Okeechobee County, 

Florida 

A Pictorial History--Page 13

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Old Home 441 Okee.JPG (25300 bytes)By 1940 my father Allen Markham had purchased the home of Dr. Brown, which was built in 1928 during the Florida Boom.  It is located just north of Peter Raulerson’s Home on Parrott Avenue.   Berger Insurance is located in this home today.  I can remember a funny story about this house.  When my father purchased our home on Parrott Avenue, Ernest Hunt was renting it and had to move.  Ernest told my father, after learning that Dad had paid three thousand dollars for the home and two lots, he had paid entirely too much for this home.  Although Earnest Hunt was known for his conservative nature in regards to money, I always thought that statement took this trait a bit to far.  

Peter Raulerson Home.JPG (76572 bytes)Looking back and remembering growing up next to Peter Raulerson (Okeechobee’s Founder) brings fond memories to mind.  I remember his horse barn across the street (now where Sun Bank is located).  I would go with “Uncle Pete” as we called him, and watch him saddle his horse.  He was a tall man, and wore bib overalls tucked inside laced-up boots, and a wide brim felt hat.  

survey_crew.jpg (69981 bytes)I also remember a well with pitcher pump in front of the horse barn near the highway (Parrott Avenue); it had very cold water for this area.   Neb Raulerson, Peter’s son who lived at home, had a car garage between our home and Peter Raulerson's home, and kept an old Chevrolet  car there for years.  

okeechobee_south1964.jpg (127025 bytes)Another nice thing about this location was its proximity to the school.  You could sleep an extra thirty minutes before getting up for school, and still not miss the bell.  I remember standing in the living room by the fireplace on cold mornings to get dressed for school, as we had no other type of heat.  

MBC 600 SParkSt.JPG (53516 bytes)My father Allen Markham told me  the building he bought that become Markham Brothers Tomato Cannery had been a garage before they purchased it, and  Mr. Walston was the owner.  Mr. Walston's Son Herb was a playmate of mine when we lived on the street across from the Freeze Apartments, in 1939-40.  This is the same house where my sister Martha Ann  was born. This house is now occupied by Norm's Lock Company.

MBC_Okee_1942-II.JPG (34046 bytes)During the negotiations in setting up the Markham tomato cannery, The City of Okeechobee gave the Markham’s special water and tax rates to induce them to open this business that would employee over 100 of the towns residents.  In the year 1938 there were approximately 1500 people living in the entire county.  This was the year Markham Brothers opened at Okeechobee, which was in the heart of the “Great Depression". This causing much joy for the people of Okeechobee, that they would finally have a place to work and help feed their families.  

Labeling Crew 1950.JPG (48319 bytes)From 1938 thru 1972, Markham Brothers Cannery never missed a year of operations.  During the war years of 1941-45, the cannery operated around the clock sending much needed food to our soldiers over seas.  There were many years after the World War II, that the cannery ran longer than profitable in order that the employees could make the required weeks of work to enable them to draw unemployment insurance during the summer months when the cannery was closed.  

Tomato_Peelers_1962.JPG (98759 bytes)Green Bean Line.jpg (56522 bytes)I have heard many of the ladies who worked at Markham’s Cannery say that without this job to support their husbands paycheck, they do not know how they would have gotten by during the lean years before and during the war.

When Markham Brothers first started canning at Okeechobee, they fired the boilers with pine lightered wood, which comes from the heart of  dead pine trees. There were two families that furnished this wood by the truckload to the cannery.  They were the Simmons Family, and the Going Family.  There were several female members of the Simmons Family that would cut wood right along with the men, and I was always amazed at the strength they must have had to do this type of work.  Today most of the lighter wood is gone from this country and it has become a scarce commodity. For those who are interested in a very informative view of Okeechobee Florida, I suggest that you purchase the Two DVD's "The Pictorial History of Okeechobee Florida 1 & 2" available on My Web Page     http://www.tommymarkham.com      

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WEB DESIGN BY: Thomas A. Markham  markm1935@embarqmail.com

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