Today in Keys History – Dec. 7, 2022

A group of men stand around behind one man sitting in a wheelchair.

1830 – William R. Hackley recorded in his diary: Rose before the sun. Last night it was quite cool. After breakfast I was at the store where they were shooting until near twelve. I was verbally summoned by U.S. Marshall P.B. Prior to turn out as one of thirty men to guard the prisoner from the jail to the gallows. I shall not attend as I am unwilling to see a man hung. It was a mistake as to Norman’s taking poison. He is perfectly unconcerned and says that it makes no difference to him whether he dies today or ten years hence, he is perfectly hardened and ought to suffer the end of a felon. Wind east northeast. Weather pleasant.

1863 – Alexander Patterson was re-elected Mayor of Key West. He also served as mayor 1841-1842, 1856-1857, 1865-1866 and 1867-1867.

1908 – The Key West Journal, a weekly newspaper, made its first appearance. Fred H. Mathews was the editor.

1934 – Baseball great Jerome “Dizzy” Dean visited the city of Key West on his way to Havana.

1940 – Author Thelma Strabel moved into her new house by the Southernmost Point. She is best remembered for her novel “Reap The Wild Wind,” the story about the Key West wreckers that was made into a movie featuring John Wayne.

1941 – All local military personnel were put on the highest state of readiness after the Japanese attacked the United States forces at Pearl Harbor.

1955 – Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro spoke to a group of about 300 in a parking lot on Stock Island. He had attempted to speak in the city of Key West but was blocked in this effort.

1994 – City Manager Felix Cooper named Richard Wardlow as the city’s fire chief replacing Chief Edwin Castro who was retiring at the end of the year after a 31-year career as a firefighter.

Information compiled by Tom Hambright, Historian Emeritus, Florida Keys History Center, Monroe County Public Library

Image: Fidel Castro (in dark suit) in Key West December, 1955. In the wheelchair Dr. Julio de Poo. Wright Langley Collection. Florida Keys History Center, Monroe County Public Library.


Arts & CultureFlorida HistoryToday In Keys History