The Tampa Bay hotel
 The Spanish camp site and the 1715...
 King of the crackers
 José del Río Cosa
 Kissimmee steamboating
 The association’s historical marker...
 The treasurer’s report
 List of members
 Officers and directors

Title: Tequesta
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00101446/00026
 Material Information
Title: Tequesta
Physical Description: Serial
Language: English
Creator: Historical Association of Southern Florida
Publisher: (multiple)
Publication Date: 1966
Copyright Date: 2010
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00101446
Volume ID: VID00026
Source Institution: Florida International University: Florida History and Heritage
Holding Location: Historical Museum of Southern Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 2096319
lccn - 42015131
issn - 0363-3705


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Table of Contents
        Page 1
        Page 2
    The Tampa Bay hotel
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
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        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
    The Spanish camp site and the 1715 Plate Fleet wreck
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
    King of the crackers
        Page 31
        Page 32
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
        Page 37
        Page 38
    José del Río Cosa
        Page 39
        Page 40
        Page 41
        Page 42
        Page 43
        Page 44
        Page 45
        Page 46
        Page 47
        Page 48
        Page 49
        Page 50
        Page 51
        Page 52
    Kissimmee steamboating
        Page 53
        Page 54
        Page 55
        Page 56
        Page 57
        Page 58
        Page 59
        Page 60
        Page 61
        Page 62
        Page 63
        Page 64
        Page 65
        Page 66
        Page 67
        Page 68
        Page 69
        Page 70
        Page 71
        Page 72
        Page 73
        Page 74
        Page 75
        Page 76
        Page 77
        Page 78
        Page 79
        Page 80
        Page 81
        Page 82
        Page 83
        Page 84
        Page 85
        Page 86
        Page 87
        Page 88
    The association’s historical marker program
        Page 89
    The treasurer’s report
        Page 90
        Page 91
    List of members
        Page 92
        Page 93
        Page 94
        Page 95
        Page 96
        Page 97
        Page 98
        Page 99
    Officers and directors
        Page 100
Full Text


Editor: Charlton W. Tebeau


The Tampa Bay Hotel 3
By James W. Covington
The Spanish Camp Site and the 1715 Plate Fleet Wreck 21
By Marion Clayton Link
King of the Crackers 31
By Lawrence E. Will
Jos6 Del Rio Cosa 39
By lack D. L. Holmes
Kissimmee Steamboating 53
By Edward A. Mueller
Contributors 88

The Association's Historical Marker Program 89

The Treasurer's Report 90, 91

List of Members 92

Officers and Directors 100


'Ze estsAt: is published annually by the Historical Association of Southern
Florida. Communications should be addressed to the Corresponding
Secretary of the Society, 2010 North Bayshore Drive, Miami, Florida 33137. The Associa-
tion does not assume responsibility for statements of fact or opinion made by contributors.


Tampa Bay Hotel

The Tampa Bay Hotel


On August 20, 1885, Tampa obtained direct railroad connections with
the North for the first time. Due to the excellent business acumen possessed
by Connecticut-horn Henry Bradley Plant, this heretofore sleepy Gulf Coast
village was able to take full advantage of the bounties furnished by Mother
Nature and various industries about the bay began to flourish.1 Of course,
Tampa had been a port since the early days of Fort Brooke, established in
1824 but a port without suitable river or railroad connections with markets
cannot prosper at all.

As soon as the local and state businessmen realized what an economic
boost had been provided by the railroad and bay connection, they took quick
advantage of the several opportunities which had been sitting like rows of
ripe corn waiting for the harvest. First on the scene were the fish and oyster
companies which needed rapid transportation for their products to the
markets in the East and Middle West. Next came the ice plants to supply ice
for the fifty thousand pounds of fish which were daily shipped to various
points. Next came Gavino Gutierrez in search of guava trees which were

I The available accounts concerning Henry Bradley Plant include S. Walter Martin,
"Henry Bradley Plant," in Georgians in Profile (Athens, 1959) and G. Hutchinson
Smyth, The Life of Henry Bradley Plant, (New York, 1898). Plant laid the founda-
tion for his fortune with the Southern Express Company business and invested part
of his profits in Alabama, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida railroads. At the hey-
day of its power, Plant's transportation empire included thirteen railroad lines, nine
steamboat and steamship lines and over twelve thousand persons were employed in
this vast Plant enterprise. "Henry Bradley Plant, the King of Florida," Success
(November, 1898).


not too plentiful but, as a result of his reports concerning Tampa, cigar fac-
tories and a town were established by Mr. Ybor. In direct consequence of all
these activities the population of Tampa rose from 722 persons in 1880 to
2,375 in 1885 and 5,532 by 1890.

As economic conditions in Tampa became more favorable each year,
Henry Plant who was born October 27, 1819, did not miss very many oppor-
tunities. He developed Port Tampa, some nine miles from the downtown
area, as a deep water harbor. The South Florida Railroad was extended
to Port Tampa and a large wharf and warehouses constructed to handle the
shipping. By 1886, he had entered the local steamship business and estab-
lished a line connecting Tampa, Key West and Havana. Two of the vessels
in this line were the Olivette built by Cramp's of Philadelphia under the
supervision of the captain, James McKay, Jr., and the Mascotte. Within a
short time other lines which connected river traffic with the railroads were
established on the Apalachicola, St. Johns, Chattachoochee, Flint and Manatee
rivers. Port Tampa Inn, a most unique colonial style hotel, extending two
thousand foot from the shoreline and where a lodger could fish from his
room, was erected. Other hotels established by Plant were the Belleview near
Clearwater, the Seminole at Winter Park, the Ocala House and Hotel Kis-

Although the Plant Investment Company included among other holdings
an express company, a hotel chain, several thousand miles of railroad, control
of Port Tampa and associated shipping facilities and steamship lines, Henry
Plant was not satisfied. Henry Flagler, Plant's rival on the East Coast of
Florida was even more successful in building railroads and hotels. In fact
by 1888 he had erected the two million dollar Ponce de Leon at Saint Augus-
tine: a building which when compared with the Port Tampa Inn seemed like
a palace. Plant wanted to erect a better hotel than Flagler's -the express
and railroad magnate thought he would out-do the Standard Oil tycoon.2

Although Plant had made his decision to build the hotel, there were
others that had to be convinced that the edifice would be profitable. First
obstacle was the officers of the Tampa Bay Hotel Company which included

2 The definitive biography of Henry M. Flagler in Florida's Flagler (Athens, 1949) by
Sidney Walter Martin. Construction of the Ponce de Leon Hotel was begun December
1, 1885 and finished May 30, 1887. The building was estimated to have cost two and
one half million dollars.


W. N. Conoley of Tampa, President; Dr. George Benjamin of Tampa, Vice
President; and Perry Wall, Jr. of Tampa, Secretary and Treasurer. Despite
the fact that all of these men were leading citizens of Tampa they opposed
the erection of a costly building but finally gave their reluctant consent
when Plant declared that if they did not give their approval, he would per-
sonally underwrite all of the costs of construction.3 Certain members of the
Board of Trade (present Chamber of Commerce) wanted the hotel to be
built on the eastern side of the river, but Plant, architect James A. Wood and
civic leader Thomas Jackson won over the opposition by pointing out that
the hotel would look better on the other bank of the Hillsborough River.*

The next step was the selection of the site. The entire western side of
the Hillsborough was still part of the Florida wilderness- complete with
thick undergrowth, large oak trees, deep rooted palmettoes and wildlife of
all sorts. It was a wild but not very historic part of the Florida wilderness.5
A few homesteads and developments were scattered about the area. One was
the William S. Spencer farm in present day Palma Ceia. Others included
Spanish Town along the present Bayshore Drive, Hyde Park, a subdivision
established by G. H. Platt of Chicago in 1885 and the General Jesse Carter
tract. General Jesse Carter, a pioneer mail contractor, had been in charge of
the state troops during the Third Seminole War in 1855-1858 and had erected
a house and several smaller buildings on his holdings. One such building
erected by General Carter was a school house to provide education for his
daughter Josephine. Miss Louise Porter, a young teacher from Key West,
was employed as teacher and other students who joined the class included
the two Spencer children and five other guest students."

a Tampa Tribune, December 19, 1922.
4 Architect James A. Wood of Philadelphia, Pa. created such a favorable impression
with the Tampa Bay Hotel that he was commissioned to design the DeSoto Hotel and
the Hillsborough County Court House. Both were demolished by wreckers during
the 1950's.
5 According to the three accounts written by persons who took part in the DeSoto
Expedition or talked to the survivors, no general council was held with the Indians
of the Tampa Bay area.
a This school began in 1850 and was the first one to be erected west of Hillsborough
River. During the period of the Tampa Bay Hotel's existence, the building served as
an apothecary shop and later as a tool shed used by the Tampa Park Department.
At present, it has been moved from its original site near the river to a spot near the
McKay Auditorium and underwent a considerable amount of restoration and addition
of a section. This "Little School Building" is maintained by the DeSoto Chapter,
Daughters of the American Revolution. Information contributed by Virginia Sloan,
Librarian, D.A.R.


In 1866, Jesse Hayden obtained this land in trade with Carter for a
white horse and wagon. The fine looking animal had been most useful in
pulling the Hayden possessions from Camilla, Georgia to Tampa but the
Haydens needed land and Carter was most pleased with the trade.' After find-
ing a home, Hayden established business connections in the village across the
river. He and his son opened a store and a livery stable and began operating
a ferry so that they could cross to their places of business and to supplement
their income the ferry was made available for use by the general public.
Prices charged for passage on the flatboat included: forty cents for a two
horse buggy, twenty-five cents for one horse and buggy and ten cents for
man and horse. Single passengers were charged five cents per person and
taken in a skiff which together with the flatboat docked at the foot of present
day Jackson Street. It is believed that Thomas Piper had operated a ferry
from this site as early as 1846.

In 1886 and 1890 Mr. Plant had purchased tracts of land which totaled
sixty acres for $40,000 from Hayden and Mrs. Nattie S. McKay, Hayden's
daughter. Hayden's wife wanted him to hold out for more money but the
daughter persuaded him to accept the original offer. At the time of the first
purchase the Hayden house, a two story frame building with wide verandas,
was standing on the site where the lobby of the hotel building was soon to
be erected.

Of course, Hayden's ferry was inadequate for the purposes of Plant's
projected hotel and Plant's next step was to approach the city and county
officials. If a bridge were constructed across the Hillsborough River at public
expense, he offered to construct a $200,000 hotel on the Hayden tract. The
city and county officials showed their interest but it was difficult to raise
the money.8 Finally, the City of Tampa acquired sufficient land for the exten-
sion of Lafayette (now Kennedy) Street and a toll-free wooden draw bridge
was completed by February 28, 1889. Mrs. Jessie Leonardi claimed the honor

7 Tampa Tribune, December 20, 1959.
s Tampa Tribune, January 26, 1888. In some fashion Plant acquired a tract of land
from George N. Benjamin as an inducement to build the hotel. This land includes
the site of present day Fort Homer W. Hesterly. Karl Grismer, Tampa, (St. Petersburg,
1950), 273. The two authorities of Tampa's history are D. B. McKay and Karl Grismer.
Both state that Plant purchased sixty acres of land from Hayden in 1888. Yet the
Tampa Weekly Journal, May 10, 1888, states that fifteen acres of the Hayden tract
had been purchased by Plant for $9,800 with $1,000 down and the rest to be paid
in four weeks. Perhaps Plant purchased fifteen acres at first and then found he had
need of the entire sixty acres.


of being the first woman to cross it while riding in a vehicle. One third of
the cost of the bridge which totaled nearly $15,000 was borne by Hillsborough
County and the City of Tampa assumed the remainder.

By May, 1888, Plant envisioned a hotel costing one million dollars or
more but this canny businessman was afraid that the city taxes would be
rather high. Consequently on May 10, 1888, he offered to begin construction
on the hotel within thirty days if the city council guaranteed that all taxes
and licenses would not exceed the sum of two hundred dollars a year." The
council agreed to this proposition and construction was begun.

By June, 1886, fifteen acres were being cleared and some building ma-
terials had been purchased. At first Plant did not attempt to erect a building
that would match the Ponce de Leon in size or cost but only wanted a building
worthy of his name. Of course, the hotel would be a model of efficiency with
steel girders, a record number of bathrooms, beautiful landscaping and a
credit to the Plant Investment Company. However, after construction was
begun and Plant became enamoured with the project, plans were changed
so that the Tampa Bay Hotel would equal or perhaps excel the Ponce de
Leon. Everyone was pleased with the progress made during the early stages
of construction and ground clearing and soon it was time to lay the

On July 26, 1888, the cornerstone for the Tampa Bay Hotel was laid.
A holiday was declared for Tampa and more than two hundred persons
crossed the river to see Mayor Herman Glogowski perform the ritual which
initiates the construction of an important edifice. Music for the occasion
was provided by the Tampa Silver Cornet Band. After the ceremony was
concluded, some of the party retired to the shade provided by the towering
oak trees where a picture was taken by J. C. Field and champagne was
enjoyed.o1 Toasts were dedicated to the Plant Hotel Company, Tampa, Henry
Plant, South Florida, the Plant Railroad System and even one was given to
any person who was overlooked. It was said that some persons drank just
a little bit too much and began throwing their hats into the trees, dislodging
a few acorns.- However, it was good that the citizens enjoyed themselves

STampa Tribune, May 10, 1888.
to Tampa Tribune, July 26, 1888. In 1963, University officials instituted a search for the
cornerstone but were unable to find it.
IL Tampa Tribune, August 3, 1847.


for a sign of distinction was being erected a sign that would outshine at
least as a symbol of Tampa the landings of De Soto and Menendez, military
activities at Fort Brooke and the mounds of the long vanished Timucuan

With the ceremonies ended, the work on the hotel proceeded with all
due haste. Twelve brick layers and thirty-four laborers were hired and imme-
diately began work. Sometimes the men worked at too fast a pace and were
given furloughs when they had exhausted the supply of local bricks and
those sent from Cincinnati. Another furlough was granted when the steel
girders sent from Pittsburgh arrived by mistake in another place five hundred
miles distant. Since there was a yellow fever outbreak at Jacksonville, all
building supplies coming from the North to Tampa were fumigated.12 Finally,
after a steady stream of materials which included bricks arriving by train
from Ohio and by barge from the Hillsborough Brick Company and lime
brought by boat poured into Tampa, the supply of skilled bricklayers was
exhausted and it became necessary to train young local men in the profession.
By January 1889, work had progressed to such an extent that one wing four
stories high and five hundred and eight feet long was erected. Delighted by
such progress, the builders estimated that the hotel should be open for
business in January, 1890.

Plant informed architect Wood that the hotel should be made as fire
and hurricane proof as possible. The changing from narrow gauge to stand-
ard gauge of the South Florida Railroad provided a rich store of rails to
reinforce the concrete walls and ceilings.13 Marine cable from Key West
provided another bountiful supply of solid supports needed for the hotel.

As the work progressed on the stately building, the citizens of Tampa
were most eager to show visitors what was taking place. In August, 1889,
a group of business leaders from Chicago came to Tampa and were taken
to the construction site. They were so impressed that they expressed great
interest in returning when the construction was completed. On March 14,
1890, Vice President of the United States Levi Morton, his wife and three
daughters visited Ybor City and the site of the hotel."- When passengers for

i2 Tampa Tribune, August 30, 1889.
La The steel rails can be seen in the ceiling of Room 231. When it was necessary to
knock out walls to enlarge a radio studio for the University, workmen found that
they had an exceedingly difficult task.
14 Tampa Daily Journal, March 14, 1890.


the Plant Line Steamers crossed the railroad bridge en route to Port Tampa
on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday nights, a large bonfire was lighted so
that they could see the hotel.

It was most necessary to provide a beautiful setting for the hotel and
a Frenchman named Anton Fiche who was an outstanding gardener was
employed to supervise all gardening activities. On one occasion Plant sent
Fiche to the Bahamas where he secured a boatload of tropical plants and,
of course, Plant on his return from his European trips brought many unusual
trees and plants.' As the first step in preparation of the land on the pro-
posed garden site, an area between the hotel and river was cleared and flowers
and trees were transplanted in this area and elsewhere.i- It was said that
thousands of geraniums lined the banks of the small brook which flows into
Hillsborough River. In 1892, a catalogue of fruits and flowers growing on
the Tampa Bay Grounds listed more than one hundred and fifty different
plants. Included in the list were twenty-two kinds of palm trees, thirteen
ferns, nine kinds of cacti, three types of bananas, twelve kinds of orchids
and various citrus trees including orange, lime, lemon, grapefruit, mandarin
and tangerine.17 It certainly was a lovely spot.

Somehow the hotel was not ready for occupancy in January, 1890. Per-
haps Mrs. Plant could be blamed for she was shopping in Europe for
statues, paintings, tapestries and furniture for the public rooms of the hotel
and shipments did not arrive in time.ls More likely it was James Wood, the
architect, who was responsible for the delay. It was said that time and time
again he had walls torn down when they did not suit his fancy, and specifica-
tions were repeatedly changed. As late as March 28, 1890, he departed on a
trip to New York to make arrangements for the addition of buildings which
included a large dining hall seating 650 persons, steam laundry, servant's

Is Tampa Tribune, June 21, 1959. When the hotel closed for five years after the death
of Plant, Fiche developed a celery farm in Ybor City (North of Seventh Avenue and
West of Thirtieth Street) and operated it for many years.
ia Since it would take some time for the trees and scrubs to develop beautiful foliage,
photographs taken of the hotel grounds during the first several years show it in an
almost bare state.
17 An original copy of this catalogue is in the Yonge Library of Florida History, Univer-
sity of Florida.
is Karl Grismer expresses this view in his excellent book Tampa (Saint Petersburg,
1950), 189.


quarters housing 275 persons, engine house, conservatory and kitchen.1 In
order to provide space for these buildings, additional land to the west was
purchased. Since the large steam laundry planned for the hotel could not
be operated at a profit if it were entirely dependent upon hotel business,
Plant Investment Company officials decided that in addition to the hotel busi-
ness the laundry should service the dirty linen of the Plant Steamship Line

Architect Wood observed every detail of the construction but he always
was glad to see visitors and guide them about the site noting what changes
were taking place. The electrical contract had been given to the Eureka Com-
pany of New York and it was planned to have two thousand lights through-
out the hotel.-- Electric lights and telephones were to be placed in each
guest room. All window glass in the building had double thick and number
one grade specifications and was imported from France. Four large steel
tanks were placed on the roof to provide plumbing pressure and a two
hundred feet long, fifteen feet wide and eight feet deep cistern was installed
beneath the building to provide water for the hotel.-- Eighty carloads of
furniture arrived and were installed in rooms in the south wing,2

The people of Tampa saw a unique building arise on the river bank
that once had been a wilderness. Architect Wood had planned a five
hundred and eleven room structure topped by thirteen minarets, each com-
plete with a crescent, representing the Mohammedan lunar year. It would
seem that the style was Moorish but observers have pointed out that the
domes and minarets are typical of the Near East rather than Spain. Certainly
the building has no claim as being pure Moorish and there is at least one

is Tampa Tribune, March 29, 1890. Wood had been sent by Plant to Spain to study
the Moorish style of architecture and Wood followed this style in the several build-
ings that he planned in Tampa and elsewhere in Florida and Georgia. In his initial
layout for the Tampa Bay Hotel, Wood planned that a wooden building would be
suitable as a dining place for a hotel costing two hundred thousand dollars, but by
1890 he changed his mind and decided to erect a more costly dining hall connected
by a long hallway to the main hotel building.
an Power for the electricity was supplied by two high speed machines and four "five
hundred light dynamos" housed in a brick building some four hundred feet from the
main building. Tampa Tribune, May 1, 1890.
21 From available evidence it appears that the Tampa Bay hotel made use of other
sources of water supply.
22 In 1893 Plant visited Chicago and purchased a large supply of furniture. It appeared
that he purchased too much and it was necessary to hold a sale to dispose of the
surplus. Tampa Tribune, December 19, 1922.


building in Saint Augustine erected during this period which is more repre-
sentative of the Moorish style.
The grounds of the hotel were indeed most impressive. At first, rustic
gates made of cabbage palmetto trunks guarded the carriage and foot en-
trance way path but they were replaced by iron gates and a watchman's
house by 1894. Near the center of the spacious lawn was erected a white stone
outpost containing as weapons two old cannon taken from Fort Brooke which
stood across the river. Rickshaws pulled by young Negros rather than
Chinese coolies were available to carry the guests to the dining room or to
the circular Mirror Pool which lay to the front of the hotel or for a spin
around the mile long walk which circled the main building. To the west of
the hotel was a nine-hole golf course designed by John H. Gillespie of
Sarasota and Scotland.c During the early days of the hotel, Mr. Gillespie
caught the attention of all newcomers with his kilts. Train tracks installed
during the construction days to transport building materials were utilized to
carry guests directly to the hotel doors. It was said that Mr. and Mrs. Plant
(home base of operations, 586 Fifth Avenue, New York City) lived at times
in a private railroad car of the Plant System which was known as "Number
One Hundred" but when they visited the hotel, they lived in a suite reserved
specially for them.
Entering the hotel through the main doors, guests found themselves in
a rotunda, with its many chairs, divans and art objects. From the great central
hall, corridors led left and right to the interior wings of the building. The
northern corridor led into the solarium and a beauty shop which offered
hair styling and manicuring service.
Situated in the south corridor of the first floor were rooms used for
various general purposes. These included a waiting room for male and
female visitors, several waiting rooms reserved for feminine visitors and
writing rooms. At the entrance way to this part of the building was the
ever popular ballroom where dances were held at nights and tea served at
four in the afternoon.-2

sa Tampa Tribune, November 22, 1959.
a2 The south corridor leads into what is now known as the Tampa Municipal Museum,
maintained by the City of Tampa. The office of the Director of the Museum may
have served as Mr. Plant's residence when he and his wife stayed in Tampa. One
photograph of the hotel orchestra directed by Henry Stubbleline shows the orchestra
performing in the room known to-day as the Dome Theatre. Tampa Tribune, July 20,
1952. Until the season's business warranted moving to the Tampa Bay Hotel, Stub-
bleline's group gave concerts at the Port Tampa Inn. Tampa Tribune, December 8,
1893 and August 26, 1894.


On the level below the ground floor were located various services for
the guests. In this area the gentlemen could visit a cafe, billiard room,
barber shop and a drug store. The ladies could enjoy segregated shuffleboard,
billiards and cafe facilities in the same floor. In addition to these services
listed above, there were available in this subterranean level, needle and
mineral water baths, massages and a physician.25

Mr. and Mrs. Plant made a tour of Europe in 1889 to visit the Paris
Exposition and to secure suitable furniture and art objects for the public
rooms in the Tampa Bay Hotel. On this European trip Plant carried the
Florida exhibit for the exposition at a personal cost of $15,000. Since Henry
Plant was in his seventies, it was the younger, second wife, Mrs. Margaret
Plant, who had the energy to visit the numerous antique shops that are
available for those who possess wealth. Perhaps of all the objects obtained
at this time, the most impressive was the 30,000 yards of red carpeting with
blue dragons which had been purchased from Christie's in London. The
carpet had been ordered by English royalty but rejected because of their
refusal to walk on the emblematic lion figure and Plant purchased the entire
consignment. It had taken eleven men with block and tackle to place in the
lobby another gem imported from Europe -a lifesize bronze of Victor
Hugo's Esmeralda playing with her little goat.20 Some other items included:
One hundred and ten carved mirrors from Florence and Venice, solid brass
candelabra, a Marie Antoinette parlor from the palace at Versailles, a large
majolica vase, two Indian jewel vases and various possessions owned and
loved by Marie Antoinette, Louis XIV, Louis Phillippe, Napoleon, Isabella

25 Tampa Tribune, February 15, 1955. Prior to the opening of the Student Center in
1964 the University of Tampa utilized these billiard and shuffleboard rooms, as a
cafeteria and club room area. During the early days of the hotel no lady, worthy of
the title could be seen partaking of an alcoholic drink but one daring woman invaded
the bar room during an odd moment and enjoyed herself and the same daring damsel
ordered a drink to be sent to her room.
2z This carpet may be seen on the floors of several rooms in the Tampa Municipal
Museum. Probably most of the articles that were of European origin were purchased
on the 1889 trip to Europe. Another trip was taken to Japan in 1897 and articles of
oriental origin were purchased and placed in the Tampa Bay Hotel. After the death
of P'ant, his widow removed many of the art objects and throughout the years various
pieces of the hotel furnishings were taken to other places which included homes in
Tampa. According to D. B. McKay one lease holder removed a railroad car load of
pianos and the Tampa City Hall was supplied with office furniture removed from the
hotel attic. Tampa Tribune, November 22, 1959. The bulk of these art objects have
been placed in the Tampa Municipal Museum (part of the Tampa Bay Hotel Build-
ing) and is available for inspection on Tuesdays through Saturdays during the day
hours. Many of the objects have greatly increased in value since 1890 and the
entire collection is a worthy credit to the City of Tampa.


and Ferdinand of Spain, Queen Elizabeth, Queen Victoria and Mary, Queen
of Scots.

As a visitor entered through the main entrance way into the circular
two story rotunda, he came into contact with various treasures imported
from Europe. Thirteen polished marble columns supported the base of the
rotunda and bronze figures were placed by each column. Life size bronze
Indian maidens, in groups, served as light fixtures for illumination needed
on the steps leading to the second floor.

Occupying a place of prominence in the drawing room (known to-day
as the Ballroom) were a sofa and two chairs which had belonged to Marie
Antoinette, four gilt chairs that had been possessed by Louis Phillippe and
assorted antique and modern Spanish, French and Japanese cabinets. Along
the hallways could be found antique carved Dutch and rare onyx chairs.
The beautiful art collection which decorated the walls included oil paintings,
water colors, and steel engravings.

In evaluating these art treasures it must be remembered that during
the 1880's and 1890's many wealthy Americans visited Europe in search of
paintings and tapestries to fill their houses in Chicago, New York, Phila-
delphia and elsewhere. Certainly a great deal of worthwhile art objects were
obtained but it must be admitted that some of the so-called treasures were
greatly overpriced and even of doubtful origin. Perhaps Mr. and Mrs. Plant
were as fortunate as John Ringling who visited Europe sometime later and
returned to Florida with numerous items of great value.

With the hotel nearing completion in 1890, the construction foremen
totaled the amount of materials they had used to fashion the building. In
erecting the main section alone, 7,576 barrels of shell were used, 452 car-
loads of brick laid and 4,041 barrels of lime used, along with 2,949 barrels
of cement, 2,224 tons of steel and 691/2 tons of iron. Other construction
materials included 242 kegs of nails, 5,050 feet of iron cornices, 689,500
feet of lumber, 27,000 square feet of stone dressing, 30 polished granite
columns and numerous tons of other miscellaneous materials.27

27 A picture of a 1892 construction crew may be seen in the Tampa Tribune, October 12,
1952. It was taken by J. C. Field who performed the same task during the cornerstone
ceremonies. The total cost of the hotel probably was in the neighborhood of two
million dollars. This estimate does not include half a million dollars spent on fur-


An employee list of three hundred persons which included leading chefs,
managers and other key personnel from outstanding hotels of the country
was hired and made ready the establishment for its formal opening on Febru-
ary 5, 1891. Some fifteen thousand invitations which bore the legend:
"Tampa Bay Hotel will be open for guests, Saturday 31, 1891, and the
opening ball will take place Thursday, February 5, 1891, to which you are
respectfully invited," were sent to various persons including Henry Flagler.
By 8:30 P.M. guests began arriving in carriages, launches and train and, in
honor of the occasion, the ladies were presented with fans and brass crumb
trays and shaving mugs and ash trays were given to the men.

