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  1. THE HARRY S. TRUMAN LITTLE WHITE HOUSE
  2. BULOW PLANTATION SUGAR MILL
  3. PREHISTORIC CANOES AT NEWNAN’S LAKE

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  1. JOHN APPLEYARD ON DE LUNA LANDING ANIVERSARY
  2. 1901 FIRE IN JACKSONVILLE
  3. “GOING APE: FLORIDA’S BATTLES OVER EVOLUTION IN THE CLASSROOM”

29:00 minutes (26.55 MB)

Florida Frontiers 189

  1. “MOSQUITOS, ALLIGATORS AND DETERMINATION” 2014
  2. CONFEREDATE COLONY IN VENEZUELA
  3. CAPEN HOUSE IN WINTER PARK

 


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  1. PONCE INLET LIGHTHOUSE
  2. PERSONAL PAPERS OF MARTHA REID
  3. NAIDIROLF EXHIBIT AT USF

29:00 minutes (26.55 MB)

Florida Frontiers 187

  1. APOLLO 11 MISSION 45TH ANNIVERSARY
  2. SPANISH WAR VETERANS
  3. THE POETRY PUBLICATION AND EVENT “REVELRY”

29:00 minutes (26.55 MB)

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  1. “VISION EXTRAORDINAIRE” EXHIBITION AT FIT
  2. 1934 WORLD’S FAIR FLORIDA PAVILION
  3. OCOEE MASSACRE OF 1920

29:00 minutes (26.55 MB)

Florida Frontiers 185

  1. MAYA ANGELOU ON ZORA NEALE HURSTON
  2. FHSAI CEMETERIES AS LIVING HISTORY SYMPOSIUM
  3. MAITLAND ART CENTER – ANDRE SMITH

29:00 minutes (26.55 MB)

Florida Frontiers 184

  1. CHAD LIGHT AS PEDRO MENÉNDEZ DE AVILÉS
  2. ARCHIVED ISSUES OF “THE FLORIDA GROWER” MAGAZINE
  3. NATURALIST WILLIAM BARTRAM IN FLORIDA

29:00 minutes (26.55 MB)

Florida Frontiers 183

  1. P.K. YONGE LIBRARY OF FLORIDA HISTORY
  2. 2014 FHS ANNUAL MEETING AND SYMPOSIUM
  3. NEW SMYRNA IN THE CIVIL WAR

29:00 minutes (26.55 MB)

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Florida Frontiers “Maya Angelou, Ruby Dee, and Zora Neale Hurston”

Florida Today 22
Florida Frontiers “Maya Angelou, Ruby Dee, and Zora Neale Hurston”
Ben Brotemarkle

 

We recently lost two significant contributors to our culture.

Poet, author, and performing artist Maya Angelou died on May 28, at the age of 86. Actress, playwright, and activist Ruby Dee died on June 11, at the age of 91.

These strong, influential, and talented women were both significantly influenced by Florida writer, folklorist, and anthropologist Zora Neale Hurston.

Both Maya Angelou and Ruby Dee contributed to the new book “Reflections from ZORA! Celebrating 25 Years of the Zora Neale Hurston Festival of the Arts and Humanities,” published by the Florida Historical Society Press.

Established in 1887, Eatonville, Florida is the oldest incorporated African American municipality in the United States. The town figures prominently in the work of its most famous resident, Zora Neale Hurston.

Hurston was a celebrated figure of the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s and ‘30s, and arguably the most significant cultural figure to come from Central Florida.

Since 1990, The Association to Preserve the Eatonville Community (P.E.C.) has produced the ZORA! Festival, presenting academics, artists, and other creative thinkers through lectures and panel discussions, visual and performing arts presentations, and a vibrant outdoor festival.

Both Maya Angelou and Ruby Dee were involved with the ZORA! Festival from the beginning.

Maya Angelou has written more than thirty best-selling books including I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. In 1993, she read her poem “On the Pulse of the Morning” at the inauguration of President Bill Clinton. She toured Europe in a production of “Porgy and Bess,” and recorded an album of calypso music. She was active in the civil rights movement, working with both Malcom X and Martin Luther King. She has written, directed, and appeared in feature films. She was Reynolds Professor of American Studies at Wake Forest. While visiting Eatonville for the fifth annual ZORA! Festival, Maya Angelou praised the event:

“This festival has a singular importance. It is not a festival in New York City or in Hollywood. It’s not a festival in Chicago, or any of the big metropoli of the world. It’s in Eatonville, Florida. And it is singular in that the festival—its existence itself—educates. Without a person even having to come here, he or she is forced to recognize this was the first incorporated all black town in the United States. That’s fantastic to know. Many black people don’t know that there were any. Not to mention whites, or Spanish-speaking or Native American.”

Zora Neale Hurston is best remembered for her 1937 novel “Their Eyes Were Watching God,” the story of Janie Crawford and her attempts at self-realization. As an anthropologist, Hurston studied under the renowned Franz Boas. Her most important collection of folklore, “Mules and Men” was written in 1929 in Eau Gallie. Hurston also wrote dozens of short stories, essays, and dramatic works.

