The Truth Behind the Grave of the Unknown Confederate Soldier

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Jacksonville’s Grave of the Unknown Confederate Soldier is not quite what it seems. It’s not just that “Unknown” is misspelled. It has something to do with why Andrew Nicholas left the Sons of Confederate Veterans in 2015. His curiosity led him to strange findings here. To the truth behind the memorial.

How Camp Mooney Became Camp Captain Mooney Cemetery

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When the four girls drowned, 4,000 mourners attended their funeral here. The lost graveyard lies hemmed in by transmission shops and air conditioning businesses. The story that says it began as a battleground is a lie. Depressions in the earth mark otherwise unmarked graves.

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The Biblical History of the Dagley Junkyards

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This waterfront junkyard’s history is Biblical. Old Henry the Patriarch planted his son’s family on this land. The grandsons inherited their halves, their thousands of junkers on the old Atlantic Beach town dump. City Council invited them to leave three quarters of a century ago and the occasional visit from Men in Black recurs to this day. Truth is swallowed up in the mythos. Real estate developers want this land, but the brothers will never sell. 

How Virginia King Came to Christmas in Avondale

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Here’s the story of one of the city’s great old-money mansions and how one resident befriended and invited the strange and offputting Virginia King over for Christmas. The subject of a new play, Virginia wrote an 8,000+ page book about Jax. Philanthropist Helen Lane remembers Virginia from her grand old mansion in Ortega as well, not so very fondly.

How the Wilson Center Rose with Ken McCulough, and Ken’s Last Show

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Ken McCulough directed the first play, Cabaret, on the main stage at FSCJ’s Wilson Center for the Arts. He directed the first production, Our Country’s Good, in the studio theater. Throughout his career, he’s won awards and accolades in Memphis, Seattle, and Lincoln, Nebraska. For his farewell production, students who began with Ken’s career return and hope “to make him proud one last time!”

How the Applegate House Became Kiley Secrest’s

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When architectural portraitist Kiley Secrest first moved to Springfield a decade ago, he set about drawing it, one house at a time. He illustrated The Mad Atlas of Virginia King, about that strange woman who wrote an 8,448 page book about Jax. He’s fascinated with Fillmore Applegate who built for his wife Stella the cottage Kiley just bought, where he hopes to spend the rest of his life.

The Last Days of Taylor Hardwick’s George Varn House

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Within the month, one of the earliest houses designed by Taylor Hardwick, one of Florida’s greatest architects, will be demolished. It’s a stipulation of the original owner’s will. Because who said you can’t take it with you when you die? 

The “Dream Hunch” that Spawned a Killing Spree

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In his infamous nonfiction novel In Cold Blood, Truman Capote briefly mentions the colder and bloodier story of George “Ronnie” York and James Latham, whose cross-country murder spree began in York’s hometown of Jacksonville, Florida. National newspapers published the “murder map,” which stretched from Jax to Utah, while Jax papers published the “Route of Death” across the Westside for Patricia Anne Hewett and Althea Ottavio, two Valdosta women who’d decided to play a “dream hunch” at the dog tracks.

Strange Nostalgia: Wilson and Toomer Fertilizer Company

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This is the story of the strange chemistry of old men’s nostalgia, of those deadly acres on Talleyrand Avenue, where the largest fertilizer company in Florida, once producing a million tons a year, created the most polluted site in the state.

When the Toomer House Rode the River

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When Mark and Gayle Reinsch loaded the Wylie G. Toomer House in halves on barges and moved it across the river to its new home in 1993, they dug into the ground downtown where the house had stood and smelled the Great Fire of 1901. Now the house is for sale. Here’s its history.