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This Day In Florida History  --  September  


1565 From the account of Pedro Menendez's expedition to Florida in 1565 by Francisco Lopez de Mendoza Grajales, the chaplain to the expedition. This account is taken from Charles E. Bennett, Laudonniere and Fort Caroline: History and Documents (Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 1964). [We will continue with portions of this account in the coming days and will simply cite it as Laudonniere and Fort Caroline.--moderator]

Our General, having received the good news, decided at once, Saturday, September 1, to go on land to the Indians; and he carried them many things of linen, and knives and mirrors and other small things of this class to gain their support, and that they might show us where the French port was. One of the Frenchmen, who understood the language, learned that we had left the French behind about five leagues, which is where God brought us when we first saw land. And we learned we did not then find them because we did not put men on land to reconnoiter it; and that if we struck them at once we would take them unalerted.

Francisco Lopez de Mendoza Grajales, Laudonniere and Fort Caroline.

1862 Major general Edmond Kirby Smith, a native of St. Augustine, proclaims this day as a day of prayer and thanksgiving for the men in his command. Kirby Smith is in command of Confederate forces in Kentucky.

1863 The Marion Light Artillery has been assigned to the Army of Tennessee as part of the reserve artillery in General Simon Buckner's corps. This unit, first commanded by Captain John M. Martin, had been assigned to Triggs' Brigade, Department of East Tennessee, prior to this reassignment. The Marion Artillery would fight through the Atlanta campaign with the Army of Tennessee.

1864 An excerpt from the civil war diary of Hiram Smith Williams, who settled in Rockledge in 1872 and who served two terms as a state senator in the 1880s. Williams was a member of the 40th Alabama Regiment and was a combat engineer during the Atlanta Campaign.

The great struggle is over. Atlanta is being incinerated. Our [General Stephen D. Lee's] Corps was put in motion early this morning to march towards the city and cover the retreat of Stewart's Corps while [General William J.] Hardee was left at Jonesboro to hold the forces there in check. The troops are already demoralized and such straggling I never saw before.

Proceeded to within five miles of Atlanta where we camped. Stewart's Corps is busy destroying stores in the city and report says will leave to-night.

Well I am heartily glad of it and if it had been evacuated six weeks ago it would have been better.

Lewis N. Wynne and Robert A. Taylor (Editors), This War So Horrible: The Civil War Diary of Hiram Smith Williams (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press)

1917 Van C. Swearingen assumes office as Florida's Attorney General. He holds this position until January 4, 1921.

1948 Chipola Junior College, founded in 1946 as a private school, is re-established as a public institution. The college, located in Marianna, was originally affiliated with the Baptist Church.

1965 Fred O. Dickinson, Jr., takes office as the Comptroller General of Florida. He held that office from this date until he was succeeded by Gerald Lewis on January 7, 1975.


1861 Today a small Union raiding party from Ft. Pickens crossed Pensacola Bay and set a million dollar drydock that General Braxton E. Bragg had ordered moved from the Naval Yard.

1862 W. Fisher of Tallahassee issued a call for a new company of infantry to be organized in Middle Florida. This company will be made up exclusively of men over thirty-five years of age.

1863 The U.S.S. DeSoto has been ordered to assume a blockading position in the Gulf of Mexico. This order was given by Federal Admiral T. Bailey, the commander of the East Gulf Blockading Squadron.

1864 An excerpt from the civil war diary of Hiram Smith Williams, who settled in Rockledge in 1872 and who served two terms as a state senator in the 1880s. Williams was a member of the 40th Alabama Regiment and was a combat engineer during the Atlanta Campaign. The people of the entire Confederacy watched the scenario being played out in Atlanta.

"Retreated towards McDonough, Billie McMullen [and] myself concluded we would straggle some and try [and] get something fresh [and] good to eat. Took a road running parallel with the McDonough road and had the good fortune to get a good dinner and excellent supplies. Our supplies consisted of good biscuit, milk, butter, honey and pies. We done it ample justice as the reader of these pages may depend. We overtook the Division after dark [and] camped in a pine thicket."

"Indications of rain."

Lewis N. Wynne and Robert A. Taylor (Editors), This War So Horrible: The Civil War Diary of Hiram Smith Williams (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press)

1882 Apopka was incorporated on this date as "Apopka City."

1900 The City of Cocoa experienced a devastating fire that destroyed four businesses and residences of Delannoy Avenue near King Street.

1935 The Overseas Railroad in Monroe County ceased operations following extensive hurricane damage. Over 120 miles of railroad was destroyed and 577 individuals were killed by this devastating storm. The destruction of the Florida East Coast bridges between the Keys ended the dream of the late Henry Flagler to extend his road to Cuba and beyond. The Overseas Highway was built to replace the railroad, using many of the same casements. This hurricane was rated as a Category 5 hurricane, the only one known to have hit the Florida Peninsula.

1966 In their very first home game, the National Football League's Miami Dolphins defeated the Oakland Raiders by a score of 23-14. The game was played in the Orange Bowl, and 26,776 paying fans witnessed the Dolphin defense intercept four passes which led to scores.

1975 Joseph W. Hatchett, the first African-American justice of the Florida Supreme Court, was sworn in today.

1979 Residents of Ft. Lauderdale brace for the onslaught of Hurricane David, located about 75 miles east of the city. David packed winds of approximately 85 mph and was expected to make landfall in the early morning hours of September 3.


1831 Henry Laurens Mitchell, the sixteenth governor of Florida, was born this day in Jefferson County, Alabama. At age 15, Mitchell moved to Tampa. While there, he studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1849. He enlisted in the Confederate army when the Civil War began and rose to the rank of Captain. Following the defeat of General John Pemberton's forces at Vickburg, he returned to Hillsborough County to serve as a member of the Florida House of Representatives (a position to which he had been elected while in the military). He served addition terms in 1873 and 1875. In 1888, he was appointed to the Florida Supreme Court and held that position until he became a candidate for governor in 1891.

Following his term as chief executive, Mitchell was elected Clerk of the Circuit Court and later County Treasurer in Hillsborough County.

Mitchell died in Tampa on October 14, 1903.

1862 Major General O. M. Mitchell is named to command the Federal Department of the South, which includes territory held by Union forces in and around Fernandina, Jacksonville, and St. Augustine.

1896 On this date, an agreement was made to extend telephone service from Chipley to St. Andrews Bay on the coast.

1935 President Franklin D. Roosevelt announced today that an initial allocation of $5 million had been made for the construction of the Florida Ship Canal, which would cross the state from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean.

1979 Ft. Lauderdale residents continued their hurricane watch today. At 7:00 a.m., Hurricane David was located about 35 miles due east of the city and packed winds of about 85 mph. Throughout the day, residents prepare for the worst, but Hurricane David came ashore at about 6:00 p.m. twenty miles south of Melbourne. It was the first hurricane to hit the Brevard County-Cape Canaveral area since the devastating hurricane of 1926.


