St. Augustine

A Florida Friday: Coquina ‘flashback’

1966_st_augustine

January 1966 visit to St. Augustine’s Castillo de San Marcos (that’s little moi in the white glasses with mom & big sis)

Below are some shells seen and collected during a recent outing to Sanibel Island… among them, the tiny, colorful coquina. Millions line the shore, and at low tide, you can watch them jiggle and maneuver as they wait, and hope, for the tides to shift back in their favor.

coquina12

Coquina shells

Whenever I see coquina shells, St. Augustine always comes to mind. If you’ve been to that beautiful, historic city on Florida’s NE coast, you know that the Spanish quarried coquina rock (a limestone composed of sand and mollusk shells found in NE Florida) to build their Castillo de San Marcos (known for some time as Fort Marion) from 1672 to 1695.

I first saw the fortress at age 5, and it, and the coquina rock, made a huge impression on me. The old ‘downtown’ as well, of course, which was supplemented by Henry Flagler’s amazing architectural creations in the 1880s. What kid would not be awestruck by all that?! And, goodness, let’s not forget Ponce de Leon’s ‘Fountain of Youth‘ up the street from the fort. (I think I am way more interested in that fountain now than I was even back then!!! 😉 )

Of course, I’m not alone—for generations, St. Augustine has been casting a spell on travelers. I found one visitor’s account from 1890 (below; scroll down); much of what they wrote about then could easily be experienced today.

Well, have a good weekend all; we’ve ‘cooled down’ here to a chilly 82! I think we’ll go fishing.
coquina3
coquinas


coquinas2coquina8

St. Augustine, Florida, 1898

Fort Marion, St. Augustine and harbor, Detroit Publishing Company, 1898 (Library of Congress image LCCN2008678231 - No known restrictions on publication)

Fort Marion, St. Augustine and harbor, Detroit Publishing Company, 1898 (Library of Congress image LCCN2008678231 – No known restrictions on publication)

A visitor’s perspective – Duluth Evening Herald, Saturday, March 15, 1890
(courtesy of http://www.fultonhistory.com)

coquina_fl1coquina_fl2coquina_fl3coquina_fl4

Categories: Florida, Sanibel Island, St. Augustine | 6 Comments

A Florida Friday: Napoleon’s nephew & Washington’s great-grand niece—love blossoms in Tallahassee

Camellias in Tallahassee's Maclay Gardens State Park (Credit: G. Kae, 2009)

Camellias in Tallahassee’s Maclay Gardens State Park (Credit: G. Kae, 2009)

Here’s an interesting story, especially for those of us who are interested in Florida history. I came across it quite accidentally while perusing an old 1919 issue of DAR Magazine, available on Internet Archive. By Clara Ryder Hayden, it gives a brief account of the fascinating life and times of Prince Charles Louis Napoleon Achille Murat (1801-1847), son of Joachim Murat, King of Naples, and Caroline Bonaparte—sister of Napoleon Bonaparte. Charles became an exile after the Napoleonic Wars and his father’s execution, and circumstances sent him on a trail of moves starting in Austria and ending in Florida in 1824, several years after Florida was acquired from Spain.

Initially Charles settled outside the city of St. Augustine where he purchased twelve hundred acres of land and was known by the locals for his rather eccentric behavior. The following year, he was encouraged by the Marquis de LaFayette (yes, that LaFayette) to purchase a 900-acre parcel to the east of Tallahassee which he subsequently named ‘Lipona’ (an anagram of ‘Napoli’ — the city his father had once ruled and which he himself had expected to rule one day).

Some of Tallahassee's iconic moss-festooned trees (these were in Maclay Gardens State Park)

Some of Tallahassee’s iconic moss-festooned trees in Maclay Gardens State Park (Credit: G. Kae, 2009)

Charles served as an alderman and as mayor of Tallahassee; and then as postmaster from 1826-1838. He also served as a Colonel in Florida’s Militia.

Those were pioneer days in Florida (statehood came later, in 1845), and Charles played an active role in the territory’s development. In 1826, the bachelor prince married the young 23-year-old widow Catherine Willis Gray (1803-1867), a great-grand niece of President George Washington. (Catherine had married at age 13, and became a widow that same year.)

A brief description of their activities together over subsequent years can be found both here in this DAR article and in numerous publications elsewhere (some links to resources are located below). Charles actually wrote several books about his life in America and view of the country and its people, but he did not achieve any literary success. Still, if you do a search on sites like Amazon, you will find his books among your search results. Sounds like they might make a curious read!

The couple spent some time back in Europe, but eventually returned to the US where they decided to try out life in New Orleans. But the Tallahassee environs seem to have held some sense of ‘home’ for them, for it was to there that they ultimately returned and there, at his plantation, that Charles died in 1847 at age 46.

Catherine outlived Charles by just over two decades and was able to live out her life very comfortably thanks to Napoleon III who had become very fond of her during her time in Europe. He ensured that she received both a lump sum upon Charles’ death and an annual lifelong stipend. Eventually she purchased her beloved Bellevue Plantation outside Tallahassee. She never remarried, but took on worthy causes such as the preservation of Mount Vernon. Though she freed her slaves after the Civil War, all chose to remain with her ’til her death. The devotion was mutual—she refused an invitation to return to Europe to live, saying she could not leave them behind.

