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This Day In Florida History  --  December  


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 revenues.

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 Coast.

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 1992-STS-53 1993-STS-61


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 Company.

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 no casualties.

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 Union.

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 public library.

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 Sound.

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 today.

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 Chipley.

1861 The Calhoun rangers, activated by Special State Order 83, report for duty today at Camp Milton, near Apalachicola.

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 10.

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 world

*drill the first producing oil well in the state in Collier County

*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 organized today.

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 (see below).

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 penny.

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 October 3).

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 today.

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, Pennsylvania.

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, adjourned today.

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 Leaf.

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 States Artillery.

1862 Florida Commissioners J. M. Chambers and J. F. Bozeman report the completion of underwater obstructions on the Apalachicola River.

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 Florida.

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 Starke.

1862 The U.S.S. Gem of the Sea left Key West today to take up station off Jupiter Inlet, the Indian River, and Cape Canaveral.

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 Blockading Squadron.

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 today.

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 six-month period.

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 Seminoles.

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.


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 of Tallahassee.

1832 The "Act of Association" was signed by charter members of St. Paul's Protestant Episcopal Church in Key West.

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, present-day Tampa.

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 River today.

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 Micanopy, today.

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 Jacksonville.

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 Germany.

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 established today.

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 County, Kentucky.

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 river banks.

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 in 1974.

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.