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This Day In Florida History  --  October  

OCTOBER 1

1849 William Dunn Moseley, the first governor elected under Florida's statehood, left office today, and Thomas Brown, the second governor of Florida (October 1, 1849-October 3, 1853), assumed office. Brown was born in Westmoreland County, Virginia, on October 24, 1785. He served in the War of 1812. He became the chief clerk of the post office at Richmond, and, while chief clerk, is credited with inventing the postal box. (For more information about Brown, see entry for August 24.)

1862 The Federal Expeditionary Force, under the command of Brigadier General John M. Brannan, landed at Mayport Mills on the St. Johns River. The land troops were accompanied by the Union gunboats Paul Jones, Cimarron, Water Witch, Hale, Uneas and Patroon.

1867 The first post-Civil War voter registration results were filed in Tallahassee. Some 15, 441 African-Americans registered to vote compared to 11,151 whites.

1888 F. W. A. Rankin, Jr. assumes office as the Florida Secretary of State and would hold the job until succeeded by Jno. L. Crawford on January 21, 1881.

1895 The City of Cocoa, originally settled as Indian River, incorporated today.

1910 Napoleon Bonaparte Broward, 19th governor of Florida (January 3, 1905-January 5, 1909), died today in Jacksonville at age 53. Broward, an orphan at age 12, worked as a logger, a farm hand, and a steamboat roustabout during his early years. In later life, he owned a steam tug, The Three Friends, which he commanded on eight voyages through the Spanish blockade of Cuba. Broward was carrying a cargo of war material.

Elected sheriff of Duval County twice, Broward also served as a member of the Jacksonville City Council, a member of the 1901 Florida House of Representatives, and the State Board of Health.

The Broward administration reorganized the state's institutions of higher learning under a Board of Control. In addition, the administration encouraged efforts to drain the Everglades.

An unsuccessful candidate for United States Senator in 1908, Broward won the Democratic nomination (and the general election) in 1910, but died before he could assume office.

1949 Long Range Proving Ground (missile testing) was activated at Cape Canaveral.

1965 Floyd T. Christian assumes the office of Superintendent of Public Education. Christian was the last person to hold this office, since the title was changed by the Constitutional Revision of 1968 to the Commissioner of Education.

1966 On this date, former Governor LeRoy Collins resigned his office as the United States Under Secretary of Commerce.

1975 The division of Florida Land Sales, Condominiums and Mobile Homes of the Department of Business Regulation assumed regulatory authority for the condominium industry in the state. Russell McCaughan is credited with creating the first condominium in Florida in Boca Raton. The first legal documents concerning the ownership and operation of this development were filed on November 2, 1962.

1979 Former Governor Reubin D. Askew was sworn in as the United States Trade Representative with the rank of Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, serving as a member of President Jimmy Carter's Cabinet.

OCTOBER 2

1672 Ground breaking ceremonies are held in St. Augustine for the construction of a coquina fortress capable of withstanding attacks from British colonists in Carolina.

1862 Federal troops landed at Buckhorn Creek, between Pablo and Mount Pleasant Creeks near Jacksonville. Troops under Brigadier General John M. Brannan are attacking Confederate emplacements at St. Johns Bluff. Union gunboats are slowly moving up the river, shelling all houses and barns they encounter.

1863 A Federal detachment from the gunboat, Port Royal, attacked salt works near St. George's Sound. Six boilers, two large vats and several kettles were destroyed.

1864 The U.S. schooner, O.H. Lee, arrived in Key West today. The schooner will take up blockade duty off the coast near St. Mark's.

1874 Green Cove Springs, first settled by loggers in the 1820s, was incorporated.

1885 Florida's first female representative in Congress, Ruth Bryan Owen, daughter of three-time unsuccessful Democratic candidate for President, William Jennings Bryan, was born in Illinois. Mrs. Owen served from 1929 until 1933 when she was defeated. It is suspected by some observers that her staunch opposition to the repeal of Prohibition was the primary reason for this loss.

1900 Florida's first law school campus, the John B. Stetson University College of Law, opened in Deland.

1972 Dr. Curtis McCray welcomed students to the first day of classes at the University of North Florida. McCray, the first president of UNF, presided over the faculty, staff, and students of the University's 1,000 acre campus. Florida International University in Miami was also opened in 1972, although classes their began in late September. Dr. Gregory Wolfe was president.

OCTOBER 3

1802 John Gorrie, the acknowledged inventor of air conditioning, was born today. Gorrie, a physician, was born in Charleston, SC. The idea for artificially cooling air in limited spaces was recognized by the U.S. Patent office when it granted him Patent Number 8080 on May 6, 1851.

A statue of John Gorrie was placed in the Capitol rotunda in Washington, DC, in 1914. Gorrie is one of two Floridians thus honored.

1853 Thomas Brown, the second governor of Florida, left office today and was succeeded by James Emilius Broome. (For more information of Brown, see entry for August 24.)*

*Abraham Kurkindolle Allison had proclaimed himself the acting governor of Florida on September 16, 1853, because of the absence from the state of Governor Brown and the President of the Florida Senate, R. J. Floyd. Under the Florida Constitution, which did not allow the governor to leave the state, such a proclamation was necessary.

1862 The Federal attack on Confederate positions along the St. Johns River has been halted because of intelligence that three Georgia regiments were being rushed to reinforce Confederate forces. Confederate forces, evacuated from positions at St. Johns Bluff, arrive by train in Baldwin for reorganization and re-equipping.

1887 The State Normal School for Colored Students, now Florida A and M University, began classes today with fifteen students in attendance.

1904 The school for African-American students, destined to become Bethune-Cookman College, opened in Daytona Beach under the direction of Mary McLeod Bethune.

1905 Governor Fuller Warren, the 30th governor of Florida, was born today in Blountstown. For more information on Governor Warren, consult for September 23.

1962 The Mercury 8 space vehicle was launched today from Cape Canaveral.

OCTOBER 4

1817 Luis Aury, a reputed general in the Mexican independence movement, raised a flag on Amelia Island and declared himself in possession of an independent republic.

1862 The U.S.S. Somerset, under the command of Lieutenant Commander English, attacked Confederate salt works at Depot Key. The landing party from the Somerset was augmented by a strong force from the U.S.S. Tahoma, under the command of Commander John C. Howell. The salt works were destroyed. Salt was recognized as a "strategic material" for the Confederacy.

