CHAPTER 12. MODERN TIMES

 



MARJORIE KINNAN RAWLINGS STATE HISTORIC SITE

11 miles south on US 441 to Micanopy, then six miles east via Fl 346, then 4 miles via 325 in Cross Creek.

Farmhouse and memorabilia of the author of The Yearling and Cross Creek. Guided tour (limit ten per half-hour). (Thursday-Monday; closed Jan 1, Thanksgiving, Dec 25).

Outside the house is a 1940s Oldsmobile. The house is big. It is actually three houses joined together. It reminds me of Dutch style houses. The house is set in a virtual garden, including an orange grove. They find chicken snakes around the area, plus an occasional rattle snake (they are disturbed by all the footsteps of the visitors, which send up vibrations). The house has the look of a country novelist's house.

She was born in Washington, D.C., in 1896. She was a graduate of the University of Wisconsin. Went to Rochester, New York. She worked on the newspaper in Louisville, Kentucky?

She wrote ten books here in 25 years. Via the mail, she bought the place for $14,500 and she got 72-74 acres. Thus she became an orange grove owner. She was here from 1928 to 1941.

On the screen-in porch there is a bed. A knee high wall goes around the porch. Three full doors go out onto the porch.

In the living room, there is a Royal typewriter. There are four photo albums on the table.

Robert Frost slept in the guest room.

Going out on the porch and then to the second house. Here is her bedroom.

Her second husband was Norman Baskins. He left after five years; she stayed eight years by herself.

Down the porch to the third house. Here is the dining room. She sat on the left side, so you would not see the outhouse through the window.

She loved bird dogs, but had one or two cats.

In 1939 she won the Pulitzer Prize for The Yearling.  In all, she wrote nine books, eight of them dealing with Florida.

Marjorie visited the troops in training at Camp Blanding (near Starke) in the World War II era to add some cultural fare to the entertainment schedule. (Smith1998:132)

She was part mentor and part friend of the black writer Zora Neale Hurston (see below).

She died in 1953.  She bequeathed her home to the University of Florida where she had lectured.  The univeristy gave it to the state in 1968.

In 1938 the film "Cross Creek," based on her memoirs, came out.

Micanopy

You can combine this visit with a visit to Micanopy.  The Micanopy Historical Society Museum is at Cholokka Boulevard and Bay Street, I-75, Exit 73, 10 miles south of Gainesville on US 441.  Located in the old Thrasher Warehouse, with a wooden shingled roof and a large Coca-Cola sign painted in the 1920s, the museum has lots of old photographs, memorabilia, artifacts and exhibits.  There is also a bookstore here. Open Friday to Sunday 1-5 p.m.

The story of Micanopy is told from the time of the visit of botanist William Bartram to the Seminole village of Cuscowilla in the 1770s through the turbulent frontier days after Florida became an American territory in 1821.  



Zora Neale Hurston

Boyd, Valerie. 2003. Wrapped in Rainbows: The Life of Zora Neale Hurston. New York: Scribner.

 

Her parents were from Notasulga, Alabama, six miles north of Tuskegee. John Hurston was poor but he ached with ambition. He marries Lucy Potts.

1882 -- first son born, Hezekiah Robert. John Cornelius and Robert William came next.

1889 -- Sarah Emmeline born.

1891 -- Zora Neal Lee Hurston born.

Family moved to Eatonville, Florida, now a suburb of Orlando. Formed in 1887, it was an all-black town complete with a black mayor, council and town marshal.  On 5 acres the father built an eight-room house.

"Essentially everything that Zora Hurston would grow up to write, and to believe, had its genesis in Eatonville. .. . Here, she saw black folks in all their folly and all their glory." p. 25

1893 -- her father becomes pastor of Zion Hope Baptist Church in Sanford, 20 miles east of Eatonville. Her mother gives birth to Clifford Joel.

1895 -- Benjamin Franklin Hurston born.

1898 -- Everett Edward Hurston born to make a total of 6 sons and 2 daughters.

The very energetic Zora would sit out on top of a fence post waiting for cars to pass by on the road. She would even flag down white travelers and ask : "Don’t you want me to go a piece of the way with you?" 34

1902 -- her father becomes pastor of Macedonia Baptist in Eatonville, while also at Zion Hope in Stanford.

1904 -- her mother dies.

