Beyond Tourism: America's Yesteryear

A blog of American History

Friday Finds March 25, 2011

1. Almost Chosen People A blog about American History, and the development of a great Nation

2. Swamp Fox Brigade A blog about South Carolina in the Revolution

3. Virtualology: A Virtual Education their mission is “to foster an understanding of humanity’s great moments, exceptional minds, remarkable talents, infamous actions, great events, natural history, scientific discoveries, and the celebration of individuals.”

4. The History Blog I heard about this blog on AbsoluteWrite. A fan said, “History, done well, is interesting because it’s about real people doing real things–in their own words and images.”

5. African American History Month The American government’s website covering African American History

6 . Zora Neale Hurston The official website of this Florida native writer

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Florida and the American Revolution January 11, 2011

British Colonies of East and West Florida remained loyal during the American Revolution

The Loyal Colonies

In 1776, Britain had fifteen American colonies. On July 4th of that year thirteen declared independence and began the Revolutionary War. One colony that remained loyal to Britain was East Florida and its capitol St. Augustine. The other colony was West Florida with its capitol Pensacola. It remained a British stronghold and a haven for Tories fleeing the rebellious colonies until 1781 when Spain invaded Pensacola. Florida was then ceded back to Spain by the British.

West and East Florida were invited to send delegates to the still forming Continental Congress. Both colonies being

strong loyalists declined the offer and remained with Britain. When the war started, for most in the southern colonies including Florida, the Revolutionary War wasn’t a war for independence but a Civil War against King and Country. According to the National Park Service, East Florida was protected by the local militias which were made up of Loyalists that fled from Georgia and the Carolinas. Their was a professional regiment of British regulars but they were ineffectual due to their small number mixed with the large territory they were assigned to protect. Even here much like most of the rest of the Revolutionary War the battles were mostly won by local militias and not the professional armies.

The Battle of Thomas Creek

While there were numerous incursions and raids made by the American rebels into East Florida all mostly repelled by the joint of militia and the British Army there was only one actual battle. That was the Battle of Thomas Creek.

According to the Historical Florida’s Marker Program the Battle of Thomas Creek took place in what is now the county of Nassau just south of the city of Callahan on U.S. 1 highway and Thomas Creek. On May 17, 1777, Lt. Col. Samuel Elbert led a mix of troops from the Continental Army and Georgia militias on a mission to capture and occupy St. Augustine. They were stopped by Maj. J.M. Prevost of the British Regular Army and Col. Thomas Brown of the East Florida Rangers, a militia calvary. These groups were aided by Indian allies. The American forces were throughly routed and fled in retreat due to a lack of supplies, morale,  the oppressive heat and superior numbers of the enemy troops. Some Americans in their rush abandoned their horses and fled into the swamp. According to the National Park Service American losses were eight killed, nine wounded and thirty-one captured. Of the thirty-one captured fifteen were killed by Indians before the British were able to stop them. Only forty-two American soldiers escaped to the safety of Georgia.

After the War

When the Revolutionary War ended with the British defeat. Most of the loyalists left the country of America for either Britain or the West Indies because Florida ceased to be a British colony and was ceded back to Spain after they captured and occupied St. Augustine in 1783. This was a sad day for Loyalists because just like the American Patriots they were born in America and thought of it as home.



 

Top posts of 2010 January 1, 2011

It’s been a slow year here at Beyond Tourism. It’s New Year’s day and I just wanted to look back at some of the more popular posts here on the blog.

The Top 5 posts of all Time

  1. Deadly Storms: Two hurricanes that changed Florida history (A blogchain post)

  2. Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine

  3. Before Walmart there was Webb’s City Drug Store

  4. John Caesar: Florida Maroon of the Second Seminole War

  5. John Horse: Florida Maroon of the Second Seminole War

 

Top 5 Posts of 2010

  1. Before Walmart there was Webb’s City Drug Store

  2. John Caesar: Florida Maroon of the Second Seminole War

  3. John Horse: Florida Maroon of the Second Seminole War

  4. Wanted Wednesdays: Unsolved Homicides

  5. The Celestial Railroad of Jupiter and Lake Worth

 

Enjoy reading and let me know what you want more of dear readers.

