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This Day In Florida History  --  February  


1840 Members of the 7th U.S. Infantry, under the command of Captain H. H. Holmes, were attacked by Seminole warriors near Fort Number 5 [?]. One enlisted man was killed and two wounded.

1861 Two companies of Confederate volunteers have been assigned to guard the Chattahoochee Arsenal, while some 1,500 Confederate troops from Florida, Mississippi, and Alabama are encamped at Pensacola Bay. Several batteries have been set up facing Forts Pickens, Barrancas and McRee.

1862 A Union gunboat anchored near the St. marks Lighthouse today and began to shell the salt works near there. The Confederate gunboat Spray moved into the area and exchanged shots with the Federal boat. Elsewhere, the schooner Isabel was captured today in the Gulf of Mexico off the Florida coast by the U.S.S. Montgomery.

1863 The U.S.S. Tahoma captured the British schooner Margaret near St. Petersburg. A second Union ship, the U.S.S. Hendrick Hudson assisted in the capture. In other action, the U.S.S. Stars and Stripes bombarded a Confederate encampment at Long Bar near St. Marks today. A Confederate steamer was also fired on by the Union ship.

1881 Henry A. L'Engle was sworn into office today as Florida's Treasurer.

1882 The Jewish Reform Synagogue, Congregation Ahavath Chesed was founded today in Jacksonville. Mayor Morris A. Dzialinski was the first president.

1920 The North Florida Council of the Boy Scouts of America was chartered today in Jacksonville. The first Scout troop was chartered in Jacksonville in 1910.

1929 The Edward W. Bok Singing Tower and Bird Sanctuary in Lake Wales was dedicated today by President and Mrs. Calvin Coolidge. Governor Doyle E. Carlton also participated.

1939 The Gulfstream Park race Track at Hallandale opened for its first thoroughbred racing meeting.

1946 Guitarist Howard Bellamy was born in Darby, Florida, today.

1958 The United States launched its first space satellite into orbit around the Earth today. The 30.8 pound Explorer satellite was put into orbit by a Jupiter-C rocket that lifted off from Cape Canaveral at 10:48 a.m.

1959 Lee Petty won the first Daytona 500 motor race today.

1961 The Strategic Air Command launched the first solid-fuel rocket, Minuteman, today from the Eastern Test range facilities (Cape Canaveral). The rocket was a multi-stage rocket that successfully fired all stages.

2003 STS 107, Space Shuttle Columbia was lost today when re-entering the earth’s atmosphere prior to landing at Cape Kennedy. All Astronauts were lost.


1831 The Bank of St. Augustine was chartered today.

1841 Madison Court House, the name originally given to present day Madison, was incorporated today.

1861 Governor Madison Starke Perry addressed a request to the Florida Legislature to reorganize and strengthen the Florida militia in order to protect the state against a possible Union attack.

1862 The Confederate War Department in Richmond today requisitioned two-and-one-half war regiments from the State of Florida for service in the Confederate Army.

1863 A Federal naval officer on a reconnaissance mission on the Indian River reported the discovery of several packages and 41 sacks of salt in a cache near Jupiter Inlet. He destroyed them all.

1864 Federal Major General Quincy A. Gillmore, commander of the Department of the South, requests the support of two or three gunboats for a planned occupation on the west bank of the St. Johns River.

1865 Confederate Major General Sam Jones assumed command of the District of Florida today. At sea, the U.S.S. Pinola captured the British blockade runner, Ben Willis, in the Gulf of Mexico off the Florida coast, The Willis carried a cargo of cotton for British textile mills.

1892 Citizens in St. Petersburg voted 15-11 today to seek incorporation of that city.

1901 Fort Pierce, named for General Benjamin K. Pierce, brother of President Franklin Pierce, was incorporated today.

1914 Lieutenant J. H. Towers and Ensign G. Chevalier made the first flight from the Pensacola Aeronautical Station today. The twenty minute flight covered the military reservation and Bayou Grande.

1951 Snow began to fall in north and central Florida today. Crescent City and St. Augustine are receiving the heaviest amounts.

1986 NASA, continuing its investigation of the January 28 explosion of the Shuttle Challenger, today revealed that the shuttle's solid fuel rocket boosters were not equipped with an adequate warning system.


1768 Dr. Andrew Turnbull arrived in Minorca today to begin the recruitment of 1,400 Greek, Minorcan, Italian, French and Corsican settlers for his planned colony at New Smyrna.

1862 The Confederate steamer Florida has reportedly successfully eluded Federal ships blockading the coast of Florida and is safely at sea.

1862 The annual meeting of the stockholders of the Union Bank of Florida was held today in the bank's offices in Tallahassee.

