The following written by Barbara Boynton, my sister:
At present I live in Wakulla County, Florida. As I drive from my house to Tallahassee I am reminded of tales my Grandmother Nora Walsh Edwards told me of her youth using this same road.
My Grandmother was born in 1879 in Gadsden County. They lived on a farm near the Ochlocknee River. In the fall of each year, usually in October, her family would take trips by wagons down to Shell Point for mullet fishing. They looked forward to these trips each year.
Wagons with canvas covers would be made ready. Food would be packed for a week or two trip, bedding rolled and netting fixed. They would have a supply wagon with water, food and things, which they would take to barter for fish. There was very little money so the barter system accomplished a lot.
These wagon trains would consist of any number of the 9 Walsh brothers and their families, plus cousins and others in the neighborhood. They would leave early in the morning and spend the first night at some friendsâ€™ home near Tallahassee on the Old Bainbridge Road. The Mabry family was one name I remember. They would set up camp, cook and eat. Then there would be someone with a fiddle to play for dancing.
The young men rode their horses so they could go ahead and gather wood for fires. They also could sneak off for some courting along the way.
The second day of the trip they would be in Northern Wakulla County and stop at someone's house or near a spring where they could get water. The third day they arrived at Spring Creek and set up camp. That night they would have fried mullet, grits, hushpuppies and baked sweet potatoes. Again there would be music and dancing.
For the next week they would enjoy the water, beach and good seafood. Oysters were eaten raw, fried and baked in shells over hot coals. The ladies and children would walk the beach and gather shells. Sometimes some local people would come and visit. The men fished and put mullet salted down in barrels to take home. They would also salt down the red roe, which was a favorite breakfast food.
The old folks always said you did not eat oysters in a month that did not have an "R" in it.
This was because they did not have refrigeration and the oysters might be spoiled.
In my Grandmother's day there was not a lot of excitement and the coast trips were a highlight of the year. From reading history I believe the Indians who lived here before us made the same trips. Old Bainbridge Road was an Indian trail leading from Ft. Scott to the coast.
In my husband's family there is a letter from David Womack written Oct 10,1831 to a relation in Alabama. In the letter Mr. Womack said that he had been 8 days returning home (to Gadsden County) and when he arrived he found his family had gone down on the seaboard on a fishing spree.
Trips to the coast have been going on for a very long time.
My Powell grandparents always liked to go to St. Marks and Live Oak Island for fresh mullet and oysters. Grandmother Powell's family (Sills) had taken the same type trips when she was young.
I remember on one occasion when I had first learned how to drive that my Grandmother made me drive her to Shell Point to get some fresh mullet. The roads were nothing but sand and sometimes I was afraid we were going to get stuck. At that time there were fishermen who had areas blocked off to corral the mullet. I think it was called a seine yard.
The fishermen would go out and haul up nets of flipping mullet. They cleaned them and packed some in salt and the others in ice. We had two washtubs full of fish when we headed home. On the way we stopped and gave my Grandmother's two sisters some fresh fish. When we got home we had to transfer the salted fish from the tubs into a barrel that we stored in the pantry.
It was while on this trip that my Grandmother told me of her earlier youthful trips to the Coast. She also told me of taking excursions down to Lanark where they would spend a weekend or day. This was after 1910 when she and my Grandfather lived in Havana, Fl. She said they also went to Newport at other times.
My husband's family always vacationed at Panacea, Florida for a week in August. One of his uncles had a cottage there and there would be 2 or 3 families staying at the Coast.
Today, in 2003, the coast treks still go on. Every weekend Highways 329 and 61 are clogged with people going to the Coast-some to St. George Island, Dog Island, St. Theresa, Carrabelle, Alligator Point, Panacea, Shell Point and many other areas along the Coast.