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

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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

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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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If you couldn’t join us, you missed a treat!

Oh, if you weren’t there, #youshouldhavebeen! For our 37th Historic Sarasota Bay Cruise, the weather was glorious, narrator John McCarthy was awesome, and Capt. Eric of LeBarge took us to places we’ve never been before!

How John knows all that stuff, how the valued volunteers Norma Kwenski and Sue Padden and board members Brenda Lee Hickman and Jon Stone and our Site Manager Linda Garcia manage to keep even our 37th Historic Sarasota Bay Cruise fresh and not-to-be-missed is a wonder! Join HSoSC to keep up with all the goings on at the Society! https://hsosc.com/be-a-part-of-history/membership/

Above: The VIP Boarders waiting to, well, board, LeBarge for our 37th Sarasota Bay Cruise… some for their first time (Hello Australia and Norway visitors!), some for repeat trips. They don’t know it yet but they’r’e in for a treat… Captain Eric took a fresh route, and we saw things you wouldn’t have expected! Ospreys diving, dolphins herding their Sunday brunch into the shallows, and… a SHIPWRECK!
N.B: The trash can declined to participate so it was left dockside. Its loss!

Above: Jon Stone, incognito in his shades and straw hat, entertaining the waiting hordes. He also became an impromptu server as he passed around snacks several times during the cruise… we were all too busy seeking out what John McCarthy was pointing out to us (Shell Beach! Bay Island! Sailing prams and sandbars where they used to swim au naturel!) to actually visit the buffet table!

Above: Our long-time friend, past President, Guide to All That Works, John McCarthy, moments before he took the mic to send us on a 2-hour voyage to the past, regaling us with what went before (all the way back to the 1500s!) and how it relates to what’s happening today in Sarasota.

What went before and how it influences today… sounds like the topic for our upcoming Conversation at the Crocker on Tuesday March 8 at 7pm…. read about THAT here.

Sparkle, sail….

Sparkly Saturday is our traditional Preloved Jewelry Sale combined with our favorite Porch Sale

It’s time for Sparkly Saturday! On Saturday February 12, from 8am to 2pm, we’ll fill the Crocker Memorial Church with preloved jewelry, from costume to sterling, funky to fabulous, necklacesbraceletsearringsbroochesandmore, in conjunction with our fabulous supporter JewelrytotheRescue. And as always, we fill the porches of the Bidwell-Wood House with our “household sparkles” too. Come early, stay late!

A good time on our Historic Bay Cruise is always had by all… especially Site Manager Linda Garcia and Narrator John McCarthy

Then there’s our even-more-traditional Historic Sarasota Bay Cruise on Sunday March 6, with

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Historical Musings at the Farmhouse Market

Plant City Strawberries

The best strawberries? Those from Plant City, just a little north of the Farmhouse Market at Phillippi Estate Park. So I start thinking, naturally, of history. (And strawberry shortcake but let’s stay on topic here…)

Question: Why do they call it Plant City?

A: Because Itchepackesassa was too hard to pronounce and Cork? Really?
B: Because it’s an agricultural powerhouse.
C: Because Henry Plant built his railroad through there.

Answer? All of the above. Seriously, though, it was named after the railroad magnate who made the town’s fortune: now farmers could pack the strawberries in ice and ship them North to those fools living in snow and slush.

Tootin’ their own horn. Photo credit Ephemera Collection, State Library of Florida.

So then I start pondering “strawberry schools.”

Since many families could not afford to hire extra people to harvest the strawberries, children would help. Instead of having a summer vacation, children went to school during the summer and took the winter months off to help their parents with the harvest. The plants would start bearing fruit towards the end of December and continue through the end of March, so the school year was set at April to December. The schools with such a schedule (scheduling was a local, not a state, matter) were known as “strawberry schools.” Read more.

A number of counties in Central and South Florida mandated this to accommodate the small family farm harvest schedules for various winter fruits and vegetables. Strawberries were the main Florida crop requiring this arrangement. Rearranging the school year was no new invention; the very idea of summer vacation was originally devised to allow farm children to help their families during the busy summer months.

Plenty of other states had similar systems to allow schoolchildren to help out at harvest time. There have at various times been “potato schools” in Connecticut, “apple schools” in New York, “tomato schools” in Ohio, and so on. Read more. And more.

Then I got this yen for reading a sweet historical novel.

It’s technically a children’s book, but we all should retain our childlike sense of wonder, right? Read Strawberry Girl online. It’s also available in hard copy in our Sarasota County libraries.

So has all of this got you yearning to go to the Strawberry Festival in March?

The Strawberry Festival’s 2022 dates are March 3-13. Here’s some history of the Festival, and here’s where you can buy tickets to the music acts, including Oak Ridge Boys, Boys II Men, Chicks with Hits, Beach Boys (are we seeing a gender theme here or is it just me?)

Fabulous Fables & Fascinating Facts

Our second presentation of History is Fun was a hit! After a slideshow discussing the facts behind some of the more persistent fables about Sarasota history, our Hero of History, Sue Blue, as historian and raconteur, took the stage to relate to us the most wonderful fable of all… that of the doomed Sara deSoto.

Sue Blue, getting ready to delight us with her story-telling.

Our audience was well-spaced and the doors to the Crocker Memorial Church were left open to aid in air movement. And most fun of all, member Wil Pearson (pictured here in his persona of John Ringling during our “Ask Me Anything” event at Barnes & Noble in January 2020) won the door prize: A hand-crafted elegant bar of Mermaid soap! After all, mermaids are a fable, right?

