A few months ago I attended a lecture at the Amelia Island Museum on South 3rd Street and learned from University of Florida Professor of History, Roger Smith, that the original number of British colonies in the United States wasn’t 13 but 14, because Florida was not only a colony, but one that remained loyal to the British crown and wanted nothing to do with a revolution.
With a lively, animated and entertaining flair Professor Smith mesmerized his audience with the little known story of Florida’s loyalist sentiments and activities before, during and after the war.
Dr. Smith told us that the only colony that remained loyal to King George III was Florida. “In fact,” he says, “once news of the Declaration of Independence reached St. Augustine, an angry crowd gathered in the city plaza on August 11, 1776 and hung effigies of Samuel Adams and John Hancock before setting fire to therm.”
But the colony’s loyalty to the king was betrayed by the British at the 1783 signing of the Treaty of Paris that ended the war when they gave the territory back to Spain in return for keeping their fort of Gibraltar safe from Spanish attack. Gibraltar guarded the narrow entrance to the Mediterranean Sea, with access to vital British trade routes. Many of the more than 21,000 residents of Florida, that also included loyalists from other southern colonies, eventually evacuated with a few forming outlaw gangs.
In 1784 a Spanish governor took over the state and on November 13, 1785 — more than two years after the Treaty of Paris — the final British Governor, Lt. Colonel Patrick Tonyn, and the remaining loyalists sailed out of Florida for the West Indies.
In addition to his teaching duties Dr. Smith heads up a company called Colonial Research Associates, Inc, which publishes a series of books that shed new information about the Revolutionary War. The account of Florida’s role is told in book number one, titled “The 14th Colony — The American Revolution’s Best Kept Secret.” To obtain more information about the books or buy one go to www.colonialra.com.
If Professor Smith comes back to conduct another talk at the museum or anywhere nearby, I recommend attending as he is highly entertaining and informative. “If I haven’t made you laugh, then I probably haven’t taught you anything,” he says.
Florida also has an agricultural history that I was unaware of until I met up with a former Tampa Plant High School classmate, Mike Garcia, during our mutual classmate Stephen Stills’ concert in Jacksonville recently. St. Augustine resident Mike, who once served as Cosby, Stills and Nash’s road manager, is currently president of the Florida Olive Council, and told me that our state has an on-and-off history of successful olive growing.
Mike pointed out that some of those olive groves were on Amelia Island and that there are still some trees remaining on Cumberland Island.
According to Mike, J.K. Stickney, a newsman of a somewhat cloudy past, was living in Fernandina when he started growing olives hereabouts and predicted that they would replace cotton as the south’s money crop.
While tending his olive trees Mr. Stickney, who once edited a newspaper in Detroit, published a newspaper in Fernandina, and in 1864 he teamed up with W.C. Morrill to publish the Florida Union in Jacksonville and abandoned the olive growing business. His olive trees here disappeared long ago, but Mike says there are continuing efforts to seek a low-chill strain of olive that will thrive in Florida’s climate.
Maybe someday we’ll see signs along the highways that say “Live alligators, boiled peanuts and local olives ahead one mile!”
The Oldest & My Favorite: The world’s oldest surviving recipe is a formula for making beer. It was discovered outside Baghdad in 1850 on a 3,800-year-old Sumerian clay tablet. Two other tablets contain what are believed to be drinking songs. Source: “That’s A Fact, Jack!” Fine Communications, 2013.
Vote, Tuesday, December 11: Roy Smith never left any doubt about where he stood on issues or his opinion of his fellow commissioners while serving as a Fernandina Beach City Commissioner and his last day in office this past Tuesday was no exception.
Smith is a strong supporter of property rights and took seriously the fact that the money the city spent came out of the pockets of local tax payers. He was a fanatical fiscal conservative demanding that the city get the best possible deal from contractors it hired and for any other city expenditure. He also didn’t suffer fools.
