Following is an exact transcript of the text of the four-page document typed in green ink on G. M. Davis and Son letterhead. Punctuation and spelling was preserved as written. It is not known who the author was, but since it was typed on the Davis letterhead, it most likely was written by Howell A. Davis, the Son in “G. M. Davis and Son”. Mary E. Murphy, Putnam County Archivist (Ret.).
November 8th 1884 the business section of Palatka Florida was destroyed by fire involving a loss of several Hundred Thousand Dollars in property; Therefore the history of the city prior to this disaster is authentically unknown as nearly all the records of the town were then destroyed. It is a fact however, that the founding of the city and its subsequent incorporation was effected many years before the war between the States of 1861-65 It is also a matter of memory to the “Oldest inhabitants” that Palatka was a trading post for the Seminole Indians prior to the war of their extermination and the town derived its name from the nomenclature of their almost extent and forgotten aborigines, Palatka signifying “Cow Ford”
During the war of 1861-5 it was the headquarters in this section of the state for the commander of the Union forces.
Palatka from its earliest history so far as known has been a distributing center; early in its career, cotton being the chief product shopped from this point by boat and later with the advent of railroads, Palatka attained considerable prominence as a commercial city by reason of its excellent transportation facilities and geographical position. Citrus fruits, field products, lumber and kindred articles, turpentine and rosin were exported in vast quantities annually.
As a manufacturing town Palatka is easily the peer of any place its size in Florida, as it has the largest Cypress Mill in the state, the largest Sash, Door and Blind factory in the South, one of the largest Shingle Mills in the state and the largest exclusive Tank factory in the state, besides several machine shops, foundries, etc; in addition to turpentine and logging interests in close proximity thereto, which find an outlet to the markets of the world through it, which makes for it a permanent, substantial prosperity and give it the distinction it possesses in this regard.
Distructive freezes that followed each other in rapid succession after the fire of 1884 did not deter or dishearten the people. Although many of them were paralyzed by its blasting effects—their all—being swept away. Palatka held its own and moved along in the even tenor of its own way in the years which intervened “Phoenix like” and scarcely had the burning embers cooled after the great conflagration of ’84, Palatka rose majestically from the ruins grander and greater than ever before. Modern brick structure supplanted wooden rookeries and shanties on every hand and the spirit of the 19th century progressiveness and energy was apparent and actuated its populace to attempt and accomplish.
A system of water works was installed, and electric lighting plant established, a street railway built and a telephone exchanged put in. Other public improvement followed in order until Palatka has become a modern city.
Probably the greatest and most conspicuous step in the march of progress ever taken in the existence of the town was when the city was bonded for a water plant, sewerage system and paving. The bond issue aggregated $175.000.00 In the year of 1904 $35.000.00 of sewerage bonds were sold and the work of sewering the city was inaugurated in the fall of that year and is in prodress at this writing.
It was during this year and under the administration of the City Council composed of the following aldermen
Ward 1 B. I. Gay. W. A. Walton
Ward 2 A. R. Cartmel, A. J. Shelley
Ward 3 J. D. Points, Robert James
Ward 4 S. J. Kennerley (Chairman) Tom Holden
Ward 5 Wm. Ivers, W. Kohl
Ward 6 W. T. Holms, A. L. Browning (Colored)
Ward 7 H. A. Davis, T. C. Livingston
That the present property was purchased and the City Building, the contents of whose corner stone this sketch forms a part, was suggested, planed and built at a cost of $8.400.00.
The building is brick faced with a gray sand brick and is of imposing appearance. It is two story and the lower east half is intended for Palatka Library Association and the lower west half for the headquarters of the Palatka Fire Department including apparatus, etc; while the upper east half is for the Council Chamber and the upper west half for the City Clerk and the Fire Commissioners Offices. The structure is modern in appointment and design, being equipped with all the conveniences of a 20th century building. Surmounting it is a tower in which the fire alarm bell is located, whence all warnings of fire are given.
The property committee under whose general supervision the building was erected were H. A. Davis, J. P. Points and A. H. Cartmel.
The Architect was H. J. Klutho of Jacksonville, Fla.
The Contractor and Builder was P. J. Becks of Palatka, Fla.
Written and deposited in the corner stone Monday June 26th 1905
The present City Officials are as follows.
Mayor A. Usina
Ward 1 B. I. Gay and W. A. Walton
Ward 2 J. D. Points and Robert James
Ward 3 A. M. Steen (Chairman) and A. R. Cartmel
Ward 4 S. J. Kennerly and Tom Holden
Ward 5 Wm. Ivers and J. H. Haughton
Ward 6 E. T. Holmes (Colored) and A. L. Browning (Colored)
Ward 7 H. A. Davis and T. O. Livingston
City Clerk, Assessor and Collector, J. H. Blackwell
Treasurer, F. J. Fearnside
Chief of Police, P. M. Hagan
City Attorney S. J. Hilburn.