 

Friday Finds- Haunted Florida October 29, 2010

In the spirit of October and Halloween I bring you links to Haunted Florida.

1. Haunted Florida– This site includes “the webs most comprehensive list of Florida Halloween Events,  Current Horror Movie Trailers, List with brief descriptions of reported Real Haunted Places in Florida, Links to active Ghost Hunter Groups, and Information and links to current Florida Ghost Tours.”

2. Florida’s Haunted History & Tours– This is an About.com article listing ghost tours and haunted places throughout that you can visit with links to more about.com articles to those specific tours or places.

3. Horrorfind: The Horror & Halloween search engine– Site has links of haunted houses to visit this Halloween located around Florida.

4. Haunted America Tours– This link brings you to their list of the top 10 most haunted cities in America. Florida is represented twice with Key West in spot number four and Miami in spot number nine.

5. Coastal Living– This article in Coastal Living is “Top 10 Haunted Lighthouses:  Even ghosts seem to love these majestic coastal beacons.” Florida is represented twice with Port Boca Grande Lighthouse, Gasparilla Island, Florida in spot number two and St. Augustine Light, St. Augustine, Florida in spot number 6.

6. Most Haunted Places in Florida– This site lists three places in Florida that are considered the most haunted in Florida. One in northern Florida, St. Augustine, one in central Florida, Spook Hill,  and one in south Florida, Key West. It also includes other resources if you are interested in other haunted places in Florida.

 

The Beatles visit Key West October 22, 2010

The Beatles at the Key Wester Motel

September 10, 1964 was an exciting day for Beatles fans in Key West. It was on this day that the Fab Four flew in from Montreal to take a rest stop.  They were originally supposed to stop in Jacksonville  but according to The Beatles Ultimate Experience due to Hurricane Dora off of the northeast coast of Florida the flight was detoured to Key West until Hurricane Dora passed.

At this time the South was still segregated and this included Florida. The Beatles refused to play the Gator Bowl if the audience was segregated on race. It was promised that the audience would be desegregated and the performance remained on the books. Their hotel in Jacksonville was another matter though. It seems that desegregating the hotel while The Beatles were present could not be worked out. It was rumored that this is the real reason their rest stop was moved to Key West.

While in Key West reporter Jean Morris was able to interview them. After some questions about Rolling Stones and who was married and who was single the subject came around to eating.

JEAN: “Do you always eat on the run like this?”

RINGO: “No, we sit down like this.”

(laughter)

JEAN: “No, I mean, with all these people don’t you get indigestion?”

RINGO: “Well, we usually eat in the room, but seeing the hotel’s got no room for us, we have to eat here, you see.”

JOHN: “That was unfortunate, that.”

RINGO: “Unfortunate.”

John and Ringo are referring to their canceled rooms in Jacksonville. Where in an earlier interview when asked

The Key Wester Motel

directly about it tried to not make a big deal about it by saying they had no control of booking rooms or the cancellation of them. Jean Morris does not ask them to elaborate.

The Key Wester Motel was demolished in 1999 and was replaced by the Hyatt Windward Pointe. The Hyatt Windward Pointe Hotel,  according to the Beatles Bible , an open-air structure named the Beatles Hut commemorates the place where the group stayed. While there they jammed with rhythm and blues singer Clarence “Frogman” Henry,  The Bill Black Combo, and  The Exciters, who are from New Orleans  and local musician Coffee Butler.

While their concert at the Gator Bowl was canceled due to Hurricane Dora the game was still played. It was Florida State v. Oklahoma. The final score was Florida State 36 Oklahoma 19. The details of the game can be found here and here.

 

Friday Finds August 20, 2010

The Rebuilding of St. George Island Lighthouse – Read how the people of St. George rebuilt their lighthouse using original materials and blueprints.

Apalachicola Maritime Museum – Planning a trip to Florida or live in Florida and you love sailing, boating, and it’s history. This museum would be a good place to visit.

