In The Beginning
By: Robert A. Fisk, Official Historian
The paved road to Melbourne, the Cross State Highway, was started in1918 and many times it was reported in passable shape, or it needed much more work. For many years there was no grade or bridge at the St. Johns River. One had to drive his car up and onto a flatcar of the Hopkins Lumber Company train and it would take you into Melbourne – for a fee. Delegations from the Kissimmee, St. Cloud, and Melbourne Chambers of Commerce met in Melbourne or St. Cloud to discuss how to speed up the construction.
Well, in the January 1, 1925 issue of the St. Cloud Tribune, we find an article about the road: “State Road Department Chairman Says the Melbourne Road to Open January 15”
The Friday afternoon edition of the Valley Gazette contained the following concerning the Kissimmee/St. Cloud/Melbourne Road: “Apparently awakening to the fact that the people are up in arms over the road situation north and east of Kissimmee, the State Road Department is getting busy and it promises results in the near future. A letter received today by Allison T. French, secretary of the Kissimmee Chamber of Commerce, from H.B. Phillips, Chairman of the State Road Department says that the department expects to have the Kissimmee Melbourne road in shape for travel about the middle of January.
Referring to the Kissimmee Orlando Road, Chairman Phillips says that the Department has started to repair this road, but when the flood came he was compelled to move his forces to the road south of Kissimmee. Mr. Phillips’ letter in full follows:
Mr. Allison T. French
Secretary of the Chamber of Commerce, Kissimmee, Florida
Answering yours of the 13th. We expect to get the Kissimmee to Melbourne road in shape for travel about the middle of January, providing we don’t have any more floods… If it had not been for the floods of last summer, fall travel would now be going over this road.
As to the work on the highway north of Kissimmee, we had started to repair this road, but when the floods came we were compelled to move the force south of Kissimmee in order to put in condition a portion of that road which had been rendered impassable by the flood. We expect to get the force back on the road north of Kissimmee within a short time.
Yours very truly,
H.R. Phillips Chairman”
Well! It looked as though there would be some activity on the road situation, and the next item shows that they were going to the top.
Letter from Governor about Melbourne Road Word
“John W. Martin
Jacksonville, FL, December 31, 1924
Hon. H.F. Bass, St. Cloud, Fla.
My dear Friend, I have your letter of the 27th and you may assure the people of Osceola County that they have a friend in Tallahassee for the next four years, who will do everything within his power in trying to remedy the condition of the road between Kissimmee and Melbourne. They have demonstrated the patience of Job in tolerating the conditions. I feel grateful to the people of Osceola County for the way they supported me, and thank you in particular for your friendship.
Give my best regards to my friends and wishing you a very prosperous New Year. I am your sincere friend, John W. Martin.”
It really pays to go to the top, particularly if you backed the person in his campaign. It really pays to have a friend in Tallahassee.
So, the St. Cloud Tribune trumpeted the news in the January 15, 1925 issue: “KISSIMMEE – MELBOURNE ROAD TO BE READY FOR CROSS STATE TRAVEL JANUARY 20”
Judge J.B. Phillips, Chairman State Road Department, so informed Governor Martin.
“MARTIN EXPECTS TO INSPECT HIGHWAY. Governor’s Policies will be Outlined at Quarterly Meeting Next Thursday.”
“Tallahassee, Fla., January 10  – The Melbourne – Kissimmee Highway which travelers have described as a spot in Florida road system will be completed by January 20, and work will be speeded up on the Jacksonville – Waycross road. Judge J.B. Phillips, Chairman of the road department told Governor Martin late today during a conference that lasted more than an hour…”
In that January 15, 1925 edition of the Tribune we can see that St. Cloud was growing:
“WESTERN UNION WILL OPEN ST. CLOUD OFFICE”
“According to a communication received here from the Rail Road Commission at Tallahassee to WM Landiss of the Chamber of Commerce committee, plans have been completed for the establishing of an office of the Western Union Telegraph Co. in this city.
This will be good news to the people of St. Cloud and replace the present inadequate method of telephoning messages to Kissimmee, which has proved unsatisfactory in the past.
The new method will probably be handled through the local Atlantic Coast Link Railway station and it is understood that the company has made arrangements with the local telephone company for the use of one of their wires and that the services will handle all telegrams direct, eliminating relay services at the Kissimmee office.”
There are many today that do not realize how much communication and business was handled by Western Union; one reason being that you had a “hard” copy of the message rather than by telephone. Now, I think, most of their business is the transmitting of money via a Western Union Money Order.
The January 22, 1925 edition of the Tribune carried an announcement of a business that is still in business, but under different ownership –
“RANKIN SHINE MOTOR CO. DOES BIG BUSINESS WITH FORD AGENCY”
“The Rankin Shine Motor Co. recently took over the Ford agency in this city, reported, this week, that business here is increasing steadily, and that last week was a record breaker for this territory, on Saturday, having disposed of seven new cars…
…The Rankin Shine Motor Co. occupies the new garage building on Pennsylvania Avenue, recently completed by contractor P.E. Morgan. This new home for the Ford agency gives them excellent accommodation for storage and repair department while a portion is divided off for show room and office.
Messers Rankin and Shine announce they are expecting a carload of Fords the first of the week and on invitation is extended to all interested parties to call and make an inspection of the late models now being received to become acquainted.”
For the information of those that might be interested, a new 1925 Ford Roadster was selling for $350.00.
In that same issue we find the following ad:
NOTICE TO AUTOMOBILE OWNERS
This is to notify you that under the State Law you are required to have license for the year A.D. 1925 displayed on your car after January first. THEREFORE, unless you have such a tag on your car before FEBRUARY FIRST, or can produce receipt showing that you have ordered your tag prior to January 25th information will be filed against you. PAT JOHNSTON, Prosecuting Attorney, Osceola County, Florida.”
I can remember when I received my first driver’s license. I drove myself over to the courthouse in Kissimmee. They asked me if I could drive and I said “yes” and they issued me the license. Times have changed!
Back a few days to January 8, 1925 and the Tribune had an article about the new government adopted in St. Cloud: “VETERANS PROVED THEIR SPIRIT OF PROGRESS ADOPTED IN ST. CLOUD”
“The voters of St. Cloud voted two to one on the proposed Charter amendment, with more than three hundred votes cast – John J. Johnston, former Postmaster, led the ticket; S.W. Porter was second, and G.S. Outlaw third; change probably Monday.
The total vote cast was 313, and the vote on the amendment was 162 for the change and 77 against, showing several persons who voted for Commissioner did not vote for the amendment. Some voted for the amendment but not the Commissioners.
The new Charter called for a Commission of three men to displace the present five councilmen and mayor, but one of the three will be mayor and police judge. A City Manager will be selected by the commissioners to serve at their pleasure while the new amendment for recall of any or all of the commission when necessary. The commissioners will select an assessor and city attorney, and all other city employees are engaged by the city manager and under his direct supervision. The manager is the official clerk. Mr. Outlaw was selected mayor.”
Now this was not the Charter that is now in use. Our present charter was put into form in my time and I do not know when that other Charter was amended because for many years St. Cloud had the strong mayor form of government with four councilmen.