Volume XI Issue 1
February  2015

The General Meetings of the Seminole Historical Society begin at 7 p.m. on the fourth Wednesday of each month, except during the summer months and December.  Meetings are held in Room 210B of the Seminole Recreation Center (Holland G. Mangum Center), 9100 113th Street, across from City Hall. Admission is free. Meetings are open to the public. 
We encourage everyone to join the Society for a nominal annual fee. Membership includes this Newsletter to let you know of future programs and to keep you advised of plans for our new Museum and meeting place.  Thank you to our SPONSORS!

JAY STARKEY JR.’S TALK JANUARY 28 TAKES US BACK IN TIME

Jay Starkey told us tales of a Florida that few of us ever saw or heard about—and so much more!... His dad’s 600+ acres of mid-Pinellas cattle country, all pines, palmettos, and rattlesnakes. He told us about his dad the cowboy, and also his dad the businessman, the conservationist—and the tax collector! Jay Starkey Sr. was also the man for whom Starkey Road was named.


Using technology supplied by students from Seminole High School's TV Production Department, the Society is now recording our programs for your enjoyment. CLICK HERE and you can see and hear the entire program in your own home. We hope you enjoy this new feature! 


FOR YOUR CALENDAR, OUR SPRING MEETING DATES:
FEBRUARY 25 AND MARCH 25



FEB
RUARY 25 – SEMINOLE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL CENTENNIAL

Seminole Elementary School, the yellow brick structure on Park Boulevard west of Seminole Boulevard, was not the first Seminole school; there had been several others at various locations before the new school opened in the fall of 1915 with two teachers, Miss Emma Futch (also principal) and Miss Hazel Merchant.
Emma Futch was teaching in Leesburg when she applied for a teaching job in Pinellas County.  Here's a copy of the response she received by Day Letter from Education Superintendent Dixie Hollins (yep, the one for whom Dixie Hollins High is named)

She accepted the job, and became the first principal of Seminole Elementary School, beginning with its initial year, 1915,  Soon she was a bride.  She married F. Leon Campbell, the widowed father of four young children.  She was a treasured teacher and principal for many years.  Ask around at the Centennial; you'll likely meet some of their descendants and/or her former students!

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Back in the day, school teachers were not required to have college degrees.  Somewhere about half-way through Emma's long career, the State ruled that teachers must have degrees.  Emma enrolled at University of Florida, which was men-only at the time.  Emma proudly graduated - before UF even went coed!  She was very proud of that, and her family was proud of her.

The school's Centennial will be celebrated in the Centennial building, and in open areas of the campus, on MAY 2, 2015, 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. - SAVE THE DATE!  Parking will be available on campus, at Seminole Mall, and at various churches nearby (shuttles available).  Seminole Elementary School is located at 10950 74th Avenue North, Seminole, FL 33772.

On February 25 our speaker will be Donna Kinsey Blackburn, who is retiring next year after 27 years teaching at Seminole. A lifetime resident, she knows the community and the school well. She will have a Q&A to see how much you know, which should be easy for former students and teachers! As a wonderful birthday gift, the school building is being returned to its original red brick color, the roof is being replaced, windows are being restored to their original style, and other restorative changes are being made which will delight the community. More later on the Centennial.


MARCH 25 – BAY PINES VA HEALTHCARE SYSTEM
In 1930, this entire community got behind its local leaders when word spread that Florida was getting a new National Soldiers Home. The newly formed Veterans Administration (VA) wanted to provide healthcare for Veterans, and at the same time the local economy was in need of a public works project. The Seminole Point site (now known as Bay Pines) was chosen as the site for the new Home. Construction began in 1931. The project employed 800 workers, almost entirely from Pinellas County. The first buildings were completed in January 1933. That’s a brief introduction to one of the most detailed and interesting programs you’ll hear.  The program will be presented by Jason W. Dangel, Public Affairs Officer of Bay Pines VA Healthcare System, assisted by Stella Lareau, Community Relations/Outreach.  Bring ALL your friends—you don’t want to miss this!

(Thanks to the VA for use of information from their website, www.baypines.va.gov )


OUR MUSEUM – IT WON’T BE LONG NOW!

