Woodmen of the World

If you’ve visited Indian Spring cemetery in Punta Gorda, FL, you’ve probably noticed the highly detailed tree trunk grave stones. These grave markers bear the words ‘Woodmen of the World’ and often feature other similar iconography. According to Waymarking.com “Many of these tree stump monuments stand four to five feet high and show sawed or broken limbs traditionally symbolizing a life cut short.”

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Miss Ollie Brackett’s Secret

The most famous prostitute of Punta Gorda was Miss Ollie Brackett. Ollie ran a “disorderly, bawdy house of ill repute” at the west end of Marion Avenue – in those days it was known as the bad part of town. Miss Ollie served a few very select customers herself and managed her “stable” of seven “ponies” who handled the majority of the clientele.

Back in the day there were several brothels here in Punta Gorda. It was a rough pioneer town populated with scores of unmarried cattle men, fishermen, railroad workers and tradesmen. Besides the houses with red lights, there were houseboats of girls on call for fishermen located in what was known as Whore Bay.

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First White Man Dies in America

Juan Ponce de León

Juan Ponce de León came to what is now Punta Gorda on his second expedition in 1521 with 200 colonists. The Calusa attacked, and Juan took an arrow to his hip. His men tried to pull it out but only got the shaft, and the arrowhead remained in his body.

The entire expedition returned to their ships and headed back to their home base in Cuba. But, it was too late! Juan’s wound had become infected. Noble Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León is now honored by Punta Gorda with a plaque titled: “The First White Man Dies In America.”

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A Horse Named Perry McAdow

Perry McAdow of Punta Gorda

Perry McAdow was one of the founding citizens of Punta Gorda. He arrived in Punta Gorda in 1897 with his young new bride Marian.

Another Perry McAdow of the same era was a Thoroughbred race horse. Perry McAdow, the horse, is listed in the racing rosters in 1904 and raced until 1910. That’s a long career for a race horse.

We’ll probably never know who named this horse after Perry McAdow or why. Was Perry a friend of the horse’s owner? Continue reading

Who Killed Marshal Bowman? Suspect 1: Isaiah Cooper

Marshal John Bowman

According to authors U.S. Cleveland and Lindsey Williams, Isaiah E. Cooper was convicted of Marshal Bowman’s assassination, but enough doubt existed that his scheduled execution was postponed three times, and ultimately when former Punta Gorda resident Albert Gilchrist was elected governor of Florida in 1908, he commuted Cooper’s death sentence to life in prison. Continue reading