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

World Health Day

World Health Day celebrates the anniversary of the founding of the United Nations’ World Health Organization (WHO) in 1948. Early Florida settlers considered their health a primary concern and established the first hospital in North America in St. Augustine in the early 17th century.

This year, WHO has chosen vector-borne diseases as the topic for 2014. Florida is no stranger to vector-borne diseases. In the 19th century an outbreak of yellow fever, a viral disease that is transmitted to humans through infected mosquitoes, had a devastating impact on the people of Florida. In 1889, the State Board of Health was created in response to the yellow fever epidemic. Its creation helped to coordinate quarantine and disinfection efforts to protect the state’s citizens and visitors.

 

Print in Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper about yellow fever

Print in Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper about yellow fever (1888)

 

View showing people sitting together at a quarantined isolation camp.

View showing people sitting together at a quarantined isolation camp

 

View showing people gathered at a pavilion in a quarantined isolation camp.

View showing people gathered at a pavilion in a quarantined isolation camp.

 

Print showing fires on Bay street to kill yellow fever germs - Jacksonville, Florida

Print showing fires on Bay Street to kill yellow fever germs – Jacksonville, Florida (1888)

 

Life insurance policy with yellow fever exclusion clause

Life insurance policy with yellow fever exclusion clause (1882)

 

Learn more about yellow fever in Florida in our Early Florida Medicine exhibit: http://floridamemory.com/exhibits/medicine/disease/

Florida Reacts to the Assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (April 4, 1968)

Civil Rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated by gunshot on April 4, 1968 as he stood on the balcony of a motel in Memphis, Tennessee. The reaction across the United States was a mixture of disbelief, grief, and at times violent anger. Tensions boiled over in scores of U.S. cities such as Baltimore, Chicago, Kansas City, and Washington, D.C. as young people took to the streets to vent their frustration at the untimely death of one of the era’s greatest forces for peaceful change.

Reactions to King’s death were just as passionate in Florida, where memorials, demonstrations, and rioting took place in several cities across the state. Police in Pensacola, Tallahassee, Gainesville, Fort Pierce, Pompano Beach, Tampa, and Jacksonville reported widespread rioting and the use of Molotov cocktails to firebomb businesses and residences owned by whites. At least one fatality resulted from these activities in Tallahassee, where one man aged 19 died when a firebomb was thrown into his family’s grocery store.

Local and state officials moved quickly to restore order. The city of Gainesville instituted a curfew shortly after news of the assassination broke out, requiring everyone except emergency personnel to remain off the streets between 11pm and 6am. In Gainesville and Tallahassee, law enforcement temporarily closed liquor stores, bars, and gas stations. Governor Claude Kirk met with state law enforcement officials to plan a statewide strategy for maintaining the peace, and kept in close contact with local sheriffs and police.

Organizations both inside and outside of the government encouraged the public to remain calm and avoid any further violence. Governor Kirk asked that all flags flown on public buildings in the state be flown at half mast for two days, and in a press release he called on Dr. King’s followers and admirers to live by King’s example and seek nonviolent solutions for their grievances. George Gore, president of Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, closed the campus for a weeklong “cooling off” period following the assassination. The Florida Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) released a statement calling for Floridians to observe the day of King’s funeral (April 9th) as a “time of sober reflection” rather than demonstration.

Although anguish and disillusionment over the death of one of the Civil Rights Movement’s foremost leaders would remain potent long after these events, the most dramatic reactions ended by the middle of April 1968. Rumors circulated that Governor Kirk would call a special session of the Legislature to discuss the crisis, but this proved unnecessary. The brief period of unrest in Florida that followed Dr. King’s untimely death has been captured in a number of documents and photographs, some of which are shown below.

Governor Claude Kirk meets with state law enforcement officials to discuss a response to the unrest following Dr. Martin Luther King's assassination.

Governor Claude Kirk meets with state law enforcement officials to discuss a response to the unrest following Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination.

Crow's Grocery Store, located at 1902 Lake Bradford Road in Tallahassee, Florida, was damaged when a Molotov cocktail firebomb was thrown inside during the unrest following Dr. King's death. Travis Crow, age 19, died of suffocation before he could escape the building.

This photo from the Tallahassee Fire Department Collection depicts one of the casualties of the reaction that followed Dr. King’s assassination. Crow’s Grocery Store, located at 1902 Lake Bradford Road in Tallahassee, Florida, was damaged when a Molotov cocktail firebomb was thrown inside. Travis Crow, age 19, died of suffocation before he could escape the building.

This Associated Press news summary describes some of the typical stories emerging from the widespread reaction to Dr. King's assassination.

This Associated Press news summary describes some of the typical stories emerging from the aftermath of Dr. King’s assassination.

The Florida Photographic Collection contains more images depicting Dr. Martin Luther King, his activities in Florida over the years, and the efforts of Floridians across the state to honor his memory.

Teachers and students may also find the Black History Month resources of our Online Classroom helpful, as well as our learning unit entitled The Civil Rights Movement in Florida.

Animated Map Series: Matanzas River

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 the Matanzas River, near St. Augustine.

 

Transcript

This map, drawn by surveyor Robert McHardy, shows the confirmed Spanish Land Grant of Joseph M. Hernandez along the Matanzas River, a plantation he dubbed “Mala Compra.” The river along the bottom, or West, edge of the map derives its name from events that took place at a nearby inlet in 1565, when Spaniards under the command of Pedro Menendez de Aviles massacred French Huguenots associated with the Fort Caroline settlement.

This map stands out among the hundreds in the Spanish Land Grants collection because it shows the location of several structures. The small buildings that surround the large house on the left, or North, side of the grant may represent cabins inhabited by African-American slaves owned by Hernandez. The two “big houses” on the property likely housed Hernandez and his family. Hernandez, a Spanish citizen of Minorcan descent, owned several tracts of land in East Florida. Typical of other planters in the area, his slaves cultivated cotton and sugar for export, and vegetables for home consumption. Hernandez remained in Florida after the territory transferred from Spain in 1821 and became a citizen of the United States.

He was known as General Hernandez because of his status as a Brigadier General commanding militia troops during the Second Seminole War. In October 1837, Hernandez, acting under orders from General Thomas Sidney Jesup, captured the Seminole warrior Osceola under a white flag of truce. The deed, which took place near Hernandez’s plantation, in the vicinity of Fort Peyton, forever stained the military career of General Jesup, and came to characterize the dishonorable tactics used by the U.S. Army to wage war against the Seminoles in Florida.

This site is now preserved as the Mala Compra Plantation Archaeological Site. It was added to the national register of historic places in 2004.

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