Happy 4th of July from FMM!

Florida Maritime Museum: History * Education * Community
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Wishing you a Happy 4th of July!

FMM will be CLOSED the 4th and 5th of July to celebrate Independence Day. The museum will resume its regular business hours (Tuesday through Saturday 9:00 am – 4:00 pm) on Tuesday, July 8th.

Seeking Boats, Vendors and Volunteers for Boatyard Bash

The second annual Boatyard Bash is scheduled for Saturday, November 15th. It promises to be a fun, family friendly day with live music, arts & craft vendors, and a Classic Creature Feature out under the stars.

It is also a great time to showcase that home-built boat you worked so hard on! In an effort to generate interest and confidence in boatbuilding FMM invites local boat builders to display boats up to 18 feet long and made from any material. Contact John Beale for more info (941) 708-6120.

FMM is still accepting vendor applications and inquiries! If you or someone you know is interested in vending please contact Amara Nash or call (941) 708-6121.

You can also help make Boatyard Bash a success by volunteering. If you’re interested in overseeing children’s activities, staffing our information booth or contributing in another way, just let us know! For more information call (941) 708-6120

Discover Local and State History

Check the paper on Tuesday, July 8th for another article by FMM staff in the Bradenton Herald’s weekly "Manatee History Matters" column! You can see past editions written by members of Manatee County’s Historical Resources department HERE.

You can also visit Floridamaritimemuseum.org to peruse FMM’s complete collection of educational articles, including "the Captain’s Desk," a brief history of some of Florida’s most notable captains.

Program and Class Schedules are now Available Online!

Visit floridamaritimemuseum.org to see full listings and event descriptions for FMM’s

Community Bulletin:
We want to hear what you’re up to! Send short listings that you’d like to see in this newsletter and we’ll do our best to spread the word. (No guarantees, though, as space is limited.) Please include pertinent dates and contact information. Email Amara

Saturday at Lake Seminole:
Seminole Park (Park Boulevard, Seminole)

Book Talk, Signing & Reception with Cathy Slusser:
Manatee Village Historical Park (1404 Manatee Ave E, Bradenton)

  • Monday, July 14 (6:15)

Snooty’s 66th Birthday:
South Florida Museum (201 10th St W, Bradenton)

  • Saturday, July 19
The Florida Maritime Museum is open Tuesday – Saturday from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm

119th Street West, Cortez, FL 34215
(941) 708-6120

Admission is FREE!

What’s going on this month?
Saturday, July 12th
(2:00 – 5:00 pm)

This fun and FREE event is held on the second Saturday of each month. The jam session begins at 2 pm and continues until 5 pm. Come enjoy the music, or bring an instrument and make some of your own!

Please keep in mind that musician participation will vary. This is a jam session, so music is not guaranteed.

Friday, July 25th
(11:00 am)

Join us for an encore of John Beale’s Lecture on Smuggling. Seating is limited, so please contact Halee via e-mail or call (941) 708-6120 to reserve a spot!

Doing some shopping? AmazonSmile lets you donate a percentage of your purchase price to charitable organizations like the Florida Maritime Museum.

CLICK HERE to use AmazonSmile! Just make sure the top of the page reads, “Supporting: Friends of the Florida Maritime Museum.

FMM Membership:
Join Now
FMM now offers great membership opportunities. As a member of NARM (North American Reciprocal Museums) Captain Level members and above receive reciprocal benefits with over 600 institutions nation wide.

Be a part of the community that supports your local history.

CLICK HERE to see full list of NARM affiliated institutions.

FMM Affiliations:


Amara Nash, Supervisor
(941) 708-6121

John Beale, Education and Volunteer Coordinator
(941) 708-6120

Krystin Van Leuven, Curator
(941) 708-6120

Halee Turner, Assistant
(941) 708-6120

Copyright ©2013 Florida Maritime Museum, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
P.O. Box 100, Cortez FL 34215


Published in: on July 2, 2014 at 12:47 pm  Leave a Comment  

Manatee History Matters: The Cortez Grand Ole Opry



June 3, 2014

The Culbreath family. PHOTO PROVIDED

On Sundays, the small fishing village of Cortez was divided almost down the middle. Half would attend service at one of the two community churches, the other half would gather at the "Cortez Grand Ole Opry."

