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    Pirates’ history in the Keys is up for debate

    Pirate tales and the Florida Keys go together like ice and rum. Unfortunately, in the same way a glass of rum starts to water down when exposed to the still, sweltering subtropical heat, the details surrounding piratical tales have a way of becoming diluted, too. 


    An ode to geckos

    I wanted to be a herpetologist. As a boy, turtles, snakes, lizards and geckos filled the aquariums and cages stacked atop my bedroom dresser. 


    Indian Key: Housman acquires property

    Lately, Notes on Keys History must seem a lot like Notes on Indian Key History. The truth of the matter is that learning (or attempting to learn) the history of the Upper Keys is an awesome, often daunting task. 


    Indian Key: the arrival of Captain Housman

    The story of the man who might be the Florida Territory’s most notorious wrecker, John Jacob Housman, is a complicated one. The young captain was born in 1799 Staten Island, New York. He set sail for southern latitudes on the schooner William Henry while still in his early 20s. 


    Indian Key, the rise of a community

    Bahamian sailors once called the island Kay Comfort. Historically it boasted a naturally-occurring deep harbor that rivaled that of the one at Key West. Freshwater, too, was available close by on nearby Lower Matecumbe. 


    Captain Housman v. the people of Key West

    Captain John Jacob Housman’s story altered the history of not only the Florida Keys, but Monroe County. 


    The story of lightship captain John Whalton from Key West

    The government’s first effort to mark Carysfort Reef came in the form of the 220-ton two-masted schooner Caesar. The Caesar was a lightship. Each of its two masts was fitted with a lantern designed to be visible up to 12 miles away. 


    It is time to create the Jerry Wilkinson Research Library

    The view out across the Atlantic from Jerry Wilkinson’s house is the stuff of dreams. 


    Walking tours coming to Indian Key!

    Indian Key is flush with the kind of history one would expect from these once wilder waters. It might not look like much today, not when driving past the island along the Overseas Highway. However, by 1835 the approximately 11-acre island was home to a hotel, bar and a 9-pin bowling alley. Outside...


    Art McKee, the tip of the iceberg

    Born in Bridgeton, New Jersey Nov. 2, 1910, Art McKee had two great loves, the water and the ladies. It only seems fitting that Art began his career as a lifeguard at a New Jersey public pool. It was, however, the Bridgeton flood of August 1934 that seemed to alter the course of McKee’s life...

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