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Search for yesterday a history of Levy County, Florida
Levy County Archives Committee (Fla.)
Place of Publication:
Bronson, Fla
Levy County Archives Committee
Publication Date:
Chapter 12, October, 1982
Physical Description:
28 volumes : ; 28 cm +


Subjects / Keywords:
History -- Levy County (Fla.) ( lcsh )
Biography -- Levy County (Fla.) ( lcsh )
Genealogy -- Levy County (Fla.) ( lcsh )
Florida -- Levy County ( fast )
Biography. ( fast )
Genealogy. ( fast )
History. ( fast )
non-fiction ( marcgt )
Biography ( fast )
Genealogy ( fast )
History ( fast )


General Note:
Cover title.
General Note:
Includes index as v.29.
General Note:
"A Bicentennial publication."
General Note:
Chapter three has title: Slowpoke. Chapter nine has title: The High Sheriff.

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University of Florida
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University of Florida
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Copyright Levy County Archives Committee. Permission granted to University of Florida to digitize and display this item for non-profit research and educational purposes. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder.
Resource Identifier:
024053741 ( ALEPH )
06316718 ( OCLC )
00711645 ( LCCN )
F317.L6 S44 1977 ( lcc )
975.9/77 ( ddc )

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Florida Family and Community History


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A History of Levy County, Florida & & & Chapter Twelve & & & OCTOBER -1982 Published By The Levy County Archives Committee Sponsored by the Levy County Board of Commissioners Bronson, Florida A Bicentennial Publication


PICTURE CAPTIONS IN THIS CHAPTER Most of the steamboat pictures are made available by courtesy of Francis Rowell and Cecil Rowell. Cecil Rowell had the pictures made during the early 1950Â’s. In order to avoid shrinking some of the prints to make space for captions, the explanatory notes are written here. The Three States was the largest steamer on the Suwannee: in fact, it was too big for that River. It was eventually moved into service at Chattahoochee, Georgia. The owner was Captain Bob Ivey. The Three States was about the size of the average Mississippi River Steamboat. In the picture, the well-dressed young man posing in the foreground is wearing a summer dress hat that was high fashion for men back then. It was known as a leghorn straw or strawcadia and was made in a rigid oval shape. Unless he had a deformed cranial bone structure, no man had a head shaped like that. However, if the hat was too big, it could be held up by the wearerÂ’s ears, as seems to be the case in this instance. The object protruding from the pilot house roof was a steam whistle. Today, a lot of people have never heard one of them. They did have a distinctive sound. Just beyond the lady in white is a man carrying a load of what appears to be folding deck chairs or ax handles, neither of which seems logical. The Louisa was owned by Captain MacGruder and in this picture is moored at the Old Town Landing. There are three pictures of the Belle of Suwan nee. The frontal view shows the steamer when it was in full passenger service. The water-spotted picture was made after the Belle had been strip ped of passenger equipment and was used for freight hauling. The spotted photo was made while the boat was hauling turpentine from Blue Creek to Cedar Key and a short time before it sank. The Belle was built in Branford in 1889 and was owned by Captain R. A. Ivey. It sank in the Gulf between Pepper Fish Key and the mouth of the Steinhatchee River. There are at least two versions of the sinking date; one is September 30, 1900; the other is September 29, 1896. At the time of the sinking (whichever), the crew was J. E. Dorsett, Master; Spencer Campbell, pilot; Peter Walker, engineer; Eugene S. Gauldin, pur ser. The Yulee was built in 1875 and was one of the smaller steamboats on the Suwannee. It was tied up at Suwannee when the hurricane and tidal wave of 1896 tore it loose and blew it up the river to the lower end of Long Reach on the Levy side. The machinery was removed and the hull is still there with cypress trees growing up through the wreck. The City of Hawkinsville (see chapter 3, page 14) was tied up for the last time in 1923 at Old Town. The superstructure was gradually removed and the hulk finally sank. This print is clearer than the one published in an earlier chapter. The Hawkinsville was one of the larger steamers on the Suwannee. The Ralph Barker was built in 1900 in Port Inglis and operated from there for about twenty years. It had a steel hull, was 85 /2 feet long, and is shown on the Withlacoochee River. In the pictures of the ferry at Fanning Springs, one shows a man at the left holding a parasol, next to him is one wearing a derby hat, then a portly individual with a walrus moustache and watch chain. The fourth man is standing as if at attention with a military posture and appears to be wearing a Confederate uniform. He was a Confederate soldier. The ferry landing on the south bank was where Gilchrist County had a boat ramp in later years. Who the people are in the fishing boat at Cedar Key is not known. If you read this and have this information, please contact the Levy County Archives at Bronson or the Cedar Key Historical Society at their museum on Second Street. S. E. Gunnell, Archives Member Bronson, Florida 1


# 2 The Three States


WHERE THEY LIVED The people listed in the 1860 census as being patrons of the Atsena Otie post office, their ages, occupations, and places of origin: 1. James Lee, 30, laborer, Ga. 2. John Lee, 47, farmer, Ga. 3. James D. Butler, 31, blacksmith, N.C. 4. Ruben Wilkerson, 62, farmer, N.C. 5. Jefferson J. Painter, 46, farmer, Fla. 6. Drevey Lawhon, 26, laborer, S. C. 7. William Cason, 56, laborer, Ga. 8. John Parker, 32, farmer, Ga. 9. James C. Smith, 26, farmer, Ga. 10. Burton Fortner, 32, farmer, Ga. 11. Andrew J. Lee, 37, farmer, Ga. 12. William J. Valentine, 49, farmer, S. C. 13. Elizabeth Edmonds, 63, domestic, Ga. 14. Baly Hall, 30, farmer, Ga. 15. Daniel Stuart, 45, farmer, Ga. 16. Edward Ashley, 26, farmer, Ga. 17. Moses Ellison, 53, farmer, N. C. 18. Daniel Evers, 26, laborer, Ga. 19. Melton Johnson, 17, laborer, Ala. 20. Mathew Driggers, 29, laborer, Ga. 21. William B. Howard, 56, farmer, Ga. 22. Nathan Lindsey, 50, farmer, S. C. 23. Henry Lindsey, 24, farmer, Ga. 24. George Dunford, 24, farmer, Fla. 25. William Bennett, 37, farmer, S. C. 26. John Locklier, 31, farmer, Fla. 27. William F. Roberts, 25, minister, Ga. 1860, at the Clay Landing post office: 1. Isaac Walker, 37, farmer, Ga. 2. Jesse Luke, 50, overseer, N. C. 3. Young Cottrell, 40, mechanic, S. C. 4. James W. McQueen, 28, gentleman, Ala 5. A. C. Glover, 25, overseer, Ga. 6. William Hinton, 54, farmer, S. C. 7. James M. Janney, 46, farmer, Va. 8. John Morrow, 14, student, Fla. 9. James White, 25, farmer, S. C. 10. Ransom Mobley, 23, farmer, S. C. 11. Thomas Weeks, 32, farmer, S. C. 12. E. Allen Weeks, 43, farmer, S. C. 13. Reuben May, 19, farmer, Fla. 14. Henry Locklier, 27, farmer, Fla. 15. William Locklier, 47, farmer, Ga. 16. Obadiah Osteen, 31, farmer, Ga. 17. Simon Driggers, 44, laborer, Ga. 18. James Osteen, 56, farmer, Ga. 19. Moses Corban, 45, laborer, S. C. 20. William G. Harvey, 43, blacksmith, Ga. 21. Rodah Sauls, 24, Fla. 22. Simeon Harvey, 43, farmer, Fla. 23. John Corban, 18, laborer, Fla. 24. Queen E. Gillet, 25, farmer, Fla. 25. Kizza Locklier, 40, farmer, Fla. 26. George Hunter, 23, laborer, Fla. 27. Thomas Goodbread, 22, farmer, Ga. 28. William Corban, 20, farmer, Fla. 29. John Clark, 24, farmer, Ga. 30. Simeon Harvey, Sr., 45, farmer, Ga. 31. James W. Keen, 28, farmer, Fla. 32. Anzo Parker, 40, Fla. 33. Thomas Slaughter, 30, farmer, Ga. 34. David Cannon, 50, farmer, S. C. 35. Lewis Robinson, 50, farmer, Va. 36. Peter Cannon, 48, farmer, Va. 37. Thomas Hodge, 51, mechanic, S. C. 38. Dempsey Sawyer, 45, farmer, N. C. 39. Henry Futch, 50, mechanic, Ga. 40. Jacob Futch, 27, laborer, Ga. The Seminole Indian town at Clay Landing was Tallahasotte, the chiefÂ’s name was White King. The Clay Landing post office was established in 1852, closed in 1867, re-opened in 1874, closed again in 1875. There was a post of fice at FowlerÂ’s Bluff from November, 1879 until May, 1880. 3


This fish house on the Suwannee was on the waterfront at the town named Suwannee. The man on the left was Joe Watson. In the group was Will McLeod, Jim McLeod, and Montcalm Watson who lives at Cedar Key (1982).


