The Scotch Colony Comes to Sarasota on this Day in History

  • 0

Owing to the Great Depression in Scotland in 1885, a number of the people decided they would like to try a new country. On November 25, 1885, one hundred Scottish people started on a specially chartered ship called the “Furnesia” for Sarasota Bay, Florida.

Many articles had appeared in the newspapers about Sarasota Bay – giving glowing accounts of Florida, telling how easy it was to grow oranges there. (Grapefruit was not known then). With very little work you could grow two crops of vegetables a year, and Sarasota was said to be beyond the frost line. This was vouched for by Mr. Selvin Tate, the nephew of the Archbishop of Canterbury and some other well-known men. It turned out afterwards that they, being busy with their own affairs, had not looked into the situation but had taken their nephew’s word for it.

All people interested in going were told to communicate with the office in Edinburgh. Father and Mother went up there, met other people, and after numerous visits and discussions of plans they decided to join the colon and go to Sarasota Bay, Florida. A great many more Scottish families said that they would come as soon as they received word from the colonists that it was easy to make a good living there.

It was a terrible, dark and rainy night when the people left Scotland. A large crowd gathered to see them start for America. As they gathered together on Greenock Pier, waiting for the tender (a sort of large, open ferry boat to take them to the Furnesia) many felt very sad and worried. Such a long journey in those days to a new country was quite an undertaking.

Someone in the crowd feeling that emotion was getting too much for the people, started that old Scottish song;

            “Will ye no come back again?

             Better loved ye ne’er will be.”

As the tender slowly pulled away, the colonists and the people on the pier started to sing together as they never sang before;

            “Should auld acquaintance be forgot

             And never brought to mind;

Few of the crowd could sing the last verse,

            “We’ll meet again soon ither night

             For the days of Auld Lang Syne.”

for there were tears in their eyes and a sob in their throats.

The last sound heard from the colonists as the captain gave the signal to start for America, was that beloved old hymn; “My faith looks up to Thee.”

Read about the rest of their journey and the challenges ahead at