Marjory, Marjorie and Marjorie … no matter how it’s spelled, Marjory(ie) seems to be a powerful name when it comes to making history in Florida.
Marjory Stoneman Douglas (April 7, 1890 – May 14, 1998), Mother of the Everglades, was not only a crusader for women’s rights, a journalist and a playwright, but also the first woman in the U.S. Naval Reserves. Probably most well known for her dedication for leading the cause to protect Florida’s Everglades, she fought tirelessly for the ideals she believed in. She brought the giant south Florida wetland to the nation’s attention with her best-selling book, “The Everglades, River of Grass,” writing, “There are no other Everglades in the world … Nothing anywhere else is like them … It is a river of grass.” Twenty years later, at the age of 78, she formed Friends of the Everglades, spearheading legislation to protect it and the wildlife habitat it provided. Throughout her astonishing 108 years she was honored many times for a range of achievements. She was a recipient of the Wellesley Award in1977 and the Medal of Freedom in 1993. She was also inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1986. In 1980, the new headquarters in Tallahassee for the Department of Natural Resources – now DEP – was named in her honor, and her picture hangs above the main floor foyer.
Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings (Aug. 8, 1896 – Dec. 14, 1953) lived out her life on a quiet farm in the tiny community of Cross Creek. Inspired by the simple, rural lifestyle, she quickly adapted to the ways of the locals, growing herbs, flowers and vegetables and tending her citrus grove. In her small, cracker farmhouse nestled beside Cross Creek and Lochloosa and Orange lakes, she began writing what would become a Pulitzer Prize winning book, “The Yearling” – the story of a young boy and his pet fawn. Other books followed, including “Cross Creek” and “Cross Creek Cookery,” “The Sojourner,” “South Moon Under” and “Golden Apples.” In 1970, her little piece of paradise was acquired by the Department’s Division of Recreation and Parks to become the modern Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historic State Park. Visitors to the property will step back in time as they tour the farmhouse kitchen which still displays fresh herbs and garden vegetables just as Marjorie would have enjoyed. And on the back veranda is a typewriter at the table where she penned her stories.
Marjorie Harris Carr (March 26, 1915 – Oct. 10, 1997) was born in Massachusetts, but grew up in Florida. Her parents were naturalists and taught her early on about the state’s native plants and wildlife. She became the first female wildlife technician for the federal government and, along with her husband – noted sea turtle expert Dr. Archie Carr – she was strongly committed to improving Florida’s environment. Along with other members of the Gainesville Garden Club, she helped initiate the Paynes Prairie Wildlife Refuge, which later became Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park. She was an avid and effective leader in the effort to stop construction of the Cross Florida Barge Canal and helped to form the Florida Defenders of the Environment which carried the cause. Through their research and determination, 16 miles of the previously dammed Ocklawaha River was restored. The 110-mile greenway was renamed the Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway and is a favorite recreational area and a natural habitat for many Florida wildlife species. The Department honored the Carrs’ memory with the renaming of one of its Tallahassee buildings, the Archie and Marjorie Harris Carr Building.