Annie Laura Houston Braddock
|My grandmother, Annie Laura Houston Braddock, was a remarkable woman. I base this observation not only on rich family lore of her, the last of Florida's pioneer women, but also on having known her the first twenty-one years of my life.|
|She was remarkable because she came from a remarkable family. Her 2nd great-grandfather, the first John Carroll Houston, was a Revolutionary soldier who was one of the pioneer families of Spanish East Florida. Her grandfather, John Carroll Houston III, was a pioneer of the Indian River area of Florida, being the first settler of Eau GallieThis picture is of my grandmother as a child. She is the tallest of the two children. Her father, John Houston, is on the right and the man on her left is her grandfather, John Carroll Houston III. Pretty cool, huh? I do not know who the other child is, but must be one of her brothers.|
|One of the remarkable things my grandmother did was write a lengthy story of her family's early days in Eau Gallie and how her father delivered mail to residents along the Indian River in a sailboat, but here, let her tell the story . . .|
Memories of Laura Houston Braddock
Captain John Houston was an early pioneer of Indian River. He was born in Mayport, Florida, on the third day of April, 1842. He was the son of Mary Virginia Murray [*see footnote]and John C. Houston. Captain .John's grandfather, John Houston, came to Talbot Island, near the mouth of the St. Johns River. He was an uncle of General Sam Houston of Texas fame. Originally, the two Houston brothers came from North Caro1ina. John Houston came to Florida and General Sam Houston's father went to Tennessee.
My father, Captain John, was seven years old when his family moved to Enterprise, Florida, from Mayport. His grandmother lived in Jacksonville and owned a hotel on the corner of Ocean and Adams Streets where many of the first travelers to Florida stopped. She was the widow of Major Taylor who was cousin to Zachary Taylor, ex-president of the United States and step-grandfather of Captain John. My father stayed with his grandmother and attended school in Jacksonville. He joined the Indian War when he was sixteen years old. His father had a hotel in Enterprise which is near Sanford. Florida. He also raised cattle. When father returned from the war, he and his father traveled down the old Capron Trail, which went from New Smyrna to Ft. Pierce. They reached Eau Gallie in the last part of November, 1859, being the first settlers. Grandfather named it E1bow Creek because what is now known as Eau Gallie River was shaped like an elbow. Later Governor W. H. Gleason named Elbow Creek Eau Gallie, which means Rocky Water (in the 1870's). In fact, there was only one other family on Indian River when they came here, this being the family of Captain Paine of St. Lucie who was in Government Service.
My grandfather secured from the state a tract of land extending from what is now known as Montreal Avenue to the Creek and from the river to the present U. S. Highway No. 1. I believe this was an old Spanish grant. They started building houses of logs. My grandfather had a large family and in addition brought ten slaves with him. It took nearly a year to complete the house so that they might move from Enterprise to Eau Gallie.On September 5, 1860, my father married Susan Stewart of L Grange, Florida, a small settlement west of Titusville. They went to Enterprise and lived with my grandfather until they moved to Elbow Creek in November, 1860. Their way of travelling was in covered wagons. The family settled down and grandfather raised sweet potatoes, corn and vegetables which were needed for his family and slaves. He also raised his own beef and park. This being before refrigeration as we know it today, his beef and pork was salted and cured for future use. Transportation being very limited, they sometimes ran out of salt at which times grandfather went over to the ocean with large boilers, boiled the salt water down, brought it home and placed it in vats to dry out. At that time staple supplies were purchased at Sanford and Jacksonville. Father would drive his ox team to lake Winder and use a boat to Sanford or Jacksonville as necessary, to secure clothing, staple supplies, groceries, etc. Grandfather grew quite a bit of sugar cane, having his own cane mill and making sugar and syrup for family use. This mill was located where the Eau Gallie Yacht Club now stands.
Grandfather had his own grits mill, making grits and meal from his own corn. There was plenty of wild game in the woods at the time; in fact, father often spoke of standing on his father's porch and seeing deer feeding nearby. There were wild turkeys, quail, ducks, and other game to be had. Indian River was plentifully stocked with fish. One of the methods of securing these was to row or pole a boat close to the river's edge, holding a pine knot torch and the fish would often land in the boat and they soon secured what fish they needed for immediate use. Father brought the first cattle ever brought south of New Smyrna on the East Coast and put on the Lake Washington range. He brought cattle here before the family ever moved here.In moving from Enterprise, grandfather came straight through with his family and the slaves, but father and mother stopped in La Grange to get her mother. While continuing on to Eau Gallie, dark overtook them and they stopped overnight on the mound known as Buzzard's Roost near Lake Washington. During the night father heard wolves howling and as he already had his cattle there, he built a fire to discourage the wolves from attacking him. However, next morning he found the body of one of his calves which he cut up and sprinkled with strychnine and scattered along the path. The next day he found the bodies of 43 dead wolves. Father and mother lived with father's parents for a while and then built a house on Crane Creek (now Melbourne), four miles south of Eau Gallie. This was the first house built there but he never lived in it. One day rowing along the river, not far from where the Brevard hospital is now located, his dogs following along the nearby shore, he suddenly heard them barking excitedly, so he beached his boat, took his rifle, and went ashore. He found the dogs had treed a bear, the huge animal weighing about 500 pounds. After he shot the bear he found he had a problem getting it home. Upon deliberating all angles he finally started rolling him over until he got him down to the bluff on the river shore. Then he sunk the boat, rolled the bear into it, bailed the boat out, and rowed on home with his prize.
