See the house in the distance in the above photograph? It was the Olds’ homestead that I mentioned in my previous post about Hutchinson Island. I had thought when I read about and discussed a property dispute between the Olds and the U.S. Government -that built the House of Refuge- that the Olds’ property was built first, as they were making a claim against the building of the House of Refuge-saying that they owned the land it was built upon. But that was incorrect; the House of Refuge was built first, but built on land that mistakenly later was homesteaded to the Olds. Confusing!
In thinking about this story the above photograph helpful because it shows part of the long strip of land that was homesteaded to the Olds as well as the proximity of House of Refuge -apparently built about in the middle of what became the Old’s very long parcel of land. The survey and documents below will help us unravel all this and why in the end, the Olds had to get an easement to access their own property with the Gilbert Bar’s House of Refuge like an island in between.
To clarify the dates that I got confused about in my previous post, the Olds’ homestead was formally granted by the U.S. government in 1894 (as you can see below) and they built shortly thereafter. My reference to 1862 comes from the date of the Homestead Act itself. The House of Refuge was built in 1876. In spite of the dates, or the paper issuing of the homestead, somehow the Hutchison Island property was deeded to the Olds even after the the House of Refuge was built on it. (See History of Martin County below.) The House of Refuge was the first house built in today’s Martin County, but there is more to the story than just “being first.” Next time you visit this wonderful place, remember that even in the 1800s things could get very mixed up.
“The Olds homestead shows well on this map.” Sandra Henderson Thurlow.
Email exchange after my prior blog post:
Mom : “Jacqui, The Homestead Act of 1862 was what provided for Hiram Olds homestead claim of 1894. It is strange that he homesteaded after the House of Refuge was already standing but it happened. It was an error that it was granted and the government had to make amends later. The House of Refuge was the first build we know of in this area.”
Jacqui: “So the Olds house wasn’t built first? Shouldn’t I still mention 1862, the first year of the U. S. Homestead Act?
Mom: “I don’t think 1862 should even be mentioned. It throws people off because it is a date when the country first was open to homesteading. Our first homestead was no earlier than 1883.”
Jacqui:” It seems to me, if they had rights to the land they must have gotten those rights prior to 1894 or there would not have been a conflict with the US Govt. regarding their construction of the House of Refuge in 1876. Right? It was granted afterwards? Strange. I’ll figure something out.”
Below: Explantation from page 52, The History of Martin County, Historical Society of Martin County, Florida.
Looking south in the direction of today’s St Lucie Inlet. Former home of Hiram and Hattie Olds, 1907, Hutchinson Island, in what became Martin County, Fl. Courtesy Agnes Tietig Parlin, achieves Sandra Henderson Thurlow and Deanna Wintercorn “Gilbert’s Bar House of Refuge, Home of History.”
The more I learn about water, the more I want to know about the land. Inexorably connected – as the lands change, so do the surrounding waters.
Don’t you love this above photograph?
The lone high-house rising through thick vegetation reminds us of what the beach-scape of today’s Hutchinson Island, Martin County, Florida, used to look like. Cradled between the Atlantic Ocean and the Indian River Lagoon, the home belonged to Hiram E. and Hattie Olds who made application for homestead with the United States Government in the early Florida year of 1862. The photo above spotlights the natural beauty and native vegetation; it was taken in 1907 – forty-five years after the original homestead. With almost a half century passed, like a protective cape over the sandy dunes, the Indian River Lagoon/Hutchinson Island vegetation remained in tact. What an incredible and rare photograph! It almost feels like Africa or some far-off exotic place.
There must have been so many hiding places for birds and other wildlife. Rain percolating through sandy soils to ocean and estuary. Only a shadow of this vegetation remains today, although Hutchinson Island remains a beautiful place.
This second photograph reveals the same house in the distance, the Olds’ homestead, granted in 1862-but structure built ca. 1894 -that later became the Yacht Club. From this perspective we are now looking south from the House of Refuge -built in 1876. It is clear from this Thurlow Archives photograph that theGeorges Valentine shipwreck had recently occurred thus this photograph must have been taken around October 16, 1904 – the fateful night of the ship’s destruction. Again, look at the thick high curve of vegetation along the western edge of the Indian River Lagoon. Fabulous!
With these 1904 and 1907 photographs we can, for a moment, go back and imagine what Hutchinson Island looked like. It was not just an Anastasia rocked shoreline, but a Beach-Jungle! A jungle that protected wildlife and waters of our precious Indian River Lagoon.
In our next blog post, we shall learn how the Olds homestead and the House of Refuge were “connected,” not just via fantastic vegetation, rocks, and dune lines, but also through claims of property rights to the United States Government.
I hope everyone is in good health and doing well. Last week I published an outstanding 1959 aerial from my mother, Sandra Henderson Thurlow’s Shanley Collection entitled Looking Wide West 1959 Aerial~South Fork to Lake Okeechobee. It was very popular, so today, I wanted to post the four remaining aerials that make up that collection. All of the photos are remarkable documenting a “time gone by.”
I find the photos really interesting to look at…
What do you see? What don’t you see? How would you develop it, or not develop it if we could start over? Me? I would never have cut that C-44 Canal connecting Lake Okeechobee to the St Lucie River!
Since a picture speaks a thousand words, I’ll stop here and let you begin your visual tour of yesteryear.
“~One with Roosevelt Bridge in the center is Feb, 9, 1971
~The on showing the South Fork and the new Turnpike is Dec. 5, 1957
~The one looking all the way to Lake Okeechobee is Oct. 26, 1959.
~The one looking from Palm City toward the airport and inlet is Jun. 13, 1957.
~The one looking along Dixie Highway A1A and US 1 toward the ocean is Dec. 19, 1958
The donor is William Shanley who used to live in the Stucco house across from the Quisenberry property on Sewall’s Point. He was in real estate and he and Dan Deighan bought the Real Estate office of C. O. Rainey on Colorado that had the aerials on the wall.” ~Mom
Below: (L) Area where St Lucie Canal (C-44 Canal) connects to the South Fork of the St Luice River. Here one can also see the New Turnpike, the “Sunshine Parkway,” and how beautiful the remaining wetlands were in the area of the South Fork. December 5, 1957.
Below: An “old” Roosevelt Bridge, connecting the shortest distance over the St Lucie River; North River Shores over the bridge and west is already developed with canals; Lighthouse Point is being built (L) in Palm City; most of Rio is empty to the east of US1 to the ocean; Stuart is built out as it is the County Seat and the heart of Martin County and our history. February 9, 1971
Below: Looking from Palm City to the Airport. Hutchinson Island’s Indian River Plantation and Sailfish Point are not yet developed. The glaring white sands of the Stuart Causeway can be seen at what will become the Ernest Lyons Bridge (A1A) connecting Sewall’s Point to Hutchinson Island; seeing lots of greenery we can tell Sewall’s Point had many river to river estates remaining; in 1957 the town did incorporate and subdivision followed; Cabana Point Circle jutting forward is clearly seen as white fill in the St Lucie River south of the Palm City Bridge. Dredge and fill was not outlawed until the 1960/70s as its destructive environmental issues became clear especially for the marine environment. June 13, 1957.