FROM THE 1867 CENSUS Dixon, J. W. 39 Carter, N. R. 35 Mary Ann 27 Isabella 33 Isadora 8 Clark 10 Lorenzo D. 5 Wm. P. 7 Cordelia 2 John L. 4 Miles lmo. Sallie 1 Dixon, B. M. 58 Nobles, Calvin Lucretia 43 (Ga.) 27 FROM THE 1880 CENSUS, Elisha 9 BRONSON AND LEVYVILLE Charlotte 7 PRECINCTS Lucy 5 Jincy 2 Barco, James M. 30 Susan C. 28 Davis, P. H. 50 (Ga.) Ethel J. 9 Ada 13 Jessie M. 3 Landee 11 Newcomb 5 mo. Mary Ann 6 Georgana 3 Beidelman, Ephraim 34 Tevilla 29 Osteen, Allen 60 (Ga.) Elizabeth J. 4 Elizabeth 48 (Ga.) Mary Jane 25 Bryant, Sylvester B. 23 Hezekiah 19 Alesander 17 Coulter, Alfred B. 57 Allen S. 15 Susannah E. 12 Coachman, Benj. 58 Martha 4 Caroline F. 54 Miriam 1 James W. 6 mo. Smith, J. N. 48 (Ala.) Coulter, William R. 49 Ann 42 Lydia J. 38 Allie 15 Henry B. 16 Wm. N. 13 Annie J. 13 Malcolm 11 William R. Jr. 6 Eliza V. 8 Duncan N. 4 Coachman, Benj. 27 James F. 7 mo. Betty 25 Shepperd, S. A. 48 (Ga.) Carter, Ira J. 37 Rose Ann 35 (Ala.) Mary L. 37 Henry 21 (Ala.) Mary L. 18 Ranson 15 (Ala.) Katie G. 36 Sarah E. 14 (Ala.) Sallie M. 14 Martha A. 11 (Fla.) Charles W. 12 Simon F. 9 (Fla.) Ira J. Jr. 3 5


Carter, Norville R. 45 Isabella A. 43 Clark M. 20 William P. 17 John L. 15 SallieJ. 11 Norville R. Jr. 9 Graham 6 Lamar G. 3 Carter, Mary C. 70 Syd L. 30 Mary 19 Clyatt, Susan 10 Nettie 2 Clyatt, William 52 Elizabeth 40 Ada 13 Lee J. 10 Vernon 6 Viola 2 Clyatt, Thomas N. 61 Maria 51 Samuel J. 22 Maria E. 17 John M. 16 Laura 13 Boy 9 Cobb, Nicholas S. 55 Florida 38 Wilzey B. 13 Toadey 17 Jane 14 James 6 Clyatt, William Wilder 18 Clyatt, Marion F. 35 Fanny F. 32 Orlando S. 13 Walden J. 12 Gabell F. 10 Gobal(?) S. 5 Montogomery M. 3 Clyatt, Caroline 50 William W. 21 Thomas S. 16 Coleman, John 26 Melvina 19 Clyatt, Anna M. 16 Deas, Franklin T. 45 Barbara 35 John J. 7 Salonia 5 Walter W. 3 Julia C. 4 mo. Drummond, Council 35 Eveleen 60 Lula 19 Fanny io Deas, George W. 21 Elizabeth 55 Elizabeth 18 Dixon, James M. 50 Mary A. 48 Lorenzo D. 15 Mary A. 13 Cordelia 12 Miles 10 Marietta 7 James M., Jr. Dees, Calvin 51 Lucinda 60 Perry 23 Moses 20 Deas, Ezekeil 4 mo. Alexander 32 George 36 Sarah 39 Moses 9 John E. 3 Samuel 2 Epperson, William J. 25 Jenny S. 27 Faircloth, Sophia 61 Faircloth, Thomas S. 23 Atlanta 19 America 3 Faircloth, John 26 Annie 16 Graham, David 47 Amelia 37 David, Jr. 16 6


Gomme, William W. 38 Mary W. 33 Salina 13 Anna W. 10 William W. 1 Geiger, Enock T. 59 Julia 53 Henry E. 26 William P. 13 Garner, John 53 Elizabeth 47 Henry G. 23 Herbert 5 Haffle, Christian 45 Dorothea 41 Mary 13 August 11 William 9 Alfred 7 Selina 4 Probably Keen. Hudson, William R. 41 Miranda 53 Thomas F. 22 George B. 15 John W. 12 Kean*, Moses 47 Mary 43 Diana P. 23 Drusilla S. 21 Lugenia M. 18 Leuvilla 16 Candacia 13 Henry R. 11 James C. 10 Francis S. 8 Lawrence B. 6 Charles G. 4 7




A FEW LEVY COUNTY LANDOWNERS, 1877 Burford, Laura Bronson (pond, lots, store, etc.) Barnes, Miss L. C. Cedar Key, Lot 1, Block 12 Butts, Z. E. Atsena Otie, Lots 4, 5, 6, 7, Block 8 Betellini, O. Cedar Key, Lot 13, Block 2 Batty & Co., W. H. Atsena Otie, Lots 2, 3, Block 9 Brinkley, Winnie Cedar Key, Lot 19, Block 20 Boulware, B. P. Live Oak Key, fractional part Corrigan, E. J. Atsena Otie, Lot 1, Block 5 Crevasse, J. H. Atsena Otie, Lots 2, 7, Block 7 Crevasse, J. W. Atsena Otie, W'/i of Lot 3, Block 7 Chaires, C. P. Atsena Otie, Lot 1 and W /2 of Lot 2, Block 9 Cottrell, J. L. F. Atsena Otie, Lot 12, Block 8 Carter, N. R. Levyville, Lots 1, 25, 12, 13 Clark, Robert W. Atsena Otie, Lot 4, Block 9 Cook, David Cedar Key, Lot 17, Block 17 Clark, W. H. Cedar Key, Lot 3, Block 20 Davis, Miss M.A.S. Otter Creek, house and lot Daughtery, Louis Fractional part, Piney Point, Way Key, 12 acres Denham & Finlayson The steamboat Little Sally Eason, S. D. Otter Creek, 3 lots with store and mill Edgerton, F. T. Cedar Key, Lot 20, Block 1 Ellzey, R. M. Bronson, two lots Finlayson, John, est. Sec. 14, TS 13, R 18 Kirdland, O. H. P. Sec. 15, TS 12, R 19 Ludderloh, E. J. Cedar Key, L-2 & 3, B-18; L-3 & 4, B-23 L-8, B-l (also lots on Scale Key) McGowan, D. L. Sec. 21, TS 14, R 14 Masters, F. Cedar Key, one acre OÂ’Neil, Lief Scale Key Philbrick, Jay Cedar Key, Lots 7, 8, 9, 10, Block 13 Patterson, Jemima Bronson, One acre Quincey, Sam N Zi of SE'/4 and S!/ 2 of NE'/i in Sec. 1, TS 12, R 15 Rogers, C. B. Cedar Key, SV 2 of Lots 21, 22, 23, 24, in Block 23 and Lot 12, Block 13 Reddick, Sam C. Cedar Key, Lots 11 & 12, Block 17 Richards, Geo. H. Cedar Key, N'/z of Lots 21, 22, 23, 24, Block 24 Roux, Geo. S. Cedar Key, Lots 1 & 2 in Block 23 Scott, Bailey Cedar Key, Lot 9, Block 18 Steele, E. A. Mrs. Atsena Otie, about 25 lots Tedder, J. E. M. Sec. 13, TS 11, R 13 Tyner, Sarah Bronson Taylor, Chas. E. Bronson Tyre, Mrs. M. A. Bronson, 8 lots in NW '/i of NW !4 Thomas, Dan R. Cedar Key, Lot 20, Block 18 Wilson, John Atsena Otie, lot in Block 4 Wimberly, W. B. Bronson,lot Wingfield, Mack Cedar Key, Lot 20, Block 19 Washington, Frank Cedar Key, two acres Williams, J. G. Cedar Key, Lot 17, Block 1 Warren, Ellen J. Atsena Otie, Lot 9 in Block 7 Yulee, David Levy Sec. 15, 17, 19, 21, 23, 25, 27, 29, 31, TS 11, R 15 Singer Sewing Machine Co. SE'/4 of Sec. 34, TS11, R 14 Spencer, Edwin Atsena Otie, Lot 5 in Block 2 9


