Thank you

Sunday, 24 February 2660 - Cambridge, UK

I know I usually blog about things I’ve discovered in my travels, but this blog I would like to do something different. I would like to write about you.

As much as I love my work, it can get very lonely out in the Field. I’m really not allowed to get too close to anyone in the past least I influence them in some way. Think about it, how have your friends influenced you over the years? My impact on another human being could distort history in some way.

For nearly four years now I have been using TimeTweets to communicate with you folks back in the 27th century. You have given me someone to talk to, besides Samantha, my teapot, on those cold lonely nights. I treasure every tweet you send me, letting me know I’m not alone.

Unfortunately TimeTweets is still in the experimental stage, even after four years. The Institute of Time Travel is so conservative. It took them six years to decide what color to paint their walls. They went with grey again. It will be nice when they finally decide that TimeTweets is safe so other Temporal Anthropologists can use it. Maybe some day.

In the mean time I am the only one fortunate enough to be able to Tweet from the Field. I think it would be unbearably lonely were the Enforcers to pull the program from me. Let’s hope that day never comes.

In closing I would just like to say thank you to all of you for your continuing support and friendship. You have become a part of my life.

And always remember, tea is excellent for time paradoxes.


America's First Free Black Settlement

Wednesday, 9 March 1892 - St. Augustine, Florida

Lincolnville is the section of St. Augustine where the citizens of African descent reside. Since the end of the Civil War, segregation has slowly gotten stronger until personal prejudice is making it’s way into actual laws. These are dangerous times for people with dark complexions and they are only getting worse.

The inhabitants of Lincolnville do their best to keep their neighborhood neat despite the lack of street paving or any other help from the city. There is a great sense of community here with the church serving as the heart. Preachers have a special respect here. Perhaps that is why in 1964 when another preacher named Martin Luther King came to town, folks listened.

The blacks of one of the most segregated cities in the country joined in the peaceful protest, daring to eat at white lunch counters and not fighting back as police dragged them away. Their non-violent civil disobedience in the face of violent opposition made the rest of the nation question the stupid inequality and the lack of fairness and side with the oppressed. St. Augustine was the turning point in the Civil Rights Movement and helped push the Civil Rights Act through Congress.

Demonstrators in the St. Augsutine Movement
Perhaps it isn’t surprising St. Augustine would be the final stage of the struggle. This was after all where the fight for freedom had started.

I had been recording Lincolnville a bit at a time, not wanting to make the locals nervous, wondering why this white chap was nosing about. I think they had finally concluded I was just a naïve tourist, an Englishman who didn’t share his Southern American cousins attitudes towards non-whites. Today I dared to ask about, “Can anyone tell me where Fort Mose is?” Most just looked at me quizzically.

Finally an elderly gentleman pulled me aside. “Are you talking about the Fort that had colored soldiers?” (“Colored” is the politically correct term of the day.)

We introduced ourselves. His name was Obadiah Watkins. He told me he had heard old folks talk of a Fort “Mossa” when he was a kid. They said escaped slaves went there and built a fort to keep their masters from coming after them. Lot of folks said that was just a fairy tale, but he believed it and had looked for it.

"Did you find Fort Mose?” I asked.

Obadiah shook his head. “There is one spot north of town that might have been it once. Nothing there now. How did you hear of Fort Mossa?”

“It’s a matter of historical record,” I assured him.

“If it is, it ain’t public record.” He shook his head.

“Yes, I imagine here it would be shoved into a desk drawer and locked away, if not outright burnt. Luckily the Spanish took the record with them when they left.”

“I‘ll show you the spot if you tell me what you know about Fort Mossa.” Obadiah’s eyes sparkled with excitement.

Never ask a historian a question like that. I regaled him as we walked two miles north of town. Obadiah would only interrupt with eager questions.

As early as 1687, slaves running away from the British colonies up north were offered asylum in Florida by the Spanish. Besides giving the struggling outpost much needed workers, it also helped undermine the British plantations. So in 1693 the Spanish Government made it official. All they required was that the refugees swear fealty to the Spanish Crown, convert to Catholicism and serve in the militia for four years. The last stipulation meant they would have to fight their former masters if they attacked--which the former slaves would have agreed to anyway.

Despite the dangers of wilderness and slave hunters, by 1738 so many runaways had come to St. Augustine, the town decided to build a fort just outside of town for the recruits. The land around it was given to them to farm and create a settlement. At least 38 families lived at Gracia Real de Santa Teresa de Mosé, better known as Fort Mose (pronounced Moh-say.) They were not segregated, but were always welcomed to come into St. Augustine, where they were viewed as the city’s first line of defense.

