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Reinette Long Hunt

Reinette Long Hunt (1870-1940) employed several creative strategies to earn income during her time as owner of The Grove property, which spanned almost four decades from 1905 until her death in 1940. Her core business involved operating The Grove as a hotel in the 1920s and 1930s. Reinette also oversaw the production and sale of crops grown on her property. For example, in April and May 1917, The Pensacola Journal published two articles that detailed the scope of home gardens underway at The Grove, planted specifically to bolster local food production during World War I. The article noted “strawberries, citrus fruits, peas, pecans, and … Jersey cows” on the property. Also, “a short distance from town,” Reinette owned 10-acres containing “corn, fieldpeas and sweet potatoes.” Tinney Watkins, a local African American gardener, performed the work required for these ventures, along with other hired laborers.

Reinette continued entrepreneurial efforts related to food production during the years of the Great Depression. In the mid-1930s, Reinette collected Heinz Ketchup bottles from neighborhood children. Cook David Floyd filled the bottles with homemade tomato sauce. According to a story told by Governor LeRoy Collins in his 1971 book Forerunners Courageous, one of the tomato sauce batches ended up with too much wine in the mixture. The filled bottles fermented on the back porch to the point of popping their tops! Reinette abandoned the tomato sauce enterprise at that point and discarded the remaining bottles into a cistern behind her home. In 2011, excavations of the nineteenth-century cistern yielded a variety of historic artifacts, including numerous Heinz Ketchup bottles bearing date stamps that lined up with Governor Collins’ story about Reinette’s short-lived tomato sauce business.