1863 The master of the United States schooner Two Sisters reported that he was unsuccessful in catching a suspected Confederate schooner off the coast of Bayport.

1904 Mary McLeod Bethune opens her school in Daytona, Florida. (See entry for July 10 for more information)

1905 Orville Wright performs the first thirty-minute flight in an airplane.

1922 The lake campus of Florida Southern College, founded in 1885 and first named the South Florida Seminary, opened. The college is affiliated with the United Methodist Church.

1950 Governor Fuller Warren dedicated the Stephen Foster Memorial at White Springs in formal ceremonies today.

1957 Floridians, like other Americans, were in awe at the Soviet Union's successful launch of the SPUTNIK I satellite today and very apprehensive about what this meant for the future of the world.

OCTOBER 5

1857 Madison Starke Perry, fourth governor of Florida (October, 1857-October 7, 1861), took the oath of office today in Tallahassee. Perry, elected as a Democrat, had represented Alachua County in the 1850 Florida Senate. Perry's administration was a busy one that saw the settlement of the boundary dispute with Georgia, the expansion of railroads in the state, and the re-establishment of the Florida militia. Perry was governor when Florida seceded from the Union on January 11, 1861.

Perry was succeeded in the governor's chair by John Milton. Following his tenure as governor, Perry served as the Colonel of the 7th Florida Regiment until illness forced his retirement. He died at his Alachua County plantation in March 1865.

1861 Lt. Seton Fleming assumes the position of Adjutant of the 2nd Florida Infantry.

1862 The City of Jacksonville was occupied today by Federal forces. The city is practically deserted. Union pickets encountered Confederate cavalry two miles east of the city. Confederate units are camped about 12 miles west of Jacksonville.

1863 Major Pleasant W. White, Confederate Commissary Agent for Florida, received a request from General Braxton E. Bragg for Florida cattle to feed the Army of Tennessee. (The White Papers are in the Florida Historical Society Collection at the Tebeau-Field Library of Florida History in Cocoa.)

1894 Cuban exile leader Jose Marti arrives in West Tampa to consult with Fernando Figueredo, one of the leaders of the Cuba Libre movement in Florida.

1931 The first classes begin at the University of Tampa (then called Tampa Junior College) in the Hillsborough High School Building. The University of Tampa would later acquire the Tampa Hotel, built by Henry Plant, on a permanent lease from the City of Tampa.

OCTOBER 6

1862 Floridians are voting today for state offices (Senate and House of Representatives) under the new Confederate Constitution of Florida.

1863 The sloop, Last Trial, which had sought shelter in Key West because of heavy weather, was searched by Federal officials and 26 sacks of salt discovered on board. With no cargo manifest and no flag on board, the sloop is declared a blockade runner (a fact admitted by the sole crewman on board) and a prize of war. Her captain, George Elliot, was arrested in Key West.

1864 Lieutenant W. P. Randall of the Federal bark, Restless, reports that men from his ship destroyed salt works at St. Andrews Bay. Fifty boilers, 90 kettles, 31 wagons, 500 cords of wood, and 150 buildings of various kinds.

1873 The Marien Hospital, homes and businesses are devastated in Key West by a violent hurricane.

1891 The 26th governor of Florida, David Scholtz, was born today in Brooklyn, New York. Scholtz received his Bachelor's degree from Yale in 1914 and a law degree from Stetson University in 1915. In World War I, he served in the U.S. Navy. In 1917, Scholtz was elected to the Florida House of Representatives. From 1919-1921, he was the state's attorney for Volusia County and then served as a City Judge.

Elected as governor in 1933, Scholtz was a strong supporter of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal. He also presided over the creation of the Everglades National Park.

In 1938, he ran for the Democratic nomination for United States Senator. Following his defeat, he spent much of his remaining years in New York, although he maintained his legal residence in Florida. Scholtz died on March 21, 1953, while in the Florida Keys.

OCTOBER 7

1763 On this date, British Florida was divided into East Florida and West Florida by Royal Proclamation. The dividing line was the Chattahoochee-Apalachicola River.

1861 Madison Starke Perry (see October 5 entry) turned the reins of state government over to Governor John Milton, the fifth governor of Florida (October 7, 1861-April 1, 1865) Milton, who was born on April 20, 1807, in Jefferson County, Georgia, was a lawyer who practiced in Georgia, Alabama, and New Orleans before coming to Florida as the captain of a volunteer company in the Seminole War. In 1846, he moved to Jackson County. In politics, Milton was an powerful Democrat and an ardent states' righter. In 1850, Milton was elected to the Florida House of Representatives.

An early secessionist, Milton was instrumental in leading Florida out of the Union (3rd southern state to do so) and he encouraged Governor Perry to seize Federal military establishments in the state.

During the Civil War, Milton cooperated with Confederate authorities, unlike some other southern governors. He worked with Commissary Agent Pleasant W. White to forward Florida cattle and salt to Confederate armies.

When the Confederacy collapsed, Milton retired to his home near Marianna, and, on April 1, 1865, he put a gun to his head and pulled the trigger. In his last statement to the Florida Legislature, he stated that "...death would be preferable to reunion."

1862 A Federal army transport captured the Governor Milton on the St. Johns River near Enterprise.

1864 The C.S.S. Florida was seized today by the U.S.S. Wachusetts in Bahia Harbor, Brazil, after a surprise attack while the Confederate ship was at anchor under the protection of the Brazilian government. The Wachusetts' was under the command of Commander Napoleon Collins, whose defiance of international law and the expressed prohibitions of the Brazilian government led to his eventual court-martial and dismissal from the Union Navy. Secretary Sumner Welles, however, restored Collins to his command.

Brazilian protests over this blatant violation of international law continued until 1866.

1889 The Dade County School Board ordered the payment of $12 for the annual rental of a house in Coconut Grove which would be used for a school.

1930 Edmond J. Gong, the first Chinese-American to be elected to the Florida Legislature, was born in Miami.

OCTOBER 8

1862 Confederate forces under General Braxton E. Bragg engage a Union army under the command of General Don Carlos Buell outside Perryville, Kentucky (Chaplin Hills). Despite the fact that neither army commander was aware of the importance of this battle and never committed all of their resources to the fight, the Battle of Perryville ended the Confederate invasion of Kentucky.