Another time, father was hunting just above Horse Creek when his dogs tangled with a panther. The panther was tearing the dogs to pieces, but he was afraid to shoot for fear of hitting one of his dogs.. He got down from his horse, picked up a lightwood knot, and knocked the panther on the head with it, killing it.
At that time, New Smyrna was the nearest post office. The Government sent mail by a small boat from New Smyrna to Captain Paine at St. Lucie, and this man also brought the mail to grandfather. Later when Titusville had been settled and a post office established and a number of settlers were along the Indian River, mail boats were operating down the Indian River to bring mail to these settlers. In the late 1860's, a post office was established in Eau Gallie, my grandfather being the first post master. The Eau Gallie River at that time being called Elbow Creek.
Later father bought 40 acres of land at lake Washington and built a log house where his oldest daughter, Clara Houston McMillan, was born. Clara was the first white child born in Brevard County after Osceola was cut off of Brevard. Her oldest daughter. Mrs. Jessie Stewart, now lives in Eau Gallie. Her next child, also a girl, Mrs. Claudia Christian, is now living in Miami. She had three sons, Leland, Jimmy, and Johnny, all deceased. In addition, my parents had four other children, who live, George C., Frank, Bessie, snd myself - Laura.
While living at Lake Washington, my grandfather gave my father a woman slave to stay with my mother while father was away. They also had a young lad about 16 to help with the chores. One night the lad rushed into the house and yelled, "The Indians are coming, I'm leaving. Mother pleaded with him to stay with her and the slave, but he would not. She barricaded the house as best she could but was unable to sleep. Finally she decided a drink of water would help, and she opened the door to the outside to go to the kitchen for water. There on the walkway lay the figure of a man. He arose, and it was only the lad who decided the whole thing was a false alarm and returned quietly during the night
During the Civil War, father ran the blockade from Nassau to Jupiter to get supplies for the Confederate Forces/ These supplies were then sent off to New Smyrna. He made several successful trips before being captured and taken prisoner by the Union Forces. He was carried to sea for three months, and his family heard nothing of him. He was released in Key West after the war and got a fisherman to bring him to Miami by boat. There was one family living in Miami at that time, Addison by name, just an old man and his wife. Mr. Addison gave father a small hatchet and Mrs. Addison gave him some venison and bread. Mr. Addison took him across the bay to the beach and father walked to Jupiter along the beach, a distance of 80 miles. It was a long and lonely walk, filled with unknown perils. At times panthers would follow his trail, and he would walk in the surf in an effort to throw them off scent. Hours later, trudging through the sand, he would sense the panther had resumed stalking him, and he would have to get back in the surf. At night he built a fire to last all night so that he could sleep without fear of being attacked, as a wild animal will not go near an open fire. One morning he found the imprint of a panther's body on the bluff above him, possibly hoping the fire would die down, giving him a chance to attack his prey. The sand showed signs of of the patiently switching tail where the panther had kept his all-night vigil.When father arrived in Jupiter, he found an old log house and went in to rest, although no one was around. After a while he saw a man carrying a rifle. He recognized the man as a deserter from the Southern Army, but was happy just have someone to talk to after the long, lonely days of walking. Father found a saw blade and a wreck of a boat. With the hatchet, he drew out all the nails and with the wood built a small boat and paddle. He said farewell and paddled to what is now Malabar, from where he walked to Eau Gallie. When he arrived at the south side of the creek, he hallowed his famous "cow holler" (Florida yodel). His father, who was living on Houston Street, between what is now known as Oak and Young, heard the call and recognized it as young John's. With joy he hurried down to bring him across the creek and home again. Father recounted his adventures and amazed his listeners with his fortitude and determination to come home to his family, even swimming the inlets between Miami and Jupiter.
In the meantime, during the Civil War, my maternal grandfather, Jonathan Stewart, moved from LaGrange to Eau Gallie, homesteading some land south of Horse Creek. The next settler after the Civil War was jack Simmons, who homesteaded a piece of land about seven miles northwest of Eau Gallie. He was a widower with three children, his wife having been my mother's sister.
Following the Civil War, several families moved to the Indian River section, seeking new frontiers and new opportunities, and soon many families were living up and down the river, and the territory began to settle up. Among the early settlers was my mother's uncle, Israel Stewart, who settled up the river nine miles above Eau Gallie, his location later being called Bonaventure. He had six children. The oldest was a girl, Susan, who married Aleck Bell and became the earliest settler in Ft. pierce. One son, Alexander A. Stewart, was the first Deputy clerk of Brevard County. This was after the county had been divided, the western part becoming Osceola County. This was in 1870. He served until 1913, a total of 43 years. The first Court sessions were held under the trees in Cousin Aleck;s yard at what is now Boaventure.
Another son, Quincy Stewart, was the first Brevard County Sheriff. Another son, Rufus Stewart, settled on Merritt Island and still another, Bethel Stewart, who married father's sister, Belle Houston, settle at Bevine, northwest of Eau Gallie, and engaged in the cattle business. Their daughter, Mrs. Sue Seawright, now lives in Eau Gallie, and a son, Leon Stewart, lives in Titusville. Sam Stewart lives in Miami.Another early settler was Gardner Hardee who came from Georgia and settled in Rockledge in 1868. He married mother's sister, Emma Stewart He also had two brothers who came to Rockledge about the same time, Bob and Allen Hardee. My uncle, Gardner Hardee, planted orange groves and at one time had the largest groves on the Indian River. He would farm his land and at night grind grits and meal. He would catch fish and kill game for living purposes until his groves started bearing. Uncle Gardner was always so kind and loving that he was greatly loved by everyone, especially the children.