Fort Mose
In 1740, Georgia Governor James Oglethorpe brought 1,620 soldiers against the 100 settlers of Fort Mose. The inhabitants were able to escape to the main fort, Castillo de San Marcos in town and the British took over Fort Mose. Once their families were safe, the black militia came back with reinforcements and drove the British out. Just for spite, the Georgians burnt down Fort Mose on their way out.

Fort Mose was rebuilt, but in 1763 the fort was again abandoned. When Florida came into British hands, the inhabitants of Fort Mose, as well as the other Spanish citizens, all packed up and headed for Cuba.

Obadiah brought me to a copse of trees surrounded by marshy ground. There was no trace of the earthen bank that would have surrounded the fort. No surprise there, for earth to fill in swamps is a high commodity in this country. I do know that in 1986 archaeologists did find Fort Mose’s location. I will have to wait and see if Obadiah guessed right.

Obadiah's best guess as to the location of Fort Mose
I offered my guide some monetary compensation for his trouble but he refused it. He said my history lesson was payment enough. On the way back into town he told me how Lincolnville was founded. During the Civil War, while Florida joined the Confederacy, St. Augustine was occupied by Union troops. It was the only town in the south where the Emancipation Proclamation actually freed slaves--Obadiah being one of them. So in 1866 all those now ex-slaves started their own community and named it for the man who had freed them.

When we got back to St. Augustine I thanked Obadiah for his assistance. I wished him luck and tried to sound optimistic, for I knew the coming years will not be easy for him or his family. But they shall overcome someday.

Fort Mose Historic State Park

St. Augustine Movement


Showcase of the Gilded Age

Saturday, 27 February 1892 - St. Augustine, Florida

Perhaps the best way to beat the competition is to be your own competition! Right across the street from Henry Flagler’s Ponce de Leon Hotel is Flagler’s Alcazar Hotel. He construction on his second hotel as soon as the first was finished. I checked into the Alcazar yesterday so I could record the building as a guest.

The Alcazar Hotel as seen from the Ponce de Leon Hotel
I believe I told you last week of the Methodist Church Flagler built? That was to replace the one he bought and tore down to build this hotel. He gave the Methodists a much grander church for being such good sports.

Flagler also demolished a roller rink and filled in a creek. He bought a farm north of town so he could dig up dirt to fill in the Maria Sanchez Creek. The farm he dug up had been the site of the historic first Fort Mose, a community of free black settlers back in 1738. Flagler didn’t let expense, history or God get in his way of his schemes.

The Alcazar Hotel was opened in 1888, built with poured concrete and coquina stone just like the Ponce de Leon Hotel. It was designed by Carrère and Hastings, who also designed the Ponce de Leon. They will go on to design numerous other buildings including the New York Public Library. That famous building will not be as grand as this one.

Parlor of the Alcazar Hotel
The hotel has a three-story ballroom, steam room, massage parlor, sulfur baths, gymnasium, a casino and the world’s largest indoor pool. Just last year they added another 40 rooms as well as electricity. Edison installed two of his direct current dynamos to light the hotel.

Alcazar's indoor swimming pool
The Alcazar attracts many wealthy patrons, including former and future American president Grover Cleveland. He came here in 1889, between his two terms in office, to check out the casino. That same year Secretary of State Thomas Bayard took a few laps in the pool. At $3.50 a night, most people could never afford to stay here.

By 1932, those heady days will be gone. What with the Great Depression and the waning tourist trade moving further down the coast, the hotel had to be closed. In 1946 Chicago publisher Otto C. Lightner bought the Alcazar Hotel do house his vast collection of Victoriana. What better place than one of the former luxury hotels of the Gilded Age? The building itself would be part of his collection. He not only had art, furniture, and glassware from the period, but glass and polished wood museum cases full of stuffed animals, minerals and artifacts that Victorians loved to collect. Lightner would later donate his Museum to the City of St. Augustine.

Bridge across the fish pond in the courtyard
I will have to visit the museum when I get back to the future. For now I am enjoying the restaurant, the gardens, the swimming pool, the Turkish bath and a couple of massages. All in the name of historical research, of course.

The Lightner Museum

More photos of the Alcazar Hotel

The steam room - Turkish or Russian Bath


The Minorcans of St. Augsutine

Tuesday, 23 February 1892 - St. Augustine, Florida

Today I visited the Minorcan Quarter in the old section of St. Augustine. The Minorcans are one of the oldest ethnic groups here and have helped build this city.

