Manual Alachua County, Florida (Black America Series)

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Table of contents

Public education remained underfunded into the s, classes having to meet in abandoned houses or rented rooms. The school year for public schools was as short as three months for some years. The first public school building was built in The Gainesville Graded and High School, with twelve classrooms and an auditorium, opened in , and most of the private schools closed soon after. The county school board also provided some funds for upkeep of the Union Academy. There was no dedicated church building in Gainesville in the first years of its existence.

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A church built in by the Presbyterians was shared by itinerant preachers of several denominations until The Methodist mission to Gainesville lapsed during the Civil War, and a church they had built was used by a black congregation after the war. Several white Protestant denominations organized congregations and built churches in the s. Catholics , who had been holding services in private homes for 25 years, built a church in Although a Jewish cemetery was established in , there was no synagogue in Gainesville until Gainesville was a rough town after the Civil War and into the early 20th century.

Whites and blacks commonly carried firearms, and gunshots were often heard at night. Killings and serious injuries were frequent. Some of the violence was racial.

Young Mens Democratic Clubs usually a cover name for the Ku Klux Klan , formed in the late s to fight political domination by Republican northerners and blacks, reportedly burned the homes of many Republicans and killed nineteen people, including five blacks. A black man was taken from the jail and lynched in In a black man and a white man, members of a dreaded gang, were also taken from the jail and lynched.

Later that year a black man accused of giving shelter to Harmon Murray , another member of that gang, was also taken from the jail and lynched.

The city had only a single police officer until well into the 20th century, which was inadequate to deal with the violence. A posse authorized by the city council also did little to stem the violence. Punishments for crime included public executions, the pillory , lashes and fines. A volunteer fire department was organized in , but was unable to stop several fires in that burned most of the wooden buildings in downtown Gainesville.

The burned buildings were replaced with brick structures. A brick courthouse replaced the old wooden one in Public utilities were gradually installed in the city late in the 19th century; gas in , water in , and telephones and electricity later in the s. By Gainesville was the seventh largest city in Florida, with over 3, residents. The Republican Party remained strong in Gainesville even after the end of Reconstruction in because of the large number of blacks and Northern whites who had moved there after the Civil War.

Some Southerners had also joined the Republican Party. Alachua County was one of the few counties in Florida that was won by the Republican Party in the election of In the s Republicans and Democrats reached an accommodation.


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In the election of most city races were won by wide majorities, with both Republicans and Democrats, white and blacks, being elected. There was tension within the Republican Party between blacks and Northern whites, however. By the arrival of whites from northern states and the departure of blacks gave Gainesville a white majority.

The imposition by the Florida Legislature in of a poll tax and a de facto literacy test in the form of separate ballot boxes for each office, which required voters to be able to read labels on the boxes to vote correctly, effectively disenfranchised most blacks. Some blacks switched to the Democratic Party, further weakening the Republicans, and the Republican Party ceased to be a factor in Gainesville politics in the s. Major change came to Gainesville early in the 20th century. Citizens felt that the city did not have sufficient resources and powers to provide the services demanded in a growing city.

The state legislature was asked to grant Gainesville a new charter, and in it did so, also enlarging the city limits. The city offered its first bond issue the same year. Money from bond issues was used to start a sewer system and pave important streets, initially with crushed rock, and after , with bricks. When private companies were unable to provide adequate electric service to Gainesville, the city built a generating plant, which became operational in Another development in had a significant impact on the future of Gainesville.

At the time, Florida was funding eight post-secondary schools. Concerned about rising requests for funding and duplication of course offerings, the state legislature passed the Buckman Act, consolidating the eight institutions into four segregated schools, including, for white men, the University of the State of Florida renamed University of Florida in The fact that Alachua was a dry county , banning the sale of all alcohol other than low-alcohol beer, was viewed as a factor in favor of Gainesville.

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The state selected Gainesville, causing the biggest celebration in the history of the city. The university opened with students in the fall of For the first decade of the school's existence it was in a rural setting, connected to downtown Gainesville by a single crushed rock road. The school had to close its gates at night to keep wandering cows out. As the university grew, commercial establishments spread westward along University Avenue and new subdivisions were developed near the campus. The city experienced growing pains in the first decades of the century. The city's only water supply had been Boulware Springs for many years, but the limits of its supply had been reached, and the city could no longer connect new subdivisions to city utilities.

A bond issue was required to drill a well and build a water tower. A fire house was built in , and the fire department was modernized, replacing its last horses with motorized equipment in However, the department remained a volunteer organization until the s. Gainesville's economy was still dominated by agriculture. Gainesville was a major shipping point for cotton until the industry was devastated by the boll weevil infestation in —18, after which cotton was abandoned as a crop in the area.

Truck farming had become important in north central Florida, with large shipments of vegetables and melons from Gainesville to markets in the northern US. Phosphate mining continued to be important, although starting to decline, and industries such as processing naval stores and making fertilizer thrived in Gainesville.

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World War I severely affected the economy in Gainesville. Markets in Europe, in particular Germany, were cut off by the war, and phosphate mining and the naval stores industry went into a slump, aggravated by the loss of cotton processing and shipping. Gainesville participated in the national economic boom that followed the end of World War I. In , Gainesville was swept up by the land boom that had started in Miami Beach earlier in the year. New subdivisions were platted and auctioned, binders on property were sold and resold with ever-increasing prices, and almost real estate brokers and agents were registered in Gainesville on the first day licenses were required.

Plans were floated to build a modern first-class hotel in Gainesville. After a false start in which the financing plans fell through, a developer from southern Florida who had become heavily involved in the real estate market in Gainesville, W. McKey Kelly, put forward plans for a ten-story, room hotel. Construction on the Hotel Kelly, also known as the Dixie Hotel, started in , but Kelly ran out of money before construction was completed, and the collapse of the land boom doomed the project.

The unfinished hotel sat empty for more than a decade until a federal grant and private donation allowed its completion as the Seagle Building. Glen Springs hosted the first concrete swimming pool in Gainesville in the mids. It was a popular recreation site for over 40 years. Changes in city government occurred in the s.

The city changed its charter to add a city manager. The police force was increased from three men to nine, and a desk sergeant was available to answer a telephone 24 hours a day. A county hospital opened in Gainesville in More streets were paved, using asphalt rather than bricks. Increasing demand for electricity led the city commission to consider contracting with Florida Power and Light rather than issuing bonds to expand the city generating capacity, but voters passed an amendment to the city charter forbidding any such deal.

With a booming population, schools had become overcrowded. Gainesville High School was opened in and expanded two years later. Enlarge cover.

An African American History of Alachua County

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Places: Alachua County, Florida, USA

Alachua County's African American ancestry contributed significantly to the area's history. Onceenslaved pioneers Richard and Juliann Sams settled in Archer as early as They were former slaves of James M. Parchman, who journeyed through the wilderness from Parchman, Mississippi.