This Day in History: August 4 1842 The Armed Occupation Act

1842 – The Armed Occupation Act was passed by Congress on this date. Each settler who would settle and cultivate five acres or more of land in eastern and southern Florida for a period of five years would receive 160 acres of land and one year’s rations from the Federal government. Settlers were expected also to provide militia service, if needed, to control the activities of the warring Seminole Indians. This was the prelude to the official declaration of the end of the Second Seminole War on August 14, 1842.

My Florida History

This was an important date for two figures in Sarasota history. Read on…

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Hot History Part THREE!

We keep finding local history-related things for you to do. (Here’s the first installment, and Part Two…) It’s too hot to go traipsing about graveyards and boardwalks right now, but it’s always cool to learn a bit more about our local area.

Up at the top there’s gotta be a breeze!

One of our favorite supporters, Liz Coursen, is giving a talk at Gulf Gate Library on Florida Lighthouses. Info here. You probably have visited this one. If not, do! We’re sure Liz will give you directions.

Not as picturesque as some, but easy driving distance! Courtesy of Lighthouse Friends.

Learn about some cool art

Take a peek into the art collection at the Van Wezel, our on-the-bay performance venue that folks are afraid will be history soon. The best way to show your love for local history is to participate. Here’s your chance, by joining the Art and Backstage Tour. The tour features features works from the Arts Advocates’ Sarasota Colony artist collection as well as noted Florida artists, including pieces by Robert Chase, William Hartman, Eugene White, Ben Stahl, Julio de Diego, Thornton Utz, Frank Colson, and Dean Mitchell, to name a few. The backstage tour provides a peek at the dressing rooms, green room, back hallway, and the Van Wezel stage.

Tours are offered to the public August 8 and September 12 from 1:30-3:00 pm. Tours begin in the Main Lobby and cost $15 per person. Tickets can be purchased at the Box Office or by calling (941) 263-6799. More info.

Prefer music and a cool beverage?

More the outdoors, drink and hum along type? Here’s another Van Wezel event you’ll love, and it’s free. The Friday Fest. Future dates for Friday Fest are August 12 and September 16.

Help create future art history

Or maybe you’d like to help fellow Sarasotans CREATE history? After all, history is not fixed in stone; it’s made every day by folks like you. Our tradition of art is strong here, and you can build on that to make art even stronger as time marches on. For example, by participating in and supporting local artists. Your grandchildren will thank you for becoming patrons of the arts in accessible venues like Creative Liberties, Ligon Arts, ArtUptown, and of course Art Center Sarasota.

Read more in The Observer about this capitalistic venue for the arts.

Old ladies? Huh.

A post from Facebook called “Walk down Memory Lane.”

Mergatroyd ? Do you remember that word? Would you believe the spell-checker did not recognize the word, Mergatroyd Heavens to Mergatroyd!

The other day a not so elderly (I say 75) lady said something to her son about driving a Jalopy; and he looked at her quizzically and said, “What the heck is a Jalopy?” He had never heard of the word jalopy! She knew she was old …But not that old.

Well, I hope you are Hunky Dory when you read this and chuckle.

About a month ago, I illuminated some old expressions that have become obsolete because of the inexorable march of technology.

These phrases included: Don’t touch that dial; Carbon copy; You sound like a broken record; and Hung out to dry.

Back in the olden days we had a lot of moxie . We’d put on our best bib and tucker, to straighten up and fly right. Heavens to Betsy! Gee willikers! Jumping Jehoshaphat! Holy Moley!

We were in like Flynn and living the life of Riley; and even a regular guy couldn’t accuse us of being a knucklehead, a nincompoop or a pill. Not for all the tea in China!

Back in the olden days, life used to be swell, but when’s the last time anything was swell? Swell has gone the way of beehives, pageboys and the D.A.; of spats, knickers, fedoras, poodle skirts, saddle shoes, and pedal pushers.

Oh, my aching back! Kilroy was here, but he isn’t anymore.

We wake up from what surely has been just a short nap, and before we can say, “Well, I’ll be a monkey’s uncle!” Or, “This is a fine kettle of fish!” We discover that the words we grew up with, the words that seemed omnipresent, as oxygen, have vanished with scarcely a notice from our tongues and our pens and our keyboards.

Poof, go the words of our youth, the words we’ve left behind. We blink, and they’re gone. Where have all those great phrases gone?

Long gone: Pshaw, The milkman did it. Hey! It’s your nickel. Don’t forget to pull the chain. Knee high to a grasshopper. Well, Fiddlesticks! Going like sixty. I’ll see you in the funny papers. Don’t take any wooden nickels. Wake up and smell the roses.

It turns out there are more of these lost words and expressions than Carter has liver pills. This can be disturbing stuff! (Carter’s Little Liver Pills are gone too!)

Leaves us to wonder where Superman will find a phone booth. See ya later, alligator! Okidoki .

