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Pinellas a brief history of the lower point
Bethell, John A
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St. Petersburg, Fla
Press of the Independent Job Dept.
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79 p. : ills., maps. ;


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History -- Pinellas County (Fla.) ( lcsh )
letter ( marcgt )


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by the oldest living settler, John A. Bethell.

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University of South Florida Library
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University of South Florida
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The University of South Florida Libraries believes that the Item is in the Public Domain under the laws of the United States, but a determination was not made as to its copyright status under the copyright laws of other countries. The Item may not be in the Public Domain under the laws of other countries.
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C54-00001 ( USFLDC DOI )
c54.1 ( USFLDC Handle )

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Bethell, John A.
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Pinellas :
b a brief history of the lower point /
c by the oldest living settler, John A. Bethell.
St. Petersburg, Fla. :
Press of the Independent Job Dept.,
79 p. :
ills., maps.
Pinellas County (Fla.)
x History.
t City, County, and Regional Histories Collection
4 856


P .INELLAS A BRIEF HISTORY of THE LOWE R POINT By the: Olde 1 t !.ivins Settler JOHN A. BETHELL St Florida 1914 ,.,.C:SS or THC .10 Oa,.ARTI'fEHT 'fi'T. f"CTC,.teUJ'Q, .-.,


' MAP OF PINELLAS PENINSULA {PINELLAS COUNTY) ,:,..0 cNTtuous ,..,..f'T4 or M.UCATf.:[. COftj:ICTlf.S fLOFUDA 1911 ly "'J' /Nrri' N Au.. I I




CHAPTER I. CONTENTS . 7 From the Settlement. o f Antonio Maximo to th e Out break of the Civil War. CHAPTER. II. Attack on Big Bayo u and Exodus of Settlers. CHAPTER III. 16From the Clpse of. tbe Civil War to the Founding of St . . Petersburg. Pioneer!;. Notes and Reminiscen ces. CHAPTER IV. Old Fort at Big Bayo u . 50 CHAPTER V. 70 Early Business Cent e rs Pinellas Village and Di s ston City. CHAPTER VI. . .. Arrival of' Orange Relt Railroag __ and Birth of St Conclu s i on.


9 ,... ,. . . . . I '!l:i> . ..


. CHAPTER I. FIRST SETTLERS. In beginnin g this narrative I will say that it is my in -tention to confine myself to a historical sketch of the lower end of the Pinellas Peninsula, from the year 1843 the date of the first authentic settlement, until in the year 188 8, when the la8t rail was laid and the fin al spike driven for the Orange Belt R. R. in St. Petersburg. And I will just mention in passing, that there were Spanish peopl e living in Tampa and here and there along the coast, for many years before Florida was ceded to the United States, who gave spanish names to some of the islands a s also to some points on the mainland. For stance: P oint Pinellas called Punta Pinal, mean ing Point of Pines. So far as I have been able to ascertain, the firs t man to settle on the P o int was Antonio Maximo, who did so in 1843 under a land grant from the United States govern ment for services rendered during the Seminole War of 1836 7 and 8 . At the extreme point, whic h now bears his name, "Maximo:" he pro ceeded to establish a fishery for the supply of the Cuban market. Here he remained until about 1848 'Also, about 1845, William Bunce located on one of the . Mullet Keys, known as Hospital Key, and for the same purpose This is yet familiarly known as "Bunch's Ranche," .and the neighboring pass as Bunch' s Pass. The hurricane -of 1848 totall y d est royed both these r anc hes, thus putting an end to the fis h ing business for t h e Cuban market in this section until 1859, when Abel Miranda, William C. and john


8 HISTORY OF PINELLAS PENINSULA A. Bethell put up a ranche at Maximo, and carried on the fishing business, until the beginning of the Civil War, which put an end also to all traffic with Cuban markets. . The next settler after Bunce was John Lavach, who located on what is known as the "Adams Place/' on Boca Ceiga Bay, near John's Pass. Then Antonio Papy at Papy's Bayou; William Paul at "Paul's Landing," now included in St. Petersburg as Bayshore Addition; Billie Booker at er Creek, and not "Brooker" Creek, as it is now called; . James R. Hay, at the present Farrand Grove; Henry Mul-. phy on Boca. Ceiga Bay, John's Pass; the dates of whose .settlement are not definitely known. Abel Miranda settled at Big Bayou in 185 7 and John A. Bethell at Little Bayou in 1859. In 1860 William T. Coons located at what is now known as New Cadiz, having pur-chased certain improvements made by James R. Hay, to which he added little during his stay. In 1861 there . were but five families living on the Point, and at the out-break of the Civil War all left with the exception of William T. Coons. Of these, only three returned: Abel Miranda, William C. and John Bethell.


CHAPTER II. i Federal Attack on Big Bayou and Exodua of Settlers. In February, '62, the Federals and Tories made an at-tack on the home of Abel Miranda at Big Bayou, 'and burned' it with all its contents, including furniture and wearing ap parel. The commandant of the blockading fleet at Egmont Key, manned a captured Key West fishing smack with men. from the fleet and smack's crew, with enough refugees to make two batge loads, and sent her to Pinellas, Big Bayou, to capture Abel Miranda and destroy his home. The smack. was furnished with a and plenty of arlimunition, in-. eluding shot and shell This outfit anchored off the Bayou some time before sunrise. About 7 a. m. they opened fire with round shot. They made three good line shots for the house, but they were about 200 feet too high and landed in the scrub. One i .mbedded itself in the ground about the crossing of Fourth Street and Lake View Avenue. Miranda found it after the war andtook it out to his new home and hung it to his gate. and I guess it is about there yet, if some of the have not shot it away at quail! That was the first time we ever head cannon shot whistle over our heads, but we knew; there was no danger so long as they were up in the air. They then quit till about 8 a. m., when they again opened; with shell this time. I do not remeJl\ber just how. many. were fired in all, but the first burst, aa we thought about ten feet over our. heads, as we were standing out in front of the porch. It seemed like the heavens had falleD


1 0 HISTORY OF PINELLAS PENINSULA through, and scared us so that we did not know whether we were killed or just paralyzed. I picked up several pieces of the shell .after the war and buried them by an orange tree. They are there yet. While we were still standing there; and before we got over our scare, they fired another, but that ranged higher and exploded several hundred yards away' as also did several more before we left for a more con clime. There were two hirelings 011 the place, but at t,he crack of the first gun they "took leg bail" for parts unknown, and we never saw them again till long after the war. After we saw the two barges leave the smack, which they did under cover of their gun, we then decided to leave the home place. Miranda took his wife and son to William Coon's, on Boca Ceiga Bay, for a place of safety, and then returned to a bayhead about three-quarters of a mile from his .home, and remained there until about 3 p. m., when he ven-. r.tured out in the opening, and as he saw nothing and heard :no :noise in the direction of his P,ome, he concluded that the wan&ls had ieft, and that he would go a little nearer to make sure. There were three large shell mounds several hundred yards west from his home, and if he could reach the larger one undiscovered, in the event they had not left, and get to the top of it, he could soon take in the situation, as the mound overlooked his homestead, as also the Big Bayou. He decided to advance cautiously, which he did under cover of the pine trees. After he had reached a pine about seventy-five yards from the coveted spot, he took a long breath and waited a few seconds to peer around before making a dash for the mound. As the way seeined. clear, he slipped from behind the pine to go ahead, when he saw a man rise and stand up at the mound and look almost in the c:lirection of where he was standing. Quick as a flash he


PINELLAS COUNTY, FLORIDA II dodged behind the pine again, and was about to crawl back to his hiding place, thinking possibly the fellow had seen him. But to be sure before doh1g so he thought he would take another peep and see if he was still there. When he had deared the tree so that he could see, there were two instead of one, facing and apparently talking to one another. . Although seventy-five yards away, Miranda distinctly recognized one of his old and most intimate friends, the captain of the smack, a Key Wester, who frequently visited 'his home, to regale in milk and honey, for Miranda always had a plenty for himself and friends and to spare. Miranda told me that if the captain had been by himself, after he had recognized him, he would have hailed him, seeing no chance to do so, he decided to go ba:ck to his hiding place. After the close of the war Miranda received a letter from the captain of the smack, enclosing a watch charm and some jewelry that his wife left on the sideboard in the excite ment and hurry to get away. He said that he regretted very much and would always regret the part he played in the de struction of his home, and distressing of his family, and hoped they would forgive him for his very unkind act. One .of the most remarkable events of that day hap. pened about a half hour after Miranda left his family at the Coons' home, on his way back to the Bayou, when his wife walked out on the rear porch and confronted a man in Federal uniform. As she was about to step back, he saluted . her and asked if she was Mrs. Miranda. "Y h es, s e answered. "Where is Mr. Miranda? I want to see him." If . you had come by the cart road and not through the woods, you would have seen him. Take the cart road'back and possibly you might see him yet." Miranda said that he went by the cart road to Coons', and returned by it; that he saw no one and that he believed


12 HISTORY OF. PINELLAS PENINSULA the fellow was one of the refugees in disguise from the fact that had it been one of the ship's or smack's crews, he would have taken the road, as they were not familiill' with the woods, and there were no through trail s. After we left the Bayou that m orning we thought best to separate Miranda would go to Coons' with his family and I would cross Booker's Creek and mount the top of the largest mound that overlooked the surroundings, so that I would not be supr ise d by the Tories, in case they should be looking for us. But before we separated we agreed to meet in the evening at "Beggs' hill," a mound in what is now Mrs. Taylor's grove, and wait there until the crew should leave the Bayou. 0 Not finding Miranda when I arrived at the hill, I con. eluded not to wait for him, as the sun was only about a half hour high; but to take a cow trail a l ong the Bayou front that led to the home landing, through the palmettoes and myrtle bushes, that high to keep me from being seen. When I got within about three hundred yards of the landing I rose up and looked out on the Bayou and saw one of the boats about a quarter mile away, and not seeing the other one, thought it might have gone also, and started under cover of the bushes again to get a little nearer. When within fifty yards or so I came to a halt to wait until dark. However, I had not long to wait; for in a few minutes I heard some one say: "Is everything in the Then I heard the answer, "Yes, sir ; then, "All aboard I Man your oars and pull away!" I waited until they were some distance away, when I made my way to the place where the home had been; for there was nothing left of it but charcoal and ashes. All the fences and out-houses and everything that had wood enough on or about it to take fire, was burned. There was


PINELLAS COUNTY, FLORIDA 13 light enough when I reached the spot to see the destruction that had been done. About forty iarge fine orange trees in the enclosure had shared the fate of the home. And these were not all of the pitiful sights to be seen. Some eight or ten head of chickens were hopping around with broken wings and legs There had been a great many fowls on the place, but the fellows had to shoot them, as there was no chance to get them any other way. Also eral of the shoats were crippled; some with legs broken, some shot through the body. One had a bullet hole through its neck and was living; but one long-eared shoat that had never been marked had a bullet hole through both ears. He must have beeri posing for a target. They carried off a great many chickens and hogs, large and small; also, about five hundred pounds of home-made bacon; two barrels and several jugs of syrup; over one hun dred pumpkins, several barrels of corn in the ear, and some ten bushels of sweet potatoes that were housed. I had two sloop boats; one of four tons and one of five tons; the latter was hauled out for repairs, and they ruined it by cutting up the decks and sides. As it was past rapairing after the war I burned it. The four-ton boat was newly re fitted. They used it to carry the plunder to the smack. They made two trips with it, well loaded each time. From the top of the mound I had seen my boat go to the smack.loaded; then return to the Bayou and back again to the smack a second time loaded. About I I a. m they had fired home! I could see the smoke and flames very distinctly. The smallest piece of petty meanness perpetrated by them was the slashing the the skirts of an old worn-out saddle! Miranda, not finding me at Beggs' hill, supposed I was either killed or captured. so made his way to the place where, the day before, stood his happy home. Night had now shut


1'4 HISTORY OF PINELLAS PENINSULA in, but there was light enough from the burning embers to see any nearby moving object. Whilst I was moving about arid wondering what had become of Miranda, I heard him say: "Who's I answered, "It's me, john." It was quite a relief to us both when we met. By this time it was too dark to do anything, so we con cluded that we had better go to where. his family was, as they would be uneasy about him; and come back next morn. ing and try to get to Tampa. Before we left I thought it best to take along a slab of bacon that I had recaptured from the invaders. As we had been without food all day, I realized that it would come in good season when we should come to where his family was quartered. It was this way: On my arrival at the ruins, that even ing, I heard a great buzzing of bees, so walked over to where they were, and found that one of the hives had been turned upside down. As I turned to leave I espied a side of bacon hanging to a spruce sapling by the hive. I took in the situa tion at once. The fellow passing with the bacon had thought he would take some honey along also; but all he took was "leg bail," for the honey and bacon were left behind, where I found it. And that is how I "recaptured'' it. We returned to the Bayou next morning and, after put ting everything out of misery that was too badly crippled to live, we made preparations for a trip to Tampa. After walking around we found a small, leaky, wall sided sadiron-shaped skiff twelve feet long and as many inches deep, and four feet wide, that we had bui!t for alli gator hunting in Salt Lake. As it leaked badly, it had been tied to the landing to swell up, imd had been adrift by some of the boat' s crew that morning, as it was full of water. It happened to come ashore in the marsh near the landing.


