Sebastian Area Chronology

compiled by George Keyes
 
Thanks to the Sebastian River Area Historical Society for permission to republish this article.

1605
Capt. Alvero Mexia, a Spanish soldier, was sent from St. Augustine to the area of the Ais Indians where he made the first known record of the river we now call St. Sebastian River.

1760
Ais Indians inhabited the area from Cape Canaveral to the St. Lucie River and thirty miles westward to the ocean. The Indians disappeared between 1700 and 1760. Their numbers were supposed to have been reduced by the raids of the Carolinians, rum and disease. They were nonagricultural, living by hunting, fishing and eating berries. They held their chief in great respect. The elders were the slaves of the young folks. (6)

1774
St. Sebastian River recorded on Bernard Romans chart of Florida.

1837
Lt. Powell USN, with a small force of sailors attached to the 1st Reg. of Art. of Sen. Hernandez forces, came on an exploring expedition down Indian River. On the night of Dec. 28 they camped on a high oak bluff on the north bank of the St. Sebastian River. A party went to the headwaters of the St. Sebastian that night hunting for Indians. (17)

1844
U.S. Steamer GENERAL TAYLOR touched at Indian River and landed a live oak agent, two horses and sundry dogs. (13)

1850
Federal Census for St. Lucie County states, "The Inhabitants of this County were driven from it on account of the Indian Hostilities and only a few of them have as yet returned."

1857
Four companies of regular Army troops - H of the 1st. Art.; D, E, and G of the 4th. Art.; and two companies of Florida Mounted Volunteers - were operating out of Ft. Capron. These units were actively engaged in scouting the country lying west of the present cities of Stuart, Ft. Pierce, Vero Beach, and Sebastian (16)

1858
Andrew F. Canova and Ed Marr lived near the mouth of the St. Sebastian River in a palm thatch hut. They hunted, fished and raised onions in a small garden. Canova went to St. Augustine to enlist in the Army (1861). Marr remained here. (21)

1860
Federal Census lists Canova and Marr which are the only names we recognize of persons living in the St. Seb. River area.

1863
Federal blockade of the Indian River and Indian River Inlet. Feb. 4, 1863 - A boat crew, including seven refugees from the USS Sagamore, under command of Acting Masters Mate H. S. Cram, made a reconnaissance up the St. Johns River. Near Indian River Narrows they came upon the Confederate schooner PRIDE which was captured. Destroying forty seven sacks (188 bushels) salt, they returned to the inlet with boat and prisoners and turned them over to the commander of the Union bark GEM OF THE SEA. (20)

1865
August Park came by boat to Ft. Pierce.

1872
John Baird purchased Lots 1, 4, 6, & 7 of Sec. 6 (Tp 31S) covered by N.E. #903, on Sept. 24, 1872.

1875
"I am informed that the little steamboat PIONEER has already been sent round to Indian River, to ply its entire length," wrote Sidney Lanier. (14)

1877
Dempsey Cain is said to have settled on the north bank of the St. Sebastian River in Feb. 1877.

1877
August Park paid $6.20 on Homestead Application #5406 on Lot 1, Sec. 31, Township 306 of Range 39E.

1879
Dr. James Henshall, with five young patients, camped at the mouth of the North Prong of the St. Sebastian River in the catboat BLUE WING. (15)

1879
Cabin of A. Park on Barker's Bluff. (15)

1879
Earthquake at St. Sebastian River Jan. 12, 1879. (15)

1880
John Baird came from Ohio and homesteaded land including property which is now Main St. (L.P.)

1880
Federal Census lists about 5 households consisting of about 13 adults and about 14 children living in the St. Sebastian River area.

1881
Thomas New is credited with having cut the first inlet. The cut was made by hand with spades and shovels, but the inlet soon filled with sand.

1881
C.F.G. Kroegel settled on the bluff. (8)

1882
Dr. James Henshall went up the South Prong of the St. Sebastian River 3 to 4 miles above the forks in the 34 ft. schooner RAMBLER on a hunting and fishing trip. (15)

1882
Thomas New named our area Newhaven.

1882
Newhaven post office opened April 14, 1882. New was postmaster and August Park was his assistant.

1883
Sylvanus Kitching came to Newhaven from Warrington, England with his wife Martha and five young children.

1884 Sylvanus Kitching changed the the name from New Haven to Sebastian - after St. Sebastian River named by early Spanish explorers - on Nov. 13, 1884 when he became postmaster. (1)

1884 August Park received his Homestead patent, on June 30, 1884.

1885
Florida State Census for Sebastian lists 6 heads of households whose names are: Gibson, Knight, S. Kitching, W. Kitching, Park, & Cain. Names of other adults living in those households are; Kennedy, Hamilton, Mackey, Bowler, Baird, Forster, & Ralston. A total of 23 adults and 16 children are also listed.

