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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida.
ORAL HISTORY PROJECT
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
INTERVIEWEES: Eunice Raymond
Mary Ann Solomon
INTERVIEWER: Michael Hansinger
DATE: May 20, 1982
H: Miss Raymond, tell us when and where you were born, please ma'am.
R: I was born here in 1892, on 2nd Street.
H: Was that the family home at the time?
H: What was the home like?
R: Well, it was just a small place, a one story house.
H: Was it framed?
H: Where and when was your daddy born?
R: Well, Poppa was born in the old country, Germany.
H: What was his name?
R? A. Maywald.
H: What do you know about his life up to the time you were born?
R: Well I don't know much because he lived in the old country and he
didn't come over until he and my mother were married. He was only
here a short while when he married and I don't know too much about
what they did back there.
H: What part of Germany would that be?
R: Well, I don't know.
H: All right. Well how about your momma, what was her maiden
R: Her name was Cosse.
H: Where was she born?
R: She was born in France.
H: They married in the states, didn't they?
R: They married here.
H: In Fort Myers?
H: What year would that have been?
S: Mom, I think they were married in New Orleans before they
R: Yes, they were married and came here on a schooner.
H: Let's guess what year that might have been, Mrs. Raymond.
R: Well, I don't know.
H: Were there other children older than you?
R: Yes, there were two older ones than me.
H: Who are they?
R: Well, they're both dead. One was Ernestine Maywald and
the other was Charlie Maywald.
H: What did they do for a living?
R: Well, my sister was just a housewife. My brother lived in
H: What did he do?
R: He was a merchant.
S: He was a salesman with Knight and Wall Hardware.
H: Right. Let's think, were you raised in that house on Second Street?
H:'< What is it near?
R: Well, it's near the Episcopal Church.
H: Tell us about life in Fort Myers as a youngster.
R: Well, there wasn't much of it. The cows and animals ran wild
and you couldn't walk on the street at night for them. They'd
sleep right in the middle of the Istreet. There were no lights.
H: Do you remember when the first electric lights came to Fort Myers?
R: No, I don't remember what year it was.
H: But you remember when they started having them.
H: How about your first automobile?
R: I remember that.
H: Oh, good. Tell us about it, please ma'am.
R: I was grown when I saw the first automobile. It came into
town, everybody followed it. It went down on the boulevard and
parked, and everybody looked at it.
S: How did it come? On one of the trains?
R: No. It came on its own.
S: It must have come on a train.
R: It came on land.
H: Oh. All right. Tell us about the ferry before the bridge.
R: Well, it was downtown across the river and landed on what was
Jackson Street at that time.
H: You mean Jackson Street on this side, downtown?
H: And where did it land on the other side?
R: The nearest place it would come across was just a point over
there. I used to come across on that ferry when I was teaching
H: What school was that?
R: There wasn't any name to it. It was a Lee County school.
That's what fdid for a living when I was-a girl, teach school.
H: Yes ma'am. Tell us about your own schooling.
R: I went to school here in the city where the school house is now
but they don't use it for a school anymore. It was just a one-story
building when I first started. When I graduated from high school
it was a two-story building.
H: What was the name of that school?
R: Well, it was Lee County High School.
S: It was on the site where the Gwynne Institute is now.
H: I believe the Gwynne Institute was built in 1912, isn't that
S: I don't know.
R: I don't really know, I don't remember.
H: What year did you graduate from high school, Mrs. Raymond?
R: I think it was 1910.
H: What did you do after graduation then?
R: I taught school.
H: Who attended the school the on the north side of the river? Where
were they from?
R: Well, they were from New Prospect, all around the country there.
H: How about Slater?
R: No, not from that part.
S: Old Bayshore.
H: Not from that. Old Bayshore.
S: That was the old name for Bayshore, New Prospect.
H: New Prospect, I see, and what did those people do for a living?
R: I really don't know. I think they farmed a little.
H: What did most of the Fort Myers people do for a living?
R: They raised their own things. They didn't have to buy very much
from the store.
H: Where did you do your shopping?
R: We shopped at the grocery store.
H: Where was it?
R: It was R. A. Handerson's.
H: Where was that?
