Friday, February 23, 2018

Worth another look: About the history of Palm Beach County.

A blog post titled, “Origins & History of the Palm Beaches” by Robert I. Davidsson (Ret.).

Robert Davidsson is retired manager of the Palm Beach County Library System’s Government Research Service (GRS) and author of the book “Indian River: A History of the Ais Indians in Spanish Florida” and related articles about Florida’s past.

Below is an excerpt from Davidsson’s blog, Origins & History of the Palm Beaches about “the mysterious and poorly charted inland sea known as Lake Okeechobee.” At the end of this blog post is the link to read in its entirety.

‘Democrat River’:

Belle Glade’s Everglades Gateway

By Bob Davidsson

The late 19th century was the last great age of exploration. It was an era when newspaper publishers not only reported sensational adventures in faraway lands, but sponsored expeditions to Africa, the Arctic and other unexplored regions to beat the competition.
     The best known of these journalistic expeditions was the dispatching of Henry Morton Stanley by the New York Herald to find and “rescue” missing missionary-explorer Dr. David Livingston from the unknown depths of central Africa in 1871.
     Not to be outdone by their northern rival publications, the editors of the newly merged New Orleans Times-Democrat newspaper (1881–1914) decided to launch two expeditions to the mysterious and poorly charted inland sea known as Lake Okeechobee. It was hoped journal reports from the expeditions would increase national readership, while new outlets to the sea would be discovered for future economic development.
     Times-Democrat correspondents kept journals of the expeditions. Their articles were printed in installments in the newspaper. A summary editorial entitled “North and South Through the Everglades in 1883” was published in the Jan. 6, 1884 edition of the newspaper.
     The editorial summarized, “These articles in the Times-Democrat introduce the whole country to Florida, and a general desire we felt to know more about this country and particularly about the Everglades.”
     The Lake Okeechobee expeditions were led by Major A.P. Williams. The journalist-explorers sailed from New Orleans to the cattle town of Punta Rassa on Florida’s west coast. Both expeditions then paddled up the Caloosahatchee River to Lake Okeechobee.
     The first expedition sailed north and explored the Kissimmee River to its source. It was followed by a second journey to the southern shore of Lake Okeechobee in November 1883. The explorers searched for a water gateway that would lead them through the Everglades to Florida Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.
     Their waterway of choice was christened the “Democrat River” in honor of their newspaper. The river led not to the sea, but into the heart of the Everglades.

Hope you enjoyed reading about the “Origins & History of the Palm Beaches”.

To read the entire article about the “Democrat River” click on this link.