Welcome to the MCHS Website
The Manatee County Historical Society (MCHS) was chartered March 18, 1946 and is the oldest local historical society. Our purpose is to collect, record and preserve the story of Manatee County.
The Society hosts 7 luncheon meetings at Renaissance on 9th, the Bradenton Meals on Wheels Plus center, with interesting speakers during its October-to-May program season, and records the lectures. These and other upcoming events are listed under the Events tab.
By clicking on our History tab at the top of this page, you will find over 150 transcribed luncheon speeches, some dating back to the 1960s, along with oral history interviews and miscellaneous papers. Some pages take time to download and you may need Adobe Reader to open some. This portion of the site is being actively updated with more sources. Additional transcribed copies of the speeches and of the oral history interviews are available in the Eaton Florida History Collection of the Manatee County Central Library. The Society has always sought to make its collected information readily available to the public.
The Society has long had a program of identifying historical sites and events and erecting historical markers to commemorate them. Over the years, more than 50 markers have been placed. Check out our latest marker in person, located north of the Manatee River on 72nd Street East for the Rubonia Silver Leaf Women’s Club. Our markers have cross-crossed the county from Bean Point in Anna Maria to the Craig Sugar Mill Chimney and the Gamble Sugar Cane Mill in Ellenton and on over to Fogartyville and Wilhelmsenburg west of Ware’s Creek in Bradenton. Some of our earliest markers went to the Mineral Spring and the 1887 Methodist Church in Manatee. Braden Castle is there, as is Oneco, with the Reasoner’s Pioneer Florida Nursery. Palma Sola and Palmetto have been included. Most of our MCHS early markers are listed with their text in the book by the late MCHS member Floyd Boone: Boone’s Florida Historical Markers and Sites, which can be found in most of Manatee County public libraries. Some of the background primary documentation for these early markers will soon be added to the Historical Markers sub-navigation link under the History tab.
In the mid-1960’s, the Society began copying old photographs from early families. In 1977, these completed images were turned over to the local library system. The Society’s original 6,250 historical images now form the base of more than 32,900 images now found on the Manatee County Library System’s internet homepage at www.mymanatee.org/library.html. Some search terms you may wish to use to view some of the wonderful old views include steamboats, wharves, docks, sailboats, Manatee Avenue, Churches, Schools and Main Street. Mayors, doctors, sheriff’s and family names and local place names are well represented. Here on the website are some photos of general history and photos of MCHS past presidents, speakers, picnics and events are in a Society-Photo section under the Society tab.
Along with Floyd Boone, mentioned above for his work with historical markers, other MCHS members have become published Manatee County or Florida historians. Joe G. and Libby Warner published Biscuits and ‘Taters: a history of cattle ranching in Manatee County. Two-time Society president Carl D. King produced Model-T Days, the story of how he came to Florida with his family over the bumpy roads of the 1920s and his experience as a binder-boy during the Great Florida Real Estate Boom. Alice Myers of Palmetto and Mary Fulford Green of Cortez have done work on their families and hometowns. Recent published members include Gilbert Smith, Junior’s Lawyers and Legends of Manatee County, Don and Carol Thompson’s History of Egmont Key and Merab Favorite’s photo books on Palmetto and Bradenton. Charter member Lillie B. McDuffee was the author of the classic 1933 local history The Lures of Manatee. Many of our members, although not published, have contributed to the speeches and interviews you will find under the History tab.
The society sponsors an annual Scholarship for a Manatee County high school graduate wishing to obtain a college degree in history. A history degree is also useful for those planning a career in international business, law, public broadcasting, journalism, or diplomacy. Look under the Society tab for the instructions and application information. It is right on the Society page.
The Society supports the Manatee Village Historical Park and the Gamble Mansion Preservation Alliance and other local historical groups such as the Anna Maria Island Historical Society and the Rubonia Silver Leaf Women’s Club. Members participate in the annual Manatee County History Fair in conjunction with the Manatee County Historical Commission and the Board of Education.