For Hometown News
"A Grand Tour Upriver with Jacob Brock and Commodore Rose" will be performed at 2 p.m. Saturday, May 3, at Gateway Center for the Arts, 880 N. U.S. 17/92, DeBary.
A Grand Tour Upriver is a rollicking trip to Enterprise after the Civil War on the steamboat Darlington.
The one-time original showcase theatrical production will be accompanied by the Jackson Creek String Band and will feature original music and a cast of colorful characters.
The story is inspired by Harriet Beecher Stowe's "Grand Tour Up River" from her book Palmetto Leaves and celebrates a little-known chapter of Florida history -- the untold story of Commodore Rose, "the real hand on the wheel of the steamboat Darlington."
Commodore Rose began her career as a slave who worked for steamboat captain, Jacob Brock. She was with Brock from at least 1849 until his death in 1876. Brock's steamboat line would offer the first regular and frequent service between Jacksonville and Enterprise, the premier destination on the St. Johns River.
Commodore Rose is a unique figure in Florida history -- an African-American woman responsible for the successful running of a major vessel on the St. Johns River at a time when this was unheard of. Though she is not found in any history books, she remains a lasting part of the history of the St. Johns River.
Commodore Rose is portrayed as capable, shrewd, yet compassionate, qualities essential to deal with the demands of a major transportation operation in the beginning years of Florida tourism. She was someone who learned early on that life was a battle, and she was determined to be on the winning side. Her tenacity and resourcefulness get the boat off a sandbar and help the passengers overcome their own personal struggles.
Tickets are $10 and may be purchased by calling the box office at (386) 668-5553.