Sunday, August 28, 2011

Indian Key

Lower Matecumbe Key and Indian Key Fill are a low lying stretch of the Upper Keys...

...a place to buzz through at 55 miles per hour, unless road work slows you up.

And that being the case, you might consider pulling over and contemplating a small strip of mangrove covered island to the south.

Cheyenne did just that while cooling off in the water.

Indian Key isn't much to look at from the highway, just a green smear on the watery horizon but the island itself is an absolute gold mine of South Florida history. The first known mention refers to the island as "Matanzas" (slaughter) in 1733 when it was apparently a way station for Spanish treasure ships. When Florida joined the US, Indian Key and Key West were prominent with permanent inhabitants among the islands. Indian Key was important even though it was only 11 acres because it had reliable fresh water wells and a steady supply of turtles and fish in the surrounding waters for food.

After Florida passed to the US a Silas Fletcher from Louisiana settled there with his wife and opened a trading post which flourished. John Housman from Key West took over one of two stores on the island in 1831 and ran the place till 1840 when Indians snuck up on the settlers and murdered 13 of them in a widely reported attack as part of the Indian Wars of the period.

During that period Housman defended his wrecking and property interests so vigorously in Key West courts he was not always liked and he petitioned to have Dade County created out of Monroe and had Indian Key designated Dade's first county seat, with a post office.

All this on a tiny speck of land with a deep water access and no competition on the surrounding islands.

It's pretty amazing stuff, as documented on the historic marker under the small palm tree overlooking the waters surrounding Indian Key near Mile Marker 79.

Hurricane Irene was off to the east and starting to send not only north winds our way, but bands of rain as well. By this time I knew I wanted to come back and check the island out some other day.

As it was Cheyenne and I hustled back into the car before we got completely soaked and headed home.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


Jack Riepe said...

Dear Conch:

Why is it that when Indians settled disputes using time-homored tribal methods, it is referred to as "murder, slaughter," or a "massacre?" How is it the hysrorical marker on Indian Key fails to note the well deserved treatment of white trash by a local tribe as, "a patriotic response by first settlers to correct long-standing real estate abuses and a failure to establish the rights of native Amierican in the courts."

I request you go back an rewrite that paragraph in your blog.

Is there a place in the Keys where you can get a decent bowl of turtle soup these days?

Fondest regards,
Twisted Roads

Conchscooter said...

They say this place has turtle soup from farmed turtles as though that makes it better. t