Although the early settlers of St. Cloud are but a memory, their stories remain alive in newspaper articles from that time period. A series of articles written by W. G. King, who worked for the Seminole Land and Investment Company, have been transcribed to give you a glance into the early beginnings of St. Cloud, Florida. Mr. King would "meet and greet" the newcomers and assist them in getting settled in their new town.
Transcribed by Anza Bast
By. W. G. King
Source: The St. Cloud Tribune, April 1, 1926, pg. 3
Early in the year 1909, the demand for a warmer and more congenial winter climate for the Veterans of the Civil War appealed to the owners of the National Tribune of Washington, D. C., and induced them to seek a suitable location for a soldiers colony in this state, and after many investigations it was decided that the old Disston tract was in every way the most desirable one. The elevation of this tract, it being on what is known as the back-bone of Florida, on the divide between the Kissimmee and St. Johns rivers was one of the main inducements for the foundation of this colony, Lake East Tohopekaliga a beautiful sheet of water would allow good fishing, boating and bathing and the surrounding country protected from frosts by the lake would eventually prove a new source of settlement for younger people and would thus perpetuate the colony. The land once the property of the Disstons of Philadelphia had been at one time a sugar plantation and at the time of the purchase by the Seminole Land and Investment Company the old sugar refinery and other buildings were still standing.
Through the agency of W. B. Makinson and C. A. Carson a tract of some thirty thousand acres on the South of Lake Tohopekaliga was secured and about May 1st 1909 a corps of surveyors was employed to lay out the Town site and to cut the balance of the property into small farm sections of five acres each. Mr. Miller of whom I have not heard for many years commenced the survey of the Town and was the first one in charge of the preliminary lay-out. He was a surveyor of the old school and was as much at home on a hardwood floor for a bed as he would have been on the softest of feathers. At this time the survey headquarters and my office were located in the house now owned by Mrs. Querdrom which was set right across Ohio avenue. We had a glorious time in camp and in my corps of guides and surveyors we had a good bunch of practical jokers and I cannot refrain from relating some of the capers that were carried out though generally in my absence. One of these referred to surveyor Miller whose bed was not one of roses but of hardwood covered with a very little straw. One of the boys in the darkest hour of the might [sic] caught a small pig and having placed it in a sack gently opened the door of Mr. Miller's room and introduced the sack. The pig soon began to squeal and Mr. Miller nudged his room mate and told him to stop snoring and a controversy immediately arose as to who was the culprit. By time however the pig had gotten out of his sack and the boys who had been playing possum had a big hunt through the camp. The next morning the writer arrived in camp at six o'clock and was sweeping out his office when Mr. Miller put in and [sic] appearance and remarked that I was cleaning up rather early and my reply was that I did not like to live in a pig sty. At that time I was now aware of the trick that had been played but Mr. Miller packed up his tarps and left for Kissimmee the next day. In those days a vast number of cattle had a favorite grazing ground on the Lake front and most the time that was the only available way to get out of Town and Mr. Millers caravan wended its way to Kissimmee towing a cow behind the wagon. On the way to Town he encountered old "Sultan" a rather ferocious bovine and they had a tussle in which poor Miller came off second best with two broken ribs.
Mr. W. B. Talley, now a statewide noted architect and engineer succeeded Mr. Miller and his place was taken about mid-summer 1909 by Byron E. White, C. E. of Utica, N. Y., who is now Chief Engineer for the Utica Gas & Electric Company, who remained in charge of surveys until completed in September 1910.
