The Florida Land Development Project
A Really Good Reason To Prep
By Linda Leonardy
Recently I had the opportunity to relate to a small group of visitors a true incident that happened in the Florida town where I live. I believe there is value in the knowledge of what happened and an understanding of the outcome.
A powerful politically affiliated group of overseas investors decided with the endorsement of their government to develop a hostile and uninhabitable tract of coastline in my area. After an impressive advertising campaign the investors were able to establish the concept of a residential community that would be self funding and as represented by them require a minimal amount of participation by the inhabitants. For all those that would agree to irrevocable short term leases they would ultimately be given their own residence in the community free and clear of obligation. Only requiring a project manager, the investors would be able to improve the land development project with minimal expense and personal effort on their part. Sounded to good to be true for everyone who got involved.
1400 prospective participants rushed forward to volunteer. Many had already lost their homes in a housing market collapse. They had no food assistance program or unemployment benefits. As I understand they really felt they had nothing to lose and were willing to try anything.
This is what happened.
From the onset the project was besieged with instability and no strategic planning. The prohibitive weather along Florida’s Coast alone created almost insurmountable complications. Within the first four months 200 of the participants were dead.
300 of the remaining group decided they needed to take a better look at the fine print and invoke the escape clause only to discover that their was no way to terminate the contract due to the fact that most of their personal possessions including all the weapons they had brought along had been confiscated they had no way to enforce their own departure. It was isolated with no mobile phone service or electricity in the area. Discipline was metered out and 2 of the protestors were executed. With that the project got underway.
Due to the enforcement of the self funding clause in the contracts the remaining group of participants were forcibly required to produce an organic export that held extreme toxic qualities. Local crops & livestock could not be sustained in the same area so starvation and illness set in. The investors were realizing huge profit margins on the projects export for themselves, but were not willing to spend anything for sustenance on the program itself.
It is amazing to recount that this community experiment actually managed under intolerable conditions to sustain itself at all. The cost in human lives was prohibitive. Over 900 souls perished.
3 valiant representatives from the remaining community managed to escape and plead for intervention from nearby local authorities. Even that took several months of legal maneuvers and 2 more clandestine rendezvous’ until agreement from the authorities that the remaining survivors would be granted sanctuary if they could get to the adjacent town on their own accord. They did just that.
Less than 600 remained. With the men surrounding the women and children they managed to walk 75 miles barefoot, weak from hunger and illness after virtually 10 years of imprisonment to freedom. One of the women in the group was 65 years old. I think about her often. I am her age and I could not walk the 75 miles to St Augustine.
This is a true story often kept secret . It was the largest colonization attempt ever made in this country. It happened almost 250 years ago. Of those less than 600 industrious survivors 15,000 descendants are alive in the St Augustine area today, there are over 50,000 in the United States and myself living right here in New Smyrna where it all took place. It was nearly another hundred years before New Smyrna would recover and try again to become the wonderful town it is today. I always say I am the realization of their dream. But that is not the lesson here.
We should learn from this that much can be survived, what we do to survive it is what is important.
The colony was the Turnbull Colony, the colonist were Minorican, Italian & Greek, the deadly crop was Indigo and the cause of it’s demise was starvation, illness and an attempt to suppress the human spirit the year was 1768.