1845 David Levy Yulee and James D. Westcott,
Jr., took their seats in the United States Senate today as the first
senators from Florida. Yulee was from St. Augustine, while Westcott
was from Tallahassee. David Levy Yulee won the long term of office,
which ended on March 3, 1851, while Westcott's term expired on March
3, 1849. The decision was made by lot. Yulee would later serve in
the Senate of the Confederate States of America and Westcott would
become the Attorney General of Florida in 1868.
Yulee, who had previously served as the delegate
from Florida in the 27th, 28th and 29th Congress, was a large land
owner and entrepreneur. He would be the force behind the first
cross-peninsula railroad that ran from Fernandina on the Atlantic
Coast to Cedar Key on the Gulf of Mexico. The railroad opened in
1860, but was almost immediately shut down with the outbreak of the
War between the States.
1861 Confederate General Braxton E. Bragg
reports that he has approximately 3,000 men under his command in
Pensacola, but arms for only about 600 of them.
1862 The Union ship, the U.S.S. Sagamore, today
capture the blockade runner, By George, off the coast of the Indian
River. The captured vessel was carrying a cargo of coffee and salt.
The United States gunboat, Tioga, captured the
schooner Nonsuch, after a four- hour chase. Although the Nonsuch was
flying British colors, she was carrying a cargo of coffee and
cartridge paper. She was taken to Key West for adjudication.
1864 The Florida Methodist Conference began its
annual meeting in Madison today. The Conference has 8,641 white
members and 5,169 African-American members.
The Florida Legislature today approved an
appropriation for $60,000 to care for the sick and wounded soldiers
of the state.
1928 The first air line service between Miami
and New York was inaugurated today by Pitcairn Airlines (later known
as Eastern Airlines).
1945 Delta Airlines began operating in Florida
today with DC-3 service from Miami to Jacksonville.
1969 Eckerd Drugs of Florida, Incorporated, was
reincorporated as Jack Eckerd Corporation today. The first Eckerd
drug store opened in Clearwater in 1952.
1839 Robert Raymond Reid, the fourth Territorial
governor of Florida (December 2, 1839-August 11, 1844), took office
today. Reid was born in Prince William Parish, South Carolina on
September 8, 1789. He was educated in Augusta, Georgia, and
practiced law there. At age 27, Reid became the judge of the Burke
County (GA) Superior Court. In 1832, President Andrew Jackson
appointed him the United States Judge of east Florida. He continued
in this office until he was appointed governor by President Martin
Van Buren on December 2, 1839. Reid presided over the Constitutional
Convention at St. Joseph (See entry for December 3). He died in Leon
County on July 1, 1841.
1862 Colonel William G. M. Davis of the 1st
Florida Cavalry received his appointed today as a Brigadier General
and will be assigned to command Confederate forces at Knoxville and
parts of East Tennessee.
The Florida Comptroller, Walter Gwynn, reports that
the state expended $958,260.76 during the fiscal year that ended on
October 31. The state received $1,068,397.58 in taxes and other
1863 As of this date, Federal naval authorities
report that thirty-four Union ships are attached to the East Gulf
Blockading Squadron, which enforces the naval blockade of Florida
from Cape Canaveral on the East Coast to St. Andrews Bay on the Gulf
Men from the Federal bark, Restless, laying at
anchor at St. Andrews Bay, marched inland to Lake Ocala. At Lake
Ocala, they destroyed three separate salt works belonging to a Mr.
Kent. The operations, which could produce 130 pounds of salt per
day, were worked by a force of seventeen men, who were captured and
paroled. In addition to the boilers, two flatboats, six oxcarts and
other equipment were destroyed. A large quantity of salt was thrown
into the lake.
1910 Charles E. Bennett, former congressman from
Jacksonville, was born today in Canton, New York. Bennett has the
distinction of being the member of Congress with the record of
casting the greatest number of consecutive roll-call votes in U.S.
history.1925 The Florida Cattle Tick Eradication Committee, founded
in 1916, formally changed its name today to the Florida State
Chamber of Commerce at a meeting in St. Petersburg.1957 Atlantic
Beach, first incorporated in 1926, was re-chartered today as a city.
December 2 is a favorite launch date for NASA. On this date, the
following shuttle launches took place: 1988- STS-27 1990-STS-35
1825 President John Quincy Adams confirmed the
selection of Pensacola as the site for the construction of a United
States Navy Yard.1838
Florida's first constitutional convention opened
today at St. Joseph [near present-day Port St. Joe]. Fifty-six
representatives from Florida's 20 counties gathered to write a
constitution in anticipation of statehood. The convention lasted
until January 11, 1839. Interestingly, the document drafted by these
men prohibited bank officers, clergymen, and duelists from being
elected to the Legislature, governor's office, or United States
Senator. The convention's efforts were for naught, since statehood
would be delayed for another six years. When Florida became a state
on March 3, 1845, the document drafted at St. Joseph served as the
basis for the first state constitution.
1863 Governor John Milton signed the legislative
bill today incorporating the Monticello and Thomasville Railroad
1864 A Federal task force, using men from the
U.S.S. Nita, Stars and Stripes, Hendrick Hudson, Ariel, and Two
Sisters destroyed a large salt works at Rocky point, near Tampa Bay
today. Seven boilers and other equipment were destroyed. There were
1963 The St. Lucie County Historical Commission
was created at Fort Pierce today.
1765 Zephaniah Kingsley, pioneer land owner at
Fort George Island, was born today in Scotland. Kingsley Plantation,
near Jacksonville, is open to visitors each day.
1862 Colonel Caraway Smith of the 2nd Florida
cavalry has been assigned to command the coastal defenses of Florida
from Dead Man's Bay west to Dickerson Bay. Smith's headquarters will
be at Camp Leon near Tallahassee.
1864 Brigadier General Robert Bullock of the 7th
Florida infantry regiment was severely wounded today in fighting
near Murfeesboro, Tennessee. Jacob A. Lash, major, has taken over
command until a replacement arrives.
The blockade runner Peep O'Day was captured today by
boats from the U.S.S. Pursuit near the Indian River. The Peep O'Day
was carrying a cargo of cotton.1925 Newspapers report today that
more than 600,000 persons are living in tents as migration outstrips
the ability of builders to construct new homes during the "Florida
Boom." Gilchrist County, Florida's 67th county, was established
today by the Florida Legislature. Named for Albert Waller Gilchrist,
the 20th governor of Florida (January 5, 1909-January 7, 1913). The
county seat is Trenton. Gilchrist was a descendant of both George
Washington and James Madison. A bachelor, he left his estate of
$500,000 to charity.
