Today in Keys History – Nov. 24, 2022

Two men stand behind a shop counter with clear bottles in front of them.

1830 – William R. Hackley recorded in his diary: Rose with the sun and read Hammond and Phillips. A Negro by the name of Ruby was broth up before Henry W. Fontaine charged with attempting to set fire to Mrs. Mallory’s house night before last. When he was broth up Oliver O’Hara rose and observed to the Judge Fontaine that he must object (as the British vice counsel for a man he claimed to be a subject of the British government) to his setting on the trail as he (O’Hara) had been informed the he (Fontaine) had made up his decision on the case. Fontaine immediately told him in a passion “I hold you in contempt of court” and made out a commitment for him condemning him to four hours imprisonment in the common jail and to pay a fine of five dollars and costs, the extent of what the law allows a justice to fine for contempt. Mr. O’Hara was taken up by writ of habeas corpus before Judge Webb who said he could do nothing and he then went peaceably to jail and stayed till released by expiration of the time. He is excessively incensed against Fontaine more especially as he disclaims all intention of offense. He says he is determined to drive Fontaine off the Key, not by any personal attack as his is not worth of such notice from a man of his standing and that is the only thing that saves him from cow skinning but by representing the character in its true light to the governor. Fontaine’s character is that of a vain, conceited, ignorant man and is devoted to play never missing and opportunity of gambling even with the most notorious blacklegs and frequently is intoxicated in short no one has any respect for him. Mr. O’Hara is the British vice counsel here and also the agent for the insurance company at Lloyds and is a man who is respected as much as any other on the Key and I think it the greatest outrage on the feelings of a gentlemen that I have heard of in a long time and it is looked on as such by Mr. O’Hara.

1901 – The population for the State of Florida by the 1900 census is 528,542. The population of South Florida which is all the land south of Lake Okeechobee comprised of Lee, Dade and Monroe County was 26,092. The population of Dade County was 4,955 and Lee 3,071 with the rest in Monroe County.

1971 – Frank Romano and Joe Liszka opened Key West Fragrance and Cosmetics.

1992 – Vice President-elect Al Gore and his family arrived at Key West International Airport and drove to Little Palm Island for a vacation.

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

Image: Frank Romano and Joe Liszka, Key West Fragrance and Cosmetic 528 Front Street October 7, 1975. Wright Langley Collection. Florida Keys History Center, Monroe County Public Library.


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