Local recollections are precious resource

Published: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 at 08:56 AM.

For over a year, Sue Cronkite has been working on a database of names of individuals who are referenced in the indexes of books like “Outposts on the Gulf” by William Warren Rogers, published by the University of Florida, “The Magic of Cape San Blas and the Surrounding Area”, published by Marlene Womack in 2011, and “The Lovett Family of Apalachicola Florida and Allied Families” self-published by Rose Gibbons Lovett in 1963.

These are great resources, in hardcopy form at the library, but if nothing else Library School is teaching me that library holdings are only part of the wealth of information available, especially on the internet.

Yesterday I found, while looking for a particular portal for early Apalachicola Census Records, a Florida State University dissertation by Christopher Horrell on maritime history and archaeology focusing substantially on Apalachicola. In the appendixes are lists of ship captains, vessels and the master carpenters who built them. All of these names could potentially be added to the database, which the Apalachicola Municipal Library is willing to share with any other interested parties.

The library is reaching out to the Gulf County Public Library, with their “Alfred I. DuPont Florida History and Genealogy Center,” which is almost the square footage of this library. Port St Joe and Apalachicola, while certainly rivals historically, are linked together by history and families, back before the town, known then as St Joseph, was decimated by Yellow Fever and a hurricane in 1843. Some Apalachicola houses were even originally built in Port St. Joe and transported to Apalachicola.

Another resource, more precious than the internet, as it is more fleeting, are the recollections of our local residents. The library has scant resources to put toward an oral history project, but the Florida Humanities Council did record some in 2003.

The loss of our beloved Bobby Siprell last Sunday highlights the urgency of gathering information from lifelong resident. Bobby was not one we thought we would lose so soon. He was just going to be tapped by the University of Florida's Historic Preservation Program, to provide recollections on the evolution of the Chapman School buildings, at the recommendation of Susan Clementson.

The list of Bobby’s wonderful works, both personal and physical is long, but we especially appreciate his transformation of a discarded piece of furniture, which is now the library’s circulation desk. He was on our list to call for some other carpentry projects. We will miss him, as will many residents of Apalachicola.



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