1925 J. B. Johnson assumed office as the
Attorney General of Florida today. He served until June 4, 1927,
when he was replaced by Fred H. Davis.
Justice Rivers H. Buford assumes a position on the
Florida Supreme Court. By the end of his tenure on March 1, 1948, he
had written more opinions (by name) than any other justice. The
2,657 opinions he wrote under this own name was supplemented by an
additional 300-400 anonymously on behalf of the entire court.
1959 "Sam," a NASA test monkey, survives a trip
into outer space and returns to Earth, paving the way for humans to
travel in space.
1964 Nova University is incorporated today.
Privately operated and headquartered in Fort Lauderdale, Nova
University is one of the fastest growing higher education
institutions in Florida.
1862 The Florida Treasurer announced today that
the State of Florida has issued $1,886,640.15 in treasury notes as
of this date. Of these notes, $1,486,601.28 are in circulation.
1863 Federal General Alexander Asboth reports
that Confederate forces are fortifying a position at Fifteen-Mile
Station. Asboth also reports that large numbers of deserters are
coming through his lines to take the oath of allegiance to the
1864 Governor John Milton signed into law a bill
that creates special courts for trying slaves, free Negroes, and
mulattos accused of capital offenses. Milton also signed a bill that
places all white male inhabitants of Florida between the ages of 16
and 55 into militia service.
1883 Citizens of Tallahassee held a public
meeting today to develop a plan for financing the city's first
1886 Citizens of Pensacola woke up this morning
to a blanket of snow on the ground. More than one-half inch of the
"white rain" fell on Florida's second city.
1918 The Florida House of representatives rejected
statewide suffrage for women by a vote of 31-37.
1822 Eberhard Faber, the pencil manufacturer
whose purchased and clear cutting of hundred of thousands of acres
of cedar both fueled the economy of Cedar Key and ultimately led to
its economic demise, was born in Germany.
1861 Governor John Milton today signed the bill
changing the name of New River County to Bradford County in honor of
Captain Richard Bradford, who was killed in the Battle of Santa Rosa
Island on October 9, 1861.
1862 Governor John Milton signed a bill today
suspending the collection of taxes in counties under Union control.
1864 The U.S.S. Sunflower today captured the
Confederate sloop, Pickwick, along the Gulf Coast near St. George's
Governor John Milton called for the restoration of
3-days-a-week mail service between Gainesville and Tampa. The
service had been reduced to a once-a-week run.1947 Today, President
Harry S. Truman dedicated the Everglades National Park in ceremonies
held in the town of Everglades.
1957 Today the test satellite Vanguard exploded
two seconds after it was launched at Cape Canaveral.
1965 In an unusual experiment, astronaut James
Lovell, aboard Gemini 7, became the first person to fly in space
without protective gear, wearing only his underwear!
DECEMBER 7 Today is Pearl Harbor Day. On
December 7, 1941, American naval and land forces were surprised by a
massive air raid by Japanese carrier based planes. This "Day of
Infamy" signaled the united states' entry into World War II Salutes
those men and women who gave their lives at Pearl Harbor and in the
years of warfare to come.
1821 Pensacola's First United Methodist Church
is established as a Methodist mission in this Panhandle city.
1861 John K. Mitchell is appointed Commander in
the Confederate Navy, while Henry K. Stevens receives a commission
as Lieutenant. Both men are Floridians.
1863 The commander of the U.S.S. Sagamore
receives orders to proceed to the mouth of the Suawnee River and to
capture two river pilots stationed there. The pilots are suspected
of piloting three Confederate steamers carrying contraband up the
river at the end of their voyages to Havana.
1864 The Federal blockade at Fernandina has been
lifted by order of Union President Abraham Lincoln. Ships of the
South Atlantic Blockading Squadron are ordered by Rear Admiral John
A. Dahlgreen to obey this order, but to carefully the incoming ships
to ensure they do not visit other ports which are still blockaded.
1918 Sidney J. Catts, Florida's only Prohibition
governor, calls the Legislature into session to ratify the amendment
to the U.S. Constitution which prohibited the manufacture and sale
of alcoholic beverages.
1941 Some 360 Japanese planes attack Pearl
Harbor. Five American battleships are sunk, 14 smaller ships are
destroyed, 200 aircraft are obliterated. Tragically, more than 2,000
seamen are killed, along with 400 civilians. More than 1,300 are
wounded. Japanese losses are 29 airplanes, five midget submarines,
and 100 killed.
1969 Testimony continued today in the murder
trial of Miami native, Lieutenant William Calley, charged with
killing Vietnamese civilians at Mylai, in Songmy Province, South
Vietnam, on March 16, 1968.
1972 Apollo 17 is successfully launched from
Cape Canaveral and the Kennedy Space Center. This is the last manned
moon shot in the NASA moon series. Eugene A. Cernan and Harrison H.
Schmitt land on the moon's surface, while Ronald E. Evans remained
in the command ship. The astronauts spend a total of 75 hours on the
lunar surface, and, in addition to collecting specimens, left a
permanent plaque, signed by President Richard M. Nixon and the
astronauts, on the part of their space ship that remained behind.
1824 The first presbyterian Church in Florida is
incorporated at St. Augustine.
1862 The Pensacola and Georgia Railroad is
opened to Gee Gee's Turnout, four miles from Quincy.
1863 The Florida Sentinel suspended publication
today because of a lack of paper. Former State paymaster, R.C.
Williams, was cleared of charges made in November that he had
defaulted with $11,400 in state funds.
1886 The City of Arcadia is incorporated today.
1891 Marcellus Lovejoy Stearns, the eleventh
governor of Florida (acting) died today at Palatine Bridge, New
York. He served from March 18, 1874 until January 2, 1877. Stearns
was born at Lovell, Maine, on April 29, 1839. He was educated at
Waterville (now Colby) College. He left college to join the Union
army in 1861. Stearns lost an arm at the Battle of Winchester.