1864 Governor John Milton, planning to leave Tallahassee, received a telegram today warning him that about 100 deserters have organized to capture him and turn him over to the Federal ships blockading the Gulf Coast.

1865 The British schooner John Hale , flying the English colors, was captured today near St. marks by the Union schooner Matthew Vassar. The Hale's cargo consisted of lead, rope, blankets, and shelter covers. Union officers suspect that the Hale's crew had thrown arms and ammunition overboard prior to capture.

1926 The first broadcast of Pensacola's WCOA Radio was piped to the assembled crowd in Plaza Ferdinand.

1951 Snow continued to fall today in north and central Florida. Trace amounts are found as far south as Lakeland. Crescent City and St. Augustine have received two inches of the "white rain."

1984 The Space Shuttle Challenger (STS 41-b) was launched successfully from Cape Canaveral today. The Challenger carried five astronauts.

1994 Mission STS-60 (the space shuttle) was launched today from Cape Canaveral.


1832 Columbia County, the state's 16th county, was created by the Florida Legislature today. The county was named for the poetic name of the United States. County Seat: Lake City

1836 Dade County, Florida's 19th county, was created by the Legislature today. The county was named in honor of Major Francis Langhorne Dade, United States Army, who, along with 106 men, perished today in an Seminole Indian ambush near present-day Bushnell. Dade County is the most populous county in the state. County Seat: Miami

1861 Delegates from Florida join with delegates from Mississippi, South Carolina, Alabama, Georgia, and Louisiana today in Montgomery, Alabama, to organize the provisional government of the Confederate States of America.

1863 A crew for the U.S.S. Sagamore today captured the Confederate schooner Pride near the Indian River Narrows. The Pride's cargo of 188 bushels of salt and its crew were captured.

1864 A boat from the Federal schooner, Beauregard, sent to Jupiter Inlet to look for blockade runners today captured the Confederate boat Lydia, which was on her way to the Inlet from Sand Point. The Lydia was carrying two bales of cotton and five barrels of turpentine.

1864 Union General Quincy A. Gillmore continues preparations for his attack on the west bank of the St. Johns River. Federal Brigadier General Truman Seymour is ordered to load his troops on ships in preparation for a rendezvous with other Union units at the mouth of the St. Johns.

1897 Duncan U. Fletcher was elected the president of the Jacksonville Bar Association today.

1931 Sir Malcolm Campbell set a ground speed record of 245 mph today at Daytona Beach.

1945 The18th Engineering Battalion, United States Army, arrives at the United States Naval Amphibious Training Base in Fort Pierce. The unit, which has been reassigned to Frt Pierce, has just completed 32 months of duty in the Yukon.


1861 The Florida Senate approves a bill to incorporate the town of Monticello in Jefferson County.

1862 The U.S.S. Keystone State captured the British blockade runner, Mars, off the coast at Fernandina. The Mars was carrying a cargo of salt.

1864 The U.S.S. DeSoto today captured the Confederate blockade runner Cumberland in the Gulf of Mexico. The Cumberland, a 700-ton steamer, was carrying a cargo of guns and ammunition, including 100 barrels of gunpowder.

1912 J. C. Luning was installed as Florida's Commissioner of Agriculture today. He would hold this post for a mere 14 days.

1926 The City of Miami Shores was incorporated today. Originally settled in 1905 as Arch Creek Farms, the town later became known as the City of North Miami.

1940 The first papers of incorporation of Barry College were filed today. Barry College is located in Miami.


1845 The first session of the Florida Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church met in Tallahassee today.

1870 Governor Harrison Reed received the news that his impeachment and removal for office had been recommended by a state legislative committee. This is the third of four unsuccessful attempts to remove the Republican chief executive.

1875 Four thousand acres were purchased today from the state Internal Improvement Department today. This acreage became the site of the City of orange City, which was started in 1876 with the sale of housing lots to prospective residents.

1897 Millard Fillmore Caldwell, 29th governor of Florida (1945-1949), was born today in his parents home near Knoxville, Tennessee. He attended Carson-Newman College, the University of Mississippi, and the University of Virginia. Caldwell came to Florida in 1924. In 1929, he was elected to represent Santa Rosa County in the Florida House of Representatives. In 1933, he was elected to the U.S. House of representatives from Florida's 3rd District. In 1941, he retired to private law practice. In 1944, he was elected governor. His administration was considered very progressive. In 1962, Caldwell was appointed a Justice, Supreme Court of Florida. He was elected for a full term that same year. In 1967, he was elected Chief Justice. Caldwell retired in 1969. He died in Tallahassee on October 23, 1984.

