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The Old and The New 



The Record Company o^^^liD Printers and Publisher 







IF THE memory of the name of Browne, transplanted from 
Virginia to Key West by my great-uncle, Fielding A. 

Browne, is kept alive by this work, I want the credit to 
be given to my Father and Mother, to whom in love and grati- 
tude I dedicate this History. 

Whatever of gentleness of character and intellectual culture 
I possess, I owe to my Father; to my Mother I owe the will to 
execute, and the desire to serve mankind. 

They now rest side by side, after journeying together for 
near a half century, and I paraphrase, in humble reverence to 
them, the inscription which I placed on my Father's monument 
twenty-three years ago. 

"Those best of parents, how shall I repay 

The debt of love and gratitude I owe thee?" 
"By laying up our counsels in your heart." 

As I lay down my pen, whatever pleasure the accom- 
plishment of my task affords, it is saddened by the thought that 
their eyes will never behold the work which they inspired. 

Jefferson Beale Browne. 


I HAVE written this history of Key West, beheving that it 
would be interesting to the younger generation, and to 

those who are to come after us, to know something of 
the people and events which filled the years that have gone. 

My first intention was to copy Colonel Maloney's history, 
published in 1876, and bring it down to the present time. 

In collecting the data, however, I found that there were a 
great many interesting events connected with the early history 
of Key West which Colonel Maloney had omitted, and concluded 
that if my work was to be as complete as was possible with 
available data, I would have to write it anew. This I have done, 
using, however, such data as his history contains, and at times 
preserving even his phraseology. 

The brevity of Colonel Maloney's history is no reflection 
on his effort. He states that it was prepared on a few week's 
notice and was delivered as an address on the dedication of our 
city hall on July 4, 1876. It was impossible for him to have 
gotten together in that time the data which my work contains, 
in compiling which I have spent more than a year. 

I have obtained information from the State, War, Navy 
and Judiciary Departments of the government at Washington, 
and from the Secretary of State's office at Tallahassee, Florida; 
from the New York, Boston and Congressional Libraries, and 
miscellaneous old publications. Information, embodied in 
a few lines may have been procured only by searching nu- 
merous records, and carrying on a voluminous correspondence. 
The historian who writes of Key West thirty or forty years from 
now, will have no occasion to cover the same ground. 

I believe that this work contains all the available informa- 
tion on any subject connected with Key West, which is of interest 
to anyone. Where some trivial matters are mentioned, it is 
because they throw light on the habits and customs of the times, 
and may, perchance, brighten what may prove but a prosaic 
record of events. 

With this explanation, I leave to posterity this compilation, 
as a tribute to the ancient order of things, and to the noble 
band of citizens who made this their home in the days of the 
Old Key West. 



Preface 5 

Chapter I — General History and Random Sketches 7 

Chapter II — Educational 21 

Chapter III — Ecclesiastical Relations — Episcopal Church 26 

Chapter IV — Catholic Church 34 

Chapter V — Methodist Churches 37 

Chapter VI — Baptist Church 43 

Chapter VII — Burial Grounds 48 

Chapter VIII — The Municipality 50 

Chapter IX — Monroe County 58 

Chapter X — Courts 64 

Chapter XI — Key West as a Naval Base 70 

Chapter XII — Military Post 77 

Chapter XIII — Mail and Steamship Company 80 

Chapter XIV — Indian Hostilities 84 

Chapter XV— Civil War 90 

Chapter XVI — Commercial 99 

Chapter XVII — Material Development 103 

Chapter XVIII— Salt Manufacturing 112 

Chapter XIX — Cuban Migration • 115 

Chapter XX — Cigar Manufacturing 125 

Chapter XXI— Political 129 

Chapter XXII— Benevolent Societies 138 

Chapter XXIII — Newspapers 141. 

Chapter XXIV — The Spanish- American War 144 

Chapter XXV — Hospitals 147 

Chapter XXVI — Fire Department 151 

Chapter XXVII— Militia 155 

Chapter XXVIII — Hurricanes 156 

Chapter XXIX— Wrecking 162 

Chapter XXX— Population , , , . 169 

Chapter XXXI — Some Character Sketches 174 

Chapter XXXII— The Women of Key West 186 

Chapter XXXIII— Florida East Coast Railway 194 

Chapter XXXIV— Last Word 197 

Appendices 199 

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THE earliest recorded data about Key West is to be 
found in a grant of the island of Cayo Hueso on August 
26, 1815, by Don Juan de Estrada, the then Spanish 
governor of Florida, to Juan Pablo Salas. The grant recited 
that it was "in consideration of the several services ren- 
dered by him at different times, much in the Royal Artillery 
Corps stationed at this fort, as well as the services rendered 
voluntarily and without pay at the office of the secretary under 
your administration." 

Nothing was done by Salas in the way of settling or improve- 
ments and the island wore the same wild aspect that it had worn 
for ages, when on the twenty-first day of December, 1821, Salas 
ofl'ered to sell his right, title and interest to Mr, John W. Simon- 
ton,* of Mobile, who had met Salas in Havana. Having heard of 
the advantageous situation and capacity of the harbor, etc., Mr. 
Simonton was induced from the certain prospect of improvement 
throughout the country, by the cession of Florida to the United 
States, which his mercantile experience led him to foresee must 
advance the interests of a settlement at this point, to purchase 
the island for the sum of $2,000.00 on the nineteenth day of 
January, A. D. 1822. 

Soon after making the purchase he sold one undivided 
quarter of his interest to Mr. John Warner, and Mr. John 
Mountain, respectively United States consul and commercial 
agent for the United States at Havana, and two other quarters 
to Mr. John Whitehead! and Mr. John W. C. Fleeming.| The 
interests of Messrs. Warner and Mountain were soon after 
transferred to Mr. Pardon C. Greene, who became a perma- 
nent resident of the island at that time. 

Salas, however, had made a conditional sale to Mr. John B. 
Strong, who subsequently transferred his claim, such as it 
was, to Mr. John Geddes, who having the countenance of Captain 
Hammersley of the U. S. naval schooner, "Revenge," then in 
the harbor, effected a landing and took possession of the island 
in April, 1822. 

A Dr. Montgomery and Mr. George M. Geddes were in 
charge of the party sent by Geddes to take possession in his 
name. It consisted of two white carpenters and three negroes, 
with provisions and lumber to build a shed. How long they 
remained on the island is not known, but as they were supported 
by Captain Hammersley of the United States Navy, the other 
claimants were helpless to do anything more than protest. A 

Appendix A. f Appendix B. J Appendix C. 

lawsuit resulted, which was finally termirated by a compro- 
mise. One of the legal documents connected with this claim 
states that the consideration given for the island, by Strong, 
was a small sloop of about thirty-one tons '>urden, called "The 
Leopard of Glastonbury," for which he had paid $575.00. 
Strong's title proved imperfect, and Salas, in order to obtain 
the restoration of the island to the Simon ton claimants, con- 
veyed to him five hundred (500) acres of a tract at ''Big 
Spring, East Florida." 

There is no authentic record of the origin of the name Key 
West, of which two explanations are given. One, that it is the 
most westerly of the chain of islands or keys extending from 
the mainland — hence Key West; the other that it is a corrup- 
tion of the Spanish words Cayo Hueso pronounced "Ki-yo 
Way-so," meaning bone island. 

Mr. William A. Whitehead,* one of the earliest settlers of 
Key W^est, who surveyed and mapped the city in 1829, accepts 
the latter theory. He says: 

"It is probable that, from the time of the first visit of 
Ponce de Leon until the cession of the Floridas to the United 
States, the islands or keys, as they are termed (a corruption 
of the Spanish word Cayo) which extended in a southwesterly 
direction from Cape Florida, were only resorted to by the ab- 
origines of the country, the piratical crews with which the neigh- 
boring seas were infested, and the fishermen (many of them 
from St. Augustine) who were engaged in supplying the market 
of Havana from the 'finny tribes' that abound in this vicinity. 
Of the occasional presence of the first, we have evidence in the 
marks of ancient fortifications or mounds of stones, found in 
various localities (in one of which, opened some time since, 
human bones of a large size were discovered), and tradition 
has in addition brought down to us notices of them which 
deserve all the credit conferred upon the same authority, in other 
parts of the country. The oldest settler in this part of the country, 
one whose residence in the neighborhood of Charlotte Harbor 
dated back to about 1775, used to say, that in his early years he 
had heard it stated that some eight}'^ or ninety years previous 
(probably about the commencement of the eighteenth century) 
the Indians inhabiting the islands along the coast and those 
on the mainland were of different tribes, and as the islanders 
frequently visited the main for the purpose of hunting, a feud 
arose between the two tribes, and those from the main having 
made an irruption into the islands, their inhabitants were driven 
from island to island, until they reached Key West. Here, 
as they could flee no farther, they were compelled to risk a final 
battle, which resulted in the almost entire extermination of the 
islanders. Only a few escaped (and that by a miracle, as they 
embarked in canoes upon the ocean) whose descendants, it is 
said, are known to have been met with in the island of Cuba. 

Appendix D. 


"This sanguinary battle strewed this island with bones, as 
it is probable the conquerors tarried not to commit the bodies 
of the dead to the ground, hence the name of the island, Cayo 
Hueso, which the English, with the same facility which enabled 
them to transform the name of the wine Xeres Seco into 'Sherry 
Sack,' corrupted into Key West. That the harbor of Key West 
was the occasional resort of pirates has been proven by the evi- 
dence of many who were connected with them in their lawless 
depredations, and by the discovery of hidden articles that could 
only have been secreted by them." 

One of the matters intrusted to the commissioners appointed 
under the treaty of the cession with Spain, when the United 
States acquired Florida, was to pass upon the validity of the 
grant of the island to Salas, and they, having resolved it 
in his favor, and the same being confirmed by Congress, 
the title to all lands on the island of Key West, legally derived 
through Juan P. Salas and John W. Simonton, were perfected 
and forever settled. Owing to this, there is no confusion of 
ancient titles to Kej^ W^est realty. 

The establishment of a territorial government for Florida 
in March, 1819, was the beginning of the actual settlement 
and development of Key West. Several families from South 
Carolina and other States, and from St. Augustine who repaired 
here shortly after, were hospitably received by the proprietors, 
and building lots were given them within that part of the island 
intended to be laid out for the city. 

On the seventh of February, 1822, Lieutenant M. C. Perry, 
commander of the United States schooner Shark, received orders 
to visit the island and take possession of it as part of the territory 
ceded by Spain, and on the twenty-fifth day of March following 
there was witnessed by the few residents then here the placing 
of a flag pole and the hoisting thereon of the flag of the United 
States, while at the same time its sovereignty over this and the 
neighboring islands was formally proclaimed. Lieutenant 
Perry named the island Thompson's Island, and the harbor 
Port Rodgers, the first in honor of the then secretary of the 
navy, Hon. Smith Thompson, and the other after Commodore 
Rodgers, the president of the naval board. From Lieutenant 
Ferry's report to the navy department, it would seem that these 
names originated with him, and received the approval of at 
least three of the proprietors of the island, Messrs. W'arner, 
Fleeming and Whitehead, who were present. These names, 
however, did not remain long in use; Cayo Hueso and its 
Enghsh substitute, "Key West," seemed to suit the fancy of 
the people more than the new names. 

Commodore Porter of the navy, also took a hand in naming 
Key West and dated his letters from "Allenton," but this was 
even shorter lived than the others. 

Key West lies in latitude 24°, 33', north, and longitude 
81°, 48', west. Its topography, before its ponds and lagoons 

were filled, was like that of other habitable keys near the Florida 
Reef, having a high ridge extending along its water front on 
the ocean or gulf side, where the deepest water lies, 
and sloping back to ponds and lagoons, beyond which lie 
high hammock lands. The early settlers naturally selected 
the high ridge on the deep-water side to build the city, 
and until the onward march of commercial progress and the 
development as a naval station drove them further back, the 
finest residences were built on and near the water front, 
from the present location of the United States Marine 
Hospital to the foot of Duval street. Back of the high ridge on 
the southwestern end of the island was a large lagoon which 
commenced in a swamp not very far from the southwestern end 
of the island and continuing along, nearly parallel with the beach, 
crossed Wliitehead street near Caroline, and entered the water 
near the north end of Simonton street. Where it crossed White- 
head street it was so narrow that it was easily bridged for carts 
and carriages by a few planks. After crossing this street, it spread 
out into what was called a pond, which in 1836 covered about 
two acres of ground. Duval street then crossed this pond in 
about its center. The depth of water varied with the ebb and 
flow of the tide, but it was generally about twelve to eighteen 
inches deep. A foot bridge, made of piles and covered with planks, 
commenced within about 100 feet of the corner of Duval and 
Front streets, and extended to within about 75 feet of the corner 
of Duval and Caroline streets. A more substantial bridge about 
fifteen feet long afforded a passage across the entrance of the 
pond, about on a line with Simonton street, which was used by 
drays and other vehicles; it being the only way to get to and 
from the northwestern part of the island. There was also a 
small bridge across Whitehead street, which in 1850 was super- 
seded by a wagon road. 

No attempt was made to get rid of the lagoon or pond 
because it was apprehended that if it should be closed to the 
flux and influx of the tides, other portions of the inhabited city 
would be subject to overflow, and to guard against this the 
charter of 1836 not only restricted the authorities of the city 
from filling up the streets, but the owners of lots covered by 
the pond were also restrained from filling them. 

The hurricane of 1846 so altered the configuration of the 
island by washing up the sand, that the pond ceased to receive 
the tides, and the consequences apprehended not having 
occurred, the restriction against such filling was omitted from 
subsequent charters, and in November, 1853, an ordinance was 
passed requiring the respective owners of the submerged lots 
to fill them up. 

These lots were in the hands of various owners, some of 
whom complied with the terms of the ordinance, others sufl^ered 
the work to be done by the city, and paid the costs of the filling, 
whilst others refused to fill in or pay the expense incurred therefor. 


The city was surveyed and mapped by Mr. William A. 
Whitehead in February, 1829, and like all new cities was more 
pretentious on the map than in reality. None of the streets 
extending southeasterly were cleared beyond Caroline street. 
On the 8th of October, 1831- the city council adopted a reso- 
lution giving free commission to the inhabitants of the town 
to cut and remove the woods standing on Eaton street, which 
caused it to be cleared of trees from Duval to Simonton streets. 
As late as 1837 Eaton street beyond Simonton was covered 
with its original small trees, heavy underbrush, vines, cacti, 
etc., but in that year the woods were cleared and the brush 
burned off on all that part of the island lying between White- 
head and Elizabeth streets, as far out as Fleming street. 

The first street opened through to the South Beach was 
Whitehead street. Duval street was only cleared about half 
way between Eaton and Fleming street as late as 1836, and the 
only house on it at that time, after crossing Caroline street, 
was one belonging to Captain Francis B. Watlington. This 
house is still occupied by his immediate family, and though 
built in the early thirties, weathered the great hurricanes of 
1835, 1846, 1909 and 1910, and sustained little damage. 

A large part of this work was accomplished in one day by 
a partj^ of fifty or more United States sailors sent on shore for 
this purpose by the commanding officers of the United States 
sloop Concord, and other vessels then lying in the harbor. Prof. 
Coffin, instructor in mathematics to the midshipmen, and 
leading townspeople, among whom were Judge Marvin, Mr. Jos. 
B. Browne, Mr. Stephen R. Mallory and Mr. Asa F. Tift, 
assisted in the work, which was done with a view to take away 
from the Seminole Indians, who w^ere at war with the whites on 
the mainland, the means of concealing themselves, should they 
attempt an attack on the town. 

The following from the pen of Judge WiUiam Marvin, for 
many years United States district judge at Key West, is interest- 
ing reading of the old days: 

"About the persons I found living in Key West when I 
first landed there in October, 1836, from a little mail schooner, 
which sailed from Charleston (the whole population was then 
not very far from four hundred souls), James Webb, then about 
forty-five years old, was the judge of the Superior Court. He 
had been appointed by President Adams from Georgia. He was 
a good lawyer, an impartial judge and a genial gentleman. 
He resigned his office in 1839 and moved to Texas, wdiere he 
was appointed by President Lamar, secretary of State. Texas 
had not then been admitted into the Union — it was the Lone 
Star. Mr. Alden A. M. Jackson was clerk of the court and Mr. 
Thomas Easton was marshal. They told in that day a good 
story of the marshal. He had been onlj^ recently appointed. He 
was calling in the court the names of the jurors. He did not 
know the sound of a single letter in Spanish. He had come from 


Tennessee. He came to the name on the hst — Joseph Ximinez. 
He called 'Joseph Eks-im-e-nez.' No person answered. Some one 
whispered to him to call 'Joseph He-ma-nes,' which he did. 
Whereupon Mr. Ximinez answered 'here' and walked up to 
the clerk's desk to be sworn in. 'Phoebus! ^Yhat a name!' 
exclaimed the marshal. 

"The only lawyers at that time at the bar were Mr. Adam 
Gordon and Mr. Wm. R. Hackley. Mr. Chandler had, a short 
time before, resigned the office of United States attorney and 
moved away. I had succeeded to his place. Mr. Wm. A. 
Whitehead was collector of the port, Mr. Adam Gordon deputy, 
and Mr. S. R. Mallory, inspector. 

"The principal merchants were Mr. Fielding A. Browne, a 
Virginian; Mr. Pardon C. Greene,* from Rhode Island; Mr. 
Oliver O'Hara, from South Carolina, and his partner, Mr. 
Charles Wells, from New York. Mr. Wm. Shaw, Mr. Geo. 
E. Weaver and Mr. Philip J. Fontane were grocers and ship 
chandlers. Mr. Amos and Mr. Asa Tift kept a dry goods store. 
Mr. Alexander Patterson was an auctioneer, and kept a store 
located near a cocoanut tree at the foot of Whitehead street. 
Mr. William H. Wall kept a little store, had been married a 
a short time before to Miss Mabritty and lived in a small 
house on Wliitehead street a little beyond Jackson Square, 
the farthest house out on that street. Mr, Lewis Breaker, the 
father of Mrs. James Filor, was a just,ice of the peace. Mr. John 
Geiger was pilot, captain of a wrecking vessel, a man of decided 
character and a sort of commodore among his compeers. Mr. 
Charles Johnson and Mr. Francis Watlington, both bright and 
intelligent men, were pilots and wreckers. I am not quite certain 
whether Mr. William Curry was living in Key West at the time 
I am writing of or not. I am inclined to think he came there at a 
somewhat later period. He was at one time clei*k in Mr. 
Wall's store. At a still later period he formed a partnership 
with Mr. George Bowne in the business of buying and sell- 
ing wrecked goods, and made money. But few people came from 
the Bahamas before 183G. Among the first to come were Mr. 
Wm. Curry's family, Mr. Samuel Kemp, Mr. John Braman, Mr. 
Benj. Albury, and Mr. John Lowe, Jr.'s family. 

"Among the young men about town are to be named Amos 
and Asa Tift, Stephen R. Mallory, Joseph B. Browne, John P. 
Baldwin and Lieut. Benjamin Alvord, United States Army, 
afterwards paymaster general of the army. I do not know that 
these young fellows ever 'painted the town red,' for they were 
a well behaved and orderly set of young gentlemen; but they, 
or some of them, were known to be in the streets very often in 
the small hours of the morning, serenading some one or more 
of the young ladies of the town. Among these young ladies 
were Miss Mary Nieves Ximinez, who married Mr. Joseph 
Beverly Browne, Miss Whalton, Miss Breaker, and at a very 

*Appendix E. 

12 ( 

little later period, say in 1837-38, Miss Mary and her sister 
Miss Nona Martinelli. Nothing pleased Mallory better than to 
take his flute and get one or two friends, and Roberts, a colored 
man with his fiddle, to join him and go out into the beautiful 
moonlight nights and serenade some lady or ladies. Among 
the married ladies were Mrs. Wm. A. Whitehead, Mrs. Adam 
Gordon, Mrs. Wm. Randolph, sister of Mr. Fielding A. Browne, 
Mrs. George E. Weaver, Mrs. Joseph Ximenez, Mrs. Alexander 
Patterson, Mrs. Francis Watlington, Mrs. Johnson, Mrs. Whal- 
ton and Mrs. Ellen Mallory. 

"Messrs. Charles Howe, Winer Bethel, Stephen J. Douglas, 
James Curtis, Thomas Ferguson, Walter C. Maloney, James 
Filor, Fernando J. Moreno, Senac, Charles and Asa Tift, James 
C. Clapp, Rev. Osgood E. Herrick and James Hicks all came 
to Key West after 1836. Mr. Howe was living at that time at 
Indian Key." 

The first permanent settlers in Key West were Mr. Joseph 
C. Whalton and family, Mr. Michael Mabritty and family, 
Mr. Antonio Girardo and family from St. Augustine, Fla., and 
Mr. William W. Rigby and family and Mr. Richard Fitzpatrick. 

A territorial government was established in Florida in 1819 
and Key West then began to feel the benefit of an influx of 
population. Probably few new cities have ever started out with 
as high a class of population as Key West. Nearly all who came 
here had some means, and were people of culture and refinement. 
St. Augustine, Virginia, South Carolina, New York and 
Connecticut furnished their quota of the early population. 
Wrecking and fishing for the Havana market were the almost 
exclusive sources of revenue, and as they were both very lu- 
crative occupations, many substantial fortunes were made. 

The little colony at Key West was not without excitement 
at times. On December 7, 1831, the Key West Gazette said: 

"Considerable excitement has existed here during this 
week occasioned by the riotous conduct of a number of the 
passengers from on board the wreck of the ship Maria. As soon 
as they arrived here, every accommodation which the place 
could afford was granted them; fifteen or twenty tents were 
pitched for their convenience, and a number of them were taken 
into different houses. 

"On Thursday last, after a rather free indulgence to Bacchus, 
they, from some imaginary cause, became dissatisfied and 
threatened the lives of Captain McMullen and some of his 
crew. They evidenced their feelings that night, by the most 
boisterous behavior; in consequence of which the inhabitants 
at the lower end of the town were prevented from sleeping and 
were in momentary expectation of having their homes assaulted. 
On Friday afternoon they collected in such numbers on Browne's 
wharf that the proprietor was obliged to suspend business. 
Here a general battle ensued among them, in which it was 
difficult to tell who or how many were engaged, and a disfigura- 

j 13 

tion of eyes and noses followed, which by no means added to 
the engaging appearance of the party. The citizens generally 
became alarmed for the safety of their property. Under these 
circumstances letters were addressed by the proper authorities 
to Major Glasel, commandant of the post, and Captain Shubrick, 
of the United States sloop of war Vincennes, then in port, request- 
ing them to co-operate in protecting the citizens of Key West 
from aggression. These calls were promptly answered; a detach- 
ment of marines under the command of Lieutenant Engle, 
from the Vincennes landed and rernained during the night at 
the warehouse of Pardon C. Greene, whilst a detachment of 
United States troops under the command of Lieutenant Manning, 
patrolled the streets. As soon as it was known that steps were 
taken to prevent or suppress any riotous conduct, the mob 
dispersed and remained perfectly quiet, up to the time of their 
sailing on yesterday for New Orleans. 

"Had not these steps been taken, it is more than probable 
that some serious mischief might have resulted, as the individuals 
composing the mob were generally under the excitement of liquor 
during their stay here. 

"We understand that in consequence of this occurrence, 
and the prevalence of unfavorable winds, the Vincennes has 
been detained at this place longer than was contemplated on 
her first arrival. 

"Since the above was in type, we have been informed that 
the disturbance originated with a Mr. Smith (one of the contract- 
ors), who had illegally exacted money from some of the unfortu- 
nate individuals. Upon the interference of some of our citizens he 
was compelled to disgorge." 

A brief sketch of Key West, written in 1831, has this to say 
of the conditions prevalent here at that time: "The island 
was originally settled by persons from almost every country 
and speaking almost every variety of language they brought 
with them habits, manners, views and feelings, formed in dif- 
ferent schools and in many instances totally dissimilar and 
contradictory. Some were attracted hither by considerations of 
interest alone, and for a long time, in consequence of their 
being no court or modes of legal restraint, they had no rules of 
conduct for their guide, except such as their own views of what 
would conduce to the attainment of their own wishes afforded. 
These conditions are now drawing to a close, and giving way to 
a different, and we are proud to say a happier state of things. 
The establishment of a superior court of the United States and 
the salutary lessons which are daily experienced from its judg- 
ment, have done much toward purging society of its impurities, 
and showing to the strangers that the mantle of the law is at all 
times ready to shield them and their property from imposition and 
fraud. Moral improvement is on the march; let but men of 
influence throw their weight upon its side a.nd they will adopt 

(' 14 

the best method of promoting the prosperity and reputation of 
Key West." 

On the fourth of May, 1832, Key West was honored by 
a visit from the great ornithologist, Mr. John James Audubon. It 
was the fifty-second anniversary of his birth. He had already pub- 
lished his chief work ''Birds of America," which sold by sub- 
scription then for $1,000.00 per copy and is now worth over 
$5,000.00. It was while he was engaged in this work that he 
visited Key W'est and other points in Florida for data. He came 
here from Charleston on the revenue cutter Marion, the 
vessels of the United States having been placed at his dis- 
posal by the government. 

The following sketch of him appeared in the paper published 
in Key West in 1832: 

"Mr. Audubon — This gentleman left here in the revenue 
cutter Marion on Monday last for Charleston, calculating to 
touch on his way at the Florida Keys, and probably the main- 
land. It affords us great pleasure to state that this expedition 
has given him much satisfaction and added largely to his collec- 
tion of specimens, etc. Mr. Audubon is a most extraordinary 
man, possessed of an ardent and enthusiastic mind and entirely 
devoted to his pursuits; danger cannot daunt, and difficulties 
vanish before him. During his stay here his hour of rising was 
three o'clock in the morning; from that time until noon and 
sometimes even until night, he was engaged in hunting among 
the mangrove keys, despite of heat, sand-flies and mosquitoes. 
On his return from these expeditions his time was principally 
employed in making sketches of such plants and birds as he may 
have procured. This was not an extraordinary effort for a day. 
it was continued for weeks, in short it appeared to constitute 
his chief aim, as it is his happiness. Mr. Audubon has adopted 
a most excellent plan of connecting with his drawings of birds 
such plants as may be found in the neighborhood where they are 
taken. We hesitate not in giving it as our opinion that his work 
on ornithology, when completed, will be the most splendid 
production of its kind ever published, and we trust that it will 
be duly estimated and patronized. The private character of 
Mr. Audubon corresponds with the nature of his mind and 
pursuits — he is frank, free and generous, always willing to impart 
information, and to render himself agreeable. The favorable 
impression which he has produced upon our minds will not soon 
be effaced." 

Mr, Audubon was the first ornithologist to find the white- 
headed pigeon in the United States, although it was well known 
in Cuba. 

This bird is still found in Key West and is plentiful on the 
keys in this vicinity, a circumstance worthy of note, as the 
wild pigeon is almost extinct in other parts of the United States. 

It resembles the domestic pigeon, in habits and flight, 
rather than the passenger pigeon, that almost extinct species. 


They do not go in flocks, but separately and in twos and threes. 
They are a dark rich blue-black "having the upper part of the 
head pure white, with a deep rich brown edging at the lateral 
parts of the crown." The young have no white on their heads, 
that distinguishing feature not appearing until the birds are 
four months old. This bird comes from Cuba in the latter part 
of April and remains on the keys where it breeds, until about 
the first of October. It is not found elsewhere in the United 

Mr. Audubon painted the whiteheaded pigeon on a bough 
of what is called in Key West the "Geiger Flower," botanically 
known as the "Rough-Leaved Cordia." Of this plant, which is 
now abundant in Key West, there were only two specimens 
in 1832, and they were in the yard of Dr. Benjamin B. Strobel. 

During this visit Mr. Audubon discovered a new 
variety of pigeon hitherto unknown to ornithologists, of 
which he says: "I have taken upon myself to name this species 
the 'Key West Pigeon,' and offer it as a tribute to the generous 
inhabitants of that island, who honored me with their friend- 
ship." It is sometimes called the "partridge pigeon," from 
its resemblance to the partridge or quail in its habits and color- 
ing. Like the whiteheaded pigeon, its natural habitat is Cuba, 
whence it once came in quantities to Key West and the adjacent 
keys, but is rarely found here now. Only a half a dozen specimens 
have been procured in the last thirty years, one of which was 
shot by Mr. J. W. Atkins, manager of the Telegraph and Cable 
Company, an amateur ornithologist of some repute. Mr. 
Audubon calls it the "most beautiful of woodland cooers," 
and on observing for the first time "the brilliant changing metallic 
hues of its plumage" was so inspired with the difficulty 
of copying nature in this instance that he exclaimed "But who 
will draw it?" His painting, in the " Birds of America," 
shows it to be a most beautiful bird, but it is obvious that Nature 
laughed at man's effort to put on canvas what God had limned. 

On February 22, 1832, the one hundredth anniversary of 
the birth of Washington, a banquet was given by the patriotic 
citizens of Key West, in honor of that occasion. The program 
and toasts were of high order and deserve to be perpetuated 
in history; not only as a lesson in patriotism but as an illustration 
of the thoroughness of the journalism of that day.* 


In May, 1860, the United States gunboats Mohawk and 
Wyandotte captured two slavers, the Wildfire and W'il- 
liams, and brought them into this port with their cargoes 
of three hundred Africans. 

A barracoon was constructed at Whitehead's point, about 
where the principal sand battery now stands, and several 
large barracks built for them. These fronted the shore 

*Appcndix F. 


? distance of about 140 yards from high water mark, and every- 
day the Africans would go in a mass and bathe. As their clothing 
was scant, consisting of merely a clout, they had none of the 
inconveniences of modern surf bathers. The dormitory for their 
accommodation was two hundred and twenty-five feet by twenty- 
five feet, and this was divided into nine large rooms, so that the 
sexes and children of different ages could be separated. They 
were fed in squads of ten, seated around a large bucket filled 
with rice and meat, each armed with a spoon to feed with. Thirty 
gallon tubs well supplied with cool fresh water stood in each 
room. The percentage of sick among them was enormous. 
Nearly all were suffering with ophthalmia, while many were 
totally blind. A hospital one hundred and fourteen by twenty- 
one feet was erected, which at one time had as many as one hun- 
dred and eighty patients. The hospital was in charge of Doctors 
Whitehurst, Skrine and Weedon, under whose care most of the 
sick were restored to health. 

The Africans were cared for by the Federal authorities 
but were the recipients of many acts of kindness from our 
citizens. Hundreds visited them daily, carrying clothing, food 
and other things for their comfort and pleasure. The first 
burial was of a child six weeks old, whose young mother was 
barely in her teens. Her devotion to her offspring made her an 
object of much sympathy to the visitors to the camp, and upon 
the death of the child, our people provided a handsome coffin 
to bury it in. The interment took place some distance from the 
barracoon, and the Africans were allowed to be present at the 
services, where they performed their native ceremony. Weird 
chants were sung, mingled with loud wails of grief and mournful 
moanings from a hundred throats, until the coffin was lowered 
into the grave, when at once the chanting stopped and perfect 
silence reigned, and the Africans marched back to the barracoon 
without a sound. 

In December, 1867, Key West was honored by a visit from 
Mr. Jefferson Davis, late president of the Southern Confederacy, 
and his wife, Varina Howell Davis. Mr. Davis' long confinement 
in Fortress Monroe had broken his health, and he was advised 
to go to Cuba for the winter. He embarked from Baltimore 
for Havana via Key West, and spent the day here. He and Mrs. 
Davis were the guests of Hon. Joseph B. Browne. A delicate 
and thoughtful attention was shown them by Colonel W. C. 
Maloney, Sr. He sent a basket of fruit from his garden to 
ornament the dinner table, and requested that it be presented 
with his compliments to Mr. Davis, after the dinner. In the 
center was a fruit of the cocoanut tree, surrounded with its 
spiral stemmed blossoms. The delicate green of the anone, 
contrasted with the brown of the sapodillo, and the yellow 
and red of the mango gave the needed dash of color; the whole 
effect was enlivened by a generous sprinkling of the bright 
pink of the West India cherry — the favorite fruit of the donor's 



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garden. Colonel Maloney had been an uncompromising Union 
man during the war, and his intense nature made him a bitter 
partisan. But the war was over, Mr. Davis was a private citizen, 
his health was broken, and he had suffered the hardships of a 
long prison life, and, what was a still more weighty consideration 
with Colonel Maloney, he was a guest of the city and entitled 
to all consideration. 

An incident of this visit, trifling in itself, is indicative 
of Mr. Davis' gentleness of character and disinclination to 
wound. While out driving with his host, they stopped at a friend's 
home to get a ripe sapodillo for Mr. Davis to taste. He broke 
it in halves, and on taking a bite, quietly and without any expres- 
sion of distaste, put the two parts together, and continued his 
conversation. On being asked if he did not like the fruit, said: 
"I cannot say that I care for it particularly, but I fancy some 
people are very fond of it." 

Illustrative of his extreme punctiliousness, this incident is 

In 1880 a group of students in the State University of Iowa 
were boasting of the distinguished people of their acquaintance. 
One of them spoke of knowing Mr. Jefferson Davis who had 
been a guest at his father's home in Key West. The claim was 
good naturedly challenged, and a wager laid, to be determined up- 
on the young man receiving a letter from Mr. Davis which would 
verify his statement. The student wrote to Mr. Davis in April, 
1880, and after waiting two months, received no reply, and paid 
the bet. More than a year afterward a letter came from Mr. Davis 
stating that through some accident the letter had been mislaid, 
but upon it being lately recovered was promptly answered. 
At this time Mr. Davis was engaged in writing his great work, 
"The Rise and Fall of the Confederacy," and notwithstanding 
the fact that his mind was engrossed with his great subject, 
he was concerned lest he might have been guilty of an act of 
discourtesy, and hastened to make reparation, although a year 
had elapsed since he received the letter. 

In 1880 General U. S. Grant, accompanied by General 
Phil H. Sheridan, paid Key West a visit, on his return from his 
tour around the world. He came on the steamship Admiral from 
New Orleans bound for Havana. It was a day memorable in 
the history of the island — all stores were closed, and it was made 
a general holiday. 

He was met by a committee consisting of Mr. John Jay 
Philbrick, Hons. Frank N. Wicker, George W. Allen, Eldridge 
L. Ware, Joseph B. Browne, G. Bowne Patterson, Judge James 
W. Locke and many others. A drive over the island, a public 
reception, and a banquet were part of the functions provided for 
his entertainment. The banquet was served in the St. James hotel, 
as it was then called, prepared by Mr. L. Y. Jenness. The menu 
was printed on silk American flags; the red, white and blue color 
scheme being carried out in the badges and decorations. 


President Cleveland also paid Kej'^ West a visit at the 
expiration of his first term, 1889. He was accompanied by 
Ex-Secretary of State Bayard, Postmaster General Vilas and 
General Fitzhugh Lee, then governor of Virginia. They spent 
only a few hours in the city, but during that time they were 
shown around the island in carriages, and held a public reception 
in the Russell House. 

In 1902 Hon. William Jennings Bryan was a visitor in Key 
West, and delivered an address. As there was no hall large 
enough to hold all who wanted to hear him, he spoke in the open 
air at the corner of Elizabeth and Fleming streets. 




KEY WEST was peculiarly fortunate in its early settlers. 
Unlike the usual pioneers, they were not mere hewers of 
wood and drawers of water, but were people of cul- 
ture, education and refinement, and, as was natural for such a 
community, they early directed their endeavors towards 
moral and intellectual development. 

In March, 1831, just two years after the city had been laid 
out, a resolution of the town council, proposed by Mr. William 
A. Whitehead, called for a public meeting of the citizens to adopt 
measures for obtaining the services of a clergyman, and among 
the duties required of him was the opening of a school, and the 
earliest school established in Key West was by the Rev, Alva 
Bennett in 1834-5, he being the first clergyman to have a charge 
on the island. It was kept open a little less than a year, as Mr. 
Bennett returned north in April, 1835, and died soon afterwards. 
It was evidently well patronized, for Colonel Maloney in his 
history states that "Mr. Bennett realized from it about $30.00 
per week." 

The next school, as appears from an advertisement in the 
Key West Enquirer in April, 1835, was kept by Mr. Alden A. 
M. Jackson, the son-in-law of Judge Webb, in the county court 
house. The terms were from $2.00 to $4.00 per month according 
to the branches studied. 

During the pastorate of the Rev. Mr. Dyce of St. Paul's 
church he conducted a school at the same place. 

In 1842 Mrs. Passlague, a relative of Mrs. William Pinckney, 
opened a school, which she conducted for a year or two only. 
She was a French lady of rare intellectual attainments. 

In 1843 a provision was made for paying from the county 
taxes for the education of children whose parents were unable 
to pay. About thirty pupils were at that time taught at the public 
expense. The amount allowed was $1.00 per month for each 
pupil, the teacher providing his own school room. 

A school was taught by Colonel W. C. Maloney, Sr., on a 
lot situated on the western corner of Front and Fitzpatrick 
streets. The building was a two-story house, built in the style 
then quite common in Key West, and frequently seen in the 
West Indies, with jalousies on both floors. 

In 1845 Mr. and Mrs. Turner came to Key West from the 
north, and opened a school in the court house, which they con- 
ducted for several years. 


In 1852 Lieutenant Daniel Beltzhoover, a United States 
army officer, stationed at this post, taught a class at the barracks. 
Shortly after this Mr. John M. Bethel opened a school on Eaton 
street, in a building near the corner of Eaton and Simonton 
streets, adjoining the First Methodist church. Most of the present 
generation of older men went to school to him. After the Civil 
War he returned to Nassau, where he held for thirty years the 
position of secretary of the Colonial Parliament, and on his 
retirement, he came again to Key West and opened a night school. 
Two of his pupils are among the prominent men of Key West, 
Hon. William H. Malone, Jr., and Hon. Charles L. Knowles« 
He was educated in England, was a teacher of the old school, 
believed in thoroughly grounding his pupils in the fund- 
amentals, and considered the strap a necessary adjunct to 
getting knowledge into a boy's brain. 

In 1852 Miss Euphemia Lightbourne, the sister-in-law of 
Judge Winer Bethel, opened a school that became one of the 
leading institutions of Key West. In 1865 her niece, Miss 
Mellie Bethel, became her assistant, and on the death of Miss 
Lightbourne in 1887, Miss Bethel conducted the school alone. 
It closed its doors permanently in 1911, after sixty years opera- 
tion, during which time it never missed a term. Its influence will 
continue during the lives of the present generation. 

Other excellent private schools were kept by Miss Ann 
Elizabeth Browne, and Miss Josephine Ximinez, and many of 
our most cultured women studied under them. 


1870 marks the beginning of the public or free school system 
in Key West. A school was opened on the first floor of the 
Masonic Temple on Simonton street, Mr. Eugene O. Locke, 
now clerk of the United States district court for the southern 
district of Florida, a brother of Judge James W. Locke of that 
court, was the first principal. He was succeeded by Mr. Thomas 
Savage of Boston, who afterwards became a member of the law 
firm of Allen, Long and Savage, of which Governor Long of 
Massachusetts was a member. In 1874 a large three-story build- 
ing was erected on a lot in the rear of Simonton street, between 
Fleming and Southard streets, called Sears school. It ac- 
commodated about five hundred pupils. Mr. Justin Copeland 
was principal, with a corps of eight teachers. In 1909 it was 
abandoned and torn down. 

Succeeding principals of Sears school, in the order of service, 
were Mr. Barnes of Baltimore, Mr. Wyman, Mr. F. J. Cunning- 
ham, Mr. Taylor Lee, Mr. W. J. Cappick, Mr. Adolph Van 
Deldcn, Mr. John A. Graham, Mr. Byrne, Mr. Yancy, Mr. 
B. C. Nichols, Mr. Bonnington and Mr. M. P. Geiger. 

A public school for the education of the negro children was 
opened in 1870, called Douglas school. William M. Artrell, 
a negro from the Bahamas, was the first principal. 


In 1887, under the administration of Dr. R. J. Perry, 
county superintendent of public instruction, a public school was 
opened on a lot on Grinnell street, between Division and Virj^inia 
streets. It was called "Russell Hall" in honor of Hon. Albert 
J. Russell, then State superintendent of public instruction, a 
prominent Mason, a distinguished Confederate officer and a fine 
orator, who devoted his life to the cause of education. 

The first principal of Russell Hall was Mr. Taylor Lee. 
He served one full term, was reappointed, and in his second 
year was principal of both Sears school and Russell hall. He died 
on December 22, 1888. 

He was succeeded as principal by Miss Lovie Turner, 
who held that position continuously until the close of the 
term, of 1911, when she resigned. She made a fine record and 
was loved and respected by the pupils and patrons of the school. 

In 1600 Russell Hall was moved from Grinnell street to 
a lot on the corner of White and Division streets, and remodelled 
into a commodious colonial structure. 

In 1909 a handsome concrete building was erected on the 
corner of Southard and Margaret streets called Harris high school. 
It took the place of Sears school in Monroe county educational 
work. The site cost sixteen thousand dollars and the building 
forty-two thousand dollars. On the completion, Sears school 
house was torn down, and its name abandoned. 

Harris high school was dedicated on July 4th, 1909, and. 
addresses were delivered by Mr. Jefferson B. Browne, Mr. 
W. Hunt Harris, Mr. William H. Malone, Mr. Charles L. 
Knowles, Mr. Virgil S. Lowe, Mr. J. \ ining Harris, Dr. J. N. 
Fogarty, Major Hunter, United States army, and Commodore- 
W. H. Beehler, United States navy. 


In 1868 the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, 
a Canadian organization, came to Key West and opened a school 
for white girls in a large frame building on the corner of White- 
head and Division streets, which had been occupied as a barracks 
during the Civil War, where they taught for over ten years. 

In 1878 they laid the foundation for a new convent to be 
erected on a part of tract twelve of the original survey of Key 
West, extending about six hundred feet along Division street, 
conti i ling about eight and a half acres. The building is of 
native coral rock quarried on the island, the main part of which 
cost thirty-five thousand dollars. In 1904 it was enlarged to 
nearly twice its original size by the addition on the northeast 
end, at a cost of twenty-two thousand dollars. It is the hand- 
somest educational building in the State of Florida, and a 
monument to the devotion and heroism of the good women who 
founded and maintained it. 

Many of the sist(r> died at their post of duty of yellow 
fever, and only once has it closed its doors — in 1898 when the 


holy sisters placed the convent, two school buildings and their 
personal services as nurses at t le disposition of the naval author- 
iti(S for hospital purposes. 

Among the first to receive the loving care of the nuns was 
Father Chadwick, chaplain of the Maine. On his recovery he 
celebrated mass in the convent chapel, using the chalice given 
him by the crew of the Maine, and which had then just been 

Of all the good women who gave their services for the 
success of this institution, one sister, by reason of her great 
ability and long service, deserves special mention — Sister 
Mary Theophile, who spent forty years in the educational field 
of Key West. 

The convent conducted by sisters of the Catholic church 
is a religious institution, but non-sectarian in its teachings, 
and is liberally patronized by families of Protestants, and the 
great majority of our highly educated and accomplished women 
received their education at the convent of Mary Immaculate. 
Its influence on the morals and character of the women of 
Key West is infinite. 

The same community of sisters in 1881 established St. 
Joseph's College for white boys. The college building, on the 
corner of Simonton and Catherine streets, stands on a lot 
which extends along Catherine to Duval street, owned by the 
Catholic church. 

In 1869 a parochial school for white boys was established, 
conducted by a lay teacher, Mr, W. J. Cappick, under the 
supervision of the resident priest. 

In 1870 St. Francis Xavier's School for the education of 
negro children was opened. 

A Jesuit college for the higher education of boys was 
established in 1904, and is conducted by the Jesuit priests. 


In 1898 Bishop Warren E. Candler of Atlanta, Ga., of the 
Methodist Episcopal Church South, representing the Woman's 
Board of Home Missions, came to Key West, and interested a 
number of gentlemen in a proposition to establish a seminary of 
learning here. 

He appointed a committee on ways and means, consisting 
of Dr. CorneHus F. Kemp, Messrs. George L. Bartlum, Charles R. 
Pierce, Alfred Bates Curry and Jefferson B. Browne. Several 
meetings were held by them at the residence of Rev. J. P. DePass, 
where plans for raising money, securing a lot and founding the 
institution were worked out. 

The seminary began in a modest way in 1899 in a rented 
building formerly the residence of Mr. Martin L. Hellings, near 
the light-house. The next year it was moved to the Gato resi- 
dence on Division street, near the North Beach. 

The first building erected on the property purchased for 


the seminary on United street, was completed in 1901, It was 
a large colonial frame building, with recitation rooms, dormitories 
and living quarters for the faculty. 

Its first principal was Miss Mary Bruce, to whose indom- 
itable will and energy the success in launching this institution 
is mainly due. She was succeeded in 1905 by Miss Emily J. 
Reid who resigned in 1908, since which time the institution 
has been under the management of Professor Arthur W. Mohn. 
Under him the institution has thrived, and ranks as one of the 
first in the State. 

In 1910 a principal's residence was erected, and in 1911 
an administration building called Bruce Hall was completed. 
It is built of artificial stone, and contains twelve recitation rooms, 
two music rooms, a chemical and physical laboratory, a library 
room, the principal's oflHce and a chapel or auditorium with a 
seating capacity of over six hundred, the largest in the city. 
Its large roof garden, where open air entertainments can be held, 
is one of the most attractive features, and in this climate one 
of the most useful. 

The colonial building has been recently remodelled, and 
named Ruth Hargrove Hall, It is now used mainly as a dor- 
mitory and has accommodations for fifty teachers and students. 
An attractive kindergarten cottage stands at the rear of the lot. 

Additional land was purchased in 1910 and in 1911, and the 
school tract now contains three acres. 

The institution was first called Ruth Hargrove Seminary, 
but in 1910 the name was changed to Hargrove Institute. 




THE DESIRE for religious worship, which is a dominant 
trait of the EngHsh speaking people, manifested itself in 
the earliest days of the settlement of Key West, and 
the people gathered together in the old court house in Jack- 
son Square and held non-denominational services. Occasionally, 
when some clergyman would be transiently on the island, his 
services would be engaged and the islanders worshipped God 
with no thought of the denomination of the pastor. 

On the 7th of March, 1831, the first movement was made 
to have a clergyman regularly domiciled at Key West. A meeting 
of tl e town council was held on that day and a motion made 
by Mr. William A. Whitehead, requesting the council to call 
a meeting of the citizens of Key West for this purpose. In 
pursuance thereof a meeting was held on the 9th day of March, 
and Judge James Webb of the United States court presided. 
A committee of six was appointed, consisting of Hons. James 
Webb, David Coffin Pinkham, judge of the county court of 
Monroe county, William A. Whitehead, collector of customs 
of the port of Key West, Col. Lachland M. Stone, United States 
marshal for the Southern District of Florida, Dr. Benjamin 
B. Strobe], surgeon of the army post. Dr. Henry S. Waterhouse, 
postmaster of Key West, to ascertain as far as practicable how 
much could be raised by subscription for the support of a 
minister, and the number of children who would attend the school 
to be established by him, and to communicate with the bishop 
of the Episcopal church of New York, requesting him to procure 
and send a clergyman here. In their letter they express proper 
consideration for the comfort . f the clergyman, and say: "The 
minister would not be required in any year, that he should stay 
a greater portion of the months of August and September 
than would be entirely agreeable to himself."* 

On October 13, 1831, another public meeting was held and 
the committee reported that they had communicated with the 
Rt. Rev. Benjamin T. Onderdonk, Protestant Episcopal Bishop 
of New York, and although the letter appeared in a religious 
magazine published by the Episcopal church in New York, 
no person had been appointed, nor had they received any reply 
from the bishop. The committee recommended that their efforts 
having failed of response from the Episcopal bishop, that they 
invite a clergyman of some other denomination. 

*Appendix G. 


Key West was unfortunate in its selection of a bishop to 
whom to apply for a pastor, as Bishop Onderdonk on the 3rd 
of January, 1845, after a sensational trial, was "suspended from 
all exercise of his episcopal and ministerial functions." 

ST. Paul's episcopal church 

The Episcopal church was the pioneer religious organization 
in Key West, and the entire population who desired a church 
to be established here, united for the purpose of public devotion 
under the name of the Protestant Episcopal Church, and many 
united with it who had not previously been of that faith. 

Rev, Sanson K. Brunot, of Pittsburgh, Pa., the first clergy- 
man to hold services in Key West, arrived here Decem- 
ber 23, 1832. He came with letters of introduction from 
the Rt. Rev. Benjamin T. Onderdonk, bishop of New York, 
and Mr. S. J. Whitehead of New Jersey. He was only 24 years 
old and had not been long in the ministry. He accepted the call 
largely on account of his ill health, many of his family having 
died of consumption, and he thought thus to avoid becoming 
a victim to that disease. He was warmly welcomed on the island 
and became the guest of Mr. William A. Whitehead. During 
his stay the parish was organized, and an act of association was 
drawn up and a charter obtained from the territorial council 
on February 4, 1833. The official title of the organization was 
"The Rector, Wardens and Vestrymen of St. Paul's Church, 
Key West." 

On Christmas day, 1832, was heard for the first time on the 
island, the beautiful service of the Episcopal church, by a 
regularly ordained priest. 

After the morning service the following named persons were 
enrolled in the first Episcopal congregation: Mr. James Webb, 
Mr. William A. Whitehead, Mr. David C. Pinkham, Mr Field- 
ing A. Browne, Mr. Thomas Eastin, Mr. Alexander Patterson, 
Mr. A. H. Day, Mr. John W. Simonton, Mr. Adam Gordon, 
Mr. William H. Shaw, Mr. J. R. Western, Mr. Wilhara H. 
Wall, Mr. Theodore Owens, Mr. Eugene Trenor, Mr. L. A. 
Edmonston, Mr. Henry K. Newcomb, Mr. Francis D. New- 
comb, Mr. Henry S. Waterhouse, Mr. Amos C. Tift, Mr. E. 
Van Evour, Mr. John Whitehead, Mr. Pardon C. Greene, Mr. 
Oliver O'Hara, Mr. George E. Weaver, Mr. Philip J. Fontane, 
Mr. John J. Sands, Mr. Stephen R. Mallory, Mr. Francis B. 
Watlington, Mr. Charles M. Wells and Mr. John P. Baldwin. 

At the first election of wardens and vestrymen held April 
5, 1833, Mr. James Webb and Colonel Oliver O'Hara were elected 
wardens, and Messrs. Fielding A. Browne, Pardon C. Greene, 
Alexander Patterson, David Coffin Pinkham and WiUiam A. 
Whitehead were elected vestrymen. 

Mr. Brunot's health soon began to fail and after officiating 
only a few times, frequent hemorrhages put a stop to further 


public services. Feeling that his end was approaching and 
desiring to pass his last days in his old home, he left Key West 
in May, 1833, and died soon after his arrival in Pittsburgh. 

Before leaving he advised the vestrymen to apply to the 
Missionary Society of New York for aid. In Jul^', 1833, the 
vestrymen adopted Mr. Brunot's suggestion, and the Missionary 
Society appointed Rev. Alva Bennett of Tro3% N. Y., and contrib- 
uted $200.00 a year towards his salary, to which the parish added 
$500.00 a year. Mr. Bennett arrived in Key West in October, 
1834, and remained until April, 1835. 

On November 16, 1834, during Mr. Bennett's pastorate, 
the holy communion was first celebrated in Key West, in the 
court house, in Jackson Square, where services were held. 

Mr. Bennett was succeeded by Rev. Robert Dyce who was 
also appointed by the Board of Missions and arrived in Key 
West in September, 1836. In 1837 Mr. Dyce made a tour 
of the country to solicit funds for the church and succeeded in 
raising $3,000.00. 

On the 5th of May, 1838, Mrs. John William Charles Fleem- 
ing, wife of one of the original proprietors, gave to the vestry 
of St. Paul's church a tract of land having a frontage of two 
hundred feet on the southeast side of Eaton street, from Duval 
to Bahama street, and extending on Duval and Bahama streets 
two hundred feet; "the lot to be used for church purposes and 
the pews in the church to be free." 

On the 10th of July, 1838, the vestry voted to erect a church 
building to be constructed of the native coral rock. It was to 
be forty-six feet long, thirty-six feet wide and twenty-two feet 
high on the inside, and to contain thirty-six pews and a gallery 
at one end. 

The vestry went to work with a will, and by December 23d 
of the same year four hundred and fifty pieces of the native 
coral rock had been quarried and placed on the grounds. On 
the 3d of March the church was so far completed that the pews 
were sold at auction. The church cost $6,500.00. 

On February 14, 1839, Mr. Dyce resigned charge of the 
parish and was succeeded by Rev. A. E. Ford. Mr. Ford left 
in 1842 and was succeeded by Rev. J. H. Hanson, who remained 
in charge until May, 1845, when he resigned. During this time 
the work on the church was nearly completed. 

In October, 1846, the Rev. C. C. Adams was called and 
appointed missionary by the Domestic Board of Missions. 
Mr. Adams started for Key West via Savannah and St. Augustine. 
Before leaving St. Augustine he learned that the church had been 
blown down by the hurricane of October, 1846, and at the sugges- 
tion of the provincial bishop of Georgia he came to Key West 
"to ascertain the character of the parish and if he found it as 
being unworthy an effort to rebuild, to so report to him, and 
abandon it, otherwise, to go abroad and beg for funds to re- 
build." After arriving at Key West Mr. Adams decided on the 


latter course, but first received assurances from the vestry that 
the new church should be forever free. He left Key West Jan- 
uary 11, 1847, having assumed charge on that date. 

He returned the following December with about $3,300.00. 
A frame church was then erected and the first service was held 
in it on July 30, 1848. The church was consecrated January 4, 
1851, by the Rt. Rev. C. E. Gadsden, Bishop of South Carolina. 

Four pews at the back of the church were set apart for the 
use of negroes, both free and slave, who were members of the 
Episcopal church. The practice prevailed until in 1888, when 
a negro Episcopal church, St. Peters', was erected, since which 
time they have attended that church, except a few of the old 
negroes who would not sever their relations with the church 
of their youth. At the celebration of holy communion they 
wait with old time respect for the white people to commune, 
and then go reverently to partake of the sacrament. 

On January 5, 1854, the parish declared itself self-supporting 
and severed its connection with the Missionary Society. On 
April 1, 1855, the Rev. Mr. Adams resigned. 

In December, 1856, E. O. Herrick was made rector, which 
position he occupied until he resigned in January, 1870, to 
accept an appointment as chaplain in the United States army. 
He was, for many years stationed at Fortress Monroe, 
where he was rector of the Church of the Centurian on the 
military post at that station. He died at Watertown, N. Y., 
October 1, 1907. 

In December, 1857, during Mr. Herrick's pastorate the 
present rectory was built at a cost of $4,500.00. In 1860 the 
church was enlarged at a cost of about $4,000.00. 

The following are the names of the succeeding rectors and 
dates of services: 

Rev. Wm. T. Saunders, from July, 1870, to June, 1872. 

Rev. J. S. J. Higgs, incumbent of the parish of San Salvador, 
from December, 1872, to the latter part of January, 1873. 

During the winter of 1873 the Rev. Charles A. Gilbert 
visited Key West and held services. 

Rev. John Reuther, from March, 1873 to 1874. 

Rev. J. L. Steele, from 1874 to October 13, 1878, when he 
fell a victim to yellow fever. 

Rev. J. B. Baez, a Cuban resident of Key West, who had 
been ordained a minister, held services until the appointment 
of a new rector. 

Rev. Charles A. Gilbert, who had visited Key West in 1873, 
was called, and was in charge of the parish until November 8, 
1880, when he, too, fell a victim to yellow fever. 

Rev. Charles Stewart, from November, 1880, to May, 1881, 
when he resigned. 

Rev. Chas. F. D. Lyne, from December 4, 1881, to February 
13, 1886, when he died after a life of long and useful service. 


Rev. J. D. Baez again filled the pulpit from February to 
June, 1886. 

Rev. John B. Linn, from July, 1886, to 1890. 

Rev. Gilbert Higgs, from 1890 to June, 1903. Mr. Higgs 
shares with Mr. Herrick the distinction of the greatest length 
of service of the pastors of St. Paul's Church; each having 
served faithfully for thirteen years. Mr. Higgs married Miss 
Clara Herttell, of Key West, and died in Atlanta, Ga., the 7th 
of September, 1911, and his remains were brought to Key West 
for burial. Funeral services were held in the parish school house 
on the church lot September 11, 1911, the burial service being 
conducted by Rev. Charles T. Stout and Rev. A. R. E. Roe. 

Mr. Higgs was born in St. George, Bermuda. He was a 
man of great energy and fine artistic taste, and found time 
from his clerical duties to lay off the church grounds in an or- 
namental garden, which during his pastorate was one of the show 
places of the city. 

After Mr. Higgs' resignation the parish was without a 
priest until June, 1904, when the Rev, James J. Cameron 
came to Key West and remained until June, 1905. 

Rev. Samuel Duncan Day was here from June to August, 

Rev. B. F. Brown, from June, 1906, to August, 1906. 

Rev. John F. Porter, during September and October, 1906. 

On the first Sunday in December, 1906, the Rev. Charles 
T. Stout took charge of the parish and is the present pastor. 

The first Sunday school was organized November, 1832, 
and in January, 1833, there were between fifty and sixty children 
in attendance. 

In 1851 a Ladies' Missionary Society was formed in the 
parish. Its officers were: Mrs. J. Y. Porter, president; Mrs. 
S. J. Douglass, secretary; Mrs. Joseph B. Browne, treasurer; 
Mrs. Kells and Miss Lightbourne, directresses. 

In 1847 a frame church was erected about midway of the 
block fronting on Eaton street, which was destroyed in the 
great fire of 1886. In the same year another frame building of 
like dimensions was erected and furnished with a set of chimes, 
which would have done credit to a much wealthier congregation. 
At that time they were the only chimes in the State. They were 
paid for by private subscriptions — several of the large bells 
being presented by individual members. Among those who 
presented bells were Mr. W'm. Curry and Mr. Horatio Crain. 
The church was liberally supplied with handsome memorial 
windows and tablets. 

On October 11, 1909, the sixty-third anniversary of the 
hurricane of 1846 (which destroyed the stone church), this 
church was destroyed by a hurricane. All the bells of the 
chimes except the smallest were saved, together with several of 
the handsome memorial tablets, which will be restored when 
the new church is erected. 


A parish meeting was held on March 6, 1911, to devise 
ways and means for rebuilding St. Paul's church and a commit- 
tee appointed, consisting of Hon. Geo. W. Allen, Hon. W. 
Hunt Harris, Hon. Joseph N. Fogarty and Mr. Frank H. Ladd, 
Mrs. Joseph Y. Porter, Mrs. J. W. Allen, Mrs. George L. Lowe 
and Miss Etta Patterson. Funds have been raised, plans accept- 
ed and work on the new church will begin in 1912. 

St. Paul's church has seven hundred baptised persons on 
its rolls and three hundred communicants. Its Sunday school 
has two hundred scholars. 

ST. John's church 

On the 20th of December, 1875, a number of distinguished 
Cubans, among whom were Hon. Carlos M. de Cespedes, 
Alejandro Rodriguez, afterwards mayor of Havana, and General 
of the Rural Guards in Cuba, Messrs. Teodoro Perez, Joaquin 
Leon, Juan B. Baez and others, met in St. Paul's church for the 
purpose of organizing an Episcopal church in which the services 
would be held in Spanish, and a petition to that effect was 
submitted to Rt, Rev. John F. Young, Bishop of Florida, and 
on the first of January, 1876, Mr. Juan B. Baez was authorized 
by the bishop to act as lay reader for the new congregation. 

On March 20, 1877, he was ordained deacon by Bishop 
Young, and on March 9, 1879, was regularly ordained priest 
by Rt. Rev. Benjamin Whipple, Bishop of Minnesota. 

The new church, called St. John's Episcopal Church, 
began with about two hundred members and continued its 
work under Rev. Baez's pastorate until a short time before 
his death. Owing to his previous ill health, the congregation 
gradually fell off, and with his death no further services were 
held, and the church, as an organization came to an end. 


As early as 1892 the apparent need of an Episcopal church, 
more accessible to the members of that denomination residing 
in the vicinity of Division street, impressed the Rev. Gilbert 
Higgs, and he tried to meet the necessity by holding services 
at the residence of Mr. Clement Knowles, Sr., as often as was 
compatible with his duties as rector of St. Paul's. This he contin- 
ued for a year and a half, assisted by Mr. James M. Jones as 
lay reader, and by other members of the Brotherhood of St. 

The first Sunday school was opened in Russell Hall school 
house on June 23, 1895, with twelve scholars. Dr. Higgs was 
superintendent; Mr. James M. Jones, assistant superintendent; 
Dr. William J. Bartlum, secretary, and Mr. St. Clair Grain, 
treasurer; Mrs. Edward B. Rawson, librarian, and Mrs. Ben- 
jamin Tynes, organist. Mrs. Rawson and Mrs. Susan Folker 
were the first teachers of the new Sunday school. The organ 
used was loaned by Mrs. G. Bowne Patterson. 


On August 13, 1895, the Missionary District of Southern 
Florida purchased from Mr. Benjamin Tynes a lot on the corner 
of Virginia and Grinnell streets, fifty by one hundred feet, the 
contract price of which was fifteen hundred dollars. The term 
of payment were twenty-five dollars cash and five dollars a 
month, without interest. By special effort the entire indebtedness 
was paid by Easter, 1903, Mr. Tynes generously deducting one 
hundred dollars from the original purchase price. There was a 
small building on the lot, which was fitted up and used for Sunday 
school and church services. Bishop Gray made his first visit 
to the new church February 2, 1896. The sacrament of confirma- 
tion was first administered on April 28, 1897, to a class of eight. 

On March 19, 1900, the cornerstone was laid for a church, 
donated by Mrs. Joseph Y. Porter, as a memorial to her father, 
Mr. William Curry. It was completed in October, 1900, and 
the first services held by the Rev. Walter C. Cavell, November 
4th of that year. As there was an indebtedness on the property 
for part of the purchase price of the land, the church was not 
consecrated until February 2, 1904, but services were regularly 
conducted in the interval. 

The name "Holy Innocents" was adopted because of 
the preponderance of little children in the congregation. 

For a time the minister lived in a rented house, but in 
February, 1904, a lot on Grinnel street was purchased from the 
Monroe county school board, for eight hundred dollars, and a 
vicarage erected which was completed July 15th of that year, 
when the pastor and his wife moved into their new home. 

The succeeding ministers of Holy Innocents were Rev. 
William Curtis White, who served for nearly five years; Rev. 
Arthur Browne Livermore, Rev. Charles F. Sontag, Rev, Arthur 
T. Cornwall and Rev. A. R. E. Roe, the present priest. The 
Right Rev. Anson R. Graves held services during the winter 
and spring of 1910, and the Rev. George Ward officiated for a 
few months in 1911. 

To Judge Livingston W^ Bethel belongs great honor and 
credit for his untiring work for the success of Holy Innocents. 
Never a service has been held when he was in the city that he 
was not present, and when pastorless, he officiated as lay reader 
and kept the congregation together. He has been senior warden 
ever since the church was first established. 

ST. Peter's episcopal church (colored) 

The history of this parish begins about forty years ago 
Numbers of colored church people had emigrated from the 
Bahamas, and finding no place of worship of their own, decided 
to hold services amongst themselves, going from house to house 
as opportunity offered. On December 14, 1875, a meeting was 
called and presided over by Bishop John Freeman Young of 
Florida, and the title of "St. Peter's" adopted as the name 
of the new parish. A vestry w^as elected which appointed Dr 


J. L. Steele the first rector. From this time on the work grew 
rapidly, and services were held in various rooms and halls, with 
sacraments at St. Paul's. 

After Dr. Steele's death in 1878, matters stood still for a 
time, but revived with much energy in April, 1887, when Bishop 
Weed sent as rector Rev. C. D. Mack. 

Plans were laid for purchasing land for a church lot, and in 
December of the next year Father McGill, who had then taken 
charge, began the erection of a church hall, which building even- 
tually became St. Peter's Church. The entire cost of building, 
furnishing, and memorials was borne by the members of the 
church. J. L. Kerr, a colored priest, did faithful work for over 
fifteen years. 

In October, 1909, the church was badly damaged by a 
hurricane, the restoration costing over five hundred dollars. 
The next year a second storm entirely destroyed the church, 
and from the ruins has been erected a fair sized hall, which is 
used for devotional purposes. 

Funds are being raised to replace the church by a substan- 
tial concrete building. The membership is one of the largest 
in the city, the communicants numbering over five hundred, 
with three hundred Sunday school children, besides various 
guilds, etc. 

