KEY West’s harbor resounded at dawn with the boom of cannon, as Old Glory waved from the porches of hotels, billowing even from the schooners and brigs in port. At noon a military salute was fired, and a crowd of citizens raised three loud hurrahs. It was Wednesday 4 March 1829, the day William A. … More Imprints

Bad blood

GUNSHOTS piercing the early morning quiet of Key West’s seaward side disrupted the dreams of few island residents. Their houses clustered near the harbor on the opposite shore, far from the smoke and noise. Either the participants themselves, upon their returning to town, or a newspaper published days later alerted most of the population to … More Bad blood

The forerunner

COMMERCE sat and scanned the horizon for the vessel bringing William A. Whitehead from the north. A few weeks from his arrival on Key West, he would be pressed into its service. Commerce had only a tenuous foothold on this remote, imperfectly charted island which still pinned its fortunes on misfortune, still relied for life … More The forerunner

Wild isle

WILLIAM Whitehead considered few aspects of his first sea voyage worth transmitting to posterity. An unpublished memoir composed in later years but replete with details of his childhood and upbringing preserves scant information about this October 1828 journey. The vessel’s cabin was too crowded for its “three or four passengers”; the anonymous captain and crew … More Wild isle