Her father enrolls her at Florida Baptist Academy in Jacksonville. The school was started in 1892 at Bethel Baptist Institutional Church. She felt out of place there. p. 49

1905 -- her father marries again, this time to 20 year old Mattie Moge (just 6 years older than Zora). The children suspected that their father, who was a philanderer, had begun the affair before their mother’s death and were none too pleased with Mattie Moge being their new mother. p. 52

Her father does not pay the school’s tuition and Zora is send home. She enjoyed the trip down the St. Johns River on a side-wheeler dubbed "City of Jacksonville". The children have a confrontation with their father and he asks John to leave the house. Zora soon follows. She leaves her father’s house and begins the "wander years".

She went to live with friends or relatives either in Eatonville or Sanford. She was shifted around as she often fought with her hosts. She started working as a maid. Eventually moves north to Jacksonville.

1911 -- Goes to live with her brother Dick in Sanford. Then her father summons her to his house. At home she viciously attacks her new mother. The fight is finally broken up by her father.

Goes to some small towns probably.

1912 -- goes to Nashville, Tennessee to live with brother Bob who had just finishing medical school at Howard University and Meharry.

1912-1916 -- her father was mayor of Eatonville.

1913 -- after graduating from Meharry, Bob moves the family to Memphis.

1914 -- Zora back in Jacksonville, this time living with Brother John Cornelius and his wife. p. 68

1915 -- a mysterious period in which Zora suffers greatly, perhaps at the hands of a man. She takes a job as a maid with the lead singer of the traveling Gilbert and Sullivan repertoire company.  She is with them for a year and a half.

1917 -- she is in Baltimore, Maryland now. She works as a waitress. She is 26 years old. But she dresses young and looks young and so goes to high school (even though this was illegal).

1918 -- her father dies in Memphis when his car is rammed by a train.

1919 -- earns her high school diploma from Howard Academy. Goes into Howard University. Zora becomes a regular at popular a literary salon hosted by Washington poet Georgia Douglas Johnson. Attendees include playwright Marita Bonner, poets Sterling Brown, Waring Cuney, and Angelina Grimke, as well as writer Jean Toomer, Rudolph Fisher, and Richard Bruce Nugent. Also visiting would be James Weldon Johnson and W.E.B. Du Bois. Also attending was philosophy professor Alain Locke.  At Howard she meets and falls in love with student Herbert Sheen.

1924 -- no money so does not enroll again at Howard.

Jan 1925 -- drawn by the call of Harlem and the Harlem Renaissance, she moves to New York City to finish her education there. Sociologist Charles S. Johnson helps her settle in and has her over for dinners.

At a literary contest under Opportunity magazine sponsorship Zora won the most prizes. She got a second-place fiction award for her short story "Spunk." Got a second place prize in drama for her play "Color Struck" 96-97 She impresses 3 people who became of great help to her: Barnard College founder Annie Nathan Meyer, popular author Fannie Hurst and novelist and man-about-town Carl Van Vechten.  Meyer wants Barnard to be a bit more colorful and helps Zora enroll at Barnard.

Alain Locke reprinted "Spunk" in "The New Negro" a book that was hailed as the bench-mark anthology of the Harlem Renaissance. p. 110

1926 -- gets a Barnard scholarship.  The Negro artist was in vogue. She studies anthropology under Franz Boas.

Zora helps put out Fire!, a literary magazine that broke away from the Du Bois backed dictum that art should serve propagandist ends. Among the supporters were Langston Hughes and Wallace Thurman.

1927 -- heads to Florida on a 6-month journey to collect folk tales among the blacks. She goes back to Eatonville after stopping in Jacksonville (where her brother John Cornelius lived). She marries Herbert Sheen in St. Augustine. Langston Hughes joins her.

Sept 1927 -- back in New York City, she meets rich Charlotte Mason, who becomes her patron. Mason certainly helped Hurston, but the wealthy woman was very bossy, interfering in artistic efforts, and overbearing. She gave Hurston money between 1928 and 1932. Zora and others also receiving money from Mason called Mason Godmother.

1928 -- They sign a contract for Zora to collect folktales in the South for the entire year of 1928 with an option to renew the contract for a second year. Grandmother says she can’t publish any of the folk tales she gathers. Zora chased out of a labor camp in Loughman, Florida by a jealous woman. She learns about voodoo/hoodoo in New Orleans.

1929 -- heads back to the South, first to New Orleans and then to Florida. Settles for a while in the town of Eau Gallie. Goes to the Bahamas for more information on voodoo.