Wil Pearson as John Ringling

Our Board has decided, being cautious, to cancel/delay our other January events. We hope to present these to you at a later time. To stay up-to-date, check our Events Page for the latest Calendar of Events.

If you missed this event or the December premiere of History is Fun, which highlighted Sarasota as seen through the eyes of an artist, be sure to circle Wednesday March 2 2022 at 2pm, when we’ll host the crew from our county’s Historical Resources Department telling us how they help preserve our local stories. Hope they’ll bring some artifacts! (They have mastodon teeth and teacups and all sorts of cool things there.)

To keep up to the moment in the ever-fluid issue of covid cancellations, bookmark our Events Page, where you’ll find the latest schedule of events at HSoSC.

A question that nags at all Floridians, native or new.

A nagging question that I never really articulated… but the answer popped up on my internet browsing one lazy Sunday afternoon:

Are flamingos really native to Florida, and if so, why don’t I ever see them?

Well, it turns out, I just wasn’t looking hard enough. Details? Lots.

A sight I hope to yet see. Credit Courtesy Jerry Lorenz / Audubon of Florida

John James Audubon himself saw flamingos in 1832 near Indian Key, an island off Islamorada, in the Upper Keys.

Far away to seaward we spied a flock of Flamingoes advancing in “Indian line,” with well-spread wings, outstretched necks, and long legs directed backwards. Ah! reader, could you but know the emotions that then agitated my breast!

Flamingos as Tourist Center Motivators

Is the flamingo your spirit animal? (I promise, I am not rolling my eyes. I lie.)

Flamingo Plastic Taxidermy.

Flamingos have been made into chandeliers, poolside beverage coolers, and ceiling fan pulls. I saw one as a carousel “horse” and another as a toilet paper roll holder. Flamingos are happy birds. And here’s one flamingo nobody’s ever thought to gift me with.

So, I guess it’s as simple as ABC… Flaminogos are as native as you and me!

The Holiday Party!

If you weren’t able to join us in the Crocker Memorial Church on Tuesday evening December 14 for our annual Holiday party, here’s some photos to enjoy, sent with our best wishes for a joyful season and a happy new year. Stay tuned: we have THREE events coming up in January, and even more in February!

First, the Church was decked out by volunteers, ready for its guests:

And then there was the fabulous

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Holiday Happiness

Holiday cheer from the Historical Society

Don’t forget our Members-Only Holiday Bash on Tuesday December 14 from 6-8pm in the Crocker Memorial Church. We’re all decked out for the celebration, and it will be Supper-by-the-Bite with incredible homemade desserts to finish off with!
It’s Members-Only, but you CAN join at the door… and that’ll save you money on all our other events, such as the upcoming History is Fun Weekday Afternoon on January 6, which promises to be great fun.

Happy Holidays from the Historical Society of Sarasota County

New, an afternoon event at the Historical Society!

Not everyone can attend our traditional 7pm Conversations at the Crocker, but we don’t want to make it hard to have fun and learn a little with us. So we’ve added “History is Fun!” afternoon events to our educational line-up.

Our premiere event, our “Grand Opening” as it were, of these afternoon events will be Wednesday December 1 2021 at 2pm in the Crocker Memorial Church. It’s entitled “Sarasota: Art Inspired By The Past” and

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Centennial Presentations from the Historical Society

To mark the centennial year of Sarasota County, the Historical Society produced several educational events. These have had to be translated from in-person appearances to online presentations for use during the pandemic. The filmed reading of the play, The Roads We Traveled to Sarasota County, written and produced by Board member Kathryn Chesley, is available on loan for group showings with an appropriate honorarium. Please contact our office for more information. We will also be presenting the video with in-person commentary by Ms. Chesley and actors, as our November Conversation at the Crocker.

Kathryn Chesley, Author, Producer, Director, and Actor
Kate Holmes costumed as Lizzie Guptill

The slide show, From Wilderness to County, was originally created for our Speakers’ Bureau to take on the road to clubs, groups, and other gatherings. Kate Holmes, a volunteer with HSoSC, wrote, created, and presented this event while costumed as and in the persona of Lizzie Webb Guptill, a real-life pioneer who arrived in this area as a 12-year-old in 1867. Lizzie’s viewpoint of Sarasota’s journey from an unpopulated wilderness to a 20th-century county, can be viewed here.

It’s a journey to 1921, and we hope you enjoy it.

From Wilderness to County, a presentation from The Historical Society of Sarasota County

Let’s gloat a bit…

Well, it’s after Labor Day. That means, for folks Up North, the end of their beach time.

Ah, but for us lucky Sarasota Countians, we get to enjoy our beaches year-round.

Of course that means…

finding a parking spot year-round as well. This photo was taken (hold onto your sunhat!) FORTY YEARS ago, in 1981. (You’d think they’d have solved this problem by now…)

Of course, enjoying our beaches year-round means the quest for a beach-worthy body is perpetual. Here’s some bodies over the years to instill in us all, that all bodies are beautiful (even if all bathing suits aren’t necessarily.)

Okay, I cheated just a bit. Those ladies in 1885 attire were actually shelling Up North, but what they were wearing was what the Scottish settlers would have back in the day.

Okay, enough with the FUN. Here’s some history to enjoy:

Speaking of “History is FUN”… have you saved the dates for our new, mid-afternoon events in the Crocker Memorial Church? December 1, January 6, March 2. See all our upcoming events.