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Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Coldwater Ambush

A Cold Coldwater Ambush
Milton, Sept. - 2. 1911
Alf and Arch Cooley, residing in the northern part of this county, were ambushed and shot from their horses early last night, adding two more murders to the already long list of crimes in this year. The ambuscade was in what is known as the Clearwater creek neighborhood. A coroner's jury has been impaneled and a thorough investigation will be made of this latest murder. Arch Cooley was a brother and Alf a cousin of Daniel Cooley, who was shot and killed near here last Sunday.There is considerable excitement,!but from what could be learned tonight the Cooleys were returning to their homes early in the night and were shot from the roadside by parties secreted in some thick undergrowth. Shot guns were used and there were several in the party, as five shots in rapid succession were heard. Later the riderless horses galloped up to the homes of the men with blood on the saddles. A searching party found the bodies riddled with shot and death must have been instantaneous.

Santa Rosa County Sheriff John Houston Collins“long John Collins.” faced a wild and sometimes murderous frontier, folks in remote areas of the county generally settled things themselves and for the most part peacefully, however violent feuds are well known to have occurred in many areas of the county during the early twentieth century.  One of the more notorious Munson feuds would lead to the killing of a constable, for unknown reasons this death has not been recorded as an LODD .
Robert E.L. Collins was killed on 2 December 1916 while serving as constable for Munson District.

John Houston Collins was born on May 16, 1868 in Santa Rosa County, Florida. In 1893 Collins was first elected Sheriff of Santa Rosa County. He was considered to be a “frontier type” sheriff and served two separate terms in office. descriptive speaking, Collins stood 6’7”tall, was thin in build, and often considered to be an imposing figure. He earned the nicknames of “honest John” and “long John Collins.” While Sheriff Collins and his family resided in the upper level of the jail in the county courthouse.
At the age of 69, Collins died following a lengthy illness. He and his wife are both buried in the Milton Cemetery.
Served as Sheriff  from 1893-1897
and again from 1909-1913

SRC Courthouse photo (State Archives of Florida

References: Pensacola News Journal- Library of Congress Collection.  Collins Bio and photo 

Further reading :  History of Santa Rosa County: A King's country Unknown Binding – 1973

History of Santa Rosa County: A King's country 1973 by M. Luther King (Author)

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Mystery in Lake Seminole

Two Egg TV's expedition to find a mysterious stone structure on the bottom of Lake Seminole in Southwest Georgia. Mystery on the Lake Bottom (Part 3)

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Time Marches On

Is this all that remains of the Overpass Cafe ?
While site seeing on the old brick road in East Milton, I noticed in a wooded area, this concrete pilling and a partial drive way entrance from the old road. Could this possibly be all that remains of the Overpass Cafe?
The enclosed post card is from the 1940's. If you have any photos or memories of the Overpass Cafe, please post them or email us

Monday, August 14, 2017

Early Car Registration

Early Auto Registrations, 1905-1917

 Thames, Rufus
 Jay, Florida
Modern County: Santa Rosa County (Fla.)
Registration Number: 922
Date: May 10, 1909
Maker's Name: Reo M.Co. [REO Motor Car Co.]
Style of Vehicle: Runabout
Horsepower: 10

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Old Holt School

Dear to the hearts of many, the old Holt School now sits silent and derelict in the center of what once was a thriving lumber community.
Built in 1922 of brick and wood, the school has seen many children pass through its now graffiti covered doors, a melancholy reminder of how the times have changed.
The scrub oaks that now grow over the windows add to the ghostly feeling of  the old structure . On the south-side of the building the playground and courts are mostly intact, the asphalt pad was a grand tricycle track in its day.
The school closed in the mid seventies, in those days Holt seemed to be the Mayberry of Florida. The School was sold in 1977 to private parties, and spending its later years serving as a commercial building.