Achieving the rank of First Lieutenant, he transferred to the
Freedman's Bureau and was stationed at Quincy, Florida. In 1868, he
served in the constitutional convention and was elected to the
Florida House of Representatives from 1868 until 1872. In 1869,
Stearns was elected Speaker . In 1869, he was appointed the United
States Surveyor-General for Florida by Ulysses S. Grant, a position
he held until 1873. In 1872, Stearns was elected Lieutenant Governor
and became Governor upon the death of Governor Ossian Bingley Hart.
Defeated in his bid for election to a regular term, Stearns was
appointed United States Commissioner at Hot Springs, Arkansas, a
position he held until 1880.
1928 Dale Van Sickle, an end on the University
of Florida football team, is named to the Associated Press'
All-American football team.
1825 The City of Tallahassee is incorporated
1825 Washington County, Florida's twelfth
county, was established today. The county was named in honor of
President George Washington. The county seat of Washington County is
1861 The Calhoun rangers, activated by Special
State Order 83, report for duty today at Camp Milton, near
1863 The Federal Navy reports the U.S.S.
Circassin will serve as a supply ship operating between Cape
Canaveral on the Atlantic Coast of Florida and the coast of Texas.
1864 The Florida Brigade, consisting of the 2nd,
5th, 8th, 9th, 10th and 11th Florida Infantry regiments attacked
Federal positions at Bellfield, Virginia, today after a two-day
march. Federal units refused to become involved in combat and the
Florida units returned to their camp.
1933 WMBR Radio, founded in Tampa in 1927, is
licensed to operate in Jacksonville.
1943 Dennis J. Patrick O'Grady, reputed to be
the youngest ever member of the Florida Senate, was born today in
Brooklyn, New York. O'Grady was elected in 1967, following a special
court-ordered statewide apportionment general election. When
elected, O'Grady was 23 years and 3 months old.
1960 The New River Tunnel, the first in Florida
open to vehicular traffic, is opened today.
1985 Polls released today show Floridians joined
other Americans (47%) who think President Ronald Reagan lied about
his knowledge of the diversion of funds from the sale of arms to
Iran to fund the Contra movement in Nicaragua. Special prosecutor
Lawrence E. Walsh, former president of the American Bar Association,
is conducting an investigation of the Iran-Contra affair. Reagan's
public approval rating has dropped from 67% to 46% as a result of
the investigation and congressional hearings on the matter.
1810 The sixth (acting) governor of Florida
(April 1, 1865-May 19, 1865), Abraham Kurkindolle Allison, was born
today in Jones County, Georgia. Allison had earlier served a brief
term as Acting governor (September 16-October 3, 1853) when Governor
Thomas Brown and Senate President R. J. Floyd were both out of the
state at the same time.
1842 The Florida Journal for today announced the
start of the 1843 race season at Tallahassee would begin on January
1861 General Braxton E. Bragg, on duty in
Pensacola, reports that he is having great difficulty persuading his
troops to reenlist for the "duration of the war." Many of the
initial 90 day terms of enlistment are expiring and some troops are
ready to abandon their units and go home.
1862 The Federal ship, U.S.S. Sagamore, reports
the capture of the British blockade runner, Alicia, near the Indian
River on the Atlantic Coast.
1862 The M. Sandford, a Federal transport
steamer, is reported aground near the Turtle Harbor Lighthouse. A
contingent of the 156th New York Volunteers are aboard. The 500 men
and officers of the unit are evacuated by the U.S.S. Gemstock and
the U.S.S. Blackston.
1863 Officers and men from the Union steamer,
Bloomer, report the destruction of salt works near St. Andrews Sound
this morning. Twenty-seven buildings, 200 kettles, 2,000 bushels of
salt, and warehouses containing enough supplies for three months'
operations were destroyed. The value of the materiels destroyed is
estimated at $500,000 (US).
1864 The U.S.S. O.H. Lee captured the British
blockade runner, Sort, off Anclote Key today. The Sort was carrying
a cargo of cotton.
1941 On this day off the coast of Luzon,
Philippine Islands, Madison resident Captain Colin Kelly, Jr. was
killed in action while piloting an American bomber against attacking
Japanese ships. Although the remainder of his crew managed to bail
out of the bomber, Kelly remained at the controls to ensure their
safety. Kelly and his crew were the first American to inflict damage
on a Japanese battleship in World War II.
1862 In action near Fredericksburg, Virginia,
today the 8th Florida Infantry Regiment suffered losses. Twenty men
were lost in battle, while an addition 2 were captured.
1862 The Florida Methodist Conference is meeting
today in Tallahassee.
1863 The United States bark, Restless, with the
assistance of two other Federal ships, the Bloomer and the Caroline,
began shelling Confederate works in the town of St. Andrews today.
Confederate forces in the area are stationed there to protect the
valuable salt works in the area.
1886 Horticulturalist Lue Gim Gong settled in
DeLand on this day. Gim Gong's experiments with producing a hardy
and commercially viable orange led to the development of a fruit
that today bears his name.
1941 Floridians are still reeling at the horror
of the Japanese attack of Pearl Harbor and other American
installations in the Pacific. They are gearing up for a long and
extended battle on two fronts as the United States Congress responds
to the declarations of Adolph Hitler and Benito Mussolini by
declaring war on Italy and Germany. This titanic struggle would be a
seminal watershed for the people of Florida.
Here are some of the results of World War II on the
state. During the next four years, Floridians would:
*construct 1,560 miles of new highways
*build the only fully powered concrete ships in the
*drill the first producing oil well in the state in
*be invaded by a small force of German saboteurs at
Ponta Vedra Beach
*see the state's permanent population rise from
1,897,144 in 1940 to 2,771,305 in 1950
*become home to more than 4,000 German prisoners in
16 sites around the state
1853 Plataka's First Presbyterian Church is
1861 Under Special Orders No. 264, issued by the
Confederate War Department in Richmond, General Braxton E. Bragg's
command is the Florida Panhandle is extended westward to include the
Pascagoula Bay and the part of the state of Mississippi that lies
east of the Pascagoula River.
1863 The Union steamer, Bloomer, continued its
operations against Confederate salt works on the Gulf Coast. The
Bloomer is continuing operations in the West Bay area.
1891 The first Elk's Lodge (#221) is organized
today in Jacksonville.
1932 Elizabeth J. Johnson, the first republican
woman in the Florida Senate, was born today in Catskill, New York.