The events of the evening were given in excellent detail by one eye-

"Mayor Glogowski officiated with Mr. and Mrs. Plant, hundreds of guests
passed by them. Chinese lanterns and candles lighted the grounds. Two thou-
sand people viewed the grand opening. The Albert Opera Company, the
H. P. Stubbleline orchestra, played selections from Faust and other operas
for an hour and a half. In the dining room with its huge dome, its arches
on fitted pillars, its tapestries on pure white walls, were flags of all nations.-
Silk damask of various hues draped the alcoves above. Food was served on
Wedgewood, French porcelain, and Vienna plates. Giovanni Curreta, for
fifteen years in Delmonico's and the Union Club, New York, made the
pastry. Rossi, from the Manhattan Club, was baker.

Afterwards it was like a fabulous house party. With the 300 bedrooms
and royal suites filled, guests slept in the turrets, in the drawing room, parlor
rotunda, bunking on the tapestried couches near marble statues and French
and Japanese cabinets near the jeweled shrine that Mary, Queen of Scots,
bowed her small white neck before, as she prayed for delay of execution.
Ebony and rosewood chairs were moved together to accommodate a man's
sleeping length. Old carved Dutch chairs, onyx chairs, were similarly

2a The wood carving in the stairways, ballroom and probably the beautiful work about
the rotunda of the dining room was done by Ernest Augustus Oakes. Tampa Tribune,
December 13, 1959.
zs One of the tunes played on the opening night was the "Tampa Bay Hotel Gallup." A
copy of this tune may be seen in the Hillsborough County Historical Commission's
room in the County Courthouse. As late as 1916 one guest noted that all of the hotel
employees had come from the North. Mildred McDowell Old Seaport Towns of the
South (New York, 1917), 193-209.


As part of the opening ceremonies, a tennis tournament was arranged
in which English, Canadian and American tennis stars were invited to par-
ticipate. Included in the players were Grinstead and Garrett from England
and Dr. Dwight Davis, the father of American lawn tennis. According to one
young Englishman who took part, the tournament was not taken too seriously
by him but he enjoyed dancing until midnight and then playing pool or
poker and enjoying the best sherry cobblers, gin fizzes and whiskey sours
that he had ever tasted.3o

In April, 1891, the Tampa Bay Hotel closed its doors terminating the
first season of operations. A grand total of 4,287 guests had registered
during this first year. To emphasize the value of the hotel to Tampa, it
became known that eighty-five hundred dollars had been expended in the
local market to purchase fruit and vegetables and eighteen hundred dollars
had been spent for fire wood.

By the season of 1893-94 the Tampa Bay Hotel schedule had settled to
a steady routine. In order to promote more business, it was decided that the
hotel should open some six weeks ahead of the previous date and the place
was made ready for guests on December 4, 1893. General Manager J. H. King
of the Plant Hotel System arrived from New York November 7, 1893, with
his staff of waiters, clerks and twenty-seven maids to prepare the hotel for
the opening date.-1 After much work by all concerned, the signal was given
that the hotel was open a flag was raised to the top of the staff near the
engine house.

For a fee which ranged from thirty to fifty dollars a day and included
food, transportation, guns and ammunition, Arthur Schleman, chief guide
and John Gallie, associate, took guests to the nearby forests in Hillsborough
and Manatee counties where a bountiful supply of game abounded. During
the season of 1893-94 some 5,084 quail and snipe, 11 deer, 14 turkeys and
7 alligators were killed.31 H. Lee Borden of the Borden Milk Company was
able to bring back 73 quail and 2 doves. Since the guests were afraid of rattle-
snakes, much of the shooting was done from horseback or from a buggy.

so T. C. Bridges, Florida to Fleet Street (London, no date), passim.
31 Tampa Tribune, December 8, 1893.
as Tampa Tribune, March 24, 1894. Arther Schleman, a native of England, had been
a guide in New York State and came to Tampa with Chester Chaffin of the Plant
Railroad System.


In addition to the hunts in the field, the hotel sponsored a snipe shooting

The earlier opening date seemed to have been a success for the following
season opened one day earlier than the previous year. Much work was done
in preparation for this season. The first floor was carpeted with a Juno
carpet imported from Europe. The walks about the building were paved
with concrete blocks instead of the clay previously used and a thirty by
forty foot conservatory was erected. A Japanese pavilion was constructed
near the river and its first floor contained a drugstore operated by S. B.
Leonardi and Company and the upper floor served as a sitting room for
the guests. Many tapestries, Persian rugs and four hundred paintings had
been purchased to decorate the hotel. Most unique of the changes had been
the erection of a frame building which served as Bachelors Quarters for
those desiring the quiet life. Each room possessed a bath, hot and cold run-
ning water, electric lights and a call bell. Despite all of these improvements
only a page and one half of guests were registered on the first day and most of
them represented the Plant Investment Company.s

The Tampa Bay Casino which was constructed near the banks of the
river was not ready for use until 1894. In this large auditorium guests heard
top opera companies from New York City. These companies, with world
recognized stars, while on their way to Cuba for winter tours, were able
to stop-over for Tampa engagements. Included in the list of great artists
who performed at the Tampa Bay Casino were John Drew, Ignace Paderewski,
Anna Pavlova, Mrs. Fiske and Sarah Bernhardt. The "divine Sarah" came
to Tampa on one of her numerous farewell tours but would not stay at the
hotel because she claimed it was too drafty and used a private railway car.
When movies came to the casino, a one hundred piece orchestra played dur-
ing the performance of the silent "Birth of a Nation." This building served
as an American Legion Hall during its final days and was destroyed by a
fire on July 20, 1941. Since the hotel owned, among other vessels, a fleet of
electric launches, there was located on the grounds, a boathouse for private
and hotel owned craft. Recent excavations have disclosed the existence of a
brick lined tunnel leading from the river banks to the hotel.

As the fame of the Tampa Bay Hotel was spread throughout the United
States, many outstanding visitors came to the place and a growing number

as Tampa Tribune, December 7, 1894.


of national meetings were scheduled there. In April, 1891, a naval squadron
anchored in Tampa Bay and Admiral Walker and his staff were given a
reception, ball and banquet by Henry Plant on Easter Monday. In 1895 Mrs.
Ulysses S. Grant came to the hotel and she was honored by the U.C.V. and
G.A.R. in a reception attended by a thousand persons. A reception for former
Confederate general J. B. Gordon was held in the casino in December, 1896.
In the season of 1897-98 a national trade association and the National Fish
Congress held conventions at the hotel.34

Despite all of the attractions and beauty of the Tampa Bay Hotel, it
was never more than half filled during the pre-Spanish-American War
period. Soon the hotel became known as "Plant's Folly," but the old gentleman
was not disturbed. He replied to all critics that he loved the place and that
his special enjoyments were listening to the pipe organ and following the
gardeners about on their duties.35

The Spanish-American War period saw the hotel reach a most notable
place in American history and become one of the most famous hotels in the
world. Henry Plant had succeeded in getting Egmont Key fortified one
month before the outbreak of war by using his influence with Secretary of
War Alger. On April 11, 1898, McKinley sent his war message to Congress,
and the extent of Plant's power was seen when on April 13, Tampa was
selected to serve as embarkation point and base of supplies for the Army.
The Tampa Bay Hotel, which had closed at the end of the winter tourist
season, reopened on April 21 in order to serve prospective military and
civilian guests.

The Tampa Bay Hotel saw its most glorious days during this pre-embar-
kation period. It served as staff headquarters or as a temporary home for
various dignitaries, including Clara Barton, General Joseph Wheeler, Colonel
Theodore Rooseevlt, General Nelson A. Miles, Colonel Leonard Wood,
General Fitzhugh Lee, General William R. Shafter, Richard Harding Davis,
and various newspaper correspondents and military attaches from all parts
of the world.

In 1899, Henry Bradley Plant died and for some time it appeared that
the Tampa Bay Hotel would be forced to close its doors permanently. The

d8 Tampa Tribune, November 22, 1959.
8a Tampa Tribune, February 15, 1955.


erection of other luxury hotels for tourists in Florida had caused the Tampa
Bay Hotel to operate at a loss and only Plant's desire to compete with Flagler
had kept the place open. During the several years that the heirs argued about
the property,3" the hotel remained closed most of the time, but finally in 1904
it and one hundred and fifty acres of surrounding property was sold to the
City of Tampa for $125,000.36. After the City of Tampa acquired the
property, it was leased to David Lauber for $10,000 a year and he opened
the Tampa Bay Hotel for guests in January, 1906.

In order to attract visitors to the hotel, Henry Plant had erected a
large exposition hall and race track in an area northeast of the main hotel
building. Such an undertaking attracted good crowds and well-planned
exhibits to the annual South Florida Fair held in the Exposition Hall. After
the death of Plant, the fair ceased operations in the period from 1899 to
1905 and had sporadic revivals until 1916 when were initiated the annual
fairs which have been very successful. After the death of Plant the fair
grounds and hotel buildings have been operated as separate tracts of land.

During the period from 1906 to 1920 the Tampa Bay Hotel became the
center of Tampa's social life and attracted a fair share of tourists in the
December to April season. The hotel was advertised as being the only fire-
proof hotel in the state and golf tournaments, fishing excursions, transporta-
tion by boat to picnics at Sulphur Springs and Ballast Point and hunts
featuring duck, alligator and quail shooting were stressed as principal
attractions. The list of prominent guests included such personalities as John
L. Sullivan, Belmont Tiffany, Stuyvesant Fish, William Jennings Bryan,
officers from Cuban, Italian, Spanish and American naval vessels, the German,
Italian and Spanish ambassadors, Father Sherman, Governor Charles Magoon
of Cuba and Irwin Cobb, European nobility and various state officials and

so Although Morton Plant had accompanied his father and the second wife on a honey-
moon trip to Europe, the friendship had cooled by 1899 and there was a bitter fight
between step-son Morton Plant and Margaret Plant concerning the Tampa Bay Hotel.
In 1902 the Plant Estate sold the Tampa Bay Hotel to a syndicate composed of
W. S. Harney, Charles Scott, Thomas Scott, and Gaston Scott for $300,000. This group
kept the hotel open for two years and in 1904 returned it. Prior to the change of
ownership Mrs. Plant had been given the privilege of selecting items from the hotel
and she selected various articles which were valued at $175,000 at that time. Before
returning the hotel to the Plant Estate, the Scott family selected many items which
were taken to Montgomery, Alabama, Valdosta, Georgia and Mobile, Alabama. State-
ment written by Gaston Scott (no date) and letter of June 16, 1948, written by Grace
R. Scott. Both items in files of Tampa Municipal Museum.


industrial leaders. The first Gasperilla Carnival Ball was held there in 1904.
During the Plant era the Tampa Bay Hotel had been regarded as a resort
for the tourists and the local citizens frequented other nearby hotels for
their social activities but now the holders of the yearly leases eagerly sought
local patronage. Many of the older generation in Tampa recall attending
their first formal dance which took place, of course, at the hotel.

Besides Tampa social life and normal tourist activities, other events were
scheduled at the hotel. During the Spring practice season, one or more major
league baseball teams had their headquarters at the Tampa Bay and played
their games on a pole field or race track which is the present site of the
Florida State Fairgrounds. It was claimed that Babe Ruth signed his first
baseball contract in the hotel lobby when he appeared as a prospective
pitcher for the Boston Red Sox.

The 1920's saw the Tampa Bay Hotel rise to glory and fall to retire-
ment. The leaseholders did not do too well during the 1910-1920 period
and various persons held the contract for short intervals. After 1920, how-
ever, there was a shortage of available hotel rooms in Tampa and the Tampa
Bay became a veritable "gold mine". Nearly one quarter of a million dollars
was spent by leaseholder W. F. Adams and the City of Tampa to renovate
the building so that it could accommodate the large number of guests. After
1926 the interest in Florida dropped rapidly and many rooms were unoc-
cupied. By 1932 Adams was declared bankrupt and the lease reverted to the
City of Tampa.

In the winter and spring of 1933 the Trustees of the University of
Tampa decided to change from a two year Junior College to a four year one
and to move from the Hillsborough High School Building. It appeared that
the Davis Island Biscayne Apartment location would be chosen until the
city officials of Tampa, realizing that this would be a good opportunity to
help a worthy cause, offered the University a lease with such favorable terms
that it could not be rejected. The entire building, with the exception of the
south wing of the first floor which was made into a city museum for some of


the Tampa Bay Hotel furnishings, was leased to the school for ten years at
a rate of a dollar a year. The Tampa Bay Hotel Building entered into an
entirely new phase of activities as the main administration and classroom
building of the University of Tampa.

The Tampa Bay Hotel was not destined to be just a hotel building
serving good food and drinks and providing rest and relaxation for its guests.
As a direct result of the Spanish-American War it acquired a place in history
as one of the great American hotels. The fame acquired from the dispatches
and books written by famous guests who came to the hotel at that time
caused Tampa to become known throughout the world.

The Spanish Camp Site

and the 1715 Plate Fleet Wreck


A 300-foot strip of sandy beach and dunes between Vero Beach and
Sebastian Inlet will immortalize forever the story of the Plate Fleet wreck
of 1715, thanks to the generosity of Robert McLarty of Vero Beach and
Atlanta, Georgia, who has recently deeded a portion of the former campsite
of the Spanish survivors and salvors of the Fleet to the State of Florida for
a park and museum.

Where 250 years ago nearly 1,500 terror-stricken survivors gathered
following the destruction of their fleet in a violent hurricane and sought to
establish themselves on this deserted, sandy shore, today nothing remains but
a 15-foot height of sand dune quickly covered with vegetation.

For more than two centuries this now deserted strip of beach kept its
secret. When scattered settlements began to dot the shores of the Indian River
late in the last century, the last vestiges of its previous occupancy by the
Spanish refugees had disappeared beneath the scrub oak, cabbage palm and
cactus which still cover its steep crest.

Charles D. Higgs,1 local historian, came close to discovering its presence
some 25 years ago, but although he found quantities of both European and
Indian artifacts buried in the site, he failed to associate it with the wreck of
the Plate Fleet. His examination revealed for 500 feet along the beach in the
wind and tide-eroded bluff a concentration of bones, both animal and human,
iron spikes, clay pipes and a peculiar assortment of pottery sherds. On the
higher land he discovered evidences of building materials bricks of red
clay, shell mortar and plaster, decorative and roofing tile and wooden stakes.

x See "Spanish Contacts with the Ais (Indian River) Country," by Charles D. Higgs.
Florida Historical Quarterly 1942, Vol. 21, pp. 25-39.


He concluded erroneously that it might have been an early Spanish settle-
ment of Menendez' garrison out of St. Augustine, or possibly evidences of
Ponce de Leon's second landing on the Florida coast.

Several years later the same site was investigated once more by Hale G.
Smith2 while acting as assistant archeologist for the Florida Park Service.
His deductions came somewhat closer to the truth. He wrote:2 "Considering
all of the data it seems very likely that the Higgs site represents materials
from the Plate Fleet Wreck of 1715 and/or the pirate's hangout of the fol-
lowing year.

"It must also be borne in mind that Indians, possibly Ais, were asso-
ciated with the site, probably drawn there by the wrecks."

He was led to this conclusion because this position agreed generally with
a map of east Florida made in 1774 by Bernard Romans,3 an English historian
and mapmaker, which bears an interesting note at the San Sebastian River
indicating that the Plate Fleet of 1715 was wrecked, in part, at that point.
This is in the immediate area of the Higgs site.

Smith says, "In the year following the Plate Fleet wreck, 1716, Spanish
sources mention a pirate's hangout at Palmar of Ays,* which is probably to
equated with "el Palmar" shown on the Romans map and which is also in
the immediate vicinity of the Higgs site."

The publication of these two papers, one in 1942 and the other in 1949,
attracted little attention except among those scholars interested in the
anthropological and archeological history of Florida. Any would-be treasure
seekers failed to associate the significance of these surveys with the fabulous
riches which must still exist in the sunken hulls offshore.

It was only after a hurricane in 1955 which carried away about 15 feet
of the sand bank facing the shore and uncovered coins and other evidences
of the ancient shipwrecks, that Kip Wagner, a housebuilder who lived in the

2 See "Two Archeological Sites in Brevard County, Florida" The Higgs Site (Br 1)
-by Hale G. Smith, Florida Anthropological Society Publications, U. of Fla., Gaines-
ville 1949.
a Concise Natural History of East and West Florida and accompanying charts-Bernard
Romans 1774.
4 From an unpublished bibliography on the area by Charles D. Higgs.


vicinity a good share of his life, became curious as to their origin and learned
the story of the lost Plate Fleet. He obtained a metal detector and started a
search which led him to a re-discovery of the site. Within a half acre he
turned up clusters of cannon balls, ships spikes, quantities of broken earthen-
ware, bits of melted gold, and even a pair of cutlasses buried in the sand.
A gold ring set with a large, crudely cut diamond and smaller stones was one
of the most exciting finds.

His curiosity aroused as to what might lie in the offshore waters, he
set out to organize a search first by plane and then by boat. Since then Kip
Wagner and his associates who later joined him in forming the Real "8"
Company, Inc. and obtaining leases from the state of Florida to work these
areas, have located several and salvaged two of the lost Plate ships retrieving
an unbelievable treasure in gold and silver coins and bullion, rare Chinese
porcelains still intact, jewelry, religious medals, and a wide variety of
ships' parts and equipment.

The fleet which yielded these treasures was known as the "Combined
Armada of 1715." It was organized by the Spanish government at the port
of Cadiz in 1713 just following the end of the War of the Spanish Succession
which had caused the postponement of the regular yearly sailing of the
Plate Fleet for several years. Because there were not enough Naval vessels
available for the undertaking, the King had given orders to make up the
balance by letting contracts to private owners. These registros, as they were
known, were in charge of Don Antonio de Echebera y Zubiza, while Don
Juan Esteban de Ubilla was designated leader of the flota.

During the more than two hundred years that the Spanish had been
carrying the wealth of the New World to Spain, it had become the custom
for the fleets to split upon reaching the western side of the Atlantic, the
Galeones de Tierra Firme, or Mainland Fleet, going to Cartagena and Porto-
bello in New Granada and Panama, and the Flota heading for Vera Cruz in
New Spain. From the South American ports the Galeones would pick up ship-
ments of gold, silver and jewels, while the Flota at Vera Cruz collected the
gold and silver of Mexico as well as the treasures from the Orient which
arrived there by muleback after a long voyage across the Pacific from Manila
in the Philippines to Acapulco.

Finally rendezvousing at Havana, the combined fleets would prepare for
the final voyage back to Spain, generally north through the Bahama channel


and then northeast past Bermuda to the home port. It was this final leg of
the voyage which so often spelled disaster, for even though they were able
to navigate the dangerous Gulf Stream, passage between the Bahamas and
the reefs which bordered the Florida coast in good sailing weather, it was
quite another story when the clumsy ships were caught in the violent winds
and seas of a hurricane. And strangely, most sailings from Havana seemed
to take place during the hurricane season from July to October.

True to form, the 1715 Combined Armada of eleven ships finally com-
pleted its preparations and set sail from Havana on July 24th. On July 30th
the fleet passed the mouth of the Bahama Channel where it was overtaken by
"one of those frightening air flurries that are common to the circular course
of an irresistible hurricane," according to Spanish historian Fernandez Duro.5

The peak of the hurricane struck about 2 A.M. on July 31st with a
violent wind from the east north east while the fleet was offshore between
the St. Lucie river and Cape Canaveral. Of the eleven ships in the fleet only
one survived, the French Grifon which had been forced to accompany the
flotilla from Vera Cruz so that the fleet's whereabouts would not be betrayed
to enemy ships. She was evidently far enough east to make it possible for
her to keep clear of the cape.

According to Duro's report of the ten ships that were lost, La Francesa
and San Miguel under Echevera disappeared completely in the high waves,
while the remaining eight were crushed in the shallow waters of Palmar de
Ays on Cape Canaveral. General Ubilla and possibly a thousand others died.

The Capitana, flagship of the Commanding General, was lost with
General Ubilla and 225 persons; and the Almiranta,o flagship of the Admiral
under Ubilla, ran aground only a stone's throw from the coast with the
loss of 123 men. Almiranta of Echevera completely broke up with the loss
of 124 men. Nuestra Senora de la Concepcidn, which was captained by Don
Manuel de Echevera, son of the Commander, disappeared with the loss of
135 men. Urea de Lima ended up in the mouth of a river but lost 35 men.
Nuestra Senora del Carmen, which was known as La Holandesa under Don
Antonio de Echevera was set on land and did not suffer. Two patches or

s "Armada Espaiola" by Cesareo Fernandez Duro. Madrid, 1900, Vol. 6.
a Capitana and Almiranta were names given to the flagships of the General and Admiral
who were first and second in command of the fleet.


patrol vessels which completed the flotilla went down with a loss of 37. For-
tunately, a section of the deck of one became detached and acted as a raft
for those who survived.

Gradually the survivors rallied in an area close to where, it is thought,
the Capitana had been driven on a bar just off the shore. From the littered
beaches they gathered up planks and broken sea stores which had floated
ashore and set up rude shelters. Taking charge of the tremendous task of
survival on this barren shore for the fortunate ones who had escaped with
their lives, the surviving admiral of the flota, Don Francisco Salmon, set men
to digging wells for fresh water, gathering supplies and setting up a camp
for the injured.

He chose Captain Sebastian Mendez of the lost La Holandesa to head
a party which was sent to notify the Spanish settlement at St. Augustine 120
miles north of their predicament. Meanwhile a second long boat was pre-
pared to make the long voyage back to Havana to alert the authorities there
of the disaster which had overtaken the fleet.

Mendez carried a letter from the Admiral to the Governor General of
St. Augustine, Don Sanfrisco de Corioles de Martinez, asking for food and
clothing and tools to begin salvage of the capital ship which lay on her side
just off the beach near the encampment. He wrote that the situation at the
Royal Camp was very poor with the survivors eating dogs, cats, horses and
the vile berries of the palmettos.

Upon his arrival at St. Augustine Mendez testified to officials there
according to a deposition found in the Archives of Spain, "that although he
has sailed the seas for many years and suffered through many tempests he
has never seen another like it in violence, and his ship and all the rest were
lost, some before and some after Palmar de Ays, at 28 degrees 10 minutes
(north latitude) ... in an area nine leagues (27 miles) from north to south."
Palmar de Ays, apparently a large palm grove, was a familiar landmark to
navigators along the coast.

It was two weeks after the loss of the Plate Fleet before Havana learned
of the disaster. The exhausted couriers in the long boat finally reached their
destination in the early hours of the morning of August 15th. A relief expe-
dition was immediately organized by the Governor under the command of


Sergeant Juan del Hayo Solarzano with orders to aid the more than a thousand
survivors and to recover as much as possible of the 14 million pesos which
had gone down with the ships. It was composed of one frigate and seven

For the next few years the Spanish maintained their shoreside camp
while they worked at recovering what they could of the lost treasure. Mean-
while we may be sure, all who were not needed for this tremendous task were
sent back to Havana or on to St. Augustine, for the logistics of maintaining
and feeding such a number of people on that isolated sandy shore was
difficult. There were also the disciplinary problems of keeping order among
these stranded adventurers and dealing with their attempts to conceal
portions of the recovered treasure for themselves.

The authorities in St. Augustine also had to be dealt with. Florida
was probably Spain's poorest province in the New World, and it was con-
sidered unpopular duty to be stationed there. With such wealth lying at
their very doorstep, naturally they expected a share of it to be channeled
through their own settlement. To their dismay, orders were received that all
that was recovered was to be returned to Havana for reshipment to Spain.

The work of underwater salvage must have been difficult for there was
little equipment available for the purpose. The salvagers soon found that most
of the ships were in such shallow water close to shore that much of the time
they were hampered by heavy surge, breaking seas and little visibility. Or
if the vessels had gone down further off shore in deeper water, the only way
of reaching the cargo was by skindiving without air or by utilizing a crude
diving bell which provided an airspace underwater into which the diver
could stick his head now and then and gulp a breath of air. As few of the
Spaniards had any experience in handling themselves under water, they
relied chiefly upon the skill of Indian divers who were brought in to do
their diving for them. Duro says they worked chiefly upon the Capitana and
Almiranta which lay near the shore in fairly shallow water. These ships also
carried the bulk of the treasure.

By August 1716 the first shipment of the recovered wealth had arrived
safely in Cadiz. In all, the salvors succeeded in recovering for the Crown
about four million pesos, ". . but it was observed, in view of the almost


sudden increment of currency circulation that the corsairs did not care
whether the public treasury benefited or not.""

Surprisingly, it had not taken long for news of the shipwreck to travel
to all the ports of that then remote part of the world. Soon after the first
rescue ships arrived from Havana, even while the Spaniards were diving
upon the stranded vessels, (like the earlier time in 1687 when Capt. William
Phips of Boston worked at recovering the treasure of a Spanish Plate ship
on the Silver Shoals), small sailing craft appeared from nowhere to dive
upon the outlying wrecks to salvage whatever they could reach. The Spanish
salvors however after a few unsuccessful forays, gave up trying to drive off
these petty pilferers. They were too busy with the aid of the Indian divers
recovering and storing the wealth of the galleons they were working on.

There was little difference between pirate and privateer in those days
when England, Spain and France were in almost constant struggle. By 1716
the war of the Spanish Succession had been over more than three years, yet
the pirate Henry Jennings," who had carried a patent from Jamaica to act as
a privateer during the war, still terrorized the seas from Jamaica, his former
headquarters, to the northernmost part of the Bahamas from his base at
the pirate stronghold of New Providence.

Waiting until the Spaniards had labored for months to accumulate a
storehouse full of the sunken treasure, Jennings gathered together a small
fleet of two brigs and three long ships and with 300 men set out to attack
the Spanish settlement and secure the treasure. His informers had already
told him that the hoard was guarded by two commissaries and a detachment
of about 60 soldiers, and that most of the encampment would be dispersed
at the various diving locations. So it was not difficult to surprise the Spanish,
kill or scare away the guardians of the storehouse, and make off with the
340,000 pesos it contained.

A series of small raids and the increasing difficulty of reaching the
remaining treasure now locked in inaccessible parts of the lost ships which
were rapidly breaking up in the succession of storms which followed year
after year finally brought an end to the official recovery efforts. It is thought

7 "History of the Island of Cuba" by Don Jacobo de la Pezuela.
a "A General History of the Robberies and Murders of the Most Notorious Pyrates"
published 8 years after the event.


about one-half of the treasure was salvaged. No doubt for many years there-
after, the bones of whatever wrecks could.be reached would continue to be
picked and repicked from hundreds of small craft.

After the eastern shore of Florida became more settled late in the
following century, it became commonplace for miles along the beaches to
pick up coins and other small objects from the sunken treasure fleet which
had by that time disappeared completely beneath the surface of the sea.
The finders had little idea from whence they came. For, on the shore where
the Spanish camp had stood, the storehouse which protected the treasure
and the crude barracks and other shelters had gradually fallen apart and
disappeared beneath the ever encroaching sand and jungle growth. Even the
wells which had been sunk and lined with wooden hogsheads joined with
pitch vanished beneath the accumulation of detritus.

For years the outer dunes built higher as the southeast prevailing winds
swept in from the sea. Then would come another hurricane whose raging
waves tore into the beaches gouging out great areas of the sandy bank,
spreading both sand and the artifacts it covered thinly over the wasted beach.

I drove out A-I-A from Vero Beach toward Sebastian Inlet to see for
myself the location of the Spanish camp. I found it 15 miles north, where
the barrier beach was so narrow that the road clung to the inner western edge
close to the waters of the Indian River. I had been told that because of the
narrowness of the beach at this particular point, Indians, and later white
settlers had used it as a haulover for boats between the two bodies of water.
A shallow ditch and then a gradual upward grade led to the top of the sand
bluff between me and the sea. It was thickly covered with palmetto, sea grape,
yucca and cabbage palm.