October 1929 -- Harlem Renaissance starts to crumble with the stock market crash.

Early 1930 -- she and Langston Hughes start to work on a comedy for the stage called Mule Bone. They have a falling out over the play. She leaves for the South again. The controversy continues and they basically break up over who the real author of the play was.

July -- grants a divorce to Herbert Sheen.

1932, May -- Hughes relinquishes any claims on Mule Bone to Hurston. Hurston later said that the breakup with Hughes was the cross of her life.

Puts on a folk concert called The Great Day (later title: From Sun to Sun). It was an artistic success, if not a commercial one. She heads back to Eatonville.

Rollins College in Winter Park. She starts pitching the idea of staging From Sun to Sun there. She contacts creative arts professor Edwin Osgood Grover. Last financial check from Godmother.

1932 -- Receives an invitation to the 57th birthday celebration for the founder of Bethune-Cookman College, Mary McLeod Bethune. Zora saw it as an opportunity to ask for a job at the college. But there was no money to hire a new faculty member. pp. 237, 240

1933 -- performance of the play.

1934 -- publishes Jonah’s Gourd Vine.

Starts teaching in January at Bethune-Cookman where she was to establish a school of dramatic arts. She soon quit after her exhaustion of putting on here the From Sun to Sun folk concert. pp. 252-253

Gets a Rosenwald fellowship to study for a doctorate in anthropology at Columbia University. The director takes back most of the money and so Zora skips the actual classes and uses the money to head south and write.

1935 -- begins dating Percival Punter who she called "the real love affair of my life." He was 23, she was 44. But he was too jealous and possessive for her tastes. p. 271

1935, October -- Mules and Men published to critical acclaim.

1936 -- Zora receives a Guggenheim Foundation grant of $2,000

1936-37 -- trip to Haiti. Writes Tell My Horse (U.K. version: Voodoo Gods: An Enquiry into Native Myths and Magic in Jamaica and Haiti).

1937 -- publishes Their Eyes Were Watching God, one of her masterpieces.

1938 -- staging of Their Eyes Were Watching God. She is employed by the Florida Federal Writer’s Project.

1939 -- short stint in North Carolina as head of a drama department at the North Carolina College for Negroes.

Marries Albert Price III, a 23 year old employee with the WPA’s education department. The marriage does not last long.

Publication of Moses, Man of the Mountain.

1940 -- on a folklore-collecting trip on the coast of South Carolina.

1941 -- resigns from the college.

1942 -- publishes a very loose autobiography Dust Tracks on a Road. It was praised as a success story.

Hurston had a summer job teaching literature at Florida Normal and Industrial College, a small black school in St. Augustine. There she met novelist Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings who often spoke at the college. Rawlings invited her to tea at her apartment at her husband’s segregated Castle Warden Hotel. Then she realized that that would violate the Jim Crow laws of segregation of the races. Zora handled the situation with ease by going through the kitchen and up to the apartment on the top floor. pp. 350-351

Later, 1946, Rawlings introduced Zora to the famous editor at Charles Scribner’s Sons, Maxwell Perkins. p. 384

1943 -- Hurston receives a Howard University Alumni Award for distinguished service in literature.

1944 -- marries Cleveland businessman James Howell Pitts. In 8 months they were divorced.

1948 --Falsely accused of sexual child abuse in Harlem. Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings was one of those who reached out to her during her depression over the charges. p. 396

Publishes Seraph on the Suwanee.

1950 -- works as a personal maid for needed money. Story picked up by the press and the notoriety leads to opportunities for Zora.

1951 -- back in Eau Gallie.

1956 -- special podium guest at the commencement exercises at Bethune-Cookman College in Daytona Beach, Florida. She received an award from the college for education and human relations. pp. 425-426

She spends her final years laboring on a book about the life of King Herod (she said she was working "under the spell of a great obsession").

1960 -- her funeral in Fort Pierce, Florida.

Every January the Preserve Eatonville Community hosts an annual festival in Zora’s honor. Started in 1989, the Zora Neal Hurston Festival of the Arts and Humanities. p. 437

Most of the old Eatonville no long4er exists.  The social center of that society, Joe Clark's General Store, is now a grocery store.  There is, however, a small plaque dedicated to her in front of the fire station and there is a Zora Neale Hurston Museum in a small storefront establishment. (Warner 2001:288) 

Eatonville is north of Orlando, off I-4 at the Lee Road exit.