FROM THE 1874 TAX ROLL Agnew, Samuel Apple, Louis Blumenthal, Max Barco, Stephen Corrigan, E. J. Chaires, C. P. Culpepper, J. W. Delano, Howard Dixon, J. M. Dibble, C. B. Faircloth, Levy 1510 acres in TS 16, R 16 W '/ 2 of NE !4, Sec. 35, TS 11, R 16 Cedar Key, Lot 10, Bl. 13, and Lot 22, Bl. 1 120 acres in Sec. 33, TS 16, R 17 Atsena Otie, Lot 3, Bl. 7 Atsena Otie, Lots 4 & 5, Bl. 9 Atsena Otie, one lot, unspecified NE '/ 4 of NW '/ 4 Sec. 11, TS 12, R 15 NE'/z of SW 1/4, Sec. 11, TS 12, R 15 S'/ 2 Sec. 29, TS 14, R 14 No land (The entry “no land” meant that the landowner had not returned a tax form.) Gaines, Columbus Goldwire, Jerry Hodgson, S. A. Hussey, S. A. Kelsey, E. Munden, Isaac Medlin, W. R. McQueen, J. W. O’Neill, Melvina Osteen, Solomon Osteen, Fisher Phelps, Jos. P. Sandlin, C. E. Waterston, John Yulee, David Levy In Sec. 18, TS 116, R 17 No land Ten acres on Way Key No land Atsena Otie SW'/ 4 of SW'/ 4 Sec. 12, TS 14, R 16 W /2 of NE!/4 & EVi of NE!4 & SW'/ 4 Sec. 31, TS12, R 17 Atsena Otie, estate Scale Key, Lot C, Bl. C “No land” “No land” In Sec. 20, TS 12, R 15 Forty acres in Sec. 14, TS 14, R 16 Estate in Sec. 4 and Sec. 10, TS 12, R 15 7275 acres in TS 11 and TS 12, R 15 Gunnell, Dr. G. M. Tichenor, Mrs. C. FROM THE 1887 TAX ROLL E ‘ /2 of NE'/4, SW'/ 4 of NE'/4, NW'/4 of SE !4, Sec. 18, TS 12, R 19 N /2 of'NE'/4, Sec. 10, TS 12, R 17 Asbell, M. A. Clarke, Julia E. Faircloth, Levi Goldwire, J. Goldwire, A Vezey, H. C. Dean, S. FROM THE 1896 TAX ROLL NE'/4, Sec. 8, TS 11s, R 15e SE'/ 4 of SE'/4, Sec. 9, TS 12s, R 14e E /2 of W'/ 2 Sec. 8, TS 13s, R 16e NE'/4 of NE‘/4 of W /2 of NE'/4, Sec. 4, TS 12s, R 15e NE'/4 of SE'/4, Sec. 4, TS 12s, R 15e NW'/ 4 of NW'/4 & NW'/4 of N /2 of SW!4 of NW'/i, Sec. 20, TS 12s, R 17e NE'/ 4 of NW'/ 4 Sec. 21, TS 12s, R 17e 10


PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES TO THE UNITED STATES SENATE ABOUT CEDAR KEY EXECUTIVE MANSION, June 6, 1890 To the Senate of the United States: In response to the resolution of the Senate of the 26th of May, requesting me to “communicate to the Senate such information as may be in possession of the executive department relating to the alleged landing of an armed force from the United States revenue cutter McLane at Cedar Keys, Florida, and the alleged entry of the houses of citizens by force, and their alleged pur suit of citizens of the United States in the surrounding country, and the authority under which the commanding officer of the cutter acted in any such matter,” I submit for the infor mation of the Senate the accompanying correspondence, which contains all the infor mation possessed by the executive department relating to the matters inquired about. It will be observed that the United States collector of customs at Cedar Keys had been driven from his office and from the town and the administration of the customs laws of the United States at that port suspended by the violent demonstrations and threats of one Cottrell, the mayor of the place, assisted by his town marshal, Mitchell. If it had been necessary, as I do not think it can be in any case, for a United States officer to appeal to the local authorities for im munity from violence in the exercise of his duties, the situation at Cedar Keys did not suggest or encourage such an appeal, for those to whom the appeal would have been addressed were themselves the lawless instruments of the threatened violence. It will always be agreeable to me if the local authorities, acting upon their own sense of duty, maintain the public order in such a way that the officers of the United State shall have no occasion to appeal for the intervention of the General Government; but when this is not done I shall deem it my duty to use the adequate powers vested in the Executive to make it safe and feasible to hold and exercise the offices established by the Federal Constitution and laws. The means used in this case were, in my opinion, lawful and necessary, and the officers do not seem to have intruded upon any private right in executing the warrants placed in their hands. The letter dated August 4 last, which ap pears in the correspondence submitted, appealing to me to intervene for the protection of the citizens of Cedar Keys from the brutal violence of Cottrell, it will be noticed, was written before the appointment of the new collector. That the officers of the law should not have the full sym pathy of every good citizen in their efforts to bring these men to merited punishment is matter of surprise and regret. It is a very grim commen tary upon the condition of social order at Cedar Keys that only a woman, who had, as she says in her letter, no son or husband who could be made the victim of his malice, had the courage to file charges against this man, who was then holding a subordinate place in the customs service. BENJ. HARRISON Source: A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents, Volume XII, PP. 5507OS. 11




NUMBER FOUR: A MYSTERY SOLVED? In the Cedar Keys visitors and local residents speculate over the origin of “Number Four.” To some, there is no mystery. The most popular ex planation proclaims that there are four boat channels and the one nearest the mainland is the fourth. Hence the various applications of the designation “Number Four.” What could be mysterious about this? Perhaps, nothing, but there is a bit more to the story. First, consider some recipients of the designation “Number Four” during the 117 years since Union Major Weeks and Confederate federate Captain Dickison each claimed victory in the skirmish at “Station Four” on the Florida Railroad. Five years earlier when the rails had first spanned the boat channel called Number Four, the trestle naturally became the Number Four Trestle. Later when a highway was con structed and the channel bridged, that crossing became known as the Number Four Bridge. The Cedar Keys have for decades been in Levy Coun ty Voting Precinct Number Four and are in Levy County Commission District Number Four. Given such a well-established set of “Number Four” labels, it comes as no surprise that at some point in time, residents found it logical and convenient to refer to the next boat channel seaward as “Number Three,” and the next as “Number Two,” etc. Presumably the Main Ship Channel was equivalent to “Number One,” thus, so the argument goes, the numbering proceeded from the harbor to the mainland. Fair enough, but not correct. In 1839, the United States Army moved into the Cedar Keys in the war to crush the Seminoles. Brigadier General Zachary Taylor, “Old Rough and Ready,” was the top comman der of the Army in Florida. He ordered his mapmaking engineers to lay a grid of numbered squares over a map of northern Florida. To military professionals and historians that grid became known as “Taylor’s squares.” After some revisions, the future President of the United States told his commanders to build a fort in each square, garrison it, and seek out and destroy all Indians. Which square do you sup pose the Cedar Keys lay in? You guessed it. And that is how all this “Number Four” business really got started. March 7, 1982 Charles C. Fishburne, Jr. Cedar Key 13