In 1908 Rev. A. R. E. Roe became rector of St. Peter's, 
but resigned in the fall of 1911 to accept a call as priest^of 
Holy Innocents. 




EARLY items about the Catholic church are very scarce, as 
no history of it has been left at Key West. The earli- 
est data is obtained from the baptismal, marriage and 
funeral registers, which date back something over half a century. 

In the early forties Key West was in the diocese of Savannah, 
Ga., and priests sent by the bishop of that place, came once or 
twice a year to administer the sacraments. On October 10th, 
1846, a priest from Havana celebrated high mass in the city 
hall, a two-story building erected over the water at the foot of 
Duval street, the first floor of which was used as a meat and 
fish market. 

Among the earliest priests who officiated at Key West 
were Rev. Fr, Corcoran about 1847, and Rev. Fr. J. F. Kirby 
in 1851. 

The first Catholic church in Key West was on the southwest 
side of Duval street, about one hundred feet from the corner of 
Eaton street. It was dedicated by the Rt. Rev. Bishop Francis 
Xavier Gartland on the 26th of February, 1852, and the sermon 
was preached by the Rev. Fr. Hunincq, a Belgian priest. 
It was called the "Church of St. Mary, Star of the Sea." Since 
it first shed its light in Key West it has, like a star of the sea 
to the wandering mariner, been a star of hope and comfort in 
times of despair and sorrow, and a star of joy to those who have 
lived in its teachings. The church was repaired and enlarged 
in 1870, and a large pipe organ installed. 

This church had among its early congregation many negroes, 
some free and some slaves, belonging to Catholic families from 
St. Augustine. For them was assigned a part of the church 
separated from the whites. This custom still prevails in this 
church, which numbers among its members many of the best 
negTo families. 

The first to be appointed resident priest was Father 
J. N. Brozard on November 8, 1852. With him during 1852 
was Father Ed. Quigley, and in 1853 Father J. T. O'Neil. 
In 1854 Father Quigley was pastor, and in 1855 Father Ed. 
Murphy and Father J. Barry officiated. In 1856 Father Kirby 
and Father Clemens Prendergast were here administering the 
sacraments. In 1857 Bishop J. Barry, then bishop of Savannah, 
accompanied by Father Prendergast and Father Ed. Aubrie 
(of the society of Priests of Mercy, a Catholic religious order), 
visited Key West and administered the sacrament of confirma- 


tion. In 1858-9 Fathers J. J. Cabanilla, Marius Cavalieri, 
Felix Ciampi, who belonged to the society of Jesus (Jesuits), 
officiated at Key West. They were probably only visiting priests 
or here on a special mission, as Father Ciampi was a renowned 
preacher in Philadelphia at that time. 

Bishop Augustine Verot was consecrated Vicar Apostolic 
of St. Augustine, Fla., April 25, 1858; transferred to Savannah 
in 1861, and appointed First Bishop of St. Augustine, when 
Key West became part of St. Augustine diocese. 

In February, 1860, Father Sylvanus Hunincq came as 
pastor to Key West. He died that summer of yellow fever, 
having ministered to many during the epidemic of that year. 
A marble slab was inserted in the wall of the church to commem- 
orate his life and services to humanity. He was much loved 
by people of all denominations for the great catholicity of his 
charity. In the same year Father James Hassan was appointed 
rector. He was succeeded in 1864 by Father Jos. O'Hara, who 
was succeeded by Father O'Mailley. From 1867-9 Father J. B. 
Allard was pastor and Father P. La Rocque was his assistant. 
Father La Rocque is now bishop of Sherbrook, Canada. Father 
Allard died in 1874, and in the absence of Father La Rocque, 
who went to finish his studies. Father A. F. Bernier was in charge. 
Father Hugon was in charge from 1875 to 1877. From here 
Father Hugon went to Tallahassee where he has ministered 
for the last thirty-eight years to a small but devoted, devout 
and cultured congregation. In that year Father La Rocque 
returned and had as his assistant Father Fourcard, who died 
of yellow fever in 1878. In 1879 two Jesuits, Father Avenione 
and Father Encinosa came from Havana to assist the priest, 
and they also died of yellow fever. At this time Father 
Spandenari became assistant to Father La Rocque. From 1880 
to 1890 Father Ghione had charge of the church without any 
assistant, but in the latter year Father Bottolaccio came as 
his assistant. In 1897 Father Ghione went to Italy and left 
Father Bottolaccio in charge. Shortly afterwards he advised 
Bishop Moore that he would not return to Key West, and the 
bishop made arrangements with the Jesuit Fathers of New Orleans 
Province, to take charge of the Key West church. Father 
A. B. Friend, S. J., arrived in Key West February 15, 1898, 
where he has since officiated with the exception of a short interval 
when he was stationed at Miami, during which time, the church 
was in charge of Rev. Father Schuler. 

On the 20tli of September, 1901, the church that was erected 
in 1852 on the lot on the southwest side of Duval street, between 
Eaton and Fleming streets, was destroyed by fire. From that 
time until August 20, 1905, the Catholics worshipped in one of 
the buildings put up on the convent ground by the government, 
for a hospital during the Spanish-American War. 

The new Catholic church is a handsome concrete structure 
which was begun February 2, 1904, and dedicated August 20, 

35 . 

1905, by the Rt. Rev. W. J. Kenny, D. D., Bishop of St. Au- 
gustine. The design and character of construction are the work 
©f Father Friend, to whose energies and ability is the church 
also indebted for financing its construction. It is situated on 
the corner of Division street and Windsor Lane, and built of 
concrete made from the coral rock dug from the lot on which 
the church is built. 




THE METHODIST church was introduced into Key West 
by the Wesleyans from the Bahama Islands, and as 
late as 1845 the congregation was composed almost en- 
tirely of people from the British West Indies, there being but 
one American among them. 

In 1837 among the very many worthy persons who came to 
Key West from the Bahamas, was Mr. Samuel Kemp, who though 
long dead, still lives in the sacred regard of our people. He was 
a W^esleyan Methodist and worshipped with those who resorted 
to the court house for that purpose for some time, but later erected 
at his own expense (assisted in the labor by some of his neighbors 
who were mechanics) a small building for public worship on 
land owned by himself on Eaton street near William. This was 
the first place of public worship in which the denomination known 
as the Wesleyan Methodists congregated in this city, and was 
the foundation of the Methodist church here. 

"Father Kemp," as he was usually called by reason of his 
advanced age and somewhat clerical demeanor, officiated as 
pastor of this small congregation, and was often assisted in the 
devotional exercises of his church or chapel, by Captain Ogden 
of the United States army stationed here at the time. 

The congregation becoming too numerous to be accom- 
modated in this small building, a larger one was erected on a lot 
on the southeast side of Caroline street, between Simonton and 
Elizabeth streets. 

In 1844 a break in the Methodist Episcopal Church of the 
United States occurred, which resulted in the formation of the 
Methodist Episcopal Church South. It grew out of the contention 
of the abolitionists that the general conference had the power 
to depose from the Episcopacy one who had previously been 
elevated to that rank. The Rt. Rev. James Osgood Andrew had 
married a lady who inherited some slaves from her first husband, 
and it was demanded of him that he get rid of them or desist 
from the exercise of his office. In Georgia, where Bishop Andrew 
resided, the law prohibited the manumission of slaves. Not- 
withstanding this a resolution was introduced in the conference 
that "The Rev. James Osgood Andrew be and he is hereby 
affectionately requested to resign his office as one of the Bishops 
of the Methodist Episcopal Church." After several days discus- 
sion a substitute for this motion was offered by two members 
of the Ohio conference, to the effect "That it is the sense of this 


general conference that he desist from the exercise of his office 
so long as the impediment exists." 

On May 31st a motion was made to postpone any further 
action in the matter until the next general conference, and the 
southern members to a man supported it, as did a few of the 
conservative members for the Middle and Northern conferences, 
hoping thus to avoid the schism which the abolitionists were 
bent on effecting. It was defeated by a vote of ninety-five to 

Finley's substitute, deposing Bishop Andrew from the Epis- 
copacy, was then adopted by a vote of one hundred and eleven 
to sixty-nine. This action accomplished what the abolitionisst 
had been working for — a separation of the Northern Church 
from that of the South — and a plan of separation was adopted 
June 8, 1844. By this plan all the property within the Hmits 
of the Southern organization when formed was to be free from 
any claim by the general conference. The Southern church was 
also to receive an equitable share of the common church property, 

A Southern conference was called to meet in Louisville, Ky., 
on May 1, 1845, and on May 15th the Methodist Episcopal 
Church South was duly organized. It may not be out of place 
here to show the bad faith of the Northern abolitionists.. In 
1848 the general conference of the Northern section of the 
Methodist church repudiated the plan of separation, and the 
Church South was forced to go into the courts to maintain its 
rights under the plan. Suits were brought in the United States 
circuit courts in New York and Cincinnati. In the New York 
suit a decision was rendered in favor of the Church South, but 
in Cincinnati the case went adversely to them. It was carried 
to the Supreme Court of the United States, where on April 
24, 1854, by a full bench — Mr. Justice McLean, a Methodist 
declining to sit in the case — the judgment of the circuit court 
in Ohio was reversed, and the plan of separation sustained in all 
its provisions. 

The Methodist Episcopal Church South having begun its 
existence in 1845, it thus appears that Rev. Simon Peter Richard- 
son, who was sent to Key West by the Florida conference in 
1845, was the first minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church 
South to officiate in Key West, although Rev. Andrew Graham 
was stationed here the year before. 

Mr. Richardson thus describes the condition of the Methodist 
Church and its congregation at Key West in 1845: 

"By the conference of 1845 I was appointed to Key West 
station. Brother Graham of Cahfornia memory, was stationed 
there the year before, and gave me a very unfavorable account 
of his ministry on the island. He told me there were thirty-two 
grog-shops there, and that he had encountered many difficulties. 
The whiskey men had threatened to wash him, which meant 
to tie a rope around his waist and shoulders and from the wharf 


to cast him into the water and then haul him in, and then east 
him out again. It is a terrible ordeal to put a man through. 
He eluded Iheir grasp by taking refuge on the boat that brought 
him over. He suffered many other indignities that were heaped 
upon him during the year. His church building was a small 
unceiled structure twenty by thirty feet. His flock was composed 
of Wesleyan Methodists from the West India Islands. There 
was but one American among them, and the more I thought 
over the treatment he had received, the more indignant I became. 
The devil made a flank movement on my piety and consecrated 
life, until I felt that if I ever heard of any attempt to 'wash' 
me they would smell fire and brimstone. I resolved that I would 
wipe up the earth with the first man that insulted me. The 
devil had got complete control of me. 

"I was the only regular preacher on the island. Other 
preachers were occasionally there, but the Catholics came 
regularly to my church. When I reached^ the island I was met 
by several of the brethren, who kindly conducted me to my 
boarding place, with one of the best families I ever knew. They 
held family prayers three times a day. I looked around for trouble 
but found none. Everybody was polite and kind to me. I soon 
began to cool down and feel repentance for my sins. 

"In a few days the judge, lawyers, doctors and prominent 
citizens called to see me, a reception I never had before nor 
have had since. I was invited to the Masonic lodge and chapter,, 
and made chaplain of both. My little chapel was soon filled with 
the women, the men standing around outside. This brought 
prominently before the public mind that I must have a larger 
church. I collected about four thousand dollars, and from the 
rock of the island put up and paid for a large stone building; 
but it was not covered in when that ever-to-be-remembered 
storm came and prostrated all to the ground, a mass of ruins, 
and carried my little chapel entirely away, out to sea, and we 
never saw nor heard of it any more. 

"This was the condition of affairs in October. I took the 
lumber and what I could bring from the wreck of the stone 
church and put up a small building to preach in, and large enough 
for my Sunday school. 

"I was married in 1847. I had been married only a few weeks 
when the Catholic priest and the Episcopal and Baptist preachers 
came to the island, and all determined to go to the mainland 
and collect money to build churches, because of the storm. 
This was one of the trials of my life. I had the island largely 
under my control. Many of the best families had joined the 
church but had nothing left after the storm. They were utterly 
helpless to build, and if those preachers succeeded in building 
the people would have to go to their churches, having nowhere 
else to go. I had spent one of the hardest year's work of my life 
to make it a Methodist town, and had succeeded far beyond 
my expectations; but I saw that all was lost, in that still form- 


ative state, unless I had a church large enough to hold my con- 
gregation together. I had had a hard experience in getting 
money abroad to build my St. Augustine church. I could not 
see how I could well leave my young wife, for I knew I should 
be kept months away. But go I must, I did not consult feehng 
nor the relations of my young wife. I simply informed her that 
I would have to leave her with her good mother for a time until 
I could get money to build a new church. I left on the first 
vessel for New Orleans." 

Mr. Richardson canvassed all the principal cities of the 
South and succeeded in raising over three thousand dollars. 
He thus describes his return to Key West. 

"I had the lumber sawed at the mills in the upper part of 
the city, and engaged a sloop to take it to Key West. I never 
believed in spirit-rappings or any other superstitions, but I 
had a distinct presentiment that that vessel was going to be 
wrecked. So strong was my impression that I left a duplicate 
of the bill at the mill. I went to the insurance office and proposed 
to insure. The agent dissuaded me, declaring there was no danger 
on the coast at that season of the year. The captain said he would 
be glad if he could get wind enough to carry his vessel to Key 
West. But with all this, I insured, I still felt a presentiment 
that the vessel would be wrecked. On July fifth I left Charleston, 
with thirty-tw^o hundred dollars in gold, on a United States 
propeller for Key West. The thermometer stood at one hundred 
and five in Charleston. The brethren declared I would burn up 
at Key West, but when I reached the island the thermometer 
stood at eighty-seven. I immediately employed w^orkmen to 
commence the building, but my vessel failed to put in her 
appearance. Finally I saw a large yawl coming into port with 
flag up. It was the captain of the sloop on which I had shipped 
the lumber, or a part of it, for the church. His vessel was wrecked 
on the Florida reef, and was a total loss. I soon had the bill 
duplicated and sent forward and collected my insurance. I 
had the church built storm-proof, and by October it was finished, 
paid for, and I was in it and preaching. The church I built 
remained for fifty years, and was removed only a few years ago 
and another erected. We now have four churches on the island. 
Mine was the third church we had built during the two years 
I was there." 

The church built by Mr. Richardson in 1847 was afterwards 
lengthened to sixty feet and could accommodate eight hundred 

In 1877 plans were adopted for a church to be built of native 
coral rock, and the corner stone laid in the latter part of the 
year. Work was to progress only as funds were in hand. At the 
end of three years the walls were up about twenty feet, a tem- 
porary covering put on, and the congregation began worshipping 
in it. This was during the pastorate of Rev. John C. Ley. In 
his work, "Fifty-two Years in Florida," he says: "The plan after 


I left was finally changed, the congregation becoming discouraged 
in regard to carrying out the original design, and finished it up 
as a one-story building." 

Rev. C. A. Fulwood has to his credit the longest term of 
service as pastor of this church. He served from 1872 to 1876, 
both inclusive, and again in 1888. Rev. E. A. Harrison comes 
next with four years; Rev. J. C. Ley also served four years, from 
1877 to 1880, and Brother Henry Hice three years, 1895 to 
1897. Brother R. Martin with three years, from 1883 to 1885; 
Brother Barnett, 1886 to 1887; Brother J. P. DePass in 1898 
and 1899, were distinguished ministers who left their impress on 
the comunity as well as their congregations. Rev. .J. D. 
Sibert is the pastor in 1911. 


In 1868 the Methodists having decided to introduce instru- 
mental music in their church, about thirty members severed 
themselves from the congregation and formed a new organiza- 
tion. Those enrolled for the new church were: Mr. Joseph P. 
Roberts and Mrs. Emma Roberts, Mr. T. B. Russell and Mrs. 
Sarah Russell, Mr. Benjamin Russell and Mrs. Sarah Russell, 
Mr. Philip Albury and Mrs. Mary N. Albury, Mr. Randall 
Adams and Mrs. Catherine Adams, Mr. George Curry and Mrs. 
Mary Curry, Mr. Joseph Ingraham and Mrs. Elizabeth Ingraham, 
Mr. Samuel Kemp, Mr. John Demeritt, Mr. Jabez Pinder an 
Mrs. Druscilla Pinder, Mr. Joshua Pinder, Mr. William Saunders 
and Mrs. Elizabeth Saunders, Mr. Benjamin Roberts, Sarah 
Thompson, Sarah Curry, Mr. Thomas Adams, Mr. John Roberts 
and Mrs. Margaret Roberts. 

It was called Sparks Chapel after Rev. J. O. A. Sparks, 
its first pastor. 

A lot on the corner of Fleming and William streets was pro- 
cured and a frame building erected, which was used as a place 
of worship until 1887, when the new church was built, under the 
pastorate of Rev. W. H. F. Roberts. The deed of gift to the 
land contained a clause intended to prohibit the use of in- 
strumental music in any church erected thereon. Rev. Mr. 
Sparks drew the deed, but it was not properly worded and failed 
of its purpose, and in 1892 instrumental music was introduced 
in the chapel, over the objection of some of the older members. 
The first service in the new church was held September 5,1887. 
During Rev. S. Scott's pastorate the church was remodeled and 
made very attractive both inside and out. 

On October 11, 1909, it was totally destroyed by a hurricane, 
and for over two years the congregation w^orshipped in Harris 
high school auditorium. On the second anniversary of its 
destruction, work was begun on the foundation for a new church 
which will be completed in 1912. 

Beginning in such a modest way. Sparks Chapel has main- 


tained a healthy and normal growth, and been in the forefront 
of the most aggressive evangelical work in Key West. 


In 1886 a small band of earnest Christians, members of the 
First Methodist church and Sparks Chapel, who lived too far 
to attend services with much regularity, organized a congrega- 
tion, and met for the worship of God in Russell Hall school. 
Their first pastor was Rev. John A. Giddens, who was then living 
in Key West on account of ill health. 

In 1887 they bought a lot on the corner of Watson and 
Virginia streets, and the old Sparks Chapel building moved there- 
on, and Memorial Church, M. E. South, began its mission for 
good. In 1903 they bought an adjoining lot, and erected a 
pastor's home. 

Among the members of this church were Mr. T. J. Finder and 
family, Mr. Blake Sawyer and family, Mr. William McClintock, 
Mr. Hubert Roberts and family, Mr. E. E. Archer and Mr. 
Benjamin Carey. 

The membership is now one hundred and ninety-two, 
and two hundred and fifty scholars are enrolled in the Sunday 

The Rev. T. H. Sistrunk, the pastor in charge, is a gifted 
orator, with the courage of his convictions, and aggressive in 
all movements toward civic uplift. 


The Methodists were among the first of the Frotestant 
churches to make converts among the Cuban refugees, and the 
Rev. H. B. Someillan was ordained minister and placed in 
charge of the Cuban Mission. It was not until 1877 that they 
had a church of their own. In that year Rev. J. C. Ley, pastor 
in charge of the First Methodist Church, interested Bishop 
Fierce in the importance of providing a place of worship for this 
congregation, and through him a thousand dollars was furnished 
by the Missionary Society, and a lot purchased on the corner 
of Duval and Angela streets. The small house situated on the 
lot was remodeled and furnished, and has since been the place 
of worship of the Cuban Methodist congregation. Rev. H. B. 
Someillan was the pastor for many years. He was succeeded by 
Rev. A. Silviera. Miss Annis Fyfrom, a highly cultured, talented. 
Christian woman, devoted some of the best years of her life in 
work connected with this mission. She conducted a parish school 
which wielded a great influence on the Cuban population. 

One of the first preachers to the Cuban Mission was the 
Rev. Van Duzer, who died of yellow fever in the epidemic of 1875. 




THE earliest recorded data of any Baptists meeting for 
worship in Key West, was on December 20, 1842, when 
"agreeably to appointment, after prayer and deliberation, 
the brethren met at the residence of J. H. Breaker for the 
purpose of ordaining Brother Charles C. Lewis to the gospel 
ministry. Prayer was offered by Brother Breaker on behalf of 
the candidate, during which the laying on of hands was perform- 
ed by Brothers Elim Eldridge, J. A. Wolfe and O. T. Braman. 
Charge was then given by Brothers Breaker and Asa Sawyer, 
and the right hand of fellowship by all the brethren present." 

This method of ordination was not strictly in accord with 
Baptist usage. After leaving Key West, Rev. Mr. Lewis was pas- 
tor of the Asia Minor Church, as it was locally designated, but 
properly, the Second Baptist Church of North Stonington, Conn. 
At the first meeting, this church acquainted the North Stonington 
Baptist Association with the manner of Mr. Lewis' ordination, 
and inquired if a reordination would be necessary. The old fathers 
after mature consideration, decided that Mr. Lewis was script- 
urally and regularly ordained, and thus placed the stamp of 
regularity on the acts of the little band of Baptists on the island, 
and established Mr. Lewis' title to being the first pastor of the 
Baptist church in Key West. 

As there were no Baptist churches in Florida with which 
the Key West church could be associated, they applied for 
membership in the North Stonington, Conn., Association, and 
were willingly received. For many years they annually cor- 
responded with this association, until it was ascertained that 
the church in Key West had a member who owned slaves, and 
they were notified that if they permitted slave owners to 
be members of their church, they could not continue their mem- 
bership in the association. The Baptists here saw no reason 
to exclude from membership a person who was holding property 
sanctioned by the constitution and laws of the United States 
and the State of Florida, and upon their refusing to comply 
with this demand, were dropped from the North Stonington 
Union Association. 

Subsequently the church sent Pastor-elect J. H. Breaker 
to Mobile for regular ordination. On December 23d of the same 
year they met for covenant meeting at the residence of Mr. 
J. H, Breaker, who was chosen clerk. Articles of faith and 
covenant were read, and ten persons examined and received 


for baptism, Catherine and Lavinia Johnson, John Pent, William 
Richardson, John Park, Reason Duke, Druscilla Duke, Mary 
Arlege, Martha B. Arlege and Susan Sands, who were baptized 
on Sunday, Christmas day, 1842. This was the first baptism 
by immersion ])erformed on the island. 

The formal constitution of the church took place March 11, 
1843. Six persons, members of churches in Connecticut, Mr. 
J. H. Breaker, Mr. Ben Sawyer, Mr. O. T. Braman, Mr. J. A. 
Wolfe, Mr. Asa Sawyer and Mr. Elim Eldridge, with several 
others, solemnly entered into a covenant as the "Key West 
Baptist Church." 

The first celebration of the Lord's Supper by the Baptists 
occurred March 26, 1843. There is no record of the election of 
any pastor at this time, but the records state that "in April, 
1843, Elder Lewis left the church to go north on account of the 
ill health of his wife, and the church was left without a pastor." 

In November, 1843, Elder Tripp assumed the pastoral 
care of the church. He preached twice on Sundays at the court 

The first movement towards building a house of worship 
was made April, 1844, and the pastor was sent north to solicit 
funds for that purpose. He met with little success, abandoned 
the work, and never returned to Key West. The church, though 
pastorless, maintained regular prayer services. In 1845 Rev. 
Mr. Doolittle took charge, and it is recorded that "He preached 
twice on the Sabbath in the Episcopal church." This did not 
seem strange to the Christians who were in Key West at that time, 
although it may appear so to denominational people of today. 
In April, 1847, Mr. Doolittle returned to his northern home, 
when Mr. J. H, Breaker became pastor, and preached at the 
court house, and in the Methodist chapel. 

During Mr. Breaker's pastorate the first meeting house was 
contracted for; the price being six hundred dollars. This house 
was opened for worship January 2, 1849. 

From 1852 to 1890 the records of the church are lost. The 
church however, was not prosperous, the constant change of 
pastors preventing any progress. 

During the Civil War the white Baptists drifted into other 
churches, and the church building was taken possession of by 
the negro Baptists, who held services there until the fall of 1879, 
when Rev. William F. W^ood, who had been a chaplain in the 
Union Armj^ came to Key W^est and revived interest in the 
Baptist church. He continued as pastor until early in 1900, 
when he went to Fernandina, where he died. During his pastorate 
in Key West he served as a missionary in Cienfuegos, Cuba, 
for about two years. He was the first evangelical missionary 
to that island. 

In 1866 the church building was destroyed by fire, and the 
present Baptist church was shortly afterwards erected, largely 
through the generosity of Mr. John White, who was for more 


than forty years a member of the congregation. A handsome 
memorial window to him now adorns the front of the edifice. 

The names of the succeeding pastors are Reverends H. M. 
King, W. W. Bostwick, J. L. D. Hillyer, R. F. Hart, W. H. 
House, T. J. Porter, James L. Rogers, H. H. Sturgis, J. W. 
Tucker, M. A. Clonts, who served twice as pastor, W. A. 
Norwood who served a few months in the interim, and Earl D. 
Sims. Rev. C. E. W. Dobbs, the present pastor came here in 
September, 1910. 

During Mr. White's life, and the pastorate of Mr. Wood 
the church thrived to a remarkable degree, and became one of 
the foremost evangelical influences in the city. After Mr. White's 
death the congregation not being wealthy, funds for the support 
of the church were hard to raise, and it was difficult to secure 
and keep the services of a pastor, so the congregation gradually 
dwindled away. 

During the pastorate of Rev. M. A. Clonts it regained 
its old time membership. Mr. Clonts first came to Key West 
in August, 1901, and stayed until October, 1902. Mr. Norwood 
succeeded him and served nearly a year. The church was again 
left pastorless from August, 1903, until Mr. Clonts returned 
in April, 1904. It was then that the church started on its present 
era of prosperity. During his pastorate the old First Baptist 
Church was formally dissolved, and the Eaton Street Baptist 
Church organized on March 23, 1905. On March 3, 1901, 
the old church unanimously voted to transfer the property to 
the Home Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, 
but nothing was done towards the transfer until Mr. Clonts' 
second pastorate, when it was finally consummated. The church 
was then repaired and improved by the addition of the new 
front, with its attractive columns, and a pastorium was erected. 
Mr. Clonts ended his pastorate here September 30, 1908, and 
had a church for a short time in Jacksonville. He has since 
been engaged in life insurance, and has prospered. 

Rev. Earl D. Sims was pastor from June, 1909, until July 31, 

The church under the pastorate of Rev. C. E. W. Dobbs, 
has grown in membership and grace, and is now one of the strong 
religious influences on the island. 

The Baptist pastors of Key West have had the hardest 
tasks of any of our ministers, as each one has found the small 
congregation badly scattered, and have had to 

"Watch the things they gave their lives to, broken. 
And stoop and build them up with worn-out tools." 


The First Congregational Church is one of the later institu- 
tions of worship in Key West. Like some of the others it had 
its origin in a disagreement among the members of an older 


church. Sparks Chapel, one of the Methodist churches, had 
a subsidiary organization among its members, known as "The 
Band of Prayer," one of the leaders of which was suspended 
from the church on a matter of discipline. Thirty-one other 
members of the band voluntarily withdrew, and without imme- 
diately perfecting any other church organization, met for wor- 
ship at the homes of the different members. Finally in July, 
1892, the leaders of this churchless band of Christians determined 
to organize an independent church. The Rev. Charles W. 
Fraizer was called to advise the brethren, and on July 20, 1892, 
the church w^as organized, with Rev. Mr. Fraizer as its first 
pastor, at the home of Mr. Samuel Roberts. The meetings 
were thereafter held in an "upper room" used as a sail loft. 
Mr. John A. Harris was the first convert of the church, his 
regeneration having taken place at the initial meet ng of the 
Band of Prayer. It was through him that the church obtained 
its present site on William street, upon which the commodious 
brick church was erected. 

The corner stone was laid by Rev. S. F. Gale, home mis- 
sionary superintendent of the denomination for Florida, on the 
twenty-seventh of June, 1903. From the small beginning of 
thirty-two members this church has become one of the foremost 
places of worship of the city. The present membership is two 
hundred and fifty-six. Mr. Fraizer served as pastor from July, 
1892, to September, 1901; Rev. Charles Campbell from Septem- 
ber, 1901, to September, 1902; Rev. William E. Todd from 
October, 1902, to September, 1903; Rev. H. R. Vau Anken 
from November, 1903, to May, 1905; Rev. Neil McQuarrie 
from May, 1905, to October, 1908. Rev. H. B. Gibbons from 
October, *1908, to October, 1911. 

One of the peculiarities of this church is that its membership 
has always had a preponderance of male members. 


In 1897 some of the devout disciples of Mrs. PMdy met at 
the residence of Mrs. Elenor Hellings, on Duval street, to hold 
services in accordance wuth the custom of that sect. 

Under the influence of this little band of Christians several 
converts were made, and it became necessary to secure larger 
quarters for their services, and in 1899 they moved to the 
Masonic Hall on Simonton street, where they worshipped until 

In 1904 a church was organized with fifteen charter members: 
Mrs. Elenor Hellings, Mr. and Mrs. F. A. Beckman, Mrs. Rosalie 
Maloney, Mrs. Ida Atkins, Mr. H. T. Mathews, Mrs. E. May 
Mathews, Mrs. Mary E. Maloney, Mrs. Annie L. Delaney, 
Messrs. Theodore L. Kinsey, H. J. Kinsey, O. C. G. Urban, 
Alfred A. Berghell, Ira M. Richardson and Mrs. Elizabeth 

In 1911 they bought a lot on the corner of Division and 


Georgia streets, and erected thereon a concrete church, where 
services are now conducted. Their membership is nearly forty. 


About fifteen years ago the Salvation Army sent a captain 
to Key West to begin their customary warfare against vice. 
In season and out of season, through good report and evil, too, 
they have worked hard and diligently. They work in the Master's 
vineyard apart from the others, and reach a class that would 
never hear religious admonition but for them. 

In 1907 Hon. W. Hunt Harris permitted them to use, free 
of rent, a lot on Margaret street, where they erected a tabernacle 
for indoor worship. 




THE first graves were made on the western beach between 
the town and Whitehead's point; most of them in the space 
between Emma street and the Marine Hospital building. 
A visitor to the island in 1830 described them as being marked by 
"a few plain stones to tell that the possessors of the little tene- 
ments below once lived and died," but the majority have 
merely the stones marking the length of each, but 

"Who sleeps below? Who sleeps below? 
Is an idle question now." 

Prior to 1835 there was no clergyman regularly stationed 
on the island, and burial services, in common with other rites 
of the church, were conducted by la.ymen. 

That anyone should have been an "old citizen" as early 
as 1831 seems strange, but the local paper of that day published 
a notice of the death on "Friday, the 13th of May, of Robert 
B. Stanard, Esq., formerly of Virginia, and one of the oldest 
inhabitants of our toivn." The funeral services were conducted 
by Mr. Wm. A. Whitehead. His remains were placed in the 
cemetery near the Marine Hospital. 

In 1831 a committee was appointed by the town council 
to select a proper site for the permanent location of a general 
burial place. Part of tract fifteen, lying between the termination 
of Whitehead street on the South Beach and Lighthouse Point 
was selected and used vmtil 1847. The destructive hurricane of 
1846 not only added to the number of the dead, but disinterred 
many who had been buried in the old tract. This circumstance 
gave rise to the necessity of seeking another place for sepulture. 

As late as 1855 interments were occasionally made in St. 
Paul's Episcopal churclij^ard. 

In 1847 the city purchased the greater part of what is now 
the City Cemetery, which lies to the northeast of Passover and 
Windsor Lane. The cemetery has been enlarged from time to 
time by the purchase of adjacent tracts. It lies now in a thickly 
settled part of the city, surrounded by residences and tenement 

In 1868 the Rt. Rev. Father Verot, the Bishop of St. 
Augustine, secured from the city council, the grant of a tract 
of three hundred feet square in an unoccupied portion of these 
grounds, for the consideration of "one dollar," and as the convey- 
ance reads, "to be devoted to the exclusive use of a Catholic 


burying ground, by and under the control of the said Bishop 
and his successors in office." 

The disinterment of human bones on the southeast side 
of the island, where excavations were being made for public 
improvements a few years ago, gave rise to the impression that 
a public burying ground had once been located in that vicinity. 
These remains, however, were those of the Africans who were 
brought to Key West in two captured slavers in 1860; a number 
of these died here, and were buried some distance from the bar- 
racoon, at the place where the bones were found. 

A custom prevails in Key West not practiced elsewhere in 
the United States, of closing the doors of stores while a funeral 
procession is passing. All business along the line of march is 
suspended, and the last tribute of respect thus paid to the dead. 




THE first act incorporating the City of Key West was 
passed January 8, 1828. 

On November 8, 1828, this act was repealed and a new 
one incorporating the Town of Key West was passed. It 
incorporated all the free white inhabitants of that part 
of the island of Key West comprehended within the limits 
prescribed by the plan of the town then on file in the clerk's 
ofiice in the county; being all that portion of the island beginning 
at the junction of White street with the waters of the harbor, 
and extending along White street to Angela, thence southwesterly 
along Angela to Fort Taylor reservation, thence northwesterly 
to the waters of the harbor, and thence along the shore line 
back to White street. 

The government was vested in a board of seven town council- 
men, to be elected by the free white male persons over the age 
of twenty -one years, who had resided three whole months within 
the proposed limits. The president of the body, in addition 
to his duties as such, acted as maj'or and exercised the powers, 
and received the fees and emoluments of a justice of the peace 
for the territory. The council had usual municipal powers, and 
the unusual ones of "appointing pilots, regulating pilotage and 
enforcing all laws of the territory as well as those of their own 

The first charter authorized levying license taxes, but gave 
no authority for a tax upon realty. This was a source of much 
controversy, the large landed proprietors being opposed to 
taxing their realty, as the major part of it was unproductive, 
and they were freely donating lots to induce settlers to come to 
Key West. 

The incorporated town gave place in 1832 to the incorporated 
city by virtue of a charter granted by the territorial council 
in that year. It provided for the selection of a mayor and six 
councilmen. Twelve months residence was required for voters. 
The first mayor elected under this charter was Colonel Oliver 

It provided for a tax on real estate of not more than one 
half of one per cent on its value. It also authorized a per capita 
tax on "free negroes, mulattoes and slaves." 

Under it members of the council were fined for being absent 
from meetings, and on April 4, 1835, at the suggestion of Mr. 
Adam Gordon, mayor, the amount assessed and paid for fines 


was donated to the Sunday school hbrary at Key West and its 
receipt duly acknowledged by Mr. William A. Whitehead, 
superintendent. Note the diflFerence in the public spirit of the old 
and the new Key West! Our forefathers considered that those 
who offered their services as members of the city council should 
attend to those duties or be fined for non-attendance. Under 
the present charter councilmen are paid four dollars a meeting 
for working for the city, for whose development and welfare, 
should be given voluntarily the best services of every citizen. 

The members of the town council elected under this act 
were Mr. David Coffin Pinkham, president; Mr. Pardon C. 
Greene, Mr. Benjamin B. Strobel, Mr. William A. Whitehead, 
Mr. Joseph Cottrell, Mr. Fielding A. Browne and Mr. George 
E. Weaver. The town council being empowered to elect the 
other city officials, elected Mr. William H. Wall, clerk; Mr. P. 
B. Prior, marshal, and Dr. Henry S. Waterhouse, treasurer. Dr. 
Waterhouse afterwards moved to Indian Key, and on January 
17, 1834, he and his young son were drowned by the upsetting 
of a small boat in which they had embarked for Matecumbie. 

Mr. Prior did not qualify as marshal and Mr. Stephen R. 
Mallory, who afterwards became United States senator, and 
secretary of the navy of the Southern Confederacy, was elected 
and served in his place. 

Under this charter an ordinance was passed by which negroes 
were not permitted to be on the streets after half past nine 
o'clock at night, without written permission (if free") from the 
mayor or an alderman, and if a slave from his master or mistress, 
under penalty of being whipped or put to labor on the public 
streets for three days. 

Negroes, whether free or not, were not permitted to play 
the fiddle, beat a drum, or make any other kind of noise after 
bell-ring without written permission from the mayor or an 

Every citizen was empowered to apprehend any negro 
violating this ordinance, and take him before the mayor or an 
alderman and obtain an order committing him to jail. 

No stores were permitted to be open after bell-ring. The 
city bell was rung for five minutes before half-past nine every 
night. It was amusing to see a belated negro sprinting for home 
on hearing the bell ring, in order to get there before it stopped, 
and hear some bystander cry out, 

"Run nigger, run. 
The patrol catch you." 

This charter was the first that authorized the assessment of 
real estate for purposes of taxation, and the assessment roll 
showed the value of realty to be $65,923.75. The improved por- 
tion was assessed at $61,005.00, and the unimproved which 
included all the rest of the island, was assessed at the rate of 
twenty-five dollars an acre, a total of $3,918.75. The taxes 


collected on this assessment amounted to $329.61; the expense 
of the government being borne largely by the revenue raised 
from license taxes. The charter gave no authority to levy taxes 
on personal property. 

The number of buildings within the city limits in 1832 was 
eighty-one, including sheds for the storage of wrecked cotton 
and other articles, blacksmith shops, etc. The two principal 
buildings were the warehouses of Pardon C. Greene and Fielding 
A. Browne; the assessed value of each was $6,000.00, including 
the land and wharfs. 

In 1835 the city charter was abolished by the territorial 
council through the influence of certain parties whose intended 
action was unknown to the citizens generally. The repealing 
act provided that all ordinances should remain in force. 

As soon as this action became known a petition was sent 
to congress protesting against it. The congressional Committee 
on Territories to whom the matter was referred, having reported 
against the action of the territorial council, that body in 1836 
reenacted the charter. 

Prior to 1828 a survey of the island was made, but when 
the proprietors sought to appropriate their several portions 
in accordance with the division previously agreed upon between 
Messrs. Simonton, Greene, Fleeming and Whitehead, it was 
found that the surveyor had left the island without furnishing 
them with any courses, distances or other data, whereby their 
prospective properties could be defined. 

Mr. William Adee Whitehead, a young civil engineer, who 
had come to Key West to go into business with his brother, was 
engaged to survey the island and lay out the town, which he 
completed in February, 1829. 

The streets, other than those bearing the surnames of the 
original proprietors, were named by them to perpetuate the 
memories of their relatives, friends and distinguished citizens. 
"Eaton" was named after Hon. John A. E^aton, secretary of 
war in President Jackson's cabinet; "White" after Hon. Jos. 
M. White, territorial delegate in Congress for Florida; "Duval" 
after the governor of Florida; "Grinnell" after the merchants 
of that name in New York; "Southard" for a senator and sec- 
retary of the navj-; "Caroline," "Margaret," "William," 
"Thomas" and "Emma" after brothers and sisters of Mr. John 
Whitehead. "Frances" after a daughter of Mr. Fleeming; "Ann" 
after ]Vl£. Simonton's wife; "Elizabeth" after a relative of Mr. 
Greene; "Fitzpatrick" after Mr. Richard Fitzpatrick, a 
then resident and for several years a delegate from Monroe 
county to the territorial council. "Clinton Place" after De- 
Witt Clinton of New York, and "Jackson Square" after Andrew 
Jackson. The little mangrove island just across the harbor was 
named Fleeming's Key after one of the original proprietors. 

In April, 1836, the first election under the new charter 
was held, and Mr. Fielding A. Browne was elected mayor and Mr. 


William R. Hackley, Mr. Alden A. M. Jackson, Mr. Pierce P. 
Fellows and Dr. D. Platts elected councilmen. The total 
vote cast at this election was thirty-nine, the population be- 
ing something less than three hundred. The total vote cast in 
the city election of November 14, 1911, was two thousand, four 
hundred and forty-seven. 

In 1838 a novel question of taxation arose. The charter of 
1836 authorized the levying of occupational taxes which were 
promptly paid by the leading business men of the city without 
protest. In the early part of 1838 an ordinance was passed levying 
an occupational tax to raise revenue for the year 1838 and Mr. 
John P. Baldwin, Mr. George E. Weaver, Mr. John H. Sawyer 
and Mj. P. J. Fontaine addressed a communication to the mayor, 
Mr. W\ A. Whitehead, protesting against the enforcement of 
the ordinance, contending that occupational licenses once granted 
were for an indefinite time, and that the city had no right to 
require those who had been granted licenses in 1837 to take them 
out again. That if they could be required to do so annually, 
the city could also "compel them to take out licenses daily or 
hourly, at the pleasure of the council." 

Mayor Whitehead replied to this protest in a document* 
remarkable for close analysis and cogent reasoning and completely 
and thoroughly disposed of their contention. 

Judge Marvin, who was at first inclined to agree with the 
contention of the merchants, upon reading Mr. Whitehead's 
reply, said to him: "You may be perfectly right, for I am not 
at all tenacious of my opinion." 

Mr. George E. Weaver said, "I am perfectly satisfied as 
to the power of the corporation since reading your communica- 

A number of the merchants, however, persisted in their 
refusal to pay licenses, and Mr. Whitehead requested that a 
meeting of citizens be called by the city council "to determine 
whether the laws should be enforced or the charter dissolved." 
The council not complying with his request, he called an election 
for mayor, and announced his intention to resign his office in 
favor of whoever was elected. 

Feeling ran high, and those who were opposed to Mr. White- 
head's construction of the charter, picked up a low, illiterate 
character, the keeper of a sailor grog shop, named Tomaso 
Sachetti, who could hardly make himself understood in English, 
and ran him for mayor, for the double purpose of placing an 
indignity on Mr. Whitehead, and nullifying the objectionable 
ordinance. The low element, elated at the prospect of one of 
their ilk being mayor of the city, rallied to Sachetti 's standard, 
and as he also had the moral support of a few of the prominent 
citizens, no self-respecting man could be induced to run against 
him. He was chosen without opposition, and on the fourteenth 
of March was notified of his election by Mayor Whitehead, 

*Appendix H. 


who at once resigned as mayor, and turned the office over to 
Sachetti. Sachetti's reply on the same date was written by Mr. 
Charles Walker of whom Mr. Whitehead says: "He was a lawyer 
from New York, a loco-foco, an agrarian, a disorganizer, etc." 

Mayor Whitehead left Key West shortly after this and never 
returned; and although he retained his interest in the place 
until his death in the early eighties, he never got over his treat- 
ment by the people of the city he had helped to found, and to 
which he had given his best abilities to develop and improve. 
Key West thus lost one of its foremost citizens, a victim to a 
spirit — still too prevalent — which seeks to belittle and injure 
the man who dares oppose public opinion, or who bravely main- 
tains his position against popular clamor. 

In 1846 after the admission of Florida into the Union, 
another charter was adopted, which regulated the affairs of the 
city until 1869, when it was superseded by the General Act of 
Incorporation for Cities. 

About this time Key W^est started on its career of industrial 
development, coincident with the Cuban migration. The 
population rapidly increased from three thousand in 1860, to 
upwards of twelve thousand in 1870; hundreds of buildings 
were erected far beyond the old city limits. Under the general 
la^s of the State, the city limits could not be extended without 
the concurrent vote of a majority of those living within the city, 
and those living within the territory to be annexed. Several 
attempts were made to extend the city limits, but the population 
outside were unable to see what benefits were to be deri^•ed 
which would compensate them for the increase in taxation, 
and voted against the extension. 

Those outside the city limits were as orderly and law-abiding 
as those within, and were happy and prosperous without the 
so-called privileges of a city, and in addition were free from 
molestation by city })olicemen. There were no greater number 
of ofl'cnces committed outside than within the limits. 

In 1876 a commodious city hall was built, and its dedication 
on July 4th was attended with much pomp. Colonel W\ C. 
Malone3', Sr., delivered an address which was published as an 
historical sketch of Key W est. It was the first attempt at compil- 
ing for the use of posterity the events that had shaped the des- 
tinies of this island. The hall was destroyed by fire in 1886, and 
a larger one of brick built on the site of the old. The ground 
floor was desi^'ned for a market, and for several years was so 
used, but at this time there is only one stall in use. Since the 
fire engine house was destroyed by the hurricane of 1909, the 
ground floor of the hall is set a[;art for an engine room, and for 
other uses of the fire department. 

W hen the pond, which covered most of that part of the city 
bounded by Simonton, Caroline, W hitehead and Greene streets, 
was ordered filled, several of the owners failed to comply with 
the ordinance, and the work was done by the city, and the lots 


sold to pay the expense. The lot on which the city hall stands 
was acquired in this way, and such was the city's precarious title, 
until Colonel Maloney, acting for the city, and Mr. Moreno, the 
agent of, and Mr. Mallory, the attorney for the heirs of Mr- 
John W. Simonton, to whom the lots belonged, affected a set- 
tlement; or rather Miss Florida Simonton, the sole surv^ivin^ 
heir of Mr. Simonton, through her trustee, Miss Mary B. Jones, 
gave the property to the city on June 21, 1871, 

In 1889 the legislature granted a special charter to the city 
of Key West, and included the entire island within the corporate 
limits. The government was to be by nin6 commissioners apy- 
pointed by the governor, and they were to appoint all the other 
officials. The president of the commissioners performed the 
functions of mayor in addition to his duties as commissioner. 
The first mayor under this system was Hon. Walter C. Maloney, 

This charter authorized a bond issue for paving and street 
improvement, and a contract for grading, paving and curbing 
certain streets was let to Mr. G. J. Baer. The work was progress- 
ing smoothlj' when a policy of obstruction was adopted by the 
engineer. The legal representatives of the contractors appeared 
before the commissioners on several occasions, protesting against 
this poHcy, and made every effort to have the work proceed 
according to contract. Failing to obtain relief from the commis- 
sioners, he gave up all effort to proceed with the work, and brought 
suit in the United States court, where he obtained a judgment 
for one hundred and seventeen thousand 'dollars. In 1899 a 
bond issue of one hundred and forty-eight thousand dollars 
was floated to pay this judgment with accrued interest and 

In 1891 the charter was amended, and provided for the 
appointment by the commissioners of a mayor who should 
not be one of their body, and for the election by the people 
of a clerk, marshal, tax collector, assessor, treasurer, etc. 

In 1907 a new charter was granted to' which amendments 
have been made from time to time, according to the fancies 
of the members of the legislature, the caprice of ward politicians, 
or the demand of agitators. It has been denionstrated, however, 
that change is not necessarily progress, and those who are leakt 
qualified by ability and experience to suggest amendments to 
the organic law are the most eager to propose them. 

In 1910 the city voted a bond issue -of one hundred and 
ninety-two thousand dollars for paving or sewerage purposes, 
and a contract was awarded to the Southern Asphalt and 
Construction Company to pave all that portion of the city 
lying southwest of Caroline street; Division street from Duval 
to White street, thence along White street northwest to the 
water; Fleming from Whitehead to White street, and Simori- 
ton as far as Fleming street, with brick; and Duval street from 
Caroline to Division street, with asphalt block. The first brick 



in the new pavement was laid by Mr. Charles R. Pierce of 
tlie board of public works on December 11, 1911. 

The total bonded indebtedness of the city is something over 
six hundred thousand dollars; the assessed value of all property 
in 1900 was two million six hundred and seventy thousand 
nine hundred dollars, and in 1910 was four million two hundred 
and thirty thousand nine hundred dollars. During that decade 
over two hundred thousand dollars' worth of real estate was 
condemned and taken over by the United States government. 

From 1832, the date of the first charter of the city, the 
following citizens have successively been elected to the office 
of mayor: Mr. Oliver O'Hara, Mr. Fielding A. Browne, Mr. 
William A. Whitehead, Tomaso Sachetti, Mr. Pardon C. Greene, 
Mr. Philip J. Fontaine, Mr. Alexander Patterson, Mr. Benjamin 
Sawyer, Mr. Walter C. Maloney, Mr. Fernando J. Moreno, 
Mr. John P. Baldwin, Mr. John W. Porter, Mr. WilUam Curry, 
Mr. Philip J. Fontaine, Mr. Alexander Patterson, Mr. Ben- 
jamin Sawyer, Mr. John P. Baldwin, Mr. William Marvin, 
Mr. Alexander Patterson, Mr. E. O. Gwynn, Mr. William S. 
Allen, Dr. D. W. Whitehurst, Mr. Henry Mulrennan, Mr. Joseph 

B. Browne, Mr. William D. Cash, Mr. Winer Bethel, Mr. E. O. 
Gwynn, Mr. Carlos M. de Cespedes, Mr. Livingston W. Bethel, 
Mr. Robert Jasper Perry, Mr. E. O. Gwynn, Mr. William 
McClintock, Mr. R. Alfred Monsalvatge, Mr. James G. Jones, 
Mr. J. W. V. R. Plummer, Mr. James A. Waddell, Mr. Walter 

C. Maloney, Jr., Mr. Robert J. Perry, Mr. James A. Waddell, 
Mr. John B. Maloney, Mr. George L. Bartlum, Mr. Benjamin D. 
Trevor, Mr. George L. Babcock and Mr. Joseph N. Fogarty. 

The surviving mayors are Mr. William D. Cash, Mr. 
Livingston W. Bethel, Mr. John B. Maloney, Mr. George L. 
Bartlum, Mr. George L. Babcock, Mr. Benjamin D. Trevor 
and Dr. Joseph N. Fogarty, the present incumbent. 

When Dr. Fogarty finishes the term for which he was 
elected November 14, 1911, he will have the honor of having 
held the office of mayor for a longer period — six years — than 
any of his predecessors. 

Mr. Cornelius J. Kemp, Mr. William B. Curry, Mr. Frank 
H. Ladd, Mr. Edward E. Ingraham, Mr. William M. Binder, 
Mr. Charles W. Lowe and Mr. J. R. Valdez compose the present 
city council. 

On the board of public works are Messrs. William R. Porter, 
Jefferson B. Browne, Joshua Curry, Charles R. Pierce and Shirley 
C. Bott. 


In 1895 the city undertook to secure a supply of fresh water, 
and an artesian well was sunk in Jackson Square to a depth of 
two thousand feet. Samples of the borings were taken every 
twenty-five feet from the surface to the bottom. A set of these 
samples was furnished by Mr. Alexander Agassiz to Mr. Edmond 


Otis Hovey, who prepared a very full and exhaustive report 
for the zoological society of Harvard College. Mr. Hovey says 
that the samples indicate a shallow water origin for much of 
the material. The most solid rock passed through came from a 
depth of from one hundred and fifty, to one hundred and seventy- 
five feet from the surface inclusive. No traces of fresh water 
were found. 



IN 1821 when Andrew Jackson was governor of Florida, 
he, with the approval of the authorities in Washington, 

divided the State into two counties, Escambia and St. 
Johns. The former comprised all that part of the State lying 
west of the Suwanee river, and the latter all lying east and 

Monroe county, named after President Monroe, the sixth 
county to be established, comprised no insignificant portion 
of the territory. It embraced all that part lying south of a line 
commencing at Boca Gasparilla river on the Gulf of Mexico, 
and extending up the northern margin of Charlotte Harbor 
to the north of Charlotte river; thence up the northern margin 
of that river to Lake Macaco; thence along the northern margin 
of that lake to its most eastern limits; thence in a direct line 
to the headwaters of the Potomas river; thence down that river 
to its entrance into the ocean, together with all the keys and 
islands of the Cape of Florida. 

In 1828 the first division of the Territory of Florida into 
counties was made for representative and other purposes (the 
territory before that time having been governed by the organic 
laws of congress, and a council authorized by that act). In 
February, 1836, out of these magnificent boundaries Dade county 
was established and so named to perpetuate the memory of Major 
Dade who with his command was massacred on December 28, 

Its southern line commenced at the western end of Bahia 
Honda, and ran in a direct line to Ca])e Sable; thence in a direct 
line to Lake Macaco, thus cutting off from Monroe county all 
of the keys north of Bahia Honda, and all of the eastern portion 
of the southern peninsula north of Cape Sable. This caused 
much dissatisfaction, as a very appreciable part of the popula- 
tion of Monroe county resided at Indian Key, and their business, 
domestic and social relations were entirely with Key West. 

In 1859 the boundaries of Monroe county were again 
changed, and a portion of the county on the mainland was cut 
off to form a part of the new county of Manatee. 

By the act of 1866 the northern boundary of the county 
commenced at the mouth of Broad Creek, a stream separating 
Cayo Largo (as it was then called) from Old Roads Key, and 
extending thence in a direct line to Mud Point. This change 
gave back to Monroe county all the islands from Old Roads 


Key to Bahia Honda which had been taken by the act of 1836. 
On the thirteenth of May, 1887, the county of Lee was created 
out of that part of Monroe county north of the line, which 
separates townships 53 .and 54 south. 

Prior to the organization of Dade county, Monroe was 
bounded on the north by Mosquito county, which was created 
December 29, 1824. The name Mosquito was not distinctive 
enough, however, for a county which shared with all the other 
counties in the State the privilege of being inliabited by these 
diminutive citizens, and in January, 1845, the name of Mosquito 
county was changed to Orange county. 

Before there was any survey made of Key West or the town 
chartered, there was erected on Jackson Square a building 
known as the county court house which was altered and 
improved at the expense of the United States in 1830 and occupied 
by the United States court until it moved into a building on 
Wall street. In 1831 the territorial council appointed Col. 
Lackland M. Stone and Mr. Wm. A. Whitehead commissioners 
to erect a stone jail and brick cistern, and a lot was purchased 
by them, which was part of lot two in square sixty-four, on which 
to erect the jail. 

Li 1832 Col. Stone removed from Key West, and Mr. Field- 
ing A. Browne was appointed commissioner in his place. Bids 
were called for to erect a jail twenty-six by sixteen feet with 
two rooms and cistern adjoining. Bids were recei^ed from Mr. 
Eichard Fitzpatrick for S3,2C0.00 and from Mr. John W. Simon- 
ton to erect the jail without the cistern for $1,699.00. A lot for 
the erection of the jail had previously been purchased, but as 
the amount appropriated by the legislative council for the jail 
and cistern was but $2,000.00, it was decided to build the jail 
near the court house on Jackson square where a cistern had al- 
ready been built. The jail, which was on the Thomas street side 
of the square, was built of native coral rock, the walls being 
three feet thick. In 1845 this jail was abandoned, and one of 
similar construction erected on Jackson Square near the corner 
of Fleming and Whitehead streets. The old jail on Thomas 
street was standing as late as 1871, but in its dilapidated condi- 
tion was of no use except to afford a shelter to wandering herds ; 
of goats. ^■ 

The second stone jail in turn gave way in the march of 
progress (or crime?) to a larger and more modern structure 
in 1880. In 1907 a concrete wall ten feet high was built around 
the rear wing of the jail. In 1910 its capacity was again increased. 

In 1875 a small one-story brick building was erected for 
an office for the clerk of the circuit court. In it was a fire-proof 
vault for keeping county records and court documents. It was 
so used until the new court house was completed in 1890. 

In 1889 the wooden court house that linked the old Key 
West with the new — where Christians of all denominations 
had worshipped God, and sung praises unto His Holy Name; 


where young children had been carried to have their lives ded- 
icated to the service of Claist, with the sign of the Cross; where 
the sacred marriage ceremony had been performed; and the 
requiem for the dead mingled with the sobs of the afflicted; 
where secular and Sunday schools had been taught, and the 
territorial and State courts performed their functions — was 
torn down to make way for the commodious brick court house 
which now stands on the square. 

The day before the demolition of the old court house a 
number of citizens gathered there, on invitation of the county 
commissioners, and participated in what might be regarded 
as the funeral services of the old structure. Short speeches were 
made by Mr. Eugene O. Locke, Mr. Jefferson B. Browne, 
Mr. Walter C. Maloney, Jr., and Mr. W. R. Carter, member of 
the Hillsboro county bar. 

The erection of a court house and jail on Jackson Square 
has fostered the erroneous impression that it is the property 
of the county. Jackson Square is the property of the city as 
much as the streets, and is held by the same title and from the 
same source. No deed or grant in writing to this square was 
ever made by the original proprietors, but in the division of 
the island the block bounded by Whitehead, Southard, Thomas 
and Fleming streets was treated as common or public property, 
and shown on the map delineated by Mr. Wm. A. Whitehead 
in 1829, as Jackson Square, named in honor of Andrew Jackson. 
The delineation and its recordation was a dedication to the use 
of the public, and the city holds it in trust, as it holds the streets, 
for public purposes only. 

Col. W. C. Maloney, one of the great lawyers of his time 
says: "In this connection, a matter of moment to all of you, 
seems to demand a passing notice, inasmuch as it is believed 
to be but little known, and less understood by the community 
generally, and some of the officers of government especially, 
than it should be, and which affects the interests of the people 
inhabiting that portion of the island particularly subject to the 
jurisdiction of the 'City of Key West,' under and by reason of 
its corporate powers. I allude to the proprietary and possessory 
title in and to 'Jackson Square.' There are those of you who are 
under the impression that, because of the fact that there is no 
instrument of writing, in the shape of a conveyance from the 
original proprietors of the island to the city authorities granting 
the 'fee,' as the lawyers term it, coupled with the fact that the 
county court house and jail have been erected upon it, that the 
title to the square is not wholly in the 'city.' Let me assure you that 
your condition as owners of this square is much better than it 
would have been if the original proprietors had given an absolute 
deed of it in 'fee' to the city, for in that case it might have been 
sold from under your feet, and the money expended for a banquet 
to entertain the king of the cannibal islands, or some other 
illustrious dignitary from abroad. 


"The proprietors of the island, foreseeing that Key West 
must become the county seat of Monroe county, and the most fit- 
ting place for the exercise of the judicial powers of the United 
States in admiralty and maritime affairs, wisely made room in 
your city for the accommodation necessary to these purposes, 
and in the plan of the city 'Jackson Square' is delineated, and 
in the division of the island between the original agrarian propri- 
etors, it was treated as 'common' or 'public' and the plan of 
the city with this delineation, being made the incorporated area 
of your city by charter, gave to you in your corporate capacity 
all the proprietary rights vested in the original proprietors, 
save that of alienation, and vested in you, and you only, the 
right of possession. 

"You hold this square and also 'Clinton Place' by the 
same terms by which you hold the streets running through 
your city, not by express grant, but by an 'implied use,' or 
'usufruct.' You can only lose your right when you suffer them 
to be used for other than public purposes, consistent with the 
nature of the usufruct." 

In 1876 Mr. Wm. A. Whitehead made this contribution 
to the literature of the proprietorship of Jackson Square: 

"On laying out the town it was first thought desirable that 
the public square should be located nearer the water, and the 
block between Fitzpatrick street and Clinton Place was thought 
of. Another project was to locate it at the 'Middle Spring,' 
as it was then called in Square 61, but the fact that there was 
alread}^ a building on what is now Jackson Square, erected, 
if I mistake not, for the use of the county authorities before 
the survey was made or the town chartered, led to the selection 
of that square for the purpose. As you say in your address, there 
is no document emanating from the proprietors conveying the 
fee of the streets and squares, nor do I recollect that anything 
was said or thought of, at the time, relating to the control of 
Jackson Square. That, as well as the streets, was informally 
dedicated to public uses, and that there should ever arise any 
difference of opinion, in regard to its control, between the author- 
ities of the county and the authorities of the town was never 
thought of. The former were virtually in possession, and I do 
not believe that any application was made to the town authorities 
for permission to erect the jail. I am not qualified to discuss the 
legal points that may be involved, but knowing as I do the views 
and wishes of all the original proprietors, I do not hesitate to 
affirm that it was their intention that the square should be used 
for any legitimate purpose, either of town or county; and rep- 
resenting as I do, one fourth of the proprietary interest, I would 
be pleased to join those representing the other interests, in signing 
any document that might legally and effectually determine 
the rightful control. As such a course is probably impracticable, 
I would take the liberty to suggest the appointment of a commis- 
sion, composed of an equal number of representatives of the city 


and county authorities (with the judge of the United States 
district court as umpire, in case of any disagreement), charged 
with all needful control of the premises. I think the circumstances 
fully warrant some such concession on both sides." 

Mr. Whitehead's wise recommendation was never adopted 
and the control of, or jurisdiction over Jackson Square, still 
remains in this uncertain condition. 

Clinton Place, the small triangular plot at the intersection 
of Front, Whitehead, and Greene streets, was dedicated by the 
original proprietors to the use of the public in like manner as 
Jackson Square. In 1886 the Army and Navy Club of Key West 
erected a granite monument to the officers and men of the Union 
army, navy and marine corps, who died at Key West from 1861 
to 1865. A concrete coping has since been constructed around 
it by the Federal government, which is permitted by the city 
authorities to have the care and maintenance of the plot. 

Although the construction of a jail was one of the first public 
acts of the county authorities, an incident occurred in 1828, 
a narrative of which was published in a Northern paper, indicating 
how little use there was for it at that time, which sheds light on 
the easy going ways of the people, and their respect for the 
supremacy of the law: 

Samuel Otis was the keeper of the jail, which was a small 
frame building quite distant from the settled part of the town. 
A man by the name of Ayres, who was in the habit of getting 
drunk, had come to Key West. He was taken in custody by 
Captain Otis and carried to the residence of Col. Greene, who 
was one of the magistrates, who upon being told that Ayres 
was drunk again ordered him put in the lockup, after the following 
conversation had taken place: 

"Well, Squire, Ayres has been drinking again! Shall I take 
him to jail?" 

"You may do with him what you please, Capt. Otis," 
replied the justice, not well pleased at the moment with the 

"Just as you say. Squire," was the answer of the obsequious 
officer,.^nd he forthwith announced to the gentleman in attend- 
ance that he must proceed to jail. 

"Rot me if I do, Capt. Otis. Ain't I a free citizen of this here 
republic? I tell you I won't go unless I please, and I don't please 
unless I get my clothes." 

"Well Ayres, where are your clothes?" 

"Why they are down in the old shed by the water, and there 
they may stay for all me, for I won't go to get 'em; that's flat, 
Capt. Otis." 

"Will you stay here, then, Ayres, while I go." 

"No, I won't; how can you 'spect a man to stay here in this 
hot sun?" 

"Well, Ayres, I don't want you to stay here, then; but while 


I go after your clothes, do you go to the jail, knock at the door, 
and Peter will let you in," 

Peter, the jailer, was no less a person than one of three 
mutineers who had been sentenced by the Admiralty court to 
six months imprisonment, and had stayed there because the judge 
had commanded him to do so. He was the factotum of Capt. 
Otis, kept the keys and locked himself in after every necessary 
opening of the prison doors. 

Ayres proceeded to the jail and knocked and when Peter 
asked who was there he replied "It's me — open the door! Otis 
says you must let me in, and though I don't like altogether to 
be shut up with such fellows as you be, I 'spose I must, for they 
say it's law." 

Upon that, the doors opened "grating harsh thunder," 
and the prisoner within admitted the prisoner from without. 

In 1900 the county bought a plot of land opposite the United 
States army post, and erected an armory for the use of the local 
military company. Shortly afterwards the Supreme Court of 
the State decided that it was the duty of the State to provide 
armories, and that the county had no authority to expend 
money for that purpose. In 1903 the legislature refunded to the 
county the sum of $10,000.00 which had been expended for the 
armory. With this money the county road, which traverses the 
entire length of the island, was built. 

The finances of the county are in excellent condition.* The 
present county officers are: James R. Curry, chairman; W. R. 
Porter, E. Monroe Roberts, Braxton B. Warren and Domingo 
Milord, members of the board of county commissioners. Eugene 
W. Russell, clerk circuit court; Hugh Gunn, county judge; 
Clement Jaycocks, sheriff; Thomas O. Otto, tax assessor; 
Theodore A. Sweeting, tax collector. 

*Appendix I. 




THE early settlers of Key West were not people to sit 
>down and wait for things to come to them. In 1827 
the Senate of the United States passed a bill for the 
establishment of a territorial' court at Key West with ad- 
miralty jurisdiction. The passage of the bill was opposed 
by the people in the northern part of the State, and they had 
reasonaljle prospects of defeating it, when Mr. John W. Simonton 
went to Washington and presented a memorial to Congress 
urging its passage.* 

In 1828 congress passed the bill establishing a territorial 
or federal court at Key West under the title of the "Superior 
Court of the Southern Judicial District of the Territory of 
Florida." Its jurisdiction extended over that part of "the 
territory which lies south of a line from Indian river on the east 
and Charlotte Harbor on the west, including the latter harbor." 

It had civil and criminal jurisdiction, as well for offences 
against the laws of the Territory of Florida, as of the United 
States, and embraced admiralty and maritime jurisdiction, 
thus superseding the jurisdiction of local and inferior magistrates, 
as well as the special commissioners for the adjudication of ques- 
tions of salvage, arising out of the frequent wrecks occurring 
in this vicinity. The establishment of this court, the first term 
of which commenced November 3, 1828, led to the migration 
hither of a number of lawyers, but the business of the court 
not proving very extensive, the stay of most of them was of 
limited duration. Considerable amusement was excited at the 
time by an announcement in the newly established newspaper 
called the ''Register," of the arrival of a vessel from Middle 
Florida with "an assorted cargo, cmd seven lawyers."" Just how 
many of these lawyers remained is lost to history, but that they 
were men of ability the records of our courts abundantly show. 
Few cities of a population of twenty-five thousand can boast 
of a bar superior to that of Key West in the days when the 
population was less than a thousand. 