The Thomas Hotel (Gainesville)

In 1854 land was purchased near a small settlement known as Hog Town.  It later became Gainesville, named after Gen. Gaines, active in Florida's Indian uprisings.  

Here was the Gainesville Academy that after the Civil War became the Gainesville Seminary.  By the Buckman Act of 1905 it became the University of Florida.  Gainesville has really changed over the years.  I can remember being a student there 1965-1967.  It was a fairly small town then and somewhat quaint. Now it is big and spread out with lots of traffic. I think I lived in Murphy Hall near the football stadium (which is now humongous).  I would eat in the cafeteria but my brother like to eat either in the College Inn or the Gold Coast, especially the latter.   (I can still remember us smiling incredulously at that Green Beret song that was popular at the time -- and no, we weren't a bunch of pinkos.)  I got married and transferred to Florida State University for my last two years of undergraduate education.

William Reuben Thomas was born in 1866.  He was a representative in the Florida State Senate.  He was mayor of Gainesville and was largely responsible for getting Gainesville chosen as a site for a university.

In 1909 he bought the large but incomplete house on the death of its owner, Charles Chase, president of the Dutton Phosphate Company.  Dutton had cleared two city blocks for the building, but Thomas added a block to that.  The rooms surrounded an atrium and included a library and eight bedrooms.  It was used as a family dwelling for eight years.  

On the grounds are live oak trees covered with Spanish moss, palms, and Southern Magnolia, along with a four-jet water fountain.

In 1909 he opened the White House Hotel, once a dormitory of the Seminary, in order to fill the new needs of a university town.  He ran tourist camps in the 1920s.  He converted his villa into into a much-needed resort hotel.

W. A. Edwards, architect of the university buildings, planned the conversion from house to hotel.  The exterior (with its shell, waves, and gardens) was Mediterranean Revival.  He added a third floor.  the family continued to live on the second floor.

For forty years, the hotel was the social center for both town and college.  During World War II, officers from Camp Blanding established a club in its basement.

In 1968 the Thomas family sold the place.

In 1973 Historic Gainesville, Incorporated, saved it.  It is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Matheson Historical Center
513 East University Avenue, Gainesville, Florida, 32601

This museum, housed in a classic red brick building known since the 1930s as the American Legion Hall, has displays dealing with the history of Alachua County.  The exhibition hall has permanent and rotating exhibits and the history research room.  There are rare maps, original art, collections of photographs, and post-cards, and other memorabilia.



Mary McLeod Bethune

She was born in Maysville, South Carolina in 1875.  She studied in North Carolina and Illinois.  She attended Benedict College in Colombia, South Carolina.  She taught school in Georgia, South Carolina, and Florida.

In 1904 she moved to Daytona and founded the Daytona Educational and Industrial Training School for Negro Girls in a small cottage near the railroad tracks. The name of the school was changed in 1916 to the Daytona Normal and Industrial Institute, the first high school for black students in the area.

Because of financial insecurity the Daytona-Cookman Collegiate Institute (predecessor of Bethune-Cookman College) was established in 1923. It resulted from the merger of the Cookman Institute for Boys of Jacksonville (founded 1872 by the Reverend D. S. B. Darnell) and the Daytonal Normal and Industrial Institute of Daytona Beach (founded 1904 by D. Mary McLeod Bethune). The new school was affiliated with the Board of Education and Ministry of the United Methodist Church. Its religious affiliations were shown in its curriculum rooted in Christian principles. In 1931 the name of the school changed again, this time to its current name, Bethune-Cookman College.

In 1924 she was the president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored Women.  She worked to establish the National Council of Negro Women and worked on the Commission of Interracial Cooperation.  In 1935 she won the Spingarn award from the N.A.A.C.P. and was named one of the fifty most influential women in America. (McCarthy 1955:75)

In 1941 the school became a four-year college in liberal arts granting a Bachelor degree in elementary education.

Home of Mary McLeod Bethune

The house is located at 640 Second Avenue on the campus which in turn is located in downtown Daytona.  The campus is located at 640 Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune Blvd.

The home is a National Historic Landmark as of 1975.  The first room we visited was the three generations room.  Here are pictures of husband George McLeod, her niece, great grandson, Albert Sr. (her only biological son) and Albert Jr.  Mrs. Bethune also adopted her foster son.  Another picture is that of American French performer Josephine Baker.

