By Jeff Blakley
William Alfred King was the first section foreman in this area for the Florida East Coast railway. He was born on 29 December 1860 in Troy, Pike County, Alabama. On February 28, 1882, he married Frances Elzada Jones in Hatchechubbee, Russell County, Alabama. She was born there on December 24, 1866. Their first child, Bertha, was born on January 25, 1883. Hatchechubbee is an unincorporated community in Russell County between Seale and Hurtsboro.
In 1900, he was in City Point, Brevard County, Florida, working as a section foreman for the railway. When I started digging into the history of City Point, I saw a listing for City Point Community Church and, reading the short entry, the name J.C. Norwood leaped out at me. Was he related to William C. Norwood, I wondered? William C. Norwood is buried in the LaGrange Cemetery in Mims, which is 25 miles north of City Point. The land for the City Point Community Church was donated by John C. Norwood, who was of some undetermined relation to William C. Norwood. The preacher of the LaGrange Church, 15 miles north of City Point, was William Chaudoin, which just happened to be the first and middle name of the William C. Norwood who settled in Florida City. Small world, indeed! I don’t doubt that William A. King knew of the Norwood family, though he may not have known William C. Norwood, as he was 20 years younger than King. Norwood homesteaded in Florida City in 1911 and William A. King homesteaded in Homestead, in 1906. King’s homestead was the E 1/2 of the NE 1/4 of section 7 T57S R39E and the W 1/2 of the NW 1/4 of section 8 T57S R39E. This land is bounded by S.W. 169th Ave. on the west, Avocado Drive on the north, S.W. 164th Ave. on the east and King’s Highway on the south. It abutted 80 acres of John U. Free’s homestead on the south, which Free had also homesteaded in 1907.
On May 2, 1910, William A. King, his wife Fannie, and their daughters Joe, age 14 and Marie, age 7, were living on their homestead. They had older children, Adele, born in October of 1882; Bertha, born in January, 1884; Willie, born in March of 1886, and Benjamin, born in November of 1888 in Barberville, Florida, but those children were out on their own by 1910.
On August 31, 1912, shortly after he proved up his homestead on May 12, 1912, King submitted a plat for the subdivision of his land, like his neighbor to the south, J. U. Free and many others. In Homestead and Florida City in the early 1900s, real estate speculation was at least as great as it was in the years leading up to the most recent occurrence: the collapse of the housing boom in 2008.
The eastern part of lot 23 of this subdivision is where the Breezeway Drive-In once was – it is now the site of a shopping center, anchored by Winn-Dixie.
In 1920, he and his wife were still living on their homestead, but all of their children had left home. King and his wife were enumerated right after J.U. Free, so apparently J.U. Free and his family were still living in the house he built when he homesteaded his land in 1907. Neither of them had sold all of their land holdings at that time.
William King lived in Homestead until at least 1935, when he appeared on the Florida State census. According to a tree on Ancestry, he died on 14 June 1936 in Sharpes, Brevard, Florida. Sharpes is 2 miles north of City Point, so William returned to the same place he started out in many years before.
King’s daughter Bertha had married George B. Faber in about 1906 and stayed in Brevard County. Perhaps William was living with his daughter at the time of his death.
Adele married Jerome Twitchell Feaster, who was a cousin of T.A. Feaster (William C. Norwood’s uncle) and lived in Miami. T. A. Feaster had been employed by the Miami Beef Company and had farmed in Florida City since at least as early as 1912. No doubt, he worked with his nephew, William C. Norwood, whose mother was Emma Feaster, to help him get started. The Feasters were originally from South Carolina, but some of them moved down to the Titusville area. Willie married Henry Lee Russell and lived, for a time, in Florida City.
Benjamin married Mable Powers, the daughter of Mrs. J. A. Tanner, in September of 1913. After his marriage, later in the month, he was overseeing a survey crew at Cape Sable. Prior to his marriage, he had been in business with his father, contracting and delivering ties to the railroad.
Benjamin’s sister Marie married Chesley E. Saunders, who was born in Brevard County, like his wife. He was a fisherman who lived at 401 N.E. 1st Avenue in Homestead in 1927. Chesley and Marie, along with Marie’s father, are buried at Palms Woodlawn in Naranja. William King’s daughter, Joe, married Homer Self on October 6, 1912 in a ceremony at the Redland church. Mrs. Lily Lawrence Bow played Mendlesohn’s Wedding March on the organ.
In the wedding announcement for Benjamin and Mabel, published in The South Florida Banner on September 12, 1913, his parents were said to be “one of the most substantial and respected families in Homestead.”
Thomas J. Letchworth, a prominent real estate man who developed the Rosewood subdivision on Kings Highway and lived on the street in the 1930 census of Homestead, was responsible for having N.E. 15th Street named Kings Highway. He apparently didn’t name it after either William A. or S. A. King, father of Neva King. Instead, he named it ‘King’s Highway’ because that would be what you would become if you bought a lot in his subdivision. The roadway was formerly known as McMinn Road, which is now S.W. 172 Avenue and not S.W. 304 St.
William A. King and his wife are buried in a large mausoleum at Palms Memorial Cemetery in Naranja, adjacent to James D. Redd’s grave site.