Ms. Johnson was elected in 1966 from Cocoa Beach. For five months,
the Florida Senate had two Senators named Beth Johnson. The second
Senator Beth Johnson represented the 19th District (Orlando).
1978 Mario P. Goderich, a Cuban exile, was
appointed to the position of Circuit Court Judge today by Governor
Reubin D. Askew today. Goderich became the first Cuban exile to
assume such a position in Florida.
1979 Maria Marinello Korvick, who became the
first Hispanic woman to become a Circuit Judge on August 1, 1981,
today was appointed a County Judge for Dade County by Governor Bob
Graham (See entry for August 1).
1998 Governor Lawton Chiles, born April 3, 1930,
in Lakeland, died today of an apparent heart attack while exercising
in the gym at the executive mansion in Tallahassee. Chiles, who was
educated at the University of Florida (B.S., 1952-LL.B., 1955),
served 18 years as United States Senator and 8 years as governor,
following service in the Florida House of Representatives
(1959-1966) and the Florida Senate (1966-1970). Chiles gained
national fame in his campaign for United States senator when he
canvassed the entire state on foot. "Walking Lawton" Chiles was a
Democrat. Twice he defeated Republican candidates for governor. In
1990, he handily defeated Bob Martinez of Tampa, and in 1994, he
narrowly defeated J. E. "Jeb" Bush. He is survived by his wife,
Rhea, and four children.
1861 Polk County was created today by the
Florida legislature from lands that had previously constituted parts
of Brevard and Hillsborough Counties. Named for president James Knox
Polk, the eleventh president of the United States, Polk County is
the 39th Florida County.
1861 The Florida Legislature approved a one-year
moratorium on the payment of taxes for the year 1860-1861.
1862 The Florida 1st and 3rd Florida Regiments
returned to Chattanooga today from the Confederate campaigning in
Kentucky. Because of the high casualty rate the units have suffered,
they will be re-organized as the 1st and 3rd Consolidated Regiment.
1862 On the Virginia front, the 2nd Florida
Infantry Regiment suffered casualties of four killed and 34 wounded.
1863 The Union bark, Roebuck, today captured a
Confederate sloop off the coast of the Indian River. The sloop had a
crew of two men and was carrying a cargo of 16 bags of salt and one
box of "notions."
1864 The Confederate Bureau of Conscription
today issued General Circular No. 36, which authorizes the
impressment of free Negroes and slaves into the Confederate Army.
Florida's quota of such impressment is fixed at 500.
1977 State Senator Ralph R. Poston, Sr., of
Miami, was reprimanded and fined $500 by the Florida Senate at a
Special Session. Poston was charged with violating laws and rules
relating to standards of conduct, to wit, he had used his public
office to seek business. Poston was not allowed to take his seat in
the Senate until he paid the fine, which he promptly did.
1860 Robert C. Williams assumed office today as
the Comptroller of Florida. He held this office until May 26, 1863,
when he was replaced Walter Gwynn.
1861 More than 1,000 Federal troops have arrived
to reinforce the Union garrison holding Fort Pickens and Santa Rosa
Island in Pensacola Bay.
1916 Today is the birthday of Hampton Dunn,
historian, newsman, and raconteur. Dunn, the former editor of The
Tampa Times was born in Floral City, Florida. He was educated at
Mercer University and the University of Tampa. A well-known newsman,
Dunn won the coveted Spot News Prize awarded by the American press
Association for his coverage of the Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings trial
1953 Pulitzer Prize Winner Marjorie Kinnan
Rawlings ( born August 8, 1896) died today. Ms. Rawlings, who
resided in the small village of Cross Creek, was famous for her
novels, South Moon Under, The Yearling, and Cross Creek, and a
myriad of short stories and other works. Salty, acerbic, gracious
and stylish, "Miz" Rawlings took the backwoods people of Central
Florida to heart and used them to illustrate the very best and worst
of people. In 1945, Rawlings was sued for "invasion of privacy" when
she wrote an accurate, though mean, description of one of her
neighbors. In a famous trial which featured the legal maneuvering of
attorney Sisbee Scruggs, she was found guilty, but fined only a
1962 The Mariner 2 spacecraft gave mankind its
first close-up observations of another planet today as it flew by
Venus and beamed close-up pictures of that planet's surface over 36
million miles of space to Earth. Mariner 2, launched from Cape
Canaveral 109 days ago, flew to within 21,000 miles of the surface
of Venus for more than 40 minutes.
1970 The trial of Miami native Lieutenant
William G. Calley on charges of murdering civilian inhabitants of
the village of Mylai in Songmy Province in Viet Nam. Today, Sergeant
L. G. Bacon testified that Captain Ernest Medina, Calley's
commanding officer, gave the order to exterminate everyone in the
village, including women and children. The trial continues at Fort
Benning in Columbus, Georgia.
1780 The Spanish, French and American military
authorities, led by General George Washington, are planning a
combined raid against British held Pensacola and the three
colonies/states of Florida, Georgia and South Carolina.
1808 James Emilius Broome, the third governor of
Florida October 3, 1853-October 5, 1857) , was born today in Aiken
County, South Carolina. (For more information, see th entry for
1855 Liberty County, Florida's 32nd county, was
created by the Legislature today. It is named for the people who
founded and built the United States. Its county seat is Bristol.
1903 Nelson Poynter, editor and publisher of the
St. Petersburg Times, was born today in Sullivan, Indiana.
1920 Florida's first Lions' Club is organized
today at Orlando.
1926 The Miami Beach Woman's Club was formed
1926 Ben F. Overton, long-time member of the
Florida Supreme Court, was born today in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
1840 Military operations, under the command of
Major Fauntleroy, continue today near Everglades, Florida, as units
of Companies A, B, D, F, H and K of the 2nd Dragoons and Companies
D, H, I and K of the Third Artillery, along with Negro guides,
confront Seminole warriors. This campaign, which will conclude on
December 24, will produce over 363 wounded casualties.
1861 General Robert E. Lee orders a regiment of
Mississippi troops, under the command of Colonel William F. Dowd, to
supplement the 1,300 Confederate soldiers at Fernandina.
The State Comptroller reports that Floridians have
paid $227,374.11 so far. This is Florida's assigned quota of the
Confederate Direct Tax.
1862 Confederate General Joseph J. Finegan
establishes his headquarters to Lake City.
1889 The first post office in Farmdale, now part
of Tyndall Air Force Reservation, was established.