1862 The U.S.S. William G. Anderson captured the Confederate schooner, Theresa, in the Gulf of Mexico. The Theresa was carrying a cargo of salt and other commodities.

1863 The 9th Florida Infantry regiment, under the command of Colonel John M. Martin and Executive Officer Major Pickens B. Bird, was mustered into the Confederate army today.

1864 An excerpt from the civil war diary of Hiram Smith Williams, who settled in Rockledge in 1872 and who served two terms as a state senator in the 1880s. Williams was a member of the 40th Alabama Regiment and was a combat engineer during the Atlanta Campaign. The people of the entire Confederacy watched the scenario being played out in Atlanta.

"At last, I hope we have a little resting spell. We are near Jonesboro and the enemy has fallen back towards Atlanta."

"We are camped in a very good country and I anticipate some good foraging here, as honey and mutton is plenty. Also plenty of sugar cane and some sweet potatoes, just getting in eating order."

"Have fixed up a very good camp and don't care if we remain here a month or two or as long as the war lasts. Brought in a fine bee hive to-night. 40 lbs of excellent honey."

Lewis N. Wynne and Robert A. Taylor (Editors), This War So Horrible: The Civil War Diary of Hiram Smith Williams (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press)

1911 Delray, now part of Delray Beach, was incorporated on this date.

1933 An unnamed hurricane struck the east coast of Florida on this date. More than "4 million boxes of citrus were blown from the trees statewide," according to John M. Williams and Iver W. Duedall in the revised edition of "Florida Hurricanes and Tropical Storms (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1997). They go on to quote U.S. Weather Bureau reports that "The property loss in Indian River, St. Lucie and Palm Beach Counties was probably about $2 million dollars [$25 million in 1990 dollars]."


1836 The initial nine mile segment of the Lake Wimico and St. Joseph Canal and Railroad Company line opened today. This was the first operation of a steam-powered railroad in Florida.

1950 Hurricane Easy struck the area from Yankeetown to Cedar Key. This unusual storm, with winds of 125 mph, produced the single greatest 24 hour rainfall in Florida since records have been kept. Over today and tomorrow (September 5-6), 38.7 inches of rain fell at Yankeetown.

1986 NASA launched its first successful rocket from the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral following the Challenger disaster, when it sent a Delta rocket skyward with two satellites aboard. NASA also provided a facility at its Wallops Island base of the Spaces Services company, a commercial operation with plans to send the remains of 10,000 persons into orbit.

1989 The launch of Space Shuttle Columbia was scrubbed today for the third time after a fuel leak was discovered.


1565 From the account of Pedro Menendez's expedition to Florida in 1565 by Francisco Lopez de Mendoza Grajales, the chaplain to the expedition. This account is taken from Charles E. Bennett, Laudonniere and Fort Caroline: History and Documents (Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 1964). [We will continue with portions of this account in the coming days and will simply cite it as Laudonniere and Fort Caroline.

"At dawn on Thursday, the 6th, we began to make our course to the ship at anchor. We saw a vessel beginning to appear on the high seas, and thinking it to be ours, we gave land to a the French Almiranta. That which came to reconnoiter us we found to be the French Capitana that our Capitana had chased. Seeing ourselves close to the two, we decided to stay behind the Capitana. Because they would not come up to us and they not have the desire that we await them, we went on the lookout for the port and river where Our Lord and His Blessed Mother were pleased that we found our Capitana with another vessel, since among them they had agreed to do the same as we had. The two captains went on land, one the Lord Captain Andres Lopez Patino and another the Lord Captain Juan de San Vicente, a great gentleman, and they were very well received by the Indians in a large house of the Chief, close to the river bank. Immediately, Captain Patino and Captain San Vicente with industry and diligence ordered a ditch and a foss to be made surrounding this house, with much terreplien of earth and fascines, which is the fortification of this land, there not being a stone for a landmark in all of it. We have disembarked 20 guns of bronze, of which the least is 25 quintals."

"Our fort is about 15 leagues from that of the enemy. So great were the efforts which those two captains made with their industry, and the fingernails of their soldiers, that without have tools, they made a fort to defend themselves in such a manner that when the General [Menendez] disembarked he was astonished at what they had done."

Francisco Lopez de Mendoza Grajales, Laudonniere and Fort Caroline.

1854 The Alachua County commissioners today ordered a survey for a new county seat to be called Gainesville.

1862 Confederate General Joseph Finegan brought his troops to Jacksonville prior to crossing the St. John's River and establishing artillery positions on St. John's Bluff. These guns would be the target of Union gunboats on September 11.

1864 The U.S.S. Proteus, under the command Commander Schufeldt, captured blockade-running British schooner, Ann Louisa, in the Gulf of Mexico.

1920 The first bridge across the Indian River in St. Lucie County, first proposed in 1916, was finally completed. On the day of dedication, over 2000 people, bands and a parade of over 300 cars lined up to cross the toll bridge (free on opening day). After the key to the swing draw was handed to the mayor, the traditional bottle of spirits was broken over the steel draw. The ceremony concluded with the playing of Suwanee River and a picnic on the beach (which ended in thunderstorms). The tolls were five cents for children eight years or older; ten cents for horse, mule, ox, donkey, cow or pony; each motorcycle, five cents; automobiles, twenty cents; and on and on.

This item contributed by Pam Hall, Florida History and Genealogy Department, of the Indian River County Main Library. It is taken from the Press Journal of September 4, 1920.

1928 The Great Lake Okeechobee Hurricane struck Florida as a Category 4 storm, with winds pushing lake waters to a strom surge of more than 15 feet. The area surrounding the lake's south end, occupied primarily by migrant agricultural workers, flooded. The Red Cross's death toll count reached 1,836, but additional bodies and skeletons were discovered after the end of the Red Cross count. In response to this disaster, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built dikes around the lake to prevent a recurrence. Florida author Zora Neale Hurston recorded the impact on this hurricane on migrants in her novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God.

John M. Williams and Iver W. Duedall in the revised edition of "Florida Hurricanes and Tropical Storms" (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1997).

1949 Washington Junior College, the first state-supported junior college for African-Americans, was established on this date in Pensacola.

1950 Rain continued today along the Gulf Coast as Hurricane Easy slowly moved along. In Yankeetown, residents face rising flood waters from the 38.7 inches of rain that would eventually fall.

1954 Governor Charley Johns presided over the opening of the two-laned Sunshine Skyway toll bridge over Tampa Bay. This bridge was Florida's highest when it was opened. On May 9, 1980, a phosphate carrier toppled the main span of this bridge, causing 35 people to plunge to their deaths. A new bridge was constructed (182-1986) to replace it. The vertical clearance of the newest bridge is 175 feet and spans more than 1200 feet of water.

