Then and Now: The Breakers

Open for more than 100 years, The Breakers is one of the landmarks of Palm Beach. Henry Flagler built The Palm Beach Inn in 1896. When Flagler expanded the hotel, he renamed it “The Breakers.”

Now” photos courtesy of VISIT FLORIDA

Entrance to The Breakers hotel

Entrance to The Breakers hotel (1920s)

 

The Breakers (Pete Cross for VISIT FLORIDA), 2013

The Breakers (Pete Cross for VISIT FLORIDA), 2013

 

Breakers Hotel and golf links

The Breakers hotel and golf links (1920s)

 

The Breakers (Pete Cross for VISIT FLORIDA), 2013

The Breakers (Pete Cross for VISIT FLORIDA), 2013

 

Fountain in the courtyard at the Breakers hotel - Palm Beach, Florida

Fountain in the courtyard at the Breakers hotel – Palm Beach, Florida (1920s)

 

The Breakers (Pete Cross for VISIT FLORIDA), 2013

The Breakers (Pete Cross for VISIT FLORIDA), 2013

 

Swimming pool at the Breakers hotel - Palm Beach, Florida

Swimming pool at the Breakers hotel – Palm Beach, Florida (1920s)

 

The Breakers (Pete Cross for VISIT FLORIDA), 2013

The Breakers (Pete Cross for VISIT FLORIDA), 2013

 

North loggia at the Breakers hotel - Palm Beach, Florida

North loggia at the Breakers hotel – Palm Beach, Florida (1920s)

 

The Breakers (Pete Cross for VISIT FLORIDA), 2013

The Breakers (Pete Cross for VISIT FLORIDA), 2013

 

Main dining room of the Breakers hotel - Palm Beach, Florida (1920s)

Main dining room of the Breakers hotel – Palm Beach, Florida (1920s)

 

The Breakers (Pete Cross for VISIT FLORIDA), 2013

The Breakers (Pete Cross for VISIT FLORIDA), 2013

 

National Agriculture Day

Florida’s second largest industry is agriculture and the Sunshine State ranks second in the United States for production of fresh vegetables. So head to your local farmers’ market—we’re celebrating National Agriculture Day.

Picking fruit in John C. English seedling grove - Alva, Florida

Picking fruit in John C. English seedling grove – Alva, Florida

 

African American farmer standing in corn field - Alachua County, Florida

African-American farmer standing in corn field – Alachua County, Florida (1913)

 

Greetings from Florida

Greetings from Florida

 

Pineapples growing near Tampa (191-)

Pineapples growing near Tampa (191-)

 

Seminole Indian cowboys herding cattle in the pasture - Brighton Reservation, Florida.

Seminole Indian cowboys herding cattle in the pasture – Brighton Reservation, Florida (1950)

 

Stanley Thrift checks the new potato harvesting machine - Hastings, Florida (1947)

Stanley Thrift checks the new potato harvesting machine – Hastings, Florida (1947)

 

Aged man picking strawberries - Plant City, Florida (1960)

Aged man picking strawberries – Plant City, Florida (1960)

 

Yamato farmers at railroad siding - Yamato, Florida

Yamato farmers at railroad siding – Yamato, Florida (1911)

 

Peach picking crew - Plant City, Florida (192-)

Peach picking crew – Plant City, Florida (192-)

 

Turkeys at the Tot's Tender Turkey Farm - Havana, Florida (1952)

Turkeys at the Tot’s Tender Turkey Farm – Havana, Florida (1982)

 

Walter Welkener milks his purebred registered Jersey cattle at the Holly Hill Dairy Farm - Duval County, Florida

Walter Welkener milks his purebred registered Jersey cattle at the Holly Hill Dairy Farm – Duval County, Florida (1960)

 

 

Animated Map Series: Wacahoota

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 Wacahoota.

Transcript

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

Florida’s cattle industry is the oldest in what is now the United States. Spaniards introduced the first cattle to Florida in the 16th century. By the mid-1600s, Spanish ranchos extended from the area near St. Augustine to the Apalachee district in the panhandle, and South to the Alachua Prairie. The largest rancho, known as La Chua, counted thousands of animals worked by European, African, and Native American cattlemen. Raids by Creek Indians and colonists from Carolina in the early 1700s destroyed the Spanish ranchos, including La Chua. Native American immigrants, later known as Seminoles, migrated into the area and began working the former Spanish livestock.