Union forces were 37,000 strong, while the Confederate army had a strength of only 16,000. Union casualties were 845 killed; 2,851 wounded; and 515 missing. Confederate casualties were 519 killed; 2,635 wounded; and 251 missing.

Florida units involved in the Battle of Perryville were the Florida 3rd Infantry Regiment and the Florida 1st Cavalry Regiment.

1863 Union Brigadier General Alexander Asboth is named to assume command of Federal forces in West Florida.

1885 The first trees were cleared for streets in Ybor City by workers under the direction of civil engineer Gavino Gutierrez.

1966 The state headquarters for the Florida Bar Association, chartered in 1889, were dedicated in Tallahassee.

OCTOBER 9

1861 Federal forces on Santa Rosa Island near Pensacola were scattered in a surprise raid by Confederate troops.

1862 A Court of Inquiry, directed by Captain Wilkinson Call, today decided that Lieutenant Colonel Charles F. Hopkins was not guilty of dereliction of duty in regard to the evacuation of the St. Johns Bluff position on October 2.

1863 The Union schooner, Two Sisters, set sail from Cedar Key after spending three days making repairs to its sail.

1876 The town of Baldwin was incorporated today.

1913 The Secretary of the Navy appoints a board to select a site for naval aviation training. Pensacola was eventually chosen as the site and thus began that city's long association with naval fliers. So many aviators pass through the training facility, date, and marry local females, that Pensacola is known as "The Mother of the Navy."

1946 C. M. Gay assumed office as the Comptroller of Florida, a position he held until he was replaced by Ray E. Green in 1955.

1980 James Earl "Jimmy" Carter became the first President of the United States to visit the Capitol in Tallahassee. President Carter spent October 9-10 in Tallahassee, slept overnight in the Executive Mansion, and signed into law (in the Chamber of the House of Representatives) the Congressional Act appropriating $100,000,000 for refugee relief.

OCTOBER 10

1861 General Edmund Kirby Smith, a native of St. Augustine, was named to command the Confederate districts of Middle and Eastern Florida.

1863 The Federal schooner Two Sisters turned a small boat carrying two men back to the shore while on patrol duty off the coast of Bayport.

1896 Cuban patriot leaders L. Figueredo and Martin Herrera spoke at a benefit ball for Cuban refugees in Cespedes Hall in Tampa. The Cuban population in Tampa's Ybor City and West Tampa were strong supporters of "Cuba Libre."

1905 President Theodore Roosevelt designated Passage Key in Tampa Bay as a protected breeding reservation for water birds.

1917 Robert N. Dow, Jr., former managing editor of the Jacksonville Journal was born today in Jacksonville.

1963 Emory Bennett Causeway (State Road 528 across the Indian River) was opened today. It was formally dedicated on the 17th by Governor Farris Bryant. Emory Bennett was a native of Volusia County, but a resident of Cocoa when he entered service, who earned the Congressional Medal of Honor in the Korean War. Bennett's mother cut the ribbon at the dedication ceremonies.

Here is the official citation for the Medal of Honor Award:

.

Rank and organization: Private First Class, U.S. Army, Company B, 15th Infantry Regiment, 3d Infantry Division. Place and date: Near Sobangsan, Korea, 24 June 1951. Entered service at: Cocoa, Fla. Born: 20 December 1929, New Smyrna Beach, Fla. G.O. No.: 11, 1 February 1952. Citation: Pfc. Bennett a member of Company B, distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty in action against an armed enemy of the United Nations. At approximately 0200 hours, 2 enemy battalions swarmed up the ridge line in a ferocious banzai charge in an attempt to dislodge Pfc. Bennett's company from its defensive positions. Meeting the challenge, the gallant defenders delivered destructive retaliation, but the enemy pressed the assault with fanatical determination and the integrity of the perimeter was imperiled. Fully aware of the odds against him, Pfc. Bennett unhesitatingly left his foxhole, moved through withering fire, stood within full view of the enemy, and, employing his automatic rifle, poured crippling fire into the ranks of the onrushing assailants, inflicting numerous casualties. Although wounded, Pfc. Bennett gallantly maintained his l-man defense and the attack was momentarily halted. During this lull in battle, the company regrouped for counterattack, but the numerically superior foe soon infiltrated into the position. Upon orders to move back, Pfc. Bennett voluntarily remained to provide covering fire for the withdrawing elements, and, defying the enemy, continued to sweep the charging foe with devastating fire until mortally wounded. His willing self-sacrifice and intrepid actions saved the position from being overrun and enabled the company to effect an orderly withdrawal. Pfc. Bennett's unflinching courage and consummate devotion to duty reflect lasting glory on himself and the military service.

OCTOBER 11

1861 Confederate forces in Tampa captured two sloops, the William Batty and the Lyman Dudley, both home based in Key West, and thirteen sailors who were made prisoners and taken to Fort Brooke.

1862 Federal forces evacuated the City of Jacksonville today and returned to Hilton Head, SC.

1887 James E. Hamilton, the famous "Barefoot Mailman," drowned today near Pompano Beach. Hamilton was responsible for the Jupiter to Miami mail route and died while on duty.

1968 Apollo 7 was launched from Cape Canaveral today.

OCTOBER 12

1565 French Admiral Jean Ribault, along with approximately 200 of his men, was put to death by Pedro Menendez de Aviles and Spanish soldiers on the banks of the Matanazas River near St. Augustine. Only sixteen individuals were spared this slaughter. Of Ribaut, Menendez reported to King Philip II of Spain:

"I had Jean Ribaut with all the rest put to the knife, understanding this to be expedient for the service of God our Lord and of Your Majesty; and I hold it very great good fortune that he should be dead; for the King of France could do more with him with fifty thousand ducats that with others with five hundred thousand; and he could do more in one year than another in ten, for he was the most experienced seaman and corsair known, and very skillful in this navigation of the Indies and the coast of Florida."

1861 The U.S.S. Dale, under the command of Commander Edward M. Yard, captured the schooner Specie off the coast of Jacksonville with a large cargo of rice.

1864 Union troops, operating from Jacksonville, move south along the eastern bank of the St. Johns River, laying waste to orange groves.

Federal Rear Admiral Cornelius K. Stribling arrived in Key West to assume command of the East Coast Blockading Squadron.