In Jue [sic] 1909 about 18th if I remember rightly Mr. Makinson then local Manager received word from the Seminole Land and Investment Company that it was proposed to start an excursion from Baltimore right away and instructed him to rent the old Runnymede Hotel to accommodate the excursionists about one hundred in number. At that time, with the exception of three rooms occupied by Dr. Montenegro, that Hotel (originally the Disston club house) had been empty at least fifteen years. These instructions reached Kissimmee on the Wednesday night and the writer received instructions to proceed to Runnymede the following morning to make a trade to rent the Hotel for a period of three months with an option of three further months and to make an inventory of what there was in the house and a list of requirements. That Hotel at that time had barely any furniture. The only things available were bedsteads and bed room furniture, matresses [sic] and pillows. The kitchen had no furniture except cook stove and tables. The dining room nothing but tables and chairs so you can imagine what kind of a job we had to prepare the house for 100 guests in six days. At seven o'clock the next morning I appeared at Dr. Montenegro's door made a cotract [sic] with him and by night had my inventory made out and walked back to St. Cloud (There were only three trains a week in those days). I entrusted this list to William Makinson, Jr., who then acted as intermediary executive between his Father and myself but as luck would have it, he went back to Kissimmee and left [it] on my desk. Therefore nothing could be done except to tramp to Kissimmee and I started on my hike down the railroad track (incidentally at that time one and a half miles of tressel [sic] between here and my destination) and reached there just in time to get Mr. Makinson on the midnight train for Jacksonville with his list of requirements. On that Friday Mr. Makinson bought two carloads of supplies and they arrived in Kissimmee during the night of Saturday. On the Sunday morning we had a special engine bring the two cars up to Runnymede where we had meanwhile caused a siding to be put in and on the Sunday we had a crowd to unpack wash clean and get all the goods into the house. Meanwhile Mrs. Morrison then of Kissimmee but now of Tampa and Mrs. Bert Baxter were hired as managers of the hotel and a full staff cooks waiters maids and etc., and on the following Wednesday we entertained ninety guest at the hotel and though quarters were rather cramped all were satisfied. We also hired all available conveyances in Kissimmee and showed our visitors over the territory as best we could. The night that our excursion arrived was certainly a busy one and I slept under the billiard table the first that being the first nights rest (?) that I had had in three days. The following morning I resigned my position as hotel manager and made my way back to the quiet office in St. Cloud. Some of those who arrived on that first excursion are still in St. Cloud but most of them have passed to the great beyond.
Source: The St. Cloud Tribune, April 8, 1926, Sec. 2, pg. 5
Our guests at Runnymede enjoyed themselves during their stay and the company did everything in their power to show them the advantages of St. Cloud and the surrounding country and many, who were in the party made investments and also plans for the improvement of their new property. Captain Moses Folsom (now of the State Marketing Bureau[)] had charge of the excursion on the way down and was also "major domo" of the hotel. During the three months lease of the hotel the permanent manager Mrs. Reed and Mrs. Mosher her assistant were very succesful [sic] in keeping the hotel filled with guests; however, on the first of August 1909, a contract was given to N. F. Bass, of Kissimmee to build a frame building on the site of the present St. Cloud hotel to contain thirty-four rooms. Into this we moved our guests from Runnymede on the 15th day of September, the building having been completed inside of seven weeks.
St. Cloud at that time was getting to be fairly well known and houses and neat cottages began to dot the landscape. The first building was erected by George Pen [sic] and his good wife, who came here in the very early days, bought some lumber and piled it up to something in the shape of a shed under which they lived during the sumer [sic] and through the rainy season Their house was built on Massachusetts avenue and is now owned by Mrs. Retta Williams who came here from Valparaiso Indiana. Albert Hantsch (since deceased) was the first veteran to arrive in the town. He arrived on May 9th, 1909, and the first work done by the writer who arrived on the same train, was to assist the veteran in driving his tent pegs for outside of the office of the Seminole Land and Investment Company, there were no housing accommodation this side of Kissimmee. Mr. Hantsch built a small cottage on, I think Maryland avenue and 12th street, and during his life was noted for his beautiful flower garden. Though in very feeble health when he arrived here he lived several years to enjoy the wonderful climate at St. Cloud, and his funeral was up to that time the largest ever held by Rev. Frank B. Kenney referred very touchingly to the great love the deceased had for flowers.
