The following is the fifth and final excerpt from an article that appeared in the Pensacola Daily News, Feb. 14, 1890. Chasing Shadows has published this piece in its entirety over the six weeks. This final piece provides a snapshot of the city of Carrabelle in 1890.
Interestingly, according to Mark Curenton Apalachicola’s premier local historian who unearthed this gem, on March 12, 1890, the minutes for the Franklin County Commission reveal that “In the matter of The Bill of the Daily News Publishing Company of Pensacola, Fla., laid over, and the President of this Board was appointed to communicate with the said company – as they have failed to comply with their proposition of Oct. 22, 1889.”
At the April 9, 1890 county commission meeting, it was stated that “In the matter of the bill of the Daily News Publishing Co. of Pensacola, Fla. for $300 was considered and passed for $225.”
Curenton noted that his examination of the earlier county commission minutes did not reveal anything about what proposition the Daily News made. Likewise there was no information on how the article failed to meet the expectations of the county commission.
A TALE OF TWO CITIES.
Lovely, Prosperous, Thriving Apalachicola.
ITS BIRTH, GROWTH, FALL AND RISE.
From Poverty to Affluence. From Wealth to Indigence, From Penury to Prosperity, the Place has Run the Gamut.
ITS PEOPLE AND THEIR BUSINESS.
The Story of Carrabelle Briefly Related, Etc., Etc., Etc.
In writing of the many natural and improved advantages of Franklin County, as well as the scenic surroundings, this issue would be incomplete without extolling the location, founding of, and many resources of Carrabelle.
It is located about 25 miles across the bay from Apalachicola, and is reached by a sail of only three or four hours, on vessels which cross every day.
Situated at the western end of St. James Island, overlooking St. George’s Sound and at the mouth of the Carrabelle River, it is the gulf harbor of Middle Florida and Georgia. The island is 21 miles long, and is on average about three miles in width. To the southwest is Dog Island, between St. George’s Bay and the mainland. It is the highest elevation of land on the entire gulf coast. No unsightly stretches of marsh lie between the shore and the deep water; there is no hanging moss – that tell-tale of malaria. Vessels coming in from the gulf through East Pass can anchor within one-half mile of the town, in 16 feet of water.
There is at ordinary tide 18 feet and 6 inches of water over the bar. The nearest harbor to the west equaling this is Pensacola, 200 miles distant. The nearest to the east and south is Tampa, 225 miles. Competition from these points will serve as a stimulus to Carrabelle’s business enterprise.
There are tributary to Carrabelle Harbor the Apalachicola, Flint, Carrabelle, Crooked, Ocklockonee and Sopchoppy Rivers, all the timber from which must go to market by this harbor, from the fact that no vessel drawing 14 feet or over can gain access to any other point in the bay.
The Augusta, Tallahassee & Gulf Railroad, which will be completed in or about March, 1890, will build a 1,100-foot pier into the bay, from which all vessels can be loaded, thus saving the shipper the expense of lighterage. The facilities for entering the harbor are unsurpassed by those of any other port on the coast.
Mr. O. H. Kelly, who went there from Boston, Mass., on the 26th day of December, 1877, is the father of the town. He went there for the purpose of laying out a town, as the manager of an Eastern syndicate, and pitched his tent in the wilderness with a determination to succeed in the enterprise. He was selected for his pluck, energy, and superior business qualities, having received a world-wide reputation as the originator and secretary of the National Grange, which was organized in Minnesota.
The Farmers’ Alliance of the United States is the outcropping of the abandoned National Grange.
This gentleman came here with the intention of staying five years, and building a railroad for the gentlemen, with whom he was connected, to Tallahassee, and it was originally intended to complete it in two years. Mr. Kelly did not succeed in getting the charter, however, until 1883, and it has been extended three times since that date. The last extension was made in February, 1889, and there is no question of doubt now that it will be completed and in operations by March 1, 1890.
The history of Carrabelle contains no airy tales, and is made up only from simple facts. The twelve years’ labor of one man, so to speak, who isolated himself from the world of commerce and social surroundings for no other purpose than bettering the condition of his fellow-man; for developing the resources of a beautiful country between the gulf and Tallahassee; for opening to and showing the world the unlimited wealth of the waters of the bay; the billions and billions of feet of timber to be taken almost for the asking; and that are standing as nature placed them in the original forests on the many rivers tributary to the bay; and for publishing the truth – that Carrabelle is the nearest gulf port to New York and Cincinnati, and is admirably located for serving the purposes of a direct trade with the South and Central American states.
