Group f/64 and the West Coast Photographic Movement

Although the photographs on Florida Memory are often discussed for their historic value, all exhibit some level of artistic direction and formal design elements.

A group of San Francisco-based photographers known as Group f/64 were renowned for their extreme focus and depth of field. Beginning in the late 1920s, Group f/64 formed as a sub-group of the West Coast Photographic Movement, a straight photography movement that worked against the prevailing pictorialist movement which attempted to mimic gestures of Romantic and Impressionist painting. The group included Ansel Adams, Imogen Cunningham, John Paul Edwards, Sonya Noskowiak, Henry Swift, Willard Van Dyke, and Edward Weston.

Marjorie De Hartog, Close-up view of water hyacinth in the Everglades, c.1950s. Compare with photographs of the desert flora by Imogen Cunningham.

Group f/64’s name was derived from the extremely small aperture used in their large-format photography in photographing landscapes and close-up objects. The result is a severe, almost unnatural depth and crispness unattainable by the human eye or previous photography.

Scenic view of Lake Eola Park

Scenic view of Lake Eola Park – Orlando, Florida, n.d. Compare with Ansel Adams’ sober, high-contrast landscapes.

Their impact on photography became widespread by the 1930s and can be seen in many of the photographs in the Florida Photographic Collection. While the landscapes and objects have changed, the principles remain unchanged.

W.F. Jacobs, Detail of bark of black birch O'Leno State Park, Columbia County, Florida. 1940.

W.F. Jacobs, Detail of bark of black birch O’Leno State Park, Columbia County, Florida. 1940. Compare with the almost unrecognizable, uncomfortably close-up Edward Weston photographs.

While the images shown here were not necessarily inspired directly by this group, they are suggestive of the f/64 aesthetic. These formalist, aesthetic, and stylistic approaches foster new and different ways to engage with the images.

Close-up view of Jupiter Inlet Light Station - Palm Beach County, Florida

Close-up view of Jupiter Inlet Light Station – Palm Beach County, Florida Compare with the crisp architectural photographs of Willard van Dyck or John Paul Edwards.

 

Detail of whole-shell tabby concrete at the Kingsley Plantation State Historical Site - Fort George Island, Florida, 1981.

Detail of whole-shell tabby concrete at the Kingsley Plantation State Historical Site – Fort George Island, Florida, 1981. Compare with the disorienting and sometimes misleading details of Sonya Noskowiak.

Visit the Florida Photographic Collection and search for photos from your area.

Seine Fishing in Florida

Commercial fishing has long been a prominent maritime industry in Florida. The “beach seining” method for commercial fishing has declined in recent years owing to evolving net regulations, but for generations it was an honored tradition in fishing communities across the state. To catch fish using this method, a team of fishermen would let out a special seine net in a semicircle around a small section of coastline. Seine nets were fitted with weights and floats to create a wall of netting that reached from the surface of the water to the bottom, so as to capture as many fish as possible as the net was dragged along. Once in place, vehicles or in some cases teams of people would pull on the nets to bring them back toward shore, along with any fish caught inside. Depending on the size of the net and the number of times the fishermen set and dragged it, a day’s catch could yield hundreds of pounds of fish.

 

Seine netting drying on a rack to prevent damage (circa 1875).

Seine netting drying on a rack to prevent damage (circa 1875).

The fishing boat depicted here is releasing a seine net into shallow water near Shell Point in Wakulla County, Florida in preparation for a catch.  Notice the semicircular shape that allowed the fishermen to drag the nets in using human or mechanical power (1949).

The fishing boat depicted here is releasing a seine net into shallow water near Shell Point in Wakulla County, Florida in preparation for a catch. Notice the semicircular shape that allowed the fishermen to drag the nets in using human or mechanical power (1949).

In this photograph taken by renowned commercial photographer Joseph Janney Steinmetz, local fishermen in Naples haul in a seine net containing several species of fish (circa 1940).

Local fishermen in Naples haul in a seine net containing several species of fish (circa 1940).

Fishermen hauling in seine nets with a catch (circa 1960s).

