Florida: How Fort Myers got its name

Have you visited Fort Myers in Florida and wondered how it got its name?

The story has a bit of everything: Love, gossip, war.

Read all about it here.

It was the love of a woman that got Fort Myers its name, but that same woman’s tart tongue effectively ended its namesake’s career.

The name originated as sort of an engagement gift from General David. E. Twiggs, who in 1850, was in charge of a fort on the Caloosahatchee, yet the Jewish Confederate who received it never actually visited the place.

According to the story, Twiggs was not the kind of guy you’d like to invite home for dinner, but he commanded the respect of his men.
He did however like one of his staff officers. Abraham C. Myers, born c1811 in Georgetown, S.C.

An 1833 graduate of West Point and the scion of a prominent Southern Jewish family, Myers was the son of an attorney, and a descendant of Moses Cohen, the first rabbi in Charleston, S.C. He’d fought with distinction in the Seminole and Mexican Wars before becoming the Chief Quartermaster of the Department of Florida.

Twiggs’ daughter was in love with Myers, having met him in Texas. In honor of his future son-in-law and to make his daughter happy, he named fort for Myers. The couple married in 1853 when she was 15 and he was 42.

Confederate President Jefferson Davis also liked Myers who had joined the Confederate Army in 1861. He appointed him the first quartermaster general and Myers remained in that post until 1853 when Myers had some “problems.” That’s the public story anyway.

The real story was that Marion caused the problem as she was “quite the gossip.” Beautiful and with “a wicked tongue” she had her father’s temperament.

The final blow to Myers’ career came when Marion publicly described the olive-skinned Varina Howell Davis, the president’s wife, as a ‘squaw.'”

Historians didn’t say whether the colonel apologized to Mrs. Davis, but Davis replaced him in 1863. In 1865, the Myers family left for Germany and returned in 1876.

If you’re planning to be in Miami Beach in 2010, Myers will be featured in a Florida Jews in the Military exhibit, from February 23-September 12, at the Jewish Museum of Florida.

Read the complete article and related stories at the link above.
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