Some of her many degrees are also contained in the cabinet, including a masters of science degree from Tuskegee and one from Xavier University.  And a Doctor of Laws from Atlanta University.  

In the upstairs hall there is a picture of Mrs. McLeod in her favorite black dress. In another room there are scores of pictures, including those of  NAACP organizer James Weldon Johnson, banker Madame C. J. Walker (of Richmond, Virginia), and poet Langston Hughes.    

There is a picture of Eleanor Roosevelt who visited here many times.  One of these times was August 9, 1940.

In her bedroom was her favorite dress.  Also there is a picture of the log cabin in Maysville, South Carolina where she was born.  Also present is her collection of elephants which stood for "peace and humility."

The kitchen contains an old Frigidaire and one of the small canisters is marked prunes.  Off the kitchen is a small table where she would eat with some of  her students.  She called everyone "dear."

From the kitchen area you can see the back stairs down which she came when she went into cardiac arrest.    



Eartha Mary Magdalene White

When Clara went to work for the John Rollins family, who owned the old Kingsley Plantation on Fort George Island, she and Eartha lived in Anna Jai Kingsley's former home.

In Daytona, Eartha went to what later became Bethune-Cookman College.

In 1899, Eartha became a public school teacher in Bayard, in the environs of Jacksonville. She came to know Booker T. Washington.

Among her intimate friends were A. Philip Randolph, another Jacksonville native, and Mary McLeod Bethune, whom Eartha occasionally visited at Bethune-Cookman College in Daytona.

There is a special Eartha M. M. White Collection, at  the Thomas G. Carpenter Library, University of North Florida, P. O. Box 17605, Jacksonville, Florida 32245.  Tel: 904-620-2618.

On their website they have a biography of the Jacksonvillian.  She was widely known for her humanitarian and philanthropic endeavors in northeast Florida. She was born in 1876, and adopted by Clara English White.  From her altruistic mother she developed a lifelong commitment to helping others.  Her adoptive father died when Eartha White was only five years old. Her mother worked as a maid and stewardess. Eartha White later embraced her mother's motto as her own: "Do all the good you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, for all the people you can, while you can."

In 1893, upon graduation from Stanton School in Jacksonville, Eartha White briefly moved to New York City to avoid the yellow fever.  She attended the National Conservatory of Music that led to a job with the Oriental American Opera Company, the first black opera company in the United States.  She sang under the direction of J. Rosamond Johnson, brother of James Weldon Johnson (a fellow Jacksonvillian who became one of the main organizers of NAACP chapters in the south).  

Back in Florida by 1896, she continued her education and graduated from Florida Baptist Academy.  She began a sixteen-year teaching career in Bayard, Florida, and later at Stanton School in Jacksonville.  She also owned dry goods store, an employment and housecleaning bureau, a taxi company, and a steam laundry.  She was a charter member of Booker T. Washington's National Negro Business League and Jacksonville Business League. It is thought she accumulated over one million dollars in assets throughout her lifetime. She used these funds to finance humanitarian works with the consequence that she had to struggle financially throughout her life.

In 1941, she joined with A. Philip Randolph to protest job discrimination.  Jacksonville politicians would consult her on diverse issues.   She worked with prison inmates, established an orphanage for black children, a home for unwed mothers, a nursery for children of working mothers, a tuberculosis rest home, a nursing home for elderly blacks, the Boys' Improvement Club, and the Clara White Mission for the Indigent (1928).   The fulfillment of her lifelong dream was the dedication of the Eartha M. M. White Nursing Home in 1967.

She lived in the downtown mission that she founded.  Some of her visitors included Booker T. Washington, Mary McCleod Bethune and Eleanor Roosevelt.  The mission is still noted for being the only non-profit organization serving daily mid-day meals to the needy in Jacksonville. Fittingly, she was nicknamed the "Angel of Mercy."

In 1970, at the age of ninety-four, she received national recognition by being named the recipient of the 1970 Lane Bryant Award for Volunteer Service. In this connection she even met with President Richard Nixon.

Clara White Mission (611-13 W. Ashley Street)

This a three story framed building.  It honors Clara English White and her daughter, E.M.M. White.  In 1922 the latter honored her mother by opening the Clara White Mission to help poor people during the Depression.  


James Weldon Johnson

James Weldon Johns was the man who was responsible for the great expansion of the N.A.A.C.P. among African-Americans in the south before the modern civil rights movement. He was born in Jacksonville in 1881.  His father was the head waiter at the Saint James Hotel.  His mother was a school teacher.  