On his way out the door he received tribute from City Attorney Tammi Bach and City Clerk Caroline Best while in turn praising city employees. He also tossed a verbal grenade in the chamber saying he enjoyed working with all the commissioner “except one horse’s ass that’s a narcissist.” I’m assuming that was a not so veiled reference to pompous, arrogant Commissioner Chip Ross, whom he sparred with frequently during meetings.
Following the meeting Mayor Johnny Miller flattered himself asking Commissioner Ross: “Did he mean you or me?” While on the commission Smith wasted little time on the mayor’s numerous silly, ineffectual and confusing pronouncements, instead preferring to tangle with Ross over his “get off the island and stay off” policies that often infringe on private property owners’ rights. Ross’s election campaign was managed by island Grinch Ron “Get Off My Lawn You Little Bastards” Sapp, who once attempted to legislate the number of island residents, when he served on the commission and wants the island to revert to a 1950 time frame. Ross’s protégé is current commission candidate Mike Lednovich, a 71-year-old who has lived here for about a year and appears to share Ross’s condescension for property owners.
Ross cost the city’s tax payers $20,000 because of two misguided legal actions he filed. Not only are the tax payers, on the hook for the $20K because of the his legal antics, but his actions also kept a couple and their special needs son out of a house in the historic district they spent thousands of dollars to restore. The $20K is the cost of the city’s $10K insurance deductible each on the two cases. Ross didn’t care. He even admits he was booted off the city’s Planning Advisory Board (PAB) because of his disruptive behavior.
Smith lost his re-election bid last month when he placed third in the contest for his Group 4 seat. Since no candidate received a majority of the votes in that contest, a run-off election will be held next Tuesday, December 11, between the top two vote getters: 24-year-old Bradley M. Bean and Ross wannabe Lednovich.
While Ross does serious and intense research on issues, his pompous, arrogant and condescending attitude are a turnoff. He comes across as a jerk. I’ve met and chatted with Mr. Lednovich and he’s a nice enough fellow. But I’ve seen him many times with his pal Ross huddling over coffee or a glass of wine and feel that one such character on the commission is one too many.
I’m casting my vote for Bean, whose youth, enthusiasm, and open mindedness will be a welcome addition to a commission that hasn’t had a member on it under 40 since I’ve been a resident of Fernandina Beach. Bean is the son of a former commissioner and mayor and current state Senator Aaron Bean, and the grandson of island icon, Joan Bean, who founded the Bean School of Dance here some 65 years ago. Both have a long tradition of magnanimous and thoughtful service to the community that was inherited by the young Mr. Bean who will serve the citizens of Fernandina Beach well. The young Mr. Bean is a graduate of Fernandina High School, attended the University of Florida on a National Merit Scholarship where he earned a degree in Industrial and Systems engineering, and returned to Fernandina Beach where he currently works as an efficiency engineer at Rayonier. He successfully completed the Chamber of Commerce Leadership Nassau class, joined the Fernandina Beach Rotary Club and coaches the FBHS Robotics Team. He will represent the citizens of Fernandina Beach and not himself.
The winner of this Tuesday’s election will take his seat at the next commission meeting Tuesday, December 18.