The following is the history of Pioneer Groves started along the Indian River by Gardner Hardee:
The Seminole War started in 1837. Gardner Hardee, the son of a Georgia planter whose plantation was confiscated by the Carpet Baggers, having served as a courier to General Lee in the Civil War, settled in Rockledge on the Indian River Drive, in 1868. Soon Gardner took into himself a bride and built a cabin in the wilderness at what is now Rockledge. His nearest neighbor lived five miles up the river.
Hardee homesteaded a tract of land and cleared a portion of the tract he believed the Government had granted him. Working early and late he soon had a sizeable clearing for his garden and grove. Soon he discovered there had been a mistake in the survey and he had cleared the wrong acreage.
The very next morning he started afoot from Rockledge for Sanford, hiking through virgin pine land and hammock (not hitch hiking), reaching the St. John's Rover. Taking his papers in his mouth, he swam the St. John's. At Sanford his papers were corrected and he hiked back to Rockledge-70 miles-again swimming the St. John's, reaching home to start all over again. Soon he had enough land cleared for a garden and a corn patch. Indian pumpkins, home ground grits, (sofka) and mullett were among the main items on the daily menu, with cabbage palmetto a frequent delicacy. The pumpkin was cooked in a big iron kettle over a pine knot fire. The sofka was ground by hand from corn raised in the clearing.
One day as Gardner felled trees and his bride stirred a kettle of Indian pumpkin, a dog barked. At the end of the clearing appeared a stately Indian chief. In single file twelve braves followed their Chief. It was rumored many of the Seminoles were still hostile to the whites.
Hardee motioned his bride to the cabin., then stood waiting for the chief to speak. Slowly and with great dignity, patting his belly, thus spoke the Chief: "Me Tiger Tail, big Chief heap hungry. Hardee feed." So Hardee spread a feast for the Chief and his braves: "sofka," boiled Indian pumpkin, smoked mullet. All the store of winter provisions were brought from the cabin. The Indians squatted around the pine knot fire and ate as only a hungry Indian can eat. The kettle was huge but the Indians were hungry. They left the kettle and larder empty. Then they strode away majestically into the forest.
Many moons later Tiger Tail returned with his braves - just as silently and unexpectedly as he had come the first time. But now each brave carried a saddle of venison which they proceeded to heap before Hardee's cabin. Then the Chief addressed Gardner Hardee - "Me Tiger Tail good friend. Me Tiger Tail heap big chief. Indian hungry, Hardee feedum. Now Indian bring venison food. Hardee keepum." Which was the beginning of a life long friendship between a beloved old pioneer and the famous Tiger tail.
This is the history of the founding of the famous Indian River Pioneer groves.
While the first citrus fruit was hauled by mule team from Rockledge to the St. John's landing to be shipped by boat to Jacksonville, then north to all points in the United States and Canada - today, Robert L. Schlernitzaur, the grandson of Gardner Hardee, carried on the tradition of his grandfather by growing and shipping this Indian River fruit in individual gift packages to customers throughout the United States and Canada.
Cocoa-Rockledge, because of the excellence of the Indian River fruit, has become the largest express shipping point to mail order citrus in the world.
Gardner Hardee had six daughters: Florence, who married George Gingrass; Emma, who married Mr. Skelly of Chicago; Ruth, who married Dr. Robert L. Schlernitzaur. These three daughters are now deceased. His other three daughters who live in Cocoa are Minnie Andrews, Maud Ronald and Grace Fleming.
Following the Civil War, John Casper came from Kentucky and married my mother's sister, Mary Stewart. They had a large and beautiful home on Merritt Island. They raised beautiful flowers in their gardens which were admired by travellers sailing down the river.. Many winter tourists stopped there to admire the flower gardens and visit.
In 1869 Colonel Titus settled at Sand Point which was later named Titusville.
There was a family name McGurder that moved to Rockledge. They operated the sawmill to serve the building of the first houses on the Indian River. Others that moved to City Point were the hatches, Mathers, Chances, Carters, and Enoch Hall who for years was County Tax Collector.
Dr. Wilson was the first doctor in Titusville. Among the other early settlers to that area were the Joiners and Captain Pritchard's family. Captain Pritchard opened the first bank on the Indian River in Titusville. His son, Budinot, owns the hardware store in Titusville. He is the only one living. Mr. Brady owned a large grocery store in Titusville but later moved to Miami.Captain Lund built the first hotel in Titusville which he called the "Lund House." I well remember staying there for a couple of weeks when I was a young lady.
Captain S. M. Rice and family built a boarding house in 1890 which was called "Rice House." Captain Rice's oldest daughter is Mrs. Harry Love. She is now living in Jacksonville. Her son, William Jibb, is vice-president of Industrial Parts of Florida in Tallahassee and her daughter Bessier is married to Fred Farrell who is a retired banker.
Mr. Ellis Wager published the first newspaper in Titusville which he called the "Indian River Stat." Mr. Charlie Walton had the second newspaper office in Titusville which he called the "East Coast Advocate."
The A. A. Stewart family moved to Titusville in the Early 1870's. Dr. George W. Holmes was the first doctor who ever settled on the Indian River and he lived at Sharpes. Captain and Mrs. Sharpes were living there when he came. Dr. Holmes set up his practice and acquired a sailboat which he used to visit all of his patients along the Indian River. Some of his patients would go in their sailboats and he would go in his sailboat to them and take care of all their needs.
Dr. William Fee was was the first doctor in Melbourne, and Dr. H. D. Brown was the second.
