St. Petersburg leaders campaigned to get a new educa-
tional instition for the city, Florida Presbyterian College, they had no
difficulty getting the Hernandez land donated for the College and it became
the major portion of a magnificent site for it. Thus after many vicissitudes
the Hernandez homestead became a major part of the college campus. French-
man's Creek became its south boundary and what was once a primitive fishing
rancho became the home for a college. An odd thing indeed that one of the
most beautiful tracts of land in the entire city of St. Petersburg would remain
unused for well over a hundred years from the commencement of settlement
of the area. Thus does the ball bounce.
This much is certain, the Frenchman after whom Frenchman's creek is
named was Alfred Lechevalier. It is a black and ugly page he wrote in Florida
history. Fortunately public opinion now is on the side of the birds of sea and
land and animals and trees and beauty, and heartening gains are being made.
For instance there are now more deer in the Everglades than there were 40
years ago. A magnificent stand of the big cypress has been preserved forever.
Sea and shore bird life increases. For instance, to the extreme excitement and
joy of the Fuller family in the spring of 1968 two dozen pink curlew for an
appreciable time joined the swarm of white ones that each year spend a satis-
factory spring in the carefully preserved mangrove flats along the shores of
Long Branch, that mark the west boundary of the Fuller acres-and mortgage.
And long may they fly. Stay away descendants and disciples of Lechevalier.
Stay away forever!
This Page Blank in Original
A Scottish View of West Florida in 1769
By CHARLES A. GAULD
A scholarly Scot wrote but never succeeded in publishing a 30-page
"General Description of the Sea Coasts, Harbours, Lakes, Rivers etc. of the
Province of West Florida, 1769." He was George Gauld, born in Scotland in
1732. He received an honorary M.A. from Aberdeen, one of the four democratic
Scottish universities. As a chart-maker for the British Admiralty, his death in
1782 may have occurred in London or at sea. Gauld's charts for navigation
between East Florida and the British West Indies were posthumously pub-
lished by the Admiralty. That of the Tortugas and Florida Keys or Martyrs
appeared only in 1815.
Gauld's two pamphlets were issued in London by William Faden in 1790
and 1796. The second, of 28 pages, was entitled "Observations on the Florida
Kays, Reef & Gulf with Directions for Sailing along the Kays from Jamaica
by the Grand Cayman & the West End of Cuba; also a Description, with
Sailing Instructions, of the Coast of West Florida between the Bay of Espiritu
Santo & Cape Sable." There was added, "by George Gaud, to accompany his
Charts of those Coasts, surveyed and published by order of the Rt. Hon. the
Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty, to which have been added a descrip-
tion of the East Coast of Florida between Cape Florida & Cape Canaveral
(and) within the Florida Reef."
The 1796 pamphlet was consulted by Dr. Wallace McMullen in his
English Topographical Terms in Florida, 1563-1874 (University of Florida
Press, 1953, 227 pp.) Gauld's 1769 manuscript is useful both for some topo-
graphical terms and for place names of the Britsh era in West Florida.
George Gauld served the Admiralty in Florida from 1764 until 1771. In
1773 he presented to the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia his
West Florida manuscript, hoping for its publication in the Society's Trans-
actions along with his communication on measuring the height of Catherine's
Hill and of the magnificent Blue Mountains in Jamaica. The latter was en-
closed in Gauld's letter to Hugh Williamson, presumably a Scottish member
of the Society, dated Port Royal, Jamaica, February 15, 1773. Neither man-
uscript was published in the Transactions. Perhaps Gauld was inspired to
write to the Philadelphia body through his associates in West Florida, Dr.
John Lorimer, presumably another Scot.*
It would be interesting to know of any relations between Gauld and Wil-
liam Roberts, whose Account of the First Discovery & Natural History of Flor-
ida (London, 1763) Gauld probably read. Also Gauld's ties in Florida with
Captain Bernard Romans, author of A Concise Natural History of East &
West Florida (New York, 1775). The American Philosophical Society has
no information on Gauld, who may even have donated his 1769 manuscript
while on a visit to Philadelphia. The Scottish National Library and the British
Museum also lack information on Gauld's career. Aberdeen University Library
stated that Gauld studied there between 1750 and 1753 and was given an hon-
orary M.A. in 1759 while an Admiralty mathematics teacher.
We can assume that Gauld attended the East Florida Masonic Lodge
meetings in St. Augustine with such Caledonians as Governor James Grant,
royal superintendent of Indian affairs John Stuart, Rev. John Forbes, the
Lieutenant Governor Dr. James Moultrie, John Bethune from the Isle of Skye,
and Dr. Andrew Turnbull, who in partnership with Sir William Duncan, in-
troduced Mediterranean colonists into his short-lived New Smyrna colony. In
addition, Gauld may well have participated in Scottish Rite Masonic rituals in
Pensacola with such Scotsmen as Governor George Johnstone, the rich Indian
traders William Panton and John Leslie, and the brilliant half-Scottish leader
of the Creek Nation, Alexander McGillivray.
There follow passages of interest from the two-century old manuscript.
Gauld began, "The Province of West Florida (is) the frontier of the British
Dominions in America," extending some 350 miles west of the Apalachicola
River nearly to New Orleans. He foresaw great advantages from the region's
possession by a maritime commercial nation. He admired a unique red bluff
near Santa Rosa Island at the entrance of Pensacola Bay. Chart and naviga-
tion conscious, Gauld cautioned of dangers from shoals and the lowness of
the treeless island, hard to distinguish. He described anchorages in deep wa-
ter protected from storms for vessels seeking the hard-to-find mouths of the
Mississippi River, an area as fertile as the Nile delta. "Vessels that draw above
11 feet cannot enter the Mississippi's passes without being lightened."
Gauld then described bays, estuaries, lagoons, creeks and rivers of West
Florida. Choctaw Indians were killing the cattle of the few settlers on St.
* Alabama professors Robert Rea of Auburn and Jack D. L. Holmes of Birmingham plan
research on Lorimer, whose letter of April 21, 1769 appeared in the Transactions (I:
250), according to Gauld's pamphlet of 1796.
CHARLES A. GAULD
Louis Bay, forcing them to leave in 1767. He visited some new settlements
on the Pearl River where tobacco, indigo, cotton, rice, corn and many vege-
tables were raised in rich soil. The indigo rivalled that of Guatemala. The set-
tlers planned to make barrel staves of white oak. Gauld lauded the timber
available for masts and shipbuilding. Further west he noted that French set-
lers were raising cattle and were clandestinely making pitch, tar and turpen-
tine, and selling these naval stores very profitably in New Orleans to France
and Spain "as we have no army posts or vessels to prevent them."
Johnstone in Pensacola in 1765 ordered the construction of Fort Bute on
the Mississippi. "But after Governor Johnstone's departure it was abandoned
and demolished by order of General Gage in 1768, the consequence of which
measures are already obvious.... Had it not been for the withdrawing of the
British troops from the Mississippi, that country would in all probability have
been well settled by this time (by Britons). During the late disturbances at
New Orleans, a great many of the French inhabitants were desirous of settling
on our side of the river. Some of them had actually embarked with their fam-
ilies, Negroes and effects on the arrival of the Spanish troops, but afterwards
allowed themselves to be dissuaded, partly because Irish-Spanish General
O'Reilly gave them assurances that everything would be forgiven." Many
French, with no British presence, suffered greatly in the New Orleans area,
according to Gauld. "The French in general in Louisiana have an utter ab-
horrence of the Spaniards which will probably last for generations."
"It would be of great advantage to British West Florida to have one or
two small armed vessels" cruising between Pensacola and New Orleans. Gauld
saw them preventing clandestine activities in naval supplies and helping to
secure to Britons a considerable trade with the aborgines.
Gauld noted that Nassau Road, west of Pensacola, was named by "Dr.
Daniel Cox, an adventurer about the time of King William III." Nassau Road
was termed one of the best anchorages for large ships in all West Florida. An-
other was Ship Island with its "high hummock" and ample fresh water and
cattle for beef. He found a few French at Biloxi raising cattle and producing
pitch and tar despite the troublesome Choctaws. Shallow Biloxi Bay abounded
in excellent oysters as Father Charlevoix also observed. Gauld mentioned the
Pascagoula River mouths and estuary as virtually paved with oysters. He saw
some farms but learned that the red men killed the cattle. "The Choctaws were
always firmly attached to the French (in) Louisiana, and it will probably be
some time before they are thoroughly reconciled to the British."
The observant Scot carefully described navigational matters for all West
Florida such as channels, shoals and deep, protected anchorages as well as
soils and forests. On Dauphin Island he pondered the age of overgrown shell
mounds. He said that Hawkes Bay was named for the British armed schooner
"Hawke" used in his surveys. The bay had been choked by a hurricane.
Gauld wrote, "Mobile is a very considerable place (with) a small fort,
formerly called Fort Cond6, now called Fort Charlotte, built of brick, and a
neat square of barracks. The town is pretty regular, of an oblong shape on the
west bank of the river by the bay. Several of the richest of the French left
Mobile on its being given up to the English, but a great many still remain in
the town and at their plantations on the river and on both sides of the bay.
There is a considerable Indian trade carried on. Mobile (under us) has sent
yearly to London skins and furs worth 15,000. At present this may be called
the only staple commodity in the Province."
He ascribed summer fevers and agues in Mobile to the many marshes
and lagoons rather than to mosquitos. He referred to the Spanish River and
the "Alibama" River near Mobile, and to the chief settlements of the Upper
Creeks and "the French fort at Alibama evacuated in 1763. "It has not since
been garrisoned by us." Gauld mentioned the Tombeeb6 (Tombigbee) River
in the country of the Chickasaws. The British commander at Pensacola in
1767 ordered the Tombeeb, fort abandoned. Good soils for rice, thick cane
brakes, and fine stands of cypresss, elm, ash, hickory and red and white cedar
Gauld explained that the Perdido River was named because a Spanish
ship was lost (perdido) near its mouth. Canoes were portaged from the Per-
dido Bay to a coastal lagoon leading to Pensacola. He added in the margin,
possibly in 1773, that at a narrows in Perdido Bay "a ferry has been estab-
lished and a new road opened (which) cuts 20 miles from the land journey and
saves a day between Mobile and Pensacola. A sawmill had recently been erect-
ed nearby." The Perdido was formerly the boundary between Spanish Florida
and French Louisiana, Gauld added.
He described the Pensacola bar approaches as involving sightings of the
red cliff and "Reid's tree," and predicted that the Indian name Pensacola
would endure. Gauld reviewed French and Spanish contention over Pensacola
and its Fort San Carlos in 1719-22. The Spanish "signal house" on Santa Rosa
Island was "greatly improved of late by General Haldimand." Spanish
CHARLES A. GAULD
Pensacola was on the island until inundated by a hurricane about 1754, when
it was moved to its present site.
Governor Johnstone considered moving the tiny, ramshackle Pensacola
to another site on the bay. It had just been abandoned by 600 Catholic Pensa-
cola Indians (and mestizos?) whom Spain moved to Veracruz, Mexico.* But
he decided that its present site was best and had the British town "regularly
laid out" early in 1765. Gauld described it as stretching about a mile along
the bay and a quarter mile inland. At the west end was a fine stream for fill-
ing the water casks of ships. Nearby was a naval reservation with "garden,
storehouses, hospital etc." He added that the military garrison had a reserve.
tion of 200,000 square yards in the middle of Pensacola, dividing it in two.