Minorca in the light blue
If you have never heard of Minorcans, it is because they come from a small island in the Mediterranean. Minorca is only 29 miles long and 10 miles wide. It’s strategic location on the sea lanes has made it a target for larger nations (as well as pirates.) Too small to defend themselves against conquerors, Minorca has learned to roll with the punches.

The earliest settlements show Cretan influences. Carthaginian, Romans, Vandals, Moors, Turks, French and English have all owned Minorca at one time or another. It is now officially Spain’s. The population consists of people from all over the Mediterranean including a large number of refugee Jews. They have melted into their own culture with their own language, Menorqui. They also have their own cuisine. The French might claim mayonnaise as their own, but they stole it from Minorca.

In 1763 when Spain traded Great Britain Havana for Florida, the Brits found the peninsula sparsely populated. All of the Spanish settlers had left for Cuba leaving just the mosquitoes and alligators behind. When Andrew Turnball was given 20,000 acres of land along the coast, he decided to try to do something with it. He wanted to start a indigo plantation but needed workers. Doubting his fellow Scots could weather the heat, he looked to the warmer Mediterranean.

Turnball started with Minorca as his base. He knew Minorcans were hard workers, having had married one. He also recruited a small number of Greeks and Italians and loaded up eight ships. A total of 1,403 colonists sailing to Turnball’s “New Smyrna.” Each recruit was promised 50 acres after working 6 to 8 years, with another five acres added for each child born.

The promised land turned into a nightmare. Turnball and his overseers were hard taskmasters. The colonists were treated badly, fed poorly, clothed and housed inadequately. Add to the hardships of just living in an isolated swamp. Malaria was rampant. About 450 colonists died the first year. When they had served their time and tried to collect their payment, they were beaten and sent back to the fields. The ugly truth dawned on them. They weren’t indentured servants, they were in fact slaves!

In 1777, after nine years of this horror, a couple of the men managed to escape and made their way to St. Augustine to tell the Governor of Florida their plight. Governor Patrick Tonyn was horrified by their account and sent investigators. He liberated the colonists and invited them to come to St. Augustine. The 600 survivors and their children marched to the city. It’s estimated 964 of the colonists had died.

Minorcan Quarter
The tough hard-working Minorcans proved a boon to the struggling community. St. Augustine treated them with far more respect than Turnbull ever did. United by culture and shared adversity, the Minorcans are still a close knit society after 100 years. They fight hard to keep their traditions alive, and I understand they are still proud of their heritage in the 27th century.


Americas First Cowboys

Thursday, 11 February 1892 - St. Augustine, Florida

Where did the first American cowboys come from? Texas? The Dakotas? Kansas?

No. Florida. Yes, Florida, although they are not called cowboys, but cowmen or more often just Crackers. Now Crackers will tell you they got their name because they use whips instead of lassoes and it was the cracking whips that gave them their moniker. More likely it comes from the Elizabethan term for a braggart and blowhard. Shakespeare uses the term in his 1595 play, King John: "What cracker is this ... that deafes our ears / With this abundance of superfluous breath?"

In 1763, when Great Britain gained control of Florida, many English American and Scots-Irish immigrated into the Florida back country as settlers. The more “civilized” folks in the port towns called them Crackers for their boasting. Only the toughest folk could survive the heat, mosquitoes and alligators, so maybe the Crackers had a reason to brag.

By the twentieth century “Cracker” will be used as a derogatory meaning “poor white folk.” Now here in Florida it has come to mean a cowboy. I noticed some of the "Crackers" out here are African-American or Seminole Ameridians.

Cracker Horse
The Cracker Cow and Cracker Horse were already here before the Crackers came in. When the English took over, the Spanish moved out leaving their livestock to roam wild. Descended from Spanish breeds, the Cracker cow and horse evolved into tough, hardy breeds that could survive the harsh conditions of Florida. They are also small so they can navigate the thick underbrush and marshes. In this age cows are allowed to range wild, and the Crackers go out to round them up, thus earning another current moniker, Cow Hunter.

Cow Hunters
I visited a ranch outside of St. Augustine today and watched the Crackers cracking their whips to herd their cattle. Already ranches are experimenting with crossing other breeds with Cracker Cattle, putting the pure breed in jeopardy. In the next century the Cracker Cow and Cracker Horse will be pushed close to extinction. In the 1930s cattle from Oklahoma, Texas and Kansas will be brought to Florida to escape the Dust Bowl drought. Quarter horses will be brought too, to better manage the larger cows. It was only by determination from devoted breeders that the smaller Cracker cows and horses did not disappear all together.