Mr. William Allison McRea, Mr. James Webb, Mr. Wil- 
liam Marvin, Mr. L. Windsor Smith, Mr. Adam Gordon, Mr. 
Samuel J. Douglas, Mr, Edward Chandler, Mr. Stephen R. 
Mallory, Mr. William R. Hackley, Mr. Walter Cathcart Maloney, 
and others, were men of the highest character, distinguished alike 
for their ability as lawyers, and general intellectual attainments. 

*Appendix J. 


Dignified and courtly, scrupulous and conscientious, they placed 
the profession of law on the high plane tradition tells us it once 

Judge James Webb of Georgia had the honor of being commis- 
sioned first judge of the superior court in 1828. He retired from 
office in April, 1838, and went to Texas, and became secretary 
of state of that republic prior to its admission into the Union. 
He was succeeded by William Marvin, Esq., in 1839, who occupied 
the bench of this court until Florida was admitted into the Union 
in 1845, when Isaac H. Bronson, Esq., was commissioned judge 
for the whole State. In 1847, Avhen the district court of the 
United States for the Southern District of Florida was created. 
Judge Marvin was appointed judge of this court and presided 
over it until 1863, when he resigned. 

Judge Marvin was a man of towering intellectuality and 
grandeur of character. While on the bench he published a book 
entitled "A Treatise Upon the Law of Wreck and Salvage," 
which became a standard authority in the admiralty courts 
of England and the tJnited States, and it occupies today a unique 
position among the treatises on the law of salvage. After his 
retirement from the bench he wrote a work on "General 
Average" which is an authority on this subject. Later he wrote 
"The Internal Evidences of the Authenticity of the Four Gos- 
pels." In this work he brought 16 bear his great judicial mind 
in the analysis of his subject. 

At the close of the war he was appointed provisional governor 
of Florida by Andrew Johnson. In 1865 he was elected United 
States senator from Florida, for the term which would expire 
March 3, 1867. Thad Stephens and his crowd, however, had no 
use for men of Judge Marvin's caHbre and character, and his 
election was nullified by reconstruction, and he never took his 

On the resignation of Judge Marvin in 1863 he was succeeded 
by Thomas J, Boynton, one of the youngest men ever appointed 
to the bench of the United States. He was a man of rare ability, 
culture and refinement. He came to Key West for his health, 
which had been greatly impaired by intense application to other 
sciences in addition to that of the law, but his health not improv- 
ing, he resigned his position and returned north, where he soon 

Judge John McKinney was appointed in 1871. To him 
Col. Maloney, in his history, pays this tribute: 

"With melancholy feelings is the name of this gentleman 
introduced; modest, dignified, urbane, diligent and learned, 
he gave promise of much usefulness: alas! how short his judicial 
career. Leaving the island with the expressed intention of remov- 
ing his family hither for permanent settlement, he failed to reach 
the city of New York alive; his death is reported to have occurred 
just previous to the arrival of the steamer in which he was a 


The present incumbent of the United States district court 
for the Southern District of Florida, Judge James W. Locke, 
was appointed by President Grant February 1, 1872, and is 
the oldest Federal judge, in point of service, on the bench.* 

From the date of establishment of a Federal court at Key 
West until in the seventies, the amount of business on the 
admiralty side of the court was very large, but as steamships 
gradually took the place of sailing vessels, and light-houses were 
built on the most dangerous points of the Florida Reefs, the 
number of wrecks gradually diminished. The amount of salvage 
business before the court is still quite large as compared with 
that of other districts, but is light compared with early days. 

The act of congress creating the court for the Southern 
District of Florida in 1847, prescribed that the judge of this 
court should reside at Key West, but in 1896, congress repealed 
that part of the act of 1847, and the judge has since lived in 

In 1894 the territorial limits of the Southern District of 
Florida were enlarged, and they now include all of the State 
that lies east of the Suwanee river, and the counties of Madison 
and Hamilton west of the Suwanee. 

During the Civil War and again during the Spanish-American 
War, there was considerable business on the prize side of the court, 
and many important and novel questions were therein adjudi- 

The national bankruptcy act has also increased the work 
of this court, but the general civil and criminal business is 
inconsiderable. Only three persons have been convicted of capital 
felony during its existence, one of which occurred in this city, 
and two on the high seas. Two were capitally punished and the 
other was sentenced to imprisonment for life. 

Norman Sherw^ood, the first man hanged in Key West, had 
a recontre with a man named Jones on the fifth of July, 1830. 
After they were separated he went away, but returned in an hour 
with a pistol, avowing his intention of killing Jones. Bystanders 
again interfered and induced him to leave, but he returned shortly 
still determined to kill Jones. Mr. John Wilson, who was Sher- 
wood's friend and partner, then stepped up and asked 
him to give up his pistol; he refused and said he would 
shoot any man who attempted to take it. Wilson then 
laid his hand on Sherwood's shoulder and again asked 
him to give it up, when Sherwood shot him, and he died 
a few minutes later. Sherwood remarked that "he regret- 
ted Wilson's death, but it was his own fault as he had told him 
that he would shoot anyone who attempted to take the pistol 
from him; for he firmly intended to shoot Jones and would permit 
no man to prevent him; that Wilson had attempted to do this 
and he shot him, believing he had a perfect right to do so." 

The prisoner was defended by Messrs. Thurston and Braden. 

*Appendix K 


He was found guilty of murder in the first degree, and hanged 
on the tenth of December, 1830. 

The place where Sherwood was confined was insecure, and 
he had several opportunities to escape, and on being asked why 
he had not done so, replied: "They want to hang someone for 
a pattern, and I guess I'll gratify them." 

How thoroughly the grand jurors of those days did their 
work of "inquiring into the body of the county" is shown by 
their presentment, December 5, 1834, in what they designated 
"A List of Grievances." Some of these grievances still exist, but 
others sound strange to modern ears. 

They complained that "the jail was in bad condition; 
the mortar used for the wall being mostly sand and good for 
nothing, the walls filled with loose stones and no mortar mixed 
with them, and entirely unfit for the purpose for which it was 

"That the officials whose duty it was to keep persons charged 
with offences, suffered them to go at large when they ought to 
have been confined." 

"That the territorial limits of this county were not properly 
defined and fixed." 

"That foreigners and persons from beyond the boundaries 
of this territory were permitted to take fish in this district and 
county, and did not pay any tax or revenue to the territorial 

"That wrecking vessels were not allowed salvage upon the 
duties on the goods saved from wrecks." 

"The want of a marine hospital where sick and disabled 
seamen could be comfortably situated and properly cared for." 

"That grog shops, coffee houses, bilUard rooms and other 
places were kept open on the Sabbath. These places encourage 
the idle and profligate, and the same are highly destructive to 
the morals and good order of society." 

"The introduction of free negroes and mulattoes in this 
county, which is contrary to the policy of protection which had 
long been established and adopted in the southern section of 
the United States." 

"We also believe and feel confident that this particular 
district and county is more exposed to the detestable views of 
fanatics and abolitionists attempting to tamper with and corrupt 
our slave population than most places." 

"The want of a road to some point on the mainland in this 
county whereby the citizens may be able to communicate with 
the seat of government in the territory." 

"Against a law passed in 1833 whereby the guns and boats 
of persons who live and may be found on the keys are exempt 
from execution. The grand jurors believe that no distinction should 
be made between those living on the keys or the mainland." 

"We present as a grievance that boats not engaged in trading 
or commerce, but which are farm or plantation boats, if over a 


certain size, should be required to get papers from the custom 
house and have a captain appointed under the restrictions 
which trade and commerce are subjected to." 

"Against requiring persons who Uve on the mainland to attend 
court in Key West as jurors." 

This statement of grievances was sent to our representative 
in Congress, with a request to lay it before the president of the 
United States, and use his exertions to having the grievances 
herein complained of redressed. 

Shortly after the admission of Florida to the Union, the 
United States court was moved from the county court house to a 
stone building belonging to Wall & Pinckney, fronting on 
Wall street, back of the building now occupied by Monsalvatge 
& Eeed on Front street. This building was destroyed by fire 
in 1859, and the court moved to the "Stone building" situated 
.on the corner of Caroline and Whitehead streets, now used as 
a United States marine guardhouse. In 1885 it was moved to 
a building then belonging to Mr. John W. Sawyer, on the corner 
of Front and Fitzpatrick streets, which was destroyed in the fire 
of 1886. This was most unfortunate, as all the original papers 
and many records of important cases were lost. Court was 
next held in a building on the corner of Duval and Charles streets 
owned by Williams and Warren, where it remained until the 
Government building on Front street, at the foot of Greene, 
was completed in 1891. 


Prior to 1845 when Florida was admitted into the Union, all 
law business was transacted in the territorial court, and it was 
not for some time thereafter that there was any business of 
importance in the State courts. 

After Statehood, justice was administered by a Circuit and 
a Probate Court. Monroe county was in the Southern Circuit, 
and the first judge was William Marvin, who was appointed in 
December, 1845. He held the office only three months, and was 
succeeded by Judge George W. Macrae. In January, 1848, 
Judge Joseph B. Lancaster assumed the judicial toga. He was 
succeeded in 1853 by Judge Thomas F. King, who was followed 
in 1865 by Judge James Gettis. 

In 1865 James Magbee became judge. During his incum- 
bency there occurred one of the most remarkable proceedings ever 
witnessed in a court of justice. He was incarcerated in the city 
prison in Tampa for being drunk, and while there issued a writ 
of habeas corpus, commanding the inayor, J. E. Lipscomb, to bring 
the body of James Magbee before His Honor, James Magbee, 
to show by what authority he was depriving him of his liberty, 
and caused it to be served on the mayor, who treated it with 
merited contempt. AYhen the judge was released, he issued a 
rule for the mayor to show cause why he should not be punished 


for contempt of court in refusing to obey the writ, and made 
public his intention to send the mayor to jail. People from all 
parts of the county came to town to protect the mayor from the 
threatened outrage, and the court house was filled with armed 
and determined men. 

At the hearing the judge overruled the defendant's plea 
and sentenced him to jail. In an instant Mr. Lipscomb snatched 
a double barrelled shotgun from one of the bystanders and leveled 
it at the judge, but before he could shoot, he was surrounded by 
his friends and escorted out of court in defiance of the judge, 
and the mob of negroes assembled for his support. No attempt 
was afterwards made to enforce the order. Judge Magbee was a 
reconstruction judge, and this incident one of the minor out- 
rages of that era. 

Judge Winer Bethel, of Key West, succeeded Judge Magbee 
on April 6, 1875, and served until his death, March 30, 1877. 
Next came Henry L. Mitchel, who presided over the court until 
he went on the Suj)reme bench in 1889. Succeeding judges and 
their terms of service were G. A. Hanson, 1889 to 1891; Henry 
L. Mitchell, 1891 to 1892; G. B. Sparkman, 1892 to 1893; Barron 
Phihps, 1893 to 1899; Joseph B. Wall, 1899 to 1911. 

In 1911 the Eleventh circuit was created, consisting of 
Monroe, Dade and Palm Beach counties, and Livingston W. 
Bethel, the present incumbent, was appointed judge. He is a 
son of Judge Winer Bethel, who presided over the Circuit Court 
for Monroe county thirty-five years ago. 

Judge Wall's death on December 19, 1911, removes the 
last survivor of those who have presided over the court in 
Monroe county, as judge of this circuit. 

The first clerk of the Circuit Court was Colonel Walter 
Cathcart Maloney, and the first sheriff was Mr. John Costin.* 


The first judge of the Probate Court was Mr. Adam Gordon, 
who served from August 15, 1845, to December of the same year, 
and was succeeded by Mr. Benjamin Sawyer, who held office until 
Judge Winer Bethel was appointed in January, 1858. 


In 1868 the County Court took the place of the Probate 
Court and Judge James W. Locke was appointed judge, who 
served until February, 1871, when Mr. Charles S. Baron was 
appointed, and was followed by Judge Angel De Lono in 1870. 
In 1888 James Dean, a negro lawyer from the mainland, was 
elected but was removed from oSice in 1889 by Governor Fleming 
for malfeasance in office. Judge De Lono was appointed to the 
vacancy, and was succeeded by Judge Andrew J. Kemp in 1893. 
In 1900 Beverly B. Whalton was elected judge and held the office 
until his death in January, 1910, and was succeeded by Mr. 
Hugh Gunn, the present incumbent. 

*Appendix L. 




IN FEBRUARY, 1822, Capt. L. T. Patterson and Lieut. 
Tuttle of the United States navy arrived with orders 

from the government to survey the coast and harbor, 
and they were soon followed by various government vessels 
that brought stores and materials, and by the end of the 
year the island was a regularly constituted naval depot and 
station, under the command of Commodore Porter. A resolution 
was adopted in the house of representatives in Washington 
requesting the President of the United States to inform the house: 

"What appropriation will be required to enable him to 
fortify Thompson's Island, usually called Key West, and whether 
a naval depot, established at that island, protected by fortifica- 
tions, will not afford facilities in defending the commerce of the 
United States, and in clearing the Gulf of Mexico and the adjacent 
seas from pirates." 

To this Hon. Smith Thompson, secretary of the navy, 
for whom Captain Perry had named Key West, replied: 

"That the geographical situation of the island referred to in 
the resolution has for some time past attracted attention, and 
been considered peculiarly important both as a military position 
and in reference to the commerce of the United States. 

"The commander of one of our vessels, cruising in that 
quarter was accordingly directed last winter to touch at this island 
and take possession of it as a part of the territory ceded by Spain 
to the United States, and to make such general examination as 
might be useful in forming an opinion of the advantages of the 
place, and the propriety of a further and more particular survey. 
From the report of Lieutenant Commander Perry, who was 
charged with this duty, it has been satisfactorily ascertained 
that this position affords a safe, convenient and extensive harbor 
for vessels of war and merchant vessels. His instructions, however, 
did not require him to make so minute a survey as was necessary, 
in order to judge of the extent to which this place might be safely 
and advantageously occupied and improved as a naval depot. 

"These are some of the obvious benefits in time of peace; 
but its advantages in time of war with any European power 
having West Indian possessions, are still more important, both 
as it respects the protection of our own commerce and the 
annoyance of our enemy. An enemy with a superior naval force 
occupying this position, conld completely intercept the whole trade 
between those parts of our country lying north and east of it, and 


those to the west, and seal up all our ports within the Gulf of Mexico. 
It may, therefore, be safely answered, to one branch of the inquiry 
made by the resohition, that if this island is susceptible of defence, 
a na\al depot established there would afford a great facility in 
protecting our commerce. It is believed, however, that it is 
susceptible of defense, at an expense that would be justified by 
the importance of the place; but to form any tolerably satisfactory 
estimate of the amount, an accurate survey and calculation, by 
competent engineers, is indispensably necessary. 

"This island is considered so advantageous and convenient 
a place of rendezvous for our public vessels on the West Indian 
station, that it is intended to make it a depot for provisions 
and supplies for the expedition against the pirates, lately author- 
ized by congress, to be secured in temporary buildings, under 
the protection of a guard of marines." 

Commodore Porter's communications to the department 
abound in expressions, which show his high appreciation of the 
advantages likely to result from the occupation of the island 
by the United States as a naval station. Under date of May 11, 
1823, when asking for an increased number of vessels and men, 
he said:* 

"From the importance of the trade of Cuba and the Gulf of 
Mexico, the whole of which is protected from this place, with a 
force not equal to one frigate, I presume my requests will not 
be considered extravagant. The arrivals and departures of the 
American vessels from the port of Havana alone average about 
thirty a week, and those from Matanzas about twenty. Not 
a day elapses but that great numbers of American vessels are 
to be met passing through the gulf, and since our establishment 
here, they daily in numbers pass in sight of us. I mention these 
facts to give you an idea of the importance of this station, and to 
show the propriety of augmenting the force by the additions 
which I have asked." 

Under date of November 19, 1823, he said: "The fixing an 
establishment at Thompson's Island for rendezvous and supplies 
has had a most happy effect in attaining the object had in view. 
Its vicinity to Havana, placed as it were, in the thoroughfare 
of vessels sailing through the gulf, making it, in many points 
of view, an object of great importance to the United States." 

Commodore Rodgers thus mentions the island under date 
of November 24, 1823: "Nature had made it the advance post 
from which to watch and guard our commerce passing to and 
from the Mississippi, while at the same time, its peculiar 
situation, and the excellence of its harbor, point it out as the most 
certain key to the commerce of Havana, to that of the whole 
Gulf of Mexico, and to the returning trade of Jamaica; and I 
venture to predict, that the first important naval contest in which 
this country shall be engaged ivill he in the neighborhood of this 
very island." 

*Appendix M. 


Seventy-five years afterwards this prophecy was fulfilled, 
and with Key West as a base our fleet engaged in the most im- 
portant naval contest ever fought in the gulf, destroyed the 
Spanish fleet, and drove Spain from the Western Hemisphere. 

Sickness prevailed during the summer of 1823 to a great 
extent, and the reports of naval officers to the department, 
and from the department to the president, are replete with 
explanations as to the cause, and apprehensions as to the effects 
upon the permanency of the establishment. "Had the necessary 
number of medical men been furnished this year"., wrote Com- 
modore Porter, "tlie squadron would have been no doubt in 
a great measure saved from the deplorable consequences which 
have resulted, as the disease, in its commencement, was com- 
pletely under the control of medicine; but I regret to say that 
several perished without receiving any medical aid whatever, 
and without even seeing a physician." 

He further reports that "with the exception of one case of 
yellow fever, only bilious fever prevailed until June 20th, and 
the cases yielded readily to the agency of medicine, at which 
time it assumed a highly malignant form. 

"This disease now commenced on board the store ship Decoy, 
which was rendered unhealthful by the impurity of her hold. 
A quantity of ballast was put on board from this island, containing 
shell-fish and sea-weed, which by the heat of the tropical climate, 
was thrown into a state of putrefactive fermentation. Two of 
the cases, however, w^hich occurred on board this vessel were 
contracted by imprudent exposure to a noonday heat in the 
sireets of Havana." 

The secretary of the navy, under date of September 21st, 
drew the attention of the president to the impropriety of abandon- 
ing the island. "It ought not," said he, "readily be deserted. 
It is very desirable to save it." And Commodore Rodgers wrote 
a letter to the Secretary on the sixteenth of November, containing 
these sensible passages: 

"United States Schooner Shark, Hampton Roads, Nov. 16, 
1828.- — From the little experience I have had, mj' opinion is that 
the climate of Thompson's Island is similar to that of the West 
India islands generally; that its air is perhaps less salubrious 
than some, but more so than others; and notwithstanding 
the objections which may be urged against it, on account of 
particular defects arising from its surface, and the many salt and 
fresh water ponds which it is said to contain, still, that it is, from 
the excellence of its harbor and its peculiar station on the map of 
llie Western Hemisphere, too important an object, in a political 
and commercial point of view, to be suffered to remain unoccupied 
and unregarded, for, admitting its climate, in its present unim- 
pro\ ed state, to be as unfriendly to health as even that of the 
colony of Surinam, it is, notwithstanding, susceptible of being 
so improved, or at least, the dangers attending it so much dimin- 
ished by artificial means (such as I will hereafter describe), as 


to render the objections to it, if not harmless, at least compara- 
tively small." 

These remonstrances had the desired effect and prevented 
the abandonment of the island as a naval base. 

The first use of Key West as an active base of naval opera- 
tions was in 1822, when Commodore David Porter commanded 
the squadron organized to suppress the pirates of the West 
Indies, known as "Brethren of the Coast." Prior to his assuming 
command, no satisfactory progress had been made— the draught 
of the war vessels being too great to follow the buccaneers into 
the shallow bays, coves and rivers in which they sought refuge 
when pursued. Operations were conducted in this unsatisfactory 
manner for two years when Commodore Porter in command of 
the West Indian Squadron, inaugurated a new plan of campaign. 
First, he selected the island of Key West as a base of operations, 
and erected a storehouse, workshop, hospital and quarters for 
the men. He then detached and sent north the big, useless frigates 
and supplied their places with eight small light draught schooners 
and five twenty-oared barges. These last were appropriately 
named Mosquito, Midge, Ga]lini{'per, Gnat, and Sandfly. Of 
the old squadron he retained the Peacock, John Adams, Hornet, 
Spark, Grampus and Shark. Thus was gathered at Key West 
a fleet of twenty-one craft, eminently suited for the work of 
driving from the sea forever the dreaded "Brethren of the Coast." 

In order to make his barges available, it was necessary to 
tow them until he fell in with the buccaneers, and when they 
attempted to escape in shallow water, man the barges and go 
in pursuit. For this purpose he procured an old New York 
steam ferryboat, the Sea Gull, and her use for naval purposes is 
the first instance of a steam propelled vessel being used in the 
United States navy. In this way. Captain Porter captured 
and destroyed a number of the buccaneers' vessels, who made 
their final rendezvous at the Isle of Pines. Here he attacked, 
captured or destroyed most all of them. Some that escaped 
put into the Port of Fajardo, Porto Rico. 

The buccaneers paid tribute to the Spanish government, 
and left the commerce of that nation unmolested, for which 
they received its moral support. Commodore Porter followed 
the buccaneers into Fajardo, and upon the military authorities 
refusing to give them up, sent a punitive expedition ashore, 
and taught the Spanish authorities a needed lesson. Thus w^as 
ended piracy in the Caribbean Sea. 

Spain complained, of his action at Fajardo, and he was 
court-martialed and sentenced to six months suspension, where- 
upon he resigned and entered the service of the Mexican navy, 
and later was connected with the Turkish nav'j^ , and while hold- 
ing this position, the United States in atonement for the injustice 
which had been done this gallant and eflScient officer, ap- 


pointed him consular agent of the United States in Turkey, 
where he died in 1843. 

While engaged in the suppression of piracy in the Caribbean 
Sea he became impressed with the importance of Key West as 
a naval base and so reported to the secretary of the navy in 

In 1856 a United States naval depot and storehouse was 
commenced at the corner of Whitehead and Front streets. . In 
1857 when the walls were ready to receive the roof, work on the 
building was suspended, and it remained so for several years for 
want of an appropriation by congress. At the outbreak of the 
Civil War it was in this unfinished condition. 

In 1861 the U.S.S. Atlantic, having conveyed Federal troops 
for the relief of Fort Pickens, touched at this port for a supply 
of coal but finding none, was compelled to sail to Havana. 

On three occasions has the importance of Key West as a 
naval base been demonstrated. During the Civil War more 
ships were stationed at Key West than at any other port in the 
United States, and but for its occupancy by the Northern forces 
as a naval base, the result of the war might have been different. 
In 1873 when the capture of the Virginius threatened war with 
Spain, nearly every available ship in the navj' was hurried to 
Key West, which was made the base of all operations. In 1897, 
on the breaking out of the war with Spain, every available naval 
vessel was again sent to Key West, and the Oregon and Marietta 
made their record run from California to the all important Key 

Its position on the Straights of Florida — through which four 
thousand vessels pass annually, and the commerce of all the gulf 
ports — commands the protection of American commerce in any 
war. In all past history this position has been of the greatest 
importance, and no matter where on the Western Hemisphere 
the war may be, the American commerce in the Straits of Florida 
will have to be protected from Key West as a naval base. 

Whether the inexplicable zeal of certain naval authorities 
to develop Guantanamo (a port in a foreign country), at the 
expense of one of our own ports, will be sanctioned by congress, 
or continue after the personnel of the naval board is changed, 
is problematical. 

Vague theories, personal preferences, individual hostilities, 
and opportunities for speculation, may give Guantanamo a 
temporary advantage over Key West, but actual war will again 
demonstrate that this place commands the route on the Key 
West-Porto Rican strategic line of force, and that it commands 
all approaches to the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean Sea and 
Panama Canal, and as a distinguished naval historian says, the 
government wall recognize "the capacity of the Florida Reef 
as an advantageous naval station — a sort of Downs or St. Helen's 
Roads, in the West Indian seas." 

* Appendix N. 


In 1881 the naval wharf was rebuilt; iron piles being sub- 
stituted for the wooden ones and a steel pier constructed. This 
work was done by Lieut. Robert PI Peary, the discoverer of the 
North Pole, who spent a year in Key West. The pier was de- 
molished in the hurricane of 1910, and a more substantial concrete 
one was completed in 1911. 

In 1895 the Navy Department bought the property that was 
the home of the two Stephen R. Mallorys, father and son, both 
of whom represented Florida in the senate of the United States. 
The old house, which was a center of social and intellectual life, 
was torn down to give place to coal bins. 

In 1890 a double house was built by the Navy Department 
for the use of the commandant and paymaster of the station. 
It proved too small for two families and is now used exclusively 
for the commandant, at the present time Admiral Lucian Young. 

In 1902 the United States government condemned for naval 
purposes all that part of the island lying southwest of Whitehead 
street between Fleming and Fitzpatrick streets, except the 
Mallory property, and the old home place of Mr. Joseph Beverly 
Browne, on the corner of Caroline and Whitehead streets, which 
the government bought in 1858, and the strip of water front 
acquired in 1854, on which the machine shop, commandant's 
quarters and coal bins had previously been erected. On the prop- 
erty condemned, the Navy Department now has buildings for 
the various departments of the service, and residences on White- 
head street for the paymaster and civil engineer. A distilling 
plant with a capacity of fifteen thousand gallons per day was 
constructed in 1898, and in 1910 a concrete reservoir of one 
million, five hundred thousand gallons capacity was erected on 
the Whitehead street side of the navy yard. In 1906 a wireless 
telegraph station was constructed, which is one of the most 
powerful in the world, and messages sent from here have been 
caught by the Mare Island station, a distance of twenty-six 
hundred miles. 

Standing on the naval reservation at the corner of Whitehead 
and Caroline streets, is one of the oldest buildings in Key West, 
and for many years had the unique distinction of being the only 
one not built entirely of wood. It was known as "The Stone 
Building," being built of cement from a cargo of that material 
wrecked at Key West. It is a quaint three-story structure with 
a high pitched roof, having a narrow balcony supported by con- 
soles of solid cement, extending the entire side on Whitehead 
street. On the gable end was once a similar balcony, but it has 
been taken down, and only the consoles remain. Above the side 
balcony is a large plaster mask of the builder, Mr. John G. Ziriax, 
who kept the foremost bakery of his day. Before it acquired 
the cognomen of the "Stone Building" it was known as the 
"Ziriax Building". It is now used as a marine guard-house. 

Another building on the Naval Reservation which connects 
the old and the new Key West, stands about two hundred feet 


southwest of the Marine Guard-house. It is a type of the old 
style Key ^Yest architecture of which so little is left. When the 
grade of the reservation was raised it covered part of this house, 
and changed its appearance. The first floor was a foot below 
the level of the ground, built of stone to about eight feet in 
height, above which was the frame part of the building. The 
old officers* quarters at the barracks are of the same style of 
architecture, and most of the better class of houses in the early 
days were so constructed, for the protection, then supposed to be 
necessar3% against the high tides which prevail during the passage 
of a hurricane in this vicinity. 




THE United States government since the first settlement of 
Key West has recognized the importance of strongly 
fortifying the island, but progress has been by fits and 
starts. In 1824 a company of marines was stationed here and 
barracks erected for them fronting upon the harbor between 
Duval and Whitehead streets. They were not long occupied 
and were in a dilapidated condition in 1831, when they were 
sold and removed. 

In February, 1831, Major James M. Glassel arrived with 
two companies of infantry and established a temporary camp 
at the present site of the army post on the North Beach. 

The proprietors of the island set aside a tract of land for 
the use of the army embracing all of squares fifty-two, fifty- 
three and fifty-four, and parts of squares twenty-eight and 
twenty-nine, fronting on the waters of the bay, on the north side 
of the island, and in 1833, 1835 and 1837 this and some addi- 
tional lots were deeded to the United States government, 
by the original proprietors, and has since been occupied as an 
army post. By the charter of 1836 all jurisdiction over this 
property was ceded to the United States government. On May 
10, 1836, Lieutenant Benjamin Alv^ord, afterwards paymaster 
general of the United States army, came to Key West with 
Company B, 4th United States Infantry. 

Temporary quarters were erected for the accommodation 
of the troops which were removed in 1844, when six buildings 
for officers' quarters and two for soldiers' barracks and a guard 
house were erected. The soldiers' barracks, each one hundred 
and twenty-five feet long, and twenty feet wide, were about forty 
feet apart, on the southwest side of the parade ground. Three 
of the officers' quarters were on the northeast, and three on the 
southwest side of the parade ground. One of them was destroyed 
by fire in 1847. The officers' quarters and the soldiers' barracks 
were of the same style of architecture and admirably suited 
to this climate. They were built of wood, on stone and brick 
foundations, seven feet his^h, with piazzas on all sides. In 1892 
three additional sets of officers' quarters were constructed. 

In 1906 additional officers' quarters, barracks for the soldiers, 
and a barracks for the bandsmen, were erected, and three com- 
panies of artillery, with a regimental band, under the command 
of a colonel, garrisoned the post. 

In 1909 the old soldiers' quarters, which were built in 1844, 


were so badly damaged by a hurricane that they were torn 
down, and two companies, and the band, detached from the post. 

There is now only one company stationed at Key West, 
a force wholly inadequate for the care of the modern guns on 
the fortifications, and the maintenance of the government 
property. During the tourist season many representatives 
of foreign nations visit Key West, and the indifference shown 
by the War Department for so important a point is a subject 
of frequent criticism, and ofttimes ridicule. 

The fortifications, and the army post are on opposite sides 
of the island, and squads of troops are marched every day a 
distance of a mile and a half to the fortifications. 

At the time of the Civil War there were no roads or streets 
directly connecting the army post and Fort Taylor, which could 
only be reached by marching the troops through the town. 
In 1861 General John M. Brannan, the commanding officer, 
cut a road across the island from a point about a thousand feet 
northeast of the post, so that he could march his troops to the 
fort without going through the city. For several years this was 
known as the Brannan Road. As General Brannan only cut 
away the trees and brush, the road remained full of the coral 
rock which abounds on the island, and soon became known as 
the Rocky Road. Later the name was officially changed to Divi- 
sion street, it being the dividing line beyond which on the south- 
east side there were few, if any, inhabitants. The city has 
grown far beyond Division street, which is now one of the most 
populous and best business streets, but is still generally known 
by the cognomen "Rocky Road." The term, Division street, 
having lost its significance, it would be historically accurate 
to change the name to Brannan street. 

In 1845 Fort Taylor was commenced, and so much of the 
work as had been constructed up to October 11, 1846, was by 
the hurricane of that year destroyed. The work, however, 
was resumed at once and it was ready for occupancy in 1861. 
Fort Taylor was a double casemated brick fort of the Bauban 
plan. Its armament consisted of forty 10-inch Rodmans and 
ten 24-pounder howitzers on the first tier; thirty 8-inch Columb- 
iads, six 30-pounder Parrott rifles; two 10-inch Rodmans, 
eighteen 24-pounder howitzers on the second tier, and twenty 
10-inch Rodmans, two 15-inch Rodmans, three 300-pounder 
Parrott rifles, three 100-pounder Parrott rifles, three 30-pounder 
Parrott rifles, one 10-inch siege mortar, and four 8-inch siege 
mortars on the parapet. 

It was built on a sand spit about a quarter of a mile from 
shore, and had four bastions and four curtains. Three of the 
curtains commanded all of the water entrance into Key West. 
At the breaking out of the Civil War two large sand covert faces 
were thrown up on the edge of the sand spit towards the town 
in anticipation of an attack by the Confederates from that 
direction. Commodious quarters were constructed within the 


walls of the fort, but only occupied during the Civil War. In 
1899 the parapet and second tier of casemates were demolished, 
and the gun embrasures in the lower tier built up of solid masonry. 
Back of this is twenty feet of sand and debris, and back of this 
twenty feet of concrete. Behind this are two 12-inch guns on 
barbette carriages; and four 15-pounders for protecting the mine 
fields in the harbor. 

In 1861 the government began the construction of two 
Martello towers on the water's edge; one near the extreme 
northeastern end of the island, and the other about two miles 
nearer town. They consist of a citadel about forty feet high, 
surrounded by casemates, and a parapet reinforced with sand 
embankments. When they were built they were capable of 
withstanding any attack from the land or sea, but with the 
improvement of ordnance they soon became as useful as paper 
houses for defense, and have long been abandoned. Their only 
use now is to gratify the curiosity of tourists, and to adorn postal 
cards, where they are designated as ancient ruins. 

In 1873 a small sand battery was erected on what was once 
known as Light-house Point, called the South Battery, about a 
quarter of a mile from Fort Taylor, and another about midway 
between it and the Marine Hospital, called North Battery, 
and a few modern guns were mounted upon them. 

In 1897 a mortar battery, with two nests of four 12-inch 
mortars each, was constructed, and the sand battery at Light- 
house Point enlarged and made into the most modern type 
of fortification, on which are mounted four 10-inch, and two 
8-inch rifles on disappearing carriages, wutli a small flanking 
battery on the one hand, mounting two 15-pounder guns, and 
another mounting two 4.7 Armstrong- Whitworth guns. The old 
North Battery was replaced in 1904 by a battery of more modern 
construction, on which are mounted two 6-inch barbette guns. 
These are flanked on the northeast side by a battery mounting 
two 15-pounders. 

In 1908 the government condenmed for military purposes 
that portion of the water front on the south side of the island 
lying between the southeast end of the large sand battery and 
South street, and part of five blocks between the southwest side 
of South street and the fort reservation. The amount paid for 
this property was about one hundred thousand dollars. A 
recommendation has been made by the War Department for 
the condemnation of the rest of the land in these blocks for the 
purpose of erecting oSicers' and soldiers' quarters. 




4 4 rr^HE first office was established in February, 1829, 
X and the first contract for mail service was awarded to 
owners of a small sailing vessel called the 'Post Boy' 
of about ten tons, which was to make monthly trips be- 
tween Charleston and this city. Captain David Cole, with 
all the advanta<?es of good seamanship, knowledge of coast, and 
superior education, was in command of this vessel, but for some 
very good reason, the monthly trips generally consumed nearer 
fifty days than thirty. Cape Canaveral was to be doubled in 
the route, and never did the mariner scan the clouds in the effort 
to double Cape Horn with more solicitude than did this worthy 
skipper to effect the same result at Cape Canaveral, but from 
different motives — the one being proverbial for its storms, and 
the other for its calms. Fretting did not bring the vessel any 
sooner than the winds and the current would permit. The mails 
were brought with regular irregularity. When they did arrive 
everybody knew it. He who was not certain that his expected 
letter would be prepaid by his correspondent put a 'quarter' (25 
cents) in his pocket to satisfy old Uncle Sam for the cost of 
transportation (for that was the rate per letter at the time I 
speak of), and if perchance you subscribed to a newspaper, 
five cents more would put you all right with the postmaster, 
for this then enviable means of information that other Nations 
existed besides Key West." (Maloney). 

This service proved so unsatisfactory that it was discontin- 
ued, and a route established between St. Marks and Key West. 
In August, 1832, a contract was awarded for the regular trans- 
portation of a mail between this place and Charleston, once a 
month. About 1835 Messrs. Lord and Stocker of Charleston 
obtained the contract for a semi-monthly mail, and first class 
sailing vessels were put on the run. 

About 1848 Messrs. Mordecai & Co., of Charleston, obtained 
the mail contract, and the Isabel, a remarkably fast and com- 
fortable steamer of about eleven hundred tons, was put on 
between Charleston and Key West, which service continued 
until the commencement of the Civil War. The arrival of the 
Isabel in port was an important event. When she was sighted 
the fact was made known by the ringing of a bell on a tower 
at the agent's wharf. She frequently arrived at night and when 
that occurred nearly everybody sat up to await her arrival and 
hear from distant relatives and friends, from whom they had 


been cut off for two weeks. No family waited alone; those wlu) 
did not have friends to eat midnight supper with them, went 
out to the homes of others, and the occasions were ones of 
jollification and social gathering. Happy, happy days, when all 
lived together in unty! When the Isabel neared the wharf, 
the entire adult population would congregate there to get the 
first news of the outside world, and greet returning relatives and 

For some time prior to the Civil War occasional mails were 
brought to Key West from New Orleans and St. Marks, by r 
line of steamers owned in New York by Messrs. Morgan & Co. 
It was from such a modest beginning that the well known 
Morgan Line developed, which has since passed into the hands 
of the Southern Pacific Steamship Company, with the largest 
and fastest coastwise steamships in the United States. Shortly 
after the Ci\il War two fine, fast modern steamships — Cuba 
and Liberty — were put on between Baltimore and Havana, 
touching at Key W>st both ways, until 1873, when the line was 

In 1873 Messrs. Mallory & Company inaugurated their 
service between New York, Key W'est and Galveston. They 
began with a few small steamers, which they replaced from time 
to time with larger ones, and they now have a fleet of twehre 
fast, commodious, finely equipped and admirably officered 
ships. In 1C07 they established a line between New York and 
Mobile, touching at Key West both ways. Four, and frequently 
six, ships of this line touch at Key West weekly. The Mallory line 
is now part of that excellent transportation company, tlie 
Atlantic, Gulf & West Indies Steamship Lines. Under the man- 
agement of Mr. H. H. Raymond, vice-president, the line has 
been brought to a high state of efficiency, and is the leading 
coastwise steamship organization operating in the Atlantic 
and gulf. 

At the close of the Civil War the regular mail to Key West 
came via Cedar Keys, the terminus of the Florida, Atlantic & 
Gulf Central Railroad. For a number of years Miller & Henderson 
of Tampa, had the contract, and combined bringing the mails, 
with supplying this and the Havana market with beef cattle. 
If a drove of cattle was late in reaching Cedar Keys, or an ob- 
streperous steer obstructed the lading, the mails were delayed 
from twelve to twenty-four hours. ^ 

Key West suffered from such irregular and imperfect service 
until in 1887, when Mr. Henry B. Plant, the pioneer developer 
of Florida, ran a line of steamers from Port Tampa to Key West 
and Havana. In the construction of the Mascotte and the 
Olivette he spared no expense, and the ship builders were 
instructed to turn out the very best steamships that could be 
built. After eighteen years constant service, the Olivette retains 
her supremacy as the fastest coastwise steamship in the United 
States, and she and the Mascotte can be depended upon, with 


the certainty of ii railroad train, to make their runs within 
stchedule time. 

In 1895 Mr. Archer Harmon interested the people of Key 
West in a project to put a steamer on between Key West and 
Miami, the then southern terminus of the Florida East Coast 
Eailway. He chartered the fast and commodious river steamer, 
Shelter Island, but before reaching Key West for her initial 
trip, she struck on shoals in Hawks Channel, and was a total 
loss. He next chartered the City of Richmond, a large sidewheel 
steamer, and changed her name to the City of Key West. 
She made a few trips under the original management, but the 
venture proving a failure financially, the stock in the company 
was taken over by Mr. Henry M. Flagler, who continued to 
operate the line between Key West and Miami until 1900, 
when the Peninsular and Occidental Steamship Company 
was organized, and the Mascotte, Olivette, Miami and City 
of Key West taken over by it. The principal stockholders 
in the company are Mr. Morton F. Plant and Mr. Henry M. 
Flagler. The Mascotte and the Olivette ply between Port Tampa, 
Key West and Havana, and make three round trips weekly, 
during the months of January, February and March, and two 
during the other months of the year. 

In 1902 the City of Key West was sold, and the Shinnecock 
put on the run between Miami and Key West during the winter 
and the Miami the rest of the year. On the completion of the 
Florida East Coast Railway to Knights Key, in 1908, the line 
between Miami and Key West was discontinued, and the Mon- 
tauk chartered for the run between Miami and Key West, 
during the winter season. The Miami plys between Miami and 
Nassau during three months in the winter, and in the summer 
takes the Knights Key-Key West run. 

The Florida East Coast Railway will be completed to Key 
West January twenty-second, 1912, when mail service by water 
will be a thing of the past. 

The first post-office — if a room where the few letters that 
were received in Key West at that time, could be called a "post- 
office" — was in a building that stood on the corner of Caroline 
and Front streets, and occupied by the family of the postmaster. 
It was afterwards the home of Mr. Chailes Tift, and subsequently 
occupied by Judge Angel de Lono. Its last tenants were the Misses 
Higgs, sisters of the Rev. Gilbert Iliggs. 

When Mr. Hicks was postmaster the office was on the north- 
west side of Front street, between Duval and Simonton, in the 
store of Hicks & Dusenbury. Later it was in one end of the 
stone warehouse on the Tift property on Front street, at the end 
of Fitzpatrick. When Mr. George Philips was postmaster if 
was in a room in the Russell House, on Duval street. 

Under the administrations of Mr. Eldridge L. Ware, Mr. 
Joseph B. Browne, and part of that of Nelson F. English, 
it was in a small building on the southeast side of Front street. 


about a hundred feet from the corner of Duval. When this build- 
ing was destroyed by fire in 1886, the post-office was moved to 
a small shed-like building on the southwest side of Whitehead 
street, on the government lot, at the corner of Whitehead and 
Caroline streets, formerly used as a storeroom by the lampist 
of the light-house service. 

When Mr. Jefferson B. Browne was appointed postmaster 
in 188G, he erected on the corner of this lot a one-story building 
with a main office sixteen by thirty-five feet, and a smaller room 
sixteen feet square. He equipped it at his own expense with two 
hundred and fifty Yale & Towne lock boxes, the first that were 
ever used in Key West. This building was used as the post-office 
during Mr. Browne's term, and part of that of Mr. George 
Hudson, Mr. Browne's successor. In 1891 it was transferred 
to the new government building at the foot of Greene street. 




IN MARCH, 1836, Secretary of War Lewis Cass requested 
General Scott, who had charge of the mihtary oi)erations 

against the Indians in Florida, to detach a garrison from 
his forces and re-occupy Key West, and directed the ord- 
nance department to forward without delay one hundred and 
fifty stands of arms, together with the necessary ammunition, 
to the commanding officer here, and, if there was no army officer, 
then to the care of Mr. William A. Whitehead, the collector of 

On the 15th of December, 1835, Major Dade, who was 
in command of the army post at Key W^est, left on the transport 
Motto for Tampa, with his entire command, where he led an 
expedition against the Indians in South Florida. On December 
28th he attempted to march from Tampa to Fort King, but his 
command was ambuscaded and one hundred and fifteen officers 
and men massacred. Only one escaped. 

So complete was the ambuscade that all of the officers were 
killed at the first fire. Among them was Captain Gardener, 
whose wife and children were in Key West where they had been 
living during the time that Captain Gardener and Major Dade 
were stationed here. They were both highly esteemed and 
had a large social acquaintance, and the news of their death 
threw the city in mourning. Captain Gardener's wife and children 
were objects of tender consideration from our people, and every 
kindness and attention possible was extended to them in their 

On January 4, 1836, the Indians attacked the family of 
Mr. William Coolie at New River, murdering his wife and three 
children, together with Mr. Joseph Flinton, of Maryland, who 
was employed as instructor for his children. 

The inhabitants between New River and Cape Florida, 
and along the Florida Keys, became justly alarmed, and about 
two hundred fugitives came to Key West for safety. 

There were about three thousand Indians operating in South 
Florida, and as they carried their hostilities farther south on 
the East Coast, an attack on Key West was feared. Our citizens 
chartered a vessel, and sent it to Havana to buy arms and 
ammunition, and to solicit a visit from any American man-of-war 
that was then in port. This at once brought Commander Dallas, 
in the frigate Constitution, and Captain Rosseau in the sloop- 
of-war St. Louis, to Key West for the protection of our people. 


After the massacre of Mr. Coolie's family at New River, 
several attempts were made by the Indians to attack Cape 
Florida light-house, and on January 16th it was abandoned by 
the keepers, and notice of that fact published to the world by 
the collector of customs at Key West. 

About the time of the massacre at Indian Key an attack 
was made on the light-house at Cape Florida; the keepers and 
their families abandoned their residences, which were destroyed, 
and took refuge in the top of the light-house where the Indians 
were afraid to attack them, the spiral staircase affording excellent 
facilities for defense. They set fire to the interior of the light-house 
and destroyed part of the staircase, and but for the timely 
arrival of a revenue cutter the inmates would have perished. 

Among these was the daughter of the light-house keeper, Miss 
Drucilla Duke, who married Captain Courtland Williams, 
and was the mother of Mrs. George W. Reynolds and Mrs. 
H. B. Boyer. At Indian Key the people made ready for an attack 
by erecting embankments, mounting cannon, etc. 

A land patrol of the most prominent citizens was organized 
at Key West, which kept up until the spring rains set in, when 
the gentlemen composing the guard abandoned their patrol, 
and sought shelter on the verandas of the houses, and finally 
staid at home altogether. 

A water patrol was also organized and the island was circum- 
navigated every night. 

An incident, which illustrates the demoralizing effect of 
fear, is told by Mr. Wm. A. Whitehead. "I was both amused and 
provoked one night by being summoned by the captain of the 
watch to leave my family to look after some Indians supposed 
to be in the woods, saying that 'the sound of a drum had been 
distinctly heard several times.' The captain was no less a person 
than Mr. Alden A. M. Jackson. Mrs. Whitehead and I got up, 
and he marched us all the way to the barracks to see if the drum 
known to be there was in its place. The ridiculousness of the 
Indians having gone to the barracks and stolen the drum, and 
beat an alarm to give notice of their approach, never once 
occurred to the captain of the watch. It was later discovered 
that the noise was caused by a dog striking his leg on top of a 
cistern, while scratching fleas." 

This incident found a counterpart in the Spanish American 
War, when Captain W. H. H. Sutherland of the United States 
navy, discovered and reported a Spanish fleet in the vicinity 
of Tampa, just as the transports were about to sail for Cuba. 
A fog or mist deceived him, as the dog scratching fleas deceived 
Captain Jackson. 

The massacre of a number of Key West citizens on Indian 
Key was one of the most harrowing events in the history of our 
people. There were about twenty families living there, all of 
whom had relatives in Key West. A deputy collector of customs, 
a postmaster, commission merchant, warehouseman and others, 


were living on Indian Key. Among them was Dr. Henry Perrine, 
who had obtained a grant from congress, in 1838, of a township 
on Biscay ne Bay for the purpose of demonstrating the adapt- 
ability of that part of South Florida for nearly all tropical 
and subtropical plants. Dr. Perrine moved to Florida in the 
winter of that year with his family, and several others who were 
to form part of the colony which was to develop his grant. On 
account of the Indian war it was not deemed safe to establish 
a colony on the mainland, and they took up their residence on 
Indian Key to wait the termination of hostilities. 

Dr. lerrine brought plants and seeds from Mexico, Central 
and South America, which he planted on Matecumbie and 
Lignum \ itae Key as nurseries for his mainland colony when 
the war should end. His massacre by the Indians indefinitely 
postponed the colcnization scheme, but the plants that he set 
out grew abundaiitly, and other hands reaped the harvest which 
the dead had sown. The presence of mahogany and other hard 
weeds on these islands, which do not grow on the other keys, 
is the result of Dr. Perrine's sojourn there. After his death his 
family moved to New York, and his son, Mr. Henry Perrine, 
some years ago married Mrs. Folsom, the mother of Mrs. Grover 

Congress lately confirmed the grant made in 1838, and Dr. 
Perrine's heirs came into possession of a township on Biscayne 
Bay. His descendants now living in Florida are Mrs. Sarah 
R. W. Palmer, her sons, T. W. and J. D. Palmer, Jr., two daugh- 
ters. Misses Jessie and Minnie, who are living in Miami with 
their mother. Another daughter, Mrs. Sarah Rogers Colmore, 
is the wife of Rev. Charles D. Colmore, an Episcopal clergyman 
in Cuba. 


For several years people on Indian Key lived in constant 
dread of an attack from the Indians. At Tea Table Key, about 
a mile from Indian Key, there was a naval depot and a detachment 
of United States troops was stationed there. A revenue cutter 
cruised constantly near Indian Key, making that its principal 
anchoring place. 

Captain Houseman, who owned a large wharf and ware- 
house, and did a general storekeeping and commission merchant 
business, had for eighteen months been making preparations 
to defend the island from an anticipated attack, and spent 
about $20,000 for that purpose. In the fall of 1838 three hundred 
Indians congregated on the adjacent keys with a view of attack- 
ing the island. They sent a Spaniard, who was living with them, 
to Indian Key as a spy, but he was taken prisoner by Captain 
Houseman, who was informed by him that there were two 
Indians on Lignum Vitae Key. These were also captured, and 
the Indians realizing that the inhabitants were on the alert, 
abandoned their plan of an attack at this time. Captain Houseman 


ascertained from these spies that it was the intention of the 
Indians, after capturing Indian Key, to proceed to Key Vaccas 
and thence to Key West. He kept them prisoners for eighteen 
months, and on the arrival of the revenue cutter, sent for the 
protection of the people at Indian Key, they were turned over 
to the captain, from whom they effected their escape. 

Captain Houseman and the citizens of Indian Key had 
repeatedly petitioned the government of Florida and Congress, 
to furnish troops for their protection. They urged that the troops 
and the naval depot should be at Indian Key and not at Tea 
Table Key, but their petitions were ignored. It was believed 
at the time that Tea Table Key was selected at the instance of 
certain prominent citizens of Key West who owned that island, 
and the feeling among the survivors of the massacre was very 
bitter against some of the people of Key West, whom they felt 
were to some extent responsible. 

A short time before the massacre, Mr. John Whalton, 
the keeper of the Carysfort Reef lightship, was killed by a party 
of Indians on one of the keys where he had a garden. Mr. Whal- 
ton's family were living in Key West, and he has a number of 
descendants living here now. 

A few days before the attack, Lieut. McLaughline, who had 
under his command the revenue cutters Flint and Atrego, left 
the vicinity of Indian Key, and sent one of the cutters to Cape 
Florida, and the other to Cape Sable. It was while on this trip 
that the two Indian spies escaped by jumping overboard. They 
carried the information to the other Indians that the cutters 
had left the vicinity of the island, and that there was no one 
on Tea Table Key except one officer and ten sick men. The 
Indians hastily gathered in force, ' and between two and three 
o'clock in the morning of the 7th of August, about three hundred 
quietly came in their canoes to the island and disembarked, 
and were proceeding to surround the houses, when they were 
discovered by Mr. J. Glass, who occupied one of the dwellings 
on Water street on the south side of the key. Mr. Glass got 
up, and looking out of his front window, discovered a large 
number of canoes along the rocks directly in front of his house. 
He immediately went to the adjoining house occupied by Mr, 
J. F. Beiglet and called him, and they started to give the informa- 
tion to Captain H,ouseman and others, but in crossing the public 
square they were discovered by a large number of Indians who 
were creeping silently along the fence which led to Captain 
Houseman's dwelling. As soon as the Indians discovered them, 
they commenced firing, screaming and yelling, which gave the 
alarm to another party of Indians coming around by Mr. Howe's 
house, and they all rushed for Captain Houseman's store and 
dwelling. Glass and Beiglet escaped, Glass secreting himself 
under the Second street wharf — Beiglet in a cistern under a 
larce warehouse. They remained there, with James Sturdy and 
another man, until the building was set on fire. Beiglet and the 


other mun escaped, but Sturdy was burned to death. Beiglet 
lost about $10,000.00 in gold. 

The inhabitants were aroused from their sleep by the blood- 
curdling yells and war cries of the Indians. 

• The house occupied by Dr. Perrine belonged to Mr. Howe. 
It was the largest on the island, being three stories high, with a 
porch and cupola, and built so close to the water that, during 
high tide, three sides were surrounded by water. Fronting the 
porch was a short wharf. Under the wharf was a crawl for turtle. 
It communicated with the cellar by a narrow passage way walled 
up above high water mark. The cellar being open to the influx 
of the sea, was used by the family for bathing, and was entered 
by a trap door from the dressing room above. It was into this 
cellar that Dr. Perrine hurried his family when they were awak- 
ened by the discharge of guns, crashing of glass and wild yells 
of the Indians. His family urged him to come into the cellar with 
them, but he knew that the Indians would discover the trap 
door, so he remained in the house and closed the opening, 
and piled upon it bags of grain, etc., so as to completely hide it. 
He then got his guns ready but discovered that he had no caps. 
His family heard him parleying with the Indians in Spanish, 
trying to prevail on them to spare his dwelling. Soon the distressed 
listeners in the cellar heard the Indians make a furious assault 
upon the dwelling, and one of them say in English, "All hid; 
old man upstairs." They heard with terror the rush up the 
stairs, the heavy blows upon the massive doors which led to 
the cupola, the terrific crash as it yielded, a single rifle shot, 
tlie awful war whoop, and the demoniac yells of the sav'ages; 
aiid Ihe'family below knew that their father and husband was no 
more ! 

Captain John Mott, his wife and two children, and his 
mother-in-law, were discovered by the Indians about daylight. 
Mott and his wife were shot. The oldest child, a girl about four 
years old,' was picked up and her brains dashed out against a 
post. The baby was choked to death and thrown into the sea. 
Mott and his wife, who were not yet dead, were dragged about 
fifty yards, and killed with blows from clubs, and their hair 
and clothes set afire. The mother-in-law escaped and hid under 
a building until the Indians left. 

After the massacre they set fire to houses, and what they did 
not burn they destroyed. One house alone escaped. It belonged 
to Mr. Charles Howe. Mr. Howe was a Mason, and when the 
Indians left the island, his Masonic apron with its all-seeing 
eye and other mystic symbols, was found spread out on a table. 
The savages had found it in ransacking the place, and whether 
they knew anything of Masonry and spared Mr. Howe's house 
an that account, or whether it appealed to their superstitions 
and frightened them, will never be known; but it was believed 
that this home was spared on that account. After his death the 


apron was presented to Dade Lods;e No. 14, F. & A. M., but 
it was destroyed in 1886, when the Masonic Temple was burned. 

Nearly all who escaped massacre did so by secreting them- 
selves in cisterns. Many of them remained in water up to their 
necks for five or six hours, and where the cisterns were under 
the houses which were burned, those who escaped, endured fright- 
ful tortures. 

Captain Elliott Smith's family, consisting of wife and one 
child and his wife's little brother, who resided on Fourth street, 
were among those who suffered in this way. The older members 
of the family managed to escape, but the boy, about twelve years 
of age, was burned to death. 

In addition to burning and destroying property, the Indians 
carried away all the slaves that they could find. They took three 
belonging to Mr. Howe and a negro girl from Captain Houseman. 

^A hile the Indians were still on the island, the few soldiers 
who were in the hospital at Tea Table Ivej', unfit for active 
service, manned a small boat, in which thej' placed two four- 
pound swivels, and put ofl^ about daylight to attack the In- 
dians and cut off their retreat. In the hurry of their departure 
they took six pound bags of powder instead of four. When 
they came within about two hundred yards of the wharf 
they opened fire on a number of the Indians, who had congre- 
gated on the wharf, but at the first discharge of the swivels, 
the overloaded guns recoiled overboard, and the Indians fired 
upon the boat, killing one of the soldiers and they were forced 
to beat a retreat. 

One of the most pathetic incidents of the massacre, which 
the people of Key West saw the efl^ects of for many years, hap- 
pened to the family of Mr. Williams, of Key West, who were 
li\ing at Indian Key. Thej' escaped being massacred, only 
to find that their young son, James, had been driven insane, 
and for many years he wandered the streets of Key West ut- 
tering harsh cries, and at times screaming "The Indians are 
coming." "Crazy Jim," as he got to be known, was a pathetic 
sight in Key West until death gave him relief. 

Beiglet afterwards moved to Key West and married the 
widowed mother of Hon. Peter T. Knight. Mr. Charles Howe 
also came to Key West, and was afterwards collector of the port 
for many years. His sons, Charles and Edward, became large 
land owners and prominent business men of Key West, His 
daughter. Miss Amelia, married Mr. Horatio Crain, and is living 
here with her son, St. Clair, who conducts the Key West News 


Many years after the massacre Dr. Perrine's remains were 
taken from lower Matecumbie and interred in the family lot 
in Palmyra, N. Y. His monument is of granite, representing 
a cocoanut palm, on which is a tablet with a short narrative 
of the Indian Key massacre. 




THE influence of the cultured Southern men who 
located in Key West in the early days fostered the 
spirit of resisting Federal usurpation, and as early as 
1832 an editorial appeared in a newspaper then published in 
Key West, voicing a sentiment which rings true to the Decla- 
ration of Independence. Said the writer: 

"We have always thought that the value of our Union 
consisted in affording equal rights and equal protection to every 
citizen; when, therefore, its objects are so perverted as to become 
a means of impoverishment to one section, whilst it aggrandizes 
another, when it becomes necessary to sacrifice one portion of 
the States for the good of the rest, the Union has lost its value 
to us; and we are bound, by a recurrence to first principles, 
to maintain our rights and defend our lives and property. If 
we are oppressed, it is a matter of perfect indift'erence whether 
that oppression be inflicted by a foreign power or our next door 
neighbor. Upon the same principle we are compelled to resist 
both — 'even unto death.' " 

The election of Abraham Lincoln, the first president to be 
elected upon the sectional issue of antagonism to the South and 
its institutions, stirred up the people of Key West, in common 
with the rest of the Southland. 

The cultivated and wealthy citizens were nearly all strongly 
pro-Southern. Among these were Senator Stephen R. Mallory, 
the elder, Judge Winer Bethel, Mr. Joseph B. Browne, Mr. Wil- 
liam Curry, Mr. William Pinckney, Mr. Fernando J. Moreno, 
Mr. George Bowne, Mr. Asa F. and Mr. Charles Tift, Mr. W. 
C. Maloney, Jr.; Mr. Peter Crusoe, Mr. William C. Dennis, Mr. 
John P. Baldwin, Mr. Henry Mulrennan, Mr. Samuel J. 
Douglass and Mr. William H. Ward, the latter the editor of a 
newspaper called the Key of the Gulf. 

Judge Marvin's sympathies were strongly Southern, but 
he wanted Florida to wait until after the border States had 
acted, and go out of the Union with them. At the breaking out 
of the war, he decided to resign, not caring to serve on the bench 
of a divided country, and so announced his intention, but was 
prevailed upon by the Federal authorities to withhold his resigna- 
tion, and he finally accepted the new order of things. 

The secession of South Carolina was soon followed by a 
proclamation from the Governor of Florida for a convention of 


the people to take into consideration the present and future 
relations of Florida towards the Federal Union, which brought 
our people to the question of secession or submission. 

A meeting was held on December 12, 1860, at the county 
court house, for the purpose of nominating delegates to the State 
convention to assemble in Tallahassee on the third day of Jan- 
uary, 1861, for the object of taking into consideration the dan- 
gers to this State in remaining in the Federal Union. It was the 
largest meeting ever held in Key West up to that time. Hon. 
John P. Baldwin w^as called to the chair, and Charles Tift and 
Peter Crusoe, Esqrs., were appointed secretaries. The meeting 
was in session until after midnight. 

Colonel W. C. Maloney, Sr., was the only speaker who 
favored remaining in the Union. Mr. William *H. Ward, Mr. 
Samuel J. Douglass, Mr. W. C. Dennis, Mr. William Pinckney, 
Mr. Asa F. Tift, Mr. J. L. Tatum, Mr. Winer Bethel and Mr. 
Joseph B. Browne spoke in favor of secession. Judge Marvin 
was not in favor of immediate secession, but desired to wait for 
the border States and secede with them. The meeting adjourned 
to the evening of the 13th, and after a few short speeches, 
Honorables William Marvin, Winer Bethel and William Pinck- 
ney were placed in nomination and a vote taken by the hold- 
ing up of hands, with the following results: Marvin, 33 yeas; 
26 nays: Bethel, 66 yeas; 1 nay: Pinckney, 62 yeas; 1 nay. 
The strong sentiment for secession was manifested by this vote — 
Judge Winer Bethel and Mr. Pinckney, pronounced secessionists, 
were elected by an almost unanimous vote, and Judge Marvin, 
who did not favor immediate secession, received a bare majority. 

After the election it was suggested that Judge Marvin's 
official position as judge of the tjnited States court was in- 
compatible with the duties of a delegate to the convention, and 
Mr. Asa F. Tift, another avowed secessionist, was elected in 
his place. 

On December 11, the day before this meeting was held. 
Captain James M. Brannan of the First Artillery, who was 
stationed at the barracks at Key West, applied to the adjutant 
general at Washington for instructions whether he should 
"endeavor at all hazards to prevent Fort Taylor from being taken 
or allow the State authorities to have possession without any 
resistance on the part of his command." When Florida seceded. 
Captain E. B. Hunt of the engineer corps of the army, who 
was on duty at Fort Taylor, called on Captain Brannan to secure 
the military custody of Fort Taylor, and asked him to at once 
assume command of that fort. Captain Brannan on the night 
of the 13th of January, while the city slept, marched his entire 
command from the barracks to Fort Taylor, and took possession 
of it^ It was expected that an attack would be made by the citizens 
of Key West on the hrU and Captain Brannan reported that he 
had "four mootljj prj visions and seventy thousand gallons of 


water, but that he could not stand a siege unless he was re- 
inforced immediately." 

On January 2Gth Captain Brannan reported that there had 
been no demonstration made on the fort to that date, and that 
he then had no apprehension of an attack from the people of 
Key West, but he had no doubt that a force would soon appear 
from the mainland, and urged that reinforcements be sent him, 
and one or two vessels of war stationed in the harbor. 

Captain Hunt, of the engineer corps, threw up sand embank- 
ments on the shoreward side of the sand spit on which Fort 
Taylor is situated, and mounted ten 8-inch guns to prevent the 
establishment of breaching batteries on Key West opposite, 
the fort. 

The ordnance stores at Fort Taylor at this time consisted 
of fifty 8-inch Columbiads; ten 24-pounder flanking howitzers 
with caissons, and four 12-pounder field howitzers; 4,530 
projectiles, 34,459 pounds of powder, 2,826 cartridge bags, 962 
priming tubes, and 759 cartridges for small arms. 

At the barracks there were four 6-pounder field guns and 
cartridges, 1,101 rounds of shot and other ammunition for same, 
171 pounds of powder, 158 cartridge bags, 538 priming tubes, 
7 rifles and 2,000 rifle cartridges. 

Key West, the most strategic point within the Southern 
Confederacy, being in the hands of the Federal government during 
the entire war and used as a naval base, was one of the determin- 
ing factors in the result of the war between the States. The senti- 
ment of Key West was stronglj' Southern, but with the fortifica- 
tions in possession of the Federal troops, and no military organiza- 
tion here sufficient to wrest this control from them, the seces- 
sionists were deterred from taking any active steps to capture 
them. Whatever hope the faithful ones m.ay have had that 
they might ultimately wrest it from Federal control, was destroy- 
ed on April 6, 1861, when Major French of the Fifth United States 
Artillery arrived here with his command. He had been stationed 
in Texas, and in order to avoid surrender, marched his troops 
down to the Rio Grande to Point Isabel and there embarked 
for Key West. 

Some, who had been wavering in their sentiment towards 
secession, and who had pretended to be in sympathy with the 
South, saw on Major French's arrival the destruction of all 
hope of Key West being a part of the Confederacy, and they 
became very loud and offensive in their so-called loyalty to the 
Union. They spied upon the homes of Southern sympathizers 
and reported to the miHtary authorities every action that their 
eyes could ferret out, and sought to have them locked up in the 

The bulk of the Southerners were firm in their allegiance 
to the Confederacy, and defiant of the Federal government. 
Flags of the Southern Confederacy were raised on some of the 
stores and warehouses, and so strong was the Confederate 


sentiment, that Captain Brannan reported on March 13th that 
he "doubted if any resident of Key West would be allowed to 
hold office under the Federal government unless supported by 
the military and naval forces."* 

The war brought into prominence a number of people who 
prior to that event were of meager importance, who sought to 
prejudice the Union officers against those who favored secession, 
and representations were made which resulted in the suspension 
by Major French of the writ of habeas corpus. Peremptory orders 
were also issued by him prohibiting anyone from exhibiting 
Confederate flags on public buildings. 

In May, 1861, Major French refused to permit any judicial 
or magisterial functions to be exercised, except by persons who 
would swear allegiance to the United States. Having ascertained, 
however, that Captain Von Pfister had been elected a magistrate 
in 1860, but had declined to serve when Florida passed the 
ordinance of secession. Captain French sent for him and induced 
him to act. 