"It can be of no great service for defense (against) either savages or a civi-
lized enemy." The hill behind town was named for General Gage, who later
fought American colonists seeking independence. "The hope of a Spanish
trade induced many Britons to settle here at great expense. It has not yet an-
swered their expectation. The principal objectives ought to be the Indian trade
(plus) indigo, cotton, rice, hemp, tobacco and lumber, the natural products
of the country."
Pensacola's sandy soil could be made to produce lettuce, tomatoes, tur-
nips, carrots and potatoes, along with oranges, figs and peaches. "Provisions
of all kinds are now very plentiful. His Majesty's troops and ships are always
supplied with fresh beef (from around Mobile?), and the inhabitants buy it
for half a bit a pound."
Near Pensacola was "an iron mine where a large natural magnet was
lately found." Gauld later added, "now in the possession of Dr. Lorimer."
Near the mouth of the Escambia River lay "Campbell Town, a settle-
ment of French Protestants, about ten miles from Pensacola by land and 13
by water... unhealthy because near marshes." Several French died. Great
Britain had settled them there in to produce silk, but the effort failed. Gauld
spoke of the Escambia valley's good soils, vegetation and tall pines, fine for
masts and yard arms for the royal navy. "Many other vessels have been sup-
plied from them." He listed a thousand-acre reserve on the large peninsula in
Pensacola Bay with its stands of live oaks and large pines for firewood for the
navy and army. Possibly it was part of the reservation for naval supplies set
aside by President Monroe and unfortunately abandoned. Nearby another
* Robert L. Gold, "The Settlement of the Pensacola Indians in New Spain (Mexico),
1763-70," Hispanic American Historical Review, vol. 45, no. 4, Nov. 1965, pp. 567-76.
British naval reserve was created at a former royal careening place where in
1766 a wharf was begun by order of Sir William Burnaby, then commander-
in-chief in Jamaica. Nothing had been done with these reserves as of 1769.
There was a private careening wharf, apparently near Deer Point and the
Santa Rosa Channel.
Santa Rosa Island extended east nearly 50 miles, "very remarkable for
its white sandy hummocks." Choctawhatchee Bay was called by Gauld St.
Rose's Bay, with an entrance barely five feet deep. Into it flows the "Chacta-
hatchi" River. Some 35 miles upstream lived "Coussa Indians who have
joined the Creeks and sometimes bring provisions and wildfowl to Pensacola
in their canoes," although generally too lazy to do so as required by treaty.
Gauld wrote of the St. Joseph area, deserted by the Spaniards about
1700 only to return in 1719 after Pensacola protested a French fort there in
1717. He thought the bay ideal for making salt for curing bass, red cod and
other abundant, excellent fish. His final word to Britons under full sail at
night off West Florida was to beware the many logs disgorged by the Missis-
sippi in flood.
Richard Keith Call's 1836 Campaign
By GEORGE C. BITTLE
During 1836, two major military campaigns were carried out in Florida
against the Seminole Indians. The first, led by the nationally known General
Winfield Scott, clearly ended in failure. The second campaign was com-
manded by Richard Keith Call, who for a time combined the offices of civilian
territorial governor and federal military commander in Florida. On January
9, 1836, Governor Call began an intensive drive to secure the command of all
the regular and militia troops in the territory by pointing out that he thought
he could rapidly conclude the war and that he also thought General Duncan
Clinch, then current senior federal army officer in Florida, to be an inade-
Call barraged the War Department during the early part of 1836 with an
almost continuous stream of unsolicited advice on the conduct of affairs in
Florida.2 For example, in the month of May he sent to federal officials twenty-
one letters dealing with the war effort.3 The Governor did suggest the innova-
tion of a summer campaign as the only method of adequately protecting the
frontier.' However, as late as June first, Call was still repeatedly expressing
his ardent desire to be given direction of all of the troops in Florida and con-
tinued to complain about the United States Army's inadequate frontier war-
Later Call denied that he had ever sought complete control over Florida
military affairs and said that he had merely wished for a separate military
1 Governor Call to President A. Jackson, January 9, 1836, U. S. Congress, Senate Docu-
ment 278, 26th Cong., 1st Sess., p. 31.
a Governor Richard K. Call Letterbook. This manuscript is located in the Florida His.
torical Society Collection, Special Collection, University of South Florida, Tampa,
Florida. A microfilm copy is available at the P. K. Yonge Library of Florida History,
University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida. The Letterbook is a series of copies of let-
ters sent and received by Governor Call and does not have consistent page numbers for
a U. S. Congress, Senate Document 278, 26th Cong., 1st Sess., pp. 1-55.
Governor Call to Secretary of War, April 20, 1836, and May 4, 1836. Governor Richard
K. Call Letterbook.
s U. S. Congress, Senate Document 278, 26th Cong., 1st Sess., p. 55.
district in which the militia could operate unhindered by the regulars.* Short-
ly after his campaign was over, Call not only again stated that he had never
sought the honor of command, but also said that once he had been given this
responsibility, he had been determined to reduce the Seminoles to submission
or give up his own life." The success of the Governor's campaign may be
judged by the fact that contrary to his declaration he survived while a signif-
icant number of Indians remained in the field.
Governor Call began to recruit men for active militia duty in early May
1836, even though, he had not yet been given his federal command. Call's
first enlistment effort took the form of an open letter asking for one hundred
sixty volunteers who would be allowed to elect their own officers. Only one
hundred thirty men volunteered. The other thirty needed to meet the quota
had to be drafted.8 By the middle of July, it was apparent that Call could not
raise the one thousand member army which had been federally authorized
following his first informal efforts to create a new Florida Militia force.-.
After beginning to enlist his proposed army, Call was notified on May
25, 1836 that he was authorized to make a summer campaign if, as seemed
likely, Brigadier General Duncan Clinch, regular army commander in Flor-
ida, left the federal service. The following day, Call was informed that when
Major General Thomas Jesup, regular army, appeared in Florida the com-
mand was to be turned over to him.10 Thus, Governor Call was given a tenta-
tive and at best a temporary authority to make a summer campaign. General
Winfield Scott wished Call success, but said that the shortage of men and the
normal high disease rate in summer, would probably cause Call's plan to fail."
The Secretary of War formally gave the Florida command to Call on
June twenty-fifth. Call was authorized to purchase steamboats for gulf and
river use and to build supply depots in the Seminole dominated areas.l2 There
a Governor Call Memorial to U. S. Congress, February 26, 1840. This memorial is found
in Clarence E, Carter (ed.), The Territorial Papers of the United States (Washington,
D. C.: U. S. Government Printing Office, 1934- ), Vol. 22, p. 394.
7 St. Augustine Examiner, December 31, 1836, p. 2.
s Ibid., May 7, 1836, p. 3. See also Apalachicola Gazette, May 14, 1836, p. 1.
U. S. Congress, House Document 78, 25th Cong., 2nd Sess., p. 507. See also Governor
K. Call Letterbook.
to Secretary of War to General Call, May 25, 26, 1836, U. S. Congress, Senate Document
278, 26th Cong., 1st Sess., p. 438.
'1 U. S. Congress, House Document 78, 25th Cong., 2nd Sess., p. 441.
i2 American State Papers, Vol. 21, p. 789.
GEORGE C. BATTLE
can be no question of Call's authority to secure any needed supplies. General
Call was so confident that on July fifteenth he predicted a fifteen day field
effort would destroy the main Seminole strongholds. On the other hand, Jo-
seph White, territorial legislative delegate, was pessimistic and said that the
resignation of General Clinch was disastrous because he was the only man
that the militia, as a group, trusted.13 Before he got into the field, Call man-
aged to anger Commodore A. J. Dallas, the United States Navy area com-
mander. Call told the Commodore that formal military etiquette was not
essential to their relationship. The Commodore replied that he would respond
to requests but not orders from the General. Then on September 11, 1836,
Call requested that the Commodore provide two hundred fifty to three hun-
dred seamen and marines for an offensive movement up the Withlacoochee
River in boats, but the general admitted that he was not sure of the water
depths in the river or of the actual number of men needed. This bizarre re-
quest came after the War Department had told Call that naval officers could
not be given orders by army men.-4
The campaign began on September 20, 1836, when Call left Suwanee Old
Town for Fort Drane with a force composed mainly of Tennessee Volunteers.1-
General Call admitted that the relatively few Florida men who accompanied
him had had to be conscripted and that "extreme measures" were necessary to
get the drafted men to do their duty.1- General Call's plan of action required
that the regular army troops at Fort Brooke and Fort Drane would move up
the Withlacoochee River. Apparently, the Navy had refused to provide the
requested men for this phase of the campaign. Call's militiamen were to move
into the Cove of the Withlacoochee River from a northerly direction so that
the Seminoles hopefully would be crushed between the two forces.1-
As the march from Fort Drane began the General knew that his column
carried only six to seven days food supply. This certainly was not adequate to
begin a wilderness campaign, but Call believed that the bulk of his men were
is Carter, op. cit., Vol. 25, p. 283. See also Governor Richard K. Call Letterbook.
1 U. S. Congress, Senate Document 278, 26th Cong., 1st Sess., pp. 7, 59-60, 71, 73. See
also Governor Richard K. Call Letterbook.
is Letters of Lientenant John W. Phelps, U. S. A., 1837-1838," The Florida Historical
Quarterly, Vol. 6 (October 1927), p. 77.
1e Florida Herald (St. Augustine), October 20, 1836, p. 2.
I? Call Journal, typescript, p. 388. The Call Journal is located among the Richard Keith
Call Papers, Florida State Historical Society Collection, University of South Florida,
Tampa, Florida. A microfilm copy is available in the P. K. Yonge Library of Florida
History, Gainesville, Florida.
"impatient" to engage the Indians. It was hoped that the men could utilize
food crops known to have been planted on plantations since abandoned to the
Seminoles. Unfortunately, Call found that the Red men had destroyed these
needed food sources. The General next planned to use a second base of food
supply located at a proposed depot which territorial General Leigh Read was
to build on the Withlacoochee.1l
The grounding and sinking of the commissary steamboat Izard, which
was broken in half when it turned crosswise in the Withlacoochee, prevented
Read from completing the proposed depot in time to meet Call's needs. Gen-
eral Call blamed the destruction of the Izard on poorly qualified naval officers,
yet at his own order she had been under the command of General Read, a ter-
ritorial militia officer.'- Early in October, Call was reminded that he had
authority to secure the services of more than one steamboat.-o Clearly, Rich-
ard Keith Call should have made better arrangements to provide his men
with sufficient food.
After leaving Fort Drane, Call's column made two unsuccessful attempts
to cross the flood-widened and deepened Withlacoochee in the face of a sharp
Indian fire.-" The army was checked on the bank of the river opposite which
was a hammock that probably contained all the women and children of the
Seminole nation. General Call next tried to find the supply depot which Leigh
Read had not yet established and then the soldiers retired ninety miles to
Black Creek where they could secure an adequate food supply. Along the path
of the retreat were strewn five or six hundred starved horses.- It was reported
that General Call's army was "as usual, destitute of substance, horses without
corn and men without bread." After Call's campaign closed the question arose
that if Call could not cross the river, why did he not at least contain the sav-
ages in the Cove of the Withlacoochee?z2 The answer should have been obvi-
ous in that Call had not ensured a sufficient food supply for his men before
starting his campaign.