14 Belle of Suwannee


HIERS By Mary Coleman Brookins The Hiers family was originally from Luxem burg, Germany. The name was Heyer when they arrived in this country. They arrived and were taken off the ship in South Carolina. An original member of the family changed the spelling of the name from Heyer to Hier. His name was Jacob Hier. As the members of the original families started out in different areas to make families of their own they changed the name again by ad ding an “S”, making it Hiers. It is not known the number of immigrants that came to America. One of the sons of the originals was George A. Hiers who migrated into Tattersail County, Georgia. There he met, fell in love with and married Lavenia Smith, a native of the area. They were married there in Georgia in 1846. In this same area they began their family. George Bryant, a son, was born in 1847. A daughter Jane was born May 12, 1848. A son David was born March 15, 1850, and a daughter Bell was born in 1853. George must have heard there were greener pastures in Florida because he decided to pack all the possessions that could be moved and left on the long trip by horse and wagon for a new home about four miles northwest of Bronson. This area is known as Ebenezer now. Arriving here with a wife and four children and a few cattle they began the hard struggle of homesteading a farm in scrub oaks, palmettos and wire grass. George and Lavenia were still increasing their family. A daughter Sara Ann was born to them on December 9, 1855; next a daughter Martha, born September 14, 1860. Then a son John born November 6, 1863; another son Frank came along in 1866. Later in 1870 another daughter Fannie was born on March 18. George had to work hard to feed nine children, a wife and some employees that had come to work for him. His chief source of livelihood was raising cattle and farming. The cattle were called “scrub” or range cattle, this name coming from the fact that they mainly survived on the grass and scrubs of the native range. The farming was mainly cotton and corn. During these years of hard living and trying to survive with a big family and little or no medical attention, the eldest son George Bryant died. He was the first person buried in the Ebenezer Cemetery. The mother died May 30, 1870 leaving a small daughter as well as eight other children. George, needing the help of a woman to mother and help maintain his large family, set out to find another wife. This he did. He married Becky King from Lecanto, Florida. From this marriage came more children, two boys and two girls. George and Becky lived on his same farm out of Bronson and raised their children until George’s death. After George’s death Becky decided to return to her family in Lecanto, as George’s children by Lavenia were older by now. She carried her four children with her. One of the boys, Walton Hiers, is still alive and lives in Lakeland, Florida. The remaining Hiers children began making homes for themselves. Most of those that married chose local people since the only tran sportation was by foot, riding a horse to visit your lady friend on Sunday afternoon, or if you were lucky enough to be trusted with the buggy or wagon. Sometimes this proved very exciting since the horse or oxen that the buggies and wagons were pulled by, might decide this was his day of rest or play and run away and upset the whole outing. David, the oldest surviving son, married Rachel Studstill, a girl from one of the early pioneer families in the Levyville area. This is located about five miles east of Chiefland. They settled on land they homesteaded about two miles northwest of old Levyville and her family gave her some land that was adjoining their homestead later. Bell married J. K. Hatcher. They lived near Bronson. She died in 1930. Jane married Alexander McLeod. She died May 12, 1923. They never had any children. Sara Ann married Solomon Highsmith. She died March 18, 1929. Martha married Wade Highsmith. John married Mattie Overstreet from old Chiefland. They settled in the Judson Com munity in North East Levy County. Fannie never married. John and David worked together most of their 15


16 Belle of Suwannee


lives. David being known for his cattle raising and selling and John for his profitable farming. He bought cotton and resold it. Levyville was the County seat of Levy County at this time. This town consisted of a Church, Post Office, General Store which carried everything the farmers and ranchers didn’t grow, a grist mill that made the meal and grits from the farmers own corn for their use as food, and a Bar Room; David Hiers and Thomas Prevatt owned this place of entertainment for the gen tleman. These places in town were very seldom if ever visited by the lady folk of the area. Saturday when the men would usually put the plows up for the week-end and seek a rest, they usually would gather in town where there was always plenty of excitement. There was always a card game which usually ended in a fist fight or maybe even a more serious argument that would be climaxed after a knifing scrape. This was not uncommon at all. The ladies were hardly away from home except to attend church or visit some of the relatives for Sunday dinner, or to help out the sick in the community. All during these times David and John were raising cattle and children. David and Rachel had thirteen: Lavenia born November 13, 1875, named for her grandmother, Rhoda born in 1878, H. Hampton born March 4, 1882, Webster born February 25, 1884, George born December 12, 1885, Luther born August 12, 1887, Arthur born Jifly 3, 1889, Maude born July 5, 1892, Dallas born April 23, 1894, Emanual & Mannie) born May 24, 1896, Kuth born May 3, 1898, and twins that only lived a week. John and Mattie had seven children: Melton born October 16, 1891, (he died September 16, 1892), Lenton born August 1, 1895, Delma born August 8, 1897, Clyde born December 4, 1899, (he died in 1905), Thelma bom September 2, 1902. She is now married to Willie Beauchamp and lives in Chiefland. They are presently in the cattle business. Alton was born May 14, 1905; he died October 10, 1910. Virginia was born March 13, 1908. David grew cotton, corn and peanuts for farm crops and cattle that he had inherited from the old original “scrub” cattle that his father had owned, and also hogs. The hogs were native to the area and called, “piney wood rooters”; being called this probably because of their noses which were long and pointed just right for rooting. This was very useful in securing their food from the ground and acorns that would fall in the thick grass. David was the first man to ship a box car load of hogs from Levy County. There were driven on horseback to Bronson, where they were loaded and shipped to Jacksonville. David had acquired a fairly good start in the livestock buying and selling industry. He would buy around five hundred head of cattle from in dividuals in the area to graze on land that he had continued to acquire as money became available. He had approximately 680 acres. A large portion of this land was used for the cattle he bought to graze until they were ready to be sold for beef. Buyers were Tom Morgan, Barnes Brothers, and a Mr. Edderson. David’s younger brother John and his wife homesteaded 80 acres of land and he was able to buy another 720 acres. Together these two brothers were raising cot ton, corn and peanuts in large quantities. They bought cotton from other farmers and would carry it to Trenton, where there was a cotton gin, to be ginned and baled. It was then sold to market. John was mainly known as the cotton buyer in the area. David and John maintained herds of around a thousand head of cattle at this time. They pen ned and separated beef cattle for market from the range cattle during the summer months. When the beef cattle were taken out of the herd, which usually took all summer, the cattle drive to market began. This was a tiring but rewarding time, for it meant that money would be available to be used where it was needed most. It took about ten men to make these cattle drives. They would travel about twenty miles if weather con ditions permitted, stopping to graze when the men felt they and the cattle needed rest. At night the men would take turns holding up the herd, or watching to see no strays were lost. Two men would usually work each night, taking turns until all had worked his time. Mr. J. M. (Mannie) Clyatt and Tom Hogan were two men that were very good on cattle drives. These cattle would be driven from Levyville near Chiefland to Tampa, Florida or Jacksonville, Florida, depending on where the buyers were from. Some of the cattle taken to Tampa were loaded on boats and sent to Cuba. David still rode herd for himself along with the other men that helped to gather the cattle in early spring for marking and branding all the new calves that had been born since the last round up. David’s cattle ranged in two locations; one of these being from Levyville up to the Ebenezer area in the northeast part of the County, the other herd, a herd he had bought from Mr. Jim Cannon, ranged from Janney to the coast at Cedar Key, Florida. These cattle all carried the 17