Below: Dixie Highway A1A and US1 looking towards the ocean one sees that the Hobe Sound area is wide open and natural. Dixie Highway was the most traveled prior to US1 (R) Note the fires burning in the upper right corner. Sugarcane? Burning tree trunks? Something else? December 19, 1958
My mother, historian Sandra Henderson Thurlow, sent me this remarkable 1911 magazine promoting the wonders of the Kissimmee Valley as seen in 1911; I think you’ll enjoy it too! Click on images to enlarge and view as gallery. Magazine is organized into four sections due to length. After viewing gallery section, X out in upper right corner to be able to enter next galley section.
KISSIMMEE VALLEY GAZETTE, 1911
I have this over-size magazine published in 1911. Since you are working on the Kissimmee it might interest. Believe it or not, there is an aerial of Lake Tohopekaliga–oblique. I wonder why Miami is misspelled on “Miam” on map page 9? Notice no St. Lucie Canal. Interestingly, P. A. Vans Agnew ended up here and was involved in the formation of Martin County. ~Mom
Before Hurricane Dorian came this way, my brother, Todd, was helping me answer a question. ~One I think will be interesting to you as well…
“Where were the rapids of Lake Worth Creek?” Yes, rapids!
To answer the question, we must first recognize that Lake Worth Creek has been altered as we can see comparing the images above and below.
This change happened slowly over time, but most notably in 1894 with the completion of the Intracoastal Waterway from Jacksonville to Maimi. The Google Map below shows the Intracoastal today. The 1855 survey above shows Lake Worth Creek pre-development. In both images, it’s the area between Jupiter Inlet and Lake Worth- the historic area of Lake Worth Creek.
To learn where these rapids were located let’s read an excerpt from Palm Beach County’s MANAGEMENT PLAN FOR FRENCHMAN’S FOREST NATURAL AREA, FCT PROJECT # 96-011-P7A, June 1998.
The Frenchman’s Forest Natural Area (located right under Frechman’s Passage, JTL) is part of a broad coastal swale that was separated from the Atlantic Ocean by coastal sand ridges and from the Loxahatchee Slough by a broad pine flatwood ridge. It was part of the headwaters of the former Lake Worth Creek, a meandering blackwater creek that flowed northward to join the Loxahatchee River near its mouth at the Jupiter Inlet. The earliest accounts of the site date from the 1840s, and were from U.S. Army Topological Engineer reports made during the Second Seminole Indian War (Corbett 1993). Eighty men from Fort Jupiter moved up Lake Worth Creek in seventeen canoes. Approximately two miles north of the natural area, they reached the “rapids”, a series of muck terraces that disappeared during periods of high water, but helped hold water at a higher level in the upstream sawgrass marshes. Another series of muck terraces may have been present 0.25 miles north of the natural area. After getting past these barriers, the troops entered a large sawgrass marsh, where they pulled the canoes for a mile to a haulover path over the sand ridge separating the marsh from Lake Worth. The southeastern portion of the natural area was part of the sawgrass marsh, and the soldiers may have crossed through the site. Once they reached Lake Worth, the soldiers raided Seminole Indian villages along its shores, capturing guns and canoes. The soldiers had followed an old Indian route for traveling between Jupiter Inlet and Lake Worth. When the last Seminole Indian war ended in 1859, pioneers began to use this route for coastal travel. Charles Pierce (1970) described his family’s travel to Lake Worth by small boat via this route in 1873. He noted his father’s difficulty in finding the right channel through the sawgrass to the haulover. Pierce and his family were among the earliest permanent settlers on the shores of Lake Worth. Pierce also provided the first direct reference to the natural area, noting that the bird rookery on Pelican Island (present-day Munyon)…
Another source we can use comes from the Atlantic and Gulf Coast Canal and Okeechobee Land Company 1881 Prospectus where it documents the advantage of making the cut through Lake Worth Creek. Nine lines from the bottom it mentions the rapids: “There is a depth of five feet of water in the channel from its mouth to the rapids…”
And the last shared source is from an 1884 USGS Survey Report noting the difficulty of working through the sawgrass route from Haulover Head on Lake Worth to the Rapids of Lake Worth Creek.
Fascinating and historic information, but what about X marks the spot? Where were those rapids?
Using the above information, below (look for yellow arrow) Todd shows more specifically on a topo map from his video “Lake Worth through the Haulover and Sawgrass Route to Jupiter Inlet – 1883” showing where Lake Worth Creek’s rapids may have been located. On today’s map that is very close to Frenchman’s Passage/Frenchman’s Creek.
Next time you’re in the area give a shout out to the once rapids of the former Lake Worth Creek, a wonder of old Florida that we shouldn’t forget!
9:16am 9-16-19: I was close! My brother just texted me this: Hey Jacqui. Sorry Dorian interrupted our discussion of the Falls. It was actually near the creek called Frenchman’s Creek on the old topos not Frenchman’s Passage which is a neighborhood today about a mile and a half south and inland from the old creek/rapids. 😬
Frenchmans Creek still appears on Google maps. It is where Cypress Island Marina is today off of Palmwood Road.
She ran upstairs returning with a little booklet entitled “Under the Cocoanuts, Lake Worth, Dade County, Florida, by Porter and Potter, Real Estate Agents, 1893.” Mom said her friend and fellow historian, Mrs. Marjorie Watts Nelson, had gifted a copy of the famous little book and that it was cherished.
I carefully looked through it and understood why…
Today, I would like to share this historic booklet. I believe pages 15 and 19 are missing, but it remains a priceless read. The beautiful artwork was created by George Wells Potter, of Porter and Potter, a star citizen and gifted artist whose drawings remain an outstanding record of the day.
Today I share a humorous column by our beloved local hero and inspiration, Ernest Lyons, The piece is about “wishing for something.” For years, my mother, local historian Sandra Thurlow, has shared old columns from her transcribed works of Mr. Lyons’ writings about the old days along the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon. With patience and love, mom types out these old columns buried in the micro-fiche chambers of our local library so we can enjoy them today. Here is a new one she found. Timeless, funny, and classic Ernie, enjoy!
If you want anything intensely enough, somehow you will get it, but that’s no guarantee it will be good for you.
The high voltage of your desire produces the results. Weak wishers get nowhere. Back when I used to enjoy catching plain, ordinary fresh fish, Chuck Schilling called up one Saturday morning and said that he was bringing Jason Lucas to my home that evening “so you can get acquainted. You know about Jason of course.”
“Oh, Sure,” I said. “He’s on the staff of Sports Afield Greatest authorities on black bass in the United States probably the world. Catches them in those big western impoundments. Catches them in Minnesota when it’s freezing and no one else can. I have his book. Love to meet him.”
But in truth, I was seized with an awful wish. I suddenly desired to catch a bigger black bass than ever before in my life‒maybe not bigger than Jason had, but one that would give him a run for his money. While I was running around getting my tackle ready, my wife noticed the gleam in my eye. “You’re wishing again,” she accused. A high-powered wish can no more be hidden than the evil eye. “And whatever it is,” she said sadly, “it’s not going to do what you think it will.”