The first large steamer to ever run on the Indian River was a side wheel boat names the "Rockledge." She ran from Titusville to Melbourne and back in a day's time.
Mr. Wilkason built the first hotel in Rockledge which he named the Indian River Hotel. Many tourists would come down the river and stay there. Dr. Leland Hughlett was a young man at that time and came to the Indian River Hotel and became the hotel physician. Dr. Hughlett married Mr. Wilkason's daughter and they settled in Cocoa, which was new town. Dr. Hughlett opened a drug store and for many years was the leading physician. He was so well known that people came up from Miami to be treated by him. Dr. Daniels was the first dentist on Cocoa and had his office in the same building with Dr. Hughlett. People came from all up and down the river in their boats to be taken care of by Dr. Daniels. Dr. Schlernitzaur came to Cocoa around 1906.
Dr. M. P. Deboe came to Cocoa in 1915. He joined the service during World War I. He moved to Miami in 1924 and passed away in 1955. He was considered one of the finest medical doctors on the Indian River and the leading specialist in the state and was very kind and nice.After the first large steamer "Rockledge" began to run from Titusville to Melbourne, my father sold his sailboats and also bought a small steamer named the "Unique." He ran this boat from Melbourne to Jupiter making two trips a week carrying passengers, mail and freight.
Captain Richard Paddison was captain of the "Rockledge" and his son, George, was the purser. George was later founder of the Seacoast Lumber and supply Co., and opened the first lumber yard in Eau Gallie in 1893. He built the company building on Pineapple and Columbus Streets which now houses the same company. Later, he had lumber yards all along the east coast to Miami. He also had a large novelty shop in Eau Gallie and employed forty to fifty men. Some of the first buildings in Miami had their doors and windows made in George's Novelty Shop. As well as I can remember George Paddison died in 1918 in Eau Gallie. With his passing Eau Gallie lost its best businessman.
The next steamers to run on the Indian River were small stern wheel steamers. There were three boats called the "Georgianna," the " Della" and "S.V. White." These were built by the Indian River Steam Boat Company which was formed by and of which Captain Richard Paddison was the superintendent.
My father, Captain John Houston, and my two brothers (one a boat pilot and the other an engineer) were the only ones at that time who could takes the steamers on the Melbourne to Jupiter run without getting them grounded on the sand bars. The channel between Melbourne and Jupiter hadn't been deepened as yet. The later taught other pilots the true river channel.The first large stern wheel steamer on the river Captain Paddison had built at Wilmington, Delaware by the Indian River Steam Boat Company and was named the "St. Lucie." I well remember my first trip on the "St. Lucie" as I went with Captain Bravo and his wife. Captain Bravo was captain of the St. Lucie and we went down the river to Jupiter. There was a railroad which ran from Jupiter to Lake Worth, and Mrs. Bravo and I made the trip on the train. I was about ten or eleven years old and that was my first train ride.
Captain Paddison resigned as Superintendent of the Indian River Steam Boat Company and Captain W. B. Watson of Jacksonville, a schoolmate of my father, was appointed as new Superintendent. He went to Wilmington Delaware and had two other steam boats built. One was the "Sabastian" which was larger than the "St. Lucie" and the other was the "St. Augustine" which was a beautiful boat with mahogany paneling and mirrored rooms inside. It was a boat typical of the the river steamers you see in the movies of today. The "St. Augustine" took the place of the "Rockledge" on the run from Titusville to Melbourne, as a day-boat.
Later the "Progress" steamer was bought. The boat had been built for and had run on the Mississippi River. Among the Captains of these boats were: Capt. Barvo, Capt. Buie, Capt. George Masayer, Capt. William Jones, Capt. Charlie Brock, Capt. Charlie Watson, Capt. John Houston, Capt. Frank Houston, Capt. George Gleason, Capt. Herman Fisher, Sr. and Capt. William Lee.
Captain William Lee later became United States Inspector of Steamers and moved to Savannah, Georgia. I received a nice letter from him twenty years ago and he said it was the first long letter he had written to anyone in years.
The last big steamer was brought to Indian River in 1912, and my brother Frank Houston was the captain. It made the run from Ft. Pierce to Jacksonville on the Inland Waterway. It was owned by East Coast Canal Company but was later discontinued, as it didn't pay.
In 1886 the Plant System built a railroad from Enterprise to Titusville known as the J. T. & K. W. Railroad (Jacksonville, Titusville & Key West Railroad). This helped the town of Titusville to grow more rapidly and that was when the steamers began to operate on the Indian River.
Before I was born, there were many winter visitors who came to this section and they would stop at my father's house. They taught my brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles before the schools were built.
The first publics school in Eau Gallie was built in 1886 and was located south of Rocky Water. Jenny Baker was the first teacher and she stayed at my father's house.
Before the times of the steamers, my father ran large sailing boats on the river and carried parties, mail and freight. He brought many illustrious pioneers down the river on their first trip. These pioneers included Dr. Holmes, Judge Minor S Jones, who for many years was Circuit Judge and even traveled to Miami at different times to hold court. Judge Jones married Captain Paine's daughter, Gertrude, and my father who was Justice of the Peace married them.
In the winters of 1870's my father carried hunting parties on trips south. Among passengers were F. Lourrilard of the tobacco industries and Governor William H. Gleason who made the first inland water trip to Miami. On the trip they first went to Jupiter and then out into the Atlantic Ocean to Miami in sailboats.
Father had a large sailboat and it was quite comfortable with bunks for all, tables built on the center board, a box of sand on the stern of the boat, and wood in the hatch to build fires for hot meals as there were no oil stoves in those days.
