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Newsletter January 7, 2015

Published Wednesday, January 7, 2015
by Larry Kelleher

New Theories of the Origin of the Name Sarasota

Residents of Sarasota have long speculated about the origin of the name. A plausible sounding daughter Sara was invented for explorer Hernando de Soto, who landed in the Manatee River in 1538, complete with a tragic love story to dramatize a 1916 “Sara de Soto” pageant. The pageant became an annual week-long celebration climaxed by a circus parade, and declined when the Barnum & Bailey winter camp moved to Venice in 1960. A more recent speculation is that the name may have meant Point of Rocks or Place of the Dance, but the truth may be more interesting.

An early Spanish map on sheepskin that turned up in London when Florida passed to British possession in 1763, shows the word “Zarazote” across present day Bradenton and Sarasota. When the coast was charted, the name appeared as Boca Sarazota (Sarazota Pass) between Lido and Siesta Keys, and by the 1850s the barrier islands and the bay were both labeled Sarasota on maps.

Zarazote is not a word of clearly Spanish origin like most other names on the 1763 map, and no specimen of the native Calusa language is known beyond some village names and one or two other words, which provide no basis for interpretation. So where did the name Zarazote come from? Read more...
(Image credit: Sarasota County Historical Resources)

Drive By Gem

I sure do like a home with a fireplace, especially this time of year. There’s something about a hearth and how it becomes a gathering place for family and friends. The chimney on this beauty makes a statement that that part of the living area is meant for coziness and good times. Many of the homes in this part of town had wood-burning fireplaces, but so many are now being replaced with gas or denatured alcohol systems. Of course, it is safer and more convenient, but there is something about building a roaring fire that has the unmistakeable scent. Don’t forget to open the damper!
(image credit: Sarasota County Historical Resources)


Pretty as a Picture

I sure do love an old “woodie.” I need a vintage car enthusiast to chime in about now to let me know the year and model of this outstanding example. The car in the photo is parked in front of the Merry Sign Company, and next door is Ernest C. Smith’s Wholesale Candy Company on State Street, ca. 1938.
(Image credit: Sarasota County Historical Resources)



This is an interesting bit of history; “All About Babies.” What’s even more interesting than the content is the supposed author. Hmmm… Dr. E. Bringsem Young C.O.D. I’ve heard of the stork bringing babies, but not this particular doctor. I guess new parents need all the help they can get! 

(image credit: Sarasota County Historical Resources)


Postcard of the Week

If you haven’t been out to Crescent Beach lately, this is what it used to look like in mid-20th-century. Times ‘a changing.’If you haven’t been out to Crescent Beach lately, this is what it used to look like in mid-20th-century. Times ‘a changing.’ 

(image credit: Sarasota County Historical Resources)

The Great Influenza Epidemic of 1918

This winter season has brought a new variety of influenza to the United States. There have been many warnings about this flu and some comparisons have been made to the great flu epidemic of 1918 that swept the world.

Did the 1918 flu have any effects in Sarasota? In 1918 Sarasota was part of Manatee County and had a population of about 2,500, with the majority of the population living in the city of Sarasota. Although Sarasota was very small in population compared to northern cities, it was not immune from this flu.

The 1918-19 influenza epidemic has been cited as the most devastating epidemic in recorded world history. More people died of influenza in a single year than in the four years of the Black Death Bubonic Plaque from 1347 to 1351. It is estimated that 20 to 40 million people died worldwide. In the fall of 1918 and early 1919, it is estimated that 675,000 people died in the United States. Of the U.S. soldiers that died in Europe during World War I, half of them fell to influenza and not to the enemy. Read more...
(photo credit: Sarasota County Historical Resources)

Yesterday's Sarasota Calendar

Today in 1921, three-time mayor, developer, shipper and entrepreneur, Harry L. Higel is murdered on the north end of Sarasota Key (now called Siesta Key) which he had helped to develop. No one was ever convicted of the crime. 

(photo credit: Sarasota County Historical Resources)


Where am I?

The winner of our last contest was Richard Strong. Congratulations!

My name is Jack Matthias and this photo was taken of me in 1961 along with my tarpon catch. Your task is to name the structure I am proudly standing in front of; there were no ‘selfies’ back then, but thank goodness someone snapped this picture of me to prove my haul. Where am I? 

Click here to submit your answer, as well as view the correct answer to the last challenge.

(photo credit: Sarasota County Historical Resources)


Your award this week is a beautiful vintage-looking Florida Map Dish Towel, provided by Larry McLeod who produces Marketing Collateral Services, that include: Graphic Design for brochures, and flyers, Photography and Video, Web site design and management, Email Campaigns, Banners, Signs, Trade Show graphics, and 2D and 3D Animation.


You can contact Larry at 941-224-3020, or email him at: larrymcleod@verizon.net

If you would like to be a sponsor of our "Where Am I?" quiz, please call us at (941) 951-7727. It only cost $25 per week for us to set up your ad, and then you only have to provide a prize for the winner. What could be easier?


Ain't Life Grand?

“Please Lord, don’t let anyone get on the merry-go-round with me. When this contraption spins I get very dizzy, and I don’t want the cute girls on the swings see me hurl.”
(photo credit: Sarasota County Historical Resources)



Ride the rails into the past with Pullman railroad car expert and the restorer of the famed Wisconsin custom railroad car with David W. Duncan when he leads a “Conversation at The Crocker,” on Tuesday, January 13, 2015 at 7:00 p.m. at the historic Crocker Memorial Church, 1260 12th Street (Pioneer Park), Sarasota.
Organized and presented by the Historical Society of Sarasota County and sponsored by SARASOTA Magazine, this public conversation (accompanied by a Power Point program of rare photos) is free to Historical Society members and students. Guests - $10.  Duncan will be joined on stage by Ron McCarty, Curator of Ca’d’Zan at The Ringling Museum.

Also, the Historical Society will hold its Annual High Tea in the Crocker Memorial Church on Sunday, January 11, 2015 from 2:00 – 4:00 p.m.
A highlight of the Tea this year will be a ‘Plein Air Paint Out and Sale’ by several nationally – known artists, members of our local “Light Chasers” who will exhibit their works and sell “Off the Easel” works that they will paint while guests are sipping.

For reservations call the Historical Society, at 941-364-9076, Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. Tickets are $25.00 per person and all monies raised go towards the maintenance of two of Sarasota’s oldest buildings, the Bidwell Wood House (1882) and the Crocker Memorial Church (1901).  

The theme for this year’s event is “Tea & Flowers” and guests will each receive flower cards, donated by hostess, Judy Alexander. In addition to the art sales, there will be a Silent Auction during the event and music will be provided by Sal Garcia.  Be sure to wear your best hat!

(photo credit: The Ringling Website)