Battles of San Juan and Kettle Hills

Battles of San Juan and Kettle Hills (Spanish American War, July 1, 1898)

The battles of San Juan and Kettle Hills took place on July 1, 1898, near Santiago on the island of Cuba.

Future President Theodore Roosevelt and his Rough Riders took part in the battles, which turned out to be the decisive engagements in the Spanish-American War.

Although largely ignored by the press at the time, African-American troops did much of the fighting at San Juan and Kettle Hills.

Drawing of the Battle of Guasimas, near Santiago, Cuba (June 24, 1898)

Drawing of the Battle of Guasimas, near Santiago, Cuba (June 24, 1898)

The Spanish-American War was a resounding victory for the United States. As a result of the war, the U.S. took control of Puerto Rico, Guam, the Philippines and other small islands in the Pacific formerly controlled by Spain.

Cuba gained its independence after the Spanish-American War. However, the U.S. exerted significant influence on the island following 1898, until the Cuban Revolution of 1959.

Spanish-American War parade of 30,000 men: Jacksonville (1899)

Spanish-American War parade of 30,000 men: Jacksonville (1899)

Want to learn more about Florida’s role in the Spanish-American War? Explore resources on the Spanish-American War from Florida Memory.

The Koreshan Unity Collection (Part Three)

The Koreshan Unity Collection: An Inside Look into Processing a Large Archival Collection

What – or who – could convince over 200 individuals to exchange their comfortable lives for a celibate religious communal settlement in a remote corner of southwest Florida?

As we continue processing the papers of the Koreshan Unity, supported in part by grant funding from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), we learn more about the early members of this fascinating movement and its charismatic founder, Dr. Cyrus Teed.

A Utica, New York physician with interests in alchemy, physics and metaphysics, Teed conceived what would become known as Koreshanity in 1869 after experiencing a late-night religious vision in his laboratory. During what he called his “illumination,” he saw a beautiful woman who revealed to him a series of universal truths which formed the fundamental principles of Koreshan belief (more on this in future posts). We can never be certain whether Teed’s experience followed being knocked unconscious by an electrical shock, as some say, or a period of intense meditation, as others say.

Following his illumination, Teed began writing and speaking about his beliefs. He joined a Shaker community in 1878, then in 1880 founded a communal settlement in Moravia, New York. The community failed, as did a subsequent attempt in New York City. Teed’s persuasive oratory finally enabled him to assemble a firm core of followers in Chicago in the late 1880s, incorporating his organization there as the College of Life in 1886. Teed assumed the name Koresh in 1891 and, a few years later, began moving his followers to Estero, Florida, where he intended to establish the “New Jerusalem.”

Excerpt from Teed’s journal noting Washington D.C. trip in 1896

Excerpt from Teed’s journal noting Washington D.C. trip in 1896

As the Koreshan community grew and flourished in the early 1900s, tensions arose between the Unity and politicians and citizens of nearby Fort Myers, leading to a brawl on October 13, 1906, in which Teed was hit in the head and face several times. His health declined quickly following the fight, and he died on December 22, 1908.

Reincarnation was one of the truths revealed during Teed’s illumination nearly 40 years earlier, and he and his followers expected that his death (and theirs) would be followed by physical resurrection and immortality. Among the thousands of photographic images in the Koreshan Unity collection are several glass negatives of the deceased Teed in the bath tub into which his followers placed him as they awaited his resurrection until, a week later, the Lee County health officer finally ordered the dismayed followers to bury the body.

In a final sad twist, the mausoleum in which Teed was finally buried washed to sea during an October 1921 hurricane; the body was never found.

Recounting of the Ft. Meyers brawl in the Unity’s newspaper, The American Eagle

Recounting of the Ft. Meyers brawl in the Unity’s newspaper, The American Eagle

[UPDATED: Page 2]

Recounting of the Ft. Meyers brawl in the Unity’s newspaper, The American Eagle (page 2)

Recounting of the Ft. Meyers brawl in the Unity’s newspaper, The American Eagle (page 2)

 

Virginia is for Killers

The Confederate experiment seemed doomed in the spring of 1862. On the Mississippi River, Union forces occupied New Orleans and launched a drive to wrest control of the river from the Rebels.