Fishermen hauling in seine nets with a catch (circa 1960s).

Seine fishing at St. Teresa, Florida (circa 1900).

Seine fishing at St. Teresa, Florida (circa 1900).

Fishermen at Shell Point in Wakulla County, Florida prepare to haul in a seine net (1965).

Fishermen at Shell Point in Wakulla County, Florida prepare to haul in a seine net (1965).

More photos depicting seine fishing in Florida may be found in the Florida Photographic Collection. Teachers, you may also be interested in Florida Memory’s learning unit entitled Netmaking and Net Fishing in Florida. It includes photographs, audio, and transcripts taken from folklorist Peggy Bulger’s interview with net maker Billy Burbanks, III in 1980.

The Museum of Florida History is holding an exhibit through August 26, 2014 entitled “The Lure of Florida Fishing,” which explores the history of sport fishing in Florida from the 19th century to the present. For more information on this exhibit, check out the museum’s exhibit page.

Release the Birds for One Thousand Twitter Followers!

Thanks for helping us reach 1,000 followers on Twitter! In honor of the Twitter bird, we’re releasing our own birds.

Black skimmers in flight at Cedar Key, Florida.

Black skimmers in flight at Cedar Key, Florida (2007)

 

Flamingo at the Flamingo Gardens aviary in Davie, Florida

Flamingo at the Flamingo Gardens aviary in Davie, Florida

 

 

Avocets at Cedar Key, Florida.

Avocets at Cedar Key, Florida

 

Marbled Godwits in flight at Cedar Key, Florida.

Marbled Godwits in flight at Cedar Key, Florida (2010)

 

Oystercatchers in Cedar Key, Florida.

Oystercatchers in Cedar Key, Florida

 

Pelicans await hand out from Capt. John Battilo and his mate Jeff.

Pelicans await hand out from Capt. John Battilo and his mate Jeff (1987)

 

Animated Map Series: Ft. Lauderdale

Florida Maps: Then & Now is an animated map series from the State Library and Archives of Florida. The project uses Google Earth to create animated videos with historic and modern maps, photographs, and primary source documents from our collections.

This episode features historic maps of Ft. Lauderdale.

 

Transcript

Welcome to Florida Maps: Then & Now, an animated map series from the State Archives of Florida. This episode highlights historic maps of Fort Lauderdale.

Lounging green Iguanas, discarded pets imported from another land, bake in the sun, contrasting against the white limestone rocks along the New River in modern downtown Fort Lauderdale. This map, from the confirmed Spanish Land Grant of Lewis Frankee, shows the area at a much earlier time, when the winding river was frequented only intermittently by Seminole Indians and shipwreck victims.

William Cooley was one of the first American settlers to arrive in the area after Florida became a territory of the United States in 1821. He served as the local Justice of the Peace, established a farm, and operated a trading post along the river that came to be known as Cooley Hammock. Several members of Cooley’s family were victims of the violence that marked the outbreak of the Second Seminole War. On January 4, 1836, Seminole and black warriors attacked the Cooley family, killing his wife and children. The attack reportedly came as a result of Cooley’s inability to bring to justice white settlers that murdered a prominent Seminole leader.

Later in the war, the United States Army built a fort on the site and named it Fort Lauderdale. Seminole families took up residence near Cooley Hammock following the end of the Seminole Wars. Among the first white settlers to arrive in the area after the Seminole Wars was Frank Stranahan. He established a trading post on the New River and traded with the Seminoles. Seminole families visited Stranahan’s store to trade animal hides for goods they could not produce themselves, such as firearms, ammunition, cloth, and metal pots.

The arrival of Henry Flagler’s railroad in the late 1890s set the course for the rapid development of the area in the early 20th century. In the 1920s, work began on nearby Port Everglades. Engineers dug an entrance channel that opened the New River to large, oceangoing vessels. Today, the port welcomes cruise ships and commercial freighters from around the world. Several historic structures remain intact today in downtown Fort Lauderdale, including the New River Inn, built by Philemon Bryan and Edward T. King in 1905, and the Stranahan House, built in 1901 to replace the original trading post.