I brushed her aside. My desire pulled me with the intensity of a laser beam to a little backwoods pond covered with bonnets. I paddled out in a tiny bateau only seven feet long and two feet wide, the sort in which you have to part your hair in the middle to keep it from capsizing. Unerringly, I pushed my way to the edge of the only clear hole in the mass of vegetation.
I sat quietly for five minutes by the edge of that hole, which was not much larger than a dining room table, knowing that it held the big bass I was going to catch. It would be impossible of course to check the run of a large fish once it started off through that maze of bonnet stems. What’s impossible? I took one cast the surface of the hole welled up in a tremendous strike and I struck back. The giant bass leaped in air two feet from the bateau and I grabbed it by the jaw in mid-leap.
I sat on it all the way back to shore. A monster bass over 12 pounds not under 14, (I never weigh my bass) just exactly what I wished for. While we were sitting in the living room that evening, I artfully led the conversation around to how small bass would occasionally strike plugs. Jason Lucas agreed. “Why just today,” I said, “a little old minnow-sized bass hit my plug and gill-hooked itself so deeply that there was no use releasing it. I brought it in to show you.”
I went to the icebox, walked back into the parlor and held that giant fish under my guest’s nose. Did you ever in your whole life,” I asked, “see a smaller bass than this hit a plug?”
Well, I made my point all right but my wife remarked later that she didn’t think I had made a hit with Mister Lucas.
“But it proves,” I said, “that if you want something bad enough you can get it. Like if you were stranded on a desert island and you really, really wanted some ice cream, a yacht would come along, rescue you and the first thing you would get would be a big heaping dish of ice cream.”
“And, it would probably make your teeth ache,” she said. “As long as you’re wishing, why don’t you wish for something important, like a beautiful home on the river, a big bank account or an income for life?”
“Because it won’t work if you’re selfish” I replied. “It has to be something of peculiar value only to yourself.” She said she couldn’t see any difference but I can. I wish real hard for two early editions of Jonathan Dickenson’s Journal. Within a week, two sixth editions showed up printed in archaic English around 150 years ago. Then I wished real hard for some Cape of Good Hope triangles for my British Colonial collection. A dealer in London wrote that he was liquidating a philatelic estate and sent me a dozen for practically nothing.
My horizons widened, I announced that I deeply desired a fossilized fish. “Of all things,” said my wife. “And why would you want a fossilized fish. What earthly good would it be? I replied that the important thing was wanting it, that I was wanting it harder and harder every day and pretty soon it would appear.
It did. All wrapped up neatly in a package from the Collector’s Shop of the Cincinnati Museum of Natural History, a gift from a special friend of mine up there. There was a little note. It went two live million years old was the best I could do. Thanks, Beano, you don’t know what this means to me.
My Fossil fish is from the Green River Shales of Wyoming. Its silvery body fluttered down in a long-vanished sea mid-way in the Oligocene Epoch. Its bones are delicately imprinted eons before the appearance of primitive man on earth. Nature’s tip-off to Gruenberg.
Someday, some fisherman is going to come into the office bragging about his catch and I am going to ask slyly, “But how old was your fish?” I can’t help it, I’ve got to do it. I’ve resisted so far but one of these days, I will completely, absolutely floor whoever it is. Else what use is there in having the oldest fish in town?
These transverse glades would have been moist in the dry season and could be totally inundated during the wet season as they allowed the waters of the Everglades Basin to slowly seep/flow out.
Following Nature’s hand, the first canals built to Lake Okeechobee from the coast were started or ended in these areas. The early settlers used the canals not just for drainage, but also for transportation to and from the Lake and surrounding areas.
The first canals constructed were the North New River Canal (1906-1912) connecting to today’s Ft Lauderdale in the area where the peat transverse glades were located; and the Maimi Canal (1910-1913), in the area where the marl transverse glades were located. Both the New River and Maimi River were neighbors of the transverse glades. Makes sense doesn’t it?
One would never even guess the transverse glades ever existed thinking all the water flowed out of Shark River Slough and Taylor Slough. Not the case when we look back far enough; we can see Mother Nature’s design. Interesting isn’t it?
The “Crying Cow Report” was of interest to many readers, so today I continue down that timeline, in fact, a bit before…
After reading the report, my mom, historian Sandra Thurlow, shared the following note and images from one of her many files. The small booklet is entitled, “Palm Beach County Florida,” and was published with a colorful tropical-farm cover around 1920. You’ll see that it was written to entice others. Also, one must remember that until 1925, Martin County did not exist and was part of Palm Beach County!
~For me, it is so interesting to read these old publications within the context of where we are ecologically today: “Nature’s Masterpiece; Man’s Opportunity.” It sure was! Now we have an opportunity to clean up the lands and waters made impaired by our dreams.
Please view below:
“Jacqui, I enjoyed reading about your viewing the Crying Cow booklet. It made me look in my rare booklet box and when I looked through this little 4 1/2 by 6 inch booklet I thought you’d like to see it. I chose these pages to scan. It is undated but it cites 1920 numbers and was published before Martin County was created in 1925. I wonder if Hector Harris Ritta is connected to Ritta Island? Mom”
From my brother Todd, after he read this post. 🙂
“Good Stuff. Yes definitely “Ritta” refers to Hector Harris’ home town, like the others. The town of Ritta can be seen clearly on the map you included – at Ritta Island. Interesting notes about Ritta:”
It took ten years, but I finally got to see it. An original of the report that both changed and created the South Florida we know today. Best known as the “Crying Cow Report,” sometimes, “The Weeping Cow Report,” this booklet’s official name is the “Tentative Report of Flood Damage, Florida Everglades Drainage District, 1947,” written after the very rainy year of 1947 that flooded many parts of Central and South Florida, inspiring Congress to fund extensive drainage and reworking of South and Central Florida canals through the Central and South Florida Flood Control Project: (https://my.sfwmd.gov/portal/page/portal/common/pdf/history/60th_monthly_gb_2009_mar.pdf)
I arranged all ahead of time, at the South Florida Water Management’s Library. Librarian, Yailenis Diaz was there to greet me and together we carefully, page by page, reviewed this historic document. The images of flooding are heartbreaking. By the end of our time together, she and I thought we had figured out why the document became known as the “Crying Cow Report”– other than the fact that there is a crying cow on its cover. ~At the end of the document you will find a newspaper article preserved, and a poem with the title “Crying Cow of the Everglades” by Lamar Johnson, Everglades Drainage District Engineer. Wow, an engineer that wrote poetry, times have changed.
So, why is this document so important, and what can we learn from it today? This document is important because it changed the world and because in a pre-modern-internet-electronic-world, the people of Florida communicated with their U.S. Congress, using the powerful images, and simple writing of this booklet. Every member of Congress was given the report face to face, leaving an impression, and inspiring the funding of the Central and Southern Florida Flood Control Project ~as the linked presentation above shows, both a blessing, and a curse.
Perhaps it’s time to send a new report to Congress that also would leave a lasting impression? Can you think of anything, an image, simple words that would communicate modern 2019 concerns?
Overlay of 1883 USCGS Map over Google Earth, Todd Thurlow.
