Baker Block Museum 2020 Summer Newsletter

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Baker Block Museum Newsletter


Experience. Discover. Connect. Summer 2020

INSIDE THIS ISSUE Director’s Notes and President’s Message, page 2 Wall of Honor inductees, page 4 Black day in Crestview: Blackwell hanging in 1920, page 6 Roger Robinson and McDonald Campbell obituaries, page 7 Twin Hills Park 50th anniversary, page 8 Membership news, page 10 Calendar of events, page 13

CONTACT Phone: 850-537-5714 Mail: P.O. Box 186 Baker, FL 32531 Email: Location: 1307 Georgia Ave. Corner of State Road 4 and Highway 189 in Baker

Baker Block Museum’s Executive Director Ann Spann honors Wall of Honor inductees at the seventh annual ceremony June 20 in the Museum’s research and genealogy library.

Families honored at 7th annual Wall of Honor ceremony Three Okaloosa County residents were honored during a small ceremony when they were added to the rolls of the Family Heritage Wall of Honor June 20. The late educator Caroline Baker Allen, late family physician Dr. George W. Barrow Jr. and journalist Roger Robinson joined the ranks of 41 other influential residents on the Wall of Honor. Brian Hughes, City of Crestview public information Officer From left: Caroline Baker Allen, Dr. George W. Barrow Jr., Roger Robinson See pages 4-5 for more coverage

2 Director’s Notes

President’s Message

We are celebrating the Baker Block Museum’s 24th anniversary during the month of July. Join us for our 3rd Saturday celebration event July 18 as we crank up our 1927 John Deere Model E hitand-miss engine and ice cream machine to mark this special occasion with free ice cream. Blacksmith classes will resume in our Heritage Park as fall brings cooler weather. Look for Traditions Workshop to begin Introduction to Blacksmithing on our Sept. 19 3rd Saturday event. The Baker Block Museum remains open to the public while practicing social distancing, sanitizing and commonsense measures during these unprecedented times. We wish everyone a safe and healthy summer.

During our February annual membership meeting this year, we approved association goals for 2020. I’m happy to say that one of those goals, to apply for an Impact 100 grant, has been met. After two months of intense work, we completed the 16-page application and submitted it a day ahead of the deadline. Our proposed project is to digitize our oral histories captured on audio cassettes, local events on VHS tapes and 8 mm home movies before they deteriorate and are gone forever. The overall plan is to convert these important memories into searchable files so people can access them in our research and genealogy library. Completing the application was a team effort with the Museum’s executive director and our board of directors. It’s something we could never have accomplished without everyone’s assistance. Keep your fingers crossed that we will be one of four recipients of the grant when the awards are announced in November.

Tracy Curenton

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.


New accession: Holt Water Works Inc. donated a handmade sign that hung at an open-air gazebo next to Holt’s Diner on U.S. 90 where local old-timers gathered over coffee to talk about the current state of affairs and reminisce about “the old times.” The sign later made it to the Holt Water Office where town residents would sit and chat with office staff and others who dropped by. Holt Water donated the sign after moving its office to a new location.

Join us!

3rd Saturday

at the Baker Block Museum

July 18, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. in celebration of 24 years of the

Baker Block Museum Museum and Heritage Park will be open Free homemade ice cream

June 20, 2020

Caroline Baker Allen graduated from Houston-Tollotson College in Texas and earned her master’s degree from the University of West Florida. Her 30-year teaching career began in 1949 at Drew School in Baker. When the school closed in 1954, she transferred to Carver-Hill High School, an all-black school in Crestview, which closed upon desegregation in 1968. Caroline finished her career at Crestview High School, where she ultimately headed the business department until retiring in 1979. In 1981, her community service was recognized with her induction into the Okaloosa County Women’s Hall of Fame. Caroline died in a 2005 car accident as she returned from a high school reunion in Texas. Her husband, Sam, was Crestview’s first black city councilman. “She was an inspiration and a very kind soul,” Museum Director Ann Spann said during the induction ceremony. “I know because I had her as a teacher.”

Dr. George W. Barrow Jr.

Caroline Baker Allen


Nominated by his daughter, Susan Barrow Smith and Leon Curenton, who was one of the babies he delivered throughout the north county during his 32-year Crestview practice, Dr. George W. Barrow Jr. received his M.D. from Emory University and served in the U.S. Army, the U.S. Air Force and the U. S Air Force Reserve between 1943 and 1969. After early practice in Winter Garden and Milton, Dr. Barrow returned to his Crestview hometown where he delivered babies, made house calls and cared for— and earned the affection of—countless local patients. After a private practice on Pine Avenue, he joined doctors Wayne and David Campbell and Lee Thigpen at the Crestview Medical Clinic, from which he retired in 1987 after a 40-year lifetime practice. Dr. Barrow was a lifelong member of the First United Methodist Church and enjoyed fishing and camping, farming and raising cattle. He and his wife, Mary, had four children and many grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren. “He was certainly well-known, respected and loved in the community,” Ms. Spann said.