For more information and other animated maps: Florida Maps: Then & Now

 

Blue Crabbing… in the Ocala National Forest?

Nestled in between lakes Kerr and George in Marion County near Ocala is a somewhat unusual attraction called Salt Springs. The name says it all: in this picturesque pool of roughly 190 by 130 feet, four vents in the limestone floor emit spring crystal clear water with a slight salinity owing to the presence of sodium, magnesium, and potassium salts in the underground passages below.

View of salt Springs in Marion County, Florida (1941)

View of salt Springs in Marion County, Florida (1941)

The saltiness of the water has not deterred many visitors, as Salt Springs has long been one of the foremost attractions of the Ocala National Forest. The water discharged from the springs travels about four miles down a broad run into the northwest corner of Lake George, providing excellent opportunities for boating and fishing, which locals and visitors alike have long enjoyed.

Boys in a small boat near the vents at Salt Springs (1941).

Boys in a small boat near the vents at Salt Springs (1941).

Youth canoeing near Salt Springs (circa 1970).

Youth canoeing near Salt Springs (circa 1970).

Unlike most Florida springs, however, Salt Springs is home to another fun activity – crabbing. The salinity of the water allows blue crab to live in this aquatic habitat, despite it being over an hour’s drive from either coast. As a consequence, many people have enjoyed visiting the springs as much for gathering this favorite Florida delicacy as for the swimming. Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, famed Florida author and winner of the Pulitzer Prize for The Yearling, was a frequent visitor to the springs to collect the main ingredient for Crab a la Newburg, one of her favorite recipes.

Women sitting above a crab storage bin at Salt springs (circa 1960s).

Women sitting above a crab storage bin at Salt springs (circa 1960s).

 

A couple showing off their blue crab catch at Salt Springs (circa 1960s).

A couple showing off their blue crab catch at Salt Springs (circa 1960s).

The connection between Rawlings and Salt Springs goes even farther, as several buildings near Salt Springs were used by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios during the filming of The Yearling.

Barn near Salt Springs used in the production of the film adaptation of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings' The Yearling (circa 1940).

Barn near Salt Springs used in the production of the film adaptation of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings’ The Yearling (circa 1940).

House and gasoline pump on property near Salt Springs used in the production of the film adaptation of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings' The Yearling (1940).

House and gasoline pump on property near Salt Springs used in the production of the film adaptation of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings’ The Yearling (1940).

 

Florida Memory has a wealth of resources relating to Florida’s renowned natural springs.  Type the name of your favorite Florida spring into the search box above to learn more.   We also have a number of photographs depicting the life and work of author Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings.

 

National Library Week (April 13-19, 2014)

Celebrate National Library Week by checking out a book at one of your local Florida libraries!  But first, get a look at some of these library photos from Florida Memory.

Randall Sineath with Webster's dictionary at Leonard Wesson School in Tallahassee.

Randall Sineath with Webster’s dictionary at Leonard Wesson School in Tallahassee (1961).

 

Miami Public Library

Miami Public Library (1950s).

 

Young woman binding book at Florida A & M College

Young woman binding book at Florida A & M College.

 

Gainesville Public Library in Alachua County, Florida.

Gainesville Public Library in Alachua County, Florida.

 

Florida State University School of Library and Information Science library

Florida State University School of Library and Information Science library (1986).

 

Public library : Jacksonville, Florida

Public library : Jacksonville, Florida

 

Public Library - De Land, Florida

Public Library – De Land, Florida (1950s).

 

Leon County Public Library - Tallahassee, Florida

Leon County Public Library – Tallahassee, Florida (1957).

 

First library building in Fort Myers.

First library building in Fort Myers (1955).

 

Minerva Monroe Library : New Smyrna Beach, Florida

Minerva Monroe Library : New Smyrna Beach, Florida (1940s).

Public library - Kissimmee, Florida

Public library – Kissimmee, Florida (1920s).