The most ironic part of the campaign was that Call had access to 900,000
soldiers' rations at the beginning of the effort. Excuses were offered why use
is Niles Weekly Register, November 5, 1836, pp. 148-9. See also American State Papers,
Vol. 21, p. 995, and Call Journal Typescript, pp. 386-, 390-8.
to U. S. Congress, Senate Document 100, 24th Cong., 2nd Sess., pp. 7-12.
so Acting Secretary of War Harris to General Call, October 7, 1836, U. S. Congress, Sen-
ate Document 278, 26th Cong., 1st Sess., pp. 9-10.
Sx Pensacola Gazette, November 5, 1836, p. 3.
a2 John W. Phelp's Letters, p. 70.
as Apalachicola Gazette, October 15, 1836, p. 1. See also November 5, 1836, p. 1.
GEORGE C. BATTLE
was not made of these supplies; but, the fact remains General Call failed to
make use of his assets.2*.
After securing the needed staples, Call renewed his campaign and made a
successful crossing of the Withlacoochee on November 13, 1836.2r Next, at
about noon on November seventeenth, Call encountered a large group of In-
dians. The Tallahassee militiamen, who were nearest the Seminoles, dis-
persed the enemy with a single charge, which was followed up by a determined
pursuit of the retreating red men. On the following day, Call fought the Battle
of Wahoo Swamp in which the few available Florida troops spearheaded the
attack and behaved like veterans by not firing a shot until the enemy was in
sight. After a short, sharp fight the Indians retreated in such a manner that it
was difficult to determine what direction their main body had taken. Contact
with the Seminoles was renewed by a group of Creek Indians who were cam-
paigning with Call. Another brisk action ensued until dark when the engage-
ment broke off. At this point, the soldiers had been on half-rations for sev-
eral days and the horses had had no corn for a similar length of time.26
It is a tribute to the rank and file that they reacted so well when they and their
horses must have been in a state of semi-starvation.
By December 1, 1836, Call's troops had retired to the regular army sup-
ply depot at Volusia on the St. Johns River. There Call received official word
that President Jackson was disappointed with the outcome of the campaign.
Also, the General learned that he had been removed from his command. Pres-
ident Jackson was particularly disturbed because Call had not taken adequate
food supplies with him and had not tried harder at his first attempted crossing
of the Withlacoochee River. It was also believed that General Call was suffer-
ing from fatigue and sickness.$2.
General Call bitterly announced that the letter which removed him from
his command was "the most extraordinary document I have ever read." Call
said that he was fired on the basis of rumor and that his October 19, 1836
report demonstrated no officer could have better provided for the troops'
24 Niles Weekly Register, November 5, 1836, pp. 145, 149, and November 12, 1836, p. 2.
See also the Pensacola Gazette, November 13, 1836, p. 2.
2a U. S. Congress, Senate Document 278, 26th Cong., 1st Sess., p. 92. See also Call Jour-
nal, typescript, pp. 404-7.
as U. S. Congress, Senate Document 278, 26th Cong., Ist Sess., pp. 92-5.
27 Apalachicola Gazette, December 1, 1836, p. 2. See also John T. Sprague, The Origin,
Progress, and Conclusion of the Florida War (New York: Appleton 1848), p. 163, and
Secretary of War Butler to General Call, November 4, 1836, U. S. Congress, Senate
Document 100, 24th Cong., 2nd Sess,, pp. 1-3.
needs.-8 Secretary of War Butler twice told Call that he had not been dis-
charged because of rumors or misconduct and that the War Department had
required a report of Call's actions which was not received until late December
1836.2, Major General Thomas Jesup, who replaced R. K. Call as regular
army commander in Florida, said that he would stake his professional repu-
tation on the fact that Call had acted as well as any man could have under
the circumstances.--. Thus, Call's actions were supported by at least one man
who had achieved a high status in American military circles.
Call was given a warm welcome on his return to Tallahassee. Territorial
press comments about the campaign ranged from the idea that it had closed
brilliantly to the concept that Call had been no worse than the regular com-
manders who had gone before him.31 Apparently, the people of Florida were
not dissatisfied with their Governor's conduct in the field.
Probably, Richard Call's campaign received a minimum of support
from regular army officers. He complained that the Quartermaster at Charles-
ton, South Carolina, was one among many federal army officers, who threw
every possible embarrassment in his way.32 If the General's relations, with
Commodore A. J. Dallas of the Navy, can be considered an example of what
he believed to be proper decorum, his poor relations with other officers may
be readily explained.
The Richard Call campaign may be credited with the innovation of a
summer effort to keep the Seminoles from being able to grow their own food
stuffs. As important as this idea is, it must be recognized that if Call had made
sounder preparations before going into the field, he might have been more
2s General Call to Secretary of War Butler, December 2, 1836, U. S. Congress, Senate
Document 100, 24th Cong., 2nd Sess., pp. 1-3.
2s Secretary of War Butler to General Call, December 13, 1836, and January 14, 1837,
U. S. Congress, Senate Document 100, 24th Cong., 2nd Sess., pp. 13-16. See also Rich-
ard K. Call Letterbook.
3o Major General Jesup to Secretary of War, January 1837, U. S. Congress, House Docu-
ment 78, 25th Cong., 2nd Sess., pp. 49-50, Appendix, p. 142.
81 St. Augustine Examiner, December 10, 1836, p. 3. See also Pensacola Gazette, January
7, 1837, p. 3, and Niles Weekly Register, January 10, 1837, p. 321, and Florida Herald
(St. Augustine), December 29, 1836, p. 2.
as General Call to Secretary of War Butler, December 20, 1936, U. S. Congress, Senate
Document 278, 26th Cong., 1st Sess., p. 111.
Sketches of the Florida Keys, 1829-1833
Edited, with an Introduction by
E. A. HAMMOND
When Dr. Benjamin Beard Strobel left his native Charleston on Septem-
ber 5, 1829 to start a new life in Key West1, Florida, he was just under
twenty-six years of age. Equipped with a degree from the Medical College of
South Carolina and holding a diploma dated April 4, 1826,2 he had perfected
his medical skills and attained a measure of professional maturity by two
years of practice in his home city. Just why he chose to abandon his Charles-
ton practice and his professional associations for the uncertainties of Florida's
farthest outpost is never made clear. Perhaps there were domestic pressures;
he had left the Lutheran Church upon his marriage to Mary Jane Stewart,
a Presbyterian, in June, 1827.- Perhaps he had aroused the hostility of his
colleagues in the Medical Society of South Carolina, to which he had been
admitted on August 1 of the same year. The Minutes of the Society show him
to have been outspoken and frequently "on his feet." It is more probable,
however, that he was drawn by the love of adventure, a conjecture supported
by his later activities. Only after he had returned to Charleston in 1833 did
he write vaguely: "Circumstances not necessary for me now to detail deter-
mined me to leave Charleston in the year 1829. I was some time in doubt as
to what course I should steer when, having heard that there was a prospect of
doing something in my profession at Key West, I determined at once to go
x In the columns of the Charleston Courier of May 2, 1837 Strobel gave an account of
his voyage from Charleston to Key West aboard the schooner, Jane, in September, 1829.
In the "shipping news" of the Courier of September 7 the sailing of the lane on Sep-
tember 5 is recorded. A storm off Edisto Island forced the vessel to put in at Savannah
for extensive repairs.Here she remained until September 12 when the voyage was re-
sumed. (Ibid., Sept. 11, 1829) She probably arrived in Key West about September 20.
The Medical College of South Carolina had opened in the fall of 1824 and graduated
its first class in the following spring. Prior to enrolling at this institution, however,
Strobel had attended the Medical school of the University of Pennsylvania for a term,
1825-5. Letter, Frances R. Houston, Secretary, Medical Alumni Society, Univ. of
Pennsylvania, to E. A. Hammond, May 15, 1964.
The marriage took place on June 28. Entry in Schirmer Diary, Vol. II, for June 28. This
is an unpublished document, which may be seen in the Library of the South Carolina
Historical Society, Charleston, South Carolina.
4 Charleston Courier, May 2, 1937.
Strobel's arrival in Key West occurred during one of the deadliest yellow
fever epidemics ever to strike the island. The demand for his services was
therefore immediate and urgent. Presumably he returned to Charleston at
the earliest opportunity to purchase additional supplies. His professional card,
first printed in the Key West Register, October 15, 1829, informed the inhab-
itants that he was settling permanently in Key West to practice "medicine,
surgery, and midwifery." It added, "Dr. S. will return on or about the 1st
of December next  with a complete assortment of Drugs and Medi-
Dr. Strobel maintained his residence in Key West until the fall of 1832,
making only occasional visits to Charleston. His interests were manifold. For
more than a year he edited the island newspaper, the Gazette, but somehow
found time to carry on his medical practice, serve on the Town Council, and
assist in a number of civic enterprises. With the return of the army contin-
gent early in 1831 he became surgeon to the army post, and in 1832,o when
Key West received a new town charter, he became the health and quarantine
officer for the town.7
Beyond these activities, Dr. Strobel was an eager student of natural his-
tory. His scientific observations as well as his skill in collecting specimens of
Florida fauna were extremely useful to John J. Audubon and Dr. John Bach-
man, the latter an eminent Charleston churchman and naturalist.8 The corres-
pondence of these two contains frequent references to Dr. Strobel and his
assistance in their researches. But his interests encompassed, in addition, the
whole human scene, and his commentaries on the people he came to know
reveal a keen insight into human behavior.
Strobel's residence in Key West came at a time when the island was at-
tracting to its narrow confines some of the worst and some of the best of
human beings. The remoteness of the place and its casual concern for law and
order offered encouragement for some whose activities and propensities would
* Key West Register, December 31, 1829. No copies of the Register from September 3 to
December 31 have survived. It was customary for newspapers of the period to indicate
at the end of a public notice the date on which it had first appeared; hence the verifi-
cation for the date, October 15.
o American State Papers, Class V, Military Affairs, IV, 202, 206-7.
SKey West Gazette, March 14, July 25, 1832.
s Upon his first visit to Charleston in the summer of 1831 Audubon had met Bachman
pastor of St. John's Lutheran Church. The two men became fast friends and as a con-
sequence co-authored the monumental work The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North
America, 3 vols., New York, 1846-54.
E. A. HAMMOND
have placed them just beyond the bounds of decency and respectability.- It
was doubtless a refuge for some who were fleeing from justice, and for others
whose lives had come to naught elsewhere. Key West had its complement of
"characters." On the other hand, many upright, law-abiding people sought
their fortunes there, bringing with them social and moral values which
generally characterized American communities in the early nineteenth century.
On the eve of his departure from Key West late in 1832, Strobel printed
in the final issue of the Gazette his farewell to the people he had come to
know.1o He defended his editorial policy as the only proper course for an
honest man. He deplored the evil which he had frequently sought to expose.
But he gave grateful recognition to those Key Westers "who are determined
to enforce the laws of their country, and to protect the unfortunate who may
be cast upon our shores." Then, with a touch of sentimentality he paid tribute
to certain ones who had been his friends:
The friendship which they have extended, and the kindness and
courtesy manifested gives rise to a feeling of regret even at separat-
ing from Key West. Regret at separation from Key West!-the much
abused, Villainous Key West!-the horde of pirates and robbers!