Today’s post is super cool. My brother, Todd Thurlow, Time Capsule Flights, made a fly over of Lake Worth over the Haulover and Sawgrass Route to Jupiter Inlet using 1883 USCGS maps. His inspiration? Marty Baum’s recent comment on “The Gale of 1878, Ten Mile Creek.”
An excerpt from Marty’s retelling of his great-great grandfather, Hannibal D. Pierce, referred to as “Father” below, reads:
“…A few days after the storm Father reached home in a skiff borrowed from Mr. Rogers, the lone settler at the haulover. The last hurricane having raised the water in the sawgrass to an extreme height and good northeast wind blowing, Father decided to try the sawgrass route from Jupiter to the lake. He found the swamp like a great open lake, and had no difficulty in its navigation in the Creole; he landed at the haulover only a few hours after leaving Jupiter. Here he had to leave the Creole until help could be found to haul her over the three hundred yards of hill and dale to the lake. Borrowing the skiff of Mr. Rogers, he rowed it to his home a distance of twenty miles…”
What Todd’s video allows us to see is that, indeed, in the old days, after a gale, one could sail from Jupiter to Lake Worth, east and west of today’s U.S. 1, south through a sawgrass river! The sawgrass river today? High rise building, shopping malls, and gated communities….
I find this absolutely amazing, and a bit strange. 🙂
Please enjoy the video below!
Marty’s comment and the post the “Gale of 1878, Ten Mile Creek” is reposted for reference.
This time capsule flight shows the 1883 USCGS Maps from the south end of Lake Worth over the following areas:
0:44 The homestead of Hannibal Dillingham Pierce (father of barefoot mailman Charlie Pierce)
0:46 Hypoluxo Island
2:07 The old Lake Worth Inlet (note the 3D image of the Palm Beach Marriott Singer Island Beach Resort on that spot!)
3:08 The Haulover between the north end of Lake Worth and the Sawgrass Route
4:55 Jupiter Lighthouse
5:18 The old Jupiter Inlet (about 1/3 mile or 630 yards south of the current inlet)
I am a serious student of this, and the next storm that year. Hannibal D. Pierce, my GG Grandfather back at the homestead on Hypoluxo Island having served a couple years as Keeper at Orange Grove HOR. had recovered a longboat from the Providentia wreck Feb 1878. He sloop rigged it and took it on its maiden voyage to Titusville. Charles W. Pierce; On Wings of the Wind, unpublished manuscript.
Cheap enough some would say, but there were some settlers who could not afford to spend any money buying nuts to plant; they needed what money they had to buy food and clothes. These people did not plant any coconuts from the wreck of the Providencia. But Hammon and Lainheart opened their hearts to Father after he bought 200 nuts for himself, 200 for Cecil Upton, and seven hundred for Captain Armour; they gave him the Providencia’s longboat. This boat was a heavy built round bottom boat, twenty feet long and six wide. …
When Father got the Providencia’s longboat home, (Hypoluxo Island, today, under the Manalapan Club) he hauled it out at his east landing and planned to make her into a sloop. Uncle Will and Mr. [Ruben] Pease, who were good carpenters, helped with the work of putting in a centerboard and half decking her forward and along the sides. When rigged with a jib and a leg-o-mutton mainsail she made a pretty good sa
It was the first week of September that Father announced his intention of making a trip to Titusville in his new boat, the Creole, for much needed supplies. … When Father had been gone about two weeks there came a hurricane. It was not a very bad one, but it lasted five days. A few days after the storm, the seas were calm and we looked for Father to return. But he did not show up and the weather became stormy again and there was no news from up river in all that time. No one came to the lake so there was no news of storm damage from up Indian River, nor any news from Father, and the family on Hypoluxo Island was worried and anxious.
We kept on worrying and wondering as week after week went by and no word from Father or the Creole. I spent a good part of each day, when not hunting or fishing, in the top of an old rubber tree that stood on the west shore of the island south of the landing, with the old long spyglass resting over a limb I scanned closely the lake to the northward. While the magnifying power of the old telescope brought distant islands and shorelines into plain view, it did not show that which I most longed to see – Father’s boat coming home.
One day as I climbed to my customary perch in the tree I was overjoyed to see a sail far up the lake. But a minute’s scrutiny with the spyglass caused my sudden joy to vanish; it was not Father’s boat, but a much smaller craft. It was a very small boat that had come from up river by way of the sawgrass route; they brought a letter from Father, who was at Jupiter waiting for a smooth sea to make the outside run to the lake. We were certainly pleased to hear that he was safe and well and so near home. But days and days went by and the wind continued to blow hard from off the ocean and then there came another hurricane, which lasted only a day and one night, but was most severe; the worst we had experienced since 1876. The wind was from the east-northeast on the first day and most of the following night, and how it did blow and rain. The rain was the most tremendous any of the settlers had ever seen before or since. The rain drove in through the sides of the house until the entire inside was afloat; boards had to be laid on the floor so Mother could attend to her work without wading. About two o’clock in the morning the wind shifted to the southeast and about an hour later began to slacken just a little. Up to this time it had been impossible for us to sleep on account of the roar of wind and rain and of the possibility the house might be blown down. When the wind shifted there was some protection afforded by a hammock to the southeast of the house, and knowing by the change of the wind that the hardest had passed, we “turned in,” as the sailors call going to bed.
In the morning a scene of desolation met our gaze when we went to the door and looked out. Coconut trees blown down or their leaves whipped to threads, leaves and limbs scattered all over, bananas all flat on the ground, and not a whole tree or plant anywhere; and the lake – it was near five feet higher than before the storm. The whole back country was flooded by the September blow and now this had caused it to rise beyond all bounds. It flowed over the low spot in the spruce ridge to the north of Bradley’s through the pine woods into Lake Worth. And up across from the inlet it flowed into the lake from the back swamp in such a volume it created a large deep creek.
A few days after the storm Father reached home in a skiff borrowed from Mr. Rogers, the lone settler at the haulover. The last hurricane having raised the water in the sawgrass to an extreme height and good northeast wind blowing, Father decided to try the sawgrass route from Jupiter to the lake. He found the swamp like a great open lake, and had no difficulty in its navigation in the Creole; he landed at the haulover only a few hours after leaving Jupiter. Here he had to leave the Creole until help could be found to haul her over the three hundred yards of hill and dale to the lake. Borrowing the skiff of Mr. Rogers, he rowed it to his home a distance of twenty miles.
It was a week or so later that the tram road was built at the haulover, and the Creole was the first freight hauled by the new road from the swamp to the lake, and when she again rode anchor near her home dock, eight weeks had elapsed since her departure for Titusville.”
I tell this story in the first person AS my Grandfather. The trip took nearly months to complete. As an aside, Emily Lagow (she MET Jim Bell who she later married on this trip) was but a day behind my Grandfather in Captain Abbotts trade boaton its first trip down the lagoon boat and rode the hurricane out anchored near Gilbert’s Bar HOR. Gramps was at Jupiter Light. Em Lagow even stopped and visited the Faber Brothers at Rockledge where my Gramps had weathered the 5 day storm while suffering the flu. Here is Em Lagow Bell’s account; From My Pioneer Days the above booklet Sandy shared with Jacqui;
“We went on to the House of Refuge at Peck’s Lake, on the way to Jupiter. “We got the sails all down, for the clouds were black, and about four in the afternoon it began to rain and blow so that the spray came over on the boat, but we were in a good harbor and it was fierce all night, and lasted 24 hours. We were all right. That was my first experience of gales in Florida. I was so scared I couldn’t lie down or sleep till it was over.