Good thing to. Both the Cracker horse and Cracker cow will be used by off-world homesteaders because of their durability in harsh conditions.

Cracker Cattle

The fight to save the Cracker Cow


The Real Discoverer of Florida

Tuesday, 2 February 1892 - St. Augustine, Florida

I have gone from winter in St. Petersburg Russia to winter in St. Augustine, Florida. No snow here. Temperature is in the 60s (Fahrenheit) today.

St. Augustine as it looks in 1892
St. Augustine brags it is the oldest city in the United States. There are some Pueblo in New Mexico that would argue with that. It is however the oldest port in the United States. Founded in 1565 by Pedro Menendez de Aviles of Spain, St. Augustine predates the first English colony, Jamestown by 42 years!

Old City Gates of St. Augustine
In 1763, Spain traded Great Britain Florida for Havana. In 1783, after the United States took over the colonies, they gave Florida back to Spain for their support in the Revolution. Spain thanked them politely, then ignored Florida which was nothing but a burden to them. They eagerly gave Florida back in 1821.

Florida has a high rainfall. It is also mostly flat. Since there are so few valleys or dells for rain to run off to, it just spreads out and forms swamps. Most of the state is now wetlands full of alligators, snakes and mosquitoes. Is it any wonder no one was too excited about colonizing it?

The swamps also created a haven for runaways. When the US government began rounding up the peaceful Amerindians of the southeast to cart off to Indian Territory (Oklahoma) many fled to the Everglades. They joined what was left of the native population here and created the Seminole tribes. Runaway African slaves also came into the swamps and set up settlements next to the Seminole towns, paying a small tribute for the tribe’s protection. Many intermarried and became full-fledged Seminoles themselves. When the tribes began raiding farms in Georgia, the US Army rounded the renegades up and sent them to Indian Territory. Well, the ones they could catch anyway. Deep in the Everglades the Seminoles are still living and thriving. The government pretends they aren’t there.

freedom-loving Seminoles
Towns in Florida of any size were only in the northern most part of the state. The peninsula had just small communities along the east and west coasts. Florida wasn’t even made a state until 1845, making it the 27th to be admitted. Settlers have come, experimenting with cattle farming and crops like oranges and pineapples. So far the thing that grows best is alligators.

Florida Pineapple Plantation
Until recently St. Augustine was just a quaint little colonial town. Then Henry Flagler showed up. John D. Rockefeller may have started Standard Oil Company, but it was Henry Flagler that turned it into the largest oil company in the world. It currently has a monopoly on the American oil industry. Needless to say Flagler is rich. And he has a good nose for opportunity.

Flagler came to Jacksonville, Florida, a bit to the north, on the advice of his wife’s doctor. It didn’t cure Mary, and she died in 1881. Two years later Flagler married her nurse and he returned to Florida for their honeymoon. This time Flagler came to St. Augustine. He was charmed by the town, but found the hotels and transportation lacking. Rather than warning his friends to avoid the place, Flagler came back in 1885 and started building hotels and bought the local railroad which he is expanding south. Soon he extend it all the way to the hamlet of Miami.

Flagler has turned the sleepy town of St. Augustine into a boom town and can be called the founder of what will become Florida’s biggest industry--tourism!. Flagler has remade St. Augustine. He will soon become the founder of Palm Beach and one of the founding fathers of Miami. Flagler’s “discovery” of Florida is more crucial to the people here than Ponce de Leon’s! I heard someone quip they should rename St. Augustine St. Flagler.

I have come to witness the beginning of Florida’s tourist trade. Right now winter is the busiest time as wealthy folks from up north come to escape the snow. Summer is hot and humid and June to November marks both the rainy season and hurricane season. It will take Disney World in the late 20th century to lure tourists down to Florida in the sweltering months.

While other temporal anthropologists are working in factories or living in bronze-age mud hovels, I get to stay at a posh resort. I almost feel guilty.

The Ponce de Leon, Flagler's first hotel, built in 1888
I'm staying here, 2nd floor on the right
The Ponce de Leon Hotel's lobby


Empress of Russia

9th January 2660 - St. Petersburg, Russia

The University of St. Petersburg had asked me to record as much of Marie Feodorovna as I could. A sticky wicket since Maria is the Empress of the Russian Empire. Her husband Tsar Alexander III is very protective of her, so getting anywhere near her is next to impossible. All the vid I could capture was from a distance, using the zoom on my camera glasses. Even those are fleeting images. The University was happy with what I could bring back--Maria at the high point of a life wrought with triumph and tragedy.