R: That was downtown Fort Myers.
H: What would you do for a good time?
R: We had parties.
H: Where were they?
R: Well, we had them in our homes and in the neighbor's home.
S: They moved from where they were living, where Mom was born, and built
a new place over on Anderson.
H: Where the Sarlow place is now.
S: I've heard Mom say the cowboys would come through driving their
H: The cowboys came through where Anderson Avenue is now.
R: Well, they would go down from Immokalee.
S: They came from Immokalee to Punta Rassa to take the ferry.
H: Tell us about the route from downtown Fort Myers at Anderson Avenue
out to Punta Rassa. What route would they use?
R: We had to use our own route. We would use horse and buggy, by horseback.
H: Wasn't that about where McGreggor Boulevard it today?
H: When did that business with the cowboys stop?
R: When the city began to grow they began to fade out.
H: What was Punta Rassa like in those days?
R: It was just a small settlement and they had a station there.
H: A telegraph station?
H: Colonel [Jacob] Summerlin had his big place there, did he not?
H: Did you ever visit that place?
H: Tell us about it Mrs. Raymond.
R: Well, it was a two-story building.
S: Was it hotel Mom?
R: Yes, it was a hotel in the beginning, and then when the people began
to come in, why they closed it up.
H: So you would, before the automobile days, go between Fort Myers and
Punta Rassa by horse and buggy or horseback to the hotel.
H: Punta Rassa must be about fifteen miles more or less, from
Fort Myers. Isn't that about right?
H: What was between here and there?
R: There were a few scattered houses.
H: I suppose groves?
R: Yes, orange groves.
S: Grandmother and Granddaddy both lived down there on the river
R: Yes. Grandma lived down there.
H: Which grandmother was that?
R: That was my mother's mother.
H: What was her name?
R: Her name was Cosse.
H: Oh, yes. Where was her mother and father from?
R: They were from France.
H: You say they lived somewhere on the river?
H: Let's try to figure out where.
R: Where Manuel's Branch is.
H: Where Manuel's Branch is, and they were on the river.
H: That's interesting. What did they do for a living?
R: Grandpa had a schooner and he carried produce back from New
Orleans to Fort Myers on a schooner.
H: How big a schooner did he have?
R: It was a good-size schooner. I think it had two masts.
H: How many on the crew?
R: He had about six.
H: Six all together on the crew? How long would it take to sail to
R: Well, it took him about three months to make a trip here and back.
H: Well, he must have made a lot of stops along the way, don't you
R: Well, he carried produce to settlers along the way.
R: Yes, he did.
H: Do you remember any of his tales, Mrs. Raymond, about his travels,
his sailing days, storms or hardships?
R: We had storms and one of his vessels sunk in the river.
S: He had three schooners to start with, didn't he Mom?
H: What were their names?
R: One was the Santa Maria. I don't remember the other names.
H: What was the name of the one that sunk? Did it sink in the
H: Where did he tie up the schooners?
R: Down at the docks.
H: How did he get back and forth from the home at Manuel's Branch?
R: Well, he had anchored his schooner out there at the dock.
S: Evidently he had a dock out from the house.
H: Well, nowlet's think, Manuel's Branch comes into the river of course,
and they have some new houses and some old houses there. Where was
that house, the Cosse House, with respect to say where Danny Adams
lives on the south bank of the branch?
S: You know that, from Edison Place, Mom, wasn't it? I don't know if -
she knows any longer
R: I don't know.
S: Where would it be from Aunt Pollen's house, Momma, on McGreggor?
Where would it have been from there?
R: It was down on the river.
S: Directly behind Aunt Pollen?
R: Well, I imagine.
H: What is the rest of Aunt Pollen's name?
R: Rylander [Mrs. Armeda].
S: Her name was Armeda. You know that red brick home there on the
boulevard. It comes out red brick and its just been remodeled.
H: I'm trying to place it.
R: That was their home.
S: That was their home. She said it was right behind it.
H: Do you remember Manuel himself? Manuel Gonzalez?
H: Tell us about him.
R: He was just an ordinary workman who had a large family and lived
on one of the streets downtown but I don't remember where.
