The Life and Times of the Rome DuPont Family … And the abolition of slavery in Key West
Rome DuPont was born to a slave-owning father and a slave mother. While serving his masters, he wed Amanda Shackelford, born of similar parentage. They had their first child while held as slaves in 1861. With the emancipation of slavery in 1863, they made their way from north Florida to safety in Key West, where they would lead happy and productive lives. Their son would become a prominent person in Key West and Florida history.
The situation for African American people in Key West during the Civil War and at the time of the emancipation was different from the rest of the Confederate south. We will examine how in many ways, Key West set the stage for things that affected American life and history.
About the Presenter:Karl Reutling and his wife Susie have been year-round residents in Key West for over ten years. First arriving as visitors to the Keys about thirty years ago, Reutling says “My heart and mind have been here ever since.” Both are active volunteers in our community.
Born in 1946 and raised in northern New York State, Karl’s career was in Human Services, for many years as the Executive of a Community Action Agency. He worked with issues involving people with unmet needs and advocated at local, state, and national levels for economic opportunity, affordable housing, the safety of women and children, and equal justice for all. The Civil Rights movement provided the impetus for his career choice. He carries that involvement into his retirement years.
With his new life and lifestyle here in Key West, Karl has actively volunteered with several different organizations and was a part-time worker with Key West history walking and bike tours. He is passionate about finding the truth in our history and derives great pleasure in sharing that history with visitors and residents alike.
Reutling’s current activities include genealogical research for the Historic Florida Keys Foundation, developing narratives about the families residing in the Historic Key West Cemetery. He has become an interpreter of those histories as a guide for cemetery tours. He is also a volunteer Docent and Historian for the Old Island Restoration Foundation at the Oldest House Museum at 322 Duval Street. Through his efforts at finding the truth in history, he has revised and developed the narrative of the Oldest House and its occupants since the late 1820s.
Karl is a Florida Master Naturalist and a Board Member of the Key West Maritime Historical Society. Leading a modest and quiet lifestyle here in Key West, he finds his island home “Very stimulating” and has ventured to the mainland only twice in the past ten years.