1900 Eugene V. Debs, the leader of the Socialist Party of the United States, gave a lecture to some 55,000 persons today at Tampa's Court House Plaza.

1907 Maas Brothers department Stores were incorporated today. originally founded by Abe Maas on Franklin Street in Tampa in october 1886, Maas Brother's became a statewide chain of stores by the 1960s.

1956 Florida's first Jordan-Marsh department Store opened at 1501 Biscayne Boulevard in Miami today.


1806 The United States Senate approved a secret appropriations of $2 million to be used for the possible purchase of Florida.

1863 Federal naval authorities report the destruction of two casks of sperm oil, 47 sacks of salt, and one boat sail near Jupiter Inlet. These materials are presumed to be Confederate stores.

1864 Union troops under General Truman A. Seymour landed at Jacksonville. This was the fourth occupation of the city by a Union army. The troops were to be used in a major Federal push into the center of the Sunshine State, a push that would culminate with the Battle of Olustee on February 20. Many of the African-American troops in the Union force were former free blacks and runaway slaves from the north Florida area.

1864 The Confederate steamer St. Mary's, trapped in McGirt's Creek above Jacksonville, was sunk by the U.S.S. Norwich. The steamer's cargo of cotton was destroyed to prevent capture by Union forces.

1893 The first edition of the Tampa Evening Times published.

1969 Diane Crump became the first female jockey in thoroughbred racing when she raced at Hialeah.

1979 Gwen Sawyer Cherry, the first African-American woman to serve in the Florida Legislature, was killed today in a one-car accident in Tallahassee. Born in 1923, Ms. Cherry received her law degree from FAMU, where she taught classes. She was first elected in 1970 to represent Dade County in the House of Representatives.


1571 Father John Baptist Segura, Vice-Provincial of Catholic [Jesuit] missions in Florida, and eleven companions were killed today at their mission on the Rappahannock River near the Chesapeake Bay. This was part of the plan of Pedro Menendez de Aviles to explore the land north of present-day Florida to find the northwest passage to the Pacific Ocean and the Far East. As a result of this episode, the Jesuits abandoned their attempts to convert Florida Native Americans to Catholicism in 1572.

1832 The Territorial Legislature of Florida repealed an anti-dueling law, which again made it legal for gentlemen to settle their differences through personal combat.

1832 The Merchants and Planters Bank of Magnolia was incorporated today.

1832 Franklin County, Florida's 17th county, was established today. The county is named in honor of benjamin Franklin. County Seat: Apalachicola

1837 Lieutenant Colonel William T. Harney and his small force were attacked today at Camp Monroe by some 200 Seminole Indians led by King Philip and Coacoochee. The U.S. Army lost 1 officer killed and eleven enlisted men wounded before the attack was beaten off. Captain Charles Mellon of the 2nd United States Artillery was the officer killed. The name of the encampment was changed from Camp Monroe to Fort Mellon to honor this fallen hero.

1861 LaVilla Institute and the College of St. Augustine were incorporated today.

1861 Baker County, the state's 38th county, was established today. The county is named in honor of James McNair Baker (1822-1892, Confederate States Senator and Judge of the 4th Judicial District in Florida. County Seat: MacClenny

1861 Polk County, Florida's 39th county, was established today. Named in honor of James Knox Polk, the 11th president of the United States (1845-1849). County Seat: Bartow

1861 The Confederate Constitution has been approved by the delegates to the Convention in Montgomery, Alabama, and has been submitted to the Southern states for their approval.

1913 The Colonial Dames Club of Tampa was organized today.

1957 Vanna White, whose fame rests on her ability to turn selected letters on the game-show "Wheel of Fortune," was born today in Miami.

1958 The Daytona Beach International Speedway Corporation was organized today.


1837 Captain George W. Allen and Company K of the 4th United States Infantry were attacked today near Clear River by Seminole Indians. One U. S. officer was killed in the skirmish.

1838 General Thomas S. Jesup, the commander of United States troops in Florida, reported that in his opinion "...the prospect of terminating this [Seminole] war in any reasonable time is anything but flattering. My decided opinion is that unless immediate emigration be abandoned, this war will continue for years to come, and at constantly accumulating expense." Jesup proposed that the area west of the Kissimmee River, Lake Okeechobee, and Panai-Okee and east of Pease Creek and south to the extreme end of Florida be set aside for the Seminoles. The Secretary of War did not approve this plan, and some 500 Seminoles, who had entered Jesup's camp on the strength of this recommendation, were seized and transported to Tampa for the purpose of removal to the West.

1861 The steamer Everglade today unloaded its cargo of 1,500 muskets at Fernandina. The muskets are from the Charleston Arsenal.

