(Beaches & Blonde Bimbos)
Location: Southeastern USA, Florida Atlantic coast, a little north of Miami.
Appeared in Adventure(s): The Adventure of the Empty House (EMPT). This was one of Watson’s mentions of an unpublished case. Holmes was explaining the criminal activities of Col. Sebastian Moran, former assistant to Professor Moriarty, the Napoleon of Crime. Holmes told Watson that “Moriarty supplied him (Col. Moran) liberally with money, and used him only in one or two very high-class jobs which no ordinary criminal could have undertaken. You may have some recollection of the death of Mrs. Stewart, of Lauder, in 1887. Not? Well, I am sure Moran was at the bottom of it; but nothing could be proved. So cleverly was the Colonel concealed that even when the Moriarty gang was broken up we could not incriminate him.” The world knows no more than this of the demise of the unfortunate Mrs. Stewart, of Lauder.
More Information: McMurdo’s Camp comes to you from the lumber camps of Michigan. While there is still lumbering being done in our area (McMurdo’s Camp is just down the road from Ronnie Palmer and his Lake 26 Sawmill) the area is more highly devoted to tourism and vacation homes, given the piney woods, inland lakes, and the nearby “big lake” with its picturesque harbor towns and quaint shoppes. But as in many areas, the tourism business is seasonal. During the summer months, the area jumps, but slows down in the off season. Many of the service workers, such as bartenders and restaurant employees, and many of the “summer people”, locally known as Snowbirds, head South when the weather turns cold in late Autumn.
A favorite destination is Florida, and many go to Fort Lauderdale, where there are beaches, golf, shopping, and yachting in abundance, as well as ample employment for those who serve the travelers. Then, in Spring, they all head back North, to avoid the oppressive heat and humidity of the deep South.
Did Sherlock Holmes ever visit Fort Lauderdale to relax on the beaches and mingle with the bikini-clad blonde beach babes? Of course not. So what’s the connection?
No farther than the town of Lauder, in The Scottish Border area, where the unfortunate Mrs. Stewart met her end in a case Holmes was not able to bring home.
From Lauder to Florida: A Frenchman, John Maitland, settled in the valley and plains on the Scottish/English border near Lauder. In mid-1600 he was party to the surrender of Charles I to the English, then assisted the royals after the battle of Warchester, and accompanied Charles II to Scotland. His excellent and loyal service was rewarded with a peerage, and he was made Duke of Lauderdale. The family was capable and active, and did well. One
granddaughter married Robert Bruce, King of Scotland. The Lauderdale line became prominent and prosperous.
Several of the descendants moved to Ireland, and subsequently emigrated to America. They first settled in Pennsylvania, but soon moved to Botetourt County, Virginia. Some of the brothers served in the American Revolutionary War; one as a commissioned officer. Once again, the family prospered, but then sold their property, which had greatly increased in value, and moved west to Tennessee, acquiring large land holdings. A nearby neighbor was General Andrew Jackson, later President of
the USA. During the various Indian wars several Lauderdales served with distinction under Jackson, and in 1830, Major William Lauderdale with his Tennesseans, advanced farther into the Seminole territory than anyone else until that time, and established a series of three forts, named Fort Lauderdale after their founder. They were abandoned in 1842 after the second Seminole war, and not much happened for a while.
Then in the 1890’s a railroad was completed and some development began. Fort Lauderdale became a city in 1911, and in 1915 became the county seat of the newly formed Broward County. A minor land boom began in the 1920’s, first thwarted by hurricanes and then economic depression. But in WW2 the area became an important training base, and then,
in the years following the war, the real boom began. “Spring Break”on the beaches became legendary. Fort Lauderdale is now the center of a 21st-century metropolitan area with 1.8 million residents.
Lauder Itself (Scotland): If yachting and crowded beaches are not your style, try visiting the original Lauder. Located about 30 miles southeast of Edinburgh, it has a population of 1500 people, and is beginning to experience population growth after a half-century or more of stagnation. Commuting to Edinburgh is not too difficult, and many new homes are being built; however, no one anticipates a land boom like the namesake on the other side of the Atlantic. If you find yourself in Lauder and feel hungry or thirsty, check out Almo’s Fish Bar, where the elite meet to eat.
You may also wish to visit Thirlestane Castle, built mostly by the first Duke Of Lauderdale, one of the original Maitlands from Normandy. Today the castle is an important tourist attraction.