By the mid-1700s, the area around the Alachua Prairie, including Wacahoota (wack-a-hoo-tee), meaning “cow pen” in the Hitchiti language, contained thousands of animals grazing on the wet prairies that dotted the region. William Bartram, an English naturalist, described the scene as he saw it in the early 1770s:

“The extensive Alachua savanna is a level, green plain… scarcely a tree or bush of any kind to be seen… encircled with high, sloping hills, covered with waving forests and fragrant Orange groves, rising from an exuberantly fertile soil. At the same time are seen innumerable droves of cattle… Herds of sprightly deer, squadrons of the beautiful, fleet Seminole horse, [and] flocks of turkeys…”

The leader of the Alachua Seminoles at the time of Bartram’s visit was known appropriately as the “Cowkeeper.” The Cowkeeper and his people traded with colonists living along the St. Johns. They hunted and tilled the soil relatively undisturbed until the early 1800s. During the War of 1812, Georgia colonists known as the Patriot Army, with de facto support from the United States government, invaded Spanish Florida intent on fermenting rebellion against the colonial government.

The war spread into the Seminole country, and a series of skirmishes ensued. The Seminoles soundly defeated the invaders, but two decades later another conflict broke out—the Second Seminole War. This map, from the confirmed Spanish Land Grant of Domingo Acosta, shows lands once occupied by Bowlegs, one of the principal leaders during the Second and Third Seminole Wars. The area became known to the Americans as Bowlegs’ Old Plantation, and then Wacahoota once the Seminoles were evicted. Today, the area is a crossroads near the intersection of Marion, Alachua, and Levy counties, Southwest of Gainesville.

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

Hooked

With thousands of lakes, rivers, springs, and swamps, Florida has a wealth of fishing opportunities. The famous tarpon and marlin swim the southwestern coast and the Keys. Bizarre and unique species include the giant manta rays and sawfish. Florida has attracted the curious and ambitious to test its waters for centuries.

 

[Fishermen with goliath grouper at Jupiter Inlet

Fishermen with goliath grouper at Jupiter Inlet (1910s)

 

Men standing around Sawfish and Bonito shark: Key West, Florida

Men standing around Sawfish and Bonito shark: Key West, Florida (1911)

 

Portrait of author Ernest Hemingway posing with sailfish: Key West, Florida (1940s)

Portrait of author Ernest Hemingway posing with sailfish: Key West, Florida (1940s)

 

Mr. John Hachmeister and Mrs. Earl Baum admiring a 1,200 lb manta ray caught by Forrest Walker (1938)

Mr. John Hachmeister and Mrs. Earl Baum admiring a 1,200 lb manta ray caught by Forrest Walker (1938)

 

The state’s fertile waters have provided a wealth of food species, from small-scale family operations to large-scale industrial enterprises. While the years of harvesting have taken significant tolls on sensitive fisheries and ecosystems, Florida’s marine environments remain principle economic and cultural hallmarks of the state.

 

Grouper caught in the Halifax River displayed at Gene Johnson's Tackle Shop: Daytona Beach, Florida picture (1920s)

Grouper caught in the Halifax River displayed at Gene Johnson’s Tackle Shop: Daytona Beach, Florida picture (1920s)

 

Whale shark recovered from shallow water (1912) The fish weighed 30,000 pounds and was 45 feet long.

Whale shark recovered from shallow water (1912) The fish weighed 30,000 pounds and was 45 feet long.

 

Fishermen and their catch of a 350 lb. mullet shark: Saint Petersburg, Florida (1918)

Fishermen and their catch of a 350 lb. shark: Saint Petersburg, Florida (1918)

 

See “The Lure of Florida Fishing,” an exhibit now on display at the Museum of Florida History, 500 S. Bronough Street, Tallahassee, FL 32301

Tom Gaskins: Ol’ Barefoot

Tom Gaskins (1909 – 1998) spent most of his life trudging through the swamps of Fisheating Creek near Palmdale, Florida. He was a man of ideas and regarded as a salt-of-the-earth character. Gaskins owned the Cypress Knee Museum in Palmdale where he collected and sold cypress knees as decorations, furniture, and other useful items. His knowledge of cypress knees and swamp life was legendary. His friends referred to him as “Ol’ Barefoot,” as he never wore shoes except when paying his respects at a funeral.

Tom Gaskins at his Cypress Knee Museum, Palmdale, 1987

Tom Gaskins at his Cypress Knee Museum, Palmdale, 1987

The Cypress Knee Museum opened in the 1930s when Gaskins fashioned an extra-large cypress knee into a roadside sign to lure tourists to his collection. The museum remained open until 2000 (2 years after Gaskins’ death) when the property was burglarized and most of the collection stolen.

Cypress knee decorated by Tom Gaskins, Palmdale, 1987

Cypress knee decorated by Tom Gaskins, Palmdale, 1987

Gaskins was also an inventor. He held over a dozen patents, including the Tom Gaskin’s Turkey Call that is still manufactured and sold today.