The time for opening the regular session of the District Court 
for Florida was on the second Monday in May, and on the 19th 
of May Judge McQueen Mcintosh of that court arrived, 
intending to hold court under his Confederate States commission. 
Judge Mcintosh was advised that such an attempt on his part 
might result in a clash with the Federal authorities, and he was 
persuaded to return without holding court. Major French 
appHed to Captain Craven of the navy to allow the officers of 
the court to leave the island without applying for a permit to 
do so. This was necessary, as there was an order in force pro- 
hibiting non-residents from going or coming without the authority 
of the commanding officer, unless they would take the oath of 

The Union men in Key West could not brook a free discussion 
of the issues involved in the war. The local newspaper, the 
Key of the Gulf, however, kept up the discussion, and Major 
French sought to have it suppressed. In his report he says, 
"I have spoken to several respectable citizens to have the paper 
suppressed, and had assurances that it would not appear again." 
The issue of the Key of the Gulf on May 4, 1861, contained 
strong secession arguments and Major French suspending the 
writ of habeas corpus "in order to arrest without molestation 
the parties suspected of uttering treasonable sentiments." 
Mr. Ward, the editor, realizing that he was about to become a 
victim to persecution, left the island and entered the Confederate 

Major French further reports: "The Salvor today takes 
away Mr. Crusoe, the late magistrate of the county, and 
county clerk; Judge Douglass and family; Mr. Asa Tift and his 
negroes. Others are preparing to leave, and winding up their 

*Appendix N. 


Matters went from bad to worse, and every act of cruelty 
towards Southern sympathizers was hailed with ghoulish glee. 

On June 17, 1862, the city was shocked to learn that Mr. 
William Pinckney, the junior member of the firm of Wall & Co., 
and Judge Winer Bethel had been arrested and held in close 
confinement in the fort. After several months imprisonment 
without a trial, they were sent as prisoners to Fortress Monroe, 
and there kept for nearly a year. 

The New York Herald of June 29, 1862, contained a most 
venomous letter from Key West recounting the arrest of these 
gentlemen, and praying that "there will be no delay in their 
case, and that they will receive their punishment quickly, and 
that it will be of a character to strike terror among those who 
desire to do as these have done." It fairly portrays the feeling 
of the Northern sympathizers in Key West towards those who 
were true to their homes and their native Southland.* 

Following this came the arrest of Mr. W. D. Cash. An irre- 
sponsible negro by the name of Noah Lewis, a drayman of Wall 
& Company's store, where Mr. Cash was employed, was induced 
to report that Mr. Cash had made treasonable utterances against 
the United States government; among them, that he wished 
every Union officer and soldier would die of yellow fever. Mr. 
Cash was arrested, and confined in Fort Taylor for about two 
weeks without a hearing, when he was sent for by Colonel Morgan 
who offered to release him if he would sign a parole d'honeur. 
The document contained two clauses to which Mr. Cash objected, 
and he declined to sign, unless they were eliminated. After some 
conversation, during which Col. Morgan threatened to send 
Mr. Cash back to Fort Taylor, the objectionable clauses were 
stricken out, and the parole signed. Upon his release he was 
entertained at the quarters of Captain Macfarlane and other 
officers — an evidence that they gave no credence to the malicious 
charges which had been made against him. 

Facts were distorted or manufactured to curry favor with 
the Federal army officers. One instance of this was when a young 
scion of a distinguished family was given a small toy pistol, 
from which a cork was driven out by compressed air, with a loud 
"pop." It happened to be about the time that news of a Con- 
federate victory reached Key West, and Union s^mipathizers 
carried the report to the Federal commanding officer that Mr. 

, a rebel, was celebrating the Confederate victory 

by a champagne party, and that the popping of champagne corks 
could be plainly heard. 

On the 16th of May, 1861, a move was set on foot under the 
instigation of Thomas J. Boynton, then United States district 
attorney, and others for the purposes disclosed in the following 

"We, the undersigned citizens of Key West, believing that 
the distracted condition of the country demands that our services 

*Appendix O. 


should be offered to her in this hour of need, that we may assist 
in preserving the honor of our flag, upholding the laws, and 
quelling rebellion, do hereby agree to form a volunteer company, 
and hold ourselves subject to the commander of the United States 
forces at Key West."* 

The individuals thus organized on the day named, having 
assembled in a large room in the building adjacent to the St. 
James hotel, which stood on the site of the Jefferson, proceeded 
to Fort Taylor, and Colonel W. C. Maloney, Sr., was made the 
spokesman for the company. The contents of the paper having 
been read in the presence of Major French, they were presented 
with a flag, and mutual assurances of fidelity interchanged. After 
being hospitably entertained, the members of the company return- 
ed to the city and to their several avocations. According to 
promise they were furnished arms by Major French, and Daniel 
Davis was elected captain. They drilled regularly and were 
familiaiizing themselves with the manual of arms, when Captain 
Joseph S. Morgan of the 90th Regiment, N. Y. Volunteers, mili- 
tary commander of the island, disarmed them in 1863, and they 

About this time an incident occurred which caused Colonel 
Morgan to be most unjustly execrated by Southerners and 
Northerners alike. 

On January 29, 1863, this order was issued from the head- 
quarters of the Department of the South at Hilton Head: 

"Headquarters Department of the South, 
"Hilton Head, Port Eoyal, S. C, 
"January 29, 1863. 
''Col. T. II. Good, Jith Pennsylvania Vols., 

''^Commanding Post, Key West, Fla. 
"Colonel: You will immediately send to this post the 
families (white) of all persons who have husbands, brothers or 
sons in Rebel employment, and all other persons who have at any 
time declined to take the oath of allegiance, or who have uttered 
a single disloyal Avord, in order that they may be all placed within 
the Rebel lines. The officer who will hand you this, will take such 
persons on board the steamer which carries him down to your 

"By command of Maj. Gen. D. Hunter. Very respectfully, 
"Your obedient servant, 

"(Record not signed.) 
"Assistant Adjutant General." 

Before the order was received at Key West Colonel Good 
had been relieved by Colonel Jos. S. Morgan, and the order being 
received by the latter, he had no alternative but to obey the 
instructions contained therein. 

This order was of similar character to the reconcentrado 

*Appendix P. 


policy of General Weyler in Cuba, during the last Cuban insur- 
rection. The Southern army was half starved; farms had been 
abandoned; many within the Confederate lines were without 
food, and the enforcement of this order would have resulted 
in suffering equal to that sustained by the reconcentrados. 
It was, however, in line with the policy of the United States 
government towards the South during the entire war. 

About six hundred citizens, including some who were 
recognized as staunch Union men, had been directed to hold 
themselves in readiness to embark for Hilton Head, thence to 
be transferred to some Confederate post. "The town," wrote 
a loyal citizen, "has been in the utmost state of excitement. 
Men sacrificing their property, selling off their all, getting ready 
to be shipped off; women and children crying at the thought 
of being sent off among the Rebels. It was impossible for any 
good citizen to remain quiet and unconcerned at such a time." 

It stirred up the Union citizens to an amazing extent, but 
instead of placing the blame where it belonged — on the govern- 
ment that issued the order — they made Colonel Morgan the 
scapegoat for their indignation, and assiduously stirred up a 
sentiment w'hich caused him to come down in the history of the 
place as a monster of cruelty. 

The order affected Union men as well as Southerners — 
many of the more prominent of the former having near relatives 
in the Confederate army. Among these were Colonel W. C. 
Maloney, Sr., whose son, Walter C. Maloney, Jr., was gallantly 
fighting for his native Southland, and Mr. Daniel Davis, whose 
son George had also gone into the Confederacy. 

The Union men at Key West, led by United States District 
Attorney Boynton, sent to Washington a protest against the 
order. Colonel Good was ordered back to Key West with author- 
ity to suspend the operation of the order, if he saw fit, and he 
arrived in Key West and relieved Colonel Morgan February 22, 
1863. His first act before landing from the transport was to sus- 
pend the enforcement of the order. 

On the day Colonel Good arrived, a transport was about 
to sail with some of those who were to be forever banished from 
their homes, and their baggage was on board. Among these were 
the families of Mr. Fernando J. Moreno, and the venerable 
Methodist minister. Rev. W. J. McCook, who had gone on board 
with the few effects they were permitted to carry with them. 
About four o'clock in the afternoon the first information receiv'ed 
by persons living further uptown that the order had been revoked, 
was seeing Rev. Mr. McCook with his family and their effects, 
on a dray, waving to all whom he saw, informing them that the 
order had been countermanded and they were not to leave. It 
brought great joy to many households, as there was not one of 
any prominence that had not gone through the sad experience 
of preparations to abandon their homes. Private residences 
with handsome old furniture, valuable portraits and silver, 


were locked up with the hope that they might be secure from 
vandal hands, but the experience of the rest of the South w'here 
the Federal troops w^ere in undisputed possession, shows how vain 
their hopes would have proved. 

The citizens of Key West presented Colonel Good with a 
gold-hilted sword in appreciation of his action in suspending, 
this order. The presentation was made at Clinton Square bj' 
Colonel W. C. Maloney, Sr., as spokesm^an for the donors. A 
large concourse of people gathered to witness the presentation, 
and several companies of troops and squads of marines were 
drawn up around the square, to add to the impressiveness of the 
occasion. After the sword had been presented and accepted, the 
citizens joined hands and sang a paraphrase of the popular 
song, with the refrain "Bully for that," which ended 

"Colonel Good has got the sword. 
Bully for that! Bully for that! 


There were a number of our young men who desired to join 
the Confederate army, but were prevented from doing so by the 
difficulty of getting away — permits to leave the island being 
issued only by the army officer in command, to those who would 
take the oath of allegiance. Too much praise cannot be given 
to that band of noble men who left Key West under these 
circumstances to fight for their native Southland. Their names 
are given to perpetuate the memory of their patriotism. 

Alfred Lowe Marcus Oliveri, 

William Sawyer, Charles Berry, 

Henry Mulrennan, Walter C. Maloney, Jr. 

G. Pacetti, John D. Sands (Bogy) 

Samuel Morgan, Manuel Diaz, 

John Pent, Joseph Fagan, 

George Albert Davis, Robert Watson, 
John T. Lowe. 

Mr. Walter Maloney and Mr. Pacetti took a small boat, 
slipped past the guard boat in the harbor, went to Tampa and 
there enlisted in the Confederate army. 

Mr. Alfred Lowe applied to Major French for a pass, but was 
refused unless he would take the oath of allegiance, but as that 
would have thwarted his intention, he with Marcus Oliveri, 
William Sawyer and Robert Watson stowed away on an English 
schooner bound for Nassau. After reaching that port they 
got a vessel to land them at Cape Florida, and walked from there 
to Jupiter Light, and there got a small boat and went to New 
Smyrna. Thence they walked to Enterprise where they took the 
steamer Darlington to Jacksonville, and continued their journey 
until they reached Tampa, where they joined Company K of 
the Seventh Florida Regiment under Colonel Madison Perry. 


Mr. Joseph Fagan and Mr. John T. Lowe were working in 
Manatee county and joined their comrades in Tampa. The others 
were engaged in smack fishing for the Havana market. Their 
vessels were captured by the Confederates near Tampa, which 
afforded them an opportunity to give their services to their 

Mr. Wilham Sawyer, son of Mr. Phihp Sawyer, died in camp 
at Knoxville, Tenn. Mr. Joseph Fagan was captured at Mission- 
ary Ridge and kept prisoner until the close of the war. Mr. John 
Pent was shot in the hand, and draws a pension from the State of 
Florida as a Confederate veteran. 

Mr. Charles Berry, father-in-law of Mr. Joshua Curry, was 
killed by the explosion of the boiler of the Confederate gunboat 

Mr. John T. Lowe was a brother of Mrs. Charles Curry and 
Mrs. John Lowe, Jr. 

Mr. Samuel Morgan was an invalid for many years in the 
Marine Hospital, where he died a few years ago. 

All honor to these heroes and may their memories ever be 
revered in this community! 

Of this gallant band the only living are Mr. Alfred Lowe and 
Mr. John Pent. Long may they live! 




THAT there could be a city of 22,000 population on an island 
in the gulf, without a railroad or a wagon road connecting 
it with the county of which it politically forms a part, is the 
best evidence of the commercial importance of Key West. 

No other city in the United States occupies or has occupied 
such a unique position. Its harbor, landlocked by keys and reefs, 
in which the largest ships can float, has four entrances: The 
southwest passage has thirty-three feet of water on the bar; the 
main ship channel, thirty feet; the southeast, thirty-two feet, and 
the northwest, fourteen feet. A vessel leaving the harbor of Key 
West by the southwest passage has but seven miles to sail 
before she can shape her course to her port of destination, and 
through the main ship channel, but five miles. 

Ships putting into Key West for stores or repairs add only 
about ten miles to their voyage — an advantage possessed by 
no other port in the United States having equal depth of water. 
At a very little expense the northwest passage can be deepened 
to twenty-four feet; this would enable the entire commerce of 
the gulf to pass through the harbor of Key West, and besides 
saving seventy miles on a voyage between the ocean and the 
gulf, would avoid the dangerous reefs around the Tortugas 
Islands, which they must otherwise pass. 

By special legislation the president was authorized to 
establish a custom house at Key West in 1822. A collector of 
customs — Mr. Joel Yancy, from Glasgow, Ky.— and other officers 
were appointed, and the following year a revenue cutter was 
attached to the port. Mr. Yancy did not long remain on the 
island, but left the office in charge of his deputy, a Mr. Dawley, 
and Mr. Samuel Ayres, inspector. Mr. Dawley died in June, 

1823, and Mr. Ayres having resigned the position of inspector. 
Key West occupied the unique position of having a custom house 
with no one to fill the offices. From June, 1823, to January 1, 

1824, the custom house was in charge of Mr. Thornton, the 
purser of the port, a position corresponding to that of naval 
station paymaster at the present time. On the latter date Mr. 
Ayres, at the request of the naval officer in command at Key West, 
again assumed the duties as acting collector, but served only 
to the 15th day of January of the same year. 

No name is found in the records as having filled the office of 
collector from January 15th to October 5, 1824. It is supposed 
some revenue cutter officer was detailed to fill it temporarily 
during this period. Mr. John Whitehead was appointed collector 


on February 9, 1824, but declined to serve. In July, 1824, 
Mr. William Pinckney was appointed and took charge on October 
5th of the same year, and remained in office until May 27, 1829.* 

On September 13, 1833, the government purchased an 
irregular shaped lot bounded on the north by Whitehead street, 
on the east by Front street, on the south by Greene street, and 
on the west by the waters of the harbor. There was a frame 
building on the end of the lot nearest Greene street, which was 
used as a custom house until 1876, when a substantial frame 
addition was made to it. In the early part of 1889 the old part 
of the building w^as torn down, and the part built in 1876 was 
sold and removed, preparatory to constructing the building 
now used for the United States custom house, post-office and 
light-house department. 

It is an interesting circumstance that the part of the custom 
house which was built in 1876 was purchased by Colonel Frank 
N. Wicker, who had, for eleven years, occupied it as collector of 
customs. He moved it to a lot on Duval street between Front 
and Greene streets, three doors from the Jefferson hotel, and 
occupied it as a real estate office. It is now owned by the Key 
West Investment Company and the lower floor is used for an 
office by them. After this building was sold, and until the comple- 
tion of the new building, the custom house business was carried 
on in a building on Whitehead street, between. Caroline and 
Eaton street, which was erected by Mr. Benjamin Sawyer, 
and long owned and occupied by Mr. E. L. Ware. It was after- 
Wards torn down, and on the site Mr. W. L. Delaney erected 
his present residence. 

The following sketch of the present government building 
is from the pen of Mr. Ramon Alvarez, who has been an employee 
in the customs service since 1873, except for intervals when 
the country had Democratic administrations; and for fourteen 
years has held the responsible position of special deputy collector 
of customs: 

"A contract for the erection of the present building was 
awarded December 15, 1888, and the structure was completed 
and occupied in the latter part of 1891, the cost of construction, 
together with building a sea wall, being $107,955.96. It rests 
on a pile foundation, is constructed of red brick with stone 
and terra cotta trimmings, and contains an area of 354,634 
cubic feet. The building is on a slight elevation facing a small 
triangular park known as Monument Square (Clinton Place), 
formed by the intersection of Whitehead, Greene and Front 
streets. At the rear the ground slopes to the beach. A broad 
piazza extends around the building at the first floor line, from 
the rear of which may be seen the shipping as it passes Sand 
Key Light-House to and from the Gulf of Mexico. 

"The first floor is occupied by the postal and customs 

*Appendix R. 


services. On the second story, reached by a broad flight of stairs, 
are located the court room and court offices, and on the third 
floor the Hght-house inspector and other government oflScials 
have their offices." 

Prior to 1860 Key West was much the most important city 
in Florida as shown by a table prepared by Mr. William A. 
Whitehead, collector of customs at Key West, for four years 
between 1831 and 1835.* 

The revenues of the custom house of Key W^est showed an 
average of about $45,000.00 annually from 1828 to 1832. In 
1874 the amount of dutiable goods imported into this district 
was $641,335.00, and free of duty $19,077.00, making a total 
importation of $660,432.00. In 1874 the total amount of duties 
paid into the customs house was $222,371.35; tonnage dues 
$2,520.83; hospital dues $2,728.51. In 1875, total $297,238.96. 
In 1876, total $245,514.73. For decade ending with the fiscal 
year of 1911 the collections have averaged over $500,000.00 
per year. 


The first commercial body organized in Key West was the 
Key West Board of Trade on November 30, 1885. The meeting 
was called to order by Mr. Horatio Grain, and Judge James W. 
Locke elected temporary chairman, and Mr. R. Alfred Mon- 
salvatge temporary secretary. A committee on organization 
was appointed who made their report on December 4th, and Mr. 
John Jay Philbrick was elected president; Mr. E, H. Gato, 
first vice president; Mr. John J. Delaney, second vice president; 
Mr. George W. Allen, third vice president, and Mr. Horatio 
Grain, secretary. Shortly after his election Mr. Philbrick 
resigned the presidency, and Mr. John J. Delaney was elected 
in his place, and held the position until the organization died a 
natural death some years later. 


In 1889 the Merchants' Protective Association was organized, 
largely for the purpose of protecting the old Key West merchants 
from the competition of the Jew peddlers who had just begun 
coming to Key West. Mr. William Gurry, the first president, 
resigned after a short time, and Mr. James A. Waddell was 
elected in his stead. About the only thing that the association 
accomplished was to have the city charter amended to authorize 
the imposing of a license tax of one thousand dollars on each 
peddler. This had the effect of making the Jews quit peddhng and 
open stores. Several of them are now among the most prosperous 
and progressive citizens of Key West. Of the dry goods mer- 
chants who were in business at the time the Merchants' Protective 
Association was organized, not one has a store today, and of 
the clothing merchants only one, Mr. George S. Waite. 

*Appendix S. 



In 1902 the Key West Chamber of Commerce was organized. 
Its first president was Mr. W. D. Cash, he holding that position 
until the consolidation of the Chamber of Commerce with the 
Commercial Club in 1910. 


The Commercial Club was organized August 1, 1907, 
and had for its purpose the development of the commerce and 
industries of Key West. Club rooms were fitted up and the 
organization was conducted both as a business and social institu- 
tion. Its first president was Mr. William R. Porter, who was 
succeeded by Dr. John B. Maloney. In 1910 it was consolidated 
with the Chamber of Commerce. Under the plan of consolidation 
the name of the latter was retained, and the officers of the Com- 
mercial Club became the officers of the new organization. In 
November, 1911, in recognition of the valuable services rendered 
by Mr. W. D. Cash to the commercial organizations of Key West, 
and his long service as president of the Chamber of Commerce, 
he was made an honorary life member without dues, a dis- 
tinction not before conferred on any member. 




AMONG the first of the enterprises which placed Key West 
on a commercial footing with other cities, was the estab- 
lishment of a telegraph line by the International Ocean 
Telegraph Company in 1866. 

General W. F. Smith (known as "Baldy Smith"), a retired 
volunteer ofiicer of the United States army, who was president 
of the company, had previously obtained from the Spanish 
government the exclusive privilege for forty years of landing 
a cable on the coast of Cuba. 

He had under consideration two plans for reaching Key 
West — one contemplated a land line to Punta Rassa, and thence 
by cable to the island, the other, a continuous land line down the 
East Coast and over the keys. It was proposed to use iron piles 
in the water between the keys, and socket them about ten 
feet above high water mark with wooden poles. It was finally 
decided, however, to abandon this plan, and adopt the route 
from Punta Rassa. 

The cable came into Key West in front of the United States 
army barracks on the north side of the island, and was carried 
underground to a point near the bridge at Fort Taylor, whence 
it went to Cuba. 


In March, 1884, a gas company was incorporated, and a 
plant erected back of Emma street near what is known as the 
Fort Pond. The gas furnished was smoky and of inferior lighting 
power, and the company did not prosper. After a time Mr. 
John Jay Philbrick acquired a controlling interest in the stock, 
and on the establishment of his electric lighting plant in 1890, 
the manufacture of gas was discontinued. In 1911 the circuit 
court, upon the application of the city, declared the gas franchise 
forfeited for non-user. 


In 1885 a franchise was granted by the legislature of Florida 
to Messrs. Walter C. Maloney, Jr., Eduardo H. Gato, Louis 
W, Pierce, George G. Watson, John White and Charles B. 
Pendleton, to operate a street car line on any of the roads or 
streets in that part of the island of Key West lying outside the 
corporate limits. A charter had previously been obtained from 
the city council to operate a line within the city of Key West. 


The company was financed by Mr. E. H. Gato, who built and 
operated the road largely as his own private enterprise. The 
cars were drawn by mules. 

In 1894 the company was incorporated under the general 
laws of Florida, but with the exception of Mr. Gato, the incor- 
porators were nominal stockholders. 

One branch extended up Whitehead to Division street, 
thence along Division to White street, where the car barn was 
located near the foot of Rawson street; another extended along 
Front street and proceeded thence on Simonton, Eaton, Margaret, 
Southard and White streets, to the car barn. 

When the road was finished Mrs. Alicia Carey opened an 
ice cream parlor near the terminus, which became a popular 
resort for merr^^-making parties of young people. 

In 1896 the street car line was bought by IVIr. John Jay 
Philbrick, who had just perfected arrangements to convert it 
into an electric line, when his sudden death in 1897 put a stop 
to the work for a time. His heirs sold it to a corporation composed 
of New York and Chicago capitalists, who carried out Mr. 
Philbrick's plans, and in 1900 the electric line was opened for 

In 1906 the Stone & Webster Corporation bought the line, 
and it is now being operated by this company. Its policy is 
liberal and its equipment and service of the highest qualitj^ 


When Mr. Philbrick bought the street car line, he erected 
on the ocean front, at the end of Simonton street, a handsome 
and commodious pleasure pavilion. It was one hundred and 
twenty-five feet long, one hundred feet wide, with piazzas twenty- 
five feet wide on all sides. One room, twenty-five by fifty feet, 
was used for refreshments, and the other fifty feet square for 
dancing and concerts. Later, an addition was built on the north- 
east end, and a commodious stage and dressing rooms added. 

For many years it was a favorite pleasure resort for the 
people of the island, and the principal social functions were 
held there. Dances were given frequently during the week, and 
sacred concerts held on Sunday afternoons. These, with occa- 
sional private entertainments, made it a center of the general 
social life of the island. Unlike such resorts in most cities, it 
was patronized largely by the better classes. 

In the hurricane of 1910 it was washed from its pillars and 
completely destroyed. 

In 1909 Mr. A. Louis erected a large two story bnilfling on 
the county road, about a mile out of town, which is now used 
for social functions. 


In 1889 Mr. John Jay Philbrick established an electric 
lighting plant, and discontinued the manufaeture of gas. A 
power house was erected on the site of the old gas plant. 


In 1897 William Curry's Sons Company put in a small 
electric lighting plant for tlieir own use, and furnished a few 
persons along their line with lights. Gradually the plant was 
enlarged and it became a formidable rival of the Philbrick plant. 
After the death of Mr. Philbrick, his nephews, Mr. John P. and 
Mr. A. F. Laflin, having acquired his interest in the company, 
incorporated The Key West Electric Company, purchased the 
Curry plant, and effected a consolidation. This plant was 
acquired by the Stone & Webster Corporation, when they bought 
the street car company, in 1906. 


Prior to 1890 Key West used natural ice, brought here in 
sailing vessels from Maine. 

The first ice house was owned by Mr. F. A. Browne and in 
later years the business was conducted by Messrs. Charles and 
Asa F. Tift and Mr. John Jay Philbrick. 

In 1890 John R. Scott and C. J. Huselkamp interested the 
Sulzer-Vogt Company of Louisville, Ky., in a project to manu- 
facture ice in Key West, and a plant was established on what is 
now the county road near George street. Shortly afterwards 
Mr. John Jay Philbrick bought the business, and moved the 
equipment to the electric lighting plant on Emma street, where 
he continued the manufacture of ice. 

In 1895 William Curry's Sons Company established an ice 
plant with a daily capacity of fifteen tons, which was enlarged 
to thirty tons in 1901, and in 1904 was further enlarged to a 
total capacity of sixty tons. 

In 1905 the Consumers' Ice & Cold Storage Company 
was organized, and began making ice in 1906. The par value 
of its shares was ten dollars, and its stockholders numbered severa 
hundred. Its first manager was Mr. E. E. Larkin, and it entered 
at once upon a successful career. In 1910, on the death of Mr. 
Louis Mouton, the then manager, who had acquired a large 
block of the stock, a controlling interest was bought by 
Wm. Curry's Sons Company, who sold their plant to the Con- 
sumers' Ice Company and closed down the Curry plant. The 
Consumers' Ice plant has a capacity of seventy -five tons per day. 


Prior to 1835 all large vessels needing repairs or cleaning 
were hove-down alongside of a wharf. This was done by ropes 
attached to the top of the masts, and run through heavy blocks 
on the dock. A strain was then hove on the tackles, and the 
vessel careened, until one side of the bottom would be out of 
water. After one side was cleaned or repaired, the vessel was 
turned around and again hove down, and the other side cleaned. 
This method was regarded as very hazardous, and was a source 
of no little uneasiness to the master, inasmuch as tardiness or 
mischance in righting, or a sudden squall of wind, might endanger 


the lives of those engaged in the work, or cause injury to the 

Smaller craft were banked on a sand bar at high tide, and 
when the tide receded the work of cleaning or repairing was 

The construction of a marine railway in March, 1853, 
by Messrs. Bowne & Curry, merchants of this city, did away 
with these practices, except for very large vessels, although it 
was occasionally practiced as late as 1880. 

This railway was the first important public venture by 
private citizens in Key West. For a number of years it was 
operated by horse power, but with the spirit of progress which 
distinguished Mr. Curry and his successors in business, it has 
been enlarged and kept pace w^itli the march of progress. At 
first the railway could only take up craft of less than one hundred 
tons; in 1859 it was enlarged to five hundred tons, and in 1899, 
another and larger ways was constructed, with a capacity of 
one thousand tons displacement. Steam power was then installed 
on both railways. 


In 1876 Mr. J. T. Ball inaugurated what he called "Ball's 
Express" between New York and Key West. His method was 
to have packages sent to his agent in New York, who would 
put as many packages as possible in one case and ship it by freight 
on Mallory steamship to Mr. Ball. The minimum rate of the 
steamship company on any package, however small, was two 
dollars and fifteen cents. Twenty or more small packages could 
be put in one case, the freight on which would be the same 
as for a small package. Mr. Ball could thus deliver goods for 
less than one-half the freight charges per package, and make 
money from the business. 

Later he tried to conduct in the same manner an express 
business from Cedar Keys, in connection with the Southern 
Express Company, but it did not work satisfactorily, and in 
1890 the Southern Express Company established an ofiice 
here with Mr. Mason S. Moreno, their first agent. 


In 1880 Mr. Charles T. Merrill, a son-in-law of W. A. 
Russell, proprietor of the old Russell House, engaged in the 
banking business in a small way. He received deposits and 
advanced cash to cigar manufacturers. He was building up 
quite a good business, when the failure of Seidenberg & Company, 
large cigar manufacturers, wdiose paper Mr. Merrill was carrying, 
caused him to go under, and Mr. Merrill's brief essay into the 
banking world came to an end. 

In April, 1884, Mr. George Lewis, president of B. C. Lewis 
& Sons, bankers of Tallahassee, and Mr. George W, Allen, 
organized the Bank of Key West, with a capital of $50,000.00. 


Among the stockholders were Judge James W, Locke, R. Alfred 
Monsalvatge and several cigar manufacturers. 

The bank entered at once upon a remarkably successful 
career. It was located on the corner of Front and Fitzpatrick 
streets, in a building belonging to Mr. John W. Sawyer. In 1885 
they erected a bank on the corner of Front street and Exchange al- 
ley, where Monsalvatge & Reed's store now stands. This building 
was destroyed by fire in 1886. The day after the fire, when the 
whole town was panic-stricken, a run. on the bank was prevented 
by the prompt foresight of Mr. Lewis and Mr. Allen. Their 
books, cash, notes and all valuables were in a fireproof safe, 
and the second day after the fire, they were taken from the 
vault and moved to the United States naval station, where per- 
mission had been granted to conduct their operations until 
other quarters could be found. A large table was put out in 
front of the station, and heaps of silver dollars and packages 
of currency piled up on it, and bags of silver stacked all around 
in plain view of the passersby. Behind the table sat Mr. Allen, 
Mr. Lewis and their clerks. Announcement was made that the 
bank was ready to transact business. The sight of so much 
money restored confidence, and the bank was established on 
a firm basis in the estimation of the people. In a few months 
they moved into a building erected by Duffy & Williams on the 
northwest side of Front street, midway between Duval and Simon- 
ton streets, where they remained until their new building on 
the corner of Front street and Exchange alley was finished. 

The first year the bank paid ten per cent dividends, which 
increased each year until 1890, when a stock dividend was 
declared, thus increasing the capital stock to $100,000.00. 
The bank was doing a business far beyond its capital, but it 
was enabled to do this through Mr. Lewis guaranteeing the 
drafts of the Bank of Key West. 

Mr. Allen, Mr. Gato and Mr. Monsalvatge, directors of 
the bank, repeatedly urged Mr. Lewis to increase the capital 
stock so that the bank might do business on its own resources. 
This, however, he refused to do, stating that they could make 
larger dividends if the stock were not increased. 

Mr. Lewis embarked in the banking business in Key West 
largely because of ill health, having suffered for some time 
from bronchial troubles, which necessitated him spending his 
winters in a warm climate. In 1889 his health was so far restored 
that he was able to continue his residence in Tallahassee during 
the winter, and he induced Mr. Allen to buy $20,000.00 worth 
of his stock which he sold to him for $36,000.00. He promised 
to remain president of the bank and to continue to guarantee 
its drafts. Shortly after Mr. x\llen bought the stock, Mr. Lewis 
asked to have his remaining hundred shares transferred to his 
minor children, which request the directors refused. He then 
resigned from the presidency, but his resignation was not 
accepted. He was urged to retain the position until such time 


as the bank could call in some of its loans, and be in a position 
to take care of itself without his guarantee. When the news 
of his resignation was made public, a run on the bank started, 
and nearly $100,000.00 was drawn out in a few days. Matters 
remained in this condition until Mr. Lewis, over the repeated 
requests of Mr. Allen, peremptorily resigned as president, 
and withdrew his support from the institution. 

He had committed the bank to its policy of overdrawing 
with its New York correspondent, in order that it might do a 
large business on a small capital, and when he withdrew his 
support, some of the bank's drafts went to protest. Mr. Lewis 
at once notified the State Comptroller, who on Mr. Lewis' 
suggestion, instructed State's Attorney Thomas Palmer to apply 
for a receiver, and the bank's doors were closed. 

After a most extravagant administration by the receiver, 
in which large attorney's fees were paid and other heavy expenses 
incurred (the bank being in the hands of a receiver for thirteen 
years), it paid depositors sixty-two and half cents on the dollar. 
The amount paid to the depositors, and for administration of 
the several receiverships, amounted to considerably over one 
hundred per cent, of the bank's liabilities at the time the receiver 
was appointed. 


In 1891 when the Bank of Key West closed its doors Mr. 
George W. Allen was in New York trying to prevent its failure. 
After the receiver was appointed, his friends in the cigar manu- 
facturing business in New York started a movement to establish 
another bank in Key West to be managed by Mr. Allen, and 
subscribed for about $80,000.00 of the stock. With this support 
he returned to Key West, and in a short time organized the First 
National Bank of Key West, with a capital stock of $100,000.00. 
Its officers were George W. Allen, president; August Boesler, 
of the firm of Wm.Wicke & Co., vice-president; W. W. Flanagan, 
president of the Southern National Bank of New York, Ferdinand 
Hirsch, Charles Baker, Remigio Lopez y Trujillo and Oscar 
Rierson, directors. This institution, starting immediately after 
the failure of the Bank of Key West, had many obstacles to over- 
come, but by careful management and excellent business methods, 
it won the confidence and patronage of the people of Key West, 
and it is today one of the strongest banking institutions in the 
State. Its deposits are upwards of seven hundred thousand 
dollars. The success of the First National Bank is a tribute 
to Mr. Allen's banking ability, and shows conclusively that 
had his policies, instead of Mr. Lewis', been adopted in the 
management of the Bank of Key West, the failure of that institu- 
tion would not have occurred. 


In 1892 the Union Bank opened its doors for business in 


the brick building on Front street, which had been erected for 
the Bank of Key West. Mr. R. Alfred Monsalvatge was president, 
and Mr. Jeremiah Fogarty cashier. It was an extremely conserv- 
ative institution, and did not enlarge its business to any extent. 
After a few years existence, it returned all its deposits and went 
out of business. It neither made nor lost any money. 


The Island City National Bank was organized and 
commenced business on October 16, 1905. Its officers were 
Mr. George S. Waite, president; Mr. Charles R. Fierce, vice- 
president; Mr. E. M. Martin, cashier, and Judge Jordan M. 
Phipps, attorney. It has a capital stock of $100,000.00, and 
its deposits are over three hundred and fifty thousand dollars. 

The first board of directors were Messrs. Geo. S. Waite, 
Charles R. Pierce, Jordan M. Phipps, John T. Sawyer, Richard 
Peacon, Theodore A. Sweeting and E. M. Martin. 


For many years the entire sponge industry of the United 
States was derived from the Mediterranean, although in the early 
forties a few sponges were shipped to the United States from the 
Bahamas, but the supply was small, the total imports in 1849 
being valued at about $10,000.00. In that year a cargo of sponges 
was sent to New York from Key West on a venture, which 
narrowly escaped being thrown away as worthless. Its ultimate 
sale, however, established a market for this newly discovered 
product of the keys, and several merchants of Key West began 
to buy the better grades and take them in trade. The business 
proved profitable, and a number of sailing craft were fitted out 
as spongers. The industry increased until the catch was worth 
over $750,000.00 a year. About one hundred and forty vessels, 
aggregating two thousand tons, and giving employment to over 
twelve hundred men, were engaged in the business. 

The bulk of the sponges are taken from water averaging 
twenty feet deep, off the western coast of Florida. The sponge 
caught near the Florida Keys, taken from shoal water, are of 
much finer quality. 

The Key West spongers retain the primitive method of 
hooking the sponge with a three pronged hook on the end of 
a long pole. Each sponging vessel carries a small boat for every 
two men in the crew; one sculls the boat, while the other, called 
the "hooker," gathers the sponge. 

In 1904 several Greek companies introduced the system of 
gathering sponge by the use of diving apparatus, and established 
headquarters at Tarpon Springs in Hillsboro county. This 
transferred the bulk of the sponge business from Key West, 
and the value of the catch is now worth only about two hundred 
thousand dollars a year. 



In 1886 a building and loan association was formed with 
Mr. John Jay Philbrick, president; Mr. D. T. Sweeney, vice- 
president; Mr. Ramon Alvarez, secretary; Mr. George W. Allen, 
treasurer, and Mr. Jefferson B. Browne, attorney. It was very 
prosperous at first, but after a few years gradually ran down, 
was placed in the hands of a receiver, and went out of business 
in 1892. 


About 1890 Mr. A. Grandaj', a celebrated French chef, 
established a factory for canning turtle soup made from the green 
turtle which abound in these waters. He accumulated what, 
to a thrifty Frenchman, is a comfortable fortune, and sold the 
business in 1904 to Mr. Louis Mouton, who died in 1908, and 
in 1910 the plant was purchased by Mr. Norberg Thompson. 

Its output is about two hundred quart cans per day. It is 
limited to this quantity, not for lack of demand, but from the 
difficulty in securing turtle, as only the choice parts are used 
in making the soup. 

A couplet of an old English verse extolling the delicious 
qualities of green turtle soup, says: 

"Land of green turtle, thy very name 
Sets the longing alderman aflame." 


In 1877 a cigar box manufactory was established in Key 
West, situated on Emma street, southeast of Eaton. It was 
managed by Mr. A. de Lono, but not being able to cope with 
the disadvantages of freight rates and lack of transportation 
facilities, he closed down and the plant was disposed of at the 
end of about two years. 

In 1910 Mr. Norberg Thompson began making plans for 
the establishment of a plant for cigar box manufacturing. He 
secured a lot on the water front at the corner of Caroline and 
William streets, and erected thereon a large one-story building 
of reinforced concrete, equipped it with the best of modern 
machinery, and began work in September, 1911. It has a capacity 
of seven thousand boxes a day; the work turned out equals 
in quality the output of the best factories of New York. 


In the spring of 1911 the city council granted to Messrs. 
Charles E. Starr and John C. Reed, gas operators of Philadelphia, 
Pa., a franchise to establish a gas plant in the city of Key West. 
Work on laying the gas mains was begun in November, 1911, 
and a plant large enough to serve a population of fifty thousand 
people will be installed. The Key West Gas Company is incor- 
porated in Delaware and authorized to issue one milHon dollars' 


worth of bonds. The contract for the construction of the plant 
was awarded to Whetstone & Company of Philadelphia. Mr. 
John Mayer is president and general manager of the company. 


This company was organized and incorporated in 1892 
under the laws of the State of Florida. It commenced business 
on May 1st of the same year. 

The first officers were Messrs. George S. Waite, president; 
C. B. Adams, vice-president; John T. Sawyer, treasurer; 
Jefferson B. Browne, attorney; E. M. Martin, secretary and 
general manager. The company has prospered and is one of the 
strong financial institutions of the city. Mr. George S. Waite 
has been president of the company, and Mr. E. M. Martin, 
secretary and general manager since it was first organized. 




THE original proprietors and the first settlers of Key West 
considered the manufacture of salt as the most probable 
means of making the place known to the commercial 
world. Small quantities had been gathered from the natural 
salt ponds in the interior, without any special facilities, and that 
portion of the island was regarded as destined to be the source 
of future wealth to any enterprising individuals who might 
undertake to turn its advantages to account. The resident 
proprietors, however, were not themselves possessed of sufficient 
capital beyond the recfuirements of their commercial under- 
takings to engage in the business, and the first regular attempt 
at salt manufacturing was not made until 1830. Mr. Richard 
Fitzpatrick, of South Carolina, then a resident on the island, 
leased that year the Whitehead interest in the southeastern end 
of the island, and constructed the "Salt Ponds." 

About one hundred acres of this property were subject 
to overflow at any ordinary high tide, a large portion being 
always under water. This was divided into compartments 
or "pans" one hundred feet long and fifty feet wide, separated 
by walls two feet high made of coral rock. Small wooden flood- 
gates connected all the pans, and sea water was turned into 
them from a large canal, in which was a floodgate for regulating- 
the water supply; thus the water could be let into or cut off 
from all or any of the pans. The pans were then filled with salt 
water and the floodgate in the canal closed, and as the water 
was lowered by solar evaporation more salt water was let in. 
This process was repeated until the approach of the rainy season, 
when the water was allowed to evaporate, and the salt precip- 
itated into crystals, from an eighth to a cjuarter of an inch in size. 

About the time that Mr. Fitzpatrick began his operations 
in 1830, a bill was introduced in the territorial council to estab- 
lish the North American Salt Company here, and the local 
newspaper estimated that this new company would require 
five hundred vessels to transport the salt that would be made 
annually. Mr. Fitzpatrick was a member of the council and 
opposed the bill and prevented its passage. This gave rise to 
an attack on him, which became very bitter before the election. 

An intelligent negro man named Hart was brought from 
the Bahamas and placed in charge of the works. Several dry 
seasons promised favorable results, but they were not realized. 

In the summer of 1832 the prospect was thought good foi 


sixty thousand bushels, but rains set in early, and the crop was 
lost. Mr. Fitzpatrick abandoned his works in 1834. The reduc- 
tion of the duty on salt after he commenced operations had some 
effect probably in producing this result. At one time he had 
over thirty hands employed. 

The next attempt was made under the auspices of the 
La Fayette Salt Company, organized through the exertions of 
Mr. Simonton, the principal stockholders being residents of 
Mobile and New Orleans. Operations were commenced early 
in 1835, but success was not achieved, and the work passed in 
a few years into the hands of another company, Messrs. Adam 
Gordon, F. A. Browne and William H. Wall being among the 
stockholders. Subsequently, about 1843, Charles Howe obtained 
the controlling interest, and after the hurricane of 1846 became 
the sole proprietor. In 1850 the crop amounted to thirty -five 
thousand bushels, and Mr. Howe was encouraged to enlarge 
his works by the purchase of the Whitehead portion of the pond, 
which had been abandoned by Mr. Fitzpatrick. In 1851 he sold 
half of his interest to Mr. W. C. Dennis, to whom the management 
of the works was entrusted. The amount of salt produced annually 
varied materially, ranging from fifteen or twenty thousand bushels 
to seventy-five thousand, the largest crop raked in any one year. 
Mr. Dennis continued the manufacture until his death, which 
occurred in 1864. 

During the Civil War the manufacture of salt on the island 
was suspended, in consequence of one of the principal sources 
of demand for salt, the Charlotte Harbor fisheries, having been 
cut off, the military authorities being apprehensive that the 
salt furnished to them would find its way into the Confederacy. 

In 1865 Lieutenant W. R. Livermore of the United States 
army engineer corps, purchased the works and commenced the 
manufacture of salt. He spent a small fortune in the prosecution 
of the business, but abandoned it in 1868, after beco^^.iiig 
convinced that it could not be profitably produced with ine^cient 
and irresponsible free negro labor. 

In 1847 forty thousand bushels were produced, and until 
1855 the quantity varied from thirty-five to forty-eight thousand 
bushels. The banner year was 1855 with seventy-five thousand 
bushels, and the output until 1861 ranged from sixty to seventy 
thousand bushels. In 1861 it fell to thirty thousand bushels. 
Between 1862 and 1865, and 1868 and 1871, no attempt was made 
to operate the salt ponds. From 1871 to 1875 the output ran 
from fifteen to twenty-five thousand bushels. In 1876 the hur- 
ricane of October 19th washed away about fifteen thousand 
bushels which was ungathered in the pans, and did considerable 
injury to the works, which ended all attempts at salt making 
by solar evaporation in Key West. 

In 1871 part of the salt works passed into the hands of 
Messrs. C. and E. Howe, and was subsequently purchased by 
Mr. W. D. Cash. In 1906 the entire interest of Mr. Livermore 


and Mr. Cash was purchased by the Key West Realty Company, 
who laid it off into town lots. 

Remains of the Salt Ponds or "pans," are still to be seen, 
but in a dilapidated condition. 




A HISTORY of Key West which does not treat of the 
several revolutionary movements in Cuba, with which 
Key West was so closely connected, would fail in its pur- 
pose of faithfully portraying the events which have shaped or 
affected its destiny. 

In 1843 Narcisso Lopez, formerly a colonel in the Royal 
Spanish army, went to Cuba with Captain General Valdez. 
There he saw the oppression of the Cubans and his sympathies 
were aroused. He was suspected of conspiring against the 
Spanish government, and came under the surveillance of Captain 
General O'Donnell, the successor of Valdez, and fled to the 
United States in 1849. His story of Cuba's oppression raised 
many sympathizers for the cause, and he found no trouble in 
recruiting a force of adventurous spirits to join him in an expedi- 
tion having for its purpose the liberation of Cuba. 

His first attempt at invasion, early in 1849, was checked by 
President Taylor, and the whole expedition captured as it was 
on the point of departure. 

In May, 1850, he organized another expedition, one detach- 
ment of which, under the command of Colonel Theodore O'Hara, 
who wrote "The Bivouac of the Dead," made a rendezvous on 
the island of Contoy, where they were joined by Lopez on the 
steamer Creole with four hundred and fifty followers. Matanzas 
was their destination, but learning that the Spaniards had been 
advised of their movements, they decided to land at Cardenas. 
On landing. Major John T. Pickett, with fifty Kentuckians, 
marched through the city and seized the station of the railroad 
that connected Cardenas with Matanzas. After a few hours 
fighting, in which Colonel O'Hara was wounded, the Spanish 
garrison surrendered and Cardenas was taken. Lopez issued 
a strong appeal for Cuban followers, but received no response. 
As he could accomplish nothing without the co-operation of 
the Cubans he was forced to abandon Cardenas and reimbark, 
which he finally succeeded in doing after some sharp fighting. 

In the meantime the Spaniards had sent the gunboat 
Pizarro to capture the Creole, and one beautiful May morning 
the news spread among the citizens of the quiet little town of 
Key West, that was always alert at daybreak for anything 
unusual on the water, that the Creole was being chased by a 
Spanish gunboat, and was in imminent danger of being captured. 
The people thronged to the wharves and cupolas with which 


the town was then abundantly supplied (being used as lookouts 
from which to discover vessels stranded on the reefs). 

The Creole was crowding on all steam to reach Key West, 
and not far behind was the Pizarro belching volumes of smoke, 
and rapidly closing in on her prey. As the pursued steamer ap- 
proached Fort Taylor, it was seen that her speed was slackening. 
A few moments more the guns of the Pizarro would open on the 
Creole and its gallant band of liberators. Just then black smoke 
was seen coming from the funnel of the Creole and her wheels 
revolved rapidly. They had broken open boxes of bacon and were 
feeding her with this, and parts of the woodwork of the vessel. 
The Creole maintained her lead, rounded Fort Taylor, and dashed 
up the harbor to F. A. Browne's wharf (now the Martin Wagner 
wharf), where the expedition landed. 

The Pizarro, without saluting the fort,' came on behind her, 
and "slowed down a few yards away, with port holes open, and 
broadsides grinning, like the fangs of a bloodhound balked of 
his prey." 

In this expedition Lopez lost fourteen killed and thirty 
wounded, among whom was the chaplain. The Spaniards had 
one hundred killed and as many wounded. Lopez was arrested 
by the United States authorities, and tried for violation of the 
neutrality law, and acquitted. 

He and his party were lionized in Key West. All the best 
homes were thrown open to them, and they were feted as heroes. 
He presented to Hon. Joseph Beverly Browne the sword he had 
worn in the fight at Cardenas. 

Their first night at Key West was marked by wild scenes 
of disorder. Threats were made by some of the more unruly 
against the Spaniards living here. The saloon of Francisco 
Cintas on Duval street, and the grocery store of Mr. Arnau on 
Whitehead street, were broken into and looted, and their stocks 
thrown into the streets. The old Spanish citizens wisely kept 
within doors, until Lopez and his captains got the mob under 
control, which they succeeded in doing about daybreak. 

In August, 1851, Lopez landed another expedition at Bahia 
Honda, and with his little band of two hundred and twenty- 
three men repulsed a force of thirteen hundred Spaniards, and 
killed their commander, General Enna. 

Cuba, however, was not ripe for revolt, and no recruits came 
to him. His forces graduall.y dwindled away and he was captured 
and carried to Havana, where fifty of his followers were shot, 
and he was garroted on September 1, 1851. 

Colonel W. S. Crittenden, who had served in the Mexican 
War as an officer of the United States army, was sentenced to 
be shot, and when commanded to kneel in the customary attitude 
with his back to the firing party, replied: "A Kentuckian kneels 
only to his God," and met death facing his executioners. 



On October 10, 1868, Carlos M. de Cespedes, a distinguished 
lawyer and wealthy Cuban planter, gave the cry of "Cuba 
Libre" on his estate. La Demajagua, near Manzanilla, in the 
eastern part of Cuba. He was joined by thousands of patriots, 
and on the 18th took possession of the city of Bayanio, his 
birthplace, after having subdued the Spanish garrison. 

Spain not having on the island sufficient troops to oppose 
the increasing revolution, raised companies of volunteers from 
the lowest class of the Spanish population. The cruelties and 
atrocities of the volunteers was the cause of many Cubans, who 
were not actively engaged in the revolution, abandoning the 
island and coming to Key West. 

In 1869 a Spanish resident of Havana, a wealthy manu- 
facturer of cigars, Senor Vicente Martinez Ybor, thinking that 
his business was exposed in Havana to the caprice of the vol- 
unteers, who were then committing every sort of depredation, 
concluded to open a branch factory at Key West. As soon as 
he commenced making arrangements to do this he was suspected 
of treachery to the Spanish government, and put under surveil- 
lance of the volunteers, who made threats against him and his 

He then decided to remove his entire business to Key West, 
and came here with his family. He founded his factory, El 
Principe de Gales, during the early part of 1869, and thus Was 
laid the foundation of Key West's reputation as the greatest 
clear-Havana cigar manufacturing place in the United States. 

Among the prominent Cubans who early came to Key West, 
were the Borroto Brothers, Jacinto, Julio and Francisco; J. M. J. 
Navarro; the Barrancos, Francisco, Augustin and Manuel; 
Enrique and Esteban Parodi; Mateo and Luis Someillan, 
and Don Fernando Valdez. Of these only two have any descend- 
ants in Key West, Mrs. Robert O. Curry, a daughter of Mr. 
Valdez, and Mr. Jose M. Navarro, a vson of Mr. J. M. J. Navarro, 
have large and attractive families. 

Later came Mr. E. H. Gato, who now has one of the largest 
clear-Havana cigar factories in the United States, with a reputa- 
tion second to none. 

The continued acts of cruelty by the volunteers, and the 
establishment of cigar factories at Key W^est, where labor could 
be readily obtained, brought an influx of Cubans to our city. 

One of the first public acts on their part was to erect a 
building to be used for the discussion of political matters, for 
dramatic purposes, and to provide a place for the education of 
their children. It was dedicated on January 21, 1871, and called 
San Carlos Hall after Carlos M. de Cespedes. 

The chief spirit in this movement was Mr. Martin Herrera, 
and to his energy and patriotism, the Cubans owe this monu- 
ment. It is regarded by them as a sanctuary. Many of the 


leading Cubans of the present generation were there educated, 
the most distinguished of whom is Hon. Antonio Diaz y Car- 
rasco, the Cuban consul at Key West. 

"San Carlos" was destroyed by the fire of 1886 — the con- 
flagration is supposed to have originated in the building. It 
was promptly rebuilt and has had frequent additions. The upper 
part is used for school rooms, and the lower part as an opera 
house. It receives annually five hundred dollars from the Monroe 
county board of public instruction, and twenty-four hundred 
from the Cuban government. 


The first paper in Key West published in the Spanish 
language was El Republicano, edited by Senor Juan M. Reyes 
in 1870. Several other papers have been published from time 
to time, most of which were short-lived. The most noted was 
El Yara, edited by Mr. J. D. Poyo, a highly cultured and 
educated gentleman. For twenty years he upheld and contended 
for the cause of "Free Cuba." The paper went out of existence 
in 1898, when Mr. Poyo saw the fruition of his life's work. 

A number of Cubans obtained various positions under the 
city, State and Federal governments, and acquitted themselves 
with credit. The position of justice of the peace was held by 
Messrs. Alejandro Gonzales de Mendoza, Diego Andre, Juan 
M. Reyes, Angel de Lono, and Jose de Lamar. Later Judge de 
Lono was county judge, which position he held until 1893. 

Mr. Diego Andre belonged to a distinguished and cultured 
family, and was a man of education and refinement, but he knew 
nothing of our system of jurisprudence. Imbued as he was with 
the Spanish idea of oflScialdom, he was keen to secure his costs, 
and his usual sentence for minor offences was: "I pronounce 
you guilty and fine you two dollars for me and two dollars for 
Mr. Williams" (meaning Mr. Joseph P. Williams, the constable 
of the court). 

Mr. Carlos M. de Cespedes, son of the great liberator who 
started the revolution at Bayamo, was elected Mayor of Key West 
in 1876. 

Mr. Fernando Figueredo was elected a member of the legis- 
lature of Florida in 1884, and later was superintendent of pub- 
lic instruction for Monroe county. 

Other Cubans who represented Monroe county in the legis- 
lature were Hon. Morua P. Delgado, Dr. Manuel R. Moreno, 
and Hon. J. G. Pompez. 

The election of 1892 demonstrated that the Cubans were 
not only good revolutionists but keen politicians. The Democratic 
and Republican parties in Monroe county at that time were evenly 
divided, the Cubans holding the balance of power. A few of 
these were strong in their party allegiance, but the majority 
were more or less indifferent, and voted from considerations of 
friendship or racial pride. 


Both parties sought to give recognition to the Cubans, 
and placed a representative on their legislative tickets. The 
American Democrats voted the straight party ticket, for one 
American and one Cuban. The American Republicans did the 
same. The Cubans, however, without regard to politics, voted 
for their countrymen, who were elected, and Monroe county 
was represented in the legislature by two Cubans, one a Democrat 
and one a RepubHcan, Hon. M. P. Delgado and Hon. J, G. Pompez. 

In 1870 an unfortunate event occurred in Key West that 
shocked the community and had direful results. Senor Gonzalo 
Castanon, a brilHant and intrepid editor of a Spanish newspaper 
in Havana, became engaged in a controversy with Senor Reyes, 
editor of El Republicano at Key West. It culminated in an 
editorial attack from Castanon, to which Reyes responded that 
"Castanon indulged in such language because he knew that 
Reyes could not go to Havana to hold him to personal account." 
Castanon at once replied that he would come to Key West, where 
they could settle their difficulties in mortal combat. Key West 
at this time was a perfect hornet's nest of revolutionists, and 
Castanon knew that he took his life in his hands when he came 
here. After he arrived in Key West, Reyes declined to fight. 
That afternoon a committee of Cubans waited on Castanon 
at the Russell House, which stood on the site where the Jefiferson 
hotel now stands. Among them were Mateo Orosco (who, 
it is said, expressed a desire to meet Castanon in mortal combat) ^ 
and two brothers, Francisco and Jose B. Botello. High words 
were indulged in. The parlor and corridors of the hotel were 
filled with excited people. The street in front of the hotel was 
thronged with an angry crowd of Cubans. Pistol shots were 
fired, and Castanon fell mortally wounded. He died a short 
time afterwards, and his body was carried back to Havana 
that night. Orosco was concealed in the city by his friends,and 
escaped later to South America, where he died. The authorities 
could never get any testimony about the killing, and no one 
was punished for the crime. The Botello brothers also escaped 
and were killed in the Cuban army, fighting for their country's 

The peace of Zanjon, which ended the revolutionary move- 
ment in Cuba, did not cool the revolutionary spirit of the Cubans 
in Key West, and this place continued to be the center of the 
liberation movement in the world, although the junta, the Cuban 
revolutionary society, had its headquarters in New York. After 
the treaty of Zanjon some Cubans returned to their homes, but 
most of them remained in Key West, and adhered to their purpose 
of keeping the revolutionary spirit alive, and perfecting an organ- 
ization looking to the ultimate Hberation of Cuba from Spanish 

There was not a single member of the Cuban community 
who did not look forward to a new revolutionary movement 
against. Spain, .and an organization was: maintained for that 


purpose. Messrs. Lamadriz, Poyo and Figueredo were accepted 
as tlie leaders of this idea. They organized themselves into 
political groups called clubs, which were given patriotic names. 
Every Cuban was expected to belong to one of these clubs, and 
men, women and children were enrolled in this singular organiza- 
tion. All the clubs sprang from the central committee of Messrs. 
Lamadriz, Poyo and Figueredo. Even the manufacturers were 
organized into a j)oHtical club. Some of the most noted leaders 
of the former revolution were ever ready to land an expedition 
in Cuba and start a new revolution. Bonachea made a movement 
to this effect, and after a visit to Key West in 1881, where he 
raised funds for the purpose, embarked from the island of Jamaica, 
but was captured near Manzanilla by a Spanish man-of-war, 
and shot, with all his followers, at Santiago de Cuba. 

Limbano Sanchez was another unfortunate who landed in 
Cuba, and after a short fight he and his men were exterminated. 

In 1884 Carlos Aguerro, with a band of patriots, rnost of 
whom had been in the old army, raised the standard of liberty, 
and fought for months in the field. The Cubans, however, who 
had not forgotten the hardships and sufferings of the previous 
revolution, were not ripe for another revolt, and he had to give 
up his enterprise. 

Aguerro, with Perico Torres, Manuel Aguier and Rosenda 
Garcia, succeeded in reaching Key West, where they were 
received with great enthusiasm, and were the recipients of every 
attention. A monster meeting was held at San Carlos hall, 
patriotic speeches were made, and the audience requested to 
subscribe funds to aid Aguerro to fit out another expedition. 
The first to respond was Colonel Frank N. Wicker, the collector 
of customs at this port; he contributed one hundred dollars. 
The Spanish consul telegraphed this to Washington and Colonel 
Wicker was removed from office. 

Colonel Wicker was probably actuated by a desire to serve 
his political party. He was the leader of the Republicans in Key 
West, and knew that this act of friendship to the Cuban cause 
would be remembered by the impulsive patriotic Cubans, and 
that they would help his party when he should call on them for 
support. His name should go down in history as the first American 
martyr to the cause of Cuban liberty, as well as a martyr to his 

The Spanish government in Cuba charged Aguerro with 
"rapine, arson, highway robbery and murder," and requested 
his extradition on those grounds. He was taken in custody by 
the United States authorities, and the application heard by 
Judge James W. Locke of the United States district court. It 
was proven that his so-called offenses had been committed while 
engaged in a revolutionary movement, and the request for his 
extradition was therefore refused. The scene in the crowded Court 
house when Judge Locke announced his decision was one of 
frantic enthusiasm. The audience went wild, cheers and hoarse 


cries of exultation were mingled with tlie sobs of strong men as 
they threw themselves in each others' arms and wept for joy. 
Aguerro was carried out of the court house on the shoulders of 
his friends, chief among whom was Miguel Brinas, Sr., an 
emotional and generous hearted patriot; thousands of Cubans 
and many Americans formed an impromptu procession, and 
paraded the streets with Aguerro at their head. It was a scene 
long to be remembered. 

Shortly after this Aguerro equi})ped and armed a schooner, 
and with a dozen of his followers, went to Cuba, but the time 
was not ripe for another revolution, and he and his band were 
soon exterminated. 

Judge Angel de Lono was the hero of a gallant effort to 
capture a Spanish vessel for the Cuban cause. In 1889 he, 
with a dozen adventurous spirits, took passage at Santiago de 
Cuba on the Spanish steamship Commanditario, bound for 
Porto Plato, Santo Domingo. After they were at sea, Mr. De 
Lono, having previously instructed his men what to do, went 
to the captain's cabin with one of his men to act as quarter- 
master, and placing a pistol to the captain's head informed him 
that he was a prisoner, and that he had taken possession of the 
ship. All the crew were put below under arrest and guards 
kept over them until he got a chance to put them ashore. He 
took the Commanditario into several ports for coal, but was 
refused, and received no recognition from any government. 
The captors soon realized that they were in the anomalous 
position of sailing without flying the flag of any recognized 
nation, with no port in which they could get coal and provisions, 
and that they were in imminent danger of being captured as 
pirates. In this dilemma thej^ ran the Commanditario ashore 
near the Bahamas and abandoned her, and her gallant band 
sought refuge on the friendly shores of the United States. 

Key West was always a rich field in which to get money to 
sustain the revolutionary party in the field of Cuba. The cigar- 
makers contributed liberally, and the New York junta depended 
largely on Key West for its maintenance. 

General Aguilerra, the millionaire patriot, who sacrificed his 
time to the cause of his country, was one of the first to call on 
Key West after leaving the field in 1870. 

In 1870 General Melchior Aguerra came to Key West in the 
Steamer Edgar Stewart, and raised a large fund to organize an 
expedition. Great excitement prevailed; the Cuban ladies took 
the rings from their fingers and their jewels from their persons, 
and donated them to the cause of Cuban liberty. 

General Bernabe Verona, Colonel J. L. Pacheco and General 
Julio Sanguilly were here at various times, to get the "sinews 
of war," which were freely donated by the Cuban population. 

In 1885 General Maximo Gomez and Antonio Maceo came 
to Key West and sought to fit out an expedition to Cuba. They 
met with the unanimous support of the Cuban colony, and 


funds for an expedition were raised. There was at this time a 
revolution in progress in Santo Domingo, the leaders of which 
induced General Gomez to postpone his movement on Cuba, 
promising him aid after their revolution was over. It is worthy 
of note, as an evidence of man's ingratitude, that the president 
of the republic of Santo Domingo, after the success of his move- 
ment, became one of the most bitter opponents of Cuban liberty. 

In 1892 the time and the man seemed to meet in Jose Marti, 
who came to Key West with perfectly digested plans for the 
organization of a Partido Revolucionario Cubano. He found here 
an organization ready at his command. Every man, woman 
and child was in his place. He had nothing to do but to map 
out to the Cubans his plans of organization. This was patterned 
after a democratic federal republic. A number of Cubans 
constituted a club; every club had a representative in a central 
committee called the Council of Presidents, and the president 
of each club was a representative. This bound the clubs together 
in one great organization, and through it they were in touch with 
the general delegate who was elected by the vote of the councils 
throughout the entire world. The Cuban revolutionary party 
conceived by Marti had its ramifications in every country 
wherever ten or more Cubans were exiled. Marti was the chief 
of the organization. When he had the expatriated Cubans in 
all countries completely organized, he commenced work in Cuba, 
and sent his delegates to all parts of the island to stir up the 
smoldering embers of revolution. The old generals and officers 
of the Ten Years War accepted the leadership of Marti. Three 
years after his appearance in the political field everything was 
ready for the movement. During these three years he had not 
rested, but imbued with the great idea of freeing a country, 
he went from city to city, from continent to continent, always 
preaching to his people the necessity of revolt. He was a man of 
delicate frame but was sustained by the thought of the achieve- 
ment of his ideal. When he had funds sufficient and everything 
prepared at home, he ordered the revolution to start, and Feb- 
ruary 24, 1895, saw the beginning of the movement that was 
to end in the liberation of Cuba. 

Marti was distinctively an organizer, and was urged by his 
friends to remain in this country and raise funds and send over 
expeditions to keep up the revolutionary movement. He refused 
to follow their advice, saying that as he had started this revol- 
ution, it was his duty to share the fate of those in the field, 
and on April 1, 1895, he left Monte Cristi, Santo Domingo, 
accompanied by General Gomez and four companions. After 
many difficulties he landed on the 11th of April at Playitas in 
the Province of Baracoa, on the extreme eastern end of the 
island, and was killed in the battle of Dos Rios, in the Province 
of Santiago, on the 19th of May, 1895, fighting for the cause 
which was so dear to him, the fruition of which he was never to 


The revolutionary party now made Key West its base of 
operations for fitting out and embarking filibustering expeditions. 
There was always one or more suspicious craft in the harbor, 
against which it was impossible to get any definite proof. A 
number of expeditions were fitted out from Key West, or made 
Key West and the adjacent islands their place of rendezvous. 

The collectors of customs at this port were especially 
charged to prevent any violation of the neutrality laws, and a 
man-of-war was kept in the harbor with instructions to co- 
operate with the collector in performing this duty. 

In 1895 the tug Geo. W. Childs arrived here, and a rumor 
soon spread that she had taken an expedition to Cuba. She was 
kept under surveillance by the collector of customs, Hon. 
Jefferson B. Browne, and one quiet Sunday in August, 1895, 
one of her crew made an affidavit before him that the Childs 
had just returned from a filibustering expedition. 

The revenue cutter McLane was under steam ready to 
start at a moment's notice, and signals were made to her to stop 
the Childs if she attempted to leave the port, but she was 
already under way when the message was delivered. The cutter 
started in chase but the Childs ignored her signals and continued 
on her way until two shots from the cutter (the last falling very 
close to her), caused her to stop. She was taken in charge by an 
ofl5cer from the cutter and brought back to Key West, but was 
finally discharged, her master and owners having previously 
signed an agreement relieving the government of all claim for 
her detention. 

