William Eugene "Gene" Barber, Artist, Instructor, Historian & Genealogist authored a series of articles for the Baker County Press entitled "The Way It Was".
His articles covered all aspects of Baker County pioneers lives in a colorful, entertaining, as well as, educational manner.
At an early age, Gene possessed the desire and ability to interview the 'Old Folks'.
He was as talented in the use of the pen, as he is with a brush, choosing his words and expressions in a way to paint an exciting and interesting story.
The following are the final articles of "The Way It Was", written in 1984.
THE BAKER COUNTY PRESS, Thursday, January 5,1984
THE WAY IT WAS - Gene Barber
The Red Men Lodge
We can hardly think of two more diverse and incongruous subjects than those we treat this week. The first--The Improved Order of Red Men--will be of interest to Baker Countians whose chronic plaint Is that we're one of the meetingest areas in the world. Old time folks here were just about as bad as we.
In our history research through old Baker County newspapers, we have read several times of meetings and socials held at the McClenny Red Men hall. We suspected it was a fraternal order and wondered why we'd never heard of it outside the little newsheets.
Then, we found out...yes, it was, and might still be somewhere, a fraternal order, and we'd heard nothing about it because it hasn't existed in this immediate section for several years.
But when the Red Men lodge was active it was a force to be reckoned with by the trashy sorry lot around town and the enemies of freedom.
Some folks said the Red Men were little more than Klansmen out from under their sheets. Others called the Red Men "frivolous Masons."
The Improved Order of Red Men began in 1813 as the Society of Red Men. They claimed to be the oldest fraternal order in the United States and that they were the cultural heirs of the Liberty Boys who chunked tea into Boston Harbor in December, 1773. They also claimed John Hancock and Thomas Jefferson among their founders due to their participation in the Boston Tea Party.
In 1834, the first tribe (lodge) was instituted in Baltimore as a benevolent, fraternal, patriotic, and scholarship order.
The Red Men came to Florida during the Reconstruction period and made a strong appeal to old line Democrats who were holding out against military and carpetbag rule. The influx of a better class of Northerners after Reconstruction swelled the Red Men ranks, and several trlbes or lodges, including one at Darbyville/McClenny were instituted in north Florida.
Osceola Tribe of Starke was perhaps the first, in 1879, in the. state. The Jacksonville Seminole Tribe was established about 1885, and the Darbyville/McClenny tribe (name not yet learned) was supposedly organized just before the Jacksonville lodge.
About the mid 1920's, the Degree of Pocahontas, the women's counterpart of the Red Men, came into being in north Florida. One, the Palatka group, is reportedly still existing.
By 1955 or so, most Florida Red Men tribes had disbanded or just died from lack of members. The only reminders this columnist has of the old order are a couple of photographs of the McClenny ball club wearing their Red Men sponsor's caps (like the modern painters caps that have unsuccessfully tried to supplant the redneck bill caps), and a few newspaper articles referring to community balls (dances to you younger folk) being held in the Red Men hall.
So much for the Red Men, and on to our second subject--the twelve days of Christmas.
You are, no doubt, saying, "groan, not more stuff about Christmas? Isn't that getting overdone and also out of date?"
To which we reply, it wasn't this column that began celebrating that holiday back during trick or treat time. We, in this corner, are celebrating it correctly. We didn't begin until Christmas eve, and we shall continue on through Old Christmas on January sixth.
Actually, in olden times, and we mean in Cracker old times too, gift giving didn't occur until Old Christmas. The tree went up after the kids had gone to bed on Christmas eve, and a few goodies were left out for them. But they
had twelve delicious days of looking at the magical tree and anticipating Twelfthnight when Saint Nicolas would bring the good, and big stuff.
Most Crackers could not afford an affluent Santa, but they tried to do a little something. The richer planter
folk gave a gift, or gifts, on each of the twelve days. And everybody utilized that magic period of mid-winter to
We've written about the Twelve Days in the past. We suggest you dig out some of those old holiday season papers (you do keep them, don't you?) and brush up on Old Christmas and such. But, of course, you can't; you're too busy putting out the Valentine's Day and Easter merchandise, aren't you?
THE BAKER COUNTY PRESS, Thursday, January 12, 1984
THE WAY IT WAS-Gene Barber
Baker County and the Movies
Sometimes this column strains
a bit to get a point across. This
week's offering--Baker County's
connection to movie-making--is
perhaps such a case.
Nonetheless, this little section
of the world has experienced the
vicarious thrill of being slightly
within the edge of the big
screen's glittering sphere.
Our neighboring city of
Jacksonville was the world's first
movie-making capitol, a fact that
has been almost totally
neglected but seems to be
something that could well be
capitalized on. About the only
significance of Jacksonville's
role in movie-making to us is our
proximity to that city.
It was easier to acquire films in
those days of the twenties. Much
of movie-making was a small affair, and folks running the picture
shows could usually purchase
reels directly from the studios.
Either the owners of the local
movie houses made an overnight
trip to Jacksonville to pick up a
reel or two or they could have
them shipped out by rail.
Most of McClenny's early
movie showing places were
short-lived, and we don't know if
the other county communities
ever had picture shows for even a
One of McClenny's early movie
houses was in a small store
space near or on the site of the
later Hotel Annie annex and the
present Wholesale Discount.
Another was across College
Street on the same side of McClenny Avenue in one of the
spaces now within the Hodges
building. Both were evidently of a
very short duration.
Still another picture show, and
one which your columnist faintly
recalls, was in or near the present
Victorias' School of Dance on
south Fifth Street. The screen
was small; sound, other than
shuffling of feet and the whirr of
the projection machine, was absent; and it seems that the chairs
were of the home-style straight
Your columnist cannot remember how old he was at the
time, but he was small enough to
sit on his mother's lap. The only
other person he can bring to mind
in the theater was the late Uncle
Ira Walker, smiling and greeting
us. There are also flashes of a
giant monkey climbing a tall
building and a blond haired lady
chained against a dark,
background and garlanded with
flowers (King Kong?).
