Beyond Tourism: America's Yesteryear

A blog of American History

Today in Florida’s History April 27th April 27, 2010

1863 Major General Dabney H. Maury was placed in command of the Confederate District of the Gulf today by the Confederate War Department.

1864 The U.S.S. Honeysuckle captured the British schooner Miriam in the Gulf of Mexico today.

1865 The U.S.S. Pontiac was dispatched to the eastern coast of Florida today to prevent Confederate President Jefferson Davis from escaping to Cuba.

Orange Blossom - State Flower of Florida

1909 The Florida House of representatives approved the orange blossom as the official flower of Florida today.

1929 Barbara Bancroft, the first licensed woman airplane pilot on the East Coast of Florida, today visited her hometown of Melbourne.

1929 The Woman’s Christian Temperance Union was chartered today in Jacksonville. The organization had first been organized in 1883.


Before Walmart there was Webb’s City Drug Store April 5, 2010

During the Florida Land Boom of the 1920’s a man in his twenties, by the name of James Earl “Doc” Webb, moved to St. Petersburg and opened a drug store in 1925. It would become huge before the store closed in 1979. The drugstore would cover 7-10 city blocks.

According to Holly Atkins, James got the nickname Doc because he made his own drugs such as Sorbo-Rub, Indian Wahoo Bitters and Doc Webb’s 608. This was only the beginning. His store eventually had 77 different departments including prescription department, surgical supplies, cosmetics and toiletries, Furniture City (covering seven floors!), a florist, a dry cleaning plant, a service station and automobile association, a bank service, a dance studio, an ice cream plant, a coffee roasting plant and, of course, Doc’s Original Drugstore.

When the land boom ended in Florida, a forerunner to the Great Depression, that didn’t stop James. He kept his store open and had deep discounts to keep his customers. He even held circuses and small fairs in his parking lot. He dropped some of his prices so low that Bristol-Meyers took James to court for selling their toothpaste below retail price. It went all the way to the  Florida Supreme Court where it was ruled in James favor. A few years later some distilleries also took him to court for the same reason. The court again ruled in his favor.

The drug store survives the Great Depression but according to Florida’s Lost Tourist Attractions it just wasn’t enough. St. Petersburg was losing it’s status as Florida’s tourist capital and began a long slow spiral downward. In 1974 James sold all his shares in the drugstore and retired. The company went bankrupt in 1979. What did Webb’s City Drug Store leave us with? They invented the 10 items or less speedy check out lane. I’m sure there were plenty of people with a cartload of items in the speedy checkout though.


Today in Florida History September 16 September 16, 2009

Finally getting back into posting now with things beginning to calm down. I thought I would start things off with a Today in Florida History. It is taken from The Florida Historical Society. There is also a link to the site in my Links to the Past list.

1565: From the account of Pedro Menendez’s expedition to Florida in 1565 by Francisco Lopez de Mendoza Grajales, the chaplain to the expedition.  This account is taken from Charles E. Bennett, Laudonniere and Fort Caroline:  History and Documents (Gainesville:  University of Florida Press, 1964).  [We will continue with portions of this account in the coming days and will simply cite it as Laudonniere and Fort Caroline.  In today’s account, Father Mendoza recounts the beginning of Menendez’s expedition against the French at Fort Caroline.–moderator]

“Sunday, September 16, he [Menendez] departed with 500 men with many arquebuses and pikes, each one of the soldiers carrying a twelve pound sack of bread on his shoulders and a bottle of wine for the road.  They took two Indian chiefs who were great enemies of the French, so that they might show the way.  According to the practice of those Indians and by the signs they made, we understood that it was five leagues to the fort of the enemies, but one the road it appeared to be more than fifteen and a very bad road in the very hot sun.  But all have traveled it, according to the letter we received from the General [Menendez] today, the 19th of said month.”

1853: House Speaker A. K. Allison proclaimed himself Acting Governor of Florida when the governor, Thomas Brown, and the Senate President, R. J. Floyd, were both out of the state.  Allison served until October 3 when James E. Broome was regularly inaugurated as governor.

1863: The U.S.S. San Jacinto, under the command of Lieutenant Commander Ralph Chandler, seized the Confederate blockade-runner, Lizzie Davis, off the west coast of Florida.  She had been bound from Havana to Mobile with a cargo that included quantities of lead.

1864: An expedition from the U.S.S. Ariel, with Acting Master Russell in command, captured over 4,000 pounds of cotton in the vicinity of Tampa Bay.