The Three Friends, Dauntless and Monarch were also in 
and out of Key West from time to time, and while it was known 
that they were engaged in filibustering, no conclusive proof 
could be obtained. The schooner Lark was seized with arms 
and ammunition on board which could have no destination except 
Cuba, but no definite proof being obtained she was released. 

The Cuban leaders were familiar with our neutrality laws 
and no expedition of armed men was fitted out on shore — one 
vessel would take arms and ammunition aboard, and another 
from a different point would take the men, and the arms and the 
men would not unite until they were on the high seas. 

On May 31, 1897, the U. S. S. Marblehead, commanded 
by Captain Horace Elmer, under instructions from the collector 
of customs, intercepted the tug Dauntless while taking on board 
arms and ammunition off Jupiter Inlet and brought her to Key 
West. When the Marblehead was sighted, box after box supposed 
to contain arms and ammunition was thrown overboard. On 
board her was found rubber spreads, canvas shelter tents, and 
a seal of the Republic of Cuba. After a hearing before United 
States Commissioner Julius Otto, the men were discharged 
"for want of sufficient evidence," and the Dauntless released. 

Apart from the sympathies of the citizens of Key West 
being with the revolutionists, filibustering expeditions were fine 


revenue producers, so that it was impossible to procure any 
proof against them. 

Many of the Cubans who Hved here prior to the estabhshment 
of the Cuban repubUc, have returned to their native home, 
where they are holding offices of trust and honor. Among these 
are Hon. Fernando Figueredo, treasurer of the repubhc, General 
Alejandro Rodriguez, former mayor of the City of Havana and 
chief of the rural guards; Hon. Rojelio Castillo, inspector of 
state prisons; Hon. Francisco J. Diaz Silveria, postmaster general; 
Mr. Lazan Vila, an employee of the Havana postoffice; Mr. J. D. 
Poyo, chief of the press bureau of the Interior Department, 
and Mr. Martin Herrera, chief of the general archives of the 
republic. "Old Martin" as he is fondly known in Key West, 
was postmaster of the city of Pinar del Rio, and has recently 
been elected a member of the legislature of that province. Messrs. 
Enrique Messonier, Louis Valdez Carrero, Martin Morua 
Delgado, all former Key Westers, have been members of the 
Cuban congress. The latter died in 1910, while holding that office. 
Ambrosia Borges, another former Key Wester, was elected 
president of the Cuban senate. Last but not least, and one 
who stands in the very front of the diplomatic and consular 
officials of the world, in ability, courtesy and high character, 
is Antonio Diaz y Carrasco, the present Cuban consul of Key 




NEW-COMERS are prone to imagine that all enterprise 
in a community dates from their arrival, and that until 
they came, there was no development. They learn better 
in time, perhaps. 

The cigar industry of Key West dates back to 1831, when 
Mr. William H. Wall established a factory for the manufacture 
of cigars. His advertisement, which appeared in the Key West 
Gazette, stated that "he imports the very best tobacco from 
Havana." This factory employed about fifty workmen. It was 
located on Front, between Duval and Fitzpatrick streets, and 
was destroyed in the fire of 1859. 

Estava & Williams, in 1837 and 1838, operated a factory 
in which sixteen men were employed, and made shipments to 
New York. Communication between New York and this island 
was exceedingly irregular and uncertain at that date, being 
dependent chiefly upon vessels going north with cotton from 
St. Marks and other gulf ports, and the long time elapsing 
between voyages worked serious injury to the business, 

Odet Phillippe and Shubael Brown also engaged in this 
business with a force of six men, about the same time. 

The Arnau Brothers, Francisco and James, as far back as 
1834 down to the time of the death of both, were constantly 
employed in cigar manufacturing, and in 1838 were joined by 
Albert, another brother. 

Messrs. Francisco Sintas, Manuel Farino and E. O. Gwynn, 
the latter the grandfather of Mr. Gwynn of the Gwynn, Martin 
& Strauss cigar factory, now operating here, were at different 
times and for short periods engaged in this business. 

Its development, however, into the immense industry which 
it now is, began in 1868 with the coming of the Cuban population 
upon the breaking out of the Cuban rebellion that year, as 
described in the chapter on Cuban Migration. 

Among the first of the large factories to come to Key West 
was "El Principe de Gales" of Vincente Martinez Ybor, followed 
soon afterwards by Seidenberg & Company with "La Rosa 
Espaniola." Later came the E. H. Gato Company, Geo. W. 
Nichols, the Ferdinand Hirsch Company, the Cortez Cigar Com- 
pany, the Havana-American Company, and Ruy Lopez Ca. 

The two first were destroyed by the fire of 1886, but, nothing 
daunted, Mr. Seidenburg at once found new quarters, and 
began rebuilding immediately after. Mr. Ybor, induced by a 


committee which came to Key West from Tampa, after that great 
fire, moved his factory to that place. This removal, brought 
about by the solicitations and inducements offered by the 
committee from Tampa, at a time when our people were nearly 
all homeless, was the beginning of Tampa's competition with 
Key West as a cigar manufacturing center. 

The next serious blow which the cigar manufacturing 
industry of Key W^est sustained, grew out of labor troubles in 
the Seidenberg factory in 1894. Strikes, which seem to be a 
part of the cigar manufacturing industry, were constantly occur- 
ring therein. The board of trade held almost daily meetings to 
investigate the labor troubles, but no sooner would one be ad- 
justed than another would crop out. Mr. Seidenberg then 
decided that he would not work Cuban operatives, and announced 
his intention to employ Spaniards. He informed the board of 
trade that threats had been made against the lives of any 
Spaniards who might come to work in his factory, and asked for 
protection. He was assured that he would receive not only the 
protection of the law, but the support of the citizens of Key West, 
who felt that the right of the people of any nationality to come 
to the United States to obtain work should not be infringed. 

A committee was thereupon appointed to accompany Mr. 
Seidenberg to Havana, to assure the Captain General that if 
any Spanish subjects desired to come to Key West to work, 
they would receive full protection of the law. 

Key West at that time was the center of the revolutionary 
movement, which had for its purpose the ultimate freedom 
of Cuba, and the Cuban patriots were naturally apprehensive 
of the effect, the presence of an appreciable number of Spaniards 
might have, on the secrecy which it was necessary to maintain 
with respect to their revolutionary plans. 

The committee that went to Havana was composed of Hon. 
George W. Allen, now collector of customs, Judge L. W. Bethel, 
of the eleventh circuit of Florida, Mr. William H. Williams, 
Hon. A. J. Kemp, then county judge, Mr. W. R. Kerr, capitaHst, 
Rev. Chas. W. Fraser, a militant Christian with the brains and 
courage of a Savonarola, and Mr. John F. Horr. When the 
committee returned, a number of Spanish workmen who had 
been assured of protection, came with them. 

The situation was tense. Reports of threatened violence 
grew thick and fast, and a large delegation headed by the mayor, 
met the steamship and escorted the workmen to temporary 
quarters provided for them. 

The Cuban junta sent a lawyer, Horatio Rubens, Esq., 
to Key West, who collected some ex-parte affidavits, charging 
Hon. Jefferson B. Browne, collector of customs, Hon. Geo. 
Bowne Patterson, United States district attorney, and Hon. 
William Bethel, immigrant inspector, with having abetted the 
violation of the contract labor laws of the United States. It was 
also charged that the committee which went to Havana, and 


other citizens of Key West, had been guilty of violating this 
law. As soon as it was known that these charges had been made, 
the board of trade appointed a committee consisting of Hon. 
Robert J. Perry, mayor, and Hon. Geo. W. Allen, to go to 
Washington to investigate, and lay the facts before the Treasury 
Department. They were accompanied by Hon. Jefferson B. 
Browne. When they arrived in AVashington they found 
that the department was about to make a ruling on an 
ex-parte hearing. The administration considered the matter 
of so much importance that the committee was invited to meet 
with Mr. Gresham, secretary of state, Mr. Olney, Attorney 
General, and Mr. Carlisle, secretary of the treasury. This 
interview brought about the exoneration of the three Federal 
oflScials concerned, but the cabinet officers were strongly inclined 
to believe thab^ there had been a violation of the contract labor 
laws. The committee was furnished with copies of the affidavits 
against the citizens of Key West, and they asked for time to 
return to Key West and submit counter affidavits. They left 
Washington, believing this would be done, but before reaching 
their destination it was announced in the press that the depart- 
ment had ruled against them, and would order the deportation 
of the Spaniards, and that any further action would be by the 
United States court. 

The committee thereupon adopted heroic measures, and 
forestalled the action of the government by lodging complaints 
against Mr. William Seidenberg, Hon. Geo. W. Allen, Hon. 
C. B. Pendleton and Mr. Wm. R. Kerr, charging them with 
violation of the United States alien contract labor laws. Warrants 
for their arrest were issued, and the charges were heard by 
United States District Judge Alex Boarman of the Western 
District of Louisiana, who was holding court in Key West. 
After a full investigation. Judge Boarman discharged the 
defendants, and ruled that no contracts, written or verbal, 
expressed or implied, had been made by the committee or anyone 
for them. 

This decision completely cut the ground from under the 
attempt of the Treasury Department to deport the Spanish 

Acting under instructions from Washington, however, 
Immigrant Inspectors Deshler and Bethel arrested ninety-four 
Spaniards, and charged them with having come into the United 
States in violation of the alien contract labor laws. Writs of 
habeas corpus were at once sued out before Judge Boarman, 
who held that there was no proof to sustain the government's 
contention. The men were put under bond, pending an appeal 
to the United States Supreme Court, but the appeal was never 
taken, and the matter was thus disposed of. The work of the 
board of trade and the citizens in their effort to keep this factory 
here, were of no avail, for Mr. Seidenberg soon moved to Tampa. 
This move would not have been very serious had it not 


been for the complications which grew out of it. A spirit of unrest 
took possession of the Cuban population, who considered the 
action of the citizens unfriendly to them. This feeling, however, 
would have soon worn off, and the former friendly relations 
between the Cubans and the Americans reestablished, had not 
a committee come from Tampa to take advantage of the delicate 
situation. They offered attractive inducements to the Cuban 
manufacturers to abandon Key West and move to Tampa, and 
succeeded with the factories of O'Halloran, Teodoro Perez & 
Company and S. & F. Fleitas. The factory of Julius Ellinger 
was also moved to Tampa at this time. 

The change proved of little benefit to the Cuban factories. 
Mr. Teodoro Perez and Mr. Fleitas returned to Key West after 
their Tampa contracts expired, and the latter now has one of 
the largest establishments here. The removal of these factories 
was heralded all over the country, and the impression created 
that the cigar business of Key West had been practically removed 
to Tampa. The largest factories, however, including the E. H. 
Gato Company, the Geo. W. Nichols Comj^any, the Ferdinand 
Hirsch Company and the Sol. Falk Company remained here, 
with forty or fifty smaller ones. Those that remained largely 
increased their output as the demand was for cigars made in 
Key West. Discriminating smokers are not satisfied w ith those 
made elsewhere and marked "Key West," as they lack the flavor 
of those made at this place under conditions identical with 
those of Havana, which conditions do not exist in Tampa or 
elsewhere in the United States. 

The cigar industry of Key West reached its zenith in 1890 
when something over one hundred million cigars were made. 
The output fell off in 1894 but it has gradually and steadily 
increased, and in 1911 the hundred million mark has again been 

Among the large factories in Key West are the E. H. Gato 
Company, the Ferdinand Hirsch Company, Ruy Lopez Ca, 
Havana-American Company, the Geo. W. Nichols Company, 
the Cortez Cigar Company, S. &. F Fleitas, Key West Cigar 
Factory, Jose Lovera Company, the Martinez Havana company, 
M. Perez Company, the R. Fernandez Cigar Company, Murias 
Campana Company, Manuel Cruz, and the Gwynn, Martin & 
Strauss Company. 




THE tendency of the American people to divide along po- 
litical lines was manifest in Key West in the early days of 
its settlement, notwithstanding the fact that news of the 
result of a presidential election did not reach the city until six 
weeks thereafter. 

The predominating influence was strongly Southern, and 
naturally democratic. The islanders, however, were more 
interested in municipal than national or State politics, and local 
political battles were waged with as much feeling as if the fate 
of the nation depended upon the result. 

In 1831 Mr. Richard Fitzpatrick and Colonel Lackland 
M. Stone, then United States marshal, were opposing candidates 
for representative from Monroe county to the territorial council. 
Mr. Fitzpatrick was a candidate for re-election; communica- 
tions signed "Voter," "Honestus," "One of the People," etc., 
appeared in the Enquirer in which the good and bad qualities 
of the respective candidates were set forth. As both gentlemen 
were men of culture and high standing, the charges against them 
were no doubt as false as those promulgated in the primaries 
of the present day. Among other things, Mr. Fitzpatrick was 
charged with having traduced and slandered the people of Key 
West, calling them a "set of dishonest and unprincipled men 
and that the people of this county were unworthy of trust." 
He came in for the greater share of the abuse, but was trium- 
phantly elected. 

In 1838 the city divided on the matter of paying occupa- 
tional taxes. Mr. Whitehead resigned the office of mayor and a 
bitter contest resulted, as is elsewhere set forth. 

Hon. Joseph B. Browne and Judge William Marvin were 
delegates from Monroe county to the St. Joseph's convention 
in 1838, which framed the constitution under which Florida 
was admitted into the Union in 1845. It is rather a remarkable 
circumstance that they were the last two survivors of that 
historic body. 

It was not until 1860 that contests over national politics 
worked any serious division among the people, but in that year 
the first rumblings of the cataclysm that was to destroy constitu- 
tional guarantees, reached Key West and stirred our people to 
the depths. 

They knew that the great Democratic party which had shaped 
the destinies of the nation for half a century was menaced with 


defeat, on account of internal dissensions, and the conservative, 
constitutional Democrats were anxious that their policies should 

On the 23rd of May, 1830, a mass meeting of Democrats 
was held in the city hall with Hon. John P. Baldwin as chairman 
and J. L. Tatum, Esq., secretary. The object of the meeting 
was explained by Hon. Joseph Beverly Browne, who, after mak- 
ing a forcible address, introduced a resolution on the subject of 
electing delegates to the State Democratic convention to meet 
in Quincy, Fla., on the 4th day of June. 

The resolution "tendered the thanks of the Democrats of 
Monroe county to Hon. A. B. Noyes for the manner in which 
he had represented the Democracy of Monroe and Dade counties, 
in the convention lately held in Tallahassee." 

Hons. Jos. B. Browne, James Filor, Geo. L. Bowne, Asa F. 
Tift and Wm. H. Ward were appointed delegates to attend the 
convention at Quincy, and instructed to try and have Monroe 
county represented in the national Democratic convention to 
be held at Richmond or Baltimore, or both, on the second day 
of June. Owing to the difficulties that Key West people had to 
encounter to reach the mainland, the precaution was taken to 
name as alternates Hon. A. B. Noyes and Judge R. B. Hilton 
of Leon county, in case the regular delegates were unable to 

The holding of the national Democratic convention at 
Baltimore in June, its balloting fifty-two times without any 
result, its adjournment without a nomination, the subsequent 
nomination of three Democrats for the presidency, w ith Brecken- 
ridge, the candidate of the advocates of the doctrine of the 
Supreme Court in the Dred Scott case; Douglas, the candidate 
of the advocates of Kansas-Nebraska legislation, and Bell, 
the candidate of the Constitutional-Union party, and the con- 
sequent election of Abraham Lincoln — who failed by nearly a 
million votes of being the choice of the people — came with start- 
ling celerity, and the Civil War was upon us before we real- 
ized it. The political events of that period are set forth in 
the chapter on Civil War. 

The earliest contest after reconstruction, in which the newly 
enfranchised negroes voted, was the mayoralty election of 1869, 
when Hon. Joseph Beverly Browne, the Democratic candidate 
defeated Mr. E. L. Ware, the candidate of the black Republican 
party, as it was then called. 

In 1866 the Democrats, after a hotly contested county elec- 
tion, with Mr. Browne as their candidate for representative in 
the legislature, carried the county for the first time since 1860. 

In 1870 a spirited contest with Col. Walter C. Maloney, Jr., 
as the Democratic candidate, and James W. Locke, the Republican 
candidate for the State senate, the Republicans carried the 

The two parti&s were very evenly divided in Monroe county 


until 1888, since which time the Republican party has been 
practically without any local organization. 

As a result of a split in the Democratic party in 1888 the 
Republicans elected a negro sheriff and county judge; the latter 
was removed by the governor for malfeasance in office, but 
the former served his term. At the same election another 
Republican, Mr. George Hudson, was elected county clerk. 

In 1878 Hon. Geo. W. Allen, a Republican, defeated Col. W. 
C. Maloney, Jr., Democrat, for the senate by twelve votes. 

The most bitter election ever held in Monroe county was 
that of the senatorial election in 1882. The wing of the Republican 
party hostile to Mr. Allen, known as the custom house faction, 
controlled the convention, but even with that advantage they 
could not have prevented Mr. Allen's nomination, had they not 
persuaded Mr. John Jay Philbrick to become their standard 
bearer. Mr. Philbrick was a Republican, but had never taken 
any active part in politics. He was one of the foremost business 
men in the city, a college graduate, a man of great versatility 
of talent, and his liberality and public spirit made him one of 
the most popular men in the city. Mr. C. B. Pendleton was the 
Democratic nominee, but certain disclosures in his private life 
coming shortly after his nomination, caused the Democratic 
Executive Committee to request him to withdraw from the ticket. 
The wing of the party that had supported him for the nomination 
opposed this, and Mr. Pendleton declined to withdraw. Several 
prominent members of the Democratic Executive Committee, 
who felt that he was not a proper candidate for their party, 
resigned their positions and announced that they would oppose 
his election. 

The court house faction, led by Mr. E. O. Locke, clerk of 
the United States District Court, and Hon. G. Bowne Patterson, 
United States district attorney, were dissatisfied with the treat- 
ment that Mr. Allen had received, and when the split occurred 
in the Democratic j)arty, they conferred with the Democrats who 
were opposed to Mr. Pendleton, and induced Mr. Allen to 
run as an independent candidate. 

A campaign committee was organized on which were some 
of the leading Democrats, including those who had withdrawn 
from the Democratic Executive Committee, and several of the 
leading white Republicans, and a systematic campaign for Mr. 
Allen inaugurated. The Cubans rallied to his support to a man. 
Political meetings were held once or twice a week, and the county 
was stirred up to a political frenzy, never witnessed before or 
since. Families were separated, life-time friends quit speaking 
to each other, and personal encounters were frequent. Mr. Allen 
was triumphantly elected, having a clear majority over both the 
regular Democratic and Republican nominees. 

Immediately after the election, the Democratic Executive 
Committee, which was composed entirely of Pendleton's sup- 
porters, submitted to a primary election the question whether 


the governor should be requested to remove Mr. Peter T. Knight 
from the office of clerk of the circuit court, and Mr. George W. 
Demerritt from the office of sheriff, for having supported Mr. 
Allen. The friends of these gentlemen took no part in the primary 
and treated the matter as a joke. Several hundred people voted, 
and the ballot box was stuffed to the extent of several hundred 
more, and the returns made such a strong showing that Governor 
Bloxham felt it his duty to accede to the request of the Democrats 
of the county, and sent their names in to the senate for removal. 
It was known that Governor Bloxham did not want the senate 
to confirm his action, and the senate, by a good majority 
refused to do so, and these officials served out their terms. 

Mr. Pendleton contested the senatorial election, and 
notwithstanding the fact that the senate was almost solidly 
Democratic, Mr. Allen retained his seat, only two votes being 
cast for Mr. Pendleton. Mr. Allen served through the session 
of 1883, but shortly afterwards resigned his seat to accept the 
position of cashier in the newly established Bank of Key West. 

In 1884 a special election was called to fill Mr. Allen's 
unexpired term. Mr. George B. Phillips was the Republican 
candidate, Mr. Andrew J. Kemp and Dr. J. V. Harris, the candi- 
dates of the two wings of the Democratic party, and Mr. Philips 
was elected. He had accepted the nomination, however, merely 
for the influence it would give him in the councils of his party, 
in the event of the election of a Republican president, a contin- 
gency that seemed almost certain of fulfillment. The election 
of G rover Cleveland destroyed Mr. Phillips' hopes, and rather 
than give up the important position of head bookkeeper in the 
E. H. Gato cigar factory, he declined the seat in the senate. 
Mr. Pendleton, thereupon, went to Tallahassee and had the old 
contest reopened, and the senate by a majority of one gave him 
the seat. No one from Key West opposed Mr. Pendleton's 
claims at this time, and several senators who voted for him did 
so under the impression that it was the wish of the Democracy 
of Monroe county that the tw^enty-fourth senatorial district 
should have a representative in the senate. 

One of the most spirited mayoraltv elections was in 1877 
when Hon. L. W. Bethel defeated Dr.^J. W. V. R. Plummer. 
There was speech making and torch light processions, and as 
much if not more interest manifested than in a general election. 

In the presidential election of 1876 INIonroe county was one 
of the determining factors. The morning after the election 
the Republicans realized that Mr. Samuel J. Tilden had defeated 
the Republican candidate, Mr. Hayes by thirty - three elec- 
toral votes, but that by fraudulently changing the result 
in South Carolina, Florida and Louisiana, they could elect 
Hayes by one majority. Instructions were sent to the Republican 
governors of these States to change the Democratic majorities 
into a majority for the Republican party, and men of great ability, 
although unscrupulous partisans, were sent to each of them 


to formulate a plan to carry out the proposed fraud. 
Monroe county, which had given a large Democratic majority, 
was one of those selected to be contested. The third ward at 
that time was almost solidly Democratic, Mr. John T. Barker's 
family being the only Republicans living therein. The vote of 
the third ward was four hundred and fifty-seven for the 
Democratic electors and three for the Republican. 

Affidavits were procured to the effect that intimidation had 
been practiced in this ward, which prevented the negroes from 
voting. The election was quiet, orderly and practically without 
fraud on either side. The machinery of the election being in 
the hands of the Repubhcans, they. alone could have perpetrated 
any fraud. The third ward was thrown out by the Republican 
returning board at Tallahassee, and the State was given to the 
Republican party by a majority less than the Democratic majority 
in this ward. 

The third ward has always been the banner Democratic 
ward of the county, and its vote, on the side of decency, 
morality and good government. Until the change in the ward 
lines of the city, it occupied the same enviable position in city 

In 1887 the county of Lee was created out of part of Monroe 
county, and the two comprise the twenty-fourth senatorial 
district. In 1888 Hon. Geo. M. Hendry, of Fort Myers, was 
elected senator of the new district. Since then Monroe county 
has furnished the senator, and Lee county has petitioned in 
vain for the privilege of occasionally being similarly honored. 

In 1894 when Hon. J. M. Phipps of Monroe county was 
nominated, a district convention was held, and Lee county sent 
her quota of delegates. 

In 1898 there was no district convention, and the Monroe 
county convention nominated Hon, W. Hunt Harris, and the 
Lee county Democratic convention nominated Mr. Menendez 
Johnson. Mr. Harris was duly elected. 

Since Mr. Hendry's incumbency, Fernando J- Moreno, Hon. 
Jefferson B. Browne, Hon. J. M. Phipps, Hon. W. Hunt Harris 
and Hon. W. H. Malone, Jr., the present incumbent, have 
been successively elected. 

Isolated as Monroe county is from the rest of the State, 
it has been difficult for her to receive the recognition at the hands 
of the State Democratic party that she is entitled to, although 
several of her distinguished sons have held State positions. 
The first was Hon. Richard Fitzpatrick, who was president of 
the territorial council in 1836. Hon. Stephen R. Mallory was 
elected to the United States senate while a resident of Key West. 
Other citizens of Monroe county to be honored were Hon. 
Livingston W. Bethel, lieutenant-governor from 1880 to 1884, 
Jefferson B. Browne, president of the senate, from 1891 to 1893 
and chairman of the Florida Railroad Commission from 1903 


to 1907, Plon. W. Hunt Harris, president of the senate from 
1907 to 1909. 

Since the organization the State Board of Health in 1889, 
Monroe county's distinguished citizen, who is one of the fore- 
most experts on sanitation and hygiene in the United States, 
Dr. Joseph Y. Porter, Sr., has held the position of State health 
officer. Key West has had three delegates to Democratic national 
conventions; Hon. Joseph Beverly Browne in 1868, Hon. 
Jephtha' V. Harris in 1876, and Hon. Jefferson B. Browne in 1888. 
From 1904 to 1908 Hon. Jefferson B. Browne was a member of 
the Democratic National Executive Committee for Florida. 

The Republican party has on several occasions nominated 
distinguished citizens of Monroe county for high offices. Hons. 
E. O. Locke, Geo. Bowne Patterson and Geo. W. Allen were 
respectively the nominees for congress in 1884, 1900 and 1908. 
In 1896 Mr. Allen was nominated for governor but declined 
the nomination. 

In 1900 Captain John F. Horr was the Republican nominee 
for secretary of state and Hon. Geo. W. x\llen in 1904. In 1904 
and 1608 Mr. Geo. W. Allen was delegate to the national Repub- 
lican convention, and Captain John F. Horr in 1892 and 1900. 
Mr. Ramon Alvarez was alternate to the Republican national 
convention in 1892. 

In 1886 C. B. Pendleton ran as an independent candidate 
for congress against Col. Robert H. M. Davidson, but did not 
carry a county in the State, and in the county of Wakulla he 
failed to receive a vote. 

The politics of Key W^est has not been without its share of 
excitement. On several occasions during reconstruction, we were 
on the verge of race riots. 

On one election day when the negroes were driving around 
the city in a wagon with a brass band, shouting and jeering, 
making themselves generally offensive to the white citizens, 
they passed the corner of Front and Duval streets, where Captain 
Phillip Fontaine was standing. Captain Fontaine was a man of 
quick temper, and unable to submit to their impertinence, 
drew his pistol and opened fire on them. The rapid report of his 
pistol and the rattle of the bullets on the brass horns, so frightened 
the negroes that they jumped out of the wagon and sought 
refuge in and underneath adjacent buildings. W hen they discov- 
ered that their assailant was attacking them single handed, 
they emerged from their hiding places, and made a rush for him. 
He had emptied his pistol, but fearlessly stood his ground, when 
he was struck down by a stone and would have been killed had 
not one of the negroes, who was greatly attached to him, dragged 
him to a place of safety, and concealed him until the authorities 
got the riotous negroes under control. 

Captain Fontaine was a native of Key West and a man of 
undaunted courage and distinguished bearing. He was an officer 
in the United States marine corps when the war broke out, and 


resigned his commission to enter the Confederate service. His 
daughter married Colonel Samuel J. Wolf of the Florida State 
Troops, a citizen of Key West. 

In 1872 a number of the Republicans who disapproved of 
the reconstruction policy of their party, and its affiliation with 
carpet-baggers, negroes and scalawags, sought to purify it by 
organizing the liberal Republican party, and a meeting was held 
in the court house for that purpose. The negroes led by the carpet- 
baggers assembled in force, and attempted to break up the meet- 
ing. They became threatening, and a riot was imminent. Several 
old time Whigs, and some young men, who had never been in 
politics, attended the meeting in the hope that there might be 
organized a respectable white Republican party. They soon saw 
that the hope was futile, and were about to leave the hall when 
Dr. J. W. V. R. Plummer, the leader of the movement, called 
upon his friends to stand together and resist the threatened vio- 
lence of the negroes. There was one young man among them who 
was just beginning his political career. He had been approached 
by a distinguished Democrat, who expressed surprise at seeing 
him in such company, and his allegiance to the movement was 
already weakened, when Dr. Plummer made his call to his 
followers to stand their ground. This young man was Mr. Peter 
T. Knight, who concluding that a riot among negroes and sore- 
head Republicans was no place for him, jumped out of a window 
of the court house and landed in the Democratic party, where 
he has ever since been, a distinguished and active worker. 

In the year 1872 the Democrats made their first organized 
effort to wrest the State from the Republican party, and Colonel 
John A. Henderson and Hon. W. D. Bloxham made a speaking 
tour through the State. When they reached Key West a meeting 
was held at the corner of Front and Duval streets, about where 
the First National Bank now stands. It was the first big political 
gathering since 1860, and there was great excitement on both sides. 
The speaking had not progressed far when someone (said to have 
been Mr. John H. Gregory, a whole-souled, genial, big-hearted, 
generous fellow) discharged a pistol in the air. The wildest con- 
fusion followed, each side thought they were being attacked; 
shouts of "Murder!" "O Hell!" "I'm cut!" "Somebody shot 
me!" were heard on all sides and a stampede began. The women 
screamed, the white people scurried to the third ward, and the 
negroes lit out for their homes in the first ward. Whatever slight 
injuries were sustained were caused by persons running into 
each other, in their desire to escape the supposed riot. Highly^ 
imaginative persons on both sides, for many years, believed that 
they had witnessed a serious race riot, but it was the source of 
infinite jest to the distinguished orators whose meeting had been 
so summarily broken up. 

An exciting incident in the Allen-Pendleton campaign 
occurred at a meeting on the corner of William and Fleming 
streets opposite Sparks Chapel. It was one of the last meetings 


of the campaign and statements had been made from the platform, 
which one of the supporters of Mr. Allen, who was present, 
felt should be refuted, and he went on the platform intending to 
address the voters when the Pendleton people got through. 
On the platform were Col. W. C. Maloney, Jr., Judge Allen E. 
Curry and Mr. C. B. Pendleton. As soon as the gentleman 
arrived on the platform, he was courteously offered a seat, and 
asked his purpose, which he explained. He was told that he would 
not be allowed to speak. Judge Curry presided, and after a short 
talk, stated that the meeting was over and the folks could all go 
home. The crowd, however, saw the prospect of some fun and 
remained. ^Yhen the gentleman arose to speak his friends cheered, 
and his opponents shouted, intending to drown his voice. He 
made himself heard sufficiently, however, to tell them that he 
did not intend to attempt to speak while they were .holloaing, 
but would stand there until their voices gave out, and he would 
then speak. The Pendleton people on the platform, urged their 
friends to go home, but none moved. Finally someone sug- 
gested to tear down the platform. The speaker attempted to 
draw his pistol to prevent this, but before he got it out, strong 
hands had grasped the supports and pulled them out. Colonel 
Maloney, who was sitting with his chair tipped back, his feet 
on the table, rolled over backwards into the store behind him. 
The others, who were also sitting down, met with the same 
eastastrophe, but the speaker who was standing, preserved his 
equilibrium and landed on his feet. A rush was made for him, 
but Laving gotten his pistol out by this time, he managed to 
keep the crowd at a safe distance. The women screamed and 
rushed for their homes, and wild reports of rioting were scattered 
throughout the city. The incident, however, amounted to noth- 
ing, and the friends of the speaker seeing that he had no oppor- 
tunity to be heard, abandoned the attempt, and all hands 
quietly returned home to discuss the incident in a jocular, or 
angry manner, according to their respective moods. 

Presidential elections may be pregnant with hopes of 
lucrative positions; State elections with matters of polity; 
city elections with personalities; but it remains for a "wet 
and dry election" to reach the acme of excitement and interest. 

As the women are the greatest sufferers from the open 
saloon, they take the lead in such movements, and many men 
rally to their support from a spirit of chixalry. 

In 1907 Key West had thirty-eight licensed saloons. One- 
third of the population belonged to the Latin races who drink 
mild wines and beer, but rarely to excess. Here the liquor traffic 
seemed safe from molestation. Suddenly an agitation was begun 
for a test of strength between the two forces. Rev. E. A. Harrison 
of the First Methodist church took the lead, heartily supported 
by Rev. Charles T. Stout, the Episcopal clergyman, Rev. M. A. 
Clonts of the Baptist church, and all the other Protestant min- 
isters on the island. 


Petitions were circulated asking the county commissioners 
to call an election to determine if the saloon should continue 
in Key ^Yest, and before the whiskey people realized the strength 
of the movement, the requisite twenty-five per cent of the reg- 
istered voters had signed the petitions, and the election called 
for November 4, 1907. 

The campaign was a bitter one. Besides the ministers of 
the gospel, Hons. Jefferson B. Browne, Wilham H. Malone, Jr., 
Allen E. Curry, and George L. Babcock, took the stump for the 
anti-saloon side, and Hon. J. N. Fogarty, mayor, George G. 
Brooks and E. M. Semple, for the wets. Rev. W. J. Carpenter 
of the Methodist Conference of Florida, and Rev. John A. Wray 
of the Baptist church, came to Key West and made powerful 
anti-saloon speeches. A joint debate between Rev. Mr. Carpenter 
and Hon. Robert McNamee of Tampa, in Jackson Square, was 
attended by the largest audience ever assembled in Key West. 

The "wets" carried the ccuniy by forty-eight majority. 

Mr. Albert F. Shultz was campaign manager of the anti- 
saloon campaign, and much credit is due him for his work in 
that capacity. 

The whiskey people did not take out licenses when due on 
October first, and all saloons were closed during that month and 
for six days in November. During the period the saloons were 
closed, there were fifteen cases in the police court; in the month 
of September there were sixty-two, and for the twenty-four 
days in November, there were seventy-three. 




THE numerous benevolent societies which exist in our city 
are considered one of its marked features. 

The first to be established was Dade Lodge No. 14 
of the Free and Accepted Masons, chartered January 16, 1845. 
Its first officers were Mr. O. S. Noyes, Worshipful Master, Mr. 
Alexander Patterson, Senior Warden, and Mr. Benjamin Sawyer, 
Junior Warden. It is one of the oldest Masonic lodges in Florida, 
all but two of those chartered prior to January, 1845, having 
gone out of existence. Royal Arch Chapter No. 21 was organized 
in 1868; Monroe Council No. 4 in 1870, and Baron Commandery 
No. 7 in 1872. In the same year the Cubans organized Dr. 
Felix Varela Lodge No. 62, F. & A. M. Anchor Lodge No. — , 
F. & A. M. was organized in 1908; its first officers were Joseph 
Y. Porter, Worshipful Master; Mr. Julius Otto, Senior Warden, 
and Mr. Chas. H. Ketcham, Jenior Warden. 

In 1869 the Masons erected a large two-story building on 
the northeast side of Simonton street, about midway of the block, 
between Caroline and Eaton streets. The second floor was used 
for lodge purposes, the lower floor for entertainments, and 
subsequently for the first public school conducted in Key W'est. 
This building was destroyed by fire in 1886, and a large three 
story brick one erected in its place, which was completed in 1889. 

Second to the Masons in point of time of organization, was 
the Sons of Temperance, in 1845, which continued in existence 
until 1862. Captain Francis B. Watlington and Mr. Joseph C. 
Whalton, Sr., were prominent in bringing this society into exist- 
ence. It effected much good to its members and society at large. 

Key West Lodge No. 13, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, 
was organized in 1872, Key West Encampment No. 5 on July 
4, 1875, and Cuba Lodge No. 15, I. O. O. F., by the Cuban 
citizens, in the same year. Equity Lodge No. 70, I. O. O. F., 
was instituted by Grand Master William H. Malone, Jr., on 
March 4, 1911. The first officers were Ernest P. Roberts, Noble 
Grand; George A. T. Roberts, Vice Grand; F. J. M. Roberts, 
Secretary; Marcy B. Darnall, Treasurer. The lodge has doubled 
its membership in less than a year. 

Key West Lodges, I. O. O. F., have furnished to the Grand 
Lodge five Grand Masters, Dr. Joseph Y. Porter, Judge Angel 
de Lono, Hon. Eugene O. Locke, Mr. Julius Otto and Hon. 
WiUiam H. Malone, Jr. 

In 1874 the Odd Fellows erected a commodious two-story 


building on the southeast side of Caroline street, about midway 
of the block, between Duval and Whitehead streets. The upper 
floor was used for lodge purposes, and the lower floor, for a time, 
for balls and receptions, but later was converted into a theatre. 

The years of 1874 and 1875 saw the rise and fall in Key 
West of a benevolent organization which in point of numbers 
and influence for good, has never been equalled. The Independent 
Order of Good Templars began by instituting Island City Lodge 
No. 9, in 1874, and in 1876 reached the crest of the wave of its 
prosperity with over eight hundred members. In 1874 Unity 
Lodge No. 11 was organized, and its membership went up to 
over four hundred; next came Rising Star Lodge No. 13, in 1875, 
with about one hundred and fifty members. 

There was no hall in the city sufficiently large to accom- 
modate them, and Mr. William Curry erected for their use a 
large two story building just southeast of where the bonded 
warehouse now stands, on Simonton street, which was known 
for many years as Good Templars Hall. 

The Good Templars was a strictly temperance organization, 
in which men and women were equally eligible, and as the three 
lodges in Key West had a majority of women members, the 
meetings were the most delightful social gatherings. After the 
regular business was finished, the rest of the evening was spent 
in music, recitations, addresses, and any other entertainment 
which conduced to the good of the order. So strong was its 
influence that there was hardly a man in the cit3% unless con- 
nected with the saloon business, who was not a member. Saloon 
after saloon closed its doors, and those that kept open barely 
made expenses. Gradually, however, that State institution, the 
licensed saloon, resumed its sway, and this organization went 
out of existence. 

The Knights of Jericho, Astral Lodge No. 18, was organized 
in 1875. Abstinence from the use of intoxicating liquors was one 
of its teachings, but not the sole purpose of its being. Mr. Allen 
E. Curry, now police justice of the city, was an active member. 

The order of Knights of Pythias is one of the strongest of the 
benevolent organizations of the city. Island City Lodge No. 14 
was organized in 1881, followed by Coral City Lodge No. 53 
in 1890. In December, 1907, Isle of the Sea Lodge No. 104 
was organized with seventy members. Among its charter members 
were Hons. William B. Curry and William M. Finder. Mr. 
Roger Weatherford is the present Chancellor Commander. 

Camp No. 23 Woodmen of the World was organized and 
instituted by Special Deputy Organizer H. L. Strieker on July 
10, 1895, with fifteen charter members. Mr. Benjamin P. Baker 
was the first Council Commander and Dr. C. F. Kemp its first 
clerk. It was not a thrifty organization until about 1905, when 
it commenced to increase its membership, which is now sixty- 
eight. It is a fraternal, beneficial, insurance organization, with 
headquarters in Omaha, Nebraska. 


On February 14, 1900, Key West Lodge No, 551, Benev- 
olent and Protective Order of Elks, was instituted with forty 
charter members. Shortl}^ after its organization it rented the 
second floor of the two-story brick building on the corner of 
Front and Fitzpatrick streets, from Mr. John W. Sawyer, who 
used the first floor for a clothing store. A lodge room, reading 
room, and several club rooms were fitted up, and the organization 
started at once on a most prosperous career. In 1901 the 
lodge bought the property known as the Duval House, which 
was built and used by Mrs. Josephine Bolio as a restaurant. 
Its present membership is one hundred and thirty. Its successive 
Exalted Rulers were W. U. Simonds, John B. Maloney, Ramon 
Alvarez, W. Hunt Harris, George L. Bartlum, William R. 
Porter, Charles R. Pierce, W. Hunt Harris, Jefferson B. Browne, 
William L. Bates, Henry H. Taylor, Eugene W. Russell and 
Charles R. Curry, the present incumbent. 

Key West Lodge has been four times honored with the 
appointment of a District Deputy Grand Exalted Ruler for 
South Florida. Hon. W. Hunt Harris in 1904; Judge Ramon 
Alvarez in 1906; Hon. Jefferson B. Browne in 1910, and reap- 
pointed in 1911. 

On May 8, 1905, Key West Council No. 1015, order of the 
Knights of Columbus, was organized with thirty-six charter 
members. The first Grand Knight was Mr. F. C. Brossier. 
Its meetings are held in St. Joseph's, College on Simonton street. 
The present membership is sixty -five. The Grand Knights 
for the successive years were Messrs. P. J. McMahon, A. P. 
Jerguson, Walter W. Thompson, Henry Haskins and Ulric 
E. Albury. 

The Redmen, Knights of the Golden Eagle, Owls, Eagles 
and Moose, each have local lodges in the city. 




THE first newspaper published in Key West was the Register 
in January, 1829, under the management of Mr. Thomas 
Eastin, who was subsequently United States marshal. 
It was published for a very short time, and no copy of it is 
known to be in existence. 

Then came the Key West Gazette on March 21, 1831, 
and lasted until the latter part of 1832. 

On October 15, 1834, the Enquirer appeared, with Mr. 
Jesse Atkinson as editor and publisher. The editorials were 
written chiefly by Mr. William A. Whitehead, assisted by 
Lieutenant Francis B. Newcomb, Mr. Mallory and others. 
In December, 1835, the name was changed to Inquirer, and it 
was published until the latter part of 1836. 

These papers were well edited and would do credit to the 
Key West of today. Their ideals were high, their diction pure, 
their typography excellent, and th; literary selections 
classics. Mr. William A. Whitehead preserved files of these 
two papers, and in 1869 sent bound volumes here for "preserva- 
tion in the office of the Clerk of Monroe county," where they are 
now kept. Since 1838, when Mr. Whitehead left here, there has 
been no citizen sufficiently interested in the preservation of 
the records of Key West to keep the files of various newspapers 
for the benefit of posterity. 

The Light of the Reef was started by Messrs. Ware and 
Scraborough in 1845, but lasted only a few months. 

The Key of the Gulf was published for a short period during 
1845, and was revived in 1857, and edited by the brilliant 
Mr. William H. Ward. It was probably the ablest and one of 
the most fearless papers ever published in Key West. It was 
suppressed by Major W. H. French, United States army, early 
in May, 1861, who wrote: "I directed the mayor to inform the 
editor (a Mr. Ward) that he was under military surveillance, 
and that the fact of his not being in the cells of this fort for 
treason was simply a matter as to expediency and proper point 
of time." Notwithstanding the fact that Key West was under 
the control of the Northern forces, Mr. Ward continued to ad- 
vocate in the columns of his paper the constitutional right of 
secession. After his paper was suppressed he left Key West 
and cast his fortune with his native Southland. "Laying aside 
the weapon of the sage for that of the soldier, to try the issues 
of law and ethics on the field of battle, whence he never returned." 

In 1862 and 1863 a paper called the N^ew Era was published 
by Mr. R. B. Locke, an officer of the 90th Regiment, New York 


In 1867 the Key West Dispatch, published by W. C. Maloney, 
Jr., and edited by his brilHant father, appeared, and continued 
to be conducted by him until 1872, when it passed in to the hands 
of Mr. H. A. Grain as editor and publisher. In 1874 it passed 
under the editorial guidance of Mr. E. L. Ware, and suspended 
publication in 1877. 

In 1870 The Key West Guardian, owned and edited by Mr. 
R. C. Neeld "arose with porcupine armor to correct the evils 
of the day." It was a bold, aggressive paper and had a brief 
existence of about a year. 

In 1874 The Key of the Gulf made its third entrance into the 
journalistic field under the editorial charge of Mr. H. A. Grain, 
who pub ished it until feeble health in 1887 forced him to lay 
down his pen. On the death of Mr. Grain, Mr. George Eugene 
Bryson began the publication of a paper, the New Era, using 
the outfit of The Key of the Gulf. 

In 1880 Mr. William Gurry, Mr. Asa Tift and other citizens 
of means, organized a stock company and founded a paper called 
The Democrat, under the editorial management of Mr. Gharles 
B. Pendleton. Mr. Pendleton was fearless but erratic, and his 
tendency to attack through the columns of his paper any person 
or institution that interfered with him, or whom he thought 
stood in his way politically or otherwise, was most unfortunate. 
His erratic nature led him to believe that as a Democrat, he should 
attack the Republicans whether justly or unjustly, and he began 
a series of articles defamatory of Judge W. James Locke of the 
United States district court, which led to a libel suit in which 
Mr. Gurry, Mr. Tift, Mr. Moreno and other stockholders were 
made defendants. The case was amicably adjusted, but resulted 
in these gentlemen disposing of their stock, and severing their 
connection with the paper. Mr. Pendleton continued his policy 
of attack on everyone, and soon included Mr. William Curry, 
Dr. Porter and others, which brought another suit for libel. 
He was sued for libel also by Mr. G. T. Merrill, owner of the 
Russell House. This w'as the only case, that went to trial, and 
resulted in a verdict against Mr. Pendleton. 

Had he been less erratic he might have occupied an influential 
place in the community for good, but he could see no good in 
anyone's opinions but his own, and to difl'er with him in any 
matter would bring upon the offender the most unreasonable 

In 1885 he sold the paper to Mr. Philip E. Thompson, 
who conducted it for a short time, and sold it to Messrs. Peter T. 
Knight and Mason S. Moreno. It was said that one of these 
gentlemen wrote the salutatory and the other the valedictory, 
and that its editorials were written and its policy shaped by Dr. 
J. V. Harris, then collector of customs. 

In May, 1887, Mr. Pendleton again entered the journalistic 
field with The Eqvator-El Equador, an English and Spanish 
daily. In 1888 he bought back the Democrat and consolidated 

11 -J 

it with the Equator, under the name of the Equator-Democrat. 
In 1894 the paper passed by purchase into the hands of Mr. J. M. 
Caldwell, who published it for a few months only, when it went 
back into Mr. Pendleton's control. In 1897, when it was in its 
death throeS; he turned it over to his foreman and printers to 
run on their own account. They suspended publication after 
a few issues, and the Equator-Democrat went the way of its pred- 

In 1892 Messrs. William R. Porter and W. H. Hutchinson 
began the publication of a paper called the Gvlf Pennant, a name 
suggested by that distinguished citizen of Florida, Hon. W. D. 
Chipley. It was edited by Mr. Cassius E. Merrill of Kentucky, 
who prior to coming to Key West had been editor of the Jackson- 
ville Times-Union and The Standard. He was one of the most 
brilliant writers ever connected with Florida journalism, and 
the Gulf Pennant under his leadership was the ablest edited 
paper ever published in Key West. It suspended publication 
July 4, 1893. 

In 1894 a number of citizens of Key West raised three 
thousand dollars and bought a newspaper outfit and turned 
it over to Mr. John Denham of Monticello, Fla., who founded 
the Herald. In 1899 he sold it to Mr. T. J. Appleyard of Lake 
City, Fla. About this time The Key of the Gulf made its fourth 
appearance, under the management of Mr. Walter W. Thompson, 
and in 1899 it was bought by Mr. T. J. Appleyard, who suspended 
publication of the Herald and The Key of the Gulf, and founded 
The Inter-Ocean. In the latter part of 1900 Mr. Walter W. Thomp- 
son bought The Inter-Ocean and for four years he edited and 
published a high class, fearless daily. In 1904 a small weekly 
paper. The Citizen, made its appearance, and after a few months' 
existence was bought by Mr. Marcy B. Darnall and Mr. Thomas 
Treason Thompson, and a consolidation effected between 
The Citizen and The Inter-Ocean, under the name of the Key 
West Citizen, which is now being issued as an afternoon daily. 

In 1908 Mr. Frederick H. Mathews founded a morning 
daily called The Journal, of which he is editor and publisher. 

In 1890 Mr. James T. Ball started the publication of a 
small weekly sheet. The Advertiser, which contained a few local 
advertisements and a little reading matter. It was gradually 
enlarged and during the last few years of Mr. Ball's life it became 
quite a good weekly newspaper. Since his death, in 1906, it has 
been conducted by his son, Mr. Egbert P. Ball. 

For several years a discharged Union soldier by the name of 
Morgan ran a small paper called The Guardian. He had no 
policy except that of abuse and vituperation. He was editor, 
publisher, printer, and eked out a miserable existence. When 
he died there was no one to follow him to his grave, and by- 
standers were called in to assist the undertaker to put his coflSn 
into the hearse. The scene was a pitiful one and made an impres- 
sion on the writer, who witnessed it. 





.OR some time before the opening of actual hostilities between 
the United States and Spain, Key West bore the appearance 
of a war port. 

To conciliate the Spanish authorities, who were constantly 
protesting against the use of Key West as a base for fitting out 
and embarking filibustering expeditions, one or more warships 
were stationed here, as evidence of our government's intention 
to prevent violations of neutrality laws. The Maine was here 
for about six months in 1896, and again in 1897; and it was 
from this port that she sailed on her last voyage. The Cincinnati, 
Raleigh, Amphitrite, Marblehead and Wilmington, each 
did its term of duty, assisted by two or more revenue cutters. 
The officers of these vessels added no little to the social life 
of the city, and many warm ties of friendship were then formed. 

A number of fast tugs, reasonably suf)posed to be engaged 
in filibustering, came and went, but no proof could be obtained 
against them. 

In 1896 Mr. Richard Harding Davis and Mr. Frederic 
Remington, the artist, came to Key West, representing the 
New York Journal. 

Mr. W. R. Hearst's power boat, the "Vamoose," then the 
fleetest in the world, was under their orders to take them to 
Cuba, where they planned to visit the camps of the revolutionists, 
and interview the leaders. Mr. Davis was to write the story 
of their venture, and Mr. Remington to illustrate it with his 
wonderful sketches. 

They fully appreciated the risk they would run, but were 
keen for the enterprise, and made two attempts to reach Cuba, 
but the "Vamoose," not able to stand the heavy seas encountered 
in the gulf, was forced to put back to Key West. Each day the 
skies were scanned, weather reports studied, and prognostications 
weighed, in hope of a favorable opportunity to make the run 
across the gulf, but the fates were against them, and the high 
winds and heavy seas abated not. The "Vamoose" was a long 
narrow shell, built solely for speed, and was unfit for a voyage 
to Cuba except in an unusually smooth sea. After several 
weeks spent in the vain hope for good weather, the trip was 
abandoned, and Mr. Davis and Mr. Remington went to Havana 
by the regular steamship line, hoping to make their way thence 
to the Cuban camps. In this they were thwarted by the travel 


regulations, and vigilance of the Spanish authorities, and thej' 
returned to Key West, and thence home. 

They spent three weeks in Key West — "three years" — as 
Mr. Remington afterwards facetiously referred to it — and 
were guests at dinner parties, luncheons and informal receptions 
ashore and on the war vessels then in port, and their genius and 
comrfderie made them great social favorites. 

An incident, which shows Mr. Davis in a light not generally 
known, transpired when he made his first attempt to reach Cuba. 
He told a friend that it was probable that after he arrived he 
would not be heard from for some time, and reports of his death 
might appear in the papers. In order to spare his parents un- 
necessary pain, he wrote a telegram to his father, saying: "Re- 
ports of your son's death not credited here. He is known to be 
in another part of the island." This message he asked his friend 
to sign and transmit, if any bad news was received, adding "if 
the report proves true, it will be no harder for them to bear later, 
and if false, it will spare them much unnecessary pain." 

The friend has kept the telegram as a memento of a very 
pleasant epoch. He was also the recipient of several books by 
these distinguished authors, with autograph inscriptions. In 
his book, "Pony Tracks," Mr. Remington, wrote "In memory 
of the nice lunches, the fine dinners, the good times, and other 
alleviations of my three years in Key West, from the grateful, 
Frederic Remington." 

The explosion of the Maine shocked the people of Key West 
probably more than any other community, for here the officers 
and the men had been stationed off and on for over a year, and 
had many friends. 

An accident similar to that on the Maine came very near 
occurring in Key West harbor, on the Cincinnati in 1895. 
Spontaneous combustion in her coal bunkers was undiscovered 
until the fire had been communicated to the magazine, and boxes 
containing ammunition badly burned. Smoke was seen coming 
from the magazine, which in a few moments would have ex- 
ploded. Had it been at night as in the case of the Maine, the 
smoke would not have been seen, and the tragedy of the Maine 
in Havana harbor would have had a forerunner on the Cincin- 
nati in the harbor of Key West.* 

Not very long before the Maine went to Cuba, she took on 
soft coal at Key West, which was lightered to her in barges; 
during the day heavy showers of rain fell, and at least one barge 
load was thoroughly wet. If any of this was in her bunkers 
when she again coaled, her disaster is no more of a mystery 
than the cause of the fire in the magazine of the Cincinnati. 

Most of the events of the Spanish-American War, such as 
the mobilizing at Key West of almost all the ships of our navy, 
the flotilla of newspaper boats, and war correspondents that 
gathered here, the military and naval operations carried_on from 

*Appendix Q. 



this point, are matters for the general, rather than the local 

Several incidents, however, occurred which have some local 
flavor. The newspaper correspondents were wont to put on a 
bulletin board the war news they received, for the benefit of the 
public; these, the local newspaper, ''The Herald,'' would pub- 
lish under the heading "Special to the Herald.'' One day the cor- 
respondents put on the board "The American schooner Virginia, 
loaded with silver bullion and cocoanuts, sunk by a Spanish 
war ship, off the coast of Spain." In an hour an "Extra" Herald 
was out, with a long "Special to the Herald," telling all about 
the Virginia and her valuable cargo. The editor was from the 
mainland, and not familiar with shipping, so did not see the 
hoax that was apparent, from the incongruity of a cocoanut 
droger, having silver bullion as part of her cargo; neither did 
he look in the register of American vessels to ascertain if there 
was a schooner "Virginia," but swallowed the bait, hook and 
line, at one gulp. 

One wit among the correspondents, who grew weary waiting 
for orders to go to the coast of Cuba, described his feelings, 
in a Shakesperian paraphrase, "Cu-be, or not Cu-be; that is 
the Key West ion." 

Among the distinguished newspaper correspondents who 
were here were Mr. Stephen M. Bonsai, Mr. Ralph Payne and 
Mr. Harry Brown. 

Judge Ramon Alvarez, Special Deputy Collector of Cus- 
toms, was the local correspondent of the New York Herald, and 
his reports were far more accurate than any sent by the world- 
famed war correspondents. 




THE urgent need for a hospital where sick seamen couhl be 
cared for was earlj' manifest in Key West. 

The allowances for ports south of the Potomac at that 
time, were, "for suitable boarding, lodging and nursing three 
doliars per week; for necessary medicines, the usual apothecary 
rates; for medical services twenty-five cents for each day, when 
the aggregate time for which they are rendered shall average less 
than twenty-five days to each patient. When the average time 
to each patient amounts to more than twenty-five days, and Uie 
number of patients does not exceed ten, six dollars and twenty- 
five cents for each patient, and when there is a greater number 
than ten, three dollars and twelve and a half cents for each 
patient; and for funeral charge six dollars." 

This was so inadequate that it was presented by the grand 
inquest of the county as a grievance demanding redress. In 
1835 Mr. William A. Whitehead thiLs called attention to the 
urgent need for a marine hospital at this port: 

"An object long had in view" by the citizens of Key West 
is the establishment here of a marine hospital, or accommodation 
for the sick of a more general character than exist at present. 

"The want of public institutions, where the destitute and 
diseased seaman may obtain the relief of which he stands in need, 
must always be an evil deeply felt in every mercantile community; 
and our peculiar situation renders it especially necessary that 
there should be greater comforts within the reach of the sick, 
than are now to be obtained upon the island under the present 
administration of the marine hospital fund. 

"Situated as Key West is, it is calculated at all times to 
become a receptacle for the sick of vessels leaving the ports of 
West Florida, Alabama and Louisiana, and also of those bound 
to the northward from the coast of Mexico, as there is no port 
offering equal advantages as a stopping place, and none between 
Charleston and Pensacola possessing the superior attraction 
of a hospital. Such being the case, seamen are brought here 
sick to be left to the care of strangers, dependent upon private 
charity (there being no municipal regulations for their support), 
and the hospital fund of the United States for their nursing and 

"We would therefore recommend an application to congress, 
through our delegate, for the establishment here of some public 
accommodations for the sick seaman, whereby his comfort may 


be in some measure secured while incapacitated by disease — 
to which all are liable — from pursuing his usual avocations." 

In February, 1836, the territorial delegate from Florida, 
Colonel Joseph M. White, introduced in congress a resolution 
inquiring "into the expediency of providing at Key West greater 
comforts for the sick and disabled seamen than the present 
regulations for the disbursement of the Marine Hospital Funds 
will admit of their receiving." 

This was a step, but it did not go far enough for our citizens, 
who had set out to have an hospital established here, and would 
be satisfied with nothing less. 

A memorial was prepared and forwarded to congress, setting 
forth the many reasons why such an institution was specially 
needed here, "not only for our own seamen, but likewise for those 
navigating vessels carrying on the trade of St. Marks, Apalach- 
icola" (then two of the principal cotton shipping ports of the 
United States), Mobile, New Orleans, and other ports: "Key 
West being so situated as to be the most favorable stopping 
place for all vessels engaged in the commerce of the gulf, that 
may have sickness on board, and for the many shipwrecked 
seamen brought into Key West." 

After a few years their efforts were rewarded, and in 1844 
the Marine Hospital on Emma street, at the foot of Fleming, 
was erected. During the Civil War, and again in the Spainsh- 
American War, it was used by the navy. 


When the army post was established here, a commodious, 
well ventilated hospital was erected, which is a model of fitness 
and adaptability. Its wide piazzas on all sides protect it from 
the rays of the sun, and cool breezes soothe the stricken patient. 


Another hospital, although only a temporary one, will be 
remembered as long as there are any survivors of the Spanish- 
American War. It was called The Key West Convent Hospital. 

Shortly before w^ar was declared, the Sister Superior of 
the convent of Mary Immaculate, called on Captain James M. 
Forsyth, commandant of the Key West naval station, and offered 
the services of herself and her sisters, and the convent and their 
two schools for hospitals, in the event of actual hostilities. 
Upon this noble offer being communicated to the commander in 
chief of the naval forces here, he replied to Captain Forsyth: 

"U. S. Flagship New York, 
"Off Key West, Fla., 
Sir:— "April 7, 1898. 

"1. Acknowledging your letter of the 5th instant, stating 
that the Lady Superior in charge of the schools of the 'Sisters 
of the Holy Names, Convent of Mary Immaculate,' at Key 


West, has called on you, and offered, in case of war, to place 
the convent and two school buildings of the order at the disposi- 
tion of the naval authorities for hospital purposes, and that the 
Sisters tender their personal services as nurses. 

"2. I cordially agree with your opinion expressed, that this 
is a most generous and patriotic tender, and beg that you will 
make known to the Lady Superior, and to the Sisters, my appre- 
ciation of their offer, and acceptance in case it becomes necessary. 

"Very respectfully, 
(Signed) "W. T. Sampson, 

"Captain U. S. N., Commander-in-Chief 
U. S. Naval Forces, North Atlantic Station." 

On April 21st Dr. W. R. Hall, United States navy, arrived 
to convert the convent into an hospital, and in a short time it 
was ready for occupancy. The parlor became a drug store; 
the spacious class rooms of the first floor were converted into 
wards for the wounded soldiers, and the offices and operating 
rooms established on the second floor. 

Among the first to be treated w^as Lieutenant John B. 
Bernadou of the torpedo boat Winslow. Father Chidwick of 
the Maine was also a patient. 

The medical faculty, consisting of nine doctors, under the 
direction of Major W. R. Hall, were Majors W. C. Borden, S. T. 
Armstrong, Captain H. A. Shaw, Doctors B. E. Baker, H. P. 
Jackson, E. G. Ferguson, A. E. DeLipsey, F. M. E. Usher, H. 
Mann, R. C. Eve, T. A. Clayton and R. G. Plummer, 


Early in 1908 Dr. John B. Maloney bought the homestead 
of Mr. Thomas Curry on Fleming street, near the corner of 
Simonton. He moved it to the back of the lot, enlarged and re- 
modelled it, and on October 6th, that year, opened the Louise 
Maloney Hospital, named in honor of his wife. 

Proving too small, he bought, in 1911, the residence of Mrs. 
Affie Sawyer, on Simonton street, remodelled and improved it, 
and connected it by a covered causeway with the hospital on 
Fleming street. 

The operating room has a cement floor, and all contrivances 
necessary to preserve a perfectly aseptic condition, and is 
fully equipped wdth m.oiern instruments and appliances. 

The institution has thirty beds, two of wdiich are maintained 
by the county of Monroe. 

Since the hospital was opened it has treated six hundred 
and six cases. Mr. Upton Sinclair was a patient, for a short 
time, and says that it was while there that he adopted the orange 
and milk diet, which he has since strongly advocated. 


In 1904, encouraged and inspired by Mrs. Dolores Mayg, 
a few philanthropic Cuban citizens, chief among whom was 


Don Sr. Antonio Diaz Carrasco, or<>anized the Beneficencia 
Cubana, for benevolent and charitable work among the poor 
of their nationality. 

In December, 1910, Mrs. Blanca Ferriol de Perez, Mrs. 
Carlotta Cenarro de Alayeto, Mrs. Maria Gustens, Mrs. Maria 
Manas de Betancourt, Mrs. Esperanza La Fe, Mrs. FeHcia 
Rodriguez de Rueda, the Misses Caridad Rodriguez, Maria 
Escalante, Pahnenia Hernandez, Maria L. Carrasco, Leopoldina 
Elizarde, and Ignacia and Angelica Fernandez, conceived the 
idea of establishing an hospital where the indigent of all national- 
ities could have the benefit of the best medical care and attention. 

To this end they worked diligently for near two years, and 
on October 10, 1911, the Casa del Pobre, Mercedes hospital 
was dedicated. 

It is situated on the corner of Division street and Salt Pond 
road, in the former residence of Mr. E. H. Gato, who generously 
gave it free of rent for a term of years. It is named Mercedes 
in honor of Mr. Gato's wife. 

To Dr. Josej)h N. Fogarty is due much credit for the early 
establishment of this hospital. He contributed liberally in cash; 
donated all the instruments and equipment for the operating 
room, and furnished and maintains a room. He is director of 
the institution, which he visits daily, besides giving, in his turn, 
his professional services for a month. 

Messrs. Pedro Rueda, Benito Betancourt and Delegacion 
Canaria also furnished rooms in the hospital. 




IN OCTOBER, 1834, the first fire department was organized 
in Key West, and called the LaFayette Fire Department. 
Mr. Thomas A. Townsend was president; Mr. Asa F. Tift, 
vice-president; Mr. Joseph A. Thouron, secretary, and Mr. Wm. 
H. Shaw, treasurer. Messrs. Stephen R. Mallory and Asa F. 
Tift were members of the election committee. 

In January, 1835, a small fire occurred in an out-building 
in Judge Webb's yard but the fire department failed to put in 
an appearance. Mr. Mallory then called a meeting to reorganize 
the company. The meeting was held, at which about twenty-five 
joined, and Mr. Thouron was made foreman. 

A hand engine was purchased by pubUc subscription, but 
except for parades was seldom used, and was uncared for. In 
1843, when the large wooden warehouse of Fielding A. Browne, 
on the southwest side of Simonton street, below Front street, 
was destroyed by fire, the engine was brought upon the scene 
but proved unfit for use, and after the fire the citizens carried it 
to the end of the wharf and hurled it into the sea. 

Key West has been particularly free from great fires, having 
had only two disastrous ones. In each instance there was no fire 
engine in the city, otherwise the fires would not have spread 
beyond the blocks in which they originated. 

On the 16th of May, 1859, the first large fire occurred. It 
began in a warehouse owned by Mr. L. M. Shaefer, whom it 
was generally believed purposely set fire to the building. 

It began on Front street, near the corner of Duval, and in the 
two blocks bounded by Front, Greene, Simonton and Whitehead 
streets, every house except two was destroyed. No organized 
body of firemen existed in the city at the time and no fire ap- 
paratus adequate for the occasion was on hand. The extensive 
warehouse and stores of O'Hara & Wells, on Front street, between 
Simonton and Duval streets; the stores of Fontane & Weaver, 
P. A. Gandolfo and C. & E. Howe, were among the buildmgs 

To Mr. Henry Mulrennon belongs great credit for the 
preservation of the remaining portion of the city. He procured 
a keg of gunpowder from Fort Taylor, and entering his own house 
at the corner of Fitzpatrick and Greene streets, with the fire 
raging around him, put the keg of powder in place, laid a train, 
and blew up the house, thus preventing the fire from going any 


The Key of the Gulf, in an editorial headed "One Year 
Since," thus describes conditions before and after the fire: 

"Wednesday, the 16th instant, was the anniversary day of 
the great fire in our city. Before that time we were a thriving 
people; Front street, running parallel to our beautiful harbor, 
was the scene of busy life; on both sides, built up with large and 
imposing stores and warehouses, which were filled with expensive 
stocks of merchandise, arrayed in the most alluring styles of 
display, while the street itself was peopled with the passing 
throng, pressing each other, and moved by the impulse of 
progressive enterprise. 

