On January 1st, 1923, Fannie Taylor of Sumner, Florida was assaulted by her lover while her boyfriend was at work. In order to cover up the true story, she told authorities she had been raped by a black man from the nearby black community of Rosewood. At the time, Rosewood was home to about 355 African-American citizens. When news got out of the assault, a mob of 200-300 white men descended on Rosewood, burning the town to the ground. Many of the black residents fled to the woods to hide and wait out the attack. John Wright, a white merchant who also lived in Rosewood, provided shelter for several black families in his home, pictured here. As soon as it was possible, Wright made arrangements with local timbermen John and William Bryce to transport these families out of town to Gainesvile and Archer. While Rosewood burned and women and children hid in the woods and ran for their lives, local law enforcement turned a blind eye. A week later, when the smoke cleared and the ashes settled, only one home was left in town: this house belonging to John Wright. Five people were killed in the incident: Sam Carter, Sarah Carrier, James Carrier, Lexie Gordon and Mingo Williams. News of the incident never got out, as those who survived never spoke of it and never returned to the area. It wasn’t until 1994 that three survivors, then well into old age, decided people had to know what happened in Rosewood in 1923. They filed a claim against the state. It was decided that the state had a “moral obligation” to compensate these survivors for their loss. More importantly, it brought recognition to this horrible chapter in Florida history and allowed for some closure for those who survived it. John Wright’s house still stands.

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