~“A tortoise in the offering plate”~

Published: Thursday, December 27, 2012 at 10:41 AM.

First, you need to understand what a gopher is. The type of gophers they were shipping out were not the type of animal that digs holes, tunnels and tears stuff up. These gophers they were shipping out were tortoises.

Gopher tortoises were shipped by steamboat to Pensacola every week between 1885 and 1930 by the hundreds. Not only were they considered a delicacy for the gourmets in Pensacola, but they were carried out to sea by the sailors and fishermen to provide fresh meat and supplement their menus.

Gopher tortoises were pretty easy to keep alive until you were ready to put them on the table.

If you didn’t have money and you needed something in Vernon, the stores would take “gophers” instead of cash. Times were hard, if you could trade a tortoise for a sack of flour, you did it.

Besides, they say that gopher tortoise tastes just like steak and if you cover the meat with a whole lot of gravy you can’t tell what you’re eating.

I had read about the Moss Hill Church still being without electricity, using kerosene lamps and heaters. I saw blankets and church fans on the pews. However, I will admit there was one electric fan that I was careful to crop out of my pictures and I saw one outlet close to the pulpit. I can only speculate that the congregation didn't want the preacher to pass out in the middle of a sermon on the second Sunday in August.

This beautiful church filled with history and the story of how gopher tortoises were used as cash in Vernon, just makes me wonder, “Do you think anyone ever put a tortoise in the offering plate?”

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