The renaming of Broward County
Why Broward is considering another name
I live in Fort Lauderdale, in Broward County, which is the second-largest county in Florida by population. There have been discussions taking place that relate to renaming the area. Some people believe that it should be renamed to reflect its county seat - Fort Lauderdale. Dade County did this some years ago, when it was renamed to be Miami-Dade.
There are several problems with this. Most importantly, a Lauderdale County already exists. But other problems arise due to the two names in question. Broward was named after Napoleon Bonaparte Broward who was the governor of Florida for four years in the early twentieth century. Fort Lauderdale itself is named after Major William Lauderdale who established a fort in the area in the nineteenth century.
In my opinion, these two people no longer reflect what the area stands for. In fact, these names have negative connotations in this day and age.
Napoleon Bonaparte Broward
Napoleon was largely responsible for the dredging and draining of the Everglades when he was the governor of Florida. This was to encourage development of the area and at the time, seen as being a positive move. But times have changed. Today's environmentalists would agree that this was in fact a eco-unfriendly act.
Prior to becoming governor, he was what is known as a filibuster, transporting armaments to Cuba. A filibuster is defined as a person who "engages in an unauthorized military expedition into a foreign country to foment or support a revolution." Whatever the rights and wrongs of these gunrunning actions, I doubt that he represents what the region has now become.
Men who were seen as great in days gone by aren't always viewed in the same light a hundred years later. It's time for a change. He no longer reflects the area and many of his actions are not favorably viewed today.
William Lauderdale and the Seminoles
William Lauderdale, after whom our city was named, was a major during the nineteenth century Seminole Wars. He established forts in the area. These had been long abandoned when what was then a small settlement was incorporated as a town but nevertheless, it was decided to name the new town after the major.
Today, there are many Seminoles living in the area. It seems rather astonishing to me that anyone should consider adding the name 'Lauderdale' to the county name in view of the fact that the major was a leading force during the wars which almost destroyed the Seminole Tribe.
Just as with the case of Napoleon Bonaparte Broward, the major does not reflect what the area has become today. In his time, Native Americans were seen as being 'savages'. Today, they are respected citizens. To add the Lauderdale name to the region's title is disrespectful to a group of people who historically suffered a great deal when their homelands were taken over.
Do I have a suggestion? - Of course
The couple standing in the doorway in the above photograph were at that time the occupants of the building pictured. They were Frank and Ivy Stranahan. Because of this remarkable couple, I suggest that, if our area is to have a new name, that new name should be:
My copy of this book is almost falling apart and it's been held together using scotch tape for quite some time.
Although it's broadly speaking fiction, it's nevertheless a factual account of the birth of our area. All the early pioneers are mentioned and yet the book centers on the fascinating story of the Stranahans.
It's a book that combines humor and tragedy almost in equal parts but explains a great deal about matters that the average tourist will never know about our fascinating area's history.
- Frank Stranahan was the first permanent resident in the area. He moved to the New River in 1897 to run the ferry across the water.
- Frank set up a trading post and traded with the local Seminole Indians. He was known as being fair and honest in his dealings with them. The trading post was our area's first business.
- In 1900, he married Ivy Cromartie, who was the area's first schoolteacher when she was a teenager herself. Ivy unofficially taught Seminole children because she believed that they would need to be educated to deal with the events that were taking place in their lives.
- Both Stranahans were staunch supporters of the Seminoles' causes. They were also tireless environmentalists and worked hard to create the growth of the city. They were known as 'the mother and father of Fort Lauderdale'.
- In conjunction with other early pioneers, Frank Stranahan developed the bridge that linked the mainland to Fort Lauderdale Beach at Las Olas Boulevard. This was the first step in the creation of the area as a tourist resort.
- The Stranahans were admired and respected in the area by all. When Frank Stranahan died, every business in the city closed for the day as a mark of respect. Many Seminole Indians attended the funeral service at the Stranahan House.
- The Stranahans were hardy pioneers and were the instigators of the multicultural society that exists in the area today.
- The house in the photograph still stands and, as our area's oldest home, is now a museum celebrating the lives of the Stranahans. It is a perfect symbol of the city and the county.
- Frank and Ivy Stranahan deserve the recognition that the renaming of the area would give them.
- The Stranahans lived through the most important phases in Fort Lauderdale life and were hugely instrumental in creating the city as it is today.
Discover more about the history of this fascinating area.
Lead photograph by Andy Royston and used with written permission. Historical photographs from Wikipedia Commons.
© 2013 Jackie Jackson