The Courier January 2016Vol. I, Issue X ~ MESSAGE FROM THE DIRECTOR ~ Record numbers for the society as 2016 begins January is a month when the J


The Courier


January 2016

Vol. I, Issue X




Record numbers for the society as 2016 begins

January is a month when the Jacksonville Historical Society regroups. The monthly speaker series is back on track along with a wide variety of history opportunities. Among those opportunities, the Monday, January 25, program with local author Dorothy K. Fletcher explores a popular subject and also title of Mrs. Fletcher’s new book, Historic Jacksonville Theatre Palaces, Drive-Ins and Movie Houses. Mrs. Fletcher graciously rescheduled her JHS February talk when our January speaker, Marcia Jo Zerivitz, experienced an emergency. It’s now all good news, and Ms. Zerevitz plans to reschedule her talk on Jacksonville’s Jewish History.

All of the JHS diverse activities—the Speaker Series, operating an archival repository, maintaining historic properties, providing exhibits, offering history information; and presenting offsite programming would be impossible without funding. It now appears that the single largest source of that funding is the society’s December Gingerbread House Extravaganza.

The Gingerbread Extravaganza attendance numbers last month reached more than 9,000, including the morning visits from school groups. Volunteer hours (not including the staff) totaled a whopping 4,049 hours with more than one hundred volunteers and counting! The fifty creations shown were a record in the event’s history.

While it takes many individuals to create the Extravaganza, Chair Pat Andrews’ role to transport the event to new heights with “ fifty houses and $50,000 in revenue” was inspirational. Joann Purdie, a former chair, played a major role in the event’s infrastructure—a juggling act of time, talent and precision. The Junior League of Jacksonville Sustainers were exceptional with their Festival of Trees installed in the Extravaganza along with Betsy Lovett’s magnificent Angel Tree.

The event, typically a $30,000 (or slightly more) fundraiser, realized more than $50,000. While the final figure is still to be determined, it’s likely the revenue, even after expenses, will surpass $55,000! Part of this new success is a $10,000 grant in perpetuity for the Gingerbread Extravaganza from the Delores Barr Weaver Forever Event Fund, est. 2015. (See the names of all the generous sponsors by clicking here.)

If you attended the event, thank you. Making money to support our history mission with a Gingerbread Extravaganza might seem quirky, but the event truly showcases area history in a way that’s fun and interactive. The Merrill House was dressed for daily holiday tours; the National Register Old St. Andrew’s was the inspiring event backdrop; the trees sported a history-related theme; and from the 50 gingerbread houses, more than 15 historic structures were on display, constructed from confection.

The year 2016, will certainly prove active and interesting for the society. Stay tuned for a February newsletter with a more complete listing of upcoming programs and exhibits. We’re off to a great start!




Society’s first leader and his family were legends in city history

When the newly formed Jacksonville Historical Society selected its first president to help create a foundation for all that was to follow, their selection was Henry Holland Buckman II. He was a mining engineer born in Jacksonville in 1887 to a pioneer family who moved to Jacksonville in 1837, only 15 years after its founding. His great-great grandfather was Andrew Turnbull, founder of the 18th century colony of New Smyrna. Buckman II was also related to Andrew Jackson, Florida’s first military governor and a U.S. President for whom Jacksonville is named.

A 1908 graduate of Harvard College, Henry Buckman, II completed graduate studies in engineering at the University of Berlin and the University of Leipzig where he was a pupil of some of the most noted scientists of the time. When he returned to America...[Read more]



The Stag

"The Stag", courtesy of Jessica Shultzaberger.

A History Mystery: "The Stag"

by Taryn Rodriguez-Boette

One of the functions of the archives’ staff is to help researchers look for their ancestors. Many times the information the researcher provides is minimal, but the results are phenomenal. We received the following request in mid-November:

“Hey! My name is Jessica Shultzaberger. I have been doing family research that has taken me to the Jacksonville, FL area. I have some questions that I'm wondering if you could help me with… It is rumored that my great-great grandfather on my great-grandmother's side owned a bar in downtown Jacksonville called "The Stag" located at 213 Main St. I have a picture of the inside of the bar and was wondering if you could give me any information on this bar. Not sure about the time frame. I am also willing to share this picture.”

Click here to find out how this story ends...[Read more]




Dorothy K. Fletcher

Jacksonville's Historic Theatre Palaces, Drive-Ins and Movie Houses

Dorothy K. Fletcher presents on the historic movie houses and venues in Jacksonvill on Monday, January 25 at Old St. Andrew's, 317 A. Philip Randolph Blvd.

The 2015-16 JHS program series is generously sponsored by Retina Associates, P.A., Dr. Fred H. Lambrou, Jr.



 1068 Hemming Park resized

From Jacksonville Historical Society Collection: A bird's eye view of Hemming Park, c. 1960s.

Hemming Park celebrates 150 years!

“Hemming Park” land was conveyed to the city 150 years ago, on January 23, 1866, in a ten dollar exchange by executors of Isaiah Hart. The purpose was for use as a park. In fact, the land was set aside in the 19th century by city founder Isaiah David Hart for use as a public “square.” On the 150th anniversary of the park, a few fast facts are offered.

Fast Facts about Hemming Park

In the 18th century, before there was a park or the town of Jacksonville, the first road into Florida, the King’s Road, was constructed on an old Indian path that moved through the eventual...[Read more]



St James Hotel 16x20

St. James Hotel, c. 1874. Jacksonville Historical Society Collection.

January 1, 1869: The 120-room St. James Hotel, at Duval Street, opened. By January 1887, Jacksonville would be ranked the largest US winter resort city, even though the Jacksonville Tourist and Convention Bureau would not open in 1920. This is the identical site of today's City Hall, once May-Cohens department store.


Abraham Lincoln Lewis, 1865-1947.

January 15,1901: Afro-American Life Insurance Company is founded by Abraham Lincoln Lewis. In 1901, Lincoln and a group of ministers founded Florida's first insurance company, The Afro-American Industrial and Benefit Association, to respond to the plight of widows who needed funds to meet funeral expenses. Lewis served as secretary-treasurer of the company for eighteen years, as president for seventeen years and finally as chairman of the board until his death in 1947.


January 25, 1894: The nation's eyes were on Jacksonville, Florida when James J. "Gentleman Jim" Corbett, the world heavy weight champion, KO'd challenger Charles Mitchell in the championship boxing fight in East Jacksonville near Tallyrand Avenue.


City of Jacksonville


Our Mission: The mission of the Jacksonville Historical Society is to foster and promote the appreciation of the history of Jacksonville and Northeast Florida by collecting, preserving, presenting, and interpreting that history for the benefit and education of its members, the public and future generations.

Staff: Emily Lisska, Executive Director| Taryn Rodriguez-Boette, Associate Director & Archivist| Meghan Powell, Office Manager & Event Coordinator| Sherrard Ceglia, Archives Assistant| Robert Hughes, Facilities Manager

2015-16 JHS Board Ed Booth, President| Jeffrey Graf, Vice-President| Maggie Means, Secretary| Jeff Bryan, Treasurer | Pat Andrews| Elizabeth Hohl Asbury| Alan Bliss| Jean Grimsley| Cora Hackley| Robert Hennigar| Zilla Hillin| Doug Milne| Christina Parrish| Harry Reagan| Robin Robinson| Lisa Sheppard| Reecy Thornton| Wayne W. Wood

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