Category Archives: History

The Gale of 1878, Ten Mile Creek, SLR/IRL

*Please note comments become public record.

Excerpt of a survey map, 1919, courtesy Mike Middlebrook, Natural Resources Manager, St Lucie County.

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!

Ten Mile Creek and Five Mile Creek are visible on this 1884 map – look just south of Ft Pierce. These “creeks” are the northern headwaters of the St Lucie River. They have been drained, tamed, and destroyed by the C&SFP canal system C-23, C-24 and C-25.

TWO RARE ACCOUNTS

I.

Transcribed by Sandra H. Thurlow

News Tribune

Nov. 26, 1978

“Miley’s Memos”

by Charles S. Miley

 

  1. 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?

Yours truly,

A. HENDRY, SR.

 

II.

About the Williams Mound:

 

Emily Lagow Bell, My Pioneer Days in Florida, 1928

 

I have a copy of this rare book

 

Sandra Thurlow

April 26, 2003

 

page 21:

 

…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.

 

page 28:

 

…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.

 

 

Port St Lucie, Bringing the Alpatiokee Swamp Back to Life, SLR/IRL

*Please note, all comments become public record.

Port St Lucie was a Swamp? Really? https://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/2015/05/21/port-st-lucie-was-a-swamp-really-st-lucie-riverindian-river-lagoon/

Prior to modern development, the enormous Alpatiokee Swamp connected lower Indian River, St Lucie, and Martin Counties, only remnants remain today.

History of the word “Alpatiokee” https://www.floridamemory.com/blog/2013/08/21/halpatiokee/

This past week, I was invited by the City of Port St Luice for their “St Lucie County and City of Port St Lucie IRL South Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan and McCarty Ranch Tour.”

First, Natural Resources Manager, Mike Middlebrook gave the best presentation I have ever witnessed, about the Ten Mile Creek oxbow reconnection at newly acquired Richard  E. Becker Preserve. Mike incorporated historic maps and watersheds into the goals of the restoration projects for today. Very educational.(https://www.stlucieco.gov/departments-services/a-z/environmental-resources/preserve-listing/richard-e-becker-preserve)

As McCarty Ranch was presented by video, I couldn’t help but grin as I watched ACOE Lt Col Jennifer Reynolds. It appeared we were watching a project featured by the Army Corp of Engineers itself.

“Maybe the Army Corp has met its competition, ” I thought.

McCarty Ranch Water Project:https://www.cityofpsl.com/government/departments/utility-systems/mccarty-ranch-water-project

City of Port St Lucie, Mayor Greg Oravec praised his city’s Water Quality Warriors, “Our City is doing projects on scale with the Central Everglades Restoration Plan, CERP.”

I find this inspirational and amazing.

The tour showcased the good that we can do ourselves. With the leadership of charismatic visionaries like Mayor Oravec, local governments can get started today!

Lt Col. Reynold’s response? “You don’t have to do everything. You just have to do what you can do.” 🙂

Kudos, Port St Lucie and St Lucie County! You are setting an example for all!

PSL Mayor Oravec (https://www.cityofpsl.com/government/mayor-city-council/mayor-gregory-j-oravec) explains how polluted water is taken from the C-23 canals, cleaned, stored and one day is to be used for water supply.

Here a portion of Ten Mile Creek is presently blocked by fill. It will be opened and restored. Many unique fish species use these upper areas of the North Fork and Dr Grant Gilmore studies this area closely.
Ten Mile Creek stopped up by fill
Blue shirt, Mike Middlebrook Natural Resources Manager explains the reconnection.

Website City of Port St Lucie:https://www.cityofpsl.com

Website St Luice County:https://www.stlucieco.gov

Lock No. 1 North New River Canal, Yesterday and Today

~Lock No. 1 is located at 6521 FL 84, Davie, FL 33317, was used until 1912, placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. It is  also known as the Sewell Lock (architect) and the Broward Memorial Lock (https://dos.myflorida.com/florida-facts/florida-history/florida-governors/napoleon-bonaparte-broward/)

Historic Lock No. 1 New River Canal, with “new structure” in background, photo by Ed Lippisch

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…”

~Excerpt from Broward.org (http://www.broward.org/History/NationalRegister/Pages/LockNo1NorthNewRiverCanal.aspx)

 

One could say that Lock No. 1 helped lead to the success of the Everglades Agricultural Area (https://pubs.usgs.gov/circ/circ1182/pdf/12Everglades.pdf) as well as the development of Broward County that continues today right into what was once the Everglades (https://www.sun-sentinel.com/opinion/fl-op-buzz-mega-mall-everglades-20180511-story.html)

Florida Memory https://www.floridamemory.com/items/show/105656
1924 Florida Archies
Topographical map of EAA showing elevations.
West of the red lines shows the edge of what was once the Everglades in South Florida. Development has crept and continues to creep over this edge. (Photo/map courtesy of Chappy Young,/GCY Surveyors

 

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!

Look closely and you will see many iguanas! I saw at least fifty running around. Big, small, jumping into the water from the lock and dam, sunning themselves. Very cute, although an invasive issue for the area eating everything…

Right before one turns in!
One passes through a cool Pond Apple Slough a remnant this area once being the Everglades.

Pond Apples also known as Custard Apples at the lock. Prior to agricultural development there was a 32,000 acre pond apple forest at the southern edge of the Everglades. It was ripped out to access the valuable “black gold” soil below.
Ed and I in front of the new structure built to replace Lock No 1. along the New River Canal that goes north to Lake Okeechobee. The New River in its natural form has been severely compromised by agriculture and development; however, million dollar homes sit along its altered shores today. The state of Florida must work for both water quality, and our economy as now they are actually one in the same. Lock No. 1 even has its own Facebook page, you can join here:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sewell-Lock/568281143229622

Maps:

Links:

Structures of theSFWMD: http://w3.saj.usace.army.mil/h2o/lib/graphics/projmaps/infra.pdf

Building New Bridges, Remembering the Old: 1934, “Franklin D. Roosevelt Highway Bridge,” SLR/IRL

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.