1886
Capt. David Gibson attempted to dig a ditch for a distance of a quarter of a mile from the Indian River to the ocean in the area now known as Sebastian Inlet. High tides and winds soon filled the cut with sand. (12)

1886
The United Methodist Church held regular meetings in the homes of church members. (3)

1887
S.S. Panama, A barkentine rigged steamer of about 1300 tons bound from New York to Havana and Central America, went ashore just east of Pelican Island on Oct. 18, 1887. Kroegels, Kitchings and Capt. Frank Forster salvaged lard, wine, furniture, canvas, dishes, and a sewing machine.

1889
C.F.G. Kroegel (1837-1923) obtained his Homestead patent on June 21, 1889, signed by Pres. Benjamin Harrison.

1889
Mr. Howard gave some of his homestead land for the site of the United Methodist Church building. The ladies of the community raised money serving suppers to the crews of the steamboats stopping at Kitching's dock. Residents from several miles around also came for suppers. (3) The preacher solicited subscriptions for the new church building and with the funds obtained purchased lumber which was brought to Sebastian by sailboat, floated ashore, and hauled to the building site by a team of mules.(10)

1889
Ercildoune Hotel built by Larry Moore. Pres. Cleveland said to have stayed here for a week or two of hunting and fishing.

1890
The Indian River fleet of steamboats was in the process of achieving the ultimate in service and luxury. (4)

1892
Roseland Post Office established Mar. 1, 1892. C. Eason, Postmaster.

1893
The Rev. Blackburn, with his bible, a folding chair, and a vase of flowers held the first service in the United Methodist Church in Sebastian. The building was still incomplete, but the eager parishioners had laid boards for a temporary floor and placed planks on nail kegs for benches. (3)

1893
H.B.& Emma Howard deeded a strip of land 100 ft in width, on either side of the center line of said railroad located on and across Lt. 4, Sec. 6, Tp 31S, Range 38E. Given as a right of way to the Jacksonville, St. Augustine & Indian River Railway Co. dated Dec. 28, 1893.

1893
The long awaited railroad came through Sebastian on Dec. 11, 1893, with the arrival of train #23 of the Jacksonville, St. Augustine and Indian River Railroad (9) (18)

1895
Fishing in Sebastian began, the first shipment of fish by rail being Sept. 11. Up to the end of the year 103,890 pounds had been shipped.

1895
Cemetery established by heirs of the Park family, now Sebastian Cemetery. (L.P.)

1895
Jacksonville, St. Augustine & Indian River Railway Co. changed its name to Florida East Coast Railroad on Sept. 7, 1895.

1896
Ice plant and barrel factory built by A.M. and Harry Sample from Hopwell, N.C. (L.P.)

1896
Sebastian and Cincinnatus Railroad began laying tracks west from Sebastian. This line later became the Fellsmere R.R. and then the Trans-Florida Central R.R.. The railroad had two stations, Sebastian and Fellsmere, but over the years the following stopping places were added: Kitchings, River Branch, Deepland, Homewood, Broadmoor and Grassland. The railroad was officially abandoned on Nov. 30, 1952.

1900
Schooner MARY E. MORSE loaded with lumber, went aground on a reef just offshore from the village of Sebastian in September. Paul Kroegel, H.B. Howard, Stanley Kitching, Ray Ellis, and Fritz Leicht were in the salvage crew.

1903
Pelican Island Wildlife Refuge. First Federal migratory bird refuge created by executive order 3-14-03, signed by Pres. Theodore Rosevelt.

1905
Paul Kroegel appointed County Commissioner for St. Lucie County. Kroegel sold Barker's Bluff shell mound to St. Lucie County for $4,000. Shell was used to pave wheel tracks from Micco to Stuart.

1905
R.G. Hardee, first St. Lucie County Tax Assessor.

1907
Macedonia Baptist Church established April 1907 on land deeded for black church. Oldest church structure in Sebastian area.