Aye, even so. For here has he [Strobel himself] seen and felt the
gentle charities of life; here, when he arrived as a stranger and
without friends, he found many who were willing to aid; and here,
by the patronage of those friends, has he for three years been en-
abled to support himself. These are obligations not easily forgotten
or cancelled. Much as he rejoices in the anticipation of returning to
his native land-of revisiting the domestic fireside, and of rekin-
dling the affections of youth-the subscriber cannot, as the ship
recedes from the shore, but feel a regret that he is about to quit that
shore forever, and to leave behind him many to whom he has
been united by ties of friendship. To err is human:-the subscriber
9 Much of the folly of Key West citizens was upsetting to Strobel. His indignation was
especially reserved, however, for the scandalous practices of some of the wreckers who
used the island as a base of operations. These were the adventuring types who rescued
the ships and salvaged the cargoes which had run aground in the treacherous waters
of the Florida Reef. But wrecking had become the island's most lucrative enterprise
and one could scarcely attack it with impunity. See E. A. Hammond, "Wreckers and
Wrecking on the Florida Reef, 1829-1832," Fla. Hist. Quart., XLI, No. 3 (Jan. 1963),
to One may infer from the temper of this column that Strobel's editorial comments had
from time to time aroused the ire of wreckers and their associates. It is also clear that
his unwillingness to portray Key West as an unblemished paradise had annoyed many
of the settlers.
cannot plead an exemption from the common lot of humanity: he
therefore trusts that his friends will deal charitably with his faults.
To his enemies, he has no apology to make; they must take him as
they have found him.-He requests, however, of all, when he is ab-
sent and there is no one here to defend him, that they will bear in
mind the following, "Speak of me as I am, nothing EXTENUATE,
-Nor set down ought [sic] in malice.= B. B. Strobel
When Strobel had finally settled himself once more in Charleston in
the summer of 1833 he found time to record his recollections and impressions
of the Key West he'd left behind. To these he gave the title, "Sketches of
Florida," and then submitted them to a Charleston publisher, expecting to
have them brought out in book form. In the summer of 1833, however, he
permitted the Charleston Mercury to publish certain portions of the manu-
script. These appeared anonymously in serial form in June and July of that
The book failed to materialize. Some four years later the Charleston
Courier, in response to the immense public interest in the comparatively un-
known territory in which the Second Seminole War was being waged, ob-
tained the Strobel manuscript and published a series of the "Sketches" in
May, 1837. This time they bore the author's by-line. But since the manuscript
was lost it is impossible to determine just how much the Courier left unpub-
lished. We know only that the newspaper presented the material in sixteen
installments and in so doing preserved a valuable source for the early history
of the Florida Keys.1- These accounts represent the earliest effort to provide
a complete description of Key West and its people.
The "Sketches" from the series, which have been selected for presentation
here, contain descriptions of that portion of Strobel's Florida voyage which
11 These lines will he recognized as those uttered by Othello, just before his death.
Othello, Act V, Scene 2. This was not, as his affairs turned out, Strobel's final farewell
to Key West. He was to return in January, 1833 to join an exploring party on its way
to Charlotte Harbor area. He came back to Key West where on March 23 he fatally
wounded D. C. Pinkham in a duel. He left Key West a few days later never to return.
See the Charleston Courier, April 10, 1883 for an account of the tragic meeting.
12 Strobel is known to have made two additional trips to Florida. In 1836 he was Regi-
mental Surgeon to Col. A. H. Brisbane's Regiment of South Carolina Volunteers, which
spent the late winter of 1836-7 in central Florida. The Charleston Courier, February 11,
1836. See also M. M. Cohen, Notices of Florida and the Campaigns, 138 et passim. He
traveled to St. Augustine to study a yellow fever epidemic which ravaged the town in
the fall of 1839. His observations were subsequently recorded in B. B. Strobel, An Essay
on the Subject of the Yellow Fever, Charleston, 1940. Strobel died in Charleston on
March 24, 1849.
E. A. HAMMOND
began in Savannah, after the ship's repairs had been made,1- and continued
as far as Indian Key; Strobel's first night in Indian Key; and some accounts
of unusual personalities whom he encountered in Key West between 1829 and
1832. They indicate the great variety of persons present among the early inhab-
itants. Some were undoubtedly the human ingredient which supplied color to
an otherwise drab scene. The items are presented, much as Strobel wrote them,
with only minimal editorial notations, particularly in the matter of punctua-
[From Savannah to Indian Key]
Our repairs having been completed, we set sail from Savannah on Sat-
urday the [12th] day of September. We ran down the river that night, and
anchored near Tybee light. On Sunday morning we took our departure; and
after clearing the land, steering a southerly course, running down inside of
the Gulf Stream, with pleasant breezes, until we reached the latitude of Cape
Canaveral, when we stood in for the land, and made it a few miles South of the
Cape. The coast from Canaveral to Cape Florida, is a bold one; vessels may
stand in very near, without risk from rocks or shoals. I have heard skillful
navigators say, "that a vessel of considerable draft might be run ashore on
any part of the beach, and a landing effected from her bowsprit." This expres-
sion must, however, be taken in a figurative sense. I have seen vessels ashore
200 yards from the beach, and would not think it safe to venture nearer than
half a mile, as the water does not in all places deepen suddenly. We kept along
in sight of land from Canaveral to Cape Florida. When about half way be-
tween the two Capes, we encountered the severest squall I ever witnessed. It
had been calm and close all day; the sea was perfectly smooth and tranquil
-our vessel lay as still and quiet as if at anchor. During the whole day she
could not have progressed a mile. The sun appeared to creep tardily on his
course, and poured down upon us his hottest and most intense rays. Our
vessel being small, our defense from the sun's heat was but slender, and we
were literally roasted alive. All day we had been praying for wind no matter
from what quarter, so long as it came to cool and refresh us. Long we had
waited in anxious expectation, but it came at last. The orb of day, like a globe
of fire, was just sinking behind the land, and touching with golden tints its out-
line, when a heavy black cloud arose, and obscured his setting beams. As his last
rays fell upon the borders of the cloud, it appeared as if tinged with fire.
1 See note 1 above. The Charleston Courier, 11 September 1829, noted that the Jane had
put in at Savannah for repairs, having sprung her mainmast off Edisto Island.
The cloud continued to rise with astonishing rapidity, and soon over-
spread the heavens. It appeared to be agitated by some fearful commotion-
as its dark masses revolved in quick succession, the angry lightning leaping
from their folds. The seabirds testified their instinctive fears, by loud and
prolonged screams, as with hurried flight, and with great agitation, they
sought the land in search of shelter. The loud thunder rolled in terrific peals.
Darkness shut in the land, and covered the face of the waters. Our little bark,
left alone on the ocean, continued to struggle bravely onward. Everything was
made ready for the coming contest-the men ran to and fro in active bustle
-hatches were closed, and sails were handed and clued. The rain now burst
upon us in torrents-the drops, lit up by vivid flashes of lightning, sparkled
like diamonds in the air. Next came the furious wind, sweeping in majestic
foam across the bosom of the mighty deep, whilst our vessel with seeming con-
sciousness, trembled and quivered as the sea rose around her. How fearful is
the mighty mass of waters when agitated by the elements.-How angry and
fretful the sea when covered with its foaming white crests! What a piteous
sight to see the helpless bark tossed upon its bosom, and struggling onward
amidst wave and storm; The violence of the wind increased to such a degree,
that "all sails were taken in," and we were compelled to "lay to" (as the
sailors have it) under bare poles. Why should they call it "lying to" when a
vessel left at the mercy of the elements is pitching, lurching, and rolling in
every direction; I, who am not skilled in nautical lore, cannot pretend to say.
The gale continued with unabated fury for several hours, after which the
winds abated, and the clouds disappeared. We had now, however, the worst
of the difficulty to contend with. "A dead calm" ensued, the sea was rolling
"mountain high," whilst there was not a breath of air to steady our vessel.
This state of things could not last long. The wind having abated, the sea grad-
ually subsided-a breeze from N.E. set in, and spreading our canvas to its
favorable influence, we gladly pursued our way.
On the sixth day out of Savannah, we made Cape Florida Light, which is
in latitude 25 47 North, long[itude] 80 42 West. This Light is not erected at
Cape Florida as its name would seem to import, but is situated on the S.W.
point of Key Biscayne, a small Island about six miles from the Cape.1" At this
point we entered the reef. The Florida reef is a chain of rocks, commencing
a Strobel was apparently in error in this instance. On more than one occasion he states
that Cape Florida was that portion of the mainland coast lying just south of the Miami
River. Yet it was the consensus among the cartographers of the times that the name
Cape Florida applied to the southern tip of Key Biscayne. See E. A. Hammond, ed.,
"Dr. Strobel Reports on Southeast Florida, 1836," Tequesta, XXI (1961), 65-75.
E. A. HAMMOND
at Key Biscayne, and running in a S. and W. direction to Tortugas, a dis-
tance of nearly 200 miles. The water on the reef ranges from 2 to 6 feet. In
some places, portions of dry rock may be seen at low tide; whilst at others,
channels of considerable depth admit of free ingress and egress to vessels of
the largest size. It is upon this reef that so many wrecks occur-and probably
will continue to occur to the end of time. The current of the Gulf Stream
urges its way between the coasts of Cuba and the Bahamas on the one side,
and the Florida shores on the other. The width of the passage through which
it passes, being not more than 60 or 80 miles. The chief difficulty to be en-
countered in the navigation, and probably the fruitful cause of shipwreck, is
the uncertainty of the current-whose direction depends much upon the prev-
alence of certain winds, the direction being sometimes northerly and some-
times southerly. No foresight or precaution on the part of the navigator, can
avail much-he has Scylla on one side, and Charybdis on the other. Should
he endeavor to avoid the coast of Cuba and Bahama, by steering northerly, he
is liable to run foul of the Florida reef, and vice versa. The channel way
inside the reef lies between it and the Florida Keys. These, which are also
called Mangrove Islands, commence at or near Cape Florida, and running
parallel to the reef, accompanies [sic] it through nearly its whole course. The
average distance from the Keys to the reef is from four to six miles, though
in some places it is greater. We entered the reef, as I have already stated,
near Key Biscayne, and ran along with a leading breeze, between the reef on
one side and the keys on the other. About 12 o'clock we reached keys Rod-
rigues15 and Tavernier. These are two small islands about 15 or 20 miles
distant from Indian Key; they are places of lookout for the wreckers. We saw
two or three wreckers lying at anchor; the Captains boarded us in their boats,
and inquired the news. They in return gave us intelligence of the unhealthi-
ness of Key West. After a short time spent in conversation, they departed, and
we proceeded onward.
Is Rodrigues Key is not indicated on modern maps. Possibly it was the island now known
as Plantation Key.
