To return to the Specific Locations and Keys
- History of Little Munson
- By Jerry Wilkinson
- One of the lesser
Lower Keys is
Little Munson Island. Access is only by boat. It is about a 20 minute
from Little Torch Key at mile marker 28.5 in Hawk channel. I have
early history of this island of approximately nine acres.
When F. H. Gerdes surveyed the Keys in 1849 it is written in his Reconnaissance
of the Florida Reef and all the Keys, "The small key due
of Looe Key is called Newfound Harbor Key." It began its recorded
as Munson Island when Charles Newton Munson (believed to have been
with the Munson Steamship Line) and his wife, Ada, of Deep River, Conn.
purchased four small islands in 1923. These islands are known as Little
Munson Island, Big Munson Island, Carrier Island and Cook's Island.
are a chain of islands that lay off of Newfound Harbor extending
past Little Torch, Ramrod and Summerland Keys in Hawk Channel. They are
the Newfound Harbor Keys. Click the above map to enlarge.
- Charles, or Newt as
was often called,
barged a building down from Camp Johnson near Jacksonville, Florida to
begin his winter retreat. An acquaintance of Newt's, Capt. Percy
Cook, was visiting and wanted an island of his own. The eastern
was sold to Capt. Cook, hence the name Cook's Island. Newt gave
Munson Island to his secretary, Ruth Ellison. Not even a fable
of the transaction of Carrier Island.
Newt employed Edward Bayly as his agent for Little Munson Island. A
and water cistern was quickly constructed and Ada and Charles wintered
there. According to the Key West Citizen dated March 1, 1924 it
was a five room bungalow. Newt passed away in October at Deep River,
Ada never wanted the island and it was willed to Ruth. She operated
Munson as a fishing camp for a while after Newt's death.
- In 1936, Ruth
sold the island to
Samuel A. Anderson of Chicago, Ill., a brass manufacturer. Anderson
employed Lorenzo "Ludy" Trevejo of Key West as the caretaker. Later,
took on a wife, Dorothy, and the two stayed on for about 16 years.
had visited Key West from Washington, met Ludy, married in 1944, moved
to Anderson's Island and built their own house. Their son, Tommy, was
- Meanwhile, the
devastation of the 1935
Hurricane was fresh on many minds and Anderson had Ludy construct a
hurricane similar to the Red Cross houses built by the Federal
Relief Administration in the Upper Keys. These concrete houses were
on top of a concrete cistern with 12 inch thick walls. Anderson
the "Anita" as a work boat for the project and sweat and hard
took over the project. The story goes that Ludy and Millard Johnson dug
a 15 by 25 foot cistern, hauled about 300 bags of portland cement and
barrels of ballast stone from the then defunct Florida East Coast
tracks to build a two room hurricane house.
- When Tommy was four
years old, Ludy and
Dorothy decided it would be best for Tommy to move to a community and
Key was chosen in 1950. Sam Amderson passed away 15 years later and the
island was sold to John Spottswood of Key West.
Under Spottswood the island and it facilities were tidied up. It became
a retreat for such dignitaries as President Truman, Secretary of State
John Foster Dulles, Governor George Wallace and others. Many believe
real fame came when Spottswood arranged for the filming of the Warner
movie "PT-109" in 1962.
- The movie was of
Jg. John Fitzgerald
Kennedy, USNR, in Tulagi, Solomon, Islands, 1943 reporting for duty in
a patrol torpedo squadron played by Cliff Robertson. John Spottswood,
Island owner and Monroe County Sheriff , played Lt. Cluster, the
of PT-109. To see more photos taken from the Miami News, Click
HERE, then use the back arrow to return.
- In 1974, John
Spottswood sold Little
Munson Island to a Georgia campground owner, County Johnson. Homer
the authority on wood refinishing, wood care and "Refinishing Tips" for
40 years, was the next owner. His better known effort was to provide
island as a home for the "Caribbean Veterinarians Education Trust", a
of 32 doctors to advance the science of veterinary medicine through
and continuing educational courses and limited research facilities for
qualified veterinary professionals.
- In 1982 Charles and
Alexis Kelm plus
and unidentified partner reportedly purchased the island for $1.25
The Florida Keys Keynoter reported on January 6, 1983 that Charles and
Alexis had been arrested in a drug sting raid. Mr. Zuelch, the Florida
State Attorney, was unable to seize the island as one of the partners
an innocent owner.
- Ben and Lucy
the Arcadia Management
Corporation was looking on Florida's west coast for an offshore island
for a small ecologically minded tropical resort when he discovered
Island. In February of 1987 it was announced that it was going to open
as the Little Palm Island Beach Club. It opened in 1988
is better known as Little Palm Island.
- Little Palm
by out of state people formed as Palm Island Ltd. It begin with five
partners and 81 limited partners. When Hurricane Georges passed nearby
in 1999, it quickly recovered with $$2 million for landscaping and $$8
million for renovation of the 30 suites and supporting amenities.
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