Gaylors and the Winding River Road
ASHS Column for 07 10 06
Margaret Collier

No, dear Readers, Jerry is not stuck in that hospital. You will soon read one of his fine columns, but now he is taking it easy at home. We have granted him this one week of freedom from writing as a reward for his faithfulness. He is not to expect much more recovery time lest he become soiled. Meanwhile you must tolerate my efforts.
     The Society regrets the loss of Phyllis Newton. She was a loyal member for many years. The ranks of our older members are gradually thinning, so their loss is saddening. They and their memories are one of the many reasons that we continue to write our books and display their artifacts because, without these, our heritage would soon be forgotten. Our condolences go to her daughter, Dorothy, and the remainder of the family.
     There is trouble in our midst. The Society’s insurance has been dropped by the Brewton agency, so we have been working the phones and making personal visits to try to replace it. The officers and trustees will appreciate any helpful input that any of you have to help us in this important matter.
     On a happier note, we wish to remind you to come to The Leach House next Tuesday, August 15, at 6 P.M. for a very special program. Mr. Kelly Reynolds, a former middle school history teacher and high school soccer coach and now a fixture in the English Department at the University of South Florida, will be here to present his one-man show based on the life and beliefs of one of our state’s legendary millionaires, Henry Bradley Plant. His living-history portrayal will be accompanied by a slide show of vintage photographs. Images of wood-burning locomotives, steam boats, resort hotels, and small-town festivities help set the scene of the era when Mr. Plant helped bring tourism to Florida.

     The program you are about to see is presentation of the Florida Humanities Council. FHC, which is the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, funds and coordinates public humanities programs throughout the state of Florida.

In addition to their Road Scholars program, which sends speakers around the state, FHC also awards grants for humanities projects, provides seminars for Florida teachers, publishes an award-winning magazine entitled FORUM, and sponsors radio programs for public stations.
     Programs like the one you will see today are made possible through a grant from the Florida Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs, and by private contributions.
     The program’s presenter, Kelly Reynolds, came to Florida in 1969 from New York City, where he had been a young actor. He and his wife, Reda, raised their two children in Manatee County, where he survived a career as a middle school history teacher and high school soccer coach.
     In the 1980s he revived his acting career, won a fellowship to graduate school, and eventually Coach Reynolds became Professor Reynolds, a fixture in the English Department at the University of South Florida.

     Reynolds also graduated from young to veteran actor, with appearances at dinner theatres, community and college playhouses, and Shakespeare festivals. He began touring for FHC in 1992 with his portrayal of one of our state's legendary liberals, Claude Pepper.
     His current program is based on the life and beliefs of one our state's legendary millionaires, Henry Bradley Plant. Dr. Reynolds is also the author of the newly published biography from the Florida History Society Press, Henry Plant—Pioneer Empire Builder.
     Dr. Reynolds will the arena as Henry Plant, the self-made man and champion of the Gilded Age, as he looks back on a career of daring and successful investments that established the prosperity of Florida's Central and West Coast regions.
This program presents a wonderful opportunity for members and general public to have a fine evening of information and entertainment. Don’t miss it!
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     Last week we told something of the life and times of Talc Gaylor. This week we’ll take up The Winding River Road story with information about his brother Rix.
Approximately half way between the Grandfather Campbell residence and the creek now known as Campbell Creek the winding River Road passed over a hill having a rather steep slope overlooking toward the north and west the low flood plain of the Escambia River.
     From this hill one can see far across the beautiful river valley into the state of Alabama. On top of this hill is a sort of sloping plateau, sloping gently toward south and east, enabling one to overlook the verdant valley of the Campbell Creek.
On this beautiful home site Rix Gaylor built a large double-pen mansion in which to live and rear his family. He erected a small mill down on the creek bearing his name at that time and cleared a few acres of the sloping fertile plateau directly across the road south of his home to take care of his herd of fine range cattle and to supply grain land vegetables for home use.
     The place became known throughout the country for its warm Spanish hospitality. Many travelers passing in front of this home as they traveled up and down the Old Indian Trading Trail and later the old Winding River Road were royally entertained at what was known as the "Double-Pen Mansion." Rix Gaylor was one among a few other Spanish settlers who took advantage or that part of the purchase agreement by which the United States agreed to protect the life and property of all Spanish settlers who might choose to remain in Florida.
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     Next time we’ll tell you more about the Gaylor twins, so be sure to get your copy of The Tri-City Ledger for this and other news of importance.

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