Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Fountain of Youth

My Great Great Grandfather, William Lundy moved several times after migrating to Manatee County Florida after the civil war but on the last piece of land, he found according to many, what had eluded Spanish explorers over three hundred years earlier.

In 1890 he bought 120 acres that bordered the north side of the Manatee river, seven miles north of Bradenton, in a small community called Erie. On this land he found "The Fountain of Youth." A natural spring that fed the river produced curative waters that soon became famous across the country. A deep water canal was just adjacent to the shore so he built a wharf with the intention of using it to ship produce to northern markets.

The convenient riverside location meant the area, he called Ponce de Leon Mineral Springs attracted visitors from northern states who claimed the waters cured them of all manner of diseases and ailments and made them feel years younger.

William Lundy planted citrus trees and vegetables on his land and built a packing house next to the wharf. He also sold lots to those who wanted to live near the healing waters. The tourist attraction only lasted about 20 years as William Lundy died in 1903.

After his death one of his sons bought the land thinking it was about to be bought by land speculators but about the same time a decision was made that sealed it's fate. The United States and West Indies Railroad and Steamship Company built the railroad from Tampa to Bradenton and they decided to bypass Erie, instead laying the track five miles north.
The up and coming community was faced with loss of modern transportation so the residents gradually left, many of them moving to Parrish, Florida.

After William Lundy died they had to sell the land to settle his estate. This is from the ad that ran in the Bradenton Journal on August 28, 1903.

"The famous Mineral Spring Ponce de Leon. Have State chemist analysis of the water, good and sure cure for liver, blood, kidney and other diseases. Fine flow for shipping and bottling purposes."

Today the spring is only found in local history books. It long since ran dry. Seventy years after the Erie became a ghost town in the 1930s it had a revival and became a boom town, not because of the water to drink but because of the waterfront views.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Sassafras Tea

Walking around our neighborhood lake I noticed this growing in the middle of the soon to be blackberry patch.

It reminded me of my grandmother Edith Wilson Fulford. I grew up in Tallahassee, Florida and we had about 10 acres of woods behind our house. There were a lot of small Sassafras trees growing there and somehow my grandmother found out about them.

She decided it was my job to bring her sassafras roots so she could make tea. I would pull up some of the small trees, cut off the roots and clean them up. After they dried out I would put them in a brown paper bag and take them to her the next time we visited Cortez, Florida.

Grandma would boil the roots on the stove and drink the tea it produced hot. All the other tea in her house was the more typical sweet variety.

I guess she wanted it for medicinal purposes. She never explained what it was supposed to do. She grew up on a farm with a large family so I'm sure she had plenty of cures. I tried to stay clear of Grandma Edith's home remedies. She had a big jar of Caster Oil she would pull out anytime someone was sick or had any complaints so I never had any when I was visiting her.

After seeing how much Grandma Edith liked it I tried to sell the roots to some of the neighbors. I put it in small bags and went door to door. There were a couple older widows down the street who would buy almost anything you were selling.

The FDA has now banned sale of sassafras roots because they are supposed to cause liver damage. I tried the tea a couple times and it was ok. I'm sure I haven't had any in 40 years.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Cemetery celebrates legendary

Ok, so not genealogy related but I used to spend many afternoons at the FSU football practice field when I was a kid. The sod cemetery was a big deal then and it is good to see they are continuing the tradition.

From the Tallahassee Democrat.

Cemetery celebrates legendary FSU tradition
By Douglas Mannheimer

Cemeteries are places which often bring tears and feelings of sadness.
Not so with FSU's newly refurbished Sod Cemetery, located on a plaza between Moore Athletic Center and the Seminole football practice field.
This cemetery celebrates one of the legendary traditions of college football.

