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.

’35 storm most powerful ever

The Category 5 1935 Labor Day Hurricane is still the most powerful storm ever to strike North America. While the killer hurricane accounted for approximately 500 fatalities, the number could have been significantly higher had it not been a holiday weekend. Fortunately, some number of the WWI veterans sent to...

Keys History: Attack at Indian Key – From settlement to community – Politics rears its head

Attack at Indian Key – Upper Keys History In the early morning hours of Aug. 7, 1840, some 130 Indians paddled out to Indian Key and launched a surprise attack. Of the roughly 50 people still living on the island at the time, six or seven were killed — depending on...

Pirates? Aye, but…

 It seems as if pirates and the Florida Keys should go together like rum and lime. And they do, in the sense that stories of pirates are often passed around by barstool historians while sipping rum. Contrary to their legendary status, there are scant accounts of pirates physically being...

Railroad workers transported to work site

Marathon History Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines peonage as 1. a) the use of laborers bound in servitude because of debt, and b) a system of convict labor by which convicts are leased to a contractor. Henry Flagler’s Florida East Coast Railway was investigated for peonage. Labor agents working for the railroad...

STAR-SPANGLED BANNERS

The first American flag to flap over the Florida Keys had 13 stripes and 24 stars. This flag flew from 1822 to 1836.  While the first staff to fly an American flag was raised in Key West in March 1822, the second seems to have been planted in the Middle...

WIDENING THE BRIDGE – Keys History

By 1928 it was possible to drive an automobile from Miami to Key West. Well, not all the way to Key West. The first iteration of the road that would become the Overseas Highway was created with a significant gap, requiring a four hour, 40-mile trip aboard an automobile ferry....

EGAN’S INDIAN KEY, POST OFFICES ARRIVE & FDR GOES FISHING

EGAN’S INDIAN KEY On Feb. 18, 1829 James Egan placed the following advertisement in the Key West Register and Commercial Advertizer. “For Sale a Valuable Trace of Land Near Cape Florida Situare on the Miami River. The Land is very good and will produce Sugar Cane or Sea Island...

KEYS HISTORY 19-0207

GOING TROPICAL Upper Keys History Ann Housman was born in Staten Island, N.Y. on May 1, 1797. She would marry Thomas Gibson on Feb. 4, 1818 at the Staten Island Dutch Reform Church. While still living in New York, they would have five children — all of whom would be baptized...

LOOKING FOR TREASURE

Upper Keys History Tales of buried treasure have been whispered around the Florida Keys since barstool historians first began sipping rum. Actual instances of treasure discovered buried on the islands are few and far between for a number of reasons including “Mums the word.” On Feb. 1, 1938 there was...

DRIVING THE KEYS – Upper Keys History

Politician George Allen began advocating for a road to the Keys in 1895. In 1908, residents of Monroe County (and especially Upper Keys farmers) began clamoring for a better road system on the islands.  With the arrival of Henry Flagler’s train, life in the Keys began transitioning away from being...

POST OFFICES AND TRAGEDY

The first post office in the Florida Keys was established in Key West during the month of February in 1829. The post office was on the corner of Caroline and Front streets.  Dr. Henry Waterhouse was named its first postmaster. Waterhouse has been described as having a sallow complexion with...

History hinges on a hurricane

Sometimes sons listen to their fathers. If Juan Menendez had listened to his father, Florida history might have been written a little differently. As it so happened, however, General Juan Menendez was placed in charge of the 1563 New Spain fleet’s capitana La Concepcion. His father is recorded as...