Today in Keys History – Jan. 22, 2023

People on the back of a railroad car are viewed by others on the ground.

1831 – The new Collector of Customs, William A. Whitehead, arrived on the schooner Evan T. Ellicott, 58 days from Baltimore.

1853 – U.S. Vice-President William R. King arrived at Key West on the steamer Fulton with hope of recuperating from illness in the island’s mild weather. King and his family stayed at the home of Senator Stephen Mallory.

1912 – Henry Flagler arrived on the first train from the mainland to Key West, officially opening the Overseas Extension of the Florida East Coast Railroad. Mr. Flagler was welcomed to Key West by Mayor J.N. Fogarty, distinguished guests, and probably the largest crowd ever gathered in Key West. George W. Allen presented Mr. Flagler with two large silver medallions from the citizens of Key West.

1917 – Work commenced on a “white way” on Duval Street, between Front and Greene streets, where new, gas-fueled streetlamps were to be installed.

1926 – The La Concha Hotel was formally opened to the public. The San Sebastian Troubadours entertained the 175 Key Westers who dined on the hotel’s terrace.

1948 – William Demeritt died at age 68. He had served as Superintendent of the Seventh Lighthouse District from 1913 until it became part of the Coast Guard, in which he served as a captain until he retired. He was mayor of Key West from 1945 to 1947.

1957 – Baseball’s Ted Williams, fishing with guide Jimmie Albright, had a fishing duel in the Florida Keys with golf’s Sam Snead, fishing with guide Cecil Keith. Williams won with two bonefish to Snead’s one.

1976 – Supervisor of Elections William “Billy” Freeman announced that the ballot in the presidential preference primary would be in both Spanish and English. Monroe County became one of seven Florida counties to fall under the Voting Rights Act, passed by Congress in 1975.

Information compiled by Tom Hambright, Historian Emeritus, and Dr. Corey Malcom, Lead Historian, Monroe County Public Library, Florida Keys History Center.

Image: Mr. and Mrs. Henry Flagler (right) and George W. Allen on the back of Flagler’s private car on first train to Key West January 22, 1912. Gift of Mrs. W.R. Warren. Monroe County Public Library, Florida Keys History Center.


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