Samuel Augustus Floyd, who arrived in Apalachicola in 1840, has left a treasure to local historians. During 1872, he kept a diary of his life in Apalachicola.
The following story is based on an excerpt from that diary.
In March 1872, Floyd, then 32 years old, was active in local politics and living in a boarding house, possibly one occupying the now empty lot adjacent to the Raney House.
There was lots of fun and excitement in Apalachicola in those days.
At a city meeting, a tipsy young Mr. Hunter knocked down “a negro who had appropriated his father’s seat” while the elder Hunter was speaking to the assembly. Marshall Gillen attempted to come between the men and became embroiled in the fight himself.
“The utmost confusion prevailed for some minutes but order was restored by frequent calls from the chair,” Floyd wrote.
Local politics, it seems, has hardly changed.
That same month, Floyd purchased the city’s first croquet set, delivered from Columbus, Ga. at a cost of $5.25. A croquet club was quickly formed.
Mrs. Pohlman hosted a “Pop” on April 9. Floyd attended but wrote that he “felt badly and didn’t enjoy it much.”
What he did enjoy was five “havanahs,” cigars given to him by Richardson, another Roan boarding house resident. Floyd must have had a taste for tobacco because the diary describes at length a tobacco pouch sent to Floyd by Miss M. R. F. The pouch was made of rich material and “admirably” embroidered.
Floyd must have had a taste for the ladies too. He wrote that at the Pohlman Pop, he kissed a young lady named Carrie “after a protracted scuffle.” He observed his own behavior was very rude but balanced by Carrie’s prudishness.
Earlier in the month, he escorted Misses Mena and Jane to see off the “St. Clair” which was carrying some Apalachicola residents to northerly destinations.
He was the sole male participant in a six part croquet match on April 17, siding with Misses Ella King and Teresa against the Misses Baker and Phena Pohlman. The party finished after dark and Floyd escorted the young ladies home.
Seems the local lassies were full of fun. Floyd recounts how Ella Wakefield attempted to play a trick on her cousin Georgia Bryant involving fleas. Ella, who Floyd describes as “a model of conventional dignity, “collected a vial of fleas over several weeks. One afternoon, after being teased by Georgia, Ella rushed at her with the vial up her sleeve. Georgia whirled Ella onto a bed and the stopper of the vial was popped out releasing the fleas on the bodice of Georgia’s dress.
Floyd wrote that “the effect on Miss Bryant, who naturally loved a joke, can be best imagined.”
During April, a story of a supernatural nature unfolded in the pages of Floyd’s diary.
On April 13 over breakfast, Mrs. Easton, Floyd’s housekeeper, informed him that the entire household had been awakened the previous evening by a ghost.
This leads one to speculate on Floyd’s whereabouts on the night of April 12, since he apparently was not awakened with everybody else, but that would be another story.
In any case, Easton recounted that she and Captain Davis, another resident of the boarding house, had heard someone calling in distress.
Floyd encountered Davis at a local lumber mill later in the morning.
“I asked him about it thinking, of course, that he would make light of it. To my surprise, Davis became very grave, when I bantered him,” wrote Floyd. “(He) said that he did hear a most distinct wail as if a child were crying in distress and thought of getting up to inquire if Mrs. Easton’s infant was ill.”
Other witnesses to the haunting reported hearing a ghostly pattering of feet.
Floyd undertook to investigate the phenomenon and came up with a less than ghostly cause for the spooky sounds. A neighbor’s child had come down with the whooping cough causing the “cries of distress” and the pattering of feet was produced by stray goats congregating in an abandoned cotton warehouse across the street from the Roan boarding house.
Floyd, born March 17, 1846 in Camden County, Ga., enlisted into the Second Florida Infantry at age 16 in Jacksonville. He was the nephew of Robert Floyd who served in the Florida Legislature in the 1840's and 1850's.
Before coming to Apalachicola, Floyd worked in the lumber trade in Jacksonville and along the Georgia coast. He was appointed log and timber inspector for Franklin County in 1872, the year of this ghost story. He served as a Franklin County representative in the Florida House of Representatives in 1877 and the city tax assessor. In 1883, he was elected sheriff of Franklin County.
He died in Atlanta on June 20, 1902 and was returned to Apalachicola and buried in Magnolia Cemetery on June 23. According to the Times, hundreds of people attended the popular Mr. Floyd’s funeral.