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The Great Jacksonville Fire of 1901

In just over eight hours on May 3, 1901, a small fire, started in a LaVilla mattress factory, would sweep through 146 city blocks of Jacksonville, destroying over 2,000 buildings, taking seven lives, and leaving almost 9,000 people homeless in the process.

Published October 20, 2009 in History      62 Comments    Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article


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This tragic event would eventually be known as the Great Fire of 1901, the third largest urban fire in American history behind the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Chicago Fire of 1871.

Origin


Around noon on Friday, May 3, 1901 a spark from a kitchen fire during the lunch hour at a mattress factory set mattresses filled with Spanish moss on fire at the factory located in an area now known as LaVilla. The fire was soon discovered and it was thought they could put it out with only a few buckets of water. Consequently an alarm was not turned on until it had gone beyond their control.

Bay Street during the 1870s.

The fire would start in LaVilla on the corner of Davis and Ashley Streets and eventually burn everything in it's path between that point and the St. Johns River.  The only thing that stood in its path and the rest of Jacksonville was Hogan's Creek and the St. Johns River.





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62 Comments

fsu813

October 20, 2009, 08:14:52 AM
very good over view of the course, before & after, etc of the fire. The picture of the Klutho building presentation & the map of the burning are very interesting as well.

JeffreyS

October 20, 2009, 08:42:57 AM
Something every local resident should know. Good job.

Wacca Pilatka

October 20, 2009, 08:46:04 AM
Where is that historical marker located?

Ernest Street

October 20, 2009, 10:09:53 AM
Local legend tells about some residents with Dynamite going around "Putting out the fires" But they were a little too enthusiastic... :o

fsu813

October 20, 2009, 12:27:32 PM
I'm pretty sure there is a historicl marker at the Landing, though the opne pcitured didn't seem to be it.

The sculpture is outside the Hyatt, i think.

thelakelander

October 20, 2009, 12:33:28 PM
The marker is in Hemming Plaza.

Wacca Pilatka

October 20, 2009, 12:50:01 PM
Thanks Lake.  I don't know how I've missed it repeatedly but I'll look for it next time I'm in town.  For some reason I had it in mind that it was near the monument by the Hyatt.

Cliffs_Daughter

October 20, 2009, 02:16:47 PM
In the legend of the Fire Area map, there's something called "Market Street Horror"

Anybody know what that was about?

stephendare

October 20, 2009, 02:21:12 PM
Its where the fire trapped a huge group of people on all sides and drove them to the river.

That location is presently marked by the monument to the fire.  People were driven into the river.

fsujax

October 20, 2009, 02:55:43 PM
I have the book on my coffee table and actaully attended the dedication ceremony in Hemming Plaza on that hot May day in 2001 for the 100th anniversary of the fire. I love reading the about the Great Fire.

Raysfan16

October 20, 2009, 02:57:27 PM
Wow, nice article. I wonder what the ratio is of buildings destroyed in the Great Fire to buildings destroyed by 'urban renewal'.

Lunican

October 20, 2009, 03:16:53 PM
I think a lot of people assume that areas like Brooklyn and LaVilla are non existent today as a result of the fire, which is not true.

blanchard

October 20, 2009, 04:13:05 PM
Market St horror is described in detail in 'Acres of Ashes' which is availible at the library, as well as online. In fact, I believe that map is from that book.

Anyway, it is indeed where the fire cornered dozens of people. If my memory serves me correctly, they all boarded a sailing vessel that was tied to the Pier, and tried to depart. Because of the fire, there was an incredible amount of wind being sucked into the fire, actually causing the boat to be sucked back into its berth. There was also reports of a water spout being caused. I believe the boat was then hooked up to a steam powered Yacht that tried fruitlessly to pull it out of the birth, before the vessel capsized.

This is all off the top of my head, so i may be off on some points.

Cliffs_Daughter

October 20, 2009, 04:44:33 PM
Wow. That just puts more of an emotional element to it. Truly horrible.   :'(

Charles Hunter

October 20, 2009, 04:48:34 PM
I have heard that commercial fishermen, from downriver, came in their fishing boats to ferry people away from the fire.  I would guess their smaller boats wouldn't be as effected by the "fire storm" winds as a sailing vessel.

Dan B

October 20, 2009, 04:54:16 PM
http://www.uflib.ufl.edu/ufdc/?m=hd1J&i=180267





stjr

October 20, 2009, 09:11:58 PM
Great article and excerpt on the Market Street Horror.  The pix remind me a bit of those of Dresden, Germany, after it was bombed in WWII.  Someone should make a movie and/or documentary on this momentous event.  I can't imagine that every city in America didn't take note of this tragedy and revise their fire and building codes.

I also can't help but wonder how this fire changed the "personality" and "future" of Jax, for better or worse.  Did the fabric of our economy change?  Did our politics change? Did the demographic makeup of the city change?  How traumatized were the locals and did that change their attitudes toward decision making?  Did "class" and/or racial relations change?  What effect did it have on the transportation of the city and the growth beyond Downtown?  Did the fire create more opportunities than it destroyed?  Did the destruction create our lack of appreciation and appetite for disposable structures for the next 100 years of our long history by focusing the populace on starting anew and destroying much of its past including records?  Did it focus the City on short term results over long term ones in our haste to rebuild, a momentum that may still exist today?  Would make a great thesis for a post-graduate history major!

Interestingly, despite the horror described in the "Acres of Ashes" book, "only" 7 perished in the entire fire per the historic marker.  I wonder if they ever fully accounted for everyone and whether blacks were accounted for separately from whites in those days.

FYI, a related MJ thread with more info and a link to the Jacksonville Fire Museum can be found at:


Historic Fire Department Pix at Jacksonvillefiremuseum.com

http://www.metrojacksonville.com/forum/index.php/topic,5676.0.html

stephendare

October 20, 2009, 09:21:43 PM
The fabric of the City changed remarkably, Stjr.

On this I can speak elaborately, as I have been studying and reading all of the available literature from the times immediately surrounding the great fire.

The first palpable effect that it had was an incredibly liberating effect on the politics and outlook of the city.

People were so concentrated on the dynamics of the community and how a city works that they were able to take bold chances that they might not have otherwise taken.

In fact the city after the Fire became famous and proud of its Progressive Politics, and even the Chamber of Commerce at the time bragged about the Progressive politics of the metropolis as a major selling point of the city.

It was widely considered a liberal city, if you can believe that, and this is reflected in the skyscrapers and prairie influenced architecture of the time.  Henry Klutho brought that design ethos with him and it was adopted so widely that we have one of the largest inventories of legitimately Prairie architecture in the world outside of Chicago.

Equally liberal were the racial politics of the city, the revisionist, klan friendly history of Jacksonville nothwithstanding.  At the time of the Great Fire, most of the police force were black and there were elected black officials serving public office.

In fact, Confederate Park was renamed confederate Park partially because of the percieved liberalism of the postmaster after whose family donation it was named:  Peter Dignan.