We started for Jupiter and arrived at noon, so glad to get ashore to walk around. ”
My Gramps had left that morning up Lake Worth Creek to Mr. Rogers mentioned above. Jacquie, I transcribed this document years ago and not only have the story, but I indexed it also. Yours for the asking. Cheers!
The following are two rare accounts of pioneer life documenting the extreme rain event of 1878. The first is from A. Hendry Sr., and the other by Emily Lagow Bell. These related families lived along the banks of Ten Mile Creek at the time of this flood. Their stories give us insight into a world we cannot even image today.
Historian Sandra Henderson Thurlow, (http://www.sandrathurlow.com)
had transcribed these accounts from old newspaper articles and a book. Apparently, the News Tribune had the wonderful idea of a “contest for old timers” and people wrote in.
Sandra, my mother, recently came across her transcriptions again, after I visited the Richard E. Becker Preserve in St Lucie County and started asking questions.
Today I put these valuable recollections out for all to read. I think you will find them as interesting as I do.
We must not forget that are living in a Land Remembered!
TWO RARE ACCOUNTS
Transcribed by Sandra H. Thurlow
Nov. 26, 1978
by Charles S. Miley
A. Hendry was one of the first settlers of this area, and one of the pioneer cattlemen.
Born near Bartow, he came here with his parents at the age of 14, when there were but a handful of settlers in the area. As was the case with most other early settlers, he engaged in the cattle business during his late youth hood and all his adult life, reportedly being among the largest cattle owners in the state. He and K. B. Raulerson established the East Coast Cattle Co., which later became the Raulerson Cattle Co., forerunner of some of the present-day cattle operations.
He died at the age of 87 and he and his wife are buried in the Fort Pierce cemetery.
A son, A. A. “Buck” Henry, Jr., presently lives at 3576 N. E. Skyline drive, Jensen Beach, but spent most of his life in Fort Pierce and is well known among many of our residents.
When the News Tribuneconducted an old timer’s letter writing contest in February of 1934, the senior Hendry wrote a letter relating some of his experiences as an early settler of the area.
Here is the letter.
Fort Pierce, Florida
February 20, 1934
Within less than eight miles of White City, where I hope this will be read as a prize-winning letter, has been my home for 62 years, one month and one week.
For early in January, 1872, my father and mother and eight children left Polk County with two wagons drawn by oxen. After two weeks slow traveling over the old government trail, Ft. Meade, Ft. Kissimmee, Ft. Drum, we arrived at Fort Pierce. We drove our cattle with us and camped where night caught us.
We settled on the south side of Ten Mile creek, where later was located the Lisk and Roden Gove, later owned by B. J. Selvitz.
Of my father’s eight children, seven are still living, three still in this neighborhood, Mrs. Frank Bell, John Hendry and myself.
At the time of our arrival Henry Parker lived in Fr. Drum and Elias Jernigan lived on what is now the Standard Growers grove at Ten Mile; on the south lived Lang on St. Lucie River bluff just south of White City, clearing what has since become the Edwards grove, now owned by Mr. Martin East was the trading post. of the old fort, run by Alex Bell (who had arrived the year before) and a Mr. Smith; on the north lived Jim Russel and the Paine family at Ft. Capron. Beyond these points, outside of possible wandering trappers and hunters, there were no settlers short of Ft. Bassenger, Ft. Jupiter, where lived Captain Armour and Mr. Carlin, and Sebastian, where Col. Gibson lived.
An occasional band of Indians stopped on their way to the “fort,” where they would swap deer skins and other hides for beads, cloth, ammunition, salt, etc.
Their main cooking was what they called “sofkee,” ─ a tick soupy mixture of meat, grits, meal, potatoes, beans, or anything they might happen to have, boiled in a copper kettle swung over a slow fire. When done, they would squat around the kettle and pass around the one big spoon for individual use or would gorge out a handful and pour or suck off their fingers. First the bucks would eat till they had enough, then the squaws and pickaninnies. They liked white man’s cooking and lost no opportunity to enjoy it. They were especially fond of milk, never having any milk cows of their own. They would always divide with us whenever they had anything to eat that we did not have.
These Indians were of Old Parker’s band. They were known also as the Cow Creek Indians.
There were about a hundred of them in all. Their headquarters were in the Indiantown section.
September 7, 8, 9, and 10thin the year of 1878, there was a gale with a heavy rain. The Ten Mile creek’s banks overflowed. When the water came up in the floor of our cabin I built a rough boat in the hall and poled my people across the creek to Asbury Seller’s place. Finding them gone, I became somewhat alarmed. Then I poled on east to John Sellers and spent the night there with their family. Next day we all took refuge on the “mound” ─ still standing, what is left of it, just south of the road about a mile west of Five Mile.
There were 32 of us men, women and children and we spent there two days and one night. We had no shelter and were drenched to the skin. We managed to build a fire which we kept going with driftwood. We brought provisions along but were gladdened by the addition of a deer which swam up and which we killed with a pole. On returning home we found the water had been up two of three feet in the house, according to the marks on the walls.
We lived a rough, hard but healthy life. Plenty of clean food and plenty of outdoor exercise getting it. We had no Sunday schools or churches for years. We soon had a few months school for the younger children and we older ones picked up reading and writing as best we could. Mail, at best, came once a week by sail boat, newspapers were scarce, and magazines scarcer.
I have seen and used ox carts, mule teams, horse and buggy, railroad cars and automobiles on land, and the rowboat, sailboat and steamboat on the water; and overhead the airplane. What next?
A. HENDRY, SR.
About the Williams Mound:
Emily Lagow Bell, My Pioneer Days in Florida, 1928
I have a copy of this rare book
April 26, 2003
…Alexander Bell and family, also Mr. Archibald Hendry’s family, Mr. Sellers and family were living at Ten Mile Creek. This was the 1878 storm.
The gale lasted 24 hours and the creek began to rise and James Bell and brother, Frank, and others found they had to get something to save the women and children, so took the floor out of the house , made a raft, and the water was in the house then! Well, he took his mother and children first to an Indian mound, which I think is near Ten Mile creek yet. He had to make several trips before he got them all and forgot his horse, and it drowned in the yard.
There were cattle, hogs, deer, snakes, and coons, possums, turkeys all coming to the mound. Hundreds of stock and animals drowned. They built fires on the mound and the second day the water was receding and all came into Fort Pierce.
…Then there were several men hunting the frostproof part of the state for new groves, and my father-in-law had died, and the family decided to sell the Ten Mile place and a Mr. Sid Williams came about 1894 or 1895, and he bought the place at a very low figure, something like five or six hundred dollars, and he built up something like one hundred acres of groves which sold for a fabulous price. Now it is owned by the Standard Growers.