Other early houses were built on Florida avenue. The present C. F. Johnson's residence was built by Wm. Cox, formerly in the Navy, who erected the first large flag pole that had been put up in St. Cloud at the intersection of Florida avenue and 8th street. The Marsh building on the corner of Florida and 8th street was built by George Marsh who brought with him from home a stock of shoes and dry goods and was given a special permit to open a store on the north side of the track for the special purpose of disposing of his goods. Fleminghurst was also built during the latter part of 1909 or early in 1910 and is still the property of Miss Margaret Fleming who came to St. Cloud from Toledo, Ohio. H. D. Colvin also reached St. Cloud about this time; he brought with him some blooded stock, if I remember rightly two cows and a heifer, but it seemed impossible to get the animals acclimatised [sic], and they all died within a short time. Mr. Wetherbyer also came about this time and brought with him the first automobile privately owned in St. Cloud a Cadillac of an old vintage which when it would go anounced [sic] its arrival from a long distance. Mr. Wetherbee also brought some sheep which were pastured in the little grove on the Lake front, but all proved food for the buzzards very shortly after their arrival.
I want here to mention a few of the ladies who as usual assisted greatly in the first success of the colony.
First Mrs. Sarah B. Norris, who came here with extremely little except a very modest persion [sic] of eight dollars per month, and a deed for a lot and five acre tract. Mrs. Norris catered to the tastes of our settlers for good things and appreciated the fact that the best way to a man's heart is through his stomach. When she arrived here she bought a tent and an old second hand stove and commenced manufacturing dough-nuts, cookies and pies and many of the old timers today still remember with what relish her delicacies were snapped up. Mrs. Norris subsequently started a hen ranch close to town and suplied [sic] eggs and chickens until the work became too much for her. Since that time or rather since the first formation of a city library, she has been indefatigible [sic] in her work given faithfully and gratituously [sic] towards the success of that work. Another of our pioneers was Mrs. Dorothea Jaquest [sic], Mrs. Jaques came here early in August 1909, and her residence, while she was building Sunnyside Villa (now the property of Will Foster) was at the old post office building on the canal. Mrs. Jaques decided that bread, good bread, was needed to supply the ever increasing demand and laid in a stock of flour and on a common kitchen stove would by working day and night turn out from fifty to seventy five loaves a day and even at that she could not keep up with the demand. Eventually she built a brick oven but owing to poor construction the top fell in one day, and William Johnson having come to town and established an opposition bakery Mrs. Jaques retired from the field and commenced to take roomers and boarders. Her house soon became a favorite boarding house and amongst her early boarders she numbered S. W. Porter, Clyde and Newt Edwards, J. Starr Anderson, Vic Edwards, Wm. Kashohm also several of the officers of the company on their vi its from Washington can testify to the quality of her meals. Wm. Johnson also started his bakery in a tent and eventually built the store now owned by A. S. McKay on eleventh street.
Source: The St. Cloud Tribune, April 15, 1926, pg. 3
Amongst other ladies who rendered valuable assistance in the pioneer days of our city I must mention Mrs. Lida Mosher (now Mrs. W. S. Alyea) who came here from Boston as an assistant and friend of Mrs. Read [sic] then the manager of the St. Cloud hotel. Mrs. Mosher realized that the number of guests and visitors at the hotel required more table accommodation and she purchased and equipped a restaurant tent on the spot occupied by the Peoples Bank, where the good lunches and meals that she served soon eclipsed the hotel service. After the fire Mrs. Mosher took charge of the present hotel and was for several years its genial hostess and her great knack of making every one feel "at home" soon kept the building filled with regular guests.
Other pioneer ladies who did much to promote the comfort and social entertainment of our settlers were Mrs. John B. Westcott, Mrs. Lou Hendrix, Mrs. John B. Squires, Mrs. S. Hyres and Mrs. Byron White. Also Mrs. Dr. C. S. Cooper.
Through the instrumentality of these ladies the Public Library of St. Cloud and several associations were formed.
The first eating house in St. Cloud was started by Walter Lorenz, now of Kissimmee, in the building that is now apart of the cement works of James W. Sage.
The first store was the commissary that was held in the north window of the Guerdrom house where the writer formerly distributed grub to the colored folks who were then opening up the streets. My Clerk at that time was Mr. Ernest Penn, now a prominent dentist and located in Miami.
Small stores were after that opened by Mr. Cull, Jack Bass and John H. Degraw. John DeGraw subsequently built a store on Pennsylvania avenue and afterwards kept the rooming house and store now known as the Ohio hotel.
Mr. Makinson built the sheet iron store now part of the Steen building, in which he kept a general line of builders supplies and hardware.
