I N T R O D U C T I O N
I am writing this little story of the pioneer settlers of the Community of Seminole, Florida, from what I remember of them after I arrived in 1879. They began coming here soon after the war ended in 1864. Some of the men had served four years in the Army of the South. They came from North Florida, Alabama, Georgia, the Carolinas and a few from other states. A young Englishman was an early settler here.
You may wonder why they picked this place in the raw pine woods to build their homes and community. There were several good reasons for this choice. The area was surrounded on three sides by salt water which meant good drainage, also an abundance of fish and other sea foods. They could see that the land was fertile and would be just fine for growing oranges and that was what they expected to do as soon as they could get their land ready. The tall pines were a help in getting their log houses built. The early settlers found wild game plentiful, such as deer, turkey and quail, and some wild things that they did not need such as bear, panther and alligators. These added spice to the hunter's life. The natural growth that helped the settlers most, was grass, of which there was plenty for their cattle and oxen. They had to depend on oxen for all heavy work such as hauling logs and plowing new land. Cattle were the real life savers, as beef cattle were their main money crop, while they waited for their orange groves to come into bearing.
The greatest drawback to progress was politics. At the time we are writing about, we were part of Hillsborough County, and what is now Pinellas County was called West Hillsborough County, and being cut off from Hillsborough by Tampa Bay, we were real orphans and had to shift for ourselves. We suffered most for lack of help in building schools and roads. About the only time that we would see a county official was when the tax collector came around. This did not discourage our pioneer parents. They kept on and built schools, churches and roads and raised their families in a community of which they could be proud.
Numbers on map refer to homesites
[Every Name Index]
= Marvin Chapel
= Early Seminole Schools
Martin and Mary O'QUINN. Four boys, Billie, Andrew, Hiram and Henderson. Two girls, Winnie and Donie.
Marion and Jane CAMPBELL. Two boys, Charlie and Tillman. Seven girls, Eva, Ollie, Flossie, Alma, Willa, Mary and Violet. Uncle Marion was a progressive fellow and a leader in getting better schools and roads.
Will and Clemtine (Pink) COBB. Two boys, Jim and Ernest. Four girls, Mattie, Clemmie, Detta and Ethel. Mr. Cobb (Mr. Willis, we called him) was a leader in the Seminole Methodist Church and was Superintendent of the Sunday School for about forty years.
Clayton and Anna WHITTLE. Three boys, Will, Ready and George. Four girls, Lenora, Allie, Lottie and Mamie.
Albert and Dell MEARES. Six boys, Maurice, Athol, Harry, Wayne, Eric and Charles. Three girls, May, Daphne and Grace. The MEARES family had a United States Post Office in their home for several years. It was called John's Pass Post Office and mail came out by horse and cart from Clearwater and later on from Largo.
Ben and Maggie CAMPBELL. Five boys, Lennie, John, Eugene, Leon and Horace. Four girls, Annie, Clara, Kate and Lena.
Alfred and Catherine GRABLE. Eight boys, Joe, Frank, Sam, Dan, Cy, Charley, George and Walter. Two girls, Jennie and Gracy. The GRABLE family came to Seminole from St. Louis, Mo. They owned a large orange grove here which gave employment to several men. A large part of the Blossom Lake Village was one of his groves. Mr. GRABLE was an active member of the Seminole Methodist Church. He made the plans for our first Church building.
N. H. LONGLEY and wife. (No children). The Longleys also came from St. Louis, Mo. Their home was on 54th Avenue and their home grove was also part of the Blossom Lake Village. They owned several other groves here, all planted to lemon trees, which were just to full bearing when the freeze of 1895 killed the trees to the ground. The trees were cut down and burned, and as the sprouts came up from the roots they were budded to grapefruit and while waiting for the grapefruit to come into bearing, he put in about one thousand white leghorn hens. He would go to St. Petersburg one day each week to carry eggs and get feed for the hens. He made this trip with horse and wagon by fording two bayous. The Longleys had the first commercial lemon groves, the first commercial poultry ranch and the first paying grapefruit grove in the Seminole section and he helped many people by having work for them to do. He paid top wages, which were $1.00 per day of ten hours, and there were no coffee breaks or vacations with pay. The Longleys were active in Church and Sunday School work.
Oliver and Sally ARCHER. Three children. Their grove and farm was on the corner of 54th Avenue and Alternate 19, later known as the Felthouse Grove.
William and Hattie ARCHER. Two boys, Ollie and Wesley. Seven girls, Minnie, Ruby, Neeley, Irene, Lilla, Maud and (?). Their grove was on 54th Avenue east of Oliver's place and it was later known as the Sartorious Grove.
Charlie and Della ARCHER. Three children. Their home was also on 54th Avenue east of William Archer's.
A.F. and Inez HOFFMAN. Three boys, Arthur, George and Ross. The Hoffman's home and grove was on the corner of 54th Avenue and Depot Road, and is still Hoffman corner, as Ross has the old home on the corner. Mrs. Inez Hoffman was a sister of the Archer boys living on 54th Avenue.
George H [initial is unclear] MOODY and son Frank. Mr. Moody was one of our early school teachers. School terms were only three or four months of the year at that time so he had a lot of time to work on his grove. His son Frank was drowned in Boca Ciega Bay when his boat ran aground off Hartman's Point. Walter Thompson and his sister Liza came from Tennessee to live with Mr. Moody and at his death he left his property to them and they lived there until their deaths.
Captain George ARTHUR and wife. Two boys, Sam and Willie. Captain Arthur owned the land where Bay Pines Hospital is located. He had a nice orange grove and home there.
HARTMAN'S POINT. The southeast points of the Bay Pines property. Mr. Hartman had a long dock there. It was used by freight boats and there was a sawmill there for awhile. This point was also known as Turtle Crawl at one time. It seems that some turtle fishermen had a pen there where they could keep turtles until they had enough for a shipment.
JOHN WHITE'S LANDING. Fish camp, boat landing, picnic grounds and an important place in the community for a long time.
Captain A. (Gus) ARCHER and Caroline. Four boys, William, Oliver, Charlie and Mack. Three girls, Ella, Inez and Charlotte. Captain Archer, a retired sea Captain moved his family here from Key West. They built their home on the spot that is called the triangle near Bay Pines. They had an orange grove, a general store and the Seminole Post Office for many years. The Archers were active in Church and Sunday School work and they gave the acre of land on which our first church was built.
The BROWN family. Four girls, Anna, Hattie, Sally and Della. The Brown's home was just north of the Archer home and three of the Archer boys married three of the Brown girls. The other girl married Clayton Whittle.
Alfred and Ella MEARS. Five boys, Roland, Stanley, Clarence, Percy and Alfred, Jr. One girl, Drucila.
Michel THEVENET. Three boys, Charlie, Henry and Philip. One girl, Mary. The Thevenet family moved here from Texas. They owned 100 acres from Alternate 19 along 54th Avenue to the Bay. Their home, orange grove and grape vineyard, was about the center of the tract. Mr. Thevenet gave an acre of land on the corner of 54th Avenue and Alternate 19 for a school, and we had a one-room school there for awhile.
DAVE MURRY GROVE. This property was later owned by Mr. A. GRABLE, who enlarged the grove and later sold it to the Brumby family. The Brumbys still have a home on part of the land.
Charlie SNOW. A jolly Irish bachelor had an orange grove here. The last owner of this grove was Robert Leach and all you can see now where most of our groves were? HOUSES, HOUSES, HOUSES.................