Baker Block Museum Summer 2019 Newsletter

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Baker Block Museum Newsletter Experience. Discover. Connect. Summer 2019

INSIDE THIS ISSUE Director’s Notes and President’s Message, page 2 Family Heritage Wall of Honor inductee, page 3 Easter egg hunt, page 4 Jumble sale, page 5 D-Day commemoration, page 5 Last Doolittle Raider dies, page 6 Wall of Honoree passes away, page 8

Newest Family Heritage Wall of Honor inductee honored Marion Allen “M.A.” Fortune was honored May 18 as the latest inductee to the Family Heritage Wall of Honor at the Baker Block Museum. The event turned into a mini-family reunion with 34 members representing four generations of the FortuneSteele families attending the ceremony, including the only surviving son, Jerry Fortune, who traveled from Texas. See page 3 for M.A. Fortune’s writeup.

Mike Fortune (right) accepts a certificate of recognition from NOHA board member Connie Dukes May 18.

Calendar of events, page 13

CONTACT Phone: 850-537-5714 Mail: P.O. Box186 Baker, FL 32531 Email: Location: Corner of State Road 4 and Highway 189 in Baker

Members of the Fortune-Steele families gather at the Family Heritage Wall of Honor induction ceremony at the Museum May 18.

2 Director’s Notes

President’s Message

We are currently obtaining bids for the construction of our long-awaited pavilion in the museum’s Heritage Park. We are very excited to have this process underway and thankful for the two recent donations of $1,000 each that helped reach our goal. A special thanks to Michael and Lisa Fortune for one of the donations in honor of Michael’s grandfather, M.A. Fortune. The other donation was from Sandy and Bob Dreker in honor of Smyth R. Gill and we are grateful for their generosity as well. We are working toward having the new pavilion up and ready for this year’s Baker Heritage Day in November. It was a pleasure to meet the descendants of M.A. Fortune during the Family Heritage Wall of Honor ceremony in May. The large turnout of such nice folks, spoke volumes for the legacy Mr. Fortune left in both his family and community, as well as his many years as a local educator. Thanks to Faye Fortune and Brenda Fortune Samson for their contributions to our museum. We are looking forward to publishing the next book in our series of local history before summer’s end. Look for A History of Laurel Hill coming soon. Laurel Hill and the surrounding area is

It is hard to believe that the year is already half over. We have accomplished a lot in the first six months of 2019. You have seen our new logo and the updates we have made to our newsletter. We hosted a community Easter egg hunt, participated in the Arts and Heritage Festival in Laurel Hill and the D-Day Celebration in Crestview, and honored M.A. Fortune at our annual Wall of Honor where many of our county’s first families settled and where much of our history began. North Okaloosa Historical Association president and

ceremony. We have big plans for the rest of the year. Vendors are already signing up for the Heritage Festival in November. We hope to have our new pavilion in place by then. We also have two new books coming out soon. One will be a history of Laurel Hill and the other will be on shape note singing. Stay tuned because we have more in store.

Tracy Curenton Laurel Hill native, Tracy Curenton has worked hard on this one and you don’t want to miss it. Ann Spann

The Baker Block Museum is a 501-3(c) non-profit organization of the North Okaloosa Historical Association, Inc., and is managed by its Board of Directors. The Museum newsletter is published by the North Okaloosa Historical Society, Inc., and is an authorized publication for distribution to Museum members and visitors. Contents of the newsletter is copyrighted, all rights reserved. Items to be considered for the newsletter may be submitted to the Museum at P.O. Box 186, Baker, FL 32531 or emailed to Deadline for submission is March 15, June 15, Sept. 15 and Dec. 15 for consideration in the next quarterly issue. Articles received after the deadline will be considered for future use. All submissions will be edited for accuracy, clarity, brevity and conformance with newsletter guidelines.