1861 The U.S.S. Brooklyn arrived off Pensacola today with troops to support the Union occupation force at Fort Pickens. The troops were not off loaded as both Union and Florida forces maintain an uneasy peace in the area.

1861 Jefferson Davis of Mississippi has been elected Provisional President of the Confederate States of America. Alexander H. Stephens of Georgia, an opponent of secession, has been elected Vice-President.

1863 The Quincy extension of the Pensacola and Georgia Railroad began operations today. The train trip from Quincy to Tallahassee takes only two hours. The train continues to its terminus at Lake City.

1864 The Union gunboat Para sailed thirty miles up the Nassau River today, shelling the woods along both sides of the river and taking an inventory of several lumbering plants.

1864 The 97th Pennsylvania, a Federal force encamped at Fernandina, today raided the surrounding area and captured a small force of Confederates in a nearby swamp.

1864 Union forces today occupied Baldwin (about 19 miles west of Jacksonville) and captured cotton, artillery pieces, a train of cars, and enough forage for 1,000 men in the field for four days.

1864 A small skirmish occurred between Confederate cavalry units and Federal forces at the south fork of the St. Marys River. The Union forces successfully forded the river and captured the village of Sanderson, some thirty miles west of Jacksonville. Retreating Confederate forces set fire to supplies of cotton, corn, and turpentine.

1915 The Subtropical Mid-Winter Fair, which was inaugurated by a parade of 150 horse and automobile-drawn floats, opened today in Orlando.

1942 The first Congressional Medal of Honor awarded in World War II was presented posthumously to Sandy Nittinger of Fort Lauderdale.

1967 Today marked the beginning of what would eventually become a record 768 consecutive days of sunshine in the Sunshine State.

1973 The first measurable snow since 1958 cover a portion of the Sunshine State. Pensacola reported two inches. DeFuniak Springs and Quincy reported similar amounts. Trace amounts were reported as far south as Clermont. Unofficial reports put the accumulated total of 6 to 8 inches at Jay.


1831 The City of Monticello was incorporated today.

1834 The Tallahassee Railroad Company was incorporated today. This railroad, utilizing "mule power," stretched from Tallahassee to Port Leon (near St. Marks), a total of 22 miles.

1836 General Edmund P. Gaines, whose command of the U. S. Western Military Department included part of Florida, arrived today at Fort Brooke with six companies of the 4th U.S. Infantry and a regiment of Louisiana Volunteers.

1864 Union forces today encountered Confederate outposts a few miles east of Lake City. The Federal troops captured about 20 Confederates and destroyed almost $1 million in property. Federal forces lost 5 men killed and 10 wounded.

1899 Electric street lights brought daylight to nighttime as Avenue B and 12th Street in Miami were illuminated by artificial means.


1832 The City of Jacksonville was incorporated today by the Territorial Legislature.

1863 Colonel J. S. Morgan of the 90th Regiment of New York Volunteers, headquartered at Key West, today issued an order that "All white persons residing within the limits of this command having husbands, sons or brothers in Rebel employment, or who have at any time declined taking the oath of allegiance to the U.S. Government are hereby required to transport in person at these headquarters on or before Tuesday, the 17th instant, and register their names."

1883 The Leesburg Methodist Church was dedicated today.

1894 Henry Flagler opened his "Royal Ponciana Hotel" today in Palm Beach. The "Ponciana" was the world's largest wooden resort hotel. [Some argue that the "Belleview," built by Henry Plant on the West Coast, deserved this distinction. The "Belleview" is still in operation and certainly holds undisputed claim to the title today."]

1920 Daniel "Chappie" James, Jr., the first African-American to achieve four-star rank in the armed forces of the United States, was born in Pensacola.

1984 The first landing of a space shuttle at Kennedy Space Center [Cape Canaveral] occurred today.

1984 Responding to pressure from South Florida's conservative Cuban population, the Reagan Administration announced today that Cuban aliens will be granted residency status in the United States. Haitian refugees were denied the same treatment.

1993 Janet Reno, Chief State Prosecutor of Dade County, was nominated to become the first female U.S. Attorney General by President Bill Clinton.


1842 One American officer and one enlisted man were killed today in a confrontation between Seminole Indians and Company H of the 8th U.S. Infantry at Wahoo Swamp.

1861 The reverend A. D. Pellicer, formerly a resident of Sr. Augustine, rendered the opening prayer for the opening of the Confederate Congress.

1864 Federal forces commanded by Brigadier General Truman Seymour have concentrated at Baldwin in preparation for a major push westward into the heart of Florida.

