Title: Interview with Anna Brown Cobb (December 14, 1966)
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00006732/00001
 Material Information
Title: Interview with Anna Brown Cobb (December 14, 1966)
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Publication Date: December 14, 1966
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: UF00006732
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 10

Table of Contents
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Full Text

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behalf of the Board of Trustees of the University of

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St. Lucie Tape #b IDp
Anaa Brown Cobb
December 14, 1966
Page 1

there was a spring of fresh water. Here they have another child

and later another, a girl, who died. They decided to build a store.

told me he could remember that grandfather's

boat was too large for the inlet and they floated the lumber across the river.

It was truly amazing that they should consider such an undertaking when

you stop to realize there was three families in this particular section.

The Bells, the first here, lived just south of Taylor Creek. The Carltons

lived downtown and the Henrys on Orange Avenue. My folks bought the land

from the Carltons and while grandma and the children ran the store,

grandpaw sailed in his schooner to the islands buying bananas, coconuts,

and other tropical fruits, which she took to Jacksonville and

sold, buying in exchange groceries from the store. Grandmaw sold her jewels

to buy the schooner in which they came to Fort Pierce. And evidently

Grandpaw felt very badly about it becuase on the first trip he brought

her back a gold watch and chain costing a hundred and twenty five dollars.

I'm sure that made her a little unhappy. This store was built where Pitts

now have a furniture store on Avenue Road. It then faced the river because

all traveling was done on the water. I'm sure they found the living

hard to take because flour, at an enormous price per barrel, was a sample of

the cost of living. My mother said they were allowed all the grits and syrup

they could eat, but she just couldn't stand it, so she stuffed her mouth

full and just as soon as they handed her a slice of bread, out shot the grits.

The Indians camped at Seventh Street Park, along Morris Creek and were

very friendly most of the time. Mother said the children sat around the

campfire lots of times at night and wathced them eat sausage. It was all

cooked in one pot and handed around the circle from one to the other.

When they were quarrelsome, one might have taken the children up on the roof

St. Lucie Tape W\)

Page 2

where they all spent the night. Old Aunt Polly was a true friend. She

walked all the way from Persimmy to see Grandmaw when she heard she was

ill. And another time she came to warn her the Indians were going on the

warpath and she wanted to be sure a friendly Indian would kill Grandmother

as she then could know that she could go to the happy hunting ground.'

The teacher was Joe Hearst and they studied spelling out of the dictionary,

in the log cabin school up around Taylor Creek. According to her tales

they made life miserable for the poor fellow. They went to school along

the river beach, crossing the foot log at Morris Creek. We called it

Mud Creek. Can you imagine a twenty or thirty foot river beach? It makes

us realize how very fast our coast is sinking for we don't have a river

beach. And the water has also eaten away a lot of land. True, it has

been sealed in so much. I made the statement that one of these days

our beautiful Indian River will be just a canal. The river was shallow

and wide and once Shorty Hanes, six feet or more, waded it all except the

channel to prove how shallow it was. The river meant so much to us. It was

our only means of distance travel and as for the children, it was a wonderful

thing. Clean, not polluted, and it beat any old swimming hole in the

world. The ocean meant to us. Grandpaw took us over in his

boat and while we went swimming he stood with his binoculars watching to

see that no sharks came near. So we didn't appreciate it. We could

go back home to our good old river. And then the other side of my

family. My father, Robert E. Brown was born in Charlotte, North Carolina.

in 1860. His mother died when he was born and the slaves took care of

him until his father was discharged from the Confederate Army. Grandpaw

Brown found him a sickly little boy. The doctor advised a warmer climate.