PINELLAS COUNTY, FLORIDA 1 S This was the situation: There were only two chances for us to get to Tampa-foot it, or take that skiff. Our four boats, .with oars, sails, poles and paddles, were all carried off to the blockade. We decided to take the skiff. It did take us long to get ready. We had no bed,.. ding or extra clothing, as everything in that line had beea taken awayalso, or with the home. We dug a few potatoes and took a slice of the bacon the bees had taken in: charge, and set out Landing" to get a supply of water, for the well at the home was full of charcoal from the burning of the curb. . All we had to propel the skiff with was two split pickets, so we were slow in getting to Paul's Landing, where we could get a drink of water. There we filled a jug that we found at the Bayou; also picked up an old paddle, with which, and the two pickets we .struck out for Papy's Bayou. and from there to Brushy Point, as it was .the nearest land on the other side of the bay. We met with no mishap from the Bayou to Papy's, hut before we got to Brushy Point the wind rose up from the north and made such a choppy sea that it was with difficulty that we could keep the water out. One of us would have to quit paddling every now and then to keep it free it leaked so badly. We finally got across without any further mishap, and then went on to Gadsden's Point, where we camped for the night. Here we proceeded to roast some potatoes and broil some bacon to regale on, as we were by this time very hungry and tired. We had no bedding, so we lay down on the sand by the fire. The next morning we se.t out again for Tampa, where we arrived at noon. Next day Miranda hired a team and went back to the Point and .brought back his family to Tampa. And so we bade good -bye to Point P"Inellas.


CHAPTER III. "From the Close of the Civil War to the Founding of St. Petersburg. The end of the Civil War William T. Coons still on the Point, at what i s now known as New Cadiz, on Boca Ceiga Bay, as narrated above. A s stated, he had bought o f James R. Hay at the outset of the war. Hay had .settled op. t h e l and that is now the Farrand place, o n Lake View Avenue, in 1856; for the pur p ose of looking after the :cattle and hogs of the old Tampa stockmen. In the mean time he cleared and fenced se veral acres of pine land for truck farming for the Tampa markets. In addition to t hi s he ba:d also m a d e the first improvements on the w est side, on the land later known as the Hart place." Here he built the first frame house on the Point. The main part of the frame was of hewn timber; the weather-boarding was i n ..strips four fee t l o ng, six inches w ide and three-qu arters of inch thi c k ; riven from pine timber. At the outbreak of the war Hay sold these improvements to Coons for $25 and an old silver watch; then abandoned his fir s t named i m provements and skipped to the block aders at Egmont. After the war I bought the improvements from Coo n s and sol d them to 'Charley Reed, known during the Civil War as Charley the D are-Devil," for his daring exploits He was ,the "Hobson No. 1." Reed sold later to Abel Mir anda, who :sold in 1891 to Hart, whose name it has retained. Hay never returned to this section. Abel Miranda returned to the Point after the war i n 1866 As we have see n h is fin e stait in stock raising, truck


PINELLAS COUNTY, FLORIDA 17 farming and fruit culture, as also in the fish business for the Cuban market, which was proving very lucrative, had been wiped out in a single day. As there was nothing left on the old homestead but a few orange trees, he decided to locate on the land abandoned by James R. Hay, now the Farrand property. After he got comfortably settled he removed all the orange trees not injured from the Bayou and replanted them in the now Farrand grove. Before the war Miranda had Bought William Paul's improvements at what is known as Paul's Landing, and moved the building s to the Bayou; al s o about twenty young sweet orange tree s, mostly blooming, and had planted them about the place at the Bayou. All but three of these were burned and these were removed to the new grove. Of the balance I saved two by a little doctoring and careful nursing. I have one of them now living in my grove. It is still in . good condition and never fails to have a good crop if the season is fair Several years after Abel Miranda had loca ted on the Hay place he met a tourist who a sked him why it was that he didn't rebuild on .his old place at the Bayou instead of going two miles back in the woods. "Well," says Miranda, it is just this way: If I had built there again and it came another war, the d-d Yankees would have come in t h ere with their gunboats and shelled and burned me out a s the y done before Now, I am where they can't get their gilnboats through the woods to do it!" When, in 1867, I returned to Big Bayou , I bought the "Temnant of Abel Miranda's improvements with .acres of land. I also bought acres adjoining and fronting on the Bayou from William Wall. The latter t ract was bought from the State during "carpet-bag" rule by tain john P. Andre u for fifty cent s an. acre. Cheap a s land


. 18 HISTORY OF PINEI.I.AS PENINSULA was, few people in those days in it. If they wanted a home they would just select a good location, squat down and go to work; clear and fence as much land as they need ed their purposes. They raised all kinds of produce, some for the northern markets, but mostly for local and home consumption; also stock, and set out a few sweet orange trees. The people could have the free use of the land for farms and pay no taxes on it, and when tired of one place sell their improvements and squat elsewhere I proceeded to occupy and improve my purchase and here I have dwelt happily for more than a half century. (From close of Civil War). Alex. Leonardy, son of Vincent, came here with the writer in 1867 and remained with him until his father s arrival, when he went to assist the latter in his farming operations. After his father's death he managed the ness until his mother passed away. When the estate was sold, he loeated near Disston and engaged in farming, fruit culture and stock raising. He has also worked at house building and painting, at which he is a skilled and honest workman. Next to the writer, Aleck is the oldest living landmark on the Point. During 1868 a number of new settlers came in. cent Leonardy located on what is now Lake View Avenue, where he built the home now owned by Mr. Curtis, and settled do'!fl to farm life. He bought a small stock of cattle and hogs; also entered and cleared land for farming, set out an orange grove and various kinds of tropical fruits. He raised the largest guava trees in the county; two of them were large enough to make very good shade trees, and his children had swings rigged in them. on he opened a dry goods and grocery store in connection with his farming and stock-raising. He dosed this business out as soan as


PINELLAS COUNTY, FLORIDA 19 St. Petersburg was able to control the tra

'20 HISTORY OF PINELLAS PENINSULA settler on the Point-a man universally respected and one who really kept pace with his white neighbors. john came in with Louis Bell in 1868 as a hireling, and remained in that capacity for several years, until Bell sold out. Then john went in to make a living on. his own re sponsibility. He entered forty acres, now on the trolley and at present owned by Mr. Sibley : He cleared and fenced abo.ut five acres planted it in cane, sweet potatoes and gar den truck for the Tampa market. Also bought some cattle and hogs and set out a small orange grove. Built a very comfortable home and married Mrs. Bell's housekeeper, . Anna Germain, a mulatto woman. John was a hard worker and made a good living. His larder was always well suP: plied with meat, syrup, sugar, milk and butter. He and his wife were highly respected by all in this section, for honesty and thrift, and he was faithful to his trust; so much so that while in Bell's employ john was always left in charge when business called Bell from home, although there were white hireling on the farm. Once while I was postmaster here the mail carrier had resigned and Dr. Sevier, contractor for thir ty-seven Star routes asked John if he would like to carry the mail. ''If the pay is enough," says john. "How much do you want," says the doctor. "So much a quarter," says John. "Why, that is just what the contract pays me a year." "I can't help it, Doctor; I can't carry it for any less." "Why, you seem to be sort of independent; you must be pretty well off." "Yes, sir, I'm the best man off on this point. I own forty acres of land, two. horses, two yoke of oxen, and wag ons, a bunch of cattl e, a good potato and cane patch, and four head of niggers"-meaning hischildren. John got the car rier' s billet, all the same, for onl y a trifle less than the doc tor' s cont ract called for. In 1868 james Barnett located at what was later Diss ton City-the first settler there. He built a home, cleared


PINELLAS COUNTY, FLORIDA 21 ahd fenced several acres of land and set out a small orange grove; also raised a good stock of cattle and hogs. Barnett was the mother of several children by a former mar-. riage, among them Henry Slauter, Mrs. Aleck Leonardy ancl Mrs. Frank Futch. She was an energetic woman, a hard worker and a good mother. Biunett was in the Confederate service and was severely wounded at the capture of the Union gunboat, "Water Witch, and finally died as a result of his wounds, in I 88 7 . In the year I 869 John L. Branch located on the land which is now the Foster grove, and planted out about all the trees in the old grove Later on he sold to Mrs Schofield, a lady from Indianapolis. Anoth,er settler was George Hammock, who was a very successful farmer and stock raiser North. of the Coffee Pot Bayou in the same year Hop Wilder and Emmet Berry located on land later owned by Erastus Barnard, cleared and fenced several aqes for raising sweet potatoes, tomatoes, cukes and various other kinds of truck for the northern market. In 1870 a former well known landmark.,--.or watermarkan old English sailor, Ambrose George Tompkins, drifted into the Point, where he lived till his death some twenty years later. He was a firm friend of Capt. Jas. Barnett, with whose people he remained until his death. At the outbreak of the Civil War the vessel he. was on, to evade the block aders, put into where Miami now 1\tands. From there T omp kins proceeded to navigate the Everglades afoot and alone and duly arrived at Ft. Myers. Stranded thus within the Federal lines with nothing to do, he entered the Union service, and was put in charge of a supply boat running on the Caloosahatchee. After the war he found his way to. the Point.


. 22 HISTORY OF PINELLAS PENINSULA Jos. ]. Bethell, one of the old pioneer settlers of Pinellas, died at the home of his cousin, Mrs. John Fogarty, at Fo gartyville, May 6, 1912 His remains were brought to St. Petersburg and buried in Greenwood cemetery. Joe Bethell was born in Key April 1st, 1837. He developed a great love for the water, and from a mere boy could handle and s ail a boat as well as older heads. When he was 1 7 he bound himself to two English sailmakers for three years to learn the trade: When his time expired he decided to work at the trade until he mastered it, which he did, and had the reputation of being a: fine workman. He served through the Civil War and came to Pinellas in 1870 and engaged in boating, fishing and oystering. He never . married, but "boiled his own pot" and meddled with no. body's business. He was a fai thful friend and a good neighbor; was well versed in the Bible, believed in a hereafter, .. :and crossed the river without an enemy. In 1872 Oliver Johnson located on what is now the Sawrie property. He made quite an ilnprovement in the way of clearing and fencing land. Finally sold out to James A Cox and moved to Middle Florida. In that year also Dr. Hackney located north of Booker Creek, where the Manhattan Hotel now stands. He built a home and made quite extensive improvements in the way of reclaiming sawgrass p<>nds and clearing land for farming and fruit culture. Dr: Hackney was first actual settler on this tract, though john Taylor had previously made a small dearing, but never During the year 1872 James A Cox also came in and bought the improvements of Oliver Johnson, now the prop .erty of Sawrie Brothers. Mr. Cox added a great many improvements, built dwelling, and fenced . more land and set out a variety of fruit trees, including many


PINELLAS COUNTY, FLORIDA 23 oranges. The present Ingleside Grove was his home up to the time of his dath. Another settler in that year was Judge William H. Ben ton, who located on the west side of Big Bayou. He built a very comfortable home, cleared land for truck farming and set out a small orange grove, engaging in the meantime in hog raising, which was at that time a very profitable busi ness. After the starting of St. Petersburg he moved to that town, where he had charge of General Williams' land busi ness till his death. . The hammock with orange grove north of Papy's Bayou, now owned by Dr. Weedon, was first settled by a man named Pillings, in 1872. I don't remember whether he . bought the land or just squatted on it, but hemade quite a . clearing, fenced and raised very fine garden truck. He also set out the original orange grove of sweet seedlings, still in. existence. . In .1872 William Hall came into the Point and located on the north side of Booker Creek, on the old ford, and just south of the Ninth Street' bridge. It was his intention to put up a sawmlil to be r).ln by water power. After dping quite a amount of work in the way of. getting out the frame and grading, he abandoned the project and left for other parts, probably because of lack of means to carry out his undertaking. . In 1873 came Judge Wil.liam Perry and his brother Oliver. They located on the future town site of St. Peters burg, and maqe their home on the block south of the A C. L. R. R., between Second and Third Streets; entered forty . . acres, cleared and fenced five acres, planted three acres in sugar cane, two acres in sweet potat<>es, corn, pumpkins, melons, etc., and set out some sweet orange seedlings. They came fully eqpipped with every manner of implements for farming and syrup and sugar making.