Seminole once was inhabited by native Americans. There’s plenty of evidence all around the area, especially near bodies of water, but also at higher elevations—arrowheads, garbage mounds, pieces of shells made into simple kitchen utensils.

The so-called “Indians” must have loved it here—mild temperature, deer, wild boar, fish and shellfish, plenty of food.. They stayed until the Indian wars (which ended by the mid-1800s) drove them away.

When they were gone, guess who showed up… Europeans! Lots of them. They built roads and houses and they stayed. Some of them planted citrus, packed and shipped the fruit north.

In 1872 two brothers from England, Albert and Stuart Meares, were among the first Caucasians to see the lush, beautiful, leafy glade with the deep, dark pond. They purchased land for $1.25 per acre and grew citrus. They named the area Oakhurst. (What a historical site for a museum!)

A magnificent two-story home was built, facing the pretty spring-fed pond. Many years later, the home yielded to fire, vandalism and the elements. The pond is still there; it’s in the Seminole City Park now. And there’s a gazebo and a stage, and those serene oaks. The City’s former City Hall building is there, about to acquire a brand new identity. 

The building is presently being reconfigured into two sections. About half will be used by the City and made available for group meetings, civic functions, weddings and conventions. The other half will be dedicated to the Society and will be The Seminole Historical Society Museum. Soon!

Notice the unusual roof structure. The building is topped with solar panels which are expected to produce enough power to reduce the Society’s power bill significantly. The forward thinking of the City to make this possible will be expensive but a great money-saver in the long run.

To bring you up to date on progress of the project, we’re including some photographs showing that our contractors are moving right along, under the direction of the City’s Public Works Department.

Furnishings and fixtures will be state of the art, thanks to the careful choices made by the City, based on suggestions from the Society. Just inside the main entrance there will be a small gift shop, with items for sale including the well-known Campbell Family cookbook and the coveted Caladesi island cookbook created by Myrtle Scharrer Betz, who was born and raised on the island.

A museum library is being stocked with publications of Florida interest and/or by Florida authors. Excess books of interest from the Seminole Community Library have been donated to the Museum. 

We have acquired a conference table for use in the Board Room/Work Room, and enough chairs to accommodate our monthly meetings. There’s a spacious storeroom for the chairs and other materials.

There is still so much to do, and we’re working hard. We can use all the help we can get. Because…      
                   IT WON’T BE LONG NOW!



At this time we need donations—both cash and historical items. Contact any Society officer to make arrangements to deliver donations. Historian Jimmy Vines and his helpers will be sorting donated items and designing displays. Contact Jimmy if you are able to assist in the interior design of the Museum.

Don’t forget to return the “donation letter” we passed out at the last meeting… as generously as possible.

When the building is completed and displays in place, we will begin holding our monthly meetings in our own Museum space. Speakers will enjoy new state-of-the-art digital equipment, and their audiences will enjoy good clear amplification. The programs will be even more enjoyable.

Here are some items that we would be most happy to have in the Museum:
World War II mementos; uniforms, ration stamps, V-mail, etc.

Kitchen items: utensils, china, silverware, other dishes, serving pieces, etc.

Old Seminole ephemera: photos, maps, newspaper articles, postcards for businesses, banks, newspapers, citrus grove catalogs

Families: reunion photos, school report cards, anything related to schools, land deeds, tax documents
Railroads: timetables, tickets, photos

Collections: any type

Early postmarks

Church: bulletins, photos

Women’s hats

Printables (such as photographs and documents) can be copied and the original returned to you. If you wish to preserve an item for posterity, this is the place. Anything nostalgic can be historic. Bring it!

We would like to acknowledge a donation already received from Helen Ames- an 8-foot display table. We can certainly put it to good use. Thank you, Helen.

 

SAVE THE DATE
The Seminole Elementary School’s Centennial

May 2  from 11 – 3 – SAVE THE DATE!




IN MEMORIAM
Marie Lee


REMINDER TO OUR FAITHFUL MEMBERS;

THERE WILL BE NO PROGRAMS IN APRIL THROUGH AUGUST
AS WE EXPECT THE MUSEUM TO BE FINISHED
AND WE WILL BE PREPARING THE SPACE FOR ITS VISITORS.
SEE YOU IN THE FALL!

Click here for .PDF to print


Seminole Historical Society    P.O. Box 7652    Seminole, FL  33775