He moved to Georgia but stayed there only a short time, perhaps finding the

St. Lucie Tape i I|

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climate very little better. Then he moved on down to Orlando and settled

on what is now a beautiful lake in downtown Orlando where he had an

orange grove. Daddy did not improve as he should and the doctor there advised

him to stay outdoors. Subsequently daddy spent his early years rambling

over the south end of Florida always hunting. He had a pal, Wayne Hall,

and I don't suppose they missed much of this country. They were great

fiddlers and never missed a dance. Once Mr. Keen told me he had hunted

with Bob and Wayne but no one could travel as fast as those two. One

of the things they did was to have some gold pieces melted and made into

two wedding rings for their future wives. And I don't know whether Warren

Hall gave his to his wife or not, but daddy gave his to mama. on one of

these many trips, he and my, he met my mother. And when they talked of

marriage,,Grandmaw Hogg, of course, blew up. She had a point, you must

admit. Mama was fourteen years old and daddy, twenty six and just a hunter.

Anyhow, they ran away straight to Orlando, but Grandmaw Hogg went

ahead of them and stopped them there. So they got in a buggy, slipped

over to Leesburg and were married. They lived in Orlando about five

years, and my mother there learned to live cracker style instead of

scotch style. Two boys were born, George and Alex. They returned to

Fort Pierce about 1891 and had been there only a short time when the

older boy died. They lived in a house on the southwest corner of

Avenue D and I wrote down here Pine Street, but we know it as Second

Street now. The house now is a catch to the back of the Buckwhite

residence just next door. There my older sister, Leonora was born. This

was Edgartown, not Fort Pierce. Daddy had an oyster business and certainly

no finer oysters could be found anywhere. They were also plentiful. He used

_, a flat bottom boat, to travel along the river and pull the

St. Lucie Tape #i (# 0

Page 4

oysters up with long handled prongs. Perhaps the market was not too good

for he didn't do this very long. He was postmaster for Edgartown and

and had the postoffice and his grocery store which was on the southeast

corner of Avenue D and Second Street. It was a two story building and the

family lived upstairs. The kitchen was on the east side of the store

downstairs. My mother cooked on a gas stove, not the gas stoves as we

know them today, but one on which the gas tanks fit way up high at one

end. And I still remember how frightened I was every time the stove was

lighted. It was in this building that I was born. I was the first child

to have a regular doctor since Dr.Papps had moved to town by this time. Also

there was something else unusual that year. Three girls were born in

the month of August. And though they were miles apart it was still one

community and an unheard of increase in population. One was Ndla Daniels

in Viking, Gladys Omstead at Penmire, and then me in Edgartown. We certainly

had no negro problems in those days because the only ones I remember

are Jim and Nellie Steward who lied right in town and she washed and

ironed for Mr. Cobb, I suppose, as long as she lived. There were no

roads. If you wanted to go somewhere you usually went on foot or if it

was too many miles away you had a horse and wagon, or if in style, a buggy.

It was very sandy and around town we traveled on board sidewalks. Lumber

was certainly plentiful and cheap. The houses were built of wood and the

hurricanes didn't blow them down. Across the street on the northwest

corner was TUcker's Saloon. We were never allowed to cross the street.

I don't believe the Tuckers were very popular because the ladies made

fun of the Tucker girls, who they said dressed in cheesecloth. Cheesecloth

on the- __ was very cheap. Everyone used it to screen out the

St. Lucie Tape # \Qt

Page 5

mosquitoes and for veils around house and out in the pineapple field.

Just north of the saloon on the next corner was the Edgar house, a boarding

house run by Mrs. Lakeport and they said she served dried beanseveryday.

This house is still there. Just across the street was an empty block

along the river called the Green and I believe that sight holds my

dearest memories. I know it wasn't it wasn't m6wed but that grass was

always short and green. On Saturday everyone came to town and while the

old folks visited and bought groceries the children gathered on the green.