Zora Neale Hurston is the author of Their Eyes were Watching God

Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960) is the author of "Their Eyes were Watching God"

1928: The Belle Glade and Palm Beaches area was devastated by a hurricane. This was the culmination of the Great Lake Okeechobee Hurricane struck Florida as a Category 4 storm, with winds pushing lake waters to a storm surge of more than 15 feet.  The area surrounding the lake’s south end, occupied primarily by migrant agricultural workers, flooded.  The Red Cross’s death toll count reached 1,836, but additional bodies and skeletons were discovered after the end of the Red Cross count.  In response to this disaster, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built dikes around the lake to prevent a recurrence.  Florida author Zora Neale Hurston recorded the impact on this hurricane on migrants in her novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God.  (See September 6, Today in Florida History)

1968: The first classes convened at Warner Southern College in Lake Wales.  The college was founded by the Southeastern Association of the Church of God.


Deadly Storms: Two hurricanes that changed Florida history (A blogchain post) June 28, 2009

This post is for the June blogchain through Absolutewrite. It doesn’t have a theme which makes it a little easier for me since this blog is specific to Florida. The topic started out with Global Warming and moseyed through personal responsibility and corporate waste. Forbidden Snowflake then wrote about national disaster for her country Switzerland and would the EU help if their economy collapsed. So I thought talking about hurricanes that affected Florida would be great because nothing effects a state like a national disaster.

Great Miami Hurricane 1926: During the Roaring 20’s in the United States Florida was having a land boom. People were buying lots of land sight unseen. If you’ve ever heard the phrase, “Yeah, and I have some land in Florida I want to sell you.” This is the time period it comes from because it was unbelievable. If you ever tour the everglades you might still come across a sign that might look likes the one to the right.

” Edit Resource for “Photographs depicting Seminole Indians with dugout canoes, 1920-1928 (bulk 1920) [electronic resource] “”]Screenshot for Photographs depicting Seminole Indians with dugout canoes, 1920-1928 (bulk 1920) [electronic resource]  Edit Resource for Photographs depicting Seminole Indians with dugout canoes, 1920-1928 (bulk 1920) [electronic resource] Land in Miami and all over Southern Florida was being bought up. Every bubble bursts and the land boom ended in 1925 and came to a complete standstill September 18th, 1926 with the arrival of a category 4 hurricane whose eye was directly over Miami. This hurricane caused $90 billion dollars in damaged if it had hit Miami today. 800 people went missing along with 373 deaths and 6,381 injuries. It proved to non-Floridians who were the ones most likely dead, missing, and injured that Florida was a dangerous place to live. Since most of these folks left shelter when the eye took half an hour to pass over Miami leaving many to believe that the storm was over. Their unfamiliarity with hurricanes was the death blow of Florida’s land boom. The Great Depression was soon to follow but most of Florida was already there in 1929.

This storm does not have a name because hurricanes and tropical storms were not given names until 1953 and they were all female until 1979 when the National Weather Service began alternating between male and female names.

Florida Keys Labor Day Hurricane 1935: On September 2, 1935 a category 5 hurricane ripped through the keys leaving 408 dead and $6 million in damages. Flagler’s Miami/Key West line of the railroad was so damaged that it was sold to the state. Most of the deaths from this unnamed hurricane were World War I veterans.

Built the Miami/Key West line of the railroad that later became known as Flaglers Folly.

Built the Miami/Key West line of the railroad that later became known as Flagler's Folly.

They were part of the Bonus Army that first visited the White House when Hoover was in office to demand the bonus they were to recieve in 1945 early. They were chased away from the White House but later brought their greivances to FDR. He enlisted them in the WPA and gave them work building a bridge from the mainland to the keys to replace the ferry service that was in current use.

Due to red tape, confusion, and a lack of communication the evacuation of the veterans by the train was delayed and overturned by a tidal wave during the hurricane. The World War I veterans who were only given temporary shelters that could not withstand a hurricane were lost. As you cross the 7-mile bridge, also called the overseas highway, you can still see what remains of Flagler’s Folly.

Two bridges on the w:Overseas Highway within the Florida Keys. The bridge on the left is the modern highway bridge, while the bridge on the right is the original bridge built by the Florida East Coast Railway, retrofitted to automobile traffic after 1935, and later closed.

Two bridges on the w:Overseas Highway within the Florida Keys. The bridge on the left is the modern highway bridge, while the bridge on the right is the original bridge built by the Florida East Coast Railway, retrofitted to automobile traffic after 1935, and later closed.

The other participants in this blogchain are:

Razib Ahmed: — Hobby Economist
Fokker Aeroplanbau: — I’m Always Right, Far Right
Bettielee: —- Far Seeing Fairy Tales
Bsolah: —- Benjamin Solah, Marxist Horror Writer
Forbidden Snowflake: —— Delirious
Rosemerry: — Beyond Tourism: Florida’s Yesteryear
Dnic: ———- Four-Lettered Words
Lady Cat: — Random Writerly Thoughts
Tika: ———- Tika Newman
Bill Ward: —
dancingandflying: —- Made of Carbon

Please visit their blogs and leave a comment.