24 HISTORY OF PINELLAS PENINSULA In the same year a Mr. Whitford squatted on the land where the Sibley mansion now stands. He built a small palmetto shack and cleared a small patch for vegetables. Unsuccessful in his undertaking, he soon left for. other. climes. In the year _1873 the improvements made by Emmet Berry and Hop Wilder, north of the Coffee Pot Bayou, were taken over by a Mr. Capell . W. F. Sperling was another new comer in the year 1873. He bought out all of Dr. Hackney's interest in this section, cattle, hogs and about five hundred acres of land. He also bought the Perry improvements, also eighty acres where the school buildings stand, including in all about six hundred and forty acres-one mile frontage the site of St. Petersburg. He added seventy-five trees to the grove startP-d by Hackney, also reclaimed the sawgrass pond just north of the Hackney house, by putting in a large drain. When Mr. Sperling located with his family in his new homehe was surely "monarch of all he surveyed;" for there was not another family within a radius of one and a half mile of his home. Here is a curious incident of his settlement: After . Mr. Sperling bought the Perry place he took his wife one morning for a drive to look over the improved portion of his new purchase. While there he found a piece of railroad iron brought there by the Perrys. He picked it up and planted it on the ground near where the A C. L. tracks are now laid, remarking to his wife: "I have laid the first piece of iron for the railroad!"-not realizing at the time how nearly prophetic his words were to prove. In 187 4 also came in several families from New Or leans, who settled around Boca Ceiga Bay: Joseph and Beneventura Puig, brothers, located on the


PINELLAS COUNTY, FLORIDA 25 east side of the bay on land adjoining that of Abel Miranda on the north. They put in substantial improvements, ing several acres of and other fruits, and did something at truck farmnig. In 1886 they platted the site of New Cadiz and started in the grocery business on a small scale. The town never materialized and the grocery. busi was a failure, but the postoffice of New Cadiz was maintained for several years. With the family came also Timothy Kimball, brother of Mrs. Puig, who also made improvements on land near by, and who remains at the old home of his widowed sister. A memorandum from Mr. Kimball reads: "Ben Puig came first to the Point in the month of May, 1874. In july of same year, Emanuel and I came out here from New Orleans, and in September came Joseph Puig, my mother and my three sisters. At the same time Richard Strada and his famliy arrived." Rafeno Manuel, or Emanuel, put out a grove north of Clam Bayon, between Lake View and Tangerine Avenues. and west of the still known as Manuel's Branch. He was a young man much liked, but died not. long after set tling here. Richard Strada, of this New Orleans colony, located a considerable tract of good land on the east side of Boca Ceiga Bay, .and southeast of Abel Miranda's homestead, with a long frontage on what is now Maximo Road. He was by . trade a sculptor and a skilled workman, who could command the highest pay anywhere, but came here for the purpose of making a home. Strada was a man of great energy, indus trious, and in every way competent; and in farming, fruit culture and stock raising was very successful. In addition to his. farming interests he has embarked in various other enterprises, both in town and in the country, in whiCh he has


26 HISTORY OF PINELLAS PENINSULA met with like good results. The old homestead is now held by his stepson, John Young, who came with him to the try and is a very successful farmer. D. W. Meeker was also a settler in 1874. He put out a grove near St. Petersburg, of which place he later became a resident, and finally postmaster. He moved north several . years ago. The year 187 .S was destined to be a most important one for Point Pinellas. In this year the. city of St. Petersburg may be said to have had its beginning, in the fortunate vent of the late General John Constantine Williams, whose foresight, good judgment and broad and liberal ideas made the present beautiful city with its elegant location and broad thoroughfares a possibility. The story of his coming savors strongly of romance and might almost have stepped bodily out of the Arabian Nights. General Williams had come from Detroit, Michigan, for the purpose of selecting a suitable site for a small colony. In his search he had gone as far south as Punta Rassa without results. He had traversed the east side of Hillsboro County with no better success, and after looking over the Old ;Tampa section, and Tarpon and Clearwater, he reluctantly decided to abandon the project and return to Detroit Thoroughly disappointed and disgusted, he chartered a boat for Cedar Keys, the nearest place to a railroad station. On his arrival at Cedar Keys he chanced to meet Mr. George W. Pratt, of Comargo, Illinois who seems to have made it his business to find out every other bOdy's business which he proceeded to do in the General's case. "Did you go to Point Pinellas?" said the genial George. "Damn Point Pinellas! I was told by a gentleman in Tampa, also by one in Clearwater, that it is only four feet above tide-water!"


PINELLAS COUNTY, FLORIDA 27 . "Not a word of truth in it!" said Pratt. -"It is forty or fifty feet above sea level, and I will say more than that; it is the healthiest and best section in the State of Florida. It is a perfect Paradise, sir. I lived there several months with John Bethell, ahd if you go there you will find it as I say." "Well, Mr. Pratt, I am glad I've met you. I will go back _and see this Garden of Eden you speak so ably of." General Williams thereupon returned to Clearwater, hired a team and set out for the Promised Land of Pinellas. His first stop was at the home of Mr. James A. Cox, on the heights south of the high bridge. The noble view of the bay from here must have been very satisfactory to the General. And when, after a few hours' rest, Mr. Cox piloted him over the section, he was very much pleased to find the elevation greater than Mr. Pratt .figured it, also to fine timber and farming land, besides such healthy, robust, enterprising people, and such a prosperous little settlement. After carefully sizing up. the situation, he decided that Pinellas was the place he was searching for, and made some investments. He then returned to Detroit to settle up some business and get his family. On his return he invested largely in land, including the site of St. Petersburg: From this time on he labored for the advancement o_f the Point, and in his various schemes and enterprises gave employment to a great many people, both before and after St. Petersburg was well started as a business place and tourist resort. And when the situation was ripe for the founding of a town and the advent c f a railroad he bent his energies toward the ac complishment of this, his original purpose. His liberal deal ings with the railroad company brought in the Orange Belt, and it was none of his fault that the S. S. 0. & G. road did not make its terminus here at the time.


28 HISTORY OF PlNEI.I.AS PENINSULA It is a pity that General Williams .could not have lived to enjoy the later prosperity of his pet town. And the citizens of that rapidly growing metropolis might well the propriety of some action looking to a suitable testi monial to the man who was in truth the Founder and Father cf St. Petersburg. Soon after their father, the General, came three wart sons, B. C., John R. and J. C. Williams, Jr. Barneyand John came first, and. were for a time identified with the terests of their fat her. "Tine," as the other was familiarly known; became a carrier, plying between Pinellas and Tampa with passengers, freight and the U. S. mail. Old settlers will remember with what regularity the sharpie "Nettie" used to make the trip to and fro regardless of weather. While St. Petersburg was in its infancy, he gave up boating and bought a lot on Central avenue, corner of Second Street, on which he erected a fine large building, still known as the "Williams Block," for residence and business purposes. He was the first to embark in mercantile business in St. Petersburg proper, and for a time had a monopoly of trade. .Later on others joined in the onward march for the "almighty dollar," but "Tine" had the largest and best ped store and, consequently, kept in the lead. For quite a long time he controlled probably three-fifths ofall the trade of the West Coast, but close attention to busi ness and indoor confinement, and the years of toil and struggle so mined his health that he thought it advisable to embark in less strenuous enterprises and exacting less personal Illent, and finally closed out. B. C. Williams, also an enterprising business man of St. Petersburg, after a year or more with his father, went to work on his own account. His first move was in the fishing business but there being so li t tle money in it in those years,


PINELLAS COUNTY, FLORIDA 29 he gave it up to engage in boating, which he has been follow ing off and on to the present time in connection with other interests. He first plied between Pinel las and Tampa, carrying freight and passengers. Then from Pinellas .he went to Gulf City, from which place he carried freight and pass .engers and u. s. mail for several years. Then he engaged in coasting and steambo<;lting. In these years he also became a skillful boat builder, doing honest work, for honesty was his motto. As mechanic or boat man he has but few equals. During his sea service he has never met any serious mishaps, though he has had sev eral hairbreadth J. Mott Williams is too well known. to need attention here. He did not come till much later, but he inherited his full share of the family energy and enterprise, and never could keep. still. In addition to his many material mterests in and around St. Petersburg, he. has that strong affection for the sea that makes him never so happy as when afloat on the briny deep. H. A. Wier came from Youngstown, Ohio, in 1876, and located forty acres west and north of Wier Lake, known later as Reservoir Lake, from which the water supply of St. Petersburg came for several years. Hecleared and fenced several acres, on which he built a comfortable home, plant ed out about two acres in seedling oranges and many kinds of tropical plants, besides raising very fine garden truck. He also erected a tower with windmill and tank on the edge of the lake for irrigation punrposes. After the grove was well in bearing he decided to sell and go West, being told that the West offered superior inducements in the way of farming lands an:d products. He finally traded his home stead for a farm in the West and moved out there, only to find that the farm was mortgaged. I was told that it was


later sold to satisfy the mortgage. So after years and hardship he traded off his birthright for a mess tage. The land at Wier Lake has long been city prop In this same year came also William P. Neeld, m miliarly known through this part of Florida as "Bill t He bought forty acres cleared, fen c e and. planted o grove Tangerine Avenue now owned by Mr. Blad with sweet oranges, grapefrui t mangos, a, pears and various other kinds of tropical fruit s. I t heard him say that after he.had paid for his land he h e twenty-fi v e cents left to life with, whic surely a 'very s mall capital for the giganti c task h about to tackle. But Bill was a hustler from wayba< when out on the warpath small obstacles did not st1 his way. At night he taught sc hool for Vincent Leon .;;hildren, getting his board and lodging thereby. Da: he would c::lear land, split rail s and suc h Would take or two off now and then t o fis h and hunt for profit ; ( compost fish and seaweed for fertilizer for his young He also composted leaves, muck and cattle dropping in those days commercial fertilizers were unknown, quently those not fortunate enough to own cattle l resort to other methods to procure it. And Bill learned the art and became quite an expert in the bu: and when the supply happened to be not equal to t l mand, he would off shoes, for shoes were an item in times though not all high pri ced as now, but there w cobblers to mend the hole s. With pants rolled 1 would take a sack and strike out for a palmetto patch, he would be seen bobbing around gathering leaves anc chips. The sac k full he would back it tothe grove, had no horse--and that is how he made the prize gr< the peninsula


PINELLAS COUNTY, FLORIDA 3 1 After some years of toil and hardship, Bill began to reap the rewards for his hard labor. For his trees flourished and bore fruit abundantly and proved very remunerative. I must te.Il an incident which gives a sample of Bill's grit-some call it "game;" for he had enough of it to tackle anything that moved on four leg s, from a gopher down to a . gator. and do it without a gu'n, as you will see. One morning my wife set out to visit her mother, some two. miles away, with two small children, one a babe in arms and leading the other, of two years, by the hand. About a quarter mile from home was the old ford across Salt Creek, outlet of Salt Lake, which had to be crossed on a foot log. At the crossing she gathered up the two-year-old and landed on the farther side without any mishap, but just as she was about to set the child down something blew . a hard, guttural breath behind her. She quickly turned to see what it was, when lo and behold! lay a in the edge of the marsh near the log and on the side she had crossed from With the two children in her arms, she turned and ran 'about one hundred yards, when she saw Bill Neeld in a palmetto patch, gathering fertilizer as usual. She called to him to bring his gun; that there was a 'gator in the creek. When he came near he said: ''I've got no gun, but I guess this will do," whipping out h is pocketknife and mak: ing a bee line for his 'gatorship. At that moment the 'gator was leaving for Salt Lake, but Bill wanted that 'gator, and was bound to get him if there was any virtue in good grit and cold steel. After a little maneuvering, he made a leap and landed astride the 'gators back, caught the left foreleg w ith his left hand and with the knife in his right began tick ling the animal's most sensitive spots, till he finally put him to sleep for all time.


32 HISTORY OF PINELLAS PENINSULA Then the neig hb ors soon flocked to the battleground and pulled his 'gators h i p to dry land. I don't r emember just the length of the 'gator or how much he weighe d but I do remember that he was no baby 'gator, but was quite a bit larger than Bill Neeld Possibly some not gifted with as much gr i t as Bill, if perchance they s h ould read this, might say that I've been reading too m a n y o f the b ig fis h and 'gator stories in the town papers, but these are facts, never theles s, and Bill is a living witness, and there are a few others who will vouch for the truthfulness of the story. But the Pinella s Phil osopher," as he was later called, eventually got wheels in h is head and wanted to see the world go 'round, sold o u t his holding on the Point for much wealth and moved over to the mainland, where he still abides, as h e s ays, at "No. I Easy Street, Paradise!" In 1 8 76 R. E Neeld moved in from Tampa and settled at B ig Later on h e opened up a small grocery store, tlie first on the Point. This was a very great conve nience to the few se ttlers in the section, as it supplied their needs for the time being. In the same y ear Jacob Baum locat e d on the south side of Reservoir Lake. H e built a home on the lake and set out the orange grove later known as Jackson grove. When the railro a d came in Mr. Baum, in co nnection with E. R. Ward, opened up the Ward and Bau m a ddition to St. Peters burg. His whole original entry is platted, and much of it built u p in substantial structures. A. B. Chandler l ocated and improved land between Baum and Wier, but lat e r removed to Tampa. Miller Neeld settled here in 1876 and _put out a grove just east o f his brother William's. Sold i n 1885 to R obert Stanton and bought and built at Big Bayou. S qld out his


PINELLAS COUNTY, FLORIDA 33 home there later on, and built in St. Petersburg. Is now a Yesident of .Washington State. George R. Johnson calile from Detroit with General Williams in 1876 to look the country over and decided to 'Settle. In the following year he returned to the Point ac--companied by Barney Williams. He shipped part of his goods by way of Gainesville and part by Cedar Keys. He hauled the carload landed at Gainesville overland by teams. A year later he bought and improved the land now owned by Professor Bartlett northwest of St. Petersburg, and lived there mariy years. He also bought four hundred and forty acres at Coffee Pot Bayou, which he later sold to Erastus Barnard. From New Orleans also in 1876, Joseph R. Torres, who bought Captain Barnett's improvements at what was later known as Disston City; Barnett locating again on land about a half mi l e north. Torres was a iard, had been with Maximilian in Mexico, was an ardent publican in the carpetbag regime in New Orleans and was something of a politician in his new home -but a good democrat! He made some very good improvements, and later platted some of his land into town lots, which became the site of the village of Disston City. When the postoffice of Bonifacio was established h e became its postmaster and retained the office till his removal to Seminole, in 1888. He also dealt in general merchandise for several years. William B. Miranda came to the Point in 18 76, and made a nice home out. Lake View Avenue. He was a busy worker in real estate matters for some years, removing to St. Petersburg in the early nineties, where he died. In 1877 C. McCoy bought lands at Little Bayo u but never became a settler.