About this time also Mr. S. V. Godden, of Boston, came to St. Cloud, and was recognized as the agricultural instructor and an experimental farm was secured for him on the north side of the railroad track close to the old Parker gove [sic] on which he made many attempts to show what the soil of St. Cloud was good for. The experimental farm did not, however, prove much of a success, and was soon discontinued.
Things moved along steadily and newcomers arrived in town every week. Cottages and some nice houses were erected and about September 22nd, 1909, our second big excursion arrived in the city. This excursion brought in about ten people and the only available accommodations for them were the sheet iron Makinson building and the printing office in which the machinery was partly set up. The writer received instructions to purchase all the tents that were to be got in Kissimmee and also to secure all the blankets and cots that could be got in the vicinity and these arrived on the same train with the colonists and had to be set up after dark. We had a trying time to settle the folks for the night. One that I vividly remember was the lake [sic] Colonel Carl Engle, who came here on that train. He had come from Detroit, Mich., and had evidently not deemed it necessary to take a sleeping car.
The writer thought he was a tramp and his earnest appeal for a cot and a place to lie down were pitful [sic]. We at last got the tents up and put in them as many married couples as we could. As to the rest the hotel being full we sorted out the men and the women and put cots for the men in the Makinson store and the women were domiciled in the printing office. Pretty tough quarters for folks, who had been traveling for more than two days.
The next day we managed somehow to get things into better shape and as the weather was hot and fine no one suffered.
The following Sunday service was held in the Makinson building and the participants were furnished with seats on planks, and oil nail kegs and any other things available some even making themselves comfortable on the floor. After the meeting "account of stock" was taken to find out from which states the folks came, and it was found that at least two thirds were from Ohio.
An indignation meeting was held after the service. Attempt was made to indite [sic] a memorial to John McElroy condemming [sic] the Colony, but at the instigation of Colonel Engle, the meeting was turned into one of approval. Colonel Engle by the way was a very prominent Mason, served the United States in the Civil War, and when he came to this country he brought with him the pattern of the wicker chairs, now so much used, and he was personally the first one to manufacture a wicker chair in this country.
Dr. C. S. Cooper, wife and daughter, Elizabeth and J. J. Willis, his wife and son arrived in this crowd. Dr. Cooper, who was the first doctor in St. Cloud, set up his office in a tent.
Another lady, who was of great assistance to the community was Miss Stella House by profession a stenographer, who finding that she could not work at her profession, bought a tent and rented cots for the night. Miss House, afterward, went to West and returned with a husband, and the first catastrophe we had in St. Cloud, was the drowning of the couple the same night in our lake.
The first St. Cloud hotel was burned to the ground on December 22nd, 1909. At the time of the conflagration the house was full of guests, but fortunately there were no casualties. Most of the guests escaped in their night clothes and saved none of their personal belongings. A temporary building was immediately commenced under the supervision of S. V. Godden, and was located between the present hotel and the Ferguson store. It was subsequently give to the G. A. R. and was the first G. A. R. Hall in St. Cloud. It was first moved to face Massachusetts avenue, and was afterwards shifted to the east end of the lots and is now the combined museum, and rooming house owned by Mrs. Cass on Massachusetts avenue.
Source: The St. Cloud Tribune, April 22, 1926
I have been asked three times this week to explain how St. Cloud obtained the name of "The Wonder City".
I will say that in July 1911 at which time I was temporary Editor of the St. Cloud Tribune I requested Mr. Robert Anderson to write an article for the Anniversary Supplement to be published the following month.
According to my request Mr. Anderson wrote a long article which was published and which he headed "THE WONDER TOWN". Hence the nickname which was afterwards changed to "THE WONDER CITY".
W. G. KING.
Mr. J. H. Hapgood and wife, (both since dead) and Miss Eva Allen were also amongst our pioneer settlers; they built and lived in the house opposite the residence of the present Editor Johnson on Pennsylvania avenue.
Talking matters over "old times" with Miss Allen, she recalled to my mind some few rather laughable incidents of early St. Cloud, which were generally at the expense of her neighbor, Tom Cox. Mr. Cox, who served his time in the U. S. Navy during the Civil war, considered himself a high class agriculturist and was especially proud of the little garden at the back of his house.