1960 Miami-Dade Community College was founded on this date.

1963 On this date, President John F. Kennedy signed the NASA Appropriations Bill ($5,350,820,400) for the fiscal year. Brevard County and the Space Coast residents greeted this news with cheers because the economy of the county was based to a large extent on the Space Center operations.


Today is Labor Day, a national holiday! is mercifully brief today. We will expand on this date when we come back to work on September 8. Please be careful and watch out for the other guy.--Moderator

1565 Pedro Menendez de Aviles and the men of his armada make preparations for formally establishing St. Augustine. The site, which would be officially dedicated on September 8, would ultimately become the first permanent European settlement in North America.

1920 Mrs. C. Herbert Purdy became the first Jacksonville woman to register to vote under the provisions of the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution.


1565 Today is the anniversary of the founding of St. Augustine.

From the account of Pedro Menendez's expedition to Florida in 1565 by Francisco Lopez de Mendoza Grajales, the chaplain to the expedition. This account is taken from Charles E. Bennett, Laudonniere and Fort Caroline: History and Documents (Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 1964). [We will continue with portions of this account in the coming days and will simply cite it as Laudonniere and Fort Caroline.--moderator]

"Saturday, the eight of September, the day of the Nativity of our Lady, the General disembarked with many banners displayed and many trumpets and other instruments of war, discharging much artillery. As I was on the Land since the day before, I took a cross and went out to receive them with the Psalm "Te Deum laudamaus," and the General came directly to the cross with all the rest that came with him, and kneeling on the knees on the earth they kissed the cross. There were a great number of Indians looking at these ceremonies and thus they did all they saw done. On this same day the General took possession of this land for His Majesty and all Captains swore him to be General of all this land. Having finished doing this, he offered to all the Lord Captains to do for them all theat he could do, especially Captain Patino who had on this journey served Our Lord and his King well. I understand that he should be well rewarded because by means of his good diligence and not sleeping, there has been made a fort which we defend ourselves until help comes form Santo Domingo and Havana, which we expect within hours."

"We are now in the fort about 600 fighting men, the French may be as many and a little more. I have advised the General that it is my opinion that he should not attack again this winter, but rehabilitate his people and await the help we expect by hours. He is such a friend of his own opinion that I do not know if he will have it done that way."

Francisco Lopez de Mendoza Grajales, Laudonniere and Fort Caroline.

1789 Florida's fourth territorial governor, Robert Raymond Reid, was born today in Prince William Parish, South Carolina. Reid was educated in Augusta, Georgia, and practiced law there. In May 1832, he was appointed United States Judge of East Florida by President Andrew Jackson. On December 2, 1839, he assumed the office of governor on the appointment of President Martin Van Buren. He presided at the convention which drafted Florida's Constitution. A vigorous advocate of the prosecution of the Indian Wars, he continuously pressed for the conclusion of the conflict. Reid died in Leon County, near Tallahassee, on July 1, 1841.

1862 A landing party from the U.S.S. Kingfisher destroyed Confederate salt works at St. Joseph's Bay, Florida, that could produce some 200 bushels a day.

1900 Today is the birthday of the late Claude Pepper, who was born in Dudleyville, Alabama. Pepper came to Florida in 1925. A graduate of the University of Alabama (1921) and Harvard Law School (1924), Pepper enjoyed a long and productive career as a lawmaker at the state and national level. He served as a member of the Florida House of Representatives in 1929; in 1937, the entered the United States Senate and was a member of that body until 1951 He was unseated by George Smathers in November 1950, following a wildly exciting race. Smathers earned a place in political history when he accused Pepper of having "matriculated from college" and having "a sister who was a thespian." Although this was true, the use of such words, although appropriate, shocked rural Floridians and, some say, cost Pepper the election. A strong advocate of the New Deal, Pepper, in all likelihood, was simply out of touch with his constituents.

Pepper was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in November 1962 and retained that post until he retired in the 1990s.

1948 The first students registered for classes today at Pensacola Junior College, which was located in a former tourist home.

1965 Hurricane Betsy, a Category 3, struck southern Florida with winds between 120 and 145 mph.


1565 From the account of Pedro Menendez's expedition to Florida in 1565 by Francisco Lopez de Mendoza Grajales, the chaplain to the expedition. This account is taken from Charles E. Bennett, Laudonniere and Fort Caroline: History and Documents (Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 1964). [We will continue with portions of this account in the coming days and will simply cite it as Laudonniere and Fort Caroline.--moderator]

"God and His Blessed Mother made another great miracle for us. After the General [Menendez] disembarked at the fort, he said the next day he could not rest seeing his ships anchored outside the port a league at sea. This was because two of them could not enter the port because of the great banks and he was fearful that the French would come to attack them. As soon as he considered it, he departed for his galleon with 50 men and ordered that one of the three small boats that he had put in the river depart at once to go and bring the provisions and the people from the galley. They brought in the greatest part of the provisions they could and more than 100 men that were in her ready to disembark. They returned on the course to the port, but before they arrived at the bar by half a league, they were becalmed so they could not proceed and they made anchor for the night...."

Francisco Lopez de Mendoza Grajales, Laudonniere and Fort Caroline.

1918 The Jacksonville Times-Union announced today that the season bookings had been cancelled for the Alcazar Hotel in St. Augustine and the Breakers in Palm Beach. A severe labor shortage was cited as the cause. The Ponce de Leon in St. Augustine was opening its season early to accommodate visitors.

1919 Key West was struck by a hurricane on this date which claimed 300 lives in Key West. The U.S. Weather Bureau estimated the damage at $2 million, which would place the current evaluation in 1990 dollars at around $40 million.

1971 The Congress of the United States met in Joint Session today to receive and pay tribute to the Apollo 15 astronauts, whose July launch from Cape Canaveral to the moon had thrilled the nation.


1853 The municipal government of Tampa, which was first incorporated in 1849, was abolished by voters in 1852. The city government of Tampa was reestablished on this date.

1862 The gunboat, U.S.S. Union, left Jacksonville this morning to check out rumors that Confederate troops under the command of General Joseph Finegan had located artillery batteries at St. John's Bluff, effectively closing the St. John's River to Federal transit. At about 8:00 p.m., the Union fired at the suspected battery location, but the Confederates did not return fire. The Federal gunboat anchored in the river to await further action.

1864 The U.S.S. Magnolia captured the steamer Matagorda, which was carrying a full load of cotton, in the Gulf of Mexico. The steamer was towed into Key West.

1938 Mrs. Eve Alsman Fuller today announced a program of art classes in rural areas as part of the Federal Art Project, a New Deal Agency.