And Jacksonville was scandalized by the ugly racial hatred and separatism that the rest of Florida was rife with.

When the catholic sisterhood in st augustine was excoriated for teaching negro children by the rest of the state, Jacksonville was disgusted so strongly by it that it was noted in statewide journals as being out of step with the state.

It didnt last long, naturally.  Once the Boom began, the end of Progressive Politics began and the era of TR gave way to racial exclusionism and segregation.

When Napoleon Bonaparte Broward ran for mayor of Jacksonville, he began getting rid of the black law enforcement replacing them with white men, which made him into a viable statewide politician.  I don't think he really cared about race one way or another, but he was passionate about political advancement.

The Fire brought out the best in our city, and they created the city that blossomed into the golden age of prosperity and municipal greatness.

iloveionia

October 20, 2009, 10:04:41 PM
Ennis,
I really like the caption under the Hogan's Creek photo.  I'd say 100 years is a long enough to "make good." It saved us, now it is time for US to save it.  I see potential as many do. 
I am sorry many of Klutho's building were razed in the 80s.  Shame on Jacksonville.  I am glad however about Fresh Ministries building restoration on Main, and I just love the Klutho house on West 9th just off Main and the duplex adjacent (needs love) that were part of the movie studios. 
Nicole

Ocklawaha

October 21, 2009, 10:25:21 AM
I fail to see this as a unique disaster, in fact standing some of those photos next to the same scene's today reveals that we swept up the ashes, but downtown looks about the same today as Post 1901 Jacksonville.

OCKLAWAHA

stjr

October 21, 2009, 11:13:28 AM
I fail to see this as a unique disaster, in fact standing some of those photos next to the same scene's today reveals that we swept up the ashes, but downtown looks about the same today as Post 1901 Jacksonville.

Ock, well said.  The wrecking ball has destroyed more of our history at this point than the great fire.  There are immeasurably more 2,000+ year old structures remaining today from the ancient Mayans, Incas, China, Greece, Rome, and the Middle East than from Jacksonville's short history.  In a few years, our past may be nothing more than a memory of the old geezers frequenting MJ!  ;D

Wacca Pilatka

October 21, 2009, 12:07:42 PM

Interestingly, despite the horror described in the "Acres of Ashes" book, "only" 7 perished in the entire fire per the historic marker.  I wonder if they ever fully accounted for everyone and whether blacks were accounted for separately from whites in those days.

FYI, a related MJ thread with more info and a link to the Jacksonville Fire Museum can be found at:


Historic Fire Department Pix at Jacksonvillefiremuseum.com

http://www.metrojacksonville.com/forum/index.php/topic,5676.0.html

In Bill Foley and Wayne Wood's "The Great Fire of 1901," it's stated as likely that more than 7 perished in the fire just as you suspected.  I believe that's noted in the section on the Market St. Horror.

Incidentally, that's an outstanding book, well worth reading and available at the library (or for sale at the Historical Society offices and Chamblin's).  It collects many of the personal stories from "Acres of Ashes" and other sources and I love Foley's writing.  He was a great Jacksonville treasure.


Wacca Pilatka

October 21, 2009, 12:10:07 PM


When Napoleon Bonaparte Broward ran for mayor of Jacksonville, he began getting rid of the black law enforcement replacing them with white men, which made him into a viable statewide politician.  I don't think he really cared about race one way or another, but he was passionate about political advancement.



Stephen, do you have a recommendation for where I could read more about this?  I am always looking for good Jax history book recommendations.  I haven't read "Jacksonville After The Fire" by Jim Crooks; is this covered in there?  About all I know about Broward is the little bit of material on him in the Ft. George Island section of Architectural Heritage.

Wacca Pilatka

October 21, 2009, 12:16:16 PM
I have heard that commercial fishermen, from downriver, came in their fishing boats to ferry people away from the fire.  I would guess their smaller boats wouldn't be as effected by the "fire storm" winds as a sailing vessel.

There's also a great story of how the proprietor of the Title & Trust Co. of Florida (I think I have that company name right; its office is on Forsyth across from the Florida Theatre, on the same side of the street), who held copies of most of the property records in Duval County, was able to carry his records to the river in advance of the approaching fire, commandeer a small boat, and carry them across the river to safety.  Because the courthouse burned, his resources were the primary source of establishing title to property afterward.

Dan B

October 21, 2009, 12:35:25 PM
I dont believe Broward was ever the Mayor. JET Bowden was mayor around the time of the fire. Broward was the Sheriff of Duval before the Spanish American War, but lost office in the mid 1890s.

He was later appointed to the statehouse for one term, before eventually deciding to run for Governor.

Here is a list of preconsolidation Mayors for Jax.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_mayors_of_Jacksonville,_Florida

stjr

October 21, 2009, 12:54:51 PM
Here is a list of preconsolidation Mayors for Jax.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_mayors_of_Jacksonville,_Florida

Dan, thanks for posting.  This list is interesting.  The City of Jax should include this on the City's official web site.

In fact, the COJ web site should have an archival tab on their home page that provides a great overview of the City's history, historical accounts, images, maps, facts and figures, and info on all the officials who have served it, elected or appointed.  Also, links to neighborhood, State, and other historical societies, library and museum collections, historic info on the web (such as Wikipedia, Metro Jax, etc.), and historic books and documents available for further research.

Adam Hollingsworth, are you reading this?  I am sure the Jax historical society and others would be happy to volunteer in the effort.

Maybe this would further historic preservation in Jax as well.  Every City Council member and City official should have to read the section before implementing or voting on policies affecting preservation of our history.

stephendare

October 21, 2009, 05:53:48 PM
Broward was Mayor of LaVilla, actually, which was a large chunk of downtown Jacksonville.

stephendare

October 21, 2009, 06:04:59 PM
Stjr.  Here is a great kind of impression of the political environment in and around the time:

I was looking up references to the Dignans after whom the park system was originally named and I came across this highly interesting doctoral thesis describing the immediate background of the change from "Dignan" Park to "Confederate" Park.

Apparently there was a fresh wave of domestic terror with the Catholics.

Not terror BY the Catholics mind you, but OF them.

After nuns in St Augustine were proven to be deliberately teaching Negroes at the school in 1911, a firestorm of demands for security and stronger laws was pretty much unleashed.

The Governor an anti Catholic crusader was running against Nathan P. Bryan for Senator.  Bryan had appointed an incredibly respected member of the Dignan Family as Postmaster General of Jacksonville and came under heavy criticism for potentially dealing with the terrorists as a result.

The controversy lasted until 1916 and the new elections.

Anyways, this is a fascinating look into the politics and motivations of the times:
(this part of the story picks up about page 164)
Quote
“True womanhood,” for numerous white Protestant Southerners, implied a special devotion to religion, prohibition, and/or the Lost Cause. On the latter effort, female devotees preserved their “true history” by erecting monuments, delivering speeches, and promoting Confederate organizations.  