One day one of our native jokers prevailed on him to spread some loud smelling blood fertilizer on his ground and the result was that in the night the cattle that roamed the country at large congregated in his garden, and Mr. Cox, but scantily attired, had to sit up all night to drive and keep them out. He also had a remarkable horse that was celebrated for the number and sharpness of its ribs. It eventually became so emaciated that the ticks took possession of it and tried to get it out of its misery. One night the boys at the camp got hold of a can of white paint and gave the old horse a good white cover. The painters secret was well kept, and Tom never found out the names of the perpetrators on whom he treatened [sic] all manner of violence.
Shortly after the arrival of the Hapgoods the first memorable barbecue was held on eighth street between Florida and Pennsylvania avenues. The filled in pit was frequently shown to new comers as the grave of an unknown Indian.
Dr. and Mrs. S. Hyres and Miss Neva Hyres and Robert Anderson and Mrs. Anderson were also amongst our pioneers. They arrived in St. Cloud on August 17th, 1909 and made their temporary abode at the Runnymede hotel; subsequently erected their house on the corner of 12th street and Massachusetts avenue. Mrs. Hyres was elected as the first Sunday School Superintendent in St. Cloud and kept school in the old printing office until the Baptist Association of the State loaned us a large Gospel tent, in which Sunday school and services were held until the new school house was completed. She held that position for eighteen months and from a first attendance of 43 people increased the number to over two hundred, after that the separate denominations took over their respective Bible classes. Mrs. Hyres professed the Baptist religion and was instrumental in raising money for that church, and she also donated to them the first organ that they owned. She was also one of the charter members of the W. R. C.
Dr. Hyres opened an office at his residence as a chiropractor and Miss Neva was assistant postmaster to Postmaster King.
Dr. and Mrs. Hyres and Miss Neva are living in Hillsboro Oregon.
Robert Anderson was the instigator and founder of the Veterans Association and that association assumed the municipal government of the town until its organization into a corporate town eighteen months later. Mr. Anderson's position as president of the association was trying one. Much discontent existed owing to the timber and turpentine leases, which were included in the deeds to the original property, and it took all his time and patience to straighten matters out between the Seminole Land and Investment Company and the settlers.
One of his most earnest assistants in this matter was Capt. Moses Folsom at that time editor of the St. Cloud Tribune.
Mr. Anderson and myself, he as representative of the people, and myself as representative of the company, certainly had troublesome times and in a letter that I received from him in 1920 he wrote me; "I remember with vividness your arduous duties as the company's representative in trying to please the old vets, and at the same time serve the company. How you ever managed to retain the confidence of the company and continues [sic] in their service as long as they wanted to maintain and office there and also carry the good will of the settlers and confidence through it all was a mystery to me then and is yet."
The Judge was too, modest to mention what trying times the triumverate [sic] of Anderson, Kinney and Folsom had to put up with to keep order and the settlers in peace and quietness, and I fear that the capers that my camps [sic] boys played to keep the colored folks in their own quarters outside the town caused the Judge a good many wakeful nights.
O. J. Demmon was another of our 1909 settlers. He bought a lot on Pennsylvania avenue, and together with his son, Evan ran a bakery. Mr. Demmon remained here one winter to try the climate and then went to California where he remained one winter then returning to St. Cloud to make his permanent home on Minnesota avenue and 12th street, where he still resides. Mr. Demmon has always been deeply interested in spiritualism and took an active part in the formation of a society in St. Cloud. He has always been prominent in any movement for the benefit of the city and was for several years director of the Peoples Bank of St. Cloud.
JOHN A. SEGNER
On the 28th day of November, A. D. 1909, the train from the West dumped into our midst John A. Segner, a Veteran formerly of Co. F. 88th Inf. and Co., A 1st Ind. H. A. He quickly acquired the nick-name of "Happy Jack" by which name he was best known during his stay in our town. His stock in trade at the time of his arrival was the munificent sum of 45 cents in cash and a shaving outfit. At that time there was no regular barber here and "Happy Jack" borrowed a chair from the hotel and under an oak tree, back of the present Steen store he set up an improved barber shop. The first day he cleared 90 cents. He subsequently erected a small shop on the corner of New York avenue and 11th street, and on January 1st, 1910 opened up with a two chair business. On August 1st, 1910, he had accumulated a cash capital of six hundred dollars and in the winter of 1910-1911, when he left our city he carried with him considerably over $1000 made by hard work and industry. "Happy Jack" was nevertheless an open hearted man and never turned a deaf ear to a Comrade in want and his pocket book was always ready to assist any project tending to the public welfare.
