The postcard was shared with us by Ken Rager and Carol Malher did a little research about it.
The photograph on this postcard was probably taken during celebrations for the arrival of the first train of the East and West Coast Railway in 1915. The line followed today’s State Road 70—more or less—from Bradenton to Arcadia. (Despite its name, it was never built farther east than Arcadia.) Tracks were built several miles north of the original town of Pine Level established in 1866, so “New Pine Level” developed around the depot, with plenty of investment opportunities. The following article from p. 11 of the Feb. 18, 1915, The DeSoto County News imagines the festivities.
A Mighty Big Noise Coming With New R.R.
We are going to make a record racket when the new road pulls in. Program is being arranged. And will be announced shortly.
(From Saturday’s Daily.)
Arcadians are getting hep to the fact that the new railroad is nearly here, and that not very much more time is going to slip by ere the East and West Coast line’s big steam horses are going to blow for this station—and then —we are going to celebrate. We are going to pull some stunts that will be remembered. It is going to be a gigantic time in these parts. The fatted cattle we are going to kill will total up into the tons. There will be entertainment for the elite, and something to attract the serious and sedate. There will be fun and frolic for the general fun of folks and everybody is to be “at home.” This big time is not going to be any ordinary affair: we are going to spread out and annex the good people of Manatee. The date has not yet been set, but it will be, and published just as soon as the citizens and railway officials can get together on it.
It won’t be long, so start to get ready to shoot the moon full of high life. Give old gloom the once over and poison him with a proper grin. We’ll have the biggest time ever.
The Board of Trade is taking active steps to promote the celebration, and it behooves all the red blooded and public spirited citizens to help the thing along.
Where were the “Peace River Picnic Grounds, Arcadia, Florida,” photographed and colorized on this penny postcard? The May 11, 1916, DeSoto County News reported a “Union Sunday School” (meaning both Baptist and Methodist) picnic at near Peace River—perhaps this location?
“The Union S. S. Picnic: Near Peace River Was a Pronounced Success, and All, Old and Young, Had a Good Time; Suggested by Many That These Beautiful Grounds Be Improved for Permanent Gatherings of The Kind.
“The Union Sunday School picnic yesterday was all that the fondest heart could anticipate. Early in the morning the children began to assemble at the various church buildings and there was no lack of cars to take them out to the grounds promptly as had been promised.
“After reaching the grounds it was found that the various committees had all performed their duties well, and every provision had been made for the enjoyment of the children in the highest degree. Interesting games were indulged in until the dinner hour, when there was a spread that made the long tables fairly grown under the splendid edibles that had been prepared by loving hands and hearts. . . .
“The grounds where the picnic was held are beautiful and with just a little improvement can be made all that could be desired for such occasions.
“Life could be made much more enjoyable, not only for the children, but for the old people as well, if many such days were spent together in the woods, where we may have the better opportunity of knowing each other. We suggest that these grounds be improved and that such an outing be had a least once each month during the summer time. . . .”
The DeSoto County Schools held a spring festival on May Day, 1930, that included dancing around may poles on the north lawn of the DeSoto County Courthouse. Students elected Jerrold Gaskins as king and LeMerle Sutton as queen. Charles A. Moore photographed the scene.
Everything old is new again!
Many restaurants have begun “curb service,” so that customers do not have to enter the building to pick up their “carry-out” food. More than 80 years ago, such curb service appealed to customers of John Dishong’s Soda-Lunch as advertised in the July 27, 1936, Arcadian.
Dishong was the grandson of Owen H. Dishong, first sheriff of DeSoto County. John’s father, John Leslie Dishong, Sr., also served as sheriff and in the Florida legislature. More information about this family is in Chapter 33 of Footprints and Landmarks: Arcadia and DeSoto County, Florida, by George Howard Melton.
The restaurant was located in the Union Bus Station, at the northeast corner of Oak St. and DeSoto Ave. (just west of Richard Ames: Allstate Insurance, 7 E. Oak St.). Originally built as the DeSoto County Bank in 1890 for Anthony Peters, the building was bought by Barron Collier and remodeled in stucco in 1927. It burned in 1974.
Banana Orchard, Arcadia, Florida, Postcard
Today, most bananas eaten in the U.S. are grown in Ecuador, Costa Rica, Philippines, and Colombia, but sometime in the past, a “banana orchard” in Arcadia, Florida, was photographed and printed as a postcard.