Driving into the heart of Ft Lauderdale, one is enveloped in traffic while passing through a preserved pond apple slough. Incredible! Just recently, Ed and I visited Lock No. 1 North New River Canal enjoying its art-deco architecture and pondering this “highway” of early Florida. Lock No. 1 was the first of the South Florida canal system playing a major role in the Everglades’ drainage dream of Napoleon Broward.
Canals built south of Lake Okeechobee were not just for drainage and agricultural development, but also for transportation to achieve these things. In early times, boats were the car or the horse…
Please read from Broward History below:
“One of the canals, the North New River Canal, was, in the early years, a major transportation artery between Fort Lauderdale and Lake Okeechobee. In order to make the canal useful for transportation, locks had to be constructed. Lock No. 1 at the south end of the canal was the first to be built in South Florida.
…The opening of the lock led to an increased agricultural exploitation of the newly drained land along the New River Canal. Produce grown in this area and around Lake Okeechobee was brought down the canal through the locks to the railroad in Fort Lauderdale. An even more important cargo was Okeechobee catfish. New River was lined with fish houses, overhanging the river. Boats traversed the distance between the lake and Fort Lauderdale in groups. This made the trip go faster since more than one boat could get into the hand-operated lock at a time making it more efficient.
The locks also made it possible for small steamboats to operate on a regular basis between Fort Lauderdale, the lake and Fort Myers via the Caloosahachee River. Regularly scheduled steamers included the Suwannee, Lily and Passing Thru. These boats carried passengers, cargo and tourists up and down the river. By 1926 the canals had shoaled to the point that boat traffic was no longer practical and the waterway was replaced by a railroad and highways as the primary transportation method to and from the lake…”
For Ed and I the visit was a great experience. And I was happy knowing I could tell my mother we visited something on the National Register of Historic Places! The Iguana’s liked the historic lock too. They were everywhere!
I continue to share my mother’s historic documents for those who love and appreciate history. Today’s original 1934 Stuart Daily News publication is very impressive, oversized, with aerial photographs and pride-filled words lauding the City of Stuart, and her Roosevelt Bridge as part of the new “Gateway to the Gulf of Mexico.”
This gateway, of course, was the Cross State Canal that was federally funded through “navigation” with the dual use to discharge Lake Okeechobee water, that Nature would have flowed south to Florida Bay, into the northern estuaries enhancing “Fishing, Hunting, and Sports on the Beautiful St Lucie….Lake Okeechobee, and Caloosahtchee River….”
In 1934, an era of Man Over Nature, both men and women did not know their determination to control the environment and its waters would, eventually, kill almost everything they loved.
And here we are today…
But as my hero Ernie Lyons, editor environmentalist of a later newspaper, the Stuart News said: “What men do they can undo.”
I believe this.
New bridges must be built. Not just of concrete but of the heart.
Bridges between people and politics. Bridges between corporations and children. Bridges between agriculture giants and fish. Bridges between developers and a new way to live. Why? Because like it or not, we are a Florida Water Family. All connected. All bridged together by depending on this place.
I will end with words from my mother, historian, Sandra Henderson Thurlow:
“Jacqui, This is a very large book that was published to celebrate the dedication of the original Roosevelt Bridge on January 8, 1934. The pages are supposed to face each other so “Stuart–‘Atlantic Gateway to the Gulf of Mexico'” run together. The sentence at the bottom should be “The City of Stuart Invites You to Winter on the Beautiful St. Lucie River.” A gentleman who lives in Rio, Richard Lewis Miller, shared the original in honor of his father, Alvin Richard Miller 1906-1976.” Mom (http://www.sandrathurlow.com)
At my request, my mother has been sharing historic real estate photos. Regarding today’s aerials, it seems the perfect time to broach the controversial subject of “septic to sewer.”
When I first saw the photographs of Lighthouse Point, I said “What is that?” I thought the land had been created by fill, but then realized it was natural lands filled and dredged. This practice was very common before the 1970s and happened at various locations throughout Martin County, but was more prevalent in destinations like Ft Lauderdale and Cape Coral. Wherever this land use was completed, early photographs allow us to see how strange, how vulnerable, how naked, the land looks. And we can see its connection, like a sponge, over the surrounding waters…
Let’s take a closer peek at this 1965 photo of Lighthouse Point in the St Lucie River. In 1965, developers had no concerns about nutrient pollution, and every property of course had its own septic tank.
Fortunately, in the 2000s, Martin County did help residents of Lighthouse Point and neighboring Seagate Harbor, convert from septic to sewer, along with other “hot-spot” communities, as documented in this outstanding presentation by former Martin County Ecosystems Manager, Deborah Drum.
But there is more work to do.
As we know, Septic to Sewer is one of those subjects people passionately fight over as we try to understand why our waterways have become so impaired. This was the case in my own hometown of Sewall’s Point.
Famous for the first strong fertilizer ordinance on Florida’s east coast in 2010, a year of my mayorhood, The Commission flipped this environmental streak, and last year, when I was off the commission, following much back and forth and very poor communication, ~in spite of heroic efforts, but a totally exhausted, confused and furious public, decided not to work with Martin County for a partial sewer conversion. The backlash to this is far-reaching.
I agree that most of Sewall’s Point is not dredge and fill, but some is, and with out a doubt, old septic tanks in flood zones along the Indian River Lagoon are not a good idea.
As we all begrudgingly work to lessen nutrient pollution (nitrogen and phosphorus) into our waterways, it is helpful to look backwards as we plan for the future. Thanks mom for sharing your photos; history helps us “see.”
Scientific paper: Earth Sci 2017 estimation of nitrogen load from septic systems
to surface water bodies in St. Lucie River and Estuary Basin, Florida, Ming Ye1 • Huaiwei Sun2,1 • Katie Hallas3: http://people.sc.fsu.edu/~mye/pdf/paper62.pdf
Maps. They get us where we’re going, and they reference were we’ve been.
This 1910 Florida Standard Guide map, shared from my mother’s archives, is a black and white goldmine for comparison to our “maps” today.
If you are from my neck of the woods, you may notice that there is no Martin County just sprawling Palm Beach County. Across the state, we see a monstrous Lee County. Collier and Hendry counties were created out of Lee County in 1923. As far as roads, one may notice there is no Tamiami Trail. In 1915 construction began on this famous highway that has blocked remaining water flowing south from Lake Okeechobee to the Everglades ever since. And what about Alligator Alley constructed around 1968?
What do you see? What dont’ you see? What’s different from today? I think it is interesting to wonder how South Florida would function today if we didn’t work so hard to fill in the southern part of the map.
Yes, today we use Google Maps, or GPS instruction from our smart phones to figure out where we’re going and what develops.
Where these electronic maps are taking us is only for the future to know. Hopefully our choices, and the maps we follow are more helpful to the environment and to wildlife too! Florida Wildlife Corridor explore maps: http://floridawildlifecorridor.org
I have been looking though my collection of maps and other Florida things, and I came across this remarkable real estate ad by W. J. Willingham. I would think it is from the early part of the 1900s when Barron Collier and James Jaudon, “Father of the Tamiami Trail,” were developing South Florida. Apparently, Jaudon sold the land that became Pinecrest to Willingham.
