Friend Shari, like most of my Road Warriorettes, likes to take the backroads. Part of it is that you can see more than on the Super Slab; part of it is that they may not want to be seen with me.
After going through the central part of Florida, we decided to take 90 across the Panhandle outside of Tallahassee rather than I-10. I was somewhat familiar with this part of the state from earlier stories – I documented U.S. 27 from Little Havana in Miami to Havana, Florida, on the Georgia line in 1990 – but I had not been to Quincy.
The homes and landscaping were striking.
“Our Fallen Heroes”
The city square was dominated by the county courthouse with a large statue to “Our Fallen Heroes” in front of it.
Click on the photos to make them larger.
Those are Confederate soldiers being honored
In case you missed the crossed swords and C.S.A. on the front of the monument, the back spells it out directly: “Sacred to the memory of the Confederate Soldiers from Gadsen Co. Florida who died in the defense of their country. Erected by the ladies of the Memorial Association of Gadsden Co. Florida, April 26, 1884.”
I asked myself, “How would that monument make a black man feel when he was being hauled into that courthouse in 1910?” Or somebody with New York license plates pulled over in 1965?
World Wars I and II
On the east side of the courthouse is a monument erected in 1950 by the American Legion “In Memoriam – Gadsden County men of World Wars I and II who gave their all that the world might have peace.”
All other wars
By May 25, 1998, the county commissioners decided that wars were coming so fast and furious that they’d lump them all together with a marker on the south side of the courthouse: “In memory of Gadsden County veterans who gave their lives during the Korean Conflict, Vietnam Era, Grenada, Lebanon, Panama, Persian Gulf.”
They were optimistic not to leave any space for future wars.
Domestic violence memorial
There was a surprise waiting on the west side of the courthouse: Two stones dedicated “In memory of victims of domestic violence in Gadsden County – 1990 to present.”
There are 19 names listed. One of them is Allen Dixie, born 1917; died 1996. Victoria Yon was born in 1936 and died in 1999. The year 2004 must have been a particularly bad year for Gadsden residents: four died that year.
Either people are behaving better now or interest has waned in keeping the list updated. The last entry was from 2005.
Big money in shade tobacco
Gadsden County’s website said the county is often associated with shade tobacco, Fuller’s Earth and Coca Cola. That echoes what someone told us down the road: “A lot of those old homes came from tobacco money.”
Only two places in the United States were suitable for the growing of the crop that was used to wrap cigars: the Georgia-Florida Shade Tobacco District, comprised of Gadsden and Madison counties in Florida, and Grady and Decatur counties in Georgia, and the Connecticut River valley in New England. In 1946, the website says, those two districts were producing 95% of American-grown wrapper leaf, and they represented a $100 million industry, of which $25 million was invested in land, equipment, barns, packing houses and operating capital in the Georgia-Florida area.
Fuller’s Earth and Coca Cola
Fuller’s Earth, a form of clay, was discovered by accident in 1893. It was originally used to clean and bleach cloth, but today it is also used in refining petroleum products and in kitty litter.
The website said “The bottling of Coca-Cola was begun in the county at the turn of the 20th century but its real value to the area came through the purchase of Coca-Cola stock. Many legends circulate about the personal fortunes gained from Coca-Cola investments. Miss Julia Munroe Woodward, daughter of banker M. W. “Pat” Munroe says, “Daddy liked the taste and he figured folks would always have a nickel for a coke.” Prices have gone up but “Mr. Pat” encouraged family and friends to invest in the stock before the beverage attained its world wide prestige. The increase in value resulted in a good many “Coca-Cola millionaires” residing in the county. One estimate says that there were 67 of them and another says that at one time, more Coca-Cola stock was held in Gadsden County than throughout the rest of the country. Whether that is legend or fact, Coca-Cola is the drink of choice of many families in Gadsden County.”