Beyond Tourism: Florida's Yesteryear

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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.

 

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.

 

Protecting Florida’s Coasts during times of War March 2, 2010

Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse was dismantled instead of destroyed because it was be too expensive to fix if destroyed

Florida is a peninsula that lies between the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. According to State of Florida.com it has 1,800 miles of coastline and of that 1,200 miles are sand beaches.  That’s a lot of shoreline to protect. How does Florida protect all it’s shoreline. While perusing Florida Memory I came across two original documents that the organization posted for public reading. The first one is from the Civil War and the second document is from World War II. Both documents speak about how attempts of Florida’s coastline was protected during these wars from the enemy.

Florida was the third state to secede from the Union on January 10, 1861.  While it was controlled by Yankees it’s civilian population was full of secessionists and southern sympathizers.

Report on the Dismantling of Florida Lighthouses Upon the Outbreak of the Civil War, 1861 is a four page letter signed by James Paine, A. Oswald Lang, and Francis A. Ivey who were southern sympathizers. It was written to the governor of Florida Madison Starke Perry. They tell him how they walked “a journey of about 140 miles. 90 of it on foot, being exposed to a burning Sun and drenching rains, and with a very scant allowance of food– ”

They did this because they felt it was their duty to the south to try and stop the north as much as they could and to do that they dismantled the Jupiter Inlet lighthouse and destroyed the Cape Florida lighthouse.  According to the letter A. Oswald Lang was the Assistant lighthouse keeper of the Jupiter Inlet light house and resigned when he found that the Keeper was a Yankee posing as a secessionist.

There are much more interesting bits to this short four page letter. While the handwriting is very clear there is no need to worry about being able to read the original document as a typed text is included along with it.

Blackout orders for Palm Beach, Florida

This is a short one page document issued by the governor of Florida, Spessard L. Holland, who was governor in 1942 and the commanding officer of Key West. They are blackout orders for Palm Beach so that the lights from the town, beach, and amusement parks do cause Allied merchant ships to become targets of German U-boats. It goes into detail that all lights within two miles of the beach were either to be turned off or screened so as not to be seen from off shore.

An interesting note about both of these documents is that it doesn’t mention the west coast of Florida at all. In fact in the Blackout orders for Palm Beach, Florida it says,

It is requested that you immediately take steps to have extin- guished all street lights on water front streets and highways at once, and those actually on the ocean front, not those on the west side.

I’m not sure if this is talking about the west coast or just the west side of Palm Beach. No matter with the east coast facing the Atlantic it is much more vulnerable to attack and hurricanes than the west coast which faces the Gulf of Mexico and is much more sheltered.

Perhaps this is why there is a difference in cultures between the east coast and the west coast. Do you readers who have visited Florida or live in Florida think that the culture differences between the east coast and west coast is partly due to the west coast being more sheltered against storms and naval attack than the east coast?