Cathy Salustri, the author of “Backroads of Paradise: A Journey to Rediscover Old Florida,” delights in letting people know that to really discover Florida, you have to turn off the congested Interstates and explore the state’s towns and cities. “Legally, we’re one state, but we’re really a bunch of different states,” she said. “I want people to see that there’s actually a lot of Florida beyond the theme parks.”
Two years into the Revolutionary War, as the Americans hunted for any advantage in their war for independence, they cultivated a daring young Spaniard as an ally: the governor of Louisiana, Bernardo de Galvez. In April 1777, George Morgan, the commander at Pittsburgh’s Fort Pitt, sent a flotilla down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers to New Orleans carrying a letter to Galvez, offering to trade with Spain and asking for aid in case the Americans decided to attack the British in Florida. The American ships sailed back up the Mississippi River that August filled with ammunition, arms, and provisions. “I will extend…whatever assistance I can,” Galvez responded, “but it must appear that I am ignorant of it all.”
Been to the Lake County Historical Museum lately? If not, you’re in for a treat, according to curator and exhibit designer Bob Grenier, who has penned and published seven books about Lake and Central Florida history. “I am bombarding the museum with new and exciting exhibits focusing on Lake County so citizens can get a personal view of the many facets of its history,” said Grenier, who is also a member of the Tavares City Council and was re-elected Nov. 8. “There is quite a potpourri of artifacts we have added and the museum is changing so quickly that if you haven’t been there recently, you haven’t been to the museum.”
A traditional Seminole Maroon Spiritual Remembrance on Jan. 15, and two days of commemorative events on Jan. 27 and 28, will mark the 179th anniversary of the two pivotal 1838 Battles of the Loxahatchee River in northern Palm Beach County. Admission will be free and open to the public for the events at Loxahatchee Battlefield Park, 9060 W. Indiantown Road, one mile west of Interstate 95 and Florida’s Turnpike in Jupiter. The battles pitted 500 to 700 Native and African-American Seminole warriors, defending their freedom, lands and families, against approximately 1,700 ill- equipped but better armed U.S. soldiers and sailors and Tennessee Volunteers. The events proved to be the turning point in the decades-long Florida Wars. Though undefeated, many of the survivors were captured after being lured to Fort Jupiter under a white flag of truce. They then were deported on the Trail of Tears to Oklahoma Territory or, in some cases, sold to “slave catchers.”
For many students, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is a textbook story. His poignant message of tolerance, his recants of social upheaval and his leadership role in the national war against racism is neatly, if not briefly, logged in social study lessons. But in St. Augustine, King’s influence isn’t dulled by the repetition of ink. The city’s streets are lined with his presence. Plaques, statues, museums. The Lincolnville neighborhood’s houses, churches and community resonate civil rights history.
Try to imagine a world without Walt Disney. A world without his magic, whimsy, and optimism. Walt Disney transformed the entertainment industry, into what we know today. He pioneered the fields of animation, and found new ways to teach, and educate. Walt’s optimism came from his unique ability to see the entire picture. His views and visions, came from the fond memory of yesteryear, and persistence for the future. Walt loved history. As a result of this, he didn’t give technology to us piece by piece, he connected it to his ongoing mission of making life more enjoyable, and fun. Walt was our bridge from the past to the future.
Some documents in the St. Augustine Historical Society’s collection are rarely brought out for inspection. When certain documents are handled, a piece might flake away. And with each piece, a little bit of history falls to the ground. The historical society is raising awareness of items in its trove, and is also trying to raise funds to do more to preserve items than just keeping them in the dark. “Our goal here is really to engage our community and cultivate community awareness of the wealth of history,” said Magen Wilson, executive director of the historical society. Charles Tingley and Bob Nawrocki, both librarians for the historical society’s research library, recently highlighted some of the collection. One is an 1821 map of St. Augustine, said Nawrocki, who wore white gloves to protect the documents. The other is a 1777 map of the city and shows the expansion of St. Augustine for loyalists who arrived during the Revolutionary War.
Featured Image: Deep Creek, Florida. Courtesy of Library of Congress.