Gold Medal – Florida Non-Fiction



“Both Bruno and The Blessed Isle are well written. They’re well crafted and very human. They offer a good picture of what life was like in Florida in the early 20th century. I was moved to tears by a story Dewey tells in Bruno. In one scene she describes how Bruno comforts her after her baby dies. It’s excellent reading and very touching. -Steve Brahlek, Professor of English, Palm Beach State College; President, Majorie Kinnan Rawlings Society. 

“Well researched and informative book about important figures in the history of Palm Beach County.  Fred and Byrd Dewey are fleshed out as are their lives and contributions to Florida.  Byrd authored one of the first novels to be written in West Palm Beach, and the book’s setting was also Florida, making BRUNO a local literary milestone (1899).  Also interesting was the discovery of Dewey’s land ownership and platting of the town of Boynton, not Major Boynton as was always attributed.  This detail was uncovered by meticulous research by the two authors, Ginger Pedersen and Janet DeVries. Recommended to everyone with an interest in Palm Beach County or Florida history.” – Virginia, Good Reads.

Screen Shot 2013-12-22 at 10.25.32 PM“It’s a fascinating tale about one of the earliest Palm Beach pioneers — a successful writer, naturalist, environmentalist, and a canny real estate investor. It’s an over-simplification to call Byrd Dewey a 19th century Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, but the comparisons are not inapt. In any case, Bruno is a charming book that was in print for more than 20 years, and you can see why it sold over 100,000 copies when it was published in 1899.” – Scott Eyman, The Palm Beach Post

“If she’d wanted it, Boynton Beach might have been named Dewey Beach or Deweyville. After all, Birdie owned and platted the town more than a century ago. After decades of believing that Major Nathan S. Boynton, a distinguished Civil War veteran and hotel developer, founded Boynton Beach, Birdie’s portion of the story has come to light. The history of Birdie and her husband, Frederick Sidney Dewey, is told in the recently published Pioneering Palm Beach: The Deweys and the South Florida Frontier (The History Press, 2012), by Pedersen and Janet M. DeVries, an archivist and historian.” M.M. Cloutier, The Palm Beach Daily News

“The authors bring us on a delightful journey into the history of that part of Florida defined largely (in the 19th century) by the borders of Lake Worth. It truly was a frontier. Sketchily populated and without much of a commercial or transportation infrastructure, this beautiful but isolated region appealed to only the hardiest souls. Fortunately for the authors, they found a magnificent focal point in the lives and writings of two such pioneers, Fred and Birdie Dewey, providing readers with a general story of the region’s gradual development anchored by a specific, personal story.” – Phil Jason, Florida Weekly

“Long before Henry Flagler and his railroad thundered through South Florida, a pioneering husband and wife set down humble stakes in Palm Beach County. Arriving by boat in “the Lake Worth Country” in 1887, Fred and Byrd “Birdie” Spilman Dewey were the little-known first settlers to build a homestead on sugar sand surrounded by swamp and sawgrass.” – Doreen Christensen, Sun-Sentinel

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