Saturday, February 18, 2017

President Cleveland's 1888 visit to Central Florida






It was election year in 1888 and President Grover Cleveland made a visit to the Land of Flowers ,the great state of Florida. It was a full itinerary that included visits to Jacksonville, St. Augustine, Palataka, Titusville, Cocoa and finally Sanford and Winter Park,

President Grover Cleveland, the First Lady, and entourage's trip to Florida continued from St. Augustine with a train trip to Titusville, Florida with a brief stop in Palatka. As typical with their other whistlestop's, huge crowds gathered to catch a glimpse of the Executive General. At the Titusville Wharf, the President's party boarded a paddleboat, called Rockledge.

Going south on the Indian River the Rockledge Steamer docked at the wharf of the citrus grower, Mr. G. Hardee, at 11:30 am in Rock Ledge. Under the shade of several live oaks, in front of Mr. Hardee's residence, a reception was feted. A large number local officials, of this Indian River area, had the opportunity to shake hands with the President. The people were enthusiastic and warmly welcomed the party into the beautiful grounds of Mr. Gardner Hardee's estate and into his magnificent orange grove. Mrs. Cleveland pitched the first orange from the laden branches, which was followed in suit by other members of the party.

Mr. Hardee selected one of the finest oranges in the grove and peeled it in the Ole Florida style, for the President. Since the President was extremely pleased with that one, he announced that this one variety orange would be known as "The Cleveland Orange". A reception was held at the Indian River Hotel and is memorialized in a photograph of the President, entourage and local citizenry.

The New York Times reported that the First Lady Mrs. Cleveland was greatly amused at some of the strange watercraft that came up the dock. A local fisherman presented a huge channel bass to the President and he made the donor happy by saying, "I don't believe I could pull that fellow in myself. "The entire party were reported to be in the most congenial spirits and spoke highly of their delightful trip.

The President and his entourage departed Rock Ledge at 2:45 pm by paddleboat, back to Titusville where they were welcomed by a large crowd. Waving to the crowd and making handshakes the Presidential boarded their train and steamed off to their next whistle-stop, Sanford.



Footnotes:

1) Click the Sanford link above to continue the story.

2) The city of Rockledge back in 1888 was spelt as two words.



Sources:

For more on this story visit Google Books for free Ebook Review

Library of Congress Archives at Florida State University

Florida Star newspaper March 1, 1888.