S: It's about where that restaurant it. Where the Veranda is.
H: The Gonzalezt had a large family, but did they not have a homestead
also on Manuel's Branch?
H: Where was this homestead? If you can think of the way it looks
R: I don't think the house is there anymore.
H: Yes, but what was the location?
R: Well, it was not far from Grandma's.
H: Was it next to the branch itself?
R: It was right on the river.
H: All right, and did they use the branch for drinking water?
H: They used wells, didn't they?
R: No, we had cisterns.
H: Yes. Did everybody in Fort Myers use cisterns?
R: Yes, everybody that could.
H: We're talking now about rain falling into the cisterns.
H: Then how would they clear up the water in the house?
R: Well, they would run a pump from the cistern into the house.
H: Well, what would you do about clearing up the water?
R: We'd wash the cistern out every year.
H: Well, this is the first I've heard about cisterns. That's mighty
interesting. Why did they not have wells?
R: The rain water was better.
H: What would you do in the dry season?
R: We had cisterns that were big enough to catch enough water to
last from one year to another.
H: Now then, let's go back to these other pioneer families. Besides
the Gonzalez, who else was around when you were coming along?
R: Well there was Menges.
H: The Menges, yes.
R: The Heitmans.
H: The Heitmans?
H: Who were your classmates in high school?
R: Well, there were five of us that graduated from high school
at the same time. Two Oldhams.
H: Two Oldhams?
H: Oldham. Thank you, and the others?
R: Well, Katie Jeffcott.
S: Was Mr. Ireland in that class Momma?
R: No. There were only five in that class.
H: Yes she was, Mrs. .
S: But I think she was one of the Oldhams also.
H: Oh. Did you ever travel in your father's schooners?
H: He never carried the family with him?
R: No. We used to go down and have baked meals on the schooner when
he'd come in.
H: Were his schooners organized as some kind of a company? Did he
have a company name?
R: I don't think so, I don't know.
H: Well, he skippered his own ships, did he?
H: What sort of things would he bring back from New Orleans?
R: He would bring back groceries, can goods, hardware, furniture, and
everything like that to the settlers who needed it.
H: Did you travel up river at all? To places like Alva and LaBelle?
R: No, not when I was growing up.
H: Did you travel to Immokalee or Naples?
H: How long did your dad stay in the schooner business?
S: No, this was Granddad.
R: Yes, well, he stayed in there as long as he lived.
H: How long did he live?
R: He lived to be an old man.
H: What year would he have died?
R: I don't remember what year, but I think he was about eighty-some.
H: What was your dad's business in Fort Myers?
R: Well,he was a painter and .
S: A wallpaper hanger.
H: So he must have worked on a good many homes then as Fort Myers grew
R: He worked on the Edison place.
H: When it was first being built?
H: He worked, did he work on the Edison place when they were first putting
H: So then he was one of the original constructors of the Edison place?
H: We are talking now about the old bridge, the first bridge in the
Fort Myers area. Mrs. Solomon points out that it was up around
Superior Street. It was a narrow, wooden bridge with a swing section
in the middle to allow for boat traffic and they just remarked
that it was very tough having two cars to meet because of the narrowness.
There is an old bridge at Welaka over on the east coast which is
so narrow that they only have one car at a time. They flag you
back and forth at night. They do it with red and green lights and
that's building a bridge for a small number of dollars in those
days. Tell us about the ferry back there, Mrs. Raymond. How often
would it run?
S: I think what he is referring, Momma, to when you taught school.
S: The little one-man ferry that took you across.
R: It went every day but it only went when somebody was going.
H: When someone was going. How was the ferry powered?
S: I think it was just a man with a pole. Isn't that the way it was
R: I think it was.
H: What did he charge?
R: I paid a dollar to come across.
H: You paid a dollar everytime?
H: That must have been pretty hard for a school teacher.
R: Well, Ididn't come home but once a week.
H: I see. Where did you stay over there?
R: I stayed with one of my children's parents for two weeks.
H: What was the name of the family who ran the ferry?
R: I don't remember their name.
H: How long did that ferry stay in business?
R: Well, it stayed in business until the city built up.
H: Was any part of the old fort left when you were a girl?