My father could speak the Indian language very well. He was always kind to the Indians and they loved him. I remember they came up river in their canoes to visit with him lots of times.
Years before I was born, an incident happened which merits telling. My father was away from home one whole day, and when he got back and started to the house he met an Indian coming from the house. "John was away and white squaw scared aplenty!"
Settlers on the river as it began to fill up had orange groves which produced good paying crops. Then in 1895 or 1896 there was a big freeze which practically wiped out the whole orange crop. Many trees were either badly damaged or killed. The groves on Merritt Island were better off than other sections as they had plenty of protection lying between the Indian and Banana Rivers and those groves started bearing again quickly. The big freeze was a bad blow to most of the sections of the State at large. Many grove owners gave up the fight and others replanted. Soon the Indian River Oranges gained wide fame as finest of oranges grown, which title it maintains to this day.
In 1876 the Government built a house of refuge in the lower end of the Indian Rivers Narrows near Vero Beach for the use of anyone shipwrecked. They could remain there until transportation came. Ships came and brought supplies every three or four months. My father was the keeper of the Refuge House for five years. I was born there in January, 1878.
My father had a homestead one mile north of Eau Gallie Creek where Rocky Water is now located. We lived there six years, then moved to Eau Gallie on Houston Street where father died on February 22, 1918.
Mother's young brother, Charlie Stewart, married Florrie Lambert of Quincy, Florida. There children still living are Mrs. Gertrude Karrick and Ralph Stewart, both of Eau Gallie, Mrs. Annie Anderson of Pearson, Florida, Mrs. Nellie Ginter of Daytona Beach. Mother's younger sister, Annie Laura, married Charlie Creech and they live on Merritt Island a number of years after which they moved West Palm Beach in 1900. This daughter, Mrs. Florrie Creech, still lives there. Father's oldest sister, Lizzie, married George Adams of Georgia. They had a son, George, who died and left two daughters who are now in Miami - Mrs. Winnie McMillan and Mrs. Ruth Cameran. Later she married George Sears. In the early 80's they moved to Miami and lived as neighbors of Governor Gleason before the Gleasons moved to Eau Gallie.
The State built an agricultural college in 1876 between 5th and 6th streets on Indian River in Eau Gallie of coquina rock. It was never used as a college, so Mr. Gleason got it from the State and henry Olmstead lived there. When I first remember, he owned a store north of it and was postmaster. Later Mr. Olmstead bought the north point of of Eau Gallie River and Indian River where he built a two story house. He had a store and post office on the first floor and lived upstairs. He had a dock where all the steam boats could stop. He bought the land from my grandfather.
My father's next sister married Captain J.N. Hopkins of a prominent family from Jacksonville. They have one daughter, Mrs. A.P. Chambliss of Pee Dee, South Carolina. Her mother died when she was ten years old and she came to live with us for eight years. I have just returned from a three-week visit with her. She is like a sister to me. Father's sister married Bill Roesch. They have one son living in Palm Bay, Bill Roesch.
My father's youngest sister married Charlie Young. They have two daughters, Mabel Tedder of Belle Glade, Minnie Long and a son, Harry, of Miami.
In the early 1890's, I was about twelve or thirteen years old, Colonel Green came here. He was an American who had lived most of his life in India. He bought quite a bit of property on the south side of the Eau Gallie River, west of where the railroad is now. He built a large bungalow like those built in India. It was built so high from the ground you could walk underneath it. A little later, he built several cottages to rent to the tourists, and a hotel, "DeNile," where a number of tourists would come every year and spend the winter. Some of them were very wealthy.
When the railroad came in1893, this place was a flag station and was named "Sarno." The building is still there but it has been lowered. After the railroad came through, I used to walk across the railroad bridge to go from our house to attend dances there before the county bridge was built. There was only two trains a day and one freight train so we weren't afraid to walk across.Colonel Green owned this place for several years, leaving here in 1896, and the property stayed vacant until 1904. Colonel Fowler, who owned the Kentucky Military Institute in Louisville, Kentucky, bought the property, remodeled the hotel and cottages and the Kentucky Military Institute students would come here the first of January and stay three months every year. They came here until 1924 or 1925, when Colonel Fowler died.
Several years after Colonel Fowler's death, all the buildings burned except the first building that Colonel Green had built. Today they are developing all this property and running Sarno Road four or five miles beyond the road that goes to Kissimmee. Ten million dollars worth of homes are to be built on this property.
In 1895, A.M. Sample came here and opened the first fish house. He stayed here about a year and then went to Ft. Pierce. Other fish houses were started in 1901 and 1902 and fishing was one of the big industries. One of the owners ran a run-boat up the Banana river where he would camp out and fish, coming in on the weekends. The run-boat would go up every day to pick up the fish; they were packed in ice and shipped out in carloads.
Father had three brothers. Fred has two daughters living - Mrs. Clara King of Melbourne and Mrs. Mamie Carter of Eau Gallie. His brother Carroll has a daughter Franconia and a sin, Russell, of Miami. My uncle Chris was captain on the tug "Three Friends" for 25 years. His son Spicer, is living and also has three daughters, Virginia, Neka and Mary, all of Jacksonville.
Dr. W.J. Creel was the first doctor to come to Eau Gallie to stay over two years. He came here in 1910 and went to the sick with his horse and buggy. The first time he came to see me he rode a bicycle. Dr. Creel is a good man. I never knew of his refusing to go to anyone sick or who needed him. They named the new causeway here the Dr. J.W. Creel Causeway. I don't know of anyone better it could have been named for.
