George W. Kosel
I transcribed this document from a very fragile typescript that I found in the Town Hall Museum. Judging from the context, it appears that it was written prior to 1927, when the Seaboard Railroad arrived in Homestead.
George Washington Kosel was born on August 5, 1875 in Hempstead, Queens, New York to Ludwig and Bodil Olsen Kosel. Ludwig was from Sweden, while Bodil was from Denmark. His sister, Ulrica E., who married a Martin, was born in 1858 while his brother, Frederick W., was born in 1870.
This document provides some intriguing lines of inquiry into the Frederick family, among others. John Stanley Frederick (1853-1910), who married Antoinette E. Gazzam in 1871, was a prominent civil engineer and was in charge of the initial survey for the F.E.C. when the route of the railroad from Miami to Homestead was laid out. He was the man who platted the original Town of Homestead in 1904. His wife was born in 1861 and married John in 1883. Antoinette had at least three siblings: Edwin Van Deusen, born in 1866; Irene G., born in 1869 and Maria F., born in 1871.
In 1905, George Kosel married Antoinette’s sister, Maria F., thus becoming John Frederick’s brother-in-law. They had two children: George, Jr. (1909 – 1975) and Bodil, who lived in the family home at Plummer and Redland until her death, was born in 1913.
S. A. Belcher was a prominent man in Miami history – he was the founder of Belcher Oil Co.and was very active in real estate, in promoting the construction of highways and was the chairman of the Dade County Commission at the time of the dedication of the Royal Palm State Park in 1916.
This is the only primary document that I’ve seen that mentions both Brown and Moody and the Tweedell Brothers store at Cutler. Most documents only mention Brown and Moody. The Tweedell Brothers were Walter Jackson and Erving Groover. Walter was Homestead’s first county commissioner.
The mention of the first Silver Palm school being located opposite Edward Gallaher’s house bears investigating, too. I’m not sure that anyone knows the exact location of the school.
Another clue to when the document was written is that it states that the Redland Post Office was demolished in the past month “to make way for one of the new subdivisions.”
Mr. Kosel was born in Hempstead, Long Island in 1875. In 1894, urged by a desire to travel and a curiosity to see Florida, he came south and located in Stark (sic), Bradford Co., Fla. Here he planted a Truck & Berry Farm but was ruined by the well-known freeze of ‘94. He then visited Cuba to see if there might be a chance there for citrus raising. Deciding to the contrary, he returned to Long Island but cropped there only one winter. Anywhere was better than another winter in the cold north.
Upon his second arrival in Florida, he began to make inquiries. They told him South Florida was no place for a mule, let alone a man. Barred from North Florida by frost, from Cuba by observation and from southern Florida by Dame Rumor, he turned as a last resort to the southeast shore of Lake Okeechobee. As a burnt cat is afraid of fire, so did this pioneer seek a protected place for a grove, free from all danger of frost.
Fate had decided otherwise. On the train from Jacksonville south, he met a brother of his brother-in-law, Mr. John Hull Fredericks, then living in Miami. Instead of stopping off at Ft. Pierce, Mr. Kosel went on to Miami. This city looked fine and tropical to him, quite unlike the stories told to him about it. Riding his bicycle he saw flourishing tomato fields. He noticed that these plants were growing without cultivation, unharmed by the native grasses on the virgin glade lands. As a contrast to the soil of Long Island which must be light and sandy for the tomato, the Florida glade tomato needed only a hoe. He saw fortunes being made by tomato growers and he bought land on Snapper Creek prairie, thru S. A. Belcher for 10 dollars and 2 more from the Model Land Co. His brother-in-law, Mr. J. S. Frederick, was a surveyor. This was before the day of the railroad south of Miami. His pioneer days were spent south of Larkin on Snapper Creek and he was among those who helped build Sunset Road.
While packing tomatoes for Mr. Belcher, he met C. H. Perry, at whose house he boarded. Mr. Perry told him about the country to the south, how the timber grew so dense that you could not see the sky thru it. He made a visit to this very district, saw for himself the land with a red soil where he believed citrus trees would grow, and vegetables would flourish. Though he could have bought pineland in Larkin for $10 an acre, he saw Redland soil and located his homestead here. At that time there was no town of Redland. As proof that he never regretted his choice, let it be known that Mr. Kosel still lives on his original homestead. Tho’ he knows that there are flats around Larkin good for growing citrus, he feels that Redland is without its equal in the entire state. Since the freeze in ‘94 – ‘95 in northern Florida, there has been a constant development southward, as everyone is well aware of today.
