Florida: Past and present / together with notes from Sunland, on the Manatee River, Gulf Coast of South Florida: its climate, soil, and productions

Florida: Past and present / together with notes from Sunland, on the Manatee River, Gulf Coast of South Florida: its climate, soil, and productions

Author:
Samuel C. Upham
Author:
Samuel C. Upham
Format:
epub
language:
English

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Author: Upham, Samuel C. (Samuel Curtis), 1819-1885
Florida — Description and travel
Manatee County (Fla.)
Florida — History
Florida: Past and present
together with notes from Sunland, on the Manatee River, Gulf Coast of South Florida: its climate, soil, and productions


Every attempt has been made to replicate the original as printed.
Some typographical errors have been corrected; a list follows the text.
Preface.
Preface To The Enlarged Edition
Chapter I., Chapter II., Chapter III., Chapter IV., Chapter V., Chapter VI., Chapter VII.
(etext transcriber’s note)

PART OF THE GULF COAST OF FLORIDA.

PAST AND PRESENT,

TOGETHER WITH NOTES FROM

ON THE

Manatee River, Gulf Coast
OF
SOUTH FLORIDA:

ITS CLIMATE, SOIL, AND PRODUCTIONS.

The Land of the Orange and Guava,
The Pine-Apple, Date, and Cassava.
 

ILLUSTRATED.

JACKSONVILLE, FLA.:

1883.
 
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1883,
By SAMUEL C. UPHAM,
in the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington, D. C.

To

Marion Foster, } UPHAM,
Samuel Zenas, AND
Charles Henry

THREE LIVING LINKS IN THE CHAIN THAT BINDS ME TO LIFE, THIS
BOOK IS AFFECTIONATELY DEDICATED BY
THEIR FATHER,

THE AUTHOR.

PREFACE.

TWO or three letters written by myself to friends at the North having found their way into print, I have been literally flooded with letters during the past six months, from all sections of the Union and British Provinces, asking for information in relation to the Manatee region of Florida. Hundreds have been replied to, and many remain unanswered for want of time. This little book has been written with the belief that it will answer the requirements of my numerous correspondents, and also prove a welcome guest to others who desire reliable information concerning this portion of the Gulf coast of South Florida. With these brief remarks I cast my little waif upon the tide of public opinion, with the hope that favorable breezes will waft it into the hands of those who will be benefited by its perusal.
Sunnyside Cottage,
Braidentown, Florida, April 1, 1881.

PREFACE

To the Enlarged Edition.

WHEN I published the little brochure—“Notes from Sunland”—two years ago, the Gulf Coast of South Florida was, comparatively speaking, a terra incognita. The favor with which that work has been received—having passed through three editions—and at the request of numerous correspondents in the United States, Canada, and Continental Europe, I have concluded to enlarge the work and make it more general in its scope—the former work being confined exclusively to the Manatee region. In reply to the question from different sections of the Union: “Are you as well pleased with the Manatee region as when you wrote ‘Notes from Sunland’?” I reply, emphatically, “Yes!” The longer I live here the more thoroughly I am convinced that it is the Sanitarium of the world. In addition to twenty-five pages of letter-press, I have added an additional illustration and a map of the Gulf coast of South Florida. I have placed the publication of the book in the hands of those well-known and reliable publishers, the Ashmead Brothers, of Jacksonville, Fla., who will supply the book to the trade and also furnish it to the public. With many thanks for the patronage bestowed upon my former book, I trust the present will be found equally acceptable.
Samuel C. Upham.
Braidentown, Fla., August, 1883.

CHAPTER I.

Indians and Alligators—Dade’s Massacre—Ponce de Leon and the “Fountain of Youth”—De Soto and “El Dorado”—Florida Exchanged for Cuba—Pensacola Captured by General Jackson—Florida Purchased by the United States—Secedes from the Union—Reconstructed.

