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I Bought Key West for $250

Key West Purchased for $250

I bought Key West for $250 and have the check to prove it… but who am I? We’ve all heard of the land deals of historical proportion as in the Louisiana Purchase from France, Alaska from Russia but never have you heard about Key West from the Spanish! So here’s your history lesson for the day, and here we go:  John W. Simonton purchased the island on January 19, 1822 from Juan Pablo Salas, who had acquired it as a Spanish Land Grant in 1815. John Simonton soon took on three northern partners: John Whitehead, John Fleeming and Pardon Greene. On the scene arrived General John Geddes of Charleston who had also purchased Key West. It was discovered that Juan Pablo Salas had sold the island twice!  In summary, Salas sold it twice, once to Geddes and once to Simonton who had already divided it up amongst his Three Amigos: Whitehead, Fleeming and Greene. On May 23, 1828, Congress ruled Simonton as the legal owner. We might surmise that this was Florida’s first land scam. And now you know the rest of the story! What a deal it was for $250 to purchase the entire island of Key West! Think about it, at today’s prices… ok, before the recession, that’s probably what it would cost for a single 1 square inch! The check pictured can be found in the East Martello Tower Museum on the northeastern part of the island. Parking is FREE but they do charge a $5 or $6 admission.

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