Southern white Jews frequently heralded a binary value of civic service and religious unity. As one rabbi asserted, the “true religion” of Judaism was “patriotic,” “spiritual,” and devoted to social betterment.
Southern white Catholics also cast themselves as “true” Americans. However, in the unfinished South, scores of non-Catholics remained unwilling to recognize the validity of this Catholic patriotism. This chapter is both about institutional religion and civil religion. Matters pertaining to religious doctrine appeared in nativist and Catholic exchanges. Underlying this rhetoric were concerns regarding social unity, peace, and prosperity.

Nativists claimed that Catholics threatened to unravel America’s social fabric. Catholics objected, countering that the actions of nativists ran contrary to constitutional guarantees regarding religious freedom. Both assumed that they were the “true” Americans, and that their opposition was not.

Catholics were a numerical minority in the unfinished South, but their presence influenced how many non-Catholics perceived their good society during the 1910s. This was a new era of nativism in the South and nation. Nativists, wrote historian Dan T. Knobel, “believed that they knew best who was really ‘American.’” He explained that the nativist movement became powerful enough to “mobilize a significant portion of the American electorate for political action and actually achieve many of its goals.” To do this, nativists created a “perception of world, of self, and of symbols separating participants from outsiders.” During the 1910s, nativists made Catholics into social “outsiders.” They feared that Catholics were loyal to Rome and Rome alone. Nativists subsequently worried that followers of the faith would, if left unchecked, negatively change the character of America.

The “perception of the world” created by Southern nativists determined that Catholics were inherently “un-American.” Behind this reasoning was a rather circuitous and ironic history of the American South’'s immigration efforts. After Reconstruction, a number of Southern white progressives conjectured that European immigrants could contribute to the region’s financial growth, while also eliminating the need for black labor. As we recall, material progress became an important social value for many Southern whites after Reconstruction. Railroads, agriculture, industry, and the like came to symbolize, for this population, the coming of a better age.

White supremacy was also a prized value for many white Southerners. For the South to remain unified, peaceful, and prosperous, whites averred, their race needed to dominate. In 1904 and 1905, Southern railroad companies brought an Italian ambassador to the United States for a tour of the existing Italian communities. Mississippi and Arkansas had relative success with Italian laborers in the cotton fields. In 1906, a Mississippi newspaper commended Louisiana for introducing foreign labor. In addition to the economic benefits, the paper supposed the racial situation had improved. “The influx of Italians between 1890 and 1900,” the paper positively proclaimed, had made Louisiana a white state.” The journalist assumed what many other Southern whites did – that is, their good society was white and materially prosperous.

Despite the optimism of some, the push for foreign immigration was largely unsuccessful.  As historian Leon Litwack summarized, Southern white planters sustained a belief “that blacks would perform labor and submit to treatment self-respecting whites would refuse to tolerate.”

In other words, planters believed that black laborers would willingly perform duties that white immigrants would not. Immigration, then, was not the labor panacea that some Southern white progressives wanted. By the 1910s, nativism swept the nation and the American South. All the while, white Southerners continued to question the wisdom of importing immigrant labor. One Memphis newspaper asserted that the South’s “race question” had to be “solved on the old line of Anglo-Saxon and African. We do not want the ignorance and vice of Europe to complicate it.”

In 1913, a New Orleans newspaper warned, “Safety first for our native stock should be the watchword of the South in dealing with immigration. Material progress had better slacken than be furthered at the sacrifice of the higher good.”9 In 1915, Methodist minister Alfred L. Woodward in Tallahassee implored legislators to confront the “urgent” and “pressing” matter of white immigration.” While perhaps helpful for the region’s prosperity, Woodward worried about the potential “moral retrograde” that, for example, Germans and their “breweries and beer” would bring.
Our previous discussions of material progress have shown that Southern whites frequently placed limitations on what they were, and were not, willing to accept for the sake of progress.

Maintaining the “higher good” for these speakers meant precluding immigrants from entering the South. Similar to the rest of the former Confederacy, the immigrant population in the unfinished South grew rapidly after Reconstruction. Florida had a small but vocal collective supporting the importation of foreign labor in the late nineteenth century. In 1877, the state’s Bureau of Immigration distributed pamphlets in Europe entitled the Florida Settler and Florida Immigrant.

When the native population began voicing opposition to the effort, the governmental push for foreign labor ceased. This did not stop the flow of immigrants to the state, however. Instead, Florida’s foreign population grew from 1900 to 1920, unlike its neighboring states where the rates stayed consistent.
As more immigrants came to Florida, the state’s Catholic presence grew and became strongest in urban centers along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts. 13 By the 1910s, this fact caught the eye of the state’s nativist legislators. In 1913, Florida passed a law banning the instruction of whites by blacks, and blacks by whites. The law had no overt markers of anti-Catholicism. But during the years 1909-1910, 337 black students attended Catholic schools staffed by white nuns.

Also in 1913, a pamphlet entitled “Knights of Columbus Oath, Extract 4th Degree” appeared in Florida’s congressional records. While fake, the pamphlet spoke directly to nativist fears. The fictitious inductee pledged to “defend His doctrine and His Holiness’s right and custom against all usurpers of the heretical or Protestant authority.” The imagined knight then promised to wage relentless war” against Protestant “heretics” and “hang, burn, waste, boil, flay, strangle, and bury alive these infamous heretics, rip up the stomachs and wombs of their women, and crush their infants’ heads against the walls in order to annihilate their execrable race.” Vowing to vote for Catholics, the invented inductee also promised to “place Catholic girls in Protestant families [so] that a weekly report may be made of the inner movements of the heretics.”

For the nativist Floridians, Catholics were an organized band of religious fanatics who planned to overthrow the nation’s Protestant authorities. The nativist good society, then, lacked a Catholic presence. So pervasive was this fear that legislators created laws aimed at limiting Catholic freedom. In the unfinished South, some believed that this brand of legislative anti-Catholicism was supremely disordered. In Saint Augustine, Bishop Michael J. Curley called the 1913 bill banning interracial instruction evidence of Florida’s “wave of anti-Catholic hysteria.”
In the following years, Curley continued fighting the religious “hysteria” of his state. In 1915, when speaking at a reception in Jacksonville, the bishop again commented on what he believed were the wrongheaded prejudices of the region. “Patriotism of the highest order,” Curley proclaimed, “flows from the very essence of Catholicism.” For Curley, members of his faith.  In Florida, some non-Catholics shared Curley’s religiously inclusive perception of the good society.

However, if elections were any indication, many others did not. Catholicism became a point of heated debate during Florida’s 1916 election season. A candidate’s position regarding the Catholic place in public life frequently determined his electoral success or failure.