In 1894 he graduated with honors from Atlanta University.  He studied law in a law office and became the first black in Florida to qualify for the bar through an open exam in a state court.  He opened his own law office.  

His brother, J. Rosamond Johnson, returned to Jacksonville from New York City and praised Broadway so much, that the two brothers started writing songs, musicals and operas together. They spent their summers in New York City.  

In 1900 they wrote an anthem in honor of Abraham Lincoln's birthday that became the "Negro National Anthem."  

In Jacksonville James Weldon Johnson suffered a terrible incident of racial hatred when he was almost lynched for being with a black woman who looked white.  He left Jacksonville for good.  He went to New York City where he wrote songs and wrote novels and poems.  

For the years 1906 to 1909 he served as U.S. consul to Venezuela for President Theodore Roosevelt.  

In 1916 he became the executive secretary for the N.A.A.C.P.  In 1921 he worked for the passage of the Dyer Anti-Lynching Bill. In 1925 he was awarded the Spingarn Award given out annually by the N.A.A.C.P.  He took a teaching position at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, while remaining a trustee and vice-president of the N.A.A.C.P.

He died in an auto accident in Main in 1928. (Jones and McCarthy 1993)

James Weldon Johnson Birthplace (1307 Lee Street, Jacksonville)

He attended Stanton Grade School and later returned as the principal of Stanton High School. He started "The Daily American", the nation's first daily newspaper for blacks.  There is a plaque to him at Third and Lee.  Stanton High School closed in 1971.


Camp Blanding and World War II

Located near the main entrance to Camp Blanding on State Road 16 just east of Starke, Florida.  Hours: Tuesday-Friday, 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday, 1-5 p.m.

Here is a museum dealing with World War II and Camp Blanding, which was a training area for troops. The museum is a refurbished World War II barracks.  It houses a collection of weapons, photo exhibits, mannequins in uniform and other artifacts that tell the story of Camp Blanding and the surrounding area during World War II.   

The Florida Army National Guard had a training area at Camp Foster in Yukon in Duval County (now the Jacksonville Naval Air Station on Roosevelt Boulevard).  As World War II approached the Navy wanted the Camp Foster area with its access to the St. Johns River for their own use.  An agreement was worked out that gave Camp Foster to the Navy and the necessary monetary funds ($400,000 dollars) so the Florida Army National Guard could have a new training area.  They, as we know, chose the area that became Camp Blanding.  

During World War II, officers from Camp Blanding established a club in the basement of the Thomas hotel in Gainesville. The writer Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings visited the troops at the camp to add some cultural fare to their entertainment schedule. 

The Memorial Park is a large military memorabilia exhibition area surrounding a lagoon. Pathways in the park lead to monuments honoring the Ninth Army Infantry Division and the 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, which trained here, as well as the Infantry Replacement Training Center.  Other Memorial Park monuments honor recipients of the Medal of Honor, Purple Heart and former Prisoners of War. There is also a spacious area available for visitor picnics in the park.  

The Florida Regimental Memorial, adjacent to the museum, is dominated by the statue of a soldier carrying a rifle.  It has a large marble edifice that shows the areas of war service by Florida National Guard units and a roster of Florida Guardsmen who lost their lives in service.

The park is expanding into the 13 acres across the road from the museum.  It will have monuments and displays honoring those who served in Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm, and other conflicts.  

 

We visited the Museum on March 8, 2004.  Here are my notes. 

We are now on our way from Jacksonville to Camp Blanding. We are heading out on Blanding Boulevard (Route 21). We pass by turns for Jennings State Forest. The road is very busy.

At Middleburg we see another sign for Jennings State Forest. Now the traffic is light. We went on Route 215. Light traffic.

At the end of Route 215 we turn right and in a short distance left into Camp Blanding (the museum is on the right). We then found out that the museum does not open until 12 p.m. (We had called and they told us the museum opened at 10 p.m.)

Camp Blanding was used as an Infantry Replacement Training Center, 1943-1945.

Fortunately, there is an outside part of the museum with lots of exhibits and monuments honoring those units who trained here:

1st Infantry Division. Algeria, French Morocco, Tunisia, Sicily, Normandy; February 21, 1942 - May 22, 1942.

29th Infantry Division. August 15, 1942 to September 20, 1942.

