Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Travel for a Cure

William Wyatt (1791 - 1850) was one of the earliest settlers in both Tallahassee, Florida and what is now Manatee County, Florida.

His grandson William Dudley Wyatt married Nancy Elizabeth Rawls, my grandmother's first cousin. I'd seen his name before in information a family member shared with me but didn't think much of it until many years later.
 
He has an unusual story. He was born in Maryland but moved to Florida soon after the Spanish left. He was listed on the first Florida census which was done in 1825.

1826 Florida Election Returns

Wyatt originally owned a small tavern in Tallahassee and in 1824 built The Planters Hotel on the northeast corner of Pensacola and Adams streets. 

He chose a good spot since the Capitol building was built across the street from the hotel in 1828. His hotel became popular with politicians and the locals. Prince Murat held his going away party there in 1830.

It was the first brick building in town and one of the few structures that survived the fire of 1843.

In 1966 during excavation for the "new" Capitol building in Tallahassee the crews uncovered the remains of the original hotel. They found 30 chamber pots, "two privies, a deep well, old coins and odds and ends."

In 1826 Wyatt was elected a member of the Territorial Legislature. This election return from St. Marks which in now in Wakulla County shows him ahead by one vote. He had six votes and his opponent William McComb had only five. 
Letter to Governor Duval


When the Capitol building was being planned he made a proposal to the State to construct it. Since he had built the only brick structure in town and owned a brick making business, you would think he'd get the job. Nope, they choose someone else and he filed a complaint over the decision because his bid was $9,000 less.

The Florida Archives had this letter he wrote to Governor William Duval on April 22, 1828.

Florida had only been part of the US for 6 years but political deals had already made their way south.



Floridian and Journal May 11, 1850
In 1835 he commanded a company in the Florida Indian Wars. He was called Colonel in these newspaper articles from May 1850 but the enlistment and service records showed him as a Captain in the 3rd Regiment of Florida Volunteers.

My great grandfather William Rowell was a Captain in the Florida Mounted Militia during this same time. The two men were about the same age and moved to Florida about the same time.


Floridian and Journal May 18, 1850
In the late 1840s Wyatt moved to what is now Manatee County, Florida and built a sugar cane Plantation.

Unfortunately he didn't live long after that. The articles say he went to New Orleans, LA for medical treatment and died on the way back, aboard the Schooner William R. Pettes.


The 1850 census for Hillsborough County Florida listed him on the Mortality Index, dying as a result of Diabetes. These indexes were done every 10 years along with the census and only listed those who died within one year of the census. It is unusual to actually find someone you are researching on them.

The death notice says the boat stopped at St. Marks and Wyatt's body was taken to Tallahassee. He was buried in the Old City Cemetery in Tallahassee but there is no marker there.

To travel by boat from Manatee County to New Orleans is over 500 nautical miles. I've been in the Gulf of Mexico, out of sight of land, on fishing trips and it's not a good feeling, especially when a summer storm comes up. On a sailboat in 1850 you can figure it was a long trip.

I found a reference to another distant relative who went from Virginia to New Orleans about the same time for medical treatment and he died while there.

I'd like to find out what kind of medical facility or physician NOLA had back then that would entice people to travel such a distance for a cure.





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