1964 Hurricane Dora swept across north Florida after coming ashore near St. Augustine. The storm's 125 mph winds produced a strom surge of 12-15 feet and, together, the elements did more than $250 million in damages [$1 billion in 1990 dollars]. This was the first hurricane to strike Florida north of Stuart since the Hurricane of 1880.


1565 From the account of Pedro Menendez's expedition to Florida in 1565 by Francisco Lopez de Mendoza Grajales, the chaplain to the expedition. This account is taken from Charles E. Bennett, Laudonniere and Fort Caroline: History and Documents (Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 1964). [We will continue with portions of this account in the coming days and will simply cite it as Laudonniere and Fort Caroline.--moderator]

"As it began to dawn, the pilot of our Chalupa raised anchor to go over the bar because the sea was increasing with strength. Later, when it was day, and they could see, they found at their backs by the stern of one vessel, two French vessels that had come that night to search it out. If the French had attacked at once when they arrived, it would have been a great capture, because our people were not supplied with arms and were carrying provisions."

"As our people recognized by daylight that the vessels were French, they put up a prayer to our Lady of Consolation who was in Utrera, asking of her the help of a little wind, because already the French came upon them. It appeared that She herself came to the vessel; and, with the little wind that She stirred, the vessel entered the bar in such a manner that the vessel just finished entering as the French arrived. As there is a bank and the bar is shallow and their vessels great, they could not enter. Our people and provisions entered in safety together with those two vessels. As the day opened, they discovered four other vessels of the same enemies, although somewhat further off, and these were the same that we found in their port the night we arrived upon them. They came supplied with people and artillery and came to attack our galleon and the other vessel, along and unprotected. For this Our Lord provided two remedies. The first was that the same night, after we put in the provisions and the people without being sensed by the enemies, the galleon and the companion ship that was with her set sail, one returning to Spain and the other going to Havana to bring help, neither being captured."

Francisco Lopez de Mendoza Grajales, Laudonniere and Fort Caroline.

1862 A landing party from the U.S.S. Sagamore attacked salt works at St. Andrew's Bay, Florida.

Confederate cannoneers dueled the Federal gunboat, Union, at St. John's Bluff today. The Florida Milton Light Artillery, under the command of Captain Joseph L. Dunham, hope to block the upper reaches of the St. John's River from Federal access. After a considerable duel that lasted four-and-one-half hours, the Union, now assisted by a second gunboat the U.S.S. Patroon, is forced to withdraw after suffering some damage. Also included in the battler were troops from the 1st Florida Special Infantry Regiment and the Florida 2nd Infantry Battalion.

1864 Union General Alexander Asboth, headquartered in Pensacola, reported today that Confederate forces under the command of a Colonel Montgomery were fortifying Marianna and other small outposts in Northwest Florida.

1926 Today the City of Miami prepared for a hurricane with winds of more than 135 mph. For more than two weeks, south Florida residents worried about when and where the storm would hit. More than 18,000 homes were destroyed, 5,000 injured, and more than 850 killed when the hurricane finally came ashore on the 17th.

1928 Reubin O'Donovan Askew, Florida's 37th governor, was born today in Muskogee, Oklahoma. A graduate of both Florida State University and the University of Florida Law School, Askew began his political career as a member of the Florida House of Representatives (1958) and a member of the Florida Senate (1962). Askew was President pro tempore of the Senate in 1969-1970.

Askew was elected governor in 1970. Among the many "firsts" in his administration was the appointment of the African-American member of the Florida Supreme Court, the first female member of the Cabinet, and the first African-American member of the Cabinet. Governor Askew also headed a movement to put the "Sunshine Amendment" on the election ballot through a statewide petition campaign.


1565 Continuing with the observations of Francisco Lopez de Mendoza Grajales, Laudonniere and Fort Caroline.

"The second (and what gave us the greatest assurance) was that later the next day (september 12) there came so great a hurricane that the French could not save themselves from destruction by the sea, being close to shore. Our galleon and its companion were not lost because they went out at midnight so that when the storm struck they were more than a dozen leagues at sea with room to maneuver until God provided better weather."

1862 The landing party from the U.S.S. Sagamore spent today destroying the heavy wrought iron boilers of the salt works at St. Andrews Bay.

To the east, Confederate General Joseph Finegan ordered artillery reinforcements to bolster the Florida Milton Light Artillery entrenched at St. John's Bluff.

1863 The captain of the U.S.S. Stars and Stripes reported an unsuccessful attack on the Confederate steamer Spray up the St. marks River. Two Confederate sailors were captured.

In the Gulf of Mexico, the Confederate steamer, Alabama, was captured by three Federal ships, the San Jacinto, the Tennessee, and the Eugenie.

1960 Today, President Dwight D. Eisenhower declared the Florida Keys and parts of Central Florida "disaster areas" following the more than $1 billion in damages wrought by Hurricane Donna.


1597 Father Pedro Corpa, a Franciscan missionary to Florida, was clubbed to death by Indians at Tolomato mission extreme north Florida (now southeast Georgia).

1822 The City of St. Augustine was incorporated un the Territorial Laws of Florida.

1861 The Washington County Invincibles were inducted into Confederate service as Company H, 4th Florida Infantry regiment. The soldiers will be stationed at Fernandina.

1863 The U.S.S. DeSoto captured the British steamer, Montgomery, today after a nine hour chase in the Gulf of Mexico south of Pensacola.

1963 The Air Force Association awards sometime Brevard County resident, astronaut L. Gordon Cooper, the David C. Schilling Trophy for his 22 orbit Project Mercury space flight.


1843 The town of Port Leon, near St. Marks, was destroyed by a hurricane and a 10 foot storm surge.

1861 The Confederate schooner, Judah, was burned by Federal troops at Pensacola Bay.

1862 Richard Keith Call, third (1836) and fifth (1841) Territorial governor of Florida, died on this date at his Leon County plantation, "The Grove."

Call was born in Prince George County, Virginia, on October 24, 1792. He entered service with General Andrew Jackson during the Creek War in 1813. Jackson was so impressed with the young soldier, he made him his aide-de-camp. He first came to Florida with Jackson in 1814, returned with the General in 1821 to set up the new government for the American territory. In 1822, he became a permanent resident of the territory and practiced law in Pensacola.

He served in a number of public positions--as a member of the Legislative Council, a delegate to the Congress, receiver of the West Florida land office, a brigadier general commanding troops in the Seminole War, and Territorial Governor. His differences with Federal authorities over the prosecution of the war led to his removal as governor. He supported William Henry Harrison for president and was subsequently appointed to the governorship again in 1842. When Florida became a state, Call ran for governor in 1845, but was defeated.

1898 Julia De Forest Tuttle, the "Mother of Miami," died on this day. Mrs. Tuttle is credited with luring Henry Flagler and his railroad to Miami with a winter bouquet of citrus blossoms and a promise to share her land holdings with him.