CLARENCE WILLS AND WIFE
Clarence Wills [sic] accompanied by his wife and mother arrived in town on the Washington excursion party that reached St. Cloud on September 23rd 1909. Clarence for some time occupied a tent in "Tentville" and worked as the selling agent for a tent concern. He later took a position in a grocery store and did well until his departure for Lakeland. Mrs. Wills, Sr., on their arrival here went to inspect the five acre tracts drawn by her husband and had the misfortune to lose her pocket book containing her ticket, some cash and other papers. Our one great principle in those days was "Let us all help each other" and the hat was immediately passed around and the lady was quickly relieved of all anxieties. Mr. and Mrs. Willis, Sr., are still residents of the Wonder City.
CALVIN J. MILLS
Calvin J. Mills arrived in St. Cloud in the fall of 1909 and to his son, Calvin H. Mills, we are indebted for the following interesting account of his father's career.
Calvin J. Mills was born October 5th, 1824 at Guilford Chanango [sic] Co., N. Y., on what is now know as "The Milky Way" a region that at that early date was contributing largely milk and it's By-product to the requirements of a large city. He was one of the oldest of a large family of children, all toiling together on the hillside farm, which was a part of a patent granted by the state to his grandfather, who had emigrated from Massachusetts. Given but little opportunity to attend school, his formal education was fragmentary and at the age of fifteen, he was ready to face the world with what scant, text-book knowledge he had acquired at the old fashioned Academy at Oxford, N. Y., where he had enjoyed part time attendance.
At about that time he entered the law office of his uncle the Hon Henry W. Rogers, then States Attorney of Erie County, N. Y., at Buffalo. It was under the same tutelage that ex-president Cleveland learned to write a brief a few years later.
When war was declared with Mexico, in his early twenties the young law clerk promptly enlisted in Buffalo's crack regiment, receiving the appointment of a second lieutenancy. The ship in which he sailed from New York for the Gulf of Mexico, was wrecked somewhere on the Florida Coast, probably not far from the spot where as an aged Veteran he spent his declining years. He participated in the capture of Mexico City and soon after retired to private life.
Subsequently Lieutenant Mills was in the Custom house service at the Port of New York, but most of his active career was passed as a newspaper writer successively in Buffalo where he published a paper himself, and in Brooklyn, and New York City. He was associated for a time with Henry George, then the editor of the Brooklyn Standard. For about twenty years and until he retired he was on the editorial staff of the New York Herald under the famous Bennetts, father and son.
With a facile pen and great mental gifts there was combined in the makeup of the subject of his paragraph a rare personal charm and a deeply religious nature. For three years he lived in his bungalow on Vermont avenue St. Cloud until his death in October, 1912.
Source: The St. Cloud Tribune, May 6, 1926, pg. 5
Mr. and Mrs. F. C. Knapp accompanied by Mrs. Knapp's sister Miss Anrea Ten Eyck arrived in St. Cloud, December 6th, 1909 and erected and made their home on Florida avenue between Fifth and Sixth streets, at that time the most pretenious [sic] house in St. Cloud. Their residence was always noted for the fine grounds, in which Mr. Knapp took special pride until the time of his death. Mrs. Knapp is now Mrs. Rankin and her sister, who married Mr. J. S. Bracken, both live in an elegant residence on Massachusetts avenue. Both are earnest church workers and take especial interest in the W. C. T. U. Mr. Knapp was a veteran of the Civil war serving in Co. "K" 6th N. Y., H. A.
Comrade and Mrs. W. W. Ferguson were New Year's Day arrivals in 1910. Mr. Ferguson (now dead) was the first watch-repairer in St. Cloud and had his shop at his residence on Pennsylvania avenue. He also served in the Civil war and was a member of Co. "B" 2nd W. Va., Cav. His widow, Mary Ferguson, survives him and at present resided on Minnesota avenue.
