Jean Ribault Explores the St. Johns River (April 30, 1562)

On April 30, 1562, French explorer Jean Ribault led an expedition ashore near the mouth of the St. Johns River. They continued north to what is now South Carolina before returning to Europe. Ribault returned to the Americas in 1564 and was among those killed during the Spanish – French struggle for control over La Florida.

"The French Sail to the River of May," from an engraving by Theodor de Bry

“The French Sail to the River of May,” from an engraving by Theodor de Bry

Between the time he returned to Europe and before the second French expedition sailed in 1564, Ribault published an account of his journey titled The Whole & True Discouerye of Terra Florida. His brief account provides insight into his perception of the land and people he encountered. The below spellings retain those that appear in an early English-language printing of Ribault’s account.
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National Poetry Month

April is National Poetry Month. Florida, called “[t]he State with the most beautiful name…” by poet Elizabeth Bishop, has been the home and inspiration for many famous and not so famous poets over the centuries.

James Weldon Johnson, ca. 1920

James Weldon Johnson, ca. 1920

Robert Frost with two Florida State College for Women students, Tallahassee, ca. 1940

Robert Frost with two Florida State College for Women students, Tallahassee, ca. 1940


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Allen H. Andrews, Trailblazer

The cross-peninsular stretch of the Tamiami Trail between Naples and Miami officially opened on April 25, 1928. Area residents welcomed the road and predicted a boost to the local economy from the increased traffic. Perfectly positioned to profit from the road were the Koreshans, whose property ran adjacent to the Tamiami Trail as it passed through the small, rural community of Estero, Florida.

Koreshan service station on the Tamiami Trail, late 1920s

Koreshan service station on the Tamiami Trail, late 1920s

Allen H. Andrews, a member of the Koreshan Unity, wrote about his experience during the “blazing” stage of the Tamiami Trail. Andrews was among the group known as the “Trailblazers” who completed the first successful motorcade crossing of the route that later became the Tamiami Trail.

Tamiami Trailblazers, April 1923

On April 4, 1923, the Trailblazers set out from Fort Myers towards Miami across the vastness of South Florida. The motorcade consisted of ten vehicles and 28 men, including two Seminole guides. Andrews described this place as a land where “[l]aw and order are practically unknown,” home only to the Seminoles and assorted moonshiners, bootleggers, and other outlaws. Read more »

Behind the Mask

The first catcher’s mask was worn in baseball in April 1877. Before that time, catchers sometimes wore tightly wound rubber bands around their teeth to protect them from getting knocked out.

Baseball Game in Gainesville, late 1800s

Baseball Game in Gainesville, late 1800s

Monticello Baseball Team, late 1800s

Monticello Baseball Team, late 1800s

As early as the 1860s pitchers began throwing faster and more deceptive pitches, like the curveball. In order to field them, catchers began moving closer to home plate. The rising velocity of pitches, in conjunction with catchers inching closer to the plate, significantly increased the risk for injury.

After watching his star catcher James Tyng get hit in the face one too many times, Harvard player/manager Fred Thayer modified a fencing mask which enabled the catcher to move closer to home without the fear of being struck in the face.

Tallahassee Baseball Team, early 1900s

Tallahassee Baseball Team, early 1900s

Columbia High School Baseball Team: Lake City, ca. 1915

Columbia High School Baseball Team: Lake City, ca. 1915

Fort Wayne Daisies Catcher Dottie Schroeder: Opa-locka, 1948

Fort Wayne Daisies Catcher Dottie Schroeder: Opa-locka, 1948

Governor Farris Bryant with a Young Ballplayer, 1960s

Governor Farris Bryant with a Young Ballplayer, 1960s

Florida and the Civil War (April 1863)

There Goes the Judge

On April 18, 1863, Judge William Marvin wrote President Abraham Lincoln of his wish to resign his position as “District Judge of the United States for the Southern District of Florida.” Marvin had held his office since 1847, but he now wished to resign to recover his health “in a more northern climate.” Judge Marvin’s resignation may have only received brief notices in the Northern and Southern press, but his official career in Florida had been anything but brief or inconsequential.

William Marvin, 1865

William Marvin, 1865

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