We played games all afternoon and when it began to get dark we'd buiId a

great big bonfire and roasted marshmallows and hotdogs, but oysters,

clams and crabs. The Carltons were out best friends in fact Mrs. Carlton

was the doctor until Dr. ?latts came. And she really was a second mother

to us. She was a real friend in time of need to everyone, rich or

poor. And if I should ever place a monument for the most deserving

person in this part of the country, it would be for Mrs. Elizabeth

Carlton. Once while we were at Sunday school word came that there was

a case of smallpox in town. That was sure death, so everyone hurried to

the home of Dr. Platts to be vaccinated. My friend, Lois Davis was just

ahead of me and the doctor slpit her sleeve, one of these long tight,

puffed out at the tope, ones they called leg of mutton sleeves. Anyhow

I set up a real howl. We didn't have but one real Sunday dress and of

course I was scared to death. Dr. Platt's, though, put me on his lap and

talked to me and at the same time scratch.my knee. Then he put me down
and said, "Now young lady you can go undressed., I wonder what he'd

think of the styles how. The Moes Davis family lived on the south side

of Avenue D next to the railroad. When first built it was a two story

building. The downstairs for a store and the upstairs for an entertainment

St. Lucie Tape #) 0

Page,7' L

hall. Attached behind was a family quarters. Mr. Davis was a fine

builder and cabinet maker and I believe he came from Wisconsin. He also

made the coffin if someone died and Mrs. Davis lined it in white cloth

over cotton. ;Now back in those days you didn't get money for those

things. You just did them because you were doing them for your friends.

His daughter, Lois Parks still has the cabinet made for the dining room

of the original house. I don't remember anything exciting ever taking

place in the building except some church socials and Punch and Judy

shows. Just across the street, this is the north side of Avenue D,

was the first depot, just a flat loading platform. I was only a small, I

guess a baby, and the first train rolled in a d The

depot has been made three times in this town. Each time further south.

would finally go down to the old fort in the

beginning of the time. In 1898 when the soldiers came through on their

way to fight in the Spanish American war the people in the town loaded

their wheelbarrels with pies and cakes and met the train. My sister,

Leonora said one of the soldiers gave her a heart attack. But just south

of the ____ between Second Street and the railroad, where

Jim Hanson now lives, and across the railroad where the bus station now

is, were tow pineapple fields. When this train load of soldiers

pulled out there were no more pineapples. They had pulled them up

looking for pineapples on the roots. Soon after my mother married,

qrandmaw sold her store to the canning company of Cdnnecticult, of

which kFrank Tyler was an officer. A young man who clerked for this

company was Peter Cobb. Then the company went broked and Peter Cobb

got the store. But Fort Pierce didn't seem to grow or have the business

that Edgartown had. The of 1895 and '96
my Grandfather in Orlando and some time after he came to live

St. Lucie Tape # W

Page x

with us. This freeze hurt even this part of the country. And my father

egan$to have more on his books than in his money drawer. My Grandmother

Hogg never quite forgave daddy for marrying mama. So she built a store

on the northeast corner just across the street. And being a wizard at

business and no large family, by then there were five children of us, she

soon had the business and daddy closed the door. Since those two stores

are gone, it's rather surprising that nothing has ever been built back

on those corners. Daddy gave his job as post master to Ms,-Ella Hanson,

who opened a post office in a one roomed building just east of the

Davis place. We knew it later as the old Slanger place. Jim Bell

offered my father ten acres of land just over the hill, now Negratown and

west of the hospital to settle his grocery debt. Daddy took it and built

a house, and out we moved to the country, and believe it or not that was

within the city limits but it was over a year before we knew what a

road or a sidewalk or anything else was. Years later, Ms. Ella, returning

from a trip to her old home in GulIanmmock, wanted to pay her brother

's grocery debt, but daddy told her he didn't owe him anything.