1964 Florida residents are busy preparing for Hurricane Isbell which is expected to hit the Florida coast near 10,000 Islands tomorrow.

1998 Today is Columbus Day, a national holiday, but it is also "Farmer's Day," an official Florida holiday.

OCTOBER 13

1861 The U.S.S. Keystone State captured the Confederate steamer Salvor near the Dry Tortugas Islands with a cargo of cigars, coffee, and munitions.

1862 Union troops occupying St. Augustine are described by the Savannah (GA) Republican as bing respectful of the local population and commended for supplying the city's poor with rations from Federal warehouses.

1863 The U.S.S. Two Sisters is on a reconnaissance mission near Clearwater. The Union gunboat Tahoma joined the other Federal ships (Adela, Stonewall Jackson, and Ariel) on blockade duty at the mouth of Tampa Bay.

1896 The steam tug, Dauntless, captained by Napoleon B. Broward, future governor of Florida, arrived at Cienfuegos, Cuba, with a cargo of arms and ammunition for the Cuban revolutionaries fighting the Spanish army.

1947 The first underwater show was presented to the public at Weeki Wachee Springs.

1960 The Seminary of St. Vincent dePaul at Boynton Beach was incorporated by the state as a non-profit degree granting institution.

OCTOBER 14

1848 David P. Hogue assumes office as Florida's Attorney General today. Hogue would hold this office until April 19, 1853, when he was replaced by Mariano D. Papy.

1861 Confederate General Braxton E. Bragg assumed command of the Department of Alabama and West Florida today.

1862 Throughout Florida efforts are underway to collect used clothing suitable for Virginia winters and funds to purchase the material that cannot be acquired through donations to equip Florida troops for the upcoming winter in the Army of Northern Virginia.

1863 The 8th Florida Infantry Regiment participated today in the Battle of Bristoe Station when General A. P. Hill's corps struck the retreating rear units of Union General George Meade's Army of the Potomac. Although Hill's assault disrupted the Union retreat, it did not break their lines and Meade was able to prepare defensive positions around Centreville, VA. Lieutenant Colonel William Baya of the 8th Florida is listed among the wounded.

1880 The first city council meeting held in the newly incorporated town of Brooksville in Hernando County.

1894 The Jewish congregation Schaarai Zedek is founded in Tampa. Former mayor Herman Glogowski is named the permanent chairman of the congregation.

1902 The town of Sarasota was incorporated today, although the incorporation does not become effective until January 1, 1903.

1903 Henry Laurens Mitchell, the 16th governor of Florida (January3, 1893-January 5, 1897) died today in Tampa. Mitchell was born in Jefferson County, AL, on September 3, 1831.

1914 The first town meeting was held today in Pinellas Park in Pinellas County. The community was founded as a sugar cane growing area.

OCTOBER 15

1862 Crews from the U.S.S. Fort Henry , operating on the Apalachicola River, captured the Confederate sloop, G. L. Brockenbrough, with a cargo of cotton.

1863 The U.S.S. Honduras captured the British steamer, Mail, near St. Petersburg. On board were 176 bales of cotton, six barrels of turpentine, and about $2,500. The capture of the Mail followed a three hour chase by the Honduras, which was assisted by three other Union ships--the U.S.S. Two Sisters, the Sea Bird, and the Fox.

It is reported that the Union Navy now has thirty-three ships in its East Gulf Blockading Squadron, based in Key West.

1864 A column of Federal troops have been raiding orange groves south of Jacksonville and east of the St. Johns River. More than 300 barrels of oranges have been captured. Some of the oranges are bing distributed to Union troops in the area, and the remainder are bing shipped to the Union stronghold at Hilton Head, SC.

1884 The Florida Dental Association (then referred to as the Florida State Dental Society) was founded in Jacksonville at a meeting in Library Hall.

1889 Edward Aylsworth Perry, 14th governor of Florida (January 6, 1885-January 8, 1889), died today in Pensacola. Born in Richmond, Massachusetts, Perry attended Yale University, taught briefly in Alabama schools, and entered the practice of law in Pensacola in 1853. As the elected commanding office of the "Rifle Rangers," he entered Confederate service in July 1861. He served as captain, colonel, and brigadier general. He was severely wounded at Frayser's Farm (June 30, 1862) during the Seven Pines (May 31-July1, 1862) campaign. He commanded Florida troops during the Battles of Fredericksburg (December 13, 1862) and Chancellorsville (May 1-4, 1863). He missed Gettysburg (July 1-3, 1863) because of a bout with typhoid, but did participate in the Wilderness campaign where he was again wounded. Following his recovery, Perry was assigned to command the Alabama reserve troops, a task he fulfilled until the end of the war.

After the war, Perry resumed the practice of law. Active in state and national politics, he was elected governor in 1885. During his administration, Florida adopted a new Constitution and established the State Board of Education to oversee the public school system.

1926 Francis Houghtaling of Miami registers as the first student enrolled at the University of Miami.

1934 National Airlines begins operations in Florida with the inauguration of a 142 mile air mail run between St. Petersburg and Daytona Beach, with stops in Tampa, Lakeland and Orlando. National Airlines began its operations with a second-hand single engine Ryan airplane.

1964 Jacksonville's Bob Hayes won the Olympic gold medal in the 100 meter dash in the Tokyo games. His time for this event was ten (10) seconds even.

OCTOBER 16

1829 Governor William P. Duval today signed the charter documents for the incorporation of Christ Church Parish, an Episcopal congregation in the City of Pensacola.

1861 Confederate Major W. L. L. Bowen, commander of Fort Brooke (Tampa), has ordered the two sloops captured recently (see entry for October 11) to be turned over to the Confederate naval commissioner as legal prizes of war.

1863 The U.S.S. Tahoma and the U.S.S. Adela have been ordered to seize two Confederate blockade runners, the Scottish Chief (owned by Tampa resident James MacKay) and the Kate Dale. The Union plan is to shell the town and Fort Brooke and, under the cover of darkness, to send men ashore to destroy the blockade runners. The citizens of Tampa hold an emergency meeting to form a military company to defend the city against the Union forces. Confederate troops from the 2nd Florida Infantry Battalion are on hand to help repel the Federal invasion.