In 1962, the Seminole football team was preparing to play the University of Georgia at Sanford Stadium.
At the end of practice on a Thursday afternoon, Dean Coyle Moore, long-time professor and athletics board member, spoke to the team.
He challenged them to win this difficult game away from home and "bring back some sod from between the hedges at Georgia."
On Saturday, October 20, 1962, Florida State earned a surprising 18-0 victory over Georgia, against the odds-makers.
After the game, team captain Gene McDowell pulled a small piece of grass from the football field. The team presented the sod to Dean Moore at the next football practice.
Dean Moore placed the grass on his parlor mantle. After a few days, Mrs. Moore told him this had to be moved.
Coach Bill Peterson and Dean Moore decided to bury the sod near the practice field and place a stone and bronze marker as a symbol of the "underdog victory" in the road game.
The tradition of the sod game was born.
Since that time, each week before leaving for games away from home in which Florida State is the underdog, all University of Florida road games, and all conference championship and bowl games, Seminole captains gather their teammates at the cemetery to tell them about this tradition.
In 1979, Dean Moore asked me to foster the tradition as Keeper of the Sod Cemetery.
It's been a grave duty.
Through 2008, Seminoles have won 82 sod victories, away from home, against the crowd and against the odds.
Eighty-two grave markers recount the year and scores of these wins.
Victorious captains have never failed to retrieve the sod, although sometimes with problems.
In 1988, Sugar Bowl Captain Odell Haggans exuberantly cut an eight inch square of artificial turf from midfield. FSU was pleased to pay the $500 repair bill.
In 2006, captain Buster Davis had the sod shipped back to me. He reasoned, "Doug, I didn't think it would be good for me to go through Miami airport security with a plastic bag full of grass."
I couldn't argue with Buster's caution.
On home game days, the Sod Cemetery grave markers of an opposing team each receive flowers in that team's colors "to remember the departed."
Next Labor Day, nine orange and green wreaths will honor the Miami Hurricanes.
If you want to feel better some afternoon, this local cemetery can bring joy to any Seminole heart.
Douglas Mannheimer is a Tallahassee attorney and a past Chairman of Seminole Boosters.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday, number 129 to my Grandpa Millard Fillmore Green!

This was from the Perry Taco Times on his 91st birthday in 1971.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Flu Epidemic

With a flu epidemic in the headlines I thought about the family members who died 90 years ago. The Influenza Pandemic of 1918 killed between 20 and 30 million people worldwide. It killed more than the infamous Bubonic Plague.

In my family I know of several casualties. My great uncle Clyde Fulford died from the flu on October 25, 1918. He had travelled from Cortez, Florida to Tampa because his sister Dora Fulford Adams and her family were sick. After helping out there for a couple days he came down with it himself. He returned home but died a couple days later.
I found this letter from his niece, Pauline Adams Forcke dated 10/23/1997:
"We lived in Tampa during the First World War. I'll never forget that people died by the hundreds with the flu. Uncle Clyde came up to check on us. Other than Mann we were all down with the flu. Uncle Clyde was sick when he left to go back to Cortez. Papa begged him not to go, he had to travel by steamer. He was dead three days later."

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Who are these people?

I found a cardboard box in an old a trunk in my Mom's house two years ago. She had written on the box that is should be saved for me.

Inside were old photos that my belonged to my great grandmother, Ida Lundy Wilson. She died in 1956, just a couple months after I was born. She was a big fan of photography and had saved many many photos. She also was very religious and saved sermon notes. I don't know who the preacher was but I guess she was impressed enough to take notes and keep them.

Many of the old photos were of her and her sisters. She had a lot of others that so far are unidentified. We had a family reunion in July 2008 and I took them and showed them to everyone I could but only had a couple of the unknowns identified.

I was hoping some of my aunts or uncles could help but the only people who could ID any of them were distant cousins.

I'm not even sure which family they came from. Ida's parents had twelve children and there are many possibilities. But Ida's husband, Ben Wilson died twenty years before her and was one of twenty five children. I am pretty sure she would not have thrown away any of his old photos so they could be Wilson relatives.

I'm hoping someone will be able to identify these folks but unfortunately the number of those who might is quickly decreasing.