Monthly Archives: March 2019

A Florida Friday: Arcadia — old rodeo town & antiques graveyard where resurrections occur daily

Last month we drove an hour northeast of here to visit the historic town of Arcadia (population about 8,000). We’d driven through there before on a few occasions, stopping for lunch but never sticking around to check out all the antique stores—something for which Arcadia is famous. I must say, I am not a big antiques shopper, but I have never in my life seen so many antiques and so many vintage items and so much crazy STUFF!

We got there pretty early and after perusing a few cavernous antiques malls, had a delicious lunch at Mary Margaret’s Tea and Biscuit Restaurant where the wait staff dresses in period outfits. When it was time for dinner, we stopped at the Magnolia Street Seafood and Grill Restaurant, which is the top-rated place in town. It did not disappoint; in fact, it was honestly some of the best seafood I’ve had; the hush puppies were amazing.

In our wanderings, I saw loads and loads of old unlabelled photos and CDVs—I know this is a common phenomenon all over the country, but that kind of thing saddens me to no end.

However, there was a bright spot in all this lost family history since I was able to reunite one massive mid-nineteenth-century family Bible that originally belonged to a Long Island Civil War veteran with a living descendant I tracked down via Ancestry.com.  I connected him with the shop owner, and for $50, this Bible (complete with loads of handwritten names in the middle under Births/Marriages/Deaths) was heading back into that family. I felt good about that, and it wasn’t hard to do, so I am glad I made the effort. The last family member to own it died in 1986, so it had been floating around “out there” in the universe for quite some time.

The only other thing I saw that was actually labelled was the below wedding photo of Mae and Victor Falsitta. I found someone I believe to be a descendant on Ancestry, but they never responded to my message. Perhaps, someone will find the photo here. I do remember which shop I saw it in, so any Falsitta family member reading this, feel free to contact me.

Plenty of people were shopping and buying, giving lots of old items a fresh start with a new owner. By and large, shoppers were on the older side, which is understandable. However, I could not help but wonder what will become of all this stuff once those of us over a certain age are no longer around. But that’s neither here nor there, really. Some other stuff will eventually replace all of this stuff or add to it. (Somehow I can’t imagine these places being even more packed.)

What did I buy? Just a few cookie cutters and a couple of kitchen gadgets that intrigued me. I learned that my grandmother’s mouli grater is not one of a kind, nor is my Dad’s old cake cutter. My grandmother’s old meat grinder that we use every Christmas to make cranberry and orange relish also has plenty of “siblings”… So anyone out there with a particular nostalgia about a certain item has a pretty good chance of finding it, or one like it, in Arcadia.

State of Florida; base map – 1940 (Library of Congress digital ID: http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.gmd/g3930.ct000499)

Arcadia is packed with history, and all these antiques stores are mini-museums and an education in themselves. I would definitely recommend a visit; its an old town with that old Florida feel—something you don’t get to experience much when you stick to the coastal towns and cities in the southern part of the state. Arcadia is also famous for being a rodeo town. The first one took place in 1928 as a fundraiser to get a building constructed. The most recent rodeo event was held earlier this  month and attracts fans and competitors from all over the US. Perhaps, we will try to go next year just to have that experience.

Anyway, happy Friday, everyone! Here are some photos from our travels…

Categories: Arcadia, Florida, Memorabilia | Tags: , , | 8 Comments

Continuation of January 9 post: More Woodruff farm photos from mid-1920s

I forgot I had these two other photos when I did my January 9th post on the Woodruff farm.

My great-grandmother Wealthy Ann Angus Woodruff (5 August 1850 – 27 May 1927) with her grandsons, Charles Brodhead (my Dad) and Richard Angus Brown, outside the barn on the Woodruff farm off Conant Street in Hillside, New Jersey

I have no idea who these ladies and the little girl are, but I’m assuming they worked on the Woodruff farm as this photo was together with the other two.

I offer the below as a comparison; you can see the boys all grown up and ready to go to war. They appear in reverse order in the second photo.

Categories: Angus, Elizabeth, Union Co., Hillside Union, New Jersey, Woodruff | Tags: , , | 4 Comments

A Florida Friday: Watch out!