30th Infantry "Dixie" Division. Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi Army National Guard. December 22, 1940 to February 23, 1942.

36th Infantry Division. Texas Fighting 36th. Naples-Foggia, Anzio, Rome-Arno, Ardennes-Alsace, Rhineland, southern France, Central Europe. February 19, 1942 to July 9, 1942.

43rd Infantry Division. Was at Camp Blanding March 13, 1941 to February 14, 1942. They fought at Guadalcanal, New Georgia, New Guinea and the Philippines.

63rd Infantry Division; June 1943-September 1945; fought at Ardennes, Alsace, Rhineland, Central Europe. Suffered 8,019 casualties.

66th Infantry Division; northern France; casualties 1,452; were at Camp Blanding April 15, 1943 to August 17, 1943.

79th Infantry Division; September 1, 1942 - March 3, 1943. Normandy, northern France, Ardennes, Alsace, Rhineland, Central Europe.

508th parachute infantry division – activated at Camp Blanding, October 20, 1942. They were later attached to the 82nd Airborne. Served D-Day, Holland 9/17/44; 12/44 Ardennes; 5/44 Rhineland. VE day they were chosen as the honor guard for supreme Headquarters.. After four years, one month and four days, they passed into history at Camp Kilmer, New Jersey November 24, 1946.

Big plane with "Sunshine Express" and a pretty girl below the canopy windows. It is a Douglas C-47 Skytrain. These planes were used to transport troops, tow gliders and drop parachuters.

half-track Personnel Carrier

Took a picture of my brother-in-law Cefe by a German 105 mm Howitzer. Cefe was in the artillery during the Vietnam War and had trained on a US 105 mm Howitzer.

M-129 Weasel; half ton cargo carrier

155 mm Howitzer from a French design used early in WWII.

DUKW amphibious truck

 

We finished the exhibits on the side of the road near the military museum building, so we crossed the entrance road to see the other outdoor exhibits. One was "Walk Through Time: Military Service of Black Floridians: 1565-1997." There were many laminated picture/text signs.

1565 – first muster at St. Augustine under Pedro Menendez de Aviles.

1740 – Fort Mose (pronounced moh-say). Blacks had to abandoned it in the spring as the British approached. June 26 they took it back from the British.

Revolutionary War – one company of the nine East Florida Rangers was black.

 

They have a display honoring Vietnam Veterans.  It is a mockup of Firebase Florida, circa 1965-1972. Dedicated May 29, 2000. A place of honor to those who survived (the Vietnam War).

 

When twelve o’clock arrived, we went in to see the military museum per se. The volunteer at the museum is 82 years of age and parachuted into Northern France on D-Day. He was with the 508th and showed us some of the pictures of Normandy maps in the book on the military history of his unit. He was obviously (and rightly) proud of his service to the nation.  But one matter made me a little sad.  He mentioned in passing that this year would be the last reunion of his unit.  I asked him why it was going to be the last one.  He laughed heartily and said "That's because there are so view of us left."  And that's right.  My own father, a Marine lifer who had served during WWII, was gone for quite some time.  It's the end of a generation who had fought so nobly against the evil of German, Italian and Japanese fascism. 

They have information on the military history of the various infantry divisions that received training at Camp Blanding.

They have a lot of weapons and uniforms: American, German, Italian and Japanese. Did not realize that Camp Blanding is located right on Kingsley Lake. As kids we went there to swim and I never was aware of a military presence.

They have exhibits on the American pin-ups during the war, Camp Blanding itself, ration cards and many other things.

4,000 German POWs were here at Camp Blanding.

 



Fort Stewart Museum

From Dorchester Academy.  Turn left (west) on US 84.  Travel through historic Hinesville. Drive to the main entrance of Fort Stewart at the intersection of Wilson Avenue and Bultman Avenue.  From Wilson, turn left on Bultman Avenue.  Drive one-half mile.  Turn right on Utility Street.  Drive four-tenths of a mile. The museum is on the right at the corner of  Utility and Wilson Avenue. 

Fort Steward is the largest military post east of the Mississippi.  It is home to the U. S. Army's 3rd Infantry Division (Mech.) and is the summer training grounds for the National Guard.  At the Museum, Liberty County's military heritage is showcased in ever-changing exhibits featuring objects from World War II, Desert Storm and present-day military activities.  