Park Trammell and the “True Patriotic People”

Bishop Curley’s perception of the good society made Catholics viable patriots in a land where many non-Catholics firmly disagreed. By the 1910s, Southern white nativists made anti-Catholicism part of Florida’s legal makeup, partially, by banning interracial instruction. In April 1916, Governor Park Trammell received a petition claiming that white nuns teaching at the Saint Joseph’s convent in Saint Augustine were teaching black students.16 He contacted the sheriff, confirmed the claim, and ordered the nuns’ arrests.17 In his public statement, Trammell maintained that he enforced “a good law.” Racial distinctions, not religious ones, were at stake for the governor. “I do not think we should encourage anything which would tend to make the negro believe he is on social equality with the white people.” The nuns, he relayed, received a warning, but “they claimed it was not a violation of the law.” Thus, Trammell declared that he completed his “plain duty,” attesting again that that race motivated his actions, not religion.

Catholic newspapers, the governor lamented, “are unfair and try to mislead and deceive the people of Florida.” Offering assurance, Trammell reaffirmed that he had “absolutely no religious prejudice” and wanted all Floridians “to enjoy their own religion.”18 Not everyone agreed that Trammell’s actions lacked an anti-Catholic component. Commenting on the affair, one Jacksonville journalist lauded the “good sisters” for their “educational work.” The citizens of Jacksonville, the article speculated, had expressed “much indignation” over the affair, believing it “deplorable that any law should be countenanced which has for its object the prevention of gratuitous education of the colored boys and girls of the state by white teachers.”

Trammell insisted that his actions were not products of religious prejudice, yet letters flooding his office commended the governor for just this. For many Southern white Protestants, the good society was both free from Catholics and dominated by whites. Trammell became their patriotic” standard-bearer.

From Ft. Lauderdale, one supporter wrote approvingly of Trammell’s handling of “the nigger teacher question.” The author worried that “some of our courts will upset every thing when it comes to Catholics and the law,” because “they seem to have a different opinion.”

H. Witaker of Muscogee applauded Trammell’s “stand . . . on the side of the patriotic people” of Florida and “against Rome.”

From Okeechobee, J.L. Crewsexpressed pleasure that Trammell “[advocated]  one of the best” laws in existence, which he believed would contain “[this] Roman Catholicism.” The author worried that if “something isn’t done shortly that we the Protestant People” would have “some fight on our hands.”

Post-Master and Justice of the Peace in Tropic Indian River, George Ensey, thanked Trammell for his prompt, fearless action” against “the powerful Catholic Hierarchy.” Ensey wrote that the “so-called Church’” had become “the most powerful political machine in the world.”

Giving a word of warning, J.B. George of Morristo wrote, “Be on your guard as I think the Catholics are going to try to turn a trick on you. I have been told that the Catholics of South Florida are claiming that they are supporting you.”

For this group of Trammell supporters, Catholics were deceitful, conniving, and harmful to the social order. The governor’s actions promised them that the “political machine” of Catholicism would not overrun Florida.

For Florida’s nativists, Catholics were neither “true” Americans, nor socially benign. In the wake of the Saint Augustine affair, Trammell claimed he held no malice toward Catholics. Yet for his supporters, the governor’s actions made him an exemplary “patriot.” Some Trammell admirers gave more attention to the event’s racial implications. In one correspondence, R.C. Hodges, a former Confederate, proclaimed that Trammell’s position “against Negro Equality” would assure “all the old soldiers” would vote for him.25 “

I take sides with you commonly speaking,” wrote Y.J. Holder. “I don’t think white and black should class up with one another anyway. They think themselves on equality with white people. I hope you will get that law in force [so] that white teachers shall not teach in negro schools.”

A.C. Pierce of DeLand, wrote to assure Trammell “that 'as long as you stand as you do against the whites teaching negro schools you will have the People of the South for you.”'

The “People of the South,” for this letter writer, were clearly the white people of Florida.

Trammell himself continually asserted that his actions had intended to preserve the line separating the races. This imagined line was, for the governor and his admirers, necessary for social stability.

stephendare

October 21, 2009, 06:05:08 PM
Quote
Some letters assured Trammell that his actions in Saint Augustine would guarantee him votes in his upcoming run for the federal senate. Okeechobee’s chief of police, William Collins, maintained that when the elections came in June, “I will say that I am proud to know that I voted for [trammell].” Collins suspected “quite a number of people” in Okeechobee felt the same.

The principal of the Montverde Industrial School, H.P. Carpenter, pledged his vote. “Allow me to say that we are for you first, last, and all the time. All right thinking people approve of your action in the Saint Augustine affair.”

Also promising support, Dr. R.L. McMullen of Largo proclaimed, “you have doubly endeared yourself to me” by opposing the “abominable” situation in Saint Augustine.30

D.A. Reid of Perry relayed that the public support for Trammell there had
become “very strong” since the affair.

R.L. Park, the editor of a newspaper in Crystal River, wrote that Catholics in his area had drafted a letter condemning the governor. “I refused to publish it,” reported Park. “I assure you that I shall continue to do all in my power for you. I think you will carry this place almost solidly.”  Throughout our discussion of civil religion, we have endeavored to identify the values that people believed were essential for actualizing their good society.

For his “right thinking” admirers, Trammell became a protector of white supremacy. He was also a “patriot” for those who suspected that Catholics were loyal to Rome rather than America. Governor Park Trammell was a Southern white Democrat living in a region where Southern white Democrats dominated politics. For many sharing this political affiliation, Catholicism and racial equality threatened their perception of the good society. Not every Trammell supporter was a Southern Democrat, however. C.A. Stanford of Minneola confessed that he was a Republican, but “I must say I approve of the stand you have taken.”33

Another Northern Republican who relocated to Ocala expressed a similar opinion, calling Trammell’s decision, “THE PROPER THING TO HAVE DONE.” The author suspected “nearly all right thinking people” of Florida would vote for Trammell because of it. Public schools were the Northerner’s principal concern. “To my mind,” he wrote, “there is no question” that the “the Roman Catholic church” wanted to “‘do’ our school system ‘dirty.’” Claiming to have voted against candidates who “[cater] to Romanism,” the author proclaimed, “I believe the time has come when Americans must be put in office. Rome has had her day in office, and those that she now fills must be taken away from her as fast as Americans are found to take them, and hold them – for the good of America.”

L.M. Drake of Daytona claimed he supported Trammell even though his wife and daughter were Catholics.

Drake called the “blatant bitter” denunciations from the “Catholic press” nothing more than political chicanery.” He regretted that Trammell would lose votes from Catholics. Drake believed “any fair-minded man” could see the governor was simply executing his “sworn duty.”  Laws are made for all alike, regardless [of] politics or religion.”  Even for his Republican and Catholic-favoring admirers, Trammell’s actions contributed to the “good of America.”

Trammell supporters sometimes claimed different political affiliations, yet all seemed to agree that “right thinking” people supported the governor’s decision. The “right thinking” person, from this perspective, valued white supremacy and believed the “patriot” was anything but Catholic.

Trammell gained a great deal of momentum from the Saint Augustine affair. He distanced himself from any sense that religious prejudice motivated his actions. But supporters frequently praised what they believed was the governor’s “noble” stand against Rome. Trammell’s Democratic opponent for the senate seat, Nathan P. Bryan, tried to use the governor’s anti-Catholic image as a liability. In a pamphlet, Bryan alleged that Trammell belonged to a secret fraternal order named, “The Guardians of Liberty.” The “chief purpose” of the Guardians, averred Bryan, was to keep “Catholics out of office.” This, he continued, violated the provision that church and State should be kept separate.”