Your columnist also recalls,
that later, when he was three
years of age,and living in Miami,
the old McClenny movie was the
locale for his earliest remembered nightmare...all the
patrons were apes and monkeys
of a good-natured sort (but your
columnist has never cared for or
felt comfortable around the
creatures), and his mother let him
down a manhole in the middle of
a Miami street into a movie
theater to be baby-sat by the
good-natured, but loathesome
and all-hands monkeys and apes.
Your columnist was not happy
about the whole affair.
Now, you amateur psychiatrists may feel tree to have a ball
with that one. As unpleasant as
the nightmare was, we kind of
like to remember it now.
One of Hollywood's bright
young, and money-making stars
ot the 1940's was the late Judy
Canova (and mother of television
actress Diana Canova). Her
parents were living just south of
McClenny when her mother
discovered she was expecting
Judy. Mel Tillis, talented as a
comic actor as well as being a
dern good country (and sort of
pops-y singer), has his roots in
Baker County. His great-grandfather Wiley Hicks was a
member of the Baker County
School Board back around the
end of last century, and the Tillis
family moved to Baker County
from Bradford/Union County at
about the same time as Mr. Hicks
served on the school board.
And another link with the
movie-making industry is that
former Baker County Director of
Human Resources Neil Spirtas,
now a resident of Tampa and an
employee of the Florida Department of Commerce, has entered
the business. He and his partner
Trish Harvey, also of Tampa, have
founded Neiley Films of Tampa
and have begun production of the
feature film "Without a Country."
Trish Harvey has already been
involved in films and was the producer of "Go Tell the Spartans"
with Burt Lancaster, "Acapulco
Gold", and "Good Guys Wear
This column received a quick
run-down on the plot, but we think
that it would be imprudent to
reveal any more than that it concerns the 1983 real life unfortunate shooting down of the air
liner by the Russians and is
possessed of some strange turn
The script is, we understand,
well under way, if not completed
at this writing, and preparations
are being made for a March trip to
Israel for much of the cinematography.
This column wishes much success to Neiley Films and its first
Your columnist is sitting at his
typwriter inside another relic of
McClenny's movie past, and the
old movie house rings with the
shades of Johnny Mack Brown,
Rita Hayworth, and Cecil B.
DeMille. The old Earle brought
many happy hours to a lot of folks
here in Baker County, and the
new arts foundation located inside it hopes to do the same.
THE BAKER COUNTY PRESS, Thursday, January 19, 1984
THE WAY IT WAS-Gene Barber
The Baker County State Bank
The Baker County State Bank of McClenny was in business in
the early years of this century. Its
statement of condition at the
close of business on the thirty-first of December, 1920, gave its
resources and liabilities as
Loans and discounts were
$261,551.98; overdrafts were
$78.90; United States bonds were
S10,000.00; the banking house
and fixtures were valued at
$5,000.00; real estate owned was
listed as $5,000.00; and cash and
due from banks was $20,395.31.
Over on the liabilities side,
capital stock was $30,000.00;
surplus was $6,000.00; undivided
profits listed as $5,423.68; individual deposits $250,602.51;
and bills payable were $10,000.00.
The officers of the Baker County State Bank were J.C. Sheffield,
president; E.M. Goodbread,
cashier; and J.C. Thompson,
assistant cashier. Directors were
J.C. Sheffield, H.R. Rhoden, T.M.
Dorman, John Burnett, H.J.
Rhoden, J.T. Jones, and T.R.
In 1920, four percent interest
was paid on savings accounts.
Mr: J.T. Jones of south Baker
County was an owner of 10
shares which were issued in the
summer of 1907. Unfortunately,
Mr. Jones' widow was notified of
the bank's insolvency in
December, 1926, by the state
comptroller appointed receiver
McClenny, as a growing little
town, could not long continue
without the services of a banking
institution, and so the Citizens
Bank was soon organized.
Where the Baker County State
Bank was first housed is
unknown by this writer, but it was
early situated in the building
which still stands at the northwest corner of McClenny Avenue
and Fifth Street. Your columnist
has photographs of that corner
sans bank building and evidently
very shortly after, with the structure. Interesting (probably only to
him) are two other camera views
of before and after the planting of
Texas umbrella trees (also known
as China berry trees).
The streets in the photographs
are, unsurprisingly, unpaved, and
there are sizable puddles of water
about. A hitching post is clearly
seen on one of the later pictures.
Evidently, the bank did not entertain heavy business in those days
of pre-World War I, because only
one hitching post was set up.
"Small town-ologists" have infrequently wondered aloud,
around your columnist at the
bank's site being off the railroad
since, in those days, most of the
business and money institutions
of north Florida and south
Georgia tended to line up
alongside the railway, the main
thoroughfare of the day. Their
puzzlement is increased when
they hear that US 90 was not paved until the middle of the
century's second decade.
In McClenny's early days, the
east-west route did try to lie along
the rails, but the marshy condition of the little town prevented a
neat parallel. The fact of the matter is that in the infancy of this
century the Jacksonville to
Tallahassee Road dipped in to
touch the rails in McClenny only
from about Second Street to Fifth
When the Glidden Automobile
Tour came through in 1911, the
sleek new horseless carriages
came up from the south (between.
121 and 228) and took a twisting
route through McClenny along
the then-named National Highway (little more than a rut road
sometimes "paved" with pine
straw and pine saplings).
The government straightened
out the highway during paving,
and soon the. bank building
stood, quite accidently, at the
main intersection of the city.
This column is indebted to Mr.
and Mrs. Lonnie Jones for much
of the information contained in
this treatment of the Baker County State Bank.
THE BAKER COUNTY PRESS, Thursday, January 20, 1984
THE WAY IT WAS-Gene Barber
Those who died at Ocean Pond
First thing right off the bat,
your columnist, although not
wont to dignify groundless complaints by answering them, feels
an incumbency to categorically
state that he tires of the generally
biennial rash of diatribes directed
toward him by a small but
vociferous segment of his public.