The Culbreath family home earned this moniker over time as a result of the musical traditions passed down over generations. The white two-story house stood as monument to its rich history until it was torn down in the mid-1980s.

James Charles "Dick" Culbreath brought his wife, his fiddle and his nine children to Cortez in 1921. Originally from Hamilton County in north Florida, they moved to Manatee County to farm the fertile shell middens on Perico Island.

Cortez may have never known the musical family had the hurricane of 1921 not transformed their croplands into a salty wasteland. After the storm, Dick traded in his hoe for fishing supplies and adopted the life of a fiddle-playing fisherman.

Almost every member of the family played music: fiddle, guitar, piano, banjo, harmonica, mandolin, fiddlesticks, mouth harp, drums, or all of the above. The promise of music on the weekends helped them through the difficult weeks. Most nights there wasn’t much more than fried mullet for dinner.

They had a dairy cow and made butter and other products for consumption and barter. The chance to play music together or listen to the Grand Ole Opry on the radio made it all OK even if radio signals were intermittent in Cortez.

On one particular occasion, as the radio signals faded in and out, a family friend,

"Grey" Fulford said: "You don’t have to listen to that. You’ve got your own Grand Ole Opry right here."

The name stuck.

When the Culbreath family played together, folks couldn’t help but dance. They called it "shaking a leg," and that is what happened every Sunday. "Dick" Culbreath particularly loved buck dancing (a form of clogging) and his signature move was to jump in the air and click his heels together three times before his feet touched the floor again.

As their reputation grew, people came from Bradenton and surrounding areas to hear them play. Other musicians joined in, too.

One of Culbreath boys, Julian, known as "Goose," is a Florida Folk Heritage Award recipient. He claimed to have learned to play fiddle on a bet (which he obviously won), and played professionally from the time he was 17 until his death in 2003 at age 87.

He was no ordinary fiddler though; he was a "trick" fiddler. His tricks included playing with the fiddle between his knees, then with the bow between his knees, bowing the fiddle with no hair and wrapping the hair around the fiddle and playing that way. He livened up many a square dance and folk festival.

Goose’s nephew, Richard Culbreath, still resides in Cortez and is the last remaining musician lucky enough to have played with the whole family, including his namesake and grandfather, "Dick." Richard learned to play guitar by watching his father, and with help from his Uncle Goose. He gathered the remaining Culbreath musicians together in the 1980s, including Richard’s granddaughter who frequently accompanied them on the spoons, to play for the Commercial Fishing Festivals in Cortez.

They called the band The Cortez Grand Ole Opry and played together, adding and switching musicians as necessary, until 1999.

Richard has memories of the family playing square dances in the schoolhouse that now houses the Florida Maritime Museum, as well as private homes throughout Cortez. While it is a rare treat to see a Culbreath at one of them, the Florida Maritime Museum honors this musical tradition with a monthly "Music on the Porch" jam session. It takes place from 2-5 p.m. the second Saturday of each month. All are welcome and admission is free, so come join in!

Amara C. Nash, supervisor of the Florida Maritime Museum, loves museums, art, music and culture, and splits her time between her two favorite villages: Cortez Fishing Village and Village of the Arts. She can be reached at amara.nash@manateeclerk.com or 941-708-6121.

Published in: on June 3, 2014 at 7:59 am  Leave a Comment  

An Honor Flag for Cortez

From the Tampa Tribune – April 24, 1918


Tampa Tribune April 24, 1918







Published in: on May 22, 2014 at 7:15 am  Leave a Comment  

Net ban appeal heard



TALLAHASSEE – Fishermen from in and out of state, including Cortez, held a rally and a prayer vigil on Thursday in Tallahassee before packing a district courtroom for a hearing on the state’s net ban.

The Cortez contingent met with other fishermen, some from as far away as Massachusetts, said Mark Coarsey, president of the Manatee County chapter of Fishing for Freedom, a group affiliated with the plaintiffs in the case, the Wakulla Commercial Fishermen’s Association, Panacea bait shop owner Ronald Fred Crum and mullet fishermen Jonas Porter and Keith Ward.