34 HISTORY OF PINELLAS PEN INSUL A In 1878 George W Meares came in and settled on the land which is n o w h is home. H e began with a s mall stock of and as was the gene r al custom in the earl y d ays. He next cleared about ten acres, s plit rails and f e n ced: it, planted four acres in seedli n g oranges and various other fruits; also three at;res in cane and about the same in sweet potatoes and garden truck for the local market. As h e was a I)lan of very l imited means, and without rich kin to help him, he could not affor d to hire help in his work. Consequently it was a hard struggle from the start. But George's hands were never afraid'; in fact he rathe. r enjoys work so by dint of many hard licks and str ict attention to b usiness, he has been paid a mighty goo d interest on the investment. Wit h a faithful w i f e and large family of well reared and edu cated childr e n he has much to be proud of and thankful for.. Meet George where or when you will you will m ee t a n h onest, straightforward, law-abiding citizen, and always ready to extend the hand of good fellowship. In 1878, a l so, Thomas Miranda came to the Point and located on what is now Tange rin e Avenue. Buil t a comfortable littl e h ome for his family of four, clear e d fenced and planted some fruit trees and made a garden. H e w as a Confederate soldie r and as brave as t hey made t hem. I will relate an incid ent that happened during and after the war. He was an artilleryman and attached to Martin's Bat tery, Flo rid a Brigade, stationed at the foot of Loo kout Moun tain. When the Federals drove the Johnnies from thei r guns, himself and another gunner, D o w Townsend heard the order to retreat, and stood to thei r guns in the face of a cavalry char ge. It happened to be Colone l Living ston, late of St. Petersburg, who commanded the cavalry. He rode up to Miranda and ordered h i m t o surrender. With that Miranda struc k at him wit h the swabst i c k and the


PINELLAS COUNTY, FLORIDA 35 Colonel struck at Tom with his sabre, but neither. hit the other. When Tom saw the predicament he was in he and Townsend turned to run, when some of the command raised their guns to fire, but before they could do so the Colonel called out to hold their fire and let them go; for, said he, ''They are too brave to be shot!" . After they got in the woods, which was only a few steps from the gun, Tom said to Dow: "If I live to see that man a hundred years from now I'll remember him," not thinking at the time that they would ever face each other again; but they did, on more friendly terms than at Lookout Mountain. After the war Tom came to Pinellas and Colonel Liv ingston to St. Petersburg, prospecting, and while looking through the Pinellas section he chanced to stop at Vincent Leonardy's store. As he stepped in he call,le face to face . with After gazing at each for a few mo-. ments, Tom said: "I think I have seen you before, sir: "Yes," said the Colonel, "I think I've seen you, too. I'm the man you struck at with the swabstick when I charged your gun at the foot of Lookout Mountain." "Yes, and I'm the man you cut at with your sabre." They then advanced laughingly shook hands and became intimate friends from that time on. When Thomas Miranda. died, years after, I went to see him, and while standing beside the coffin, Colonel Livingston came in and stood on the opposite side After . gazing on him for a few moments, he said to me: "This is the last of my poor friend, Tom! A brave man!" Walter Holden came to Big Bayou in I 879. The ly afterward moved away and later the home was destroyed by fire, but the land is still retained in the family's possession. In the early eighties there was an advent of settlers des tined to be factors in the upbuilding and development of the country about Big Bayou.


36 HISTORY OF PINELLAS PENINSULA In 1882 Erastus Barnard became interested in the Point and bought a tract of four hundred and forty acres at the Coffee Pot He and his family have been regular winter residents of St. Petersburg since the town started, and he has made many substantial improvements on his big farm. He is a firm believer in the Point. Another arrival in this year was C. B. Ware, who settled near the Coffee Pot, where he still continues to reside as one of the successful farmers and fruit raisers of the section i-le was County Commissicomer from this district for several years. David Moffett arrived in 1882, bought land back of St. Petersburg and made improvements. Later he bought. the Wier place on Reservoir Lake and built a fine home. there, on Ninth Street, North. He has been closely identified with the interests of St. Petersburg, has been first mayor, and ,cilman and is recognized as being one of the solid men of the town. Thomas Sterling came here from Connect icut in 1883. He had been a traveler in many lands and was a good of situation as bearing upon health conditions and after ful investigation, concluded that the Sub-Peninsula held all that man could des ire. He bought about sixty acres at Big Bayou and made very substantial improvements on the water front He had about ten acres cleared, fenced and set out in various kinds of friut trees, besides making a fine garden. He built seven fine cottages, one of five rooms, for his residence, as also a hotel 30x50 with twelve rooms In May he married a lady from Mississippi at Tampa and came a t once to their home at the. Bayou; They escaped the customary charivari by throwing open their doors to the whole population and entertaining everybody-in all about sixty guests. Their home soon became the center' of much


PINELLAS COUNTY, FLORIDA 37 of the social life of the section Mrs. Sterling's pen was ways busy and contributed many articles of the country to the press, in and out of the State. Owing to firmities of age he, in 1891 sold his holdings to the Catholic Fathers, one of whom came as an embassy of church and state f rom Spain to select a sui table location on which to build a theological, scientific and pholosophical school for the education of priests. . About t his time William settled and improved a tract on Lake View Avenue, now owned by Cashier Thomassol) just west of the Leicht place In 1885 he bought what is now Thornton's addition to S t Petersburg, where he died soon after moving to his new home. joe S trause came in 18813, married a daughter of cent Leonardy, and settled back of the on Tangerine Avenue. Built a cottage and-...p'!ii:_ oUt .a grove, where he lived for some years. Abel Miranaa in 1892 and bought a farther up the Dr. John Abercrombie and family caJ)i<; to-thjs secticin in 1883 and located on land that is now. the::Mp:;s -Ridge Grove" of Joseph Sibley. He built a very. l _arge and fortable residence amid beautiful cleared and fenced several acres and set out fruit trees of various kinds. . In the meantime he practiced medicine, going wherever ness called him-though the Point was then as now nently heal thy, and very few except children could 'really spare time to get sick. He was known throughout the tion as the family doctor, which term was very appropriately applied as at the time he was. the only physician in the ninsula. Dr. John is one of the kindest, most free-hearted men who ever settled here. He has been a friend to the needy, always <>ympathizing with the afflicted. He had prescribed for and furnished medicines often where patients


38 HISTORY OF PINELLAS PENINSULA were not able to pay for them. No one ever asked a favor of him that was not. granted if in his power to do so. The grand old man has a host of friends and few if any enemies. Since this was written he has gone to his reward. George L. King was another "live wire" in. the early days of this section. He located land north of Clam Bayou, on Mule Branch, in December, 1884. He brought with him a small sawmill outfit from which, on Christmas day of that year, he blew the first steam whistle ever heard in this region. The mill had been landed on the sand beach a mile from where he located it, and had to be hauled through sawgrass, over palmetto roots and mud flats and across Clam Bayou to the millsite the Branch. It was a big undertaking,. a task tl}at yery few men other than George L. King would have cared t6 tackle, but he was a man with an iron will, one leJ obstacles stand in his way whenever he under .iook to a ccomphsti any project that he had in view. About tWo t

PINELLAS COUNTY, FLORIDA. 39 poses; for there were hundreds of co ttages and many ness places built before another mill was opened up. . To furnish a supply of logs for the new mill after a while he constructed a pole road out into the timber ward, for. several miles, bought fla t cars and up a home-made" locomotive which worked successfully while :he continued in business. In the same Maltby and son came to Pinell as and :bought the improvements of James A. Cox, now owned by : Sawrie Brothers, and embarked in the manufacture of orange .and grapefruit wine. Later on they sold out to Sawrie : Brothers and located on Ninth Street, St. _Petersburg, and OJlened a new factory there. . T. A. Whitted came to the Point in I 884 and built at :Oisston He later married here and after the founding of St. Petersburg removed 'to that place, 'where he has since r es ided H e was for many years the assistant of George L. 'King in the mill b usiness, as also of A. C. Pheil at the Nov elty Works. Colonel B F. Livingston bought land on Lake View .Avenue in I 884, which he later sold to Cyrus Butler, to be come a part of the present fine Heathcqte grove. He re turned to St. Petersburg when that town began to flourish and made investments, and some very improve ments. In 190 I he sold out and removed to California, where he later pas se d on to a larger life. David D. Klingner came hare from Iowa in 1884 and settled just south of the St. Petersburg limits on Fourth : S treet, now in Bayboro. Sold later to Miner and moved to the Bayou, where h e still has hi s h ome. H e was a painter 'by trade and a good workman. For severa l years h e was a :lighthouse keepe r at Rebecca Shoals, and later at Anclote .


" 40 HISTORY OF PINELLAS PENINSULA During 1885 a number of families arrived from England and settled in this section .. The Harrison family bought and improved land out Maximo Road and live there some years. They all finally moved away, the parents going back to Lon don. The place is now occupied by Mrs Adjoining tracts were bought by Hugh Richardson and R. L. Locke, also of the English colonists. Mr. Richardson became a railroad official later and went to Jacksonville, where he 'is n()W secretary of the Board of Trade. The Lockes put in sub star'ttial improvements in Disston City and carried on mer cantile business there several years. The family finaily moved to a new home near Mobile. Rev. Watt was another of these colonists. He bought the west portion of the Leonardy grove, now owned by Stahl . Brothers, b uilt a substantial residence thereon and lived there for a number of years, finally returning with his wife to England. The. sons Joseph, John and David, remained in . America;:but left this section. The Watson family bought and settled at Little Bayou. The elder Watson was a profes sional gentleman in the old country and did not take kindly to the new life. The freeze came and losss of the home by fire soon after caused the family to leave the Bayou. The young people are settled in different parts of the peninsula. Prof. Herbert T. Watson gives the. following memorandum: "We startedfrom Lon don, September I st, 1885 and arrived at Point Pinellas the first week in October of same year.'! William A. Wood was another young English colonist. He had charge of the Disston Hotel for a time, later the Inn at Port Tampa, and a restaurant business at . Tampa. Zephaniah Phillips came in 1885 and settled tempO.:. rarily at _Disston. He soon after homesteaded the south er'td


PINEI .LAS COUNTY, FLORIDA 41 of Long Key, where built home on the removin' g his family there. He platted and sold the original site of Pass-a-Grille City, and later built a cottage farther up the island. Phillip s was a firm believer in Pass-a-Crille and never let an opportunity pass to further the int. erests of his favorite scheme. He was something of a dreamer, but the Pass is surely making good at last, and u ndoul;>tedly has a fair future. In hi s last years he bought a home in. St. Pe tersburg, where he died after a long and tedious illness. Phil l ips had seen hard service as a Union soldier on the Missis sippi and was in bad health when he came here. He was a fine all around mechanic and an inventor of no little merit. Cyrus Butler came in 1884, bought and improved land between Lake View and Tangerine Avenues, and made the fine grove now owned by W. E. Heathcote . Although an invalid, he was possessed of great energy and' perseverance,. and came to be perhaps one of the best authorities on horti culture in the State. After brin'ging his fine grove into good bearing condition he sold to Mr. Heathcote and left the Point. E. R. Ward came to Big Bayou in 1885 built a good home and went into the mercantile business. just before the r ailroa d was he sold out his interests at the Bayou and located in that part of St. Petersburg known as Ward ville on the north side of the railroad. There he opened the first store in that section and became the first postmaster in St. Petersburg. Ward was a very enterprising man and fUll of schemes. He had the first school house built at Pinellas, Big Bayou, now fronting on what was kncwn as Ward Ave It was 20x40 feet, and many were the socia bles held there by the neighbors as well as outsiders. There plays, dancing; card, checker and chess games, most anything to while away the leisure hours and bring tne