He is quite surprised, but flattered, that any of his constituency would take him seriously enough to criticize his effusions,
but he would greatly prefer that
his readers either learn to read
with comprehension before firing
off letters and phone calls or just
ignore his corner.
Be assured, dear readers, that
should your columnist ever desire
to slander, which we doubt he
ever will (he finds its act quite
distasteful), one will have no difficulty detecting it, and it will be
aimed quite directly and not unfairly through this medium.
Now, on to a subject of deeper
concern...where are all the Union
dead from the disastrous and sad
Battle of Ocean Pond?
The War Department and
others would have us believe that
they were all lovingly brought
from that melancholy little battlefield in 1867 and reinterred in
the Beaufort, South Carolina, National Cemetery.
A telephone call to the
Beaufort National Cemetery
Revealed that no such records of
such a re-burial exist.
Several historians over the past
few years, including the late John
J. DuFour of Jacksonville and
Dicky Ferry of McClenny, have indulged in extensive and deep
research in the matter and have
concluded that the United States
Army dead, numbering perhaps
as many as three to four hundred,
are now part of the soil of western
A bill was presented in
January, 1868, by a J.P. Low to
the U.S. government. for
relocating Union soldiers' bodies
from Florida to Beaufort. Mr.
Low's report and bill stated that
he had removed twenty two from
Tallahassee, ninety from
Jacksonville, twelve from Lake
City, and fourteen from Appalachicola. Olustee was not
mentioned. In fact, until evidence.
to the contrary turns up, not one
of the few hundred United States
Army dead was removed from
In May of 1866, Lieutenant F.E.
Grossman of the 7th U.S. Infantry
was ordered to the Olustee battle
ground site to determine the condition and whereabouts of the.
Union graves. He reported to his
superiors on May 25th, 1866:
"The bodies of the Union
soldiers killed in the Battle of
Olustee, February 20, 1864, were
buried by the Confederates in
such a careless manner that the
remains were disinterred by the
hogs within a few weeks after the
battle, in consequence of which
the bones and skulls were scattered broadcast over the battlefield.
"Under instructions from Col.
J.T. Sprague; 7th Infantry, I proceeded to collect those remains,
to accomplish which I deployed a
detachment of Company B. 7th
Infantry, on the battlefield. The
men carried an empty bag each,
into which they gathered all the.
human bones found over the
ground as they advanced.
"In many instances where portions of bones protruded, we
removed the earth and disinterred
all the bones that had not been
disturbed by the hogs. In this
manner and by carefully searching over an area of about two
square miles,. I collected two
wagon loads and a half of bones.
I then had a large grave dug eighteen feet by twelve feet, in which
all the bones collected were deposited. I counted one hundred
and twenty-five human skulls
among the remains. Considering
that the Confederate dead were
principally buried on the south
side of the railway, and that they
were more carefully interred (their
graves are now even in perfect
condition), it is fair to presume
that all the remains collected are
those of Union soldiers.
"Around the above ground I
erected a fence twenty-seven feet
long and eighteen feet wide,
around which a ditch has been
dug. I caused to be erected, by
direction of Col. J.T. Sprague, a
wooden monument twelve feet
high with the following inscription:
South side - 'To the memory of
the officers and soldiers of the
United States army who fell in the
Battle of Olustee, Feb. 20, 1864.'
West side - 'Our Country.'
North side - 'May the living profit
by the example of the dead.'
East side - 'Unity and peace.'
"The monument is painted
white, the letters, one inch long,
have been cut a fourth of an inch
deep into the wood and then
painted black. The fence has
been whitewashed. Of course, it
is impossible to identify any of
the remains, as they consist only
of bones bleached by the sun of
two summers. This grave is shaded by eight large pine trees which
were the only ones in the immediate vicinity of the inclosure."
To be continued.
THE BAKER COUNTY PRESS, Thursday, February 2, 1984
THE WAY IT WAS-Gene Barber
Those who died at Ocean Pond
Referring to the unsung,
unknown dead buried ignominously in the sand just east of
Olustee, Lieutenant Grossman of
the United States Army stated
that they seemed to have been
stripped of all their clothing by
the Confederates and hurriedly
interred in very shallow graves,
sometimes as many as six or
eight per trench.
If this sounds barbaric,
remember that the Southern dead
fared no better in the hands of the
Union, and it was war. At least,
many of the Union wounded were
taken in by locals and either nursed to health or, in the case of
those who did not survive, buried
in yards and local cemeteries.
Grossman further stated that
the many Union dead were also
buried by the Confederates
alongside the roadway leading
from the battlefield back to
Barber's, making that stretch one
of the longest cemeteries in the
United States. The bones of these
were disinterred by hogs, and
Grossman had them gathered up
and reburied at the battleground.
Estimates of the unknown
Union dead vary from two to five
hundred. Today; the powers-that-be in such matters still deny they
were ever so crassly ignored by
the United States, preferring to
talk about the poor burial practices of the South.
Be it remembered that only in
the regimental history of the 54th
Massachusetts is it said that
those soldiers were exhumed in
1867 or 1868 and taken to the National Cemetery at Beaufort,
South Carolina, for reburial. As
mentioned in this column last
week, there are no records of
such a reburial at the National
Cemetery in Beaufort, and Mr.