1896 Cigar magnate Don Vincente Martinez-Ybor
was mourned today by 5,000 cigar workers who surrounded his home at
1409 11th Avenue during funeral rites.
1924 The first trip over the cross-state highway
was completed today from West Palm beach to Tampa-St. Petersburg.
1930 C. W. "Bill" Young, former member of
Congress from the 8th District, was born today in Hamarville,
1950 Floridians, like other Americans, were
taken by surprised when President Harry S. Truman proclaimed a
"state of emergency" in the United States following the entry of
Chinese Communist troops into the Korean War. Included in the
government's action were wage and price controls.
1962 Explorer 16 was launched today from Cape
Canaveral. Explorer 16 is the first satellite dedicated to the study
of meteors and other space debris.
1840 Fighting continues in the Everglades as
units of the American Army under Major Fauntleroy continue their
pursuit of Seminole warriors.
1861 The Florida Legislature appropriated
$10,000 for the purchase of cloth to be given to patriotic women's
societies to manufacture uniforms.
The Legislature authorized the City of Pensacola to
print $25,000, to be issued in small bills, for which the city's
resources will pledged to redeem.
The Legislature, meeting since November 18,
1863 The U.S. bark, the Roebuck, reported the
capture today of the British blockade runner, Ringdove, and its
five-man crew off the Indian River Inlet.
1897 The town of LaCrosse is incorporated today.
Steamship service from Miami to Nassau and Cuba is
inaugurated today by Henry M. Flagler.
1928 Doyle Edward Conner, the seventh
Commissioner of Agriculture of the State of Florida, was born in
Starke. Conner was elected to the House of Representatives in 1950,
while he was a sophomore at the University of Florida. He was only
21 years old at the time. Conner was subsequently re-elected for
four more terms, and in 1957, served as the Speaker of the House at
age 28. He was elected Commissioner of Agriculture in 1960.
1957 The United States successfully launched the
Atlas ICBM today on a 500-mile flight from Cape Canaveral.
1981 Leah Alice Simms was appointed County Judge
of Dade County by Governor Bob Graham today. She is the first
African-American woman to hold a judgeship in Florida. Judge Simms
was educated at Howard University and the Willamette University
School of Law.
1861 Brigadier General R. F. Floyd, commander of
Confederate forces at Apalachicola, reports that he has 612 men
under his command.
1863 Federal soldiers destroyed salt works
around St. Andrews Bay today. An estimated 500 "works," 33 wagons,
12 flat boats, two sloops, six ox-carts, 4,000 bushels of salt, 700
buildings, and more than 1,000 kettles and iron boilers were
destroyed. Union officials estimate the combined productive capacity
of the destroyed works at 15,600 bushels a day.
1917 The Key West Naval Air Station was
commissioned into service in ceremonies today.
1920 The first W. T. Grant store in Florida
opened today at 903 Franklin Street in Tampa.
1956 The University of South Florida opened
today with a charter class of 1,997 students. Dr. John Lott Brown,
president, supervised the creation of the first major state
university created from scratch in the United States in the 20th
Century. USF now has more than 35,000 students located on the 1,672
acre Tampa campus and the 11 acre St. Petersburg campus. In addition
USF operates branches in Polk County and Sarasota. USF is also
responsible for the operation of New College in Sarasota. Former
Florida legislator and Secretary of Education Betty Castor is
president currently. USF offers a number of advanced degrees in a
variety of professional fields. In 1997, USF fielded its first
football team, the Brahma Bulls.
1832 Today was the opening day of the first
annual race meeting at the Tallahassee Jockey Club. A $300 purse was
the top prize in the three-mile heat.
1837 Colonel Zachary Taylor leads a force of
1,000 men against the warring Seminoles in southern Florida.
1862 Major A. A. Canova was appointed
Confederate Chief of Subsistence today in Florida.
1863 Several "exiled" Union men left St.
Augustine today for Port Royal aboard the federal steamer Maple
1864 A federal expedition from Barrancas and
consisting of the 97th U.S. Colored infantry reached Pollard today.
A supply depot, filled with military clothing and equipment, was
destroyed. Several bridges and miles of railroad track over the
Little Escambia River were destroyed.
1971 The nine-year strike against the Florida
East Coast Railroad, which started on January 23, 1963, was settled
in Federal court today. The strike was over pay and work rules.
Workers received a 37% pay raise, and the Unions representing them
received $1.5 million in damages.
1972 America's Apollo moon program came to an
end today when Apollo 17 splashed down in the Pacific Ocean. Eugene
A. Cernan, Harrison H. Schmitt and Ronald E. Evans were the crew for
this historic journey. Schmitt and Cernan actually walked on the
moon, while Evans remained in the command module.
1840 Major Fauntleroy and his party continue
operations against the Seminoles in the Everglades.
1841 A detachment of Company D of the 4th United
States Infantry and Company I of the 8th United States Infantry
engaged in fighting with Seminole warriors today at Big Cypress
Swamp. A sergeant of the 8th Infantry and a private of the 4th
Infantry were wounded.
1855 First Lieutenant G. L. Hartsuff was wounded
today in action against Seminoles at Billy's Town, near Forty Myers.
Hartsuff was leading a detachment of 10 men from the 10th United
1862 Florida Commissioners J. M. Chambers and J.
F. Bozeman report the completion of underwater obstructions on the
1863 The Union steamer Fox attacked a
Confederate steamer aground at the mouth of the Suwannee River. The
crew abandoned the ship after the Fox fired howitzers and dispatched
an armed boarding party. It is thought the Confederate steamer is
the Little Lilly. The Federals, unable to operate the engine, set
fire to the vessel.
1864 Floridians watched the approach of General
William T. Sherman's army on Savannah and the evacuation of that
city by the Confederate army. Some Confederate military officials
fear that Sherman will now turn his attention to the State of
1865 David Shelby Walker, Florida's eighth
governor (December 20, 1865-July 4, 1868), took office today. Shelby
was born in Russelville, Kentucky, on May 2, 1815. After attending
private schools in Kentucky and Tennessee, he settled in Leon
County, Florida, in 1837. Walker was a member of the first
Legislature under statehood as a Senator from Leon County (1845) and
a Representative from Leon County in 1848. From 1849 until 1854, he
served as the Register to Public Lands and the State Superintendent
of Public Instruction. He was Mayor of Tallahassee, and in 1860,
became a Justice on the Florida Supreme Court, a position he held
until he became governor. Although Walker opposed secession, he
supported Florida when it left the Union. Walker's administration
had the difficult task of restoring civil government during
reconstruction. He returned to the practice of law in 1868 and was
appointed Circuit Court judge in 1876, a position he held until his
death on July 20, 1891.