Mrs. Tuttle came from Cleveland to the Miami area in 1872 with her husband, Frederick. The Tuttles came to reside with her father, Ephraim T. Sturdevant. Mrs. Tuttle was delighted with the area. When her husband died in 1891, she returned to the Miami area and purchased 640 acres on the north bank of the Miami River. This area would later become the very heart of the City of Miami.


1861 Confederate Brigadier General John B. Grayson embarks on an inspection trip of the defenses along the West Coast, at St. Marks, Apalachicola, Cedar Key and Tampa.

1862 Confederate troops under Brigadier J. Finegan continue to hold their position at St. John's Bluff despite repeated attempts to dislodge them.

1863 A Federal gunboat, Two Sisters, shelled the town of Bayport today. A large cotton warehouse and a Confederate steamer were destroyed.

1945 The Richmond Naval Air Station, the large blimp base south of Miami, was struck by hurricane winds today. As a result of fires caused by the wind damage and the rapidity with which the flames spread, damage was severe. Three of the world's largest hangars, 25 blimps, 183 military airplanes, and 150 automobiles were destroyed. An additional 153 civilian planes were destroyed. Overall damage was estimated at $35 million.

1949 Today's WJXT-TV first signed on the air on this date under the call sign WMBR-TV.

1978 The first Florida House of Representatives impeachment carried through to a Florida Senate conviction was that of Circuit Judge Samuel S. Smith of Lake City. Smith was accused on four articles of impeachment after being twice convicted on charges of conspiracy to sell 1,500 pounds of marijuana


1565 From the account of Pedro Menendez's expedition to Florida in 1565 by Francisco Lopez de Mendoza Grajales, the chaplain to the expedition. This account is taken from Charles E. Bennett, Laudonniere and Fort Caroline: History and Documents (Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 1964). [We will continue with portions of this account in the coming days and will simply cite it as Laudonniere and Fort Caroline. In today's account, Father Mendoza recounts the beginning of Menendez's expedition against the French at Fort Caroline.--moderator]

"Sunday, September 16, he [Menendez] departed with 500 men with many arquebuses and pikes, each one of the soldiers carrying a twelve pound sack of bread on his shoulders and a bottle of wine for the road. They took two Indian chiefs who were great enemies of the French, so that they might show the way. According to the practice of those Indians and by the signs they made, we understood that it was five leagues to the fort of the enemies, but one the road it appeared to be more than fifteen and a very bad road in the very hot sun. But all have traveled it, according to the letter we received from the General [Menendez] today, the 19th of said month."

1853 House Speaker A. K. Allison proclaimed himself Acting Governor of Florida when the governor, Thomas Brown, and the Senate President, R. J. Floyd, were both out of the state. Allison served until October 3 when James E. Broome was regularly inaugurated as governor.

1863 The U.S.S. San Jacinto, under the command of Lieutenant Commander Ralph Chandler, seized the Confederate blockade runner, Lizzie Davis, off the west coast of Florida. She had been bound from Havana to Mobile with a cargo that included quantities of lead.

1864 An expedition from the U.S.S. Ariel, with Acting Master Russell in command, captured over 4,000 pounds of cotton in the vicinity of Tampa Bay.

1928 The Belle Glade and Palm Beaches area was devastated by a hurricane. This was the culmination of the Great Lake Okeechobee Hurricane struck Florida as a Category 4 storm, with winds pushing lake waters to a storm surge of more than 15 feet. The area surrounding the lake's south end, occupied primarily by migrant agricultural workers, flooded. The Red Cross's death toll count reached 1,836, but additional bodies and skeletons were discovered after the end of the Red Cross count. In response to this disaster, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built dikes around the lake to prevent a recurrence. Florida author Zora Neale Hurston recorded the impact on this hurricane on migrants in her novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God. (See September 6 , )

1968 The first classes convened at Warner Southern College in Lake Wales. The college was founded by the Southeastern Association of the Church of God.


1574 Pedro Menendez de Aviles died today at age fifty-five. An elaborate funeral was held for him in Avilles, Spain.

1720 Fort Carlos at Pensacola is surrendered by the Spanish to besieging French forces.

1823 The terms and provisions of the Treaty of Moultrie Creek are agreed to. Only the formal acceptance of the treaty and the affixing of signatures await its implementation.

1862 Today the single bloodiest battle of the Civil War was fought at Antietam (Sharpsburg), Maryland. George B. McClellan, the Union commander, possessed superior forces, but failed to effectively marshal his overwhelming forces against the Confederate Army under the command of Robert E. Lee. The first day's battle ended with the Confederate Army stopping five major Federal attacks, although at a high price. When the day ended, Southern forces still held their position and would hold them until the night of September 18-19. The Federal losses were put at 2,010 killed, 9,416 wounded, and 1,043 missing (out of a total force of 75,000). Lee's losses were estimated at 2,700 killed, 9,024 wounded, and 2,000 missing (out of 40,000). The following Florida units were involved in the Confederate effort at Antietam: Florida 2nd Infantry Regiment, Florida 5th Infantry Regiment, Florida 8th Infantry Regiment.

At St. John's Bluff near Jacksonville, there was a small skirmish between Confederate and Union troops.

1925 The city of Hialeah was incorporated.

1957 Manatee Junior College on Sarasota Bay was established by the Florida Board of Education.


1823 The Treaty of Moultrie Creek is signed today by 27 Florida Seminole chiefs and U.S. Commissioners near St. Augustine. The Treaty called for the Seminoles to be settled on reservations in Central Florida and near the Apalachicola River. In return, the United States government agrees to pay more than $100,000 in cash and to provide goods and services to the Native Americans for a period of 20 years.

1831 Naturalist John J. Audubon investigates the underwater life off the Florida Keys.

1862 Despite reinforcements of more than 12,000 soldiers and the presence of 24,000 fresh troops, who had seen no action in yesterday's battle, Union General George B. McClellan refuses to attack the much smaller Confederate army under General Robert E. Lee. Lee withdraws his forces from Antietam (Sharpsburg) late tonight and early tomorrow. The first Confederate invasion of the North has been stopped.

1863 Confederate General Braxton E. Bragg (Army of Tennessee) makes the opening move in the Battle of Chickamauga campaign when he moves most of his forces out of Ringgold, Georgia, into Tennessee. Skirmishes break out all along the line separating Union and Confederate positions. Florida units which participate in this epic battle are: Florida Marion Artillery, Florida 1st Cavalry Regiment, Florida 1st (Reorganized) Infantry regiment, Florida 3rd Infantry Regiment, Florida 4th Infantry Regiment, Florida 6th Infantry Regiment and the Florida 7th Infantry Regiment. The first full day of fighting will commence tomorrow.

1926 Twenty-eight students registered at the University of Miami Medical School, Florida's first medical school, as the first classes got underway.