1887 The City of Tarpon Springs is incorporated today.

1894 The oldest Florida chapter of the Daughters of the American revolution was founded today in Jacksonville.

1899 Tallahassee recorded a temperature of -2 degrees F today. This is thought to be the lowest temperature ever reached in Florida. This was also the date of the greatest snowfall on record for the Sunshine State, as well as the greatest southern extension of snow. Four inches were reported at Lake Butler, 3.5 inches at Marianna, 3 inches at Lake City, and trace amounts as far south as Fort Myers, Avon Park, and Titusville.

1903 Edward Waters College, one of Florida's oldest colleges for African-Americans, was re-chartered in Jacksonville today.

1963 A Northwest Orient Airlines plane crashed in stormy weather north of Miami today. Forty-three persons were killed.


1778 The American Continental Congress received a proposal from the State of Georgia to launch an invasion of British East Florida with American forces led by Major general Howe.

1831 The City of Fernandina [Beach] was re-incorporated today. The city had first been incorporated on January 1, 1825.

1864 Confederate forces under the command of General Joseph Finegan have concentrated at Camp Beauregard near Olustee on ocean Pond. General Finegan selected the position because of the protection offered by two small lakes. It is also the location of the major road and railroad into the interior of the state. Confederate soldiers have started the task of building entrenchments and fortifications. It appears a major battle will be fought on or near this spot.

1912 The first meeting of a Rotary Club in Florida was held today in Jacksonville.

1958 Tallahassee residents awakened to discover that the city had received a record 2.8 inches of snow today. Snow extended south to the 30 degree latitude.


1839 Fort Lauderdale was occupied as a military outpost by Company K, U.S. Artillery, today.

1850 Fort Harvie on the Caloosahatchee River was ordered re-activated today. The fort was re-named in honor of Lieutenant Colonel Abraham C. Myers.

1861 The Florida Legislature today incorporated the Alachua County railroad Company and authorized it to raised $200,000 in capital to construct a railroad from Waldo to Newmansville.

1892 Three inches of snow was reported today at Pensacola, while Tallahassee reported two inches. Lake City reported an accumulation of one inch, while Leesburg reported a trace.

1940 Attraction operators, tourists, and marine scientists were delighted when the first porpoise to be born in captivity was born at Marineland, south of St. Augustine.

1962 Former Governor Millard Fillmore Caldwell appointed to service as a Justice, Florida Supreme Court.


1883 The first issue of the Halifax Journal , Daytona's first newspaper, was printed today.

1898 The U.S.S. Maine exploded today in Havana Harbor and set into motion the events leading up to the Spanish-American War. More than 250 men were killed and some 50 wounded. The wounded were transferred to hospital facilities in Key West.

1904 W.H. Ellis assumed the office of Attorney General of Florida today.

1933 President-elect Franklin Delano Roosevelt narrowly escaped an assassination attempt tonight following a speech in Miami's Bay Front Park. As he sat in his car, five shots rang out, wounding Chicago Mayor Anton Cermak, who was standing on the running board of the car. Four other persons were also wounded. Mayor Cermak was, it is feared, fatally wounded.

The would-be assassin, Guiseppe Zangara of Hackensack, New Jersey, was wrestled to the ground by a policeman and hustled off to jail. His only statement was "I'd kill every president." Hidden in his clothing was a newspaper clipping describing the assassination of President William McKinley in 1901. Zangara was eventually put to death by the electric chair in Raiford Prison.

1936 The State of Florida acquired its first parcel of land for the Gold Head Branch State Park near Keystone Heights.

1981 Richard Petty wins the Daytona 500 for the seventh time.


1861 The British consul at Pensacola throws down the gauntlet to challenge the possible blockade of the Confederate States of America when he issues clearance papers for a ship carrying a cargo of cotton for British textile mills.

1864 Federal forces withdraw from Gainesville following a skirmish with Confederate cavalry under the command of Captain J.J. Dickison.

1864 The U.S.S. Para escorted Federal troops up the St. Mary's River to Woodstock Mills, Florida, to obtain lumber. The Para engaged Confederate troops along the river bank. Union transports successfully loaded a large amount of lumber and began to withdraw down the river.

1911 St. Cloud, originally established as a community for veterans of the Grand Army of the Republic [Union] was incorporated today.

1919 The State of Florida Board of health reported that 3,007 Floridians had perished in the first three months of great influenza outbreak that swept the world immediately following World War I. Other killers were Tuberculosis (288); Malaria (50); Dysentery (41); Typhoid (37); Pellagra (36); and Diphtheria (32).

1965 The first Pegasus satellite was launched from Cape Canaveral today. The purpose of the Pegasus is to study meteoroids and other potential hazards that might be encountered by the Apollo missions.


1845 "Preacher's Aid Society of the Florida Annual Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church" is chartered by the Territorial Legislature.