 

 

 

View of Florida's State Library's storage area - Tallahassee, Florida.

View of Florida’s State Library’s storage area – Tallahassee, Florida (1947).

Public library - Saint Petersburg, Florida

Public library – Saint Petersburg, Florida

 

Library - Lake Worth, Florida

Library – Lake Worth, Florida

 

Mikasuki boys reading at the Mission

Mikasuki boys reading at the Mission (1941).

 

 

The Trials and Tribulations of the Early Automobile in Florida

The automobile is a beautiful toy,
And a useful one, too, as everyone knows;
But you really can’t count it an unalloyed joy
For it’s only a pleasure, as far as it goes.

Florida Highways, December 1923

These travelers struggle to free their car from the mud along a wooded stretch of early Florida roadway (circa 1924).

These travelers struggle to free their car from the mud along a wooded stretch of early Florida roadway (circa 1924).

While automobile use was on the rise in the 1910s and 1920s, state and local governments across the United States struggled to build the roads necessary for safe and speedy motoring.  Florida, with its unique and varied geography, posed some particularly daunting challenges for motorists and road builders alike.  The Florida State Legislature created the State Road Department in 1915, along with a fund to aid highway construction.  Fifteen percent of the money collected for automobile registrations was set aside to help support the new projects, along with a new property tax.

Despite the efforts of both state and federal governments to provide a system of good roads, however, curious visitors to Florida frequently ran into trouble getting from place to place.  Their enthusiasm for exploring the Sunshine State knew no bounds, but it would be a few years before the state’s road system could catch up.  The following photos depict some of the trouble Florida’s early motorists encountered.

The Tamiami Trail, which now carries U.S. Highway 41 across the Florida Everglades, was once a muddy quagmire for much of its route.  The highway was completed in stages, and these men were the first to travel across the unfinished portion between Fort Myers and Everglades City.  The group included one commissary truck, seven Model T Fords, and a new Elcar.  Only the Model T Fords managed to complete the trip (1923).

The Tamiami Trail, which now carries U.S. Highway 41 across the Florida Everglades, was once a muddy quagmire for much of its route. The highway was completed in stages, and these men were the first to travel across the unfinished portion between Fort Myers and Everglades City. The group included one commissary truck, seven Model T Fords, and a new Elcar. Only the Model T Fords managed to complete the trip (1923).

Another photo of the first group to cross the unfinished portion of the Tamiami Trail between Fort Myers and Everglades City in 1923.

Another photo of the first group to cross the unfinished portion of the Tamiami Trail between Fort Myers and Everglades City in 1923.

Harriet Bedell, an Episcopal deaconess, set up a mission in Collier City, Florida to minister to the Seminole Indians.  Getting around in this region was hardly a cakewalk, as this photo suggests (circa 1930s-1940s).

Harriet Bedell, an Episcopal deaconess, set up a mission in Collier City, Florida to minister to the Seminole Indians. Getting around in this region was hardly a cakewalk, as this photo suggests (circa 1930s-1940s).

Mikasuki Indians help Deaconess Bedell free her car from the mud in South Florida (circa 1930s-1940s).

Mikasuki Indians help Deaconess Bedell free her car from the mud in South Florida (circa 1930s-1940s).

Interested in the history of the roads in your county?  The former State Road Department’s publication Florida Highways is an excellent place to start your research.  Visit the State Library of Florida to get a look.

You might also be interested in our collection of photographs from the Florida Department of Transportation.

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings was the first Floridian to receive the Pulitzer Prize for the Novel (later named the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction).  She won the award in 1939 for her book The Yearling.

Photograph of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings with typewriter

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings (1896-1953)

In 1928, Rawlings purchased an orange grove in Alachua County near Hawthorne, FL. Located between Lochloosa Lake and Orange Lake, the site was called Cross Creek. The surrounding area served as a setting, provided the characters, and influenced the stories of most of her novels and short stories. Themes of rural Florida, the Big Scrub area, and Florida Cracker culture are prevalent in her works.