1565 Troops under General Pedro Menendez de Aviles continue their march toward the French outpost in North America, Fort Caroline.

1862 Robert E. Lee continues the evacuation of his Army of Northern Virginia from Maryland following the Battle of Antietam (Sharpsburg).

1863 Confederate General Braxton E. Bragg and Union General William S. Rosecrans begin the process of "feeling out" each other's positions. The Battle of Chickamauga officially begins with the initial conflict between troops of Union General George H. Thomas and those of Confederate cavalry leader, General Nathan Bedford Forrest, which were operating as dismounted cavalry. General Bragg is reinforced tonight by General James Longstreet and his forces from Virginia.

1882 Orange City is incorporated.

1928 The charter for St. Petersburg Junior College, which had first opened its doors to students in 1927, was signed by L. Chauncey Brown on behalf of the school's founders. St. Petersburg Junior College is the oldest such institution in Florida.


1565 Fort Caroline, the French fort on the St. John's River, is overwhelmed by Spanish forces from St. Augustine under the command of General Pedro Menendez de Aviles. More than 130 [230?] French settlers/soldiers are killed.

This account is taken from Charles E. Bennett, Laudonniere and Fort Caroline: History and Documents (Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 1964), pp. 131-132. [In today's account, Pedro Menendez recounts the capture of Fort Caroline in a letter to the Spanish king, Philip II.--moderator]

"After walking until nine or ten o'clock at night, on the morning of the twentieth, which is the feast of San Mateo, we arrived in sight of the Fort. Having offered prayers to the Blessed Lord and His Holy Mother, supplicating them to give us victory over these Lutherans, it was agreed that with twenty ladders, which we carried, we would assail the Fort. His Divine Majesty had mercy upon us and guided us in such a way that without losing one man and with only one injured (who is now well), we took the Fort with all it contained, killing about two hundred and thirty men; the other ten we took as prisoners to the forest. Among them were many noble men, one who was Governor and Judge, Called Monsieur Laudonnier, a relative of the French Admiral, and who had been his steward. This Laudonnier escaped to the woods and was pursued by one of the soldiers who wounded him, and we know not what has become of him, as he and others escaped by swimming out to two small boats of the three vessels that were opposite the Fort, with about fifty or sixty persons. I sent them a cannonade and call of the trumpet to surrender themselves, vessels, and arms. They refused, so with the artillery we found in the Fort we sank one vessel; the others taking up the men went down the river where they had two other vessels anchored laden with provisions, being of the seven sent from France, and which had not yet been unloaded. It did not seem to me right to leave the Fort and pursue them until I had repaired three boats we found in the Fort.... As they were so few they took the two best and strongest vessels and sank the other. In three days they had fled. Being informed of this by the Indians, I did not pursue them."

1863 This is the second day of the Battle of Chickamauga. Confederate forces under the command of General Braxton E. Bragg earn a tactical victory over the forces of Union General William S. Rosecrans. Union General George H. Thomas's staunch defense of Snodgrass Hill earns him the nickname, "Rock of Chickamauga." Union forces withdraw toward Chattanooga. Casualty figures are:

Union--Total forces 58,000, 1,657 killed, 9,756 wounded, 4,757 missing

Confederate--Total forces 66,000, 2,312 killed, 14,674 wounded, 1,468 missing

1935 The first land purchases necessary to established Fort Clinch State Park were made. Fort Clinch is located at Fernandina. The park opened on this date in 1940.

1957 First successful firing of the THOR ballistic missile from Cape Canaveral.


1823 Seventeen days after their first arrival at Moultrie Creek, Seminoles depart the area bearing gifts from the American negotiators. The Treaty of Moultrie Creek, signed on September 18, establishes a reservation system for Florida Seminoles.

1863 The Army of Tennessee, under the command of General Braxton E. Bragg, pursues retreating Union forces to the city of Chattanooga. Deciding not to assault the city itself, Bragg establishes siege positions around the city. This siege will continue throughout September and into November.

1963 The upper stage of the Saturn SA-5 rocket arrives at Cape Canaveral to be test-flown later this year. The SA-5 will be the first Saturn rocket ever flown.


1777 John Bartram, who published his Journal about his exploration of the St. John's River, died today in Philadelphia.

1862 Floridians react to the news that President Abraham Lincoln has issued an emancipation proclamation that will become effective on 1 January 1863. The proclamation frees all slaves in areas opposing the United States.

1863 The commander of the U.S.S. DeSoto pursues the Leviathan, a Union ship which has been commandeered by Confederates and put to sea in the Gulf of Mexico. The chase extends thirty-five miles into the Gulf.

1864 Despite the recommendation of Major General Sam Jones, the Confederate War Department today rejected the promotion of Captain J. J. Dickinson to major. The reason given was "...there is no position known to which he could be appointed."

1898 U.S. Navy ships begin the task of bringing military personnel, evacuated in August, back to navy installations in Key West. The city had been evacuated because of a yellow fever scare. The feared epidemic did not materialize.

1958 The Florida Institute of Technology (known as Brevard Engineering College and as "Countdown College") --- held its first classes on this day. 154 "missilemen" enrolled for courses.

1959 Petitions to end segregation at Jacksonville's golf and recreation facilities were presented to the city commission by a delegation of African-American citizens.


1696 Jonathan Dickinson, leader of the Society of Friends (Quakers), is shipwrecked north of Jupiter Inlet while on his way to Philadelphia. Florida Indians allow him to pass with his party to St. Augustine.

1863 Union General Alexander Asboth and 700 mounted troops attack the village of Eucheanna in North Florida. The raiding column then strikes a hastily prepared Confederate fortification at Marianna, the county seat of Jackson County. Marianna is plundered. Eighty-one prisoners are taken, 200 horses and 400 cattle are rounded up, and 600 Negro slaves are impressed. Asboth and the Federal troops abandon Marianna that night and return to Pensacola with their spoils.

1870 Henry Quarles assumes office as Florida's Superintendent of Education, a post he will keep until replaced by Charles Beecher on March 18, 1871.

1888 One hundred sixty-three yellow fever cases reported in the epidemic at Jacksonville. Before the epidemic is over, four hundred twenty-seven persons would die.

1898 Naval ships, which had evacuated military personnel from Key West in August because of a purported yellow fever outbreak, continue the re-occupation of naval facility there.

1929 W. M. Igou assumes office as Florida's Secretary of State, a position he holds until he is succeeded on April 12, 1930, by R.A. Gray.