Actress Ruby Dee has appeared in numerous stage, film, and television productions, including the stage and film versions of “A Raisin in the Sun,” the film “Do the Right Thing,” and the screen adaptation of “Their Eyes Were Watching God.” As part of the first annual ZORA! Festival, Ruby Dee conducted an acting workshop at Rollins College. During a break in the workshop, she discussed what makes Hurston’s writings noteworthy:

“The thing that really intrigues about Zora is that she recognized that our intellectuals, our giant imaginations, our brilliant people weren’t necessarily the scholars and the middle class. She knew that found in the back woods are extraordinary people, who never heard of Ibsen, who are capable of putting the universe in perspective—genius storytellers who could put the elements of life into imaginative contexts, who might not be able to spell or read and write.”

Zora Neale Hurston died broke and largely forgotten in Fort Pierce in 1960. Maya Angelou and Ruby Dee, who both died recently with well-deserved accolades and recognition, helped to revive interest in Zora Neale Hurston’s work and preserve her legacy for future generations.

For more information read the book “Reflections from ZORA! Celebrating 25 Years of the Zora Neale Hurston Festival of the Arts and Humanities.” The book includes contributions from Maya Angelou, Ruby Dee, Amiri Baraka, Alice Walker, N.Y. Nathiri, and many others.

Dr. Ben Brotemarkle is executive director of the Florida Historical Society and host of the radio program “Florida Frontiers.” The show can also be heard online at myfloridahistory.org.

Photo 1 caption info: Maya Angelou and Ruby Dee both contributed to the new book “Reflections from ZORA! Celebrating 25 Years of the Zora Neale Hurston Festival of the Arts and Humanities.”
Photo 2 caption: ZORA! Festival founder N.Y. Nathiri (left) with Ruby Dee (center) and actress Elizabeth Van Dyke.

 

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Florida Frontiers “Cemeteries as Living History Symposium”

Florida Today 21
Florida Frontiers “Cemeteries as Living History Symposium”
Ben Brotemarkle

 

After the loss of a loved one, a cemetery can be a place of quiet reflection, private mourning, and feeling more connected to the person who has passed away.

As years, decades, and centuries go by, cemeteries become outdoor museums, reflecting the values, beliefs, and attitudes of the societies that created them.

On Saturday morning, the Florida Historical Society Archaeological Institute (FHSAI) will present a symposium called “Cemeteries as Living History” at the Historic Rossetter House Museum and Gardens in the Eau Gallie section of Melbourne.

Dr. Rachel Wentz, Director of FHSAI, will lead a discussion about why archaeologists study cemeteries and what can be learned from them.

“They provide information on social structure, social stratification, technology,” Wentz says. “We get a lot of information from grave good assemblages, what people are buried with. Even the position of the body, how the grave is constructed, tells us a lot about belief systems within societies.”

Walk through a Florida cemetery that is more than fifty years old and it becomes readily apparent how various historical periods are reflected there. You can see people segregated by race, ethnicity, and religion, even in death. The very wealthy in life may be remembered with an ornate mausoleum, while a hard working but economically disadvantaged person may not even have a headstone.

As a bioarchaeologist, Dr. Wentz studies bones. She points out that skeletons found in ancient cemeteries are an essential part of archaeological studies.

“They give us information as to past diet, lifestyle, disease processes. We can trace the origins of diseases by studying skeletons.”

In addition to learning about what burial practices, and the burials themselves, can tell us about a society and its culture, participants in the “Cemeteries as Living History” symposium will be given an overview of historic Florida cemeteries. Ben DiBiase, Director of Educational Resources for the Florida Historical Society, will discuss historic cemeteries in Pensacola, St. Augustine, and Key West.

Although it was probably in use by the late 1700s, St. Michael’s Cemetery in Pensacola was officially recognized by the King of Spain in 1807. “It’s one of the oldest historic cemeteries in Florida, with over 3,000 known burials,” DiBiase says.

In St. Augustine, Catholics were buried at the Tolomato Cemetery in the 1700s and 1800s, with the last burial taking place there in 1884. The Huguenot Cemetery was where Protestants were buried between 1821 and 1884. “And of course, there’s the St. Augustine National Cemetery,” says DiBiase, “where there are a number of soldiers who were buried in the nineteenth century, including those who were killed in the infamous Dade Massacre of 1835.”

Over 100,000 people have been interred in the Historic Key West Cemetery, which is still in use today. DiBiase says that “In the nineteenth century, Key West was one of the largest cities in Florida because of its location as a trade port.”

As part of the symposium, DiBiase will lead a tour of the Houston Family Cemetery that is part of the Rossetter House Museum complex. “The Houston’s came to Brevard County in the mid-nineteenth century,” DiBiase says, “just before the American Civil War. John Carroll Houston is actually the oldest known burial in that site. He died in 1885, and his headstone is still there.”

Other workshops have been held recently providing information about the proper care and maintenance of historic cemeteries. While that information will also be covered on Saturday, FHSAI Director Rachel Wentz says that this symposium is different.