In the course of the afternoon we reached Indian Key,'" and came to
anchor with the determination of remaining a day or two, as there was a pros-
pect of disposing of some of our cargo.17 Expecting to meet no persons on
shore, but the wreckers and turtlers,,'8 I landed in my sea clothes, that is to
say, without stockings, a coat with elbows out, an old pair of pantaloons, and
no waistcoat. I was therefore not a little surprised with the information that
a ball would take place that evening. To the ball I was determined to go; it
was unfortunately too late to return on board to dress myself. What was to be
done? Rather than miss the opportunity, I concluded to go, even as I was. I
reached the scene of action about 8 o'clock. The company had already assem-
bled. The ball room was a kind of piazza, or outshot from the main building;
it was neither lathed nor plastered, but was well lit up. The company consisted
of ten or twelve well dressed, decent looking females, who were either the
wives or daughters of the wreckers and turtlers. Some of these had brought
their children, clean, chubby-faced, hearty little dogs. There was also present
a dozen or more seafaring men, having on their best suits; they were dressed
in clean round jackets and pantaloons, white shirts, silk stockings, and pumps.
Taken all together, it was quite a family party. Each of the men, having se-
lected his partner, the fiddle struck up, and at it they went with might and
main. They danced what they termed "fore and afters." As near as I recollect,
the following description may give some idea of the figure. Two couples stood
up on the floor, one man in the center fronting his partner, whilst the other
couple remained in the rear of them. The couple in the center danced without
regard to the length of time, each endeavoring to tire down the other, until they
had exhausted their strength or their steps, when they "led off." Both couples
now formed the figure of eight, and the second couple took the center of the
ie Indian Key is often overlooked by modern map makers, although it still lies uninhab-
ited within sight of the present highway through the Keys. It enjoyed a brief impor-
tance in the 1820's and 1830's when it was a rendezvous for wreckers. Jacob House-
man, a prominent wrecker, gained the sole proprietorship of the island during this pe-
riod, constructed permanent homes and other buildings, and contested Key West's
preeminence as a center for wrecking activity. The brief glory of Indian Key was ter-
minated by the Indian massacre of its inhabitants on August 7, 1840, an atrocity which
took the life of Dr. Henry Perrine, and by the death of Houseman in a wrecking opera-
tion in the following year. See "Massacre at Indian Key," narrative of Hester Perrine
Walker, Fla. Hist. Quarterly, V, 18-42; Walter C. Maloney, A Sketch of the History of
Key West, Florida, Facs. Ed., Gainesville, 1968, Introduction by Thelma Peters, xii-xv.
17 In an earlier installment of the "Sketches" Dr. Strobel had mentioned investing his
meager resources in merchandise which he had hoped to sell for gain on arriving in the
Keys, Charleston Courier, May 2, 1837.
1 s Turtling had quickly become a profitable enterprise among the Keys. It may be re-
called that it caught the interest of John J. Audubon, who described it in his Delinea-
tions of American Scenery and Character, ed. by F. H. Herrick, New York, 1926, 194-5.
E. A. HAMMOND
room, and danced in their turn. They alternated in this way until one or the
other party was wearied out, when they took their seats. The temptation to me
was irresistible; poor a figure as I was likely to cut. I resolved to go in for a
jig. Hey, for life in all its variety! Who would not be the lion, even of a ball
at Indian Key? I led out my partner, made a thousand apologies for appear-
ing in my dishabille, declared that had I anticipated the pleasure of so much
company, I should have come better prepared, but as it was I could not resist
the temptation. I made myself as agreeable as I knew how, was very gallant
and attentive to my partner, and really enjoyed myself very much for a couple
of hours. Often will I recur to those hours with satisfaction-a satisfaction de-
rived from having entered into the poor man's amusement, and participated
in his feelings. The ball broke up at eleven o'clock, when we returned on
board of our vessel.
The Charleston Courier
May 4, 1837
[Early Impressions of Key West]
I arrived at Key West during the sickness of the year 1829. My entree
was not, therefore, calculated to impress me favorably, either with the place
or its inhabitants.... As soon as I had landed, I was introduced to several
gentlemen, who were polite and hospitable, and to whose subsequent friend-
ship I owe much. To the honorable character of these gentlemen, I shall al-
ways be proud to bear testimony. As good luck would have it, we became
acquainted about dinner time. I, of course, received an invitation to dine,
which was accepted. We had plenty of fish, turtle, and some young flamingoes,
cooked in a style peculiar to Key West. During the meal a talkative young
lawyer,1" who esteemed himself as "wondrous wise," and who was particularly
fond of showing his knowledge upon those subjects with which his auditors
were unacquainted, as he masticated a portion of the breast of a Flamingo,
made the following remark:-"There are many beautiful birds on this coast,
and I incline very much to doubt whether they have all been described, even
by Puffendorff!" "Puffendorff," said his neighbor on the right, "who is Puf-
fendorff?" "Why Puffendorff," said the young lawyer as he munched away
with great dignity and composure, "is the author of a celebrated work on
Ornithology, which contains splendid plates of the Birds of America." He had
proceeded thus far, when his neighbor on the left burst into a peal of laugh-
' If one examines the pages of the Key West newspapers of the period he is impressed
with the unusual number of lawyers whose professional cards appear. To identify the
one mentioned here is impossible.
ter. "Well," says he, "for my part, until a better is published, I shall be con-
tent with Wilson's Birds of America-o and I was always under the impression,
Mr. Lawyer, that Puffendorf:1 was a celebrated writer on National Law." The
whole table roared at the expense of the sapient limb of the law, and from that
day forward, whenever he was present, and a bird of any description flew by,
it was customary to exclaim-"I wonder if that fellow has been described by
Puffendorff!" This incident taught the lawyer a lesson which he never forgot,
that of not venturing beyond his depth, which was exceedingly shallow.
As soon as the business of eating, drinking and smoking was gone
through, an occupation, by the by, from which I experienced great pleasure,
notwithstanding we had no finger bowls after dinner, I started for a survey.
Key West is an Island from four to five miles long, by an average breadth of
one mile and a half. It contains from 100 to 150 houses, large and small, sev-
eral large warehouses, a Court House, Custom House, and Jail. For this last
establishment there were not many customers, there being no imprisonment
for debt, and the vices of the people being of such a character as is more
likely to consign them to the care of a doctor than the custody of a jailor.
In business seasons the town contains from five to six hundred inhabitants-
in the summer months the number is probably less. The Island is based on
limestone rock, and concrete shell, upon which is deposited a thin layer of
alluvial soil. The sea beach is composed entirely of finely pulverized shell,
broken in many places by portions of projecting rock. The soil of the interior
is alluvial, -it is not of very considerable depth. Imbedded in this soil are
found innumerable pieces of rock varying in size and shape. Were it not for
the existence of this stone in the soil, I do not believe that the island would be
capable of supporting the heavy growth of timber, found on various parts of
it. Being of a very porous and spongy nature, it absorbs during the rainy
season most of the water that falls which it retains and gives off in sufficient
quantities to sustain the vegetation which could not otherwise exist, as I
have known three months to elapse, during which we had not more than three
days' rain. This rock may be applied to many useful purposes of art. It is an
excellent and cheap material for walling, as a sufficient quantity may be col-
lected from any given spot, to surround it with a wall four or five feet high.
It is a good material for building, being so soft when first taken from the
ground, that it may be hewn into blocks with an axe, but on exposure to the
o2 This ornithologist is, of course, Alexander Wilson (1766-1813), whose nine-volume
work, American Ornithology, became something of a classic.
ax Samuel Pufendorf (1639-1694) was a German jurist and authority on international law.
E. A. HAMMOND
sun and atmosphere it becomes very hard and dry. It was employed success-
fully by Major Glassell-z in building storehouses, etc. for the garrison. Lastly,
by the action of fire it may be converted into an excellent stone lime. Key
West is well wooded. I could not but be struck at first sight by the pecularity
of its vegetation. I was in fact introduced into a new vegetable world. Among
the plants which I had never before seen, I may enumerate several species of
Cactus, the Air Plant, Gumbo limbo, Manchenele [? possibly the Manilkara
zapotilla], Wild Fig, Pigeon Plumb [sic], Torchwood, etc.
It is possible that attempts may be made hereafter to cultivate this island.
I question much whether the produce of the soil would repay the labor of the
agriculturist, but I have seen many of the West India fruits successfully culti-
vated. Limes, Bananas, Plantains [sic], Cocoa-nuts, equal, if not superior to
those of the Island of Cuba, have been grown on the coast.
Key West can never become a town of any very considerable importance,
having no back country, and no trade, except such as is casually brought there
by the occurrence of wrecks. There are on this as well as many adjacent
islands, very extensive natural Salt Ponds. A company has been lately formed
by Col. John W. Simonton,23 and incorporated by the Legislative Council of
the Territory, for working the Key West Ponds. Having myself seen salt form
in considerable quantities in the fissures of the rocks, by solar evaporation
unaided by art, I entertain no doubt of the success of the undertaking. In a
few years it will probably be a source of wealth to the enterprising proprietor,
by whose zeal and activity it has been carried into operation, and add greatly
to the commercial importance of the place. The ponds of this island alone are
sufficient to supply the whole United States with salt. An act has been passed
by Congress extending to the port the debenture privilege. It was hoped on
the passage of this law, that merchants would be induced to ship goods en-
titled to the debenture privilege, and deposit them here to await a favorable
opportunity of throwing them into the Havana market. The market of that
place is very fluctuating; goods stored at Key West might be sent over in
twenty-four hours, so as to meet the demand of the market and command the
highest prices. The good effects, however, which were expected to result from
the passage of this law have been defeated by certain discriminating duties,
as Major James M. Glassell was the commanding officer of the army post established in
Key West early in 1831. He was an esteemed citizen of Key West, cooperating with
civic leaders. He died on Nov. 2, 1838. Army and Navy Chronicle, n.s. 8 (1839), p. 192.
23 Simonton was one of the first Americans to invest in Key West after its transfer from
Spain. Brief biographical information on him may be seen in Maloney, Hist. of Key
which are imposed on Spanish vessels trading to this port. The object of this
regulation is to prevent smuggling.
Commodore Porter, in a letter to the Secretary of War, dated 29th De-
cember 1829, speaks in very high terms of Key West as a Naval Station. He
considers the harbor the best in the United States, south of the Chesapeake;
for its easy access and egress at all times, and with all winds, and for the
excellent anchorage which it affords, both in the inner and outer harbor, for
ships of the largest size. There are several channels leading to the harbor,
some affording water for the largest ships, others suited to vessels drawing
10 or 12 feet of water. From its proximity to the Gulf of Mexico, this island
in time of war will become a most important position, as a rendezvous for our
vessels of war, and as a military station. It commands the outlet of all the
trade from Mexico, Jamaica, the Caribbean Sea, the Bay of Honduras, and
the Gulf of Mexico. It protects the outlet and the inlet of all the trade of the
Gulf of Mexico, the whole western country of Louisiana, and the Floridas. It
holds in subjection the trade of Cuba. It is a check to the naval power of
whatever nation may possess Cuba. It is to Cuba what Gibraltar is to Ceuta.
It is to the Gulf of Mexico what Gibraltar is to the Mediterranean.
Charleston Courier, May 10, 1837.
[Mitchell the Pirate]
The earliest accounts which I have been able to collect of Key West refer
to its once having been the abode of Indians. The tribe which had inhabited
this Key had been driven by more powerful nations, first from the mainland,
then from Key to Key, and finally took their last refuge here. But even here
their pursuers were not content to allow them to remain. A decisive battle was
fought some hundred and twenty years since in which the Island Indians were
completely routed and almost annihilated; a few only escaping in their canoes.
