Back in June, we created an area of the site where our readers could submit their own stories. The first is an article from Darrel Strickland of Gainesville, Florida.
As a child, living in Ft. Pierce, I was always around those who collected arrowheads, bottles, insulators, shells, etc. Later, my grandmother introduced me to the original Real Eight members. Of course, at the time I really did not know how famous they would become, but I still remember some of the stories they told.
There are many families to mention that were connected in some way or another with the 1715 Fleet. Art McKee was a pioneer but there were others. Many have long since moved away from the Treasure Coast. Many have passed away. I am still trying to get families who were involved in early salvaging efforts along the Treasure Coast to tell me their stories. Many have old charts, photos, letters, etc.
One story that needs to be told is of Homer Cato. I was fortunate enough to meet his wife years ago at the McLarty Museum. No one there knew who she was. She had brought some friends and was telling everyone about her husband’s connection with Kip Wagner, etc. I am sure she is no longer with us, but hopefully a family member will share some of her stories. I know of one story where Homer showed Kip Wagner where some barrels were supposedly located. There is a plate in the museum that he found in one of the wells. Homer helped to get the McLarty family to donate the land where the museum is presently located. The museum opened shortly after Kip Wagner passed away. There was a museum started in the Seagle Building in Gainesville and relocated to Satellite Beach, Florida. There was even a bank that had some items salvaged by the Real Eight Company on display. That was before the McLarty Treasure Museum opened. Over the years I have found many places with 1715 artifacts including a restaurant in San Mateo (outside of Palatka), The St. Lucie Museum (Ft. Pierce), Governors House (St. Augustine), to name a few.
We are lucky that John de Bry and others have shared photos of the 1715 collection in Tallahassee, submitted by Darrel Strickland, Gainesville, Florida.