In 1908, the four October issues of The Champion newspaper advertised “Hart’s Choice Banana Plants for sale at ten cents each. [See] Ed Scott, Arcadia.” Most people grew a few plants for themselves and their families to enjoy.
The Sept. 19, 1913, Ocala Banner reported, “It has been said that there is not a commercial banana orchard within the limits of the United States, but a paper published in Palm Beach, Fla., shows a picture of Denmark Gardens, owned by Carl M. Jensen, who claims that he is not only raising the poor man’s fruit commercially, but is making money on it.”
Published on Jan. 20, 1916, The DeSoto County News, DeSoto County Fair edition listed categories judged, including “best bunch of bananas” and “best banana plant in fruit,” according to The DeSoto County News.
Happy International Archives Day: June 9, 2020!
In 2007, the International Council on Archives (ICA) chose June 9 for International Archives Day because it was the day that the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) established the ICA “to strengthen relations among archivists of all nations, to promote the use of records, and to advance the documentation of human experience.”
The National Archives is the U.S. Government’s collection of documents that record important events in our country’s history. In 1934, President Franklin Roosevelt established the National Archives even though “its major holdings date back to 1775.” The federal agency that preserves these materials and makes them available for research is the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).
The NARA’s bi-monthly newsletter discusses some of the digitized records that people can access from the their own homes: https://www.archives.gov/news/articles/archives-home-resources-5. One of those is “Post Office Site Locations 1837-1950.” In that collection are some interesting maps and descriptions of post offices in DeSoto County, including this Feb. 1919 “R. G. Tonkin & Co.” map drawn by County Engineer W. B. clay that a postmaster annotated to show how DeSoto County was divided in 1921.
National Archives “Blog”: June 10
The National Archives also has “Pieces of History,” a “blog” or Web page for intriguing articles about the past. Part of the National Archives’ ongoing commemoration of the centennial anniversary of the 19th amendment is the June 5th article about Shirley Chisholm of New York, the first African-American woman elected to Congress. Her story is available at https://prologue.blogs.archives.gov/2020/06/05/19th-amendment-at-100-shirley-chisholm
State Archives of Florida: June 11
Located in the R. A. Gray Building in Tallahasse, the State Archives of Florida was established by Statute in 1967. It “collects, preserves and makes available for research the historically significant records of the state, as well as private manuscripts, local government records, photographs and other materials that complement the official state records.” https://dos.myflorida.com/library-archives/archives
Many people are already familiar with the digital outreach program of the State Archives called “Florida Memory”—floridamemory.com. It provides free online access to selected archival resources: more than 320,000 digitized photographs and documents that anyone may view. One collection is the World War I Service Cards, summarizing the service record for each person who served in the armed services between April 6, 1917 and November 11, 1918. The cards were provided to the Adjutant General of the state from which that person entered the service. The cards may be searched by name or county.
Florida Memory also invites “digital volunteers” to help “transcribe newly digitized collections of letters, diaries and other valuable historical records. No special software is required, and Digital Volunteers can choose from a variety of projects to suit their interests. Contact FloridaMemory@dos.myflorida.com.”
The DeSoto County Historical Society’s Archives:
In 2008, the DeSoto County Historical Society purchased the collection of Howard Melton that served as the basis for his two books about local history: Footprints and Landmarks: Arcadia and DeSoto County, Florida, published in 2002, and More Footprints and Landmarks: Arcadia and DeSoto County, Florida, published in 2004.
The Historical Society opened the Howard and Velma Melton Historical Research Library in the John Morgan Ingraham Seed House, to the public in 2012. Since that time, volunteers have worked to digitize Melton’s original collection of books, canceled checks, high school yearbooks, letters, newspaper clippings, photographs, postcards, telegrams, and more. They also organize and integrate donations of documents and photographs—plus digitized material—into the collection.
At this time, the Historical Research Library has no online repository; however, volunteers post research material on the Society’s Web site (historicdesoto.org) and the Society’s Facebook page. Research assistance is available at 863-266-5774 or online at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The public is invited to tour the John Morgan Ingraham House Museum from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. today, and will resume regular hours and days! Visitors must wear face coverings, as people did during the 1918 influenza pandemic that killed more people than did World War I. Read more about it from the National Archives: https://prologue.blogs.archives.gov/2020/04/15/wear-a-mask-and-save-your-life-the-1918-flu-pandemic.