Turkey call invented by Tom Gaskins, Palmdale, 1987

Turkey call invented by Tom Gaskins, Palmdale, 1987

The State Archives of Florida is not the only organization that has taken an interest in Mr. Gaskins. Over the years he was featured in stories by the LA Times, Sun Sentinel, Mechanix Illustrated, Popular Science, Chicago Tribune, and was even a guest on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. Gaskins received the Florida Folk Heritage Award in 1988. His fascinating work and personality piqued the interest of those lucky enough to cross his path; just like travelers going down US 27 in South Florida who stopped by to see “Ol’ Barefoot.”

In 1987, Tom Gaskins was interviewed by the Florida Folklife Program. Below are two excerpts:

Excerpt 1: Tom Gaskins explains the origins of hollow cypress knees

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Excerpt 2: Tom Gaskins talks about the turkey call he invented

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More Information: Catalog Record

Reubin O’Donovan Askew

Known for his overwhelming honesty and integrity, as well as his belief in the benevolence of government, Florida’s 37th governor Reubin Askew died today in Tallahassee.

Askew is considered one of the greatest and most popular governors of Florida and served from 1971 to 1979. He was recognized by Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School as one of the top 10 governors of the 20th century.

Reubin Askew was born in Muskogee, Oklahoma in 1928 and moved with his family to Pensacola in 1937. In 1946 Askew entered the Army as a paratrooper, serving for two years. During the Korean War, Askew served in the Air Force from 1951 to 1953.

Reubin Askew in his paratrooper uniform (1947)

Reubin Askew in his paratrooper uniform (1947)

A graduate of both Florida State University and the University of Florida Law School, Askew began his public career as Assistant County Solicitor for Escambia County in 1956. He went on to represent his district in the Florida House and Senate, serving as president pro tempore in 1969-70. In that same year he won the election as Florida’s governor and subsequently was re-elected to another four-year term.

Governor Askew poses for a photo with his family: Tallahassee, Florida

Governor Askew poses for a photo with his family: Tallahassee, Florida

As governor, Askew pushed through corporate income tax legislation, supported desegregation of Florida’s schools through busing, and championed open government laws that endure today and are unique to this state.

Florida's 37th Governor Reubin Askew

Florida’s 37th Governor Reubin Askew

After his term of office ended, Askew served in President Carter’s cabinet as U.S. Trade Representative and ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. presidency in 1984.

Jimmy Carter and wife with Reubin Askew and his wife

While continuing his legal career, Askew served as a professor of public policy at the Florida Institute of Government which bears his name. He will be remembered as a consummate leader who was true to his word and values and as a governor who was able to work across party lines for the benefit of the people of Florida.

Letter to Governor Askew from Barry Goldwater, 1972

Letter to Governor Askew from Barry Goldwater, 1972

 

Letter to Governor Askew from John D. Rockefeller IV, 1972

Letter to Governor Askew from John D. Rockefeller IV, 1972

Florida Archaeology Month

Marine archaeologist W. A. “Sonny” Cockrell demonstrates the use of an astrolabe, a 16th century navigation instrument found in one of the treasure ships sunk off Florida’s coast.

Marine archaeologist W. A. “Sonny” Cockrell demonstrates the use of an astrolabe, a 16th century navigation instrument found in one of the treasure ships sunk off Florida’s coast.

In celebration of Florida Archaeology Month, the exhibit Florida Archaeology: Studying and Exploring 12,000 Years of Floridians showcases images of the archaeological resources throughout the state and the professionals, enthusiasts and amateurs that have explored, preserved, and interpreted the archaeological record in order to better understand Florida’s millennia of human occupation.

Edmund Cottle Weeks

The nation’s existential crisis of civil war brought to the forefront many individuals who were mature, tested, and ready to act as leaders for both sides. After four years of trial by combat, many U.S. officers chose to remain and to make a life in the South. They brought to the former Confederacy a leavening of Union sentiment, Republican politics, and a strong desire to enforce the Reconstruction and Civil Rights Acts which followed their victory.

Edmund Cottle Weeks, a merchant seaman and officer, U.S. Navy and Army officer, and Republican politician, was among those tasked with wrestling Florida back into the Union. His life in Florida would be clouded by a charge of murder, but also by an ascent to the pinnacle of state politics during the era known as Reconstruction.

E.C. Weeks

Born in Massachusetts in 1829 and educated at private schools in Connecticut, Weeks was a world traveler prior to his enrollment at Yale College, where he spent less than a year. He then studied at the College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City. After three years he failed to finish the course there as well.

Three years experience before the mast earned Weeks the billet of ship’s Master in the trading firm Wallace, Sherwood, and Company. In this endeavor Weeks now followed his father’s trade.

When the Civil War began Weeks enlisted and was assigned as an acting officer in the U.S. Navy. His conduct under fire earned positive mention in reports. In 1863, repairs idled his ship and brought orders to lead amphibious raiding parties in Louisiana. His transfer to the Army soon followed.

