Seminole War in Florida. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
The life of a soldier who fought in Florida during the Second Seminole War is chronicled in the new book “The Army is My Calling: The Life and Writings of Major John Rogers Vinton, 1801-1847,” by John and Mary Lou Missall. The married co-authors are best known for their first book, “The Seminole Wars: America’s Longest Indian Conflict.” “I got interested in it while I was working on my master’s degree through California State University,” said Mary Lou Missall. “I wanted to do my thesis on some aspect of Florida history.” Realizing that there was a lack of scholarship on the Seminole Indian Wars, Mary Lou focused her research on that series of conflicts. After graduating, she and her husband collaborated on their comprehensive first book.
Mary Edwards Bryan was one of the earliest of a type that we have come to know in Florida and the South: a woman determined to transcend the circumstances of her youth and the age in which she lived, who was only partially successful, and whose accomplishments are only now being reconsidered. She is remembered, if at all in 21st century America, as a 19th-century journalist and author. The theme of her life, which only partially seeped into her fiction, was the difficulty in challenging the status quo. According to co-author Larry Eugene Rivers, “Mary E. Bryan wrote during a time when women had to fight figuratively to have their voices heard. And this study illuminates the life of a southern personality who little is known about in the historiography of American or women’s history.”
For the last quarter century, Michael Ross, a landscape ecologist at Florida International University, has been visiting the same stand of mangroves on southern Biscayne Bay, year after year, taking students to record the recovery of a forest wiped out by Hurricane Andrew. Today, the destruction of a quarter century ago is invisible to passing boaters and nobody else in their right mind — aside from Ross and his students — would willingly endure the agony of hiking here on foot. It means muscling through the head-high thickets of mangroves, sinking into knee-deep muck and slapping at clouds of salt marsh mosquitoes.
The names of 34 U.S. Army soldiers who died over 175 years ago while serving at Fort King, a military installation in northeast Ocala, echoed Saturday across the site where they were originally buried about a block west of the fort. The reading of the names of the soldiers was part of a remembrance and dedication ceremony held by the Ocala Chapter of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution at the burial site, which is less than a block west of the original location of Fort King. The site now includes a National Landmark monument, Visitors Center and replica of the fort under construction.
Restoration of the Howey Mansion is moving along, but not without many surprises along the way as crews continue to install air conditioning, replace roof sections, repair water damage and clean up overgrown landscaping. Some of those surprises have touched a nerve or two with the new owners, but some have come as a total delight. “Every time we do one little project, we find two more,” said Brad Cowherd, the principal of the Florida Oranges Land Company, an Orlando-based, third generation investment company that bought the mansion recently. “The original estimate we had come up with for the restoration of the home was half a million dollars, but at this point, I don’t dare think about it.”
Since the late 1800s, Florida’s Palm Beaches have been a grand escape for travelers. With 125 miles of waterways, an abundance of chic restaurants and palatial hotels, it’s a slice of seaside bliss. So much so, 7.35 million people flocked there in 2016. A handful of those travelers, however, are vacationing in the tropical paradise for another reason entirely. And it lies just below the surface. First, choose any good-weather day from late August through September. Then, take a boat trip off the coast of Jupiter and scuba dive your way to a series of wrecks. Here, you’ll come face to face with loads of goliath grouper. These behemoths of the sea can grow up to 8 feet long, roughly the length of a Smart car, and can weigh a whopping 800 pounds.
Texans are dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. Powerful hurricanes have impacted Floridians on multiple occasions. The hurricane of 1928 was particularly devastating to residents of south Florida. “When you talk about Florida, you have to talk about hurricanes,” said Eliot Kleinberg, author of the book “Black Cloud: The Deadly Hurricane of 1928.” Kleinberg first heard about the hurricane of 1928 while working as a reporter for the Palm Beach Post. “In 1988, for the 60th anniversary of the storm, I was sent out to Belle Glade to cover a commemorative event. The more I talked to these people, I said, how is it possible that this profound hurricane happened and most of the world doesn’t know anything about it?” The 1928 hurricane played a pivotal role in Zora Neale Hurston’s 1937 novel “Their Eyes Were Watching God.” The storm leads to tragedy for the novel’s protagonist, Janie Crawford, while she and her lover Tea Cake are living as migrant workers in the Everglades.
The armadillo — that armored mammal infamous for destroying lawns and getting hit by cars — might seem a strange choice for a podcast about wildlife in Florida, a state where more exotic and dangerous critters abound. In fact, if “animals you see in Florida” were to come up on Family Feud, I doubt the nine-banded armadillo would even make the board.
The Apalachicola Times has been continuously in operation for 98 years. Leave off the continuously, juggle its name and the paper is 103 years old. Few journals boast such a record of continuity. The Times is also an important part of Franklin County’s rich journalistic heritage. In what would become the United States, journalism did not get off to a roaring start. Settlement began early: the Spanish established St. Augustine in 1565 and the British founded Jamestown, VA in 1607. Yet it was not until Sept. 25, 1609, that Benjamin Harris’s Publick Occurrences Both Foreign and Domestick made its appearance on the streets of Boston. As things turned out the first issue was also the last issue because the governor and council of Massachusetts immediately suppressed the paper. Colonial America did not have a newspaper that was continuously published until John Campbell began his Boston Newsletter on April 24, 1704. After that, newspapers proliferated becoming even more numerous once the colonies achieved independence. Florida had only one newspaper before the United States acquired it from Spain in 1821: the St. Augustine East Florida Gazette published in 1783-1784 by Charles Wells. The pro-British refugee had fled to East Florida for sanctuary. Once Florida became a territory of the United States, another paper was founded and it also incorporated the title “Gazette.” Richard W. Edes began publication of his Florida Gazette on Oct. 15, 1821.