1906
Dr. David Rose, who had migrated from Canada to Chicago, became Sebastian's first resident doctor. He rode from house to house on horseback or in a horse drawn buggy. Later he owned the first automobile in town, a Model T Ford, and made his rounds in it, giving children rides in it along the way. (11)

1909
Wooden road bridge built across the St. Sebastian River. Bridge replaced the ferry. (2)

1914
Woman's Club of Sebastian formed. First President: Sarah Wentworth Rose.

1916
Roseland United Methodist Church built.

1918
Sebastian School first graduating class held in the town hall. Six students were in the class. Meta Chesser, Rodney Kroegel, Cecil Beugnot, George and Maurice Braddock, and Alta Miller. (9)

1918
War Department granted a permit to recently organized Sebastian Inlet Association to dig an inlet at the south end of Brevard County, opposite the mouth of the Sebastian River. Roy Couch led this group.

1924
Bank of Sebastian opens doors August 1924. Directors F.O. Spain, J.P. Anthony, C.M. Warren, C.L. Beugnot, A.C. Roberts, E.W. Vickers, and W.W. Holtzclaw.

1924
Ashley Gang killed at the south end of the Sebastian Bridge Nov. 1.

1924
Sebastian was incorporated as a municipality on Dec. 6, 1924, as recorded in Vol. 3 page 1 of the St. Lucie County Record of Corporations. Officials were elected at a mass meeting held in Sebastian Hall. Mayor T.B. Hicks, Clerk L.O. Baughman; Marshall George Vickers; Aldermen H.M. Sallee, A.G. Roberts, M.M. Miller, Charles Sembler and C.L. Beugnot.

1925
City of Sebastian created on May 18th under Chapter 11155 in the Laws of Florida.

1925
Municipal Power and Ice Plant built to supply electricity and ice to the Sebastian area.

1925
Main St. paved in Sebastian. Dixie Highway paved in some areas 2/19/25. Melbourne Times reported work continuing on approaches at the new Federal Bridge at St. Sebastian River.

1926
F.E.C.R.R. bridge replaced over Sebastian River by Virginia Bridge and Iron Co. of Roanoke, Va.

1929
Bank of Sebastian failed.

1933
City of Sebastian dissolved to be recreated again as the City of Sebastian under the Laws of Florida Chapter 16683, on May 14, 1933. (1) Charter by Yocelle & Nisle.

1949
Sebastian Volunteer Fire Dept. formed. First Fire Chief, R.E. Turlington.

1952
Trans-Florida Central R.R. abandoned Nov. 30, 1952.

1961
Pelican Island Garden Club organized Jan 23.

1963
Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge dedicated as a National Historic Landmark on Nov. 15 at the Sebastian Yacht Club.

1963
Sebastian Inlet State Park created.

1983
Sebastian Area County Library opened its doors May 10. First full time operating library, sponsored by Sebastian River Library Association. Lynn Walsh, Director.

1985
Sebastian River Area Historical Society formed. Virginia Bertram, President.

1986
Sebastian Area County Library became a part of the new Indian River County library system on Oct. 1.

Evolution dates of counties from which Indian River County was formed:
1821 St. Johns
1824 Mosquito
1844 St. Lucie
1855 Brevard
1905 St. Lucie
1925 Indian River
County information from Press Journal 6/29/75.

SOURCES
(1) Florida's Hibiscus City, Vero Beach
(2) Florida's Historic Indian River County by C. Lockwood.
(3) Pioneer Churches of Florida by D.A.R.
(4) Florida's Golden Sands by R. Burgess.
(5) Florida: Land of Images by N. Smiley.
(6) Florida From Indian Trail to Space Age Vol. 1. by C. Tabeau.
(7) Miami Herald 9/22/85
(8) Press Journal 3/9/75
(9) Press Journal 6/22/75
(10)Brief History of the Sebastian Methodist Church
(11)Stories of Early Life Along the Beautiful Indian River
(12)Proceeding of the Indian River Resources Symposium
(13)Florida Territory in 1844 by E. Anderson.
(14)Florida, Its Scenery, Climate, and History by Sidney Lanier 1875
(15)Camping and Cruising in Florida by James Henshall, M.D. 1888
(16)Florida Historical Quarterly Vol. 47, 1969, p. 52, "The Fort Pierce American Gold Find"
(17)Swamp Sailors by Geo. E. Buker 1835-1842
(18)Victorian Florida by F.& M. Rinhart.
(19)Fisheries of Indian River, Fl. 1897.
(20)Florida A Hundred Years Ago, 1963.
(21)Life and Adventures in South Florida by A. Canova.