Starting School

Another School Year

Tomorrow starts another school year. Haiden, my grandson, will be in 4th grade and Annaleigh, my granddaughter, will start Pre-K. They are growing up way to fast!
It only seems like yesterday, that I was getting ready to start a new school year. I would be so nervous and hoped my "first day of school outfit" was cool. I wasn't the most popular kid in school. My parents kept me in private school most of my life, but for 9th grade, I was going to be a Panther, in public school.
You want to talk about being nervous??? I was scared to death! I always had to wear dresses to school (reason you will hardly ever see me in one) and now I was able to wear Levi's and other cool clothes. I made a lot of good friends that year, and throughout my high school years. I am proud of who I am. I believe I have good manners, good morals and I think, a good heart.
Now, there is nothing to separate those times in my life. Every Monday of every week, of every month is the beginning of my work week. No breaks for the summer or the winter, just work and a day off here and there. I have my dream job, so this makes it so much easier. I miss the days of wondering what tomorrow or the next year would bring, but I would not change anything today.
In closing, I hope everyone has a great school year and to those who are in the same boat as me, I hope you have a great work week.

By Contributor Stephanie Cato

Old Holt School

 Old Holt School Was a Fine Place Built in 1922  of lumber and brick the building last sold for 370 k in 2008,Sold by school board in 1977 for 117 k.

$ 370,000

Old Holt School .

Baker Block -Baker Block Museum Web Site
Holt, FL has roots in the timber industry.  According to many, the first pioneers to come to the Holt area settled along the Yellow River.  And though no exact date is given, it was prior to the survey of Benjamin Clemets and James W. Exum in 1828-29, or the survey of Henry Wells in 1852.
     The community’s first real source of income was a sawmill known as Mart’s Mill.  It was located on Canoe Creek with a ditch cut from the northeast corner of the mill pond to a ‘waste-way’ on Trawick Creek.  The ditch transported logs to the mill and furnished enough water to run the mill.  The mill was later owned by Jim Black (1820-1893) and was called Canoe Mill according to Holt resident, Eva Wadsworth.
     Ann Spann notes in a newspaper article that it was not the prospect of the railroad which brought settlers to the area. It was the reality of timber from the virgin pine forest which covered the sparsely populated area.
     David Holt built his small log cabin just north of where the railroad track would later to located. He had a store in one corner of the cabin and served residents who had settled in the area called “up on the hill”.  Holt’s store was located along the stagecoach road which ran from Milton, FL. and northeast to Florala, AL.  The stagecoach used his stable to rest and feed their horses. In 1902, William Holt, son of David Holt and Monroe Seigler built the Holt-Seigler Mercantile Company.
     Another source of income was hauling ‘lite-ard (lightwood) knots’ along the railroad to dump sites.  The wood, used as train fuel, sold for sixty cents per cord. The railroad paid for the wood with tickets or in cash.  The tickets could be used at the local store.  However, cash was only available once per month when the railway pay car came through the area.  Another source of income was cutting cross ties from the many cypress trees and selling them to the railroad company.
     In 1888 John W. Senterfitt established the first school at Hurricane Head.  In 1889 several small turpentine stills  sprang up south of the Yellow River.  The Ewing brothers first turpentine still was built in Holt ca 1900.  The following year, several families gathered in the area to worship and soon organized the New Hope Baptist Church. Later, the church later became Holt Baptist Church.  By 1903, a large new depot and three section houses for a railroad maintenance crew were built by the Southern Express Company.
     In 1909, W.T. Smith and his sons – Will, Frank and Ed – built a sawmill west of the Ewing’s.  The town was called Holts for many years:  the train conductor would say, “Next stop, Holt’s” as the train neared the station.   But as time went by the ‘s’ was dropped from the name.
     In 1927, the first bus service came through Holt.  It was a large car owned by Tom Dollar who called the old car “The Jitney.”  Jeremy Johnson and Justin Sutton, recent students at the Baker School (ca 1990) wrote a paper noting that Mr. Dollar made a round trip from Florala, AL to Milton FL everyday.  The jitney services stopped when the old car finally wore out.  They credit Mr.  Max Cooper, The History of Holt, as their primary resource.
     In its prime, the little town boasted two movie theaters.  The Holt Hotel was near the cemetery.  Mrs. Mabel Ates arrived in 1915 and raised nine children in the town.  She took in washing and ironing to help rear her children.  She was featured in a newspaper article on her 100th birthday.
     To name just a few of the other  pioneer families associated with the area: Adams, Baldwin, Bois, Cadenhead, Chestnut, Christian, Cooper, Dollar, Edenfield, Fisher, Hart, Rowland, Sanders, Steele, Pippins, Livingston.