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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Interested in Genealogy? Never Stop Searching!

One of my projects I planned to pursue while we are in Pensacola was to retrieve a microfilm from the LDS family history library that had information on one of my "Computer History" subjects, Leland Perley Robinson.

I headed up to the local family history library here in Pensacola to order the microfilm and discovered that the rules have changed, orders are now placed on-line at familysearch.org  instead of at each local library.

So I logged on here at the condo and ordered the film.  As long as I was on the site, I tried looking up my grandfather's name, Frank Kolkowsky.  This had never brought me any useful information on this site before.  But now, a marriage record pops up:

Frank Kolkowsky, born 1867 married Rose White, born 1884.  They were married in Bunnell, Florida on April 26, 1922.

Well, that is interesting!  A missing link to the past.  Grandpa had disappeared from Portland to seek his fortune in Florida shortly after his divorce from Grandma in 1918-1919.  Aside from one indication of his presence in Daytona Beach sometime in the 1920s, no record of his stay in Florida has shown up before.  Now it appears, at age 55 he is taking a comparatively youthful 38 year old as his second wife.

Where is Bunnell and why would a Polish carpenter/entrepreneur go there?

Bunnell is a small town of about 2000, the county seat of Flagler county, and is about 25 miles north of Daytona Beach.  It has an interesting history, though, as a center for the Florida development boom in the early twentieth century.  Consider this ad from the November 20, 1910, Pittsburgh Post Gazette:
That's right, "These talks are sold for $1.00," but, if you order today ...

It turns out that the Bunnell Land Development company was a pretty aggressive land sales operation that specialized in luring Polish immigrants.  According to this account of Flagler County History:

            This company was chartered in June 1909 and had offices in Bunnell and Chicago. In December 1912, the Chicago office began publication of a monthly house organ entitled “The Bunnell Home Builder.”  The slogan in the masthead said, “The Truth about Florida.” The publication was sent to all Bunnell-Dupont Colony land owners and others who were interested in “securing homes in the Sunny Southland.”
            Polish immigrants in Chicago, Detroit and other cities, recent arrivals in this free land of ours, were told of a fabulous land called Florida through polish-language editions of “The Bunnell Home Builder.” The land promotion gimmicks of ninety-six years ago were employed to spin tales of three crops a year, no snow or ice and ideal farming conditions. The price per acre was $35.
            While ITT in later years used passenger airplanes to fly prospective buyers here, the Bunnell Development Company used a special chartered train they called “The Dixie Flyer” for the same purpose. Round trip, Chicago to Bunnell, was $41.89.
            Like the other developers, the Bunnell Development Company also had a hotel. It was originally called The Bunnell Hotel and later the Halcyon; this relic of the past still stands today on the corner of Railroad and Lambert Streets. Its windows are boarded and it is surrounded by a chain-link fence. The hotel could accommodate 75 guests who paid $3.00 per day. The less affluent could stay at the Pine Grove Inn located on the NE corner of Church Street and Moody Blvd. at $2.00 per day.

Frank Kolkowsky would have been well aware of this via his brother who lived in Chicago, if not directly from ads in local or Polish language newspapers. 

So now it looks like I'll have to make a trip over to the Flagler County Historical Society to see if I can find out more about the mysterious Rose White.  Meanwhile I'll be adding another microfilm to the list for viewing at the Pensacola family history library.  Here's a bit more information on Bunnell, and a link to the Flagler County historical society, just in case one of my cousins reading this wants to stop in someday.

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