Can an individual build a more useful and substantial monument to his memory? Ten years hence Mr. Kelly will see some of his brightest hopes realized. If he shall have been called hence, his name and noble work will not be forgotten.
The old name of Crooked River was Carrabola on the Spanish maps. In honor of his niece, Carrie Arabelle, the name being similar to that of Carrabola, at his suggestion or request the present prosperous town of 500 inhabitants was named Carrabelle in its charter of incorporation, which was received in 1882, under the laws of the state of Florida.
With an idea always uppermost in his thoughts not to be antagonistic to anything, and having an experience at Washington, D.C., in post-office workings, and then, too, not finding any name in the guide similar, he asked for and was granted the permission to name the post-office Carrabelle.
Miss Caroline A. Hall was the first post-mistress, and she was succeeded three years ago by Miss Fannie L. Kelley.
Mr. Kelley was the first and is the present Mayor.
The owners of the property upon which Carrabelle is situated, including about 20,000 acres of land, beautifully laid out in town lots, are Benj. L. Curtis, Caroline A. Hall, Julia W. Kelley, Fannie L. Kelley, Grace H. Kelley and Garsphelia Kelley.
The proprietors take pleasure in saying that they have no ruins at which to point and tell of departed commercial wealth, but everything is new. The primitive forest being cleared to make room for the future prosperous town.
The three best fisheries on the gulf are located there, and the celebrated snapper and grouper banks are only two miles distant, due south. Millions of mullet, sheepshead, pompano, red snapper, grouper, drum, sea trout, Spanish mackerel, and every other fish that inhabits the gulf are in the bay in abundance.
The greatest oyster bars on the coast are in the immediate vicinity, and the bivalves are of the most delicious flavor. In quantity, size and quality they cannot be excelled.
From the hills that rise gradually from the shore the most superb views of the broad gulf are obtained, that from the hotel being particularly picturesque, and the sea breezes are most exhilarating.
As a point for manufactures the proprietors offer the most liberal inducements.
For health the people challenge any other part of Florida, not a death occurring among the northern residents from natural causes.
The belt of land between Carrabelle and Tallahassee comprises a portion of the most productive section of the state. The crops made consist of long and short staple cotton, sugar cane, upland and lowland rice, tobacco, corn, potatoes and other crops of this latitude. Stock-raising is also an important industry. Oranges are not a feature of this part of the state, it being too far north.
The opening of the Nicaragua Canal and the establishment of a direct trade with the Central American States will create a business at all the gulf ports. Already a large exportation of sawed lumber from the local mills to Panama has been made and this trade will increase with the completion of the proposed canal.
On the completion of the railroad a line of steamers to ply between this port and Yucatan, Nicaragua, Honduras and ports on the Caribbean Sea will be inaugurated.
Cypress, oak, ash and other timber are found in abundance in Wakulla and Liberty, the adjoining counties. There are numerous advantages and untold wealth for mill men at Carrabelle.
Phosphate beds, with analyses of from 50 to 60 per cent, miles in extent, lie adjacent to Carrabelle, and are readily accessible to the miner.
Parties who may be seeking profitable investments for their money will find it to their interest to visit, or correspond with Mr. O. H. Kelley, before locating, and ascertain the truth of these statements.
The Augusta, Carrabelle & Tallahassee Railroad
We have their assurance, will be completed on or before March 1, 1890. Mr. Benj. Symington, the Superintendent and agent of the company at Carrabelle, stating that the contractor, a gentleman of Kansas City, will reach Tallahassee ere long with a corps of 600 or 700 men, to push to completion the construction of the railway. The rails have all been purchased, and are at the present writing en route to their destination. Thirteen miles of well-ballasted steel railroad track are now laid.
The Two Saw Mills
At Carrabelle are controlled by the Franklin County Lumber Co., and they are fronting on Carrabelle River. The capacity of one mill is 35,000 feet of lumber per day; the other 50,000 feet. J. N. Coombs is the President, and A. Ludwig is Secretary and Treasurer. The firm employs from 125 to 150 men, and own the steam tugs Bessie M. and the Charles N. Tilden. The company has a planing mill connected with their business, with a capacity of 10,000 feet. The business at the mills is managed and superintended by Mr. Coombs. The firm also has a well-stocked store of general merchandise, furnishing almost every requisite of their employes[sic]. The mills are lighted with electricity, to enable them to run at night when crowded with orders. The Brush system of arc lights is used.