1963 Twin "Vela Hotel" satellites were launched by the Department of Defense at Cape Canaveral today. The satellites are designed to detect nuclear explosions in space at a maximum range of 100,000,000 miles.

Major Donald K. "Deke" Slayton today resigned his commission in the United States Air Force to assume a position as a civilian pilot for NASA. Slayton was one of the original seven Mercury astronauts and would be eligible for further space flights in his new position.

On another front, NASA announced its investigation of "possible improprieties" by a contractor which leased automobiles to the Agency. The contractor, Management Services, Incorporated, was accused of selling automobiles which had been used for only two to three years to NASA employees for as little as $50.00.

OCTOBER 17

1863 The Union ships, Adela and Tahoma, shelled Tampa today. A number of casualties were inflicted. On land, Federal troops reached the Hillsborough River at about 6:00 a.m. Sighting the Scottish Chief and the Kate Dale, they set both ships on fire. The Scottish Chief had a cargo of 156 bales of cotton, while the Kate Dale carried 11 bales. Confederate forces, under the command of Captain James Westcott, attacked the Federals later in the evening and killed five soldiers, wounded ten, and took seven prisoner. Confederate losses were not reported.

The famed "Cow Cavalry" continued its roundup of cattle in the Tampa region for movement to Confederate troops in Virginia and Tennessee.

1887 The disputed claim by the states of Georgia and Florida to some 1,507,200 acres of land from Chattahoochee to MacClenny is settled in Florida's favor today by a Federal court.

1943 The first discovery of oil in Florida is announced by officials of the Humble Oil Company in Fort Myers. After a thirty year search, the company reached an oil reservoir at 11,700 feet while drilling at Sunniland in Collier County.

OCTOBER 18

1854 George Lindley Taber, pioneer Florida Horticulturalist and founded of the Glen Saint Mary Nursery Company (1882) in Glen Saint Mary, was born in Vassalboro, ME.

1863 Federal soldiers wounded in yesterday's skirmish near Tampa have been evacuated to the lighthouse on Egmont Key. In a display of 19th century gallantry, Confederate Captain James Westcott, who commanded the successful action against the Federals, informed the Union soldiers that their dead would be buried with full military honors in Tampa.

1864 Approximately 200 Federal soldiers from Fort Barrancas in Pensacola attack a small group of Confederate cavalry in Milton. One Union soldier was killed and several others wounded. There is no record of Confederate losses.

1906 A hurricane hit the Florida Keys and 130 men were killed when 120 miles-per-hour wind struck construction sites of Henry Flagler's Overseas Railroad. Long Key was particularly hard hit. Captain Steve Bravo, a legendary Indian River steam boat captain who had taken a position with Flagler's company, was one of the individuals caught in the storm. He was the captain of the St. Lucie, which hauled men and supplies to work camps. Here is a description of the 1906 hurricane from Fred A. Hopwood's book, The Golden Age of Steamboating on the Indian River (Cocoa: Florida Historical Society Press, Reprint Edition, 1998)

On October 17, 1906, the St. Lucie left the FEC's terminal dock on 5th Street and headed out of Biscayne Bay on an overnight trip to the Keys. Pushing a barge filled with fresh water for workers and carrying 120 passengers and crewmen, nothing appeared out of the ordinary and the trip was regarded by the St. Lucie's captain, Steve Bravo, as routine. So routine, in fact, that Bravo, having brought the steamer safely out of Biscayne Bay, turned command of the vessel over to the first mate, Robert Blair, and retired to his cabin for the night.

Unknown to Bravo, Blair, or FEC officials, a hurricane was battering the Keys and heading directly for Miami. At an inquiry hearing later, Bravo reported that there had been no reason to suspect that anything was out of the ordinary, although "The barometer was showing low, but not more than it had for the past two weeks." The St. Lucie's long and wide steel hull (122' by 24') was considered stable and safe in even stormy conditions. When the steamer encountered the first winds and rain of the hurricane's outer bands, no one was unduly alarmed.

At about three o'clock in the morning, Blair had Captain Bravo roused from his sleep. When the captain reached the upper deck, it was apparent that the steamer was caught in a gale, blowing out of the east. Little did Blair or Bravo realize that these winds were part of the counter-clockwise winds of a larger storm. As the barometer continued dropping, Captain Bravo decided to seek safe anchorage at Elliott's Key and to ride out the storm. Dropping anchor in seven feet of water on the leeward side of the island, Bravo felt that his boat was safe from the storm.

By daylight, however, hurricane strength winds were blowing, and Elliott's Key was under several feet of water. Waves were washing over the lower deck of the St. Lucie, and parts of the boat's superstructure were beginning to give way. Passengers and crewmen were ordered to don life jackets. Suddenly, about seven o'clock in the morning, the winds died out and the waves receded. Captain Bravo ordered the chief engineer to "get up a full head of steam so that the St. Lucie could make a run for it, if necessary."

Despite the lull in the storm, the barometer, which had dropped to a low 28.8 inches of mercury, indicated that there was more bad weather to come.

Second Officer J. W. Grant ordered two lifeboats lowered. Ten men climbed aboard to go to the aid of a schooner that tossed at anchor between the St. Lucie and the shore. Before the men could reach the ship, the lull ended and the storm resumed. The temporary reprieve had been the eye of the hurricane, which had passed directly over Elliott's Key. Suddenly 120 m.p.h. winds struck from the west. The men in the two lifeboats were swept ashore by the renewed winds. Caught in the thicket of mangrove trees along the shore, the men clung tenaciously to the roots and managed to ride out the fury of the storm safely.

On board the St. Lucie, matters quickly turned worse. Bravo ordered a lifeboat to be lowered into the tossing waves. He placed the steamer's only woman passenger, a Mrs. Pierce, and her six-year-old son aboard the board and then ordered six crewmen to serve as oarsmen. Once released, the lifeboat was grabbed by the waves and hurled ashore, where it came to rest against a building wrecked by the hurricane. Mrs. Pierce, her son, and the six crewmen quickly grabbed hold of the building's structure, an act that saved their lives.

Within an hour, all hope for the St. Lucie was gone. The great steamer was being torn to pieces by the unrelenting winds and waves. Bravo reported to the inquiry board that, "We were fighting for our lives." Large pieces of the superstructure were hurled about like tiny matchsticks, and desperate crewmen struggled to find something to hang on to. It was a hopeless cause.