42 HISTORY. OF PINEl .I .AS PENINSULA settlers in close touch with each other and put them on more friendly relations. Dr. G. W. Kennedy and Robert Thomas settled in 1885 in what is now the northern part of St. Petersburg. Both gentlemen did something in fruit growing and trucking, side of their professional work. judge Thomas died some years ago, but Dr. Kennedy is still occupying his old home stead. Herman Merrell came in the same year .and bought a tract west of. Ninth Street, St. Petersburg. Built a cottage and put out trees, but soon returned North to practice his profession as a lawyer. He returned in later years and makes his home here. . I have the following memorandum from Ed. C. Pherson: "About August 12th, 1885, my 'father, E B. Pherson, and three sons, W. J., Charles and myself, left land, Fla. in a one-horse wagon' and camp outfit for Point Pinelllas. :We spent nearly a month on the way, visiting the towns and looking at the We arrived at Big Bayou September I Oth and camped in an old stockade house on the .west side of the Bayou. Mr. Miller Neeld was smoking some mullet and we got some nice fat ones out of the smoke house when they were warm. They were the finest fish we ever tasted. We looked around a few days, then went over to Disston City. We. met Mr. Z. Phillips, who showed u; around and introduced us to J. R. Torres, the city merchant and owner of most of the town-site . we were so favorably impressed with the location that father bought two lots and some lumber from King's mill and put us up a house. Mother, Sister Ella and Babb came in November. G W. Bennett came over from Tampa and we spent our first Thanksgiving on Long Key near where we afterward built a home. "Father chartered the Delia, Captain John Lowe, master, and he cmdMr. to


PINELLAS COUNTY, FLORIDA 43 brought two schooner loads of lumber, and we started a lum ber yard. This was not a financial success, as there was not enough dressed lumber used at that time to pay to keep it up. During the winter father bought a printing outfit, and : he and Will started a little paper called the 'Sea Breeze,' which they published about a year. This was the first news paper on the Point. "During the summer of 1887 the yellow fever broke out in Tampa, and quite a number of refugees came to Disston. They were not allowed land, so father allowed them to occupy our home on Long Key. "In May, .1888, we built a small house in Ward and &urn's addition to St. Petersburg, where we lived until 1892, when father bought five acres on west side of Reser voir Lake, living t here till his death, july .17th, 1895 "We built Episcopal Church on Like View Avem,re, also the first Episcopal Church in St. Petersburg C. Durant was another settler of that year. After St. Petersburg was started he followed his trade as a baker, and built up a big business there. He had quite recently retired to a less ardt.Jous office business George W. Anderson. arrived in Disston City during summer of 1886 to locate on land that he had bought from the map while in Texas. Not suited with this tract, he had his deed transferred to an9ther more desirable piece at Bear Creek: He next proceecfed to rebuild the steam launch "Tarpon" for W. B. Miranda. His wife and daughter joined him in june, after a very stormy voyage from Tampa in the schooner "Cherub." Her trunk failed to arrive with her, and during the night a pup got into. room in the hotel and carried off her baby Jessie's clothes, so she had to borrow a suit of baby Harold Bennett's to dress in till her dothes could be found, which was not in the ckty. Mrs.


44 HISTORY OF PINELLAS PENINSULA . . Anderson was an invalid and suffered coinsiderably from loss of sleep caused by the noise of fish on the flats, they being so plentiful and only a stone's throw from the hotel where they living. His next move wa1;1 fall in with his neighbors and get a but as he could not throw it. himself and wife would get on an old log pen so as to stretch the net open, and at night time drop it over the fish. They used to catch as high as twenty mullet at one cast of the net. One night George turned out about one o'clock, started a fire and cooked ate fat mullet till daylight I When the neighbors, thinking some one must be sick, came to offer assistance, George said they had quite a laugh on him. Another night the neighbors such a racket at the hotel that they came over to see what was the matter, only to find George and his wife, with a pair of gum shoes, killing roaches. He final.Jy set out a five-acre grove which prospered. till after he went to St. Petersburg. When the freeze came he sold what 'was left of it. Arthur and Ernest Norwood came from England to Pinellas in summer of '86, and located in the Disston City settlement. They built a small shack for a temporary home, then. cleared and fenced their land for and citrus fruits. Soon after they met with a streak of bad luck-their little home caught fire in their absence and burnedto the ground with all their belongings, leaving them practically destitute, with only. the clothes they had on and the tools they were working with. This loss was a serious mat-. ter at time, for the was then in its infancy the people in it moneyed men, though they were ever ready. to extend a harid a But Arthur and Ernest were men of real grit and here to ' ' ; ' . . -stay, and a few did not discourage them. So_ they quickly decided t I begin life aneW, arid, With ,..;hat aid 'they


PINELLAS COUNTY, FLORIDA 45 could get from their neighbors in the way of work or wise, and a sinall remittance from the old country, they were soon on their way to prosperity again. The was their main dependence in those days and they could wield i t t o perfectio n. Besides they were very handy with other tools and could daub a little with the paint brush. I remember the postmaster at Pinellas in those years wanted a sign painted for his office, and as there was no sign painter to be had, Arthur Norwood undertook the job, claiming at the time that it was out of his line of business, but he would do the best he could. When the sign was finished it_ would bear inspection and would cqmpare favorably with 'the sign painting of today. It is over twent years since then, and time has not entirely obliterated it yet. Arthur taught several terms of school successfully at . Disston, and when Mr. Baumeister left that place in 1889, he purchased the latter's stock of goods and went into the can tile business. Later on he removed to the w ardviile section of St. Petersburg, where h e gradually built up a very prospeJ:ous business in groceries and general merchandise. Disposing of his grocery business at Ninth Street, he moved to Fourth Street and Central Avenue, where for several years past he has enjoyed a fine trade in the line of dry goods and clothing. A self-made man, he began at the bottom, and by being strictly hones t free-hearted, energetic and persevering, he had about reached the top. He is one grand success as a inerchant and a man. Nathan Odom came in 1 886 and bought land on gerine A venue, built a home and m ade an orange grove. He lived there several years, when he sold and went to town. G. W. B ennett brought his family t.o the Point in May, 1.886. made his'fir;t visit at Thanksgiving time, 1885,


.. .46 HISTORY OF PINELLAS PENINSULA and spent several days Business matters kept him in Tampa during the. following months, much to his re gret. He made his home at Disston till I 891 when he bought a:nd settled at Maxirrw, where he has since lived in comparative health and comfort. He credits the climate of the Pinellas Peninsula with the last twenty-five years of his life. Another English settler was Robert S tanton, who bought the Miller Neeld place at the corner of Tangerine Avenue and Ninth Street, in 1 .886, and built a good home, to which he moved his family, and where they resided for many years. He sold finally and moved to St. Petersburg. There were a number of new settlers around Disston during 1885 and 1886, the exact of whose coming it is difficult to determine. There was Herman Beaumeister, who built a residence and store and handled general merchandise till l when he sold his stock to Arthur Norwood and went into business in New York.' There was Sergeant James McMahon, educated for a priest in Ireland, and graduated a thoroughbred soldier in America. Slipped away to this country and enlisted in the regular army at I 7 years. Had served in the Seminole wars; under. Anderson at Fori: Sumter at the siege; through the Civil War as a Union soldier; had garrisoned, single handed several of our fortresses since the war, and was now on the retired list after having been in the thick and thin of army life for nearly forty years. He bought ten acres at Disston, built a home, put out a grove and spent a good deal of his time there for some There was Parmenas Early, John Mills, Johnnie Tripp, Frank Futch, H. T SaWyer, S. F. Brengle John S. Calkins, . . L. M. Longstreth, Boyd Thompson, ]. W. McCardell, Jim


PINELLAS COUNTY, FLORIDA 47 Hamilton and maybe others. Then there was Weihman and Irwin, Badgat and Smeltz out on the avenue. The Point was settling up. In1887 the prevalence of yellow fever in Tampa tempo raril y put a stop to the influx of settle r s. Charles A R o uff came here in November of this year and bought five acres of land from Thomas Sterlin g o n Big Bayou; cleared a portion for truck raising and fruit culture, and built for himself and family a comfortable res idence. He was a machinist and by trade and could d o good house and boat work. He built the res i dence of General john C Williams now a part o f the Manhattan H otel. In same year came D. F. S Brantley. He w as the co n tractor who furni shed the cross ties for the Orange Belt R. R. of the self-made men of St. Peter!)burg are Ed. T Lewis and Ed. D urant, who to this seetion whe n quite young w i t h their parents-Durant in 1885 and Lewi s two years later. In 1890 the 'Two Eds" formed a copartne rship and e n gaged in m e rc a n tile At t hat time St. Petersburg was in its infancy and so sparsely settled that it offered slim prospects for the building up of a trad e that should p ossibly make them independent of the charities or a cold world for all time. Thei r stoc k l ike their capital-was very limited, and consis ted of groceries, candies, ci gars and tobacco. The ven ture was rathe r a haphazard undertaking and it was predicte d that so small a business would be an entire failure. But not s o ; for they were young men of undaunted courage, ener getic and persever in g, who always looked on the bright side 9f things, remembering the old adage, :where there's a will, h .. t ere s a way.


. .... 48 HISTORY OF PINELLAS PENINSULA The business from the outset was prosperous, but Mr. Durant did not fancy the grocery business, so decided to sell out to Mr. Lewis and return to his calling, cigar inaking, which promised in the near future to become a paying. busi n ess. He now coritrols the largest cigar industry in this tion and p o::-sibly on the West Coast, and by being the right man in the right place, he has built up a substantial trade and made many friends and, doubtless, many dollars. Mr: L e wis kept on climbing the "ladder of fame," and b eing of a business turn, combined with economy, and strict l:. onesty in h is dealings he has mounted t h e top round of ladde r and is now pretty much "monarch of all he surveys." Mention has cllready been made in the early part of this narrative of the settlement of Henry Murphy at the mouth of Long Bayou, John's Pass. To his might be added those of several other early settlers along the northern limits of the of which I have written. There were the Archer, Griner, Lealman, Sheffield, Ellis Harris and Arnould who settled at various dates, some o f them having ::;et\kd previously farther up the peninsula. From ;\l: d d I have this memorandum: "Herman G Arnold moved frcm Coffee County, Georgia, to Florida in 1852 married near Appalachicola, and moved to Point Pin d las in the spring of 18 56, and settled about two miles ea'>t of the present site of Largo. He later moved to and what is known as the old Hammock place, near where h e lived until the war came on, during which he died." The first steamboat built on the West Coast was built a t Bi g Bayou by Thomas Sterling and Charles Rouff. It was built for the trade between Big Bayou, St. and Tampa. The dimensions of the lola were: Keel, 54


PINELLAS. COUNTY, FLORIDA 49 feet; beam, I 3 feet; depth of hold, 7 feet ; length over all, 59 feet. She was launched in 1885. John Parsons designed and built this boat. Rouff. one of the owners, installed the engine and was her engineer. He also aided materially in her construction, as he was familiar with carpenter's tools and could do some boat work. As a house builder he was also skilled, and later on designed and built the fine residence of General Williams, now a part of the Manhattan Hotel. He was a machinist by trade and a master mechanic. The first sailing craft built on the West Coast after the war, was a sloop of nine tons, built also at Big Bayou, by john A Bethell, for Isadore Blumenthal & Co., to carry ce:. dar from Crystal River to Cedar Keys for their pencil factory. The next largest was the sloop Flirt, five tons, built at the same place and by same builder, for freighting. She also carried the mail from Tampa to Cedar .Keys for several months after the steamer Cool was off Gadsden's Point in 187 4. The smallest boat was also built by Mr. Bet hell. It was eight feet six inches long, and Captain B. C. Williams, then a young man, rowed it hom the Bayou to Tampa on a direct line to Gadsden's Point, frorri there to the ping off Big Island, where he stopped to take a short rest. It was one of the boldest, most daring arid dangerous feats eve. r performed by any boatman that ever crossed the bay. Dangerou s simply because the least commotion of the waters would have been t o swamp the little shell of, a bciat and left him at the mercy of a treacherous bay. The chances for a drowning man were quite different from what they are now. If boat turns turtle on the bay now there is either a .sailboat, launch or steamer within a few hundred yards, so a man has a fair chance in the daytime. Not so in those


.so . . HISTORY OF PINELLAS PENINSULA days; for sometimes it would be a week before there would be a vessel on the bay, other than the mail boat making the Tampa and Pinellas trip. Old Fort at Big Bayou. . On the north side of Big Bayou, near .. the entrance. stand several massive live oaks that mark the spot of a once heavily timbered hammock of oaks, pines, cabbage palms sweet bay and various other kinds of trees, that were ing on it until the year 1859, when Abel Miranda bought and cleared it for cultivation. Whilst dearing the land he made a very tmlooked-for discovery in finding the ruins of an old fortification made entirely of oyster and conch shells dently built by .the discoverers ofT ampa Bay, as a protection against the hordes of aborigines. that were usually on the warpath. This fort an acre of ground and had but three walled sides. One side faced northeast, one northwest and one southwest. The southeast side was not walled up, because northeast and southwest wings extended to the waters of the bayou. And again it may have been left open for retreat by boats in the event of an attack by an enemy, and the garrison not able to hold their own. The walls on the northeast and northwest corners were at least three feet high and gradually sloped to about two feet at . the waterfront. This enclosure had two openings, at the northeast northwest corners, about fourteen feet wide, possibly intended for sally ports. A remarkable circumstance about the enclosure was that the ground inside was about two feet lower than the land around the fort on the outside. There were cabbage palms, oaks and pines growing in the embank-


PINELLAS COUNTY, FLORIDA 5l ment as large as any i n the hammoc k How high this shell had been piled up originally: h o w long and by whom, is a mystery that will never be revealed. A great deal of shell remains there yet to mark the spot where the fort once stood, though in clearing the land the shells were leveled and the timber piled on them and burned. get it out of the way. Besides, much was hauled off and burned in kiln s for fertilizer. It is very evident that there has been some fightin g done on that spot, from the fact that in clearing we found inside the enclosure quite a number of arrow heads, som e with shafts n i n e and one-half inches lon g, in a finely p olished state, while some were very crude. Mounds at Points Pinellas and Maximo Elsewhere. Before and afte r the Civil War there was a cluster of cabbage palms growing on the sand beac h at Point Pinellas, fronting on Espiritu Santo Bay, as it u se d to be called, which. was known as the "Three Cabbages." In 1884 the ment surveyors cut down two of the palms, leavin g only one, since known as the "Lone as being a better mark for true bearings in running lines. It also an3wered as a bearing to a very large mound in a northwesterly direction and about of a mile .distant. This mound differs in shape and construction from any other mound in this section, or possibly in the State. In 1872, when Dr. VanBibber was exploring the_ West Coast -for a location for a sanitarium, and Professor Agassiz was looking up curiosities for the Smithsonian Institute Captain Eugene Coons met brought them to my place at Big Bayou. I then piloted them through the Point and to this mound.


