John Michael Harvey (1946 - 2019)

posted Jul 22, 2019, 10:35 AM by Gayla Kittendorf

John Michael Harvey
It is with sadness that we announce the passing of John Michael Harvey on July 17, 2019. Mike was the husband of Carolyn Wrenn Harvey, one of our board members, and a long-time truly active member of the Wakulla County Historical Society. He will be greatly missed and long remembered by all of us, and our thoughts and prayers are with Carolyn and the rest of his family.

Historic Wakulla Newspapers on the Website!

posted Jun 17, 2019, 2:57 PM by Gayla Kittendorf

Wakulla News Page 1 , May 2, 1941

We are pleased to announce a new resource on the Wakulla County Historical Society website! Thanks to the donation of old Wakulla County newspapers by the Wakulla County Public Library, and the efforts of Eddie Page and Debbie Jay, these are being scanned and added to our website under the Research tab: (

Visit our site to see this and other resources for research and news of the Society!

May 2019 Program - Prince Achille Murat

posted May 2, 2019, 7:10 PM by Gayla Kittendorf

Portrait of Prince Murat from Florida Memory, State Archives of Florida

The Wakulla County Historical Society invites you to attend a program on May 14, 7pm, at the Wakulla County Public Library featuring a presentation on Prince Murat by Aurelia Aubert.


In the span of twenty years, Achille Murat, the nephew of Napoleon Bonaparte, made the Wacissa area his home and the stage for his impressive list of successes and failures. This French immigrant, former prince of the Italian kingdom of Naples, arrived in Florida in 1826. He travelled around along the Gulf Coast, set up a plantation in Louisiana, tried himself at land speculation in Texas, and went back twice to Europe, but he always returned to Wacissa. There, Murat married a great-grandniece of George Washington. He became an influential member of the community as a cotton planter, lawyer, county judge, aspiring politician, officer in the Second Seminole War, a prolific writer, a director of the Union Bank of Florida, and president of the Wacissa and Aucilla Navigation Company responsible for the Slave Canal. Murat’s story, however, is also a tragic one. Within his twenty years in Florida, he owned close to one hundred enslaved people. And in spite of his multiple endeavors, he never became wealthy and, instead, died ruined by debts, and relatively unknown. In this presentation, I will explore Murat’s unique life and legacy, and even some of his oddities—he supposedly once boasted that he “never removed his boots from their first days use until they were worn out.”


Aurelia Aubert earned her Ph.D. in history at the University of Florida where she wrote her dissertation on Achille Murat. She is currently the associate director of the Richard J. Milbauer Program in Southern History at UF, and teaches history courses at Santa Fe College in Gainesville. She has presented her work at a number of academic conferences including the Southern Historical Association, the Florida Historical Society, the Southeastern Council of Latin American Studies, and the British American Nineteenth Century Historians’ Association. Starting in September 2019, she will be the McCormick Center Postdoctoral Fellow in Revolutionary Era Studies at Siena College in Albany, New York.


This program is free and open to the public.  We look forward to seeing you there.

Message from the Friends of St. Marks Wildlife Refuge

posted Apr 18, 2019, 6:57 PM by Gayla Kittendorf

 Bring the Past to Light – The Final Phases


lighthouse lantern room image

Would you like to see the St. Marks Lighthouse illuminate the night sky as it did for 173 years? This is certainly what we’ve been working toward. Help us in our continued journey to Bring the Past to Light.

A generous donor has contributed funds to construct a replica of the historic Fourth Order Fresnel lens, and we are planning to install it in the lantern room.  However, there  are expenses associated with installation and wiring.  Help us make the dream come true and see the St. Marks Lighthouse once again light the coast.

As many of you may know, the light from the Fresnel lens was extinguished in 2000 when the Coast Guard installed a modern solar powered light on the exterior of the lantern room.  That light has since been removed, and the lighthouse has stood dark ever since. Bringing back the light has been the dream of many Refuge supporters. If you want to see this historic lighthouse once again beam its message to sea, please contribute to the Lighthouse Fund by donating online (scroll to the lighthouse choice) or by mail to Friends of St. Marks Wildlife Refuge, PO Box 368, St. Marks, FL 32355.

Be sure to mark Lighthouse Lens Fund on your check.  Thank you for your support  as we “Bring the Past to Light!”