J.P. Low, the contractor for
relocating the Union dead, never
listed one body he removed from
Another fact largely ignored by
the United States Army and
historians is that most or all of
those sad cases of scattered and
ignored dead at Olustee were
It doesn't take but a little study
to realize that slavery and the
mistreatment of the black race
was considered a side issue by
most of the war hawks on both
sides prior to the War Between
the States and that those questions, laudable and necessary,
were raised strongly near the end
of the war for propaganda purposes. The issue.of freeing the
slaves and equal rights were
pushed so strongly, in fact, that it
would have been folly for the
government to have later acknowledged that the United States
black troops were shoved to the
front at the beginning of the battle and fed like fodder to a
Many of those men probably
died without ever knowing why or
even caring about the white
man's war. Many were like their
white compatriots, forced into
the situation. Whatever and
whichever, they should be
dignified with (1) acknowledgement that they were mishandled
by the army, and (2) their resting
place(s) must be honored with a
memorial, preferably a copy of
Captain Loomis Langdon of the
1st U.S. Artillery said as late as
1876: "It was during the year 1876
that I made an attempt, through a
friend in Washington to get
detailed by the war department to
take charge of collecting and
reinterring of the remains of the
Federal soldiers who were killed
at Olustee or who died of their
wounds in the neighboring village
of Lake City.
"It was my intention, with such
means as I could obtain in the
vicinity, a small outlay by the
government, and with what
assistance could be procured
from the nearest military posts, to
establish a small cemetery set
out within it flowering shrubs and
trees indigenous and suitable to
that climate...and thus in some
small degree, perpetuate in that
dreary region the memory of the
'brave men who fell there.
"It was indulging in imagining
such results as I have suggested,
and while fondly anticipating the
melancholy pleasure of this
memorializing and adoring for
all time the sacrifice of my
gallant and beloved comrades
who are to sleep eternally on that
soil which they ransomed with
their lives, that I received a final
answer in the negative.
In another communication, he
states: "In the fall of 1873, while
traveling northward through
Florida, I saw the battlefield from
a platform of the train. All that
could be seen of the monument
described above were parts of
two sides of a weather-stained
and brokendown fence, and even
this would have been passed un-noticed except for the conductor
having pointed it out to me in
compliance with my request. That
was all that marked the scene of a conflict from which, of four
thousand one hundred Federal soldiers who went under fire at
noon, scarcely one half marched out at sunset unhurt."
THE BAKER COUNTY PRESS. Thursday, February 9, 1984
THE WAY IT WAS-Gene Barber
Carr B. McClenny and his bulldog stew
The gentleman responsible for
transforming little Darbyville
Village into a platted city was
Carr Boughers McClenny. He, incidentally, also lent his name to
the new city. Captain McClenny,
as he was often called by the
locals, was a native of South
Hampton County, Virginia, and
was born on the ninth of April,
He moved to Florida in 1859
and settled in the broad turpentining area that stretched from
Alachua County through Baker
County. At the end of the war, he
became a resident of Darbyville
in Baker County where he entered
the naval stores business in a big
way, and was appointed post
master of the village, and dealt in
Some of our more astute and
observant readers are, no doubt,
saying, "We've been through this
back during the McClenny
Centennial days. Why be redundant?"
To which we might reply,
"Cause you ain't heard nothing
about the man's service during
the War Between the States yet,
and we're in the middle of observing that great unfortunate but
romantic incident through February."
On the twentieth day of July,
1907, Captain McClenny (he
wasn't a captain; it was an
honorary title of respect) applied
for his Confederate Service position from the State of Florida.
James D. Chalker and M.D.
Barber witnessed the application
From that document we learned that McClenny resided in 1907
at Cadilac in Alachua County,
Florida, and that he had enlisted
in the Second Florida Cavalry,
Company K at Hart's Road,
Nassau County, Florida, on the
sixteenth of April, 1862. His Captain at the time of his enlistment
was Robert Harrison and his captain at the time of his discharge
was J.N. Jones. His battalion or
regimental commander at the
time of his discharge was Colonel Carraway Smith.
Actually, Mr. McClenny was
not discharged (and it was duly
noted on his application), but he
spent much of his service career
as a prisoner of war. He was
released and paroled from Fort
Delaware at the close of the war.
A long-time friend of McClenny's was Robert Lee Rowe of
south McClenny.. He had enlisted
with Mr. McClenny and served
throughout the war in the same
outfit. He stated that he had
known the applicant since 1862
and that their unit surrendered at
Baldwin, Florida. He also said
that McClenny was captured
sometime during the month of
Mr. Rowe further said that Mr.
McClenny was by occupation a
farmer and that his physical condition was very good for his age.
Uncle Tom Carroll was Clerk of
Circuit Court at the time and affixed his signature as such.
In August, Mr. McClenny appeared before the Board of County Commissioners of Alachua County and received .a favorable
report and recommendation from
that board toward securing his
As a sideline to this report, we
wish to report that Captain McClenny was resourceful in the
time of need. He and a friend
from Melrose, Rance Williams,
were serving time together in Fort
Delaware, and although that
Union prisoner camp never
received the notoriety of the Confederate's stockades the
prisoners were, nevertheless
starved and otherwise abused.
The sergeant in charge of McClenny's and Williams' section
was a burley red-haired rather
crude fellow, so much the worse
for someone of the breeding of
the two. The sergeant had a pet
bulldog on which he doted, and
the bulldog accompanied his
master wherever the sergeant
went, including into the
The prisoners had been for a
very long time without meat, and
the southerner's craving for flesh,
was getting next to them. They
were also slowly starving to
The reader has already guessed the tack of this anecdote...and
it came about in this manner. According to plan McClenny, a great
talker, engaged the Yankee
sergeant, also a great talker, in a
lengthy conversation. Williams,
after several days of gentle coaxing, finally lured the dog into the
cell where he hid him until the
sergeant was out of sight.
That evening, the two men had
THE BAKER COUNTY PRESS, Thursday, February 16,1984
THE WAY IT WAS-Gene Barber
New York Tribune accounts of the Battle of Olustee
The New York Tribune of
February 20, 1864, like any other
newspaper, was not above slanting the news. However, it did
manage to get in some genuine
news reporting, and we shall, this
week, relay some of both types of
stories from that particular edition.
Next day a strong force (U.S.
Army) was thrown out, and headed by the cavalry, surprised and
captured a Rebel battery of eight
pieces, with ammunition. In this
exploit the commands of Col.
