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.
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.
- The Topeka Daily Capital (Topeka, Kansas) 02 April 1886
Marsanne 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.