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The Real Rosewood Story By Lizzie Robinson Jenkins

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FOUNDING OF ROSEWOOD

Rosewood was established around 1870 in Levy County, Florida on a road leading to Cedar Key and the Gulf of Mexico. It is believed to have taken its name from the abundant red cedar trees that grew in the area. Rosewood prospered as the Florida Railroad established a small depot to handle the transport of cedar wood to the pencil factory in Cedar Key and the transportation of timber, turpentine rosin, citrus, vegetables, and cotton. In 1890, the cedar depleted and many of the white families moved to Sumner, three miles west of Rosewood, and worked at the newfound saw mill established by Cummer & Sons. By 1900, Rosewood had a majority of black citizens.

ROSEWOOD MASSACRE

On the morning of January 1, 1923, Fannie Coleman Taylor, a white woman and homemaker of Sumner Florida, claimed a black man assaulted her. Although she was not seriously injured and was able to describe what happened, she allegedly remained unconscious for several hours due to the shock of the incident. No one disputed her account and no questions were asked. It was assumed she was reporting the incident accurately.

POSSE SUMMONED

James Taylor, a foreman at Cummer & Sons saw mill and Fannie Taylor's husband, assembled a vicious mob and ordered tracking dogs. The local white community became enraged at the alleged abuse of a white woman by a black man; it was an unpardonable sin for any black man to gaze upon a white woman and he most certainly could not touch one.

ASSISTANCE SOUGHT

James Taylor requested help from Levy County and neighboring Alachua County, where a staged Ku Klux Klan celebration was ending on the courthouse square in downtown Gainesville, Florida. A large number of KKK members had been rallying and marching in opposition of justice for black people on December 31, 1922, leading up to the January 1, 1923 Rosewood massacre.

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