"I had so much fun doing the research for this book and it changed so much of what I thought I knew about Key West. On this page I'll share a few of my favorite historical discoveries."
Moses Cohen Mordecai's Sailing Mail Steamer, the "Isabel"
Moses Cohen Mordecai hailed from a prominent Jewish family in South Carolina. In 1848, he was awarded a U.S. government contract to establish Key West’s first regular mail service. Mordecai’s sailing paddle steamer, Isabel (pictured here), delivered the U.S. mail and offered a passenger service that connected Key West with the cities of Charleston, South Carolina; Savannah, Georgia; and Havana, Cuba. (Painting attributed to Joseph B. Smith and son, c. 1855, oil on canvas, 30 x 50 in., John O. Sands Collection.)
David Henry Mordecai's 1849 Diary of his Voyage to Key West aboard the Isabel
Fifteen-year-old David Henry Mordecai accompanied his father on the Isabel on a trip to Key West and Cuba in March of 1849. His diary from the journey, pages of which are shown here, contains some of the earliest recorded impressions of the Florida Keys and their surrounding waters. (See original at Lowcountry Digital Library / Special Collections, College of Charleston Library)
Max White & Samuel Cline: Tailors to the U.S. Military
Mordecai Abraham "Max" White came to Key West from Poland as a twenty-two-year-old in 1857 and opened a clothing store in 1859 with Samuel Cline. They made clothing for the U.S government forces stationed at Fort Zachary Taylor. (Newspaper advertisement from New Era, September 6, 1862. See original at University of Florida Digital Collections.)