6.0948 Arthur Leslie DARWIN

6.0948 Arthur Leslie DARWIN

Male 1879 - 1977  (97 years)

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  • Name Arthur Leslie DARWIN 
    Title 6.0948 
    Born 12 Dec 1879  Pulaski County, Arkansas, USA Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Male 
    Died Jun 1977  Possum Key, Everglades, Florida, USA Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Notes 
    • Commentary: DWD

      Arthur L. Darwin was born 12 Dec. 1879 in Pulaski Co., AR, where he is listed age 6 months on the 1880 AR census living with his parents in Mineral Township.

      By 1900, the census shows that he was living in Corsicana, Navarro Co., TX, where Arthur, age 20, is listed with his parents and brother, Henry, age 18. Arthur's future wife, Bessie Whitmore, is listed with her parents on the 1900 census in Little Rock, Pulaski Co., AR, so it would appear that Arthur returned to Arkansas around 1904 for his marriage to Bessie and where also their first six children were born.

      The 1920 census shows the family settled in Manatee Co., FL, where Arthur is listed as a farmer and the census indicates that their last son, Hugh W. Darwin, was born about 1917 in New Mexico, while the last three daughters (not shown on census) would have been born in Florida.

      I was unable to find the family on the 1930 census but when Arthur was interviewed in 1971, living as a hermit in the Florida Everglades, it would seem that he moved with Bessie some time before 1930 from Florida to Evadale, Jasper Co., TX, where the ten children were raised. To support his family, Arthur worked as a carpenter in Texas during the summers and trapped furs during the winters across several states, also sometimes working as a fisherman on the Mississippi River.

      Life changed for him due to the General Depression and he returned to Florida by himself never to return to Texas, stating in his interview:

      I left Texas in ?34 because of the Panic, there wasn't any work and I came here because I heard there was fur to be trapped here.

      He alighted in Everglades City and spent the next 10 years trapping and doing carpentry. He is listed on the 1945 Florida State census: Arthur Darwin, age 66, carpenter, Chokoloskee Island, Collier Co., FL. Shortly after this date, Arthur decided to make his home 17 miles further south from Chokoloskee Island on Opossum Key in the Everglades National Park, which can only be reached by boat along the Wilderness Waterway and is located just past the Chatham River. He built himself a one-room concrete block home which was 14 by 16 feet and the windows had no glass, only screens and shutters.

      When he first settled on Opossum Key, Arthur felt he was homesteading the island but the federal government acquired the land in 1957 and gave him lifetime tenure:

      They just up and took it away from me. When I first came here this place was a paradise. There was all the birds and fish and animals anybody could want. But they changed all that when they lowered Lake Okeechobee. After that, the mangroves came in and pushed out the willows, and their tannic acid killed all the bass. Then the rabbits, deer and bobcats left because their food was gone. When I first came here I trapped otter and coons. The otter are about all gone now, but one season I caught 47 and the Seminoles came by and accused me of catching them all. No, it's not like it used to be, that's for sure. If I wasn't so old, since everything else has left, I'd leave too. But I guess I'll stay here 'til I die.
    • References:

      .: Amanda Darwin (GENFORUM
      Stratton L. Douthat, Los Angeles Times (12 Sep. 1971) [1]
    Person ID I6029  DARUSA
    Last Modified 31 May 2012 

    Father Albert Fleetwood DARWIN,   b. Jan 1852, Phillips County, Arkansas, USA Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. After 1920, Curry County, New Mexico, USA Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 68 years) 
    Mother Laura L.,   b. Sep 1862, South Carolina, USA Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. After 1920, Curry County, New Mexico, USA Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 58 years) 
    Married Abt 1880  Pulaski County, Arkansas, USA Find all individuals with events at this location 
    • place of marriage not certain
    Family ID F1510  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Bessie Lee WHITMORE,   b. 7 Jan 1882, Pulaski County, Arkansas, USA Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 15 Sep 1966, Evadale, Jasper County, Texas, USA Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 84 years) 
    Married Abt 1904  Pulaski County, Arkansas, USA Find all individuals with events at this location 
    • place of marriage not certain
    Children 
     1. Albert Richard DARWIN,   b. 22 Apr 1905, Texas, USA Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 23 Feb 1987, Texas, USA Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 81 years)
     2. William Henry DARWIN,   b. 9 Jul 1906, Texas, USA Find all individuals with events at this location
     3. Margaret DARWIN,   b. 9 Apr 1908, Texas, USA Find all individuals with events at this location
     4. John DARWIN,   b. 14 Aug 1912, Texas, USA Find all individuals with events at this location
     5. Annie Laura DARWIN,   b. 8 Dec 1914, Texas, USA Find all individuals with events at this location
     6. Luther Leon DARWIN,   b. 2 May 1916, Texas, USA Find all individuals with events at this location
     7. Hugh Winston DARWIN,   b. 8 Oct 1917, New Mexico, USA Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 13 Sep 1975, Jefferson County, Texas, USA Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 57 years)
     8. Wee DARWIN,   b. 3 Aug 1920, Florida, USA Find all individuals with events at this location
     9. Nell DARWIN,   b. 19 Dec 1921, Florida, USA Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 26 Sep 1999, Texas, USA Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 77 years)
     10. Ruth DARWIN,   b. 9 Feb 1924, Florida, USA Find all individuals with events at this location
    Last Modified 31 May 2012 
    Family ID F2225  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Event Map
    Link to Google MapsBorn - 12 Dec 1879 - Pulaski County, Arkansas, USA Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsMarried - Abt 1904 - Pulaski County, Arkansas, USA Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsDied - Jun 1977 - Possum Key, Everglades, Florida, USA Link to Google Earth
     = Link to Google Earth 
    Pin Legend  : Address       : Location       : City/Town       : County/Shire       : State/Province       : Country       : Not Set

  • Photos
    Arthur Darwin
    Arthur Darwin
    Wire photo accompanying 1971 AP article
    Arthur Darwin
    Arthur Darwin
    Wire photo accompanying 1971 newspaper article on 'The Hermit of the Everglades'

  • Sources 
    1. [S298] JRN: FL-CL: 1971 Associated Press (Wire Service) (12 Sep), Stratton L. Douthat (AP): "Everglades hermit found his paradise".