Beyond Tourism: America's Yesteryear

A blog of American History

Wanted Wednesdays: Santo Trafficante (1914-1987) April 28, 2010

When you think of Organized Crime what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Al Capone, Baby Face Nelson, or even The Sopranos. Florida also has had to deal with their own problems with organized crime and not just the mafia on vacation in our sunny state.

Trafficante was born in Tampa in 1914 to Mafia Don Santo Trafficante, Sr and Maria Giuseppa Cacciatore who were both born in Italy. He started working for the mob in 1953 when he 39. His father sent him to Cuba which at the time was under the power of Fulgencio Batista. While there he set up illegal casinos.

Santos Trafficante, Louis Santos, Enrique Chacon, Samuel Balto were various alibis Trafficante used to deal with his businesses both legal and illegal. Including the casinos in Cuba he was also involved in casinos and nightclubs in Tampa.

In 1959, when Fidel overthrew Batista in Cuba he shut down Trafficante’s casinos and even threw him in jail before deporting him to the United States. It was at this time it is believed that he started talks with the CIA in plots to kill Castro up until his death on March 19.

Trafficante has been charged with gambling operations, at least four Mafia slayings, illegally bribing union officials, racketeering and conspiracy, rumored to be involved in a Mafia plot to kill President John F. Kennedy, though he denied there was any such conspiracy. Over the years while he was charged with all these crimes he was either released or served little to no time.

Information comes from the Cuban Information Archives and


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.


Friday Finds January 29, 2010

I’m starting a new feature for this blog, Friday Finds, articles around the net and blogosphere that are about Florida History. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I did.

1. A History Lesson for Hudson– This blog post written by Chuck Hallenbeck isn’t really about Florida at all. For those interested he does give some background on Colonel William Jenkins Worth who brought the Second Seminole War to an end.

2.Orlando beyond Mickey Mouse–  Vivienne Mackie on her blog writes about the Orange County Regional History Center. It shows there is more to Orlando besides Disney World.

3.At the old-timey Bradley’s Country Store, the grits are fresh and Florida’s history keeps turning– This is an article in the St. Petersburg Times written by staff writer Jeff Klickenberg. It is about Frank Bradley who lives in Moccasin Gap and at 84 at the time the article was written last year, he still grinds his own grits and makes his own sausage. There is also a 2:23 minute video.

4. Miami to Havana Overnight Cruise in 1929– Read a copy of a cruise brochure that would take you on an overnight cruise from Miami to Havana in 1929. Before Castro took over and Cuban cigars weren’t illegal. Havana was considered the Paris of the West.

5. Healthy Climes and Killer Swamps– Read original letters and pamphlets from settlers starting from when Florida was a territory through the Civil War and into the 1880’s. Click on the letter to read it word for word. Re-typed below the original document for easier reading.  It’s 3 pages.

6. Tracking the paths: A look at all of the major hurricanes (category 3 and higher) that have passed through Florida since 1851– From the South Florida Sun-Sentinel a history of Hurricanes containing 9 links including hurricane photos and the top 30 deadliest hurricanes and top 30 costliest hurricanes.