Trammell’s political opponent saw in the Guardians an irredeemable flaw, “The Guardians of Liberty is Know Nothingism revived.”

For Bryan, anti-Catholicism was not an endearing political value. He hoped that the state’s Democratic voters felt the same. In addition to decrying Trammell, Bryan’s pamphlet offered something of a defense for his having appointed Peter A. Dignan, a Catholic, as Jacksonville’'s postmaster. Political opponents had used this appointment to argue that Bryan kept secret ties with the Catholic Church. “I am not a Catholic,” countered Bryan, “I did not recommend Mr. Dignan because he is one.” Calling Dignan “my personal and political friend,” Bryan maintained that he made the appointment because “He had the confidence and respect of the people of this city.”

Hoping to discredit his opponent, Bryan tried to link Trammell to the Guardians of Liberty.

As Bryan suggested, the Guardians of Liberty were a secret organization that endeavored to keep Catholics out of elected offices. In essence, the Guardians were an institutionalized product of an anti-Catholic movement during the early 1910s. In 1911, Missouri’s Wilbur Phelps began publishing an anti-Catholic periodical, The Menace. Subscriptions reached 1.5 million in four years.

Tom Watson’'s Jeffersonian Magazine soon joined the fray, publishing articles with headlines reading, “The Roman Catholic Hierarchy: The Deadliest Menace to Our Liberties and Our Civilization,” “The Murder of Babes,” “The Sinister Portent of Negro Priests,” “How the Confessional Is Used by Priests to Ruin Women,” and “One of the Priests Who Raped a Catholic Woman in a Catholic Church.” By 1912, Lt. General Nelson A. Miles, ex-Congressman Charles D. Haines, and Charles B. Skinner formed the Guardians of Liberty in Atlanta. With Tom Watson’s support and a culture of anti-Catholicism brewing, the Guardians became a strong political force in the unfinished South.

Trammell denied having belonged to the Guardians, but he admired the organization nonetheless. “I am not a Guardian of Liberty,” he announced, “but I know many of them who are good Democrats.” Trammell continued, warning that Bryan’s politic's would “[discriminate] against a large number of Protestants, and [favor] a large number of Catholics.”

While Bryan tried using the Guardians as a political liability, Trammell embraced the organization. They were, for the governor, “good Democrats.” Between Trammell and Bryan, we find two white Protestant Democrats with differing perceptions of the good society. One aligned with an organization that sought to alienate Catholics from public life. The other unapologetically appointed a Catholic to a civic post. On the matter of Catholicism, the white Democratic South was not an ideological monolith. Trammell’s following was larger in number, thus eventuating in his victory. The voice of Bryan spoke for another value system that, while less popular, still became part of the era’s political rhetoric.
[/quote]

rjp2008

October 23, 2009, 03:07:49 PM
The fire this, the fire that...everything with the fire....

At some point, Jax has to stop dwelling on it so much. Leave it in history, where it belongs. Move on. To it's credit, the city has. But sadly, it seems like it's still clung to as "we should've been this kind of city but the fire ripped us off" Yes, it was terrible. It's a growing city now, has some direction, I just think the fire needs to be left in the past where it belongs. Move the city forward.

JeffreyS

October 23, 2009, 03:17:52 PM
I don't find many people who even know much about it much less dwell on it.

Dan B

November 03, 2009, 08:59:09 AM
The fact is, the Fire pushed Jacksonville to become a modern city. Prior to the fire, it was predominantly wooden structures, and many of the streets were still unpaved.

Honestly, in a sort of back handed way, the fire may have been the best thing to ever happen to Jax!

ac

November 03, 2009, 09:06:12 AM
^
I'd agree, if we hadn't systematically destroyed many of the buildings that cropped up in the wake of the fire only to leave empty lots.

We've set ourselves back in the intervening century.

billy

November 03, 2009, 09:18:33 AM
Didn't Klutho come here because of the fire?

Dan B

November 03, 2009, 09:22:16 AM
Yup.

thelakelander

November 03, 2009, 09:22:59 AM
Yes. Most of Jax's well known architects from that era came because of the fire.  I agree with Dan B.  Although it was disaster, the fire was one of the better things to happen to Jacksonville.  The city that came out of its ashes was something that was and still is unique to the Southeastern US.

stjr

November 03, 2009, 10:14:50 AM
Yes. Most of Jax's well known architects from that era came because of the fire.  I agree with Dan B.  Although it was disaster, the fire was one of the better things to happen to Jacksonville.  The city that came out of its ashes was something that was and still is unique to the Southeastern US.

Lake, maybe another "fire" would move us into the next century?  Since we are tearing down all our historic buildings anyway, we won't be sacrificing much.   ???  We aren't doing too well on our own, are we?  See the thread I started yesterday about Top 10 things to do to make downtown boom again:  http://www.metrojacksonville.com/forum/index.php/topic,6638.0.html .  Feel free to add your ideas.

Ocklawaha

November 03, 2009, 10:16:42 AM
Interesting side note from an Unreconstructed Seccish Confederate... I think we've had enough fires.

During the War of Yankee Aggression, Jacksonville was invaded by the Union Fleet and Army in 1862, and thereafter three more times. The first invasion wasn't complete until an incredible fire fight between Confederate Battery's on St. Johns Bluff and the Fort at Yellow Bluff (National Park Site today). The Yankees over ran both sites, and built a signal tower at Yellow Bluff and Hemming Plaza. The City was burned to the ground by wild troops from NEW YORK, who started their fires in the churches. When they left town, the people tried to rebuild only to be burned out again, each invasion heavy with NEW YORK soldiers, in fact we were burned out three times. The Confederate Line finally pulled back to about 15 miles of earthworks west of town (also a park today).

We were then hit by the Great Charleston Earthquake of 1886, and a national depression in the 1890's. Finally on a roll, the City was booming by 1901, ironically with a huge influx of former (mostly) New York Soldiers, who loved the area so much they came back and invested. When the Great Fire Hit, perhaps the first and greatest aid we got was from the CITY OF NEW YORK. They donated nearly a million dollars, and a great deal of love for Jacksonville. History is stranger then fiction.


OCKLAWAHA
DEO VINDICE Y'ALL!



stjr

November 03, 2009, 10:34:15 AM
Finally on a roll, the City was booming by 1901, ironically with a huge influx of former (mostly) New York Soldiers, who loved the area so much they came back and invested. When the Great Fire Hit, perhaps the first and greatest aid we got was from the CITY OF NEW YORK. They donated nearly a million dollars, and a great deal of love for Jacksonville. History is stranger then fiction.[/color][/b]

A million dollars in 1901?  Wow.  Did we do anything to honor their generosity?  A monument, historic marker, thank you note?  Anything?  Maybe we should have made NYC our first "sister city".  Think of all the spin off benefits that would have given us as their "little sister".  Winter home for all those New Yorkers and their pro-sports teams, recipient of traveling exhibits from their museums, rub-offs of their cultural, architectural, and financial acumen, etc.  You know, "Wall Street of the South"!  Maybe even a left over subway car or two!  :D

mtraininjax

November 03, 2009, 06:21:30 PM
Quote
Since we are tearing down all our historic buildings anyway, we won't be sacrificing much.