Marion Allen “M.A.” Fortune August 23, 1896 - August 5, 1973 Nominated by: Michael W. Fortune Marion Allen “M.A.” Fortune was born in Holt, Florida, to Marmaduke Fortune of Rose Hill, Alabama, and Sarah Francis (Faulk) Fortune of Santa Rosa County, Florida. The fourth of eight children, M.A., an Okaloosa County educator, married Eunice Steele December 27, 1925, who was also an educator. Together they raised three children who were all born and raised in Laurel Hill. After graduating from the University of Florida, M.A., one of the county’s first educators, returned to Okaloosa County and spent the next 34 years serving in the school system. During his long career, M.A. was a history and social studies teacher and also served as principal for five Okaloosa County schools. In addition, he was a member of the Okaloosa County School Board for eight years. He was very involved in greatly expanding the school system by building new schools and improving facilities. M.A. was a longtime member of the First Baptist Church of Laurel Hill and served as a deacon there for 37 years. M.A., a man with a calm and gentle personality, was well known and respected in the community. The 300-acre farm in Laurel Hill where he and Eunice raised their three sonsJohnny, Jerry and Jackie-was called the Easy Run Farm, a reflection of his personality. In the morning, he enjoyed sitting on his back porch and calling out to his mule, Speed, saying, “Speak to me, Speed.” The mule would bray in response. His love of the land, his family, and his community were all intertwined. His ties to Okaloosa County live on through as his 10 grandchildren, 23 great-grandchildren and 10 great-great-grandchildren who all continue to have a strong bond to the original farm and are proud and appreciative of the life “Granddaddy” Fortune lived.


Easter in the Park

The Easter Bunny is a hit with everyone—young and old alike—during the egg hunt in the Heritage Park. Everyone gathers around as door prizes for children and adults are awarded during the day’s festivities April 17.

(Top) The Easter Bunny surprises a young egg hunter during the day’s festivities in the Heritage Park April 17. (Right) Children of all ages participate in the egg hunt in the Heritage Park.


For sale

A community yard sale the third Saturday of June brought vendors and bargain hunters alike to the Museum’s Heritage Park.

(Top) Tents are up, merchandise is set, everything is ready for the big community yard sale at the Baker Block Museum Heritage Park June 15. (Right) Shoppers check out yard sale bargains at the community yard sale in the Heritage Park of the Baker Block Museum.

D-Day 75th commemoration The 75th anniversary of D-Day was marked with a salute to the “greatest generation” by the City of Crestview at Warrior’s Hall June 6. The Baker Block Museum was honored to present a display of local World War II memorabilia, along with an outstanding group of area historians and civic organizations. Thanks go to Mary Richard and Brian Hughes for their hard work toward creating this wonderful event.


Then-Lt. Col. James H. Doolittle, USAAF (2nd left), and his crew on the USS Hornet, April 18, 1942, just before take off for the mission over Tokyo. From left to right: Lt. Henry A. Potter, navigator; Doolittle, pilot; Staff Sgt. Fred A. Braemer, bombardier; Lt. Richard E. Cole, copilot; Staff Sgt. Paul J. Leonard, flight engineer/gunner.

Okaloosa County ties

Last Doolittle Raider passes away The last member of the Doolittle Raiders passed away in April just shy of the 77th anniversary of the famous bombing mission over Tokyo during World War II. Retired Lt. Col. Richard E. “Dick” Cole flew in the first B-25 Mitchell bomber to take off from the deck of the USS Hornet April 18, 1942, leading the one-way mission as a young lieutenant copilot for then-Lt. Col Jimmy Doolittle. Final stateside flying training for the topsecret mission took place in March 1942 at Eglin Field’s Auxiliary Field No. 1, also

known as Wagner Field, where the aircrews practiced aircraft carrier takeoffs, crosscountry flying, night flying and navigation, according to Doolittle’s official June 1942 report. Special training missions over the Gulf of Mexico helped aircrews adjust to flying without visual or radio references or landmarks. The crews also practiced low-altitude bombing, rapid bombing and evasive maneuvers while in the area. All this was accomplished in three weeks