"Then, came the fire. The lurid flames spread in serried lines 
along housetops, streamed their lambent blazes wide from street 
to street, and rolled their smoky banners all along the sky, 
for a twelve hours' time, and our city fell. Its fairest proportions 
were laid level with the earth, and existed only in the smoking 
banks of ashes which covered all the streets. And, sad to tell, 
this fearful destruction is supposed to have been the work of 
an incendiary, who, perhaps, may be even now in our city, with 
the terrors of an outraged law, like the sword of Damocles, to 
disturb his midnight dreams while lying upon his downy pillow, 

"But with the pliant energies of an elastic genius our people 
are recovering rapidly. They were 'not broken as the staff, but 
bent only as the bow.' Soon the recuperative genius of a mercan- 
tile community began to repeople the 'burnt district,' and now 
it is only necessar^^ to visit the splendid edifices which occupy 
Front and Duval streets, to induce one to come at once to the 
opinion that the fire was an actual benefit, rather than a per- 
manent injury to our city. Messrs. C. & E. Howe, Wall & Pinck- 
ney, James C. Clapp, Carey, Ware & Mulrennon, J. F. Packer, 
and William A. Russell have each erected elegant structures 
(the latter a large hotel), which are not onlj' an ornamental 
embellishment to our city, but give to it that air of permanency 
and durability, which is the strongest assurance, and the most 
confident promise of an advancing and growing future which 
we could possibly have. 

"Hon. James Filor has erected a two-story firej)roof brick 
warehouse, and Carey, Ware & jNlulrennon have laid the founda- 
tion for a three-storj^ building to be finisiied in the best st^ le 
of architecture, while in other portions of the town many hand- 
some dwelling houses are being built." 

About two o'clock in the morning of April 1, 188G, San Carlos 
Hall, on Duval street, near the corner of Fleming, was discovered 
to be on fire. The fire company turned out promptly but the 
steam fire engine, which had been in use in Key West for about 
ten years, had been sent to New York for re])airs, and there was 
only a small hand engine with which to fight the fire. 

It spread to the buildings of Mrs. Claude Babcock and Mr. 
John W. Sawj'er on the corner of Fleming and Duval streets, 
and they were soon destroyed. It burned to ^^ hitehead street, 


where it was stopped by Jackson Square. Meantime it had 
crossed Duval street, and a small building belonging to the 
Crusoe estate took fire. It was soon beyond all possibility of 
control and for twelve hours the fire raged. 

The northwest half of the block on Fleming street, between 
Duval and Bahama streets, was completely destroyed. The 
fire burned in a northeasterly direction and extended to the corner 
of Caroline and Elizabeth streets. It then swept along the water 
front to the naval station, destroying every house northeast of 
Greene, between Simonton and Whitehead streets, save two. 

The loss of property, including Havana tobacco in the United 
States bonded warehouse, was estimated at over two million 
dollars, with only about fifty thousand dollars insurance. 

A call for aid was sent out, and thirty or forty thousand 
dollars received, together with a quantity of provisions and 
clothing. Mayor James G. Jones called a meeting of the citizens, 
and requested them to appoint a committee to take charge of 
and expend the funds. An organization was perfected with 
a finance and a relief committee, who went about the work in 
a systematic manner, investigating and passing upon all claims 
for relief. Hon. George W. Allen was chairman of one committee, 
and Mr. ISIartin L. Hellings of the other. The relief committee 
was quite a large one, and for some time they held daily meetings. 
They received reports of those appointed to investigate claims 
for relief, and passed upon the claims, which were then referred 
to the finance committee for further investigation, and upon 
their being satisfied of the justness thereof, financial relief was 

The distribution of food and clothing was done speedily 
and thoroughly. The work of these committees met with the 
highest approval of the citizens, and they received general praise 
from the entire community. 

Profiting by this severe lesson, the city bought two powerful 
steam fire engines, and the county one. Later the city bought 
another, and these with a new chemical engine, hook and ladder, 
and hose outfit, comprise a most efficient fire equipment. Since 
1886 we have had no serious fires, and it is rare that one spreads 
beyond the place where it originates. 

In 1888 a system of water works for fire purposes was 
installed, using salt water which is heavier and better adapted 
than fresh water for extinguishing fires. This accounts largely 
for the ease with which fires are kept from spreading. In 1910 
two new boilers of one hundred horse power each, were installed 
for pumping water into the stand pipe. Six thousand dollars 
has just been appropriated to extend the mains to the county 

Few small places have a more efficient fire department than 
Key West. It is largely a volunteer one; only the drivers and 
engineers being sjklaried men. The companies are well drilled, 
and on an alarm of fire a full complement is always on hand, 


nearly all of whom make large personal sacrifices in their efforts 
to prevent the destruction of property. 

For a great many years Key West was without an active 
fire department, and it remained for Mr. A. H. Dorsett, in 1875, 
to organize the first efficient one. As chief of the fire department 
he brought the companies up to a high state of perfection. 
In 1878 Mr. B. H. F. Bowers was made chief, and held the posi- 
tion until 1890, when he was succeeded by Mr. Hiram G. Fulford, 
the present chief. 




EARLY in 1877 a volunteer military company with eighty 
members, called the Key West Rifles, was organized. 
Harry W. Hill was the first captain. It was never a crack 
company on dress parade, but it answered two riot calls (hat 
is, most of the company did). The most serious of these was 
when a mob of about M^een hundred congregated at the 
factory of Mr. Francisco Marero, threatening his life. Mr. 
Marero was suspected of having shot and killed an agitator 
a few nights before. To appease the mob he was taken to jail, 
but later in the day the authorities decided to defy them, and 
take him from the jail and escort him to his apartments in his 
factory, then at the foot of Duval street. Threats were made 
that if this were done, he would be shot down in the street, or 
taken from his home at night and lynched. The military company 
was called out, and escorted Mr. Marero to his home, and did 
guard duty for twenty -four hours, until wiser heads calmed the 
mob, and the incident was closed. The members of the company 
had been notified to assemble upon the ringing of the fire bell, 
and about noon on Sunday the town was startled by the violent 
ringing, calling the company together. Most of the members 
responded promptly, but it was said that one of the company 
was met running in an opposite direction, and when asked where 
he was bound, replied he was going for his tobacco. He was last 
heard of at the Salt Ponds. 

The fire of 1886 destroyed all the equipment, and the com- 
pany was never reorganized. 

On the ninth day of May, 1888, the Island City Guards, 
a local military company, was organized with thirty-two members. 
Mr. F. C. Brossier was captain, Mr. Charles S. Williams, first 
Heutenant, and Mr. George L. Babcock, second lieutenant. 
On the reorganization of the Florida militia this company be- 
came Company I, Second Regiment of Infantry, Florida State 
Troops, and is now part of the National Guard of Florida. 

The captains who succeeded Captain Brossier were Mr. 
Henry L. Roberts, Mr. Samuel J. Wolfe, Mr. Louis Louis and 
Mr. Joseph R. Stirrup, who at present commands the company. 


In 1910 a battalion of naval militia was organized with 
Mr. N. B. Rhodes as lieutenant commander. It was the first 
battalion of naval militia organized in Florida. It holds regu- 
lar drills and has reached a fair state of efiiciency. 




THE greatest authority on West Indian hurricanes was 
Rev. Benito Vines, a Jesuit priest, who was director of 
the magnetic and meteorological observatory of Belin 
College, Havana, Cuba. The accuracy of his prognostications 
is remarkable because he worked with few, if any, of the modern 
instruments for observing atmospheric conditions. So accurate 
was he, however, that his warnings of the approach of a hurricane 
— the signs of which no one else could see — were regarded by the 
people as supernatural predictions. Mr. E. B. Garriott, professor 
of Meteorology, in 1900 published a paper on West Indian 
hurricanes which, on the recommendation of Mr. Willis M. Moore, 
chief of the United States Weather Bureau, was issued as a 
bulletin of that bureau. Professor Garriott quotes largely from 
Father Vines, whose data concerning these storms extended 
as far back as 1493. 

Key West, although in the zone of West Indian cyclones, 
has rarely been visited by one of first intensity. Father Vines 
says that cyclones in August have never passed near Plavana, 
and that October cyclones rarely ever passed near Puerto Rico. 
He says: "The ecclesiastical authorities from time immemorial 
wisely ordained that priests in Puerto Rico should recite the 
prayer Ad Repellendat Tempestates during the months of August 
and September, but not in October, and that in Cuba it should 
be recited in September and October, but not in August. The 
ecclesiastical autiiorities knew from experience that the cyclones 
of September and October .are much to be feared in the vicinity 
of Cuba, but that those of August were not of a nature to cause 

The history of the three severe cyclones that struck Key 
West supports this theory. One occurred on October 11, 1846, 
one on October 11, 1909, and one October 17, 1910. 

The first hurricane of any intensity of which there is any 
record, occurred on the 15th, 16th and 17th of September A. D. 
1835. The Enquirer, a newspaper published in Is^ey West at 
that time, in describing it says: "We remember seeing sometime 
since the prognostications of an officer in the English army or 
navy who predicted that the visit of Halley's comet now expected, 
would cause the year 1835 to be remarkable for the frequency 
of gales and other atmospheric phenomena, and whether it may 
be considered a strange coincidence or not, we cannot say, but 


there lias certainly been an undue number of severe storms, 
tornadoes, gales, etc., for the last few years." 

In 1909 Halley's comet again visited us, and in 1909 and 
1910 two of the severest hurricanes ever experienced, struck 
the island. 

In the hurricane of 1S35 the light-ship Florida, stationed 
near Carysfort Reef, was severely damaged, the wooden covering 
to her deck was partly demolished, her lanterns stove in, and her 
boats blown away. Twelve or fourteen large vessels were stranded 
on the reefs near Key West, and most of our wrecking vessels suf- 
fered much damage. An article from the pen of Mr. Stephen R. 
Mallory tells of the damage done to our home craft, and the 
courage which their masters and crews showed in the face 
of their losses. He says: "In considering the extent and violence 
of the late gale, the severest with which our coast was ever visited, 
we dwell with satisfaction upon the courage of our people for the 
preservation of lives and property. In the ordinary course of 
maritime pursuits the loss of all the masts of a vessel, her boats, 
anchors, cables, etc., is considered an event of some consequence, 
and generally claims most of the time and undivided attention 
of her crew to repair damages, but the rapidity and apparent 
ease with which much greater disasters were overcome by the 
wreckers, when upon their celerity depended the fate and property 
of the shipwrecked, offers us another proof of what man may 
accomplish when all his energies are brought into action, stim- 
ulated by powerful motives and under the guidance of sound 
judgment. One of the schooners was driven by a gale upon a 
bank, which, when the wind had somewhat abated, was left 
high and dry, but her persevering master with eleven men 
actually cut a canal two hundred yards long, and in twenty-four 
hours after it was commenced the ship was again at sea and 
obtained a cargo. Another one lost both her masts, all her anchors, 
cables, boats and rigging, but the conviction that he had nothing 
else to lose seems to have aroused her stout-hearted master to 
greater exertion, and with the aid of two small jurj'^-masts, and 
an old gun for an anchor, he succeeded in reaching a wreck and 
relieving her of a large and valuable cargo. Such exertions 
are worthy of commendation, and verily they will meet with 
their reward." 

At that time there were not over seven or eight hundred 
people in Key West. They had no telegraphic communication 
with the outside world, and the mails were about a month apart. 

Practically the same conditions prevailed after the hurricane 
of 1846, and in each instance our people, with prayers to God, 
but dependence on their own exertions, rallied from the effects 
of these storms without financial assistance from the outside. 

Key West had its severest hurricane in 1846. Colonel 
Maloney in his history says it was "the most destructive of any 
that had ever visited these latitudes within the memory of man." 

On Saturday, October 9th, there were light squalls of wind 

and rain which increased during the night, and on Sunday the 
wind was blowing fiercely and the rain was almost constant. 
Sunday night it was blowing a very severe gale, but it was not 
until Monday morning that the hurricane reached its intensity. 
It blew all day from the northeast. Trees were uprooted, fences 
blown down, and houses unroofed. All of the families residing 
in that part of the city northwest of Eaton street abandoned their 
homes and sought refuge on higher parts of the island, in the 
neighborhood of Southard and Simonton streets, which was 
then thickly wooded. The light-house, which stood on the point 
where the large sand battery now stands, was washed away and 
seven persons lost their lives. The residence of Mr. William 
Curry, which stood near the corner of Caroline and William 
streets, was washed from its pillars and floated to sea. It carried 
away with it an old colored servant whose body was never 

Again our people pluckily went to work to overcome their 
misfortunes. They asked no outside help, and to quote again 
from Colonel Maloney: "They did not stop to shed tears over 
their misfortunes. The sun rose the morning after the storm 
to behold active limbs and stout hearts clearing the ground of 
the debris, and the waning moon of the next night shone upon 
the bright hammer of the mechanic as he drove firmly home the 
nails in the reconstruction of their homes and business houses." 

The trees that had been blown down were replanted, and 
to the energy and indomitable will of those old citizens did we 
owe the beautiful cocoanut ))alms and Australian pines that once 
beckoned a welcome to the coming guest, and waved a farewell 
to the departing, ^lost of these were destroyed in the hurricanes 
of October, 1909 and 1910, and the next generation will best 
be able to answer the question: How does the new Key West 
compare with the old? 

On October 19 and 20, 1876, another hurricane of minor 
intensity visited Key West. At one a. m., on the 19th, the bar- 
ometer stood at 29.55, and continued to fall, until at eight p. m. 
it registered 28.73. The wind, which reached a velocity of only 
sixty-six miles an hour, blew from northeast to east until about 
nine o'clock, the night of the 19th, when it died down to a calm 
which lasted nearly an hour. It then suddenly sprang up from 
the southwest, and blew with great intensity until about one 
o'clock in the morning, when it began to abate. The City of 
Houston, one of the Mallory steamers, went over the reef without 
.striking, and grounded on the shoals near Saddle Bunches, 
about twelve miles from Key West. 

The damage to the city was slight. A few tin roofs were 
torn off, fences blown down, and trees uprooted, but again our 
people pluckily replanted trees and repaired their property, 
and the effect was soon forgotten. 

In September, 1894, the center of another severe hurricane 
passed over Key West, but the damage was slight. 


A number of hurricanes of minor intensity have passed over 
and near Key West, but it was not until 1909 that a hurricane 
of first intensity again visited us. 

For several days the weather had been threatening, but not 
until Sunday night did the barometer begin to fall sufficiently 
to indicate the proximity of a hurricane. This accounts for a 
great deal of the loss to shipping, as our })eople had gone to their 
beds with no warning, and boats were lying at their usual moor- 
ings and not secured for a hurricane. 

At six a. m., the 11th, the barometer stood at 29.42 and fell 
rapidly until eleven-thirty a. m. when it reached the minimum, 
28.42. During Sunday night the wind was moderate, at about 
sixteen miles, but at six a. m., Monday, it suddenly increased to 
a gale and by nine a. m. had reached hurricane force. The wind 
blew steadily at about seventy-five miles per hour, but in the 
gusts which are characteristic of West Indian cyclones, it reached 
a velocity of over one hundred miles. The gusts increased in fre- 
quency and force until about noon, when the wind went to the 
northwest and began to moderate, and by two p. m. the storm 
was over. The wind blew first from southeast, then went to 
northeast, at which point we were nearest the center of the storm, 
which, however, did not pass over Key West. 

When the storm first broke over Key West it was traveling 
north, but before the center reached here it veered to the north- 
east, which accounts for the three directions of the wind. The rain- 
fall was unprecedented, 8.12 inches in five hours. There were 
only two lives lost; Frank Gray, a young photographer, who 
was drowned while trying to save his boat, and Andrew Cooper, 
second mate on the schooner Medford, who was struck on the 
head by the falling of the coal hoist at the naval station. 

The buildings whoUj^ destroyed were the cigar factories 
of The Ruy Lopez Company; The Martinez Company; George 
W. Nichols & Company and Aurelia Torres; St. Paul's Episcopal 
Church, Sparks Chapel, English Wesleyan Church, Bethel 
A. M. E. Church, No. 1 Engine Room, Wolfson's building, at 
the corner of Simonton and Greene streets, Markovitz' five and 
ten cent store; the city bell tower on Division street, condensing 
plant and pumping station at the United States army post, 
and many small structures. Nearly all sheet metal roofs were 
blown off. Buildings with wooden shingles weathered the storm 
best, and those with metal shingles next. 

The Elks home was blown from its foundations and damaged 
to the extent of several thousand dollars. The United States 
army post sustained some damage, the principal injury being 
the loss of the distilling plant. Every dock in the city was badly 
damaged, several being almost totally destroyed. Craft of every 
kind were jammed together or sunken along the water front. 
Many boats broke from their moorings and went crashing into 
other boats and docks. 

At William Curry's Sons Company the dock was destroyed 


and the smokestacks of the ice plant carried away. The schooner 
Magnolia sunk at the dock. 

The ]Mallory warehouse was badly damaged and much 
merchandise ruined. The dock was not injured, and the Mallory 
steamship Lampassas weathered the storm at the dock, and 
escaped uninjured. 

At Taylor's dock the coal runs and warehouses were badly 
damaged and two launches were lost. The schooner Frontenac, 
loaded with gravel, dragged her anchor and went ashore on the 

The coal conveyors at the naval station broke loose, and 
plunged through the dock. 

The pile driver and plant of the Penn Bridge Company was 
ruined. The four masted schooner George W. Wilson, loaded 
with coal, rode out the storm at her anchorage. The schooner 
Medford, Captain Richardson, loaded with two thousand tons 
of sand and gravel for the Penn Bridge Company broke away 
from her moorings at the government wharf and was blown about 
five miles towards Sand Key, where she sank. The crew aban- 
doned the schooner and were brought in by the Massasoit, having 
clung to the rigging all night. 

The revenue cutter Forward was at the wharf when the 
barometer began to fall, and her commander, Captain Dodge, 
undertook to get her into Hurricane harbor. He dropped two 
anchors, but the cables snapped as soon as they hove taut, and 
she was blown on one of the banks across from the city, where 
she stayed nearly a month until the sand was dug out around 
her, and she was floated into deep water. 


In roulette playing there is what gamblers call a "repeater" 
— that is that a certain number will come twice in succession. 
The chances against it are about 1,296 to 1. The chances against 
a "repeater" of a hurricane of first intensity, while not so great 
as against one in roulette, are sufficiently so to make the occur- 
rence one of extraordinary import. In 1910 Key West got a 

For a w^eek prior to October 17th the weather had been 
threatening, with heavy squalls and rains. Cautionary advice 
was issued the morning of the 13th by the United States weather 
bureau, and later in the day storm warnings were issued for 
South Florida. On the morning of the 14th the storm warnings 
were changed to hurricane. 

On the 15th it was reported that the hurricane, which had 
been to the south of Cuba, had passed westward through the 
Yucatan passage. The weather continued threatening, however, 
and experienced old sailors who had seen many hurricanes, 
shook their heads in doubt of the weather bureau's statements 
and did not relax their preparations to meet the blow, should it 


Sunday, the 16th, was partly clear with light winds. The 
weather bureau reports that night were quieting and our people 
went to bed early in fancied security. About ten o'clock the 
barometer began to fall rapidly and Weather Observer C. J. 
Doherty sent out bulletins advisory of the rapid approach of 
the storm. 

Northeast winds varying in velocity from thirty to fifty 
miles with gusts of sixty miles an hour prevailed from midnight 
to eight a. m. of the 17th, and shifted to the southeast after eight 
a. m. and increased in velocity from forty-eight to eighty miles 
an hour. At twelve twenty-five p. m. the wires to the anemometer 
cups at the weather observer's office were torn down, when the 
wind had a velocity of seventy-two miles an hour. From three 
to four p. m. the wind was to the south, and then shifted to the 
southwest and continued steady on the 17th. The wind reached 
its greatest force between two-thirty and four-thirty p. m., on 
the 17th, when it was estimated at over ninety miles an hour, 
and gusts of one hundred and ten miles an hour were frequent. 
The wind lessened slightly after five p. m. until three a. m., on 
the 18th, with a velocity of over sixty miles an hour, after which 
it gradually diminished. The storm lasted thirty' hours. The tide 
and sea swell were unusually high. At seven a. m. of the 17th 
the waves were dashing over the southern and western sections 
of the island. 

The rainfall during the storm was estimated at 3.89 inches 
up to eight p. m. on the 17th. There was no way of knowing 
exactly, however, as the rain gauge at the observer's office was 
carried out to sea at one-fifty p. m. The lowest barometer reading 
was 28.47 at two-thirty p. m. Six miles away, at Sand Key Light 
the barometer dropped to 28.40, the lowest ever recorded in 
the United States. 

The three-story concrete factory of the Havana-American 
Company, which had been damaged in the hurricane of 1909, 
was entirely destroyed. The power plant of the Key West Electric 
Company was damaged to the extent of about fifty thousand dol- 
lars. The United Wireless station was completely destroyed. 
Seven hundred feet of a new concrete dock, which was being built 
by the War Department at Fort Taylor was destroyed. The 
residences of Mr. M. B. Darnall and Mr. N. B. Rhoads, at the 
southeast end of Duval street, were washed from their pillars 
and floated about fifteen feet into South street. La Brisa, the 
pleasure pavilion of the Key West Electric Company at the south- 
east end of Simonton street, was washed from its pillars and 
dashed to pieces. The Olivette and the Miami lay at the P. & 
O. S. S. company dock, and rode through the storm uninjured. 




NO OCCUPATION is less understood or has been more 
misrej)resented than that of the wreckers of Key West. 
Mr. Audubon, the great ornithologist, who visited Key 
West in 1835, thus describes them: 

"Long before I reached the lovely islets which border the 
southeastern shores of the Floridas, the accounts I had heard 
of 'the wreckers' had deeply prejudiced me against them. Often 
had I been informed of the cruel and cowardly methods which 
it was alleged they employed to allure vessels of all nations to 
the dreaded reefs, that they might plunder their cargoes, and 
rob their crews and passengers of their effects. I, therefore, could 
have little desire to meet with such men under any circumstances, 
much less to become liable to their aid; and with the name of 
wreckers there were associated in my mind ideas of piratical 
depredation, barbarous usage, and even murder. 

"One fair afternoon, while I was standing on the polished 
deck of the United States revenue cutter, Marion, a sail hove 
in sight, bearing in an opposite course, and 'close-hauled' to 
the wind. The gentle rake of her masts, as she rocked to and fro 
in the breeze, brought to my mind the wavings of the reeds on 
the fertile banks of the Mississippi. By-and-by the vessel, 
altering her course, approached us. The Marion, like a sea-bird, 
with extended wings, swept through the waters, gently inclining 
to either side, while the unknown vessel leaped as it were from 
wave to wave, like a dolphin in eager pursuit of his prey. In a 
short time, we were gliding side by side, and the commander of 
the strange schooner saluted our captain who promptly returned 
the compliment. What a beautiful vessel we all thought; how 
trim, how clean-rigged, and how well-manned! She swims like 
a duck; and now with a broad sheer off, she makes for the reefs, 
a few miles under our lee. There, in that narrow passage, well 
known to her commander, she rolls, tumbles and dances, like 
a giddy thing, her copper sheathing now gleaming, and again 
disappearing under the waves. But the passage is thrid, and now 
hauling on the wind, she resumes her former course, and gradually 
recedes from view. Reader, it was a Florida wrecker! 

"The duties of the Marion having been performed, intima- 
tion of our intended departure reached the wreckers. An invita- 
tion was sent to me to go and see them on board their vessels, 
which I accepted. Their object on this occasion was to present 
me with some superb corals, shells, live turtles of the hawk- 


billed species, and a great quantity of eggs. Not a 'picayune' 
would they receive in return, but putting some letters in my 
hands, requested me to 'be so good as put them in the mail at 
Charleston,' and with sincere regret, and a good portion of 
friendship, I bade these excellent fellows adieu. How different 
thought I, is often the knowledge of things acquired by personal 
observation from that obtained by report!" 

Those were happy, insouciant days! The wrecker's life, 
thoiagh full of danger and hard toil at times, was jolly and care- 
free. Their crafts were well victualed and apparelled, and, they 
would lie all night in safe anchorage, but be under way at day- 
light to cruise along the reef, on the lookout for vessels in distress. 
When one was found, as was an almost daily occurrence, it was 
"all hands to work," night and day to relieve the ship, before 
heavy weather would drive her further on the reef, or cause 
her to bilge. When that catastrophe occurred, the cargo was 
saved by men working half the time in water up to their middles, 
and afterwards by diving. This did not mean going down in 
a diving suit through which the water could not penetrate, but 
skin-diving, and generally in water impregnated with the com- 
ponent parts of the cargo; sugar perhaps, mayhap guano. 

Prior to the treaty which ceded Florida to the United States 
salvors from the Bahamas and Cuba would rescue vessels and 
cargoes from the Florida Reefs, and take them to Nassau and 
Havana for adjudication of their salvage claims. To prevent 
this congress on March 3, 1825, passed a law prescribing that 
all property of any description whatsoever, that should be taken 
from any wreck in these seas, or from any keys and shoals within 
the jurisdiction of the United States, on the coast of Florida, 
should be brought to some port of entry within the jurisdiction 
of the United States. The act also ])rovided that any vessel 
which should carry any wrecked property to any foreign port 
.should be forfeited, one moiety of all forfeitures to go to the 
informer, and the other to the United States. On February 23, 
1847, congress further regulated the business of wrecking by 
providing that no vessel, or the master thereof, should be 
engaged in wrecking on the coast of Florida, without license from 
the judge of the district court in the district of Florida, and 
that before issuing such license the judge should be satisfied 
that the vessel was seaworthy, and properly and sufficiently 
equipped for the business of saving property shipwrecked and 
in distress; and that the master thereof was trustworthy, and 
innocent of any fraud or misconduct in relation to any property 
shipwrecked or saved on the coast. This is the only district in 
the United States w^here this requirement obtains. 

Prior to the establishment of the superior court at Key West, 
salvages were frequently settled by arbitration and the salvors 
paid in kind. Their portion and usually the residue of the cargo 
were sold here. 

The richest cargoes of the world, laces, silks, wines, silver- 


ware — in fact everything that the commerce of the world af- 
forded — reached Kej^ West in this way. Speculators with 
capital and underwriters' agents came here to attend the sales, 
some of whom seeing the opportunity for making money, became 
residents of Key West. 

The wrecks not only threw on these shores rich cargoes, 
but many valuable citizens were thus furnished to Key West. 
Several of our prominent families owe their residence here to the 
fact that their ancestors were wrecked on the Florida Reef. In 
fact. Key West probably owes its foundation as an American 
colony to such a circumstance. In 1818 Mr. John Whitehead was 
shipwrecked in the Bahamas, and on the voyage back to his home, 
in Mobile, the ship he had taken passage on lay at anchor 
for several days off Key West. He thus acquired a knowledge 
of its excellent harbor and other advantages, and it is probable 
that when he purchased the island from Salas in Havana in 
1819, he went there to meet him for that purpose. 

One of the earliest settlers, afterwards a large land owner 
and prominent business man, whose residence in Key West 
was due to this circumstance, was Mr. Fielding A. 13rowne. 
His brother had gone from Virginia to Mexico, and there had been 
killed. Mr. Browne was on a ship, bound to New Orleans, on 
his way to Mexico to look after his brother's estate, and was 
wrecked at Key West, and remained here. In 1830, when his 
nephew, Mr. Joseph Beverly Browne, was graduated from William 
and Mary College, he sent for him to come to Key West and go 

in business with him. Mr. William H. Wall, Mr. 

Wells, and many of the older citizens were jettisoned on the 
shores of Key West. 

Hon. Peter T. Knight and Hon. George W\ Reynolds owe 
their residence here to the fact that their mothers, who were 
from the German side of the river Rhine, were wrecked at Key 
West on their way to New Orleans. Others were Mr. James 
Filor, Mr. Nicholas Smith, Captain Joseph G. Lester and Mr. 
James G. Jones. 

From December, 1824 to 1825, $293,353.00 worth of wrecked 
property was sold here, and it is stated on the highest authority 
that only in one instance did it fail to bring its value, and generally 
it brought more than was expected. Buyers from Havana usually 
attended sales of wrecked property, and in the instances of very 
large cargoes, buyers came from Mobile, Charleston and fre- 
quently from New York. In 1824 and 1825 over one hundred 
thousand dollars was paid to the United States government 
for duties on wrecked property. 

Of the treatment accorded by the Key West wreckers to 
persons stranded on the Florida Reefs, a passenger on the ship 
Amulet, that was wrecked here in March, 1831, wrote: 


"Key West, March 25, 1831. 
'To the Editors: 

"Gentlemen: — Permit me, through the medium of your 
paper, to tender my most sincere thanks to Captains Smith and 
Place, commanding the sloops Splendid and Hydes Ally, for the 
kind and gentlemanly treatment I received from their hands, 
whilst on board their vessels. Should it ever be my lot to be cast 
away again, I hope I may be fortunate enough to fall into the 
hands of those who have as much honor and fine feelings as the 
above-named captains. 

"John P. Decatur. 
"Passenger on Board Amulet" 

After the establishment of the United States court, nearly 
every salvage case was tried in that tribunal and the conduct 
of the salvors closely scrutinized. Judge James Webb, in a 
judicial deliverance from the bench, thus commends the wreckers: 

"I am gratified," said the judge, "with the opportunity 
of expressing on this, as I have done on other occasions, my entire 
conviction that the course pursued by the individuals now engaged 
in this occupation on the coast of Florida is as exemplary in 
regard to the rights of others as that of any other class of this 
or other communities. They are the instruments of saving an 
immense amount of property, which without their exertions would 
be wholly lost, and so far as their conduct in rendering these 
services has come to the knowledge of this court (and it is often 
the subject of minute and critical examination) it has, but with 
few exceptions, been found correct, meritorious and praise- 

How all-absorbing wrecking was in those days may be seen 
from the following incident. The county court house in Jackson 
Square was the common place of worship for all denominations. 
On one occasion Brother Eagan (Squire Eagan as he was called), 
a good old Methodist, was holding services there, and from his 
position on the rostrum, which served as a pulpit, he had a 
clear view of the ocean, whence he saw a brig beating down the 
gulf dangerously near the Sambos. He saw her miss stays, 
and drift towards the reef. With cautious eye he watched her 
until he was certain that she was fast ashore, and then began mak- 
ing his plans. Brother Eagan was the owner and master of a 
wrecking vessel. The rules of wrecking established by the United 
States court give the master of the first vessel to reach a ship 
in distress the right to have charge of the salvage operations, 
for which he receives extra compensation. He is called the 
wrecking master. 

Brother Eagan knew if he announced from the pulpit that 
there was a "wreck ashore" his congregation would all get out 
of the church ahead of him, and the chances were that someone 
would reach the wreck before him. 

His text was from the Ninth Chapter, I Corinthians, 

twenty-fourth verse: "Know ye not that they which run in a 
race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may 

Warming to his subject he came down from the pulpit 
and exhorted his hearers to equip themselves for the great race 
for the prize of eternal salvation. Down the aisle he strode, 
hammering his text into the congregation, with forceful gesture 
and apt illustration. When he reached the door, he startled his 
hearers with the cry "Wreck ashore! Now we will all run a race 
and see who receiveth the prize," and dashed down the steps, and 
out into the street, with the entire male portion of the congrega- 
tion at his heels. He had a good start on them, however, and 
soon got to his schooner, the Godspeed, and with a crew made 
up of members of his congregation who had overtaken him, set 
sail and reached the wreck first, and became the wrecking master. 

This incident was typical. The cry of "Wreck a-s-h-o-r-e," 
taken up and repeated, with the last syllable drawn out in a 
long monotone, was a familiar sound in old Key West, and would 
empty a church as promptly as a cry of "fire!" It seemed to 
electrify the slow moving population, and soon the streets would 
be full of men running to their vessels, carrying small bundles 
of clothes — for they knew not whether they would be absent 
a day or a month — and from every quarter of the city, the cry 
"Wreck a-s-h-o-r-e" would echo and re-echo. 

A more thrilling sight cannot be conceived than that of 
twenty or thirty sailing craft of from ten to fifty tons starting 
for a wreck. As if upon a preconcerted signal, sails would be 
hoisted, and as soon as jib and mainsail were up, moorings would 
be slipped and vessels got under way, crowding on all tie sail 
they could carry. The sight of these, dashing out of the 
harbor, with a stiff northeast wind, bunched together in 
groups of threes and fours, jibing with everything standing, 
as they swung around the bend in the harbor off the foot of 
Duval street, was a scene never to be forgotten! No regatta 
could match it. 

In 1835 there were twenty good sized vessels regularly 
engaged in wrecking, in addition to which there were a few of 
smaller tonnage.* 

Wrecking is no longer the important enterprise it once was, 
but most of the sailing craft hailing from this port carry wrecking 
licenses, and are equipped to render salvage services. An average 
of eight or ten vessels a jear are stranded on the reefs, and 
unless driven ashore by the master for the purpose of getting 
the insurance, are usually rescued by the Key West sahors. 

In the case of the Isaac Allerton the largest individual 
awards were made, which was due to the fact that most of the 
cargo — an extremely valuable one — had to be dived for 
and many of the divers' eyes were seriously Jnjured by the water 

•Appendix T. 


which was impregnated with dyes from dry goods and the many 
other articles which composed the cargo. 

From 1900 to 1910, both inckisive, over two hundred and 
twenty thousand dollars was awarded to Key West salvors by 
the United States district court. In addition to this amount, 
over a hundred thousand dollars has been paid salvors for claims 
settled out of court. 


The history of the building of light-houses on the Florida 
Reef is so closely linked with that of wrecking that it may best 
be treated under that subject. 

A favorite slander against Key West, which has gained some 
credence, is that the people opposed the erection of light-houses 
on the reefs. On August 22, 1835, the Enquirer, a newspaper 
published in Key West, contained an extract from a recommenda- 
tion of the Governor of the Bahamas, acquainting the House 
of Assembly that "the British government had acquiesced in 
their request for the erection of a light-house on Key Sal Bank," 
and said: 

"Lights are required not only on Key Sal Bank, but at 
several other places in these seas, and we are consequently 
pleased that the British government is showing a disposition to 
erect them." After they were built, the Enquirer said: "Now 
that the British government has established light-houses on 
Abaco and Key Sal Bank, it is the duty of the American govern- 
ment to see whether it has not been guilty of equal or greater 
neglect. From Carysfort Reef to Key West, a distance of one 
hundred and twenty miles, there is no light. The light at the 
former place is a floating light, liable to be destroyed or misplaced 
by gales as was the case last September. This is not relied on 
by mariners, and it should be replaced by one of solid masonry 
and steel, and placed on the inner side of the reef. A light is 
necessary at each of the following places : Key Tavernier, Indian 
Key, Loo Key, and one in the intermediate space between the 
two last named places. We are aware that this measure would 
be attended with great expense, but no greater than is warranted 
by the magnitude of the object to be affected." 

Fully a column is written showing the benefits to be derived 
from numerous light-houses on the reef, and urges speedy action 
by congress. 

The government, however, did not begin the erection of 
the magnificent system of reef lights which extend from Fowey 
Rocks to Tortugas, until 1852, when Carysfort Reef light was 
established. The other reef lights and the date of their estab- 
lishment are: Sand Key, 1853; Sombrero, 1858; Alligator Reef, 
1870; Fowey Rocks, 1878; Northwest Passage, 1879; American 
Shoal, 1880, and Rebecca Shoal in 1886. 

A light-house was built on Rebecca Shoal in 1838, but in 
1879 another light was established in its place. The Sand Key 


light, and the hght-house on Key West, which were built in the 
early forties, were destroyed in the hurricane of 1846. 

Their distinguishing characteristics are thus described in 
verse by Mr. Kirk Monroe: 


The fixed tchite light of Fowey Rocks, 

And Carysfort's ichite flash. 
Both may be seen from the middle 

Of a twenty-three mile dash. 
Alligator Reef's red, white and white 

Lies thirty miles away. 
Log thirty more, Sombrero white 

Points to Honda Bay. 
Then comes the Shoals American, 

White flashing through the night, 
Just fifteen miles from ichite Key West, 

Twenty from Sand Key's twinkling white. 
The Marquesas are unlighted; 

But on Rebecca's Shoal, 
A ichite and red is sighted, 

Warning from wreck and dole. 
Sixteen miles to Dry Tortugas 

With a white light on the fort. 
Three more to the flash of Loggerhead, 

And all's clear to a western port. 




IN THE early days of Key West's settlement the population 
was largely American, with a few Spanish families. South 

Carolina, Virginia, Connecticut, Alabama, New York and 
New Jersey furnished their quota. 

When congress in 1825 legislated against foreign vessels 
engaging in salvage operations on this coast, it destroyed a 
lucrative source of revenue to an element of the Bahama people, 
and some of them came to Key West to make this the base of 
their salvage operations. The migration was slow, however, and 
it was not until a later period that the movement became 

They were a God-fearing, law-abiding people, industrious 
and cleanly in their habits, but not progressive, and unfamiliar 
with the system of American municipal administration. The 
present generation, however, is imbued with a spirit of progress, 
which promises well for the future of Key West. 

Columbus in one of his letters to Ferdinand and Isabella 
thus described the inhabitants of the Bahamas: ''This country 
excels all others as far as the day surpasses the night in splendor; 
the natives love their neighbors as themselves, their conversa- 
tion is the sweetest imaginable, their faces always smiling, and 
so gentle and affectionate are they that I swear to your highness 
that there is not a better people in the world." 

This description was written of the aborigines of the 
Bahamas, most of whom were taken from the islands by Ovando, 
the governor of Hispaniola, and about forty thousand perished 
miserably in the mines. 

The English, who colonized the Bahamas about the middle 
of the seventeenth century, intermarried with the few remaining 
natives, and traces of the attributes narrated by Columbus 
are yet found among their descendants. 

At the outbreak of the Revolutionary War many of the 
Tories in Georgia and the Carolinas, fearing violence to their 
persons and property at the hands of the revolutionists, fled 
to the Bahama' Islands. Most of these went thenceto England, 
but many remained and reared families in the islands. They were 
a highly cultured and refined people, and it is probably from them 
that the most intelligent and progressive of the Bahama element 
are descended. Some of the Curry family have no doubt a common 
ancestry with Hon. J. L. M. Curry, who was one of the foremost 


educators of the United States, and at one time minister from 
the United States to Spain. 

The period of the Civil War marks the beginning of the 
change in the population of Key West. Most of the old settlers 
were dead, or had removed with their families to their old home 
States. The cordial relations which existed between the people 
of the Bahamas and the blockade runners from the south, 
directed the attention of the former to Key West, and they began 
to come to our shores in constantly increasing numbers. Thus 
began the second migration which has so changed the popula- 
tion of Key West, that ninety per cent of the English speaking 
people are of Bahama ancestry. 

In 1868, when the first Cuban revolution of any magnitude 
began, the vigorous methods adopted by the Spanish government 
to suppress it, drove many of the Cubans from their homes, who 
sought protection under the American flag at Key West. The 
establishment of cigar factories furnished them employment, and 
since that time there has been a steady influx of Cubans to Key 

In 1887 a few Jewish peddlers began to plj^ their trade here, 
going from house to house with their packs of dry goods, laces, 
etc. In 1801 the city imposed a license on peddlers of a thousand 
dollars each, and they gave up that vocation and opened stores. 
This was the beginning of the Hebrew migration, which has 
steadily increased, and they now number several hundred. 

The first to come to Key West were the Goodman Brothers, 
Mr. Joe Cupperberg, Mr. A. Zimmdebaum, Mr. A. Louis, Mr. 
M. Rippa, Mr. Louis Fine, Mr. Abram Wolkowsky, the Wolfsons 
and the Fischer Brothers. Mr. Louis Fine is agent of the Hous- 
ton Ice and Brewing Company. Mr. Wolfson has a large up- 
to-date dry goods store, and Mr. Abram Wolkowsky and Mr. 
A. Louis are among the principal dry goods and clothing mer- 

The Hebrews take much interest in the improvement and 
development of the town, and are counted among the most 
progressive citizens. 

As was to be expected of the descendants of a race who 
preserved through the ages of Greek and Roman pantheismj 
the belief in one God, their first public act was to organize a 
Hebrew congregation. 

In 1905 they bought the residence of Dr. John B. Maloney, 
on the corner of Simonton and Southard streets and converted 
it into a tabernacle. The organization, of which Mr. Joseph 
Fine was the first president, was known as the Rodof Sholam 
until recently, when the name was changed to B'nai Zion. The 
first regularly constituted rabbi was Dr. J. Shapo who oflSciated 
for several years. 

In 1907 the Young Men's Hebrew Association was organized 
with Mr. Perry Weinberg as its first president, to which office 
he was again elected in 1911. 



Prior to 1845 the number of negroes in Kej' West was un- 
appreciable, being less than two hundred, slave and free. 
Between 1845 and 1850 they increased to over five hundred and 
fifty, mostly slaves. This increase was due in part to the govern- 
ment work on the fortifications, where ready employment was 
found for slaves at good wages. The general prosperity had some- 
thing to do with it also, as well-to-do Southern families could 
not manage with less than six to ten household servants. And 
such servants! Capable, respectful, neat, trustworthy, affec- 
tionate, and honest where money was concerned; is it a cause 
for marvel that family servants were held in the most affectionate 
regard? And woe betide the outsider who interfered with one 
of them! The institution of slavery took savages from Africa, 
and made of them a most docile, capable, respectful, honest 
and religious people. The contrast between what this institution 
produced, and what the period since 1865 has brought forth, 
is a study for the ethnologist. 

Among the old colored citizens of the island who came to 
Key West, about the year 1846 were Hannah Brooks and Petrona 
Alvarez — "Aunt Hannah" and "Aunt Petrona" as they were 
universally designated. As they were the only trained nurses 
of that day whose services were for hire, they ministered in almost 
every family on the island, and won the affection of all. 

Other well known and respected colored people were James 
D. English, who was a member of the Monroe County Board 
of Public Instruction after the war. Pablo Rogers for many years 
was the principal colored musician on the island, and no social 
gathering was complete without the strains of Pablo's fiddle, 
and the belles and beaus of the old days grew to mature woman- 
hood and manhood, firm in the belief that neither Strauss nor 
Sousa could produce such rythmical dance music as Pablo. 
When he died his mantle fell on "Mony" Sevelle. 

The Fish and Clarke families were fine seamstresses, and 
no New York or London haberdasher or tailor could equal them 
in making the linen shirts and white duck suits worn by the 
elegant gentlemen of that day. Descendants of these families 
are still living in Key West, and maintain the rei:)utation of their 
ancestors in this respect. 

George Garvin, the Roberts family', Peter A. and Samuel 
Welters, pilots, Jesse and William Williams, William Martinelly, 
James Rubeo and John Cornell came from St. Augustine, where 
they or their ancestors resided before the change from the 
Spanish flag. 

Theresa Darley claimed the distinction of being the daughter 
of an African king, but was deserving of more consideration as 
the mother of Thomas Darley, who became the minister of the 
African Methodist church, and quite an able preacher, notwith- 
standing his limited education. He was always respectful and 


deferential, and exerted a good influence on his race, at a time 
when wise leaders were needed to offset the pernicious teachings 
of the carpet-baggers. 

Sandy Cornish, known only as "Uncle Sandy," had the best 
fruit grove and garden on the island. In his later years he became 
almost a hermit, and adventurous boys who robbed other groves 
and gardens with impunity gave Sandy's place a wide berth. 
When Hon. Salmon P. Chase visited Key West he went to see 
Sandy, who presented him with the choicest fruits and flowers 
from his grove and garden. On being asked by Mr. Chase what 
he could do for him, Sandy requested a picture of his distinguished 
guest, whereupon Mr. Chase handed him a dollar treasury note 
on which was a vignette of the distinguished visitor. To "Sandy" 
is due largely the establishment of the African Methodist church, 
where he frequently preached, in a voice that could be heard for 

Old "Uncle Tom Romer" came from the Bahamas, and as 
bumboat-man was known to every officer and man in the navy 
of the old days. He lived to be something over a hundred years 
old, and as he added five or six years to his age every few 
months, he would in a short time have rivalled Methuselah, 
but his demise at about a hundred and ten deprived him of that 

Most of the St. Augustine colored people were members 
of the Catholic church, and they and their descendants are still 
firm in the faith. Some were Episcopalians, and a few Baptists 
and Methodists, and all attended the white churches, where 
separate space was set apart for them. The African Methodist 
Episcopal church, built in 1865, with Wilbur G. Strong as preacher, 
was the first colored church built in Key West; others have 
followed, and the Baptists, Wesleyan Methodists and the 
Episcopalians have churches for the exclusive use of the colored 
people. The Catholics continue to worship in St. Mary's Star 
of the Sea. 

Hannah, Barry and William Hart and John Delancey were 
among the first colored people to come from the Bahamas. 

Many of the old negro families were free when they came 
here, but slave or free, the old time Key West colored people 
belong to a fast vanishing type. 

The population of Key West is now composed of forty per 
cent, white Bahamans, thirty per cent Cubans, twenty per 
cent negroes, and ten per cent who do not derive their ancestry 
from any of these sources. 

The government census separates the population into 
whites and blacks, but prior to the 1910 census, which is not yet 
complete, did not record the place of nativity of the inhabitants. 




Free Negro 


























All Other 
























" rriEMPORA mvtantnr, et nos in illis midamur" — and Key 
jt West, too, has changed with the times! The island in 
the early days had a great many persons among its 
inhabitants who would have been noticeable in any community. 
It was a cosmopolitan population; Bahama wreckers and im- 
migrants, small fishermen from Noank and Mystic, Conn., 
refugees from the mainland, gentlemen from Virginia, Georgia 
and the Gulf States, business men, commercial adventurers and 
mechanics from the Northern States, and world wanderers from 
every portion of the globe, brought to Key West by chance or 
inclination, and held here by her lotus charms. Englishmen, 
Bahamans, Irish, Dutch, Swedes, Norwegians, Hindoos, Rus- 
sians, Italians, Spaniards, Cubans, Canary Islanders, South 
Americans, Canadians, Scotch, French, shipwrecked sailors, 
deserters and discharged men from the army, navy and marine 
corps; men who had knocked about all over the world and 
developed personalities of their own, which they retained, were 
indeed a rare aggregation. 

One of the first things to impress the visitor to Key West, 
who expected to find uncouth pioneers at this out-of-the-way 
place, isolated from the rest of the world and inhabited with 
less than a thousand persons, was the scrupulous elegance of 
the dress of its men of affairs. In summer all wore white linen 
duck of the finest quality, perfectly laundered; during the winter, 
and always on Sundays and festal occasions, frock coats and 
silk hats. This particularity in dress was accompanied by a 
dignity of deportment, and elegance of demeanor, rarely else- 
where found in so small a community, and neglected in the 
New Key West. 

Mr. William H. Wall, a tall, slender, graceful Englishman, 
with the perfect diction of the cultured men of that nation; 
Colonel Oliver O'Hara, a giant in height and physique, a ruddy 
faced Irishman with snow white hair, a voice rich in the music 
of the Irish brogue, but modulated like the typical Irish gentle- 
man; his partner, Mr. Charles M. Wells, equally tall but slim 
as a bean pole, soft- voiced and suave; Judge William Marvin, 
in mind, body and appearance the perfect type of the old 
statesman and jurist; Mr. Peter Gandolpho, who had sufficient 
native shrewdness and -industry to accumulate a comfortable 
fortune, but whose knowledge of mathematics was limited, as 
he himself expressed it, to knowing "If I buy a thing for one 


•dollar and sell it for two dollars, I make one per cent;" Mr. 
Fielding A. Browne, the typical Virginia gentleman, with the 
manners and pronunciation which distinguished them; were 
men to do honor to the most cultured community. 

In later years passengers from the Mallory steamships 
landed, then as now, at the dock then owned by the Tift brothers, 
Asa and Charles — two brainy, cultured, suave gentlemen of 
New England origin from Georgia. 

Passing from their premises one came first to the general 
mercantile store of White & Ferguson, situated on the corner 
of Front street, ^^here there is a vacant lot. Old John White 
was then one of the notable men of Key West, and one of the 
wealthiest. Keen eyes, beneath bushy brows, nose projecting like 
a beak, from above a bushy, rather short grizzled beard, head 
always drawn down between his shoulders, garbed in clothes 
that when new— long ago — must have cost at least twelve 
dollars; he was always found humped up in his store, or being 
hauled slowly around the streets at a snail's pace in an old buggy 
■drawn by an old horse. He managed a large business, bought 
real estate, built and rented houses and accumulated a fortune. 
He commenced his rent-collecting rounds at an early hour, and 
his morning salutation to dilatory tenants, "You're sleeping 
on your rent" became a local by-word. 

His partner, Mr. George W. Ferguson, tall, lean, with high 
forehead, acquihne nose, long coat, and equally long gait, was 
also a person to impress on first appearance. 

A little way along Front street was Wall & Company's 
store, presided over by Mr. Fernando J. Moreno, who was also 
underwriter's agent. Mr. Moreno was a thorough American, 
though of foreign descent. Courtly, polite, with distinguished 
manners, he was to be seen each afternoon taking his constitu- 
tional on a i)acing pony, out to the bush and South Beach. 
He was slightly deaf, and carried a silver ear trumpet gracefully 
suspended from his left arm, which strangers often took for a 
cornet, and a wag was once known to stop him with the question, 
"Old man, when are you going to give your concert?" Needless 
to say the question was not heard, for no man was familiar with 
Mr. Moreno with impunity. His chief assistant at that time 
was Mr. WiUiam McClintock, afterwards mayor of the city; 
a large, portly, powerful ex-man-of-war's-man from Philadelphia, 
who had had among other vicissitudes the experience of going 
down with the United States steamship Congress when she 
was sunk by the Merrimac. 

Across Duval street was the "Gem" saloon, presided over 
by "Captain Jack," as its owner George Alderslade was known. 
He was a man of medium height, but built on the lines of "Tony 
Weller;" was an Englishman, and once a sailor, and could neither 
read nor write. It was told of him that on one occasion he picked 
up an illustrated newspaper which had pictures of some ships, 
and holding it upside down, exclaimed "There's been a hell of 


a hurricane somewhere — five ships capsized." He was a man of 
flood judgment, fine mind, and a heart of size proportionate with 
his body. He was the best yellow fever nurse in Key West, and 
gave his time freely to those afflicted with that dread disease. 
His place was a favorite resort of the officers of the navy and 
army, who met him as an equal, as indeed he was.' 

Back of his place, near where the P. & O. Steamship Com- 
pany's approach now is, "Old Man Dixon" had a curio store. 
He was small, dark, long haired and bearded, shaggy and wild 
looking. He made it a point to hoist a flag when a steamer was 
coming in, and fire salutes from a little cannon on holidays 
or whenever the spirit moved him. 

Across from him, where Waite's store now is, was Roger 
Gordon. He kept a news stand and general store — or he had 
it — it kept itself! Irish, short, with a large head like a billet of 
wood, hair close cropped and standing erect, usually with several 
days' growth of beard over his jaws, he would sit out in front of 
his door, part of the time asleep in his chair, dressed in shirt, 
trousers and brogans (soldier) shoes, which latter articles he 
often dispensed with, no socks, and if a customer w^anted any- 
thing, he was as likely to say "Go in, boy, and see if you can find 
what you want," as to get it for him — and perhaps more so. 
And if a customer worried him too much he would swear at him 
and run him away. He was a discharged soldier who had made 
some money while in the service by lending his savings at usury, 
and after his discharge continued so doing until h? accumulated 
a tidy fortune. One of his peculiar ideas at first was L' it a debtor's 
title deed was sufficient security for a loan, as long as the creditor 
had it locked up in his safe. He learned better! 

Across from the "Gem" was the store of Allen Brothers, 
of whom there were in Key West William S. and George D. 
William S.* was of medium height, broad, genial, brainy and under 
military rule had been, as was popularly said, "tlie best mayor 
Key W^est ever had." He had a hearty, impulsive manner, and 
a geniality that attracted strangers, and made them acquaint- 
ances. From his brisk, Rooseveltian manner of butting in, and 
personally directing or doing things, he won the sobriquet of 
"Buffalo" Allen. If he saw the peace and dignity of the city 
disturbed, he would rush in and perform the functions of the 
police. On one occasion a well knpwn character about town 
who was frequently too full, but not for utterance, was singing 
and swearing alternately, when Mr. Allen came along. Failing 
to quiet him, he took him in custody, and carried him to the 
"Sweat Box," as the citj^ lockup — the caboose of a wrecked ship, 
which had been converted into a place of confinement, at the 
foot of Duval street — was called. By the time he had turned 
the key on him, the brother of the prisoner, himself a character 
of those days, came along, and being in his cups, began abusing 
the mayor for having locked up his brother. It took "Buffalo'" 

*Appendix U. 


Allen but a few minutes to have both of the brothers locked up 
together, where they remained until they got sober. 

Mr. George D. Allen was short, with a large head, usually 
surmounted by a silk hat, worn tipped back. He was full 
of energy, with a finger in everything that was going, or at least, 
comments to make on them. He had been a druggist, clerk of 
the United States court, merchant, United States marshal, 
member of the school board that instituted the first public or 
"free" school, tax collector and warden of St. Paul's church. 
His speech while voluble, was accompanied by a kind of hesitating 
pause in the middle of his sentences and accentuated by a 
peculiar motion of the lower jaw, as if chewing, from which he 
acquired the nickname "Gum Drops." For many years he was 
superintendent of the Episcopal Sunday school, where he had 
a class of probably the most mischievous boys that ever saw the 
inside of a church. Disorder reigned in his class, and it was the 
envy of the boys who were afflicted with sterner teachers. A 
favorite prank of his scholars was to put a lot of tamarind seeds 
in his silk hat, and when he would put it on, they would scatter 
with rattling noise over the pews and aisles — to his discomfiture 
and the boys' happiness. He was a man of great and varied 
information, good ideas as to every one's business but his own; 
he was always trotting up and down the streets at something; 
was always most decidedly in evidence. 

He had an old saddle horse, with a peculiar gallop, whose 
rythmical hoof beats suggested the name of the drugs Mr. 
Allen usually prescribed for all ailments, which caused the 
old plug to be nicknamed Calomel-Jalap, a crude reminder 
of Virgil's Quadrupedante putrem sonitu qiiatit ungida eampum. 

Mr. W. A. Russell, proprietor of the only hotel in the place, 
was a tall, handsome man, slightly stooped, with a curly beard, 
always garbed in a long frock coat and silk hat. He ran his hotel 
much as Roger Gordon ran his store. It was reported of him 
that one time, when a guest wanted a "shine" he called out to 
"Toby" (his factotum Toby Collins was somewhat of a character, 
too): "Here Toby, here's a d — d fool wants his boots blacked!" 
And other things were according. 

On Front street, opposite Wall & Co.'s, was the Louvre, 
in which were several clothing stores, barrooms, etc. Its owner 
was Mr. Henry Mulrennan, a tall, once handsome gentleman, 
who was born in Paisley, Scotland, of Scotch-Irish ancestry. 
He came to this country when eleven years old, was a compositor 
on the New York Herald, a volunteer in the Mexican War when 
only eighteen years old, and came to Key West with his regiment, 
where he was mustered out and went in business with Mr. E. L. 
Ware and Mr. Geo. H. Carey. At the commencement of the 
Civil War he hoisted the secession flag on his building, and sent 
a written message to Major French, who was in command of 
Fort Taylor, demanding the surrender of the fort within an 
hour, or he would come down and capture it. Thereupon 


Major French, who was his friend, advised him to 
leave the island, or he would be compelled to make him 
a prisoner. He then left Key West, joined the Confederate 
army, was captured running the blockade between Tampa and 
Havana in 1864, where he was kept imprisoned at Fort La- 
Fayette, New York harbor, in the same cell with General 
Roger A. Pry or for seven months after the war ended- He 
came near being hanged on a charge of having disguised a squad 
of men as negro contrabands, and enticing the Yankee gunboats 
in Tampa Bay to send ashore to get them, and when the boats 
were close in shore, turned loose a masked battery and blew 
them out of the water. Through the intercession of Fernando 
Wood, James Gordon Bennett and Robert Bonner, he was 
finally exonerated and released. On his return to Key West 
after the war, he was elected mayor, and died February 15, 1872, 
at the age of forty-four years. A short life to have passed through 
so many vicissitudes! He was a witty, rollicksome, boisterous 
person, such as Lever so successfully portrays. 

George Carey kept a barroom next his place. He too, wore 
a silk hat and generally no coat. (Silk hats were common in 
those days). He was a handsome, ruddy, white bearded English- 
man, an ex-sailor, and said to be of a good family; in his cups 
he was wont to boast that his "ancestors could write on paper 
without lines on it." 

Another roaring Irishman was Jack Gallagher who kept a 
bar down beyond where the foundry now is. Always happy, 
always noisy, and sometimes sober, he was prominent among 
the frequenters of Front street. Pat McKeown, too, was Irish, 
and a barkeeper. His advent, however, was not until about 
1870. He was discharged from the marine corps, and started 
business with a keg of beer and a jug of whiskey, sleeping at 
first under his counter, till times mended. Small, sandy, with a 
large head, Pat was a man of brains, and despite the sprees which 
he indulged in at stated intervals, he acquired a large property. 

An old timer whose career lasted down into modern times, 
was James G., or Jim Jones. Of medium height, he was strongly 
built and powerful, Avith a round head and broad face, large 
mouth, with white teeth that he was always showing in a broad 
smile, or gritting in an attack of temper! He was a French Can- 
adian, had been railroad builder, gas plant installer, sailor, 
shipmaster and had travelled all ov^er the world. He located at 
last in Key West because his ship was wrecked on the reef 
near here. In time he was justice of the peace, tax collector, 
sheriff, mayor. United States marshal, and finished his days 
as deputy clerk of the United States court and United States 
commissioner. In his old age he was quieter, but in his early 
days he was full of vitality, with a new story every time he met 
one, and a big laugh to accompany its telling; always in good 
humor until something or some one disagreed with him, when 
a cyclone succeeded the sunburst! Raving like a maniac, he would 


grit his teeth, shake his fists, and rising on his toes come down 
on his heels, and out — Ajax, Ajax! On one occasion while sheriff 
he got into an altercation with Captain Joe Lester, a shipmaster 
and pilot, of Scotch ancestry, and no mean antagonist for the 
most powerful. After some hot words Captain Lester threatened 
to strike him, and Mr. Jones responded, "When you strike me, 
you strike the State of Florida." "Well, down goes the State of 
Florida," said Captain Lester, and down went "Jim Jones." 

There were many other Key Westers who became residents, 
as he did, by being wrecked on the reef. There was old Peter 
Smith, a Hollander, broad shouldered, powerful, who testified 
in the United States court to having worked in the hold of a 
wrecked vessel, at the age of eighty-two. Jack Gaze, an English- 
man, small, natty, elegant, no one's enemj' but his own, celebrat- 
ing each trip from the Light by treating everybody, and, if he 
had any money unspent when his time was up, throwing it away, 
so if he "got drowned on his passage back, it wouldn't be lost! 
Some one would have the good of it." Other notables there were. 
Old man Jaycox, seaman and wrecker, of whom it was told 
that he could seat a man on each hand, and with arms extended, 
walk the length of a schooner. "Bull" Weatherford, and Tom 
Johnson, divers, who were noted for their ability as bare-back 
divers to go under a vessel, stop a leak, and cut out damaged 
parts of keel, and bolt on new j)ieces. It is told of Weatherford 
that he sculled the Hannah, a six ton schooner, from the Dog 
Rocks to Key West, during a calm, when Colonel Maloney was 
with him and anxious to get home! 

Captain Jack Buckley, smack fisherman, and incidental 
wrecker, a lean sailor man such as Cooper used to depict, w^as 
also a well known character; and there was "Chief" or Calvin 
Nedson, the last of the Pequots, who came out from Connecticut 
as a boy on a fishing smack, and spent the rest of his life at 
Tortugas; coming to Key West, when he chanced in a wreck, to 
get his money — and a good time with it! Slender, dark, taciturn, 
he was known as an expert with the grains and cast net. 

The king of the wreckers of that time, however, was "Old 
Ben Baker". He owned and lived in the large two-story house 
at the corner of Whitehead and Caroline streets, diagonally 
across from the Stone building, where the United States court 
tried his salvage cases. He also owned a plantation on Key 
Largo, where he raised pineapples, in the intervals between 
wrecking in his fourteen-ton schooner the Rapid. Tall, gaunt, 
shrill-voiced, hook-nosed, hawk-eyed, he was in those days 
nearly always master wrecker at every wreck upon the reef. 

In later years Sylvanus Finder succeeded to his mantle. 
Large, robust, handsome, jolly, the pride of "up-town", perhaps 
with the greatest personal following of any man in the third 

Old Captain Geiger must not be overlooked, a master 
wrecker and the most skilful of pilots, in his later years he pass- 


ed most of his time up in his "buffalo" — as he called his cupola — 
with his glass, watching passing vessels, or down along the beach, 
superintending his pet schooner, the "Nonpareil" in which he 
claimed to have beaten up Nassau harbor under jib alone "to 
show the Conchs what an American vessel could do". Dutch 
built, portly, large blue eyes and thin white hair, he was a relic 
of older than old times. It was said that as a boy he was captur- 
ed by pirates, but he would not talk of that experience. He was 
pilot for Commodore Porter, and for all naval vessels since 1830, 
until age and infirmity compelled him to stop on shore. He 
was best known from his reputation as being able to surpass 
Mrs. Malaprop, in the use of the vernacular, so that a "Geiger- 
ism" when mentioned needed no explanation. A sad commentary 
on public opinion, that in his last days, a man of sterling character, 
adventurous life, and even heroic deeds, should be known to 
and by later generations, only by reason of a trifling deficiency, 
and the exploitation of the same! 

Old Nicholas Smith, "Long Smith," as he was called, from 
his groat height, was also a man who wore a tall hat. He was a 
Swede and owned the Stone building, the ground floor at one 
time occupied, by W. D. Cash, as a grocery store, with Jerry 
Fogarty as clerk, and the second and third stories by the United 
States court which j^aid him twelve hundred dollars a year rent. 
It is said he never cashed his government checks, but had them 
all when he died. He was over six feet in height, with white 
hair, and a nose that w^as large, pendulous and inflamed. He 
lived in a back room on the ground floor, cooking for himself 
and living a hermit's life. At times after protracted drinking 
bouts with himself, he would get to imagining things, and go 
hunting over his building to find who was trying to ruin it. 

Fred Filer was another unique specimen of former days. 
Broad, fat and Dutchy, and hardly able to speak English, he 
was still a power as a vessel owner and lumber dealer. And there 
was Jacob Rain, a Russian, with a little cobbler's store on Duval 
street. Hardly ever speaking unless spoken to, but when one 
penetrated the crust he was genial, and proved to be an estimable 
character. His knowledge of P^nglish was not sufficient, however, 
to understand all that was meant, and when John Boyle with 
Irish wit one day threatened to "beat his brains out with a 
sponge" he did not get mad until the next day, when he saw the 

"Old Tinker Bill" was also one who added to the gaiety 
of life in those days, especially when "inspired." There are many 
who recall when lower Duval and Front streets would resound 
with his voice as he sang in stentorian tones, "Home again, home 
again from a foreign shore" to be suddenly broken into with 
"Who the hell's that?" or "Where the hell are you going.^" 
shouted to some midnight passer-by. 

John Baptiste Grillon, French, was also a well known 


character on the street — the first peddler of ice cream; bent, 
broad, bearded, with a skew eye. 

And Marcus OHveri, known as Mr. "Marcus" only; the 
tall handsome Italian, who kept the only restaurant up-town, 
where Yankees could have pie eating contests, and the hungry 
could get (canned) oyster stews. He was another of the in- 
dependent type of merchant, which were common in Key West, 
and when complaint was made of careless treatment or ineflScient 
service, and loss of patronage intimated, he would reply, "Go 
somewhere else, I don't care shucks for your patronage." 

There was Manuel Acosta, ex-wrecker and master of the 
United States quartermaster's schooner the Matchless. A 
Spaniard, large, full-chested, keen eyes, with a grip like a vice 
and a heart like a baby's. 

At that time, also, there were some prominent young men, 
who were coming "on deck," and occupied among the younger 
generation the place like the old fellows did with the preceding 
generations. Among the champion disturbers of the peace and 
quiet of up-town, there flourished Edgar Baker, the bully of the 
Key, and Lassy Pent, whose name was associated with every 
deviltry upon the Beach, George Demerritt (Rabbitt) was just 
becoming prominent from having whipped three brothers, all 
larger than he, one after the other. He was a ship carpenter 
and caulker, boatman and wrecker, small but with a vitality 
that carried him to the front. He was afterwards the most 
prominent wrecker of his day, with his schooner the Ida McKay. 
He became sheriff, and died in 1903, captain of the night force of 
inspectors in the custom house. George Dillon, afterwards a 
P. & O. steamboat captain, and his brother Charlie (Bluey), 
were leaders among the young men. "Young" Lewy Pierce was 
an accepted champion with his fists, and is now a sedate retired 
capitalist at Miami. 