To reach the sea I had to pick my way along a crude path pitted here and
there with almost overgrown excavations where thoughtless treasure hunters
in recent years had slashed and dug at the thickly rooted undergrowth in
their searches for the remains of the Spanish camp. In places I could see
that a bulldozer had been used. A blast of wind and a whirl of sand met me
at the top. Rows of white breakers roared in upon the beach below, and just
offshore several hundred yards to the southeast a yellow buoy bobbed mark-
ing the last resting place of the Capitana which was said to have carried
three and a half million in silver. To my right was the Higgs site, and some


yards to my left was the 300-foot stretch that Mr. McLarty had presented
to the State.

This was the beach where Kip Wagner" had made his first discovery of
coins from the 1715 wrecks. Since then he had located and gone on to
salvage the ballast-strewn remains of General Ubilla's flagship which lay
parallel to the shore directly in front of me beneath the frothing surf. He
had recovered a wealth of coins and bullion, precious porcelain from China
and choice pieces of jewelry--a treasure trove which had rewarded its
finders with more than a million dollars in present day values.

According to Florida State law, 25 per cent of any treasure trove must
become the property of the State, and it is this priceless collection which
will provide the first displays in the interpretive museum which the State
plans to build on the McLarty site. The exhibits will also include a sampling
of the artifacts previously uncovered on the Spanish campsite as well as
those which will undoubtedly be found in the course of further excavations.

Carl J. Clausen, marine archeologist for the State Board of Antiquities,
who was instrumental in arousing Mr. McLarty's interest in contributing the
shore property, was delegated to begin a preliminary survey in August 1966
for the Florida State Museum which included the clearing and mapping of
the property and preparations for excavation. Using standard archeological
procedures, he plans to develop the cultural history of the site. It is his
belief that the property donated by Mr. McLarty encompasses a large seg-
ment of the north end of the 1715 camps. The south end or Higgs site which
was studied scientifically in the 1940's by both Charles Higgs and Dr. Hale
Smith, is presently owned by a number of people, and will not be a part of
the State Memorial park.

Mr. Clausen became associated with recovery efforts of the lost treasure
ships in 1964 when he was assigned by the Trustees of the Internal Improve-
ment Fund as a diving archeologist to accompany a salvage group under
search and salvage lease No. 1329. The wreck which turned out to be one of
the 1715 Fleet was located about three nautical miles south of Fort Pierce
Inlet. He has published an account of the salvage of this wreck10 which he

a "Drowned Galleons off Florida Yield Spanish Gold" by Kip Wagner, National Geo-
graphic, January 1965.
o1 "A 1715 Spanish Treasure Ship," by Carl J. Clausen, Contributions of the Florida
State Museum, Soc. Sc. No. 12, U. of FIa. Gainesville 1965.


believes to be one of the five vessels of the Flota under the command of the
General Don Esteban de Ubilla which was loaded at Vera Cruz.

Since that time Mr. Clausen has been closely associated with the fast
changing developments within the State including the creation of the Board
of Antiquities by the Florida Legislature which was designated to take over
supervision of the salvage operations from the Trustees of the Internal
Improvement Fund.

King of the Crackers


You folks, of course, know all about those western cowpokes from
seeing them on your TV screen. You know how they spent their days chasing
badmen in the hills and rescuing pretty damsels in distress and shooting up
the Red Dog Saloon. They didn't scarcely have time, it seems, to do much
riding herd. Now you'd never learn it between commercials, but right here
in Okeechobee Land we've had our cowboys too, though they didn't dress so
fancy or operate just like those western guys, but they were tending their
cattle here long before Jim Bowie over whetted a knife or Bat VMasterson
conked a desperado, and not only that, Florida cowboys are still working at
their trade on those same old ranges that their grand pappies rode, and they
are raising up their own boys to keep the good work going on.

Where their first cows came from is most anybody's guess. The departing
Spaniards left some. Quite likely some were left behind when English settlers
skipped out to the Bahamas after Spain took over Florida a second time,
and we know that the Seminoles had cattle which they had to abandon or
which were stolen from them in the Indian wars. Anyway, plenty of cattle
were roaming wild when the first settlers migrated down to this part of the
state. Many a man got his start by catching a wild horse or two and then
rounding up those loose cows. As far back as the Civil War big herds were
ranging on the Arcadia prairies and they helped keep the Confederacy in
meat. The biggest stock raiser at that time was Jacob Summerlin, the King
of the Crackers.

Some of Summerlin's cowmen were described by Colonel George F.
Thompson, who had been sent here right after the war to arrange for home-
steading the newly freed negroes. He visited a camp on Pease Creek (near
Arcadia) where these cow hunters lived in log houses built a couple of
feet above the ground, and which had neither windows nor chinking in the
cracks. Their diet, so he said, was pork fried until it was like tough hide,
cornbread tasting like baked sawdust, "Haiti potatoes" boiled till they were


mostly water, and with everything, an ample supply of grease. Yet in spite
of their repulsive diet he had to admit that these drovers were as active and
hardy a class of men as could be found in any northern clime, "not like most
lazy southerners". Their cattle, he said, were small, netting 500 or 600
pounds, and when sold in a batch they brought only $6 a head, though an
extra fine one might sell for $14 to $18. At that time some were being shipped
to Savannah or Charleston, but most were sold in Havana.

From those early days right on down till Flagler built his railroad to
Key West, cattle raising on the north and west sides of Lake Okeechobee
didn't change much till recent years. Cattlemen didn't have to own their land.
The whole wide world was there for them to use. The cattle roamed the
prairies, woods and swamps, wild as any deer. Although the cattlemen would
ride the range and knew each cow at sight, yet they didn't have much work
to do till time for the big drive in the spring. Then each owner, or maybe six
or a dozen together with all their cow hands, would start on the roundup and
the drive, which would last for several weeks. With wild whoops and hurrahs
the riders would set out from their starting camps, while their supplies fol-
lowed in two wheeled carts pulled by a yoke or two of oxen. Mules were no
good for this, since they couldn't stand those pesky flies and mosquitoes as
the oxen could, besides their small hooves got stuck in boggy places. Each
man's equipment was nothing much but a mosquito bar, a blanket and a
slicker, and of course, a rifle or shotgun, for after the dried beef and biscuits
which the women had prepared had been used up, the cowmen got their
meat by hunting game.

These rangers were called "cow hunters" for that's exactly what they
were. Every man, with his short handled, 18 foot whip or "drag," and his
well trained "catch dog", would scour the swamps, palmetto thickets and
piney woods, rounding up each scattered cow and steer and herd them to the
nearest pen. This drag was the main tool of the cow hunter's trade. He
could wrap it around the neck of a running calf, or with a rifle-like crack
that could be heard for miles, kill a horsefly on an ox's rump and never put
a blister on the hide. It was from their skill with these noisy whips that the
cowmen got the name of "Crackers." A catch dog was a mongrel with some
bull dog strain which had been trained to rout a cow from the densest brush,
then hold her until the ranger could take over. He was a cow hunter's most
necessary helper. He was, that is, until the screw worm came to Florida.
Then every scratch in a cow's hide was quickly filled with squirming mag-
gots, so now the poor catch dog has done lost his job.


The drive began on that part of the range farthest from the final ship-
ping point. The first day or two would be spent in rounding up all cattle in
that vicinity, which were put into a log fenced "holding pen" of a half
acre or so in extent. Here each calf was cut and marked and branded with
its proper owner's brand, for herds were usually mixed. Cows, calves and
bulls then were turned loose. Steers or "beef cattle" meanwhile were "minded"
by a few riders to prevent them from straying. On the following day these
steers were moved on to the next holding pen, a day's drive, some ten or
fifteen miles further on, where a new batch of cattle were hunted from the
woods and the process repeated. After all cattle had been rounded up the
herd might number from a few hundred to a couple of thousand head.

These were then driven to the shipping point, Tampa or Ft. Pierce. In
the early days of the Cuban market, the cattle had been driven to Punta
Gorda for shipment. Later they were driven further south, the Caloosahatchee
River being forded at Ft. Thompson, near LaBelle, and the drive continued
along the river to its mouth, at Punta Rassa. Here the animals would be
loaded onto the waiting schooner or steamship for Havana.

The loading, once started, kept right on even into the night. By the
flickering light of bonfires and lightered torches, bearded, big hatted riders
drove the cattle, a dozen at a time, down the long high-boarded runway and
wharf amidst whoops and shouts, the clattering of hooves, the bellowing of
cattle, the barking of dogs and the pistol-shot cracking of drags, while more
bawling steers kept pouring from the darkness of the backwoods. That must
have been a sigh to see.

When the ship returned from Havana it would be met by settlers from
as far as Bassenger, Ft. Mead or Ft. Drum with their oxcarts to load up with
supplies from civilization. The cattlemen were paid in Spanish gold, usually
one dubloon, worth $15.60, for each steer. A peck or more of these shining
coins might be stuffed in saddle bags and left carelessly around until the
owner was ready to start home. Dr. Lykes once was paid with an Octagon
soap box plumb full of gold. He guarded it by spreading his saddle blanket
on top and using it for a pillow that night. As one old cowman told me not
so long ago, "Everybody used gold money in them days, but there wasn't
much of anything that you could buy, excusing flour and sugar and coffee.
People left their money laying around in cigar boxes or corn sacks or tied
up in some old shirt sleeve. Most every baby's rattle was some gold dubloons


in a sody tin. Thar was a heap of men who'd put their brand on other people's
calves but hit seemed like thar weren't nobody so sorry as to steal that gold.
Hit's agin the law to own no gold now, but I reckon thar's some folks who've
got some hid away till yet."

One of those old time cattle barons and the first one to run his cattle
south of the Caloosahatchee, was Francis Asbury Hendry, who had come to
Ft. Myers in 1868, then moved to Ft. Thompson up the river. In the 1880's,
when a man with only 1000 head wasn't scarcely rated as a cattle man,
Hendry and his family were considered to be the biggest owners in the state.
He had first come to Ft. Myers as a dispatch bearer during the Indian war.
In the Civil War he was a Confederate captain. In later years he served in
both the Senate and the House of the State Legislature and was on the first
Board of County Commissioners, but he also worked to get the county divided
later on, though he didn't live to see Hendry County named for himself.

Another cowman who was getting his start at the same time as Hendry
was Dr. Howell T. Lykes, who had married the daughter of Captain James
McKay, Sr., of blockade running fame. His seven sons, under the name of
Lykes Brothers, now own 300,000 acres of pasture and citrus land, to say
nothing of their 54 ocean going steam ships.

One of the most famous of those old cattle barons was Ziba King, who
stood six feet six, weighed 225 pounds, could out-eat any competition and
was unbeatable at poker. He was quite a man. Born in Georgia in 1838, he
came to Tampa thirty years later, then moved to Ft. Ogden where he ran a
store and began to accumulate some cattle. In 1900, of the 452,000 head of
cattle in Florida, he owned 50,000 himself. Besides being an official in three
banks, he had, like Hendry, served in both the House and Senate in the
Legislature, and too, he'd been a county judge. Once when the school board
had been unable to pay the teachers, he paid them off himself, all in Spanish

But the first, and for a long time the biggest, of all the big cattlemen
was Jacob Summerlin, a Cracker to be sure, in fact he was known far and
wide as King of the Crackers, a title of which he was right smart proud. He
bragged that he could ride a horse and crack a whip when he was only seven
years old, and that he had been the first white child born in Florida after
it became U. S. territory. That had been in 1821, in Alachua County, right


on the Indian border. As a boy he was friendly with Osceola and other
Seminoles, but that didn't prevent him from almost being ambushed a couple
of times by his old time friends after hostilities began. As early as 1859 he
began to ship cattle to Cuba and before the war broke out he already had
shipped thousands of head. Then he agreed to furnish the Confederacy with
badly needed beef, hides and tallow by delivering 600 head a week during
the months from April to August, by driving them from the Arcadia prairies
to the railhead at Baldwin up near the Georgia line, a trip of forty days.
After two years of this he decided on a better way to help the cause. Teaming
up with Captain James McKay and his son Captain James, Jr., he began to
ship again to Cuba. These cattle were smuggled through the Union blockade
by the McKays in their steamers SCOTTISH CHIEF and SALVOR and their
sailing brig HUNTRESS. The Yankees finally burned the SCOTTISH CHIEF,
captured the SALVOR and imprisoned Captain McKay and his son Donald,
but Summerlin kept on exporting beef. In Cuba his $8 steers now brought
$25 to $30 in gold with which he bought wheat, flour, bacon, sugar, salt and
tobacco for the hungry soldiers and the folks back home. Yet after the war
old Jake was not as rich as he might have been, for a good share of his
money was in Confederate bills, and besides the cattle market then was
"shot." However, it came to life again during the Cuban Ten Year Rebellion
from 1868 to 1878. Summerlin had been shipping cattle from his 800 foot
pier at Punta Gorda, but now he moved and built a pier at Punta Rassa,
at the Caloosahatchee River's mouth where there was not a crying thing to
be seen but a government warehouse at the end of the submarine telegraph
cable to Cuba. A newspaper writer, here in 1883, described Punta Rassa as
"a desolate, wind swept cape, which, with its neighboring island (Sanibel)
form a very good harbor. It would seem," he says, "that nobody would live
on such a spot from choice, but here, in this desert-like place, in that ugly
old building, with only the bare necessities of life around him, lives one of
the richest men in Florida, who could, if he would, live in princely style
anywhere in the state. Owning, as he does, the wharf at Punta Rassa and
1000 acres of land adjacent, houses and orange groves elsewhere, and tens
of thousands of head of cattle, I could not realize that the little old man
I found next morning engaged in cutting up a slaughtered beef, was the
King of the Crackers, whose name is known throughout Florida and Cuba."

Jake Summerlin was uneducated, but that didn't prevent him from con-
tributing land and money to start Summerlin Institute in Bartow. He already
had donated money for the erection of a court house in Orlando, partly to


prevent General Sanford from moving the county seat to his own town.
Summerlin also helped lay out the water route from the head of the Caloosa-
hatchee to connect it with Lake Okeechobee. When Hamilton Disston wanted
to open the river to the lake he got those old cattlemen, Captain Hendry and
Jake Summerlin, who knew that country better than most anybody, to
lay out the best route through the lakes and marshes that lay between. Partly
at his own expense, Summerlin got together a party and led it himself from
Ft. Thompson to Lake Hicpochee. Although he then was about sixty years
old, he and Hendry waded through sawgrass in waist deep water, taking three
or four hours to advance each mile, sleeping in an open boat and it plumb
full of hungry mosquitoes, to set up tall flags for guiding Captain Menge's
dredge as it dug the canal that we are still using till this day.

Summerlin used to be a mystery to those Cubans, for although to do
business with them, he had to bribe them from the highest right on down
the line, yet they couldn't cheat him, he wouldn't gamble and he never drank,
and his wealth sure didn't go to his head. All his life he lived, dressed, acted
and talked just like his poorest cow hunters. He bragged that for twenty
years he'd never worn a coat and he didn't even break that rule at the dedi-
cation of his Summerlin Institute, although he did go so far as to put on
shoes. "I'm just a plain old sun baked Florida Cracker" he used to say.

It seems as if most of those old cattlemen, regardless of their wealth,
were plumb satisfied to live just as they had done when they used to ride
the range. There was Joe Peeples in recent years, who would drive in a
beat up Ford from LaBelle to Tallahassee to sit in the legislative halls in his
rumpled clothes smoking a corncob pipe, although his estate was appraised
at a million dollars. That was just the way of a Cracker cowman, but I don't
reckon there was ary man who could beat the record of old Joe Bowers of
Indiantown. He had come from North Carolina to the Bartow-Wauchula
area, but when the freeze in 1895 killed all his orange trees, he moved clear
over to the Seminole settlement at what's now called Indiantown, the first
white man who ever lived there. He camped among the Seminoles, hunted
with them, got adopted into their tribe and took to wearing a long tailed,
striped shirt just like a blooming redskin. After awhile Joe bought 80 acres
in a hammock and planted out some citrus trees, eleven varieties before he
got through. Those trees now are sixty years old but they still bear fruit as
good as ever, better than some of the newer groves out there, so folks tell me.


Joe built himself a 12 x 16 board-and-batten store there in his grove
where he traded with the Indians. He even owned a dairy and had the big-
gest herd of range cows in that part of the country, yet Joe loved best to
roam the woods hunting and looking after his cow critters. He'd sooner sleep
under a mosquito bar beneath a cypress tree than in bed in his palmetto
shack at home.

Now Joe Bowers was blamed near 70 years of age when he got a new
idea in his head. He'd tried his hand at most everything else, so now, he
allowed, he'd try his luck at getting married. He picked a right pretty local
girl only sixteen years of age to be his blushing bride. The wedding, there in
his grove, attended by half a thousand bug eyed people, was a grand success.
During the ceremony, Joe, just so he'd feel right natural, sat on a horse, and
of course, the bride and the preacher did the same. And then, the rest of
that day and all the next, Joe entertained his guests with tall tales of hunting
in the woods and kept all hands well supplied with ample drinking liquor.

To be sure, Joe didn't expect his bride to be content to housekeep in his
old palmetto shack, so nearby he built a house of red stained logs. It had a
roof of tin, a porch across the front, glass windows, and to top it all, a real
sure enough bathroom with running water and everything complete. Most any
woman would have been right pleasure to have a house like this, under old
spreading oaks, among those fragrant orange trees, and with a loving hus-
band rich as all get out, but this young girl, it seems, was just too hard to
please. They only lived together for about a year and right soon afterwards
old Joe Bowers up and died. Before he went he told a friend "There's no fool
like an old fool!" I reckon he meant himself.

Those old range riding, cow hunting cattle barons are about all gone
by now. I reckon about the last one left is old Jim Durrance up Bassenger
way. He lives four miles back in the woods in a frame, dog-trot house which
once had a coat of paint. There's not a wire of any kind running to his home.
He can't see no good in having electric lights, and if somebody wants to
talk to him, why what's to keep them from driving out? The road's not too
bad. Looking at Jim Durrance's stocky figure and his almost unwrinkled
florid face, even in spite of his shock of snowy hair and great white curled
up moustache, you'd swear he'd never lived the 86 years he claims.

He can remember when only three men ran cattle in these parts, from
Lake Okeechobee slam up to Canoe Creek near Orlando. One's range was from


the St. Johns River to Ft. Drum, another claimed all from there to the Kis-
simmee and the third all west of that, although it didn't take long for others
to come in. That was when range wars started, and some men got shot and
killed. Jim Durrance had first lived at Crewesville in Hardy County, near
the head of Fisheating Creek marsh, where he had an orange grove. But, he
said, his neighbors would steal his oranges while he was off cow hunting, and
so he got married and moved to Bassenger. "We were both orphans," he
said, "and so we had to work." He had taken part in many a drive to "Pinty
Rosso", crossing the Caloosahatchee at Ft. Thompson until the rapids had
been dredged out, after that the herds swam across at LaBelle where large
"swimming pens" had been built on each side of the river to hold the cattle
during the crossing.

I was talking to a man who knew him well. "That Mr. Durrance seems
to be a mighty clever hearted man," I said, "but it's a shame that poor old
man has to work so hard. There he was, on one of the hottest days in June,
out in his pasture working on a fence and his wife told me he'd been grub-
bing some palmettoes the day before."

"Mr. Durrance is a right fine man," my friend replied. "If anybody gets
in a jam all they need to do is to ask him, and he'll help them out, but don't
start getting too sorry for that 'poor old man'. He isn't worth thousands of
dollars. He's worth hundreds of thousands. He owns all this land hereabouts,
twenty-one square miles of it, and every mile is stocked with cattle. But
Jim Durrance doesn't care for money and the things that it will buy. He's
lived that plain way all his life, and that's just the way he likes to live."

Well, there's plenty of things in this world that are better than money,
though it most generally takes money to get them. Anyway, you'll have
to give credit to those old time cowmen, the King of the Crackers and all
the rest, they knew how to be happy though rich.

Jose Del Rio Cosa


Of the numerous, unheralded reconnoitering voyages made by Spaniards
along the coast of East Florida during the second half of the eighteenth
century, few exceed in interest that of Lieutenant of warship Jos6 del Rio
Cosa in 1787. His remarkable observations and judicious predictions for the
future of Florida as a producer of naval stores make the document more than
just an historical curiosity.

From the documents in the naval and war archives of El Viso del
Marques,1 it appears there were two naval officers of similar name.2 The
explorer of East Florida was apparently Jos6 Antonio del Rio Cosa, born in
the Santofia mountains of Santander. After enlisting in the marine guards
in October, 1773, he trained on land until 1775, when he went to sea. On
June 22, 1775, he was commissioned ensign of a warship and he joined the
ill-fated Spanish expedition against Algiers led by the redoubtable Conde,
Alexandro O'Reilly. In May, 1776, he sailed on the frigate Dorotea in a
fleet from El Ferrol to Havana, where he was attached to the naval base from
July 2, 1776. Following his promotion to lieutenant of frigate on May 27,
1780, he fought in the naval expeditions of the young Conde, Bernardo de
Gdlvez, against Mobile (1780) and Pensacola (1781). He won his braids
as lieutenant of warship in 1783 or 1784 and was commissioned captain of
frigate in 1794, partly as a reward for his services during the 1787 expedition

* Associate professor of history at the University of Alabama in Birmingham. Research
on this article was accomplished in Spain during 1961 and 1962 under the auspices
of a Fulbright Research Grant, and in 1964 with support from Project No. 463, of
the University Research Council, University of Alabama.
1 The Archivo Museo Alvaro Bazan Marina de Guerra. Its director, Admiral Julio F.
Guilldn, was very helpful in securing copies of documents relative to Jos6 del Rio
Cosa. For comments on this rarely-consulted naval archive, see E. J. Burrus, S.J.,
"An Introduction to Bibliographical Tools in Spanish Archives and Manuscript Col-
lections Relating to Hispanic America," Hispanic American Historical Review, XXXV,
No. 4 (November, 1955), 472-73, 482.
2 The other naval officer, Jos6 del Rio Cossa [sic], was born in Madrid in 1758. He
began his services in the Marine Guards on January 25, 1777. Married in 1810, he
was a Knight in the Order of Santiago. He died in 1817. Hoja del Servicios, Archive
Museo Alvaro Bazin, Secci6n de Indiferente.


to East Florida. He had once served as second-in-command of the first
detachment of the third fleet, from April 19, 1783, and as captain of the first
detachment of the twelfth squadron from December 6, 1784.3

Among his naval commands were the schooner Elizabeth, the sloop
Santa Teresa, and the frigate Amphitrite. He served as sub-inspector of the
naval school in Havana and later as interim-commander of the Havana
Arsenal and adjutant to the commander. During his land duty he was also
attached to the Hydrographic Commission and charged with the drawing of
various plans and charts. Among his best were those of the Mosquito Coast
and of Florida's East Coast, which accompanied his reconnaissance and report
of 1787.*

There is one reference to his having engaged in the contraband trade
between Jamaica, Trinidad and Havana. During the pesquisa of Juan Manuel
de Cagigal and Lieutenant-Colonel Francisco de Miranda in 1783, Ensign
of warship Jos6 del Rio, commandant of the Cuban coast guard, was im-
prisoned on charges of defrauding the Royal Treasury.- It is possible this was
the other Jos6 del Rio Cossa, but at any rate, the explorer of Florida con-
tinued in command of the schooner Elizabeth until the end of September,
1804, and on October 24, 1804, he died in Havana.6

The genesis of the 1787 Florida reconnaissance goes back to a royal
order of June 4, 1786, when the Royal Official of Cuba, Francisco Javier de
Morales, was ordered to sponsor an expedition to East Florida to determine
the feasibility of developing the timber and naval stores industries in the
Peninsula for the Havana Naval Arsenals.'

Lieutenant del Rio Cosa's expedition was made in the schooner San
Bruno during the summer of 1787. When he returned to Havana he received

3 Service Sheets of Jos6 del Rio Cosa, and Jose Antonio Rio de la Cossa, in ibid.
Because of certain identity of dates, these service records probably refer to the same
naval officer.
4 The chart was sent from Havana to Spain in August, 1787, carefully packed in a
wooden case in care of Pedro Argain, commander of the hooker Santa Rita. Francisco
Javier de Morales to Antonio Vald6s, Havana, August 14, 1787, in ibid. The map is
now in the Museo Naval (Madrid), Carpeta VI, Secci6n A, No. 14.
5 Juan Antonio de Uruiiuela to Francisco de Borja, Marqu6s de Camachos (Coman-
dante general de Marina), Havana, October 4, 1783, Archivo Museo Alvaro Bazin,
a Service sheet of Jos6 del Rio Cosa.
t Morales to Vald6s, August 14, 1787.


the congratulations and praise of his superiors. The governor of Florida,
Vicente Manuel de Z6spedes, whose own efforts to persuade royal officials to
encourage Florida industry had met with considerable indifference,s wrote
about the young naval officer's accomplishments, "It would be unjust not to
tell you of the favorable concept which this good officer has earned in my
sight. As a matter of fact, since his arrival he has never stopped dedicating
himself with activity and ardour to the exact performance of the obligations
which Your Excellency, in a wise choice, has seen fit to trust to his charge.""

Observations corresponding to the measures for re-establishing
East Florida in a flourishing state during the present Spanish gov-
ernment and advantages which may be derived from its products,
particularly the making of pitch and lumber, as interesting as useful
to a maritime nation.0o

The confidence placed in me by the commanding general of the port of
Havana," in having chosen me for the most exact and detailed reconnaissance
of the forests, qualities of timber, pitch, and examination of the ports of St.
Augustine, St. John's, and St. Mary's, in keeping with the Royal Order fol-
lowing the description of East Florida made by the settler, Francisco Felipe
Fatio,1" in which he proposes the advantages which will accrue to the

a Vicente Manuel de Z6spedes y Velasco (1720-1820?) served as governor of East
Florida, 1784.1790. Helen Hornbeck Tanner, Zespedes in East Florida, 1784-1790
(Coral Gables, 1963). On May 12, 1787, he made his own report and description of
East Florida, which is printed in Arthur Preston Whitaker (ed. & trans.), Documents
Relating to the Commercial Policy of Spain in the Floridas, with Incidental Reference
to Louisiana (Deland, 1931), 49-61.
a Z6spedes to Morales, San Agustin de la Florida, July 16, 1787, Archivo Museo Alvaro
BazAn, Indiferente.
so The report is a copy of the original, dated Havana, August 6, 1787, and accompanies
an expedient of September 17, 1790, sent first to the Secretary of the Indies and
then to the Secretary of the Treasury (Hacienda). It is in ibid.
11 Francisco Javier de Morales.
za Francis Philip Fatio, an early pioneer planter of East Florida, was considered "a man
of consequence" whose connections with the firm of Panton, Leslie & Co. aided in
the trade with the Indians. He was said to be "enthusiastically in the Spanish interest,
not only by words but by deeds, supplying the ordinary rations to the detachments
stationed on the banks of the St. Johns River...." His loyalty oath and memorial
to remain in Florida, dated 1784 and 1785 respectively, are in Joseph Byrne Lockey,
East Florida, 1783-1785, a File of Documents Assembled, and Many of Them Trans-
lated, ed. by John W. Caughey (Berkeley, 1949), 204-05, 464. See also references in
ibid., 12, 461. Fatio's description of East Florida referred to is dated St. Augustine,
March 18, 1785, and is in ibid., 479-82. His later report of November 17, 1790,
written in Havana, is in Whitaker (ed. & trans.), Documents Relating to the Com-
mercial Policy of Spain, 124-38.


nation in the development and extraction of timber and pitch; have imbued
me with a true patriotic spirit, and as a result of the great confidence which
I have enjoyed, to give various essays concerning East Florida which, with
the most careful attention, I have been able to acquire during the time of
my reconnoitering task and projection of the maps loaned me some time ago.