When he settled his homestead Mr. Kosel thought that out of the entire 160 acres, he might be able to use about 40. The rest would be too rocky and would be good for homesites only. He was not long in discovering that a grove can be set out better in this rock than in sand. Also that groves in this region will produce as many boxes of fruit per acre as any acre in florida. One thing must be done to accomplish this, since our trees do not grow as large as those up-state, we must set out more trees to the acre. In that way only will we produce as many boxes to the acre.
The first trees to be planted were avocadoes, from seeds and guavas on high pine land, at the corner of Plummer Drive and Redland Road. Those trees grew so large that this particular corner has been called “The Jungle.” On his lower land he planted tomatoes. Tho’ he always paid expenses, there were so many disappointments that he finally gave it up. When Mr. Kosel first came to Redland his brother, Fred and his sister Mrs. Ulrica Martin, came with him. Also Charles T. Plummer came at the same time. They found the village of Silver Palm had already been started in 1900, the only town south of Cutler. Dan Roberts and Claude Jenkins were the first two to cross Gossman’s glade and homestead in the Redlands on Coconut Palm Drive. Mr. Roberts is still living on his original homestead and the homestead of Mr. Jenkins is now the site of W. H. Cast’s house.
The first school house to be built south of Cutler was on Silver Palm Road opposite E. H. Gallahers’ store on the site of the large white house now owned by W. J. Boerner from Wisconsin. Among those helping to erect this school house were Dan Hardy, Charles and Henry Gossman, George Kosel, C. W. Hill, Dan Roberts, J. S. Castello, L. R. Nixon, J. R. Walker, the preacher, and Y. K. Knighton and others.
When it was deemed expedient to build a schoolhouse in this newly settled district, the few who lived here, including Frank Kanan, who homesteaded the land now owned by W. M. Brodie on Redland Road, got together and called it Redland. This happened in 1905 or there about. The School building known today as the Woman’s Club house was built in the winter of 1904-5 [“About 1906” in pencil] and used as the local school house for the residents of Redland. The Redland postoffice was built in 1905-6 at the corner of Bauer Drive and Redland Road. During the past month this building has been taken down to make way for one of the new subdivisions. [Starting with “The Redland”, these sentences have a pencil line drawn through them.]
Previous to the creation of the postoffice, anyone happening to be going to Cutler would get the mail for all in this vicinity and put it in a box at Henry Gossman’s corner at Silver Palm and Tennessee Roads where each family would help himself.
Groceries were brought from Cutler by the favored few who owned teams – Mr. Kosel, L. R. Nixon (Uncle Nick), Wm. Anderson and Charles Gossman. When one of these set off for Cutler, he would be hailed from every doorstep and given a commission, no one forgetting to handout the kerosene oil can. After trading at Brown and Moody’s or Tweedel Bros. store, the driver would start homeward along the bumpy and Boggy trail thru the Glade and pine land. It took a skillful driver to arrive home with groceries unsaturated with kerosene from at least several cans.
To those who have heard the story of one of our earliest pioneers, it will be interesting to know that Mr. Kosel has had so much faith in the future of Redland that he still owns 120 of his original 160 acres. The Seaboard Rail Road has also decided to honor him by erecting a station near him and running a line near the boundary of his grove. [The sentence starting with “The Seaboard” has a pencil line drawn through it.]
In cursive writing: Mr. Kosel states that unfortunately it seems that his and his mother’s Estate are located in the line of the proposed Extension of the Seaboard R.R. to Homestead, But he says the Kosels are willing to donate a mile of right of way together with a Station Site on Plummer drive, Provided arrangements can be made with the Seaboard to protect the proper interests of the Redland community.
Thanks so much for this very important post about the Kosel family. When I first moved to Homestead in 1972, I would drive by Bodil Kosel’s home on the corner of Plummer and Redland always wondered about the history.
Thanks for another great story in the history of south Florida.
Is this house still there? I too love to hear the history, wish I loved it this much when I was in school…lol!
No, unfortunately. The house was demolished by the family last summer. I wrote a post about the demolition of two historic properties last year – this was one of the houses.
That was a sad day. My family spent many good times with the Lowe family at that house.