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John King Cheyney 210

Posted By Daniel M. Tarasiuk, Sunday, April 20, 2014

The John King Cheyney Garden

6895 Queen Palm Terrace, Miami Lakes, FL 33014

John King Cheyney was a unique and important figure in Florida’s history. He not only founded one of the most important and influential cities in the Tarpon Springs area, the Anclote and Rock Island Sponge Company, but he also was a key figure in creating a thriving and vibrant Greek community in that area. He used a fleet of boats in the Gulf of Mexico to hook sponges from the ocean floor. This proved to be time consuming and difficult. The ability to put men underwater and retrieve the sponges by hand would be more convenient. Cheyney lived through the turn of the century, the years of 1858-1939, where underwater diving gear was practically nonexistent in Florida. Through the information provided by a sponge buyer in Greece (John Cocoris), Cheyney had the idea of hiring and bringing over hundreds of divers from Greece to work in the new company. With the new hired help and the use of the groundbreaking technology to spend hours underwater, allowed Cheney’s company to explode in production and profit. To be credited with creating and founding a community in Florida is an amazing privilege. Because of his work and contribution to the state of Florida, hundreds of Greek immigrants can feel like they have a place and a community they can call their home. To this day, Tarpon Springs is still known for its specific marketing in natural ocean sponges, as well as a living, thriving and growing community of Greeks.

credit for rc20841.jpg: State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory,, 600x854, year: 19—

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