You’ll notice they left out “Monkey Business”!

PS If you don’t follow the Historical Society of Sarasota County on Facebook, you’re missing a lot.

Credit for this entry to the Facebook page called Granny’s off Her Meds Again

“Learn everything good and throw away the bad”

We’ve spent the last several years comparing the COVID-19 pandemic to the 1918 Spanish flu* and people have been complaining about tearing down buildings since, well forever. (What was there before they built the Colosseum? Kew Gardens? The Great Wall of China?) Have we never had a boom/bust cycle before in the History of Mankind** and what will we learn about soaring land prices this time around?

Now we’re in the midst of ever more expensive gas. Might they lead to shortages as in the early 70’s? Click to read more about how those shortages actually changed America.

Of course, nothing’s ever exactly the same… but every little insight we have by learning from history will help us cope, correct, and withstand future events. Keep on learning.

* Yes it wasn’t Spanish but that’s what it was called when it happened.
** Okay, Humankind.

Wouldn’t a new History Center be WONDERFUL?!

“Your penny at work.” That’s the slogan of the campaign asking voters to approve, in November 2022, a continuation of the county 1% sales tax. Many wonderful things have been financed by this income since it was first authorized in 1989, but never before has the history of our county been addressed. Understandably, we history lovers would be thrilled if some of that tax income could give a state-of-the-art home to not just the actual history archives (which is part of the county library system), but public space for gatherings and perhaps even exhibits. While the vote is not on how the funds will be spent… we need to vote for the “penny tax” to be renewed so that funds are available. Continue reading for a message from the President of the Historical Society of Sarasota County:

A “Common Cents” initiative that all friends of history can endorse

Since 1989 when it was first adopted by voters of Sarasota County, the 1% sales tax has improved the quality of life for everyone. The tax has been used to invest in schools, libraries, parks, water, the environment and more. 

The tax is up for a vote again in November of 2022 and all friends of history are excited about it because one of the priority investments is a new 30,000 square-foot History Center, which will be the repository for all our precious documents, maps, photographs and objects that are central to understanding and honoring the history of our county.  This is the first time that our history has been directly addressed with the one-cent surtax. 

 At the Historical Society of Sarasota County, we say it’s about time. Anyone who has recently visited  our center for archival material, realizes that it’s been too small for too long. It’s time we treated our history with the respect it has always deserved. 

We support the extension of the one-cent surtax and are looking forward to a new History Center. 

Marsha Fottler, President

For complete information from the county government on the penny surtax and how it could be spent, including FAQs and other projects being considered, see https://www.sarasotacountysurtax.net/

Hot History, Part 2

It’s still too hot to do anything. If you visited our earlier post on brushing up on, or learning new things about, local history, we know you had a cool time. Here’s some more things that’ll keep you entertained and not all sweaty.

The romance of ports. Tampa Bay History Center’s virtual event

It’s on Tuesday July 12 at 2pm, and you do have to register for it, so get out your captain’s hat and enjoy The History of Tampa’s Ports. Can’t make the event? Click the photo above to read some Tampa port history.

Next up, we offer you:

Not just citrus and cattle, they follow the times!

If you’re from around here, you’ve for sure heard of the Albritton family. Read an article about their history in Floridiana magazine, learn about picking your own blueberries and sunflowers next spring (definitely put it on your calendar!), and follow Albritton Fruit Farms on Facebook.

Photo courtesy Edible Sarasota

Wax Nostalgic

One of the more ambitious websites I’ve run across, SRQWhatItUsedToBe is absorbing. The references are from 2017, so some might be a bit outdated, but this is great fun! There’s lots here, so be sure to read the instructions on how to search. Interested only in what’s still here NOW that was here a while back? Here’s the list. And he’s even tackled businesses on 41 in Bradenton (AKA 14th Street).

Funny how we’re nostalgic… for food.

Hot History

We all know it’s too hot in July to do anything. But brushing up on, or learning new things about, local history, can be cooling. Here’s a few suggestions:

Visit Manatee Village Historic Park in Bradenton to see their exhibit, Wars in Manatee.

Explore how the pioneers and settlers of what became Manatee County experienced the various armed conflicts during their time. From the Seminole Wars to World War I, settlers couldn’t escape the fall out of the Wars of Manatee. This exhibit will be open until October 2022 so put it on your calendar.

Map Credit: Military Map of Florida, 1856. Courtesy of the Special Collections Department, University of South Florida.

Take a road trip… to the end of the road

Florida Back Roads Travel has gathered up 25 towns “at the end of the road.” Some you may have visited… but others await. Assuming your vehicle has A/C and you can pack a refreshing jug of lemonade, it’s a great way to wile away a hot weekend.

From stationwagonsforum.com

Take a gander at some gams

The history of bathing suits... a fun article with even better photos! Florida Memory serves up some hot ways to stay cool. Yes, that’s a palm frond swimsuit, next to the alligator skin one… and of course, no Florida July day would be complete without a sea shells outfit, there on the right.