The first drug store in Eau Gallie was owned by Dr. Lansing. He came here in 1893. He was Lansing Gleason's grandfather. The next drug store was owned by Dr. L.A. Peek who lived in Melbourne.
The Hodgson Brothers had a store on Houston Street and the Eau Gallie River. They also had ways to haul out small boats when the large steamers ran on the river, The Company had a large dry dock at Eau Gallie where they repaired the steamers. My father and two brothers ran these boats from start to finish. All the captains were friends of my father and all of them were my friends. I spent the happiest days of my life on those boats. My father was away most of the time when we lived at Rocky Water north of Eau Gallie. My mother and I had to stay alone most of the time. She was hard of hearing and at night she would read to me to keep me awake so I could listen to know if anyone tried to get in. The tramps would walk a path by our house. We spent many a lonesome hour there. When I was ten father moved into Eau Gallie near his mother and sisters. Then he moved up the Eau Gallie River and I had to row a boat to the foot of Houston Street and walk about five or six blocks to go to school. In 1892 he built a home on Houston Street and lived there until he died in 1916. My father used to feed more people than anyone I ever knew. Our house was the stopping place for anyone that came along. When my mother's mother died over the Indian River about four miles from Eau Gallie, father owned a small steamer. We got the word that grandmother was dead at twelve at night. Father did not have anyone to pilot the boat but me. I was twelve years old. He showed me a star and told me to steer the boat to that star and I would be at my uncle Jim's dock. I did and made the landing.
I can remember the first ice cream there ever was in Eau Gallie. My Aunt Mary made it. They got the ice from Titusville. It was packed in sawdust and shipped by the steamboats. They had started and ice factory in Titusville then. That was when I was twelve.
My people had a hard time for many years. When they first came here, the nearest post office was over 60 miles away. There was no doctor any nearer or any store. Dr. Holmes came to the river before I was born. He was a fine man, always jolly and good to everyone. He often told me my father taught him how to smoke a pipe. He said he was on the boat with my father and the wind was blowing hard. As fast as father would strike a match, the wind would blow it out, so father asked the doctor to hold the tiller for him, and father went to the bow of the boat, got under the deck and lit the pipe. Doctor said anything was that much trouble to anyone must [give] them a lot of pleasure, so the next time he got where he could buy a pipe, he bought one and went to smoking. All the old timers loved Dr. Holmes. They started to have picnics north of Rockledge before I was born and also sailboat races. The people all up and down the river would go. Each had a basket of dinner and there were long tables to put the food on. Everyone one would eat. Most everybody knew each other. They kept these picnics until I was grown. They were held on the first day of May every year.
After my brother Frank was big enough to sail a boat, he always came in ahead of the others. Frank was brought up on a boat. I never knew anyone who could handle a boat like he could. He was always laughing and brought sunshine to everyone he met. He got more people jobs than any one I ever knew. His death was hard to all his many friends. When I was a child we always knew when he would land his boat. We could hear him singing. He always said it was better to sing than cry. One time he was pilot of the steamer "Sebastian," one of the largest steamers on the river. When he got near the Jupiter Narrows, it was nearly seven miles through, a man bet Frank five dollars he could not take the Sebastian through the narrows as it was so crooked that one person on one side of the boat and another on the other side could reach reach the trees at the same time. The man bet Frank that he could not take the boat with full steam through without running into the trees. My brother George was engineer. Frank told George to stand where he could stop the boat if he rang the bell, but he did not have to ring. He never touched the trees and the boat had full steam.
Years later when they were building the extension from Miami, they brought some large barges from New Smyrna down the Indian River and on to Miami. Some other captain brought some of them, but could bring only one at a time. The pushed the barges in front of the boat, but Frank went after the last ones and pushed six barges at one time. I can see him now in my memory, standing in the pilot house, turning that big wheel.My father's grandmother came from England when she was a young girl. Her father settled in St. Augustine. He had a number of sons who married and settled there. Their name was Floyd. Great grandfather's son, Captain Charlie Taylor, ran on steamers on the St. John's River for years but was with the City of Jacksonville for years, also. He was one of the nicest men I ever knew. I loved him like a father. His oldest son, Robert R. Taylor, Sr., moved to Miami with his family when Miami was starting to build. I went to Miami on the same train with him, I believe in 1896. He was an attorney. He has two sons who are attorneys in Miami now. Robert Jr. was County Solicitor for 20 years in Dade County.
Father's second small steamer was called the "Maggie Dillon." The last job he complete with that boat was building the Inland Waterway from Lake Worth to Jupiter.
After the railroad extended to South Florida, the Indian River Steam Boat Company dissolved. My father started a boat yard and built boats until he retired two years before his death.My brother George also had a boat yard here and built speed boats until World War I, at the time he went to New York and became an engineer on the steamship "Kansas." This ship carried supplies from New York to France during the war. The Kansas was torpedoed just one half mile from the French coast. George had been relieved and was just out of the engine room about ten minutes when the blast came and the engineer on duty was killed. On his return to New York, he started making trips to South America. After World War I he returned to Eau Gallie and moved his family to Miami. He lived there until May, 1950. He moved back to Eau Gallie and died August, 1950.
George's oldest son, Frank L. Houston,, started steam boating when he was sixteen years of age on the railroad extension from Miami to Key West. During the hurricane of 1906, Captain Bravo of the "St. Lucie" and Frank, who was wheelman on that boat, were caught in the storm and the St. Lucie was wrecked about two miles from shore. Captain Bravo and nephew Frank were the only survivors. They swam the two miles to shore and held onto the mangrove trees for a day and night before being rescued.