The first photographer in St. Cloud was Mr. Draper, who had a studio of a rather primitive nature in a tent at the back of what is now the Steen hardware store. His assistant was Wm. Kashbohm, who still has a studio on Eleventh street. Many of the original photographs published in the two first anniversary number were made by them; one of the most remarkable of his pictures was a picture of the burning St. Cloud hotel, which was taken at 3 o'clock in the morning by the light of the conflagration.
Mr. and Mrs. W. C. Russell and Miss Margaret Fleming were also among the first settlers. They came from Toledo, Ohio. Miss Fleming erected the large rooming house on Florida avenue where she still lives. Miss Fleming has always been a strong advocate of St. Cloud and has made several investments in this vicinity.
Mr. and Mrs. B. F. Robbins were also early arrivals in the winter of 1910. They came from Nebraska and brought with them a couple of broncho [sic] ponies. Since that time Mr. and Mrs. Robbins have been regular winter visitors in St. Cloud. The ponies eventually passed into the hands of Mr. Diefendorf then in the real estate business and were used by him to show property. I remember rather an amusing incident in which the late J. W. Miller and Mr. Diefendorf were concerned. Of course, there was much competition in that line of business and Mr. Miller was especially sharp in showing lands and in recommending the Veterans to buy from his as he himself was a Veteran and "would not charge other Veterans any commission." One day the two real estate men were working on the same lines, and Mr. Miller secured the business. He could not help crowing over the defeated Diefendorf so he called at his office and remarked "That it did not always take a man two ponies to sell a tract of land."
Mr. and Mrs. Harris also came to this city in 1909. They erected the combined residence and store on the corner of Jersey avenue and Eleventh street. Mr. Harris was a druggist of the old school and compounded his own medicines. Finding that the chemists business was not sufficient Mrs. Harris started a grocery store in the same building which recently changed hands. Miss Evadne Harris, who accompanied them to St. Cloud, is now the wife of H. Lilburn Godwin.
Robert Blair was also one of our early settlers. He was a fighting, fir eating Scotchmen. I was not informed of his record until his condition was such that he was unable to tell it to me. He was born in Edinborough, served in the British Army through the Crimean war and Indian Mutiny, and was at the seize of Lucknow. He afterwards came to America and served through the Civil war in Co. "E" 6th, N. Y., H. A. He received no pension from the British government, but his services to the United States were duly recognized. He died in St. Cloud, March 6th, 1912. His widow, Mrs. Tennessee Blair, died but a few months ago.
The medical fraternity was well represented even in the early days of our Town. Dr. Rounsevell (now a resident of Lemon City, Fla.,) Dr. J. F. Farris (since deceased) and Dr. J. D. Chunn were our first doctors. St. Cloud was but a few months old when we had a small pox scare. I had at that time about seventy negroes at work on the streets, and one of them broke out with what Dr. Rousevell thought might be small pox. Had such been the case it would have made a panic in town, and the future of the city would have been seriously threatened. I, however, rounded the boys into camp on the Lake front and placed a guard over them and called the County Health Officer who on his second visit pronounced the case only chicken pox and I assure you that that colored gentleman was quickly escorted out of town. Dr. Chunn arrived early in 1910 reaching with but a small amount in his pocket, but with a solid head full of first class gray matter a hearty laugh and a sympathetic temperament. He soon made a host of friends and was energetic in every matter pertaining to the good of St. Cloud. With but a short intermission he has remained a permanent citizen ever since.
The stork was naturally not long in finding the location of our new colony. Mr. Harry Reeves and his wife, who came here from Wauchula, were the first to be presented with a baby boy. Their son, they christened John McElroy Reeves in honor of the vice-president of the new colony, but the child only survived a few days and was interred in the Narcoossee cemetery as we had at that time no cemetery of our own.
The storks next visitation was at the residence of our present Mayor G. C. Outlaw and his wife to whom was born on September 27th, 1910, John Cecil Outlaw, now a promising young man and the first living baby born in St. Cloud.
Copyright 2008: Anza Bast
Donated to the Genealogy Club of Osceola County for posting on their website