The once home of pioneers Hiram and Hattie Olds as viewed from Gilbert’s Bar House of Refuge after a shipwreck. Hutchinson Island, Florida. ca. 1904. Courtesy local historian Sandra Henderson Thurlow.
I learned something form my previous blog post that I think is really interesting.
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.
Photographs by JTL at sunset of the House of Refuge we know and love today. If you’d like to learn more you can order Sandra and Deanna Thurlow’s Gilbert’s Bar, Home of History. You can visit too!