Volunteer U.S. Army Air Force aircrew members train with North American B-25B Mitchell bombers at Eglin Field during World War II for what would become known as the “Doolittle Raid” on Tokyo April 18, 1942.

despite dense fog and “bad weather,” according to Doolittle’s report. On March 25, 22 B-25s left Eglin for the California coast where they met up with the Navy’s USS Hornet. For the mission, 16 planes were selected and loaded onto the Hornet’s deck. The first plane with Doolittle as pilot and Cole as copilot, took off at 8:20 a.m. April 18. After dropping its load on a factory in Tokyo, the plane turned toward a rendezvous point in China before running out of gas. The five-man crew bailed out just after midnight as the fuel warning lights came on, jumping into a dark, rainy night in the order of gunner, bombardier, navigator, copilot (Cole) and pilot (Doolittle), according to a 1973 letter by Cole. Cole’s parachute drifted him into a tree about 10 feet off the ground. Uninjured, he decided to spend the night in the

tree and used his parachute canopy as a hammock, but didn’t get much sleep. After hiking the next day, he met up with Chinese Nationalist guerillas operating behind Japanese lines who led him to Doolittle. The rest of the crew joined them a short time later. The crew was smuggled out of occupied China to safety. Of the 80 crewmembers who flew the mission, 77 survived. Eight crewmembers were captured by the Japanese and of those, three were executed. Cole, the last of the Doolittle Raiders, passed away April 9 at age 103.


Lillie Mae Price Faulk

Sept. 15, 1918 Lifelong Baker resident and Family Heritage Wall of Honor honoree Lillie Mae Price Faulk passed away May 12 at home. She was 100 years old. A pillar of the community, Lillie was born Sept. 15, 1918, not long after Baker was established. The eighth of nine children born to Ben and Mollie Ward, she attended Baker School from the first grade

- May 12, 2019 through the 12th. She moved to Elberta, Ala., for a few years where she met her first husband and started her family before moving back to Baker where they had 10 more children. All of her children graduated from Baker School. Lillie was preceded in death by her parents, her husbands George H. Price and Donald Faulk and four children and three grandchildren. She is survived by 10 children, 58 grandchildren, 98 great-grandchildren and 29 great-greatgrandchildren.

Museum turns 23

Flashy new ride This undated photo was taken before renovations began on the museum in 1994. The newly formed North Okaloosa Historical Association Inc. received $318,000 in state grant money to renovate the four buildings that made up the block on the corner of State Roads 4 and 189, also known as Florida and Georgia Avenues (respectively) in Baker. The Museum (below) turned 23 years old in July.

The Museum acquired a replica of an 1896 Ford Quadricycle last year made by Bob’s Replicars in Texas. It’s been restored and will be used in local parades.


Create a Legacy Make a legacy gift to the Baker Block Museum How would you like to be remembered?

Legacy gifts are one of the most significant demonstrations of commitment to the community an individual can make. A legacy gift, deferred gift, or planned gift is one you decide upon now and that provides for your favorite nonprofit program later. You can leave a wonderful legacy to the Baker Block Museum by including the North Okaloosa Historical Association, Inc., in your estate planning. There are many tax advantages when you make a planned gift. We encourage you to consult with your attorney or financial planner for your specific circumstance. Bequests While there are a number of ways to build a legacy contribution, a charitable bequest is one of the easiest and most popular ways to leave a lasting impact on the Museum. You may designate our organization as the beneficiary of your assets by will, trust, or other instrument. Simply specify an amount, a percentage of your estate, or what remains of your estate to the North Okaloosa Historical Associaiton, Inc., after you have provided for your children or other beneficiaries.

For more information on legacy gifts, contact the Baker Block Museum at 850-537-5714. The North Okaloosa Historical Association, Inc., is a non-profit 501(c)3 charitable organization. Donations are tax deductible.