1862 Federal naval forces on duty in the Gulf of Mexico today attacked the home of Abel Miranda on the Pinellas Peninsula (Tampa Bay), destroying citrus trees and livestock. Sailors then confiscated supplies of bacon, corn, syrup and potatoes and carried them off to their base on Egmont Key.

1864 A boat expedition from the U.S.S. Tahoma destroyed a large salt works near St. Marks. A large quantity of salt was also destroyed.

1865 The U.S.S. Mahaska captured the schooner Delia off the coast of Bayport, Florida, and seized its cargo of pig lead and sabers.

1884 The First Presbyterian Church of Eustis is chartered today.

1912 W. V. Knott assumed the office of Comptroller of the State of Florida today.

1959 The first boy was enrolled at Florida Sheriffs' Ranch near Live Oak. The ranch, founded in 1957, was created to serve as a home for non-delinquent dependent, homeless and/or neglected boys between the ages of eight and seventeen years of age.

1959 Olympic Gold Medal freestyle winner Ambrose "Rowdy" Gaines was born today in Winter Haven.


1842 Colonel William J. Worth reported that only 300 Seminoles were left in Florida and that it was impossible for the U.S. Army to capture or kill them all. He recommended to his superiors in the War Department that a peace treaty be made with them. They agree and Worth, on August 14, declares the Seminole War at an end.

1842 Santa Rosa County, Florida's twenty-first county, was established today. Named for Santa Rosa Island, which in turn was named for St. Rosa de Viterbo, a Catholic saint. During Emperor Frederick II's war against Pope Gregory IX, Rose, then 12 years old, preached against submission and obedience to the emperor. As a result her family was banished. County Seat: Milton

1861 Jefferson Davis of Mississippi took the oath of office as the provisional President of the Confederate States of America. Among the military companies firing cannon salutes for President Davis are troops bound for Pensacola.

1862 The Federal gunboat, Ethan Allen, entered Clearwater harbor today and captured the schooner Spitfire and the sloops Atlanta and Caroline.

1879 The City of Orange Park is incorporated today.

1967 Governor Claude Kirk, Jr., wed Miss Erika Mattefeld today in West Palm Beach. It was the second marriage for Governor Kirk.

1973 Richard Petty won the Daytona 500 today.

1979 Richard Petty won the Daytona 500 today as the race leaders were involved in a major crash on the last lap of the race.


1821 The United States Senate gave its approval to the Adams-Onis Treaty today. Under the terms of this transcontinental treaty, Spain ceded Florida to the United States in exchange for the elimination of approximately $5 million in outstanding financial obligations.

1825 The Florida Intelligencer, Tallahassee's first newspaper, began operations today.

1885 E. S. Crill assumed the office of Treasurer of Florida today.

1889 Dade County voters approved the relocation of the county seat from Miami to Juno.

1912 J.C. Luning, who had assumed the office of Florida Commissioner of Agriculture on February 5, left office today, having served a total of 14 days.


1839 A "Memorial of the People of the Territory of Florida" asking for the admission of the Territory as a state of the Union was introduced in the U.S. House of representatives today.

1839 Two soldiers of Detachment K, 3rd United States Artillery, were killed by Seminoles today while chopping wood near Fort Lauderdale.

1862 A company of volunteers from Leon County were mustered into Confederate service today with Richmond N. Gardner as captain.

1864 The largest Civil War battle to take place in the State of Florida occurred today at Ocean Pond/Olustee. Union and Confederate forces were about evenly matched with 5,500 soldiers each. The Confederates, under the command of general Joseph J. Finegan, had prepared defenses in the area (see citation for February 13). The failure of the Union commander, General Truman Seymour, to commit his forces in concert and as a whole gave the Confederates a strategic advantage. At the end of the day, the Confederates controlled the battlefield and Federal forces were in a hasty retreat toward Jacksonville and the safety of the guns of the Union navy.

Union Casualties: 203 killed, 152 wounded, 506 missing. Confederate casualties: 93 killed, 847 wounded, 6 missing. Union losses of material: 400 accouterment sets, 130,000 rounds of small arms ammunition, 1,600 small arms, five cannons.

1865 The Battle of Fort Myers, the southernmost land battle of the Civil War, took place today. With no clear winner, both Union and Confederate commanders claimed victory.

1877 The Titusville Star-Advocate began publication in New Smyrna Beach today as The Florida Star.

1883 The Village Improvement Association, Florida's first Woman's Club, was organized today at Green Cove Springs.

1889 The Florida State Board of Health was created by the Florida Legislature today following the Yellow Fever epidemic that swept through Jacksonville.