#FLWaterFamily

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)

Links:

Sandra Henderson Thurlow, website:http://www.sandrathurlow.com

Joe Crankshaw, Transformation of Stuart, TCPalm, http://archive.tcpalm.com/news/in-10-year-span-roosevelt-bridge-transformed-sleepy-little-stuart-ep-405274002-349339071.html/

Former Blog post on subject, JTL: https://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/2018/04/12/city-of-stuart-atlantic-gateway-to-the-gulf-of-mexico-1937-staurt-daily-news/

History Helps Us “See,” Septic to Sewer Conversion, SLR/IRL

Aerial of Lighthouse Point Feb. 8, 1965, Ruhnke Collection, Thurlow Archives.

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.

Lighthouse Point/Seagate Harbor 1968, Ruhnke Collection, Thurlow Archives

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.

http://riverscoalition.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/DDRUM-Rivers-Coalition-June-2017.pdf

Red ballon shows Lighthouse Point/Seagate Harbor neighborhoods in Palm City
See yellow dots, slide from Deb Drum’s presentation of completed projects.

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.

In Sewall’s Point, and all Martin County residential areas we can “feel better about ourselves” as we know that  Agriculture is the primary nitrogen and phosphorus polluter into our waterways, (and they need to get to work!) by about 88% according to Dr Gary Goforth. (https://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/tag/phosphorus-loading-by-land-use-what-fdep-isnt-telling-us-gary-goforth/) Nonetheless, this does not mean we should act too self-righteous to change out ourselves.

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.”

Links:

What is nutrient pollution? EPA https://www.epa.gov/nutrientpollution

Martin County Sewer Conversion: https://www.martin.fl.us/SeptictoSewer

City of Stuart Sewer Conversion: http://cityofstuart.us/index.php/en/sewer-expansion/sewer-expansion-maps

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

Sandra Henderson Thurlow, local historian: http://www.sandrathurlow.com

The Maps We Follow, SLR/IRL

1910 Standard Guide map of Florida, courtesy historian Sandra Henderson Thurlow

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.

Mother Nature just may take it back anyway. Check out this sea level rise map: https://freegeographytools.com/2007/sea-level-rise-google-mapplet

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

Sandra Henderson Thurlow, local historian,  website: http://www.sandrathurlow.com

Google Maps, Florida: https://www.google.com/maps/d/u/0/embed?mid=18J9_j-2FuhO9ABdZDdDg1MKDeQk&msa=0&ie=UTF8&t=h&vpsrc=6&ll=28.750319037763777%2C-83.85705481014259&spn=5.403019%2C10.810547&z=8&output=embed

Tamiami Trail: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tamiami_Trail

Interstate 75/Alligator Alley: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interstate_75_in_Florida
Alligator Alley: https://protectnepa.org/alligator-alley-75-extension-everglades-parkway/

Backroads Travel, vintage Florid maps: https://www.florida-backroads-travel.com/florida-vintage-road-maps.html

Blog on Florida Counties’ Evolution: 1884 Rand, McNally & Co. Map, the Everglades and Lake Okeechobee,”My How Things Change…”SLR/IRL: https://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/tag/counties-florida/

The Scenic Route of Florida? Gone to Hell in a Handbasket! SLR/IRL

Isn’t this old ad from the early 1920s great? Thanks to my mother, local historian Sandra Henderson Thurlow, I have some old real estate ads to share from our region of the state. It makes me think…

The ad reads:

Oscar Hand Pullman Bus Line Connecting with Everglades Boat Line

“Scenic Route of Florida” Daily (Except Sunday)

Through the Everglades, Canals, Across Lake Okeechobee and Along the Famous Muck Soil, the Richest in the World.

Down the Famous Caloosahatchee Vally Route, Abounding with Tropical Scenery, To Fort Myers, the Prettiest Town on the West Coast.

Just $14.04

Today? We could offer a Toxic Algae Tour from Coast to Coast, couldn’t we?

Our ad could read:

A boat ride from the red tide waters of the Atlantic through a polluted St Lucie River

to an airplane or satellite view of an algae filled Lake Okeechobee

then a boat ride to the ailing Calooshahtchee with both red and green tides too!

$1140.04

Historic Scenic Route of Florida?

It went to Hell in a Handbasket! 

Come See! 

Toxic algae under the Evans Crary Bridge, St Lucie River, JTL
Lake O 239 square foot algae bloom, NASA satellite image
Jamie Burns, St Lucie River full of algae bloom from Palm City to Sewall’s Point.
Caloosahatchee algae bloom, photo courtesy Dave Stone.
Caloosahatchee region, photo John Moran

Links:

Local Historian Sandra Henderson Thurlow, Martin County, FL: http://www.sandrathurlow.com

Stuart History Stuart Chamber: https://www.stuartmartinchamber.org/tourism/history

Florida Landboom: http://floridahistory.org/landboom.htm

Florida Land Boom Florida History: https://www.floridamemory.com/blog/tag/florida-land-boom/

History of Development, Fort Meyers, FL: https://fortmyers.org/live-in-fort-myers/history-of-fort-myers/

Miami Herald,
What’s an algae bloom and how did it wind up sliming Florida’s biggest lake?
BY JENNY STALETOVICH, https://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/environment/article214620390.html

Phy.Org: What’s Causing the Algae Crisis? https://phys.org/news/2018-08-florida-algae-crisis.html

Red Tide, FWC east and west coasts of Florida: http://myfwc.com/redtidestatus