Among the professional, official and business men, in addition 
to those mentioned, were a number of distinguished and notable 
characters. Mr. Eldridge L. Ware from the north, was post- 
master from 1872 to 1876. He lived in a large stone house which 
stood on the lot where Mr. W. J. Delaney now lives, built by 
Mr. Benjamin Sawyer in 1842. Of medium height, thick, with 
large head, and full but close-trimmed beard, he could be seen 
daily perambulating the markets, ancient beaver hat on head, 
cane in hand, and a market basket on his arm, picking out what 
looked good to him. 

Mr. Samuel C. Craft, clerk of the circuit court, was a marked 
individuality. Cruikshank has depicted him often. Tall, lean, 
thin and long faced, thin grey hair and beard, and always clothed 
in a suit of sepulchral black, he looked indeed as the old time 
EngUsh "dark" was supposed to look. He officiated on the 
Sabbath as pastor of the Baptist congregation. 

Another was old Judge Charles S. Baron. A little old rnan 
with white hair and long thick flowing white beard; a mild, 


lovable character, doing as little law work as possible, and 
interesting himself with his flowers and his home. He was one 
of the oldest and most faithful members of Dade lodge of Masons, 
and a portrait of him, which is a speaking likeness, now adorns 
the walls of the Masonic Temple. 

Colonel Walter C. Maloney, Sr., was one of the earliest 
settlers, who lived to an advanced age; white hair and beard, 
acquiline nose and fierce blue eyes, that glared from a rubicund 
face, with his ancient beaver, long coat and cane, and dignified 
walk, he bore on first appearance the demeanor of a most irascible 
old gentleman, and when his temper was aroused he justified 
his appearance; but when not spurred to action by some, as he 
deemed, unwarranted aggression, he was geniality itself, polite, 
witty, a "real old Irish gentleman," and a most lovable companion. 
He had a spark of genius, that often irradiated the dullness 
of pending legal business, and was a sure guarantee against any 
stagnation of affairs when he was present. In one of his last 
appearances in the court house as counsel, a characteristic 
incident occurred. It was in the trial of a salvage case in which 
Colonel Maloney was one of the proctors for the libellants, 
and Mr. Treadwell Cleveland, a young but brilliant member 
of the New York bar, was leading counsel for the underwriters. 
In the progress of the trial, Mr. Cleveland was not observant 
of the amenities which distinguished the bar of Key West at 
that time, and of the South generally, and was discourteous to 
Colonel Maloney. At last, upon Mr. Cleveland becoming more 
offensive, Colonel Maloney rose from his seat, and with flashing 
eyes, and thin form trembling with just anger, he shook his 
long, bony finger in Mr. Cleveland's face and said: "If the 
gentleman will do me the courtesy to step outside the court 
house and repeat the words he has used within, I will put a button- 
hole in his waistcoat which no seamstress (semstress as he cor- 
rectly pronounced it) can sew up." It is needless to say that Mr. 
Cleveland did not accept the invitation. 

Circuit Judge Winer Bethel was a large, portly, handsome 
man, with full curly beard, and dignified demeanor, whose 
appearance was always calculated to impress. He came to Key 
West from Nassau, N. P., in 1847, and has many descendants 
here, among whom is Judge Livingston W. Bethel, who now wears 
the judicial ermine, which fell from his father's shoulders on his 
death in 1877. 

Dr. Daniel W. Whitehurst, both physician and attorney, 
was a quiet, cultured, lovable gentleman of the old school, 
a man of education, travel and experience. 

Dr. Jose})h Otto, who at that time was in active practice, 
was a figure often seen upon the streets. He was a fugitive from 
Prussia at the time of the student's revolution, escaped in a load 
of hay, reached New York, became attached to the army in 
the rhedical corps during the Seminole war, and was afterwards 
contract surgeon for the post at Key West. His drug store was a 


popular place of resort for officers and citizens, who found no 
other place to sit and discuss the matters of the day. 

The list of notables would be incomplete without reference 
to the "Spanish Doctor"- — so called, though he was a photo- 
grapher, dentist, artist and general Jack-of-all-trades, except 
"doctor." Neither was he Spanish, but Venezuelan. He had a 
studio in a ramshackle building next to John Sawyer's store, 
where he took photographs, and did anything his genius suggested. 
He was tall, but did not look so, as he was so fat and barrel- 
shaped. And his fat was not all fat, but muscle. With his big 
arms and legs, he was immensely powerful, and with his broad 
shoulders, the little head, with smooth sallow face, ornamented 
with mustachios, that seemed but exaggerated eyebrows, 
he had an uncanny appearance. Always dirty — being large 
he could carry more dirt than most — and stained with chemicals, 
he was far from attractive, until he commenced to talk. Educated, 
travelled, with ideas on all subjects, a linguist, a musician, 
he was, as Dr. Mason Whitehurst said, a second "Count Fqsco." 
But he could not make a living for himself and "my Mary," 
as he called the beautiful daughter who lived with him. All 
his talents did not avail to make money. He complained that 
fate was against him. "If I went to make shoes, all the children 
would be born without feet" he said. Governor Perry appointed 
him assistant adjutant general on his staff, in return for his 
supposed influence with the Cuban voters, which it is needless 
to say he never possessed. This gave him of right the title of 
colonel, which he had occasionally used prior to this, but which 
he insisted on being called ever afterwards. On one occasion 
when the local company of militia responded to a riot call, the 
spectacle of the "Spanish Doctor" marching ahead of the com- 
pany, in a uniform coat that he had worn in some South American 
revolution twenty years before, which lacked about four inches 
of meeting across his aldermanic waist, a belt which refused to 
reach farther around than the coat; holding his scabbard in 
one hand, and his sword perfectly upright in the other — as a 
drum major holds his baton when he is not tossing it in the air — 
was a sight ever to be remembered. He was one of the best known 
characters in Key West, and occupied a noticeable place for a 
time, but finally disappeared. And "my Mary," the beautiful 
girl that always represented the Goddess of Liberty in the numer- 
ous patriotic parades of those days! Where is she? Where have 
her lines fallen .f* Let us hope in happy places, and where life 
has been more for her than it was in Key West! 

A mechanical genius who would have acquired a world 
wide reputation as a ship builder, had his field of operations 
been larger, was Mr. John Bartlum, who came to Key West 
in the early days from the Bahamas. With the bare rudiments 
of an education, he constantly sought knowledge from books 
on mrx hi u s u and ship building, and soon acquired a local 

reputation for building small vessels of most beautiful models 
and remarkable for their sailing qualities. 

He built a large schooner, named the Euphemia, after Mr. 
William Curry's wife. Later she was sold to a party who used 
her in the slave trade, for which she was admirably adapted 
on account of her remarkable speed. 

Messrs. Bowne and Curry, who were quick to recognize 
genius, entrusted him with the construction of a clipper ship, 
a venture which had never before been attempted in a Southern 
shipyard. The ship, named the Stephen R. Mallory, launched 
in 1856, was one thousand tons burden and cost eighty thousand 
dollars. On her bow she carried a life size figurehead of the 
distinguished man for whom she was named. Under the command 
of Captain Graham J. Lester she made voyages to all parts of 
the world, and was sold in 1866 to Nova Scotia parties. 

The Mallory was rated "Al" in New York, and Bartlum's 
fame spread through the great commercial cities of the country. 
He was offered some very attractive inducements by large 
ship building firms in the North, all of which he declined, and 
ended his days in Key West. He left a large family of distin- 
guished descendants. One of his sons, Mr. George L. Bartlum, 
was mayor of the city for three terms. 


There came to Key West on March 3, 1847, from the Ba- 
hamas, a small boy whose imagination had been fired by the 
reports of the wealth to be acquired in this place, and who 
achieved a success far beyond his early imagination. He went 
to work as an office boy in the store of Weaver & Baldwin. 
His hours were from six in the morning until eight at night, 
for which he received at first one dollar a week, a small room 
over the store, and board with Mr. Baldwin's family. Although 
engaged to work only fourteen hours a day, he crowded into 
that time the work which most boys accomplish in twenty-four, 
and steadily rose from office boy, to clerk in the office of the 
United States quartermaster, and later, chief clerk for Messrs. 
Wall & Company. 

Subsequently he established the firm of Bowne & Curry, 
In 1861 Mr. Bowne retired from the firm, and Mr. Curry carried 
on the business alone until 1891, when he established the firm 
of William Curry's Sons. He died on January 23, 1896, the 
richest man in Florida. 

He was a man of medium height, stockily built, with short 
whiskers beneath his chin, and eyes that indicated unusual 
intelligence. His voice was low and well modulated. He was 
dignified yet gentle. His apparel of the finest, yet so modest 
in hue and cut that its elegance was apparent only to the 
critical few. His capacity for making safe and lucrative invest- 
ments amounted to genius. What subconscious ability was it, 
that enabled the proprietor of a general store in a country town, 


to know that the stocks and bonds of the Chicago, Burlington 
& Quincy, Rock Island, Milwaukee and St. Paul railroads; 
New Orleans street railway stocks, mining stocks in Colorado, and 
many others which were then selling below par, would some 
day sell far above par? 

He claimed that one of the causes of his success was his 
early resolution not to spend money for anything until he had 
given it long and mature consideration. He liked to tell of an 
incident which led him to form this resolution. Once as a boy 
he went with a party in a small boat to one of the uninhabited 
Bahama islands to gather native wild fruits and berries. The 
party separated and he became lost in the thick undergrowth. 
He shouted, but no response came, and his youthful imagination 
pictured with horror a night alone on an uninhabited island, 
which his fancy filled with wild beasts. After wandering about 
for a time, he finally speed the boat, and waited on the shore 
until the rest of the party returned. Shortly after this he came 
to Key West, and one day he noticed in a show case a small 
pocket compass, valued at a dollar. It occurred to him that 
if he had had a compass the time he got lost, he could easily 
have found his way to the boat. He concluded to save up his 
money and buy it. In five or six weeks he had saved a dollar, 
and hastened to the store, fearful lest someone had already 
secured the treasure. It was still there, however, and he bought 
it and carried it up to his little room. He said, it never occurred 
to him that he would have no occasion to use it, as he was too 
constantly employed on week days for frolics in the woods, 
and such practices on Sundays was not countenanced in the old 
Key West. Day after day the compass rested on a dry goods 
box which served for a bureau, and he gradually became im- 
pressed with its uselessness, and that his dollar had been thrown 
away. It began to get on his nerves. He thought of the many 
things he might have done with that dollar if he had not bought 
the useless compass. He hid it in a tin box, where he could not 
see it, thinking he might forget it, but it preyed on him more 
and more. 

"I got up one morning," said he, "before it was time to 
go to the store; I took that compass out of the box, went down 
on the dock, and threw it as far as I could out into the stream, 
and for all I know it is there yet." 

This characteristic incident deserves a place alongside of 
Benjamin Franklin's story of the boy who paid too dear for his 


I refrain from writing of another who deserves a place in 
a history of Key West, preferring to give what was said of him 
by others when he laid down his earthly burden.* 

*Appendix V. 




IN WRITING of the men of a nation or city, conflicts and 
strife, both personal and pohtical, must needs fill a large 

part of the record, but to write of woman, is to enter a 
more delectable field, where love and beauty sing their rhap- 
sodies, and the Miserere of the afflicted in soul or body, is chariged 
to a Te Deuvi, by her gentle ministrations. 

First in point of time as well as in affection and esteem of 
her contemporaries, was Mrs. Ellen Mallory. Two distinguished 
men have told of her virtues, and they can best be recorded 
by quoting them. Judge Marvin, writing of her, says, "I mention 
Mrs. Mallory last because she is the last to be forgotten— not 
because she was the mother of an United States senator and 
secretary of the navy of the Confederacy, but because she 
was situated where she could do good and she did it. Left a 
widow in early womanhood, she bravely fought the battle of life 
alone, and supported herself by her labor in respectful independ- 
ence. She kept the principal boarding-house in town. She was 
inteUigent, possessed of ready Irish wit, was kind, gentle, 
charitable, sympathetic and considerate of the wants of the 
sick and the poor. She nursed the writer through an attack 
of yellow fever and was always as good to him as his own mother 
could have been." 

Colonel Maloney says of her, "Let me therefore be permitted 
(with feelings akin to filial regard and devotion) to place upon 
the canvas which is intended to represent your city, one portrait, 
one name, without which the picture would be more incomplete 
than it is — that of Mrs. Ellen Mallory, one of the earliest female 
settlers upon our island, one whose residence antedates the 
existence of our chartered rights as citizens of Key West. 

"Methinks I hear her musical voice today, as she was wont 
to speak, standing at the bedside of the sick and dying, in days 
gone by. Catholic by rites of baptism. Oh! how truly catholic, 
in the better and non-sectarian use of that term, was her life, 
devoted as it was to acts of kindness. Her husband having died 
shortly after their arrival, she kept for many years the only 
comfortable boarding house on the island, located first on the 
north side of Fitzpatrick street, and subsequently, after the 
proprietors had expressed their appreciation of her character and 
usefulness by a donation of a lot of ground, on her own premises, 
on the south side of Duval street, near Front. 

"With many opportunities of becoming rich, she died 


Comparatively poor. Next to her God, her devotion centered 
in her son, Stephen R. Mallory, whom she brought to this island 
a child of tender age, and lived to see occupying a seat in the 
senate of the United States as one of the senators from Florida. 

"Twice, as I remember, I had the pleasure of receiving the 
proffered hand of this lady. First, with words of 'welcome' 
to your city, when as a poor young man I became one of your 
number. Second, on the occasion of a sore affliction, when the 
balm of consolation gratefully reached my ears, and pointed 
my mind to contemplations of future usefulness. She died in 1855. 
Her mortal remains lie in yonder cemeteryj respected of all 
men. She left no enemy on earth." 

Such was the woman who founded the family of Mallory 
in Florida; is it any marvel that she was the mother and grand- 
mother of United States senators, and that her great-grand- 
children are among the most cultured and distinguished citi- 
zens of Pensacola.^ 

Soon after Fielding A. Browne came to Key West his 
sister. Miss Susan, paid him a visit. Beautiful and accomplished, 
she was one of the belles of James City county, Virginia. Here, 
she was wooed by many, and won by Captain Thomas Mann 
Randolph, who commanded the United States revenue cutter 
Washington. They were married in one of the old family places, 
in Ashland, Virginia, and returned to Key West, where she made 
her home. 

Captain Randolph died of yellow fever in 1836. He left 
two children, William B., who adopted his father's profession, 
and became a captain in the United States revenue cutter service, 
and a daughter. Miss Mary Ann, who married Mr. Joseph Y. 
Porter of Charleston, S. C. 

On Captain Randolph's death the officers of his service 
placed a tablet to his memory in St. Paul's Episcopal churchyard. 

Mrs. Joseph Ximenez, Mrs. Whalton and Mrs. William H. 
Wall were women of Spanish descent who came here in the early 
days. During yellow fever epidemics which were then of frequent 
occurrences, these good women would give all of their time 
to nursing the sick, and ministering to the afflicted. They would 
leave home and family and devote themselves to the stricken 
stranger, never leaving his bedside until he recovered or went 
to his last home. They soothed the fevered brows of hundreds, 
and saved many stricken ones by their careful attentions. The 
succeeding generation of women followed in their footsteps, 
and freely ministered to the sick and afflicted, and it was not 
until after the Civil War that a paid white nurse was known in 
Key West. 

One of the clever women of those days was Miss Evie 
Spencer. For several years her father lived at Indian Ke3% 
whence he came to Key West shortly before the massacre. 
Miss Spencer was a brilliant and intellectual yoUng woman. 
She married Mr. L. Windsor Smith, a leading business man of 


Key West, and a talented lawyer and writer. He wrote in 1835 
a series of articles on the flora and fauna of South Florida, and 
the agricultural possibilities of that section. He was the first 
to advocate the reclamation of the rich alluvial lands of the 
Everglades by cutting canals into Lake Okeechobee. 

Mrs, Adam Gordon, whose husband was collector of customs 
and a prominent lawyer, was a woman of sterling qualities. 
They had one daughter, Miss Eliza. She was only a girl when 
her father left Key West, but her sweet disposition caused her 
to be much loved, and her intercourse with her girl friends kept 
up until separated by the Civil War. The family moved to New 
Haven, Conn., and thence to New Brunswick, N. J., where Miss 
Gordon still lives. 

Miss Mary Nieves Ximenez and her sister Miss Frederica, 
daughters of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Ximenez, were dark-eyed 
beauties of much charm and vivacity. Their mother was a 
di Borgo from the island of Corsica; a granddaughter of the states- 
man Pozzo di Borgo, who was a companion of Napoleon. When 
the latter left Corsica, the di Borgo family went to Spain, and 
married into the family of Cardinal Ximenez, whence they went 
to St. Augustine, and from there came to Key West. 

Miss Mary Nieves married Mr. Joseph Beverly Browne, 
and raised four children: Miss Ann Elizabeth, who married 
Dr. Robert Jasper Perry of Tennessee; Miss Mary Nieves, 
who married Hon. L. W. Bethel; Miss Leonor Ximenez, who 
married Hon. Geo. W. Allen; and Jefferson B. Browne. 

Mrs. Browne was distinguished for her zeal in church work, 
and all public enterprises in which the women of her day took 
part. She was treasurer of the Ladies' Missionary Society of St. 
Paul's church in 1851, president of the Confederate Memorial 
Association in 1867, the first president of the Daughters of the 
King, which position she filled for many years, until failing 
health required her to give up active work. 

During yellow fever epidemics she, like her mother, gave her 
time to ministering to the sick. She lived to be eighty-seven years 
of age, and passed away on April 14, 1911, loved, honored and 
respected by all. 

Miss Frederica Ximenez married Captain Osmond Peters 
of the revenue cutter service, and moved to his home in Ports- 
mouth, Virginia, where three of their children, Osmond, William 
H, and Miss Mattie are living. Her youngest daughter, Miss 
Josephine, married Hartman Henry Rohland, and lives in 
Brooklyn, N. Y. 

Miss Mary Ann Randolph, the daughter of Mrs. Susan 
Randolph, of whom mention has been made, was a young woman 
of rare qualities. Beautiful and accomplished, she had a disposi- 
tion of unusual sweetness, which won for her the love of all 
who knew her. She was the first organist of St. Paul's church, 
which position she filled without compensation until her death 
in 1860. She married Mr. Joseph Y. Porter, and died at the early 


age of thirty-two, leaving one child Dr. Joseph Y. Porter, Sr., 
now State health officer of Florida, who resides in Key West. 

Miss Lizzie Wall, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. William H. 
Wall, the first merchant to accumulate a fortune in Key West, 
married Lieutenant Julian Myers, United States na\'y, who 
resigned his position when the war broke out, and went with his 
native Southland. After the war they lived for a time in Savannah, 
Mr. Myers' native place. They afterwards moved to New York, 
where she died in 1907. 

The Misses Hortensia and Louisa Tatine, half sisters of 
Misses Petrona and Mary Martinelli, were four bright, vivacious 
and attractive belles of their day. Like Mrs. Ximenez, they were 
descended from Pozzo di Borgo. ^Nliss Hortensia married Lieuten- 
ant Mayo Carrington Watkins of the United States navy. 
He, too, resigned his position when the Civil War broke out, 
and cast his fortune with his native land. Mrs. Watkins is living 
in Washington, D. C, where she has made her home for many 
years — a charming and delightful woman, who embellishes 
her conversation with the flavor of the old regime. 

Miss Louisa Tatine married Mr. Fernando J. Moreno. 
She lived in Pensacola for many years and died in 1909. She 
left four children, Mrs. W. A. Blount, Mrs. W. H. Hunt, Miss 
Louise, and Fernando, who live in Pensacola, and Mason S. 
Moreno of Key West. 

Miss Petrona Martinelli married Mr. James D. Hicks of 
New York, and shortly after the Civil War they moved to that 
State and never returned. 

Miss Mary Martinelli married Mr. Salisbury Haley and died 
a few years after her marriage. She left a daughter, Miss Ellen. 
After his wife's death Mr. Haley went to California with the 
forty-niners where he afterwards made his home. 

Mrs. Alexander Patterson was one of the coterie of good 
women who adorned Key West by her Christian virtues and 
great charity. She left two sons, George Bowne and Fielding 
Alexander, and four daughters. Misses Aletta, Dora, Susan and 
Mary. Miss Aletta married Dr. William Cornick of the army, 
and after spending many years of her married life in Key West, 
moved to Portsmouth, Virginia, where she died. Miss Dora 
married Mr. W. A. Wright of Savannah, Georgia, and moved 
away from Key West soon after her marriage. Miss Susan 
married Mr. Edwin Folker, and is living in Key West. Miss 
Mary lives here with her brother, and is a type of the dear old 
maiden lady that is fast passing away. 

There was born on Turks Island, B. W. I., in 1815, a child 
who was destined to leave her impress on the minds and charac- 
ters of the young women of Key West, and to shed joy and happi- 
ness on all around her; Miss Euphemia Lightbourne, who came 
to Key W^est with her brother-in-law. Judge Winer Bethel, in 

She at once opened a private school and began active work 


as a member of St. Paul's church. P^very moment of her time 
out of school hours, was devoted to her church and to visiting 
the sick and afflicted. She confined her ministrations to no class; 
it was enough for her to know that a fellow being was sick or 
afflicted, and she hastened to help him or give consolation to 
the family. She died on September 18, 1887, never having 
married. A memorial tablet to her was placed in St. Paul's 
church by the members of the Sunday school, on which it was 
well said of her: "A life of noble self-sacrifice is ended. A golden 
record is closed. A vacancy is left that cannot be filled. Charity, 
religion, education have lost a model representative, a devoted 
follower, and mankind a faithful friend." 

One of the most beautiful and accomplished women that 
grew up in Key West was Miss Ellen Haley, whose mother 
before her marriage was Miss Mary Martinelli. After completing 
her education at Bishop Doane's school, St. Mary's Hall, 
Burlington, New Jersey, Miss Haley returned to Key West, 
and lived for a short time with her aunt, Mrs. Hicks, and then 
went to California to join her father. There she met and married 
Lieutenant Yates Sterling, United States navy. Admiral and 
Mrs. Sterling are living in Baltimore, where Mrs. Sterling by her 
birth and intellect, occupies the highest social position in that 
intellectual and aristocratic community. They have five children. 
Lieutenant Commander Yates Sterling, Jr., of the navy; Miss 
Maria, who married Mr. Lee Tailer, lives in New York; Miss 
Helen, Miss Margaret and a son Archibald, live in Baltimore 
with their parents. 

Another cultured and beautiful woman, who combined with 
these qualities the desire for a useful life, was Miss Josephine 
Ximinez. On her return from the Misses Edwards' school in 
New Haven, Conn., where she was educated, she took an active 
part in church and Sunday school work, became assistant to 
Mrs. Mary Ann Porter, as organist of St. Paul's church, and on 
the death of Mrs. Porter in 1860 took her place, and rendered 
faithful service for a quarter of a century. Like Mrs. Porter, 
she gave her services as organist of the church and Sunday school 
without compensation. She taught for many years a school 
for young ladies, which was one of the foremost educational 
institutions in the city. She was married in 1875 to Mr. E. B. 
Rawson, who died in Key West in 1900. Mrs. Rawson is still 
living here, and although time has whitened her hair, she remains 
with us as a type of the cultured, accomplished and beautiful 
women of the old Key West. 

Judge Marvin had one daughter. Miss Kitty. She married 
Lieutenant Luddington, who rose to the rank of brigadier general 
in the army. Mrs. Luddington died in 1910. She always retained 
her love for Key West, and visited here a few years before her 

Mr. William Pinckney had two beautiful and accomplished 
daughters, Misses Hattie and Dora. Miss Hattie married 


Lieutenant Caleb Huse, United States army, who resigned his 
commission and cast his lot with his native Southland when the 
Civil War began. He rose to a high station in the Confederacy 
and was commissioner to Europe to procure vessels for the 
government. After the Civil War he devoted his life to educating 
young men and fitting them for West Point. He established at 
Highland Falls, N. Y., one of the best schools in the country 
for that purpose. One of their sons, Henry L., is a captain 
in the United States navy. 

One of the most highly educated and accomplished women 
raised in Key West was Miss Ann Elizabeth Browne, who 
married Dr. Robert Jasper Perry. Miss Lizzie, as she was 
affectionately called, was born October 18, 1841, and died July 
24, 1891. 

In 1854 she entered Bishop Doane's school, St. Mary's 
Hall, Burlington, N. J., and was graduated in 1858. The same 
year she entered Spingler Institute, New York city, of which 
the distinguished Gorham D. Abbott was president, where she 
was graduated in 1861. She was accomplished in music, both 
vocal and instrumental, and a fluent French scholar. 

On her death it was said of her: "Thus passed away one 
of Key West's noblest women, who had by her varied accom- 
plishments and natural attainments done much for the educa- 
tion of the youth of her sex. Returning to her native city she 
did not waste her talents in idleness; being a highly accom- 
plished musician and possessing a powerful and sweet voice, 
she gave the young the benefit of her acquirements. For several 
years she taught a select school for young ladies in this place, 
many of whom today bless her for her instruction. She was a 
devout member of St. Paul's Episcopal church and for many 
years the leader of its choir. Always at her post of duty and ever 
among the foremost in church work, she lived as she died, a 
Christian woman. Of a lively buoyant disposition, a face always 
covered with smiles, and a heart sympathetic and kind, such a 
character as she, taken out of any community must cast a gloom 
over it, and the long and sorrowful cortege that followed her 
remains to the cemetery showed that no ordinary one had passed 

She left two children, William Y., who is in business in 
Chicago; Sidney R., an attorney in New York, and an 
adopted daughter. Rose Forbes, who married Mr. Albert R. 
Erskine of Tennessee, now living in East Aurora, N. Y. 

The record of the good Christian women who made Key 
West better for having lived in it would be incomplete without 
mention of Mrs. George Bowne Patterson. 

Born in the Bahamas, she came to Key West with her father 
Judge W^iner Bethel. She was a bright, beautiful and accom- 
plished young woman, and like the other members of her family 
was an ardent church worker. On her death on May 5, 1906, 
it was appropriately said of her: "In her daily life, her God 


and her church came first and above all other considerations, 
nor was anything allowed to interfere with her religious obliga- 
tions. Unless prevented by sickness she was ever in her seat 
whenever the doors of St. Paul's church were opened for service, 
and her Sunday school class, to which she was devotedly attached, 
had her unremitted attention. As wife and mother, she was devo- 
tion in every act. Her husband and her children came next to 
her church and her God, in loving and self-sacrificing attachment 
to their wants and requirements." 

She was married to George Bowne Patterson, Esq., on 
January 27, 1876, and left six children: Mrs. Clifford Oakley, 
Mrs. Jacquelin Marshall Braxton of Jacksonville, Fla; Mrs. 
Henry Prindle, and Mr. Elliott Patterson of New York, and the 
Misses Etta and Aletta, who live with their father in Key West. 

Miss Bettie Douglass, daughter of Judge Samuel J. Douglass 
married Mr. George Lewis, a banker of Tallahassee, where she 
now resides with her husband and an interesting family of 
children. One of her daughters. Miss Sadie, married Senator 
John W. Henderson, a distinguished citizen of Florida. Mrs. 
Henderson is a very superior woman, "a worthy daughter of 
a M'orthy mother." Another, Miss Evelyn, married Dr. Manning 
and resides in Jacksonville. Her son, George, and one daughter. 
Miss Mary, reside with their parents in Tallahassee. A daughter. 
Miss Bessie, named for her mother, was a young woman of rare 
beauty and accomplishments. Her sprightly temperament shed 
sunshine wherever she went, and her cordial disposition won her 
friends alike with old and young. Her early death, at sixteen, 
was a severe blow to her family, and left a void in the young social 
life of Tallahassee. 

Captain Francis B. Watlington's home was for many years 
one of the social centers of Key West. Built in 1832, it still stands 
on Duval street, adjoining the residence of Mr. William R. Porter. 
He had six accomplished daughters. The eldest. Miss Hannah, 
married Mr. Ed. Howe, and lives at Newton Center, Mass. 
Miss Sarah married Judge Joseph B. Wall, of Tampa, and died 
a few years ago. Miss Emeline married Mr. Joseph P. Roberts, 
the well known merchant (Joe Pilot), whose store for many 
years stood at the corner of Caroline and Elizabeth streets. 
Miss Maria married Chief Engineer King of the navy, and died 
in 1910. Miss Mary, who married Dr. Charles S. Johnson, 
lives in Key West. Miss Florence married Judge Ramon Alvarez, 
special deputy collector of customs at this port. She died in 
1910 and left several children. Miss Lillie never married and 
resides in the old home place. 

Mr. and Mrs. Charles Johnson lived for many years in a 
quaint old house on Whitehead, between Greene and Caroline 
streets. They had three attractive daughters. Miss Emma 
married Dr. Sweet, Miss Louisa married Dr. Armstrong and 
Miss Ophelia married Dr. Pickering, all of the United States 


marine hospital service. The family moved from Key West 
many years ago. 

Mr. James Carey had three beautiful daughters. Miss 
Jane married Paymaster W. C. Blackwell, United States navy. 
On his death she married Chief Engineer Mortimer Kellogg 
of the navy, who was shot and killed by a brother officer. Dr. 
King, on Duval street, near where the Jefferson Hotel stands. 
The killing was one of the great sensations of Key West. Much 
feeling was aroused and the case was taken to ]Manatee county 
on a change of venue. Dr. King was defended by Senator Mal- 
lory, Mr. Henry L. Mitchell, afterwards circuit judge and Judge 
James W'. Locke, and acquitted on the grounds of self defense. 
Mrs. Kellogg afterwards married Mr. John Hartman of Bristol, 
England, where she now lives. Miss Emma died without having 
married. Miss Annie died in the bloom of her young life, and a 
portrait of her in existence shows her to have been a young 
woman of rare beauty. 

Captain John Geiger raised a large family of beautiful and 
attractive daughters, and their home which stands on the 
corner of Whitehead and Greene streets was for many years 
the center of a joyous social life. As his daughters grew older 
and retired from society their children easily took their places 
as beautiful and accomplished young women; one, Miss Urania 
Neal, married Mr. George H. Glassier of New York, and lives 
at Dania, Fla. She too, has a beautiful and accomplished 
daughter, the third generation to be thus distinguished. 

The truthful historian when describing individuals must 
needs feel some hesitation about approaching the realm of the 
present. Where so many women are beautiful, so many wise 
and witty, so many have led faithful Christian lives, and 
devoted themselves to doing good; who shall select those to 
describe, and those to leave unsung? I have therefore refrained 
from sketching living persons as much as possible, and have 
only transgressed in exceptional instances. 

It is natural that people of means should devote a large part 
of their time to benevolent enterprises, but it is rare that a 
woman poor in this world's goods, who has to devote herself 
to her household and family duties, can find time to keep alive 
the spark of an almost extinguished church organization. Such 
a woman was Mrs. Jonathan Cates, affectionately known as 
"Sis'er Cates." For years the Baptist church struggled along, 
pastorless most of the time, and but for her persistence in raising- 
funds to bring a preacher to Key West occasionally, and keep 
the little organization together, this church would have closed 
its doors as a place of worship. To her belongs the credit and the 
honor for keeping the little congregation together, until it came 
under the jurisdiction of the Home Mission Board of the Southern 
Baptist Convention. 




KEY WEST is alert for the era of prosperity to be ushered 
in on the completion of the Florida East Coast Railway, 
and a renaissance, not of physical well being only, but a 
moral and intellectual one as well, is a consummation most 
earnestly desired. 

Claimants are not lacking for the honor of having been first 
to advocate the building of a railroad to Key West, for as far 
back as there are any records, some dreamer or optimist was 
giving expression to his hope. The Key West Gazette in 1831 
pictured it, the Inquirer in 1835 advocated it, and Senator 
Stephen R. Mallory, chairman of the Senate Naval Committee, 
crystallized into a masterful report, what was a general topic 
of conversation in Key West at that time — the great advantage 
the United States would derive from a railroad to Key West, 
from a strategic point of view. 

The first survey of a railroad route to Key West was made 
by Civil Engineer J, C. Bailey in 1866. He was employed by 
the International Ocean Telegraph Company to make a survey 
of a route over the keys to Key West, when they were con- 
sidering the feasibility of running their telegraph line to Key 
West in that way. 

In 1883 General John B. Gordon of Georgia obtained from 
the legislature of Florida a franchise for a railroad to Key W^est. 
Work on this road was commenced, and fifty or sixty miles com- 
pleted on the mainland, but he was unable to finance the company, 
and it passed into other hands, who abandoned the project of 
building to Key West. 

Several other promoters obtained franchises with large 
land grants, by which they hoped to induce capitalists to carry 
out the project. The charters required work to be commenced 
within stated periods, but each succeeding legislature extended 
the time. In 1891 the senator from Monroe county oppose^ all 
such extensions, for the reason that the existence of speculative 
franchises would deter responsible parties from considering the 
project, and defeated them. This cleared the way for new legisla- 
tion along these lines. 

The Jacksonville, St. Augustine & Indian River Railway 
in 1893 was operating a railroad from Jacksonville to Rockledge, 
in Brevard county, under a charter which authorized it to build 
through the counties of Duval, St. Johns, Putnam, Volusia, 
Brevard, Orange, Osceola, Dade, Polk and Hillsboro. 


In that year Senator Browne, of Monroe county, at the 
request of one of the officials of this road, introduced a bill, 
which became a law April 29, 1893, with this preamble: 

"Whereas, The said Jacksonville, St. Augustine & Indian 
River Railway Company has filed a certificate, as required by law, 
changing and extending its lines on and across the Florida Keys 
to Key West in Monroe county, Florida; Therefore, Be it enacted 
by the legislature of the State of Florida; etc." 

This charter contained a land grant of eight thousand 
acres for each mile of road constructed south of Daytona. This 
was the beginning of the legislation which culminated in the 
extension of the Florida East Coast Railway to Key West. 

In 1905 Senator E. C. Crill, of Palatka, introduced senate 
bill number eleven, granting certain rights and privileges to the 
Florida East Coast Railway, which became a law May 3, 1905. 
Mr, Flagler then announced his intention to extend his railroad 
to Key West at once. 

In 1896 there was published in the National Geographical 
Magazine, Washington, D. C, an article entitled "Across the 
Gulf by Rail to Key West," which gave a fairly accurate forecast 
of this great work. The article closed with this tribute to its 
probable builder: 

"A railroad to Key West will assuredly be built. While 
the fact that it has no exact counterpart among the great achieve- 
ments of modern engineering may make it, like all other great 
enterprises, a subject for a time of incredulity and distrust, 
it presents, as has been shown, no difficulties that are insurmount- 
able. It is, however, a magnificent enterprise, and one the execu- 
tion of which will call for the exercise of qualities of the very 
highest order. Who will be its Cyrus W. Field? The hopes of 
the people of Key West are centered in Henry M. Flagler, whose 
financial genius and public spirit have opened up to the tourist 
and health seeker three hundred miles of the beautiful East Coast 
of the State. The building of a railroad to Key West would be 
a fitting consummation of Mr. Flagler's remarkable career, and 
his name would be handed down to posterity linked to one of 
the grandest achievements of modern times." 

The writer of that article in hazarding the opinion that the 
intervening channels would be crossed by bridges constructed 
of steel piling such as are used in the light-houses on the Florida 
Reef, underestimated the magnificent genius and Roman courage 
of Henry M. Flagler, who in building this road has made use of 
a construction rivalling that of the aqueducts of ancient Rome, 
which will last long after the accretions of centuries shall have 
filled the space between the islands, and in the aeons to come, 
the archaeologist will marvel as he uncovers these remains of 
a vanished and forgotten civilization. 

When Mr. Flagler announced his intention to build this 
road, engineers and capitalists stood aghast. The light that showed 
him the way to Key West, dazzled the brightest and appalled 


the strongest intellects. Who can describe the construction? 
Why attempt it? The wonderful aqueducts at Segovia, the Porta 
Maggiore, the Aqua Claudia, the Port du Card were man's 
first message in arch building. Henry M. Flagler's railroad 
in the construction of which he enlarged, extended, amplified 
that message, is man's last word on that marvelous style of 
construction, and will echo and re-echo through the ages to come. 

Where the Romans built one arch, he constructed a score; 
where they crossed streams, he bridged arms of the ocean; 
where they went over valleys, he covered surging waters; where 
they encountered hills, he found channels; where they met 
with barriers, he came to. quicksands; where the precipice halted 
them, the quagmire threatened him; they cut through rocks, he 
filled chasms; the obstacles that barred their way they gripped 
with iron claws, and made them do the work of the master; 
his obstacles — the bog, the quagmire, the quicksands — evaded, 
eluded, shifted, swallowed up tons of concrete with their capacious 
maws and ravenous stomachs. 

To conquer these obstacles it required twenty-five thousand 
men, fleets of sail vessels, naphtha launches, barges, house-boats, 
dredges, steamboats, monster pile drivers, stupendous rock- 
crushers, intricate concrete-mixers! 

Why attempt to give in detail the history of the building 
of this road? Only in an epic poem may it be adequately described. 
The Greeks before Troy suffered no greater hardships, exhibited 
no greater heroism, practiced no greater self-denial, endured 
no more discomforts, met with no greater terrors, experienced 
no more annoyances, bore no greater burdens, showed no greater 
courage, than the men who built this road. Its story is told in 
deaths from drowning, lives crushed out by masses of iron and 
concrete, bodies blown to atoms by dynamite, swept away by 
hurricanes, engulfed in surging waters. Everything claimed 
its tribute, the sea, the wind, disease, exposure to burning suns 
and drenching rains, and more ravaging than all — rum — liquid 
drops of Hell — destroyed body and soul alike! 

And through it all one master mind planned, directed, 
controlled! Everything that went into the construction of this 
work obeyed his will, and took its place by his command in the 
grand scheme which culminated in a feat of engineering which 
has seldom been equalled, and will never be excelled. 

Every pile that was driven, every foot of water covered, 
every concrete column that reared its head from its coral founda- 
tion forty feet below the sea, obeyed the will of one man, who was 
thinking only of how mankind was to be benefited, and his country 
saved in some great foreign war, through his achievement. 

He was humanity crystallized, patriotism embodied! As 
Henry M. Flagler was the brain, Joseph R. Parrott was the arm, 
Meredith, the hand, and Krome, Wilson, Coe, Cotton, Smiley 
and Cook the fingers, that did the work the brain conceived. 

The work is done! Let it speak for itself, now and forever! 




AS I CLOSE this history and bid good-bye to the early 
settlers of Key West, it is as if I had known them all. Those 
who are phantoms to others are living people to me. 
For nearly a year I have thought of them, studied them, lived 
with them; goodly company indeed! 

Mr. Whitehead, Dr. Waterhouse, Dr. Strobel, Major Glassel, 
Mr. Fielding A. Browne, Mr. Arnau, Colonel Stone, Mr. New- 
combe, Judge Webb, are actual acquaintances. I am saddened 
at the tragic drowning of Dr. W^aterhouse and his son at Indian 
Key. I share with my Aunt Susan her grief at the death of her 
husband, Captain Thomas Mann Randolph, in September, 1836, 
and her long years of lonely widowhood. 

I see Miss Mary Nieves Ximenez, and Miss Mary Martinelli, 
those rosy-cheeked elfins, and hear their voices ring in merry 
laughter. I listen to the rich brogue of Mrs. Ellen Mallory, 
sometimes in harsh admonition, ofttimes in gentle kindness. 

I share with the cultured Mr. Whitehead, who gave the best 
years of his life to Key West's development and progress, the 
humiliation that was cruelly put upon him by his fellow citizens, 
when they elected a vulgar, illiterate grog-shop keeper to the 
office of mayor, from which Mr. Whitehead had resigned rather 
than stultify himself by a non-enforcement of the law; and left 
Key West never to return! 

I am shocked and saddened at the news of the massacre 
of Major Dade and Captain Gardener, whom we all liked and 
admired, and I join in the offers of help and sympathy to Mrs. 
Gardener and her fatherless children. 

I sit around the festive board with the happy care-free people, 
who wait until midnight and later, for the ringing of the bell 
that tells us "the Isabel is in sight." I join in the greetings, and 
the good natured badinage at the wharf, as we watch her dock, 
and get the first news from the outside world in two weeks. 

I drop in at Mr. Scarrett's for an afternoon game of loto 
with Mrs. Lancaster and Mrs. Douglas, and partake of the 
delicious coffee and wafers that were ever ready when callers 
came to the hospitable homes of the old time women of Key West. 

I worship in the old court house before the cornerstone of 
any church is laid, and ask not of which denomination is the 
preacher, so long as he preaches "Peace on earth and goodwill 
towards all mankind," and "Love thy neighbor as thyself." 

Hope springs up in me at the expectation of the great 
prosperity that is to come to Key West with the hundreds of 
thousands of bushels of salt, that will be made at the new salt 
works, which will require five hundred vessels a year to transport. 


I attend the sale of the cargo of the Isaac Allerton, and purchase 
massive soHd silver, suited to the then every known use for 
table ware, marked "Hubbard" which none of that name will 
ever use. 

I hear the bell ringing at nine o'clock that tells all negroes 
without a permit, to get home before it finishes, and hear the 
cry, "Run nigger, run, the patrol'U catch you" chanted to 
some belated slave running for the shelter of his master's house. 

I join in the jollification in December over the news just 
received, that Polk and Dallas were elected president and vice- 
president on the fourth of November. 

And the old order, old ideas, old customs, old beliefs, old 
ideals — and the old people who cherished them, all, all are gone, 
and soon all the present order — men and women who are here 
today — will be gone into the desolate land of the forgotten! 

Sadder still, however, is the fact, that the noblesse oblige 
of the Old Key West, has been supplanted by the sauve qui pent 
of the New. 

Nevertheless, there are features of Key West which change 
not with the onward progress of development, and attract new- 
comers as they fascinated the pioneers. The wonderful water 
with its varied hues showing a different color every day, and never 
the same tint in different localities, that no brush can paint 
or pen describe; here a light shade of olivine runs into indigo 
blue, which in turn fades into almost milky wdiiteness from the 
sand stirred up by the storm; now a patch of seagrass produces 
a moss-agate coloring, and light winds cause the surface to 
ripple and glisten like a flowing stream of precious stones, and 
reflecting all their hues. The starlit nights are so bright as to 
cast vague shadows, and the moonlight on the white coral streets 
resembles the frost and the newly fallen snow. The heavens, 
like an inverted bowl of sapphire, across which flits occasionally 
a diaphanous cloud of white, are as pure as the w^orld that lies 
beyond them. 

The sun that rises from the bosom of the waters with a 
burst of glory, flashes on the soul "the idea of the power which 
called into existence so magnificent an object," and when the 
day is done, he sinks back into the western deep, attended by a 
pageantry of color that can be produced only by the Master 
Artist; streaks of red across cerulean blue, fade to delicate pinks 
and greens and soft tones of gray, whilst the sun from his place 
below the horizon sends his rays through the clouds, till they 
resemble mountains of molten gold. 

Come weal, come woe; come progress, come decay; come 
nature with her beauty, come man with his mistakes; nothing 
can mar the sky, the water, the sunrise and the sunset, which 
make the unchanging and unchangeable Key West! 




Mr. Simonton was a native of New Jersey, but his business connections 
were with several Southern cities and Cuba. After the settlement of Key West, 
his winters for several years were generally spent here, his Northern residence 
being Washington, D. C. He had an extensive acquaintance among the mem- 
bers of congress, and was on intimate terms with several prominent men of 
the then administration, his influences always being exerted for the best in- 
terests of the island. After the location here of the United States troops in 1831, 
he was for some time sutler of the post, and was subsequently interested in 
the manufacture of salt, as the representative of a company whose stock 
was principally held in Mobile and New Orleans. He afterwards engaged 
in business in the latter city and died in Washington in May, 1854. His 
social qualities, amiability of temper, energetic business habits, and various 
places of residence, caused him to have an extensive circle of friends and 


Mr. John Whitehead was the son of Mr. William Whitehead, cashier 
of the Newark Banking and Insurance Company, the first bank chartered 
in New Jersey, and his early years were spent as a clerk in that institution. 
He subsequently entered a mercantile establishment in New York, and 
was among the first to organize a partnership and emigrate to Mobile. His 
first acquaintance with the island was in 1818. Having been shipwrecked 
on the Bahama Banks, on his way to Mobile from New York, the vessel in 
which his voyage was continued put into Key West harbor, giving him an 
opportunity to observe its peculiar adaptation for the purposes to which it 
was soon after applied. He was consequently prepared to enter with alacrity 
into the arrangements of his friend, Mr. Simonton, for its settlement, so soon 
as they were made known to him. His business relations at the island were, 
at first, on his own individual account, but from September, 1824, to April, 
1827, he was one of the firm of P. C. Greene & Company. Although that 
partnership was dissolved, he continued, with some intermissions, to regard 
the island as his residence until about the year 1832, when he established 
himself at New Orleans in the insurance business; and thence, a few years 
thereafter, removed to New York, where he died August 29, 1864, while 
holding the vice-presidency of one of the leading insurance companies of 
that city. He visited the island for a short time during the winter of 1863, 
when on a voyage for his health, accompanied by a nephew (a son of his brother, 
Mr. William A.), whose early childhood had been spent on the island. This 
visit enabled him to renew his acquaintance with several whom he had 
been associated when a resident. Mr. Whitehead was a very accomplished 
merchant. He left no children. 


Mr. Fleeming, like Mr. Whitehead, was a personal friend of Mr. 
Simonton, and engaged in a mercantile business at Mobile when the purchase 
and settlement of Key West were first thought of. He accompanied the first 


party to tlie island in 1822, but left before the end of the year for New Bedford, 
Mass., where he married. Taking a warm interest in the projected salt works, 
he came to Key \\cst in the autumn of 1832, expecting, ultimately, to make 
arrangements for the manufacture on his own portion of the Salt Pond, but 
died on the 19th of December of that year, and his remains were deposited 
in St. Paul's churchyard. Mr. Fleeming was a gentleman of cultuie and 
of refined taste, and Mr. AV. .\. Whitehead, then collector of the customs, 
with whom he resided, in a letter written at the time, thus expressed his own 
and the public's estimation of their loss: 

"On depositing in their last resting place the remains of him who had 
for a short month added so much to my pleasure and comfort. I bade adieu 
to many fond anticipations of enjoyment which I had expected to realize, 
not only during the present winter, but for many years to come. There was 
hardly a subject in literature, the arts or the sciences, on which he could not 
converse and give information, and yet unpretending in his manners, mild 
and amiable to an extent seldom met with in men of his age and standing. 

"Everything I do reminds me of him, for his habits and pursuits were 
so similar to my own, notwithstanding the difference in our ages, that he 
seemed to be connected with me in all my desultory pursuits. Many delightful 
plans for amusement and instruction during the winter in which we were to 
be partners — our drawing — our music — in fact every employment that could 
tend to while away agreeably the hours not required for our daily duties — has 
by this blow been so entirely demolished that it will be long ere my feelings 
will resume their wonted elasticity. My private loss is great, but never has 
Key West experienced before a calamity to be compared with his death. 
Many years will pass away before our island will have on it a man so able to 
bring to light the capabilities of the natural Salt Ponds, to which we look 
for the ultimate prosperity of the place, as he had for many years made 
the manufacture of salt his study; and probably there is not a man in the 
United States who understood it as thoroughly as he did." 

Mr. Fleeming left one daughter. His widow became the wife of Mr. 
George B. Emerson, of Massachusetts. 


Mr. Whitehead came to the island in October, 1828, while yet in his 
minority, with the intention of acting as an assistant to his brother, one of 
the original proprietors, in his commercial pursuits. 

In 1830 Mr. Whitehead was appointed collector of customs and entered 
upon his duties before he was of age, and during his residence here filled several 
other local offices. He resigned his ofBce on July 1, 1838, to engage in business 
in New York, was for several years in Wall street, and subsequently connected 
with the New York and Harlem and New Jersey Railroads. In 1876 he was 
treasurer of a financial institution at Newark, N. J., the place of his birth, 
his leisure hours being principally employed in illustrating the history of his 
native State, with whose Historical Society he had been associated since its 
organization, and in observing and recording meteorological phenomena 
for monthly reports to the New York Daily Advertiser and Smithsonian 
Institution at Washington. His observations, which covered a period of over 
thirty years, embody much valuable information. Having always taken a 
warm interest in the cause of education, he filled several important trusts 
in connection therewith, and for a number of years before his death was 
president of the board of trustees of the State normal school, and vice-president 
of the state board of education. His historical memoranda are principally 
embodied in a communication to a gentleman in St. Augustine, made early 
in 1836, a copy of which is in the office of the clerk of Monroe county, bound 
in one of the volumes of newspapers on file there. Mr. Whitehead, when trans- 
mitting these papers to be deposited in the clerk's office, gave some advice 
which is worthy of being followed: 

"I hope my former suggestions have been carried out in relation to 
the preservation of files of your newspapers in some one of the public oflBces. 


We are too apt to underrate the importance of the events of today, forgetful 
that their results constitute the history of tomorrow. Without the preserva- 
tion of papers, your changing population will soon be at a loss for the connect- 
ing links between Key West of the present and the Key West of the future." 
There now adorns the wall of the City Hall a fine portrait of Mr. 
Whitehead, presented shortly before his death in 18 — . 


Mr. Greene had been for several years master of a vessel in the mer- 
chant service, trading between Northern and Southern ports and Cuba. As 
stated in the text, he personally took up his i)ermanent abode on the island 
soon after its first settlement, but the residence of his family continued to be 
in Rhode Island. He died in the autumn of 1838, having for several years 
been in ill health from inflammatory rheumatism. "Green's wharf" and "ware- 
houses' were for many years the only ones of any prominence. His only 
child, William C. Greene, died at Fort Jefferson, Tortugas, in October, 1860. 


1. The Memory of General Washington. May his example be the 
star that guides our destiny. (Drank standing and in silence.) 

2. The Day We Celebrate. May our remotest posterity hail its 
approach as did the shepherds of old the Star in the East. 

3. Our Country. The independence guaranteed to us by the blood 
of our ancestors, should never be forgotten by their descendants. (Three 

4. The Union. An inheritance to lis from Washington and his asso- 
ciates. Let no trifling cause burst the holy band. (Three cheers.) 

5. Patrick Henry. His doctrines he left as a legacy to his country. 
Alay these times find them as fearlessly and as eloquently supported. 

6. Our Statesmen. May they remember the principles of "76 — think 
less of self and more of country. 

7. The President of the United States. (Six cheers.) 

S. The Army and Navy of the United States. Ever ready in the cause 
of freedom. (Three cheers.) 

9. Charles Carrol of Carrolton. The associate of our Washington. 
He reaps the reward of his labors. (Nine cheers.) 

10. LaFayette. The hero of three revolutions in two hemispheres. 
May his last exertions in the cause of liberty be as successful as his first. 
(Nine. cheers.) 

11. One Hundred Years Ago! A period from which to date a nation's 
gratitude. May the next centennial recurrence of this anniversary find our 
countrymen in the enjoyment of the privileges secured by our fathers — found 
wise by the experience of more than fifty years' trial, and rendered sacred 
by the association therewith of the name of George Washington. (Nine cheers. I 

12. The People. May posterity never blight the fair fruits of their 
virtue and intelligence. 

13. The American Fair. (Twelve cheers.) 


By O. OHara, Esq., the president of the day: Henry Brougham. 
The fearless advocate of civil and religious liberty. (Three cheers.) 

By F. A. Browne, Esq., vice-president: The Place of Our Nativity. 
The parted bosom clings unto its home. 

A letter was read from Major J. M. Glassell, United States army, 
regretting his inability to attend, and offering the following sentiment: 

Andrew Jackson. Envy pursues the living — the same man, when dead, 
will be revered. (Nine cheers.) 

General D. Parker of Philadelphia, an invited guest, who was not able 
to attend, sent the following: 


The City of Key West: No section of the United States has so delightful 
a winter climate and no city so great a proportion of intelligence and hos- 
pitality in its population. 

By the Hon. James Webb: Washington — May those principles of 
heroism, patriotism and virtue, which have rendered him immortal, be ever 
diffused through our land. 

By E. Chandler: The Book of Life. Like the book presented to the 
apostle by the angel — sweet to the taste but bitter in digestion. 

By P. B. Prior: Liberty. Secured to us by our forefathers; m'ay we 
always maintain, uninfringed, that sacred right. 

By W. A. Whitehead: Our National Flag. May the stars that compose 
its union forever remain united and as brilliant as they are now. 

By Geo. E. Weaver: The United States of America. Liberty their 
boast — a legacy bequeathed by Washington. May we ever be a free, united 
and happy people. 

By B. B. Strobel: The Union. Its best safeguard — the virtue, intel- 
ligence and patriotism of the people. 

By Hez. R. Wood: Jos. M. White, Our Honorable and Faithful 
Representative — May his services be appreciated. (Six cheers.) 

By Wm. H. Shaw: The Memory of General Warren — who gloriously 
fell in bravely defending the first rampart ever reared in defence of American 

By Alexander Patterson: The Hero of South Carolina, General Francis 
Marion — His camp, the swamp; his table, the pine log; his rations, roots 
and sweet potatoes; his pay, nothing; his reward — freedom and independence! 

By Joseph Cottrell: LaFayette and DeKalb. Though foreigners, their 
arms were devoted to the American cause — their motto — "Liberty or Death!" 

By Captain James J. Board: The American Eagle. May she never 
want a Hickory upon which to perch. 

By O. d'Hara, Esq.: Major J. M. Glassell. His amiable and gentle- 
manly deportment has secured him the good wishes and approbation of the 

By S. R. Mallory: Daniel Webster. Changeless as the Northern Star 
of whose true, fixed and resting quality there is no fellow in the firmament. 

By E. Bunce: Our Commerce. Its white wings waft the rich productions 
of the country over every sea. 

By Antonio Giraldo: Love for Our Country and Confusion to Our 

By T. A. Townsend: The Twenty-second of February, 1732. May it 
never be forgotten by those who succeed us. 

By R. W. Cussans: Marriage — the first best blessing enjoined bj' the 
Great Creator. 

By P. Gandolph: The Progress of Improvement. The womb of time 
is pregnant with events beyond conception great. 


To the Right Reverend Benjamin T. Onderdonk, Bishop of the Protestant Epis- 
copal Church, Neiv York. 

Sir: The vmdersigned having been deputed by the citizens of Key 
West to address you on the subjects embraced in the second resolution herein 
enclosed, and to solicit your attention to them so soon as your convenience 
will permit. They have also been directed to state that should the objects 
contemplated in that resolution, be attained, it will be in their power to advance 
to the gentleman who shall undertake the duties therein specified at least five 
hundred dollars for his support during the first year of his ministry, and to 
furnish him with schools, the proceeds of which, during the same period, will 
add to his income at least five hundred dollars more and to assure him that 
a reasonable belief is entertained of the gradual increase of both sums, as 
society advances, and the benefits expected to be derived from his labors 
shall be developed. The citizens of Key West heretofore have had to submit 
to all the inconveniences resulting from the want of an enlightened minister 


of the gospel, permanently located with them and a well organized school. 
The transient character of a large portion of the population, and other 
circumstances beyond their control, have until now prevented their making 
any successful attempt to administer to these wants but late accessions of 
much worth to their permanent society, and a general state of improvement 
which has commenced, and is now progressing on the island, give them assur- 
ance that these conditions have, in a great measure ceased to operate and 
they feel it due to themselves, to their posterity, and to the respectability of 
their community, that they should avail themselves of the earliest opportunity 
of taking such measures as will prevent their being longer deprived of the 
advantages which they know must flow from a better system of religious, 
moral and scientific instruction than they now possess. 

The undersigned have also been instructed to say that a gentleman 
with a family would be preferred, if one such, possessing equal qualifications 
in other respects, could be induced to reside here upon the terms proposed. 
So far as regards the health, enjoyment and comfort of his family, the under- 
signed do not hesitate in saying that he has little to apprehend. The society, 
both male and female, is rapidly improving and at this time affords the material 
for rendering pleasant the time of a gentleman or lady of refinement, taste 
and education. Should a married gentleman determine to come, it would not 
be expected of him to remove to the island before the month of October, and 
in that event, he will avoid the exposure which persons of a habit formed 
in a northern climate might experience on removing to a southern one in the 
summer season; nor will it be required in any year that he shall spend a 
greater portion of the months of August and September here than will be 
entirely agreeable to himself. 

The undersigned respectfully beg leave to request an answer at the 
earliest date convenient to you, in order that they may be enabled to commu- 
nicate to those whom they represent the result of this application in time 
to take such other steps as shall be found necessary. They also avail themselves 
of this opportunity of tendering to you their high consideration and respect. 
(Signed) James Webb, 

David Coffin Pinkham, 

W. A. Whitehead, 

L. M. Stone, 

B. B. Strobel, 

N. S. Waterhouse, 



Key West, March 5, 1838. 
Messrs. J. P. Baldwin, G. E. Weaver, J. H. Sawyer, P. J. Fontaine, W. H. 


Gentlemen: Your communication of the third inst. I have received. 

You state that the tenth section of the city charter was intended to 
make perpetual the licenses to be issued to those engaged in certain employ- 
ments — that any other construction would compel those individuals to 
take out licenses daily or hourly at the pleasure of the common council and, 
secondly, that several individuals have not paid their taxes for the last year. 

The object had in view in furnishing me with this information is, I 
presume (though not stated in the communication), to make me aware of 
the reasons that actuate you in refusing to renew the licenses you held, and 
which expired on the twenty-eighth of February last. 

I shall answer your communication at length, without reference to 
the official relation which I hold to the matter, with a hope that on more mature 
reflection you may be convinced of the unsoundness of your views and concede 
the authority, which I hold the common council possesses, to enforce the pay- 
ment of the city taxes under the recent ordinance. The oflSce of mayor must 
forever be a disagreeable one if the incumbent has to support himself in the 
exercise of his legal duties, against the combined efforts of those, whose standing 
in the community gives to their acts and opinions that weight which renders 
them examples of a prejudicial tendency; and it is for the purpose of avoiding 


iiny disagreeable collision with my fellow citizens that I postpone taking such 
steps as will give to the matter a legal character, until I have endeavored to 
present it to them through you in the same light in which it is presented to me. 

Your first objection is that the present common council has no right 
to levy a tax upon retailers of spirituous liquors, dry goods and groceries, 
auctioneers, keepers of billiard tables and nine or ten pin allies, previous 
councils having already assessed and collected from those residing here the 
amounts specified in the tenth section of the charter as the appropriate tax 
for each (I do not presume that "commission merchants" are included 
in this objection as they are not mentioned in the section referred to). 

This objection can only be raised on the ground that the common 
council of the city possesses a charmed life — that once in existence it must 
necessarily exist so long as the charter of the city continues in force; an ar- 
gument, the truth of which I deny, and with all due respect for the opinion 
of the learned gentlemen who I understand have countenanced an opposite 
doctrine, I will endeavor to prove its fallacy. 

The first question that arises is what constitutes the body corporate? 
or who compose the component parts of the "city of Key West," the name 
and style by which this corporation is known.-' Is it the common council 
of the city.^ No! The charter expressly declares "that all the free white 
inhabitants of that part of the island of Key West, etc., be and they are hereby 
constituted a body corporate," etc. The city of Key West then, which is 
the enduring substance, consists of the free white inhabitants within the limits, 
and the common council for the time being is merely an agent chosen in a 
certain way for the management of the body corporate for a limited time — 
viz.: one year. The charter itself recognizes the transient existence of the city 
oflBcers; in the fifth section it contains the expressions "new council" and 
"preceding" (or old) "council," and it is my opinion, in consequence of the 
loose manner in which it is put together, that the charter actually presents 
a case in which though the body corporate continues there shall be no common 
council. The fifth section says that if from sundry causes mentioned there 
should be a default in choosing the city officers at the regular period, "the cor- 
poration for said cause shall not become void, but another election shall take 
place within five days thereafter, until which election the preceding common 
(•ouncil shall continue their duties until others are elected and qualified to 
fill their places." From this it appears plainly that there is no provision made 
for any subsequent election and consequently there would be no common 
council in existence if from anj' untoward circumstance an election did not 
take place within the five days. 

I do not consider any further arguments necessary to convince any 
one of the transitory nature of the common council, and, consequently, 
whenever the words "the common council" are used in the charter one 
meaning only can be attached to them, which is that they designate the city 
authorities for the time being, and having, as I think, established this point 
I conceive the matter to be rendered perfectly plain and divested of all its 

The ninth section of the charter specifies all the powers of the common 
council. Do you think or believe, gentlemen, that "the power and authority 
to prevent and remove nuisances, to regulate and fix the assessments of bread, 
to restrain and prohibit all sorts of gambling, to establish and regulate markets, 
etc., were intended to be given to any particular common council, that if once 
exercised they are at an end.^ That the same power and authority are not vested 
in the present common council as well as in the first.^ You certainly cannot 
entertain such a strange idea! Of course the power and authority thus vested 
in the common council for the time being in the first part of the section will 
apply also to the common council for the time being in the last part of the sec- 
tion. They are authorized "to license, tax or restrain billiard tables, nine or 
ten pin alleys and all public games or amusements, to license and tax bankers, 
peddlers, transient traders, retailers of dry goods and groceries, commission 
merchants and auctioneers, etc. Here, then, the common council of the city 
for the time being derive all their powers, and among them the right of taxing 
certain individuals and professions. What follows? The tenth section, which 


says that "The said common council"— in other words the common council 
which has been invested with the powers enumerated in the foregoing section, 
the common council for the time being shall not exceed certain rates, speci6ed 
when levying the t^xes required for the financial aftairs of the city This is 
the only obvious construction to be placed upon the f^^' 'O"' , "/^^^^^ "Sht 
to tax is given to the council for the time being, the right to collect the rates 
specified in the section is also vested in the council for the time being, and if 
not then is the whole corporation a nullity and the common council pos^sesses 
no powers whatever-for from the commencement to the end of the charter 
the common council alluded to as possessing powers or performing duties 
is the same; if the council for the time being is meant in one place it is meant 

"" '^ " You speak of the intention of the section— I must differ from you in 
opinion that it was ever intended by the framers of the charter to have the 
construction what you represent it to be. That section was framed on the 
Sand, was embodied into a draft of a charter here, and that draft went to 
Tallahassee signed by a. vast majority of the citizens (conflicting interest, 
having been consulted to such an extent that a most 'ame and impotent 
instrument was the result), and I have my doubts if one solitary individual 
can be found who attached his name to the paper who will say he ever conceived 
the idea that such a construction as you name was his intention at the time 

he «^S°^^^'*- ^i^j^p^^ you say that unless this construction obtains those 
persons who must have licenses for their business are at the mercy of the council 
and may be required to take them out -daily 04;hourly"-this conclusion ,s 
as erroneous as your construction of the section. The councd for the time being 
having only one year's duration, the licenses issued, and taxes levied unde 
limitations, must necessarily be annual-or in other words tbe specified raes 
must not be exceeded in any one year; but I have been told my doctrine would 
give this authority of taxing and collecting to the mayor and aldermen ho^ ever 
frequently thev may be changed, and I presume it is upon the same supposition 
that you have arrived at the conclusion stated-but the assertion is incorrect 
I sav that though the common council of the city is reviewed annually and 
consequently obtains annually a grant of the powers contained in that charter 
vet all elections that take place to fill vacancies do not change the identitj 
of the council. The members thus elected hold their offices only the balance^ of 
the year. They, as well as those already in oflace, must give way to another 
board at the termination of the regular period and though the members of 
the council may be changed entirely in the course of the year the faet cannot 
in the least affect the soundness of the doctrine. The introduction of the words 
"per annum" in the latter part of the tenth section was, I have no doubt. 

entirely accidental. .. . , , i .. -a „„„ 

Your second objection is that several individuals have not paid any 
taxes for the last year. Is that any reason for refusing to pay yours ttis year? 
If your neighbor committed murder would it be justifiable for you to do tne 
same? "Two wrongs never make one right" is a proverb which though 
hackneyed I cannot help introducing as appropriate Were each individual 
to do what his own conscience tells him is his duty there would not be much 
occasion for any laws, but as all men do not wish to adopt this mode of 
concluding upon what is right and what is wrong, it should be the Pro^jince of 
him who is satisfied as to the performance of his own duties to see that his 
neighbors do theirs should the good of the community require it Ibere is 
a clause in the ordinance recently passed providing for an examination by the 
mayor and council of any complaints made, relative to the^ non-payment of 
any license tax, for a compliance with which I trust my character will be a 
sufficient guarantee. Your complaint, however refers to the last year and 
would have been more properly addressed to the last council, for if they failed 
to assess any tax it cannot be remedied by the present one. All the taxes that, 
from any official record handed to the present city officers appeared to be 
due and uncollected have been received with the exception of a small sum, 
which the collecting officers say may in their opinion yet be collected no one 
having refused to pav any legally due according to their list, excepting Mr. 


p. J. Fontaine, whose name I find appended to the complaint before me. The 
present council had no way of ascertaining what taxes were due and unpaid 
save from the documents transferred to them, which I have endeavored to 
resder available and the filling up of Front street and the bridge on Simonton 
street are the fruits of the taxes collected from the information thus derived 
and the present council cannot justly be censured for not doing what was only 
in the power of their predecessors. 