Henry and Major Stevens greatly
distinguished themselves. They
rode past the Rebels drawn up in
line of battle at Baldwin, not staying to answer the challenge of the
sentries. Here none but Infantry
were posted by the Rebels, and
not more than 100 men were
found to have been there. Charging after midnight upon the terrified gunners of Abel's (Rebel) battery, resistance was useless.
Their feeble and terrified supports of cavalry and infantry fell
back, and scattered. A Rebel
sergeant captured declares the
stampede to have been general
and very cowardly. In the mean
time, the brigade commanded by
Col. Barton, in which were the
47th, 48th, and 115th New York,
and the 54 Massachusetts pressed closely upon the Confederates
at Baldwin, and scattered them,
taking about 100 prisoners. In this
brilliant charge 17 men were
wounded, two mortally."
This column ceases quoting
the New York Tribune long
enough to advise our readers that
whenever we begin to complain
of editorializing going on the
front page instead of on the
editorial page, there is historical
precedent. The Tribune goes on
at great length to tell of the
cowardly acts and antics of the
stupid rebels and of the brave
deeds of the Federal soldiers. We
are among the first to recognize
the bravery and dedication of the
men in blue, but the Tribune
spread it on a bit thickly...after
all, the Yankee invasion of north
Florida was among the worst
fiascoes of this country's military
Back to the Tribune: "On Thursday, February 11, Maj. Steven's
and Col. Henry's cavalry command overtook the enemy at the
Little St. Mary's River, three-
quarters of a mile from Barber's
Station, and dispersed them after
a brief resistance. Here some 30
prisoners were captured, and a
number were killed and wounded.
"The Rebel troops in Florida
adopt the Indian methods of warfare. They hide in bushes, pour
volleys upon detached men, arrange ambuscades, scatter when
attacked, and reassemble by
previous arrangement. The two
cavalrymen of the 40th Massachusetts killed at the Little St.
Mary's each received five balls
from unseen Foes. They had been
sent forward to examine, the one
a ford, the other a bridge...
"Proceeding to Sanderson, the
cavalry found an immense depot
of Rebel Commissary's and
Quartermaster's stores all in
flames, lit by the enemy in hasty
retreat. Only one large building,
used for storing salt, was spared.
This was full, and fell into the
possession of the United States.
Sanderson is on the Jacksonville
and Tallahassee Railroad, midway between Baldwin and Lake
City, 40 miles from Jacksonville.
Further reconnoissances in
force have been made as far as
Lake City, where the Rebels will
probably make a stand. They are
fortifying the place.
"...At a place called Barber's
Station, in this vicinity, 4,000 lbs
of sugar, marked "Baldwin" and
intended for the Rebel soldiers at
that place were found. These
were brought to Jacksonville.
"...At Barber's Station, 36 miles
from Jacksonville, on a bend of
the St. Mary's River, is a fine site
for fortifications, that Gen.
Gilmore has already taken
possession of, to hold as defensive
position. It derives its name
from a cattle farmer named
Barber, who has very lately paid
taxes upon 37,000 head of
cattle. Barber is in custody, on
suspicion of complicity with the
"The telegraph has been
established from this point
(Jacksonville) to Baldwin, the
railroad junction, and Barber's
Station, where our force now
stands. It is frequently cut by
prowling enemies. Communication is kept open by couriers.
These have been shot at, but
none struck so far. One Rebel
solder captured, and liberated
after taking the oath of
allegiance, has been arrested for
shooting at a courier. If the
charge is proved against him he
"Native refugees continue to
arrive in Jacksonville. Some have
been hiding in the woods from
the Rebel conscription for over
two months. Two, who came in
this morning, report the country
abandoned and undefended as
far as Lake City."
And so, on the 20th of
February, 1864, the Tribune
stated the situation as it had
seen it and had heard of it. The
United States Army, believing or
wanting to believe the reports of
the draft dodgers (probably
planted by the Confederates),
were led into one of their most
The Battle of Ocean Pond (or
Olustee) has the dubious honor of
being one of the bloodiest battles
of the entire War Between the
THE BAKER COUNTY PRESS, Thursday, February 23, 1984 Page Two
THE WAY IT WAS - Gene Barber
On to Appomattox
One hundred, twenty years
have passed since the battle near
the banks of Ocean Pond. The
battle was climactic in Florida's
role as a belligerent in the War
Between the States.
There would be over a year to
go before the end of the conflit;
and the units of both sides moved
on to more critical areas. On the
Confederate side, strengthened
in its morale by the win at Ocean
Pond, the cry was, "On to Appomattox."
Appomattox was a long way
in distance and time, and the
momentous event there - the surrender of the Confederate Army
by General Robert E. Lee - was
probably not influenced by the
bloody set-to in Baker County,
Florida. However, the Battle of
Olustee, as it was called in the
Northern history books, did indeed make a difference in local
life for generations.
First, many of the local
Crackers had not been ardent
secessionists prior to the outbreak of the war. They were mostly of the Whig party persuasion,
and they accepted the oncoming
conflict as the rich man's war.
But when the United States
troops invaded their home territory, i.e. the Federal campaign
of 1864, most Crackers in north
Florida-south Georgia became
strong converts to the Confederate cause.
Many of those converted
former Unionists developed a
distrust of the federal government which has lasted even into
the last years of the twentieth
Second, although the federal
campaign through north Florida
had not the dire consequences of
Sherman's drive through Georgia,
it was critical enough to further
impoverish an already poor section. The area has only recently
developed out of that poor
Foraging was done by both
sides prior to Olustee. Many was
the poor Confederate widow who
complained directly to General
Finegan about his troops stealing
her livestock, and the stealing by
the Confederate army went on for
several days, as they sustained
themselves waiting for the big
battle which was sure to come.
Added to the livestock-loss was
the wanton destruction of property and animals by the Union men
both during the week while they
camped at Barber's and during
the march to Olustee by some of
the flanking units.
