Tag Archives: Sandra Henderson Thurlow

The Dramatic Shifting Sands of Ft Lauderdale, SLR/IRL

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Comparison of 1883 historic map and Google Earth image 2017, Ft Lauderdale’s New River Inlet

Today I am sharing two creations of my brother, Todd Thurlow. Entitled “Ft Lauderdale House of Refuge/Life Saving Station,” and “Short Version,”they were originally for my mother, Sandra Henderson Thurlow and Timothy Dring’s “Image of America, U.S. Life Savings Service” book presentation at the Elliott Museum.

For me, Todd’s videos are mind-boggling as they bear witness to how much and how fast we humans can change the  environment. Like an army of ants, we organize; we build; we destroy; we create…

By comparing and contrasting Google Earth maps of today with historic maps from 1883, 1887, and 1935, Todd’s “time capsule flight,” takes us through time and space to see the shifting sands of the multiple New River Inlets; Lake Mabel that morphed into Port Everglades; remnants of the forgotten Middle River that spread and contracted into new canals and developments; and of course, for mom, House of Refuge #4, that once rested north of a New River Inlet that today we can see is completely filled in, while beach-goers relax in reclining chairs like nothing ever happened!

Maybe one day we humans can use all this energy and ability to really fix our waters that have been destroyed during all this construction? Wouldn’t that be a dramatic video?

In closing, in the early 1900s, the New River… that was believed by the Seminoles to once be an underground river that collapsed and the Great Spirit revealed during an earthquake… was selected by modern-day humans as the “natural channel” to connect two of the largest drainage canals from Lake Okeechobee to the Atlantic Coast, the North New River/South New River, and the Miami.

Please watch and enjoy Todd’s videos below!

Long Version with old New River Inlet:

(Link to video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ge1bCV5Tz5Q)

Short Version:

(Link to video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oYWga93XL3w)

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1936 historic write-up, Francis H. Miner,  Federal Writer’s Project Ft Lauderdale, https://www.broward.org/library/bienes/lii10210.htm

Click for enlarged images:

To contact Todd: http://www.thurlowpa.com and you can access all of Todd’s videos here: http://maps.thethurlows.com.

Deaths Caused by the 1925 Levee Around Lake Okeechobee? SLR/IRL

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Lawrence E. Will’s map pre 1928

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Over the Thanksgiving holiday, I completed a book entitled “Okeechobee Hurricane,” by Lawrence E. Will. The book contains old photographs and provides eyewitness accounts of the great storms of both 1926 and 1928. As we have leaned somewhere between 1500 and 3000 people were killed in the 1928 storm alone. A majority are buried in a mass grave that created a graveyard here in Martin County, at Port Mayaca. There were many farming families, but most of the dead were black migrant workers who had no warning of the storm. Mr. Will relays the horrific stories of these pioneer farming families surviving from Kreamer Island, Torry Islands, Chosen, Belle Glade, Pahokee, South Bay, Bean City, Sebring Farm, Ritta, and Okeechobee.

Pahokee does not have its own chapter but is included in Lawrence Will’s rebuttal of a Palm Beach Times article entitled “The Lost Settlement of Pelican Bay, “a settlement lying between Pahokee and Belle Glade where it had been reported 400 people “must be dead, and 250 of them are now unreachable…”among other things, Mr Will argues that many floated in from miles away and were not from the ‘Pelican Bay’ sugar company camp…

I have to say, although I learned a ton, I am glad I am finished with the book. It was difficult to read so many stories of death. That no one has made a full length feature film of this surprises me: the breaking of the state dike; 7-11 foot rising waters; people fearfully clinging to rooftops with children in hand in 150 mile an hour winds; falling over and gasping for breath while trees and houses floated by or pushed one under. Hair caught in the gates of the locks…More than once, Will refers to the breaking of the dike causing a “tidal wave” coming all at once and travelling from Chosen outward to Belle Glade, like a tsunami.

On page 35 he writes:

“The levee, extending along the southern and part way up the eastern shores of the lake, had been constructed between 1923 and 1925 and had been rebuilt where damaged in the blow of 1926. The dike was built to prevent farm lands from being flooded by high lake levels, it was never intended as a protection from hurricanes. Had there been no levee to pile up the water, there would have been no loss of life in either the hurricane on 1926 or 1928. On the other hand, without the protection against flooding of crops it is extremely doubtful that the Glades could have attained its high state of productivity.”

