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Newsletter February 18, 2009

Published Wednesday, February 18, 2009
by Editor

This Week

Your editor, Larry has been on a sabbatical for the last five weeks, teaching a course "Sarasota History - Up Close and Personal", for Pierian Spring Academy. This is his last week of class, and will soon resume researching, and writing scripts for Lee to perform in our weekly history videos.

Both Lee and I would like to thank you for your patience during this time period. We have many new ideas for videos, and are anxious to start shooting.

In the meantime, please enjoy an encore performance of the history of our Federal Building. Click here to watch the video.

(photo credit: Sarasota County History Center)


Tales of Sarasota

If you can't remember the Frog Olympics, synchronized swimming at the Lido Casino, the whole town decked out in Spanish costumes, downtown parades with lavish floats, and an all 'round good time, then check out Diane's blog about the Sara de Sota Pageant.

How many of you out there were on a float back then? We, at Sarasota History Alive! would love it if you scanned your photos and emailed them to us. We will be happy to create a special section for local historic shots and post them on the site with full credit to you or your family*. Good times! 

* If you do not have a scanner, contact us at 941-951-7727, and we can make arrangements to scan them on our portable scanner.


The Kickliter House

The Byrd and Katherine Kickliter House is a 1925 Craftsman Style Bungalow located at 1205 Cocoanut Avenue in the Valencia Terrace Subdivision within the city limits of Sarasota, Florida. The house is historically significant because it strongly reflects the earliest development of Valencia Terrace Subdivision platted as part of the Florida Land Boom as part of a rapidly expanding city limits.

Byrd Kickliter's ancestors, the "Kicklighters" emigrated from Rhine area of Germany in the mid 1700s by way of Holland into Charleston, South Carolina where they obtained a land grant. Descendants later moved to Hillsborough County.

A Floridian by birth, B.C. "Byrd" Kickli(gh)ter came to Sarasota in 1922. His wife, Katherine Alderman was born in DeSoto, Florida and arrived in Sarasota in 1924 from Tampa.

In about 1926, Byrd Kicklighter established the Kicklighter Hardware Store in Sarasota. Shortly thereafter, his brother, J.F. Kicklighter, joined him in the ownership and operation of the store. J.F.'s son, Dowlin Kicklighter, and another family member, H.H. Kicklighter also became involved in the business. Byrd Kicklighter later altered the spelling of his last name to Kickliter as did J.F. Kickliter's son, Dowlin Kicklighter.

Upon the death of J.F. Kickliter in 1934, Byrd Kickliter purchased J.F.'s half interest in the business from J.F.'s widow, Mathilda. Materia Kickliter organized a new store with Gordon Adams of the Sarasota Hardware and Paint Co.

By 1936, son John D. Kickliter became involved in the business. Local resident Jack Halton became a business partner in 1945. The Sarasota Hardware Store remains in business today on Main Street in the same block but in a building west of the original Kickliter store on Main Street. Read more...


A Thought From...

T.S. (Thomas Stearns) Eliot - 1888-1965

"A people without history is not redeemed from time; for history is a pattern of timeless moments..."

(From: Four Quartets. Little Gidding, V)


"Starry Nite" at Crowley Museum and Nature Center

The 9th Annual Starry Nite event this year will be held on March 14th, beginning at 5:00 p.m. at the Crowley Museum and Nature Center. The evening is "rustic elegant", the dress is casual and is celebrated outdoors under the stars.

Enjoy a delicious authentic "Cracker inspired" dinner created and served by Mattison's in a beautiful tent with twinkling lights. There will be hay rides, Night Time Celestial Viewing by The Deep Sky Observers, dancing to music by The Yard Dogs, and a silent auction that includes four exciting vacation destinations.

Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased by phone at 941-322-1000, or online at www.cmncfl.org/specialevents.

Cigar Industry Thrived for a Time in Sarasota

Cigar making has been a tradition in Florida since before the turn of the 20th century. Tampa was well known for its cigar making, having numerous brands name after the city. Today several cigar companies are still headquartered in Tampa.

But Sarasota also played a part in the industry with the development of two cigar factories in the downtown area. Cigar making in Sarasota began in 1911 with the founding of the Sarasota Cigar Company. At Fifth Street (now Golf Street), the Sarasota Cigar Company was a small operation owned by two brothers, John and Jack Hill. The Sarasota Board of Trade, forerunner to the Sarasota Chamber of Commerce, was very supportive of the new business and donated quite a bit, including $10 toward building of a factory.

In 1911, the Board of Trade reported that "there was a possibility of having a factory of 200 men at Sarasota." The cigar factory never grew anywhere near that size, but the business was successful. Four to five cigar rollers were employed, and out-of-town orders were being taken.