Genealogy Group - April 4 - Land Record Research

posted Apr 1, 2019, 1:51 PM by Gayla Kittendorf

The Wakulla Genealogy Group will meet on Thursday, April 4, 4:00 PM, at the Wakulla County Public Library.  Our speaker will be Brian Plant, President of Wakulla Title Company, who will give a presentation on Land Record Research.  Please come and join us.  You will note the time change of our meeting.  It was agreed at the March genealogy meeting that we will try having the meetings at this earlier time and see how that works out.

The Historical Society will not have its regularly scheduled program on April 9 due to the special election and the Library being a voting precinct.  We will see you in May for our final program before the summer break.

March 2019 Program - Annual Show and Tell

posted Feb 27, 2019, 7:33 PM by Gayla Kittendorf   [ updated Feb 27, 2019, 7:36 PM ]

Annual Show and Tell March 12, 2019

Genealogy Program

posted Feb 5, 2019, 9:18 AM by Gayla Kittendorf

Dear WCHS Members and Friends,


We will not have a Genealogy meeting this month, but will resume our genealogy programs on March 7. On Thursday, March 7, 6:30 PM, we will gather at the Museum and then go together over to the Courthouse.  Donna Richardson from the Clerk’s Office will give us a tour of their records and show us the research computers and let us know what is available on them.  You will need to sign up for this tour by just sending me an email with your name.  If possible, please let us know if you are planning to attend by Friday, March 1. 


We will see you on February 12 for our program on Contributions of Women to Florida State Parks.  On March 7, we will have our annual Show and Tell program.  If you have a piece of history or artifact you would like to show us and tell us about it, please email me or call the Museum at 926-1110.  We have had a lot of fun at our first two Show and Tell programs, and we hope this one will be just as successful. 


Thank you for your interest in the Historical Society.



Arlene Vause, Secretary

Wakulla County Historical Society

February 2019 Program - Contributions of Women to Florida State Parks

posted Jan 30, 2019, 2:41 PM by Gayla Kittendorf

Retired Wakulla Springs Park Manager Sandy Cook
The Wakulla County Historical Society invites you to attend our monthly program on Tuesday, February 12 at 7 p.m. at the Wakulla County Public Library located at 4330 Crawfordville Highway.  This month’s program will feature Sandy Cook, former Park Manager at Wakulla Springs State Park.  Sandy will give a presentation on the “Contributions of Women to Florida State Parks.” She will discuss the history of the role women played in the creation of the Florida Park Service and share her experiences of working in state parks for 37 years.

Preview of February and March Programs

posted Jan 24, 2019, 5:27 PM by Gayla Kittendorf   [ updated Jan 25, 2019, 6:03 PM ]

February 12 - Sandy Cook, retired Park Manager, Wakulla Springs State Park, will give a presentation on "Women in the Florida Park Service."

March 12 – Third Annual Show and Tell.  Individuals will bring their artifacts and tell us about them.  To sign up to bring artifacts to show, please call the Museum at (850) 926-1110.

More information to follow!  Meetings begin at 7:00 p.m. at the Wakulla County Public Library, 

January 2019 Program - The Battle of Newport

posted Dec 25, 2018, 7:42 PM by Gayla Kittendorf

Bill Gauger
The Wakulla County Historical Society’s program on Tuesday, January 8, 7:00 p.m. at the Wakulla County Public Library will feature Bill Gauger with a presentation on The Battle of Newport.

The Civil War Battle of Natural Bridge March 6th, 1865, at the present day town of Woodville, southeast of Tallahassee, is commemorated by the Natural Bridge Battlefield State Park containing appropriate monuments, and hosts an annual reenactment.  Preceding, overlapping, and extending after the battle, events at Newport on the St Marks River helped determine the Confederate victory. Our speaker, Bill Gauger, will tell us about the little-known, but important role Newport played in the ill-fated Union attempt to invade this part of Florida as the Civil War neared its end.

Bill is a member of the WCHS and participated in our annual Show and Tell program last March showing a Dr. Caldwell’s Pepsin medicine bottle he found in the Ochlockonee River and sharing the story of this company.  He and his wife Maryann currently reside in Morehead City, NC, and enjoy spending their winters in their 5th wheel here in the Panhandle. He and Maryann both took early retirement from the Lee County, FL school system in 1999.  Bill's interest in history, particularly Civil War history, goes back to childhood. He has an extensive Civil War library, collects Civil War artifacts, and has visited most of the major battlefields in the east. He enjoys researching lesser-known Civil War actions.

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