Quite a thought….one to ponder that’s for sure.

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Belle Glade 1928, archives of Sandra Henderson Thurlow.
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Belle Glade 1928, archives of Sandra Henderson Thurlow

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EAA landownership today, TCRPC 2016.

Laurence E Will bio:http://historicpalmbeach.blog.palmbeachpost.com/1999/12/19/he-left-a-heap-of-cracker-history-lawrence-e-will-jan-31-1893-dec-8-1977/

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

1921

 

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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. 🙂

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Map of Canals 1924 Florida Archives.
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1950 map by Ben McCoy of the “Coral Strand” and its riches, today known as Sailfish Point.
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South Hutchinson Island aerial showing mosquito ditches through mangroves and other vegetation. 1952 courtesy of Thurlow Archives.
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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.
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Lake Okeechobee.

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“The Message of my Family’s Fallen Oak Tree”-St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

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I like to believe that I receive messages from Nature. You know, like Florida’s Native Americans did? They paid attention to their natural environment. They were an extension of it. This helped them survive and adapt, giving them an edge when it came to Mother Nature and Humankind’s periodic wrath.

I remember reading a chapter in Patrick Smith’s “A Land Remembered;” it only dawned on the pioneers that a hurricane was coming when they noticed the Indians moving to higher ground.

I feel that this week, I too, was given a sign.

Last week, on August 20th, the first day of “early voting,” I visited my parents at my childhood home in beautiful Sewall’s Point. My mom, being mom, recommended I go outside and lie under her favorite ancient oak tree and just soak in the beauty of it all.

She knew I had been stressed lately running my campaign for the river and for Martin County’s quality of life.

She handed me a banana and I went outside on the deck under our giant oak tree.

—The deck of all the family outings, the deck that used to be a swimming pool before my mother filled it in, the deck of running grandchildren, the deck of Thanksgiving and of Easter. The deck of memories.

It was a gorgeous day so I took some pictures and rested in a reclining chair right under the amazing tree. It’s branches reached the ground enclosing me an a giant embrace. Sunlight danced from leaf to leaf and reflected in the wings of dragonflies. Woodpeckers and squirrels darted from branch to branch tending to their babies. I noticed how the old tree was intertwined with numerous equally old stick-like cabbage palms. I thought about how many had walked under the oak’s branches: the Native People, the Pirates, the Spanish, the Pioneers –different animals–and now me.

How long had it been alive? Maybe 250 years?

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Seven days later, I received a text from my sister, Jenny, who lives next door to my parents. “I have some bad news. Mom and Dad’s giant oak tree split in half….everyone is OK, but the back yard is a mess. One side is still standing.”

So the following day I went to look at the damage. It was dramatic but it looked so strong we thought the other half might endure. An arborist said it was possible.

And then, on August 31st, the day after losing the election, its remains came crashing down…

Yesterday, I visited walking around taking pictures.

No one was home. Just me and the tree. The tree I watched grow from my bedroom window and saw reflected in the mirror every time I assessed myself. I was assessing myself now, but there was no reflection.

I moved about with care and disbelief.  Finally, not knowing what else to do, I put my hand on the tree’s gigantic fallen limb. No birds chirped. No crickets called. All I could muster to say was “thank you.”

I walked away, saddened and empty.

Then it dawned on me, I’d missed something. A message. I turned around; I looked over the pile of destruction.  And then I saw it, green and full of life, the resurrection fern.

I moved against the tree’s wet branches:  “Yes, I said….”Through water, we are reborn.”

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Ocean, Shore, and Bridges, St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

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A. Ruhnke, Stuart Nov. 12, 1956. (Courtesy of Sandra Thurlow)

I started the day looking for a quote of inspiration; this is what I found:

“You can never cross the ocean until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.”

-Christopher Columbus

There have been some heavy set backs lately, for me and for others. After a year of total dedication and tremendous support, I lost a close race for Martin County commissioner. A race mostly inspired by our river…

Sometimes it may seem that we have fallen overboard and are surrounded by sharks, but we are not. We have just run aground… I believe because of our collective efforts since 2013 there is more wide-scale awareness for the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon than in the combined previous 83 years. Progress is being made and will continue. There are always set backs as a goal is being achieved.