15th Annual Baker Heritage Day Festival Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Demonstration Application Name: ______________________________________________ Phone: ________________ Address: ___________________________________________________________________ City: __________________________________ State: ___________ Zip:_______________ Email: _____________________________________________________________________ Demonstration description: ___________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________ Have you participated before?



Complete the form and return it no later than Oct. 18 to: Baker Block Museum PO Box 186 Baker, FL 32531 For more information, please call the Baker Block Museum at 850-537-5714 or email at

Sponsored by the North Okaloosa Historical Association, Inc. Baker Block Museum • 1307B Georgia Ave • Baker, Florida • 850-537-5715 •

15th Annual Baker Heritage Day Festival


Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Vendor Application $40 per 10’ x 10’ space $50 per 10’ x 10’ space with electricity Limit of 2 spaces per vendor • Spaces are assigned by the date the application is received. • Exhibitors must furnish tables, chairs, tents, covers and any other items required for their displays. • Exhibitors must be set up and in place by 8:30 a.m. and stay until 3 p.m. the day of the event. Name: ______________________________________________ Phone: ________________ Address: ___________________________________________________________________ City: __________________________________ State: ___________ Zip:_______________ Email: _____________________________________________________________________ Description of art or craft: ___________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________ Have you participated before? Do you require electricity? Y



Complete the form and return it no later than Oct. 18 to: Baker Block Museum PO Box 186 Baker, FL 32531 For more information, please call the Baker Block Museum at 850-537-5714 or email at Sponsored by the North Okaloosa Historical Association, Inc. Baker Block Museum • 1307B Georgia Ave • Baker, Florida • 850-537-5715 •


North Okaloosa Historical Association Membership Form

Membership in the North Okaloosa Historical Association is open to anyone interested in preserving and documenting the history of Okaloosa County and its pioneering families. NOHA serves as the governing body for the Baker Block Museum. Member benefits include the quarterly newsletter, e-mail notification of special events, discounts in the Baker Mercantile store and an invitation to the annual meeting in January. Name: _____________________________________________________________________ Address: ___________________________________________________________________ City: __________________________ State and Zip Code: __________________________ Phone: ________________________ Email: _____________________________________

Type of membership (check one) q Individual $25 per year



$50 per year



$15 per year




____ I would like to volunteer at the Baker Block Museum ____ I have items I would like to donate to the Baker Block Museum ____ I have photographs that I will allow to be scanned for the Museum’s collection

Return this form with your contribution made payable to: North Okaloosa Historical Association Membership P.O. Box 186 Baker, FL 32531

The North Okaloosa Historical Association is a 501(c)(3) organization. Membership and any donations are tax deductible.


Calendar of Events July






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15 North Okaloosa Historical Association Board meeting, 6 p.m.



4 Independence Day – museum closed 5


Museum closed

18 North Okaloosa Historical Association Board meeting, 6 p.m. 20 Museum open from 10 a.m-3:30 p.m.

17 Museum open from 10 a.m-3:30 p.m. 17 Florida Artist Blacksmith Association 9 a.m.

2 3 4 5 6 7

Labor Day

14 Doc Holiday Birthday Celebratioin, Warrior’s Hall 19 Museum open from 10 a.m-3:30 p.m. 21 North Okaloosa Historical Association Board meeting, 6 p.m.

Why become a member of the North Okaloosa Historical Association? Besides supporting the preservation of the history of Okaloosa County, membership in the NOHA has its benefits: »» »» »» »» »»

Membership card Quarterly newsletter 10% discount off books and calendars published by the NOHA Email notification of special events Invitation to the annual meeting in January

Lifetime members receive all of the above, PLUS: »» 20% discount off books and calendars published by the NOHA »» Recognition in the annual report »» 10% off nomination for any Family Heritage Wall of Honor submission