East Florida is located between the latitude of 25 degrees, which at
the southernmost point of the mainland is called Punta Lancha, and the
latitude of 30 degrees 43 minutes where the "Bridge of St. Mary's" is located,
confining the river of this name which runs to the West-Northwest with
Georgia, and serves as the dividing line with the United States of America,
and in the longitude of 393 degrees 36 minutes from the Meridian of
Tenerife. Its peninsular shape is formed on the eastern side in a North-South
direction from the "Cabeza de los Mirtires" to "Cabo Cafiaveral," and from
this place it runs to St. Mary's port to the North-Northwest.

We may find on this coast the ports of Matanzas, St. Augustine, and
the rivers St. John's, Nassau, and St. Mary's; this last-named (which has
three sand banks forming bars at its entrance, as all those of this Coast do)
is the most advantageous, for admitting 30- to 40-cannon frigates, and is
even suited to warships of 60 guns during high tide. Its size and shelter from
all winds make it the most desirable and deserving of the attention of our
wise government.

The Nassau Bar, located in latitude 30 degrees and 28 minutes, presents
three large sand bars which make its entry difficult, and it is subject to
continual shifting because of the ebb and flow which moves the sand, thus
making a change in the opening and closing of the mouths.

That of St. John's, which is formed by two bars in the latitude of 30
degrees and 20 minutes, is more regular, and it is reasonable to suppose that
it has had little alteration from the time I explored it, inasmuch as the
physical cause which is noted in the direction of the river, course of its
waters, and shape of its entrance, somewhat narrow, shall always preserve
its current in the turn which it forms and will not allow the sands to shift
from one place to another.

That of St. Augustine (in the latitude of 29 degrees 53 minutes) is today
the most interesting for being the capital of all trade carried on in the


Province. It has at its entrance six bars which form several channels, and
are of such impermanency that not even the entrance pilots are certain of
their location: no ship, no matter how small (which are those which ordi-
narily visit this port), can enter or leave without delaying its schedule
three or four days, and sometimes more, for it is at the mercy of (as
numerous examples show) the formidable sea raised by the winds from the
first and second quadrants.

Matanzas, which is located in latitude 29 degrees 37 minutes, offers at
the present secure entry to all ships which draw between eight and nine and
one-half feet. The two bars, which can be seen, are formed by the intersection
with an islet called Pefion, which runs from the North to the S.E., and the
other, called Barret6n, to the West, has little water. I am content to call
attention to the example furnished by the Generals in the late war who
attempted to surprise St. Augustine by entering by Matanzas with their
ships through the channel, while the troops landed in the cove.

In the geographic chart which I have drawn there are notes correspond-
ing to said ports for the clearest understanding of what I explored with all
the interest of a sailor, not failing to include the trivial sights, resolution of
triangles and shapes.

The West Coast runs Northeast to Apalache. Although Charles Bay and
Tampa, or Holy Ghost Bay, are located there, I have no comment on them
since I have not visited them.1-

The land is generally flat and dotted with pines of excellent quality,
live-oak, oak, walnut, ash, darias,13 sabine," mulberry, tiquidambar,'" poplar,
cascas,1' laurel, and other trees of lesser stature, among which are included
the one called fajima,," the seed from which by heating and washing, pro-

12 For explorations of the west coast of Florida and Tampa Bay in particular, see Jack
D. L. Holmes, "Two Spanish Expeditions to West Florida, 1783-1793," Tequesta, XXV
(1965), 97-107.
is The manuscript reads Barias. This is probably the tree Corda geras canthoides.
i Juniperus L.
is Liquidambar styracifua, L.
is Cinnamodendron axilare.
:, Probably the wax myrtle or bay-berry tree from which myrtle wax was obtained for
the manufacture of candles: Myrica cerifera. Comments on its use in Louisiana and
West Florida are in Captain Phillip Pittman, The Present State of the European
Settlements on the Mississippi.... (London, 1770), 23; and James Alexander Robert-
son (ed.), Louisiana under the Rule of Spain, France, and the United States, 1785-
1807 (2 vols.; Cleveland, 1911), 1, 158.


duces green wax in considerable quantities. The land is irrigated by a num-
ber of rivers and creeks of excellent water.

Excellent quality products which are most easily produced for the
sustenance of the settlers are corn, rice, rye, barley, and all kinds of garden
stuff and vegetables, and there is even one odd man who raises wheat, but
it is of poor quality.'1

The same fruit trees which are found throughout Europe are also found
here, but not of the same quality.

I have examined different mushrooms and forest roots which are good
to eat and of sufficient nutrition. The natives told me they were called Ache,1-
which has the same use as the bitter yucca,20 and gives them the same benefit.
In the preparation, flour cakes are made from the root, and they have better
substance and juice than the cassava which is made in many parts of America.
There are in abundance roots of Itamo, chitubo, sassafrass, viper root,21
and chirras, as well as grasses of contralombrices, chumafina, penny-royal,s2
snake-root,3a swallow-wort,24 penalope, and house-leek,25 along with many of
botanical interest. Indigo also abounds of a very good quality, although not
as good as that of Guatemala.-" There is also tobacco, the seed for which (as
I have been informed) came from Havana, and during my inspection I
found what seemed to me to be very good and of large leaf.27

The situation of modern Florida in point of commerce offers an epoch
of the greatest happiness. The lack of recourse to England and the separa-

is On the failure of wheat in the lower areas of Louisiana and the Floridas, see Jack
D. L. Holmes (ed.), Documentos indditos para la historic de la Luisiana, 1792-1810
(Madrid, 1963), 153, note.
re Possibly the sweet potato or yam: genus Dioscorea.
2o The manuscript reads yaca agria.
s2 Scorzonera hispanica,
22 Mentha pulegium.
23 Aristolochia serpentaria.
24 Chelidonium majus.
25 Sempervivum.
s2 Indigo was a flourishing industry between 1770 and 1790 in Spanish Louisiana and
the two Floridas. See Bernard Romans, History of East and West Florida (New York,
1775), 134-39; Jack D. L. Holmes, "Robert Ross' Plan for an English Invasion of
Louisiana in 1782," Louisiana History, V, No. 2 (Spring, 1964), 166; and Holmes
(ed.), Docamentos de Luisiana, 155 note.
27 On tobacco in Louisiana and the Floridas, see ibid., and Jack D. L. Holmes, Gayoso
(Baton Rouge, 1965), 90-99.


tion of her American colonies in this area, gave rise to an increased develop-
ment in that Province (of which it is still capable), and which originated
in the repeated incursions of the Americans against the Tories. These faithful
vassals, deprived of their possessions and without subsistence in a people
whose enthusiasm for liberty caused them to break the most sacred bonds,
touching on anarchy, forced them to abandon their homes and they came in
large groups to seek secure domicile in Florida. Suddenly the Province was
filled with laboring hands accustomed to continual industry with such
advantage and success in the production of crops, that at the end of the war
they were counted at more than three thousand families, existing upon the
benefits of construction timber, lumber for masts, and resin with such success,
that upon the delivery of the Province to our Sovereign, those on the St.
John's and St. Mary's Rivers and Port of St. Augustine, were producing
50,000 barrels of pitch. At this painful wound, becoming preoccupied with
being expatriates, by the simple process of coming under Spanish rule,
their emigration continued to the islands of Providence and Abacu, and
to Georgia, where they never stopped thinking of their blessed Florida. They
desired to be admitted under our domination, as has been practiced for
some (conditionally until His Majesty resolves the question), and some
have come, and I know from faithful subjects that at the moment when our
Sovereign permits them land grants in this Province with the right to work
timber and produce pitch, at least 1,000 inhabitants of Georgia and the
Bahama Islands will arrive and in a short time they will form a progressive
population, and they could become prosperous if only they enjoyed the free
export of their pitch to ports in Spain and America with the same advantage
as their experience demonstrated during the time of English rule.

The climate, which is of no less importance in determining active labor,
is the most healthy in all America. Its location on the Globe enables it to
enjoy a moderate temperature, and neither the rigors of cold nor heat inter-
feres with the worker in his labor. Of no less advantage is the transportation
of the products of their industry over very flat roads and rivers to the
mouths of the St. John's, St. Mary's, and Port of St. Augustine.

The Indians, today more than ever, are in favor of the mild and benevo-
lent character of our Government and the generosity with which the governor
and captain general of that Province, Vicente Manuel de Zkspedes, acting in
the name of our August Catholic Monarch, offers new triumphs for Religion
and an interesting commerce by no means equivocal. The small villages or


towns which they have formed are preferable to the barbarism and evil ways
of their former life when they had no other home than that offered by chance
on the hunt. Their formation of ties to a Town can become political, civil
and commercial. One finds perfect safety in their villages in the trade and
contracts with all the formality of good faith. Many among them have formed
plantations where they cultivate the land and raise livestock with some of
the slaves they purchased in St. Augustine and Georgia during the time of
British rule. This "new look" has brought them to a very lucrative dependency
upon our commerce. The goods which they presently need can be supplied by
us in exchange for skins and cattle, although it is currently done by the
House of Panton, Leslie and Company,-- which brings goods from London.
It would be very desirable to have a Spanish member of the firm for his
instruction regarding the trade with Indians, so that in the future he might
serve as the founder of a company organized by Spaniards, thus freeing us
by this means from the suspicion of having separated the Indians from the
friendship of the Spaniards.

Although at the outset of my reflections I related in general the advan-
tages which that Province offers the State in the matter of construction lumber
and masts, it is not so extensive as to embrace our Royal Navy, for although
it is certain that from the environs of St. Augustine to the St. John's River,
including the territory on its banks (which I have examined with the greatest
care, while drawing its plan at the same time), there are large stands of
pine, live-oak, sabine, and oak, with the facility of most convenient transpor-
tation, either by dragging or by water; they are not as suited due to the lack
(which with the greatest disappointment I have seen) of height and breadth
which I have generally noted in both kinds of masts and construction timber.
I have not confined myself to one or two inspections; I have made numerous
ones at various places where information from Francisco Felipe Fatio and

2a The firm of William Panton, Thomas Forbes, and John Leslie was the leading eco-
nomic power in Louisiana and the Floridas following the American Revolution. See
Z6spedes to Gonzalo Zamorano, St. Augustine, October 2, 1786, in Duvon C. Corbitt
(ed.), "Papers Relating to the Georgia-Florida Frontier, 1784-1800," Georgia His-
torical Quarterly, XXI, No. 2 (June, 1937), 185; Marie Taylor Greenslade, "William
Panton," Florida Historical Society Quarterly, XIV, No. 2 (October, 1935), 107-29.
29 Descriptions of the timber trees of the area are found in Francis Harper (ed.), The
Travels of William Bartram (New Haven, 1958), passim; and with particular refer-
ence to the use of timber for ships, George H. V. (Victor) Collot, A Journey in North
America . (2 vols. and atlas; Paris, 1826; reprinted Florence, Italy, 1924), II,


several planters on the same banks where they bordered the river, together
with my system of asking them if in the neighborhood they had heard of or
had seen very large timbers, to which they replied generally that they were
very good, and, passing in their company to the site which they pointed out, I
was further informed. By viewing myself, and by taking the knowledge of
the carpenter overseer who accompanied me, it was sufficient to show their
uselessness, and to reinforce our calculations, I took the geometric measure-
ments of many pines which seemed to be outstanding, so that I can assure
the Superior Government that I have found only one, which was 75 feet
high and 18 to 20 inches in diameter, in a location one league distant to the
south of Picalata.ao The rest, from the plantation called Leslie, to the en-
trance of the river, are from 30 to 35 feet high; their thickness is irregular,
being from 10, 12, and 16 inches, and from said thicket to the Laguna
Valdss1 they are smaller and the cane very slender, which I attribute to the
effect of the sweet water in the area, since it is not salty, and I have observed
that the ones further north and on the sea coast are much thicker.

From the forests of live-oak which I have inspected, many of them are
found (particularly on Talbot Island, the fork, and Hill's plantation)
suitable of producing shaped timber such as yard-arms;s2 seconds and thirds
of a trunk are good for warships of 60 cannon because the girth is narrow
and can form masts only for packet-boats and other small craft. This is not
sufficient to establish a royal tree-felling operation because its usefulness
would be soon ended since the timber-stands are small, and it would not
repay the treasury for the initial investment, which is considerable for
similar establishments. In addition, I have found many of the trees rotten in
their trunks.

There is not the least doubt that if this most vital branch of commerce
is attached to the present activities of our Merchant Marine (without which
it cannot survive) and given the ease with which this Province can supply
them in sizes for Packet-boats and brigantines, in truth it would soon
achieve increased interest by conducting them to the ports of Spain, succeed-
ing by this means in ending delays with ships of the Havana trade and the

so For the location of Picolata, see John M. Goggin, "Fort Pupo: a Spanish Frontier
Outpost," Florida Historical Quarterly, XXX, No. 2 (October 1951), 139.
at Said to be seven leagues long and four leagues wide, this is the point named
George by the English. Two rivers feed the lagoon-the Vald6s and Morales-and con-
nect a beautiful island located at the mouth of the lagoon. Minutae to the expediente
of Josg del Rio Cosa, Archive Museo Alvaro Bazin, Indiferente.
as They were also suitable for futtocks: ibid.


hope of return, for with the sale of their goods, they could easily furnish
cargoes at Port St. Mary's or on the St. John's River, where they could fur-
nish timber of all qualities and uses of more advantage to them. At the
present time it is not so convenient. As for the value of the timber, a cubic
foot in rough state is 2 bits, 1 dozen superficial feet of pine boards bought
at St. John's River, 18 dollars and 75 cents, and at 30, the same number
bought at St. Augustine due to the cost of transportation there by land and
sea. The barrel staves of white oak without bark for pipes3s at 25 or 30 feet
the thousand; for a hogshead, 20 or 25; and for quarter-casks and barrels,
16 or 20. Those of water oak, red oak, cypress or sabine are worth less
because of the quality of the wood. For a thousand staves, bottoms will
require 250 pieces, worth about half the price of the latter.

The boards of ash or pine are worth six and one-quarter cents at the
rate of nine and one-half cents per foot.

This account is so brief because today only one planter on the St. John's
River is producing them, and supply and demand roughly determine the
value, for without an alternative or competitor, there can be no just price
placed on the goods.

I know that the English during the last war had taken from the St.
Mary's and St. John's Rivers timber of large size, to solve their absolute
necessity of avoiding damage, in maintaining their ships in this place, they
were forced to penetrate the interior with difficulty and some cost for many
miles to secure a single frigate or warship mast, which they found by luck,
and thus avoided a return trip to Europe.

The satisfaction which I have felt in seeing the abundance of pitch
that can be easily produced in the vast, spread-out forests of pine, compen-

as The pipe or pipa was a large barrel containing two hogs-heads or 105 gallons. The
pipe varied in size from the Canary Islands to Seville.
s4 Regarding the pitch pine, Francis Baily wrote, "These pines are of the species which
is called by the inhabitants 'pitch pine,' and grow to an enormous height and vast
size: they are hare of branches to near their tops; so that in travelling through them
they appear like a grove of large masts, which has a very curious effect. In several
places near the lake we saw the signs of persons having been there to make pitch,
tar, turpentine, &c., from these trees: these articles they take to New Orleans, and
turn to a good account." Francis Baily, "Journal of a Tour in Unsettled Parts of
North America in 1796 & 1797 (London, 1856), 346.


sate in part for my disappointment in the lack of floor timbers and construc-
tion lumber. The account presented by Francisco Felipe Fatio is not in the
least equivocal in this matter. The simple view and the same prevalence of
pine trees over many miles in extension assure sufficiently the great extraction
which was made during the time of English rule of so valuable a substance.
I have been in no plantation (although abandoned) which did not disclose
(although in ruins) pitch factories, which attest to the richness and abundance
of an activity in which the present continuation of the maritime powers
and the political situation require more attention than usual.

Permit me to draw a parallel. The English did not begin to realize the
value of the Province until the year 1776, when they began to benefit from
their products with the greatest success. Suddenly they saw on the river banks
and islands a multitude of settlers, which by the end of the war amounted
to more than 12,000 persons. This large population, devoted to the manufac-
ture of lumber and pitch, made such a success in their activities, that in
addition to the quantity shipped from the St. John's and St. Mary's rivers,
there were ready to export at the cession of the Province 50,000 barrels, at
increased prices due to the war. At the present time you can see only shadows
of what had been: there is only one Spanish settler who has developed the
process along the bank of the St. John's adjacent to San Nicholas. The rest
- Leslie,34- Fatio, Pengre, Clark, Doctor Len, Boneli, etc. -as you can
see by my charts, work no more than is necessary to keep body and soul
together, in spite of which, the zeal of Governor Vicente Manuel de Zespedes
has encouraged them to more active labor, and it is hoped in this year that
the settlers Pengre,s,3 Fatio and Hill will be able to produce between 1,000
and 1,500 barrels.

The current values of the small quantities of pitch produced in this
Province on the St. John's and St. Mary's Rivers are the barrel of pitch

aA John Leslie, a native of Scotland, came to South Carolina and Savannah before he
moved to St. Augustine and joined the firm of Panton, Leslie and Thomas Forbes.
He died about 1803. Robert Leslie, another member of the firm, who also lived in
St. Augustine, died in 1798. Greenslade, "William Panton," Florida Historical
Quarterly, October, 1935, 107-29; Whitaker (ed. & trans.), Documents Relating to
the Commercial Policy of Spain, 243; John Francis Hamtramck Claiborne, Mississippi
as a Province, Territory and State (Jackson, 1880), 132-33 note.
s4 William Pengree, owner of the plantation "Laurel Grove", had left East Florida dur-
ing the British evacuation following the American Revolution and settled in Camden
County, Georgia, but Creek hostilities persuaded him to return to his plantation in
1786 with his wife, child, and forty-eight slaves. Tanner, Zispedes, 130.


containing 8 arrobas net-weight, 3 dollars;35 that of black tar, 3; that of
yellow, 31/2, and resin, 5 dollars; this leads me to compute that the barrel
of tar and pitch delivered in Havana could sell for approximately 5 dollars,
the same, more or less, as that shipped from New Orleans.38 It is certain
that they are cheaper when brought from Charleston, where they are pur-
chased in the four categories for about 11 and 12 reals, and charging only
8 to 10 for carrying charges. When brought from St. Augustine to Havana,
they fetch from 14 to 16.

This branch of commerce being established for the ports of Spain, it
is impossible to determine (in addition to making too little pitch) a fixed
point for the costs of transportation, there being no standard for freight
charges. Should His Majesty wish to encourage the production by conferring
privileges to those who manufacture it and to those who buy it, it would be
possible to set a legal rate moderate enough to destroy the pitch trade of
the Baltic.

The profits obtained in this commerce, which ought to be handled on
a reciprocal basis directly with the Peninsula, will go beyond these two
branches of which I treat, resulting in an increase in trade, not only for the
traders of our ports, but for these settlers, and the Royal Treasury will no
longer suffer the expense of restricting trade, and contraband with the Amer-
ican Colonies, nor will it be necessary to keep these settlers as dependants of
the Royal Treasury.~

There is nothing more just for the prompt development of this Province
than the piety of our August Sovereign, whose munificence may place all
the products of this Province on the free list for a period of years, particu-
larly the two activities of manufacturing lumber and resin for the new
settlers. Moreover, the permission to export to the ports of Europe and

as The manuscript reads alquitrdn, which is a species of pitch containing a mixture of
tar, grease, resin and oil. The arroba was a Spanish measure equal to 25.36 pounds.
J. Villasana Haggard, Handbook for Translators of Spanish Historical Documents
(Austin, 1941), 72.
as Baily noted this trade from New Orleans. See supra, note 34.
a? The search for free trade in Louisiana and the Floridas is explored in Whitaker (ed.
& trans.), Documents Relating to the Commercial Policy of Spain; and Jack D. L.
Holmes, "Some Economic Problems of Spanish Governors in Louisiana," Hispanic
American Historical Review, XLII (November, 1962), 521-43. For an earlier attempt
(1758-1760) to link Florida's production of naval stores with the annual subsidy, see
John Jay TePaske, The Governorship of Spanish Florida, 1700-1763 (Durham, 1964),


America, which is a similar dispensation, would stimulate active trade and
foreigners will suffer an inevitable decline in both areas, and there is no
doubt that they will suffer from not being able to penetrate our colonies, since
this Province is sufficient to supply tar to our Royal Navy and Merchant
Marine, and to all Europe, without increasing the working hands.

For the present there are no other ports but St. Mary's, the Nassau Bar,
and St. John's, and no shelter for ships in case of accident or lack of sup-
plies; for in addition to requiring a pilot for their entry, if they succeed,
they find themselves at a deserted spot without the means to provide for their
needs. Although it is certain that in the first and last there are two small
detachments, these have no more than the necessary supplies which are
sent to them monthly from St. Augustine on a regular basis for the members
of its garrison. Along the same line, carpenters and calkers, if available,
command high wages, in addition to the cost of having to transport them
to said places from St. Augustine.

My interests in the Nation, if I have had the glory of having fulfilled the
King's orders, will be my reward.

An extract of the answers which I have had from the settlers, Mr.
William Pengre and Theophilus Hill, in the contract house of the tar
shipwrights, which serves as a supplement to the treatise on pitch.

"In answer, I reply that I have at present 220 barrels of turpentine,
each barrel containing 25 gallons (the gallon holds 4 small wine bottles,
rather more than less) ; I do not know the weight nor can I weigh them; I can
sell each barrel for 5 dollars. This number will be increased by the middle
of next November to at least 500 barrels, but I have not yet begun with tar or
pitch since once I have harvested my crop of rice and corn, I can easily
undertake both forms of pitch or either of the two, as soon as his excellency
the Governor encourages me to do it. I had considerable interest in shipping
the said quantity of turpentine next winter for Cadiz, where they inform me
the barrel is worth-this kind as well as tar and pitch--three pounds
sterling; I cannot say with accuracy what quantity of the said pitch I can
prepare hastily by Christmas, but I think that 400 of pitch and 100 of tar,
on terms equal to the turpentine, and 1,200 of all kinds at equal prices in
the course of the next year. I know that the prices are cheaper in the United
States because of the usual development by the Motherland, as well as for


the reason that its settlements are older than this one, but I believe that it
will be a short while only before it will languish there due to the lack of
export and because they are applying themselves to more remunerative tasks.
In the last war we sold a barrel of turpentine for 8 hard dollars. I would
be happy to be most equitable in the price in order to make secure the
foundation of commerce.

"Laurel Grove, July, 1787."

"Humbly offers his opinion that naval stores, such as tar, pitch and
turpentine, can be found in great abundance in this Province, and it is very
certain that with the few hands that can leave the cultivation of their land,
they can deliver at the landing of North River from 6 to 700 barrels of pitch
and 300 of tar during the forthcoming year. As for the turpentine, its gather-
ing depends in large degree on the season, whether it is rainy or dry, so
that it seems to me that in an average year, we can collect some 200 barrels.
As for making the barrels and delivering any of the indicated articles in good
condition, he will submit it to the decision of any intelligent subject. The
prices for said articles are as follows: pitch, 2 dollars fifty cents the barrel;
turpentine and tar, 4 dollars the barrel, each one containing 321/2 gallons
(the gallon is of four wine bottles rather more than less) or 260 pounds
English net weight.

"St. Augustine, July 11, 1787."

The gallon is equal, with small difference, to 8 Spanish pounds,3- so
that the barrel of Pengre is of 8 arrobas, and that of Hill of 10 1/3. The
excess in the difference of the total conforms to that which is generally sold
in small quantities, as I have stated previously.
Laurel Grove is on my plan; the plantation of Pengre and the level of
the North River point is that of San Diego.

Havana, August 6, 1787.
as The Spanish pound was equal to 1.0142642 English pounds. Villasana Haggard,
Handbook, 79.

Kissimmee Steamboating


The drainage and cultivation of the Everglades is now a well known and
respected accomplishment but over eight and a half decades ago it was
decidedly a different proposition. This narrative purports to hark back to
those frontier days when the first successful drainage projects for the Ever-
glades (overflowed lands of South Florida as they were once known) were
conceived and to relate the early dredge and steamboating days that evolved.

In the late 1870's and early 1880's, Hamilton Disston, a Philadelphia
blue-blood and scion of a hard-working tool-making family, Henry Disston
and Sons, was seeking a way to diversify his investments and increase his
fortunes in doing so. In finding what he thought was a suitable investment, he
rescued the State of Florida from a precarious pecuniary pickle and helped
to foster settlement in south-central Florida. Some 27 years old at the time
and not satisfied to confine his activities to the making of the excellent tools
that the family turned out (Disston saws felled the forests of the Northwest),
Disston became the largest private land owner in the United States by buying
four million acres of land in South Florida!

In the early 1880's the State of Florida owned some 14 to 20 million
acres of submerged lands (depending on how it was measured) which were
managed by the Trustees of the Internal Improvement Fund; however, sev-
eral millions of worthless bonds were held and the Fund was in virtual
receivership. At the time of Disston's advent upon the scene, in sheer despera-
tion, the Fund had commissioned agents out scouring the highways and by-
ways trying to sell land at some 25 cents the acre. Even Europe was canvassed
by these desperate men. The chief obstacle to sales was that court cases had
stipulated that such land sales were to be strictly for cash, and most buyers
could offer only a modicum of currency and wanted to use credit to finance
the balance.

A court order in 1880 finally forced the Internal Improvement Fund to
either get some cash to get itself in a state of solvency or to lose its control of


the millions of acres of land. A buyer of a large tract (and with cash) had
to be found in a hurry.

On February 26, 1881, Disston made his first deal which ultimately led
to the opening of the overflowed lands and also the start of steamboating
in the area. The State contracted with Disston to drain the overflowed lands
in return for which half of the reclaimed land would be his. However, due
to the court rules and a cloud of impending litigation, a clear title could
not be given on the land. The newly elected Governor of Florida, William
D. Bloxham, in a widely disputed decision, having surveyed both the Fund's
and Disston's position, took matters under his wing and persuaded Disston
to purchase some four million acres of land at the going rate of 25 cents
an acre. This sale was consummated in May 1881 and the Internal Improve-
ment Fund, by thus netting a million dollars, was able to pay off its debts,
assume a solvent position and deal in lands forever after.

Disston made an arrangement with an Englishman, Sir Edward Reed
to sell two million acres to him and Sir Edward paid some $500,00 to the
Internal Improvement Fund direct. Disston, with the help of some Phila-
delphia financiers, kept the remaining two million acres and started to
develop his holdings. At the time of the sale, Disston was the largest private
land owner in the United States and also had the dubious distinction of
being the world's largest land holder of worthless (supposedly) submerged
land. To move the task along, Disston set up several corporations with
himself on the list of officers of each in a different capacity and started to
work over his acquisitions. Some of these Disston dominated companies were
the Florida Land and Improvement Company (Disston was President), the
Kissimmee Land Company (Disston as Vice-President), and the Atlantic
and Gulf Coast Canal and Okeechobee Land Company (Disston was Treas-

Disston was by no means the first person to propose draining the Ever-
glades but he was somewhat successful at it whereas predecessors were unable
to get the project off the ground (perhaps more appropriately, out of the
swamps.) One of the first proposals to drain the Everglades was made in
1847 by the Honorable James D. Wescott. His proposal was based on reports
emanating from the Second Seminole Indian War, a sort of a by-product by

i Advertisement in 1882 pamphlet, "Florida, A Brief Description and How to Reach
There" by South Georgia, Florida, Savannah and Western RR.


