Florida Stories

Critters

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"This A.M. we took to boat, Harry with his gun + I with oars paddle out on Indian River for Ducks we went near ½ mile shot twice but no Ducks. We went then a mile or more up C[rane?] Creek to see – Gators but saw none then back to oyster beds we rolled up our sleeves and gathered over 1/2 Bu[shel?] Oysters. Went home shucked them + eat them for Dinner. After dinner we went out on landing + Mr. Gleason from Eau Gallie came down with his new Naptha Launch + asked several of us to get in + try its speed. we did so + it fairly spun through the water. This Boat is 30ft long + engine 7 horse power…" Excerpt from -Travel Diary, January 8, 1895, Melbourne

"…we saw tied in open square a Bear – the leather strap

around his neck an inch wide + looked old. The chain an ordinary dog chain size, save longer some 10 ft long The Bear was constantly walking too and fro. we started up to take a near view but a man called to not go near that he was vicious! I then thought how unsafe the neck strap. he had been caught young but they had not succeeded in taming him he was (a pretty (Black Bear)…" -Excerpt from Travel Diary January 2, 1896, Titusville

"…It is very warm here now generally 95 to 98 on the verandah (the coolest place) every morning, imagine what it is cooking breakfast, not that we stay long in the kitchen, we manage with tinned things a great deal…"-Excerpt from a Letter, Helen F. Warner to her Mother dated June 27, 1885, Orlando

(Alice Guild Book of Letters - front cover)

Reports of early Florida wildlife included everything from snakes, alligators, birds, bears, and pigs. Birds included heron, egrets, spoonbills, bluejays, mockingbirds and pelicans. Animals were a source of food, provided transportation, and helped with heavy labor. They were also family pets.

When the Aaron Jernigan family moved to the area they found a wilderness including bear, deer, wolves, turkeys and panthers. Mr. Jernigan arrived in 1843 along with 700 cattle and his family arrived the following year. (From Florida Sand to "The City Beautiful", a historical record of Orlando, Florida)

Wild animals supplemented the beef raised by the settlers and the crops of sweet potatoes, corn, and watermelon. Aaron Jernigan's daughter, Mrs. Martha Tyler, later reported "Father brought home fine fat deer one time and another time five big wild turkeys…Fish were plentiful." She also reported "There was plenty of varmints in the woods, such as bears, pumas, wolves and wildcats. We had nine bull dogs. I have seen seven wolves come right up in front of the house …" "Father and Uncle Isaac took their dogs one day and chased a tiger …The dogs finally treed it and it was shot. He measured nine feet… He had been eating our pigs and probably some of our calves. My father once killed a bear that we got eight gallons of oil from and the meat was fine too." (Orlando in the long, Long Ago, And Now)

"This A.M. we took to boat, Harry with his gun + I with oars paddle out on Indian River for Ducks we went near ½ mile shot twice but no Ducks. We went then a mile or more up C[rane?] Creek to see – Gators but saw none then back to oyster beds we rolled up our sleeves and gathered over 1/2 Bu[shel?] Oysters. Went home shucked them + eat them for Dinner. After dinner we went out on landing + Mr. Gleason from Eau Gallie came down with his new Naptha Launch + asked several of us to get in + try its speed. we did so + it fairly spun through the water. This Boat is 30ft long + engine 7 horse power…" Excerpt from -Travel Diary, January 8, 1895, Melbourne

Mr. A. M. Nicholson had a store on the south side of West Church Street in Orlando. In the back of his store he kept birds, alligators and snakes which he sold. One night a large alligator knocked down a fence and all the animals escaped. The next morning the animals were found crawling around Mathews’ livery barn. The police had Mr. Nicholson remove all the animals from the stable. He was also ordered to remove the animals from the downtown business area, and so he moved them to his house on Division Street. (From Florida Sand to “The City Beautiful”, a historical record of Orlando, Florida and From the History of Orlando)

Horses were used for transportation and for labor. The 1885 Fire Wagon was photographed in 1926.

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