These latter crossed the Gulf of Mexico and sought refuge on the island of
Cuba, where it is said that some of their descendants are still to be found.
The former residence of Indians on this island is proved by the existence of a
number of mounds, supposed to have been burial places. One of these was
opened and examined in the year 1823. It contained a number of human
skeletons, gold and silver ornaments, domestic utensils, arrowheads, etc. It is
by the massacre of these Indians that some endeavor to account for the im-
mense quantities of human bones found on every part of the island.* [Strobel's
note: The island is called by the Spaniards Cayo Hueso, or Bone Island.*]
E. A. HAMMOND
Others refer them to other sources. It is said (and I have no doubt of the fact)
that the Florida Keys were once inhabited by pirates. Key West was their prin-
cipal rendezvous, whilst from the various harbors along the coast they watched
the great commerce passing and repassing in the gulf, and when a convenient
opportunity occurred, they would pounce upon and secure their prey. This
they could easily accomplish, even in open boats, of a calm day, the vessels
frequently passing in sight of the Keys. No doubt many a noble ship, whose
white canvas had borne her through many seas, and weathered many a furious
gale, had escaped only to fall into the hands of these ruffians, and whilst she
had been given to the flames, the gallant crew had been inhumanly murdered.
I have been very solicitous to collect information on this subject. I succeeded
in finding only one individual, who from personal observation knew anything
about it. He was an old Spaniard,24 upwards of eighty years of age, who
keeps a fishery in Charlotte Harbor, and who has been fishing on the coast for
upwards of fifty years. This man was not, at best, disposed to be very com-
municative, but being moreover ignorant of the English language, and my
knowledge of Spanish not being very good, we were not able to communicate
very freely with each other, and he seemed at a loss to comprehend the motive
of my inquiry, and apprehensive of implicating himself. He stated, however,
that he recollected distinctly the time when the island was in the possession of
pirates, and their having on one occasion captured a large merchant ship, with
an immense sum of money in specie on board. The money was buried in
various places. The crew and passengers, among whom were several ladies,
were taken ashore and murdered, whilst the ship was burnt. These pirates
were principally Spaniards, but there were men of all nations among them-
they were in the habit of landing their prisoners, and murdering them indis-
Circumstances which have fallen under my own observation, tend in
some degree to confirm this statement. A leather bag containing a consider-
able sum of money in specie, as well as a Spanish Stiletto, was found buried
near the Custom House; these articles had undoubtedly been underground
for many years. A certain man by the name of MITCHELL, said to have been
24 This "old Spaniard" was Jos6 (or Hose) Caldez, who had resided on an island (the
present-day Useppa) in Charlotte Harbor for many years, probably since the 1780's.
He was a person of much interest to many travelers in the area. William A. Whitehead
described a visit he made to Caldez' fishing rancho in 1831. See "William Adee White-
head's Reminiscences of Key West," ed. by Thelma Peters, Tequesta, XXV (1965),
34-5. Also John Lee Williams, The Territory of Florida, New York, 1837, pp. 33, 39.
Strobel also described a visit he made to Caldez' rancho in 1833. Charleston Evening
Post, July 20, 1833.
a brother of the celebrated Pirate of the same name, came to Key West whilst
I was there-he gave himself out to be a Sail Maker, and advertised for work.
He was a suspicious looking fellow, very thin and tall, being upwards of six
feet in height, complexion dark and sallow, his hair long, black, and curly,
his eye dark and treacherous.-He seemed to shrink from observation.
It was rumored that this man had come to the place for the purpose of
searching for treasures, which had been buried by his brother: I looked upon
this as an idle tale until a circumstance occurred, which satisfied me to its
truth. I had gone out in the evening to search for a flock of Flamingos, and
was returning home late at night, with three which I had shot. It was a dark
and gloomy night, the wind whistled through the trees with violence-and the
moon penetrating at intervals the thick massive clouds which were floating
around her, sent forth a transient gleam of light, which by contrast added to
the darkness of the night. I was returning home by a new road, which had
been cut through an almost impenetrable forest, when I heard on my left
hand, some one digging in the woods. It was a late hour, and a singular occu-
pation for one to be engaged in at that time and in that solitary place. My
curiosity being excited, I determined at all hazards to gratify it. My birds
were immediately suspended in a tree, and both barrels of my gun loaded
with buck shot. I stepped cautiously and silently into the woods, with the
determination of ascertaining the object of the person, or persons, so em-
ployed. I had not proceeded more than one hundred yards, when the object
of my search stood before me. It was this identical MITCHELL, digging
around the roots of a gigantic tree. I at once conceived his object, and deter-
mined to await the issue.
I crept through the bushes, close enough to observe what was going on,
and in order to avoid being myself discovered, lay concealed in the thick
shrubbery. A candle was burning in a lantern on the ground, which cast its
feeble light on the surrounding gloom. Near the lantern lay a spade, and a
pair of horseman's pistols. How I longed at that moment for an artist's pencil
to transfer to canvas the scene which was passing before me. MITCHELL was
vigorously pursuing his task. Fancy reader if you can, the expression of that
dark visage, animated with the avaricious hope of finding gold, as the rays
of light flashed across it, as he stopped to examine the ground, his meagre
and attenuated form seemingly actuated by the vigor of lusty youth, and then
conceive if you can the transition to despair, when after an hour's exertion,
he threw down his pick-axe, and exclaimed, "D - n them. I have been deceived
-this cannot be the place."
E. A. HAMMOND
He now sat down, wiped the perspiration from his brow, took a bottle
from his pocket, from which he extracted a large quantity of comfort. After
resting for a few moments, he got up, put on his pea-jacket, stowed away his
pistols, shouldered his tools, blew out his candle, and started for town. I
waited some time to let him get ahead of me, and then followed.
I went out the next day to examine the place. The tree was very large,
and a remarkable one-on close inspection I discovered a notch high up on
the trunk. The earth and stones were in the same condition as they had been
left by MITCHELL.
Although disappointed in this instance, I have no doubt that he must
subsequently have found money somewhere; for the next account I heard of
him was in Charleston, where he purchased a vessel, and shipped a large
crew. Whether he was merely going in search of the treasures, or whether he
intended to commence business as a "practicing sea attorney" on his own
account, did not appear. Owing to some suspicious circumstances which came
to light the Collector of Charleston, as I was informed, refused to grant him
Charleston Courier, May 12, 1837
It has been said by someone that "a liar is worse than a thief; for, against
the inroads of the latter you may oppose bolts and bars; but what bar shall
obstruct or how will you close the mouth of the former." In regard to a cer-
tain class this may be strictly true, but fortunately for society, in a vast num-
ber of cases, "the bane and antidote" go together-the evil cures itself. The
man who deals habitually in the marvellous will hardly be believed, even when
he speaks the truth; so far, then, society has the remedy. But alas! for the
poor unfortunate wretch, who acquires such a habit of embellishing, and of
giving poetical coloring to the most ordinary occurrences of life, as to render
his statements doubtful to others; whilst from a frequent repetition of things
incredible, he appears to lose sight of propriety, and appears to be uncon-
scious of having departed from the boundaries of truth. Such an individual
often acquires full faith in matters, from their nature impossible, and is heard
asseverating with an oath to things as facts, which no man in his sober
senses can believe. One of the most remarkable instances of this kind that I
ever met with was an individual with whom I became acquainted in Florida,
and who received from the people the appellation of Baron. The Baron was a
small man with a large pair of black whiskers, and a fine set of teeth, which
were always well displayed; his mouth being large, and constantly on the
grin. He was a man of travel and of observation; had crossed the Atlantic,
visited London and Paris, had been intimately acquainted with Baron Dupuy-
tren,25 and had attended the King's levee; who then had so good a right to be
thoroughly acquainted with all things that inhabit the earth, air or water, as the
Baron? So extensive were his acquirements that you could broach no subject
of which he was not master. Think not, gentle reader, that these acquirements
were derived in the dull plodding, ordinary way, from books. No, the Baron
had studied men, beasts, birds and trees, in all quarters of the globe by actual
observation. He had seen a tree, the wonder of the world, which exhibited one
day green leaves, the next red, the third white, and the fourth blue. In short,
you could mention nothing which he had not seen, and tell no anecdote which
he could not equal, and in all of his narrations, he seems to have adopted the
words of the Poet for his motto-
"Nulhum teteget quod non ornaret."20
Such a character would not fail to attract notice, and to astonish the vul-
gar citizens, the canaille of Key West. He seldom wanted hearers, and upon
the credulity he made some heavy demands, as will appear by the following
It was not to be expected that so distinguished an individual should
escape being noticed by or introduced to all of the great men who visited that
section of the country. Consequently, on the arrival of Mr. Audubon'2 he was
introduced to the Baron. The Baron at once proffered his services to that dis-
tinguished individual, and engaged to take him to a part of Florida where he
could discover at least five hundred [At this point Strobel appended a note
explaining that "there are only 480 species described as inhabiting the United
States."] "new species of birds-nay more," if he wanted FLAMINGOS he
would show him a place, if he would accompany him in a boat, where they
could be taken from the trees at night "like hens from a roost!" Never shall
2s Baron Guillaume Dupuytren (1777-1835), renowned French surgeon, at one time royal
surgeon to King Charles X.
=6 Or more correctly, nullum quod tetegit non ornavit (there was nothing he touched
that he did not adorn). This quotation is from Dr. Samuel Johnson's epitaph to Oliver
-= Audubon visited Key West in May, 1832. Strobel among others lent assistance in pro-
curing specimens. See E. A. Hammond, ed., "Dr. Strobel's Account of John J. Audu.
bon," The Auk, Vol. 80, No. 4 (Oct., 1963), 462-466.
E. A. HAMMOND
I forget the air of complaisance, the great earnestness, with which Mr. Audubon
listened to the Baron, nor the peculiar smile which passed over his countenance
when he finished.
One day after dinner, as a number of gentlemen were sitting around the
table, a file of newspapers was brought in. Each selected a paper, and one of
them read aloud the anecdote of a Frenchman, who had been executed for
tickling to death three wives. The Baron listened attentively until the story was
ended, when he rose majestically in his place, and declared "that when he was
in Paris, he saw a man beheaded for tickling nine wives to death."
The Baron, it will be recollected had been intimately acquainted with
Dupuytren, the celebrated French Surgeon. A doctor on one occasion men-
tioned having an amputation of the hip joint performed; the Baron instantly
declared "that he had seen Dupuytren perform on eight individuals at one of
the Paris hospitals in one morning." A physician was conversing in the pres-
ence of the Baron on gunshot wounds and the singular direction sometimes
taken by the balls. He also related several remarkable cases of recovery from
severe wounds recorded by Baron Larrey98 in his campaign to Moscow;
when he concluded, the Baron gave the following history of a case, which
from its singularity, deserves to be recorded in the annals of surgery.
A marine on board a seventy-four or frigate (I forgot which), was walk-
ing the deck with his unsheathed bayonet in his hand; he approached the
main hatch, and while looking down, over-balanced and fell into the hold. The
bayonet entered his right side, passed through his heart, and came out in the
left arm pit. The man was placed under the care of a surgeon, who withdrew
the bayonet, and strange to tell, the man recovered and lived for several years
after the accident. When he died, his body was examined and a scar was dis-
covered in his heart where the bayonet had perforated.