1900 The Miami Board of Trade, the forerunner of the Miami Chamber of Commerce, was organized today.

1927 Sidney Potier, the Oscar-winning actor, was born today in Miami.

1962 Lieutenant Colonel John H. Glenn, Jr., became the first American to orbit the Earth in his Mercury spaceship, Friendship 7. Glenn, enclosed in the Friendship 7 high atop an Atlas rocket, was hurled into space at 9:47 a.m. The rocket placed the Mercury capsule in orbit 99 miles above the surface of the Earth. The launch came after ten separate delays caused by bad weather conditions and technical glitches to equipment. The Mercury made three full orbits of the Earth and landed in the Atlantic at 2:43 p.m. Hundreds of thousands of Floridians lined the beaches of the East Coast to catch a glimpse of this historic event.


1861 Stephen R. Mallory of Florida was appointed Secretary of the Confederate States Navy today by President Jefferson Davis.

1864 The U.S.S. Para today captured the small Confederate steamer Hard Times on the St. Marys River.

1865 Confederate forces launched an unsuccessful attack against Union forces at Fort Myers. Nine Federal prisoners were seized, one Union soldier killed, and some livestock was seized.

1884 Albert J. Russell assumed the office of Florida Superintendent of Public Instruction today.

1895 The Florida Federation of Women's Clubs was organized at Green Cove Springs today.

1949 Mary McLeod Bethune was granted the first honorary degree given by a Southern white college to an African-American woman by Rollins College (Winter Park) today.


1819 The Adams-Onis Treaty was formally signed today. Spain ceded Florida to the United States.

1836 General Edmund P. Gaines arrived at Ft. King with six companies of the 4th U.S. Infantry and a regiment of Louisiana Volunteers.

1862 Jefferson Davis is inaugurated today as the first regular, non-provisional president of the Confederacy.

1862 Command of the Federal Department of Florida is assumed by Brigadier General Lewis G. Arnold.

1863 Boat crews from the U.S.S. Gem of the Sea moved up the Indian River narrows today, discovering several places where cotton had been stored and a shipyard.

1885 The incorporation of the City of Chipley ratified by the Florida legislature.

1958 John Wellborn Martin, the 24th governor of Florida (1925-1929), died today in Jacksonville. Martin was born in Plainfield in Marion County on June 21, 1884. Admitted to the bar in 1914, he practiced in Jacksonville. He was a three-time mayor of that city (1917-1924). As governor during the Florida "Boom," Martin embraced a number of progressive reforms, including the construction of major highways, the direct financing of public schools through legislative appropriations, and the furnishing of free textbooks for students above the 6th grade. He was subsequently defeated for the Democratic nomination for U. S. Senator (1928) and for the party's nomination for governor (1932). In the 1940s, Martin was a co-receiver and subsequently the trustee for the Florida East Coast Railroad.

1959 The first "Daytona 500" race, with a purse of $19,000, was won today by Lee Petty of Randleman, N.C. Petty averaged 135.42 mph in his 1959 Oldsmobile. Johnny Beauchamp of Harlan, Iowa, finished second in a 1959 Ford Thunderbird. Petty's win was disputed as the two men finished neck-and-neck in a photo finish.


1839 The Episcopal Congregation of St. Johns in Jacksonville was incorporated today.

1844 The City of Milton was incorporated today.

1863 The U.S.S. Gem of the Sea today captured the Confederate steamer Charm about five miles up the St. Sebastian River.

1864 The 4th Florida Infantry regiment was consolidated today with the 1st Florida Cavalry, Dismounted, in winter quarters at Dalton, Georgia. The consolidation was needed after both units suffered tremendous losses in fighting at Missionary Ridge, Tennessee.

1865 A Federal expedition under the command of General John Newton sailed from Key West today for the west coast of Florida. St. Marks is believed to be the destination of this amphibious force.

1958 The last race on the old Daytona Beach race track was held today.

1971 Fight fans were surprised when Mohammed Ali sparred ten rounds today in Miami without saying a single word.


1840 John Warren of Duval County submitted his resignation today as the first president of the Territorial Legislative Council. That body has a membership of eleven men.

1862 The U.S.S. Harriet Lane captured the Confederate schooner Joanna Ward off the coast of Florida today. The Harriett Lane was commanded by Lieutenant Jonathan M. Wainwright, the grandfather of General Jonathan M. Wainwright who was forced to surrender Bataan to the Japanese in World War II.

1863 The U.S.S. Tahoma today captured the Confederate schooner Stonewall near Key West.

1864 The U.S.S. Nita pursued a Confederate steamer, the Nan-Nan, in the Suawnee River today. When it appeared that capture was inevitable, the Confederate crew set fire to the vessel. The Nan-Nan was carrying a cargo of about sixty bales of cotton and was armed with a six-pounder cannon and plenty of ammunition.

