Building the Cortez Bridge

fishing from the Old Cortez bridge

PHOTO CREDIT: Manatee County Public Library Historical Image Digital Collection For many years, before there was a bridge to span the stretch of water between Cortez and Anna Maria, people could travel to and from the island only by boat. Visitors and supplies had to be brought in by excursion boats to a dock extending […]

Edgar Green’s Great White

Edgar Green with Great White

Most people have heard a story or two from a fisherman about a particularly fantastic catch. Typically the fish is huge, valuable, or the catch made an impressive story. Some might exaggerate their accomplishments, but sometimes the stories are just as exciting as the photographs suggest. For Edgar Green, the tale is of a stormy […]

Female Fishermen in Early Cortez

Cortez girl on a fishing boat

The early fishermen who settled Cortez used skipjacks, or shallow draft sail boats, to bring in their commercial catch. Their nets were made of natural fibers that were heavy when wet and required treatment and drying between uses. Their work was demanding and sometimes dangerous, but they persevered. What you may not know is that […]

Florida’s Sea Shanties

2015 Signal Flags

Like so many words in modern English, there is much debate over where the phrase sea shanty originated. Most folks will tell you that the word shanty comes from the word chant. Claiming they started as working chants to keep time. Others will say it came from the French word for song, chanson, pronounced “shanson.” […]

Steamboats in Florida

Passengers Boarding a Steamboat

Looking at the state seal of Florida, one will notice hibiscus flowers, a Seminole woman, a Sabal Palm and, in the background, an oceangoing steamboat that seems to glow as the sun sets behind it. Before railroads crisscrossed the state or cars zoomed down I-4 and I-75, travel was either by foot through overgrown cart […]

Love and Learning in Cortez

Love and Learning in Cortez PHOTO 1

The first schoolhouse in Cortez was built in the mid 1890’s, after the lumber had been hauled in ox carts from Palma Sola. When finished, the one-room building with board and batten siding stood on a plot of land owned by a local man, Millard Brown, whose mother-in-law was recruited as the school’s first teacher. […]

Francisco Menendez


Little is known of Francisco Menendez’s early life, but it is likely he was of Portuguese and Angolan heritage. He was captured by slave traders and brought to South Carolina. Eventually he escaped and reached Saint Augustine where in theory a pledge of allegiance to the Spanish Monarchy, conversion to Catholicism and 4 years in […]

The Man Behind the Loom


If you were a friend or family member of Robert “Bob” Sailors, you likely received some very memorable holiday cards. Bob Sailors was a master weaver whose works graced the prestigious walls of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Smithsonian Institution, the Museum of the Chicago Art Institute, and the Museum of Decorative Arts in […]

Florida’s Riverboats


When most people think of a paddle wheel steamboat they think of huge, gilded floating palaces, covered in scrollwork and ornaments. They imagine smoke stacks topped with crowns, belching black smoke as they wind along the Mississippi river. While some Riverboats in St John’s River and Apalachicola came close to the grandeur of the Mississippi […]

Net Fishing in Old Cortez

Men sitting in the net spreads

The lone net camp off the coast of Cortez harkens to a time not so long ago, and a way of life that still lives on. The historic fishing village of Cortez was established in the 1880s and quickly became the largest mullet fishery in Florida. Early fishermen took their pole skiffs out into the […]