brand TCT David started to use this brand for all his cattle thereafter, because when a herd was sold the brand was sold also. John’s brand was SL. He bought that brand from John Prevatt. He also bought Louis Ap ple’s brand LA and J. F. Folk’s brand ~TT. He like the BL brand the best and changed all the other brands to this. When the time came for the man to go into the woods to round up the cattle for marking, bran ding and sorting out the beef cattle, the women were very busy a day or so before. They would cook up whole hams and sides of bacon and fry up large quantities of sausage, and there was always a lot of dried for smoked beef to be carried for the week. They baked sweet potatoes which were always good with a sausage link for these tired and hungry men. As many things as could be prepared without spoiling were carried. There was no way of preserving food for long at a time. Of course they carried plenty of syrup which was used for sweetening the strong coffee they boiled and also to sop with hoecake, a flour bread. They carried several extra syrup buckets to make this iron wedge coffee in. Most of the men liked theirs strong and black. They carried a wagon along to pack all the cover for sleeping at night and the food and horse feed which was corn that was still in the shuck, and the wagon was loaded. These drives were very hard on the men for they were constantly at work. Some would split wood for rails to make holding pens for the cat tle while the others were riding deep into the woods to herd up the bunches of cattle. The reward came when they would return to the food wagon and get some of that good “iron wedge’’ coffee. John died September 28, 1922. David was still active in cattle drives and farming until he was about seventy years old. He died March 17, 1927. By this time John’s sons Delma and Lenton were a working part of the families. Their father had given them shares of cattle which they never took out of the herd. Delma decided he wanted an education so he left home and acquired a teaching certificate from Madison Normal College at Madison, Florida. He taught only one year though, coming back to the farm where Lenton the other son had stayed after their father’s death. The cattle were divided after their father’s death with Delma and Lenton buying their sisters’ shares. They stayed together raising cattle until the “dipping law” came into being. The sold all their cattle to Batey and Holloweil at Oxford, Florida because they had no facilities for dipping nor could they get help to do this rough job. They still used the same brand their father had. Delma married Velma Clyatt in 1919 on March 12. Velma is the daughter of J. M. (Mannie) Clyatt, a son of the old original Clyatt family that came into this Country at Ft. Fanning and brought many cattle with them from Georgia. Delma and Velma had four children; Violet, now married to Randolph Crawford and living in Chiefland, Johnnie Mae, married to Bill Cone and living in Ocala. They are in the cattle business in Marion County. J. D. Jr. married Margaret Wimberly and lives in Chiefland. Helen married Etta Usher who is very active in the cat tle industry in Levy County, also the timber in dustry. Lenton married Iris Clyatt, a daughter of Jeff and Eunice Clyatt, on December 11, 1917. Lenton and Iris had four children; two daughters, Blanche (married Stancel Graham). They are very large cattle ranchers in the Chiefland area presently. Eunice is Mrs. R. W. Putchaven, living in Chiefland, and two sons Donald and L. C. Lenton lived in the Chiefland area until his death November 4, 1966. His wife Iris died Mar ch 25, 1965. David’s children were all prominent in the community also. Rhoda married Willie Hayes who was a large cattleman in Levy County for many years and had a son Ralph Hayes that through the help of Mr. Oscar Thomas of Gainesville was a very large cattle owner in Alachua, Levy and Marion Counties. Ralph is dead but his widow Mary Hitt Hayes still owns much of the ranch that they acquired. Hampton married Cora Hayes, Willie’s sister and they had two daughters, one dying as a baby. The other Noye Hiers married George Y. Coleman. They had three children, Mary who is married to Thomas Brookins who is a cattle ran cher and also a John Deere Equipment Dealer in Chiefland. Martha, who inherited the old original Hampton Hiers Estate which was homesteaded by the Thomas Prevatt family, located five miles east of Chiefland. She also has a small herd of Black Angus cattle grazing this land. George Hampton named for his maternal grandfather and his father, lives with his wife the former Kitty Gale Morgan in Ft. Ogden, Florida. Hampton was a broker for Lykes Brothers in Tampa for many years, buying anything from turkeys to cattle. He and Delma and Lenton, John’s sons and Willie Beauchamp their brotherin-law and Amon Ward a man from the Judson area formed a company. This company was called Hiers and Ward. They bought most 20




anything anybody needed to sell. There were stock pens in Chiefland on the west of the present depot that they used for penning until a load was ready to ship. Hampton butchered cat tle also. He was respected for his honest judgment on the value of livestock. He died in 1932. Webster married Verdie Cannon and farmed for his livelihood in the Janney area. He died in 1969. George married Lois Hayes, sister to Willie Hayes and Cora, Hampton’s wife. They both died in the year 1918 when the flu epidemic hit Levy County so hard. Luther married Jessie Markham from Romeo in the southeast part of Levy County. They set tled there where she was reared. Luther bought the old Markham homestead and several hundred more acres of land that extended into Marion County. They had three sons, J. D., Lamar, who is a large cattleman in Marion County and Levy County at present. He is also a larger farmer. A son Horace who inherited the old homestead and raises cattle on this and hundreds of acres of lush pasture. He and his brother Lamar married sisters and have worked together all their lives and like Brahma bulls to cross with grade cows to make a real good cross for a good “doing” cow. A daughter Verdie was a farmer until her untimely death in 1959 from a tractor accident. Luther died in 1959. Arthur married Rena Layfield: they didn’t live on the farm. They made their home in Chiefland. They had two sons, Fisher and James and a daughter Beulah Mae. Maude married John F. Baker from Lake City, Florida where he was Chief of Police for many years. When he retired they bought a section of land known as the Slim Hillary section in the Janney area close to Chiefland, and went into the cattle business. They soon decided this was to much for them so they sold cattle and land and moved back to their home in Lake City. Maude still lives there. Dallas married Owen Giddens and they lived on land she inherited from her father David. This place is located four and a half miles East of Chiefland. They raised a family of seven children there. Emanuel or Mannie, as he was known throughout the state, married Thelma Markham from Romeo, Florida. They settled on the old home site of his father which is four miles East of Chiefland. They began to buy more land and soon had quite a large ranch. He leased pasture land in Alachua, Gilchrist and Levy Counties to maintain the large herd of cattle he was acquiring. His older brother Hampton helped -him get a start in the cattle industry. His advise on the time to buy etc., proved very valuable to Mannie. Mannie was one of the first persons to bring Brahma bulls into Levy County and this proved very beneficial to the county and ad joining county of Gilchrist. Mannie and several other area ranchers were interested in improving the type of cattle. Mr. Jeff Studstill brought the first Hereford bull from Gainesville around 1915-1917, driving him back to Chiefland by horseback, so the type cattle was already improving from the old “scrub” cattle. But other men saw need for more improvement and other breeds. Dr. Jim Turner brought in a registered Red Polled bull. Dr. Jim Turner brought in a registered Red Polled bull. Mr. Eli Read liked the Shorthorn and thought it a good cross so he bought a registered bull and brought him in. Soon there was much im provement in the grade of calves that were being born. Much trading resulted in the improvement of the cows. Mannie had two sons, Eircell whose widow and three children still live on the old homestead and still have holdings in Hiers Cattle Company. Another son Harry lives on part of the family property. He is a Produce Inspector. Mannie died December 4, 1965. Thelma, his wife still owns a large herd of cattle and manages Hiers Cattle Company which deals in general farming and cattle. She lives on the farm four miles east of Chiefland. Ruth, the youngest child of David and Rachel, married Clarence Faircloth from Bronson. They had two sons, Clyatt and Grady. It seems that from 1846 until now 1972 the Hiers have produced many offsprings. Many cows and many people. Ruth (This is the Ruth Faircloth who operated Ruth’s store on US-27A between Bronson and Chiefland for many years. She is the mother of Clyatt Faircloth.) Webster: Philene Cargle Williams of Otter Creek is his granddaughter. 22