After the extension was finished, my nephew Frank became the captain of a Standard Oil tanker. He travelled all over the oceans with these company tankers for thirteen years. He finally retired because of ill health and moved to Miami. He came to Eau Gallie in 1950 and died the same year.
Shortly after the turn of the century, the inland waterway from Jacksonville to Miami was opened for the first time to shallow draft boats. To make this possible, a great deal of slow laborious work was done, much of it with very crude equipment. One example of the difficulties encountered on this project was a job accomplished by my youngest brother, the late Captain Frank Houston. He was in charge of a small dredge, or sand sucker. Such an outfit was as suitable for cleaning out the canals was as suitable for cleaning out canals of silt after the dipper or shovel type dredges had made the original excavation.
At Ft. Lauderdale the route crossed the New River Inlet and entered a sound that was separated from the ocean by a narrow strip of sand. The New River Inlet was a natural formation and when the new channel was dug across it they found that the motion of water washed the sand back and filled the channel. One half mile up river from the Inlet a natural waterway flowed south one mile and ended in a small lake. This lake was separated from the above-mentioned sound by some six hundred feet of mangrove swamp.
It was decided to change the route away from the Inlet by making a cut through the swamp. There was no dipper dredge available at that time, so Captain Frank moved his little rig in to attempt the impossible. He sent his crew in with axes and bolo knives and cleared the right of way. But below a mangrove swamp there is a layer of peat and root growth that defined any pumping action. While in Ft. Lauderdale to report to the canal company, Captain Frank saw a horse scraper grading spare land. This gave him an idea and he went to a supply house and purchased one of those scrapers and carried it back to the dredge. From the ocean beach he gathered the necessary timbers cast up by the sea and from his forge he shaped the fittings to build a crude dipper dredge. With this outfit he made the cut from Lake Mabel into New River Sound.
Today great ships from all over the world enter Port Everglades. It is a beehive of industry and commerce, but I doubt is there is another person in all the world who thinks of it as I do. To me Port Everglades is the Giant Oak that has grown from the tiny acorn planted by a true pioneer, just one of the many to whom we owe so much for their courage and ability to fight back when the odds were against them.
In 1921, Captain Frank took charge of the dredge for the City of Miami. It was through his work with this dredge that the ship channel across Biscayne Bay was first accepted and charted by the United States Government.My brother Frank, captain on the steamers while finishing the railroad, later went to Miami as Captain of a dredge. The Dredge was used to deepen the inlet from the ocean to the Miami docks across the Bay. He had a pile-driver on the dredge in 1925 and one day he was motioning to the man in the lever room to drop the hammer on the piling, his foot slipped and he caught hold of the piling to break his fall. The hammer came down and hit his hand and it cut his fingers off. Due to complications he died of lockjaw in August, 1925. Brother Frank's oldest son, Arthur, for a number of years was in New York. Frank's youngest son, Don Houston, was captain of private yachts and he travelled back and forth from the north to the south for many years. His last job was taking a big yacht to California through the Panama canal. He now lives in Miami. My brother's son, Arthur, is deceased.
My father, John Houston, was County Commissioner of Brevard County from 1894 to 1900. He then resigned and went to Palm Beach to work on the Breakers Hotel. During his County Commissioner Administration the first bridge was built across the Eau Gallie river and the highway from Eau Gallie to Melbourne was hard-surfaced. Before the bridge was built, people going to Melbourne had to either go by boat or go around the creek about three miles. Father was also mayor and justice of Peace for many years.
Brother George's son, Raymond, is now living in Miami and he owns a novelty shop. His two daughters are Blanche Martin of Miami and her husband is in the insurance building; and Sue Sheppard of Okechobee, and she and her husband are hotel owners.
When the Florida East Coast Railroad was first built from south Jacksonville to St. Augustine it was later extended to Daytona. In May, 1893, it was extended to Eau Gallie, and there the terminal was located for nine months. Then the railroad was extended to Ft. Pierce and a few years later it went on to Palm Beach and then to Miami. The railroad company had a large dock, and the first depot was on this dock in Eau Gallie. After the railroad extended to Ft. Pierce, they built another depot and did not use the Eau Gallie dock any more. It was the largest wooden building in the world but is now torn down.
Mr. Flagler always did things with great speed, and this hotel was built and open for business in less than a year. He employed 1000 workmen on the building.
The Gleasons, Hodgesons, William Truetler, Captain Bennett, Jack Harrison were among some of the first people who came to Eau Gallie in the early '80's.
The first hotel in Eau Gallie was built by Mr. Truetler. It was built in about 1888 and was a three-story building facing the Eau Gallie River, in Hyde Park. In the winters there were many tourist who stayed there. The hotel burned on Thanksgiving day in 1893. Mr. Truetler built a hotel on the corner of the present Olaf station on Pineapple and 9th Street.
The First Baptist Church site was donated by Governor Gleason in 1886. Mr. H. M. Proce was the first minister. Other denominations also held services in this church on Highland and Memorial Streets. The only ones who I know went to school in the church who are now living are Miss Florence Hodgeson and Mrs. Jessie Stewart of Eau Gallie, Mrs. Kate Maclendon of Miami, and myself.The second church was the St. John's Episcopal Church on Young Street, the land being donated by father's youngest sister, Mary Houston Young. She also donated land for Young Street which was named for her. The church was built in 1897. Rev. B.F. Brown of Titusville held the first services and these were held once a month.