General W. S. Harney and General Thomas S. Jesup.2 Harney had explored
a portion of the Everglades in vengeful quest of the warlike Seminoles, nar-
rowly escaping with his life on one occasion and Jesup had scouted the
Kissimmee River Valley and also that of the Peace Creek to the west. Ironi-
cally, two lakes on the St. John's River are named after these generals but
little if anything in the Kissimmee area is.

Walcott's proposal was recommended by Buckingham Smith to the Secre-
tary of the Treasury as being practical and upon the strength of this backing
and some confirmatory accounts by Army and Navy officers, Congress by an
Act on August 12, 1848, granted the overflowed lands of the State of Florida
for reclamation.

However, the Seminole Indians again took to the warpath and enlivened
affairs in South Florida so it was not for another 10 years that active opera-
tions could get underway, this time to be stymied by the wartime conditions
imposed by the Civil War. After hostilities ceased, population slowly entered
the area and transportation and drainage activities came to the fore.

The great river transportation system afforded by the St. Johns brought
settlers to the fringes of interior Florida but a railroad was needed to carry
them to the Kissimmee area from whence the river and lake system to the
south could be utilized especially in conjunction with the drainage schemes.

In 1878 and 1879, the South Florida Railroad was being formed to run
between Sanford on the St. John's River to the Gulf Coast. Starting in Decem-
ber 1879 and finishing in December 1880, the railroad reached Orlando.
After that it was extended to Kissimmee, reaching there on March 21, 1883
(the opening day of business). Although there still was not a rail connection
between Jacksonville and Sanford, there were steamboats and the business
boomed as never before carrying tourists and settlers southward. In 1886,
the missing link was finally completed between Jacksonville and Sanford and
the St. John's River steamboat fortunes immediately were at their lowest.3

Henry B. Plant bought into the South Florida Railroad in May 1883 and
it ultimately became a part of the Plant system. One of his first projects was

a Harney, Will Wallace, "The Drainage of the Everglades" Harpers New Monthly
Magazine, Vol. LXVIII --Dec. 1883 May 1884.
a George W. Pettengill, Jr. "Bulletin 86 The Story of the Florida Railroads -
1834- 1903" July 1952 (Railway and Locomotive Historical Society, Inc. Harvard
Business School, pages 75-78.


to connect Kissimmee with Tampa. He built a three-foot gauge, 74 mile
railroad linking these two key points in six months time, finishing only two
days before his charter was to expire.*

The drainage possibilities were also being explored during this era of
railroad expansion. In 1879, the enterprising James M. Kreamer, prominent
civil engineer of the day and later chief engineer of Disston's drainage activi-
ties undertook a thorough and practical survey of the Kissimmee and Peace
Creek valleys and the Lake Okeechobee watershed. This was in accordance
with a state charter and his work was in part based on prior work performed
by the U. S. Topographical Corps and interested canal, railway, and steam-
boat companies. The area that overflowed was estimated by Kreamer to
consist of some 10,000 square miles which was larger in size than the com-
bined areas of New Jersey, Delaware, and Connecticut with Rhode Island
thrown in for good measure.5

The solution to the drainage problem was to relieve these many square
miles of the surplus water accumulated during the May to September rainy
season or so the primitive knowledge available at the time reasoned. The
rainy season produced some 441/2 inches of water on the average and the
solution was to use the natural waterways that were available by dredging
them so they could carry the water adequately to the Gulf and Atlantic Coasts
in addition constructing additional canals as would be required to carry the
water away. The topography and relative elevations of the chain of lakes
and rivers that makes up the Kissimmee valley is such that each area can
be done successively using a system of terraces, each semi-independent of
the other. The differences in elevation were thought to be slight enough that
few if any locks would be needed to control stream depth and regulate

A first logical step in the drainage projects had to be that of linking
up the various waterways in the area. In addition to the drainage benefits,
communication by steamboat would then be possible. Getting Lake Okee-
chobee connected to the Gulf via the Caloosahatchee River would be of
primary importance. Although there was a connection (loosely defined) of
sorts between Lake Okeechobee and the Caloosahatchee, it was of such a
nature that only canoes or light craft could make the passage from one to

4 Ibid. pp. 76-77.
s Harney, op. cit. pp. 598, 599.


the other. As early as Seminole War days, white men had effected the pas-
sage but only with canoes. No steamboat ever penetrated Lake Okeechobee's
vastness until Disston's engineering feats had been performed."

Two other drainage link-ups had to be made. One of these would serve
to join Lake Tohopekaliga to the Kissimmee River and thus ultimately to
Lake Okeechobee and the other would be to connect Lake Okeechobee to the
St. Lucie River and thence to the Atlantic.

A description of the Okeechobee-Caloosahatchee work was made by Will
Wallace Harney, son of General Harney, who was the Kissimmee newspaper
editor; (In December of 1882) "The axmen had penetrated the fringe of
custard apple and revealed through the opening the welcoming pillar of
smoke of the dredge. A canal 22 feet wide having an average fall of one
foot per mile connects Okeechobee to Lake Hickpochee and this is connected
to Lake Flirt by a second canal through the soft chalk rim of the outer basin.
Curiously, Captain Menge, engineer of the dredge found there the remains
of an old cut of the Spaniards showing that the project of Gov. Wescott's
was not the first."

"South of Ft. Thompson is the beautiful current of the Caloosahatchee
River flowing between high banks terraced in the characteristic manner of
the topography. This feature peculiar to all river valleys, illustrates the
manner the grand trowels of nature have built up the watershed of South
Florida. Here in the soft marl and loam are exhibited everywhere the escarpe-
ments seen in the harsh features of parallel roads in the geology of more
northern latitudes."7

As far as is known, four dredges were used by Disston's forces for the
drainage work. At least three of these were built at Kissimmee it is believed.
Harney has left an account of what the dredges looked like which is pre-
sented (slightly paraphrased) as follows:

"(The dredges) were (built from a) patent by (Allan) and were (of)
the continuous ladder principle. (They consist of) a chain of buckets, sus-
pended about forty feet in the air from an upright. There is another forty
foot arm extended horizontally from the foot of the upright and the chain of

a The Everglades News, Canal Point, Fla. June 1, 1945.
* Harney, op. cit, pp. 604.


buckets is drawn over an incline to its top. The whole affair has a resemblance
to the figure 4, having a short foot resting on the bow or front of the hull.
There is a chain of buckets that goes over the A shaped part of the 4. The
chain of buckets revolves over the drum and sink their scoops into the soft
ooze and muck and ascend over the incline over the top of the 4 where they
are met by a washer from a hose or pump, and, as each bucket falls over the
incline it gives a jerk and its contents are discharged on a sluice gate at right
angles to the keel and extending beyond the edge of the cutting and thus
on the edge of the canal, thus forming its own levee as it moves along. The
long arm swings on the stem of the 4 as it moves from side to side and is
controlled by levers so that each bucket sinks beyond the previous one and
it digs or cuts a swath 37 feet similar to the way that a mower swings a

"A tow rope over a drum attached to a stake is set for the width and
edge of the cutting and of course the progress is controlled by means of
levers. You can just picture the thing in motion, the huge crane swinging,
the timbers groaning, the clang, whine, and rattle of the iron and steel, the
steam engine coughing as it does its job, and the men in the muck and
ooze, shouting, laughing, hollering, then the commands ringing forth, the
constant stream of black ooze as it pours over the top of the sluices and as
the derrick proceeds, on behind it, the clean cut edges of the Canal. And the
dredge itself is a scow type hull, sort of a stern wheel steamboat and has a
narrow cabin with a smithy and also quarters for the men."s

No record of any names for the dredges has come to light. Dredge No. 1
worked the lower drainage project, connecting Lake Okeechobee with the
Caloosahatchee River. Completion of this dredging would link up the Florida
West Coast with the Lake.

Dredge No. 2 was completed at Kissimmee in early summer of 1882.
This dredge made the three mile cut between Lake Tohopekaliga and East
Lake Tohopekaliga. An 1885 report of the work states: "The work of con-
structing this canal was commenced in January of 1883 and on January 1,
1884, No. 2 was distant from Lake Tohopekaliga four thousand, six hundred
feet. The Boat, completing the cut as she proceeded, and cutting her own
floatage necessitated the constructing of five dams in order to obviate exces-

s Ibid, p. 601.


sive depth of excavation. The first dam was constructed during the latter
part of February; dams were also built in May and July."

"From August 18th to September 2nd, the dredge crew, reinforced by
other labor was employed in constructing the last dam near East Tohope-
kaliga Lake. The canal was completed September 22nd.... On November
22nd, the last dams on line of canal were cut, and vent given to the waters
of the lake. A number of visitors assembled to witness the interesting event.
The first rush of the waters carried away the last vestige of the dams and
accumulations in the canal, and the velocity of current established was suffi-
cient to scour out the softer strata composing the bed of the canal, to a
depth of several feet below the line of excavation.... During the first thirty
days, the lake surface fell thirty-six inches.... Lake East Tohopekaliga, for-
merly surrounded by Cypress and marsh margins, has developed a beautiful
wide sand beach, the bordering lands are elevated and marshes changed
to rich meadow lands.",

Dredge No. 3 appears to have been the largest Disston dredge and was
of the suction type unlike Nos. 1 and 2 which were of the dipper type. She
was the most complete in her appointments and was under the command of
Captain Ben Brown. It was she that made the difficult Southport cut due
south from Lake Tohopekaliga to Lake Cypress through four tough miles.
During steamboating days the cut was one of the worst passages to traverse
due to the tendency for solid deposits to form in the shape of bars at either
end of the canal near the lakes.

The third major cut was to be a canal, 120 feet wide, ten feet deep, and
having a fall of one foot per mile to connect from Cahoney Bay on Lake
Okeechobee to the St. Lucie River, and, of course, thence to the Atlantic.
This prodigious undertaking for that day would be capable of lowering the
area of water some four feet a season! This ambitious undertaking was not
to get completed during Disston's lifetime, however.

Dredge No. 4 appears to have been of the snag boat type and she was
fitted out with tackle for hoisting and clearing out trees, snags, and logs.
She was under the command of Captain V. P. Keller.

Dredging as done in those bygone days was exhausting demanding work,
tough on both men and craft. It is thought that all of the dredges were

9 Aultman, "When Kissimmee Was Young."


abandoned somewhere in the area after their working days were over. At
least one was left in the Lake Hart canal easterly of St. Cloud many years
ago and rotted away. In addition to the principal linkages made to get a
waterway established for drainage and steamboating, the dredges linked up
all of the auxiliary lakes and secondary streams that they could get to to
form semi-integrated drainage systems; the Kissimmee River was also
streamlined by cutting off many of the numerous bends.

Certainly the completion of the railroad to Kissimmee, and the Disston
activities opened up the area and allowed for a multitude of steamboats to
operate, many of which were built at Kissimmee, but before this frenzied
activity, there was at least one small steamboat operating on Lake Tohope-

This first small steamboat was the MARY BELLE, owned by Major
J. A. Allen who had earned his majority in the Civil War. A school teacher
in Kentucky before coming to the area, Allen was an owner of one of the
three sawmills that were in operation in early 1882. He built a house of logs
possibly in 1879 on Paradise Island, then known as Jernigan's Island and
named after one Aaron Jernigan who also gave his name to the first settle-
ment at what is now Orlando. This home was built by Henry Matthews of
logs cut on the mainland, hand-peeled by a draw-knife, hauled out to the
lake, and ferried to the island. The MARY BELLE was a small sternwheeler,
some 11 and a half tons, 47 feet long, 10 feet wide, and three and one half
feet deep. She was operating in 1882 according to advertisements of the day:lo

"Excursions to the great Lake Okeechobee, Fla.-The steamer Mary Bell,
plying on the waters of Lake Tohopekaliga, and the Kissimmee River, will
be held in readiness during the Fall and Winter of 1882 to accommodate
excursion parties to the great Lake Ockeechobee (sic). For terms address J H
Allen, Agent, Kissimmee City, Orange Co. Fla."

MARY BELLE (BELL) carried more than tourists, however. At a later
time, John Pearce (Pearse) was operating her and had tied up at Grape
Hammock to deliver goods to one Bill Willingham, an outlaw and desperado
at the press of the day put it. Willingham provoked a quarrel with Pearce
and drew a knife, upon which Pearce and two members of his crew, Jack

to Advertisement in 1882 pamphlet, "Florida, A Brief Description and How to Reach
There" by South Georgia, Florida, Savannah and Western RR.


Rooney and Bill Daughtry, overpowered him and tied him securely. Pearce
then carried him via ox team to Orlando and delivered him to the minions
of the law. MARY BELLE proceeded southerly to Bassinger where she acci-
dentally or purposely sank (some say by her crew for fear of reprisals by
Willingham's gang) and was apparently never raised. By all odds, she could
not have been much of a steamboat, having to be built and operated under
some rather trying frontier conditions.

Major Allen removed to Orlando some time before 1885 and supposedly
went back to Kentucky and thence to the state of Washington where he was
said to have been a rich man. His father came back to Kissimmee and took
up residence on the orange grove property of his son and ran a ferry boat
in the area, drowning in 1892. One of the captains of MARY BELLE was
Tom Bass, Sr.

The Disston activities required a small fleet of steamboats to keep the
dredging and land-selling operations going. At least four such steamboats
are known to have been used in conjunction with Disston's doings. The ship-
yards at Kissimmee located along the Kissimmee City lake shore built these
four vessels. In those days, the shore had the appearance of a beach with
perhaps four piers fingering their way into Lake Tohopekaliga. One was
Major Allen's dock located near his sawmill, another and longer dock jutted
out in front of the famed Tropical Hotel and the third was just south of
that, probably being owned by the Bass family. The fourth was the Okee-
chobee dock, later referred to as Johnson's dock (after Clay Johnson.) The
shipyards were located adjacent to this dock, near present Hughey and Vernon

In 1882, Bunk Tyson was the foreman, having employees at one time
or another such as Jack Vaughan, Sol Aultman, T. O. Wichard of Dawson,
Georgia, and Jud Sharp of the Partin settlement. Bunk Tyson superintended
or had a part in the building of almost all steamboats at Kissimmee. A Cap-
tain Cochran of the Disston company was the engineer in charge for some
time, and Captain Rufus Rose who was Disston's resident engineer had some-
thing to say about the shipbuilding business also. The Disston commissary was
nearby and many of the key Disston personnel, including Rose, Keller, and
Clay Johnson had homes in the vicinity.

The four Disston craft were the OKEECHOBEE, the ARBUCKLE, the
GERTRUDE, and the ROSALIE. Government records list the OKEECHOBEE


as being built in 1884 at Kissimmee as a stern wheeler of some 37 tons. Her
dimensions were 88 feet, length, 17 feet, width, and 3.4 feet deep (dimen-
sions for steamboats given hereinafter as 88 x 17 x 3.4)." The ARBUCKLE
was a sidewheel vessel of about eight gross tons, some 35 x 10 x ?. She ended
up in the Lake Hart Canal with one of the Disston dredges and was left to
rot. Nothing seems to be known of the GERTRUDE except that she was a
dredge tender.

A fragmentary account written in 1885 of the building of the ROSALIE
and the OKEECHOBEE comes to us as follows : "For the purpose of secur-
ing a more expeditious service in supplying our (Disston) dredges and forces
operating at points remote from Kissimmee and also to provide the officials
of the Company prompt and speedy services in reaching our works, and for
the purposes of reconnaissance, it was determined to construct a steam launch,
capable of carrying needed supplies and affording accommodations for a
party of ten, the "Rosalie" was built at Kissimmee, completed in September
(1884), at once placed in commission and has been a valuable aid ever
since. She is forty feet long; ten feet beam; stern wheel; upright boiler;
Westinghouse engine. Speed about seven miles per hour. She handles re-
markably well on the tortuous reaches of the river. On several trips south, we
never experienced any difficulties in navigating this boat from Kissimmee
to the Gulf....

"The steamboat, "Okeechobee", has been constantly employed during
the year,... in conveying supplies to the dredge boats and in making almost
daily trips to the scene of operations with parties desiring to inspect the
reclaimed lands, and the sugar plantation established at Southport, on soil,
which was until recently, permanently covered with three feet of water."

Government records list the ROSALIE as being of some 15 tons and
41 x 13 x 3.5. Her owners are listed as R. E. Rose until May, 1886 and the
Atlantic and Gulf Canal and Okeechobee Construction Company to June 25,
1893, when she sprang a leak and sank. For many years afterward her bones
could be seen in a canal near Lake Flirt. Her masters of record during her
career were Captain Rose, Michael (Mike) Grogan, and Howell Sasser.

n Steamboat measurements derived from vessel registration data provided by U. S.
Archives, Washington, D. C. also from unpublished Federal Writers Project, Feb.
1937 "The Kissimmee River" P. K. Yonge Library-University of Florida, Gainesville.
1s Aultman, op. cit., pp. 25, 26.


Government records list the OKEECHOBEE as having had Rose, Ed
Douglas, and Howell Sasser as masters. Her official owners were the Atlantic
and Gulf Coast Canal and Okeechobee Land Company from May 1884 to
May 1886 and after that, William Cannon of Kissimmee had an interest
together with the Company until January 1888 when the vessel was wrecked
and became a hulk.

Disston had a foundry and machine shop established in conjunction with
the ship yards to form the metal parts needed in steamboats although most
of the engines and boiler came from elsewhere. Certainly in the 1880's, the
sawmills were whirring away, and pine lumber was being supplied in
plenteous quantities for the steamboats, hotels and homes that were the
hallmark of the bustling, growing Kissimmee.

A song about the dredge workers written by Captain J. H. "Jake"
Ahearn who was associated with the South Florida Railroad as it reached
Kissimmee, sung to the tune of "Scotch Lassie Jean" goes as follows:

Down in Orange County, in the town of Kiss-im-mee,
That's where the Okeechobee Dredge Boys dwell,
And if you strike the town, when the sun has just gone down,
You will know them by Jeff Branscom's awful yell.
They work both day and night, that is, when they're not tight,
For 'tis Capt. Rose who likes his pork and beans,
And then their next best man, Billy Buster Dillingham,
Is the boy who beat Ab Johnson on three queens.
They have the big sun-flower, the cranky John Huffbaur,
And Edwards with whom he can't agree,
Feather-bed Depew, with little Johnnie, too,
And the kid who likes to row across the sea.
The Dredge will soon be done, the men will then be gone,
And some to jail will go away;
But you can bet your life, there will be no care and strife,
If the Okeechobee Dredge boys get their pay.
But then, I near forgot, the worst one in the lot;
The cook and Mr. Wilson, they are two,
Jack the Irish guide, with Maxwell who's cross-eyed,
And Johnny Mann who wears a twelve-inch shoe;
There's Mcintosh and Jack, they both are coffin-black,


And McMillan who tries to beat his board,
The little "midget" Freeman, it was fun to hear him scream
When John Driscoll poked his eye because he snored.
The Dredge will soon be done, the gang will then be gone,
And I don't think I'll stay here very long;
So while you're all away, you won't forget, I pray,
You will remember "Yorky" and his song.-3

Disston needed a right hand man to assist him in his endeavors and a
34 year old chemist and steamboat captain from New Orleans, Rufus Edward
Rose, was summoned. For five years before coming with Disston, Rose had
been superintendent of the Louisiana Reclamation Company which was re-
claiming peat and muck lands in the Mississippi Delta.14 For the first five
years he was in Florida, a period of 1881 to 1886, Rose was superintendent
of the Disston Everglade Drainage Company. About that time some of Diss-
ton's sugar crops were coming of age so a sugar mill was started at St. Cloud
and Rose was appointed as superintendent of the Disston-St. Cloud Sugar

Rose was born in New Orleans, March 19, 1847, the son of Alfred James
and Albina Stanhope Rose. He attended the public schools of the day and
went on to higher education but the Civil War interrupted his studies at
Dolbear Technical and Commercial College where he was interested in phar-
maceutical and chemical studies. Rose served with distinction in supply and
naval forces on the Federal side, his father being captain of the gunboat,
DIANA, and Rose had acquired knowledge of navigation and engineering
from him. After the conflict Rose was a captain of steamboats on the Mis-
sissippi and Red Rivers and also assisted in the establishment of the first
artificial ice plant in New Orleans. He also designed and erected many sugar
mills in Louisiana and just prior to coming with Disston was engaged in
land reclamation.

Evidently one of Captain Rose's tasks was concerned with some of the
layout and planning of Kissimmee. He did not forget his relatives in doing
this for we find the names of streets such as Ruby (his wife), Rose, Mabbett
(his brother-in-law), Clay and Amory (the last two after Clay Johnson and his

13 Aultman "When Kissimmee Was Young" pages 26, 27.
14 Information on Rose largely derived from, "Obituary of Captain Rufus Edward
Rose, August 1932 (reprint from "Journal of the Association of Official Agricultural


son, Amory, brother-in-law and nephew, respectively). A street was also
named after Captain Brack, a steamboat owner and one of the first County
Commissioners. Another street was named after Colonel J. A. Aderhold, a
prominent Civil War figure and early mayor of Kissimmee.

The little pioneer settlement of Allendale became Kissimmee City on
March 24, 1883, as the result of an election held that day. There were only
some 36 qualified voters within the then corporate limits and a two-thirds
majority was required for incorporation. Tom Bass was the first Mayor and
David Bass was the first Marshal. There supposedly had been an earlier elec-
tion in January in which Captain Rose was elected Mayor but this election
was declared invalid because too many people living outside the corporate
limits voted and the two-thirds majority had not been met. There is some
suspicion that some opposition to the incorporation developed because the
mayoral candidate was an outsider and many thought that a native should
be selected. However, Captain Rose was elected Chairman of the first Board
of County Commissioners when Osceola County was created by an act of
the Legislature on May 2, 1887, being formed from part of Orange County.

After 1886, Rose was connected with the Florida East Coast Railroad
Company as land agent and agriculturist. He also had a prominent part in
developing some of the phosphate deposits in Florida. In 1901 he was
appointed State Chemist of Florida in the Agricultural Department and held
that post for 30 years until his death in 1931. Rose was most zealous in
securing legislation that ensured that Florida citrus when marketed would be
properly matured. He also authored all of the agricultural control laws
enacted during his tenure, a rather impressive and interesting career to be

Disston's Drainage Company was in existence until 1894 although the
first operations in the early 1880's formed the bulk of the work insofar as
establishing channels for steamboats were concerned. James M. Kreamer,
Chief Engineer and General Superintendent glowingly reported in February
of 1885 that due to the construction of 40 miles of canals (at a cost of
$250,000), 360 miles of inland waterway navigable by shallow draft steam-
boats were a reality. Over one million acres of land had been permanently
drained according to Kreamer (disputed by his opponents and political fac-
tions in the state) and the next goal was to be the drainage of seven million
more acres!


The enticement of settlers, selling of land and all similar types of opera-
tions were business operations of Disston and agricultural pursuits such as
sugar cane and fruit tree growing were also carried on. The first tract of
land was planted in cane in February 1884 and successfully harvested in
season. Never successful by present day standards and hardly so by the
criteria of the day, the operation did produce enough crops to indicate that
sugar cane could be successfully grown and perhaps with a profit in the
overflowed lands after they had been drained. A modern sugar mill built in
the late 1880's in St. Cloud lasted until 1901 when it was sold to Mexican
operators. Lifting of federal subsidies on cane raising and cane borers in-
troduced inadvertently from Cuba contributed to the demise of sugar cane
growing and milling in the area.

Disston's last drainage efforts before his untimely death in 1896 at 52
years of age were designed to link up the lakes and streams northeasterly of
East Lake Tohopekaliga with that lake, a task not completed in his time.

The national panic of 1893 had already started putting the skids under
Disston's Florida empire as the Disston Land Company had been forced at
that time to mortgage its holding to a Philadelphia banking concern. Disston's
family did not appear to take a financial interest in Hamilton's ventures
and did little or nothing to rescue him. The mortgage was for two million
dollars and five years afterward the remaining two million acres of Disston
land were sold for $70,000 to satisfy the mortgage holders. Several land
companies still operated in the Disston area in the 1920's and a very few
scattered descendants of these still remain.

It is interesting to speculate as to just what effect the Disston activities
had upon the state. Certainly Disston could not have made much if any money
on his efforts. They served to open up the country sooner than would have
been the case otherwise. The drainage systems are still in use today although
greatly enlarged and modified. After Disston, it was not until the turn of the
century and the advent of the Army Engineers and Flood Control Districts
upon the scene that further drainage efforts went forward.

Steamboat activities in the mid-eighties increased as the dredging activi-
ties linked up the waterways and provided a reasonable good passage to
Okeechobee and the Caloosahatchee and then to the Gulf Coast. One of these
early steamboat arrivals was the largest steamboat ever to touch at Kissimmee


but she didn't stay long. She was the BERTHA LEE and her brief meteoric
Florida career is still told some 85 years later.15

BERTHA LEE had started life as a staid and plain midwesterner, being
built in Portsmouth, Ohio in 1879. She was officially registered as a two deck
sternwheeled steamboat of 121 tons gross, dimensions, 130 x 21 x 3.8 and
official number, 3096. She seems to have plied the Ohio River on local service
being owned by a consortium of Kentuckians for most of her midwest career.
Just prior to her entry on the Florida scene she was employed by the Louis-
ville and Evansville Mail Company for 15 months, evidently on a mail serv-
ice run between these two cities.

In the summer of 1883, Ed Douglas of Kissimmee, acting for the Kis-
simmee, Okeechobee, and Gulf Stream Navigation Company was shopping
around for a steamboat in the Ohio Valley. He bought the BERTHA LEE
because he needed a boat for the influx of tourists to Kissimmee and she
appeared to be "small" when viewed alongside other Ohio River behemoths
in addition to being a "bargain."

Douglas had been managing the Tropical Hotel in Kissimmee and busi-
ness was booming. A steamboat was urgently needed there so Douglas after
his purchase was faced with the task of getting her back to Kissimmee. The
route was via the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers and then the more hazardous
run from New Orleans around the Gulf of Mexico, hugging the shore and
hoping that strong winds and high seas would not materialize. Among the
hands recruited for the trip was John Gottwallis, a carpenter. John had been
on steamboats on the Green River in Kentucky previously. At New Orleans,
Douglas further recruited one Benjamin Franklin Hall, Jr. for the remainder
of the trip to Kissimmee. Since Hall and his son were destined to play promi-
nent roles in Florida steamboating, a few details are perhaps appropriate.

Hall's father, Benjamin Franklin Hall, was of Irish descent, born in the
1820's and died when he was 96. He was a Quaker and lived around Lynn,
Massachusetts and later moved to Pittsburgh and Williamstown, West Vir-
ginia. The lure of the river caught him and he became a steamboat captain on
the Pittsburgh to New Orleans coal trade. During the Civil War he was on a

15 Information on Benjamin Franklin Hall, Jr. and his steamboats derived from Captain
Ed Hall of Houston, Texas also from newspaper writings of Lawrence Will of
Belle Glade.


gunboat during the river campaigns and on one occasion had the wheel house
shot up by Confederate forces, one fragment going through his hat. Later on,
he suffered a bad foot and ankle injury and retired from the river, settling
in Marietta, Ohio.

Prior to coming to Florida, Hall and his father had been on the
CHARLES BROWN, a large iron hulled steamboat specializing in hauling
barges of coal to New Orleans from the Pittsburgh area. Bored with such a
monotonous job, Hall transferred to the BIG SUNFLOWER and was a night
pilot on the New Orleans to Port Eads run where the Mississippi meets the
sea. Hall was shifted later to the day run and the story is told that he was
bewildered by the strange route as he had seen it only at night and accord-
ingly had to learn the river pilotage over for the day voyages. The BIG
SUNFLOWER later ran to Pensacola carrying railroad supplies for the
Louisville and Nashville Railroad and Hall went with her. When the BERTHA
LEE came along and needed another hand, Hall signed up, being footloose
and fancy free and wanting to visit Florida. Neither Hall nor anyone on
board was familiar with the navigational problems on the Caloosahatchee or
Kissimmee Rivers (very few people in the world were at that time) so an
attempt was made to enlist the services of Captain Lawrence Jennings of
Kissimmee who had journeyed to Ft. Myers by sailboat and was looking for
a way home but not as official captain or pilot. Jennings allowed he wouldn't
want to be responsible but would help to get her there.