23 The Ralph Barker


ELIZA HEARN AND LIFE ON WAY KEY, 1867-1873 As She Saw It By Charles C. Fishburne, Jr. From her own diary, we know today how Miss Eliza Hearn viewed life on Way Key in the years soon after the Civil War. Miss Hearn’s diary displays four prominent characteristics: 1) her Christian piety; 2) her strocious spelling and grammar and punctuation; 3) her strength of character; and 4) her keen perception of what was happening. It is principally this last trait upon which this paper will seek to focus. Selec ted passages from her diary will be emphasized. Sometimes they will be quoted, but in edited form so as not to distract from the substance of her idea or description of the events taking place. Enough evidence of her deep religious commit ment will be included to show how that aspect of her life was an integral part of her being. First a word about Eliza Hearn’s background may be of interest. Eliza Hearn was born in January 1829 in Alachua County. Her father, Thomas Hearn, served the United States in the Seminole Wars. After some time in Florida, he moved to Bryan County, Georgia. Captain and Mrs. Hearn had three other children; William, Mary, and Amelia. The children were sent to a seminary in adjacent Liberty County. After Captain Hearn’s wife died, he moved back to Florida and established residence in Gainesville about 1859. With him at this time were Eliza and her younger sister, Amelia. The other children had married. Mary had two sons, Thomas and James Goodson. After several years in Gainesville, Captain Hearn moved out to Way Key to take up residence upon some acreage that he was privileged to homestead. This meant that he had to have a dwelling on it, clear some of it, and live on the land for a specified period of time in order to gain title from the U. S. Government. In the course of the war, the family had to vacate the island and move to the interior. When the war ended, Captain Hearn, Eliza, and Amelia returned to their homestead on Way Key. Eliza’s father died of cholera September 10, 1866. Eliza and her sister were left alone to manage the place and satisfy the homestead requirements. Eliza Hearn did not see a great deal to admire in her situation on Way Key, but it was a challenge to her strong character. The men that returned from the war, she wrote, “have become reckless and dissipated.” (March 5, 1867) Part of her time was spent teaching the children of Mrs. R. W. B. Hodgson. Eliza, like naturalist John Muir who visited Cedar Key later that year, did see much beauty at times in the natural environ ment. A deeply religious person, she missed the preaching and the fellowship of organized religion. When the United States Government reimposed martial law in Florida that year, Eliza saw it as “more trouble” and noted in her diary that people were “very much displeased.” (Mar ch 11, 1867) By May 1, she was rejoicing over the visit of a Methodist minister who preached “on the other side of Cedar Key.” Parson Knight had converted many and was expected to preach at a meeting on Way Key in June. This was good news, for as she looked about her, Eliza Hearn saw a very displeasing scene amongst the people of the place: “Way Key is a sink of pollution and Cedar Key is no better,” she wrote. “May the Lord have mercy on them before it is too late.” She thought it a “Sad State” that “negroes are permitted to vote and they do not behave as they should.” On a hap pier note, she recorded that the Sabbath School would be organized that very afternoon at three o’clock and services would follow at four. (July 11, 1867) By August 1, Eliza was even more pleased to record that the Sabbath School was increasing and the children learning to sing. Although Mr. Andrews, superintending the school, was a “nor thern man”, Eliza appeared to approve of his ef forts as “a Christian man.” (August 1, 1867) In her view, the efforts of any man to help with church and education matters were rare. A pile of lumber for a church building lay waiting-for lack of labor. As Christmas drew near in 1867, Eliza was distressed to learn of the death of her sister Mary’s little daughter over in Georgia, soon followed by sister Mary, herself—the daughter from “the fever” and sister from grief. “Sister Mary has grieved herself to death,” Eliza scrawled in her own grief. Her younger sister, Amelia, with her on Way Key, was then in bad health, and prospects for them were not en couraging: “We cannot get paid for any of our works. It looks like that we will suffer.” (December 1, 1867) 24


25 Fannin Ferry


1867) Before the month was out and the New Year in, Eliza repeated her desperate cry: “We want to sell and leave here, but there is no money in the country. The people are suffering for bread and we have suffered ourselves, for I cannot get paid for our work God help us.” (December 31, 1867) On the last Sunday in January, Eliza could take some pleasure in noting that “on the other island” there was “a good preacher” who was teaching school there and preaching “every other Sunday on this side.” Then she despaired again, “he is much disturbed, the people are so wicked. He cannot organize a Church. There are no male members here or on the other side.” (January 28, 1868) Eliza Hearn did more than teach and pray and criticize. She gardened, and in this “very warm winter,” she wrote, “I have set out my peach trees--one hundred and twenty.” Then, in a sud den burst of intimacy, she confied: “Dear Reader, 1 know you will want to know why 1 have not married. I have not had an offer that I could love. .’’(January 28, 1868.) The rather isolated existence of Eliza and Amelia put a premium upon extraordinary hap penings. Eliza recounted this one: We have had two weeks of ex citement. Col. Richards went to Savan nah and came back sick and died with the cholera so they thought. And four others. And they have found out that he bought a barrel of Spirits that had poison in it. All that drank of the Spirits died. Oh, what a pity. He was an honest man...We were in great dread and were afraid that all the people would leave the Island as they did before, but none left but one family.... (January 28, 1868) As spring came along, Eliza’s spirits lifted and she could see “there is some prospect of the place. Business begins to revive. I think the times will be better here.” She could even feel “so pleased as I could not sell or rent my place.” She would “hope all the people would try to do their best.” With several houses going up, it was supreme hope “they will build a Church here and have better times and school hours.” She saw “many poor children here that need education.” (May 3, 1868) But a week later, Eliza was agonizing over the condition of the nation. From her perspective, things were “in a bad state.” President Johnson, “a democrat,” was being aggravated and harrassed by Radical Republicans who were “determined to put him out of office.” As for the U.S Congress, she thought it “a disgrace to our ancestors.” She was displeased, to say the least, with “the great time the negroes have had voting.” As a teacher, she was angry that Congress “have taxed the people to educate the negroes and have built seminaries all over the Country to educate the negroes and the poor white children are not allowed to go to school on public expense.” (May 10, 1868) Eliza revealed her frustration with the com munity when she capsuled her views on May 31, 1868: ...Everyone that comes to the Island is dissatisfied. They expect to find Society and everything agreeable to the sight, but none is here to build up Society. No one of the upper ten will agree to build a church or a school house and the poor people cannot build it as they have no means...I wish to go to Cuba and teach school and try to get over the troubles of this Country. I find that it has laid too heavy on my heart, the drones of society. There is a great many here, so many that do not work for their livings. If in her unedited diary, Eliza Hearn did not display the superficial polish of the marketplace, she did not lack creative ideas and the ability to express them, as her numerous poems attest. Following a commentary on the weather and the dissenting factions among Methodists across the land, she included a poem of nine stanzas “writ ten in memory of our dead Countrymen.” The last verse tolled the bell for her heroes of the bloody war: And the dead thus meet While the living over them weep And the men whom Lee and Jackson led And the hearts that once together bled Together still shall sleep. (July 5, 1868) “Way Key has been very healthy this season,” wrote Eliza, as September pushed the summer behind them. She again exuded a little hope: Dear Reader, I will have a little chat with you. This place is improving. .a new steamer. .from Mobile. It will be here this week. And one to Galveston, Texas and one to Havana, Cuba. There will be. .lines of steamers running to this place, which will make it a place of Importance. I hope soon to see a fine Church and a good congregation assembled in it. (September 6, 1868) But ere long, the cold and icy winter of 1868 was upon them, and Eliza was writing: ...this year it has been the coldest weather I have ever seen. The ice was a foot deep in the tubs. The salt water was frozen 20 yards out. The fish were frozen and floating about on the water. My orange tree I think is much injured. 26