But almost as soon as the battle was over, many people wanted
to forget it...it was one of those
things which happened to other
sections of the country and not to
them. Up through the late 1930's,
a few dedicated Daughters of the
Confederacy still convened annually at Olustee's battleground
to lay flowers and sing hymns
and remember. But to most of the
locals, the battle was hardly more
than a term while the results
festered deep and unspoken inside.
World War II came and the battle slipped even further from
minds and interest. Not until the
centennial of the battle in 1964
was interest re-kindled.
Soon, the re-enactment will be
one of the major historical events
of the nation. It will be so
because of steadfast and enthusiastic work by people from a
wide area, especially from the
Lake City section. Those folks
had foresight. Yes, they are allowing some of the event to become
overly festive to the history purist
and buff, but we must remember
that to attract people today to
happenings which should stand
on their own, there must be a certain amount of hoopla and fun.
Baker County, do not cry over
missed opportunities that you did
not grab this event years ago. Do
not be so puerile that you think
you must or could take over the
show now that someone else has
done the work.
Rather, see if you can join with
the people at Lake City and go for
a show that will astound, make
money, and remind ourselves of
our heritage. Let us take the
weekend before the re-enactment
and help the Lake City people
with a pre-festival weekend of
events and activities portraying
our county's role in the Battle of
THE BAKER COUNTY PRESS, Thursday, March 1, 1984
THE WAY IT WAS-Gene Barber
More didactical savings
Your ol' columnist feels that he
has been hitting the history a bit
too hard lately, re-fighting the
Civil War, stirring up the good ol'
boys' ire against Yankee folk. He
bets you dear readers have been
sorely missing his altogether too
infrequent effusions of cute
So, here goes another treasure-trove of pearls of wisdom to
enrich your lives.
--Marriage is like a parking space in a shopping center...it's easier to get into than out of.
--Three things most folks don't want built next door to them: a
bar, a convenience store, and a church.
--Convenience store's prices,
like their reputations for convenience, are often greatly inflated.
--No educated fool is born out of his time.
--Beware of anybody who has taken more than one selling course.
--Beware of anybody whose main topic of conversation is computers.
--When you begin to like pot likker in a punch bowl, it's time to
--Most folks who get excited about games of trivia have just
stated to you their goals in life
and their intelligence levels wrapped into one.
--Nothing can be more trying to
a man's religion than Jacksonville traffic and most television
--Show me a man who'd write a letter to the editor regarding the
comic strip "Boone County", and I'll show you an idiot.
--Gluttony - is its own punishment.
--You can't burn your bridges behind you anymore...they're all
made of concrete.
--Nothing -brings out the trashiness in a person faster than
the belief that nobody's watching.
--Three things are constant about attending a party: you.
didn't want to go, you overstay your welcome, and there's always
someone who says, "If you know what went into wienies you
wouldn't eat them."
The prudent diner never visits the kitchen of an oriental
restaurant or the backdoor of a seafood restaurant.
--If you can't find a stomach pump, expose the patient to television's idea of a Southern accent.
--No ride is smoother than a free one.
--A definition of optimism:
believing that you will one day be
able to pull out onto highway 121.
--Another definition of optimism: believing that the sign
saying "express lane" in a super market really means it.
--To determine the operating hours of a business unfamiliar to
you: it opens an hour after you get there in the morning, and it
closes five minutes before you get there in the afternoon.
--Nothing brings out the fool in a person faster than the promise
of something for nothing.
--When life is going great you can rest assured. that there will
always be someone around who will ask, "Are you sure you can
pay the electric bill for this new house?"
--Do not sweat other's envy of you...it is their wretched way of
--Truth wrongfully used is much more damaging than a lie.
--Before judging a worker to be good, examine the trail he leaves.
--A guilty conscience fills a man's mattress ticking with corn cobs.
--The messiest creature in the world is a woman outside her own home.
-Children are a joy in one's old age...the lack of children is a joy
to all other stages of one's life.
--One can always tell when a columnist has stared long and
hard at a blank sheet of paper in his typewriter...he effuses cute
THE BAKER COUNTY PRESS, Thursday, March 8, 1984
THE WAY IT WAS-Gene Barber
Still more didactical sayings
Last week's column elicited
some rather ugly comments from
several of our readers. Some said,
"I couldn't even pronounce that
word in the title." Others chided
us for venturing away from local
Last week's subject was so
rousingly unsuccessful that
we've decided to do it again.
--You can determine a man's
thinking ability by what he judges
being responsible for all the ills
of the world, starting at the bottom with the man who accuses
--Only a fool will take credit for
anything that happened before
the day he was born, and only a
bigger fool will accept blame for
that same period.
--Nobody knows how to rear a
child better than he who has
never had to do it.
--The most successful parents
are those who realize they only
provided the making for their
kids, not the molds.
--God did not invent fireants and wind.
--White middle class Protestant Americans have been blamed by
the majority of sociologists for everything bad except the eruption of Mt. St. Helens...we're expecting that next.
--We strongly suspect cold weather was one of the tribulations created for Job that somebody forgot to cancel out after everything else leveled off
--lt's hard to excuse a dog after he's bit you.
--News-slanting by the media is a two way street...somebody has
to watch, read, and listen.
--Colds and unexpected company are in the same category...inconvenient.
--A community's pride in its appearance is not measured by its
clean-up campaigns but by its lack of needing them.
--It's a toss-up whether folks brag more about their illnesses or
children, but I'd as soon not hear about either.
--The charming aspect of shanties diminishes in direct proportion to one's approaching necessity of having to live in one of them.
--I'm all for rehabilitation, but I'd just as soon some folks not
cut their back to normalcy teeth on me.
--Every time I hear "Catch the fever!" I have a feeling its going
to cost me money in some manner.
--Death sentences carried out deter two people from committing murder...the fellow in the chair and me.
I'd much rather feed a hung man than one with a coming appetite.