Photograph of oaks with moss over water from Cross Creek, FL

Cross Creek, FL

The plots of her novels revolved around her observations in this area: farming, hunting, the interaction with the environment and its inhabitants, moonshining, and poverty. Rawling’s depictions were so direct from her experience, people she met were named in her novels and descriptions were recognized by the locals resulting in threats and at least one law suit for invasion of privacy.

MGM set for the film adaptation of The Yearling, 1940 with Gregory Peck & Jane Wyman

MGM set for the film adaptation of The Yearling, 1940 with Gregory Peck & Jane Wyman

Her works garnered several awards including an O. Henry Award in 1932 (for “Gal Young Un”)  and the Newberry Honor in 1956 (for The Secret River). Several of her works have been adapted for stage and screen. The story rights to The Yearling were purchased by MGM and an Academy Award winning film adaptation was released in 1946, increasing her fame.

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings home - Cross Creek, Florida

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings home in Cross Creek, FL

Rawlings’ Cross Creek home, where she once hosted Zora Neale Hurston, is now preserved as the Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historic State Park and has been designated a National Historic Landmark.

Richard Keith Call Collection Now Online at Florida Memory

Florida Memory is excited to announce that the papers of Florida’s third and fifth territorial governor Richard Keith Call are now online and accessible for viewing. The collection was made available for digitization with the assistance of the Florida Historical Society, which holds the original documents.

Call was twice the territorial governor of Florida (1836-1839, 1841-1844), as well as a general in the state militia, a state legislator, and a Congressional delegate for Florida prior to statehood. The documents in this collection illuminate several aspects of our state’s territorial and early statehood history, including territorial politics, the challenges of the Second Seminole War (1835-1842), and the emergence of Florida as a state. Moreover, the collection provides intriguing portraits of Call and his family, whose personalities and contributions make this a most useful addition to the State Library and Archives’ Florida Memory website for researchers and Florida history enthusiasts.

Governor Richard Keith Call, 1792-1862

Governor Richard Keith Call, 1792-1862

Although Call is most often remembered for his service as a military commander and governor, his Florida journey began much sooner, before the territory was a United States possession. Call accompanied General Andrew Jackson on his controversial invasion of Spanish Florida (1818) during the First Seminole War, and defended the general against the criticism that followed. Although the Spanish government protested Jackson’s intrusion, it was at that time in no position to force a showdown over the matter. Spain ceded Florida to the United States in 1819, and following ratification of the transaction in 1821 President James Monroe appointed Jackson to become the state’s provisional governor. At Jackson’s request, Call went to Pensacola to prepare for the general’s arrival. Call and Jackson both had hoped that President Monroe would appoint Call as the Secretary of West Florida, but Monroe chose instead to appoint George Walton, II of Georgia to that post, citing the fact that he had already granted Call the favor of a commission as captain in the Army at a time when the military was downsizing.

A miniature painting of Florida territorial governor Richard Keith Call (circa 1830-1840).

A miniature painting of Florida territorial governor Richard Keith Call (circa 1830-1840).

Despite this setback, Call served the young territory in a number of other ways. He represented Pensacola in the legislative sessions of 1822 and 1823, with broad support from his constituents. In 1823, Call was elected as Florida’s delegate to Congress. Although as a territorial representative he was unable to vote, Call worked diligently on behalf of Florida’s interests. He persuaded Congress to provide a quarter section of land for the territorial capital that would eventually be built at Tallahassee, and he argued for bills excluding foreign commercial fishermen from Florida waters and authorizing the layout of new public roads in the territory.

Letter to Brigadier General Richard Keith Call from a Special Committee of the Municipal Council of Pensacola, describing the committee's confidence in his abilities as he prepared to represent Pensacola in the territorial legislature (April 18, 1823).

Letter to Brigadier General Richard Keith Call from a Special Committee of the Municipal Council of Pensacola, describing the committee’s confidence in his abilities as he prepared to represent Pensacola in the territorial legislature (April 18, 1823).

Extract from Richard Keith Call's diary describing his entering St. Augustine for the first time (1823).