27 Fannin Ferry


It is much warmer today. The ice is melted and broken on the bay. (December 20, 1868) At home on Way Key on Janaury 16, 1869, Eliza could think of no good news except that “the cars and boats are not in port and we have a still Sabbath.” She noted that the “Episcopalians preach here once a month. I hope they may do some good.” She added: “Business has begun to thrive here. I hope the Methodist will come to preach to us We have been neglected here.” Warming to her theme, Eliza continued: There are more heathens here than anywhere in the Southern States. We have need of a Missionary preacher here as much as China or other heathen Countries. The preachers do not want to preach here for they say there are no men as members of the Church and the Minister...that was sent last year would not stay...he has frightened at the epidemic that was here and he went back to Georgia. 1 do not think he acted right. He should have stayed and trusted in God... (January 16, 1869) But there was some good news, too, wrote Eliza, “better than I ever expected to hear--the Methodists preached here last Sabbath and are to preach here once a month.” In her view, “the place is growing better. The bad are moving away and the better are coming to live here.” (January 16, 1869) But then, as she thought of her sister’s little school, she waxed sad and bitter: Sister’s little school is nearly broken up. The children are so given to telling stories that they will not go long to school. Their parents are to blame for raising them in ignorance. What a pity. And that Sunday evening, Eliza unburdened her self further, writing “the people are so wicked here...parents do not care how their children do or what they say. They are the worst that I have ever seen anywhere that I have lived.” By March, Eliza was exuberant over the opening of the new hotel—and for good reason: Capt. Alfred Willard has rented it this year. He is a friend of ours and will buy my vegetables. That is a help to me as the people do not care to buy of me rather than...the men of the Island. We have suffered a great deal here. Sometimes we cannot get bread. We cannot get anything by teaching school. They rather put all their money on their backs. (March 20, 1869) By March 20, Eliza had found that spring had “opened in all its loveliness” and “the peaches have all held on the trees.” She was hoping they would stay and ripen. If events had been dull in town, the tempo changed toward the end of March as Eliza recorded on April 4, 1869: We have been surprised with the Yankee regiment. They have stayed one week. They have a fine band...went away this morning to go to Mobile and from there to Utah territory to the front. The place is more corrupted than ever. The bad women have behaved scandelously. I think they ought to be drummed out of the place under the point of the bayonet. The yankee officer had two hundred of his men under arrest and made them cut bushes all the time they stayed. They have cleared all the bushes about the Depot. They did not come near our place. I was glad of that... Like John Muir, when he was recuperating and being nursed back to health by the Hodgsons in 1867, Eliza Hearn exulted in the natural beauty of the Cedar Keys. And, like Muir, she associated the majesty of the scenes with God. “I have been to the top of a hill near my place this morning,” she wrote, “and it is a lovely sight to...look out on the Ocean from so high a place and behold the works of God. I go there to pray for the people of this place.” (April 4, 1869) There was good news to share with the diaryand anyone else who might appear—on April 4, 1869: Capt. Tucker, a friend of Eliza’s father, was coming there to live. She was so pleased to know that he had bought Dr. Braning’s Mill, would soon have it running, and then would build—near them. “We have had our Methodist minister to spend the day with us,” wrote Eliza on the second Sunday in May. “We had some trouble to get the house to preach in, as the man that had the key did not give it up until the Minister went and asked him for it...There were not many, but we had a fine sermon.” Then Eliza spread on paper her anger and frustration over a fire set by an old man so near her house that it had nearly burned up. “The flames were near a hundred feet came with buckets and the salt water being near, they outed it before it reached my house.” (Last Sun day in May, 1869) She believed that deliberate efforts were being made to drive her and Amelia off the land, to lose their homestead rights to it. Life was difficult for Eliza and sister Amelia in other ways. On the last Sunday in August, 28


1 & & Fannin Ferry %  Ml : %  1111 Mil %  I MM mM Jm fplg %  x : v 0\ %  %  %  Ml jpiif ; %  : %  3 MM I|§1 ill 29


1869, Eliza recorded her prolonged illness from having been bitten by a rattlesnake. They had killed one near the house and another in the gar den, making a total of eight killed since they came there. “I am in trouble all the time,” she wrote. “We have to get our wood to burn and we are afraid to step out for fear that we will step on one....God take care of us.” If Eliza’s encounter with a rattlesnake had slowed down her gardening, it had not impaired her perception of what was happening in the port and depot area of Way Key. On September 20, 1869, she recorded ...there is some improvement-more houses finished and a Mayor appointed for the town. He has done some good by putting things to right about the town and making the lazy negroes work in the streets. They are making sidewalks, which is a great addition to the place... Eliza did not name the Mayor, nor did she elaborate her political observation, but it may be noted here that a “Town of Cedar Keys”, located on Way Key, had been incorporated un der the general incorporation act of the Florida Legislature approved earlier that year. (Edward J. Lutterloh v. Town of Cedar Keys, 15 Fla. 306, 1875) On October 3, 1869, Eliza recorded that some seven hundred Cuban troops were moving through the town, en route to their homeland, to fight for their independence from Spain. She ad ded that some former Confederate officers were going with them. By mid-November, several persons had died from a fever that had been “raging on the Key.” Wrote Eliza: “Some think it was the Yellow Fever in light form. It broke out at the depot...people boasted they never had any sickness at their part of the town, but God has...sent them a warning.” (November 15, 1869) On December 10, Eliza repented for her anger, frustration, and criticism that she could not con tain at the time and prayed, “help me to forgive old Mr. Clarke for setting fire around my house, dear Lord.” Christmas Day, 1869 drew only a brief entry in her diary, expressing disapproval of some of the behavior about her: “...the people are shooting guns all over town to celebrate the day. They do not keep it as they should...” On February 20 of the new year, 1870, Eliza could take joy in recording, “my limes are in bloom.” But four days later, she had a weightier observation for her future readers to ponder, as she asserted: ...the big bugs of Way Key have run all denominations away from this place. They have set up an Episcopal Church. They have taken the seats that the Methodists made and put in a house for the Methodist or any other denomination that should come here to preach. So we are left without a pastor this year like sheep without a shepherd. They have a Sunday school at four every Sunday evening. They have invited us to attend. Quite an insult after tearing down our pulpit and taking the seats that belong to the Methodists. As the winter slipped further behind, Eliza’s perennial optimism bloomed again. She recorded on May 7, 1870: Times are something better. The Sabbath School is going on very well...I hope we will soon have a Methodist Church. The place is improving fast. A large hotel with 100 rooms is going up. They think it will be finished by fall. So many people are wanting to come here to live as it is so healthy... Soon after, occurred one of those excitements that Eliza was quick to recount, often with con siderable elaboration, her May 20 entry being a prime example: ...a great misfortune has befallen this place. The splendid wharf and warehouse was burned down on Friday night. The steamer from Mobile caught fire and set the warehouse and wharf on fire. It was burnt up-a great loss to the Company that is carrying on the trade to Cuba. The whole place would have been blown up, but the powder that was in the warehouse was taken out to save the town. There were several thousands of dollars lost. The men had to throw over all that they could not get off the wharf. The boxes are drifting all about. The men were all day yesterday picking up the things that were thrown over board... When the cotton caught on fire, the wind, blowing very hard, carried it a mile. In balls burning as big as a peck, it blew over slabtown, but only a few balls fell on the houses. The people were all very much frightened. There were 10 ladies going to Cuba. They lost their trunks and all their clothes. (May 20, 1870) 30


