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Tag: Keys History

SPOILER: FIRING A CANNON AT A WATERSPOUT DOESN’T STOP IT

Darien, Georgia, is the second oldest planned city in Georgia. Located on the Atlantic coast, Darien is situated at the mouth of the Altamaha River. It is approximately halfway between Savannah, Georgia, and Jacksonville, Florida. Walter Cathcart Maloney was born in Darien on Feb. 7, 1813. Walter was the younger of two sons who grew up on the family’s Georgia plantation. A Catholic priest educated the boys. After the death of their parents, the two boys were left to run the plantation; only that was not the life Walter wanted to live. When his older brother asked him to stay in Georgia and...

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HOW A KEY VACA CONSTRUCTION PROJECT LED TO THE TROPICAL HOTEL

The American period begins with the Adams-Onis Treaty that transferred the Florida Territory from Spanish ownership in 1821. Indian Key is a small 11-acre island in the Upper Keys surrounded by the Atlantic shallows about one mile offshore of Lower Matecumbe Key. Key Vaca is the island at the heart of Marathon, and Port Monroe was one of its earliest communities. During the American period, the history of Indian Key starts at the small Key Vaca outpost of Port Monroe. Joshua Appleby and Captain John Fiveash established Port Monroe circa 1822. A handful of families lived at the outpost, including...

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KEYS HISTORY: SURVIVORS OF ATTACK AT INDIAN KEY DETAIL HORRIFYING CARNAGE

Indian Key was once the most important island in the Florida Keys not named Key West. The 11-acre island is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean and located about a mile offshore of the Matecumbe keys. Today, the island is home to Indian Key Historic State Park. On Aug. 7, 1840, the island was the site of the southernmost Indian attack of the Seminole War. Populated by fewer than 50 people on the day of the attack, six people were killed during what is generally referred to as the Indian Key Massacre. At about 2 a.m., Indian Key resident James Glass was walking outside his small cottage on Water...

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KEYS PIRATES: THE LEGENDARY STORY OF BLACK CAESAR CONTINUED

Nearly 100 years after the African chieftain who became the original Black Caesar was hanged for piracy, allegedly, he returned. Well, he returned in name. This second Black Caesar is generally identified as either Henri Caesar or Henri Arnaut. Henri was a slave owned by the Arnaut family who lived in Haiti. Stories suggest Henri was born circa 1765. He grew up to be a strong plantation worker, a natural leader who rose to power during the Haitian slave revolt (1791-1803ish). According to his legendary story, it was circa 1805 when he stole a Spanish ship, sailed away, and embarked on a piratical...

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KEYS PIRATES: BLACK CAESAR, BLACKBEARD, AND THE CREATION OF A LEGEND

Black Caesar is a famous Florida Keys pirate, right? When this version of his story is told — consider it Black Caesar 1.0  — he is presented as a contemporary of Calico Jack Rackham and Blackbeard himself, the dreaded pirate Edward Teach. One of the tantalizing details of the Black Caesar legend is its connection to the Blackbeard story. If it is to be believed, he ruled the Florida Reef from a lair at Elliott Key, one of nearly 50 islands found north of Key Largo, the largest island in the chain.  Black Caesar is alleged to be a larger-than-life African chieftain, tall and powerfully...

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HISTORICAL DIG: RESEARCH ARCHEOLOGISTS DIG INTO 1800S LIFE IN KEY WEST

Digging a 2-foot hole in one’s backyard usually wouldn’t warrant a team of student archaeologists from the University of Miami. But then, most backyards don’t date back to 1829 — and they don’t conceal centuries-old dishes, tools, cooking instruments and other common household items that provide a glimpse into Key West’s past and the lives of those who called it home. Key West’s Oldest House, 322 Duval St., built in 1829, is now a museum and headquarters of the Old Island Restoration Foundation, which operates the house for the state of Florida, which owns the historical resource. University...

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A TIMELINE: HOSPITAL AT COMMUNITY’S CENTER SINCE ‘60S

2021 : The grand opening of Fishermen’s Community Hospital is set for June 7. 2020 : In June, the last beam is lifted into place and major construction is complete. 2019 : In August, Baptist Health puts out a call for information about the huge, decorative anchor located at the entrance to the former facility and restoration begins. 2019 : By March, the old hospital was completely demolished. 2018 : On July 19, Monroe County and the City of Marathon create a special hospital taxing district that is renewed annually with the intention of raising $15 million over 10 years. A separate philanthropic...

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Keys’ roads started out in patchwork fashion

Sept. 1, 1854, was a Friday. It was also the day George Whiting Allen was born. The Allen family would move from Jacksonville, Florida, where George was born, to Key West. George was sent to the family’s Ithaca, New York, home to attend school. A young man of 14, he returned to Key West in 1868, where he would grow up to leave a substantial footprint on the historical record. Among his accomplishments, Allen served as a Florida state senator from 1878-1884. Leaving politics, he turned to banking and, in 1891, organized and became the first president of the First National Bank of Key West. William...

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WHO NAMED THE KEYS? ORIGINS AS QUIRKY AS THE INHABITANTS

There are 1,000 origin stories behind the names given to the Florida keys, and countless people have contributed to them. One of those was Charles Brookfield. He was born in 1903 in Philadelphia. At 21, he ventured to Miami and immersed himself in the history of South Florida and the Keys. In 1926, Brookfield built a boat designed to navigate the local reefs, shoals and seagrass shallows. He named the 26-foot vessel with a draw of 26 inches Manatee. The following year, in 1927, the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey hired Brookfield (and his boat) to assist on a survey that would update the government’s...

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NAME GAME: HOW DID THESE ISLANDS GET THEIR NAMES?

Missouri and Ohio keys are situated in the Lower Keys and, at least in terms of the Overseas Highway, are linked one after the other. Missouri Key is in the area of MM 39 and sandwiched between Ohio Key and Little Duck Key. Railroad workers reportedly named both during the construction of the first conduit to connect Key West to the Florida mainland, Henry Flagler’s Over-Sea Railroad. Workers hailing from those particular states likely chose the names.  The islands have known other names. Missouri Key has been called Little Grassy Key and Grassy Island. Ohio Key is sometimes called Sunshine...

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