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Tom’s Keys History Blog

Tom Hambright's musings on the rich history of the Florida Keys, with occasional guest posts by other library contributors

[20 May 2011 | Comments Off on Memorial Day history | Posted by ]
Memorial Day history

Memorial Day was first observed on May 30, 1868 to remember the men that lost their lives in the Civil War. As the only southern city to remain in the Union during the Civil War, a large number of U.S. Navy, Marine Corp, and Army men died in Key West, mostly from tropical fevers. The Army men were buried in the Barracks Cemetery that was on White Street across from the Armory. The graves were moved in 1927 to the U.S. National Cemetery at Fort Barrancas near Pensacola. The Navy …

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[19 Jan 2011 | 2 Comments | Posted by ]
Today in Keys History

We’re celebrating Tom Hambright’s 25th year serving the Keys community! If you don’t know him, Tom is our resident historian. He is gracious, sharp, omniscient, entertaining and very tall.

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[16 Dec 2010 | Comments Off on Very naughty fish! | Posted by ]
Very naughty fish!

Here’s a special holiday image from a forthcoming library digital collection.
Don DeMariá has been a professional diver since 1972 and based in the Keys since 1978.

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[1 Dec 2010 | Comments Off on Pennekamp Turns 50! | Posted by ]
Pennekamp Turns 50!

Governor LeRoy Collins at the dedication of the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park on December 10, 1960. From the Monroe County Library Collection.
Originally uploaded by Florida Keys–Public Libraries

America’s only undersea park celebrates its 50th year! Here’s a link to all the festivities: http://www.fla-keys.com/pennekamp50/events.cfm
Check out the library’s collection of Upper Keys photos, including the Pennekamp dedication, here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/keyslibraries/sets/72157625375988576/

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[27 Oct 2010 | Comments Off on 50 years ago, and not a moment too soon. | Posted by ]
50 years ago, and not a moment too soon.

In the 1950s, demand for new homes was exceeding supply. Developers were looking for areas to build. Old Town Key West was a good location near downtown stores and the well paid jobs on the Naval Base with old homes and buildings that could be removed and new ones built. This effort was being aided by the city commissions that at almost ever meeting were ordering old buildings and homes that were in disrepair to be razed; even the Oldest House on Duval Street was on the list …

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[1 Sep 2010 | One Comment | Posted by ]
Working…on the Railroad

We just finished uploading our collection of Florida East Coast Railway photographs to our Flickr site. Our goal is to have these photos (and oral histories and other related documents) available for anyone planning an event for the Florida East Coast Centennial in 2012. Here’s our policy on using the photos.
We chose to release the photos just before Labor Day to honor the men who worked and died building the Key West Extension of the Florida East Coast Railway.
It took almost seven years to build the extension. The working conditions …

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[1 Jul 2010 | 2 Comments | Posted by ]
Honoring American Patriots

Colonel Frederick Hambright
Frederick Hambright was born on May 1, 1727 in Germany.  He came to America on the ship, St. Andrew on October 27, 1738 with his father, Conrad Hambrecht, and settled in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. During the immigration process the name was changed to Hambright and as far as I know all the Hambrights in this country are descendants of Conrad.
In 1755 Frederick Hambright moved to Virginia, where he married his first wife, Sarah Hardin. Then, in 1760, Hambright moved to Tryon County, North Carolina and settled near the …

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[23 Jun 2010 | Comments Off on Protect and salvage your family treasures | Posted by ]
Protect and salvage your family treasures

Every June, we like to remind our community that now is the ideal time to think about protecting and caring for your family treasures. And if disaster strikes your household, be it a hurricane or a busted water heater, we want you to have immediate and trusted advice on how to salvage your photographs, scrapbooks, and other paper materials.
A few years ago, with the help of an Institute of Museum and Library Services grant, we put together a pathfinder of websites selected to provide reliable information on protecting and salvaging …

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[4 Jun 2010 | Comments Off on Black gold in the Keys | Posted by ]
Black gold in the Keys

In February 1923 Charles Curry who lived at 603 Southard Street hired a man to put a well in his yard. In the pre-pipeline days water for human consumption came from cisterns but most people had fresh water wells for other household uses. A layer of fresh water floats on the saltwater and a shallow well produces fresh water that some still use today to water plants.
Mr. Curry’s man reported he had sunk the pipe to the required depth and installed a pump but could only get oil from the …

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[4 Jun 2010 | One Comment | Posted by ]
Commemorating 30 years after Mariel

View images from the Library Vault taken during the Mariel Boat Lift, April–June, 1980. The Miami Herald has unveiled this Mariel passenger/boat list, compiled in part by Cuban-exile and Key Wester, Arturo Cobo. Here are memories posted by boat name.

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