31 Cedar K eys about 1920


On August 21, 1870, Eliza noted that “the large hotel that was in slabtown was blown down....It was a great loss to the northern com pany that was building it—a great loss indeed—but it was so high on the blocks and three stories high that it may have fallen when completed. It was 100 feet long.” Following her description of the fire in “slabtown”, as she called the town, Eliza confided that she had attended the services of the Episcopalians. She liked the minister’s “discour se,” she wrote, adding, “I hope he did some good...the girls were laced so tight that they looked like they would faint.” In the spring of the next year, Eliza rejoiced over an apparent crackdown on vice in the town. On May 15, 1871 she wrote: The nest of the foul beast is breaking up. Thp nf this place is going away tomorrow. The old Jezebel, the mother of all the wickedness in this place. I hope she will never return. She has stolen a fortune and now she is going to North Carolina to live. So be it. Honest people will have their rights. Mr. Zulu will not lease them lots at the depot and they have to leave or sell their houses. I am glad... As the summer of 1871 drew closer, Eliza sounded reassured, writing: “I am trying to do good. We have a little school. The children are learning fast.” She recorded that she was teaching them singing and the Bible, along with their studies. And with obvious pleasure, she ad ded: “We have an excellent Methodist Minister, sent here this year, Mr. Barnet. (May 15, 1871) Yet, within a month, a note of despair had again been registered by this indomitable woman: Times are hard here. No money. It looks like starvation with us. All our work is broken up again. The people will not let us have an employment on the Key. God help us...(June 18, 1871) On October 9, 1871, Eliza recorded that she had been sick a long time. Yellow fever had come to the island and twelve persons had died of it. Moreover, she wrote, “my school has been broken up by the Government teacher.” This, she added, “has nearly starved us....I have worked hard in my garden. It is fine but no sale for anything.” By the following summer, in her desperate ef forts to hang on to her land and survive, Eliza was “making hats of palmetto for sale.” She had sold some. Her tenacious commitment to homesteading the land was emphasized when she wrote: “I cannot leave our little home until our business is settled. If we get a homestead here, we will remain here; if not, we will sell our place and go where we will do much better...” (June 18, 1872) There was jubilation in Eliza’s entry of July 1, 1872; “The surveyor is coming to survey our land.” She had sought the assistance of the government land office some time before. It would still take a while, but there was light ahead now. Successful achievement of her overriding ob jective, consistent with adherence to her ideas of righteous behavior, was recorded by Eliza Hearn in her diary entry of June 19, 1873: I have been in so much trouble that I did not care to write it in my diary...but God has helped me...conquer my enemies that tried to get my place from me and make the negroes build on my homestead and the meeting house that Ludlow and others had build on my homestead to steal my home from us...but God has ordered it otherwise. Government has given me title to 80 acres of land and the surveyor is to be down this week to survey the lines and put down the corner posts...So Ludlow and Company has to take his claims off my land. He is mad as a chained Lion. He cannot do us any harm... ******* This paper is based upon the Diary of Eliza Hearn, Jacksonville, Works Progress Ad ministration, 1937. The typescript presents many mistakes in grammar, punctuation, spelling, etc.-even a misspelling of the names Hearn as “Horn.” A copy of the typescript may be found in the Cedar Key Public Library. According to probate records, Eliza Hearn died September 5, 1910, leaving no will. On February 16, 1911, Judge Ben Friedman appoin ted Miss Jeannie Skilling to adminster a set tlement of the estate. Her report shows bills paid for burial, disposition of a few personal items, and makes no reference to any real property. In early 1982, the Cedar Key Islanders 4-H Club, under the supervision of Mrs. Brenda Coulter, completed and dedicated a dignified memorial to Eliza Hearn and her family east of the Cedar Key School Gymnasium. A brick bor der around the graveside was laid by students of the masonry class of Chiefland High School. The Cedar Key 4-H Club members, each elementary class in the Cedar Key School, the Cedar Key Historical Society, the Women’s Club, the Lions Club, and the Lioness Club contributed funds for the purchase and placement of an inscribed granite marker in loving memory of Eliza, Amelia, and Thomas Hearn. 32


33 The Thetis was a small steel-hulled steamboat. The remains of its hull are at Old Town, covered with silt.


CORRECTIONS AND ADDITIONS In Chapter One: Page 1 The Epperson Store was the first store in Williston. It was located where the present city park is and was later moved to Main Street. J. B. Epperson was a brother of William Epperson of Bronson. Page 3 The Chiefland scene was on U.S. 19 just north of the railroad crossing. The person sitting on the cart was Albert Deas. Page 4 The Carter house still exists, as shown on page 7. Page 8 Photo caption should read, left to right; Dr. Eugene Yearty, holding Orton Yearty; Bertie Mae Hudson, holding Mildred Yearty; Pearl Yearty, wife of Eugene and mother of the children. Page 15 In the photo caption, her name was Keen, not Cain. Some of the old timers pronounced it as Cain. She was the daughter of Moses Keen. Page 16 That old generator was owned and operated by the Williston Manufacturing Co. Edward Lee BartonÂ’s father was chairman of the CompanyÂ’s Board of Directors. Page 17 That might be the D. E. Williams house. In Chapter Two: Page 8 About the Sneller picture, refer to Chap ter 7, page 10. In Chapter Three: Page 5 That CCC camp was later moved to Old Town. Page 16 The Young Hotel was actually located on Live Oak Key which was inhabited at the time. The streets of Live Oak Key were named in an old recorded plat. Page 22 Building in the background started its existence as a livery stable. A livery stable had horses, buggies, wagons, surreys, gigs, etc., for rent. In Chapter Five: Page 1 At the page heading, the time span should read 1854-1888. In Chater Seven: Page 1 Ernest Stephens (1914-1982) of Bronson made this and several other pictures available. Page 5 In the photo, the man on the right is Clarence Strong. In Chapter Eight: Page 1 Photo caption should read, left to right: Jack L. Meeks, clerk, Ben Rowland, Fred David son, Dewey Allen, Lovitt Smith, Carl Wellman. In Chapter Eleven: Page 4 Right column, second paragraph: that storm was in 1896. Page 6 Right column, last paragraph: should read Hartman Place. Page 15 Left column, second paragraph: the name Tillman should read Tilghman. Page 15 Left column, fourth paragraph: the name Pappered was most likely Popard. Page 15 Right colunn, second paragraph: the steamboatÂ’s name was The Helendenan (see Chapter 7, page 25). Page 20 Left column, last paragraph: that Ford Roaster was actually a Ford Roadster, except possibly in extremely hot weather. Page 25 Notes, number 6: should read doctoral dissertation. Back to Chapter One: Page 10 Charles E. Cason, also known as Dick Cason, was an undergraduate at the University of Florida at the time he wrote this. He is a native of Wylly, Florida. His father, William Lloyd Cason, was a woods rider for G. C. Per due, Sr. His mother was Virginia Wilder Cason, native of Cedar Key. Mr. Cason lives in Gainesville (1982). The extinct town of Wylly was located about ten miles southwest of Otter Creek on the Fernandino-to-Cedar Key railroad. State Road 24 now runs parallel to the old railroad bed and goes through the middle of old Wylly.


About 1945, Fleet Williams (Otter Creek) and his wife were camping by the Waccasassa River near an old logging company landing known as Townsend Landing. Ira J. Tyndale bought fish from them. Bill Alldrige and Fleet carried a petition to get a road built into the area. Guy Williams of Archer owned some land there and he contracted with Fleet to operate a fish camp there. Then the site became known as Williams Landing and today, the Waccasassa Marina is there as well as a Levy County boat landing. Fleet Williams married Lillian Stalvey, a first cousin to Claude Stalvey who lives between Bronson and Trenton. Fleet’s grandparents were John Williams and Amelia (Allison) Williams. John Williams came from White Pond, South Carolina, Amelia Allison grew up at Live Oak, Florida. Lillian Stalvey’s mother was a Rains. From Virginia Bell, Jasper, Florida: Sykes Bend is located at the river end of Genie Court at the Eugene Knotts “glass house”. The Blockhouse (a small fort) built by Daniel Bell on the Withlacoochee during the Second Seminole War (1836) was located on the south side of the River on this Bend, in Citrus County. The father of Boaz Wadley, Cedar Key was a British crew member aboard the Great Eastern, the ship that laid the first Trans-Atlantic cable. He jumped ship and fled across Canada to the state of Washington as a fugitive being pursued. Then he headed south, grew a large beard, married, and settled in Cedar Key. Verona Wat son of Cedar Key is his granddaughter. The Boaz Wadley home in Cedar Key was once an office building of the Eagle Pencil Company. The Hartman Settlement was about three miles north of Bronson (the Hartman School was in Gulf Hammock). Conrad Wellman’s first wife was a Hartman, and his original citrus groves were near Hartman Settlement in the vicinity of Colson’s Hole. The Fernandino-to Cedar Key railroad was first listed in the Levy County records as The Florida Railroad, then as the Fernandino Railroad, then as the Gulf Atlantic and West India Transit Company. The name Seaboard ap peared much later, apparently at the time the line was merged with Seaboard. The Fernandino Railroad could have been someone’s idea of what the line should have been called at the time. That is how it was recorded. Fort Daniels was administered by Enoch Daniels, an Indian Agent for the U. S. gover nment. The fort was located about a mile south west of Concord Baptist Church in Rocky Ham mock and near a house with a “sawed rock” chimney. The house probably does not still exist. The Kirkland Cemetery is west of the Fort Daniels site. Dear Pen Cemetery is southwest of the inter section of County Road 337 and 326. Just before WWI, Delmar Hiers of Chiefland taught in a small school located by the cemetery, which has no gravestones at the present time. Road 326 is still referred to as Hunter’s Trail, after a pioneer named Hunter. A popular misconception is that the name arose from the big rush of hunters going that way to Gulf Hammock. Hunter established the route some time before 1830; the details are not well known. Similarly, Wolfe Spring Hill (original spelling) east of Bronson was not named after a pack of wolves that may have hung around here, but after an early homesteader named Wolfe. Some of the small springs there still flow. 35


This was the Jennie, a fishing boat built in Cedar Key by George Tooke; year unknown. 36