In Flander’s Field…

When I was a child, we all bought and wore crepe paper poppies to honor the fallen of all wars. I haven’t seen a single poppy seller this year, but I still think of poppies on Memorial Day. Do you, too?

The symbolism of the poppy started with a poem written by a World War I brigade surgeon who was struck by the sight of the red flowers growing on a ravaged battlefield.

Click for illustration credit.

The brutal clashes between Allied and Central Powers soldiers tore up fields and forests, wreaking havoc on

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Your weekend reading!

We’ve made available to all, two small publications on Sarasota history that can be difficult to find. They’re available, along with a full weekend’s worth of reading, on our Articles page. Our thanks to Board Member Deb Walk for the tech work on these two new additions, which have a lovely surprise: For those of you doing local history research,

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Last Gathering this Season… a great one!

Our Sunday Afternoon Socials at 2 pm are casual, cafe-style events complete with wine and refreshments, and feature some of the most interesting people around. This month we welcome two historical writers who have turned their research into fish ranchos and early development into a fascinating tale of the 1840s-1900 Manatee and Sarasota areas.

Peggy Donoho and Ron Prouty will be telling the true tale of everyday settlers who populated our area.

They are the authors of Miguel’s Bay, about the people who lived in the Terra Ceia Bay area (that area you are in when you cross the Sunshine Skyway Bridge), the Manatee River towns Bradenton and Palmetto, and the Sarasota Bay area.

Miguel was a fisherman from Menorca who fished the waters from the bay now named after him all the way to Sarasota. He courted a Bavarian immigant who worked on the Manatee River and married her, despite

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Recycling… the Historic way!

We’re very excited to be joining forces with Historical Resources and Archives, commonly called The History Center, to offer our county an easy way to donate ephemera that you may have lying around, and never dreamed anyone would value it.

Ephemera! Stuff published once, meant for the moment… only now YOU

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What the “Real Florida” looks (and feels) like

If you want to experience what this area looked like before you got here, try an EcoWalk.

Book yourself into some nature walks with knowledgable guides from UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County. They provide “practical education you can trust, to help people, businesses and communities solve problems, develop skills and build a better future. This service is a partnership between the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS), the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Sarasota County.”

Click the pic to see Eventbrite’s listings (tours are free but space-limited.)

Note that the tours pause in summer and begin again the fall. Yup. It’s too dang hot to be out in the sun in the summer. There’s a history lesson right there.

2022 Giving Challenge: Why Help?

Every two years, our community comes together for 24 hours to donate what we can to charitable organizations serving Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte and DeSoto counties. 

Last time, in 2020, with the pandemic raging and our future unknown, the Historical Society thought the need for human services was more pressing than the need to save the very fabric of our history. We could wait for the help: people couldn’t. So two years ago we asked our supporters to think People First Then Buildings.

Now, in 2022, we come to ask history-lovers, our members, and our supporters to join us in the effort to save the Crocker Memorial Church. Many of you have followed, and participated in, the saving of the west wall of the Church, and for that we are most thankful.

But a building, of course, has four walls (and in this case, a steeple, a portico with columns, a flight of stairs and handicap ramp) which are in ongoing need for preservation. We now face the daunting task of raising funds for the east wall. The window sills are rotting and need to be replaced so that the original windows can be saved.

The Historical Society is proud to have been one of the original charities invited to join the Giving Challenge in its first year, and happy to join the over 700 area nonprofits participating in this year’s Giving Challenge, a 24-hour online event between noon Tuesday April 26 and noon Wednesday April 27. During this time, your gift of $25 to $100 will be doubled by The Patterson Foundation.

Since 2012, the Giving Challenge has acted as a catalyst for connection and provided more than $59 million in unrestricted funding in Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte, and DeSoto counties.

Watch the complete 2020 video from HSoSC

Explore how we refreshed our west wall, learn why it needed it, and how we even managed to help an Eagle Scout give us a second handicap space!

In 2020, we published an appeal to the public to think “People First Then Buildings.” Here’s what Treasurer Deborah Bowers, head of our Finance Committee, said: “…HSoSC feels that in these perilous times, people must come before preserving historic buildings.
Therefore we ask of you, think people first as you decide where your donations will go during the Giving Challenge …
“Please, if you are able to participate in the 2020 Giving Challenge, look first for those charities that help people.
Historic buildings are wonderful… we love them, and we love local history, but buildings are nothing without people to enjoy them in good health and prosperity.
“If you are moved to also donate to the Historical Society we would be grateful …
“In years to come this pandemic and how it has impacted local history is going to be the subject of Conversation at The Crocker and many of you will have important knowledge and personal stories to contribute that will illuminate how we live in the future. Right now we are all historians and we are in this together.”