Worrying about Alligators in Sanford


Celery_Growing,_Sanford,_FL
Celery Growing in Sanford, Florida. Via Wikipedia.

Afloat in a Florida Wilderness                                             

My good friend, Dr. Battey, comforted me by telling of his trip to Titusville, away down south of this, on a little steamer that was the only one that plied that river, and how for many miles it steamed along in narrow windings, hemmed in on either side by a watery wilderness, with logs and tussocks here and there, and alligators sunning their scaly backs and he got to thinking about how if the boat should take fire, what then.

worrying about alligators. hemmed in on either side by a watery wilderness

He could almost jump to the bank or a log or a tussock, but what next. After the boat was burned what would become of him, a pitiful spectacle sitting on a rotten stump with his feet in the water and waiting for a rescue. No road, no telegraph, no other boat to come, and in about twenty-four hours the people of Sanford would begin to wonder why the boat did not come back, and in [another] twenty-four hours they would send up a skiff or something, and long before it arrived the alligators would grab him unless he waded to a tree and climbed it and got in a fork, and even then tired nature would go to sleep and he would fall into an alligator’s mouth at last. And he said it all worried him so he would have given $100 to be safe at the end of his journey. – “Bill Arp” in Atlanta Constitution.

 

marsanneMarsanne Petty conducts historical research about 18th century southern United States and environmental history. To get more great updates and original history, sign up at The Southern Sage. To get her to help you with your own research project, email mapetty[at]gmail.com.

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Early Everglades Explorations

alligators hunters in 1882 everglades
Alligator hunters in the Florida Everglades. 1882. Via Vintage Sports Pictures.

Herald Explorations in the Florida Wilderness

We print today an interesting letter and special dispatch from our correspondent in charge of the Herald explorations in the wilds of Florida, describing his progress and discoveries. A vast area of the peninsula has been, up to the present, a terra incognita civilized man, and the utmost exertions of explorers have hitherto failed to lift the veil of mystery that has hung over that strange land. Since the days of Ponce de Leon, who sought on the shores of the “Land of Flowers” the mystical fountains of perpetual youth, the utmost interest has been manifested in determining the physical character of Florida.

But few have been tempted to brave the terrors that were found to surround investigation, and explorations were limited to the coast line territory, which proved, with the exception of the northern sections, to be the only habitable portion of the State. Now, however, there is a prospect that we will become acquainted with the nature of the interior – its vast swamps, mysterious rivers, great forests, and even the ancient monuments left by the long extinct races that peopled its area.

early everglades explorations. its vast swamps, mysterious rivers, great forests

During the Florida war, when the dusky warriors of Osceola fought so stoutly against their white enemies, scattered posts were established by the United States Army for the purpose of maintaining communications between the occupied districts, but many of these have long ago lost every vestige of interest except that attaching to their names in connection with sanguinary combats between civilization and barbarism.

early everglades exploration. when the dusky warriors of Osceola fought so stoutly against their white enemies

Following the direction marked by a singular column of smoke which was observed by our correspondent to rise from some unknown source in the interior the Herald expedition plunged into the wilderness of vegetation that clothes the country, and succeeded, after much exertion and wading through deep water, in reaching an island or elevated ground surrounded by swamps.

There were discovered some strange and rudely carved masses of stone, evidently erected by a prehistoric race as idols. With a description of these we also find that of the “sinks,” or singular points of disappearance of the rivers where they enter on subterranean courses to reappear again in other places. The dark haunts of the alligator and venomous snakes, the bear, the panther and the deer are graphically described by our correspondent, who is determined to prosecute his explorations until Florida gives up the secrets of her “Everglades,” rivers and forests to the readers of the Herald.

 

marsanneMarsanne Petty conducts historical research about 18th century southern United States and environmental history. To get more great updates and original history, sign up at The Southern Sage. To get her to help you with your own research project, email mapetty[at]gmail.com.

Before Disney: Kissimmee, 1883

opera house - kissimmee
Opera House, Kissimmee. Via Florida Memory

A Place of Great Expectations Found Among the Florida Wilderness

Florida Correspondence.

Kissimmee forms a little break in this wilderness, and may be characterized as a place of great expectations. We found it to consist of three hotels, with a fourth going up; three large stores, carrying a general stock of merchandise, and perhaps a score of houses, many of them of the most primitive kind. There is, it is said, but one plastered house in the city.

before disney. there is but one plastered house in the city

Last night a shower came up, and I had the pleasure of listening to the patter of the rain upon the roof. Once in the night I was disturbed by the grunting of hogs beneath my floor, and discovered in it, in the morning, cracks sufficiently large to have suggested to a nervous man the possibility of the ingress of rattlesnake or moccasin. Nevertheless, it had just been incorporated a city, the city election having been held on the very day of our arrival.

Some if its street scenes were quite unique. The day being chilly, great fires of logs were burning before most of the “cracker” dwellings, at which throngs of natives gathered, there being no convenience for fires in their homes. The peculiar razor back hog and the omnipresent Southern dog shared these open fires.

before disney. great fires of logs burning before most of the cracker dwellings

Locomotion was performed almost entirely on horse back, and sorry cracker cobs from the back woods were continually ambling up to the stores, some bearing men hirsute booted and spurred; some women, in sun-bonnets and calico, carrying the precious basket of eggs; others loaded with urchins, two or more on a horse, and urging him on with a frolicsomeness quite refreshing.  

Lank long haired native hunters strided through the streets laden with turkey, duck, and sadles of venison, and out in the pine forests which surrounds it a squad of fifteen crackers were opening its first avenue. Their methods of clearing was novel and effective, and consisted in digging a deep trench around the trunks of the pines and then cutting their roots, thus removing stump and tree by the same operation.

 

marsanneMarsanne Petty conducts historical research about 18th century southern United States and environmental history. To get more great updates and original history, sign up at The Southern Sage. To get her to help you with your own research project, email mapetty[at]gmail.com.

 

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