Is the Park View Inn gone yet?  ;D

What others are we tearing down in 2009?

Lunican

November 15, 2009, 10:20:00 PM
Quote
TO REBUILD JACKSONVILLE; Plan for an Organization to Provide Permanent Relief. Corporation Suggested Which Will Furnish Ready Money Necessary to Reconstruct the Burned District.

May 26, 1901, Wednesday

While the work of relieving the immediate necessities of the Jacksonville (Fla.) fire sufferers has been in progress it has been thought by many of those engaged that a plan should be devised that would give permanent relief and that would not be simply a matter of sending so much food to be eaten or so much money to be spent on living alone.

Full Article:
http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9505EFDA1F38E733A25755C2A9639C946097D6CF

Lunican

November 15, 2009, 10:22:01 PM
Quote
FOR JACKSONVILLE, $36,769; This City's Contribution to the Fire Sufferers in Three Days. Articles Mostly Needed Are Bedding, Furniture, and Money -- Big Grocery Houses Not Burned.

May 9, 1901, Wednesday

Additional subscriptions to aid the Jacksonville fire sufferers continued coming in to the Joint Relief Committee of the Merchants' Association and the Chamber of Commerce all day yesterday. When the books were closed for the day, at 5 o'clock, $4,176.50 had been taken in, the total subscription for the three days thus far being $36.769.

Full Article:
http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?res=9F01EFDD1139E733A2575AC0A9639C946097D6CF

Lunican

November 15, 2009, 10:25:36 PM
It appears that the NY Times covered this story extensively and led the way in raising funds for the rebuilding of Jacksonville. No wonder so many New York architects came down to help rebuild.

Lunican

November 15, 2009, 10:29:04 PM
Along with money, New York also sent relief trains and steamships.

Quote
NEW YORK'S RELIEF FOR JACKSONVILLE; Over $59,000 Already Subscribed for Homeless Fire Sufferers. THE ACTION OF MERCHANTS Joint Committee of Their Association and the Chamber of Commerce -- Transportation Companies' Generous Response.

http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?res=9F00E2D61730E033A25754C0A9639C946097D6CF

Ernest Street

November 15, 2009, 11:07:11 PM
Thanks Lunican, I love those "hand set type" archived articles.(still retaining a form of the Kings English no less)
 It was interesting how the smaller merchants and partnerships donated more than the big companies.
And Pennsylvania Railroad was going to "Beat the record" getting relief supplies down to the southern tracks.
New York City loved us. :)

newzgrrl

April 04, 2010, 11:02:24 PM
I'm finding this thread late in the game but glad to see it. My family has always had a strong interest in the fire because my great-grandmother's story is included in the book (Linda Frost Sheddan, page 132). She made an audio tape recording of her recollection before she died in 1977. (The tape disappeared in the mid-90s.) The Times-Union ran her story on the front of the Metro section in 1997. It was republished in 1999 and 2001.

http://jacksonville.com/tu-online/stories/022199/cel_sheddan.html

I, too, attended the marker unveiling in Hemming Park in 2001. The fire chief noted that the wind was picking up that day, just as it had in 1901. Big Jim sounded for 100 seconds at noon. Later in the afternoon, a historical marker was unveiled at the Afro-American Life Insurance Co. building at Ocean and Union.

That evening, the Wood and Foley book was released at a debut party at The Ritz, at which some of the stories from the book, including Linda Sheddan's, were read by interpreters. WJCT produced two movies at the time, one on the history of the fire and reflections from the book and another about wildfires in Florida. Also unveiled was a mock-up of the memorial now at the bottom of Market Street. The sculptor said it represented the city rising from the ashes. The bottom of the memorial has multiple pieces of metal with rough edges and a rough finish, and as the structure goes upward, it becomes cleaner and more polished.

Coolyfett

April 04, 2010, 11:41:26 PM
Good stuff man...keep posting on da site

Wacca Pilatka

April 05, 2010, 09:49:25 AM
I'm finding this thread late in the game but glad to see it. My family has always had a strong interest in the fire because my great-grandmother's story is included in the book (Linda Frost Sheddan, page 132). She made an audio tape recording of her recollection before she died in 1977. (The tape disappeared in the mid-90s.) The Times-Union ran her story on the front of the Metro section in 1997. It was republished in 1999 and 2001.

http://jacksonville.com/tu-online/stories/022199/cel_sheddan.html

I, too, attended the marker unveiling in Hemming Park in 2001. The fire chief noted that the wind was picking up that day, just as it had in 1901. Big Jim sounded for 100 seconds at noon. Later in the afternoon, a historical marker was unveiled at the Afro-American Life Insurance Co. building at Ocean and Union.

That evening, the Wood and Foley book was released at a debut party at The Ritz, at which some of the stories from the book, including Linda Sheddan's, were read by interpreters. WJCT produced two movies at the time, one on the history of the fire and reflections from the book and another about wildfires in Florida. Also unveiled was a mock-up of the memorial now at the bottom of Market Street. The sculptor said it represented the city rising from the ashes. The bottom of the memorial has multiple pieces of metal with rough edges and a rough finish, and as the structure goes upward, it becomes cleaner and more polished.

Newzgrrl, thanks for sharing this.  I always found Mrs. Sheddan's story to be the most intense and moving in the book.

stephendare

September 23, 2013, 04:48:55 PM
Stjr.  Here is a great kind of impression of the political environment in and around the time:

I was looking up references to the Dignans after whom the park system was originally named and I came across this highly interesting doctoral thesis describing the immediate background of the change from "Dignan" Park to "Confederate" Park.

Apparently there was a fresh wave of domestic terror with the Catholics.

Not terror BY the Catholics mind you, but OF them.

After nuns in St Augustine were proven to be deliberately teaching Negroes at the school in 1911, a firestorm of demands for security and stronger laws was pretty much unleashed.

The Governor an anti Catholic crusader was running against Nathan P. Bryan for Senator.  Bryan had appointed an incredibly respected member of the Dignan Family as Postmaster General of Jacksonville and came under heavy criticism for potentially dealing with the terrorists as a result.

The controversy lasted until 1916 and the new elections.

Anyways, this is a fascinating look into the politics and motivations of the times:
(this part of the story picks up about page 164)
Quote
true womanhood,' for numerous white Protestant Southerners, implied a special devotion to religion, prohibition, and/or the Lost Cause. On the latter effort, female devotees preserved their True history' by erecting monuments, delivering speeches, and promoting Confederate organizations. 