R: Yes. There was a stone building but it didn't have any
windows in it.
H: What did they use this for?
R: They didn 't use it for anything.
H: None of the wooden buildings from the fort were left?
H: Were there any parts of the walls?
R: There was a cement building.
H: Did you know any of the Hendry family when you were a girl?
R: Yes, I knew all of them.
H: Tell us about them.
R: They lived downtown and were a pretty prosperous people. They had
the nicest home in Fort Myers and they had a daughter named
Isabelle. She was about my age.
H: Who did Isabelle marry?
R: Well, she married several.
S: Kelly was one, Momma.
R: Yes. Arthur Kelly.
H: That would be the grandfather of Martha Kelly at Kelly's Nursery.
S: I think it would be his father.
H: Arthur Kelley married Isabelle Hendry one time as one of the
husbands, and Arthur and Joe are the sons of that marriage. Are
there any girls?
S: Oh, I believe there are but I've forgotten those girls' names.
H: I think they must be at the nursery, these married sisters. It
seems like Imet them there. Well, how about the other Hendry?
R: Well, they raised cattle.
S: Are you talking about Lloyd?
H: Yes, Captain Hendry's family.
S: Who was his father, Mom?
R: I was trying to think.
S: What kin was Francis to Lloyd?
R: I don't know.
H: Well, I suspect he's the grandfather but do you remember seeing
Captain Hendry, himself?
H: What did he look like to you?
R: Well, he looked like a nice old man.
H: All right. What church did you go to?
R: The First Methodist, which was just a one room church at that
time. It's in the same place it is now on First Street, and it was
only a one room house when Ifirst went to it. It had the lanterns
at night and we used to hang the lanterns up in there for light to have
H: I know the preaching then is just as good as the preaching nowadays,
because that is something that has not changed with time. That
Methodist preaching was mighty good. I married into a Methodist
family, I know about that. What were the toughest problems would
you say about like back around 1900 and 1905 in Fort Myers?
R: I don't know of any tough problems. I had a pretty easy time.
We always had plenty to eat.
H: Tell us on the whole about your recollections of life then.
Was it pleasant and happy on the whole?
R: Yes, we had a happy life. I was born into a family of eight.
H: Eight brothers and sisters?
H: What were their names?
R: Well, they're all dead now, or practically all of them except one,
H: Where does she live?
R: She lives up at Buckingham.
H: How old is Annabelle?
R: She is seven years younger than I am.
H: All right tell us about the rest of the brothers and sisters.
What were their names?
R: Well, there was Charlie Maywald, he lived in Orlando, and he was
a merchant and then there was Annabelle, Mary Pearl, Gus and Fred. ..
R: Yes, and she was the oldest one.
H: Now let's go back to your mom and dad. What gave them the idea of
coming to Fort Myers in the first place? It was pretty remote.
R: Well, Grandpa was running the schooner in Fort Myers.
H: And he must have liked it a lot.
R: Yes, he liked it and told them about how it was aid my dad made a
trip or two with himand then decided to come and live himself.
H: The Mrs. Eunice Raymond interview, on 20, May, 1982 in Fort
Myers and after the thirty-minute session just concluded, Mrs. Raymond'!s
daughter, Mary Ann Solomon relates that her mother's most unusual
attribute is that at ninety she has all of her teeth and has no
cavities. This is remarkable. The other part of the narrative, Mrs.
Raymond's narrative, shows the picture of these coasting schooner
people based at New Orleans, who made the rounds of the Gulf Coast
between New Orlands and Fort Myers starting early on and selecting
Fort Myers from among all of that stretch of country as the
place to locate. Then we go on th the picture of Mrs. Raymond's
father being one of the people selected to put together the Edison
hone place in the middle 1880s. Then we have the picture of the cattle
drives down through the settlement and we have this picture of the
Hendry family as seen by their contemporaries, and early days--including
the first automobile, the early bridge, and the lifestyle of the
early settlers in this remote outpost in its beautiful setting in the
1890s and early 1900s. We will continue with the narrative of
the daughter, Mrs. Mary Ann Solomon, and with Ellis Solomon, who
is in his first term as mayor of Fort Myers this year.