The books were all destroyed. Ms. Ella insisted because she said

knew just how much he owed. Theschoolhouse was on the north side of'

of Avenue E just west of the filling station on fourth street. When school

started there were, there,. was only one room. By the time I got there

there were two rooms and two teachers. Mr. Pomroy and Ms. Grace: Ready

were two of our teachers, and later they married and spent the rest of

their days in Stuart. I remember my brother Alex saying he just hopes

to get big enough to whip old man Pomroy. And sure enough he did, over

six feet tall, But strange to say, he lost the urge to whip his old

teacher. Our first year of school the building burned. The smaller children

Sg Lucie Tape 4 f

Page g

finished out the year in one of the Bittner cottages. A resident of

the southwest corner of Avenue E and Fourth Street. And the older

children went to Mr. Hodges house to a private school. Some of the

children didn't even go to school. They waited until the next building

was there. By this time the town had begun tobspread south and so

the next school was built on Second Street, just north of the

building. It was two stories, four room building. Behind it ran

Morris Creek and it was filled with alligators. I can't remember any

teachers but Ms. Ready until I reached the fourth grade. Then I had

Ms. Boxer and then Sidniss Davenport who later became Mrs. Hemmings,

Sue Hunter, Mrs. Fair and last Professor Oakland. All are known to

people long gone from this community and three I know are dead. This

was then County and my father was called to jury duty in

Titusville nearly every year. He stayed with Judge Jones while there,

as they were very close friends. But in 1905 came talk about

county, so an election was held to find out if Fort Pierce or Jensen was

to be county seat. It was rather close, I believe. Because Jensen was

growing very fast. Fort Pierce won and St. Lucie County then stretched

from the Sabastien River to the St. Lucie River. The Firts Methodist

Church was between Fourth Street and the railroad tracks north of

Patrick. Later the 's had it for their home. The next Methodist

Church was on Second Street, on the lot used as the street to go to the

ice plant now. By this time business had moved down to Cobb's store, who's

slogan was, everything to eat wear and use. From time to time he enlarged

the store. And the north side was the druggers department. Ms. Ella

Hanson worked for him and I suppose it was through her he got the post

office. First it was in the main store, just to the right of the door

St. Lucie Tape # 0

Page 9

Then he added onto the building on the side and that was a post office

with boxes that could be open. My father had box 82 and my sister, Ollie,

still has that number. Across the frontwas a wide porch and on Saturday

nights the whole town gathered to hear the hand play, mosquitoes or no

mosquitoes. The front central part of the building is the old original

whole store. We grew fast so it seemed. Yet as you look back it really

was slow. I heard a friend say not long ago, why even in 1912 when I

came there was no pavements, no lights and no sewers. When John Donne

could get me in a crowd, he never failed to tell that we three sisters

came up the top of the hill which really was the edge of town, with out

shoes in our hand. That was true, but what he didn't say was that you

couldn't have white shoes and wear them through that black sand. So we

packed our old shoes at the end of the sidewalk and put on our clean

white ones and headed for the city. Our first telephone office was on

SEcond Street in the vast Cross home located where the nort part of the

building is now, or just south of the Dick White home. It's

gone. This office was later moved into the fee building when Mrs.

Cross gave it up My sister, Leonora, was a first night operator from

eight to eight, This was an emergency service only, nothing but coctor

or fire calls could be made. Business was slow. Later when my sister,

Sybel, was day operator, whe asked me to watch the board while she ran

down to Cobb's store one day. Of course somebody wanted an unheard of

number and I ran down to the store to ask her about it. How's that for

business? By 1915 we had added onto the old school house until there was

no more land left. So a new one was built way out in the woods everybody

said and was called Hodges White Elephant. But it is still one of the

best buildings in the county and if it had been kept up, one of the

prettiest and most up to date and some of you can talk about how out

St. Lucie Tapet \P

Page 10

dated it is and I'd site to him that they had steam heat and telephones

on every day and all the different things that we had, electric

bells, everything. We don't have them anymore but we did have where

I started teaching there. We knew everyone and everyone knew us. It

always pleased me when someone said I know you're one of the Browns

but I don't know which one. Now I under stand why. There were twelve

of us. Most of the old timers are gone. But I can't help believing they've

each left their footprints in the sand of time and most of them left

only good prints. I'd like name many of these folks and tell some

incidents connected with them but I tried to hold this as I said to

a family history.

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