Extract from Richard Keith Call’s diary describing his entering St. Augustine for the first time (1823).

Letter to Richard Keith Call from Andrew Stewart, House of Representatives regarding the prospect of building roads and canals in Florida (February 19, 1825).

Letter to Richard Keith Call from Andrew Stewart, House of Representatives regarding the prospect of building roads and canals in Florida (February 19, 1825).

Following a period of indecision over whether to run again for Congressional delegate, Call left Washington and returned to Florida in 1825 as the receiver of public monies for the government land office in Tallahassee. He also pursued a lucrative law practice, and used the proceeds from both of his positions to buy up public lands in the fertile Middle Florida region, especially in Jefferson and Leon counties.

Letter to Richard Keith Call from John G. Gamble, a Jefferson County planter, regarding Call’s interest in a Florida canal (August 7, 1828).

Although Call was generally popular, he was known for having a terrible temper at times, and he was not entirely without enemies in Florida.  Call’s political opponents often made thinly veiled jabs at the cluster of officials close to him at the government land office, referring to them as “the land office circle” or “the Nucleus.” Perhaps Call’s most ardent enemy was Colonel Joseph M. White, who had replaced him as Florida’s Congressional delegate in 1825. Call and White had been on the outs for years, but the politics surrounding that election made matters much worse. The two politicians traded insults that ultimately drove them to the brink of a duel, which they avoided only through careful negotiations and the assistance of several intermediaries.

Letter to Richard Keith Call from Daniel E. Burch regarding a dispute between Call and Colonel Joseph M. White (April 19, 1826).

Letter to Richard Keith Call from Daniel E. Burch regarding a dispute between Call and Colonel Joseph M. White (April 19, 1826).

Letter to Richard Keith Call from Colonel Joseph M. White (April 12, 1833).

Letter to Richard Keith Call from Colonel Joseph M. White (April 12, 1833).

Andrew Jackson, who had been elected President of the United States in 1828 and again in 1832, appointed Call territorial governor of Florida in March 1836, elevating him to the highest political post of his career. Call’s first administration was dominated by the difficulties of the Second Seminole War that had begun in 1835. As an increasing number of settlers moved into Florida, they came into conflict with the resident Seminole Indians, who still occupied much of the territory. The federal government struggled to resolve the problem diplomatically, but ultimately tensions broke out into open conflict. The United States Army entered Florida and attempted to pacify and expel the natives, but they refused to go quietly.

This engraving from the Florida Photographic Collection depicts the Battle of Palaklaklaha during the Second Seminole War.  This battle, which took place in late April 1842 in a hammock near Lake Apopka, was the last major military effort of the war.

This image from the Florida Photographic Collection depicts the Battle of Palaklaklaha during the Second Seminole War. This battle, which took place in late April 1842 in a hammock near Lake Apopka, was the last major military effort of the war.

The conventionally trained Army and its commanders were ill-equipped to deal with the situation, and months passed with little progress to show for their efforts. Governor Call fumed over the delays in bringing the war to a close. He called the Army’s performance disgraceful, and complained that the Navy had done little to stop maritime trade between the Seminoles and foreign powers.  Firmly believing that he could do what the regular generals had thus far failed to do, Call wrote directly to President Jackson outlining a plan for victory. In June 1836, the governor got his chance. Secretary of War Lewis Cass informed him that he would have command of the militia and enlisted forces in Florida. It was, of course, an unusual situation for a sitting governor to take the field as commander in such a broad operation, but Call set himself to the task with enthusiasm, calling for supplies and reinforcements from other states as he prepared to march.

For all his confidence, Call’s performance as a commander was mixed, and following a series of questionable moves in central Florida, President Jackson and Benjamin F. Butler, Jackson’s acting Secretary of War, elected to relieve the governor of his command. Call was hurt by the episode, especially since he believed his friend Jackson had made his decision without having heard all the facts of the case. The two were never as close afterward.

Letter to Richard Keith Call from Acting Secretary of War Benjamin F. Butler, responding to Call's allegations that his removal from command in Florida was based on erroneous information (January 14, 1837).