: ... > ) . 52 HISTORY OF PINELLAS PENINSULA After inspecting it, they concluded that it was built in layers of earth and shell to the depth of about three feet to each layer. Though they could hardly tell for a certainty, from the fact that the mound was so thickly covered over with saw palmetto that it was a very difficult matter to tell precisely how thick the layers were or whether the earth and shell were mixed as they went Ol'\. An excavation in the north side, since made by employes of the Phi ladelphia Acadamey of Natural Sci e nces, would seem to disprove the separate layer theory. Other mounds constructed of earth and shell seem to show that the shP.Il'l were mixed in with the earthy material to better keep it in position. The r e are three or more circular excavations like sinkholes or pond bottoms, from which the earth was taken. The present county road along the section line skirts the largest of the holes, beyond which to the south and but a stone's throw from the road stands the mound . As the stands on the high timbered land about a quarter of a mile from the present beach line, the transpor tation of shell thithe r i3 a problem. The remains of a causeway reaching the top of the mound a10d gently sloping toward the south rna : h a .-c assisted in making the deposit of shell. The mound !:; e longated in a n almod east and west line. The slope of the is abrupt, on the south, mentioned. The top a t the south end h.1d once been leveled off fifteen or twenty feet and terraced over. It must have been in existence many years, perhaps ages, from the fact that when I first saw it, in 1849, it had pine trees growing on it equally large as any in the neighbor hood. 1 did not see the mound.again until 1859, and it was . then in a good state of preservation. But since the Civil . War vandal hands have preyed upon it so often that now there is scarcely a vestige of the teqace to be seen.


. . PINELLAS COUNTY, FLORIDA 53 . About three-quarters of a mile west and fronting on the bay, G. W. Bennett's cottage site is the eastern extremity of an interesting ridge or mound, which curves northward and westward, about a quarter of a mile, and comes back along Maximo Road to the bay, tpen recurves eastward twenty rods or more along the water's edge, with the ex tremity again thrown back toward the west like the erid of a monster's tail. It encloses ten or more acres, and is generally called a serpent mound. This mound is constructed of earth and shell mixed, .and the slope of the landward side is quite steep, so much so that it may have been used as a fortification. From Maximo Road west and along the bay is a regular tumble of mounds of all shapes a:nd sizes. Covered with a hammock growth of palms, oaks, cedars and shrubbery, extends quarter mile to near Point Maximo. These are also of earth and sheil, with a large percentage of shell. ]1;1tting out from this mound-base run two long straight ridges or spurs in a northerly direction to a length of several hundred feet, and still six to eight feet high. They resemble railroad embankment or old earthworks. Perhaps it was intended to complete the quadrangle for a defensive purpose. A short distance north, at the edge of a bayhead, is still to be seen a waterhole where the earth excavated was thrown up in the middle of i:he two basins, making a solid passageway between. These relics are of genuine interest and. should be preserved, as far as possible. West of Point Maximo is a less striking continuation of the shell works for a good many yards. There are many lllounds in the was a on the Kempe property at Big Bayou; the big oyster shell at


54 HISTORY OF PINELLAS PENINSULA . were many. It is a pity that they were not preserved intact, in a public park. It is very evident that many years ago there was no . Booker Creek, but all solid land where it now runs, from the fact that on each side of the creek, several hundred yards northwest from high bridge, and opposite each other, are two embankments of oyster shell that at one time must have been one very large mound spanning the present creek. sibly some heavy cloudburst flooded the flatwoods to the northwestward, coursed its way through the land as it sloped downwards and undermined the mound or forced a passage through it and washed the land away, which was the making of the creek. There is a descent of about fifteen or twenty feet from the bayhead above Ninth Street bridge, and when the flatwoods is flooded the fall of the water is so great that it gradually washes out -the creek and keeps it open. Gruesome Find at John's Pass. . While hunting on one of the keys at John's Pass before the war with Anderson Wood, came across what had once been a burial mound, but time, or possibly .the gale of 1848, that made John's Pass, had worn it down wpen. it swept over all the islands. We wo.uld have passed it by unnoticed, as it only had the a:ppearance of a ridge of shell and sand. had we not espied two human skulls and some We concluded there were Indians buried there and that there might be trinkets buried with them. So we returned to out boat. and got a spade and hoe and went back and dug, but all we un earthed was bones. There appeared to be no trinkets with them. As far as we could tell, the bo

PINELLAS COUNTY, FLORIDA 55 were so matte d together and so badly decayed that we could not do so. From the size of the bones, I do not think they were a 1arger people than ordinary. The two largest bones and the only two perfect ones we found were a thigh bone and a jaw bone. Myself and partner each stoo d six feet and if we measured the thigh bone correctly it was about two inches 1onger than ouTs. My friend, with a face full of whis kers, could slip the jaw bone off and on quite easily. We would have dug deeper into the mound, but o n second thought d eci d e d to quit simply because if those people had not been killed in battle and buried there, it was probable that they had died of some infectious disease; and possibly some of the germs might still b e lurking around those old bones, and how did we know but that we had already become infected! we covered the mound up again and left taking the skull, jaw and thigh bones to Tampa and gave them to Dr. Creighton, as he wanted to send them to the Smith sonian Institute at Washington. We also gave him two petrified teeth and several rib bones that we found on the outside beach at Pass-a-Grille. The teeth must have belonged to some very large animal, and they did not look like they had lain in the water very long, they were so bright and clear, and looked as if they had been i>olished. The roots of the teeth were plainly visi ble and the cups in them were very distinct and looked like they had never been used to masticate food. One of the teeth weighed two pounds, and the other one and three-quarters. The pieces of ribs were large and flat and not over fif teen inches long, and those who saw them claimed that they were from some family of the sea cow.


56 HISTORY OF PINELLAS PENINSULA Game On the Point. In writing up this little narrative I must not omit telling about the game that abounded in this section before and for some time after the Civil War.' There were deer, bear, 'coons, 'possums, rabbits, squirrels, turkeys, geese, ducks,. whooping cranes, blue and. white cranes, curlew, quail, plover, snipe, etc. Besides these there were panthers and wildcats by the hundreds, and 'gators just as plentiful. All one had to do was t o load his gun and go off from his enclosure, so as not to shoot imy of his family, and kill a tur key or some other kind of game for dinner. Quail was game that we never wasted ammunition on. We would sometimes catch th.em in rabbit traps and turn them loose. And snipe was too small game to tinker with. I hav< stood on my porch and shot turkeys while eating my tomatoes. In duck season I would often kill at my water front landing enough to keep my family a day or two, Deer frequently swam across. the bayou. I overtook one crossing one day and knocked it in the head with my oar, and my brother killed one with his hatchet. The goose pond, about four miles northwest of the Bayou, was a noted place for geese in their season, as was also a sand flat northeast of Boca Ceiga Pass, that is dry nearly all winter. I have seen these flats l iterail y covered with geese, possibly a thousand or more. Geese were not . as easily killed as other game; They were always on the lookout for dan ger, so it was a very difficult thing to get near enough to kill more than a couple at a shot, though my partner; Anderson Woods, once killed five . We never in days killed game for profit or for the fun of it, as has been done in later years, but just' what was absolutely necessary for home consumption. When I first settled here the beai:s, panthers, wildcats and 'gators preyed


. PINELLAS COUNTY, FLORIDA 57 upon the hogs to such an extent that we had .to wage a war of extermination on them. They not only clearied up the . pigs, but they killed the stock hogs; so in the fall of 1860 myself, Abel Miranda, Jas. R. Hay and Andy Woods decid. . ed we would turn out and dean up s0me of them. Miranda, Woods and I killed in November and December ten bear and captured three out of the fourteen we sighted. The other outgeneraled -us and made his escape. In that hunt we also killed eleven cats, three panthers. Hay killed thirty-seven cats alone, as he had good cat dogs and he just hunted for cats, though he would kill any o ther kind of animal that preyed on stock if it crossed his path. I do not remember just how many 'gators we killed in the two months' hunt, but I do know that we killed every one directly in our section that had a den in the creeks or marshes at the hog crossings, and a good many :that we came aross in the woods while hunting game. We also killed bear, cats and panthers before and after the Civil War, but we never turned out before this for a general massacre. Af ter the Civil War bear and panthers were very scarce, but the cats and 'gators had multiplied vety fast during the years of the war. Our section was full of game for a long time after the war, and there would be plenty of game now if i t had not been for the murderous guns in the hands of brainless pot hunters that slaughtered everything that had hair and feathers on it. There were plume and song birds of every description that the Creator had placed here to beautify and adorn Man's Paradise, but the lawless marauders just about destroyed everything that came in reach of their powder and lead. The worst scourge that ever came to Point Pinellas was one Chevalier, a from Montreal, Canada, who located just west of Point Maximo for the. purpose of killing birds for the plumes, feathers and skins.


. 58 HISTORY OF PINELLAS PENINSULA I don't know how many birds Chevalier and his ruth less gang slaughtered during the three years he remained on the Point; for he brought a gang with him with a complete out/it for the murderous business. I know it was well into the thousands. Even the harmless pelicans came in for a share of powder and lead. Their wallets were made into to bacco pouches. Two of Chevalier's agents, Pocket and Tetu, told me that one season they got I I ,000 skins and plumes and 30,-000 birds' eggs, and with a force of eleven men with blowpipes it was impossible to blow the contents out of more than one-half of these eggs before they were spoiled.. Then they had to peck holes in the ends of the balance and spread them out over the face of creation for the ants to do the rest. That was the greatest destruction of the feathered tribe at any ti,rne during the three years. . would not have remained here in the Point had not some of our settlers aided him in his nefarious work, :from the fact that the hirelings he brought with him were ig norant of the bird rookeries on the land, and as they knew . nothing about boats, could not hunt on the islands. But as some of the settlers enlisted in his hellish cause, then the War of extermination was waged on everything that had hide or feathers. I was told by one pilots, or bird butchers, that he piloted some of the gang to a rookery at the head of Long Bayou in nesting time and killed over I ,000 plume birds, and he said that about ten days after, while passing . hy the rookery, the sight and stench of the dead birds was sickening. The heads and necks of the young birds were hanging out of the nests by the hundreds. They had killed the motherand their young had died of sheer starva tio. "I am done bird hunting forever," said he. Did he


PINELLAS COUNTY, FLORIDA 59 : .;stick to his resolve I Not much I In less tltan one year he : was on the warpath again. I have heard it sai d that alligators would fill up in the ummer time with pine knots and k eep fat all fall and winter

60 HISTORY OF PINELLAS. PENINSULA deer on the islands were a great deal larger than those on the mainland, besides they were fatter and the meat better flavored. In birds' eggs we would rob only the nests containing a single egg, as they were fresh and plentiful; and we would always leave from fifteen to twenty turtles' eggs in the nest to hatc;;h. We killed most of the deer on Hammett's Key, though there was better hunting on Pass-a-Grille and one of the best camp on the West Coast. It seemed as if Nature de signed it for just such a purpose. But the harbor and anchor age in front of it were bad for small boats. The tide runs very strong and when the wind is blowing from the northeast small boats have to go up the bayou. The first dock was built by George Faillkner, and in the rear of it was the camp ground, which was first used for this purpose by the Spanish smack fishermen in the forties. It was about sixty feet square, in a cluster of cabbage palms, three or four tiers deep. Whether the smack men thinned out the palms or whether it was a natural opening, I never heard say. All I knew about it was that it was a lovely spot for camping. The smack men used to take their smacks there to dean them while waiting for a of fish from the ranches. There is some of their old pebble ballast lying on the water there yet. They had a well dug in the rear of the camJ>, walled up with horse-conch shells but the gale of 48, when it overflowed the key, filled the well up with sand, and it re mained so until 1857 when one John Gomez, a Spaniard, who knew where it was, cleaned it out. Gomez carried lumber there from Tampa and built tables and benches and. put everything in good shape. He had a fine boat and took parties there on excursions.


