Sunday, February 27, 2011

Family Tree

My wife made a quilt last year in anticipation of her Lawrence Family Reunion. The quilt had fabric scraps from a number of family members and the names of her father's parents and siblings.

This was the 15th family reunion they have held since 1982.

The front of the quilt has a unique square for the parents and each of the eight children, based on their personality, location or interests. The back has the family tree along with the fabric swatches from the members.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

No signs of the Finest Kind

Last summer I received a request from a woman asking if I had pictures of the Fisherman's Memorial located in Cortez, Florida. I maintain web pages for a couple of the groups there so the email came to me from one of them. I had some photos of it but she was interested in knowing the names on the plaque because she heard her brother was listed. The memorial is for the fishermen of the Cortez area who lost their lives while fishing or serving in the military.

I have two Great Uncles listed on the plaque so the story of her brother got me curious. She said he and two others were lost when their fishing boat disappeared in 1987. I had never heard the story but checked and did find the names of William "Billy" Elliott, Paul Right, Kevin Kurtice listed.

She said that after 23 years they still didn't know what happened to the boat or the three fishermen. I decided to ask around but no one in Cortez knew anything more about the mystery. They went fishing and were never heard from again. The boat had advanced electronics, communication equipment and tracking devices but it just disappeared.

I Googled their names and the name of the boat found two newspaper articles. Maybe someone else can help with this cold case.

An article from the Anna Maria Islander listed all the names on the memorial when it was dedicated in 2001.

Overlooking the docks is the fishermen’s memorial, "Dedicated to Florida’s commercial fishermen past, present and future" on Oct 27, 2001. One plaque honors Cortez veterans lost during wartime: James C. Coarsey, Leroy R. Wilson, Warren A. Bell, James M. Campbell and William H. Posey.

Another honors Cortez commercial fishermen lost at sea: Don Akins, Joey Clavier, William "Billy" Elliott, Paul Right, Kevin Kurtice, Frank Lilquist, Michael "Bugsy" Moran, Dale "Murph" Murphy, Mark Rankin, Bobby Thompson, Lynn Tupin, Frank "Billy" Tyne Jr. and Warren "Bud" Wilson. Two of the men, Murphy and Tyne, are immortalized in the 2000 film "The Perfect Storm."

St. Petersburg Times - Apr 26, 1988

Searchers never found any debris from the Finest Kind.

On September 28, 1987 the Finest Kind left Cortez to go on a fishing trip to the Florida Middle Grounds, a larage area in the Gulf about 75 miles west of Tampa Bay. The 42 foot, well equipped fishing vessel was due back October 10. On October 12, the boat with three people aboard was reported overdue.

Because the boat had been gone so long and because there was some dispute about whether the boat actually did go to the Florida Middle Grounds, the Coast Guard’s search covered a large area of ocean from the beginning.

By October 16 planes as far away as Elizabeth City, NC a major Coast Guard air station had been brought in to search thousands of square miles of ocean, but they found nothing.

The Finest Kind was equipped with an orange life raft on its deck and an EPIRB, a battery powered devise designed to pop up and transmit a radio signal if the boat sinks, yet no one ever saw or heard from the vessel after September 30.

The boat should have been easy to spot. Its just not hard to see a boar that big, Bill Baker Operations officer for the Coast Guard in St. Petersburg said, shaking his head.

St. Petersburg Times - St. Petersburg, Fla.




Oct 18, 1987

SARASOTA - The U.S. Coast Guard on Saturday ended a five-day search for a fishing boat and three-man crew last heard from 12 days before Hurricane Floyd battered the Florida Keys.

``I don't want them to stop looking,`` said Terry Elliott of Sarasota, whose 29-year-old husband, Billy, was last heard from on Sept. 30. ``The only thing right now that I'm holding onto is that he's run into trouble and maybe drifting ... something is wrong with his power.

Elliott and his crew, Kevin Kurtis and a man whose name is not known, left Anna Maria Island on Sept. 28 aboard the Finest Kind. They expected to spend 10 to 12 days fishing for grouper.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Excursion to Anna Maria

Over 20 years ago I "met" Doyle Leffers via email. He was from North Carolina and was researching families in the Carteret County area. I was interested in the connection since several of my ancestors came from the area. He was able to give me a lot of information that helped me find my way on several family lines.

When he heard my family was from Cortez, Florida he asked if I had ever heard of any Leffers living there. At the time I had not and none of my family in the area knew of them.

He said they had lived there early in the 1900s and then moved away. I kept this information in mind and about 4 years ago came across some burial records for some of his Leffers relatives in Fort Myers, Florida. They moved there from Cortez in the early part of the century.

When I tried to contact him the email address bounced. I contacted several other Carteret County researchers and eventually found another email address for him. I made contact and found he had retired and moved to Mexico.

Just a few months ago the librarian at the Manatee County Historical Records Library found an old newspaper article from 1891 about Cortez, Florida and it was sent to me.

It mentioned my Great Grandfather, William Thomas Fulford (the reason they sent it to me) but to my surprise it also mentioned Capt. John C. Leffers. This is the family Doyle was looking for 20 years ago. I tried to send it to him but unfortunately his email address is bouncing again. It is an interesting read so I thought I would share it here.