When the storm passed, nothing remained of the once-proud St. Lucie but debris floating on the surface of the placid water.

In Miami questions were immediately raised about the fate of the St. Lucie and its crew. The Miami Evening Record carried the banner headline, "Where is the St. Lucie?" The paper reported that, "Rumors have persisted that the St. Lucie had been overtaken by the storm and that she had gone down with all on board." The Miami Metropolis headlined its day-after edition, "Steamer St. Lucie is Reported Lost." J. C. Meredith, Flagler's chief engineer, gave credence to the story when he reported that he had traveled from the Keys to Miami on his boat, the Lotus, and had seen no sign of the St. Lucie. The barge the steamer had been pushing, however, was found by Meredith.

The question of the fate of the St. Lucie was answered when, on the following Saturday, the steamer Peerless arrived in Miami with fifty-eight badly battered and exhausted survivors. An additional twenty-five survivors had been ordered off the Peerless prior to its arrival in the city to assist the steamer Virginia collect the bodies of the less fortunate. When these weary survivors protested their impressment into service by the captain of the Virginia, he secured their cooperation only after threatening them with violence.

The Metropolis reported that "25 or more are dead, their bodies littering the shores and land of Elliott's Key." Several additional bodies were discovered in the vicinity of Soldier's Key. The actual number of persons from the St. Lucie who died in the storm will never be known. Apparently no passenger manifest was kept, and within a few weeks, the public lost interest in the disaster. Miami newspapers, ever willing to cater to public interests, pursued the matter no further.

Although some individuals insist that Captain Bravo knew about the hurricane and recklessly proceeded into the storm, an investigation by federal maritime authorities cleared him of any wrongdoing. With no telegraph or telephone communications between Miami and Key West, there simply was no way for any skipper to know about the hurricane in advance.

1989 The shuttle (STS 34) was launched from Cape Canaveral and the Kennedy Space Center.

1993 Space shuttle STS 58 was launched today from the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral.

OCTOBER 19

1863 The Chief Commissary officer for General Braxton E. Bragg's Army of Tennessee, Major J. F. Cummings, today appealed to Florida Commissary Agent Major Pleasant W. White for more Florida cattle for Confederate soldiers fighting in northern Georgia. He informs White that "Captain Townsend, assistant commissary of subsistence, having a leave of absence for thirty days from the Army of Tennessee, I have prevailed on him to see you and explain to you my straightened condition and the imminent danger of our army suffering for want of beef." (For more information about this subject, see Robert A. Taylor, Rebel Storehouse: Florida in the Confederate Economy (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1995, p. 162.)

1864 Federal raiders, operating along the shores of Escambia Bay, confiscate approximately 1,500 bricks, several doors, and a large amount of window sash for use on Federal fortifications/buildings in the Pensacola area.

An expedition made up of men from the U.S.S. Stars and Stripes made its way up the Ocklockonee River in West Florida. Today and tomorrow, this expedition will destroy an extensive Confederate fishery on Marsh's Island and capture a detachment of Confederate soldiers assigned to guard the fishery.

1928 The first edition of the Jewish Floridian is published.

1976 Campaigning in Miami, Jimmy Carter outlined his proposed health program, which would put more emphasis on preventing disease and injury than in reacting to them. Speaking to the annual convention of the American Public Health Association, Carter said "we've stressed cure and ignored prevention. We've made the hospital the first line of defense instead of the last."

FASCINATING FLORIDA FACTS:

State Song: Old Folks At Home (Stephen Collins Foster)

State Play: Cross and Sword (Paul Green)

State Bird: Mockingbird

State Fish: Largemouth Bass

State Shell: Horse Conch (Pleuroploca gigantea)

State Mammal: Manatee

State Animal: Florida Panther (Felis concolor coryi)

State Tree: Sabal Palm (Sabal palmetto)

State Gem: Moonstone

State Stone: Agatized Coral

OCTOBER 20

1849 The third occupation of Fort Dallas in Miami by the U.S. Army begins today.

1863 The U.S. tender Annie captured the British blockade runner Martha Jane near Bayport. On board was a cargo of 26,609 pounds of sea island cotton, $1,206.88 in gold, silver and U.S. currency, and $127.70 in Confederate money.

The Confederate schooner Ann of Nassau and another small sloop were captured with cargoes of sea island cotton near Bayport as well.

Major J. F. Cummings, Chief Commissary for the Army of Tennessee, continues to press Major Pleasant W. White for more beef for troops in North Georgia. "The army is to-day on half rations of beef and I fear within a few days will have nothing but bread to eat. This is truly a dark hour with us, and I cannot see what is to be done. All that is left for us to do is to do all we can, and then we will have a clear conscience, no matter what the world may say." (For more information about this subject, see Robert A. Taylor, Rebel Storehouse: Florida in the Confederate Economy (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1995, p. 162.)

1864 The U.S. Navy Department ordered the U.S.S. San Jacinto to report to Key West for blockade duty.

1921 The Tampa Bay-Tarpon Springs area was devastated by a hurricane. The tide in Tampa Bay was 10.5 feet, the barometric pressure was 29.11 inches, and the winds were 100 miles-per-hour.

OCTOBER 21

1837 Seminole chief Osceola and his party, camped outside Fort Pepton near St. Augustine under a flag of truce, are taken prisoner by U.S. troops.

1863 The U.S. bark Gem of the Sea captured a small sloop with four men and a single barrel of turpentine. One of the men was Richard Maiers, the former marshal of Key West.

1864 The U.S.S. Sea Bird, under the command of Ensign E. L. Robbins, captured the blockade running British schooner Lucy off Anclote Keys. The Lucy was carrying an assortment of cargo.

Confederate and Union troops skirmished today at Bryant's Plantation in northern Florida.

1905 President Theodore Roosevelt visited Jacksonville during a one day visit. Roosevelt spoke to white students at Central Grammar School and to African-American students at Florida Baptist Academy.

1912 Cohen Brothers, operators of Jacksonville's oldest department store (founded in 1867), opened a "block square" store in the St. James Building on Hemming Park.

1958 First launching of two USAF Bomarc missiles within less than 10 seconds of each other at Cape Canaveral.

OCTOBER 22

1736 James Oglethorpe signed a treaty with Spanish Florida Governor Francisco del Moral Sanchez in which both sides agreed to control their Indian allies and stop molesting each other.