1879 Jacksonville's Southern Bell Telephone and
Telegraph Company was chartered today.
1908 Francis Philip Fleming, the 15th governor
of Florida (1889-1893), died today. Fleming, who was the son of
Lewis and Margaret Seton Fleming, was born at Panama Park in Duval
County. Educated by tutors on his father's plantation, Fleming
engaged in business prior to the Civil War. He entered service and
received a battlefield promotion to first lieutenant while on duty
with the Army of Northern Virginia. While convalescing in
Tallahassee, Fleming commanded a company of irregulars in the Battle
of Natural Bridge, which stop a Union advance on Tallahassee.
Following the war, he studied law and became a widely respected
attorney. He died in Jacksonville.
1979 Floridians watched with mixed feelings
today as the Congress voted to guarantee a loan of $1.5 billion to
save Chrysler Corporation from bankruptcy. Supporters of the measure
argued that government action was necessary to save more than
700,000 American jobs, while opponents argued against a government
bailout of a private company.
1824 The United States Quartermaster Corps today
signed contracts for the construction of a 16-foot wide roadway from
Tallahassee to St. Augustine. This road was part of the St.
Augustine to Pensacola Road and the cost of the project was $13,500.
1858 Suwannee County, the thirty-fifth county in
Florida, was established today. The county is named for the famous
river that flows through it.
Bradford County, the 36th county in Florida, was
established today as "New River County." On December 6, 1861, the
name of the county was changed to honor Captain Richard Bradford,
the first Florida officer killed in the Civil War. He died at the
Battle of Santa Rosa Island on October 9, 1861. The County seat is
1862 The U.S.S. Gem of the Sea left Key West
today to take up station off Jupiter Inlet, the Indian River, and
1864 The U.S.S. Tallapoosa has been ordered by
Federal Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles to proceed from the
Boston Naval Yard directly to Key West for duty with the East Gulf
1915 A special election was held in Dade County
and the City of Miami for the purpose of considering the question of
the legal sale of alcohol. The City of Miami's residents voted to
continue their "dry" status, while the rest of Dade County voted to
become "dry." The term "dry" is used to describe a situation where
in the sale of liquor has "dried" up.
1968 The Apollo 8 mission to orbit the moon was
launched today from Cape Kennedy (Canaveral). James A. Lovell,
William Anders, and Frank Borman traveled the 250,000 miles to the
moon where they made ten orbits of this celestial body before
returning to earth. Live television broadcasts to an anxious world
added to the high drama of the event. The trio of space travelers
splashed down in the Pacific Ocean on December 27.
1862 The U.S.S. Huntsville, under the command of
Acting Lieutenant W. C. Rogers, seized the Confederate schooner,
Courier, off the Tortugas today. The Courier was carrying a cargo of
salt, coffee, sugar and dry goods.
1888 The City of Melbourne was incorporated
today as the "Village of Melbourne."
1890 The City of Dunnellon was incorporated
1943 Nazi prisoners-of-war rioted at Camp
Blanding near Jacksonville today. Pro-Nazi prisoners who had been
captured during the North African campaign against the Afrika Corps
attacked prisoners who were not ardent Nazis. This followed an
earlier riot in November. U.S. Army guards broke up the riot.
Pro-Nazi prisoners were identified and dispersed to other holding
facilities around the nation.
1958 The Florida Institute of Technology was
founded today (as Brevard Engineering College). For more information
about the creation of this institution of higher education, consult
Professor Gordon Patterson's article in the latest issue of The
Florida Historical Quarterly.
1817 Fernandina was surrendered to U.S. military
forces by officers of the "Republic of the Floridas" headed up by
Mexican Luis Aury, a general in the independence movement. The
United States flag was the fourth to fly over Amelia Island in a
1856 Lafayette County, the 33rd county in the
state, was created today. Named for the Revolutionary War hero, the
Marquis de Lafayette, Lafayette County recognized the contributions
the Marquis made to American independence. The U.S. Congress had
earlier granted him a township of land located near present-day
Tallahassee. Although Lafayette did not come to Florida, he was
responsible for the settlement of French families in the area.
1856 Taylor County, the 35th county in Florida,
was established today. Taylor County is named for Zachary Taylor,
the 12th president of the United States and commander of the United
States Armed Forces in Florida during the Second Seminole War.
1861 Confederate President Jefferson Davis
forwarded the names of William Davis, George W. Pratt, and John M.
Hendry, all Floridians, to the Congress with a recommendation that
they be commissioned as chaplains in the Confederate Army.
1863 A detachment of Federal troops, commanded
by Henry A. Crane, has been dispatched to Charlotte Harbor to
disrupt the flow of Florida cattle to Confederate armies. It is
estimated by Federal authorities that 2,000 head of cattle are
herded northward each week to supply the Army of Tennessee and the
Army of Northern Virginia.
1926 Twenty people died today as two
Florida-bound trains collided in Georgia.
1823 Residents of Fernandina today asked
Congress for a grant of public lands near the center of the city for
the purpose of establishing a common garden area for the city's poor
and for revenue purposes.
1824 Orange County, Florida's 11th county, was
established today. Orange County is named for the many orange groves
in the immediate vicinity.
1835 General Richard Keith Call joins General
Duncan Clinch at Fort Drane. A general consolidation of American
forces is taking place here before a strong campaign against the
1862 The U.S.S. Charlotte, under the command of
Acting Master Bruner, today captured the Confederate steamer Bloomer
in the Choctawhatchee River, Florida.
1863 The U.S.S. Fox, with Acting Master Asbury
in command, today seized the British blockade runner, Edward, off
the mouth of the Suwannee River after a two-hour chase. The Edward
was captured after trying to run down the smaller Union ship. She
was carrying a cargo of lead and salt.
1863 The U.S.S. Sunflower, under the command of
Acting Master Van Sice, captured the blockade runner Hancock near
the lighthouse at Tampa Bay. The blockade runner was carrying a
cargo of salt and borax.