Undated image showing a man fishing in the pristine Blue Springs, Marion County, FL (public domain image – Library of Congress) – you can see how crystal clear the water is.

Undated image of settlers in Ocala, Florida- no plumbing, no AC, no electric

I often think about Florida’s earliest settlers and what it must have been like for them to experience the diverse and alien habitats within the peninsula. It was a harsh environment without all of today’s conveniences and navigational know-how. No signs to alert them to dangers that may lie ahead: alligators, bears, boars, panthers, fire ants, thorny plants, swamp land, poisonous snakes. No guidebooks. No weather alerts that a hurricane was coming. No hospitals. No experience with the tough and thorny flora.

On the other hand, these early arrivals got to see Florida in a pristine state, something denied most travelers today except those who venture into places that are protected by the state and/or hard to reach places that remain inhospitable and uninhabitable.

While you can enjoy Florida’s many beautiful state parks and national forests, which definitely have their pristine areas, you’re never far from signs of civilization and never far from help if you need it (which is a good thing, of course).

On a side note, a couple days ago I met a woman who grew up in the Everglades back in the 1950s and 1960s. Wow—the stories she can tell are unbelievable. She still spends time camping out in places 99.9% of today’s Floridians would never dare go. I admire her. A tough lady who has had a very unique life experience and knows the Ten Thousand Islands like the back of her hand.

I’ve been in Florida long enough to respect the land and wildlife habitats. Long enough to know to be wary of threats and dangers I may encounter along the way.

When I was very young, the The Yearling (Gregory Peck and Jane Wyman) made a deep impression on me for obvious reasons.  The film was on TCM a couple of weeks ago, and this time, seeing it through the lens of someone who knows Florida much better than I did 50+ years ago, it was still gut-wrenching during that one part of the film, but I marveled at the family’s fortitude, understood their decision making, and winced at Jody’s ability to run barefoot everywhere. I don’t know anyone who would attempt that today other than at the beach.

An 1839 map of the Florida territory shows just how sparsely populated Florida was, with virtually no development whatsoever south of Lake George.

For the entire map, with zoom option, go to: https://www.wdl.org/en/item/9598/view/1/1/

By 1895, things were much different, although south Florida, apart from its eastern edge, had yet to really be discovered. Below is a map from an 1895 publication called The Tourists’ and Settlers’ Guide to Florida.

From The Tourists and Settlers’ Guide to Florida, published 1895, Public Domain through the US Library of Congress.

Today with a 20 million+ population, there are plenty of signs around, telling us where to go and what not to do, which is not a bad thing. They no doubt deter many from engaging in reckless behavior. Sure you hear stories of people doing silly things from time to time, like the young man who thought he could swim across a stretch of Lake Okeechobee without any repercussions. Those types of things do leave you scratching your head.

Here are a few warning signs I’ve seen in my travels (and I’m happy they were there):

Sign by the Suwanee River – every morning we woke to the sound of giant jumping sturgeon pounding the water!

Saw this one somewhere in my travels – maybe in Winter Garden?

Swim with caution – is that an understatement or what? Not sure where I saw this one, but I think it was near one of the Florida springs

“Underwater hazards”… Really inviting, isn’t it? Seems to me I took this at Jonathan Dickinson State Park on the east coast of Florida.

Watch for turtles and skip the bare feet if you go in. I think I saw this one somewhere near Stuart, FL, but such turtle signs are a common site, not so much the one about the rocks.

By the Suwanee again… Do not enter. Wiser words have never been spoken.

Categories: Florida | 17 Comments

Brodhead Reunion in Kingston, New York, in June 1964

Some of you may remember the post I did several years ago on the 1964 Brodhead family reunion in Kingston, NY, which was held to commemorate the 300th anniversary of Daniel Brodhead and Ann Tye’s arrival in America. Click here to head back to it. Recently I found the below article and photo on Fulton History. I don’t recognize any of these folks, but I thought some of you may. Give a shout out in the comments section if you see one of your family members or want to comment on the reunion in general. Thanks!

Brodhead family reunion in 1964 – just a few of the many Brodheads present for the event

Categories: Anniversaries, Brodhead, Kingston, New York | Tags: , | Leave a comment

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