In 2012, the association sued the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), arguing that its rules enforcing the state constitutional amendment banning gill nets are unconstitutional and violate the equal protection rights of mullet fishermen.

The net ban was approved by Florida voters in 1994 to preserve fish populations and prevent the accidental entrapment of unintended marine life like dolphins, which fisherman insist was uncommon. The ban became effective in 1995, putting commercial fishermen out of work in Cortez and statewide.

Leon County Circuit Court Judge Jackie Fulford effectively lifted the ban last October when she ruled that the FWC could no longer enforce the net ban because its administrative rules create what she called a “legal absurdity,” prohibiting larger mesh gill nets that let juvenile fish go, while allowing smaller, two-inch stretch mesh nets that catch juvenile fish, which she said defeats the purpose of the ban, to preserve fish populations.

The Florida Attorney General’s office immediately appealed on behalf of the FWC, staying, or temporarily invalidating, the judge’s ruling, putting the net ban back into effect.

Fulford lifted the ban again and the FWC appealed again, staying her second order and putting the ban back into effect yet again.

The plaintiffs requested in vain that the Florida Supreme Court hear the case as a matter of great public importance. The case instead went to a panel of three judges at the First District Court of Appeal, which heard arguments last week.

“We argued the two-inch stretch mesh rule has no rational basis because studies show that it captures undersized fish,” said Mark Mason, co-counsel for the plaintiff.

The Attorney General’s office defended the rule, saying that the case was already decided once before in 2006 by another judge, appealed, and affirmed and should not be tried again, he said.

Plaintiff’s co-counsel Ronald Mowrey argued that the unintended bycatch issue came to light after that case was decided.

The court could take a week or a year to decide the case, Mason said.

Fishermen don’t expect the court to lift the net ban, he said, “But there’s always the possibility.”

Published in: on May 21, 2014 at 8:33 am  Leave a Comment  

In Cortez, no mail delivery is no problem


Mary Fulford Green, 88, a Cortez native, has been mailing and getting her mail all of her life

at the fishing village’s post office. There is no home delivery of mail there.


A few times a week 88-year-old Mary Green hops in her 2005 Honda and drives three blocks to the post office. She has to. There is no mail delivery to her home.

In fact, no one in the historic fishing village of Cortez — population of roughly 4,000 — receives home mail delivery or has a mail box.

“We like it that way,” Green said.

United States Post Office, Cortez, Florida, 34215, is usually a busy place most mornings. Residents walk or take their cars or ride their golf carts to pick up their mail.

The mail is kept locked up in one of 1,318 small post office boxes residents can access with a key. Until the mid 1990s, the mailboxes had combination locks on them.

It is not unusual for small towns in Florida not to receive home mail delivery, but it is not commonplace either.

Residents say they like it this way for several reasons: it is a way to meet socially, get exercise, check the neighborhood message board on the side the building and retain part of the village’s rich history.

They also don’t want home mailboxes for safety reasons.

“I’ve heard lots of stories and seen people lose checks in mailboxes,” resident Richard Culbreath said. “When you raise that red flag, that’s a telltale sign and people will come in.

“We’ve never had any mailboxes. Whenever there is any talk about bringing them in we always say we don’t want them.”

Culbreath is 80 and walks about a mile most days to the post office on Cortez Road.

“It’s about all I can do,” he said. “Back’s been kind of bothering me lately.”

The post office is in a small strip mall next to a barbershop, restaurant and laundry. Some residents, like former Postmaster Wyman Coarsey, walk up for coffee at the restaurant and then check their mail.

“Sometimes I see people here I wouldn’t see otherwise, so it’s kind of a social thing,” resident Atlas Kight said.

She moved to Cortez in 1961 and believes the current post office has been at its present site since 1960. She worked at the Cortez post office for many years, retiring in 1989.

Keeping history alive

Green — who, at 88, is the oldest woman living in Cortez who was born there — is well-known for her historical knowledge of the village.