A must-see is the museum's high-tech Gulf War exhibit, one of the largest in the country, which displays artillery, tanks, and small arms captured from Iraq.  Outside are 25 tanks and motorized vehicles, most from the Gulf War. 

General Daniel Steward (buried in the Midway cemetery) was born in St. John's Parish in 1761.  He joined the Revolutionary Army at the age of fifteen.  He fought under Sumter and Marion.  He especially distinguished himself in the Indian Wars following the American Revolution.  He was made a Brigadier General.  Later he served in the legislature for a number of years.  He was the great-grand-father of  President Theodore Roosevelt.



Downtown Jacksonville

JACKSONVILLE FIRE

Whenever we go to Jacksonville we like to go downtown and explore around Jacksonville Landing.  We like to go the the science museum downtown.  It is fun to eat there too.  We have never taken the river ferry to the other side, but one day we will.  I happened to be home one St. Patrick's Day and really enjoyed listening to the U.S. Coast Guard band at the mall at Jacksonville Landing.  

At Beaver and Davis Streets, Friday, before 12:30 p.m. on May 3, 1901. Sparks from a nearby Negro shanty ignited particles of fibre laid out to dry on the platform of the Cleaveland Fibre Factory. The fire left 8,677 people temporarily homeless. The flare was visible in Savannah. Its smoke was seen at Raleigh, NC. In total 466 acres were burned. 10 hotels burned. The area burned was 5/8 mile north to south and 1 and 2/3 of a mile east to west.

The fire, pushed by a westerly wind and feeding on drought-dried wooden buildings, filled the Jacksonville sky with smoke and flames seen for miles in all directions. H. L. Mencken arrived in Jacksonville on May 12, 1901, to cover the Great Fire.

A picture from the tower of the old Post Office Building at Forsyth and Hogan streets shows the destruction north of Adams Street and west of Pearl Street. The blocks immediately north and west of Hemming Park, where the St. James and Windsor hotels stood, contained nothing but rubble.

The Duval County Courthouse was gutted by the intensity of the fire, but the stout walls survived. The interior and exterior of the Courthouse was rebuilt and the building is now known as the Lanier Building.

Hemming Park

Square #39 (two acres) was reserved as a public square when that part of Jacksonville was originally planned some years before the Civil War. The St. James Hotel (where Cohen's store is now) opened 1869. The St. James was the most famous hotel in the South and for a long time was the mecca of the wealthy tourist in Florida.  In 1912 the present St. James Building (by architect Henry John Klutho) was put up for the brothers Jacob and Morris Cohen.  At that time it was the largest building in Jacksonville and the ninth largest department store in the United States.  It is scheduled to be the Jacksonville City Hall.

1887 - $700 to lay the walks. A well sunk in the center of a flowing fountain. The well remained until 1898, when changed to the northwest corner to make way for the Confederate monument. It was first called City Park, then St. James Park. Charles C. Hemming gave the Confederate monument. In 1899 the park was named Hemming Park.

In the great fire, the monument, although centered in the hottest part of the fire, went through it unscathed. About its base had been placed piles of household goods which all burned.

One of the drawings on the monument is that of  J. J.  John J. Dickison, who was the swamp fox of Florida.  He thwarted all Union drives into the interior of the state.  

Architect Henry J. Klutho came to Jacksonville following the fire and was responsible for designing many of the city's new landmarks. Klutho was born in a small town in the midwest.  At age 16 he moved to Saint Louis to study business.  He later moved to New York to study architecture.  He became Jacksonville's leading architect.  In about the 1890s he switched to the "Prairie School" inspired by architect Frank Lloyd Wright.  The May Cohens building in downtown Jacksonville was his Prairie School Masterpiece. (Crook 1991:26-27) In 1912 the present St. James Building  was put up for Jacob and Morris Cohen.  At that time it was the largest building in Jacksonville and the ninth largest department store in the United States. It is to become the Jacksonville City Hall. The Seminole Hotel on West Forsyth St. and the St. James Building on West Duval Street were designed by him.

The lavish Florida Theater, where such diverse entertainers as Eddie Cantor and Elvis Presley have performed.

The Riverside-Avondale Historic District contains a large number of distinctive houses from the first quarter of the twentieth century.



JACKSONVILLE LANDING

The Riverwalk near the St. Johns River, Jacksonville's financial focal point, and the Jacksonville Landing, a festival marketplace with events and entertainment, are two manifestations of the city's new image as a modern, prosperous city.

 

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