Tag Archives: mccoy

Our Honest Law-Breaker Common Ancestor, The Real McCoy. SLR/IRL& Glades

1921

 

William_McCoy 2.jpg
Bill McCoy

Glades Road Trip Series: 

Remember phone books?

When looking through old ones you can find clues to Martin County’s historical ties with The Glades. Finding things in common is important as we work to improve relations, communications, and our waters.

My mother, historian, Sandra Henderson Thurlow, came across this ad, when looking in a 1921 Stuart City Directory. She writes: “The McCoy Brothers became rum-runners and owned what is now Sailfish Point. What is interesting to me is that in the 1920s, they were taking passengers and freight across the state through Lake Okeechobee via the West Palm Beach Canal.”

As we are learning from our Road Trip series, the West Palm Beach Canal was built in 1917 and intersects with Lake Okeechobee at Canal Point. What we might not know is that the McCoy’s Hutchinson Island land then known as “Coral Strand” became today’s Sailfish Point.

The brothers knew and loved the St Lucie Inlet area well enough to buy this land and establish their business there. The “Everglades Line” was probably one of many. Perhaps the brothers drank ice tea on their way from Sailfish Point down the Indian River Lagoon to Lake Worth’s entrance to the West Palm Beach Canal and through Lake Okeechobee? Although they were famous rum-runners, the most well-known brother, Bill, did not drink!

His obituary notes:

William Frederick McCoy (1877 – December 30, 1948): Bill McCoy was an American sea-captain and rum runner smuggler during the Prohibition in the United States. In running alcohol from the Bahamas to the Eastern Seaboard, he became world-famous as his merchandise was uncut and clean. Thus the saying the “Real McCoy.” McCoy himself never touched liquor and was considered an “honest law-breaker.” He also took pride in the fact that he never paid organized crime, politicians, or law enforcement for protection.

I think we can consider Bill McCoy a Glades/Martin County honest law-breaker common ancestor. “The Real McCoy” a symbol and foundation for building better relations from the Coast to the Glades?

I don’t know about you, but I can’t  think of a better place to start. 🙂

Map-of-Canals-1924-St-Archives 2
Map of Canals 1924 Florida Archives.
Coral Strand
1950 map by Ben McCoy of the “Coral Strand” and its riches, today known as Sailfish Point.
Sailfish Point Cropped
South Hutchinson Island aerial showing mosquito ditches through mangroves and other vegetation. 1952 courtesy of Thurlow Archives.
IMG_8594 sailfish
Google map showing Hutchinson Island with Sailfish Point south next to St Lucie Inlet. East is Atlantic Ocean and west is the Indian River Lagoon and Sewall’s Point.
Lake O
Lake Okeechobee.

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The Many Names of Beautiful Sailfish Point, SLR/RIL

South Hutchinson Island aerial showing miquto ditches through mangroves and other vegetation. 1952 courtesy of Thurlow Archives.
Confluence of St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon at St Lucie Inlet. This aerial shows mosquito ditches through mangroves and other vegetation on today’s Sailfish Point. Due to state and local protections, the  mangroves could not be removed today as they were in Martin County in the late 70s and early 80s. Aerial dated 1952 courtesy of Thurlow Archives.

“A rose is a rose is a rose…”

The “Coral Strand” was a rose; “Seminole Shores” was a rose; “Sailfish Point is a rose…” and whatever Native American name the Indian’s had for this sacred area was also a rose….

In her poem’s famous first line: “a rose is a rose is a rose,” poet Gertrude Stein’s words are often interpreted as meaning “things are what they are”…”using a name of a thing already invokes the imagery and emotions associated with it..”

For me all these names are “a rose” evoking different images and times of Indian River Region history. The Coral Strand being the name given to the land by the McCoy brothers–famous rum runners and wheeler-dealer business men. Seminole Shores the name given by James Rand a wealthy eccentric of our area whose riches founded the Florida Oceanographic Society; and Sailfish Point the name given to the area after its development by Mobil Oil Corporation in the 1980s.

Will there be another name in the future? And if so what will it be? Well–a rose is a rose is a rose, always and forever…..no matter the name.

Picnicking at the Coral Strand 1927, for sale/lease sign in the background. Photo courtesy of Stuart the History of Martin County.
Picnicking at the Coral Strand 1927, “for sale/lease” sign in the background. Photo courtesy of Stuart the History of Martin County.
The Coral Strand was for sale for 25,000 in
According to the History of Martin County the Coral Strand was for sale for $25,000 in the 1920s.
Wider view showing the SLR/IRL in all its former fishing riches.
Wider view showing the SLR/IRL in all its former fishing riches, impacts from regional development agricultural canals, and area development with removal of vegetation have lessened water quality.