Saturday, August 6, 2011

Under the Mistletoe

This is not about romance but a boat, more to the point a steamboat and what was under her deck.The steamboat Mistletoe was the first regular transport from Sarasota bay to Tampa, Florida. The Captain of the ship was Charles D. Jones, the brother in law of my great aunt, Sophronia Pigott Fulford Jones

Charles Jones moved from Cartetet County North Carolina to Palma Sola in Manatee County Florida in the the early 1890s and was fishing with several of his North Carolina cousins, my ancestors in Cortez, Florida when he first moved down. He must have decided against a career as a fisherman because he soon landed the job as Captain of the Mistletoe.

He had been on the water his whole life so this job although as far as I know was his first as a commercial Captain was not a stretch. His brother, David Reid Jones, the husband of Sophronia was a seaman also.

After Charles got the job on the Mistletoe all three of his sons followed his profession. Cleveland Edward Jones, James Gilbert Jones and Joseph W. Jones who were all born in Palma Sola, Florida were all Merchant Marines. I was looking at the Jones family because I was recently contacted by Tombo Jones from Alabama who is a descendant. One interesting fact is that both Tombo and his brother both followed the career path as mariners.

The Mistletoe started making runs from Tampa to Sarasota bay in October 1895. The ship had a cargo hold that could keep ice cold so this allowed the Cortez fishermen to ship their catches to Tampa without having to preserve them in salt. So even though Charles Jones wasn't working in the fishing business he helped his Cortez cousins create the commercial fishing village that became the largest on the Florida coast.

Ann A. Shank, former Sarasota County Historian wrote an article called "Mistletoe Steamship gave Sarasota a Connection to the World" with the following:

"The beginning of regular shipping to Tampa led to a shift in the fishing industry in Sarasota. Previously, fish for export were dried and salted. The Mistletoe carried ice, enabling it to take on fresh fish for northern markets via Tampa trains. A number of wholesale fish houses opened along the bay in the following years, including one by John Savarese, the Tampa wholesale fish dealer who owned the Mistletoe."

Charles Jones died on May 11, 1930 and was buried in Palm View Cemetery in Manatee County Florida.

1 comment:

Lisa Wallen Logsdon said...

As a Tampan for over 55 years I found this to be a very interesting story! Thanks for sharing!