A gentleman making some researches in natural history once asked the
Baron, as he had lived for some time in Florida, if he knew anything of an
animal called by the naturalists "Lemantin" [i.e., lamantin]), and by the
Spaniards, Manate" [or manatee]. "Oh, yes!" repeated the Baron, "they are
very curious. I have seen them very often; they swim on their backs, instead
of the belly. They are very large, one of them will make four hundred barrels
of beef." "Four hundred! You certainly mean four?" "No, by G-d, I mean
four hundred." "Did you ever see the skin of one of these animals?" "Oh, yes,
2s This was probably Jean-Dominique Larrey (1766-1842), a distinguished military sur-
I have seen many; they are shaped like a seal." And how large, Sir?" "Let
me see, about-yes, about as big,-as five ox hides." "But my dear Sir,
five ox hides would not cover four hundred barrels of beef." "Oh-er-ah
(scratching his head) but-it was only a part of the skin I saw; a round piece
out of the back." The Baron had once camped out in some of his excursions;
he of course had his tent pitched in an open space. While so circumstanced he
states he encountered a tremendous gale of wind, which getting under his tent,
tore it from its moorings and bore it aloft to a neighboring wood, and it was
deposited on the top of a tree. Several days were occupied in recovering it;
as the forest was so thickly studded with trees that he was compelled to cut
down about three hundred before they could get at it. Some of my readers may
suppose that the Baron was a quiz, and disposed to make himself merry at the
expense of his hearers. But such was not the case; he related these stories and
numerous others, with an earnestness and sincerity, which was calculated to
convey an impression, that he at least had full faith in the truth of what he
stated; and if anyone dared to express doubt, he would affirm it with a tre-
But alas! Poor Baron, oath and all, it would not do-he had a set of
unbelievers to deal with. The fact is there are no fools at Key West, a man
who can live there must have his wits about him, or to use a phrase common
among the people, "he must know Jacob Roach." Unfortunately for the Baron
he had no other way of employing his time than in the invention and relation
of these tales. But hold, I am too fast, he had one other occupation, which was
to mount an observatory five or six times a day, and look out with a spy glass
and many was the sail which he reported in sight; and many the wreck com-
ing in which never arrived. But this source of amusement failed at last and
became an old story, for whenever it was rumored that a sail was in sight,
the first question was, who told you so? Should the answer be the "Baron,"
oh! it was of course set down as an airy vision, a vessel created by his fertile
brain. I have heard great surprise expressed that the Baron never discovered
the flying Dutchman cruising about in those parts.
Charleston Courier, May 16, 1837
The MAJOR was at one time a particular friend of the Baron's. He may
be considered as a child of fortune, though the French would have designated
him an unfortunate child (un enfant infortund). He was by birth a French-
E. A. HAMMOND
man-and by his own shewing had been at the seige of Moscow and sub-
sequently aid to Gen. Lillemanale.29 The Major, therefore, had seen some
service-and as a matter of course, had encountered his share
"Of moving accident, by flood and field,ao
Of hair breadth 'scapes i' the imminent
Unfortunately, however, he had no golden chain, and the only testimonial
which he bore of his achievement, was a scarified leg, which he exhibited with
great pride, and which had been shattered by the explosion of a bomb shell.
Added to these considerations the Major was a tall, fine looking man, with a
sharp eye, large whiskers and no small portion of Pair militair. It is true that
he was not overburdened with many changes of linen, but to make up for his
deficiency in this particular, he had a trunk full of cards and letters from
the first men in the country. He was affable and pleasing in his manners-and
taken altogether, was a gay, plausible, insinuating fellow. The recital of his
woes could not fail to excite the compassion of every one; and his frank and
open manners gained him confidence. Under these circumstances the Major
was graciously received by some of the most respectable families, who ap-
"To love him for the dangers he had passed."P
Well aware that poverty would be no recommendation with the good citizens
of Key West, the Major took care to represent that he was by no means a poor
man: on the contrary, he had very large expectations from his friends, and
once possessed an ample fortune. By a vessel which sailed for New Orleans,
he ordered a large shipment of goods, with which he intended to commence
business. The Major now became quite the ton [Strobel probably meant the
fashion] and his company was much sought after. He could tell a good story,
sing a good song, and abounded in fine sentiments about love, honor, friend-
ship and chivalry. No party was therefore without him: and he embraced
every opportunity to show himself off to advantage. On one occasion the
Baron and the Major opened a ball with a waltz a la mode de Paris. The
vulgar citizens who had never seen anything of the kind, stood around idle
spectators of the scene, mute in wonder and astonishment. After the dance
2s Probably le comte Rend Charles Elizabeth Ligniville (1757-1813), French general who
served under Napoleon.
ao These lines are from Othello, Act I, Scene 3.
came the song; at this the Major was adept, and favored us with Berenger's32
latest, which was loudly encored. So far the game had succeeded to admira-
tion, but there was yet one difficulty to be surmounted. In order to keep up
these appearances of the fine gentleman, money must be had. Fortunately for
gentlemen of the Major's complexion, there is in every community a class of
persons, who are disposed to ape the manners of high life, to catch the crumbs
of etiquette, which fall from the great man's table-vulgar dogs who are only
fit to labor for the support of gentlemen who were created as
"Soft easy cushions upon which
Rogues and Knaves may fatten."'B3
The Lion of the day smiled upon them and they were happy. He honored them
with his custom, and they bowed low to the ground, in token of their gratitude
for favors which he had conferred. The Major knew his men, and gratified
them by accepting the use of a few ounces of their gold. The Major might now
be considered as one in "the full tide of successful experiment."a* Invitations
to breakfast, dine and sup, flowed in with a rapidity inconceivable; fine
clothes, money, segars, claret, in short, everything which his heart could de-
sire, were at his command. Passing the Major's house one night about ten
o'clock as he was standing under his door, he very kindly invited me in; and
being disposed to study this original somewhat in detail, I entered. Let me
describe his habitation. In anticipation of the arrival of his cargo, the Major
had hired a small shop; I was admitted by a large folding door through the
center of the building. After entering, I passed between two counters, one on
either side of the door, to the upper end of the room, where stood a table.
The store was shelved all round but contained nothing. Against the back door
were hung a pair of boots, a pair of horseman's pistols, a broad sword, and
two engravings, representing officers of the French cavalry mounting for the
field. Behind the counter was a small cot, upon which I suppose the Major
reposed at night. A boy was despatched for segars; meanwhile, the Major
exhibited a number of little knick-knacks, which he always carried about with
him, such for instance as a sword which he had taken from a Russian Gren-
a Strobel's adaptation of "She loved me for the dangers I had passed," Othello, Act I,
3a Pierre Jean de Bhrlanger (1780-1857), popular French poet and songwriter.
3a Strobel's variation on a line by Thomas Otway (Venus Preserved, Act I, Scene I),
which reads, "Honest men are the soft easy cushions on which knaves repose and
a4 From Thomas Jefferson's First Inaugural Address.
E. A. HAMMOND
adier in single combat; a pair of Horseman's Pistols presented him by a
French count, whose life he had saved in battle, a diamond Ring, a gift or
"gage d'amour" from a certain dutchess[sic], &c. &c &c. The boy having
returned with segars, the Major offered me a chair without a back, whilst he
who was accustomed to privations, seated himself on another which had only
three legs. The table containing one or two books, the candle, and two bottles
of claret lay between us-I lit my segar and whilst I sent forth a volley of
smoke, which wreathed in fantastic cords about the Major's head, requested
him to favor me with a narrative of his adventures. Many were the "deadly
fights" in which he had taken part, and many the feats of valor, which he had
performed. I shall record only one or two of his anecdotes as specimens of
"On one occasion, Sir, I was then only a simple Lieutenant of Cavalry,
we were ordered to charge the enemy's line, which consisted of Infantry, drawn
up in close array and flanked by Artillery. The trumpet sounded the charge,
and onward we dashed, shelter skelter, neck or nothing. When we had ap-
proached within fifty yards of the enemy's line, he opened upon us a tremen-
dous fire of grape from his cannon. At the very first discharge our Trumpeter,
who was riding at the head of the Regiment, received a grape shot in his
belly. The ball took him obliquely so as not to pass through him, but laid
open his abdomen, to such an extent that his entrails fell out on the pummel
of his saddle. It will readily be perceived that it staggered him for a moment,
but the Trumpeter, nothing daunted, pulled off his helmet, gathered his bowels
into the crown, and kept them up by pressing against his abdomen; in another
instant he clapped the trumpet to his mouth and blew a tremendous blast,
whilst his horse, goaded by the spur, bore him in the thickest of the enemy's
ranks." Speaking of the courage of his men the Major mentioned the follow-
ing among many other traits of bravery.
"We were lying out in camp, the enemy, who was near us, was throwing
shells night and day; many of them fell directly in front of our tent. It was
a common thing for the men on a wager of a half pint of wine, to take the
saddle blankets in their hands, rush forward, and throwing themselves over
the shells, fall upon their bellies and extinguish the fuse."
The Major continued to enjoy his prosperity for about two months, and
might have done so to the present day but for a few untoward events. "Alas!
"The clearest sky is subject to a shower."
The shipment of goods did not arrive at the expected time, and just as
the Major's friends began to get weary of accommodating him with money,
and sick of the hope, too long deferred, of getting it back, two gentlemen from
New Orleans arrived at Key West, who pronounced him "an imposter and a
notorious swindler." And now the truth flashed like lightning upon the aston-
ished eyes of the prudent citizens of the place. Each one was anxious for the
recovery of his money, and orders and notes by far outnumbering former
cards and invitations, collected on the Major's table. But no doubloons went
back in return. The Major was now deserted by the gay butterflies who had
sported in his sunbeams.
"Each coward son of peace fled far
From the neglected son of war."
He quit the busy active scene of public life, and went into dignified re-
tirement for the remainder of the time he was in Key West. He afterwards
went to Havana where I understand he succeeded in purchasing and shipping
a cargo of segars on credit.
Charleston Courier, May 17, 1837
GEORGE C. BITTLE received his Ph.D. in History at the University of
Florida in 1965. He is currently a research historian at the United States
Army Munitions Command at Dover, New Jersey.
CARLTON J. CORLISS spent nearly six years on the building of the Over-
seas Railway at the height of construction activity. Thereafter with the Asso-
ciation of American Railroads and since retirement he has continued to write
railroad history. See Tequesta XIII (1963).
WALTER P. FULLER of St. Petersburg, Florida, comes from a family
long associated with the history and development of southwest Florida. His
history of St. Petersburg is to be published soon.
CHARLES A. GAULD is an Associate Professor of History and Geography
at Miami-Dade Junior College-South. He believes that his Aberdeen-born
Uncle, George Gauld (1856-1926), of San Francisco, California, was named
for George Gauld M. A.
E. ASHBY HAMMOND, a specialist in the history of medicine in medieval
England, is a Professor of History at the University of Florida. For another
article on Dr. Strobel and Key West, see Tequesta XXI (1961).
CHARLOTTE and RUSSELL NIEDHAUK have for sixteen years been resident
caretakers of Lignum Vitae Key, a privately owned island of unusual bio-
logical and archaeological interest located offshore Lower Matecumber Key in
the Florida Keys. Charlotte is preparing a book to recount her experiences.