“We’re going to be looking at historic cemeteries and prehistoric cemeteries in a broader perspective,” Wentz says. “It’s going to be more of an engaging discussion on the role of cemeteries in modern life and in research.”

Cemeteries can help us feel more connected to those who have recently died, and they can help us to learn more about our distant past.

The Florida Historical Society Archaeological Institute will present the “Cemeteries as Living History” symposium on Saturday, June 21, from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm at the Historic Rossetter House Museum and Gardens, 320 Highland Avenue, in the Eau Gallie section of Melbourne. Admission if free, but a $10 donation is suggested.

Dr. Ben Brotemarkle is executive director of the Florida Historical Society and host of the radio program “Florida Frontiers.” The show can also be heard online at myfloridahistory.org.

Photo 1 caption info: More than 100,000 people have been buried in the historic Key West Cemetery.
Photo 2 caption: A volunteer uses “best practices” to clean a headstone in the Houston Family Cemetery in Eau Gallie.

 

 

Florida Frontiers “Florida Cattle”

Florida Today 20
Florida Frontiers “Florida Cattle”
Ben Brotemarkle

 

Even where urban sprawl has enveloped large portions of the Florida landscape, Florida cattle are never too far from view. Traveling the major interstates, highways, and particularly rural roads throughout the state, herds of cattle can be seen grazing on even small patches of land. White birds called cattle egrets often stand on or near the cows, eating ticks, flies, and other insects attracted to the large mammals.

Cattle first came to Florida with the Spanish.

After Ponce de Léon gave our state its name in 1513, he returned eight years later to establish a colony in Southwest Florida. The Calusa Indians, known for their colorful ceremonial masks and intricate wood carvings, attacked Ponce and his entourage, repelling the settlement attempt. Ponce later died from wounds he received in the attack.

As he was forced to flee the Calusa, Ponce de Léon abandoned a herd of Andalusian cattle he had brought to help feed his colonists. Those animals are believed to be the first domesticated cattle in North America.

When the Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto came to Southwest Florida in 1539, he also brought herds of cattle with him. As de Soto moved north through the center of the state, many of the cows strayed and were left behind.

Some of the abandoned Spanish cows roamed free, while others were bred and domesticated by Native Americans in Florida.

As pioneer settlers came to Florida in the mid-1800s, establishing a cattle industry here seemed prudent.

During the Civil War, Florida became the primary supplier of beef to the Confederate Army. Jacob Summerlin, known as the “King of the Crackers,” was one of the most successful cattlemen in the state. Many families still active in Florida’s cattle industry can trace their roots back to men who raised cattle during the Civil War, including Jack Yates, Henry Overstreet, George W. Bronson, and Isaac Lanier.

The Central Florida town of Kissimmee was a focal point for the state’s thriving cattle industry even before the war, and it remains so today.

The railroad came to Kissimmee in 1882, expanding cattle exportation. The citrus industry and tourism benefited from the railroad as well. During the late 1800s and early 1900s, steamboat traffic on the Kissimmee River also aided the local cattle industry. In the early twentieth century, Kissimmee cattlemen overcame livestock parasites such as stomach worms and the Texas fever tick.

The Florida ranchers successfully bred the Spanish cow descendants with Brahman, Angus, and Hereford stock.

The Florida Cattlemen’s Association was formed in Kissimmee in 1934. The group addresses cattle industry concerns such as promoting the sale of Florida-grown meat and fighting what they see as adverse legislation.

In 1938, the Kissimmee Livestock Auction Market was established to sell cattle on a weekly basis. An arena was constructed next to the Auction Market, where the first Silver Spurs Rodeo was held in 1944.

It is estimated that about one thousand people attended the first Silver Spurs Rodeo. The modern facility used today seats ten thousand.

The traditions of performing the Quadrille on Horseback and other rodeo skills are passed from one generation to the next in Kissimmee. On “Rodeo Day,” students in Osceola County get the day off from school to allow participation in the event.

The town of Kissimmee is best known today as the next-door-neighbor of Disney World. Highway 192 in Kissimmee is a seemingly endless series of hotels, T-shirt shops, discount malls, and themed restaurants.

Just beyond the neon and chaser lights of Highway 192, the cattle industry is alive and well in this historic community.

The 133rd Silver Spurs Rodeo was held June 6 and 7. The National Barrel Horse Association Florida State Finals are June 19-22 at the Silver Spurs Arena.

For more information on the cattle industry in Florida, past and present, visit the Osceola County Welcome Center and History Museum at 750 N. Bass Road in Kissimmee.

Dr. Ben Brotemarkle is executive director of the Florida Historical Society and host of the radio program “Florida Frontiers." The show can also be heard online at myfloridahistory.org.

Photo 1 caption info: The Silver Spurs Rodeo Horseback Quadrille performed in Kissimmee, features representatives from Florida’s historic cattle industry families. This photo by H.W. Hannau is from the 1960s.
Photo 2 caption info: Young girl with a cow in 1953, at the Heart Bar Ranch in Kissimmee.

 

 

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