Brad Bertelli

Brad Bertelli is an author, speaker, Florida Keys historian, and Honorary Conch who has been writing about the local history for two decades. Brad has called the Florida Keys home since 2001. He is the author of eight books, including The Florida Keys Skunk Ape Files, a book of historical fiction that blends two of his favorite subjects, the local history and Florida’s Bigfoot, the Skunk Ape. His latest book, Florida Keys History with Brad Bertelli, Volume 1, shares fascinating glimpses into the rich and sometimes surprising histories of the Florida Keys. To satisfy your daily history fix, join his Facebook group Florida Keys History with Brad Bertelli.

KEYS HISTORY: BROWN ANOLES & CURLY-TAILED LIZARDS AMONG OTHER INVASIVE SPECIES IN THE FLORIDA KEYS KEYS

I grew up fascinated by all things that slithered, crept and crawled. As a boy, I kept cages stacked atop the two dressers in my bedroom where lizards and snakes lived and died. By the time I was 15 or 16, I had stopped keeping them in cages and instead...

LOCAL HISTORY LEGEND LEFT HIS FOOTPRINT ON THE FLORIDA KEYS

Cudjoe Key’s John Viele, age 99, has passed away. He not only lived a long life but left a tremendous footprint on the Florida Keys, the local history and my historical endeavors.  I never met the legendary historian or had the opportunity to thank him for his incredible contribution to...

KEYS HISTORY: LOST WRECKS OF THE 1733 NEW SPAIN FLEET

The Spanish treasure fleets sailed away from the Old World for hundreds of years, bringing men and supplies to New World operations. On the trip back to Spain, the fleets returned with New World treasures of silver, gold, dyes, spices, timber, leathers and more. The doomed 1733 New Spain Fleet...

KEYS HISTORY: FISHING LODGES, BROTHELS & THE NO NAME PUB

When people talk about No Name Key, they rarely talk about the old Russian immigrant, called by some the King of No Name Key, or farming or the alleged trespassing disputes over homesteaded property lines. Few remember the island had a grammar school back in 1910 or how the...

KEYS HISTORY: NEW ROAD DISRUPTS NO NAME PROPERTY OWNER’S PEACE

Nicholas Matcovich, once identified as the King of No Name Key, moved on to the great orchard in the sky on Aug. 14, 1919. His son Mosby, born in 1871, was an apple that did not fall too far from the family tree – at least on his father’s...

KEYS HISTORY: NO NAME KEY PROPERTY HAD TREES & TRAPS

The stocky Russian with large hands named Nicholas Matcovich left Key West with his wife Eliza in 1868. He had reportedly been managing a nursery at the time but was unhappy living among the number of people adding to Key West’s growing population.  To escape, Mr. and Mrs. Matcovich moved...

KEYS HISTORY: BAHIAMIANS & EUROPEAN MAN OCCUPIED KEY WITH ‘NO NAME’

PART 1 No name has been given to many of the 1,700 islands considered part of the Florida Keys archipelago, but No Name Key has been assigned to individual islands twice.  One of those islands is usually overlooked by all but those living around MM 11, where the island is visible...

KEYS HISTORY: RELIVING OLD COLUMNS & SPREADING LOCAL HISTORY

While it is hard to believe, I have been writing a history column in one of the local newspapers for a decade. I find it hard to believe. Since 2018, my work has appeared in The Keys Weekly Newspapers, and I could not be more grateful for the opportunity...

KEYS HISTORY: ORIGINAL SEVEN MILE BRIDGE A COLLECTION OF 4 OVERPASSES

The Overseas Highway is a spectacular string of asphalt and concrete and one of North America's most scenic drives. One of the highlights of the drive is crossing the Seven Mile Bridge that connects Marathon with the Lower Keys. While the bridge is an engineering marvel worthy of appreciation,...

KEYS HISTORY: FARMING IN THE FLORIDA KEYS

Lignumvitae Key is in the Islamorada area of the Upper Keys. The island is a bit off the beaten path because it was never connected by the Key West Extension of Henry Flagler’s East Coast Railway or the Overseas Highway. Like many islands making up the approximately 1,700-island archipelago,...

KEYS HISTORY: LIGNUMVITAE KEY BOASTS A STORIED PAST

Spoiler alert: the Florida Keys are a low-lying collection of islands that rises, on average, 3.2 feet above sea level. Three islands, however, boast a peak elevation of 18 feet. Solares Hill, the highest point on Key West and home to the Key West Cemetery, stands at 18 feet,...

KEYS HISTORY: FLORIDA KEYS’ BAHIA HONDA ISLAND BUSTLED WITH ACTIVITY

The first surveyor general for British East Florida, William Gerard de Brahn, named the island Rice Island on his 1772 chart. The island’s Spanish name, Bahia Honda, makes more sense because, in English, bahia honda translates to “deep bay.” At 30 feet, Bahia Honda has one of the deepest...