In our small town of Key West, one street remains the most popular tourist destination on the island. Packed with bars, restaurants and shops, the mile long stretch is a must see for the millions of tourist who continuously stroll down its sun covered sidewalks. Sure, many can say they’ve thrown back Margaritas and beers in some of the most famous bars in the world, but how many can say they know who the street is named after?
That man was William Pope Duval, adventurer, lawyer, cavalry man and former state governor. He was born in 1784, a boy who seemed to get in a lot of trouble ran away from home in Virginia at 14 to the frontier of Kentucky. He carved a successful life and was admitted to the bar when he was only 20. In the following years, he rode as a cavalry officer and served as a congressional representative for Kentucky. In 1822 he became Florida’s first territorial governor, appointed by President James Monroe. At that time Florida had no seat in which he could govern. Until the new capital was constructed in the small Indian town of Tallahassee, Duval governed from a boat docked at St. Marks. He was a popular governor, serving for 12 years and known for his peaceful dealing with the Native Americans.
So the next time you’re throwing back some drinks at Sloppy Joes or doing the Duval crawl, remember William Pope, a man’s name eternalized in down town Key West.