By Brian Hughes, City of Crestview public information officer

Roger Robinson

5 Roger Robinson’s journalism career began under his step-father, Allen Robinson, a local print and radio journalist, for whom Roger would dictate articles by telephone to the Associated Press and several neighboring newspapers. Roger also followed the footsteps of his birth dad, Joe Blue Taylor, as a top baseball player, playing first for Crestview High School and then for OkaloosaWalton Junior College (today’s Northwest Florida State College). Reviving his journalism career in 1971, Roger first served as a reporter for the Okaloosa News Journal before becoming founding editor of the Okaloosa Consumer Bulletin, which evolved into today’s Crestview News

Bulletin. In 1978 he served as a Fort Walton Beach and Milton reporter for the Pensacola News Journal, where he became an award-winning journalist. Switching to politics, Roger first worked for state Sen. W.D. Childers, then on the 2000 campaign to elect Dr. Durrell Peaden to fill Senator Childers’ seat. Dr. Peaden appointed Roger as his chief of staff. Roger married the former Linda Stokes in 1973. They have two daughters, four grandchildren and one grandson. “He is one of those people you can always count on,” said North Okaloosa Historical Association Vice President Phyllis Enzor during the ceremony.

Dr. George W. Barrow’s grandson and his daughter, Lee Smith and Susan Barrow Smith, accept the Wall of Honor induction certificate from Museum Executive Director Ann Spann.

Chera Doty, left, and Allyson Oury accept the Wall of Honor induction certificate on behalf of their father, Roger Robinson, from North Okaloosa Historical Association Inc., Vice President Phyllis Enzor, right.


July 30, 1920: Black day in Crestview

A new county’s first capital punishment execution saw the hanging of a local citizen for the murder of an elderly couple in south Okaloosa 100 years ago


t was a dark night on March 20, 1917, as three men walked from Holt in north Okaloosa County and crossed the Yellow River Bridge to the settlement of Wright in the midst of the Choctawhatchee National Forest in the south part of the county. Their destination: the farm of Marius Martin “Uncle Bud” and Nancy Jane “Aunt Nancy” Davis, an elderly couple whom the men were convinced had a stash of $15,000 kept in their bedroom. Brothers Bob and Will Bob Blackwell, center, stands on the makeshift gallows at the Okaloosa County Courthouse awaiting execution Blackwell, along with July 30, 1920, for the murder of Bud and Nancy Davis in 1917. their accomplice, Will sentence during a separate Blackwell confessed to a Boyd, arrived during the trial. crowd of about 3,000day, asked for food, then, The Blackwell brothers 4,000, speaking for about as night fell, set a fire in were sentenced to hang, 20 minutes, repeating what the woods to draw out the but not before two escapes, he confessed while in jail Davis’s son and daughter a mistrial and a granted a couple of weeks earlier. who worked for the forest appeal for a second changeDuring his remarks, he asked service. The Blackwell of-venue trial. that a collection be taken to brothers killed the Davises Will died in prison of pay for his funeral. Okaloosa during the robbery attempt tuberculosis without County Sheriff Benjamin when Davis pulled a confessing his crime. Bob Sutton, assisted by men in Winchester from under his was hanged in Crestview the crowd, raised more than mattress. The three men fled on July 30, 1920, the first $350 to pay for the burial. without taking any money. Blackwell’s body was taken Captured after a manhunt, execution in the newly formed Okaloosa County. to Pensacola where he was Boyd turned state’s evidence Just before his execution, buried. and was given a life

Roger Robinson


August 21, 1948 - July 6, 2020

Roger Robinson, a former board member of the North Okaloosa Historical Association Inc. and 2020 Family Heritage Wall of Honor inductee passed away in July. He was a local baseball player, journalist and retired Florida Senate chief of staff. He was the founder and former owner of the Okaloosa Consumer Bulletin, the precursor of the Crestview News Bulletin. Roger was born Roger Allyson Taylor in Pensacola. Roger’s father, Joe Blue Taylor, played baseball for the University of Florida and a Cleveland Indians minor league team. He passed Roger Robinson with wife Linda. away after a lightning strike during a local Baker baseball game hit four players. Roger, like his father, also played baseball for Crestview High School and Okaloosa-Walton Junior College before following in his step-father, Allen Robinson’s, footsteps as a journalist. Roger left journalism to work in the state senate, first as a legislative aide for Sen. W.D. Childers, then as chief of staff for Sen. Durrell Peaden. Roger married Linda Stokes in May 1973. They have two daughters, four grandchildren and a great-grandson.

C. McDonald “Miss Mac” Campbell July 27, 1914 - April 4, 2020

One of Okaloosa County’s oldest residents, C. McDonald “Miss Mac” Campbell, passed away April 4, 2020, in Laurel Hill. A pillar of the community, Miss Mac was a school teacher, librarian, statistical clerk, Sunday school teacher, pianist, elder, Presbyterian Women moderator, clerk of Session and general store manager. A trained educator, Miss Mac followed her mother, Christian McDonald Campbell, after whom she was named, into the teaching profession. She began her teaching career at her alma mater, Laurel Hill School, in 1935. Through the years, she taught in Pensacola, Mariana and Crestview before returning to Laurel Hill where she taught grades seven through 11. She helped establish the school’s library and served as the first librarian before retiring in the 1970s. During World War II, she briefly left teaching to serve as a statistical clerk at Eglin Field where she kept track of the number of bombs dropped. Miss Mac earned a master’s degree in education from Tallahassee’s Florida State College for Women (now Florida State University) in 1952. That same year, following the death of her father, A. Dan Campbell, she briefly ran the family’s dry goods side of Campbell Company general store in Laurel Hill before returning to teaching. At age 86, she was chosen as Laurel Hill’s citizen of the year.