1936 Floridians watched the political events in
Cuba with interest as Federico Laredo Brus replaces impeached
President Gomez. Many Floridians vacation on the island nation,
playing in the casinos. Other Florida businesses depend on a direct
sea and air connection to Cuba, and any change on the political
scene are viewed with interest.
1956 Today marked the beginning of the modern
civil rights movement in Tallahassee as African-American citizens of
the capital city defy city laws and occupy the front seats of busses
used for public transportation.
DECEMBER 25 MERRY CHRISTMAS!
1539 The first Christmas Service in the
present-day United States is believed to be a mass offered by
priests of Hernando de Soto's expedition exploring in the vicinity
1832 The "Act of Association" was signed by
charter members of St. Paul's Protestant Episcopal Church in Key
1837 General Zachary Taylor and the United
States army today defeated a force of Seminole Indians near the
shore of Lake Okeechobee. Taylor commanded about 1,000 U.S. troops.
The Seminoles were led by chiefs Alligator, Arpeika (Sam Jones),
Prophet (Otolke-thlocko), and Wild Cat (Coacoochee).
1863 The Florida 2nd Infantry Battalion
(re-assigned to the Florida 10th and 11th Infantry Regiments on June
8, 1864), today engaged Federal forces attacking Fort Brooke,
1951 Pioneering civil rights activists Harry T.
and Harriette V. Moore were killed in their home at Mims when a bomb
exploded. Harry T. Moore became a field officer for the NAACP and
the group's president in 1941. Harry Moore, a school administrator
in Brevard County, and Harriette V. Moore, a school teacher, lost
their jobs in the county when they advocated an end to educational
segregation and equal pay for African-American teachers. The most
immediate, though unproven, cause for the bombing is thought to be a
Ku Klux Klan response to a series of letters Harry Moore wrote to
state and Federal officials calling for an investigation into the
deaths of Negro prisoners in Lake County.
1962 In Miami, captives from the abortive Bay of
Pigs invasion of Cuba, who were just ransomed from the government of
Fidel Castro, vow that they will return and complete the job they
had failed in initially.
1702 The unsuccessful British siege of St.
Augustine was severely curtailed today by the arrival of Spanish
relief vessels in the harbor.
1827 Madison County, Florida's fourteenth
county, was established today. Named for President James Madison,
the county was originally carved from Jefferson County and included
the present counties of Taylor, Lafayette, and Dixie. Many of the
original settlers in the county were from Virginia. Original County
Seat was San pedro, about 10 miles south of the present city of
Madison on the Bellamy Road. County Seat: Madison
1827 Florida's fifteenth county, Hamilton, was
established today. The county was named after Alexander Hamilton,
the first United States Secretary of the Treasury. Hamilton, whose
firm financial guidance placed the fledgling United States on a
sound economic footing during its infancy, was killed by Aaron Burr
in a duel. County Seat: Jasper
1931 Today marked the first race held at
Tropical Park in Miami. According to newspaper reports, the track
was "fast" with cool, cloudy weather.
1954 "Snowbirds" and Floridians listened
intently today as the Cleveland Browns trampled the Detroit Lions,
56-10, to win the NFL championship. The game was played in
Cleveland. In 1953, the Lions had barely beaten the Browns in the
title game by a score of 17-16, while in 1952, the Lions hand
handily defeated the Browns by a score of 17-7.
1955 Some Florida football fans were delighted
when the Los Angeles Rams defeated the Cleveland Browns 38-14 for
pro football's title for this year. Others, who supported the
Browns, were less than enthusiastic about the outcome.
1960 Floridians watched the Philadelphia Eagles
beat the Green Bay Packers 17-13 in a televised contest for the
National Football League title. The game was held in Philadelphia.
1972 Harry S. Truman, the 33rd President of the
United States and a sometime resident of Key West, died this morning
in a Kansas City hospital. He was 88 years old. Truman, who
maintained a vacation retreat in Key West during his presidency,
became president upon the death of Franklin Delano Roosevelt in
1945. He won the presidency on his own in the hotly contested race
against Thomas E. Dewey in 1948.
1835 Three companies of soldiers under the
command of Lieutenant Colonel Fanning arrived at Fort Drane today
from Fort King. There has been an increase in the number of
confrontations between the Seminoles and the Army, and General
Duncan Clinch has called for volunteers to augment the regular
soldiers of the Army.
1838 Seminole warriors attacked the camp of
Detachment E of the 6th United States Infantry near the Econfina
1862 The U.S.S. Roebuck captured the British
schooner Kate as it was attempting to run its cargo of salt, coffee,
copper, and liquor into the mouth of the St. Mark's River.
1863 Confederate scouts reconnoitering the Union
camp near the Myakka River fired a shot into the camp, but the
Federal soldiers did not return fire. The Union soldiers, however,
doubled their pickets and kept on the alert for further activity.
1864 U.S. Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles
orders the paddle wheel steamer, Mahaska, and the schooner,
Sophronia, to Key West for service with the blockading squadrons.
1894 The Whist and Literary Club, a forerunner
of the Palmetto Club of Daytona Beach, was organized today.
1900 L. B. Wombell ended his twelve year tenure
as Commissioner of Agriculture today. He was first elected to the
position in 1888.
1968 Frank Borman, William Anders, and James A.
Lovell returned safely today aboard Apollo 8 after completing ten
orbits around the moon. Launched from Cape Kennedy (Canaveral) on
December 21, the American astronauts were the first humans to
perform such a feat.
1835 General Wiley Thompson and Lieutenant
Constantine Smith were shot from ambush at Fort King. The fort's
sutler, Erastus Rogers, was killed.
1835 Major Francis Langhorne Dade, in command of
two companies of soldiers marching from Fort Borrke to Fort King,
were ambushed by Seminole warriors near Bushnell in Sumter County,
about five miles from Wahoo Swamp. Dade was killed by the first shot
fired, and command of the unit passed to an artillery officer
unfamiliar with infantry tactics. One hundred and eight men were
killed, and only three survived.
1840 Units of the United States' Companies A, B,
E,C, and I of the 7th Infantry, under the command of Lieutenant W.
Sherwood, engaged Seminole warriors at martin's Point Hammock, near
1847 Simon Towle assumed the position of
Comptroller of Florida today. He held this position until January
25, 1851, when he was replaced by John beard.
1862 Soldiers with the Florida 4th Infantry
regiment were engaged in fighting at Lebanon Pike, Tennessee, today.