1930 Singer Ray C. Robinson was born in Albany, Georgia. When he was about six months old, his family moved to Greenville, Florida. His father left, leaving the family to struggle. Robinson later recalled in his autobiography that they were so poor that there was "Nothin' below us, 'cept the ground." About age 5, he started losing his sight from glaucoma. Nevertheless, he loved music--from gospel at the Baptist Church he attended to country from listening to the Grand Ole Opry on Saturday nights. Later, at a state school for the deaf and blind in St. Augustine, he was exposed to classical music. At age 15, Robinson's mother died, leaving him alone in the world. He developed his musical talents, learning to play piano, organ, and several other instruments. He began play clubs in Florida and saved enough money to get as far away from Florida as he could--which was Seattle, Washington. Here, he won a talent contest and his career was underway. At this point, he decided to change his name so he wouldn't be confused with boxer Sugar Ray Robinson -- so, Ray Charles stopped using his last name. In 1949, he signed a recording contract--and the rest is history. His list of hits is too long to list, but some of the best-known are "What'd I Say," "I've Got a Woman," and of course the one forever associated with his birth state, "Georgia."

1973 On this day in Miami, Florida's 30th governor, Fuller Warren, died. Warren's term of office began on January 4, 1949, and ended on January 6, 1953.

Warren was born in Blountstown, Florida, and was educated at the University of Florida and Cumberland College. At age 21, he was elected to the Florida House of Representatives from Calhoun County. In 1929, he moved to Jacksonville and opened a law practice. From 1931-1937, he served on the Jacksonville City Council. A Navy veteran of World War II, Warren was also the author of three books.

During his tenure of office, Warren was instrumental in securing the construction of the Skyway Bridge in St. Petersburg, the Jacksonville Expressway system, and for the outlawing of cattle from Florida's highways.

He moved to Miami at the end of his term of office and resumed the practice of law. In 1956, he was defeated in his effort to secure the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.


1565 From the account of Pedro Menendez's expedition to Florida in 1565 by Francisco Lopez de Mendoza Grajales, the chaplain to the expedition. This account is taken from Charles E. Bennett, Laudonniere and Fort Caroline: History and Documents (Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 1964), p. 160. In this entry, Friar Mendoza recounts the arrival of Menendez in St. Augustine following his victory at Fort Caroline.

So today, Monday the 24th, at the hour of vespers, our good General [Menendez] entered, accompanied by 50 foot soldiers, and they stumbled and were very tired, he and all those who came with him. The news made known, I quickly went to my house and took out a new cassock, the best I had, and a surplice and I took a crucifix in my hands and went out to receive him at a distance before he arrived at this port. He, like a good Christian gentleman, before I reached him, threw himself on his knees with all the rest that came with him, giving thanks to Our Lord for the great mercies received. In this manner he was received with great rejoicing by us and we by him. So great is his zeal and Christianity that all these works are rest for his spirit. Certainly it appears to me that there could not be human strength to endure so much, considering what he did. The fire and desire he has to serve Our Lord in throwing down and destroying this Lutheran sect, enemy of our Holy Catholic Faith, does not allow him to feel weary in the work.

1812 The United States Army left Goodby's Lake on the Upper St. John's River for Alachua County, where they engaged a force of Seminoles near Windsor.

1876 Temple Beth El Congregation, Florida's oldest Jewish Congregation, was founded at Pensacola.


1861 The Bartow Artillery is ordered to Brunswick, GA, today by Acting Confederate Secretary of War Judah P. Benjamin. Confederate authorities are fearful of Union raids along the coast of South Georgia and North Florida.

1864 Union General Alexander Asboth continues his movement through the Florida Panhandle. Latest Confederate reports are that he crossed the Choctawhatchee River today and is proceeding toward Marianna where Confederate forces under Colonel [?] Montgomery are preparing to defend the town.

1946 Spessard L. Holland, former governor, was appointed today to the United States Senate to fill the remainder of the term of the late Charles Andrews. Holland was subsequently elected to four 6-year terms.


1810 The territory between the Perdido River in West Florida and the Mississippi River was declared an independent republic by a convention meeting in Baton Rouge. The republic lasted for a mere seventy-four days.

1823 Charged by the Territorial Legislature to find a site for the construction of a capital city, Dr. W. H. Simmons leaves St. Augustine heading west. He is to make contact with John Lee Williams, who left Pensacola at about the same time. The men are to meet approximately halfway between the two cities and select the site. The site chosen was a small Indian village called Tallahassee.

1861 The U.S. Vice-Consul General in Havana alerts the commander of the Union Naval Base at Key West that two Confederate steamers, the Sumter and the Bamberg, suspected of being blockade runners took on cargo and coal in the West Indies.

1864 Colonel Montgomery has organized the "Cradle to the Grave Company" into a defensive force at Marianna. The "Cradle to the Grave Company" is composed of youngsters under sixteen years of age and of older men fifty years of age and older. Opposing this force is approximately 700 Union troops under the command of General Alexander Asboth.

1900 George Franklin Drew, twelfth governor of Florida (January 2, 1877-January 4, 1881) died today in Jacksonville. Drew was born in Alton, New Hampshire on August 6, 1827. In 1847, he opened a machine shop in Columbus, Georgia. In 1865, he built Florida's largest sawmill at Ellaville in Madison County.

Drew's election marked the end of Reconstruction in Florida.

1928 Health authorities at Belle Glade direct the burning of some 306 bodies of individuals who were killed in the violent hurricane of September 15-16.

1960 The University of South Florida opened to a charter class of 1,997 freshmen today. The new university occupies a 1,672 acre site in northeastern Tampa. John Lott Brown is the first president of USF.

1971 Astronaut and Brevard County resident James A. Lovell is awarded the Gold Space Medal today in Lucerne, Switzerland, for his "courageous achievements and leadership as the Commander of Apollo 13." Astronauts Fred W. Haise, Jr., and John L. Swigert, Jr., were presented with the V.M. Komarov Diploma for 1970.


1514 Ponce de Leon is named the Military Captain and Adelantado of Florida today by the King of Spain.

1863 The U.S.S. Clyde, under the command of Acting Master A.A. Owens, seized the schooner, Amaranth, near the Florida Keys. The schooner was carrying a cargo of 11,000 cigars and 200 boxes of sugar.

The U.S.S. Para arrived today in Fernandina to repair damage done to her masts while on patrol duty off Mosquito Inlet. Mosquito Inlet was the scene of a Union naval attack just a few days earlier. The settlement there was destroyed and several sloops and schooners were burned.

1864 Union forces under General Alexander Asboth attacked the hastily prepared Confederate defenses at Marianna today. The following description of the action is offered by William Watson Davis in Civil War and Reconstruction in Florida (New York: Columbia University, 1913), pp. 311-312.

"The raiders come up rapidly. They sweep aside the barricade with artillery and follow this with a determined charge by the 2nd Maine Cavalry. The Confederate force breaks up. Some flee through the town for the Chipola river beyond. Some take refuge in the Episcopal church near the barricade and continue the fight from its windows. A torch is thrown against the church. It takes fire. As it occupants rush from the burning building they are shot down and fall amid the gravestones of the churchyard. Some of the boys are burned to death in the church. At the bridge across the Chipola a desperate resistance beats back the Federal advance. Marianna is plundered. Eighty-four prisoners are taken, 200 horses, 600 Negroes, and 400 cattle. The Federal loss is not recorded. That night the Federal column quits Marianna on its return march to Pensacola. The prisoners and movable booty are carried along."