At any rate, Douglas, Hall, Gottwallis, Jennings, and company, took on
a cargo of grain from New Orleans and continued their voyage on September
20, 1883. It took a week to get to the entrance of Lake Okeechobee, it being
rather difficult to get a 130 foot boat drawing almost four feet of water up
the narrow and crooked Caloosahatchee, past Ft. Thompson, shallow and
grass-filled Lake Flirt, Bonnet Lake, Reedy Canal and the like. Just as she
neared the lake, Three Mile Canal really hung her up and a small earthen
dam was constructed, the extra water being impounded and subsequently
released, serving to help her on her way. Only three cords of wood were left
so everyone turned to and cut fuel as the BERTHA LEE tied up at Observa-
tion Island. Then came the easy trip across Lake Okeechobee to the mouth of
the Kissimmee River. In those days, the river was a snake's dream of heaven,
being a crooked combination of narrow channels, sharp bends, cut-offs, dead
rivers, and zig-zags in confounding numbers. Anything larger than a row-
boat had pretty tough going.


The BERTHA LEE finally got to Kissimmee City but not without
literally cutting her own way at times across some of the sharper bends and
using her paddlewheel to generate enough current to cause a scouring action
and thus clear a short channel. Usually the steamboat would turn around,
reversing direction and use her stern wheel to help clear the way, the process
being known as fanning. After 15 heartbreaking toilsome days of beating up
the Kissimmee, the BERTHA LEE had to dispatch a rowboat to Kissimmee
as supplies were very low, due to the extreme length of the extraordinary
voyage. After a week they returned with provisions just as the crew were
on their uppers. The BERTHA LEE finally emerged triumphant at Kissimmee
after a month and a half of very arduous voyaging from Ft. Myers. This
undoubtedly was the most severe trip for any vessel on the Kissimmee River.
Hall must have liked the area despite his rough introduction to it for most
of the rest of his life was spent there.

After her trials and tribulations, it was extremely galling to find that the
BERTHA LEE was not the outstanding success that it was thought she
should be and evidently she was used only briefly around Lake Tohopekaliga
for moonlight excursions and trips to the islands in the lake.

Some of the idleness of BERTHA LEE coupled with the moonlight
excursions evidently produced some results for two of her crew used their
spare time wisely to spark a couple of sisters from Kissimmee and it ended
up that Ben Hall and John Gottwallis were married to two sisters that they
had met on a moonlight excursion. It was a double wedding ceremony with
the Reverend T. G. Bell of Kissimmee tying the knot.

While the BERTHA LEE was less than a complete success at Kissim-
mee, the St. John's River was in need of steamboats and Douglas and his
company, needing money, decided to take her there to see if she could earn
her keep. So in the fall of 1884, probably in September, the BERTHA LEE
was back in Ft. Myers getting ready to go around the Florida Keys to Jack
sonville. However, she had a lot of debts, her crew had not been paid for
quite a spell so she was auctioned off to settle accounts. Captain Hall had
about the most due of anyone and he managed to get control of her using
Tom Bass to help finance him in this endeavor.

The BERTHA LEE did not get to the St. John's River, however. A need
for a steamboat developed on the Suwanee River and that is where Hall
took her. She ran from Cedar Keys to Branford, hauling passengers, supplies,


and naval stores. After this venture she moved on to the Apalachicola and
Chattahoochee Rivers. Captain Hall had picked up a cotton charter at a good
rate from the Whiteside's cotton brokerage firm of Columbus, Georgia who
were in the business of steamboating cotton from Columbus to Apalachicola
and a railroad was giving them stiff competition. After several successful
runs, the BERTHA LEE was wrecked while under the pilot's guidance (Cap-
tain Blanchard) in the notorious Moccasin Bend cut off. The sad part of the
story is that Captain Hall had just finished spending some $10,000 in a
needed overhaul and the BERTHA LEE accordingly represented his life's
savings. He went back to Kissimmee, clerked in a hotel there at night and
eventually got enough of a stake to commence building, buying and running
smaller steamboats on the Kissimmee River.

"A Capital ship for an ocean trip was the walloping window blind."
Kissimmee's versions of Robert Louis Stevenson's rainy weather invention
for a child were the SPRAY and the COLONIST, which were unlikely craft
for any kind of a trip."1

SPRAY'S owners evidently were rather ashamed of her because she
was never documented. She supposedly was about 40 feet long and perhaps
some 10 feet wide. She may have been the second non-Disston craft built at
Kissimmee. Arch Bass and Captain W. J. Brack probably were her owners.
She was a sidewheeler and while wide at the guards had a rather narrow
hull which gave her a bad habit of listing precariously to one side or the
other. Clay Johnson and his family supposedly lived on her for a short
spell when they first arrived in Kissimmee. She couldn't carry enough cargo
to make her profitable. It is thought that perhaps Frank King and Paul
Gibson tried her out on the Kissimmee River run, rather unsuccessfully no
doubt. Due to her lack of capability and a bad boiler to boot, she was
beached at Kissimmee, the COLONIST was beached alongside her and both
burned in 1893.

The COLONIST was another Frank King and Paul Gibson craft. Built
at Kissimmee in 1885, she was a small 16-2/3 tons (45 x 13.7 x3.5). She
was named for the English colony at Narcoosee and operated between there
and Kissimmee until the Sugar Belt Railroad was built between these points.
She was also used to tow logs and haul lumber for a sawmill owner at Edge-
water. She was a real mixed up affair, having a sawmill boiler, and a one

16 Information on SPRAY and COLONIST from Capt. Ed Hall.


cylinder engine to run her sternwheel. She was not even equipped with a
reverse gear to go with her single shaft so a twist belt was employed for this
purpose. Link chains connected her sternwheel to the shaft via sprockets and
linkage. She was always breaking down usually snapping her chains which
then tumbled overboard. King and Gibson evidently put up with this nonsense
for two and a half years from May 1886 to January 1889 when Captain Ben
F. Hall, Jr. bought her. He tried her out on the river run but she was quite
useless there so he laid her up on the beach at Kissimmee where she burned.
Hall must have got her at a pretty low price to even take her and was prob-
ably fairly well down on his luck after the loss of the BERTHA LEE.
Another early largely unknown boat was the NARCOOSEE. She was
either built at Narcosee in 1884 or 1885 or in Kissimmee. Thomas Bass was
her master when she first applied for vessel documentation (as 106 tons in
1885) but for some reason her number was reassigned to another craft in
New York and her registration never completely put through.

The NARCOOSEE definitely existed as it is known that Captain Ben
Hall's brother-in-law, John Gottwallis, was engineer on her for a spell. She
may have been owned by the British colony at Narcoosee but apparently these
feeble recollections are all that is known.

Not all of the boats that plied the Kissimmee and its adjacent waters
were local products. A demure lady from Massachusetts is our next entrant
on the scene. The SADIE of Salem, Massachusetts, usually known as SADIE
OF SALEM appeared in late 1887. The SADIE had been built in 1886 and
was 61.7 x 14.8 x 4.9, 19 net tons. After spending the first 14 months of her
existence in Salem, one of her owners, Albert S. Kinsman teamed up with
Frank King and she was around Kissimmee until May 1891 or so. Kinsman
had a sugar cane farm near Southport and had to haul cane to Disston's mill
at St. Cloud so he used the SADIE for this task. Not a fast boat, the voyage
to Florida was arduously lengthy for the SADIE as she had to use salt water
for her boilers after running out of fresh. She was of little practical use in
the area due to her depth and being a propeller tug, could not "fan" her way
out of a tight corner as a sternwheeled vessel could. Frank King was her
captain during most of her Kissimmee existence, however at the outset she
was skippered briefly by Ben Hall.

In May of 1891 Burton E. Coe of Tampa bought the SADIE, renaming
her the CLARK in the process and she became a tug in the Tampa area until
October 1897 when she was finally officially abandoned. King and Coe


alternated as her captains during most of the Tampa period. When taking her
to Tampa, a submerged tree was hit and a propellor blade broke off. Frank
King and Paul Gibson made a replacement out of wood aond took her under
this jury repair to Tampa, there being no reasonable way to get a spare
propellor in the interior of Florida on short notice.

As sportsmen and land seekers came to the area, suitable boats were
constructed to take them around. One of these was the FLORIDELPHIA, a
rather large 85 foot, two decked sternwheeler. She proved to be too large
for the area and could not always run in periods of low water. She was built
at Kissimmee under the auspices of the Floridelphia Steamship Company
and finished in December of 1887 but ran only through two tourist seasons
before she was sold to a Latin American concern in May 1889. The FLORI-
DELPHIA ran most of the time to Kramer Island in Lake Kissimee where the
company attempted to build a tourist town but the venture failed. The
FLORIDELPHIA later went to Los Angeles after the Panama Canal opened.
Mike Grogan was her captain while she was in Kissimmee. Mike had arrived
with the Disston people and was on many of the Kissimmee area boats.

Another unusual boat was the TALLULAH later named the REINDEER.
She was first owned by the Gilberts although financed by Charley Carson
of Kissimmee who probably took a mortgage on her. Charley was a grocery-
man most of the time but occasionally used some of his capital to take a
fling at steamboating, usually ending up owning the boat when payments fell
due. The TALLULAH was named after the Gilbert brothers' only sister and
built in 1891 and was 33 feet long. J. C. Stratford, an Englishman bought
her and ran her until the summer of 1901 when she was abandoned. The
story goes that he gave up his English citizenship and a healthy retirement
pension to become a pilot on her. She ran locally around Lake Tohopekaliga
as a party boat and ferry to Stratford Islands.

Interestingly enough, there were two steamboats named HAMILTON
DISSTON. The first of these undoubtedly never saw Lake Tohopekaliga as
it drew too much water to ever have penetrated to Kissimmee. Government
records also indicate that it was based in East Coast waters throughout its
life. However some accounts have placed it in Kissimmee"' (which indicates
that steamboat history is not as easy to verify as might appear.)

17 Notes on file at Rollins College Library, Winter Park, Fla., also "The Kissimmee
River" steamboat accounts are always subject to mistake and these two err on
this craft.


The second HAMILTON DISSTON was a much smaller sternwheel
craft of some 11.8 tons. Only 48.6 x 14.2 x 3.2 she was built in 1890. She
had an iron or steel hull, the sections of which were cut out at Philadelphia
and later assembled at Kissimmee where her wooden upper works were built
and attached.

She was built as a party and pleasure boat but was rather a complete
flop. She had a wide deck housing compared to her rather narrow hull (four
foot overhang) and had an open forward deck. Even in only moderate
swells she would take on water over her bow. She had a rather limited free-
board and this in addition to making her relatively unseaworthy allowed for
little cargo capacity. She was a cabin boat, however, and once had the
distinction of carrying Thomas A. Edison. Edison selected her for a journey
to Ft. Myers where he had a winter home but the poor old HAMILTON
DISSTON got stuck in the Southport canal and Edison, despairing of getting
to Ft. Myers in the craft went aboard the TALLULAH going in the opposite
direction back to Kissimmee and continued his journey by railroad. By and
large, HAMILTON DISSTON was a case of too much house on too little
hull and most of her life was spent at the dock.

Mike Grogan was her master of record from May 1890 to June 1898
when she officially went out of service (she was probably abandoned several
years before but the records were not brought up to date). She was sold to
Herb Fleming who owned Fleming Island in Lake Tohopekaliga. He towed
her over there, jacked her up and used her as a storehouse. One time Mike
Grogan was piloting her at night and he came upon a lagoon at a sharp
bend of the Kissimmee River. Mike was not too well acquainted with the
lower end of the river, and couldn't find the main river channel because trees
had hidden the reflection of the water. Mike took off in the lagoon, got
nowhere and accordingly dropped anchor to wait for daylight. At daybreak
he was anchored at the gap he had entered. It was afterwards known as
"Grogan's Lake gap."

The OCTAVIA, a sternwheeler, was built in Kissimmee in 1891. A 15
ton vessel she was 55 feet long and was a freighter for E. J. Brown. He had
her for over a year from May 1892 to July 1893. Paul Gibson next took over
and evidently moved her to Tampa. After being there for a few years
towing and lumber hauling she went to Cedar Keys and perhaps the Suwanee.
Lukens Gulf Cypress Company owned her for a spell before selling her to


the Tilghman Cypress Company in 1911. She was probably not around too
long after that although she was not officially abandoned until 1931. Paul
Gibson was one of the better old time pilots of Kissimmee steamboat days.
Other well known captains with the OCTAVIA were Robert Stapleton and
Dan McQueen, famed pilots of the Suwanee River and Cedar Keys area.

The CITY OF ATHENS, named for the Georgia homeplace of Herb
Fleming and his father who sponsored the craft, was built in Kissimmee in
1890 and 1891. She was 23 tons, 65 x 16x 3.7 and was a two decked stern-
wheeled vessel. Ad Gilbert owned her and ran her until sometime in the 90's
when she burned at Ft. Thompson on the Caloosahatchee River probably
from a fire caused by hot ashes from her own furnaces. She had originally run
to Basinger (also known as Bassenger and Bassinger and not to be confused
with Fort Basinger) but Gilbert had transferred her to the Ft. Myers run.
According to Ad Gilbert her remains were purchased by Captain Fred Menge
and she was resurrected. She ran on the Caloosahatchee for several more
years. However this period of Menge ownership is not reflected in government
records. Captain Hendry, after her demise, took the stern wheel and used it
to pump water to his orange grove. The current of the river would activate
the buckets and they would rotate causing water to be lifted from the river
to a trough leading to his grove. The wheel was set in the river in the line
of the water current and special tin plates fitted to the buckets. (The blades
of paddle wheels are termed buckets.)

The Gilberts were an interesting steamboating family and their lives
were interwoven one way or another with the water. Seven brothers and
one sister, all of the boys had some interest in boats and a boat was named
after their little sister, TALLULAH. All were born near Athens, Georgia at
Magnolia Farms. James, called J. B. or Jim was the oldest, followed by Sam,
(S.A.), Edward A. (Ned), Addison (Ad) William (Bill), Alpheus D. (Al),
George, and Mary Tallulah. Sam married a daughter of the Morgans who
controlled the Morgan cattle company at Basinger. Jim and Ad had captains'
licenses, Ad and Will were engineers and George and Al were deck hands.

The Gilberts' father had a mania for tinkering and inventing and among
other things developed an ice cream freezer. He never made much money at
this but evidently had a lot of fun. He finally went into the broom business,
putting up a factory, using children to pick the long narrow Florida grasses
that the brooms were made from.


Jim and Ad started working on the Disston dredges and Ad was the
fireman on the CINCINNATI and when Clay Johnson bought her, stayed on
and got his engineer's license. Will Gilbert was on Menge's GREY EAGLE
for many years but left her and came to Kissimmee on a visit. While there,
Captain Ed Hall, son of Benjamin Franklin Hall, Jr., introduced him to his
girl, Flora Cates. Well, before one could say, "stern wheeled steamboat",
Will and Flora were married. Will was also a Morse code telegrapher and
stayed on in Kissimmee to work at the railroad depot. George and Al, who
were deck hands, drifted out of the boat business, AI going to Jacksonville
and entering the florist business. George married Hardy Lanier's daughter
from Basinger and eventually moved to Zephyr Hills where he bought the
Coca Cola bottling works.

The last and largest of the Gilbert boats (after the TALLULAH and the
CITY OF ATHENS) was the BASSINGER. Sam or Jim Gilbert built her
probably with the help of Morgan family money in financing her. She was
some 87.5 tons gross, 62 net. Her dimensions were 66.7 x 7.3 x 2.8 and she
was built in 1899. Her speed was about 12 miles per hour. Her crew consisted
of the captain, usually Jim Gilbert, who also acted as pilot, an engineer,
fireman, cook, and two deck hands. The BASSINGER usually made one round
trip to Basinger a week, leaving on Tuesday and getting back to Kissimmee
on Saturday night, spending two nights on the river.

The BASSINGER almost never got into service. She was being fitted
out on her launching cradle in Kissimmee. Her stern wheel and engines were
in the after end and her boiler was forward to balance the weight. To hold
the craft together and equalize the strain it was both customary and necessary
to use "hog chains" which served to act as a type of truss and keep the boat
together. These are supported and kept in place by vertical or slanting posts.
As it happened these hog chain posts were in place but the chains were not
aboard her at the time a hurricane struck in the area. This storm with its
heavy wind and extra high water floated the BASSINGER off her cradle and
into the lake. When they got her back to put on her hog chains and finish her
up, her hull had already sagged (termed "hogged") and she could not be
completely straightened out in the normal manner. To compensate for the
hogging an extra amount of sheer was placed in the hull using the hog chains
so she journeyed through life with unusual lines. Gilberts owned her from
December 1889 to August 1902 when she went to Punta Gorda for about eight
months, probably as a replacement for a burned out tug boat there. She was
finally destroyed by fire in Charlotte Harbor in March, 1903.


At any one time during the last decade and a half of the nineteenth cen-
tury and the first decade and a half of the twentieth, there might be at least
three steamboat lines running in competition with one another on the river
for the scant carrying and tourist trades. Besides the Gilberts, the two best
known of these competitors were Clay Johnson and Benjamin F. Hall, Jr.

Captain Hall after his misfortunes with the BERTHA LEE gradually got
back into steamboating. His main successes were scored with three unique
craft, all named NAOMA. The first two of these NAOMAS were never docu-
mented and consequently details from government archives records are not
available. NAOMA No. 3 was documented, however. Hall named his craft
after the biblical name of Naomi but thought that people would think that
the "i" of Naomi stood for the numeral "1" so he slightly altered the name
to Naoma. The period of the NAOMAS probably covered about 15 years
starting with the first one built around 1892. She was a sidewheeler and was
on the Basinger to Kissimmee run. She had a 4 x 5 upright engine with bevel
gears, the shaft was down below, chains were run to the shaft on deck via
wheels and chain drive and connected to a pinion that in turn connected to
the side wheels. She was about 40 feet long and about 10 feet wide with an
open front deck, a pilot house and covered space to the stern of the craft.
She was around some five or six years and was run by Captain Hall and his
first son, Benjamin F. Hall, III. However, she proved to be too small for her

Captain Benjamin Hall, Jr. had a son by his first marriage (before the
Kissimmee one) who was named after him, just as he had been named for
his father. He married a second time in Kissimmee and his child by this
marriage was named Edward H. Hall after Captain Hall's brother. Ed's story
is covered elsewhere in this narrative but both he and his father suffered an
irreparable loss when Benjamin Franklin, III ran away at the age of 18. As
young Benjamin grew up he had not been made aware that his stepmother
was not his real mother and when some schoolmates taunted him with this
he took up stakes and left home. He had been heard to say that he wanted to
mine gold in Alaska but where he went is largely conjecture as he was not
effectively traced. Ed Hall in later voyaging years attempted to run down
rumors but the search was in vain.

The NAOMA No. 2 was a rather versatile craft being both a sidewheeler
and sternwheeler. Most likely she was built in 1897 in Tampa, starting life
as a sidewheeler using the engines of NAOMA No. 1. The Halls had a


remarkable facility for adaptation and resourceful use of steamboat ma-
chinery to both build and keep their vessels running. The NAOMA No. 2's
job in Tampa was to haul barges of building materials for a generating sta-
tion being built in the Sulphur Springs area. A very low clearance was
needed as a street car bridge lay athwart the river between the source of sup-
plies and the station. Accordingly, the NAOMA No. 2 was equipped with a
hinged pilot house and smoke stack which were lowered to go under the
bridge. The entire arrangement was practical and ingenious and points out
the versatility of steamboat men in general and the Halls in particular. The
Halls arranged the stack to lay forward when lowered, the whistle being
permanently fastened to the boiler deck. The pilot house floor was fastened
to the deck and the four sides of the housing were hinged to the floor and
laid out horizontally on all four sides when lowered. The top was canvas on
a skeleton frame and was taken off and laid on deck. The pilot wheel was
hinged on the bottom and also laid on the deck. Even with all of this inge-
nuity, the Halls still had to wait for low tide before getting under the steel
trolley bridge. This was certainly steamboating under adverse circumstances.

After the generating station was completed, the NAOMA No. 2 came back
to Kissimmee taking a 40 x 10 barge with her. When she arrived there she
was changed into a sternwheeler and put on the run to Basinger. The side
wheel engine equipment was not wasted, however, as Hall sold it to W. A.
Roebuck of Kissimmee who had a sailboat of the "sharpie" type named
IRENE that he converted to a steamboat and renamed it CITY OF BAS-

Ben Hall had a set of engines made in Tampa for the NAOMA No. 2
so she could be converted to a stern wheeler and put on the run to Basinger.
She proved too fast as a sternwheeler and being too small for the run had
to tow a barge to carry enough cargo. The trade shifted to the bringing back
of fish from Lake Okeechobee and the barging proved unhandy. One can
imagine going upstream on the narrow crooked Kissimmee loaded with a
barge of fish and trying to beat the clock before the fish spoiled! Finally after
some four or five years and also due to the competition, the NAOMA No. 2
was given up. In 1900 Clay Johnson had come out with his LILLIE and in
order to meet the LILLIE, Captain Hall built the NAOMA No. 3 in 1901 in
Kissimmee. Captain Hall's brother, Ed, had come down from Ohio to spend
the winter and with the help of Bunk Tyson and Ed Hall's uncle, Jack King,
the Halls got the NAOMA No. 3 built.


According to government records, the NAOMA No. 3 was 55.4 x 12.2 x
2.4, and of 49 gross tons, and 31 net (later reduced to 12.43, and 10 tons,
respectively in 1905). She was a stern wheeler. The NAOMA No. 3 was
somewhat like the LILLIE except that instead of having the wheelhouse on
the cabin roof as the LILLIE had, the NAOMA had her wheelhouse on the
boiler deck but raised three feet higher than the cabin roof which extended all
the way aft. This raising of the wheelhouse enabled the pilot to see the water
immediately behind the boat when backing down. And, of course, backing
down the channel was a frequent necessity on the Kissimmee River when a
vessel was often in reverse gear, trying to fan a channelway during low
water periods.

The NAOMA No. 3 was skippered by Captain Ben Hall, Jr. with Captain
Ed Hall as engineer until the end of 1907 when she was laid up. She was
finally officially abandoned in 1914. Captain Ed Hall took the engine and
boilers in that year from her and went to Okeechobee City to try and rework
the gasoline engine SERENA VICTORIA into a steam sternwheeler using
the NAOMA No. 3 gear. However, before he was finished with this interesting
conversion, the railroad came to Okeechobee City and and the project was
abandoned and the SERENA VICTORIA never finished.

The NAOMA No. 3 carried some notable passengers in her day. Napo-
leon Bonaparte Broward, a steamboat captain on the St. John's River in his
younger days and a famed filibuster using his THREE FRIENDS in helping
to supply arms to Cuba rebels, based some of his campaign for governor on
the issue of draining the Everglades which, of course, had been neglected
since the cessation of the Disston activities. He took an inspection trip before
election of the Lake Okeechobee area on the NAOMA No. 3. After his elec-
tion as governor he returned bringing many state officials with him and made
another trip in the NAOMA. On this occasion Key Johnson was engineer and
Ed Hall was also along. Needing fuel when they reached Taylor Creek [con-
necting stream of water between Okeechobee City (Tantie) and Lake Okee-
chobee], and finding none immediately available, Governor Broward took off
his coat and swung an axe with the rest of the crew as they cut wood.

The NAOMA No. 3 also had Thomas Edison and his family for a ten
day hunting and fishing trip around Lake Okeechobee and up to Fisheating
Creek and on another occasion, the Chrysler automotive family. The NAOMA
No. 3 was also the first boat to haul fish from Lake Okeechobee to Kissimmee


for the W. B. Makinson Fish Company and also the only regular freight and
passenger boat to Tantie.

Kissimmee steamboat machinery had as many lives as a Tampa alley
cat. The NAOMA No. 2's side wheel engine had gone into the IRENE and
she was renamed the CITY OF BASSINGER. Cal Buckles ran her after W. A.
Roebuck was finished with her. She carried freight and was a generally un-
satisfactory craft, being around only a short time. After the CITY OF BAS-
SINGER's demise, the old NAOMA's engines found their way to the RUTHIE
which was a small gasoline propellor craft built by Hardy Lanier. He sold
the RUTHIE to Roebuck who tried the side wheel installation but she was
quite small and not much of a factor.

In 1906 the SUCCESS was built at Kissimmee. She was completed early
in the year and was 56 x 14.5 x 2.7. Originally she was of 31 gross tons, 19
net. She burned at the dock in Ft. Myers in October 1907 and was rebuilt in
mid-1908 as a larger vessel, 61 x 15.8 x 2.3, 67 gross tons, 43 net, and with
two decks.

With the advent of artificial ice plans in Florida and better rail service
to the north, a good fishing business developed around Lake Okeechobee,
fish usually being caught there and rapidly shipped by boat to Kissimmee and
other points that served Lake Okeechobee and thence to other destinations by
rail. As time passed, the fish transportation by boat shifted from Kissimmee
to the Caloosahatchee River route to Ft. Myers.

Although the SUCCESS was not primarily a Kissimmee River craft she
was built at Kissimmee and served on the river for some of her life so her
story is included here. She was built by Captain Tom Bass, Jr. and Bronson
for the fish business and ran to Kissimmee from the Lake. Later she took
fish to Ft. Myers from the Lake. When she burned in 1907 she was loaded
with fish (what a smelly fire that must have been!). Bass had her a short time
thereafter but in December 1908, he lost her as she was sold at auction to
help repay her debts. Kinzie Brothers bought her and put her on a route to
Sanibel and Captiva Islands from Punta Gorda.

Captain Hall (Ed) was on her when she burned and recalls a trip she
made from the Lake to Ft. Myers after her rebuilding. The water was excep-
tionally low and Captain Ed Hall had to fan a channel with his stern wheel


to get across Lake Bonnet. This took some three days and meanwhile the ice
melted! Buzzards started hovering overhead, the fish, of course, spoiled and
things looked pretty tough. Captain Hall had no choice except to dump the
eleven tons of fish he had aboard over the side and get on down the river.
At the time of her sale, Hall had some $380 owed to him in back pay
(which he received from the auction proceeds) so things were in pretty
had shape.

Kinzie Brothers also result the SUCCESS in a unique way by splitting
her down the middle and widening her. They placed larger engines and a
water tube boiler in her. She towed shell barges to Ft. Myers for road work
as well as being on the route to Sanibel and Captiva Islands. Kinzies used
her until 1921 when she was sold to the Ben Johnson Dredging Company of
Jacksonville. They had a dredging contract on Fisheating Creek and the Lake
and used the SUCCESS to haul oil for their dredges. After this contract was
over, Dave Ireland of Ft. Myers owned her as did the Gulf Transportation
Company until the end of 1924 when she was sold to Harmon Raulerson of
Okeechobee City who owned her and used her on a drawbridge project across
the Kissimmee River and also to run tomatoes to Ft. Myers during the winter
truck farming season.

The SUCCESS's last owner was the John Ringling estate and she was
used to help haul materials for a causeway being put in from Sarasota to
Siesta Key. As she was pretty well past her working days she was supposedly
sunk in a cove near the causeway after the project was finished. Government
records list her as being finally abandoned in 1933 but there is a possibility
that her last Captain, Earl Murray, raised her and used her around Fort
Denaud on the Caloosahatchee where he lived. If this was the case, she is
supposed to have finally sunk there.