DAVID SHUBOW, a Miami publisher, developed his interest in the Florida
sponge industry while a graduate student in history at the University of
Miami. His Master of Arts thesis is on the larger topic of the industry in
The Association's Historical Marker Program
On Tuesday, November 4, 1969, as a part of the Annual Homecoming
festivities of the University of Miami a commemorative marker was estab-
lished at the site of the first building occupied by the University at University
Court and University Drive, Coral Gables. Dr. Melanie R. Rosborough, Pro-
fessor Emeritus of German who began her association with the University
of Miami in 1927, made the dedicatory address. The Marker was unveiled by
Mrs. Bowman F. Ashe, widow of the university's first president and Mrs.
George E. Merrick, widow of the founder of Coral Gables and a founder of
the university. Notably also present were Mrs. Hazel Pearson Leonard, widow
of Jay F. W. Pearson, the university's second president, and Dr. Henry King
Stanford, currently the University's president. Mayor C. L. "Jerry" Dressel
spoke for the City of Coral Gables and accepted the marker for the city.
U of M OPENED HERE
On this site in an unfinished building originally intended for
a hotel, the University of Miami registered its first students on
October 15, 1926. It was twenty years before the University was
able to begin the move to the site originally designated for it and
given by George E. Merrick, which forms part of the present
campus. The old "Cardboard College" which stood here was used
until 1967, and then demolished.
HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHERN FLORIDA-1969
The Association's Historical Marker Program
On Saturday, January 25, 1969, in cooperation with the Rotary Club of
Marathon, the Association dedicated the third of a series of markers to com-
memorate the building of the Overseas Railroad. The other two are at Home-
stead and at Key West. Mr. Carlton J. Corliss who had a prominent part in
the railroad activity in the Marathon area delivered the dedication address
printed elsewhere in this volume.
MARATHON HEART OF THE KEYS
OVERSEAS RAILWAY CONSTRUCTION HEADQUARTERS
Marathon began in 1908 as construction headquarters and
chief shipping terminal for Henry M. Flagler's "Overseas Rail-
way" to Key West. Through it passed tens of thousands of work-
ers and immense quantities of material and supplies. At nearby
Knight's Key Dock trains from New York met steamers from
Havana daily until the railroad reached Key West January 22,
1912. The seven mile bridge west of town, resting on 547 con-
crete piers, was at the time the longest railway bridge of concrete
and steel in the world. A storm on September 2, 1935, ended
railroad operations. Ten years later the Overseas Highway built
on the same track bed and bridges began to be used.
HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHERN FLORIDA-1969
HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHERN FLORIDA, INC.
MIAMI, FLORIDA 33157
STATEMENT OF CASH RECEIPTS AND DISBURSEMENTS
FOR PERIOD FROM SEPTEMBER 1, 1968 THROUGH AUGUST 31, 1969
Admission Museum ----------------------- .$ 87.70 $ 181.15
Contributions -------------------------------- 318.78 643.78
Contributions Tequesta ------------------ 1,350.00
Collections Special Benefit 3/10/68 -- ----- 2,207.34
Dividends Earned on Stocks -------- ------- 406.59 320.80
Dues Annual ------------------- ----- 10,040.00 9,735.00
Interest Earned ----------------------------------- 181.18 190.74
Miscellaneous ----------- ------------------- 33.80 19.24
Parry Railroad Collection ------------------------- 501.35
Sale of Books Tequesta ---- -------------- 647.70 310.50
Commodore's Story --------------------------- 360.09 542.39
Other ------------ ---------------- 656.71
Sale of Other Books and Novelties --- -- ..--- -- --- 78.30 926.85
TOTAL RECEIPTS _--- ----------- $14,160.85 $15,579.14
Books Purchased for resale ---------------------- $ 669.23 $ 524.51
Expenses Special Benefit 3/10/68 --- 316.03
Building Repair & Maintenance ---- ------------ 2,095.70 986.04
Dues & Subscriptions ------- ----------------- 19.00 82.00
Insurance General ------------------------------ 501.00 402.00
Miscellaneous ---- ---------------------- 217.05
Office Expense & Supplies -------------------------- 405.71 427.99
Novelties Purchased for resale ---------------------- 40.00 95.95
W. C. Parry Railroad Rental & Expense 600.00
Printing, Mailing & Postage ------------------------ 2,604.18 2,439.68
Salaries 9/1/68 9/4/69 ---- ----------6,230.00 5,896.00
Taxes Payroll and Sales Tax --- ------------ 316.54 306.46
Utilities Light, Sewer & Telephone --------------- 560.06 700.10
Stocks Purchased ----- -------------------- 97.35
Mortgage Principal ---- --------------------- 1,000.00 1,000.00
TOTAL DISBURSEMENTS -----------.. 14,755.82 $13,776.76
NET GAIN OR (LOSS) -- ----------$ (594.97) $ 1,802.38
HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHERN FLORIDA, INC.
MIAMI, FLORIDA 33157
COMPARATIVE STATEMENT OF ASSOCIATION EQUITY
AS OF AUGUST 31, 1969
CASH ON HAND
1969 1968 Difference
First National Bank of Miami (Checking) _.._$ 91.15 $ 905.88 $ (814.73)
First National Bank of Miami (Savings) --- 4,643.13 4,461.95 181.18
Petty Cash Museum ------------- 50.00 50.00
TOTAL CASH ON HAND-8/31/69 $ 4,784.28 $ 5,417.83 $ (633.55)
SECURITIES (AT MARKET VALUE 8/31/69)
Continental Oil ------- ------------- $ 984.00 $ 984.38 $ (.38)
Eastman Kodak Co. ----------------- 1,800.00 1,896.00 (96.00)
Occidental Petroleum Pfd. ------------ 1,785.00 2,363.00 (578.00)
Standard Oil of New Jersey --------- 5,467.00 4,890.25 576.75
C. N. A. Financial Pfd ---------------- 291.00 366.00 (75.00)
C. N. A. Financial Common -------- 370.00 418.50 (48.50)
TOTAL SECURITIES -----------$10,697.00 $10,918.13 $ (221.13)
Inventory on Hand 8/31/68
Tequestas (Estimated Value) ---------$ 150.00 $ 109.80 $ 40.20
Other Publications (Estimated Value) __ 2,500.00 2,287.35 212.65
Utility Deposits --------- -------- 52.00 50.00 2.00
TOTAL OTHER ASSETS $ 2,702.00 $ 2,447.15 $ 254.85
FIXED ASSETS AT COST (MUSEUM PROPERTY)
Land ----------- -------------- 000.00 $15,000.00
Building ------------ ---------- 34,705.44 34,705.44
Furnishings and Equipment ----------- 3,033.79 3,033.79
TOTAL ---- ---------------52,739.23 $52,739.23
Less Balance due on Mortgage --.. (10,000.00) (11,000.00) $1,000.00
TOTAL FIXED ASSETS ----------$42,739.23 $41,739.23 $1,000.00
TOTAL ASSETS ------ ----- $60,922.51 $60,522.34 $ 400.17
Mortgage Principal -------------- $(1,000.00) $(1,000.00)
Payroll Taxes ----------------------- (302.40) (224.90) $ (77.50)
TOTAL LIABILITIES $---------- (1,302.40) $(1,224.90) $ (77,50)
TOTAL EQUITY ------------- $59,620.1 $59,297.44 $ 322.67
LIST OF MEMBERS
EXPLANATORY NOTE: The Association provides several classes of membership.
"Sustaining" members who pay ten dollars a year make up the basic membership.
For those who wish to contribute more for the promotion of the work of the Asso-
ciation other classes of membership provide the opportunity, and the publication
of their names in the appropriate category of membership is a means of recognition.
"Patrons" pay fifteen dollars a year, "Donors" twenty-five, "Contributors" fifty,
"Sponsors" one hundred, and "Benefactors" two hundred and fifty or more. "Vil-
lagers" are dues paying (5.00) affiliate members.
This printed roster is made up of the names of those persons and institutions
that have paid dues since September 1, 1968. Those joining after September 30,
1969 will have their names in the 1970 roster. The symbol indicates founding
member and the symbol indicates charter member.
Abbott, John F., Miami Shores
Adams, Adam G., Coral Gables*
Adams, Miss Anne I., Miami
Adams, Eugene C., Miami
Adams, Franklin B., Miami
Adams, Mrs. Richard B., Miami
Adkins, Herbert W., Coral Gables
Admire, Jack G., Coral Gables
Admire, Mrs. Jack G., Coral Gables
Allen, Stewart D., Coral Gables
American Museum of Natural History
Arbogast, Keith L., Miami
Arnold, Mrs. Roger W., Miami
Atkins, Judge Clyde C., Miami
Axelson, Ivar, Miami
Baker, Mrs. John A., Miami
Baker, Mrs. Rita L., Miami
Balfe, Mrs. Alex, Miami
Balfe, Mrs. E. Hutchins, Miami
Bankston, Jarrell M., Miami
Barnes, Col. Francis H., Miami
Bartow Public Library
Bates, Franklin W., Miami
Baxter, John M. Miami Beach*
Baya, George J., Esq., Miami
Bayly, Mrs. Gloriana M., Key West
Beare, Richard, Miami
Beare, Mrs. Richard, Miami
Bills, Mrs. John T., Miami
Bishop, Edwin G., Miami*
Black, Leon D., Jr., Coral Gables
Black, Mrs. Margaret F., Coral Gables
Blaine, Michael, Miami
Blauvelt, Mrs. Arthur, Coral Gables
Bleier, Mrs. T. J., Miami
Bloomberg, Robert L., Miami
Blount, Mrs. David N., Miami
Borton, F. W., Miami
Bowden, Beryl, Clewiston
Bowen, F. M., Miami
Boyd, Joseph A., Jr., Hialeah
Boyd, Mrs. William E., Jr., Miami
Boynton Beach Historical Society
Bozeman, R. E., Washington, D. C.
Brigham, Miss Florence S., Miami
Brookfield, Charles M., Miami
Brooks, J. R., Homestead
Brown, Daniel M., Jr., Miami
Buchmann, George A., Miami
Bullen, Ripley P., Gainesville
Bumstead, Evvalyn R., Miami
Bumstead, John R., Miami
Burghard, August, Ft. Lauderdale
Barkett, Mrs. Chas. W., Jr., Miami Beach
Burs, Edward B., Las Cruces, N. M.
Cables, June E., Homestead
Caldwell, Mrs. Thomas P., Coral Gables*
Capron, Louis, West Palm Beach
Carlton, Mrs. Patricia P., Miami
Carson, Mrs. Ruby Leach, Miami
Cartee, Mrs. Horace L., Coral Gables
Castillo, Robert, Miami
Catlow, Mrs. William R., Jr., Miami*
Chowning, John S., Coral Gables
Clark, George T., Miami
Clark, Mrs. Marie, Coral Gables
Coconut Grove Library
Coller, Mrs. Harris A., Coral Gables
Conklin, Dallas M., Long Beach, Calif.
Connolly, William D., Jr., Miami
Cook, Miss Mary C., Miami Beach
Coral Gables Public Library
Corliss, C. J., Tallahassee
Coslow. George R., Miami
Covington, Dr. James W., Tampa
Craven, Mrs. Lois, Coral Gables
Creel, Joe, Miami
Criswell, Col. Grover C., Citra
Culpepper, Mrs. Kay M., Miami
Cushman, The School, Miami*