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Florida's Byways and Ancestral Trails


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Burgert Brothers Highlights: Did you know that October 27th is Navy Day?

Celebrate with these two images were taken, during HMS Resolution’s visit to Tampa (1944). It was a Royal Navy WWI era battleship, which was used in WWII, but in 1944, was converted to a stoker’s training ship. These two images capture the crew member’s visiting the ship’s bridge. Courtesy of Burgert Brothers: Neg. no. 53147 (921) and 53142 (916) | PA 10655.

Search the Burgert collection here: http://bit.ly/1gErh2M.

HMS Resolution


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Dog King of the Fort

“This is the story of a dog, a beautiful Irish Setter, which played a heroic part in one of the worst tragedies in the history of the Florida West Coast . . . . The dog was brought to Fort Brooke early in the winter of 1838-39 from New Orleans by an army officer. He was still a puppy when he arrived at the camp – a mischievous, frolicsome puppy which romped all through the garrison. All the officers and men liked him and saw to it that he had plenty of nourishing food. Perhaps because of that it grew with amazing rapidity and by late spring weighed more than 60 pounds. He had a friendly disposition and rarely got into fights with other dogs, but when he did he fought with vicious ferocity and soon became dog king of the fort.” (pg. 513)

The dog, named Romeo by a sutler (a civilian merchant who sells provisions to an army unit in the field) who spent the most time with him, became known as King Romeo, hero of the Caloosahatchee, after a massacre on July 22, 1839, that subsequently ended the truce with the Seminole Indians.
You can find this intriguing story, and many more, in Volume II of Pioneer Florida by D.B. McKay, a Tampa native who became the owner/publisher of the Tampa Tribune newspaper in 1900. He was elected Mayor of Tampa in 1910, serving in that position for 14 years, and was again elected Mayor in 1927. In 1949, he was appointed Hillsborough County Historian and began writing a column in the Sunday Tampa Tribune called “Pioneer Florida,” which he wrote until his death in 1960. His writings were collected into a three-volume set of books called Pioneer Florida.

This book (and its companion volumes) can be located in our online catalog at http://www.hcplc.org (or directly at http://bit.ly/1dk6E7D) or here in the Florida History and Genealogy Library (Fla 975.9).

Mckay


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There are no theme parks here…

When you think of Florida, perhaps the first things that come to mind are soft-sand beaches, sunny days, alligators, palm trees, boating on lakes, the Gulf of Mexico, and Disney World. But there is a different side to the Sunshine State that you may not know about . . . and we’re not talking about a perfidious underbelly. No, we’re talking about the WEIRD world in Florida. You probably saying what’s so weird about Florida, other than the fact that it’s the only peninsula in the U.S., much of it is just a few yards above sea level, and strange-looking sea cows plow lazily through its western coastal waters? Well, let the journey begin. . . .

It’s the Case of the Giant Penguin – true or not true? You be the judge. In 1948, numerous people reported seeing a gigantic penguin about 15 feet tall on Clearwater Beach. During this same time period, boaters witnessed a giant penguin-like bird floating in the Gulf and a private plane pilot saw a huge penguin-like bird on the banks of the Suwannee River.

A five-foot-tall, 100-pound man constructed the Coral Castle, sometimes known as Florida’s Stonehenge, in Florida City. (He later moved it to Homestead.) No kind of power source helped him move, situate, and carve more than 1,100 tons of coral. And he did it all by himself.

The smallest post office in the U.S. is situated in Ochopee, Florida. It is 10 feet 6 inches high, 8 feet 4 inches wide, and 7 feet 3 inches long. It was once a tool shed for a tomato farm.

Locals have seen a woman named Julia, who was murdered by a jealous lover, haunting Rolling Acres Road in Lady Lake. Others have observed a man dressed in black resembling the Grim Reaper who stands on the side of Rolling Acres Road late at night, awaiting his next victim. Many have heard the screams of banshees coming from deep in the woods.

These are just some of the interesting and sometimes outright bizarre stories and legends that add a fascinating layer to the more commonly-known history of Florida. You can find these tales and more in Weird Florida: Your Travel Guide to Florida’s Local Legends and Best Kept Secrets by Charlie Carlson, a 10th generation Floridian.

Carlson’s book can be located in our catalog at http://catalog.hcplc.org/polaris/search/title.aspx?pos=1.

Explore other interesting materials at http://www.hcplc.org or in our Florida History and Genealogy Library.

Weird


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Burgert Brothers Centennial Traveling Display

The Centennial display focuses on West Tampa, including the 1918 image of the West Tampa Free Public Library. Images of schools, churches, cigar factories, businesses, street scenes, social and recreational clubs, residential structures, and government agencies are part of the exhibition. In addition to the photographs, there are also a few documents regarding the history and the various openings of what is currently known as the West Tampa Branch Library. The display will be at the West Tampa Branch Library until October 30th.

West Tampa Free Public Library

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