What is of most interest to me is the tone of the ad, and how different is it compared to how we sell real estate today. For instance, the first section reads: “Hesitation:” On the plains of Hesitation bleach the bones of countless millions; some men are just plain quitters, but the most pitiable sight in the whole world of failures, is the man who will not start. Opportunity will knock at your door this week and give you a chance to start. You can deny yourself one or two simple luxuries, drop a useless habit or two, and the start is made. You can own a Pinecrest lot. You can be a true-born American and take a shot at it and if you lose, you can take your loss like a real man. On the other hand, if Pinecrest makes a wonderful town, you can enjoy the pleasures invariably comes when a man uses his head and wins. My friend, it is up to you. Will you hesitate? Or will you start? W.J. WILLINGHAM
Holy cow. This must have been the way one sold land in the Everglades in the old days, before political correctness, equal rights, and other things. Interesting to ponder, don’t you think? Maybe that’s why they mowed everything down.
Looking at the rest, Mr Willingham’s rant continues:
Here’s another duzzie: “Nerve.” That word nerve spells success. I was looking through some of old papers the other day and I ran across and old advertisement I put in a Florida newspaper a few years ago. At the at time I tried my level best to persuade someone to buy a certain property for $11,000. No one seemed to have the nerve. Finally I persuaded my brother to go in with me and buy it. All that was required a small cash payment and just a little nerve. Now to make a long story short, we recently sold a part of that property for $137,000 and we have some o the property left. In a few short years you will wonder why you did not accumulate just a little nerve when Pinecrest was just starting. Pincerest has a mighty bright future. I am going to give you an opportunity to pick up a few Pinecrest lots at auction. W.J. WILLINGHAM
This is a good one, today we would write “Do you know of anything that has destroyed America’s Everglades more than Tamiami Trail?
W.J. Willlingham’s final words are a harsh motivator as well: “J.J. Hill Said:” James J. Hill, one of the greatest builders this county has produced, designated thrift as the one qualification without which no man could succeed. He said: If you want to know whether you are destined to be a success or a failure in life, you can easily find out. The test is simple, and infallible. Are you able to save money? In not drop out. You will lose. You may think not. But you will lose as sure as you live. The seed of success not in you.” W.J. WILLINGHAM
The seed of success not in you? Hmmmm. I agree with being thrifty, but how the “seeds of success change.” To be successful, the new developers of South Florida will have to adapt to our new world of rising seas, stronger storms, climate change, and the subtleties of selling to modern society. This could be a challenge; we may have to get some advice from the gators who have around a long, long time.
Pinecrest went on to be a very successful community. I wonder what the ads in the future will look like as it goes underwater…
“Eager salesman from the Florida Fruit Lands Company crossed the country, promoting the Everglades as a “Garden of Eden”, a “Tropical Paradise,” “The Promised Land”. These “swamp boomers” enticed potential buyers with sales literature quoting government officials who extolled the possibilities of the Everglades…”
For years, Ed and I have flown over the Bolles Canal, just south of Lake Okeechobee in the Everglades Agricultural Area, and for years, I wondered who the east/west canal in the EAA was named for…
Just goes to show, even if you become famous, or even “infamous,” over time, chances are, even people who should know your name may not have a clue…
Like Hamilton Disston, Richard “Dicky” J. Bolles was a millionaire of the late 1800s and early 1900s set up to help Florida get out of debt and grow an empire out of this “swamp.”
We get the picture here:
“Bolles founded the first of his Florida enterprises, the Florida Fruit Lands Company, to dispose of 180,000 acres in Dade and Palm Beach Counties. The company divided the lands into 12,000 farms of varying size and designated a townsite, ‘Progreso’, with plans for streets, factories, schools, churches, and public buildings. For the price of $240, a buyer could purchase a contract from Florida Fruit Lands Company, entitling them to bid on a farm and town lot through a scheduled auction. This same scheme was employed by other sales ventures pitching swamp land in Florida, including Okeechobee Fruit Lands Company, which dealt in Bolles’ remaining 428,000 acres around the shores of Lake Okeechobee….
Eventually, Federal prosecutors initiated a case against Bolles and his cohorts, producing a 122-page indictment and more than 100 witnesses from across the country. Bolles was arrested on December 18, 1913 and tried the following March — he was found to be “an honest man”… ~Library of Congress, http://everglades.fiu.edu/reclaim/bios/bolles.htm
It’s fascinating to look at the Okeechobee Fruit lands map and imagine what would have happened, what could have happened, if Dicky J. Bolles had been successful in his underwater private swampland “scheme.” Look at his plan for this multicolored plat map!
Instead over time, the Great Depression set in, and the Federal Government, ACOE, came in just over a couple of decades later to help save us from Mother Nature and from ourselves, creating unified protections of the EAA under the 1848 Central and Southern Florida Plan, House Document 643.
My mother gave me a late birthday present: antique post cards and a bottle once filled with “Florida Water,” a popular tonic sold for health and beauty around the world. Believe it or not, “Florida Water” is still selling across the globe, and has been since 1808 ~for 210 years!
It was poignant to receive such a rare and special gift from my mother because if Murray & Landman began marketing Florida water today, the product would not be so romantic; in fact, the branding would more look like war.
We are up to page 10 in our history lesson and today’s photos are some of my favorite. The first is an aerial of the St Lucie Inlet entitled “Stuart on the St Lucie River.” Since its earliest day’s, Stuart has always been defined by its proximity to the river. Below the aerial it boast: “World Famous For its Fishing, Provides an Ocean Entrance for Small Craft.” And by today’s standards, a rather comical or un-comical plug can’t be missed: “Where the Waters of Lake Okeechobee Meet the Atlantic.”
It is also fascinating to note the shape of the south side of the St Lucie Inlet as today it has shifted and filled in. I am sharing my brother’s Time Capsule Flight used in former posts as it is so interesting and shows the various inlets of this area and land shapes as documented on various historical maps. Although today, we try to make barrier islands, beaches, and inlets permanent, by watching my brother’s video the message is clear: “the only constant is change.”
As we continue our historic journey, today we view pages 8-9 of the 1937 Stuart Daily News. Today’s ad for the City of Stuart is so large that it is featured side-to-side rather than top to bottom in the publication. Proudly, because of the completion of the Stuart to Ft Meyers Cross-State Canal, Stuart has branded itself as “the Atlantic Gateway to the Gulf of Mexico,” particularly for the nation’s yachtsmen.
Although this image below was not in the publication, I wanted to include it because one might drive by and not recognize this recently renovated, now officially registered historic structure in Rio for what it really is, ~a monument to the cross-state canal!
Of course also in the ad Stuart lauds itself as a fishing mecca touting: “Florida’s finest fishing in adjacent waters.” The truth of the matter is that the quality of the St Lucie River and Southern Indian River Lagoon, as documented by local fishermen, had been deteriorating since the opening of the St Lucie Canal to Lake Okeechobee in 1923. (Sandra Henderson Thurlow, Stuart on the St Lucie) Nonetheless, the rivers and ocean remained “marvelous” fishing arenas as this 1938 Chamber of Commerce Fishing Guide shows.