PINELLAS COUNTY, FLORIDA 61 B e fore the war w e d i d most of our camping and in g at on accoun t of t hat good well of and the camp ground. Besides there were more deer on. Long Key than on the others, it being so much larger than the othe r k eys. Yes, and there more ori it than on all the oth e r keys put toget h e r There were so many rattl e r s and moccasins in that mangrove swamp near the camp that we would never hunt in it; in fa ct, I don't think the d eer ever went in it. because of the snakes, as w e never saw any s i g ns of their having been i n it, though w e always saw plenty of passing and repassing on either side of the s w amp. I have hunted that key the odd time and if I ever failed to kill a rattler on each and every hunt I don't remember it. And I have killed a s high as three i n a si n gle day's hunt. I have hunte d on every is l and from Cape Sable to Anclote, and Pass-a-G rille or Long Key, beats them atl fo r rattle rs. And i t is very remarkable .that i n i:he t w enty-five years of hunting, off and on, I never lost a dog fro m a rattler's bite; and I have had sometimes as many as seven dogs on a camp hunt. During the S e minole War of '567 Capt. Duke, o f the steamer Gray Cloud, took on board a t Tampa about forty hogs for troops a t Fort Myers. When he got o ff Mullet Key it was so stormy that he anchored the r e for four days. In the meantime the hogs became so unruly and troublesome that he dumped the m all overboard. The mos t of them made a landing, but some did not fare so well While the Gray Cloud lay stormbound at Mulle t Key Captain Duke gave permission to one Sampson, a negro, employed by the Government as interpreter for the Indians at Fort Myers, to go on shore for a hunt, and here i s what he killed i n the one day's hunt: Eight large rattlers, whic h he stretched out on the beach. I did see the snakes, but


62 HISTORY OF PINELLAS PENINSULA I heard Captain Duke tell it for a fact. Now, I have hunted Mullet Key the odd time, night and day, through thick and thin, driving, sneak and fire hunting, and never killed or saw a rattler .on it, though I knew they were there, as I would often see their trails; but I have had pretty good luck on Egmont killing rattlers, as it was a noted hole for them. Sampson, the negro interpreter; was captured by the Indians when quite a boy and lived with them untiL the war of '37-8, when he quit the tribe, carne to Tampa, and of fered his services to General Brooke, commandant of the post, as guide, spy and interpreter for the command. He was allowed to squat on the Government reservation, whilst there was war with the Indians, and after its close General Brooke secured a grant from the Government for five acres of the reservation for services rendered. After the close of the Civil War Louis Bell, a Confederate veteran, bought Samp son's claim for $2S and a yoke of oxen and wagon. The Bells own some of the property I must now tell you what became of the hogs that were thrown overboard from the Gray. Cloud. Some of them . drowned, but the most of them made a safe landing and multiplied rapidly. Before the outbreak of the Civil War I often went to Mullet Key to hunt deer, and in the meantime would kill a couple of good fat shoats whilst I was idle. There would .be as many as twenty hogs in a drove feeding on the sand flats, same as the 'coons. The 'gators must have fared pretty well on them, for there were lots of bones around their dens. But they had worse enemies than the 'gators during the Civil War, for the refugees exterminated them for the blockading fleet at Egmont. After the close of the war I hunted on Mullet Key agairi, but never saw a sign of a hog. In '49 Captain Lowe, while on his way from Key West to the sponge banks, landed several head of stock hogs


. PINELLAS COUNTY, FLORIDA 63 on Sanibel Island knowing that they would soon and himself as w e ll as the other spongers on their bound trips could stop there and lay in a supply of fresh pork for the cruise. ln '56 and '57, whilst I was with Captain John Alderslade carrying beef cattle from T ampa and Manatee to Kew West for the market, he would often stop there to get a porker or two, and at the same time have a deer hunt, as they were very plentiful. as were the hogs also: On the south east end of the i sla 'nd there were several acres of coco-plum bushes that grew from two to four feet high, which in the summer months would be loaded with fruit. There were two kinds, the white and the blue, but they were one and, the same fruit. They were about the size of t h e ordinary peach, with but one seed, and would last about as long as pal metto mast. They were a very fine fruit and the hogs were very fond of them, as were also the 'coons; possibly the deer liked them, too, as there would be plenty bf tracks the grove. The Gale of '48 and Changes Along the Coast. The gale that destroyed everything in its track along the \\'est Coast in 1848, among other things; washed down the hghthouse on Egmont Key. When the lightkeeper, Marvel Edwa rd s, saw that the tide was going to overflow the island end that it was already two feet deep around the dwelling, he placed his family in his boat and waded with it to the middle of the isle and secured it to the palmettos until the gale was over. The tide rose so high that it went over the window sills of the old brick dwe lling that was built at the same time that the lighthouse was, and has been the home for every light keeper from that to the present time. The dwelling when


) . .. ,., 64 HISTORY OF PINELLAS PENINSULA first built was of one story with a cellar and cistern underneath. When the new lighthouse was built another story was added to the dwelling. Every island from Sanibel to Bayport was overflowed in the '48 gale, and many new passes were made by it through .. the islands. For instance, Longboat inlet and several small passes between there and Big Sarasota; also John's Pass. Befor:e the gale Passage Key had a heavy growth of timber on it, but the gale swept it all off and cut a channel into the swamp that was on it, so that in 1849 my father, while oiling and turtling in the bay, used to anchor his schooner of eight tons in there, as it made a very snug harbor for small ship i!)ing drawing up to three feet of water. The islands have washed away a great deal in places since 1848. The northwest side of Mullet Key betore the gale, from the north point to within a half mile of the south point, was a solid cabbage_ hammock with three large buttonwood swamps on the north point, but that gale broke away the foundation and the land has gradually washed away, including the cab. bage trees and swamps. The gale was also the cause of the washing away of several sand keys between Mullet Key and Pass-a-Grille. One of 'these was of about one and a half acres in extent in 1849, and was well nigh covered with buttonwood, mangrove and bay cedars. The laughing gulls and used to lay their eggs there, and it was known as Panama Key. After the war, some northern smack fishermen established a ranch there to catch mullet and bottom fish for the Cuban market. They never made a success of it from the fact that the sharks cut their nets so badly that they had to quit. There is nothing now remaining of the key but a sand flat. The sand key on the northwest side of Pass-a-Grille channel, before and for a long time after the war, was on


PINELLAS COUNTY, FLORIDA 6.5 the southeast side of i t. There were several acres in this lcey, with black and white buttonwood and mangrove grow-. ing on the inside of the southeast point; the rest of the key was well covered with a very thick growth of bay cedar. At the east end of the key was a bend, or horseshoe, with five feet of water, making a fine harbor for small craft. It was .a : great place for bird and turtle eggs. On the southeast point of Pass-a-Grille in those years :also was a pond with buttonwood and mangrove growing on its borders that was seventy-five or one hundred feet from tide water. There was a very large 'gator that had his den in this pond and myself and partner decided to kill him, which was not so easily done, for the reason that he would go in and out of the pond only at night. We tried to fire hunt him, but never could find him. So one bright, still, moonlight night we took our stand near his ; trail. We did not have long to wait-possibly ha\f an hour-before he made his appearance, crossing the beach from the water to the pond. When he came near to our hiding place we .stepped out from ambush and filled his 'gatorship full of :blue whistles." I did not expect to ever tell any 'gator _yarns, conse did not weigh or measure him, but he was a very large one all the same. The next largest 'gator that I ever saw had his den on the bird rookery at the Boca Ceiga, or northwest end of Long Key. Myself and comrade could never get near enough to kill him with buckshot. We shot at his head a great many times while swimming in the chan. nel, but never could kill him. From his size he must have been an old residenter, or else he must have taken advan tage of the flood to get there from the River Ganges. Well, I will now go back and take up the thread of my discourse. The next part of Long Key to wash away was


' 66 HISTORY OF PINELLAS PENINSULA the west end. It was a very high ridge of sand beach of about twenty acres, covered with a heavy growth of bay cedar. It was a noted place.for turtle and gull eggs. There were also three large duck and goose a little southeast of the ridge, where I often killed ducks, but I have been told re cently that two of the ponds are entirely washed away and that the gulf waters ebb and flow in the remaining one, and that the high ridge of beach will soon be a thing of the past. ' The next key between Long Key and John's Pass was also high and dry, but it has washed away so much that there were several small, shallow channels cut through it when I last visited the place. Stump Pass, south of Big Sarasota, was made by the '48 gale, as was also the pass below Little Sarasota, known. as Sarah's, or Casey's Pass. Early Highways. The first' road to this section was made by the Old. Tampa stockmen from the John Taylor place to the James R. Hay place, now known as the Farrand Grove, in 18 56. In 1857 Hay continued it on just east of Salt Lake to Big Bayou. In 1868 John L. Branch cut a road .from what is now the Foster Grove to intersect the "Old Tampa Road, .. as it was afterward called, about eight miles north the Farrand Grove. The people of Pinellas traveled this road very often from the fact that Old Tampa was headquarters for schools, churches, voting, entertainments, speech-mak ing and such like, just after the war. Seminole War Experiences. During the Seminole War of 1856-7, while mate on one of the. Government steamers, the "Texas Ranger," then


PINELLAS COUNTY, FLORIDA 67 plyiJ:1g between Tampa and Fort Myers for the purpose of transporting troops and munitions of war, I had a '(J!ry good opportunity of seeing quite a number of the braves, their squaws and little pappooses, captured or surrendered, that . were being shipped on .our boat as prisoners of war from Fort Myers to Egmont Key, which was their pris on. until sent West to the reservation. All the prisoners were well' guarded while on the boat, and on arrival at Egmont they were turned over to the commandant of the post for keeping; and they were safe when once on the i sland, for no boats were allowed to be kept there and none to land, day or night, under any conditions. whatever. The Indians were very quiet and orderly while prisoners on the boat, but just as soon as they landed and met their relatives all order and quiet was turned into war whoops, weeping, dancing and yelling like wild beasts. Soon after the war began the Government saw there was no possible chance of compelling the Indians to surrender and leave the State, by use of the regular troops alone, so it issued a call for volunteers, some for infantry, some for cavalry and some for boat service. The. latter were to go through the Everglades, find the homes, capture the women and children, destroy their gardens and keep the men on the move so they could not do any farming, These boatmen had very large metallic boats, that would carry sixteen to twenty men with all their outfit. They were built. for going through. the sawgrass, so as to penetrate .to the islands and swamps in the Everglades. These boat COffi:panies did the hardest and most efficient service. Without them the Indians would never .have sur rendered; and they received the least pay and no pension for their services.


' I ..... .. 68 HISTORY OF PINELLAS PENINSULA During the early part of the war the Government sent out West to the reservation and hadJim jumper, head chief of the Seminoles, and some others of the tribe brought to Tampa for the purpose of meeting Billy Bowlegs, the second chief, and trying to induce him to give up and g() back with them to the reservation. But Billy refused to leave his home, so Jumper accomplished nothing. I saw: the delegation when it arrived in Tampa. They were fine looking men, but their style of dress was most amusing. Chief jumper wore a high crown black beaver hat, a pair of brogan shoes, striped ticking pants, red top shirt and a blue blouse, ahd the rest were dressed about as comically. Some would have on soldier shoes, pants and blouse and red shirt and turban; others brogan shoes, soldier pants, white flannel army shirts, striped coat and straw hat; others would have OJ?shoes, buckskin pants, red or white shirt and a "Joseph's coat" of many colors, topped out with a turban or striped cloth. It appeared as if each one dressed according to his own particular fancy. They were first sent to Fort Myers on our boat, and from there to Marco. From there we went with steamer several miles inland until we' came to shallow water. We then took the boats and went several miles farther before we could land them dry-footed. We then re.turned to the steamer in double-quick time; for it was no place for sailors among those mangrove islands As .as we got on board we steamed for Fort Myers, glad to get to sea again, out of reach of the scalping knife. Our steamer was often ordered into critical positions. Sometimes we were sent. up the River from . Fort Myers to Fort Deno. The Caloosahatchee was a very unsafe river to navigate, on account of its narrowness, as also its crookedness. We were ordered to Fort Deno once


PINELLAS 69 after a freshet, with supplies for the fort. Wheri We ,got to . . . where the river was very crooked we had to go. under .flow. . . ..... . . speed, and though the boat had a double engine and was a side-wheeler, and could back on one wheel and go ahead on the other, it did not save her from being swept broadside by the current into a large oak tree that smashed two state rooms and a part of the dining room on the upper deck; and it took quite a long time to cut away the oak and get. the boat clear of it. I have often thought of the risk taken in running up that river without any protection whatever, with no guard on the boat! and no guns of any kind for the crew, in case they were attacked by the redskins. If they had attacked us there would not have been a man left to tell the tale.