In the summer of 1864, Army officials at Key West raised a regiment of U.S. volunteer cavalry for service in Florida. Week was placed in command of the unit, however, a delay in his commissioning allowed for a period of dissent to arise in the regiment. The resulting problems culminated in a court martial for Weeks, who was charged with murdering a soldier under his command while encamped at Cedar Key. Even though the court martial brought to light charges of drunkenness against Weeks, he was eventually exonerated. The murder charge followed him for the rest of his days in Florida.

His cavalry unit, the 2nd Florida Cavalry, was brigaded with the Second Infantry Regt USCT during the events surrounding the Battle of Natural Bridge, which occurred south of Tallahassee in March 1865. This combined force attempted to take the bridge at Newport but was repulsed, which necessitated the movement to the “natural” bridge further upstream on the St. Mark’s River. The battle ended in a Confederate victory that ultimately prevented Union troops from capturing Tallahassee during the war.

After the war, Weeks returned to the vicinity of Tallahassee where his attempt to run a cotton plantation ended badly. The debt he acquired from this investment soon soured his reputation, with many locals claiming he was in default on his loans.

E.C. Weeks

Weeks operated as a Republican politician and garnered the attention of powerful Republican officials in the Reconstruction government. The struggles among and between Republicans and Democrats resulted in frequent changes in government as state officials jockeyed for position. In one battle, Governor Harrison Reed lost his Lieutenant Governor and appointed Weeks to that vacant post.

This appointment created a fire storm in the Florida Senate, and Weeks left the position but continued to be politically active. Later, he served as a Leon County commissioner and sheriff, and as a Representative in the Florida House. During this period, he unsuccessfully campaigned for Governor and U.S. Senate.

After U.S. forces supporting Reconstruction withdrew from Florida, the Republican government, and its officials, fell to the Democratic Party. The Army had provided former slaves and federal officers with protection while they exercised or enforced their newly won civil rights. These people were now exposed to the backlash created by the loss of the war and the armed occupation that followed.

In 1890, the U.S. Marshal for the Northern District of Florida resigned in frustration, citing an inability to enforce the laws of the United States in Florida. Weeks accepted appointment to the position from President Benjamin Harrison. In that same year the widowed Weeks married a Tallahassee widow, Elisabeth Hunt Craft, and made his residence in the house now known as The Murphy House on Park Avenue in Tallahassee. This home became a refuge for freedmen and whites seeking sanctuary from gangs and mobs seeking to drive them back into subservience.

Murphy House, Tallahassee, 2006

Murphy House, Tallahassee, 2006

In 1903, Theodore Roosevelt appointed Weeks Surveyor General of Florida. Two years later ill health forced him to resign. He died in Tallahassee on April 12, 1907.

For an archivist, it was an engrossing opportunity to become familiar with such a character from our nation’s Passion play. We are all familiar with Lincoln, Davis, Lee, and Grant as the towering figures of those years. To be responsible for the archival preservation of one man’s history, slight as it may be in terms of the written record, as he enacted his part in that epoch has been rewarding.

Weeks resurfaced at the State Archives of Florida when his descendant brought to us several of Major Weeks’ commissions as a Florida or United States official. These recently donated materials have joined State Archives Manuscript Collection M74-22, which contain boxes and volumes of official and family correspondence, and operations records, that provide some small insight into the life of a sea rover, naval/army officer, “radical” politician, law enforcement officer, and family man.

Creature from the Black Lagoon Released (March 5, 1954)

On March 5, 1954, Universal International Pictures released Creature from the Black Lagoon.

Still from Creature from the Black Lagoon, Wakulla Springs, ca. 1953

The creature emerges from Wakulla Springs, ca. 1953

The film’s plot centered around an Amazonian expedition gone awry when a scientific team encountered the mysterious “Gill Man.” The creature became enamored with a member of the team, played by Julie Adams, and kidnapped her after escaping from the scientists’ grasp.

Film crew at Wakulla Springs, October 18, 1953

Film crew with 3-D camera at Wakulla Springs, October 18, 1953

The filmmakers visited Wakulla Springs, south of Tallahassee, while scouting locations for the film. They were introduced to a young FSU student and part-time lifeguard at the springs named Ricou Browning. Director Jack Arnold eventually cast Browning to play the part of the creature during underwater scenes. Browning parlayed this experience into a subsequent career in film and television.

Ricou Browning becoming the Creature, Wakulla Springs, ca. 1953

Ricou Browning becoming the creature, Wakulla Springs, ca. 1953

The filmmakers used Florida’s natural beauty again as a backdrop while filming the sequel, Revenge of the Creature (1955). Revenge featured footage shot at Silver Springs, Marineland, and along the St. Johns River. Scenes from the third and final installment in the series, The Creature Walks Among Us (1956), were also filmed in the Sunshine State.

Ginger Stanley in the grip of the creature, Silver Springs, ca. 1955

Ginger Stanley in the grip of the creature, Silver Springs, ca. 1955