Southern white Jews frequently heralded a binary value of civic service and religious unity. As one rabbi asserted, the 'true religion' of Judaism was 'patriotic,' 'spiritual,' and devoted to social betterment.
Southern white Catholics also cast themselves as 'True' Americans. However, in the unfinished South, scores of non-Catholics remained unwilling to recognize the validity of this Catholic patriotism. This chapter is both about institutional religion and civil religion. Matters pertaining to religious doctrine appeared in nativist and Catholic exchanges. Underlying this rhetoric were concerns regarding social unity, peace, and prosperity.

Nativists claimed that Catholics threatened to unravel America's social fabric. Catholics objected, countering that the actions of nativists ran contrary to constitutional guarantees regarding religious freedom. Both assumed that they were the 'true' Americans, and that their opposition was not.

Catholics were a numerical minority in the unfinished South, but their presence influenced how many non-Catholics perceived their good society during the 1910s. This was a new era of nativism in the South and nation. Nativists, wrote historian Dan T. Knobel, "believed that they knew best who was really 'American'". He explained that the nativist movement became powerful enough to 'mobilize a significant portion of the American electorate for political action and actually achieve many of its goals.' To do this, nativists created a 'perception of world, of self, and of symbols separating participants from outsiders.' During the 1910s, nativists made Catholics into social 'outsiders.' They feared that Catholics were loyal to Rome and Rome alone. Nativists subsequently worried that followers of the faith would, if left unchecked, negatively change the character of America.

The perception of the world created by Southern nativists determined that Catholics were inherently un-American.' Behind this reasoning was a rather circuitous and ironic history of the American South's immigration efforts. After Reconstruction, a number of Southern white progressives conjectured that European immigrants could contribute to the region's financial growth, while also eliminating the need for black labor. As we recall, material progress became an important social value for many Southern whites after Reconstruction. Railroads, agriculture, industry, and the like came to symbolize, for this population, the coming of a better age.

White supremacy was also a prized value for many white Southerners. For the South to remain unified, peaceful, and prosperous, whites averred, their race needed to dominate. In 1904 and 1905, Southern railroad companies brought an Italian ambassador to the United States for a tour of the existing Italian communities. Mississippi and Arkansas had relative success with Italian laborers in the cotton fields. In 1906, a Mississippi newspaper commended Louisiana for introducing foreign labor. In addition to the economic benefits, the paper supposed the racial situation had improved. 'The influx of Italians between 1890 and 1900,' the paper positively proclaimed, had made Louisiana a white state.' The journalist assumed what many other Southern whites did ' that is, their good society was white and materially prosperous.

Despite the optimism of some, the push for foreign immigration was largely unsuccessful.  As historian Leon Litwack summarized, Southern white planters sustained a belief 'that blacks would perform labor and submit to treatment self-respecting whites would refuse to tolerate.'

In other words, planters believed that black laborers would willingly perform duties that white immigrants would not. Immigration, then, was not the labor panacea that some Southern white progressives wanted. By the 1910s, nativism swept the nation and the American South. All the while, white Southerners continued to question the wisdom of importing immigrant labor. One Memphis newspaper asserted that the South's 'race question' had to be 'solved on the old line of Anglo-Saxon and African. We do not want the ignorance and vice of Europe to complicate it.'

In 1913, a New Orleans newspaper warned, 'safety first for our native stock should be the watchword of the South in dealing with immigration. Material progress had better slacken than be furthered at the sacrifice of the higher good.'9 In 1915, Methodist minister Alfred L. Woodward in Tallahassee implored legislators to confront the urgent and pressing matter of white immigration.' While perhaps helpful for the region's prosperity, Woodward worried about the potential moral retrograde that, for example, Germans and their breweries and beers would bring.

Our previous discussions of material progress have shown that Southern whites frequently placed limitations on what they were, and were not, willing to accept for the sake of progress.

Maintaining the higher Good for these speakers meant precluding immigrants from entering the South. Similar to the rest of the former Confederacy, the immigrant population in the unfinished South grew rapidly after Reconstruction. Florida had a small but vocal collective supporting the importation of foreign labor in the late nineteenth century. In 1877, the state's Bureau of Immigration distributed pamphlets in Europe entitled the Florida Settler and Florida Immigrant.

When the native population began voicing opposition to the effort, the governmental push for foreign labor ceased. This did not stop the flow of immigrants to the state, however. Instead, Florida's foreign population grew from 1900 to 1920, unlike its neighboring states where the rates stayed consistent.

As more immigrants came to Florida, the state's Catholic presence grew and became strongest in urban centers along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts. 13 By the 1910s, this fact caught the eye of the state's nativist legislators. In 1913, Florida passed a law banning the instruction of whites by blacks, and blacks by whites. The law had no overt markers of anti-Catholicism. But during the years 1909-1910, 337 black students attended Catholic schools staffed by white nuns.

Also in 1913, a pamphlet entitled Knights of Columbus Oath, Extract 4th Degree appeared in Florida's congressional records. While fake, the pamphlet spoke directly to nativist fears. The fictitious inductee pledged to defend His doctrine and His Holiness's right and custom against all usurpers of the heretical or Protestant authority.' The imagined knight then promised to wage relentless War against Protestant heretics and hang, burn, waste, boil, flay, strangle, and bury alive these infamous heretics, rip up the stomachs and wombs of their women, and crush their infants heads against the walls in order to annihilate their execrable race.' Vowing to vote for Catholics, the invented inductee also promised to place Catholic girls in Protestant families [so] that a weekly report may be made of the inner movements of the heretics.'

For the nativist Floridians, Catholics were an organized band of religious fanatics who planned to overthrow the nation's Protestant authorities. The nativist good society, then, lacked a Catholic presence. So pervasive was this fear that legislators created laws aimed at limiting Catholic freedom. In the unfinished South, some believed that this brand of legislative anti-Catholicism was supremely disordered. In Saint Augustine, Bishop Michael J. Curley called the 1913 bill banning interracial instruction evidence of Florida's 'waves of anti-Catholic hysteria.'

In the following years, Curley continued fighting the religious hysteria of his state. In 1915, when speaking at a reception in Jacksonville, the bishop again commented on what he believed were the wrongheaded prejudices of the region. patriotism of the highest order,' Curley proclaimed, flows from the very essence of Catholicism.' For Curley, members of his faith.  In Florida, some non-Catholics shared Curley's religiously inclusive perception of the good society.

However, if elections were any indication, many others did not. Catholicism became a point of heated debate during Florida's 1916 election season. A candidate's position regarding the Catholic place in public life frequently determined his electoral success or failure.

Park Trammell and the 'true Patriotic People'

Bishop Curley's perception of the good society made Catholics viable patriots in a land where many non-Catholics firmly disagreed. By the 1910s, Southern white nativists made anti-Catholicism part of Florida's legal makeup, partially, by banning interracial instruction. In April 1916, Governor Park Trammell received a petition claiming that white nuns teaching at the Saint Joseph's convent in Saint Augustine were teaching black students. He contacted the sheriff, confirmed the claim, and ordered the nuns arrests. In his public statement, Trammell maintained that he enforced 'a good law.' Racial distinctions, not religious ones, were at stake for the governor. 'I do not think we should encourage anything which would tend to make the negro believe he is on social equality with the white people.' The nuns, he relayed, received a warning, but 'they claimed it was not a violation of the law.' Thus, Trammell declared that he completed his 'plain duty,' attesting again that that race motivated his actions, not religion.

