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GASPARILLA MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2016 60 Special to the Boca Beacon There was one thing former Florida governor Albert W. Gilchrist learned early on in his life when he was the U.S. Deputy Surveyor for our area: Surveying in Florida in the late 1800s was not for the fainthearted. Gilchrist was responsible for surveying the islands of Charlotte Harbor during that time for an often unappreciative surveyor general. Traipsing through mangrove and buttonwood jungles was just in a day's work for Gilchrist, particularly when surveying on Gasparilla and Cayo Costa (then called LaCosta Island). After all, by the time he was officially assigned to work here, he had already become acclimated to the territory. As a matter of fact, young Gilchrist had already accumulated quite a bit of surveying experience in general. Gilchrist was born in Greenwood, South Carolina on January 15, 1858 at his mother's family home, then moved to Gadsen County in Florida with his mother, Rhoda, after his father, William E. Kilcrease, died in May of 1860. There had been quite a bit of speculation about how the name changed from Kilcrease to Gilchrist, but no one theory stands above the rest. Despite all the family wealth being lost during the Civil War, Gilchrist, through local political connections, did manage to attend West Point, where he began studying surveying and engineering. Gilchrist suffered A.W.Gilchrist both physically and socially during the Reconstruction of Florida right after the Civil War. Times were hard and money was tight, but he enjoyed taking on challenges, and surveying the rugged coast of Southwest Florida was just the kind of job he enjoyed. After graduation from West Point, Gilchrist returned to Florida and was employed with the Plant System of railroads. From 1882 through most of 1885 he surveyed road and train routes through much of the western Florida peninsula. In late 1885 Gilchrist was settling down in the frontier town of Trabue, named for its founder and benefactor, Isaac Trabue, an attorney from Louisville, Kentucky. When the townspeople and Trabue became involved in a conflict and the townspeople wanted to change the town's name to Punta Gorda, Gilchrist first opposed the idea. Later he voted for it, along with a majority of the town's inhabitants. He set up shop in town and soon established a successful surveying and real estate business. Gilchrist ran for the office of mayor of Punta Gorda in October of 1987, but he was defeated by W. H. Simmons. This first foray into politics did not discourage him. Eventually he would go on


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