Steaming down the St. Johns River


He was a Duval County native and sheriff, Florida’s governor in the 1900s and a leader of the southern Progressive movement – don’t forget a gun smuggler.

His steam boat, The Three Friends, made several runs from Jacksonville to Cuba. Napoleon Bonaparte Broward, his brother and an associate finished the boat in 1896, and for the next couple years hulled the 112 foot steamer loaded with men and munitions to Coo-ba – that’s how you’re supposed to say it.

Broward lost his parents when he was 12 and started working on tugboats to support his brother and self. After years aboard various boats travelling cargo up-and-down the St. Johns River, Broward and investors built The Three Friends. Now Broward had his own boat and the opportunity to pursue his own ventures.

At first, Broward’s boat would carry cargo and supplies like wood through the St. Johns. One day, he was approached by a Cuban native desiring to help rid Cuba from Spanish rule. To Broward, it was an opportunity for some easy money, so he took it.


I found a blog by Jeff Atwater, chief financial officer of Florida, who claims to be Broward’s great-grandson. His blog says his family preserved a pocket watch, which was given to Broward from Cuban patriot General Enrique Collazo. The watch had a Cuban flag on the outside and is engraved, “General Enrique Collazo and friends to Captain Napoleon B. Broward, March 17, 1896.”

His blog gives one particular run where The Three Friends was spotted by the Spanish army, and barely made it out alive – pretty cool, check it out if you want more info.

Broward was publicly scrutinized for filibustering, but his native pull gave him an advantage for sheriff. A few years later the sheriff would be elected Florida governor (1905-1909), and even served on the Jacksonville City Council.

In Florida, his philosophies were so dominant that the Progressive Era is often referred to as the Broward Era. His life was filled with poverty, politics and even filibustering.

Before his appointment as Florida senator, Broward died in Jacksonville in 1910, and was buried in the Evergreen Cemetery.



The New History of Florida, edited by Michael Gannon

Picture from:



Extra Terrestrial

In 1997, a couple of years after Everbank Field was built, an unidentified object (aliens) were spotted at the stadium. Drivers crossing the Hart Bridge first discovered the invaders.
Cars screeched to a halt when drivers realized what they were witnessing. The sight caused a 30-car-pileup, and dispatch’s phone steadily ringing. Nobody was seriously hurt, but somebody was probably abducted.
The calls were helpless, police chases rarely leave the planet – otherwise Cops would be the number one show in the world.
Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office was so overwhelmed they had to call for reinforcements. Dispatch thought it was a naval drill, but people on the bridge knew it was nothing they had seen before – except for one crazy guy.



There are dozens of people quoted about what they saw – all with identical stories. The first officer on scene, Deputy Adam Dean, “resigned” a week after the sighting.
By the time the National Guard arrived the visitors had vacated, but they left their mark on Jacksonville and Everbank Field.


^Their Mark ^

So, I said true, but this is actually all fiction – my friend Anthony thought of the idea, the details, all me. If you read the fine print (subtitle), Northeast Florida’s odd and USUALLY true stories. Plus, don’t believe everything you read.

Picture of aliens over Everbank Field: by Anthony Galasso.
Picture of the damage:—22866.jpg