In the East, the plodding Peninsula campaign of General George B. McClellan’s Army of the Potomac finally reached the outskirts of Richmond at the end of May amidst rumors that the Confederate government was ready to evacuate their capital.

On May 31, however, the Rebels struck back. General Joseph E. Johnston’s Confederate army attacked McClellan’s forces at the crossroads of Seven Pines village east of Richmond. Although Johnston’s force outnumbered the Federals, he had devised a far too complex plan of battle, which resulted in a series of uncoordinated and costly attacks against determined Union resistance.

The fighting continued into the morning of June 1 and ended with the Confederates withdrawing from the battle after failing to break Union lines. While the immediate result of the battle was inconclusive, there were two important consequences.

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Fort Caroline

On June 22, 1564, French explorer René de Laudonnière (ca. 1529-1574) landed in Florida. Days later he established the settlement of Fort Caroline. The fort was situated near the mouth of the St. Johns River, known to the French as the River May, north of present-day Jacksonville. The French had previously explored the region during the expedition headed by Jean Ribault (1520-1565) in 1562.

Etching of Fort Caroline (1591)

Etching of Fort Caroline (1591)

Upon learning of Spanish ships landing south of Fort Caroline, the French launched a military expedition on September 10, 1565. A hurricane battered the French ships before they reached the upstart Spanish settlement of St. Augustine. The survivors came ashore several dozen miles south of their intended target.

Fort Matanzas, built about 1740 near the site of the Fort Caroline Massacre

Fort Matanzas, built about 1740 near the site of the Fort Caroline Massacre

Throughout September and October 1565, Spaniards under the command of Pedro Menéndez de Avilés (1519-1574) attacked French survivors returning to Fort Caroline. The Spanish assaults occurred near an inlet 15 miles south of St. Augustine, later named Matanzas (massacre in Spanish). The Fort Caroline Massacre, as the attack has come to be known, halted French colonization of Florida and ushered in a period of Spanish control over the peninsula that lasted until 1763.

Congratulations to Grand Central District in St. Petersburg!

Congratulations to Grand Central District in St. Petersburg, Main Street Community of the Month for June 2012! Learn more about the Florida Main Street Program.

Parade down Central Avenue (1912)

Parade down Central Avenue (1912)

Fair and winter exposition parade on Central Avenue (ca. 1900)

Fair and winter exposition parade on Central Avenue (ca. 1900)

Central Avenue (1920s)

Central Avenue (1920s)

Central Avenue (ca. 1950s)

Central Avenue (ca. 1950s)

Orange Belt Railway pier extension of Central Avenue (ca. 1896)

Orange Belt Railway pier extension of Central Avenue (ca. 1896)

Found a great photo of the Grand Central District in St. Petersburg that we missed? Share it with us in the comments.

Jacksonville Founded (June 15, 1822)

The city of Jacksonville was founded on June 15, 1822. Known to the British as Cow Ford, Jacksonville got its start near a site where cattle were ferried across the St. Johns River. Cow Ford is an English translation of the Muscogee word wacca pilatka, meaning cow crossing.

Jacksonville street scene (1882)

Jacksonville street scene (1882)

View of Jacksonville Harbor (1894)

View of Jacksonville Harbor (1894)

Jacksonville became the largest city in northeastern Florida and a major seaport along the Atlantic coast of the United States. The Spottswood Collection, a component of the Florida Photographic Collection, contains over 2,500 images of people and businesses in the Jacksonville area from 1916-1967.

Sawmill workers (1897)

Sawmill workers (1897)

Found a great photo of Jacksonville that we missed? Share it with us in the comments.

The Sikorsky S-40 and Sikorsky S-42

The Sikorsky S-40 was placed in operation by Pan American World Airways in 1931. Igor Sikorsky and Charles Lindbergh then designed the larger Sikorsky S-42. The S-40s were the first four-engine aircraft to be regularly used in commercial air service.