1863 Commander A.A. Semmes of the U.S.S. Tahoma communicated with Captain James Westcott at Fort Brooke in an unsuccessful effort to have the family of Acting Master's Mate H. A. Crane released.

1884 A post office at Ruby (the forerunner of Jacksonville Beach) opened today.

1957 Army Jupiter (IRBM) missile successfully fired at Cape Canaveral.

1992 The space shuttle mission (STS 52) was launched today from the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral.

OCTOBER 23

1838 The currency issued by Florida banks is reputed to be the worst in the United States. Secretary of the Treasury Levi Woodbury urges state banks to improve their condition and to strengthen their currency issues.

1863 The U.S.S. Norfolk Packet, under the command of Acting Ensign George W. Wood, captured the schooner Ocean Bird off St. Augustine Inlet.

Lieutenant Ball of Dunham's Artillery (Florida Milton Light Artillery, Battery A, Artillery) was killed today in a fight at Cathey's Hotel in Lake City. His killer was J. A. Pickett.

1926 The University of Miami football team in its first-ever game today defeated the Rollins College freshman team by a score of 7-0. Approximately 4,000 fans witnessed this feat.

1984 Millard Fillmore Caldwell, the twenty-ninth governor of Florida (January 2, 1945-January 4, 1949), died today at his antebellum home in Tallahassee. Caldwell was born on February 6, 1897, near Knoxville, TN. He attended Carson-Newman College and the University of Mississippi. After service in the Army in World War I, he attended the University of Virginia.

He came to Florida in 1924 and practiced law in Milton. In 1929 and 1931, Caldwell represented Santa Rosa County in the Florida House of Representatives. From 1933 until 1941, he represented Florida's Third Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. During his congressional service, he represented the United States in international conferences at The Hague (1938) and Oslo (1939).

Elected governor in 1944, he promoted the enactment of the Minimum Foundation Program for public schools and the development of the Capitol Center. After a number of Federal positions, Caldwell was appointed to the Florida Supreme Court in 1962 and elected that same year without opposition. In 1967, he was elected the Chief Justice. Caldwell retired in 1969.

1995 Florida and the remainder of North America witnessed a solar eclipse today.

OCTOBER 24

1785 Thomas Brown, the second governor of Florida (October 1-October 3, 1853) was born in Westmoreland, VA. (For more information about Brown, see entry for August 24.)

1792 Richard Keith Call, the third (March 1836) and fifth (March 1841) territorial governor of Florida was born in Pittsfield, Prince George County, VA. (For more information on Call, see entry for September 14.)

1820 The Adams-Onis Treaty transferring title of Florida to the United States was signed by the King of Spain.

1861 The U.S.S. Rhode Island, under the command of Lieutenant Stephen D. Trenchard, captured the schooner Aristides off Charlotte Harbor.

1864 The U.S.S. Nita, under the command of Acting Lieutenant Robert B. Smith, captured the schooner Unknown off Clearwater Harbor after her crew had escaped.

The U.S.S. Rosalie, under the command of Acting Ensign Henry W. Wells, captured an unidentified blockade running sloop off Little Marco Island with a cargo of salt and shoes.

On land, skirmishes broke out between Confederate and Union forces near Magnolia, Fl. Florida units participating were the Florida 2nd Cavalry and the Florida 5th Cavalry Battalion. Cavalry, under the command of J. J. Dickinson, kill ten of the fifty-five Union troops, wound eight, and take twenty-three prisoner. There were no Confederate casualties.

OCTOBER 25

1834 A Seminole Council was held today at Fort King (Ocala). Osceola, Micanopy and other chiefs expressed strong hostility to the policy of removal to lands west of the Mississippi River.

1864 A detachment of 600 Union troops leave Fort Barrancas in Pensacola and attack the town of Milton. Nine Confederates are taken prisoner. Several soldiers on both sides were wounded. The Federal troops capture a small quantity of lumber and timber. The ferry crossing across the river was destroyed by the troops.

1865 The Florida Ordinance of Secession was annulled by a special Constitutional Convention mandated by Andrew Johnson on this date.

1903 The Germania Club, the pioneering German-American social club, was organized in Jacksonville.

1921 Seven people were killed in the Tampa-St. Petersburg area and more than 500 homes in Ybor City were destroyed as the Tampa Bay area was struck by a violent hurricane.

1964 President Lyndon Baines Johnson was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree at dedication ceremonies for Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton. The University was organized on July 1, 1962.

1971 Walt Disney World was officially dedicated by Roy D. Disney in ceremonies held at the Lake Buena Vista Resort.

1972 Doyle Elam Carlton, the 25th governor of Florida (January 8, 1929-January 3, 1933), died today in Tampa. (For more information, see entry for July 6.)

1998 Daylight Savings Time ends today.

OCTOBER 26

1861 The Department of Middle and Eastern Florida has been defined as extending from the Atlantic Ocean to the Choctawhatchee River.

1863 The U.S.S. Two Sisters returned to Cedar Key today after a cruise along the Gulf Coast.

1869 Martial law was imposed in Marianna today in an effort to stem racial violence stemming from legislation politically empowering freedmen in Florida.

1894 The town of Sneads was incorporated today.

1999 Golfer Payne Stewart and four other passengers were killed when the Lear jet they were riding to a Dallas, Texas, event experienced a loss of pressure. The plane, which left Orlando International Airport, was last in contact with controllers near Gainesville. Four hours later and 1500 miles away it crashed near Mina, South Dakota. There were no survivors.

OCTOBER 27

1785 The Treaty of San Lorenzo was signed between the United States and Spain. The treaty opened the Mississippi River to American commerce and the border between the United States and West Florida was agreed to as the 31 degrees north latitude.

1819 Henry Bradley Plant, pioneer developer of railroads on Florida's west coast and the founder of the Plant System of railroads and steamships, was born in Branford, CT.

During the Civil War, Plant was the southern manager for Adams Express Company, which he renamed the Southern Express Company. Plant's services were considered so valuable to the Confederate government during the war that he was excused from the requirement that he become a Confederate citizen.