Letter to Richard Keith Call from Acting Secretary of War Benjamin F. Butler, responding to Call’s allegations that his removal from command in Florida was based on erroneous information (January 14, 1837).

Call’s political fortunes also began to sour around this time.  Martin Van Buren succeeded Andrew Jackson to the presidency of the United States in 1837, which left Call without one of his most powerful allies in Washington. Furthermore, the governor made something of a nuisance of himself with continued critiques of the federal government’s efforts to end the Seminole War in Florida.  The changing political landscape of the times played a role as well, as the lines between parties became firmer and Call and Van Buren found themselves on opposites of the developing political spectrum. In 1839, the President appointed Robert Raymond Reid to succeed Call as territorial governor of Florida. Call felt snubbed, but he understood that party politics had been to blame.

Call campaigned on behalf of William Henry Harrison, who succeeded Van Buren to the presidency in 1841, and Harrison promptly restored Call to the territorial governorship of Florida. The problems of Call’s second term were mostly economic, as the territory’s banks had gotten themselves into serious debt through irresponsible speculation and poor management. Foreign bondholders were putting increasing pressure on the territorial government for some kind of solution. Call worked with the legislature to hammer out a way of resolving these debts without bankrupting the government or tarnishing the credit of the territory.  As the end of Call’s term approached, he began hearing rumors that President John Tyler would not reappoint him. These reports turned out to be true, and in August 1844 John Branch succeeded him as territorial governor.

Letter to Richard Keith Call from Colonel Charles Downing, reporting that he had seen President William Henry Harrison (

Letter to Richard Keith Call from Colonel Charles Downing, reporting that he had seen President William Henry Harrison (“Old Tip”), and Harrison had said he would appoint Call as territorial governor of Florida. “Old Tip” is a reference to Harrison’s nickname “Old Tippecanoe,” which he earned in 1811 after defeating a band of Shawnee Indians at the Battle of Tippecanoe in what was then the Indiana Territory. The letter is dated March 8, 1841.

Letter to Richard Keith Call from Benjamin A. Putnam, congratulating him on his reappointment as territorial governor of Florida.  He describes the reaction in St. Augustine, which included

Letter to Richard Keith Call from Benjamin A. Putnam, congratulating him on his reappointment as territorial governor of Florida. He describes the reaction in St. Augustine, which included “a glorious salute of about 50 rounds, continued at intervals through the night, with hearty cheers from a large party of good fellows whose spirits were made bouyant at the prostration of a corrupt dynasty.” Letter dated March 26, 1841.

Meanwhile, Florida’s territorial delegate David Levy and his political allies had convinced Congress to elevate Florida to statehood. On March 3, 1845, Florida became the 27th state in the Union, necessitating an election for a new state governor and legislature. Call had already determined not to run for the office of governor, but a group of petitioners urged him to stand for election, and he did.  The Democratic party, whose national leaders had been at odds with Call for some time, held the political high ground in Florida at the time, and Call was defeated in favor of William Dunn Moseley, who took office June 25, 1845.

Relieved of political office, Call turned his attention to his law practice and the cultivation of his land. By this time he had purchased a second plantation, Orchard Pond, located north of Tallahassee, where he began conducting agricultural experiments in order to find an alternative to hemp fiber that could be raised in Florida. One of his most promising leads came from a species of yucca called “bear grass,” which he promoted.

Letter from Richard Keith Call to Florida Governor William D. Moseley, describing the possibilities for cultivating

Letter from Richard Keith Call to Florida Governor William D. Moseley, describing the possibilities for cultivating “Florida Hemp” as a cash crop.