The last vessel that the Halls constructed was the CORONA. At that
time (1908) they were living at Alva, Florida and she was accordingly built
there. She was a steam stern wheeler, 57 x 10.6 x 3. She was active until at
least 1915 and perhaps thereafter. An interesting tale connected with her
building stems from the fact that she was built on a river bank very close
to the water and after her topsides were placed aboard, the rays of the sun
as they were reflected back by the water literally baked the one side of her.
The topside planks shrunk accordingly and large cracks developed. The
Halls filled these up by driving cedar shingles into them, wedging them in


place and sawing them off flush. She kept them in her all of her life, the
Halls employing a salt box inside the hull to try and keep the moisture con-
tent uniform and therefore prevent the shingles from excessive expansion and
contraction. The other side of the hull away from the water was completely

Halls kept the CORONA until after World War I when they sold her
to the Menge interests. She was originally built for a mail run on the Caloo-
sahatchee to LaBelle on the Lake, Ben Hall having got the government contract
away from Menges for a period of at least one year. After losing the mail
contract, however, Halls ran her to Coffee Mill Hammock to service a turpen-
tine still. CORONA was supplied with engines from the LEONORA (which
Hall had bought for $100) and had a tube type boiler capable of 200 lbs.

So ends the account of the Hall efforts with steamboats on the Kissim-
mee. Another craft about which little is known except for the government
documents was the J. M. KREAMER, named after Disston's civil engineer.
She was a small 33 x 13 x 2 vessel built in 1894. She was abandoned in 1901
and had been owned by Mike Grogan for two years and by J. W. Watson, a
Kissimmee lawyer. Jim Gilbert was a captain on her for a short period in
1895 and for most of 1896. The KREAMER was probably a small private
boat not on any particular route. Around the turn of the century the water-
front of Kissimmee was lined with abandoned boats and the KREAMER was
probably one of these.

The JUANITA made her debut in 1905. She was built by the Mobley
Brothers, W. C. and F. M. at Kissimmee. She was a stern wheeled vessel,
46 x 15 x 2.4 and carried goods to Basinger and intermediate landings from
Kissimmee, being primarily a freight vessel. One time while she was loaded
with a batch of shingles, bolts of calico, and the like she had an unusual
misfortune. She was overloaded with her well paying cargo, even to the
point of having shingles stacked on the forward deck. She drew down pretty
heavy in the water and soon it entered some of her well dried upper seams,
and the JUANITA, unbeknownst to the Mobleys, was taking on a great deal
of water. At one point in the river, the captain had to put her rudder hard
over to effect a sudden change of course and in so doing the water in the hull
ran to one side and she listed heavily and dumped part of her cargo of
shingles overboard. Of course losing this weight helped tilt the craft the


other way in a counter action and she turned over and sank losing most of
the rest of her cargo in so doing. Mobleys finally raised her but eventually
lost her in the process due to the heavy financial burdens brought about by
the loss. She continued after her raising in the fish carrying business. Govern-
ment records indicate that her career ended by her being wrecked in Decem-
ber, 1912 while another version is that Clay Johnson bought her, using her
hull for a barge. In any event her engine went to the LUCY B, the last
Kissimmee steamboat.

And now, the story of Clay Johnson and his steamboats. Captain Rose
couldn't do the job by himself for the Disston interests so he invited his
brother-in-law, Clay Johnson, to leave his New Orleans home and join him.
Johnson later became rather renowned in the Kissimmee area for steam-
boating and other activities but was just another 32 year old young father at
the time he came to Kissimmee.1i

Clay was born on November 5, 1850, in or around Springfield, Illinois.
He was the oldest of seven children of Colonel A. K. Johnson who had been
a leader of Illinois Volunteers in the Civil War. After the conflict the family
moved to Louisiana where Clay, like many others from the north, became
more southern than the native southerners. He enjoyed the gay, colorful New
Orleans life and especially its dances. Sometime between waltzes he took
time off to marry Lillie Augusta Rose whose family was of French descent
but southern in manner. In Louisiana he grew sugar cane and was proficient
with sugar milling machinery. In 1892 he removed to the Kissimmee area,
his family following in 1883 and started working in the shipyards, helping
to build the Disston dredges and their supply boats.

Clay Johnson, especially in later life, bore a remarkable resemblance to
Samuel Clemens, the Mark Twain of literary fame. Johnson, with his sun
tanned face, blue eyes, and white hair and beard, was a great admirer of the
ex-Mississippi River pilot and was highly delighted when people remarked
on the resemblance.

Clay was one of those perennial people who love life and enjoy it to the
fullest. Stories are told that he would delay the return of one of his steam-

is Information on Clay Johnson, his steamboats and activities largely provided by
Mrs. Mary Steffee Degtoff, granddaughter of Clay Johnson, now in Agana, Guam -
also from Captain Hall and many newspaper accounts.


boats just to play a fiddle at a dance or frolic. He acted as an errand runner
for the people who lived on the river and in addition to the more prosaic
errands, once even got a marriage license for a young lady, perhaps not too
unusual except that when he came by again she asked that he take it back
and get her another one with a different name; it's a possibility that women
change their minds.

Clay was a warm-hearted generous man and if he had collected all the
bills owed him, could have retired a wealthy man. He was good at mechanical
things and was a tinkerer with machinery. He was one of the first people in
Kissimmee to own an automobile, a 1910 Ford. He loved to drive at high
speed and bounce over the bumpy roads that were the wont in Kissimmee
in those days. His grandchild, Mrs. Mary Steffee Degtoff, recalls riding in a
later Model T, hanging on for dear life and bouncing around; being a hero
to his grandchildren, Clay acted as a sort of chaperon on social trips of the
day. He had several cars and loaned them out so more people could go
along and support the basketball team or whatever the function at hand was.
On one such trip that Mrs. Degtoff remembers, one of Clay's cars got stuck
in the mud and Clay spent all night helping to extricate it, never getting
discouraged but exhibting the patience, cheerfulness and encouragement that
when formerly applied to steamboats helped design and build them and
successfully operate them without serious accidents.

Clay was not without his faults, being especially noted for his profanity
and seeming lack of respect for the Deity. Of course, remarkable ability at
the art of profanity was part and parcel of steamboating and Clay was prob-
ably no worse than others of his time. The story is told that on one occasion
a squall came up as Clay was crossing a lake towing a barge. The barge
broke loose from the steamboat and drifted toward a lee shore. On this
occasion, Clay shook his fist at the heavens, let loose an especially juicy lot
of choice epithets and then perhaps threw a handful of change into the teeth
of the gale to pay off the water gods and change his luck. Such blasphemy
must have tempted the Almighty but there is no record that a heaven-sent
bolt of lightning ever was dispatched to settle the issue.

Captain Johnson built one of the first homes in Kissimmee on the Lake
near the ship yards. After his dredge building days, Johnson seemed to be
in charge of transportation operations of the Disstons and was not commer-
cially active on the river as early as Captain Hall and the Gilbert and Bass
boys were.


The MAMIE LOWN was probably Clay John's first steamboat. She was
a small sidewheeler about 28 x 8. She was never officially documented but the
story goes that she and her sister, the SHIPMAN, came to the area about the
same time from the midwest, perhaps Chicago or Wisconsin. A group of
sportsmen decided they would be just the thing for hunting and fishing trips
and they were for a spell but eventually Captain Johnson wound up with
the MAMIE LOWN and Captain Hall with the SHIPMAN. Hall operated the
SHIPMAN for a period but she was not much of a success due to her small

Captain Johnson landed a contract to tow barges carrying muck from the
dredged canals to the railroad at Kissimmee for further hauling to the site
of the famed Tampa Bay Hotel in Tampa, then under construction. The
dredged muck had been deposited as spoil on the canal banks and, of course,
was a very fertile material so some entrepreneur found a way to get a profit
out of it and also enabled Captain Johnson to enter the hauling business
using the MAMIE LOWN.

Of course, the MAMIE LOWN was scarcely large enough to be of much
effective use so Johnson looked elsewhere, although his next craft was not
large by any standards. She was the CINCINNATI, a product of Chicago,
built in 1889. She was 34.6 x 9.9 x 3.4 and was a sternwheeled craft. Origin-
ally owned by a Cincinnati man (hence her name), James Ritty, from Decem-
ber 1889 to March 1892 she was finally owned in her last days by Clay until
December 1893. Clay had been her captain from the beginning and continued
of course, after he had purchased her. Ritty owned a lumber mill in the
area and used the CINCINNATI for lumber hauling. She may also have
been used as a party boat by hunters and fishermen and perhaps some tow-
ing. All in all, the CINCINNATI was a pretty neat little boat, had a nicely
rounded model hull and a good 5 foot by 20 inch engine. However, her hull
got in rather bad condition so Clay built another less aesthetic hull for her
engines and she emerged as the ROSE ADA.

The ROSE ADA (two words and not to be confused with the later
ROSEADA), had a flat bottomed scow type of hull. She emerged as a 38 ton,
54.3 x 16.3 x 2 stern wheeler, not a gracious looking boat either by any stand-
ards but one well suited for her trade. Clay Johnson, her owner and master
for all of her life finally completed her and she was documented on December


30, 1893. Interestingly enough, he named her after his two daughters, Rose
and Ada (Ada was the middle name of Bertie, the second daughter). She was
placed on the Kissimmee to Basinger run and was running almost eight years
before the same fate of the CINCINNATI overtook her, her engines were
taken out and a new hull built and then the engines were reinstalled.

The latest reincarnation was appellate ROSEADA (one word) and in
size and shape she was similar to her predecessor, however, being a little
longer and narrower, at 57' x 14.7 x 3.3. The ROSEADA was completed in
the very last days of December 1901 and she lasted until the late 1920's
although she was not too active the last few years of her life.

Clay Johnson's son, "little Clay", as he was known to distinguish him
from his father, was in command of the ROSEADA for a spell but George
Steffee [who married Ada, (Bertie) ] was captain for most of her career on
the Kissimmee River run to Basinger. In her later days she ran on the upper
lakes and finally in 1928, a hurricane drove her ashore at Kissimmee and
she was abandoned. In between about 1917 to 1920 she operated around
Lake Okeechobee and in the 1920's was in the service of the Kissimmee
Island Cattle Company, commonly known as "Kicco" and hauled supplies
for them.

Just before the ROSEADA was built, (perhaps a better term is reassem-
bled) Clay completed his prettiest vessel, the LILLIE. Named after his wife,
the LILLIE was a trim little one decked vessel some 64.67 gross tons, 55 net,
60 x 17.5 x 2.8. Not only was she Clay's favorite but Captain Ed Hall who
ran her in the Lake Okeechobee vegetable trade around World War I called
her the nicest little stern wheeler, bar none, that he had ever been in and he
should know.

The LILLIE was designed for passenger carrying and chartering for
hunting and fishing. Business for many years was good, the Johnsons running
her on the Kissimmee River to Basinger. She was Clay's pride and joy.
Around World War I she had her cabins removed and was used to haul
produce barges in the Lake Okeechobee vegetable trade and oranges in season.

The LILLIE ran for many years but in the summer of 1926, Clay Johnson
sold her to his son-in-law, Elonzo (Lon) Dann of Miami who had married
Rose. He changed her to a house boat and kept her around for many years
until she was converted to a barge and used for hauling vegetables around
Lake Okeechobee.


Clay's last and biggest steamboat was the OSCEOLA. She was built in
Kissimmee in 1910 being first documented in October of that year. She was
87 gross tons, 54 net and was 74.6 x 21.1 x 3.6. Designed as a freight boat
primarily, she ran on the river run most of her days. She finally was sunk
in the Palm Beach Canal at Fort Worth when Clay ran her into a dock.

Another character of a boat associated with the Johnsons was the
ROSEADELE. She was another home built Kissimmee product finished in
the summer of 1910. Unlike most of the others she was a propeller driven
boat about 50 x 150 x 1.6, 10 net tons. She was built by Lon Dann.

Dann was a blacksmith by trade but ventured into the steamboat business
upon occasion. The ROSEADELE had a rather peculiar mission in life. She
was used as an aid to promote settlement in Florida. It seems that Dann in
conjunction with the Hunter Land Company (Harry A. Hunter), who are
listed as her owners after 1913, used her to show land to prospective buyers.
Originally the business attempted to get off to a start by Lon Dann hiring
Captain Ed Hall to chauffeur prospective buyers to the Hunter property. It
seems that Hunter got control of some of the old Disston property (at least
250,000 acres of formerly open cattle range) near Basinger and was trying
to sell it largely to Canadians. Hall was driving these potential buyers from
Kissimmee to see the property but after going 16 miles in 16 hours once in
1910, Dann decided to go with the ROSEADELE and got Hall to run her as
Dann only had a license for boats up to 45 feet. Hall ran her for two years
with George Saunders as engineer. The ROSEADELE left Kissimmee every
Saturday morning with a load of Canadians and took them to either Alligator
Bluff or Micco Bluff depending on which was the best for the particular kind
of weather in vogue at the time. Then when the ROSEADELE arrived, a fleet
of autos would meet her and take the potential buyers over the land that was
for sale.

This operation finally went to the wall and the ROSEADELE was tied
up. Her last captain, Marvin Goodman was her cook! He was also the crew,
caretaker, and night watchman as he lived on her as she lay at dock in

About the start of World War I a good market for truck vegetable crops
developed and the Lake Okeechobee region not having a railroad used steam-
boats to get the crops to market. The ROSEADELE was purchased by Clay
Johnson and he took out her engine, stripped off her upper works, closed up


her propeller tunnel, and put her on duty as a vegetable barge in Lake Okee-
chobee working with the LILLIE and the ROSEADA. She is rumored to still
be there perhaps as a broken down barge or rotting away at a fish camp.

Another small boat was the TAMPA also called the "LITTLE TAMPA".
She had a small propeller, was owned by Sol Aultman (who occasionally
worked on building and financing boats) and was a party boat. She was
not around Kissimmee very long and ended up doing towing work in the
Ft. Myers area.

The last steamboat built at Kissimmee was the LUCY B. Never docu-
mented she was a stern wheeler about 50 x 10 x 3 and built about 1912 for
Cal Buckles. For a period of about a dozen years she took care of the remain-
ing business of freight and passengers after the Johnsons and Halls had
abandoned the northern part of the run. Sometime in the mid-1920's the
machinery was removed from the LUCY B and she was converted to a
house boat.

This story would not be complete without paying tribute to Captain
Edward H. Hall, now a frail gentleman of 82 but blessed with a fine memory
of old Kissimmee's steamboating days in which he played such a prominent
part. Born in Kissimmee City in 1884, he grew up on steamboats. When
he was 21, he stood and passed the examinations for pilot and engineer
(steam, gasoline, and diesel.) Being able to hold any position kept Captain
Hall in constant employment on the Kissimmee boats until they played out
before World War I. Captain Hall went to sea with the War Shipping Board
then and later on in the Jacksonville and St. John's River area with many
different steamboats. He also ran for one of the Atlantic coasting services
to Florida.

In World War II, Captain Hall served with the Merchant Marine as a
Commander and was in Normandy on D-Day. Later he served on army
transports to Japan and in the Korean War. Finally, in his seventies, he
"swallowed the anchor" and moved to Houston, Texas where he now lives.
He is the last living person connected with Kissimmee steamboats as they
were when steamboating was a way of life in south central Florida. As he
tells of his experiences, his eyes light up and the 82 years slip away. It took
men like Benjamin Franklin and Ed Hall to make steamboats go; when they
went, so did steamboating.



JAMES W. COVINGTON, Professor of History at the University of Tampa,
is a regular contributor of articles on Florida topics in the Florida Anthro.
pologist, The Florida Historical Quarterly and Tequesta. He is co-author of a
history of the University of Tampa.

JACK D. L. HOLMES, Associate Professor of History at the Birmingham
Center of the University of Alabama was a contributor to Tequesta XXV

MARION CLAYTON (Mrs. Edwin A.) LINK has been closely associated with
activities in undersea archaeology, and is the author of Sea Diver, an account
of some of the research experiences of the Links.

EDWARD A. MUELLER, traffic engineer for the Highway Research Board.
National Academy of Sciences, became interested in Florida steamboat his-
tory during his residence in Tallahassee for some eight years, as traffic engi-
neer for the Florida State Road Department. A director of the Steamship
Historical Society of America and newly appointed Editor-in-Chief of its
Quarterly, Steamboat Bill, he is also contributing to the Florida Historical
Quarterly on steamboat history and is writing a book on the subject.

LAURENCE E. WILL, Belle Glade, Florida, a contributor to Tequesta
(1959) is the author of four books on the Lake Okeechobee region; Okee-
chobee Hurricane and the Hoover Dike, A Cracker History of Lake Okee-
chobee, Okeechobee Boats and Skippers, Okeechobee Catfishing.


The Association's Historical Marker Program

On Saturday, February 26, 1966 at three o'clock in the afternoon, at
Clinton Square, intersection of Whitehead, Greene and Front Streets in Key
West, citizens and officials of Key West and Monroe County joined a dele-
gation of officers and members of the Historical Association of Southern
Florida to dedicate a marker at the homesite of Stephen R. Mallory. Colonel
Mitchell D. Wolfson, a native son of Key West, delivered the dedication
address. Colonel Wolfson and Admiral T. A. Christopher U.S.N., Commander
Key West Force, unveiled the marker which reads:


The home of Stephen Russell Mallory (1812-1873) stood near this
site from 1839 to 1895 when it became U.S. Navy property. U.S.
Senator from Florida from 1851 to 1861 and Chairman of the
Naval Affairs Committee after 1853. As Secretary of the Navy in
the Confederate States cabinet (1861-1865) he pioneered the use
of submarines and ironclad warships in naval warfare. A son,
Stephen R. Mallory, Jr. grew up in and later owned this house
and also represented Florida in the United States Senate (1897-





RECEIPTS 1965 1966

DUES, Annual --------------------------------- 7,604.00 $ 8,075.00
Contributions to Museum Fund -------------------- 5,341.99 2,939.21
Interest Earned ----------------------- ---- 288.80 188.13
Dividends Earned on stocks ------------------------- 168.93 195.54
Sale of prior "Tequesta" issues -------------------- 229.10 179.65
Sale of other books, novelties --------------- 1,432.84 2,409.24
Marker Fund Income ------------------------- 750.00 353.00
W. C. Parry Railroad Donations --------------------- 1,320.67 1,209.07
Museum Donations ------------------------- 218.00 353.00
Brochure ------------------------------------ 300.00 -
Other Income --------------------------------- 849.00 614.22
Library Card File ----------------------- 152.50 -....-
Miscellaneous ------------------------------------ 67.40 1,260.00
Inventory Ads ----------------------------------- 729.80 243.75
Contributions of common stocks, 14 shares ------ 49.53
Mortgage PLEDGE -------------------------- -- 830.00

TOTAL RECEIPTS --------------------$19,502.56 $18,849.81

Salaries --------------------------------------$ 5,290.00 $ 5,720.00
Office Expense and Printing ---------------- 1,225.43 425.14
Printing "Tequesta" annual -------------------- 1,096.00 1,369.80
Printing NEWSLETTERS -------------------------- 400.10 224.72
Printing Other --------------------------------- 582.56 1,504.00
Meetings Expense -------------------------------- 168.78 356.18
Audio-Visual Expense --------------------------- ------- -------
Marker Fund Expense --------------------------- -------666.70
Purchase of Books for resale -------------------- 873.35 783.95
Building and Grounds Maintenance ---------------- 3,701.83 2,964.73
Interest Expense ----------------- --- 460.72 -
Insurance Expense ---------------------------- 323.49 325.47
Payroll Taxes ----------------------------------- 174.37 257.89
Mortgage-Principal -------------------------------- 3,138.03 1,000.00
Florida 3% Sales ------------------------------- 3.08 ---..-
Miscellaneous Expense -------------------------- (76.25) 309.46
W. C. Parry R.R. Expense -------------------- 367.70 483.95
Building Improvement -------------------------- ----- -------
Common Stock Purchase Adjustment ---------- ---- 49.53 -
Office Furniture --------------------------------------- -------

TOTAL DISBURSED ------------- $18,139.95 $16,945.01

Net Gain (Loss) ----------------- 1,362.61



AS OF 31 AUGUST, 1966




1st National Bank of Miami:
Checking Account -------_--------$ 1,070.31
Savings Account __-------------- 5,876.81
Petty Cash-Museum _---------------- 100.00

TOTAL CASH --------------$ 7,047.12

SECURITIES (At Market Value)
Standard Oil Co. (NJ.) -------------- 2,339.66
Continental Casualty Co. ------------ 603.00
Hooker Chemical Co. -------- ----- 1,480.87
Eastman Kodak Co. ------------------ 1,266.0

TOTAL STOCKS ---------- 5,689.53

"Tequestas" on Hand (Estimated) ..--- $ 1,549.00
Other Publications ------------------- 502.67
Utility Deposit ------_-- .... ---------50.00
Office Supplies --------------- 335.80

TOTAL OTHER ASSETS ---$- 2,437.47

Museum Property:
LAND --------------------- $15,000.00
BUILDING --------------- 34,705.44

TOTAL ----- _______------___ $52,659.23

Less Balance Due on Mortgage --_ 15,000.00
MUSEUM EQUITY (Net) ----------37,659.23

TOTAL FIXED ASSETS .------$37,659.23

TOTAL ASSETS -------------$52,833.35

Federal Income Tax Withheld --------- 140.59



$ 711.71

$ 6,836.65

$ 2,937.68

$ 6,361.43


$ 2,667.66







$ 166.16



($ 210.47)

$ 671.90

$ 230.19


$ 25.57




EXPLANATORY NOTE: The Association provides several classes of membership.
"Sustaining" members who pay five dollars a year make up the basic member-
ship. For those who wish to contribute more for the promotion of the Associa-
tion's work the other classes of membership provide the opportunity, and the
publication of their names in the proper category of membership is a means of
recognition. "Patrons" pay ten dollars a year, "Donors" pay twenty-five dollars
a year, "Contributors" pay fifty dollars a year, "Sponsors" pay one hundred
dollars a year, and "Benefactors" pay two hundred and fifty or more dollars
a year.
This printed roster is made up of the names of those persons and institutions
that have paid dues in 1965, or in 1966 before September 30 when this material
must go to the press. Those joining after this date in 1966 will have their names
included in the 1967 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
Admire, Mrs. Jack G., Coral Gables
Aldridge, Miss Daisy, Miami
Alexander, David T., N. Miami Beach
Alexander, John L., N. Miami Beach
Allen, James M., Miami
Allen, Joe, Key West
Allen, Stewart D., Coral Gables
Allison, Mrs. John D., Miami Lakes
Allyn, Rube, St. Petersburg
Altmayer, M. S., Jr., Miami
American Museum of Natural History
Anderson, Mrs. Nils E., Miami Beach
Anderson, T. David, St. Petersburg
Arbogast, Keith, Miami
Archer, Marjorie Leach, Homestead
Arnold, Mrs. Roger W., Miami
Ashbaucher, Lorin F., Miami
Atkins, C. Clyde, Miami
Avery, George N., Big Pine Key
Axelson, Ivar, Miami
Baker, Mrs. John A., Miami
Baker, Sarah S., Coral Gables
Bankston, Dolores, Coconut Grove
Bankston, Jarrell M., Coconut Grove
Barnes, Francis H., Miami
Barry, Msgr. William, P.A., Miami Beach
Batcheller, Mrs. George E., Miami
Bates, Barbara, Coconut Grove
Bates, Franklin W., Miami
Beare, Richard, Miami
Beare, Mrs. Richard, Miami
Bennett, Richard R., Miami

Berry, Mrs. Richard S., Miami
Bevis, William H., Ft. Meade
Beyer, Robert C., Williamsburg, Va.
Bishop, Edwin G., Miami*
Black, Leon D., Jr., Coral Gables
Black, Mrs. Margaret F., Coral Gables
Blanton, Judge W. F., Miami
Blauvelt, Mrs. Arthur M., Coral Gables
Bloomberg, Robert L, Miami
Boyd, Dr. Mark F., Tallahassee*
Bow, Mary M., Miami
Bowen, F. M., Miami
Bozeman, R. E., Gulfport
Brigham, Florence S., Miami
Broking, Gilbert S., Miami
Brookfield, Charles M., Miami*
Brooks, J. F., Key West
Brooks, Marvin J., Coral Gables
Brown, Daniel M., Jr., Miami
Brown University Library
Bryant, Donald, Miami
Bryant, Mrs. Ruby, Miami
Buchheister, Carl W., New York
Buckley, Edward S., IV, Miami Shores
Buhler, Mrs. Paul H., Jr., Miami
Bullen, Ripley P., Gainesville
Bumstead, Evvalyn R., Miami
Bnmstead, John R., Miami
Burghardt, August, Ft. Lauderdale
Burns, Edward B., Orlando
Haydon Burns Library, Jacksonville
Burton, Mrs. Robert A., Miami*
Bush, Frank S. Fitzgerald, Opa Locka
Bush, James D., Jr., Miami
Bush, Lewis M., S. Miami


Busse, Raymond J., Miami
Byrne, Miss Jane, Miami Beach
Byrd, Mrs. J. Wade, Miami
Caldarone, Caesar, Waterbury, Conn.
Caldwell, Thomas P., Coral Gables**
Caldwell, Mrs. Thomas P., Coral Gables**
Capron, Louis, W. Palm Beach
Carbajo, Antonio, Miami
Carnine, Miss Helen W., Coral Gables
Carson, Mrs. Ruby Leach, Miami*
Carter, Mrs. Geo. deLani, Coral Gables
Carter, Miss Harriet V., Miami
Carter, Kenneth W., Grosse Point Woods,
Casey, Mrs. Helon S., Coral Gables
Catlow, Mrs. William R., Jr., Miami
Chaille, Col. Joseph H., New York
Chance, Michael, Naples
Clarke, Lynn B., Coral Gables
Clark, Mary Helm, Coral Gables
Close, Kenneth, Coral Gables
Cochrane, Frank, Toronto, Canada
Coconut Grove Library, Miami
Collins, Mrs. Charles M., Miami
Collot, Harry A., Miami
Comerford, Miss Nora A., Coral Gables
Connett, Mrs. Virginia, Coral Gables
Connolly, William D., Jr., Miami
Cook, John B., Miami
Cooperman, Albert B., Miami Beach
Copeland, Mrs. M. A., Plantation Park
Coral Gables Senior High School
Coral Gables Public Library*
Corley, Miss Pauline, Miami**
Covington, Dr. James W., Tampa
Craton, Michael, Ontario, Canada
Cravens, Miss Jacqueline, Coral Gables
Creel, Joe, Miami
Criswell, Col. Grover C.,
St. Petersburgh Beach
Crivello, Carl, Miami
Crockett, John R., Jr., Tampa
Crowley, Miss Helen M., Miami Beach
Culpepper, Mrs. Kay M., Miami
Cumings, Rev. Geo. W., Venice
Cushman, The School, Miami*
Davis, Bernard M., Miami
Davis, Sydney, Ft. Myers
DeBoe, Mrs. Mizpah Otto, Coral Gables
DeCarion, Mrs. G. H., Miami
Deen, James L., Coral Gables
Deen, Mrs. James L., Coral Gables
deLamorton, Fred, Tampa
Detroit Public Library
Dilullo, Mrs. Luedith, Downey, Calif.
Dodd, Miss Dorothy, Tallahassee*
Dorothy, Mrs. Caroline, Coral Gables*
Douglas, Marjory S., Coconut Grove**