Harry T. and Harriet V. Moore Cultural Center – From the website “The 11.93-acre Harry T. & Harriette V. Moore Memorial Park features the Harry T. & Harriette V. Moore Cultural Center. The Moores were parents, educators, and leading local and national civil rights activists. After organizing the first Brevard County Branch of the NAACP, they remained instrumental in the NAACP and the fight for equality and justice until their untimely deaths. On Christmas night 1951, they were murdered for their involvement in the civil rights movement when a bomb exploded under their home. The park is dedicated to the celebration of their lives and to promoting awareness of their unique contributions to the early civil rights movement.”

History of Melbourne Florida – Read a short history of the town of Melbourne, Florida from the Pioneer age to the Space age.

Historic Rossetter House Museum & Gardens – This is actually two houses and a cemetery. Catch a glimpse of early Melbourne, Florida. Includes group tours, and ghost tours.

History of Jefferson County, Florida – Learn about the Aucilla Prehistory Project, the Monticello Opera House, and more about Jefferson County on their site.

 

The first white settler of Lake Worth July 16, 2010

A. Oswald Lang, first white settler of Lake Worth

Augustus Oswald Lang was the first white settler of Lake Worth. You first read about him on my blog in this post about Protecting Florida’s Coasts during Times of War. He was working as an assistant lighthouse keeper at Jupiter Inlet when the war broke out and he sided with the south and forced the head lighthouse keeper, Jose Francisco Papy aka Joe Papy to leave the lighthouse via his personal craft and return to Key West. He and his cronies then disassemble the lighthouse just enough to keep it out of commission and bury the parts.

Why were the parts not buried and the lighthouse only disassembled rather than

An Original First Order Fresnel Light

destroyed like other east coast Florida lighthouses? It is because it is a Fresnel light the best of it’s kind at the time. It’s light on a clear night could be seen all the way out to the Bahamas which was 20 miles out to sea. It costs $5,000 in 1830. If the same lens were bought today it would cost approximately $99,377.03. The missing parts were later found and sent to Key West for safe keeping until 1866 when it was sent back to Jupiter Inlet and put back into the lighthouse. The Jupiter Inlet lighthouse was out of commission from 1861- 1866 for five years.

He joined the Confederate Army in 1862. A little over a year later in 1863 he deserted. Wanted by the Confederacy for desertion and wanted by the United States for destruction of the lighthouses he went to the most isolated place he could think of to avoid both governments, Lake Worth. Lake Worth was named after Colonel William Jenkins Worth who is considered responsible for ending the Second Seminole War. It was so isolated due to the difficulties of reaching it by boat due to the serpentine river system that could only be steered by pole barge. During the summer,  mosquitoes made their home here due to plenty of standing water and the Florida heat, perfect conditions for the spreading of malaria and other mosquito carrying diseases.

While living along the shores of Lake Worth in a palmetto hut Lang returned to his old occupation of gardening. It is said that he used to be the former gardener to the King of Prussia and that he immigrated from Germany. It is here that he renewed his interests in gardening and came up with many exotic trees and plants that future settlers of the area would eventually use. He stayed there until 1866 when according to The First Arrivals on pbchistoryonline “Michael and George Sears of Biscayne Bay were sailing along the coast in 1866 when they discovered a new opening from Lake Worth. Sailing into the lake, they met Lang, who had dug the inlet. Reportedly, Lang was surprised to hear the war had ended, and soon left the area for St. Lucie to the north.” Once he left it was said that he returned to Lake Worth from time to time to check on his horticulture experiments.

Lang eventually married and had one child. His wife was just 14 and he was 35.  But it does not end happily for Lang. According to Mary Collar Linehan who wrote about Lang for the Lake Worth Pioneer’s Association Lang was murdered in 1874 two months before his only child was born and his wife not even 18.  Here is an account by witness named Hendry.

In a quarrel amongst Lang, Drawdy, and a man named Padgett, Drawdy and Padgett killed the old man Lang, and cut up the body and placed it in some alligator holes, the ‘gators destroying the corpse.

The two murderers were found and brought to trial in Ocala and served 8 years each.

To learn more about Lang click on the various link in this post. To learn more about the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse and the history Jupiter Inlet read “A Light in the Wilderness: The Story of Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse & The Southeast Florida Frontier” by James D. Snyder.