The Sarasota Times reported on March 9, 1911, that the Sarasota Cigar Company "was encouraged with the amount of business they have had since coming to Sarasota. They manufacture three brands, 'Board of Trade,' 'Sarasota,' and 'Sarasota Gem,' which they sell in stores, and have placed some in Bradentown and Manatee." By the end of 1911, Hill reported that the company had doubled its orders every month since they opened and recently had taken orders for more than 28,000 cigars. read more...

(photo credit: Sarasota County History Center)


Yesterday's Sarasota Calendar

Every day of the year we highlight what took place in Sarasota's history, thanks to Whit Rylee and Tom Payne's extensive research and sense of humor. Frequently check our website's homepage to find out what occured today.

Also, be sure and check out Whit's website at: www.ChickenHillNC.com.

This Saturday in 1869, Hamden Sidney Smith was born in Owensboro, Kentucky. He was another of the migrants who sought out Florida's healing aura. He regained his health soon after moving to Florida in 1884. In 1903, he moved to Sarasota to work for the Seaboard Air Line Railway. He went on to manage the Belle Haven Inn, started a general store, became the town's first milliner, was elected Mayor, was founder of the Sarasota Board of Trade (Chamber of Commerce) and president of the Chamber when Sarasota became a county in 1921.

(photo credit: Sarasota County History Center)


History Locator

Sarasota History Alive! is spotlighting our county's historical markers for you in our weekly e-Newsletters. No sense in trying to read them as you drive by at 40 miles per hour any longer.

This week we are honoring the St. Johns/Crocker Memorial Cemetery on Bee Ridge Road just east of U.S. 41.

Peter Crocker was born in Wheeler, Stuben County, New York, on July 16, 1843. When he was 18 years of age he enlisted as a private in the Volunteer Union Army and served two three-year terms. During the Civil War he served in the battles of Fredericksburg, Chancellorville, and Gettysburg. His final discharge was at Key West, Florida, on February 9, 1867.

While in Key West, Peter Crocker married Sophia M. Crane on April 3, 1867. He was appointed lighthouse keeper at Key West and later at Dry Bank, Florida.

Peter and Sophia Crocker came to Sarasota Bay in the early 1870s. They purchased 20 acres of land for $1.25 an acre and built a home southwest of Bay Road and (now) Tamiami Trail. The Crockers had six children, but only one, Fannie, lived to adulthood.

Civic-minded Peter Crocker served his community in many ways. He was a trustee for Phillippi School and helped lay out roads in the Bee Ridge and Osprey Roads area. In 1909 he became postmaster for the Crocker Post Office, which he operated from his home, along with a store.

Peter Crocker was not in good health when he lived in Sarasota. He claimed his illness was the result of an attack of typhoid during his military service and he applied frequently for a veteran's disability pension. In 1885 he first received a $2 per month pension that was increased to $3 in 1890. Crocker died December 21, 1911. He was buried by his home near his children. Read reverse side...


Where Am I?

I just love when the editor slices, dices, and crops photos of historic places to keep you on your toes as to where we are located in Sarasota.

Anyhow, this week he is giving you the whole building to figure out, well not the entire building. If we did you would guess this puzzle very quickly. He also has used an old black and white photo of me to make it a bit more challenging.

I used to be very close to the bay, before infill that is; and a well-known benefactor funded my attachment to a prominent structure in a recreational area, at the time.

You don't see any fancy Adirondak chairs on my balcony these days, but my interior is used to this day frequently.


Grover Koons Photo Exhibit Celebrates 83rd Anniversary of Venice

You are invited to attend the grand opening of "Opening Day At Venice February 27, 1926: A Photographic Journey by Grover Koons." The event takes place Friday, Feb. 27, 4 - 6 p.m. at the Historic Triangle Inn, 351 Nassau St. S.

Grover Koons, a photographer, editor and publisher of a Hollansburg, Ohio, newspaper, lived in Venice from 1927 - 1930. During that time he photographed construction sites throughout the city as the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers began to make John Nolen's plan a reality.

Koons' photographs of the construction of the city in 1926 will be on display through April 27, Mondays - Wednesdays, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.

To attend the Feb. 27 grand opening or for information, call the Venice Archives and Area Historical Collection in the Triangle Inn, (941) 486-2487.

The Koons photo above from 1926 shows the Myakka River in Venice.

(photo credit: Courtesy of the Venice Archives)


Black History Month Display at City Hall

Be sure and stop by Sarasota City Hall and see the local display for Black History Month. Many African Americans from our town are being honored, and short excerpts about their lives are included with the photos. Pictured above is Booker School in 1944.

We, at Sarasota History Alive!, believe that one month a year is not enough to learn about Overtown and Newtown's rich history. Furthermore, we are in the process of gathering more photos, stories and other interesting material to eventually showcase on our website. This way, Sarasota County's African American legacy will be available to our viewers year-round.

We presume this project will take many months to research, develop, and post. Please have patience while we pursue this endeavor, and produce a quality resource. Thank you. -Editor-

(photo courtesy of Dorothea Smith)