The original post office was built in 1895 and was part of what was called “Bratton Store.” That building has been preserved in the village.

Green said a man named Henry Foreman used to carry mail back and forth between Cortez and Bradenton on a one-seat horse buggy.

Green said the post office moved to a fishing dock, but was destroyed by a fierce hurricane in 1921.

It then was moved to a grocery store owned by her uncle, Thomas Fulford, until it was given to an 18-year-old woman named Elizabeth Guthrie, who became the postmaster.

“I think it was remarkable,” Green said. “She was probably the youngest postmaster in Florida, and she was a woman.”

Her parents, Bessie and Joe, ran the post office. They also owned the Albion Inn, which is where the post office was.

It also moved to a house across the street from the hotel for a time before it landed at its current location.

“The post office was very important to us especially during the war,” Green said. “My aunt and uncle had five sons and all of them were in the service.

“We would get a letter from one of them and say, ‘OK, he’s fine. Now which one do we worry about next?’ ”

She remembers attending Florida State College for Women in the 1940s and sometimes receiving several letters a day from back home. Her friends thought she had a lot of boys trying to date her.

“Everyone thought I was some hot chick,” she said.

The letters were really from a boy in Cortez who had a crush on her but she never dated. He kept writing her anyway.

On Friday she was planning on driving her Honda to the post office to drop off a birthday card for her 10-year-old great-grandson.

The Cortez post office has long been part of her history as well as the fishing village’s history.

“And we like to keep our history alive,” she said.

Published in: on May 13, 2014 at 7:44 am  Leave a Comment  

DOT hosts Cortez Bridge meeting to address project questions


By Rick Catlin, Islander Reporter

Bridges are hot-button topics for bridge-dependent folks on Anna Maria Island.

The Florida Department of Transportation plans a public information meeting on the upcoming $4 million repair project of the Cortez Bridge 5-7 p.m. Tuesday, April 22, at the Kirkwood Presbyterian Church, 6101 Cortez Road W., Bradenton.

A DOT press release said the meeting is to provide area residents with information on how long the project would last and any possible closings of the bridge to vehicular traffic. DOT officials and engineers will be at the meeting to answer questions from the public.

Robin Stublen of the DOT emphasized that this is a repair project to extend the life of the bridge for 10 years while the DOT and the public determine the long-range future of the bridge. The bridge was built in 1954 and has exceeded its life expectancy, but the future of Cortez Bridge “is a separate issue,” Stublen said.

The repair project is scheduled to start April 28 with work preformed 9 p.m.-6 a.m. weekdays. There will be times when traffic is only one lane and a flagging operation will be in place, he added. Additionally, the bascule will be raised on occasion, but never for more than 15 minutes, he said. “We’re not going to divert traffic to Manatee Avenue,” Stublen said.

Any bascule raisings are expected to take place 2-3 a.m., he said. “And we’ve been working with emergency services so they can call the bridge tender to ensure the bascule is lowered if needed.” Stublen said a DOT study of the project determined working at night with occasional 15-minute bascule raisings “is the least amount of inconvenience for those who use the bridge daily.”

The DOT chose the end of the winter-spring visitor season for to start work with the prospect that vehicular traffic will be reduced on the bridge after April. The repairs are not expected to impact boat traffic. The work is expected to last about two months.

The planning, development and engineering study of the future of Cortez Bridge is still being prepared. That study should be ready for public dissemination by the end of 2014, a DOT website said.

For more information on the April 22 meeting, contact Brian Bollas at 727-946-1869 or Stublen at 800-292-3368.

Published in: on April 15, 2014 at 9:58 am  Leave a Comment  

Cortez Village will conquer your heart


Robin Draper, Authentic Florida; 11:17 p.m. EDT April 5, 2014

Florida has so many treasures offering the old and new, authentic and charming, well-known and yet-to-be discovered.

Finding them is one of the joys of living in the Sunshine State. Whether it’s a refreshing, bubbly spring, a quiet pine flatwood forest, a secret cache of sand dollars on a hidden beach or a tucked-away restaurant featuring the freshest seafood, you know when you have found the real thing.