Call’s final major contribution to Florida politics occurred in connection with the secession crisis that preceded the outbreak of the U.S. Civil War. In the aftermath of Abraham Lincoln’s election in 1860, Democrats across the South began gathering in state conventions to discuss the possibility of leaving the Union rather than stay and face the chance that slavery might be undermined. Call, while a staunchly conservative slaveowner, considered secession a dangerous path for Florida to take. Although he was not selected to represent Leon County in Florida’s secession convention, he took to the press with an appeal calling for calm and cautious action rather than a hasty or rash response to the national situation. Call’s suggestion went unheeded, and the convention voted on January 10, 1861 for Florida to secede from the United States.  Ellen Call Long wrote in her book Florida Breezes that upon being told by some of the delegates what they had done, Governor Call raised his cane above his head and said, “And what have you done?  You have opened the gates of hell, from which shall flow the curses of the damned, which shall sink you to perdition.”

Letter to Richard Keith Call from John L. Crawford of Georgia in response to Call's pamphlet regarding the secession crisis (December 31, 1860).

Letter to Richard Keith Call from John L. Crawford of Georgia in response to Call’s pamphlet regarding the secession crisis (December 31, 1860).

Governor Call died September 14, 1862 at The Grove, his first plantation, located in Tallahassee. This house, later owned by Governor LeRoy Collins and his wife Mary Call Collins, a descendant of Governor Call, is now owned by the State of Florida and operated by the Division of Historical Resources in the Florida Department of State. Once opened to the public in fall 2014, The Grove will feature educational exhibits on all three of its meticulously restored floors, as well as the surrounding grounds.

View of the front of the Call-Collins house, the main edifice of

View of the front of the Call-Collins house, the main edifice of “The Grove,” Governor Richard Keith Call’s home in Tallahassee. The house was originally constructed between 1825 and 1832. In 1972, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Photo dated 2011.

In addition to the topics discussed here, Governor Call’s papers contain a number of materials relating to his eldest daughter, Ellen Call Long, who was an avid writer and historian of Florida, as well as other members of his family. Click here to access the full collection.

 

Animated Map Series: Jupiter Island

Florida Maps: Then & Now is an animated map series from the State Library and Archives of Florida. The project uses Google Earth to create animated videos using historic and modern maps, photographs, and primary source documents from our collections.

This episode features historic maps of Jupiter Island.

 

Transcript

Welcome to Florida Maps: Then & Now, an animated map series from the State Archives of Florida. This episode highlights historic maps of Jupiter Island.

Jupiter Island is often cited as containing some of the most expensive real estate in the entire country. With modern property values in mind, it is hard to imagine one person owning the whole island. However, that was exactly the case for Eusibio M. Gomez. This map shows land granted to Gomez by the Spanish government in the early 19th century. The grant included all of modern day Jupiter Island, from the St. Lucie River to the Jupiter Inlet.

At the time of first contact with Europeans and Africans, Jupiter Island and the surrounding area was inhabited by Native Americans known as the Jaega. To the South lived the Tequesta, and to the North the Ais. In the 17th century, the Spanish attempted to Christianize the indigenous populations South of the St. Lucie River, but with little success. One of the best accounts of the area during the colonial period came from a shipwrecked Quaker merchant named Jonathan Dickinson. In September, 1696, Dickinson and his traveling companions became marooned on Jupiter Island. The locals quickly took possession of the contents of their disabled vessel, and directed the passengers and crew towards their village. Dickinson described the scene:

“After we had traveled about five miles along the deep sand, the sun being extremely hot, we came to an inlet. On the other side was the Indian town, being little wigwams made of small poles stuck in the ground, which they bended one to another, making an arch, and covered them with thatch of small palmetto-leaves… Night came on; the moon being up, an Indian, who performeth their ceremonies stood out, looking full at the moon making a hideous noise, and crying out acting like a mad man for the space of half an hour; all the Indians being silent till he had done: after which they all made fearful noise some like the barking of a dog, wolf, and other strange sounds.”

Eventually, the tired and weary travelers were escorted to St. Augustine. The Spaniards arranged for passage to Charleston, and then Philadelphia, their original destination.

Little development took place on Jupiter Island until the 20th century, when the land was transformed from a narrow sandbar, skirted on the West by mangroves and on the East by the rolling Atlantic, to a haven for the wealthy, dominated by beachfront estates.

For more information and other animated maps: Florida Maps: Then & Now