There were many hardships endured by the first settlers of Eau Gallie. When the coffee supplies would give out, they would sometimes roast and grind acorns and corn and it fix it for drinking. When they would run out of lard, they would use tallow as shortening for baking bread, which wasn't very good.
The mosquito situation was very bad. People didn't have screens as we do today and had to sleep under mosquito nets and build smudge fires all around the house and porch to keep them away.
One time grandmother had twenty horses pastured on the peninsular and during the summer the mosquitoes became so bad the horses swam the river coming ashore just north of Elbow Creek, now called the Eau Gallie River.
At another time father and grandfather lost most of their cattle which were pastured on the Lake Washington Prairies during a hurricane as there was no one to look after them.
The first house of lumber in the Indian River was built from wood found on the ocean beach across from Eau Gallie by grandfather. A large schooner had wrecked, and the lumber it was carrying washed up on the ocean beach. Grandfather and father built a barge on which they carried the ox team and cart across the Indian River. They then hauled the salvaged lumber across the Indian River, loaded it on the barge and brought it over to Eau Gallie. The house was built next to grandfather's log houses on Houston Street. My grandfather died in that same house in 1894.
Among the first settlers in Malabar were the Arnolds and Charles Bolton. The first settlers in Sebastian which at one time was call "Blue Hole," were the Parks. In the early 1880's Mr. Kitchen moved from England to Sebastian and had a store where people would stop by in their boats going up or down the river.
Among the first settlers in Ft. Pierce was Alex Bell and his family. His mother was my mother's Uncle Israel Stewart's daughter. She was his only child.
The first bank in Eau Gallie was built in 1893 in the east part of where Myrtle's Restaurant is now. Mr. Truetler was President, Mr. Aspinwall was Vice-President, and Mr. Vivell was Cashier. Mr. Truetler closed the bank in 1896 giving depositors all their money back.
Mrs. Aspinwall and Mrs. Vivall built a dance hall on Guana Avenue near 8th Street in 1893. Every year for many years they would have a big masquerade ball on New Year's Eve and people would come from Stuart and Oak Hill and up and down the river to attend the affair..
Earlier, in the freeze of 1886, most of the fish in the river froze. The orange groves were also frozen and badly damaged. My brother-in-law, Preston MacMillen, said he would pick fish up by the wheelbarrow loads an the shore and put them around his orange trees. At this time lived on Merritt Island.
My Husband, C. E. Braddock, and I were married in 1903. We lived in Miami for 24 years. My husband died in 1955.
The first time I went to Miami there was nothing but a white rock road called Avenue D.
My oldest son, Richard, and daughter, Lucille, are living in their homes near me now. Deboe lives in Miami and he is in the greyhound dog business.
My father went through many hardships on this river when he ran the sailboats. No matter how cold or wet the weather, he would always sail his boat. I have also been on his boat at dead calm and he would and he would have to get near shore and then pole his boat along.
Among some other to carry mail in sailboats on the river was mother's youngest brother, Charles Stewart, and my father's two brothers, Fred and Carroll Houston, also Charles Young and Jim Bell of Ft. Pierce.
My youngest brother carried the mail before he was sixteen and so he had to have an older man go with him. On the night before is sixteenth birthday, he said, "Now I can go by myself to carry the mail to Titusville."
I have two cousins older than I am: Oscar Stewart of Titusville and Minnie Andrews of CoCoa. Then I am the third oldest person born on the Indian River, that is living on the river.
I am now living alone on the Lake Washington Road. It is a lonely life just spent with the fond memories of the past. Some of my happiest memories are of when I was young and taking trips on the beautiful Indian River. I remember the river being like a sheet of mirrored glass - and the dark nights and also the beautiful moonlight nights - the stern wheel steamers and how they could seem to make waves of fire behind them in the light. I have had a full and happy young life.* Annie Laura wrote "Mary Virginia Murray." She meant to write "Mary Virginia Hall."
Compiled and written 1959
These are the memories of Laura Houston Braddock, daughter of Captain John Houston, and also the memories of her father, as told to her.
Laura was married to C. E Braddock in 1903. They moved to Miami in 1920. Mr. And Mrs. Braddock raised four children, three of whom are still living: Richard of Eau Gallie, Eugene De Boe of Miami, and Mrs. Lucille Weems of Eau Gallie. One son, Leland H. (Ted) died in 1943 while serving in the U.S. Army.
Mr. and Mrs. Braddock moved back to Eau Gallie in 1944 where Mr. Braddock died at his home on Lake Washington Road on December 19, 1955, aged 74.
Mrs. Laura Braddock died November 2, 1961 and is buried in the Eau Gallie Cemetery. She was 89. Surviving her are her daughter, Mrs. Lucille Bunch, Eau Gallie; two sons, Richard E. Braddock, Eau Gallie, and Eugene D. Braddock, Longwood.
|The original copy of this filed in the Melbourne Library - Florida File, Brevard County History.|
Annie Laura's husband, Charles Edward Braddock, in WW1. They must have kept this pretty quiet. I never heard of him doing this. This flying thing. Or maybe he just stood beside the plane for the picture.
This is my grandmother. Annie Laura Houston Braddock. The two children must be Lucille and Richard. Early FL.
This is their son, and my father, Eugene Deboe Braddock, as a child.
I hope you enjoyed my
Pat Braddock Youngs
For a timeline of Indian
River history go to:
INDIAN RIVER COUNTY HISTORICAL TIMELINE
|Email me: PATNBEAR||Visit my personal web page: PAT'S PERSONAL PAGE|