The Florida Star. October 6, 1887. Dateline EDGARTOWN. “This is the name of our new town,” the column began and then went on to report that the blacksmith shop is open, Mrs. Olmstead is sick, Monday is a road work day for residents, and Captain Harvey is to take P. P. Cobb sailing.
Edgartown was north of what would be the town of Ft. Pierce. The development consisted of 122 lots in 10 blocks. The south boundary was Silene Street, now Avenue D, the given name of Lena Lagow, daughter of Alfred and Lucinda Lagow, the pioneer couple who submitted the Edgartown plat to Brevard County. The east boundary was the Indian River and beyond Ladies Avenue on the west was primitive woodland. The Lagows named the new town after their grandson, Edgar Bowman, son of their daughter, Rhoda Lagow Bowman.
Alford Lagow had come to New Smyrna in 1876 for his health, and his family came soon after. Coming from Crawford County, Illinois, where they married in 1859, Mister was a boatman, a hunter, a land developer, an hotelier, a restaurateur, a carpenter, a farmer and a musician. The Missus was formidable. On the Florida frontier, she learned to make palmetto roses, shoot a bear, stir up wonderful biscuits with sour orange juice, bake a possum, and tend sick Seminoles.
Employed by U. S. Customs, Alfred Lagow and his wife and two daughters, Emily and Lena, soon adapted to Florida frontier life. In 1878, Emily met James Bell and were married on July 25, 1879, and settled near Jim’s father on Taylor Creek. Soon, the senior Lagows homesteaded 43 acres in the area now known as North Second Street and in 1887, they built a boarding house/hotel called The Edgar House on Union Street (later Pine, now North Second Street). For that decade, the Edgar House was a center of pioneer social life and a destination hotel for northern visitors. Decidedly Yankees, Alfred Lagow ran for Tax Collector as a Republican and Lucinda made the first US flag to fly over old St. Lucie. And, they named Edgartown’s main Street Union Street.
In 1889, the Lagows left the lower river, but returned to visit their daughter, Emily, at various residences at Ten-Mile, Taylor Creek, Edgartown, and on North Hutchinson Island where Jim was employed as the keeper of the House of Refuge. They eventually migrated West to Los Angeles, where Alfred died. Mrs. Lagow moved back to Edgartown to live her last years with daughter, Emily.
Flagler’s railroad line ran on the west of Edgartown in 1894, but the station was built to the south, where a cannery had been established. This Can Town came to be called Ft. Pierce. Fort Pierce was incorporated in 1901 and today, Edgartown is a historic district, with many older homes still standing.
Dr. Clyde Platts arrived in 1895 and, in 1897, moved his family into the house he designed and built that is now Main Street Headquarters. It was built on the strip of land that joined Edgartown and Fort Pierce; in later years it became the home/studio/social center of A.E. “Beanie” Backus, the famous Florida landscape artist.
Jean Ellen Wilson 11/6/2010