, 70 HISTORY OF PINELLAS PENINSULA CHAPTER V . Early Business Pinellas Village. In concluding this historical sketch of the lower Point it will' not be amiss to say something about the little town of Pinellas Big Bayou -of bygone days, as it was instru mental in building up the Point from Maximo to Lealman, simply because it did a very large business and was head quarters for all this section, including kealman, Largo and the John's Pass country. And, first, a word about the location of the village. Big Bayou-Pinellas-has one of the best naturaJ harbors for small shipping from twenty-five tons down to skiff boats, anywhere on .the West Coast, from Tampa to Clearwater; there is ample room with a depth of from four to eight feet of for five hundred of the above class to ride at anchor in stormy weather in perfect safety. It is so lahd-and-bank locked as not to be exposed to the heavy seas and full force of wi'nd encountered in the open. From the channel entrance, or bar, to the head of the Bayou is about one a:nd a half miles and its greatest about a half mile. In spring there is four and a half feet on the bar at mean high water, but in summer tides, when the wind is south, there is six feet. Some of the lumber schooners have come in drawing five feet eight inches and discharged their cargoes at my dock. The Cecilia, the Peerless and the Simpson were schooners of twenty-five tons that used to rendezvous in the Bayou, and the schooner Venice of thirty tons, partly owned by Judge Benton, used to run the block ade from Tampa to the Bayou during the yellow fever time


PINELLAS COUNTY, .. FLORIDA 71 with goods for the merchants here; and these same vessels drew from four to five of water. : After Mr. Sterling built the H otel San jose and got it : in running order, we had excursions from Tampa just as . they now have to Pass-a-Grille. Every Sunday the steame.r Sadie or the steamer Alafia came in with a crowd. The Bayou in those days was not only a fire class business place, but a place for spo rt, fun and frolic and every one, citizen and transient, enjoyed it. The day will come when Pinellas will flourish again, but those good days of yore will never return. Thomas Sterling and General Williams arranged to ap propriate $I ,500 to jetty the channel so as to turn all the water from the Bayou into the main channel, which would have been all that was necessary to clean it out and keep it so. Charles Rouff and judge Benton were to superintend the construction and the scheme would have been carrie d out, but some one o f the parties most interested was in. formed that such an undertaking would be detrimental to the business interests of St. Petersburg, and the matter was drop ped. Modern m ethods as used in will yet make Big Bayou the favorite harbor of the Point. But to return to my story. It w as some time after I came back to Pinella s before home-seekers began to put in an appearance, and the n they were few and far between, like angels' visits I had here, on the north side of the Bayou, one hundred and twelve acres of land in a body, lying beau tifully and with a fine waterfront. I wanted neighbors more than I wanted acres, arid so I decided to sell or barter some of my lands at a small price so as to induce people to settle at the Bayou. And this is the way I sol d it: First, I traded two acres on the Bayou to William P Neeld for five acres on the rock road near Tangerine Avenue;


:_;;.. . ... 72 HISTORY OF PINELLAS PENINSULA then sold this five acres to Miller Neeld for $10 cash and ten bushels of sweet potatoes, then worth 40 cents a busheL Next I sold four acres to John P. Andreu for $20. I then sold sixty acres for $250 to one Lyons in Tampa, who afterwards sold it to Thomas Sterrling for $1,000. Sterling then sold ten or fifteen acres to parties for homes, some of whom located and made good improvements. Later on he sold. his remaining lands, with all improvements, to a syndicate qf Jesuits for $10,000, including $1,000 paidjohn B. Walton for making the deal, and the purchase of the smaller claims made the sixty acres cost them something over $15,000.' I then traded fifteen acres, now the Kempe property, to Captain Adolphus Russell for an old sloop that was worth about $75. I bought my land from private parties, so the qne hundred and twelve acres cost me $590, but I got the most desirable location, with the best water front on the Bayou. . When the town first started the growth was slow, owing to the fact that it was just after the war, and no building material to be had nearer than Pensacola, consequently was very difficult to obtain, until. a line of schooners from that place opened up a trade with the town. Also the settlers were dependent upon Tampa for their other supplies, until R. E. Neeld opened a store for the people's needs-the first store in the section. The next to open a business place was Vincent Leonardy. It was then that Pinellas began to flourish; and it is surprising what a large business was carried on in so small a town a little later on. ----:-------. . The first shipment of farm products was 111ade before: there was any established place of business in the village. This consisted of two hundred crates of vegetables, mostly. tomatoes, and six hundred crates of oranges.


PINELLAS COUNTY, FLORI[)A 73 The first store, R. E. Neeld's, sold groceriea,oJX\y ; . ..'"', . cent Leonardy, groceries and dry goods. A little late. r ,qp John T. Sloan opened up groceries, shoes, dry goods, hardware, oils, stock feed, wholesale and retail; Simon Bell; ceries and feed, wholesale and retail; E. R. Ward, a general !lssortment, wholesale and retail; James W. Harris, the same; E. P. Grubb, the same; john A. Bethell, grpceries, feed and hardware, wholesale and retail. Ward, Bethell and Grubb supplied the contractors who built the Orange Belt R. R. with about all the provisions and other goods they needed. . ( In conclusion, I will say something about the Pinellas post office, which was established in 1876. It was the oldest office on the West Coast. William H. Benton was the first postmaster, but at the expiration of six resigned in favor of John A. Bethell, who then held the office fourteen years lind four months, when R. E Neeld was ap()ointed postmaster under President Harrison's administration. At the end of one year he resigned in favor of Mary E. Bethell, who also resigned at the expiration of two years in favor of Mrs. S. C. Bethell, the last to hold the office. She served a term of thirteen years, then tendered her resignation to the Post Office Department, and as no one would take the office it was finally discontinued. Before St. Petersburg opened up the office did quite a business. The cancellations amounted to about $74 a ter and sales to over $1 00. The oldest settler in Point nellas is John A. Bethell, and he holds a draft on the Post Office Department for four cents, due him in settlement for services as postmaster during the fourteen years and four months as above stated-next to the smallest draft on record, which was for one cent to Grover Cleveland. The largest


74 HISTORY OF PINELLAS PENINSULA ever issued, as I have been told, was for $17,000,000, to the Vanderbilts. In 1885 J. R. T orrcs platted a townsite on the high bluff facing south on Boca Ceiga Bay, in Sec t ion 33, now included i n Gulfport. Interested with him in furthering this enterprise were William B. Miranda, Joseph P. G. Watt and John R. Jones. By the close 'of 1885 a lively boom had started, a her of houses had been built on the townsite, a large hotel . on the waterfront, two or three stores, a substantial dock and warehouse, and an air of prosperity pervaded the nity. The hotel was fairly patronized from the start; several young,Englishmen tourists were in evidence, with a prospect of more. Captain John T. Lesley, of Tampa, platted twenty acres adjoining the T orrest tract on the west, and by the spring of real estate in and around the new town was it; brisk demand and at pretty stiff prices. During the ter a transportation company had been organized and the steamer Mistletoe put on the run between the port and Tampa; . The town had been named "Disston City," in honor of Henry Disston, whose big purchase of Florida State lands included many acres in the vicinity. Unfortunately, the istence of a little country postoffice in the neighborhood of Tampa by the name of "Diston" made ''Disston City" jectionable to the Post Office Department, as a name for the po{lt office, and i t was known as "Bonifacio" in mail ters until 1890, when the Diston post office having been continued, town and post office alike became Disston City. The real estate office of W. B. Miranda, Jones and Watt was a lively place in those days. Miranda was a man of great and was possessed of a lively imagination,


PINELLAS COUNTY, FLORIDA_ 75 1 .-, i I ., as all pushing men of affairs are wont to be. And if his schemes could have been materialized the lower end of this peninsula might have had a far different history as a result. In his fertile brain the little village plat on Boca Ceiga Bay soon became ,simply the nucleus of a Greater Oisston, which should cover alJ the available advantages of the Point. It was, maybe, a dream, but a dream that is likely to become, under another name, a grand reality in the years that are before us. . In conjuqction with several large outside landholders, he planned the platting of practically all the south end of the peninsula from Paul's Landing to John's Pass into five and ten-acre lots with wide streets and avenues and a irand boulevard along the entire waterfront. The greater part of these lands was actually surveyed and platted, where the owners consented and put up. the funds, and many of the .. squared stakes are still to l?e found that marked the platted lines and avenues. General Williams and several other land owners did not go irito the scheme. As long as Miranda could control the funds "Greater Disston" boomed. Big lithograph maps of the greater city were issued, which, together with a variety of lesser litera ture, were scattered liberally abroad. An English settler was my authority for the statement-that ''next to New York and New Orleans, Oisston City was the best known place in America as far as London was concerned I" In those young days of the town of Disston mass meet ings of the populace were prevalent, in which, whatever the matter in hand, Citizen Torres inevitably bob bed up with a lot of strongly worded "resolutions." And carried off his part well. Railroads were planned-on paper. Water fines were organized-without capital. Flying machines were not in the air at that hut if they


76 HISTORY OF PINELLAS PENINSULA had been whole fleets of them -in imagination -would have.swarmed (lround the young town. Unfortunately, ev erything else was mostly "in the air," and stayed there! But so carried away with their visions of their future great ness were these promoters and the people generally, that even sleepy old Tampa, which was just beginning to wake from a Rip Van Winkle state of repose, began to sit up and .. take notice, and exhibited unmistakable signs of jealousy of her enterprising neighbor. . In the spring of 1886 there were three. mercantile es. tablishments in Disston. J. R. Torres carried a stock of gen eral merchandise, mostly groceries. He also ran the post office in connection, being its first H. E, Bau meister carried dry goods and hardware, principally; and R. L. Locke, an English resident, trafficed in groceries. In the same spring Will McPherson brought in a small jobpress and type .outfit and began the publication-of the first newspaper ever issued on the Point. At first it was a simple kind of hand-bill affair, it being Will's first attempt at the "delineation of the art preservative." Later, in June, by the assistance of G. W. Benmiett, an old newspaper man, it was thrown into regular newspaper. form and a very neat and was indeed no slouch of a country journal. Will named it the "Sea Breeze," and. as there happened to be rio type in the office suitable for a head; Ben nett selected a chunk of black mangrove from the woodpile, worked it down type high, and cut a head specially for the paper. This "head" and afile of the "Sea Breeze" are yet in the possession of Mr. McPherson. After a year or more the concern was transferred to the hands of Messrs. L. M. Longstreth imd R. E. Neeld, who changed the name to the It died I think of yellow fever soon after.


PINE LLAS COUNTY, FLORIDA 71 For, in 1887 and 1888, yellow fever in. 4 .. Tampa, during whic h time the Point was cloaely tined. This in itself would make a full and interesting c:;hap ter in this narrative. The fever never existed on the Point the microbes couldn't catch on here but business was para lyzed; the boom languished, and the coming of the railroad and birth of St. Petersburg were the death knell of Dieston


CHAPTER VI. Arrival of the Railroad and Birth of St. Petereburg In the early part of 1887 it began to look as if the long -expected railroad was about to materialize. There were ru mors to the effect that a certain Silver Springs, Ocala & Gulf Coast line was in our direction and would strike tidewater somewhere on the lower Point. By and by came parties connected with the enterprise to look over the situa tion and decide on a terminus. .. The site of St. Petersburg, with General Williams behind it, was a very potent Surveyors followed. Lines were run here and there and various routes were pro-posed." Eventually the S., S ., 0. & G. got a. franchiae for a line down the coast by way of Clearwater and Seminole t o Mul . let Key, with a aide line to St. Pet.enburg. A tract of land -on the William waterfront waa cleared and made ready for the road. The road got tired before it reached the coast, but Mr. Plant kept the franchiie alive for years after he absorbed the uncompleted line. About the same time came the redo ubtable Russian hustler, ''Uncle Pete," and General Williama made room for his proposition And St. Peteraburg took name and shape .and the little narrow gauge Orange Belt R. R., now the sanford and St. Petersburg branch of the Atlantic Coast Line, was the result. This line was built and the d oc k com pleted in December, 1888. With t h is achievement ends the scope of this little history. I have aimed to lay a foundation for future historians to build upon. The fast thinning ranks of the earliest set


PINELLAS COUNTY, FLORIDA 79 tiers seemed to make it advisable that the attempt should be made to put into shape for preservation some AC-' .. count of the events of which there had hitherto ho written or printed record made. But at the urgent of some of my friends I have done my beat to herein such happenings as have come under my personal observation, as well as such other incidents as have been gathered from reliable sources during the more than half century that my home has been in this secti on. In doing so I have tried to make it a truthful record without any coloring of falsehood whatever. ,..... . :' THE END


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