1906 The University of Florida's Gainesville campus is dedicated today in ceremonies marked by an address by Governor Napoleon B. Broward.

1956 Florida athlete, Mildred "Babe" Didrikson Zaharias, born June 26, 1914, died today from cancer.


1841 Francis P. Fleming, fifteenth governor of Florida (January 8, 1889-January 3, 1893), was born today in Duval County. His father farmed a large plantation in Duval County. Educated a home, the young Francis Fleming entered business prior to the Civil War. When the war came, he enlisted as a private in the 2nd Florida Infantry Regiment, but received a battlefield promotion to 1st Lieutenant. While on sick leave home, Fleming commanded a company of volunteers at the Battle of Natural Bridge.

After the war, Fleming practiced laws. His administration is noted by the establishment of the State Board of Health. The Fleming Papers are housed at the Tebeau-Field Library of Florida History in Cocoa.

1863 Casualty reports from the Battle of Chickamauga report that of the 400 Floridians who participated in the action, 284 were killed, wounded, or missing.

1871 Frederick Preston Cone, 27th governor of Florida (January 3, 1937-January 7, 1941), was born in Columbia County. He attended Florida Agricultural College and Jasper Normal College. In 1892, he was admitted to the Florida bar.

Cone served in the Florida Senate from 1907-1913, including a term as President in 1911. (For more information, see for July 28.)

1928 W. V. Knott assumes office as the Treasurer of the State of Florida. He would hold this office until succeeded by J. Edwin Larson on January 3, 1941. Knott had been Treasurer previously from March 1, 1903, until February 19, 1912.\

1953 Daniel Thomas McCarty, the 31st governor of Florida (January 6-September 28, 1953) died today. A native of St. Lucie County, McCarty was born in Fort Pierce on January 18, 1912. He attended public schools in St. Lucie County and graduated from the University of Florida in 1934. McCarty was active in the citrus and cattle industries. He represented St. Lucie County in the Florida House of Representatives in 1937, 1939 and 1941. In 1941, he became the Speaker of the House.

McCarty was a much decorated hero of World War II and was a participant in the Normandy landing on June 6, 1944.

McCarty was the runner-up for the gubernatorial nomination in the 1948 Democratic primary. In 1952, he won the primary and the subsequent general election. He took office on January 6, but served for only nine months. On February 25, 1953, he suffered a disabling heart attack. He died on September 28, 1953, in Tallahassee.

1953 Charley Eugene Johns became the 32nd governor (acting) of Florida (September 28, 1953-January 4, 1955). Johns, the President of the Senate, assumed office on the death of Governor Dan McCarty. He held the office until 1955, when he was replaced by Thomas LeRoy Collins, who had been elected to fill the unexpired portion of McCarty's term. Johns returned to the Florida Senate and served in that body until 1966.

Johns was active in the affairs of state during his tenure in the Senate, and the "Johns Committee," of the early 1960s earned him notoriety. The "Johns Committee" conducted a McCarthy-like investigation of the influence of Communists and homosexuals in Florida's educational system. The notorious "Purple Book," which detailed the practices of homosexuals, became the handbook for Johns supporters and a widely circulated pamphlet in the gay community.

1965 "Freedom Flights" between Cuba and Florida begin today. These flights bring a second round of Cuban immigrants to the United States.

1966 Santa Fe Junior College opened its doors to the first students to attend classes. Santa Fe Junior College is located in Gainesville.


1565 This account is taken from Charles E. Bennett, Laudonniere and Fort Caroline: History and Documents (Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 1964), pp. 131-132. [In today's account, Pedro Menendez recounts the capture and execution of Frenchmen who had not been present at Fort Caroline in a letter to the Spanish king, Philip II. When approached by the group of soldiers about the possibility of arranging a truce so that they could return to Fort Caroline, Menendez was not amenable to their request.--moderator]

"...I then told him how we had taken their Fort and hanged all those we found in it, because they had built it without Your Majesty's permission and because they were scattering the odious Lutheran doctrine in these Provinces, and that I had [to make] war [with] fire and blood, as Governor and Captain-General of these Provinces, against all those who came to sow this hateful doctrine; representing to him that I came by order of Your Majesty to place the Gosepl in these parts and to enlighten the natives...[t]hat I would not give them passage; rather would I follow them by sea and land until I had taken their lives. He begged to be allowed to go with this embassy and that he would return at night swimming, if I would grant him his life. I did so to show him that I was in earnest and because he would enlighten me on many subjects. Immediately after his return to his companions there came a gentleman, a lieutenant of Monsieur Laudonnier, a man well versed and cunning to tempt me. After much talk he offered to give up their arms if I would grant their lives. I told him he could surrender the arms and give themselves up to my mercy, that I might do with them that which our Lord ordered. More than this he could not get from me, and that God did not expect more of me. Thus he returned and they came to deliver up their arms. I had their hands tied behind them and had them stabbed to death, leaving only sixteen, twelve being great big men, mariners whom they had stolen, the other four master carpenters and caulkers---people for whom we have much need, and it seemed to me to punish them in this manner would serving God, our Lord, and Your Majesty...."

1877 Sanford, the site of a U.S. Army garrison in 1836, was incorporated as a city.

1893 The town of Mayo is incorporated by the Florida Legislature.

1922 The town of Riviera Beach is incorporated.

1942 Today is the birthday of the Florida Insurance Commissioner, C. William "Bill" Nelson. Nelson was born in Miami and graduated from Yale University in 1965. He also graduated from the University of Virginia Law School in 1968. During the Viet Nam War, he served as a captain in the United States Army. In addition, Nelson served several terms as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. During his congressional service, Nelson was a strong proponent of the American Space Program. He became the first member of Congress to journey into space aboard a shuttle.

1953 The body of Governor Dan McCarty was placed in the rotunda of the State Capitol to afford state officers, state employees, and the general public an opportunity to pay their final respects.


1822 Joseph Marion (Jose Mariano) Hernandez was elected as Florida's first territorial delegate to the United States Congress.

1863 The United States bark, Gem of the Sea, captured the British schooner, Director, near Sanibel today. The schooner was carrying a cargo of salt and rum.

The United States schooner, Two Sisters, arrived at Tampa Bay today, bringing mail and supplies for the U.S.S. Adela.

1967 Catie Bell, a sixteen-year-old from Jacksonville, today set two world swimming records in London, England. Bell's 1:17:0 for the 110 year breast stroke and 2:46:9 for the 220 breast stroke was the fastest times recorded to that point for these two events.