THIRTY years ago the word Florida was synonymous with mosquitoes, alligators, snakes, and Indians. As a part of this Union, it was at that time considered financially a worthless sand-spit, which had cost our Government fifty million dollars and many lives in the almost fruitless effort to rescue it from the hands of the wily Creeks and Seminoles, who occupied the middle and southern portions of the State. From the date of Dade’s massacre by Osceola’s band near Brooksville, in December, 1835, which sent a thrill of horror throughout the length and breadth of our land, to the surrender of Billy Bowlegs in 1858, a period of nearly twenty-five years, war was waged by our Government under the leadership of Generals Worth, Scott, Harney, Taylor, and their subordinates, with the result above stated.
In order to fully understand and appreciate the present condition of Florida, some little knowledge of her history is indispensable; for without such knowledge, the sparseness of the present population of the State is inexplicable, when taken in connection with its genial climate, its natural fertility, and the immense scope of its possible agricultural production. “If Florida possesses so great a variety and power of vegetable growth, and such a desirable climate, why is it not more densely populated?” is a question answered only by a glance at her past history.
The honor due to the first discovery of the land which now constitutes the southern extremity of the United States is generally awarded to that famous and eccentric old Spanish adventurer, Juan Ponce de Leon. Nevertheless, the validity of his claim to that honor is liable to some dispute. Several authorities of very good credit maintain that Sebastian Cabot, in the year 1497, traced the whole line of the American coast as far southward as 36° 9´ north latitude; and Peter Martyr avers that he sailed to the west of the meridian of Cuba. From this account it does not appear that Cabot proceeded further southward than the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, the latitude of which corresponds nearly with that of the Straits of Gibraltar, and the longitude with that of the eastern extremity of Cuba. It can scarcely be doubted that Ponce de Leon was the first European who landed on any part of that ground which is now occupied by the Southern States of our Republic. The purpose for which he visited this country has exposed his memory to no little ridicule; but his childish delusion is entitled to more indulgence and respect than the sordid and hypocritical motives which induced so many of his countrymen to become explorers and crusaders in America. Juan Ponce, for the purpose of discovering the location of the “Fountain of Youth,” set sail from Porto Rico, on the 3d day of March, 1512. After a short voyage he came to a country covered with flowers and verdure, and as the day of his discovery happened to be Palm Sunday, called by the Spaniards Pasqua Florida, he bestowed the name of Florida on the country in commemoration of this circumstance. Thus the first European discovery of Florida took place on the second day of April, 1512.
The next visit to Florida by Europeans was made in the year 1520, by Lucas Vasquez de Ayllon, who kidnapped one hundred and thirty Indians and sailed for San Domingo, where he sold them as slaves. In the year 1524, Giovanni da Verazzano, a Florentine sea-captain in the service of the French Government, coasted from Florida as high as Cape Breton.
On the 17th day of June, 1527, Pamphilo de Narvaez left Spain with five ships and six hundred men, being authorized by the Spanish Government to explore and take possession of “all the lands between Rio de las Palmas and Cape Florida.” The fleet was much damaged by a hurricane, and was obliged to remain at Cuba for more than six months to be refitted. In February, 1528, Pamphilo again embarked; and after a short and prosperous voyage, landed his army at the bay of Santa Cruz, Florida. Having formally taken possession of the country, and proved that he was in earnest by pillaging some of the villages, Pamphilo began to interrogate the natives respecting the precise locality of that immense deposit of gold which he expected to find in Florida. In their answers to these inquiries, the Indians, wishing to hasten the departure of their unwelcome guests, directed the gold-hunters to a distant region called Apalacha, assuring them that the shining metal could there be obtained in the greatest abundance. After a wearisome march, the Spaniards reached the designated place on the 26th day of June. The ungrateful behavior of the Spaniards soon provoked the hostility of the natives, and before they had an opportunity to make any mineralogical researches Pamphilo was compelled to retreat. While endeavoring to make his escape to the seashore, he was closely pursued by the natives, who killed two hundred of his men—about one-third of the whole number.
