Pictures of the Past

For permission to use photographs, our thanks go to the Sebastian River Area Historical Society for images from Tales of Sebastian and More Tales of Sebastian, the Library of Congress for pictures from their web gallery Touring Turn-of-the-Century America, and Jim Culberson (407-727-0801) for images from his book of Kroegel photos, Through the Doors of Time.


A shell mound of the Ais people, known as Barker's Bluff in the 1800s, seen from the Indian River Lagoon. This photograph, along with the next six, was taken by William Henry Jackson in the late 1880s. No earlier photos of the area are known to exist. At this time there were many Seminoles living near the confluence of the lagoon and the St. Sebastian River, and they had been joined by at most 40 settlers. (Jackson was the best-known landscape photographer in the US during the last decades of the 19th century.)


Barker's Bluff seen from the shore of the lagoon.


Atop the shell mound sat this dwelling described by Jackson as a "thatched cottage." The bearded man may be August Park, the first settler in the Sebastian River area. He is known to have put up a simple dwelling on top of the shell mound around the time he first arrived in 1865. However, he moved off the mound in 1881, giving it up to Gottlob Kroegel, a fellow native of Germany. Jackson probably took this picture when Kroegel was living there.


Orange grove on the land next to the shell mound. If Park had planted these trees when he first settled here, they would have been around 25 years old when this picture was taken by Jackson.


Posing for a portrait among the palmettos are two unidentified men. They may have been members of Jackson's party. He named this photo "Studies in palms, Sebastian Creek, Florida."


The romance of the tropics clearly caught Jackson's eye in this shot, titled "Palmettos near St. Sebastian."


The South Prong of the St. Sebastian River is the probable location of this photo, "Sebastian Creek."


The shell mound as photographed some years later by Gottlob Kroegel's son Paul. In 1908 it was sold to the county to be used as road paving material.


An 1882 map shows a town named Newhaven where Sebastian is now located. The postmaster, Thomas New, had given the settlement his name. The next postmaster changed it to Sebastian, after the St. Sebastian River.


The 1884 document that changed the town's name from Newhaven to Sebastian.


Florida East Coast Railroad Station in Sebastian. This structure is believed to be the original, which was built in 1893.


Charles William Sembler at age six, 1895.


Main Street, Sebastian, looking west, about 1900.


Paul Kroegel, the first National Wildlife Refuge warden in the US. Through his efforts, Pelican Island was made the country's first wildlife refuge by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1903.


An early fishhouse on the banks of the Indian River Lagoon.


Sebastian School, about 1905.


Charlie Carver hauling water for a road crew in Brevard County, 1910.


Two guys, W. C Braddock (top) and Oscar Gaffaney (bottom), with two friends about 1910. Photo : Paul Kroegel


Mrs. Smith and Mrs. Hatch, 1910. Photo : Paul Kroegel


Interior, Lawson house, 1910?


The first bridge to span the St. Sebastian River, just after its completion in 1911. Photo : Paul Kroegel


Picnickers -- probably at the Fellsmere Road bridge over the St. Sebastian River, about 1911.


Railroad tracks, Main Street, Sebastian School with addition built, and plenty of sand, about 1912.


Paul Kroegel's house in 1913.


The Flaland Developing Co. in Roseland, 1914.


Gottlob Kroegel in his front yard, 1914. Photo : Paul Kroegel


Barnwell Foster scowling, 1914. Photo : Paul Kroegel


Hazel Holtzclaw takes a seat on a big turtle, about 1914.


The Holtzclaws enjoying a day at the beach, about 1915.


The Ashburners at home in Roseland, 1915.


Roseland folks gathered for an outing, about 1915.


Off for an afternoon's boating on the St. Sebastian River, with the "county bridge" in the background, 1915


The train stops at Sebastian and the station gets busy, 1915.


Women vote for the first time in a municipal election south of the Mason-Dixon line -- it happened in Fellsmere on Saturday, June 19, 1915. The historic event took place four years before Congress passed the 19th Amendment. An earlier article in the same newspaper on February 26, 1915 stated that "The town of Fellsmere last Wednesday by a unanimous vote adopted the first municipal charter in the South wherein women are given the same suffrage rights as the men, and under the same qualifications."


Holtzclaw home, about 1916.


A Sunday School picnic at Gibson Springs in 1916.


Helen Kroegel, about 1916.


A tree frog poses on the nose of George Nelson of the Harvard Museum of Comparative Biology, a frequent visitor to these parts, 1917. Photo : Rodney Kroegel


Chums standing in a clump of sawgrass in the schoolyard, 1917. Photo : Rodney Kroegel


Clearing the land, conquering the trees, about 1918. Photo : Rodney Kroegel


Paul Kroegel's boat shop on the Indian River Lagoon, 1918.


Fred Knight puzzles over a broken part as Gordon Knight labors under the vehicle, 1918.


Holding the flag backwards during a play in the Town Hall are Ted Miller and Monk Baughman, 1918.


Birthday partygoers, 1918.


George Knight brushes his dentures as Friley Lawson and Cora Sembler watch the fun, 1919.


Hardee Service Station, Indian River Drive and Main Street, around 1920.


Frank T. Currier's house sitting in his new citrus grove, about 1920. Photo : Rodney Kroegel


Lydia Edwards, Louise Foster, and friend, about 1920. Photo : Rodney Kroegel


Digging its own canal across the savannah near Fellsmere is the floating dredge "Governor Broward" with Rodney Kroegel waving from the top, about 1920. Photo : Rodney Kroegel (?)


Main Street, Sebastian, 1920, looking east to the Indian River Lagoon. Photo: Rodney Kroegel


Today it's US 1. Then it was Highway 4. A road crew at work, 1921. Photo : Rodney Kroegel


Sebastian Packing Co., "Home of the Blue Duck" citrus, about 1922. They also packed tomatoes. Photo : Rodney Kroegel


James Geskin, a guard, 1923. Photo : Rodney Kroegel


Ruth Walters and Gussie Ryall, 1923. Photo : Rodney Kroegel


Fresh oysters for sale at Delbert Rea's small grocery store at Main Street and Dixie Highway, 1920s.


The Bank of Sebastian and the Hardee "mansion" on Main Street, about 1924. Today US 1 has replaced these buildings.


In use until 2007 as the two northbound lanes of US 1, the reinforced concrete bridge across the St. Sebastian River is shown here almost finished in 1925. Photo : Rodney Kroegel


In their new Jantzens -- Emily Hicks, Cora Sembler, and Marionn Sembler, 1920s.


"Sebastian Inn Hotel of 40 rooms. Spacious Dining Room, Cocktail Lounge, Bar, Lobby and Reception Room. Private Dock, Boats for Hunting, Fishing and Sightseeing cruises. On US Route #1, 150 miles north of Miami -- 200 miles south of Jacksonville. Between Vero Beach and Melbourne. Open all year." 1940s?


Spar gasoline station at the corner of Fellsmere Highway (the name on the street sign) and Indian River Drive, 1956.