Okeechobee County, 


A Pictorial History--Page 4A

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In October 1914, the line was "about finished," with the main track having been laid into town and work continuing on the sidings. Known officially as the Kissimmee Valley Extension, the branch left the FECís main line at Titusville, turned up to Maytown, and then headed south through Chuluota, Holopaw,  Kenansville, Yeehaw, Ft. Drum, Osawa, Hilola, Opal, and then on to Okeechobee.

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Fort Drum

Near Opal


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william_lee_coats.jpg (30271 bytes)The first "hotel" in Okeechobee was operated by William Lee Coats, who had married Ada, daughter of Peter Raulerson. The Coats opened the establishment in December 1914, which was described in the Fort Pierce newspapers as the Okeechobee Hotel. Actually, it was their family residence in which they supplied a few rooms for boarders.

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(From My Interview With Ellis Meserve In 1964)



Ellis_Meserve.JPG (35229 bytes)On the morning of January 4, 1915 before sunup, the first passenger train arrived in Okeechobee.  One passenger got off, he was Ellis Meserve, a young bank teller from St. AugustineIn my conversation with Mr. Meserve years later he told me how he had come to Okeechobee to die.  He was in poor health and his doctor thought the climate in Okeechobee would be better for his final days.  He said when he stepped off the train in the middle of nowhere, that the train crew felt sorry for him, so the built a small fire and remained with him until sunrise.  At sunrise  Meserve  began walking toward the area where the train crew had said Taylor Creek was located.    After walking for over a mile,lewis_raulerson_store_1905.jpg (99884 bytes) he spotted a building through the trees, and arrived at Lewis Raulersonís store.  When  the day was over he had dined on crackers and water from the store pump, and rented a room at the home of William and Ada Coats.  He contacted the Okeechobee Land Company and purchased lots in the newly laid out business section of the proposed town.  He said years later during our many talks, that he only missed the center of town by four blocks.

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