August 6, 1891

Manatee River Journal

Excursion to Anna Maria

After our appointment at Braidentown on Sabbath, we went out after night service to visit our friend and Brother, Deacon S. J. Tyler. All who know Uncle Steve and that constitutes all the residents of our county appreciate the generous hospitality of himself and family, and I need not tell of how pleasantly I spent the hours of my visit with them.

By previous agreement with Bro. Tyler had promised to accompany be on a trip to Palma Sola bay, Hunter’s Point, Anna Maria or Palm Key, etc., so on Monday morning, we started out in his buggy, and behind his fine horse, to see these places I had long desired to visit.

Carrying a spade along with us we stopped a while at Palma Sola creek to examine the phosphate in the bed of this creek. Each shovel full of dirt revealed a number of bones and pebble phosphate, which shows the future possibilities of a bonanza in phosphate in this part of the county. The land examined belongs to Bro. Tyler, and he is offering this land, including his Palma Sola grove, situated on Palma Sola creek, at a great bargain.

We passed the home of Dr. Hayden, where we alighted for a few moments for a fresh draught of water, and then proceeded on our journey to Hunter’s Point, which we reached at 10 am. This Point is a beautiful front in the junction of Palma Sola and Sarasota bays and is Fisherman’s Town.

There are several neat residences on Hunter’s Point and a population of 21 persons as we learned from one of the residents. They are all engaged in fishing and were very busy, under several boat sheds, preparing their boats for commencing the business for the present season.

The fishing navy will consist of 40 boats owned by as many as six or seven companies or firms. The steamers, the Mistletoe, the Magnet and the Iola, will be employed in the transportation of fish, during the present season and the fisherman have already made contract for delivering at 1 ½ cents, an advance over former prices. I mention these facts that the readers of the JOURNAL may form some idea of the commerce in fish in Manatee County. But to proceed with our excursion.

On application Mr. W. T. Fulford kindly furnished us a boat to cross the bay to Anna Maria, a distance of about one mile. Neither Bro. Tyler nor myself were sailors so we secured the services of Capt. Robert Leffers, a boy of eleven summers, to sail us over the bay. In a very short time we landed and proceeded across the island at a narrow point of less than a quarter of a mile and stood on the beach were “the blue waters roll and the angry billows roam.” And for the first time in my life I was permitted to enjoy a surf bath. The incoming waves sported with Bro. T and myself as though we were toys and in the frolicsome glee for 15 minutes we returned to boyhood again, dashing and splashing amidst the sportive billows.

The bath was exquisitely refreshing and after bathing we employed the remaining moments on the beach in gathering a few shells; but as there had been no recent storm, could find none of much value.

On our return to the Point we found Capt. J.C. Leffers had anticipated our wants and caught for us a fine mess of pompano, which his kind lady stewed and fried as fisherman’s wives know how to prepare them after the most approved cuisine and we enjoyed a rare and excellent dinner.

Reader, do you know anything of the generous fisherman, and his kindness and hospitality? If not, you ought to get away sometime from the selfish world and visit a fisherman’s home.

We want to thank again our generous hosts, Capt Leffers and his kind lady, for their disinterested kindness and profuse hospitality. After dinner we took a jaunt to ascend the famous Hunter’s Mound, a mound of solid shell thrown up in the far ages of the past, beyond the memory of the Aborigines and by an unknown race.

The mound covers several acres of ground. Upon it’s summit there is growing a huge wild fig, measuring at the base over 2 feet in diameter. There is another curious tree bearing fruit, a tropical tree, but we do not know the name and Bro. Tyler could not tell us.

We took in the mountain or mound and proceeded back to Capt. Letters. Bro. Tyler suggested we should bare our feet and do a nearer route, through some shallow water at the base of the mound. So we pulled off our shoes and began to wade. But would you believe it, we struck water 100 deg. Fahrenheit just below the boiling point and two old me became suddenly as nimble as kittens, hurrying to reach the other shore.

It hardly seems credible that the sun’s rays could have made this water so hot. We wish come younger men would make an examination of this water so hot. We wish some younger men would make an examination of this water and see if we have not Hot Springs in Florida. If I was ingenious enough I would give our readers a wood cut of Bro Tyler and myself hurrying with our bare feet and legs, shoes in hand through his cauldron.

This ended out excursion, so taking leave of the fishermen, one of whom, Capt. Fulford gave us some fish to bring back with us, we returned to Bro. Tyler’s having a most pleasant buggy ride and sweet companionship on our return.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

O Henry

My great great great grandfather was Emery M. Henry. He married Elmina Davis in Jefferson County Florida on January 25, 1853 and died less than 4 years later. He and Elmina were the parents of Margery Rowena Henry Lundy.

According to the 1850 census he was born about 1830 in North Carolina so he was less than 27 years old when he died. Other than these basic facts I don't know a lot about him.The 1850 census, the only one that listed him had no information other than his age and place of birth.

His last name was confused for a long time with the Hendry family who lived in the same part of North Florida and have a lot more descendants in that area now. My mother insisted his name was Hendry, probably because she had heard of that family name.

I've located copies of his marriage record and the papers that settled his estate in 1857 so know his name was actually Henry. After answering the question of his name I was able to locate some information on his family and ancestors but not much on him. I always like to determine where someone was buried but haven't found him.

His brother, Franklin C. Henry's grave is in the Waukeenah Methodist Church Cemetery in Jefferson County, Florida. Since Emery and Elmina lived close by I was hoping his grave would be there but there is no marker for him.