Crestview’s Twin Hills Park celebrates 50 years

By Brian Hughes, City of Crestview public information officer


win Hills Park celebrated its 50th the park. anniversary in May, marking a half A community survey of residents’ century as Crestview’s flagship recreation needs guided the board as municipal park. A low-key ceremony it planned the park. Mrs. Ralph Wilks, a marking the event during the COVID-19 Southside Elementary School teacher, lockdown included a commemorative tree won a citywide contest to name the park. planting. She chose “Twin Hills” for the land that The park sits on 7 acres of what was rose on the north and south sides of the once a spring-fed Louisville and Nashville pond. Railroad steam engine watering pond. The Park construction funding came through park’s southern and western boundaries “a fiscally responsible attitude and much are what used to be the L&N railbeds. searching of currently available revenue,” In the railway’s heyday, the pond—one the park’s dedication program stated, of two that highlight Twin Hills Park— plus the addition of $10,000 of Florida supplied water for the L&N’s steam Department of Transportation funds. locomotives. When diesel engines made steam obsolete, L&N sold the pond and property around it, 20.6 acres, to the city for $6,000. Within six months of being seated, the Crestview Recreation Board had secured what the August 1961 Florida Municipal magazine called a “choice piece of property” for the city’s first municipal park. Developing the park was a team effort among the Crestview Recreation Board, the mayor’s office and city council, including the councilmen’s children. Yolanda Porter, at the ceremony, recalled hearing how her grandfather, Councilman Samuel Allen “worked so hard to get “Astro City,” a space-themed playground popular at Twin Hills Park, was built by the Miracle everything just right” in Equipment Company.


Twin Hills Park is seen from the air looking northwest after its May 22, 1970, dedication when it had only one pond and no gym. West of the pond is the “Astro City” playground. (Photo courtesy James Watson) Original playground equipment included the Miracle Equipment Company’s “Astro City” on the park’s western edge, a complex of rocket-themed slides, ladders, tunnels and swings. “We kids left quite a bit of hide on that [rocket] slide,” remembered Public Services Director Wayne Steele. The long rocketshaped slide was hot on a summer’s day. A U.S. Army tank was parked near Astro City. It had no access restrictions making it instantly popular with children who were keen to play soldiers on it and in it. The park expanded throughout the years. A gym was built and later expanded. New sports fields and a stadium were added. The

east pond was added in 1976 at the same time the city built a new public library that overlooked it. Northwest Florida State College bought the library, which included an office and conference room for retired local Congressman Bob Sikes, from the city in October 1993. It now houses the college’s Crestview campus. A new dog park, known as the Bark Park, funded by donations, opened in May 2019. Crestview’s Police K9 Officer Sonic officiated the opening. Twin Hills Park was the first municipal park in Crestview’s history, and is the largest of the county seat’s seven municipal parks.


North Okaloosa Historical Association

Membership News New Board Member Welcome to new board member Doug Hibbing. He was unanimously voted to the board at the June board meeting.

Humanities Grant

The Museum received a $5,000 Florida Humanities CARES grant in June to help offset revenue lost due to COVID-19. 2020 Goals • Increase membership by 30% • Apply for an Impact 100 grant — Goal met in June • Complete historical marker application for the museum building • Redesign Baker Block Museum website • Complete Museum asset inventory • Accrue $5,000 in sponsorships

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


North Okaloosa Historical Association Membership Form

Membership in the North Okaloosa Historical Association, Inc. 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.


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 Association, 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.


Calendar of Events July






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5 6 7 8 9 10 11

2 3 4 5 6 7 8


12 13 14 15 16 17 18

9 10 11 12 13

13 14

19 20 21 22 23 24 25

16 17 18 19 20 21 22

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23 24 25 26 27 28 29

27 28 29 30

29 30 31

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7 8 9 10 11 12 15 16 17 18 19

30 31


4th of July

16 North Okaloosa Historical Association board meeting, 6 p.m. 18 3rd Saturday • 24th Anniversary of the Museum • Museum open from 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m.

15 3rd Saturday: • Museum open from 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m. 20 North Okaloosa Historical Association Board meeting, 6 p.m.


Labor Day

18 North Okaloosa Historical Association Board meeting, 6 p.m. 20 3rd Saturday: • Florida Artists Blacksmith Association Introduction to Blacksmithing, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. by Traditions Workshop • Museum open from 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m.

Thank You! The North Okaloosa Historical Association would like to thank the following sponsors for their support to the Baker Block Museum.

Enzor Management


Okaloosa County Charities–Racetrack Bingo

The Restroom