And The Laughs Just Keep On Coming: The Democratic socialist joke, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, said last Friday that her surprising election victory is on a par with a series of landmark moments in American history — the 1969 Moon landing and the 1964 Civil Rights Act. I’m not making this up. She really said that during a press conference hosted by the Sunshine Movement, an advocacy group that leverages youth protests to oppose global warming. She said it earlier too saying “We are the party of King, of Roosevelt, of the ones who went to the moon,” to the liberal Netroots Nation conference in August. While Democratic President John F. Kennedy advocated strongly for a moon-targeted space program, Republican President Richard Nixon was in office when NASA succeeded. And there’s more. She actually defended her Medicare for All insanity saying $21 trillion of Pentagon financial transactions “could not be traced, documented, or explained. $21 trillion in Pentagon accounting errors. Medicare for All costs are $32 trillion. That means 66% of Medicare for All could have been funded already by the Pentagon. And that’s before our premiums.” This may be the nuttiest sober woman on the planet. The Pentagon has not misallocated $21 trillion in defense spending through shady accounting practices because the United States government has not budgeted $21 trillion in national defense spending…over the combined history of the country. Yet Ocasio-Cortez apparently believes that $21 trillion is a relatively small portion of military waste, fraud and abuse that can be recouped for other purposes. Hers is a mind-blowing and frightening ignorance. Her victory in the November general election was a foregone conclusion in New York’s 14th Congressional District, where 77 per cent of voters chose Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump in 2016. But in an area of the Bronx and Queens that’s home to 214,750 active registered Democratic voters, only 27,744 cast ballots in the primary. The district’s U.S. Census-estimated population in 2016 was 691,715. Fewer than 16,000 voted for Ocasio-Cortez.
A Tale Of Two Losers: Even Maureen Dowd, New York Times liberal editorialist, says she’s starting to feel sorry for the Clintons (You remember Bill & Hillary don’t you?). Commenting about the Clinton’s 13-day speaking tour which kicked off in Toronto, Tuesday, November 27, she said: “Looking around Scotiabank Arena, the home of the Toronto Maple Leafs, and it’s a depressing sight. It’s two-for-the-price-of-one in half the arena. The hockey rink is half curtained off, but even with that, organizers are scrambling at the last minute to cordon off more sections behind thick black curtains, they say due to a lack of sales. I paid $177 weeks in advance. (I passed on the pricey meet-and-greet option.) On the day of the event, some unsold tickets are slashed to single digits ($6.55). I get reassigned to another section as the Clintons’ audience space shrinks. But even with all the herding, I’m still looking at large swaths of empty seats — and I cringe at the thought that the Clintons will look out and see that, too. It was only four years ago, after all, that Canadians were clamoring to buy tickets to see the woman who seemed headed for history.” A recent Daily Mail news report said: “Unfortunately for the Clintons, Canadians were about as interested in the show as Americans. There were so many tickets available before the show started that they were going for the price of a fancy Starbucks frappuccino.” According to The Daily Mail there were “banks of empty seats” throughout the hockey arena “To make matters even worse for the Clintons, Hillary ended up with a coughing fit. She had to guzzle water and chew on cough drops. The lack of interest in the Clintons and the dismal turnout. What does this tell you? Not only are Americans tired of the Clintons, but so are foreigners.” I wonder what those two are thinking when they see arenas full MAGA folks on TV cheering Trump while others wait outside to get in.
Drinking, Dining & Dancing: December, a dry month hereabouts for tourists, is traditionally a slow month for area bars and restaurants and as a result they offer specials that appeal to locals. The Main Beach Sandbar & Kitchen is no exception as they are now promoting a “December of Giving” that not only gives guests a price break but contributes to local charities. From Monday to Thursdays the Sandbar will offer special $9.00 lunches, $2.00 off small plates (e.g. wings, nachos, peel & eat shrimp, etc.) and $19.00 dinner specials. Happy hour remains 3-6 p.m. all week long. On Mondays 10 percent of food sales goes to the local Humane Society, while on Wednesdays 10 percent goes to Organ Donations, and on Thursdays the Tom Coughlin Fund for pediatric cancer gets the 10 percent. The Sandbar also revealed its New Year’s Dinner menu that will feature the VOX Band starting at 8:30 p.m. Dinner service, which will begin anytime after 5 p.m., will cost $75.00 per person, and includes four courses and a champagne toast. Dinners can select from a variety of what I feel are very, very appealing selections in each course. For those not interested in eating, there will be a $10 cover charge after 7 p.m. that includes the Champagne toast. Call ’em at 904/310-3648 as reservations are required or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.