The site of the Tristán de Luna colony has reportedly been found in Pensacola: "'There were 1500 people there ... for about a two-year period' ... The colony lasted from 1559-61 and included 550 Spanish soldiers, about 200 Aztecs and an unknown number of African slaves ... The Luna colony is arguably the first European settlement and unquestionably the oldest multi-year European settlement" in the present-day United States. Just two years ago, the site of a 1567 fort built by the Juan Pardo expedition in western North Carolina [NYT] was confirmed as well. [more inside]
The Equal Justice Initiative has released a report (pdf) on the history of lynchings in the United States, the result of five years of research. The authors compiled an inventory of 3,959 victims of “racial terror lynchings” in 12 Southern states from 1877 to 1950 -- documenting more than 700 additional victims, which places the number of murders more than 20 percent higher than previously reported. "The process is intended... to force people to reckon with the narrative through-line of the country’s vicious racial history, rather than thinking of that history in a short-range, piecemeal way." Map. [more inside]
In the records of human conflicts, there are at least three Chicken Wars. Two left little mark on the world at large, and the third resulted in some strange work-arounds for heavy tariffs. The first was Wojna kokosza, the Chicken or Hen War of 1537, when an anti-royalist and anti-absolutist rokosz (rebellion) by the Polish nobility resulted in near-extinction of local "kokosz" (an egg laying hen), but little else. The second was an odd spin-off of the more serious War of the Quarduple Alliance that lasted from 1717 to 1720. Though most of the activity happened in Europe, there were some battles in North America. The Texas manifestation was the capture of some chickens by French forces from a Spanish mission, and a costly overreaction by Spanish religious and military men. The third Chicken War was a duel of tariffs during the Cold War, with the only lasting casualty being the availability of foreign-made light trucks in the United States. [more inside]
Plenty of people collect Disneyana, the toys, books, animation cels, and theme-park souvenirs. Then there are those fans who collect information and details on the Disney parks themselves, collecting official park maps or drawing up their own ride blueprints, assembling the design history behind the attractions, and even collecting vintage tickets and ticket books. Yesterland (previously: 1, 2, 3) is an ever-growing collection of Disneyland history, and has an updated collection of links to similar fan sites and Imagineering blogs, which is a whole collection of rabbit holes of nostalgia and behind-the-scense information. So grab a riding crop and pretend like it's the 60s all over again!
Before David Koresh, there was simply "Koresh." Cyrus Reed Teed was an eclectic physician from New York who experienced a "divine illumination" (Google Books) in 1869. He recruited over 200 followers to settle a utopian commune in Estero, Florida based on his revelation of a unique hollow-earth theory called the Cellular Cosomogony. Elaborate experiments showed conclusive "proof" that the world's surface was a concave sphere. Despite this, his movement failed to gain traction; relations grew increasingly strained between the Koreshans and the Lee County locals. In 1906, the aging Dr. Teed was severely beaten in a Ft. Myers street brawl (PDF, see pp. 12-14) and died from his injuries on December 22, 1908. His martyrdom sealed, the Koreshans refused to bury the remains (PDF) in the belief that their messiah would be resurrected on Christmas Day. The commune has been preserved as a state historic site where Floridians can learn more about the cult leader in their backyard. [more inside]
With few cows, no ice, and lacking refrigeration the only dairy product reliably available to the Florida Keys in the late 18th century was condensed milk. Add a local plantation abundance of small, sour key limes (known to most as West Indian limes; not the more common Persian/Tahiti lime), and inevitably someone -- perhaps Aunt Sally -- put them together to create the quintessential Florida Keys confection known as key lime pie. [more inside]
Florida's Barefoot Mailmen traveled 68-mile routes between Palm Beach and Miami in the late 1800s. Walking 40 miles (barefoot) and rowing 28 miles over the course of three days each way, these letter carriers brought efficiency to a postal route that previously required that "a letter from Palm Beach to Miami begin its trip at the lighthouse community of Jupiter, 22 miles north, then by an Indian River steamboat to the rail head at Titusville. By train it continued to New York's port and from there by steamer to Havana. From Cuba, a trading schooner took the letter to Miami. It took a voyage of 3,000 miles and a period of six weeks to two months for a letter to arrive in Miami." Ed Hamilton, who disappeared in the course of duty (and whose mysterious death may have been engineered by moving his rowboat out of reach in alligator-infested waters), is honored with a bronze statue in Hillsboro Beach.
Rebellion: John Horse and the Black Seminoles, First Black Rebels to Beat American Slavery. "Rebellion is a Web documentary that explores the inspiring, true, and largely unknown story of John Horse and the Black Seminoles, a community of free blacks and fugitive slaves who in 1838 became the first black rebels to defeat American slavery." This visually arresting site is a treasure trove of information about the Seminoles, early Florida history, and a largely unrecognized (and successful!) slave rebellion that may have been the largest in American history. The site includes interactive maps, arresting images, and a thorough history of the rebellion. Too bad the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma expelled all its black members in 1990.
The Historical Museum of Southern Florida. A good set of exhibits and collections : the Afro-Cuban Orisha religion and associated arts; the Miami Centennial Quilt; South American music in Miami; illustrating Cuba's flora and fauna; vintage Cuban postcards; selections from Audubon's 'Birds of America'; Pan Am memorabilia; and more.
Ever visit the Pro Football Hall of Fame? I haven't...I live in Florida. In honor of football season, however, check it out online. It has some pretty neat features, like how football teams got named, concise team histories, and a timeline of how American Football came about. Princeton vs. Rutgers in 1869 started it all....
What It Will Take to Get Elected ... in 1988. Interesting historical piece basically looking at the chances of a Democratic victory in 1988. Makes for good reading -- now that we've all become political junkies -- while waiting for news from Florida.
Hand count in Palm Beach County agreed upon. History in the making.