Sikorsky S-42 plane flying over a sailing galleon - Miami, Florida
Interior view of Sikorsky S-40 plane with passengers - Miami, Florida
Passengers boarding a Sikorsky S-40 plane - Miami, Florida

Do you have more information about the Sikorsky S-40s? Tell us in the comments.

Sabal Palm Designated State Tree (June 11, 1953)

On June 11, 1953, the Florida legislature designated the Sabal Palm (Sabal palmetto) as the state tree of Florida. The Sabal Palm—also known as cabbage palm, cabbage palmetto, palmetto, and countless vernacular terms throughout the southern United States and the Caribbean—has provided food, shelter and inspiration to Floridians for thousands of years.

Cabbage palm (Sable palmetto) in Levy County, Florida

Cabbage palm (Sable palmetto) in Levy County, Florida

From: General Acts and Resolutions Adopted by the Legislature of Florida... (1953), 405-406.

From: General Acts and Resolutions Adopted by the Legislature of Florida... (1953), 405-406.

 

Florida Seminoles and Miccosukees, like indigenous Floridians before them, construct traditional housing using leaves and trunks from the Sabal Palm. These structures, known as “chickees” in the Mikasuki language, are an important symbol of modern Florida Indian culture.

James Billie’s chickee: Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation (1989)

James Billie’s chickee: Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation (1989)

 

Swamp cabbage is a popular Florida dish made from the hearts of Sabal Palms. Swamp cabbage can be prepared and served in many ways, but it is usually fried, stewed or boiled for canning.

Agnes Cypress making swamp cabbage: Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation (1984)

Agnes Cypress making swamp cabbage: Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation (1984)

 

Landscape artists, from the Hudson River School’s Martin Johnson Heade to Albert Ernest “Bean” Backus and the Florida Highwaymen, have found inspiration in Florida’s state tree.

Florida Highwaymen artist R. L. Lewis: Tallahassee (2006)

Florida Highwaymen artist R. L. Lewis: Tallahassee (2006)

 

Thank you, Sabal Palm, for your service to the state of Florida!

Found a great Sabal Palm photo that we missed? Share it with us in the comments.

Stray Livestock Liability Laws

Cattle drive at Bartow (1890s)

Cattle drive at Bartow (1890s)

On June 7, 1949, the Governor of Florida, Fuller Warren, approved Senate Bill No. 34, which required owners of livestock to prevent their animals from “running at large or straying upon public roads.” Under its provisions, ranchers could be held liable for damage done to property or persons by free roaming livestock.

From: General Acts and Resolutions Adopted by the Legislature of Florida... (1949), 545.

From: General Acts and Resolutions Adopted by the Legislature of Florida... (1949), 545.

The act empowered law enforcement officers to “impound livestock running at large,” and to fine delinquent owners the cost of caring for detained animals. If livestock were not claimed within three days of apprehension, the animals would be sold to the highest bidder. If no buyers came forward, the animals could be slaughtered and disposed of at the discretion of local authorities.

Cattle on their way to Tampa: Kissimmee (1904)

Cattle on their way to Tampa: Kissimmee (1904)

The act encouraged ranchers to build fences and contain wandering livestock. Sometimes known as the fence law, historians consider Senate Bill No. 34 the final measure in closing the open range; in particular it ended the centuries-old practices that gave rise to calling Florida cattle workers “cow hunters.”

J.H. Campbell driving cattle: Hardaway (1939)

J.H. Campbell driving cattle: Hardaway (1939)

When Senate Bill No. 34 became law, many in the Florida cattle industry already supported fence laws. From the 1920s to the early 1940s, ranchers were required to treat cattle for ticks. Outbreaks of tick fever could be devastating, and fences made the required roundups easier and less costly. Although Florida was declared tick free in September 1944, outbreaks occurred again in the late 1940s, 1957 and 1960.

Tick inspection station at the Baker County line (ca. 1930)

Tick inspection station at the Baker County line (ca. 1930)

In the second half of the 20th century, the expansion of citrus cultivation, increased development, and tick scares combined to end the reign of Florida’s cow hunters. Senate Bill No. 34 symbolized the close of the Florida frontier.