By Toni C. Collins
Levy County Historian
In early March of 1936, County Court Judge Joseph Sale requested the assistance of Florida Governor David Sholtz in putting an end to the actions of a certain hermit living in the woods of Gulf Hammock. Judge Sale recounted how this person threatened and shot at workers of the Standard Manufacturing Company gathering raw material in the woods. It is not known why this person picked this area in which to live.
Another complaint against the vagrant was he set fire and burned considerable territory and land belonging to the Paterson-McInnis Lumber Company. These fires not only damaged timber but also the palmetto buds needed by the Standard Manufacturing Company, a successful fibre plant operation located in Cedar Key.
The perpetrator, who had been convicted of a felony and served his sentence at the State Prison of Florida, was paroled and took up residency in the woods. However, shortly after his release in October of 1934, ten witnesses came forward to testify that the man threatened them and he had an irritable nature and domineering disposition. One witness testified that the varmint told him he plans to burn down the lumber mill. The clemency was withdrawn and he was remanded to the State Prison to serve the remainder of his sentence.
Upon release, he went back to the woods and back to making threats against the employees of both companies which Judge Sale described as large and substantial businesses which contribute greatly to the economy of the county. The Judge pleaded with the governor to send a detective down to look into the situation and assist in threshing out the truth.
Mr. A.N. McInnis, president of the Paterson-McInnis Lumber Company, Dr. D.A. Andrews, president and manager of the Standard Manufacturing Company, and Sheriff Walter Whiddon encouraged calling on the Governor’s Office for help in addressing this matter. But before the governor could comply with Judge Sale’s request, the cause of the problem packed up and moved south and the locals breathed a little easier.