Marie Sophie Frederikke Dagmar was born in 1847, the daughter of Christian, the fourth son of Duke Frederick of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glucksburg. Never heard of it? That’s because it will be swallowed up by the Prussian Empire. As the second daughter of the fourth son of a doomed dukedom, Maria would be lucky to bag a count or a wealthy industrialist.

However the King Frederick VII of Denmark was childless and his closest relative was his cousin, Louise of Hesse-Cassel. She is married to the above Christian. When Marie was five her father was made Prince of Denmark, and eventually became King Christian IX in 1863. Marie was elevated to Princess Dagmar of Denmark, although her family called her Minnie.

Her oldest brother, Christian, would become King of Denmark. Her next eldest brother, George, would become King of Greece. (Very long story. Apparently they didn‘t like the king they had and went shopping.) Her older sister, Alexandria, married Edward, Prince of Wales and would become Queen of the United Kingdom. Princess Dagmar become engaged to the heir of the next biggest empire, Russia.

Princess Dagmar and Prince Nicholas
Dagmar and Prince Nicholas really seemed to like each other. Tsar Alexander II and the rest of the family liked her, too. Then came the first great tragedy of Dagmar’s life--Nicholas died of meningitis before they were wed. Nicholas’s last wish was that Dagmar still be wed to the heir to the Russian throne, his little brother, Alexander. Dagmar returned to Denmark broken-hearted. The Imperial family tried to console her. She and Alexander became closer in their shared grief and she accepted his proposal.

Maria and Tsar Alexander III
In 1866 Dagmar converted from Lutheran to Russian Orthodox and took the name Princess Maria. In 1881 she would become Empress Maria. Her husband Tsar Alexander III was on the throne while I was there in 1890. Traumatized by his father’s assassination, he is not the soft-hearted ruler Alexander II was. He is gruff, ruthless and as conservative as his father was liberal. And yet he is tender and devoted to Maria. While most Tsars had mistresses, there is no evidence Alexander III ever did. Every Easter he has the House of Faberge make her a jeweled egg.

Maria looked happy the few times I glimpsed her in carriages sitting next to her husband. She has no idea that in 1894 Alexander will die of kidney disease at the age of 49. Maria will be so devastated her brother-in-law, Edward, Price of Wales, will plan the funeral. She will then become the Dowager Empress of Russia as her son Nicholas II becomes Tsar. She will devote her life to helping him anyway she can.

Back, left to right: Michael, Maria,
Nicholas, Xenia and George.
In front: Tsar Alexander with Olga
Maria already lost her second son, Alexander, to meningitis in 1870. He was only 11 months old. Her third son, George, died in 1899 to lung disease at the age of 28. Her youngest son Michael and her eldest son, Tsar Nicholas II and his family will die in 1917, murdered by the Bolsheviks during the Revolution. Her two daughters, Xenia and Olga will escape. They at least will both outlive their mother by 32 years.

The Bolsheviks never came for Maria. Perhaps because she was so loved by the public, or perhaps because she was 70 and no threat. She refused to leave Russia, waiting for her sons she refused to believe were dead. Only in 1919 did her sister, Dowager Queen Alexander, get her to accept an invitation to England. While she loved her sister, Maria couldn’t bear to live in her shadow. She returned to Denmark, where many Russian nobility had fled. There she was treated as their Empress. She died in 1928 at the age of 80, still waiting for her sons, Michael and Nicholas. She was entombed in Roskilde Cathedral in Copenhagen.

In 2005 the governments of Denmark and Russia decided to carry out Empress Maria’s final wish. She was interred in Peter and Paul Cathedral next to her beloved husband, Alexander III with a funeral attended by dignitaries from both countries. Nearby is the tiny tomb holding what remains of her son Tsar Nicholas, his wife Alix and their five children and four loyal servants.

Tomb of Nicholas II and family
I visited Maria’s tomb at Peter and Paul Cathedral and left a bouquet of white lilies. In the Victorian language of flowers they symbolize purity, elegance, sweetness and beauty.

Tsar Nicholas II and his cousin King George V
(or is that George on the left? No that's Nicholas)
Still Life by Marie Feodorovna
If she hadn't been an Empress she could
easily have made a living as an artist

Tribute to Princess Dagmar/Empress Maria