Catholic newspapers, the governor lamented, 'are unfair and try to mislead and deceive the people of Florida.' Offering assurance, Trammell reaffirmed that he had 'absolutely no religious prejudice' and wanted all Floridians 'to enjoy their own religion.'18 Not everyone agreed that Trammell's actions lacked an anti-Catholic component. Commenting on the affair, one Jacksonville journalist lauded the 'good sisters' for their 'educational work.' The citizens of Jacksonville, the article speculated, had expressed 'much indignation' over the affair, believing it 'deplorable that any law should be countenanced which has for its object the prevention of gratuitous education of the colored boys and girls of the state by white teachers.'

Trammell insisted that his actions were not products of religious prejudice, yet letters flooding his office commended the governor for just this. For many Southern white Protestants, the good society was both free from Catholics and dominated by whites. Trammell became their patriotic standard-bearer.

From Ft. Lauderdale, one supporter wrote approvingly of Trammell's handling of "the nigger teacher question.' The author worried that 'some of our courts will upset every thing when it comes to Catholics and the law,' because 'they seem to have a different opinion.'

H. Witaker of Muscogee applauded Trammell's 'stand . . . on the side of the patriotic people' of Florida and 'against Rome.'

From Okeechobee, J.L. Crewsexpressed pleasure that Trammell '[advocated]  one of the Best' laws in existence, which he believed would contain '[this] Roman Catholicism.' The author worried that if 'something isn't done shortly that we the Protestant People would have some fight on our hands.'

Post-Master and Justice of the Peace in Tropic Indian River, George Ensey, thanked Trammell for his prompt, fearless action against 'The powerful Catholic Hierarchy.' Ensey wrote that the 'so called Church's had become 'the most powerful political machine in the world.'

Giving a word of warning, J.B. George of Morristo wrote, 'Be on your guard as I think the Catholics are going to try to turn a trick on you. I have been told that the Catholics of South Florida are claiming that they are supporting you.'

For this group of Trammell supporters, Catholics were deceitful, conniving, and harmful to the social order. The governor's actions promised them that the 'political machine' of Catholicism would not overrun Florida.

For Florida's nativists, Catholics were neither 'True' Americans, nor socially benign. In the wake of the Saint Augustine affair, Trammell claimed he held no malice toward Catholics. Yet for his supporters, the governor's actions made him an exemplary 'patriot.' Some Trammell admirers gave more attention to the event's racial implications. In one correspondence, R.C. Hodges, a former Confederate, proclaimed that Trammell's position against Negro Equality would assure all the old soldiers would vote for him.

I take sides with you commonly speaking,' wrote Y.J. Holder. 'I don't think white and black should class up with one another anyway. They think themselves on equality with white people. I hope you will get that law in force [so] that white teachers shall not teach in negro schools.'

A.C. Pierce of DeLand, wrote to assure Trammell that 'as long as you stand as you do against the whites teaching negro schools you will have the People of the South for you.''

The "People of the South,' for this letter writer, were clearly the white people of Florida.

Trammell himself continually asserted that his actions had intended to preserve the line separating the races. This imagined line was, for the governor and his admirers, necessary for social stability.

DDC

May 03, 2014, 11:17:49 AM
Hope it is OK to dig this out on the anniversary of the Great Fire of 1901.

I have seen a couple of mentions of it  in my time line today. One statement in an article in the Florida History Network is "The fire destroyed every public building except the federal building."

Now I am sure I have read that at some time but for the life of me I can't remember when or where. What building was the Federal Building? Any one have an idea?

KenFSU

May 03, 2014, 07:18:44 PM
^ I'm not sure about the specifics of the building, but I do know that it was a popular spot for photographers to set up shop in the days after the fire.

Here's a shot from the roof of the federal building:

http://floridamemory.com/items/show/28169

DDC

May 03, 2014, 08:01:15 PM
Thanks KenFSU.

I have seen this picture before but wasn't aware that is where it was taken from.

AuditoreEnterprise

May 03, 2014, 10:25:31 PM
has there ever been a documentary on the fire since it was such a big part of Jacksonville history?

IrvAdams

May 04, 2014, 08:54:29 AM
The Great Fire has a kinda wimpy Wikipedia entry also. Of course, we could beef that up ourselves, right?

stephendare

May 04, 2014, 09:09:28 AM
The Great Fire has a kinda wimpy Wikipedia entry also. Of course, we could beef that up ourselves, right?

Its hard.  Two of the senior editors at wikipedia are very anti jacksonville.  One lives in Tampa.  They delete and limit articles about the city that show it in a positive light pretty obsessively and have been doing it for about 10 years.

IrvAdams

May 04, 2014, 09:43:10 AM
The Great Fire has a kinda wimpy Wikipedia entry also. Of course, we could beef that up ourselves, right?

Its hard.  Two of the senior editors at wikipedia are very anti jacksonville.  One lives in Tampa.  They delete and limit articles about the city that show it in a positive light pretty obsessively and have been doing it for about 10 years.

Amazingly childish.

AuditoreEnterprise

May 04, 2014, 11:55:29 AM
We should talk about having a documentary filmed on it. I think that would be cool

Tacachale

May 04, 2014, 12:08:04 PM
The Great Fire has a kinda wimpy Wikipedia entry also. Of course, we could beef that up ourselves, right?

Its hard.  Two of the senior editors at wikipedia are very anti jacksonville.  One lives in Tampa.  They delete and limit articles about the city that show it in a positive light pretty obsessively and have been doing it for about 10 years.

Who is this, Stephen? There are a number of Wikipedia editors with Jacksonville connections too and they've produced a lot of solid articles.

stephendare

May 04, 2014, 01:07:13 PM
Two really annoying twerps really.  I can look through my emails and get the editorial names, but unless its historical, most jacksonville material gets submistted for deletion and prosecuted by the two of them. It created a pretty big issue internally a few years ago.

Wacca Pilatka

May 04, 2014, 08:12:27 PM
Hope it is OK to dig this out on the anniversary of the Great Fire of 1901.

I have seen a couple of mentions of it  in my time line today. One statement in an article in the Florida History Network is "The fire destroyed every public building except the federal building."

Now I am sure I have read that at some time but for the life of me I can't remember when or where. What building was the Federal Building? Any one have an idea?

I am pretty sure the Federal Building was an alternate name for the post office building with the round tower that was torn down in 1949 or so.

KenFSU

May 05, 2014, 09:58:32 AM
(See side caption)

rhburn3

June 05, 2014, 04:14:41 PM
Was Cantee Street affected by the fire in 1901?
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