The whole country being aroused, Pamphilo found it impossible to return to his ships, which were probably destroyed by the Indians. The Spaniards, therefore, took the shortest route to the coast, and came to the bay now known as St. Marks. The Apalachian Indians being satisfied with driving the intruders from their territory, abandoned the pursuit when that object was gained. They arrived at St. Marks in a starving condition, their only food being horse-flesh. All their ingenuity was now employed to effect some means of escape from the country. They erected a forge on the beach, and, with great toil and difficulty, converted their swords, lance-heads, stirrups, and bridle-bits into nails, saws, and hatchets. Having thus provided themselves with the proper instruments, they felled trees, shaped the timber, and finally constructed several very inelegant specimens of marine architecture. In the meanwhile all their horses were consumed for food; and when they embarked in their rude batteaux, their thin, ghastly, Tanner-like appearance might have reminded a spectator of that shadowy boat-load of “magnanimous heroes” so graphically described by Virgil in the Sixth Book of his celebrated Epic. All the boats were subsequently wrecked near the mouth of the Mississippi, and all on board perished, except Cabeca de Vaca, the treasurer of the expedition, and four common soldiers. The survivors, after enduring many toils and sufferings, finally reached Spain in August, 1537.
In the latter part of May, 1539, Hernando de Soto landed his troops on the eastern shore of Hillsborough Bay, above the mouth of the Little Manatee River, and commenced his toilsome overland march, which ended in his death and burial in the Mississippi River, on the 5th day of June, 1542, three years and one month afterward. In 1562 it is probable that a temporary settlement was formed near the mouth of the St. Johns River by Ribault, a Frenchman.
In 1564, under the protection of Admiral Coligny, a settlement of Huguenots was formed under the leadership of Lardonierre, on the south bank of the St. Johns, about six leagues from its mouth. This settlement was called Caroline, and was completely destroyed by the Spaniards under Menendez in 1565, who massacred all that escaped death in the fight, “not as Frenchmen, but as heretics.” This murderous act was fully avenged by a Frenchman—De Gourges—who, in 1659, led an expedition especially against Fort Caroline, and massacred the Spanish garrison, “not as Spaniards, but as cut-throats and murderers.” In 1565 the same Menendez founded a Spanish colony at St. Augustine, thus establishing the first European town on the continent of America.
In 1584, as the result of various expeditions, the area of Spanish occupation and conquest had become so extended that the authority of Spain was acknowledged by the natives, not only throughout Florida, but as far west as the Mississippi and as far north as the mountains of Georgia.
In 1586, St. Augustine was attacked and plundered by a party of English adventurers under Sir Francis Drake. In 1611, it was pillaged by the Indians, and in 1665 was sacked by another party of English pirates, led by the freebooter, Davis.
In 1689, Pensacola was settled by the Spanish.
In 1702, St. Augustine was unsuccessfully attacked by Governor Moore, of the English colony of South Carolina. In 1725, Colonel Palmer, of Georgia, also failed in an effort to capture the city, and in 1740, General Oglethorpe, of Georgia, was signally repulsed in a similar undertaking.
In 1763, the whole territory of Florida was ceded by Spain to Great Britain in exchange for Cuba; but the entire population of the territory at that time did not exceed six hundred.
In 1767, Dr. Trumbull, an English colonist, located at New Smyrna, “imported fifteen hundred Corsicans and Minorcans, having deluded them by unstinted promises of land and employment at high wages, and then subjected them to a system of oppression, similar and scarce less severe than slavery, till after a lapse of some ten years they escaped in a body from his servitude and betook themselves to St. Augustine, where they settled down, and ultimately became a prominent and valuable element of the population of that section.”
In 1781, the Spanish captured Pensacola, and the English again lost possession of Florida. In 1784, the territory was once more formally ceded to Spain. In 1812, Fernandina capitulated to the troops of the United States, but was, during the following year, re-delivered to the Spanish Government.
In 1814, the English forces, under the command of Colonel Nichols, entered and manned the forts of Pensacola, although the whole territory was nominally under the control of Spain; and in 1818, General Jackson attacked and captured Pensacola in behalf of the United States.
In 1819, Florida was purchased by the United States, and was formally ceded by Spain. In 1822, a territorial government was established; in 1845, Florida was admitted into the Union, and in January, 1861, she seceded.
In the language of the talented and lamented J. S. Adams: “What a picture does this brief abstract of the leading features in the history of Florida present! Discovered by Ponce de Leon in 1512; permanently settled in 1565; ceded to Great Britain in 1763, with a population of only six hundred, after a colonial existence of two hundred years; re-ceded to Spain in 1784; sold and ceded to the United States in 1819; receiving a territorial government in 1822; admitted to the Union in 1845; seceding in 1861; and reconstructed in 1868; sacked and pillaged repeatedly by Europeans; shifting its nationality from time to time, and losing almost its entire population by each change; harassed and plundered by repeated Indian wars from 1816 to 1858, and just as prosperity began to dawn, plunged unnecessarily into the useless slaughter of a hopeless rebellion, she has suffered every evil, political and social, that does not involve absolute extinction. Is it, then, a matter of surprise that Florida is so sparsely populated?”