For those who enjoy Florida discoveries, one of the most beloved secrets is an hour south of Tampa. Bradenton’s Cortez Village offers genuine and historic charm as one of the last remaining fishing villages in Florida.

Hugging the mainland shore of Sarasota Bay, just a bridge away from the sparkling Gulf of Mexico, is a small, timeless community that truly embraces its maritime heritage. No high-rises here, just cottages and homes and businesses lining narrow neighborhood streets. Locals proudly build and refurbish boats in their front yards, where towering rows of crab traps are stacked ready for the next fishing trip. Little has changed since last century. In fact, not much has changed since the village was first settled in the 1880s.

Cortez Village is firmly ensconced in the National Register of Historic Places, and the people here are dedicated to preserving its legacy.

A rarity for sure, Cortez continues to exist as an off-the-beaten-path outpost, anchored by a nearby 95-acre wildlife preserve, a historical museum dedicated to preserving its cultural heritage and some of Florida’s best, and freshest, “dock to table” seafood restaurants.

The Star Fish Company Dockside Restaurant and the Cortez Kitchen just down the street dish out fresh, local fare. The catch varies with the season, but the menu usually includes snapper, grouper, stone crab, shrimp and mullet. Although much of the seafood that lands at Cortez is shipped around the world, there is plenty left for both restaurants to be wildly popular, especially during the winter tourist season. You may even want to step into their seafood markets to get a better glimpse of the “catch of the day” before it hits your plate.

The Star Fish Restaurant offers waterside seating for admiring the view of Florida mangrove islands, fishing vessels and the iconic Cortez fish house off in the distance. It’s easy to relax while watching the view of the boats as egrets perch and pelicans swim by.

If you are a wildlife or photography buff, be sure to bring your camera for a prize photo of the large flock of white pelicans congregating during the winter and spring months on the sandbar in front of the Cortez Kitchen. The perfect photo spot is accessible by walking the docks. You can’t miss with such ideal scenery, wildlife and fishing vessels.

If you happen to visit in February, you’ll be able to attend the Cortez Seafood Festival, which draws thousands as it serves up local fare along with musical entertainment and a host of artists and artisans. Fishermen dish out the fresh-from-the-sea local catch for those who want to gorge on Florida’s finest.

At the end of the day, after a delicious meal and a stroll on the docks, you may want to find a comfortable spot to watch the setting sun as a pastel palette of clouds fills the sky and reflects on the bay. Or you can cross the bridge to Anna Maria Island, another community known for its charm and good food, where sparkling blue-green waters of the Gulf meet white, powdery crystalline sand. Either way, it’s a perfect ending to your day.

You just can’t miss with a visit to Cortez. Cortez is “real” Florida.

Cortez Village Star Fish Company Dockside Restaurant, 12306 46th Ave. W., Cortez, 941-794-1243, starfishcompany.com

Cortez Kitchen, 4528 119th St. W., Cortez, 941-798-9404, thecortezkitchen.com

Source: floridamaritime­museum.org

Published in: on April 6, 2014 at 7:58 am  Leave a Comment  

Memories of Cortez School House


By HALEE TURNER / Special to the Herald

April 1, 2014

Florida Maritime Museum volunteer John McDonald grew up in Cortez, just across the street from the charming 1912 brick schoolhouse that now houses the Museum.

Young John McDonald
Even before he was old enough to attend classes, John spent some time at the school. Living just across the street made it easy to run over during recess and see his friends, but the principal was adamant that John shouldn’t be there during school hours until officially enrolled as a student. Time and time again, John was sent back home.

Eventually young John McDonald deemed the situation altogether unfair and decided to take matters into his own hands. Armed with a rake and a determined attitude, he stood his ground and refused to leave. He even chased the principal around a little.
John remembers starting school the next year “on pretty shaky ground,” but all was soon forgotten. He would attend school in Cortez through sixth grade, creating memories that have lasted a lifetime.

John, his classmates and their teachers all faced challenges unique to life at the small schoolhouse in the fishing village of Cortez. Because of limited space, each of the three classrooms held several grades, requiring teachers to tailor their lessons to a broad age range. Students, therefore, had to work together and learn from each other as peers.

