Title: Interview with Cornelia Keen (October 19, 1967)
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00006731/00001
 Material Information
Title: Interview with Cornelia Keen (October 19, 1967)
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Publication Date: October 19, 1967
Spatial Coverage: 12111
St. Lucie County (Fla.) -- History.
Funding: This text has been transcribed from an audio or video oral history. Digitization was funded by a gift from Caleb J. and Michele B. Grimes.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00006731
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, Department of History, University of Florida
Holding Location: This interview is part of the 'St. Lucie County' collection of interviews held by the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program of the Department of History at the University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: SL 9

Table of Contents
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Full Text

This Oral History is copyrighted by the Interviewee
and Samuel Proctor Oral History Program on
behalf of the Board of Trustees of the University of

Copyright, 2005, University of Florida.
All rights, reserved.

This oral history may be used for research,
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St. Lucie Tapl'9a
Cornelia Keen
October 19, 1967
age 1

Tonight it is my pleasure to present to you one of the descendants of

one of the oldest families in this county. And the more I say about it

the less time she will have6to say it, so I will give you Ms.-Cornelia


I'm afraid I'm not going to have very much to say but I'll do the best

that I can. My father Judson Keen, better known to me as Jud was born

in Taylor County near His family moved to the St. Augustine

area. r .

?: We just spent four million eight hundred ninety two dollars for


K: His family moved to the St. Augustine area when he was small, where

they lived until he and his brother,James,came to Fort Pierce about 1887.

My mother, Della Tonmin and her family had :;een in Fort Pierce several

years before my father came. Her family moved to the Miami area when

she was small. At that time the Miami area did not have any more people

than Fort Pierce. She and her family moved here when whenwas about

fifteen. She said not more than a dozen families lived in this area

then. When she and her sister were about seventeen and eighteen they

went to help Mrs. Richards who owned a boarding house, I think, on

south Indian River. It was called the Richards House and now is known

as the Eden House. There was not much work for anyone to get around

here in those days. My father and his brother also went to work for

the Richards'and that is how my father and mother met. And when they

were married at the Richards' house by Mr. Harry Richards in May, 1889.

Her sister and Jenny Keen were already married at that time. Soon after

St. Lucie Tape #9a

Page 2

he was married, my dad and his brother contracted to clear land and

plant pineapples for Mr. Henry Obstead and Mr. P.P. Cobb along south

Indian River. At that time there was not even a trail along the river.

They used boats to go and come. They stayed there until the work was

finished. Mr. Rise would not stay down there, as it was all woods and

there was plenty of mosquitoes and no homes in the area. By the time

daddy finished his work he had purchased a small track of land and

built a small home located on what is now Thirteenth street, South

Thirteen street, just north of Georgia Avenue. This was all wooded area

at that time. There was a dirt road located just south of the house

and one other smaller building in the area. He later contracted to clear

the right-of-way for South Indian River Drive. He had a number of men

doing this work but I can't recall how long he said it took, but I expect

it was quite some time. As you know, there was such a heavy growth of

trees, yines and so forth. He said at that time the Cards were living

on the riverfront where their old home now stands. You recall seeing

Lucy, their young daughter playing around the place. She was later to

become known as as most of you know. By this

timeOrange Avenuehad been opened up part of the way to Thirteenth

street. My father also primed and planted a few citrus trees west of town

of what was later known as as Mr. Cobb bought it from

dad after he quit farming. All five of my parents were born at the ,i

south western street home, but when I was small they sold it and

built a larger home on Orange Avenue, located at what is now Sixteenth

Street, which is the home now owned by the minnets. By this time

Orange Avenue had been opened up probably to Thirty Third Street, just

a dirt road from Thirteenth Street west. Soon after we moved there

St. Lucie Tape #9a

Page 3

they digged up some shallow rock on Orange Avenue for

a wagon. We lived at this location until all our children had finished

school.W1'en we were small children we had to walk from home on Sixteenth

Street to the old school on north Second Street located about where the

power plant is now located. Sometimes we had to walk through water

along several sections of Orange Avenue. Later we went to the Delaware

Avenue school. My two older sisters started school in the little

school house in Edgartown in the north part of town, near where Avenue B

is now located, west of North Fourth Street. We had to walk a little

dirt road from Thirteenth Street to get there. Dad also planted

pineapples on the land he owned, along Orange Avenue. This crop was

located between what is now Thirteenth Street to Seventeenth Street, along

the south side. He planted, grew pineapples until the cold weather and

disease killed off most of the pineapples By this time

he was working for the Florida Coast Railway in the shops, which were

located just south of Orange Avenue along the railroad track. In this

time he had planted his first orange grove located in the ten mile creek

area which he sold in 1919. He also sold the home on Orange Avenue and

bought another on Boston Avenue at Fourth Tenth Street. And we lived there

about five years and in this time he purchased forty acres of land in the

Fort Pierce farm zone and started a grove. We soon moved there and lived

therr until after his death in 1953. My father was quite active in politics

most all of his life, although he never ran or held an office himself, which

the exception of having appointed school Trustee at one time.

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