I have thus, gentlemen, answered your communication with a view of 
having the matter fully understood by my fellow citizens, and that such 
may be the result I have to ask, as an act of justice to the members of the 
present common council, that you call a meeting of all those interested in 
the payment of a license tax, at which meeting this communication may be 
read without curtailment, and that it then be determined whether or not 
it is advisable to support the common council in the exercise of their functions 
by adopting the interpretation I have given the charter or at once dissolve 
all the power of the city government (which must be the effect if the contrary 
construction prevails) and return to the primitive authority of physical force. 
It has been truly said by an eminent statesman of our own day that, although 
it was a boast of freemen that they lived under a government of laws — not 
of men — yet unless they obeyed those laws the boast was empty and un- 

Should my fellow citizens disapprove of the course which I have pur- 
sued since they, unsolicited, conferred upon me the office which I now hold 
I will cheerfully resign it into the hands of a successor who may possess 
more of their confidence, satisfied, however, that my duties have been 
performed to the best of my abilities and with a single eye to the good of the 
city and the community generally. 

Requesting that the meeting alluded to may be called without delay, 

I remain, gentlemen, yours, 

(Signed) W. A. Whitehead, 





Value of real estate and wharfs $ 340,135.00 

State taxes assessed % 1,452.75 

County taxes assessed 726.37 

Total $ 2,179.12 


Value of real estate and wharfs $ 413,301.00 

State taxes assessed $ 1,885.01 

County taxes assessed 941.81 

Total $2,826.82 


yalue of real estate and wharfs $ 382,112.00 

State taxes assessed % 5,324.46 

County taxes assessed 2,551.64 

Total $ 7,876.10 

(1870 missing) 

Value real estate and improvements .$ 830,616.00 

Value of personal property 419,991.00 

State taxes assessed $ 9,078.74 

County taxes assessed 6,952.23 

Licenses collected for State 4,590.00 

Total $15,030.97 



Value real estate and improvements $2,150,225.00 

State taxes assessed on real estate $13,171.18 

County taxes assessed on real estate 21,635.20 

Value of personal property 658,400.00 

State taxes on personal property 4,034.92 

County taxes on personal property 7,912.33 

Licenses collected for State 16,515.49 

Total $46,753.63 


Value real estate and improvements $1,474,205.00 

State taxes assessed on real estate $ 7,371.08 

County taxes assessed on real estate 19,904,78 

Value of personal property 310,450.00 

State taxes on personal property 1,551.25 

County taxes on personal property 5,053.48 

Value railroad and telegraph lines 24,000.00 

State taxes on railroad and telegraph lines 120.00 

County taxes on railroad and telegraph lines 324.00 

State licenses collected 11,936.23 

Countv licenses collected 5,629.00 

Total $34,324.59 


Value real estate and improvements $1,803,524.00 

Value of personal property 312,800.00 

Value of railroad and telegraph lines 401,362.00 

State taxes on real estate $13,532.00 

County taxes on real estate 32,022.00 

State taxes on personal property 2,346.00 

County taxes on personal property 5,552.00 

State taxes on railroad and telegraph lines 3,010.00 

County taxes on railroad and telegraph lines 7,124.00 

State license taxes collected 37,936.50 

County license taxes collected 13,936.75 

Total $63,586.00 


To the Members of Both Houses of Congress: 

The establishing of a court at the island of Key West is founded on 
a necessity so strong that little need be said to prove its propriety. The 
senate have thought proper to sanction a bill for that purpose; it is presumed 
the reason which induced it, when properly presented, will claim an equal 
force before the house of representatives to whom the bill from the senate 
has been referred. 

The population of the island is at present nothing short of three hun- 
dred souls, while the county of Monroe, of which this key is the capital, 
amounts to seven hundred, which is daily and rapidly increasing. It must 
hence result, as matter of course, that differences and disputes of a civil, 
and charges too of a criminal nature, must occasionally arise, requiring the 
interposition of the judiciary. Protection and allegiance are reciprocal terms. 
It is a principal for which the United States have always contended, and which, 
even in their colonial state, they boldly asserted. But when it is borne in mind 
that the population of this island, being citizens of the States, are at a distance 
of four hundred miles from Pensacola, which is the nearest point to which 
a judicial reference can be had, the trouble, expense and difBculty to which 
they must and will be subjected must at once be obvious. If a civil suit shall 
arise, thither, or to St. Augustine, which is a hundred miles more distant 


must the parties proceed, to obtain a decision of the difference; while, should 
it be a criminal matter, the accused, contrary to that leniency and indulgence 
which other citizens of the United vStates are possessed of, must necessarily 
be carried to a distance from his friends and home, put upon his trial, remotely 
from the point where his witnesses are; and, if a poor and humble man, be 
greatly without the means of enforcing their attendance. The affluent and the 
wealthy are never without the means of sustaining and defending themselves, 
and derive other facilities than those which the law itself extends. Legal 
interposition in their behalf is, perhaps, not a matter of such great necessity, 
although it is still right and proper, that even for them proper tribunals 
should by the government be established. Hut with the man who is without 
property and without friends, whose life and liberty alike deserve to claim 
protection from his country, the thing is different. Charge him with an offence, 
and without a court to hear him, he must be seized and carried to Pensacola 
or St. Augustine for trial, where to be confronted with witnesses will be difficult, 
and where the appearance of his own for th<' purpose of defence and acquittal, 
will be rendered by the distance impracticable, if not impossible. Difficulty 
of prosecution will exist on the one side, while on the other the means of defence 
will be procured at great expense and at still greater hazard 

Considered in this point of view only, it would seem that enough is 
urged to induce a belief that the measure proposed is correct and right. A 
reference to our former history will show that in our list of grievances pressed 
against the mother country was the sending our citizens abroad for trial; 
and certainly it was strongly urged. It was decried as a grievous and heavy 
imposition, and one altogether contrary to the rights of the governed. But 
in what consisted the difference, in the cases then complained of, and in the 
present? To be sure, the distance was greater from America to England, than 
from Key West to the United States. Yet in the principle there was no dif- 
ference. In both there is perfect identity. The complaints then urged was the 
inconvenience to which the accused was subjected, the increased hazard 
necessarily to be met — the injury done to the unoffending, in forcing them to 
appear as witnesses on the prosecution, and the unavoidable consequent, 
and increased dangers to which the accused was exposed by being dragged 
to a distance from his home and friends, where character might aid him, 
and from witnesses whose attendance might not be in his power to procure. 
The government of the United States, it is respectfully conceived, ought not, 
in cases of such strong resemblance, so soon to forget the strenuousness with 
which the right now asked for was by them so fearlessly urged and maintained. 
Were the citizens of Key West within any reasonable distance of a court, 
where judicial investigation could be had, the cases would be different: but 
surely it cannot be considered other than a grievance, when it is apparent 
that no remedy is presented, short of proceeding four or five hundred miles 
to obtain it, at great cost, and at an imminent risk both to life and liberty. 

Nor are the people of the island alone interested in this business. 
The frequent wrecks which take place along the reef of Florida makes it matter 
of interest to the citizens of our commercial towns, who of course are in want 
of some tribunal competent and independent, which, in reference to all the 
circumstances, may decide upon the amount of salvage, properly chargeable 
on the various shipwrecks that take place. The property when abandoned 
must in some way or other be disposed of. The wrecker, with a view to his 
own interest, will carry it to that point, where least hazard from the dangers 
of the sea will be encountered, and where on its arrival it may most speedily 
be decided on. Heretofore, for the want of a court, the parties interested have 
consented to refer the matter to arbitration, and thereby to have the salvage 
ascertained; this most certainly they had not merely the power, but the right 
to do. If, as is alleged to be the case, higher rates of allowance have been made, 
than was required by the risks and labor encountered in rescuing the property, 
it only proves the necessity of creating a tribunal clothed with government 
sanction, that thereby such errors may for the future be prevented or avoided. 

Previous to the treaty which ceded Florida, persons engaged in wrecking 
were in the habit of carrying property thus ol)tained to New Providence or to 
Cuba. They were points which could most easily be reached — at les.s expense 


and at less hazard; and, of course, were resorted to, in preference to those 
which were more distant. The consequence was, that the revenue of the United 
States was thereby impaired. To prevent this, congress early after the cession 
of Florida passed a law, requiring that all wrecked property should be brought y 
to the United States, and denouncing against those who should attempt to 
carry it beyond our limits severe forfeitures. The provisions of this law were 
doubtless more readily complied with, for the reason that the port of Key West, 
being contiguous to the point where the wrecks took place, induced no great 
advantage in taking cargoes there; but let congress by an embarrassment 
thrown in the way impose the necessity of their proceeding to a more distant 
port, or to one where an adjudication cannot readily be had, and forthwith, 
with all the property found there be carried to ports beyond the limits of the 
United States, to New Providence or Cuba, to the injury of the revenue, 
and certainly not to the benefit of the owners. To prevent this, laws may be 
passed; but to enforce and render them effectual will require all the energies 
of the government. Over and above this, by a transfer of the cargoes to Nassau 
an additional injury will be sustained to the commercial interest, by diverting ( 
the Spanish trade entirely from this section of the country. 

Capital and capitalists will always go where profit is to be found; ^ 
a law established then, which shall recognize Key West as the point of resort 
for the various wrecks that take place along the coast, will so attract public 
attention, as that property will always bring its fair and proper value; and 
thus everything of suspected injustice to owners be avoided. Already consid- 
erable capital is centered on the island, in addition to which, merchants from 
Havana, only about nine hours sail, will, as they have usually done, resort 
there when sales are about to take place. 

In a single year, from December, 1824, to December, 1825, $293,353.00 
of wrecked property was sold there and never but in one instance did it 
fail to bring nearly its value, some of it going even beyond its value. Since 
December the amount has greatly exceeded the proportion of the previous 
year, nor have the sales been of less value to the owners. During this time, 
or rather since October, 1824, the duties accruing to the government at Key 
West, as I have been informed, have exceeded a hundred thousand dollars, 
most of which would have been lost to the United States, if by any embar- 
rassments thrown in the way the wrecks had been carried to Nassau; and 
this indeed would have been the case, if, under the provisions of our law, the 
wreckers had been required to proceed to any remote or inconvenient post. 

The case alluded to, where the property did not bring its full value, 
is that of the brig, Hercules, Captain Seaman of New York. Of this I speak ' 
with confidence, having been at the island at the time this cargo was sold. 
Respecting this brig, incorrect representations have been made. She had been 
wrecked and her cargo brought something less than a hundred thousand 
dollars. Insurance had been made upon her cargo for two hundred and eight 
thousand dollars. It does not, however, follow that it was in fact worth that 
sum. Be that as it may, owing to the circumstance of her having heeled and 
received a considerable quantity of water in her hold, some of the most valuable 
goods on board were materially damaged. Upon this vessel it is alleged, 
seventy-two thousand and five hundred dollars was paid for salvage; this is 
not true. The amount received by the wreckers was twenty-five thousand 
and eight hundred dollars or thereabouts. Thus, instead of seventy-two 
thousand and five hundred dollars, as has been represented, a much less sum 
was paid, making a difference between the amount imputed, and that actually 
paid, of forty-sis thousand and seven hundred dollars. 

Shortly after the sale Mr. John Searle, agent of the underwriters, 
arrived at the island, and proposed to pay seventy-two thousand and five 
hundred dollars to have returned to him the vessel and cargo as it was when 
wrecked. P. C. Greene & Company acceded to the proposal, and set about 
to re-purchase the goods, although they were in the hands of the various 
purchasers, and actually paid forty to fifty per ce,nt advance, in some cases., 
to obtain them. Some of them, however, could not be procured, and for this 
deficiency a deduction proportional to the sum first offered was made, and the. 
contract was thus concluded. It is from this circumstance that the imputation 


has obtained currency that seventy-two thousand and five hundred dollars 
was allowed for salvage, when, in fact, and in truth, it was the result of 
arrangement, and compromise. 

One objection to the establishment of a court is found in letters insid- 
iously pressed upon members of congress from St. .\ugustine. Who, let me 
ask, are the persons who urge these objections? Have the people met and 
presented any memorial.^ Have the merchants there, who understand the 
nature and force of business, come forward? Not at all. It proceeds altogether 
from one, tv.o or three emigrant lawyers, who have gone to Florida in quest 
of better prospects than they could find in a fair competition of talents in the 
States where they resided. They have discovered, forsooth, that the island 
is sickly, that designing men live there, and that the commercial interest of 
the country materially demands a change of places for the sale of wrecked 
property — and that place is St. Augustine. Now, is it not obvious to every one 
who will reflect for a moment, that interested and selfish considerations alone 
must influence the writers of those letters? Bring, if it were possible, the 
wrecked property to that place, and of course the lawyers, by their libels 
and suits, must and will be benefited, and hence is found the cause of their 
deep solicitude — their great exertions for the public good. 

In some respects I am connected with the firm of P. C. Greene & Com- 
pany. It is a mercantile house established upon capital, and is in good credit. 
The island is partly owned by the firm, who, with a view to add to its prosperity 
have given, rather than sold, lots in town, with a view to its improvement. 
This firm, -to be sure, having an interest may, be benefited by whatever shall 
conduce to the interest of the island. Theirs, however, is an open, not occult 
interest. They may be employed as commission merchants, as has already 
been the case. They may purchase wrecked property, and in doing so will 
enter into a fair competition with the rest of the world. Beyond these they 
have no interest, and whatever of imputation or suspicion upon an interest 
thus declared may be circulated to their prejudice is presumed to be met and 
overruled by the substantial reasons which are here urged in behalf of the 
proposed measure. The interest of the commercial part of the community — 
justice to the wreckers, who venture their lives and property — and, above all, 
protection on the part of the government to the inhabitants of the island, 
demand loudly the adoption of the measure that is asked for by the bill enacted 
by the senate. 

John N. Simonton. 




James Webb of Georgia 1S2S 

William Marvin March 11, 1839 

John A. Bingham of Ohio June 4, 1863 

Thomas Jefl'erson Boynton October 19, 1863 

John M. McKinney November 8, 1870 

James W. Locke. ' February 1, 1872 


Adam (Gordon of Florida December 29, 1825 

William Allison McRea of Florida January 22, 1827 

James G. Ringgold of Georgia May 26, 1828 

John G. Stower of New York April 20, 1829 

John K. Campbell of Florida April 5, 1830 

Edward Chandler of Florida May 26, 1830 

Adam Gordon Qctober 4, 1834 

Wylie P. Clark of Florida December 30, 1834 

William Marvin of Florida January 13, 1835 

Charles Walker February 17, 1840 

L. W. Smith of Florida July 21, 1840 


George W. Macrae August 24, 1842 

L. Windsor Smith March 3. 1847 

William R. Hacklev August 27, 1850 

John L. Tatum of Florida March 1, 1858 

Thomas Jefferson Bovntou of Missouri April 5, 1861 

Homer G. Plantz of Ohio October 28, 1863 

Homer G. Plantz of Ohio May 28, 1868 

Frederick A. Dockerv November 27, 1868 

Claiborn R. Mobley June 2, 1869 

Oscar A. Myers October 11, 1873 

Thomas Savage October 7, 1874 

George Bowne Patterson February 6, 1876 

Livingston W. Bethel March '31, 1886 

George Bowne Patterson April 3, 1890 

Owen J. H. Summers July 30, 1894 

Frank Clark November 26, 1894 

Jos. N. Stripling July 26, 1897 

John M. Cheney January 23, 1906 


Alexander Adair of Alabama March 3, 1827 

Henry Wilson of Florida May 26, 1828 

Lackland M. Stone of Florida March 4, 1830 

Thomas Eastin September 22, 1832 

Charles M. Welles June 8, 1836 

Joseph B. Brov/ne May 25, 1840 

Walter C. Maloney September 24, 1850 

Fernando J. Moreno March 16, 1853 

James C. Clapp April 3, 1861 

George D. Allen September 21, 1865 

E. B. Rawson September 17, 1872 

James G. Jones July 16, 1874 

Peter A. Williams March 1, 1879 

James T. Tucker March 22, 1887 

Fernando J. Moreno Februarv 24, 1888 

Peter T. Knight July 18, 1888 

Peter A. Williams August 5, 1889 

James McKav -. July 30, 1894 

John F. Horr February 18, 1898 




Walter C. Maloney 1845 to 1849 

James M. Bracewell 1849 to 1851 

Peter Crusoe 1851 to 1861 

A. O. Barnes 1861 to 1865 

Peter Crusoe 1865 to 1868 

Henry A. Crane 1868 to 1873 

John T. Baker 1873 to 1877 

John Sitcher 1877 to 1881 

Peter T. Knight 1881 to 1888 

Mason S. Moreno 1888 to 1889 

George Hudson 1889 to 1890 

Peter T. Knight 1890 to 1893 

George W. Reynolds 1893 to 1905 

Eugene W. Russell 1905 to 


John Costin 1S45 to 1847 

Joseph V. Ogden 1847 to 1849 

Robert Clark 1849 to 1858 

Edgar A. Costc 1858 to 1861 

D. B. Cappleman 1861 to 1865 

Francis Gunn 1865 to 1868 

James G. Jones 1868 to 1874 

James A. Roberts (colored) 1874 to 1877 

Richard Currv 1877 to 1881 

George A. Demeritt 1881 to 1889 

Charles Diipont (colored) 1889 to 1893 

Frank W. Knight. 1893 to 1901 

Richard T. Hicks 1901 to 1905 

Frank W. Knight 1905 to 1909 

Clement Jaycocks 1909 to 


Chester, December 29, 1829. 

Sir: In consequence of your application to me for my opinion of 
Thompson's Island or Key West, I have to state, in reply, that since the year 
1823 I have, from time to time, been making myself acquainted with the 
Florida coast and keys — part of the time in command of the United States 
squadron, and subsequently in command of the Mexican force in that quarter; 
and perhaps there is no man living better qualified than mj'self to give an 
opinion on the subject, as my information is derived from actual observation 
and practical experience. 

The harbor of Key West, in my opinion, is the best harbor within the 
limits of the United States, or its territories, to the south of the Chesapeake. 

1. For its easy access and egress at all times and with all winds. 

2. For the excellent anchorage and security it affords both in the 
inner and outer harbor, for ships of the largest class: Leading to the harbor of 
Key West are several excellent channels, some affording water for the largest 
class of ships, the others suited to the vessel drawing ten and eleven feet 

The advantages which Key West afifords in a commercial point of view 

1. Its vicinity to the island of Cuba and port of Havana, having a 
ready market for all articles placed there in deposit, or left by the wreckers, 
of whom this is the rendezvous of those on the coast. 

2. It being a convenient touching place for all vessels bound to and 
from the Gulf of Mexico, Bay of Honduras, and the coasts of Louisiana and 

As a naval station, Kej- West has decidedly the advantage over all 
others I have ever known: 

1. In its susceptibility of fortification. 

2. The ease and number of its approaches with all winds. 

3. The difficulty of blockade, as I have proved while in command of 
the Mexican squadron, it requiring a blockading force equal to three or four 
times the force to be blockaded, to keep up an efficient blockade. 

4. The ease with which supplies may be thrown in, in despite of the 
presence of an enemy. 

5. Abundance of wood and wate 

In speaking of Key West as a naval station, I have reference only as 
to its being employed as a depot for stores, and a rendezvous for our ships 
of war; but even as a place for the establishment of a navy yard, it has most 
decidedly the advantage over Pensacola and every other place south of 
the Chesapeake. 

1. On account of the depth of water — Pensacola and all the other 
places alluded to only admitting sloops of war, and these not with safety — 
with the exception of the Tortugas,, which, although it has depth of water 
sufficient, is devoid of all other advantages for the purpose of a navy yard. 


2. Its more central situation and facility of communication with, 
and deriving all the advantages by water of supplies from the northern and 
southern sections of our Union, viz.: provisions from Louisiana, spars and 
live oak from the Floridas and Georgia, cordage, canvas, iron, gunpowder, 
shot, etc., from the north. The distance from either being short, the time, 
risk and expense of furnishing them must necessarily be reduced in proportion. 

3. Its salubrity of climate being equal in everj- respect to that of 
New Providence or any of the Bahamas. 

The malady with which the naval forces under my command for the 
suppression of piracy was afflicted had its origin in the excessive severity of 
the duty performed, and the total absence of every description of comfort. 
The disease was contracted among the haunts of the pirates along the coast 
of Cuba and not, as is generally supposed, at Key West. 

It has since proved that during the worst seasons the inhabitants 
of Key West have enjoyed as great a share of health as any other in the same 
parallel, and much more than those of Pensacola, who have been seriously 
afflicted with pestilence, and compelled to abandon the town, while those 
of Key West and the Mexican squadron there, have been entirely exempt from 
sickness. It is found that the salubrity of Key West improves yearly by the 
Blling up of all ponds, clearing the woods, and by adding to the comfort of 
those who reside there — it will not be surprising if it should hereafter become 
a place of resort to the inhabitants of our southern section during the prevalence 
of the sickly seasons. 

These facts and opinions are stated after an experience of nearly seven 

The advantages of its location as a military and naval station has no 
equal except Gibraltar. 

1. It commands the outlet of all the trade from Jamaica, the Caribbean 
Sea, the Bay of Honduras and the Gulf of Mexico. 

2. It protects the outlet and inlet of all the trade of the Gulf of 
Mexico, the whole western country of Louisiana and Florida. 

3. It holds in subjection the trade of Cuba. 

4. It is a check to the naval forces of whatever nation may possess 
Cuba. It is to Cuba what Gibraltar is to Ccuta. 

It is to the Gulf of Mexico, etc., what Gibraltar is to the Mediterranean. 

Among its advantages as a military position may be enumerated an 
abundance of free stone for building, which being a concrete of coral and 
shells, is easily converted into lime. The island is low, not being more than 
fifteen or twenty feet above the level of the ocean. The channel into the inner 
harbor runs bold to its western part, which makes wharfs easy of construction. 
The soil is rich, being formed of a vegetable decomposition mixed with sand 
and shells. It produces all the plants and fruits of the tropics, with the excep- 
tion of coffee, and yields abundantly. 

On the eastern side of the island is a very extensive natural Salt Pond, 
which, from every appearance, I should judge, with a moderate capital and 
enterprise, might be made to vie with any of those in the British Bahamas. 

Stock of every description live and thrive well on the island, without 
requiring any care whatever, as has been abundantly proved by those which 
I imported on account of the United States from Cuba and the Bahamas. 

The thick growth of wood with which the island is covered, and which 
alTords timber suitable for the construction of small vessels, is filled with deer 
and other game, and the seas abound in the finest fish in the world. 

In making this statement respecting Key West, I am actuated by no 
other feeling than the desire that my country should not by the prejudices, 
partialities, interested views and errors of others, be induced to lose sight 
of the great advantages it presents — whether looked at in a military or a 
commercial point of view. The naval rendezvous has been removed from 
Key West to Pensacola, enormous amounts have been expended on the navy 
yard of the latter, and it is found unsuited to the purpose for which it was 
designed. An effort is now making to form a naval establishment on the 
insulated cluster of sand keys called Dry Tortugas, which may easily be 
surrendered by a small enemy's force, exposed to his cannon without entering 


the harbor, which affords neither wood nor water, nor scarcely any kind of 
vegetation, and have the insuperable objection of not affording a sufficient 
area of land on which to form a naval establishment of even a very limited 

Natiire appears to have formed it for a place of deposit for the eggs 
of the turtle and the sea birds, and the art of man can make very little more 
of it. 

Key West has been tried and is proved to possess all the advantages 
which are desirable in a naval depot and rendezvous. It is proved that the 
only objection, insalubrity of climate, has no foundation in fact. Where, 
then, is the necessity of making further disbursements on useless experiments, 
when one has already been made in Key West, and has proved satisfactory? 

W'ith great respect. 

Your obedient servant, 

(Signed) David Porter. 


Fort Taylor, Key West, Fla., January 26, 1861. 
Sir: I have to report that no demonstration has been made upon 
this fort to this date. There is no apprehension from the population of Key 
West, but I have no doubt that a force will soon appear at any moment from 
the mainland. If my company was filled up to a hundred men, and a sloop 
of war stationed in this harbor, there would be no danger of any s uccessfui 
attack, or even an attempt at present. The defenses are improving daily. 
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant, 

J. M. Brannan, 
Captain First Artillery, Commanding. 
Col. S. Cooper, Adjutant-General U. S. Army, Washington, D. C. 

P. S.: I have received no communication from the department in 
answer to my letter of December 11, 1860. 

Headquarters of the Army, Washington, April 1, 1861. 
Bvt. Col. Harvey Brown, U. S. Army, Washington, D. C. 

You will make Fort .Jefferson your main depot and base of operations. 
You will be careful not to reduce too much the means of the fortresses in the 
Florida Reef, as they arc deemed of greater importance than even Fort Pickens. 
The naval officers in the gulf will be instructed to co-operate with you in every 
way, in order to insure the safety of Fort Pickens, Fort Jefferson and Fort 

April 2, 1861. Winfield Scott. 

.\pproved: Abraham Lincoln. 

Headquarters Department of Florida, 
Key West, April 13, 1861. 
Lieut. Col. E. D. Keyes, Secretary to the General-in-Chief, Washington, D. C. 

Colonel: We arrived at this place this afternoon. Captain Meigs 
and I have had an interview with Judge Marvin, which has been entirely 
satisfactory. He, though anxious to leave the place, will remain, having now 
the assurance of support from the military authority. I have found great 
industry, intelligence and enterprise in putting forward the works at the fort, 
and consider it quite secure against any force that can at this time be brought 
against it. Brevet Major French, the commanding officer, has been untiring 
in his labors, assisted ably by Captain Hunt, of the engineers, and the officers 
of the garrison. He and all his officers are, I am happy to say, entirely devoted 
to the Union and the country, under any and all contingencies. 

Harvey Brown, 

Colonel, Commanding. 

U. S. Steamer Crusader, 
Off Key West, April 13, 1861. 
Hon. William //. Seward, Secretary of State, Washington, D. C. 

Dear Sir: We arrived here and anchored some three miles below 


the fort to prevent communication. Going to the fort in a boat. Colonel Brown 
sent notes to Judge Marvin; to Colonel Patterson, the newly appointed 
navy agent; to Mr. Howe, the new collector, and to Mr. Filor, the late navy 
agent. Mr. Clapp, whose commission we brought with us, we found at the 
fort. To these gentlemen the general policy of the government in regard to 
the fort and island of Key West was explained, and the assurance of support 
from their government was received with great satisfaction. I found that 
Colonel Patterson has lately made himself quite conspicuous by his Union 
"sentiments, and their open avowal. The best feeling prevails between the 
gentlemen now appointed and the officers of the garrison, and I have no doubt 
that all will work harmoniously together. 

The anxiety to which Judge Marvin has been subjected has preyed upon 
his spirits and he looks depressed, but he is ready to do his duty and stand 
to his post, at least until the government is ready to relieve him. His presence 
for a time, and his influence are, I think, of much importance in eradicating 
the treasonable spirit which has lately had full and free sway here. He will 
be able as now supported, I think, to accomplish it without recourse to any 
harsh measures. 

M. C. Meigs, 
Captain of Engineers. 

Headquarters Department of Florida, 
April 13, 1861. 
Bvt. Maj. W. H. French, Commanding Fort Taylor, Key West. 

Sir: You will use the forces of your command, if need be, for the 
protection of the officers and the citizens of the United States on this island 
in the discharge of their public duties, and the pursuit of their legitimate 
private occupations. Yon will not permit on the island any person to exercise 
any office or authority inconsistent with the laws and constitution of the 
United States, and will, if necessary, prevent any such exercise by force of 
arms. If unhappy rebellion or insurrection should exist at any time, you will 
then publish a proclamation, with which you will be furnished, suspending 
the writ of habeas corpus, and will immediately remove from the island all 
dangerous or suspected persons. You will before publishing this proclamation 
take the advice of the United States judge and attorney on its necessity and 
expediency (its legality has been determined by higher authority) and receive 
with deference their opinion, giving them that consideration and weight to 
which their patriotism and legal knowledge entitle them. In exercising the 
authority here vested in you the greatest conciliation and forbearance must be 
observed, that while the duty be rigidly performed it may always be done in 
a spirit of conciliation and kindness. 

I am, sir, very respectfully, 

Your obedient servant, 

Harvey Brown, 

Colonel, Commanding. 

Headquarters Department of Florida. 
Transport Steamship Atlantic, 
April 15, 1861. 
Lieut. Col. E. D. Keyes, Secretary to the General-in-Chief ,W ashington, D. C. 

Colonel: We left Key West at daybreak yesterday morning (the 
14th), and arrived at Fort Jefferson at one p. m. I found this post in the good 
order to be expected from its vigilant commander. The present armament 
of the fort is thirteen 8-inch Columbiads and a field battery, and one hundred 
and four barrels gunpowder, six hundred and eight shells, one hundred and 
fifty shot, and a vessel now at the wharf is unloading thirty 8-inch Columbiads 
and twenty-four 24-pounder howitzers, with carriages, implements, etc., 
complete, with two hundred and fifty barrels of powder, two thousand and 
four hundred 8-inch shells, six hundred round shot, and a proportioned quantity 
of fixed ammunition, so that this post may be considered secure from any 
force that the seceding States can bring against it. The whole lower tier of 
this work may with little labor be prepared for its armament. Some flagging 


and the traverse circles are the principal work to be done. On the recommenda- 
tion of Captain Meigs, chief engineer, I have directed Major Arnold to have 
four water batteries, mounting three guns each, to be erected on the adjacent 
keys. This being done, with the support of one or two ships of war, the whole 
anchorage will be within command of our guns. 

I would respectfully recommend that at Fort Jefferson for the 42- 
pounders ordered 8-inch unchambered Columbiads be substituted, and 
that the wooden carriages of all three forts be replaced at the earliest possible 
day by iron ones. 

Harvey Brown, 

Colonel, Commanding. 

Engineer Department, Washington- 
April 19, 1861. 
Hon. Simon Cameron, Secretary of War: 

Sir: I enclose the copy of the letter from Captain Hunt, dated Key 
West, April 11th, which you may think advisable to lay before the secretary 
of the navy. I may be permitted to add that the danger is a real one that Captain 
Hunt specifies, namely, the landing of a considerable body of hostile troops 
on the shore of that island, out of reach of the guns of Fort Taylor. This 
the fort and its garrison can in no degree prevent. If landed with heavy artillery 
this force may reduce the fort by siege, because as yet that part of the structure 
that is to cover its walls from land batteries has not been built, nor can it 
be erected so as to fulfill its object for a year or more. 

In the meantime complete security may be assured by small, quick- 
armed steamers stationed at Key West, and cruising in its vicinity, provided 
other demands of the public service will permit the navy department to supply 
such protection. 

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant, 

Jos. G. Totten, 

Brevet Brigadier-General. 

Fort Taylor, Key West, Fla., 
April 11, 1861. 
General J. G. Totten, Chief Engineer, Washington, D. C. 

Sir: Mr. Mallory wrote here, I have been told, by a recent mail, 
that when the Confederate States army were ready, an attempt to take these 
works would be made, but I do not believe this would be tried were our assured 
strength such as to contest the debarkation. 

I am glad to say that from what I have heard today the secessionists 
here have essentially given in and are beginning to see the error of their ways. 
Judge Marvin has at last been induced, I believe, to hold on to his place, 
and I trust that all conflict of jurisdiction will now be avoided. It is surmised 
that Judge Mcintosh may conclude not to come here at all. 

Very respectfully yours, & c 
E. B. Hunt, 

Captain of Engineers. 

U. S. Troop-Ship Atlantic, 
Havana, April, 25. 1861. 
Brigadier General J. G. Totten, Chief of Engineers, Washington, D. C. 

General: With all speed possible under the circumstances we made 
our way to Key West, where, anchoring off the harbor and allowing no other 
communication with the shore. Colonel Browne, the ordnance officer. Lieuten- 
ant Balch, and myself landed by boat at Fort Taylor. 

Here, calling the United States judge, Mr. Marvin, the newly appointed 
collector of customs and marshal, and the commanding officer of the fort. 
Major French to meet Colonel Brown at the fort, the orders and instructions 
of the president were communicated to these gentlemen, and the commission 
of marshal for Mr. H. Clapp intrusted to me for this purpose by the secretary 
of State, was delivered to Judge Marvin. 


Several secession flags floated from buildings in view of the fort and 
upon the court-house of the town. 

The president's orders to the authorities at Key West were to tolerate 
the exercise of no officer in authority inconsistent with the laws and constitu- 
tion of the United States, to support the civil authority of the United States 
by force of arms if necessary, to protect the citizens in their lawful occupations, 
and in case rebellion or insurrection actually broke out to suspend the writ 
of habeas corpus, and remove from the vicinity of the fortresses of Key West 
and Tortugas all dangerous or suspected persons. 

Orders were also given to the commander at Key West and to the 
engineer ofBcer, Captain Hunt, to prepare plans for intrenchments to prevent 
a hostile landing on the island of Key West. 

Fort Taylor, with a brick and concrete scarp exposed toward the island, 
from which it is only three hundred yards distant, cannot resist a landing, 
and is no better fitted to withstand bombardment than Fort Sumter. The 
burning woodwork of its barracks would soon drive out its garrison. 

M. C. Meigs, 
Capiain of Engineers, 

Fort Taylor, Key West, Fla., 
May 4. 1861. 
Mr. J. P. Baldivin, Esq., Mayor, Key West City. 

My Dear Sir: I proposed on yesterday to print an address to the 
citizens of the United States on Key West. The address was delayed, and I 
take the opportunity to say to you, in continuation of the conversation had 
a few days since, that from circumstances brought to my attention direct, 
and from reliable sources, it is my opinion that there will be a strong effort 
made to distress the inhabitants of this key. Isolated and shut up by the water 
of the gulf, should what I hear prove correct, the distress would be extreme 
upon the inhabitants of the island. It is in your power to aid in avoiding this 
contingency, which, whether near or remote, will be terrible when it comes. 
I have served in Florida during the early wars, and remember the distress 
of the inhabitants of St. Augustine, to whom the government had to furnish 
subsistence. It is probable that such may be the case on the key. The govern- 
ment determining to hold it will be responsible for its loyal citizens; and should 
the necessities referred to arise, it will be necessary to discriminate, and those 
who do not belong here should be so notified 

It is also essential that it should be generally known that the functions 
of the commanding officer on Key West, ex-officio, embrace during the present 
crisis all the military, including citizens desirous to bear arms for the preserva- 
tion of life and property. It will be necessary for me, in order to combine 
them with those of the government, that a muster-roll according to the 
form prescribed should be supplied to these headquarters by any military 
organization now existing. 

I am, sir, very respectfully your most obedient servant, 

Wm. N. French, 
Brevet Major, U. S. Army, Commanding. 

Headquarters Troops at Key West, 
Fort Taylor, May 5, 1861. 
Col. L. Thomas, Adjutant-General, U. S. Army. 

Colonel: The Illinois, from Fort Pickens, is in coaling, and knowing 
the anxiety of the government with respect to the insulated forts, Taylor 
and Jefferson, I communicate direct. This key is in an excellent state for 
defense. The few suggestions given by me to Captain Meigs are all that will 
be required until winter. The more men the more disease. I have used my 
general authority to mount a section of Light Company K, and expected 
acclimated horses from Havana in a few days, cheap and hardy. With these 
the island can be patrolled, vedettes kept up, and light guns moved rapidly. 

The sentiment on the key is strictly selfish. The Union man of today 
is the disunionist of the morrow. My effort has been to make it the interest 
of the citizens to be loyal, to encourage the Union men, and to lift up the 


faint-hearted. The judiciary (Federal) have had but little to act upon. I 
call upon them officially, indirectly. Brought up and resident with the citizens 
it might at this time compromise. I have made myself acquainted with the 
respectable inhabitants under the same rules and formalities which exist 
elsewhere. The effect has been to open the trial sooner than might have been 
anticipated. Everything which should have been for sale, after a refusal, 
when Captain Meigs passed by on the Atlantic north, is now given — coal, 
water, wharfage. I am opening propositions through Colonel Patterson, naval 
officer, to buy out for the government, at reduced rates, water lines, etc. 
I have asked from the mayor of Key West lists of the inhabitants, extra 
mouths, etc., which will have to be fed by the United States. Extraneous 
people will have to leave. Now there are not ten barrels of flour for sale on 
the island. Military organizations have been directed to make to me (ex- 
officio) their rolls. No more troops are needed; water is scarce, not doubtful, 
and the command is equal to every occasion. My position has required me 
to take responsibility. This I never shrink from. I have the confidence of 
my officers and the loyalty of the rank and file. Indorse my recommendations, 
as they are moderate. This place is safe. 

I am, colonel, very respectfully, your most obedient servant, 

Wm. H. French, 
Brevet Major, U. S. Army, Commanding. 

Headquarters Department of Florida. 
Fort Pickens, May 13, 1861. 
Bvt. Maj. W. H. French, Comvianding Fort Taylor, Key West. 

Major: As the colonel has only your own letters and not the replies 
nor the special reasons for your action, he cannot judge of the immediate 
necessity for suspending the writ of habeas corpus, but having the approval 
of Judge Marvin and of the district attorney, it has his. He desires that 
you send here all papers in the case. 

The island being under martial law, all its citizens must acknowledge 
allegiance to the government. While the colonel wishes you to be perfectly 
firm and decided in upholding the laws and suppressing rebellion, he desires 
that it may be done in a spirit of kindness and conciliation, so that if possible 
they may be led from error rather than be driven into it by an undue exercise 
of authority. If, however, any prove incorrigible and refuse allegiance to the 
government, they must be sent from the island immediately, without respect 
of persons. 

The colonel does not approve of any removal of troops to Tampa or else- 
where from Key West, nor will any be made unless in case of extreme urgency. 
Key West is of paramount importance, and must not he weakened for any conting- 
ent service; neither does he think it at all expedient for the Crusader to leave 
Key West for any such purpose. He intends to address Captain Adams on 
the subject. 

Geo. L. Hartsuff, 
Assistant Adjutant-General. 

Headquarters Troops at Key West. 
May 16, 1861. 
Capt. G. L. Hartsuff, Assistant Adjutant-General. Headquarters Department, Fla. 
Captain: Since my communication of the 12th instant, the regular 
time for opening the session of the district court arrived, viz.: the second 
Monday in May (13th). No court has, however, been held. My order refusing 
to permit judicial or magisterial functions to be exercised, except by persons 
who will swear allegiance to the United States, has been carried out, and for 
the last three days there has been no court for the usual civil routine of a town. 
I prepared certain rules and instructions to meet this want, intending to have 
all cases referred to Captain Brannan, to be appointed civil lieutenant-governor 
of the town, but I ascertained that a citizen (Mr. P. Jister) had been elected 
a magistrate by the people a year ago, and had declined to serve when Florida 
passed the ordinance of secession. 1 sent for him, but he was averse to serving 
until I showed him that it would be obligatory to use the martial code unless 


some loyal citizen would act. He has concluded to do so, and I sent for the 
district attorney, who has proffered his aid and advice. 

On Sunday Judge McQueen Mcintosh arrived, preparatory to the 
opening his court under his Confederate States commission. He was waited 
upon by men of his own party, who represented the precise state of affairs 
on the island; that everything was going on peaceably and quietly; that 
his authority would not be recognized by myself, and that if he attempted 
to exercise his office it would unnecessarily produce difficulties and excitement. 

On yesterday Judge Mcintosh called upon Judge Marvin at his office. 
Judge Marvin has informed me that the result of the interview was perfectly 
satisfactory. Judge Mcintosh was strongly impressed with the uselessness of 
attempting to assert the Confederate States sovereignty here. He was informed 
how secure the persons and property were on this island, and that the inhabi- 
tants preferred to be allowed to remain as they were. Allusion was made to 
the military officers, and the manner of their obeying the instructions of the 
government, which had given general satisfaction. Judge Mcintosh decided 
to return, and at the request of Judge Marvin I requested Captain Craven 
to allow him and his friends to leave the island without applying to me for 
a permit to do so, there being an order prohibiting non-residents going or 
coming without my authority, published since the judge came. 

Wm. H. French, 
Brevet Major, U. S. Army. 

Headquarters Troops at Key West. 
May 20, 1861. 
Capt. Geo. L. Hartsiiff, Assistant Adjutant-General, Headquarters Department 

of Florida. 

Captain: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your 
communication of May 13th. Inclosed is a report made to me by the acting 
ordnance officer, upon which was based my sending away from the island 
Ordnance Sergeant Flynn. Lieutenant Closson also made the report indorsed by 
him. Lieutenant Webber, at the time alluded to, stated that the ammunition 
in the magazines had been tampered with, and about two hundred 42-pounder 
cartridges made unserviceable. This, in connection, with his intimacy with a 
man named Crusoe, a notoriously designing and dangerous man (he leaves 
the island today), determined me to get rid of him, as I did, or otherwise 
he would have been hung on the spot, should his treason (suspected) have 
developed itself by an attack. His example might have spread, and there was 
no way to keep him aloof from the men. 

I inclose two numbers of the Key of the Gulf, the last published. When 
the paper of the 27th of April appeared I spoke to several respectable citizens 
to have the paper suppressed, and I had an assurance that it would not appear 
again. To my surprise, that of May 4th came out, more violent and incendiary 
than its previous numbers. There was great excitement among the Union 
men, and the rabid secessionists were much elated. After a perfect understand- 
ing with the district attorney, and having received by Judge Marvin's views, 
sent to me verbally by Captain Craven, of the navy, the act of habeas corpus 
was suspended, in order to arrest without molestation the parties suspected of 
uttering the treasonable sentiments, etc. The editor has left the island. 
The Salvor today takes away Mr. Crusoe, the late magistrate of the county, 
and county clerk; Judge Douglas and family; Mr. Asa Tift and his negroes. 
Others are preparing to leave, and winding up their affairs. 

No martial law has been put in force here. That code has not had to 
be enforced. The civil magistracy (Union men) has been installed and sup- 
ported. The habeas corpus act was simply suspended for prospective purposes. 
Fortunately, in no instance has it been necessary to make an arrest, and as 
soon as the Union men elect their own mayor and councilmen, and the munic- 
ipal affairs are arranged on the basis of the paramount sovereignty of the 
United States laws, the proclamation may be withdrawn. Every voter will 
be required to swear allegiance to the United States at the polls, and every 
officer elected must qualify himself in the same manner. V\m. H. French, 
1^^ B_i.„ ._ Brevet Major, U. S. Army, Commanding. 



"Tht- most important as well as the most gratifying piece of intelligence 
I have to ctmimunicate is that yesterday, by order of General Hunter, com- 
manding the Department of the South, Winer Bethel and William Pinckney, 
two prominent citizens of this place, and signers of the secession ordinance 
of the State of Florida, were arrested and ordered to close confinement in 
Fort Taylor until further orders from the president of the United States. 
Before saying anything furtiier on the subject, I may as well give an outline 
of the persons, that the public may know who and what they are. 

"William Pinckney is the junior member and the present manager of 
the firm of Wm. H. Wall & Company, merchants of this place, which firm 
have amassed a large fortune in mercantile business and wrecking. The 
senior partner. Wm. H. Wall, has retired from active business, and resides 
now in New ^'ork. William Pinckney was an active participant in all ap- 
pertaining to secession during the early part of our present troubles, and 
was elected a delegate to the convention at Tallahassee from this place. 
On his arrival there, when the convention was organized, he assisted the 
State out of the Union by voting for and signing the secession ordinance, 
and afterwards on his return he acted as agent for the commissioners to solicit 
subscriptions to the loan for the defense of the ('onfederate States, the books 
for which subscriptions were opened in the store of William H. Wall & Com- 
pany. Pinckney remained an active secessionist until compelled to take the 
oath of allegiance or leave the island, by order of the military commander of 
this post. Since that time he has remained quiet, knowing that rebeldom 
had not a ghost of a chance, and if he dared show any outward sign of friend- 
ship for Jeff Davis, both his person and property would be endangered. 

"Winer Bethel is what we term here a Conch — that is, a native of 
the Bahamas. Nassau is, I believe, the place that gave him birth, and she has 
a reason to be proud of her son. Winer Bethel is also a naturalized citizen 
of the United States, and has been for a long time a resident of Key West, 
is by profession an attorney-at-law, and was at the time of the secession of 
Florida judge of probate. Consequently he is better known as Judge Bethel. 

"Judge Bethel, as I shall now term him, was also elected a delegate 
to the convention at Tallahassee from this place, and, with Pinckney, voted 
for the ordinance of secession, but did not sign it for some days after, for fear, 
as lie said, 'of being tried and hung for high treason.' He signed it, however, 
and returned here to give secession all the aid in his power. He on one occasion 
refused to acknowledge the power of the United States on this island, saying 
that he knew of no authority here except that of the Confederate States. 
After taking a second time the oath of allegiance, he attempted to practice 
again as an attorney of the United States court, when our district attorney, 
Thomas J. Boynton, Esq., moved that his name be stricken from the roll of 
attorneys of the court. Mr. Boynton argued the case most ably, but his motion 
was overruled. Judge Marvin restoring Bethel to his former position, on the 
ground that, having taken the prescribed oath, he was entitled to be considered 
again as in all respects a loyal citizen. After this decision secesh held up their 
heads, and considered they had gained a victory, and kept their noses high 
in the air until the arrest of yesterday compelled them to acknowledge a 
higher authority than that of Judge Marvin. 

"The arrest of these two men will have an important and most bene- 
ficial influence. They have been under the impression that they were safe 
and would escape all punishment for their past misdeeds; but they have, I 
am glad to say, been mistaken. They discover now that, although more than 
a year has pa.ssed since their great crime was committed, it has not been for- 
gotten, and they will be punished therefor. The people of the North, while 
wishing to be lenient with the majority, will not permit all to go unpunished, 
and these men are two of those who were the instigatt)rs of this outrageous 
rebellion, and who are in a measure responsible for all the blood that has been 
upilled and treasure that has been expended, and must be punished. 

"The excitement attending their arrest was very great. It was like 
a thunderbolt in the midst of our secession community, and afforded much 
satisfaction to our loyal people; for they felt that we have a president and 


government determined to punish the guilty; and certainly none more richly 
deserve it than the scoundrels who have tried heretofore to control this place. 
Their time has gone bv; they have got to the end of their tether, and here- 
after thev will know, by the lesson of yesterday, that although misconduct 
may be for a time forgotten, it will be most certainly punished in the end. 
I only hope there will be no delay in their case, that they will receive their 
punishment quickly, and that it will be of a character to strike terror among 
those who desire to do as they have done. 

"I cannot close this letter without protesting against the sympathy 
shown these persons by government officials when arrested yesterday. They 
appeared to vie with each other to make them (the prisoners) comfortable, 
and take away from the arrest as much of its character as possible. This is 
all wrong and would not be countenanced by the government were it known. 
The officers of the government are employed and paid by the people to crush 
not sympathize with rebels; and when we see them, for personal considerations, 
compromise their official positions we may justly consider there is 'something 
rotten in Denmark,' and form our own opinions. There has been too much 
of this sympathy during this war, and it is high time where a well established 
case comes to the knowledge of the government, that the official thus offending 
should be placed at once on a footing similar to the rebels he chooses to sym- 
pathize with. The cap I have just made will fit several in Key West, and they 
are all at liberty to wear it; and I shall not hesitate in future, should any more 
cases come to my knowledge, to speak plainer than I have done, and expose 
the whole affair, that the government and people may know all the circum- 



A. Patterson, 
Eldridge L. Ware. 
George D. Allen, 
James P. Lightbourne, 
Henry Albury, 
George Demerritt, 
Christian Boye, 
R. W. Welch 
E. O. Gwynn, 
S. M. Davis, 
William Solomon, 
Nathan Niles, 
Joseph Almeda, 
E. D. Braraan, 
IVederick Engert, 
Hiram B. Dailey, 
Joseph B. Kemp, 
William Reynolds, 
Daniel Davis, 
John Gordon, 
Calvin Park, 
John Gardener, 
Joseph Kemp, 
Charles Howe, Jr., 
Edward C. Howe, 
James Weatherford, Jr., 
Edward F. Papy, 
James Egan, 
G. W. Ferguson, 
Wm. Demeritt, 
Henry Williams, 
Charles Cox, 
Arthur McAllister, 

Thomas Lumley, 
John Albury, 
John O. Braman, Jr., 
Thomas W. Kemp, 
Lewis E. Pierce, Jr., 
Lewis E. Pierce, Sr., 
George R. Pearce, 
James Pent, 
William Sands, 
William McDonald, 
Wm. H. VonPfister. 
John Pent, Sr., 
James Roberts, 
Richard Albury, Sr., 
D. Moffatt, 
James Simpson, 
Joseph Stickney, 
Joseph Garcia, 
M. Farina, 
Shubael Brown, 
O. A. Hickey, 
Elijah Carey, 
Benjamin G. Albury, 
David W. Marshall, 
William Saunders, Jr., 
Charles Howe, Sr., 
Latham Brightman, 
T. J. Boynton, 
Cornelius Curtis, 
Wm. Marvin, 
Robert B. Bingham, 
Thomas Albury, 
Christopher Dunn, 


George Wood, James Pent, Jr.. 

Robert Sawyer, Clemente McChow, 

Joseph Andrews, Alonzo A. Austin, 

Richardson Albury, Hezekiah Thrift, 

Josephus F. Packer, Alexander Marshall, 

William Saunders, Sr., Dennis W. Kelly, 

William Richardson, Manuel Gonzales, 

Jeremiah Pent, Augustus P. Marillac, 

Alexander Saunders, William H. Albury, 

Benj. Bethel. Peter T. Williams, 

John Braman, Sr., John Butler, 

Benj. Albury, Daniel O'Hara, 

John White, Henry Demeritt, 

Henry Williams, Jr., William H. Pearce, 

Albert A. Johnson, John Beck. 

Henry W^illiams. Sr., Peter L. Jaycocks. 

Edward Bickford, Wm. Marshall, 

Joseph Williams, Francis B. Dailey, 

G. Wm. Gibbons, Wm. A. Pitcher, 

Patrick Casey. Benjamin Albury. 


U. S. S. Cincinnati, Key West, Florida, 
December 11. 1895. 


1. I have to report that yesterday about two-thirty p. m., smoke 
was reported coming from the hatch of Compartment A-20 (V Magazine) — 
the fire alarm was sounded and an examination made which demonstrated 
the fact that there was burning wood in that magazine — the urgency of the 
occasion led me to direct the immediate flooding of the forward magazine 
(Compartments A-18, A-19, A-20) as well as the leading of all hose to that 

2. After the flooding of the magazines and there being no further 
smell of burning wood, they were emptied and all the ammunition passed 
on deck, then, it was found that many of the shell boxes were badly charred 
where they had come in contact with the after bulkhead of A-20. 

3. This lead to an examination of coal bunker B-8, filled with soft 
coal and after digging into it a hot fire was found; this was soon extinguished 
by flooding from the berth deck. 

4. There was no gas or smoke to be seen coming from the coal bunker 
ventilators, as the fire was so near the bottom of the bunker. 

5. I have ordered a board to examine and report upon the damage 
done and all the circumstances incident thereto which will be forwarded by 
next mail. 

6. The alacrity with which all worked is worthy of commendation 
and I desire to especially mention the efforts of the executive oSicer. Lieuten- 
ant Commander W. N. Everett, Lieutenant C. A. Gove, and Ensign F. R. 
Payne, as well as the following named men: John Barett, G. M. 2. C; John 
M. Ferguson, G. M. 3. C; W. W. Banks, A. 1. C; Joseph Steinmetz, G. M. 
2. C; Frank C. Atkinson, A. 1. C; Charles H. Gray, A. 2. C; Anthony 
Merkle. F. 2. C; George Casseen, G. M. 1. C; Charles A. UphofF, G. M. 2. C; 
Frank Rorschach, G. M. 1. C; John A. Riley. M. at A. 2. C; Joseph Smith, 
Coxswain, Theodore Morse, Seaman; James O'Toole. Seaman, and Jacob 
Martin, Seaman. 

7. I think very little ammunition has been damaged. 

Very respectfully. 

M. L. Johnson, 

Captain Commanding. 
The Commander-in-Chief. North Atlantic Station. 



Joel Yancy 1822 to December 31. 1823 

Samuel Ayres (Acting) January 1, 1824, to January 15, 1824 

John Whitehead February. 1824 (Declined) 

William Pinckney 1824 to 1829 

Algernon S. Thurston 1829 to 1831 

William A. Whitehead 1831 to 1838 

Adam Gordon 1838 to 1845 

Stephen R. Mallory 1845 to ^849 

Samuel J. Douglass 1849 to 1853 

John T. Baldwin 1853 to 1861 

Chas. Howe 1861 to 1869 

W. G. Vance 1869 to 1873 

Chas. M. Hamilton April. 1873, to October 31, 1873 

Frank N. Wicker 1873 to 1883 

Denis Eagan 1883 to 1885 

J. V. Harris 1885 to 1889 

John F. Horr 1889 to 1893 

Jefferson B. Browne 1893 to 1897 

Geo. W. Allen 1897 to 


Total imports of the territory in 1831 $115,710.00 

Of which the Key West imports were 96,371.00 

Total imports of the territory in 1832 107,787.00 

Of which the Key West imports were 67.481.00 

Total imports of the territory in 1833 85,386.00 

Of which the Key West imports were 69,070.00 

Total imports of the territory in 1834 135,798.00 

Of which the Key West imports were 101,323.00 

Total amounts of exports in 1831 30,495.00 

Of which the exports from Key West were 27,135.00 

Total amount of exports in 1832 65,716.00 

Of which the exports from Key West were 56,724.00 

Total amount of exports in 1833 64,805.00 

Of which the exports from Key West were 47,555.00 

Total amount of exports in 1834 228,825.00 

Of which the exports from Key West were 80,922.00 

Registered, enrolled and licensed tonnage of Florida on the thirty-first 
of December. 1833, amounted to 378,947 tons, distributed among the four 
following districts: 

Pensacola 177,740 tons 

Key West 86.375 tons 

Apalachicola 57,764 tons 

St. Augustine 56,968 tons 

On the thirty-first December, 1831, the Florida tonnage was 238,590 
On the thirty-first December, 1832, the Florida tonnage was 300,305 
In 1875 the tonnage of Key West was 133,862. 

There are no detailed statistics at hand prior to 1831, but Mr. Wm. A. 
Whitehead has furnished a report of the business of the custom house from 
1831 to 1835 showing the number of vessels entered and cleared and the amount 
of imports and exports. 


1831 1832 1833 1834 1835 

American vessels entered 268 283 201 297 321 

Foreign vessels entered 22 20 10 16 10 

Of these there were: 

From American ports 118 141 106 135 158 

From foreign ports 172 162 105 178 173 

American vessels cleared 261 256 205 249 248 

Foreign vessels cleared 21 15 11 15 12 

Of these there were: 

For American ports 124 94 110 81 89 

For foreign ports 158 177 106 183 171 

Value of imports from foreign ports were: 1831, $67,863.00; 1832, 
$108,778.00; 1833. $39,024.00; 1834, $107,856.00. 

Value of exports were: 1831, $35,152.00; 1832, $63,943.00; 1833. 
$35,138.00; 1834, $86,947.00. 

The revenue of the custom house of Key West showed an average of 
about $45,000.00 annually from 1828 to 1832, and in 1835 alone the revenue 
was $20,000.00. In 1874 the amount of dutiable goods imported into this 
district was $641,335.00 and free of duty $19,077.00, making a total importa- 
tion of $660,432.00. In 1874 the total amount of duties paid into the custom 
house was .$222,371.35. Tonnage dues $2,520.83. Hospital dues $2,728.51. 
Total in 1875. $297,238.96. Total in 1876. $235,514.73. 

For the fiscal year of 1900 the custom collections were $337,085.84. 

For the fiscal year of 1910 the custom collections were $613,074.28. 


List of Vessels Employed in Wrecking Upon the Florida Reef in 1835 

Schooner Hyder Ali of Huntington, Conn Captain J. Gould 

Sloop Actor of Brook Haven, N. Y Captain J. B. Smith 

Schooner Whale of Mystic, Conn Captain G. Eldridge 

Schooner Hester Ann of Key West Captain J. H. Geiger 

Sloop Mystic of Mystic, Conn Captain E. Eldridge 

Schooner John Denison of Indian Key Captain D. Cold 

Schooner Splendid of Key West Captain G. Alderslade 

Schooner Florida of Key West Captain A. Anderson 

Sloop Sarah Isabella of Indian Key Captain T. Eldridge 

Schooner Amelia of Key Vacas Captain J. Bethell 

Sloop Brilliant of Groton, Conn Captain J. Egan 

Schooner Orion of Key West Captain S. Sanderson 

Sloop Thistle of Indian Key Captain H. Brown 

Sloop Standard of Huntington, Conn Captain J. Place 

Sch6oner Caroline of Key West Captain J. Wood 

Schooner Single Sailor of Key Vacas '. Captain R. Roberts 

Schooner Edward Thompson of Philadelphia Captain S. Young 

Schooner Fair American of Indian Key Captain J. Shurtlefl 

Schooner Olive Branch of Key West.. Captain W. Greene 

Schooner Blacksmith of Key West. . ,. . . Captain S. Coombs 

Twenty vessels, aggregate tonnage, 103,795. 



Mr. Allen, who had been prominent in the business affairs of Key 
West for many years, died October 10, 1891. He had been in poor health for 
several months. He was born in Enfield, Conn., February 16, 1823, and was 
the son of George and Fanny Smith Allen. He was educated in Connecticut 
and Massachusetts and then moved South, teaching school for some time in 
Georgia. On February 9, 1853. he married in Ithaca, Tompkins county. 
New York, Miss Mary Jane Sprague of Lyons, Wayne county, New York, 
who died September 12, 1869. 




Mr. Allen settled in Jacksonville, Duval county, Florida, soon after 
his marriage, and was engaged in business in that city until 1802, when he 
moved to Key West. He then became associated with his brothers, George D., 
M. A. and B. W. Allen, composing the firm of Allen Brothers, geoeral mer- 
chants, whose place of business was on the corner of Duval and Fronc streets. 

At different periods in his life he had held the oflSces of special deputy 
collector of customs for the district of Key West, clerk of the United States 
District Court for the Southern District of Florida, and mayor of the city. 
He was a leading member of the Methodist church. He is survived by his sons, 
George W. Allen and John AV. Allen of Key West, and Dwight A. Allen of 
West Palm Beach, Florida. 


The subject of this sketch, a twin brother of the late Dr. Peter Fielding 
Browne, son of John Eaton Browne and Elizabeth Ann, his wife, was born 
at Windsor, James City County, Va., on the 6th day of November, 1814, 
and died on the afternoon of December 27, 1888, aged seventy-four years, 
one month, and twenty-one days. 

The life and services of Joseph B. Browne intimately and conspicuously 
blend with the more prominent features of the history of Florida, as territory 
and State, and of our now progressive city. 

He arrived at the then little hamlet of Key West, on Christmas night, 
night, 1830, when but few small houses, scattered here and there, had been 
built upon the extreme western point of the island, and as a mere lad, com- 
menced the life, which from the beginning was ever characterized by manly 
courage and timely devotion to duty, in whatever sphere enlisted. 

His more marked and assiduous services to the territory of Florida 
were as a member of the St. Joseph convention, 1838, which framed the 
constitution upon which our State was admitted to the Federal Union in 
1845. Under the administration of President Van Buren, Mr. Browne was 
the territorial United States marshal for Florida, and was successively con- 
tinued, in that office under Presidents Polk and Harrison, afterwards being 
appointed clerk of the United States Court, presided over by Judge Marvin. 

He was a member of the legislature of Florida during the sessions of 
1866 to 1870, and the subsequent session of 1875. 

He was mayor of Key West for several different terms. He was post- 
master for four years under the administration of President Hayes, and for 
many years a warden of St. Paul's Episcopal church, of which he was a com- 

He was married to Miss Mary Nieves Ximinez, a native of St. 
Augustine, on the 10th day of December, 1840, and enjoyed an unusual 
happy married life for forty-eight years, and leaves behind his widow and 
four children, Mrs. Robert J. Perry, Mrs. L. W. Bethel, Mrs. Geo. W. Allen 
and Hon. Jefferson B. Browne, to mourn the loss of a faithful husband, and 
a kind, indulgent father. 

Who that knew our island in the charming days of the past will ever 
forget the retired spot, now and then busy with salvages on wrecks, watering 
and provisioning vessels, and then relapsing into the serene, ordinary quiet 
and order, with but one mail, or at most two mails per month, to break the 
long monotony. The society was most cordial and agreeable. It was in the days 
of Judges Webb and Marvin, Ministers Adams and Herrick, of Port Collectors 
Mallory, Baldwin and Howe, and Marshals Stone, Eastin and Moreno. 
There was then plenty of old fashioned hospitality, with all its true charms; 
and when everybody knew everybody. It was then that Mr. Browne was best 
known. With a cordial, kindly nature that never seemed to desert him, he 
was always popular and appreciated. Coming here, a lad of sixteen, to enter 
the employ of his uncle, F. A. Browne, one of Key West's honorable and old 
time merchants, he passed through the various tests of public and private 
station, to pass away near the close of the third quarter of a century of life 
respected and mourned by all. 


A Jeflersonian Democrat and a Virginian, it was but natural that he 
should be largely interested in public affairs, and taste and nature fitted him 
for public life and made him a marked man in the community as well as in 
the Sta*.e. He always bore with him the air of the old times of Governor 
Spottwood, and suggested to one the possibility of some ancient ancestor 
dropr/ing out from his frame in the ancestral home, and entering upon life 
in Key West as one who belonged here. He belonged to the times of broad 
acres and wide hospitality, like a souvenir of the past, a gem of bygone days; 
yet in companionship with Mr. Browne there was merely the flavor of the 
antique, which was a delicious morsel, while his sympathies continued quick- 
ened to the last act of charity, and his mind aroused to an interest in the last 
policy of State. Thus through life he held his friends to him as with hooks 
of steel. He was a born philosopher, and a clear, earnest, vigorous conversa- 
tion: 1 st. As a friend of Senator C. W. Jones, he, while a member of the Florida 
legislature, gave him valuable aid and support in his election to the United 
States senate. As a representative of the people Mr. Browne served with honor 
to himself and to his constituency. At the first election held here at the close 
of the war he was an inspector. It was a time of tumult. Questions arose 
requiring the exercise of a strong mind and conscience. The inspectors were 
frequently divided. Mr. Browne held to a view that debarred from the ballot 
some who are today among our first citizens, notwithstanding all his native 
kindness of heart; and yet the survivor of that board of inspectors believes 
that Mr. Browne was right, although he then differed with him. 

Mr. Browne ventured in mercantile life, but for many years the aflBictive 
loss of sight debarred him from business aims and purposes and from much 
of his old time social enjoyments. But he warmed to an old friend and was 
still the cordial companion in his circle; and in his family, where he was ever 
at home, appreciated and loved. 

Mr. Browne was slender in his youth but was stout from manhood. 
During the stages of complete, then partial, then permanent loss of sight, his 
bark gradually drifted from the shores of time, and the orbs that saw no light 
here, saw those upon "the other shore." And the hand that felt its way groped 
now in darkness because it was the eternal day. And what tribute should be 
paid at this time to the beautiful, loving devotion of the wife, the companion 
of forty-eight years, that would not seem sacrilege to name, especially when 
immured with her husband in darkness in the long struggle to regain his 
sight? It teaches and preaches the truth that the age of heroism among women 
has not died, and never will die. 

Mr. Browne's death was for some little time expected and when 
announced was the occasion of very general sorrow. The crowded services at 
St. Paul's on Friday, at 3:30 p. m., attested the general sentiment, and a 
large attendance in carriages proceeded to the cemetery to witness the last 
rites in respect for his memory. The pallbearers were Judge James W. Locke; 
Commander J. K. Winn, U. S. N.; Mr. W. D. Cash; Hon. Jeptha Vee Harris, 
collector of customs; Messrs. Whitemore Finder and James G. Jones. 















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