--Be kind to those who are always finding fault with
you...some think they're doing you a favor, some are only trying
to stand a head taller by cutting you down, and the rest are feeling
--I not only get a gorging mess of some people and their actions,
I get a snack over.
--Anything that happens before 1 pm is obscene.
--Most ugly people can't help their appearances...but they surely could stay home.
--Such folks stay so busy being full-time minorities, they don't
have time to realize that some others want to accept them as
THE BAKER COUNTY PRESS, Thursday, March 15, 1984
THE WAY IT WAS-Gene Barber
About your Indian blood
Your columnist, always mindful of his obligation to keep some
of you, our readers, straightened out on many and sundry subjects,
has determined to broach a topic which has for several years been
an irritant to him, and by his elucidation, he can save some of
you from ignominy if you ever toss the subject out before more
The subject is...and some of you are not going to like it...that
Indian blood in you.
No, we're not hinting that it should be best kept a secret;
there is nothing, absolutely nothing, the slightest bit wrong
with having that great and greatly misunderstood race in your
background. There is much wrong, however, with how much
of it some of you claim, and it is shamefully wrong how some
(most) of you dear Cracker folk claim the incorrect people as
your Indian ancestors.
First, we address ourselves to those of you Crackers who make
the statement, "My grandmother was a full-blooded Indian."
This, of course, could be true, but we suspect you have your
generations confused (it is amazing how many people have an appalling lack of both the sense of generations and a knowledge of history).
Let us say that you are fifty years of age. Your grandmother
(the purported "full-blooded Indian") could be as young as
about 68 (born, therefore, circe 1916) or perhaps as old as 130
(born, therefore, about 1854). Either way, there were no Indians
in Georgia or north Florida excusing a very few pitifully
degenerate, abject, and dissipated creatures who were
but shadows of their former selves and not at all the type your
ancestors would have married (most of your ancestors wouldn't
have married Irishmen either).
White Anglo-Americans ceased marrying (and we use that term
"marrying" very loosely) Indians in about the early 1830's, and
there weren't many of them living together except among the
rawest frontier folk.
So, most of you who say your grandma was an Indian are just
parroting what your grandma said about her grandma...and that is
not only closer to, but probably is, the actual truth.
One of your columnist's maternal great-great-great grandmothers was an Indian (full-blooded...we don't know), and she was born about 185 years ago.
And...there was no marriage.
Then, we address ourselves to the subject of the people your
ancestress (ever notice how nobody ever claims an Indian
grandsire?) was supposed to be of. Ever since that popular tune of
the 1920's (we think) "Cherokee", everybody has wanted to be part
Cherokee. Truth of the matter is, most ancestors of lower Georgia
and Florida Crackers were never anywhere near the same area of
the Cherokee nation.
Sorry, folks, what you mean is "Creek", and don't flinch; there's
nothing wrong with those people. They were as civilized (whatever
that is supposed to mean), educated, and tolerant as their
probable kinsmen the Cherokees, and much more so than their
There were several tribes of Creeks, two of the prevalent ones
in this area in the "marrying" days between them and our
Cracker ancestors being the Cowetas and Miccasukies
(themselves broken down into sub-groups). Your columnist's
Aunt Molly Crews, who could speak several phrases and words
of an Indian dialect, gave a hint of the tribe or group in this area
when she pronounced the only Indian tribal name she had ever
heard "Coweeter." This was supposed to be the people in the
Georgia Bend and Duval County from whom her great grandmother came.
Next week, we shall treat some of the other Indian groups who
have lived in this area or who were connected with it in some
manner. Until then, don't be upset about our remarks on either the
Indians or the Irish...your columnist has the blood of both in his
veins, and he would rather be possessed of that than be
descended from all the crowned heads of Europe.
THE BAKER COUNTY PRESS, Thursday, March 22, 1984
THE WAY IT WAS-Gene Barber
About your Indian blood - PART TWO
The Baker County area has had
representatives of the Amer-indian peoples for at least
five thousand years (probably longer).
The first reported by the earliest European (early 1500's)
explorers were the Timucua. There were. several groups of
them in a wide area of Florida and southern Georgia speaking a
common language - lengua timucuana.
Their known limits were from Just above the present Saint
Mary's, Georgia, southward along the coast (including the islands)
to about Cape Canaveral, across the peninsula to Tampa Bay, up
the Gulf coast to below Tallahassee, to the Aucilla River,
northward into southern Georgia, and eastward through Georgia to
the Atlantic Ocean. Although a number of historians have
disagreed on the limits, all have placed Baker County within the
The Timucua of the coast told the French that their neighbors
from what we now know as Trail Ridge west to the Aucilla River
were the Utina yroup. Some old maps place Baker County within
the northern edge of the ancient Timucua Potano Province.
The Baker County group and the coastal people raided each
other, and, generally, did not get along well.
The Timucua people were tall, handsome, well organized socially and politically, community dwellers, agrarian, and possessed of some cultural and
social habits abhorrent to the Europeans (but perfectly acceptable by those practicing them and their neighbors).
By 1710 or so, the Timucua had been subdued, Christianized,
Europeanized, emasculated as a race, enslaved, decimated by
European cruelty and disease, hunted down by the English, and
displaced by the greedy Creek Indians. Never has a race been so
miserably extirpated by so many bearing the banners of God (with
a little help from the Timucua's own cousins the Creeks). There
has been a very special place prepared in you-know-where for
most of those good Spanish fathers, God-fearing Anglican
Carolinians, and mercenary Creeks (they will be joined by
Hitler, Tamberlane, and others guilty of genocide).
The Apalachees in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries
were sometimes reported to be in the area of the Okefenokee
Swamp, and some very old maps show Baker County to be within
their shifting southern limits or very near them.
No Cherokees showing up in this area yet.
