Beyond Tourism: Florida's Yesteryear

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A Florida Enchantment – The first homosexual movie July 1, 2011

First it was a novel written in 1891 by Fergus Redmond and Archibald Clavering Gunter.

Five years later in 1896 it was turned into a play where, “For the first time on an American stage, two women kiss in a scene in A Florida Enchantment. At the intermission, ushers were sent up and down the aisles to offer ice water to people who felt faint.” (Timeline of Homosexual History)

In 1913 director, Sidney Drew, turns the novel into a silent movie with the same title. It was filmed in St. Augustine and starred Sidney Drew, Edith Storey, and Charles Kent.

The synopsis of the movie: A young woman discovers a seed that can make women act like men and men act like women. She decides to take one, then slips one to her maid and another to her fiancé. The fun begins.  Below is a 3 minute summary of the movie.

This movie is considered the first homosexual movie by the documentary The Celluloid Closet. Black face is used in this film.


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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.

 

Friday Finds: Videos April 30, 2010

A fun way to learn more about our state is read websites and books written for tourists. VisitFlorida.com has lots of videos created by Florida natives about Florida. Here are six videos of the hundreds available for viewing.

1. Dade Battlefield Reenactment – Lucy Beebe Tobias Dade Battlefield Historic State Park near Tampa, brings history to life with a reenactment of a battle that occurred between the Seminoles and the American soldiers during 1835. This even occurs every January. Join Lucy Beebe Tobias, our former VISIT FLORIDA Authentic Expert, as we witness a reenactment in action in this video.

2. Castillo De San Marcos – Lucy Beebe Tobias A bastion of the largest empire ever created, the Castillo was built to protect and defend Spain’s claims in the New World. Though caught in the whirlwinds of colonial warfare and intrigue, it was never defeated in battle. Its scarred walls still stand witness to over 330 years of history and culture. In this video, our Authentic Florida experts takes us through this historical site.

3. Miami Architecture – Jen Karetnick from Miami Modern, to Art Deco, to Renaissance Revival, Miami’s architectural styles define the area as much as the beaches do. In this video, take an architecture tour of South Beach with VISIT FLORIDA’s Arts & Culture expert, Jen Karetnick.

4. The Salvador Dali Museum – Jen Karetnick the Salvador Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg houses the largest collection of the surrealist’s work in the United States. In this video, Florida Arts & Culture expert Jen Karetnik takes you on a tour of these grand masterpieces.

5. The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art – Jen Karetnick in this video, join our Art & Culture Expert as she take you through the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art. From the arts to the circus it has something for everyone.

6. Kingsley Plantation – Lucy Beebe Tobias the Kingsley Plantation, administered by the National Park Service, is located on Fort George Island and includes the plantation house, a kitchen house, a barn, and the ruins of 25 of the original slave cabins. The history of the island spans more than 1000 years beginning with the Timucuan Indians. Our Authentic Florida expert takes us on a video tour of this historic site.

 

Friday Finds March 5, 2010

1. Florida History Online– Is an online reference for professional and amateur historians and history teachers. It covers New World in a State of Nature: British East Florida, Florida and the Civil War, Virtual St. Augustine: Documents and Narratives of the Ancient City, and Guides for Teaching Florida History Online. I will add a permanent link in my Links to the Past section for future reference for those interested.

2. St. Augustine, Florida History– From the website:  Browse a timeline, written history and enjoy a virtual tour of many of St. Augustine’s historical sites and landmarks. Browse augustine.com’s private virtual book collection and interactive maps.

3. South Florida Ecosystem History Project– The USGS South Florida Ecosystem History Project, part of the USGS South Florida Ecosytem Program, is designed to integrate studies from a number of researchers compiling data from terrestrial, marine, and freshwater ecosystems within south Florida. They are studying the Biscayne Bay and Southeast coast, Florida Bay and the Southwest coast, and Terrestrial & Freshwater Ecosystems or Southern Florida. It has an interactive kids’ section and online posters that were presented at recent scientific meetings.

4. Naples Florida History and Culture– Read about the history of the town of Naples Florida including its downtown area, Crayton Cove, and Marco Island.

5. The Complete History of Florida Gators Football– This interactive graphic shows the history of the Florida Gators Football team from 1906-2008.

6. History of North Brevard-Titusville– Read about the city of Titusville located in North Brevard county. The table of contents include: various chapters about the Spanish settlers, the Second Seminole War, important settlers, incorporation of the town and the space industry.

 

John Horse: Florida Maroon of the Second Seminole War March 4, 2010

John Horse, leader during the Second Seminole War

John Horse also known as Juan Cavallo, Gopher John, and John Cabayo. His mother was a black slave woman and his father/owner was part Hispanic and part Indian. He was twenty-five years old when the Second Seminole began in 1837 and was a completely free man having neither a white master or a Seminole master. By age fourteen he had escaped to a maroon village and freed himself from his father/owner and joined a Seminole village. When the Second Seminole War began he decided to fight and he fought against the white man. During his skirmishes with the whites, the Seminoles haild him as a war-chief. On December 28, 1835 John Horse and his followers ambushed Major Francis Langhorn Dade’s 105 man command. It was a massacre with no survivors. This is said to have caused the Second Seminole War. This occurred two years after the rejection of the Treaty of Fort Gibson and is perhaps in retaliation for the forced acceptance of the Treaty of Fort Gibson.

He is said to have been a good war chief and cared for the warriors that were under his command. He was fluent in English and the Seminole language, and the dialect spoken among the slaves on the majority of the plantations. He was also knowledgeable about medicine and it was thought that he learned it from his mother who was from West Africa. All of these features made him a good leader that the maroon blacks wanted to follow.

During the time of the failed peace conference at Fort Izard with John Caesar and the other failed attempt at peace between Abraham and General Jesup John Horse did not settle for peace but continued fighting on. He was eventually captured along with his ally Wild Cat, or Coacoochee, during one of these peace offerings that was staged by the white man in order to capture Seminoles and Maroons. They were thrown into prison at Fort Marion in St. Augustine. They escaped prison in November 1837. They, with their followers, made their way south to Lake Okeechobee where they fought but lost against General Zachary Taylor. It was fought on Christmas day in 1837 and is thought to be the bloodiest contest within all the Seminole Wars.

After losing the Battle at Lake Okeechobee, John Horse, along with Coacoochee, retreated to the Everglades, but white U.S. forces did not give up. They were constantly on the run  and faced disease and starvation. Finally in 1838 only out of fear for the well being of his wife and children did John Horse surrender. He was sent to Indian Territory.

*information about John Horse is from Philip Thomas Tucker and  found in The Journal of Negro History Vol. 77 No. 2 Spring 1992.