Just yesterday, I opened up “Florida Trend Magazine”and right there was the now famous aerial photograph of a beautiful North River Shores peninsula surrounded in fluorescent green algae. The title? Southeast “Bloom Blame, Florida researchers look for links between environmental factors and brain diseases.”

Unbelievable….

As you know, our plight, the plight of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon has become a state issue. A national issue.  The sad story of Lake Okeechobee and the St Lucie River is now mainstream, not just for a certain well read group, but for everyone.

Why?

Because we organized, we protested, we taught our youth, we went into schools, we went into churches and synagogues, we spoke at our dinner tables, we created organizations, we exploded on social media, we inspired candidates to run for the river, we inspired incumbents who had not spoken for the river to speak…

We had the courage to lose sight of the shore, this dirty shore that we stand on, and cross the ocean of the unknown. Along this journey, some have been persecuted, others are spreading the word…

This 1956 photo of the City of Stuart nestled in the arms of the St Lucie River was taken eight years before I was born. There were problem with the river then too, but only a few to speak for it, and hardly a way to spread the news…

Such a beautifully composed photograph, isn’t it? With the bridge leading to Stuart and the St Lucie Inlet on the horizon?

–Let’s have the courage to once again set sail…

 

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Mom “Goes Live,” SLR/IRL

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Sandra Henderson Thurlow, photo by Lindsey Potter, 2016.
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Sewall’s Point Post Office, 1892.

 

With the help of Ms Kelly Arnold, my mother, historian Sandra Henderson Thurlow, has a web-site! My brother, Todd; my sister, Jenny; my father, Tom; and I –are very happy that people can now contact her directly to purchase or discuss her local history books.

Mom’s web site tells you where you can buy a book locally, or you can even arrange to get one at her Sewall’s Point home–she will sign the inside cover should you wish. Her work is meticulously researched, cited, and contains wonderful photographs and maps that take you back to a time of wild beauty and raw grit.

Undoubtedly because of my mother, Martin County has one of the best documented historys in Florida. All of her books, Sewall’s Point, The History of a Peninsular Community on Florida’s Treasure Coast; Stuart on the St Lucie; Historic Jensen and Eden on Florida’s Indian River; and Gilbert’s Bar House of Refuge, Home of History; are about the pioneer families that came here to live and thrive because of our waters-a precious resource that must be restored.

Only through understanding our past, can we improve our future. Thanks mom! (http://www.sandrathurlow.com)

Please contact Sandy at her web-site above, and happy reading!
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House of Refuge book cover

 

 

 

 

1884 Rand, McNally & Co. Map, the Everglades and Lake Okeechobee,”My How Things Change…”SLR/IRL

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Rand, McNally, and Co. 1884 (Bloomfields Illustrated Historic Guide) Library of Sandra Henderson  Thurlow.

Yesterday, my mother, historian Sandra Henderson Thurlow, came across this map while going through some old things…isn’t it a beauty? Look at the sprawling Everglades! Look at how the St Lucie River was not connected to Lake Okeechobee– at all…Look how at that time the inlet, Gilbert’s Bar, our inlet, was open…naturally.

When my mother came across this image, she wrote my brother and I:

“I know Todd has every map there is but still holding an original is fun and I thought the configuration of Lake Okeechobee was interesting on the 1884 Rand, McNally & Co. map tucked in the back of Bloomfield’s Illustrated Historical Guide. Of course it was too big for me to scan the whole thing. I love it that I know right where I am on this map. I am about on the former Dade/Brevard County line as I type this.” Mom

What is she talking about? Our family home in Indialucie, Sewall’s Point, named so as it is located between the St Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon, sits on the border of what once was Dade and Brevard counties. Since I was a kid there has been a piece of wood nailed to a tree, in my parent’s back yard that reads: “Dade County.”

My, how things change..too bad we didn’t save more our state’s natural water connections. Swamp or no swamp, it must have been beautiful. But I am glad our family home in now in Martin and not Dade County. 🙂

Jacqui

 

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Map of Florida’s changing counties. (SHT)

 

Rand,McNally’s history: (http://designorati.com/articles/t1/cartography/385/a-brief-history-of-rand-mcnally.php)