The Yamasses began to be noticed in the mid 1600's living in
scattered groups from above Savannah to west of Saint
Let us digress at this point for a bit of elucidation on what seems
to be contradictions and inconsistencies about where these early folk lived. Remember, (1) we are talking in terms of over a century,
and (2) those people moved around like anybody else. In fact,
as you cry out, "Lo, the poor Red Man", bear in mind that good ol'
Lo-the-poor-Red-Man, being a true human being, did not mind in
the least invading his brothers' land, running them off, and taking
it for themselves. They had been doing it for a few thousand
years and likely would have continued doing so had not the white
man come in to take over the job
A historian named Willard designated the exact area of
Baker County as being Yamasse country as late as 1828 (probably
to 20 years. The Steel Bridge ing here). They had helped Governor Moore and the Carolinians exterminate the Timucua in the early 1700's and received much of
the old Timucua land for a reward.
The Uchees were called "Children of the Sun" and lived
from the Savannah River to the Okefenokee just interior of the
Yamasses. Most moved south west away from the encroaching
whites and onto abandoned Apalachee lands in 1716, but
some remnants remained in the southeast. As late as 1793, some
were reported as living on the fork of the Saint Mary's River (that's
us, folks). Whether they remained when their people moved to the
west and southwest or they returned with the advancing
Creeks in the mid 1700's, we do not know, but they were a
definite part of Baker County's Amerindian past. Some fought
with the Seminoles and Miccasukies against the whites during the Second Seminole War.
Even the Shawnees of Ohio got into the act, claiming they were
originally from Florida along the Suwannee River. They claimed
that river received its name from them (give those folks a chance,
and they'll give you a legend, even if they have to make it
up...isn't it strange how all races are just alike in some re spects?). Some wanted to say they were over most of north Florida back in the 1600's.
Perhaps they were, but there were still no Cherokees here.
Then came the Creeks, a Muscogean speaking people with
several tribal names. They came from north and west Georgia,
western Alabama, and west Florida and were related to the
Cherokees of western North Carolina. From them came the
Seminoles of north Florida. Two of their groups, the Miccasukies
and Cowetas, displaced by whites and unfriendly Creek
brothers, moved into the Baker County area. They were not native
to the area but newcomers.
There is even evidence that a band of Choctaws from far west
of here were in this section during the 1819 period or thereabouts. From legend there were the Este Eatchasikko (the Invisible People), and the Daughters of the Sun whose golden cities disappeared whenever a white
man approached. There were Apaches imprisoned in the
Castillo at Saint Augustine.
But...there were no Cherokees.
The nearest they ever came to Cracker country was an isolated
band in extreme northern Georgia far from the ancestral homes of
the local Crackers and in a popular song of several decades
Be happy that you have Amerindian blood in your veins,
but make certain you give the proper credit to the correct Indian
for getting together with your white ancestors to make it happen. You are part Creek, and don't you forget it.
THE BAKER COUNTY PRESS, Thursday, March 29, 1984
THE WAY IT WAS-Gene Barber
Are you a Yumpie?
Take this test in the privacy of your home
The American media (of which your columnist would just as
soon not be considered a typical representative) dearly loves to invent cutesy labels for cultural and social movements and for the
people within those movements. Recently, we are hearing of
"Yumpies" - young upwardly mobile professionals.
When your columnist began to investigate just who or what
these Yumpies were, he discovered that he knew several. If
you are not so fortunate as he to recognize a Yumpie when you see
one, or perhaps you don't know whether or not you are one, take
the simple test that follows (apologies to the rather bright
writer of a few years ago who gave us the Redneck quiz in a
Yumpie Self-Test Quiz
--If you wear clothes with the labels outside, give yourself 5
--If you subscribe to Gentlemen's Quarterly, give your self 10
--If you think Calvin Klein is a fellow who used to run a dairy,
subtract 12 points.
--If you listen to obscure AM radio stations that feature talk
shows, call-ins, and progressive jazz, add 10 points.
--If you live in a restored or restorable area, give yourself 15
--If you live in a restored or restorable area because you want
to, subtract 5 points.
--If you wouldn't be caught dead in McClenny, Middleburg,
Baldwin, Jacksonville Beach, on Edison Avenue, or Yulee, give
yourself 15 points.
--If you have a habit of telling people, unsolicited, that you will
be attending a dinner party in Ponte Vedra, Ortega, Mandarin,
or Riverside, give yourself 5 points.
--If you discuss TV programs such as Real People, That's Incredible, etc., subtract 10 points.
--If you discuss such programs because they are "a real hoot",
add 10 points.
--If you watch such programs secretly and alone, subtract 12
--If you have a lot of copper and wire baskets in your kitchen, the
use of which would tax the imagination of even a bright person,
add 5 points.
--If you think vegetables mean mushrooms, raw spinach, barely
steamed broccoli, and stuff that only a Chinese person would
recognize, add 7 points.
--If you eat the stuff because you really like it, subtract 7
--If you drive anything made in America, subtract 5 points.
--lf you sit around and talk about how disco is out, but still
go to them, (just to observe the "other half", of course) add 5
--If your job title has but one word, i.e. "mechanic", subtract
--If your job title has three words or more, add 15 points.
--If you've completed at least one gourmet cooking class, add 5
--If you were one of the first to possess a food processor, add 10
--If you will admit that it doesn't save any time, but usually makes
a mess of whatever you're trying to fix in it, subtract 10 points.
--If you use funny language such as, "I'm talking the Cadillac
of ball park figures in this readout", add 20 points.
--If, when concerned, you admit you don't know what the heck
you're talking about most of the time with that funny language,
subtract 25 points.
--If you'll pay $400.00 for an offset press reproduction of a poorly
done poster or a painting by an obscure artist rather than pay $50
for an original piece of art work, add 30 points.
--If your favorite artist, writer, and actor is generally unknown,
add 15 points.
--If you change your favorite artists, writer, and actor whenever
the general public learns who he or she is, add 25 points.
--If you subscribe to strange magazines such as Window
Treatment Quarterly, add 15 points.