Doyle, Miss Pauline, Miami Beach
Dressier, Philip, Ft. Lauderdale
Dunaway, Mrs. Carl Ellis, Miami*
Duncan, Marvin L., Miami
Dunn, Hampton, Tampa
DuPree, Mrs. Thomas O'Hagan, C. Gables
Elder, Dr. S. F., Miami*
Erickson, Hilmer E., Miami Shores
Estocapio, Don, Miami
Everglades Natural History Association
Fenn, Abbott T., Fitchburg, Mass.
Ferendino, Susan R., Miami
Fisher, A. A., Jr., Miami Shores
Fisher, E. H., Miami
Fite, Robert H., Miami
Fitzgerald, Dr. Joseph H., Miami
Fitzgerald, Willard L., Jr., C. Gables
Henry M. Flagler Elementary School,
Henry Morrison Flagler Museum,
Palm Beach
Fields, Robert K., Miami
Florida Historical Society
Florida Southern College, Lakeland
Florida State University Library
Flynn, Stephen J., Coral Gables
Foor, Mrs. Floyd M., Miami
Fort Lauderdale Historical Society
Fortner, Ed, Ocala
Foss, George B., Jr., St. Petersburg
Foster, Miss E. L., Miami Shores
Freeland, Mrs. William L., Miami**
Freeling, J. S., Miami
Freeling, Mrs. J. S., Miami
Freeman, Mrs. Ethel Cutler,
Morristown, N. J.
Fritz, Miss Florence, Ft. Myers
Fullerton, R. C., Coral Gables
Fuzzard, Miss Jessie M., Miami*
Gabianelli, Vincent J., Miami
Gaffney, Virginia, Miami
Glennon, Mrs. James A., Miami
Gocking, Anthony J., Golden Beach
Godfrey, Clyde, Miami
Goodman, Jerrold F., Miami Beach
Goza, William M., Clearwater
Grafton, Edward G., Coral Gables
Graves, David, Miami
Greenberg, Gerald, Miami Beach
Griswold, Oliver, Miami
Gross, Zade Bernard, Clearwater
Harllee, Ella, Washington, D.C.
Halstead, William L., Miami
Hamilton, Mrs. Warren W., Homestead
Hampton, Mrs. John, Sparks, Md.*
Hancock, Mrs. J. T., Jacksonville
Harding, Col. Read B., Arcadia
Harllee, J. William, Miami


Harrington, Frederick H., Hialeah
Hart, Mrs. Reginald, Coral Gables
Hartnett, Fred B., Coral Gables*
Havee, Justin P., Miami*
Havee, Mrs. Kathryn, Miami
Harvey, C. B., Key West
Hendry, Judge Norman, Miami
Henry, Mrs. Arthur N., Miami
Herin, Thomas D., Miami
Herin, Judge William A., Miami*
Hernandez, Gale, Miami
Hialeah City Library
Hiers, J. B., Jr., Miami
Higbie, William S., Miami Shores
Higgins, Mrs. Donald E., Cotuit, Mass.
Hills, Lee, Miami
Hillsborough County Historical Commission
Hodsden, Mrs. Harry E., Miami
Holcomb, Lyle D., Miami
Holcombe, Lyle D., Jr., Miami
Hoyt, Mrs. M. J., Miami
Hubbell, Willard, Miami
Hughes, Russell V., Sarasota
Hunter, William A., Miami
Huntington Library, San Marino, Calif.
Hutchinson, Mrs. Robert J., Coral Gables
Ingersoll, Jean, Miami
Jacobsteain, Mrs. Helen L., Coral Gables
James, Mary Crofts, Miami
Jenkins, Wesley E., Miami
Jernigan, Ernest H., Ocala
Johnson, Robert V., Miami
Jones, Mrs. Mary A., Miami
Judson, Charles B., Miami
Joyce, Mrs. Hortense, Coral Gables
Karg, Betsy, Opa Locka
Karg, Kitson, Opa Locks
Kelleher, Phillip A., Jr., Miami
Kelly, Miss Angela, Miami Beach
Kent, Selden G., Miami
Kenyon, Alfred, Ft. Lauderdale
Kiem, Miss Iris, Miami
King, Sidney, Surfside
Kirk, C., Ft. Lauderdale
Kitchell, Bruce P., Jr., Miami
Kitchen, Mrs. Karl K., Miami
Klime, Burton, Miami
Knight, Telfair, Coral Gables
Knott, Judge James R., W. Palm Beach
Knowles, Mrs. J. H., Miami
Koch, Mrs. Helen E. McNn, Pittsburgh, Pa.
Kofoed, Jack, Miami
Kos, Jerome C., South Miami
LaCroix, Mrs. Aerial C., Miami
Lake Worth Public Library
Laxson, Dan D., Hialeah
Leibensperger, Miss June, Miami
Lemon City Library, Miami

Lewis, Miss Carlotta, Coral Gables
Limmiatis, Ernest, Miami
Lindsley, A. R., Miami Beach
Lloyd, A. F. CEC
Lunnon, Mrs. James, Coral Gables
Lyell, Mrs. Robert 0., Miami
Lynch, Sylvester John, Sarasota*
Lynch, Thomas F., Coral Gables
Lynch, Mrs. Thomas F., Coral Gables
McAdams, Mrs. Ruth, Miami
MacArthur, Scot, Miami Shores
MacDonald, Miss Barbara, Miami
MacDonald, Miss Betty, Miami
MacDonelI, George N., Miami
Manley, Miss Marion I., Miami
Manning, Mrs. Wm. S., Jacksonville
Manucy, Albert, St. Augustine
Marchman, Watt P., Fremont, Ohio*
Marks, Henry S., Huntsville, Ala.
Martin County Historical Society, Stuart
Martin, Melbourne L., Coral Gables
Martin, Mrs. Paul C., Miami
Morand, Louis J., Detroit, Mich.
Mason, Dix, Miami
Mason, Mrs. Joe J., Coral Gables
Mason, Dr. Walter Scott, S., Miami*
May, Philip S., Jacksonville
Merrill, Ron, Hialeah
Merritt, Robert M., Miami
Mertz, John S., Miami
Meyer, Hank, Miami Beach
Miami-Dade Junior College Library
Miami Public Library*
Miami Senior High School Library
Miami Springs Library
Mickler, Mrs. Thomas, Chuluota
Mileo Photo Supply Co., Coral Gables
Miller, Raymond M., Miami*
Miller, William Jay, Miami
Minear, Mrs. L. V., Jupiter
Monk, J. Floyd, Miami
Monroe County Public Library, Key West
Morgen, Stewart M., Jr., St. Thomas, V.I.
Moulds, Andrew J., Coral Gables
Moulds, Mrs. Andrew J., Coral Gables
Mueller, Edward A., Washington, D.C.
Muir, William Whalley, Miami
Munroe, Wirth M., Miami*
Murphy, Miss Mary, Miami Beach
Myers, Miss Merry, Coral Gables
McAnnis, Beverly, Miami
McCreary, Paul D., Sr., Coral Gables
McDonald, Mrs. John Martyn, Boca Raton
McKay, John G., Jr., Coral Gables
McNichols, Herbert T., Coral Gables
Neelands, Lois R., Coral Gables
Nelson, Winifred H., Miami
Newberry Library, Chicago


Newman, Miss Margaret, Clearwater
North Miami High School Library
Northrup, Martin R., Miami
Oakar, James L., Cleveland, Ohio
O'Kane, Robert, Miami
Old Island Restoration Foundation,
Key West
Orlando Public Library
Otto, Mrs. Thomas Osgood, Miami Beach
Pace, Rev. Johnson Hagood, Jr.,
Padgett, Inman, Coral Gables
Pancoast, Alice A., Miami
Pancoast, J. Arthur, Miami*
Pancoast, Lester C., Miami
Pardo, Mrs. Ramiro V., Miami
Parker, Alfred B., Miami
Parker, Theo R., Freeport, G.B.I.
Parks, Mrs. Arva, Miami
Parmlee, Dean, Miami
Patton, Mrs. Dan O., Miami
Peacock, Harvey, Jacksonville
Peirce, Gertrude C., Miami
Pendleton, Robert S., Ft. Lauderdale
Peters, Mrs. Thelma, Miami*
Platt, T. Beach, Miami
Powell, Mrs. Robert A., Miami
Powers, Mrs. Lila M., Miami
Powers, Ted, Miami
Prahl, William, Miami
Prevatt, Preston G., Miami
Prior, Leon 0., Coral Gables
Proby, Mrs. Kathryn Hall, Miami
Price, Gaylord L., Miami
Quigley, Ellen N., Miami Beach
Rader, Paul C., Miami
Rader, Vivian Laramore, Miami
Rasmussen, Dr. Edwin L., Ft. Myers**
Read, Albert Cushing, Miami
Reed, Miss Elizabeth Ann, Delray Beach
Reeder, James G., Miami Shores
Reiner, Paul E., Miami
Reynolds, Mrs. Caroline P., Coral Gables
Rhodes, Mrs. W. H., Miami
Riddle, John Paul, Coral Gables
Rivett, Lois Culmer, Miami
Riviera Beach, Library
Rollins College Library
Romfh, John H., Miami
Ross, Mrs. Caroline B., Miami
Ross, Mrs. Richard F., Boca Raton
Rubin, Mrs. Joseph, Miami
Santanella, M. C., Kendall
Sapp, Alfred E., Miami
Sarper, Jack, Miami Beach
Sawyer, Clifton A., Warwick, R. I.
Schiefen, Msgr. Robert W., V.G., Miami
Schooley, Harry, Fort Myers

Schubert, Wenzel J., Miami
Schunicht, Wm. A., Miami
Seley, Ray B., Jr., Miami
Sellati, Mrs. Dorothy, Kendall
Sellati, Kenneth N. G., Kendall
Sellati, Nicholas, Kendall
Serkin, Manuel, Coral Gables
Sessa, Dr. Frank B., Pittsburgh, Pa.
Sevelius, E. A., Miami
Shank, H. W., Coral Gables
Shaw, G. N., Miami
Shaw, Henry O., Miami
Shenandoah Branch Library, Miami
Shiver, Otis W., Miami
Shore, Martin, Miami
Simmons, Glen, Homestead
Skill, Pearl T., Homestead
Slaughter, Dr. Frank G., Jacksonville
Smiley, Mrs. Nora K., Key West
Smith, Gilbert B., Coral Gables
Smith, Mrs. Jo Hill, Miami Springs
Smith, Mary Ellen, Miami
Smith, McGregor, Jr., Miami
Snodgrass, Miss Dena, Jacksonville
Sokoloff, Col. Norman, Coral Gables
Southern Illinois University Library
South Miami Public Library
Southwest Miami High School Library
Sparks, Mrs. Charles, Miami
Spaulding, Mrs. E .E., Miami
Seplman, Henry M., III, Boston, Mass.
Board of Public Instruction, Ft. Pierce
State Historical Society of Wisconsin
State University of Iowa Library
Stedman, Carling H., Miami
Stemmer, Vona, Miami
Stetson University Library
Stranahan, Mrs. Frank, Ft. Lauderdale*
Stripling Insurance Agency, Hialeah
Stuart, Mrs. Jack F., Miami
Sullivan, Dr. Raymond S., Miami
Sullivan, Mrs. Raymond S., Miami
Swanson, Ralph, Miami
Swift, Patricia, Miami Beach
Taft, Adon C., South Miami
Talley, Howard J., Miami
Tampa Public Library
Tarboux, Miss Frances, Miami Shores
Taylor, William S., Leisure City
Teachers Professional Library, Miami
Teasley, T. H., Miami Shores
Tebeau, Charlton W., Coral Gables*
Tebeau, Mrs. Violet H., Coral Gables
Teboe, Ray M., Miami
Tennessee State Library
Ten Eick, Mrs. M. Nunez, Tampa*
Tharp, C. Doren, S. Miami*
Thompson, Mrs. Anna, Tavernier


Thompson, Edward H., Miami
Thompson, Mary F., Kendall
Thornton, Dade W., Miami
Thornton, Mrs. Edmund A., Miami
Thrift, Dr. Charles T., Jr., Lakeland
Tietze, Robert A., Coral Gables
Tietze, Mrs. Robert A., Coral Gables
Tio, Aurelio, Santurce, P. R.
Troeller, W. Fredrik, Opa Locka
Tumin, Mrs. David U., Coral Gables
Turner, Vernon W., Homestead
Tussey, Mrs. Ethel Wayt, Miami
Tuttle, M. Glenn, Miami
Tyler, Palmer, Miami Shores
Ullman, John, Jr., Ft. Lauderdale
University of Miami Library
University of South Florida Library
University of Tampa Library
University of Tennessee Library
Vildostegui, Matias M., Coral Gables
Voelker, Paul, Jr., Miami
Waldhour, Miss E. Ardelle, Coral Gables
Walker, Judith A., Miami
Wallace, Lew, Jr., Miami
Ware, Mrs. Willard M., Miami Beach
Washington, James G., Miami
Waters, Fred M., Jr., Coral Gables

Adams, Wilton L., Coral Gables
Ann, Sister Elizabeth, O.P., Miami
Anthony, Roscoe T., Palm Beach
Archer, Ben, Homestead
Atmus, Rudolph E., East Longmeadow,
Ayars, Erling E., Miami
Baber, Aden, Kansas, Ill.*
Baker, Charles H., Jr., Miami*
Barry College, Miami
Bartow Public Library
Baskin, M. A., Coral Gables
Bassett, Rex, Jr., Ft. Lauderdale
Beal, K. Malcolm, Miami*
Beardsley, Jim E., Clewiston
Beckham, W. H., Jr., Coral Gables
Belcher, E. N., Jr., Coral Gables
Bergstrom, Robert W., Miami Shores
Bills, Mrs. John T., Miami
Bingham, Mrs. Millicent T.,
Washington, D.C.
Blackburn, Elmer E., Miami
Blumberg, David, Coral Gables
Bradfield, E. S., Miami Beach**
Brannen, H. S., Miami Springs
Brody, Mrs. Margaret E., Key Biscayne
Brooks, J. R., Homestead

Weems, Capt. P. V. H., Annapolis, Md.
Wellman, Wayne E., Miami
Wentworth, T. T., Jr., Pensacola
West India Reference Library, Kingston
West, John, Miami
Wetterer, Miss Mary T., Bal Harbour
Wheeler, B. B., Lake Placid
Whigham, Mrs. Florence R., Miami
Whitmer, Dr. Kenneth S., Miami
Wiggington, Clayton C., Miami
Wight, William S., Coral Gables
Williams, H. F., Coral Gables*
Williams, John B., Miami
Williams, Lawrence C., Hialeah
Wilson, Albert B., Miami
Wilson, Gaines R., Miami**
Wilson, Mrs. Gaines R., Miami
Wilson, George M., Coral Gables
Wilson, Peyton L., Miami*
Wilson, Miss Virginia E., Miami
Withers, James G., Coral Gables
Withers, Wayne E., Coral Gables
Wolf, Fred, Sr., Hallandale
Wood, H. Edward, Kendall
Woore, Mrs. A. Meredith, Miami*
Worley, Mrs. Alice M., Miami
Wrigley, Mrs. Fran, Miami


Brown, Clark, Jr., Arcadia
Brown, T. O., Frostproof
Brunstetter, Roscoe, Coral Gables
Buckley, Mrs. Edward S., III, M. Shores
Burkett, Mrs. Charles W., Jr., M. Beach
Cables, June E., Homestead
Cameron, D. Pierre G., Miami
Campbell, Park H., S. Miami*
Campbell, Terrence G., Miami Beach
Carr, Mrs. Margaret McC., Miami
Cartee, Mrs. Horace L., Coral Gables
Chase, C. W., Jr., Miami Beach
Chase, Randall, H, Sanford
Clark, George T., Miami
Cole, R. B., Miami
Combs, Walter H., Jr., Miami*
Corliss, C. J., Orlando
Coslow, George R., Miami
Craighead, F. C., Homestead
Crane, Mrs. Francis V., Marathon
Cummings, Sadie B., Miami Beach
Darrow, Miss Dorothy, Coral Gables
Davis, Hal D., Coral Gables
Deedmeyer, Mrs. George J., Miami
Dismukes, William P., Coral Gables*
DuBois, Mrs. Bessie Wilson, Jupiter
Dunwody, Atwood, Miami


Edelen, Mrs. Ellen, Tavernier
Embry, Tally H., Miami
Emerson, William C., Rome, N. Y.
Fascell, Dante B., Washington, D.C.
Farmer, Tudor M., Miami
Feibelman, Herbert U., Miami
Ferendino, Andrew J., Miami
Field, Dr. Henry, Miami
Flemming, Bryan, Miami
Florence, Robert S., Miami
Florida State Library
Franklin, Mrs. Dolores M., Miami Shores
Freeman, Edison S., Miami
Freeman, Harley L., Ormond Beach
Frohock, Mrs. Jack, North Miami
Fuchs, Richard W., Florida City
Fuller, Walter P., Clearwater
Gaby, Donald C., Miami
Gardner, Jack R., Miami
Gardner, Mrs. R. C., Miami
Gause, Wanda Van Brunt, Coral Gables
Gibson, Henry C., Jenkintown, Pa.
Gibson, Mrs. Walter C., Miami*
Gifford, Mrs. John C., Miami*
Gillespie, Mrs. W. R., South Miami
Gingery, Mrs. Lois C., Miami
Glorie, Rev. John W., W. Palm Beach
Goldstein, Charles, Miami
Goldweber, S., Perrine
Graham, D. Robert, Miami Lakes
Graham, William A., Miami Lakes
Gramling, J. C., Jr., Miami
Green, Herschel V., Coral Gables
Griffen, F. S., Miami
Griggs, Mrs. Nelson W., Miami Shores
Guilmartin, James L, Miami
Haas, C. T., Miami Beach
Hall, Willis E., Coral Gables
Hancock, E. M., Miami Beach
Hanks, Bryan, Fort Worth, Texas*
Harlow, Rev. Frank E., Coral Gables
Harlow, Mrs. Frank E., Coral Gables
Harvard College Library
Haycock, Ira C., Miami
Head-Beckham Insurance Agency, Miami
Hellier, Walter R., Ft. Pierce
Herren, Norman A., Naples
Highleyman, Mrs. Katherine D., Miami
Hogan, Francis L., Pompano Beach
Holland, Hon. Spessard L.,
Washington, D.C.*
Hopkins, Dr. Oliver B., Miami
Houser, Roosevelt C., Miami
Hudson, F. M., Miami**
Hughes, Mrs. Edmond A., Coral Gables
Humphreys, Mrs. D. M., Ft. Lauderdale
Irwin, Frank, Jr., Miami
Jamaica Inn, Key Biscayne

Johnston, Thomas McE., Miami
Jones, Archie L., Miami
Jones, William M., Miami
Joseph, Stanley C., Homestead
Kendall, Harold E., Goulds
Kent, Mrs. Frederick A., Miami
Kent, Leith Dunlap, Jr., Kendall
Kerr, James Benjamin, Ft. Lauderdale*
Kettle, C. Edward, Miami
Key West Art and Historical Society
King, C. Harold, Miami
Kinlock Park Jr. H. S. Library, Miami
Kistler, The C. W. Co., Miami
Krome, Mrs. William J., Homestead*
Leon County Public Library, Tallahassee
Leyden, Mrs. Charles S., Coral Gables
Lewallen, A. J., Miami
Lindgren, Mrs. M. E., Miami
Lipp, Morris N., Miami Beach
Longshore, Frank, Miami
MacDonald, Duncan, Miami*
MacNeill, Malcolm G., Miami
Maders, Mrs. D. R., Miami
Mangels, Dr. Celia C., Miami Shores
Mangels, Henry E., Jr., Miami
Martin, John M., Sr. Freeport, GBI
Martin, Mrs. Kirby A., New York
Matheson, Finlay L., S. Miami
May, Bruce M., Miami Beach
Mayes, Mrs. C. R., Jr., Pompano Beach
Mead, D. Richard, Miami
Meisel, Max, Miami Beach
Melrose, Mary Jane, Miami
Merrick, Mrs. Eunice P., Coral Gables*
Mershon, M. L., Miami
Miami Beach Public Library
Molt, Fawdrey, Key Biscayne
Morison, Horace, Boston, Mass.
Mudd, Dr. Richard D., Saginaw, Mich.
Muller, Leonard R., Miami*
McCarthy, Don L., Nassau, Bahamas
McGahey Chrysler Plymouth, Miami
McIlwain, W. T., Miami
McKey, Robert M., Miami
McNeiIl. Robert E., Jr., New York
McSwain, Dr. Gordon H., Arcadia
Nelson, Bowen C., Miami
Nettleton, Danforth H., Miami
Newman, Leonard R., Miami Beach
Newton, Jessie Porter, Miami
Nordt, Mrs. John C., Miami
Norris, Hardgrove, Miami
Pancoast, Russell T., Miami
Pearce, Mrs. A. Dixon, Miami
Pedersen, George C., Perrine
Pendergast, Mrs. Eleanor L., Miami*
Pepper, Claude, Miami Beach
Peters, Gordon H., Miami Shores


Philbrick, W. L., Miami
Pitt, Gerard, Miami*
Plowden, Gene, Miami
Polk County Historical Library, Bartow
Preston, J. E. Ted, Miami
Raap, Dr. Gerard, Miami
Rader, Earle M., Miami
Richmond, Charles M., Miami
Rigby, Ernest E., Miami
Roberts, R. B., Jr., Miami
Ruffley, Kathleen, Miami
Saye, Roland A., Jr., Miami Beach
Schultz, Donald A., Miami
Shaw, Miss Luelle, Miami*
Simmonette, Col. Henry G., Miami
Simonhoff, Harry, Miami Beach
Smith, Charles H., Miami
Smith, McGregor, Miami
Snyder, Dr. Clifford C., Coral Gables
Sokola, Anton, Miami
Sottile, Mrs. James Jr., Coral Gables
Spinks, Mrs. Elizabeth J., Miami*
St. Augustine Historical Society
Stanford, Dr. Henry King, Coral Gables
Steel, William C., Miami
Stiles, Wade, South Miami**
Straight, Dr. William M., Miami
Sumwalt, G. Robert, New York
Svenson, Edward F., Jr., Miami
Thomas, Arden H., South Miami

Ashe, Mrs. Bowman F., Coral Gables
Baggs, William C., Miami
Barton, Alfred I., Surfside
Blumberg, David, Coral Gables
Brown, William J., Miami
Buker, Charles E., Sr., Coral Gables
Burdine, William M., Miami
Caster, George B., Coral Gables
Clinch, Duncan L., Miami
Cooper, George H., Princeton
Dykes, R. J. Iron Works, Miami
DeNies, Charles F., Hudson, Mich.
Dickey, Dr. Robert F., Miami
Dixon, Mrs. James A., Jr., Miami Shores
Dohrman, Howard I., Miami
DuPuis, John G., Jr., Miami
Emerson, Hugh P., Miami
French, Mr. and Mrs. Dexter S., Miami
Gardner, Dick B., Miami
Gearhart, Ernest G., Jr., Miami
Helliwell, Paul L. E., Miami
Highleyman, Daly, Miami
Hildreth, Robert R., Coral Gables
Hill, William H., Miami

Thomson, John W., Jr., Coral Gables
Thomson, John W., Sr., Coral Gables
Tibbetts, Alden M., Miami
Town, Miss Eleanor E., Coral Gables
Towne, Robert R., Delray Beach
Tritton, Mrs. James, Opa Locka
Tuttle, Mr. and Mrs. Harry E., Miami
University of Florida Library
University of Pennsylvania Library
Vance, Mrs. Herbert 0., Coral Gables*
Vanderpool, Fred W., Miami Beach*
Van Orsdel, C. D., Coral Gables
Wainwright, Mrs. John T., Sr., Miami
Walker, Mrs. Catherine C., Miami
Weintraub, Mrs. Sidney, Miami
Wenner, Henry S., Jr., Miami
West Palm Beach Public Library
White, Dorothy, Miami Beach
White, Richard M., Miami
Whitten, George E., Miami Beach
Wilson, Claude S., Miami
Wimbish, Paul C., Miami Beach
Wolfe, Miss Rosalie L., Miami
Wolfe, Thomas L., Miami
Wooten, William H., N. Miami
Wright, Mrs. V. A., Miami Shores
Wylie, Mrs. W. Gill, Jr., Palm Beach
Yohn, E. M., Miami
Young, Elizabeth S., Miami Shores
Zim, Mrs. Sonia Bleeker, Tavernier


Holland, Judge John W., Coral Gables*
Holmer, Carl, Jr., Miami
Howard, Lee, Miami Beach
Howe, Mrs. Elden L., Coral Gables
Johnson, Mrs. Kathryne I., Coral Gables
Kislak, Jay L, Miami
Knight, John S., Miami
Leffler, Miss Cornelia, Miami**
Levin, Robert B., Miami
Light, George H., Miami
Lloyd, J. Harlan, Miami
Loening, Grover, Key Biscayne
Lummus, J. N., Jr., Miami
Mallory, Phillip R., New York
McHale, Edward F., Miami
Poyer, Charles Edison, Miami Beach
Ross, Donald, Benton Harbor, Mich.
Scott, Paul R., Miami
Shipe, Paul E., Coral Gables
Taylor, Henry H., Jr., Coral Gables
Timoner, Joan, Miami Shores
Underwood, Edwin H., Jr., Miami
Wallage, George R., Miami Beach
Weinkle, Julian L, Coral Gables


West, William M., Miami
White, Mrs. Louise V., Key West
Will, Lawrence E., Belle Glade
Wilson, D. Earl, Miami**

Wilson, J. I., Miami
Wipprecht, Mrs. Marion H., Coral Gables
Wolfson, Col. Mitchell, Miami


Crane, Mrs. Raymond E., Miami Beach
Fee, David M., Ft. Pierce
Keyes, Kenneth S., Miami*
Nassau Daily Tribune, Bahamas
Parker Art Printing Association,
Coral Gables

Richards Aircraft Supply Co.,
Ft. Lauderdale
Thomas, Wayne, Tampa
John E. Withers Transfer and Storage,
Withers Van Lines of Miami, Miami


Jaudon, Mrs. J. Franklin, Miami
Link, Edwin A., Binghamton, N. Y.
Matthews, Mrs. Flagler, Rye, New York
Pan American World Airways, Miami

Peninsular Armature Works, Miami
Southern Bell Telephone and
Telegraph Co., Miami


Grafton, Mrs. Martha P., Coral Gables
Florida Power and Light Co., Miami
Gondas Corporation, Miami
Baron deHirsch Meyer Foundation,
Miami Beach

The Miami Herald
Pan American World Airways, Miami
University of Miami



Charlton W. Tebeau
Editor Tequesta
Robert M. McKey
First Vice-President
Ben Archer
Second Vice-President

Adam G. Adams
Executive Secretary
Miss Virginia Wilson
Recording and
Corresponding Secretary
Andrew J. Moulds

David T. Alexander
Museum Director


Karl A. Bickel
Dr. James W. Covington
David M. Fee
Fort Pierce
Mrs. James T. Hancock

Norman A. Herren
Judge James R. Knott
West Palm Beach
Dr. Charles T. Thrift, Jr.
Mrs. Louise V. White
Key West


August Burghard
Mrs. Ruby Leach Carson
Carlton J. Corliss
Mrs. William L. Freeland
Justin P. Havee
Lee Howard
Philip A. Kelleher
John M. Martin
Miss Mary Jane Melrose
Wirth M. Munroe
Gene Plowden

Charles Edison Poyer
Gaylord L. Price
Ernest F. Rigby
Roland A. Saye, Jr.
Gilbert B. Smith
Mrs. Frank Stranahan
Mrs. Herbert O. Vance
Julian I. Weinkle
Gaines R. Wilson
Wayne E. Withers


George H. Cooper
Radford R. Crane
Hugh P. Emerson
Kenneth S. Keyes

Edwin A. Link
Baron de Hirsch Meyer
Henry King Stanford

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