1925 The Florida Power and Light Company was
incorporated today.1963 Twenty-one persons were killed and sixty-six
were injured as fire swept through the Roosevelt Hotel in downtown
1979 Floridians and other Americans were shocked
when legendary coach Woody Hayes of Ohio State University after he
punched Clemson University player Charlie Bauman when Bauman
intercepted a pass during the last minute of play in the Gator Bowl
game. Ohio State University lost the game 17-15. OSU president
Harold Enarson said, "There is not a university in this country that
would permit a coach to physically assault a college athlete."
1824 Alachua County was established today.
County Seat: Gainesville.
1824 Leon County was established today and is
named for Juan Ponce de Leon. County Seat: Tallahassee.
1824 Monroe County, named for U. S. President
James Monroe, was established today.
1824 Nassau County, most probably named for
Nassau in the Bahamas, was established today. Some speculation is
that the county might have been named for the "Duchy of Nassau" in
Walton County, named for General George Walton, was
established today. Walton served as the Secretary of West Florida
during the governorship of Andrew Jackson (1821-22) and as the
Secretary of East-West Florida from 1822 until 1826. Walton was the
son of George Walton, a signer of the Declaration of Independence.
Mosquito County, which has since disappeared, was
1829 Washington County, named for George
Washington, was established today.
1854 Volusia County, most probably named for an
early English settler named Volus, was established today.
1862 The British sloop Flying Fish was captured
off the Trotugas by the U.S.S. Magnolia.
1863 Boat crews from the U.S.S. Stars and
Stripes destroyed a blockade runner, Caroline Gertrude, aground on a
bar at the mouth of the Ocklockonee River. Union sailors, attempting
to salvage the cargo of cotton, were subjected to a heavy fire from
Confederate cavalry units ashore and returned to their ship after
setting the Caroline Gertrude ablaze. 1908 Norvin S. Veal,
late publisher of the Jacksonville Journal, was born today in Owne
1917 A one-half inch blanket of snow covered
many counties in Florida's Panhandle and in North Florida. Some snow
was reported as far south as Crescent City.
1970 Rhea Pincus Grossman was appointed a judge
of the Eleventh Circuit (Dade County) today by Governor Claude R.
Kirk, Jr. Ms. Grossman was the first woman to become a Circuit Court
judge. She was 29 years old at the time of appointment.
1862 General Joseph J. Finegan reports today
that he has 595 infantrymen, 797 cavalry troops, and 255 men
assigned to artillery units in his command in Central and North
Florida. Union forces are listed at 2,057 for all land forces.
1863 Acting Ensign Norman McLeod and members of
the crew of the U.S.S. Pursuit today destroyed two salt works at the
head of St. Joseph's Bay.
Confederate Soldiers attacked Union troops from the
U.S.S. Rosalie who were encamped near the mouth of the Myakka River.
The Rosalie turned its guns on the Rebel forces and the Federal
troops withdrew to the ship. Proceeding further up the river, the
Rosalie encountered Confederate forces who fired at them from the
1917 North Florida counties continue to deal
with the snow that fell yesterday. Cold temperatures have caused the
"white rain" to stick to the ground and to the limbs of trees.
1945 Florida newspapers are filled with news of
the German onslaught in the Ardeenes Forest. Anxious Floridians wait
for news that their loved ones are safe.
1958 The Cuban population of Miami (along with
elements of America's underworld) watched events in Cuba with great
anxiety. Sons of the Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista landed in
Miami on their way to New York with reports that Cuba's fall to
Fidel Castro is imminent.
1961 President John F. Kennedy today addressed
1,100 Cuban survivors of the ill-fated Bay of Pigs invasion attempt
and an additional 40,000 spectators at Miami's Orange Bowl.
1962 Florida football fans watched with millions
of other Americans as the Green Bay Packers defeated the New York
Giants 16-7 to retain the National Football League title.
1858 Clay County was created today as Florida'
37th county. The county is named for Kentucky's Henry Clay, who
served as Secretary of State under John Quincy Adams and who was a
perennial presidential contender. County Seat: Green Cove Springs
1861 Confederate authorities report that there
are 195 officers and 3,323 enlisted men on active duty in Florida.
Union officials list 80 officers and 2,023 enlisted men on duty.
1863 There were skirmishes between Confederate
and Union troops near St. Augustine today. The Confederate forces
consisted of the Florida 2nd Cavalry, under the command of Captain
John J. Dickison.
Confederate General Pierre Beauregard reports that
there are now 3,709 Confederate troops stationed in the district of
East and Middle Florida.
1862 The Confederate Army of Tennessee, under
the command of General Braxton E. Bragg, engaged a Federal army
under the command of General William Rosecrans at Murpheesboro
(Stone's River), Tennessee. Although the Confederates had heavy
losses, their assault against the Union forces was successful. At
the end of the day, both armies faced each other across the open
battlefield. Florida units participating in this battle, which
lasted until January 3, 1863, were:
Florida 1st (Reorganized) Infantry Regiment
Florida 3rd Infantry Regiment
Florida 4th Infantry Regiment
1864 Major General Samuel Jones has relieved
General Pierre Beauregard of command of Confederate forces in South
Carolina, Georgia, and Florida.
Federal forces in Florida now number 5,414.
1891 E. J. Triay assumed the office of Treasurer
of the State of Florida today. He would hold this position until
succeeded by C. B. Collins on January 3, 1893.
1896 The oldest Florida Chapter of the Order of
the Eastern Star, now the Daytona Chapter No. 1, was chartered today
at Live Oak.
1945 Beth Kodesh Congregation, formerly the
Miami Hebrew School and Junior Congregation, was founded today.
1973 Florida Tourism officials were predicting
dire consequences for the state's tourist industry as gas rationing
was introduced following the Arab oil embargo. Since most Americans
will be limited to about eight gallons a week, officials fear that
the number of tourists in the Sunshine State will be extremely low
1978 The next step in the drama surrounding Ohio
State University coach Woody Hayes was played out today. During the
Gator Bowl fame on December 28, Hayes slugged Charlie Bauman, a
player for the opposing Clemson Tigers. Ohio State University lost
the game 17-15, and today Hayes lost his job. Citing his behavior an
intolerable, OSU President Harold Enarson terminated Hayes despite
his impressive record of 205-61-10.