Today, the City of Stuart remains the vibrant and beautiful heart of Marin County, but it no longer brags about being “the Gateway to the Gulf of Mexico.” As much as the St Lucie Canal has caused issue with our local waterways, I do think the Stuart to Ft Meyers connection, and being a starting point for a historic boat trip across the state is worth re-boasting about!
Today, Ft Pierce’s deep water port is the star of the 1937 Stuart Daily News historical newspaper commemorating the completion of the Stuart to Ft Meyers cross-state canal. The port has a long been one of the more developed areas of the Indian River Lagoon and has an interesting start-stop history that is best documented by St Lucie County:
Port Authority History, St Lucie County web site: The Port of Ft. Pierce first came into existence in 1920 when a manmade opening, the Ft. Pierce Inlet, was cut through the land barrier between the Atlantic Ocean and the Indian River Lagoon. St. Lucie County became the Port Authority in 1918 and a continuum of legislation has named the County as the Authority since that time. In 1918 a special act of the Florida Legislature established a taxing district to fund this project. Approximately 65 percent of St. Lucie County was in this Ft. Pierce Inlet District, which was empowered to sell bonds to finance the project and to satisfy bond obligations through real property tax revenues. The Florida Legislature abolished the Ft. Pierce Inlet District in 1947 and replaced it with the Ft. Pierce Port Authority, which retained the same power but was also granted the legal right to acquire and lease real estate. In 1961 a Special Act of the Florida Legislature replaced the Ft. Pierce Port Authority with the Ft. Pierce Port and Airport Authority, both of which were run by St. Lucie County. In 1989 the name of the Authority was changed to the St. Lucie County Port and Airport Authority. In 1997 the Florida Legislature provided reorganizing, updating and clarifying provisions for the Authority. In 1998 the Legislature dissolved the St. Lucie County Port and Airport Authority and transferred its assets, liabilities, and responsibilities to the Board of County Commissioners of St. Lucie County.
Today, the Port of Ft Pierce is ready for more expansion and will be loading more than fruits and vegetables in the near future. I wish them all the best. This portion of the Indian River Lagoon south of Harbor Branch to Ft Pierce Inlet is known as the “healthiest” part of the ailing IRL so may the developers be delicate with their planning and execution! We must save what we love!
Today we study page five of the historic 1937 Stuart Daily News. A message at the top of the page “invites participation” in a celebration, both in Stuart and Ft Meyers, for the completion of the cross-state canal. This was a celebration of navigation and the commerce and growth it would bring to these areas. As we know today, this cross-state canal is not just used for navigation, but also to drain Lake Okeechobee.
It is interesting to note that the “Stuart to Ft Meyers Cross-State Canal” must later have become known as the “Okeechobee Waterway:”
Although this celebration was about the benefits of navigation, Edwin Menninger on the front of the 1937 historic edition wrote:
“Construction of the St Lucie Canal began in 1921 when the fact dawned on the Everglades pioneers that canals through muck lands were useless – they refused to carry water out of the lake. Four of them had been dug, and were utterly worthless. The St Lucie was completed in 1924 and for 13 years has been the only functioning outlet from Lake Okeechobee to the sea.”
So perhaps the opening of the cross-state canal in 1937 was the beginning of “shared adversity” or shared destruction of the two coasts as it was not until 1937, after great investment by the Federal Government, that the Caloosahatchee River finally had a “navigable channel 7 feet deep and 80 feet wide,” before that it was very limited.
Considering that today the poor Caloosahatchee takes about two-thirds of the water drained from Lake O, we here on the east coast have to consider the possibility that if the “improvements” of the 1937 cross state canal were not done, the St Lucie might still be taking 100% of Lake O’s drainage water!
In 2009 my husband Ed and I took the our dogs Bo and Baron along the cross-state canal trip from Stuart to Ft Meyers, but stopped in Lake Okeechobee. Lots of storms! It was insightful and fun. One day I do hope to go all the way to Ft Meyers. This is definitely a “Florida bucket-list to do!”
As a young child, I remember my parents taking me to visit McKee Jungle Gardens near Vero. What a magical place! That visit certainly planted seeds in my head, and a love for all things “Florida.”
I remember towering magnificent palms; a mammoth-sized cypress tree trunk that looked like it came from the age of the dinosaurs; interesting rustic structures that matched the mood of the tropical paradise; beautiful giant lilies floating in shallow ponds reflecting purple and greens like a Monet painting; a gigantic, long, mahogany table; as well as my favorite thing to see at the time, monkeys, parrots, and other animals!
The McKee Jungle Gardens was founded in 1929, when engineer and land developer, Arthur G. McKee teamed up with famed Vero legend and entrepreneur, Waldo Sexton, in the creation of an 80-acre tropical hammock just west of the Indian River Lagoon. Tropical landscape architect William Lyman Phillips was hired to design its beautiful and acclaimed streams, ponds, and trails. The indigenous vegetation was augmented with ornamental plants and seeds from around the world. In 1932, the garden was opened as a tourist attraction. Although very successful for several decades, it shut down in 1976, post Disney and I-95, and most of its land was sold for development. The site remained vacant for twenty years until the Indian River Land Trust rescued the area legacy, purchasing it in 1995. The current Garden, McKee Botanical Gardens, was formally dedicated in 2001 and is now a Florida landmark. On January 7, 1998, the property was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places under its original name, “McKee Jungle Gardens.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McKee_Botanical_Garden)
Perusing page 4 of the 1937 Stuart Daily News, celebrating the opening of the Cross State Canal from Stuart to Ft Meyers, featuring McKee brings back happy memories for me. About three years ago, I visited the new McKee Botanical Gardens and the magic is still there! I find Florida’s old-time famed gardens so much more appealing than today’s focus on boring “floratam lawns and perfectly manicured hedges.” Today or yesterday, showcasing Florida’s tropical beauty is Florida at its best!
My brother, Todd Thurlow, created a new “Time Capsule Flight” to give us historic perspective into my last blog post asking a question about an aerial photograph on page 3 of a 1937 Stuart Daily News, special edition, featuring Jupiter Island’s Golf Course.
“Fill or not fill?”
This was my question!
I had written: “When I first saw this photograph, it struck me that I did not recognize the area with exposed white sand on the east side of the island. I wondered if that was a remnant fan-like formation from an ancient inlet. Then it struck me that perhaps it was fill dredged from the Indian River lagoon for the golf course – or a combination of both.”
Todd’s video flight, using historic maps from 1883, 1885, and 1940 as well as today’s Google Earth technology, answered this question.
Jacqui: “Todd so after watching your time capsule flight it appears that the Jupiter Island Golf course was a natural wetland or mangrove something? It is sticking out into Indian River Lagoon on your oldest 1800s map- so it’s not entirely dredge and filled? Right?”
Todd: “Yep. Probably was swampy like Indian River Plantation (Marriott) and filled in with dredge from the ponds or Hobe Sound but more than likely before the channel/canal was dredged by the Feds in 1935. The Jupiter Island web-site says the Golf Course was built in 1922.”
Watch Todd’s video below and see for yourself the fascinating changes over time. Good for the golfers, not so good for the birds! Mystery solved by a Time Capsule Flight! Thanks Todd!