In a community like Cortez, there was also the possibility of some unexpected interruptions. One morning, school was disrupted by a runaway pig belonging to John and his family. A classmate, “Big Bubba,” was the first to alert the class, and soon the boys had set out to capture the fugitive. The rest of the class watched from the windows, and order could not be restored until he was safely penned up.

Because of these challenges, classes in the Cortez Rural Graded Schoolhouse were at times a little informal, but they provided the children with the general education they needed. Though funny stories like these are perhaps the most memorable, John is careful to point out that his early education wasn’t always so chaotic.

When not in school, John could often be found out playing with friends. They played football and raced across the undeveloped land that surrounded Cortez. Like many in the village, John’s father fished, and when John wasn’t in school or at play, he could also be found climbing on net spreads or tagging along on his father’s boat. Out on the water, John learned about fishing and honest, hard work.

“There he jumped I hear him say.

There he jumped again; I think we will catch some mullet today.”

Published in: on April 1, 2014 at 5:56 pm  Leave a Comment  

Henry “Jap” Adams

Henry “Jap” Adams, 92 of Bradenton entered into rest peacefully on March 23, 2014.

He served in the US Army with George Patton’s 3rd Army, through North Africa, Italy, Sicily, Germany, and France and was at the Battle of the Bulge. After his military career he came back to Cortez, Florida where he was born and raised and became a commercial fisherman.

He is survived by his wife, Pauline, two brothers, Clyde of Florida and Cleve of California, one sister, Mable of Sarasota, one son, Ernie of Bradenton, two granddaughters, Ronda (Chris) Bishop of Parrish and Shelby (David) Pittman of Ft. White, Fl, one grandson, Derrick (Jacquelyn) Adams of Myakka, seven great-grandchildren, Amanda McCain of Ellenton, Rayna & Christopher Bishop of Parrish, Sarah, Savannah, David and Clayton Pittman of Ft. White.

Visitation 9:30am and Services following at 10:00am on Friday, March 28, 2014 at West Bradenton Baptist Church, 1305 43rd Street W, Bradenton, FL 34209. Burial will follow at Fogartyville Cemetery.

Brown & Sons Funeral Homes & Crematory 43rd Street Chapel, 604 43rd Street W, Bradenton, FL 34209 in charge of arrangements. In lieu of flowers, please make all memorial contributions to: Tidewell Hospice, 5955 Rand Boulevard, Sarasota, Fl 34238. Condolences to www.brownandsonsfuneral.com.

Published in: on March 26, 2014 at 9:14 am  Leave a Comment  

Lois Guthrie Fulford

Lois Guthrie Fulford died March 16, 2014. She was born on July 12, 1929 in Cortez, FL to Earl B. Guthrie and Hazel Williams Guthrie. She was a lifelong Manatee County resident and a 3rd generation Floridian.

Lois was a member of the Cortez Church of Christ and a Charter Member of the former Cortez Volunteer Fire Department Women’s Auxiliary. She was a faithful Christian, a devoted wife, a firm but loving mother, a passionate gardener and a fabulous cook.

Lois was predeceased by her husband of 64 years, Ralph M. Fulford and a grandson, Brian Bailey. Lois is survived by her sister, Addie Lou Coon (Eddie) of Sarasota; her son, Ralph ”Rusty” Fulford (Pat) of Scottsville, VA; her daughters, Hazel Petree (Steve) of Cortez, and Sylvia Bailey (Tony) of Bradenton; 6 grandchildren; 7 great grandchildren.

Visitation 2:00-4:00PM Sunday March 23, 2014 and Services 10:30AM Monday March 24, 2014 at Brown & Sons Funeral Homes & Crematory 43rd Street Chapel, 604 43rd Street West, Bradenton, FL 34209.

The family wants to especially acknowledge son-in-law, Tony Bailey, for his loving care, as well as Bradenton Health Care staff and Hospice. ”Who can find a virtuous woman? For her worth is far above rubies.” Proverbs 31:10. Condolences to http://www.brownandsonsfuneral.com

Published in: on March 18, 2014 at 8:57 pm  Leave a Comment