1865 The Federal expedition under the command of General John Newton reached Punta Rassa today. It immediately departed for Cedar Key late in the afternoon.


1862 The U.S.S. Mohican and the U.S.S. Bienville captured the British blockade runner Arrow off the coast of Fernandina today.

1864 The U.S.S. Roebuck seized the blockade running British sloop Two Brothers in Indian River, Florida. The British ship was carrying a cargo of salt, liquor and nails.

1885 The Immanuel Lutheran Church of Pensacola was organized today.

1953 Daniel Thomas McCarty, the 31st governor of Florida (1953), suffered a disabling heart attack today in Tallahassee. McCarty died on September 28, 1953. Charley Eugene Johns of Starke became Acting Governor and served from September 28, 1953 until January 4, 1955, when LeRoy Collins of Tallahassee, who had been elected to serve the remainder of McCarty's term, took the oath of office.

1958 St. Johns River Community College opened at Palatka today.

1964 Cassius Clay (Mohammed Ali) defeated Heavyweight Boxing Champion Sonny Liston today at Miami beach. This is Clay/Ali's first heavyweight title.


1862 The U.S.S. Bienville captured the schooner Alert off St. John's, Florida, today.

1864 A boat expedition from the U.S.S. Tahoma destroyed a large salt works on Goose Creek, near St. Marks.

1865 The U.S.S. Marigold captured a British blockade runner with an assorted cargo in the Straights of Florida between Havana and Key West.

1946 More than 17,000 persons watched as Winston Churchill received an honorary Doctor of Laws from the University of Miami in Orange Bowl ceremonies today.

1956 Following the end of the NASCAR Grand National, a private car race was held on the main street of Daytona Beach. When police intervened and stopped the race, the onlookers, mostly teenagers, began a five-hour riot that ultimately involved about 3,000 teenagers. Numerous stores were looted and many cars overturned.

1980 The Crystal River Nuclear Power Plant was shut down following a spill of radioactive water.


1827 Webbville Academy, the first academy established under the auspices of the Methodist Church in Florida, is incorporated today near Marianna.

1840 The City of Jasper was incorporated today.

1864 The U.S.S. Roebuck seized the British blockade-running schooner Nina with a cargo of liquors and coffee at Indian River Inlet. The Roebuck also captured the schooner Rebel with a cargo of salt, liquor and cotton at Indian River Inlet.

1964 The Cross-Florida Barge Canal, envisioned as a short-cut across the Florida Peninsula since the late 1800s and approved by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, was re-started by President Lyndon Baines Johnson near Palatka. This 185-mile canal was never finished.


1823 Joshua N. Glenn, the first Methodist preacher assigned to serve exclusively in Florida, was appointed minister to St. Augustine.

1839 Seminole Indians attacked Detachment I of the 2nd U.S. Infantry near Fort Miami today. Captain S. L. Russell was killed.

1862 Confederate General Samuel Jones assumed command of the Department of Alabama and West Florida from General Braxton E. Bragg.

1863 The U.S.S. Sagamore arrived at Mosquito Inlet today to investigate reports of a Confederate schooner being loaded with cotton for England. The commander of the Sagamore, fearing hidden Confederate gun emplacement, lobbed shells into the inlet in the hope that the Confederates would burn the ship to prevent its capture.

1864 The U.S.S. Clyde arrived at Cedar Key to take on coal.

1865 Armed boats for the U.S.S. Honeysuckle forced the blockade running British schooner Sort aground on a reef near the mouth of Crystal River, Florida, where she was abandoned. Sort was the same schooner captured in December 1864 by the U.S.S. O. H. Lee.

1865 The Federal amphibious force under the command of General John Newton arrived off Ocklockonee Buoy (near St. Marks Bar) today. Confederate scout report that 13 Federal steam ships and three sailing vessels have rendezvoused there in preparation for a land invasion.

1884 The first issue of the Palatka "Daily News" was published today.

1909 Panama City was incorporated as a town today.

1988 Daredevil Todd Seeley jumped his motorcycle 246 feet from ramp to ramp in a World of Wheels show at Tampa.



1836 General Edmund P. Gaines and his troops are pinned down by more than 1,000 Seminole warriors during a ten-day siege at Camp Izard on the Withlacoochee River, near present-day Dunnellon. The siege would eventually become so critical that the U.S. troops were forced to kill their horses for food.

1848 The Florida legislature petitioned the U.S. Congress for a grant of land to erect a courthouse in Tampa.

1892 Sculptor Augusta Christine Savage was born in Green Cove Springs today.