CHAPTER II.

Geographical Position and Boundaries of Florida—Area and Population—Indians in Florida—Climate, Soil, and Productions—The Rainy Season—Florida as a Health Resort—Classification of Lands—School System and Churches—Swamp Lands Sold to Disston—Religion in Florida.

FLORIDA lies between the degrees of twenty-five and thirty-one north latitude, and eighty to eighty-eight west longitude from Greenwich. The northern boundary being nearly three hundred and fifty miles from east to west, and its length from north to south, nearly four hundred miles. It is in the same latitude as Central Arabia, Northern Hindostan, the Desert of Sahara, the northern portion of Burmah, the southern part of China and Northern Mexico. The average width of the peninsula is about eighty miles, and every part is fanned by either the Trade or Gulf winds, rendering the air delightfully pleasant in midsummer. The most marked geographical feature of the State is the enormous extent of coastline—the Atlantic and Gulf exceeding eleven hundred miles, with numerous large bays, offering great facilities for commercial intercourse. The northern part of the State is hilly and rolling. Midway of the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, an elevated ridge extends through Middle and South Florida to Lake Okeechobee and the Everglades, gradually sloping to the Atlantic Ocean on the east and to the waters of the Gulf of Mexico on the west. The elevated lands are mostly pine, interspersed with black-jack, post, and water-oak. At the base and along the water courses, are rich hammock lands bordered with flat and rolling prairie, with the everlasting scrub palmetto everywhere. The southern portion of the State is at this time a vast cattle range, embracing thousands of acres on which a surveyor’s chain has never fallen.
In 1860, the population of Florida was 140,000; in 1880, it was 267,000, and at this time, it is probably in round numbers 300,000. When the vast area of the State, sixty thousand square miles, comprising nearly thirty-eight million acres of land, is taken into consideration, it will be seen that we are not badly crowded. The sale by Governor Bloxham of four million acres of “swamp land” to the Disston and Anglo-German syndicates is a mere bagatelle.
The county in which I reside—Manatee—is nearly as large as the combined States of Connecticut and Rhode Island. It is truly a county of “magnificent distances,” the county seat, Pine Level, being forty miles south of the villages of Braidentown and Manatee, on its northern border. “No pent-up Utica contracts our powers.” We do things on a large scale. We raise the most luscious oranges, the largest watermelons, and the most appetizing pineapples and bananas on the face of the earth; and I do not think I elongate the truth when I say, that in point of size our alligators, mosquitoes, and grasshoppers will compare favorably with those of any other country. Our frogs are also as sprightly as Mark Twain’s “jumping frog of the Calaveras.” Our cucumbers, tomatoes, snap-beans, squashes, and cabbages reach the cities of the North and West three months in advance of any other State of the Union.
If there is one thing above all others of which we feel justly proud, it is our superb climate. The “glorious climate of California,” and the sunny clime and golden skies of Italy bear no comparison with it. It is indescribable, and must be seen and felt in order to be fully appreciated. A Baptist clergyman—Hard-shell—who visited Braidentown last winter, was so fascinated and infatuated with the climate and surroundings that he said he verily believed that he was then nearer Paradise than he ever expected to be again while in the flesh.
A timid person occasionally asks, “Are there Indians still in Florida?” A remnant of the once warlike Creeks and Seminoles—scarcely two hundred souls, including males, squaws, and papooses—still have an abiding place on the Caloosahatchee, the Kissimmee, and in the Big Cypress Swamp, south of Lake Okeechobee. They are peaceably disposed, and only mingle with the whites when they visit the country stores to dispose of their peltry and game and replenish their ammunition. Chipco and the elder Tigertail, two of their former chiefs, have been called to the “happy hunting-grounds” during the past two years. The former was a centenarian, having attained the green old age of one hundred and ten years. He participated in the Dade massacre, near Brooksville, in 1835. The latter died by the visitation of God, having been killed by lightning while crossing the Kissimmee in his canoe. The Indians have several negro slaves in their secluded camps, who have never been informed that the Emancipation Proclamation of the martyred Lincoln loos

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Florida: Past and present / together with notes from Sunland, on the Manatee River, Gulf Coast of South Florida: its climate, soil, and productions
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