After the war, Plant began to assembled the Plant System in the South. In Florida, the Plant System ran from Jacksonville to Palatka and Sanford. Ultimately the Plant System stretched to Tampa and points south. By 1895, Plant had more than 1,400 miles of railroads under his control and about 1,300 miles of steamer routes. (See Edward A. Mueller, Steamships of the Two Henrys (DeLeon Springs: E.O.Painter Printing Company, 1996).

Known as the "Father of Tampa," Plant erected the Moorish palace known as the Tampa Bay Hotel, developed Port Tampa as a deep water port, and made possible, through his railroad, the development of West Tampa and Ybor City as cigar producing areas. He also developed the Belleview Hotel in Pinellas County, at the time the largest wooden structure in the world.

A friendly rivalry developed between Henry Plant and Henry Flagler. When Plant opened his Tampa Bay Hotel (at a cost of more than $4 million), it is reported that he invited Flagler to attend. When Flagler responded, "Where is Tampa?" Plant answered, "Just follow the crowds, Henry, just follow the crowds!"

The Tampa Bay Hotel served as the headquarters for General William Shafter and the American Army during the Spanish-American War. The fame of the hotel was spread nationwide, and Tampa became the destination of America's wealthy tourists.

Tragically, Plant died just a year later

1924 New Port Richey is formally incorporated as a city.

1961 St. John Vianney Minor Seminary is chartered in Miami.

OCTOBER 28

1862 The U.S.S. Sagamore, under the command of Lieutenant Commander George A. Bigelow, captured the British blockade running steamer Trier off the coast of the Indian River Inlet. The U.S.S. Montgomery seized the blockade running steamer Caroline off the coast of Pensacola.

Union soldier surprised a detachment of Confederate cavalry at Gonzalia (about 20 miles north of Pensacola) early this morning. All but nine of the Confederates were killed or captured.

1865 A constitutional convention, called at the direction of President Andrew Johnson and Provisional Governor William Marvin, met today in Tallahassee to write a new state constitution as a condition for readmission into the Union. The constitution, which was to become effective on November 7 without a vote of the citizens, never became effective because President Johnson lost control of the process of Reconstruction to Congressional Republicans.

1887 Today the 834 registered voters of Punta Gorda voted to incorporate the town.

1927 Today a chartered Fokker F-7 trimotor airplane left the dirt runway at Key West's Meacham Field to inaugurate Pan American Airways mail service to Havana. Twenty-eight sacks of mail were shipped over the ninety miles of water. Three months later, passenger service was started. Allen Morris notes that "Because of Prohibition, the champagne christening of the maiden flight that day had to take place in Havana rather than in Key West."

1959 The Broward County Board of Public Instruction approved the financial arrangements for the establishment of Broward County Community College.

OCTOBER 29

1864 Brigadier General William S. Walker of Florida assumed command of Confederate tools in Weldon, VA.

C.S.S. Olustee, formerly the C.S.S. Tallahassee and under the command of Lieutenant William H. Ward, eluded Union blockaders off the coast of Wilmington today to begin a nine-day cruise against Union shipping in the Atlantic.

1939 The Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Lake City, Florida's oldest Lutheran congregation (founded in 1859), today celebrates its 139th anniversary.

1940 United States Senator "Connie Mack" was born in Philadelphia, PA today. Mack moved to Florida when he was eleven years old. He graduated from the University of Florida in 1966. He served in the U.S. House of Representatives prior to becoming senator. Mack is currently Florida's "junior" senator and is a member of the Republican Party.

1959 The United States Air Force launched an Atlas rocket carrying a nose-cone camera today from Cape Canaveral. The purpose of the mission was to photograph earth's cloud cover from a height of 300+ miles.

1963 An Atlas missile launched today from Cape Canaveral went out of control 2.5 minutes after launch and crashed into the Atlantic Ocean. This marked the sixth successive failure of the Atlas missile.

1998 Senator John Glenn took his second trip into outer space today aboard space shuttle, Discovery. Glenn, who became the first American to orbit the Earth on February 20, 1962, also became the oldest American in space at age 77.

OCTOBER 30

1558 Tristan de Luna y Arellano named by the Viceroy of Mexico, Luis De Velasco, to head the Spanish expedition to occupy Florida.

1862 Fearing what impact the Union occupation of the Fernandina-Jacksonville-St. Augustine are might have on the slave population of North Florida, Confederate General Finegan authorizes Captain J. J. Dickinson and his Cavalry to assemble free blacks and slaves with no owners present and to move them to the interior of the state where they could be place in the charge of some responsible white person.

1863 The U.S.S. Annie, under the command of Acting Ensign Williams, seized the blockade-running British schooner, Meteor, off the coast of Bayport, Florida, today.

1926 A skeleton believed to be that of a prehistoric mastodon is uncovered near Venice Beach. Representatives of the Smithsonian Institution are called to the scene to investigate.

1933 The first classes for the Palm Beach Junior College start today in West Palm Beach.

1985 The shuttle (STS 61-A) was launched today from Cape Canaveral.

OCTOBER 31

1764 George Johnstone, the first governor of British West Florida, arrived in Pensacola today.

1799 All Spanish and American military officers are ordered out of West Florida today by William Augustus Bowles, the Caucasian Creek chief. Bowles promulgated the order as the "Director General" of the State of Muskogee, which had its capital Mikasukee near present-day Tallahassee. Bowles was eventually taken prisoner by an agent of the United States government who delivered him to Spanish authorities in 1803. He was imprisoned in Havana and died there.

1861 Governor John Milton reports to Confederate authorities at Richmond that Union gunboats had captured the ship, Salvor, owned and commanded by James McKay of Tampa, near Key West with a cargo of "21,000 stands of arms, 10 boxes of revolvers, six rifled cannon, and ammunition."

1900 Citizens of Jacksonville and North Florida experienced eight distinctive earthquake shocks at about 11:15 a.m. on today. The shocks, rated as 5 on the Mercalli Scale, produced broken windows, cracked plaster, and broken dishes. Twice before in 1879 and 1880 Florida experienced earthquakes in the modern age.

1955 The Statutory Board was abolished on this date and replaced by the Board of Bar Examiners, which is charged with the responsibility of examining the moral and technical qualifications of applicants seeking to practice law in Florida.

1957 A Snark Intercontinental missile was launched from Cape Canaveral today and impacted on its target near Ascension Island, more than 5,000 miles away.