DAR Magazine, Volume 53, 1919

Prince Murat portrait from DAR Magazine, Volume 53, 1919

Tallahassee’s Episcopal Cemetery holds the graves of this interesting couple (visit Find a Grave); their markers bear the following inscriptions:

Departed this life
April 18, 1847
Charles Louis Napoleon
Achilles Murat
Son of
The King of Naples
And
Caroline Murat
Aged 46
This Monument is Dedicated
By his Wife Catherine In
Perpetual Memory of
Her Love

DAR Magazine, Volume 53, 1919

Catherine Willis Gray, Washington’s niece (DAR Magazine, Volume 53, 1919)

Sacred
To the Memory of Princess C.A. Murat
Widow of
Col. Charles Louis Napoleon
Achilles Murat
And Daughter of the late
Col. Bird C. Willis,
Of Virginia
Who departed this life
On the 6th of August 1867
In the 64th year of her age
A kind and affectionate wife,
And sister,
A sincere and devoted friend.
None knew her but to love her
None named her but to praise.

The DAR article follows. Enjoy! And have a good weekend. Looking forward to getting back to some family history in my next post. See you then!

DAR Magazine, Volume 53, 1919

DAR Magazine, Volume 53, 1919, p. 602

DAR Magazine, Volume 53, 1919

DAR Magazine, Volume 53, 1919, p. 604

DAR Magazine, Volume 53, 1919

DAR Magazine, Volume 53, 1919, p. 606

Resources:
City of St. Augustine website
University of Florida Digital Collections
Article: “The Cracker Prince,” Tallahassee Magazine (Jul/Aug 2010)
Article: “The Florida Militia Napoleonic Connection,” Florida National Guard Department of Military Affairs
Bellevue Plantation

Categories: Florida, Miscellaneous, Prince Charles Murat, St. Augustine, Tallahassee, Washington, President George | 4 Comments

Powered by WordPress.com.

WitzEnd Family History

Adventures in Genealogy of the Witzel and Kroening Families

American in Korea

Everything International

The Genealogist's Craft

My aim is to tell interesting stories of how genealogical information comes to be. Please pull up an armchair ...

omordah.wordpress.com/

Art by Susan M. L. Moore

Lee's Birdwatching Adventures Plus

Birdwatching from a Christian Perspective

Story_Trails

Family history in stories recalled by Edie and Leo. Edith GAYLORD Allen, Leo ALLEN, Jr

Princes, Paupers, Pilgrims & Pioneers

“There are two lasting bequests we can give our children: One is roots, the other is wings.” Teaching children values and giving them the opportunity to excel is essential to good parenting. However, I feel I must also provide my children (and myself) insight into the ones who came before us: our ancestors whose lives and stories have shaped us into who we are. This is my journey; these are their stories…

Myricopia

Exploring the Past to Improve the Future

MarileeWein.com

DOUBLE GENEALOGY: the ADOPTION WITNESS

Tastes of Health

Passionate about Health, Fitness and easily prepared Delicious Food

Applegate Genealogy

Helping others discover their roots

allenrizzi

Sempre in Movimento! Published Every Monday and Friday at 12 PM EST

Cooking Without Limits

Food Photography & Recipes

THEVYPEFFECT

all about travelling in korea

My Descendant's Ancestors

Tips, Tools and Stories for the Family Historian

Smart Veg Recipes

Welcome to home made, vegeterian, healthy & kids friendly recipes

ICI & LA NATURE PICTURES

Walk and Bike in France. www.icietlanature.com

The Lives of my Ancestors

Lives, Biographies and Sketches of my Family History

Down the Rabbit Hole with Sir LeprechaunRabbit

Serious about Genealogy? Let this Olde Grey hare show you about

Diggin' Up Graves

Genealogy and family history, dirt and all.

Momoe's Cupboard

Low Budget Meals and Ideas

Generations of Nomads

On the Trail of Family Faces, Places, and Stories Around the World

Your daily Civil War newspaper [est. 1995]

All the Civil War news fit to re-print

Nothing Gilded, Nothing Gained-Author Adrienne Morris

Books, Art and the Writing Life at Middlemay Farm

Travels with Janet

Just another WordPress.com weblog

Uma Familia Portuguesa

A história da nossa família

The Good, the Bad and the Italian

food/films/families and more

newarkpoems

350 years of Newark in verse 1666-2016

Russian Universe

Understanding Russia with a Russian

Almost Home

Genealogy Research and Consulting

Old Bones Genealogy of New England

Genealogy and Family History Research

Out Here Studying Stones

Cemeteries & Genealogy

WeGoBack

family research ... discover your ancestry

the Victorian era

Did I misplace my pince-nez again? Light reading on the 19th century.

Genealogy Technology

Family history for the 21st century

Moore Genealogy

Fun With Genealogy

Meeting my family

RESEARCHING MY FAMILY TREE

Shaking the tree

musings on the journey towards knowing and sharing my family's stories

A Hundred Years Ago

Food and More

Scots Roots

Helping you dig up your Scots roots.

Root To Tip

Not just a list of names and dates

Food Perestroika

Adventures in Eastern Bloc Cuisine

Being Em | From Busan to America

this journey is my own, but i'm happy to share.

%d bloggers like this: