By: Robert A. Fisk
Let’s backtrack to 1914 and an article I just found in the St. Cloud Tribune: “NEW EDEN WILL HAVE PUBLIC SCHOOL”
“Improvements Being Made at Osceola’s Biggest Farm”
“The Plantation, Which Is But A Few Miles from St. Cloud, Produces Highest Grade of Cane Syrup. “
“The Osceola County School Commissioners recently acted favorably on a petition for a public school at New Eden, the plantation that is making Osceola County famous, and which is only a few miles distant from St. Cloud. A building containing a room, fourteen by twenty-eight feet, has been set apart by the New Eden Plantation Company for this purpose. New windows, doors and floor have been put in and front and rear porches added, and as soon as the desks are received everything will be in readiness to open the school. The size of the foreman’s house has been increased so that there will be ample accommodations for the teacher. This arrangement will be a great convenience to the large number of pupils living on the plantation and in the neighborhood and will obviate their necessity for their going four-and-a-half miles daily to attend school at Narcoossee. Divine services will also probably be held in the school building at New Eden on Sundays.
The other tenant houses at New Eden are receiving a general overhauling. Wells have been drilled deeper, ten new pig pens built, and new facilities for sterilizing and processing syrup installed in the evaporator room of the syrup house. Everything is being gotten in readiness to handle the new cane crop in an economical and sanitary manner…”
I had always thought that New Eden was a present-day subdivision not an up-and-coming syrup production organization – so much for thinking. This is why history is so interesting.
If the reader remembers St. Cloud received a Charter for the Town of St. Cloud in 1911 and here, in 1914 we see them preparing for a new Charter for the City of St. Cloud: “CHARTER FOR ST. CLOUD REPORTED BY COMMITTEE”
“The Committee appointed by the Mass Meeting of the Citizens of St. Cloud to Draft a Charter to be submitted to the next session of the Legislature of Florida for passage by that body, having held weekly meetings for the past two months, submit the following as a result of their deliberations. The Committee will be meeting Thursday, September 17  and call a meeting of St. Cloud Citizens for a future date, when the report of the Committee will be acted upon.
AN ACT to abolish the Present Municipal Government of the Town of St. Cloud, in the County of Osceola, State of Fla., and Establish, Organize and Constitute a Municipal Corporation Known and Designated as the City of St. Cloud, to Define its Territorial Boundaries and to Provide its Jurisdiction, Powers and Privileges and for to Exercise the Same…”
Now, in the October 1, 1914 issue of the St. Cloud Tribune we find the following: “CITIZENS OF ST. CLOUD IN BIG MASS MEETING ADOPT CITY CHARTER”
“But Few Minor Changes Made in Charter as Reported by the Committee”
“As per announcement in last week’s issue of the Tribune, a mass meeting of the citizens of St. Cloud held in the G. A. R. hall Tuesday morning at 10 o’clock to receive the report of the Committee appointed at a meeting held more than two months ago to draft a new Charter for St. Cloud to be submitted to the next session of the Legislature for passage.
The meeting was called to order promptly at the hour named by acting Chairman S. J. Triplett, who stated that the Committee was ready to make a complete report, but the first order of business would be the selection of a Chairman, and Mr. Triplett was named for that position and Mr. J. J. Johnston, a member of this Committee was elected Secretary.
The Charter was read section by section, and while certain clauses were liberally discussed there were few amendments that carried, and those that did were of minor importance.
The Charter provides, among other things, for a commission-form of government in a simplified form, in that it makes the clerk and auditor, the treasurer and collector, the superintendent of streets and public buildings and the superintendent of sanitation, which with the mayor, are the only elective officers, composed the city council, with the mayor as president of the council. The right of veto is withheld from the mayo, as he had the deciding vote in the council in case of a tie.
Provision is made for the Charter, provided it was adopted by a majority vote of the citizens, to become operative on the second Tuesday in August 1915, and the first assessment of taxes under its provisions will be January 1st following.
Bonds can be issued to the extent of fifteen percent of the assessed valuation of real estate, the money thus derived to be used in municipal improvements, such as water works and sewage, electric light and gas plants, paving streets and laying sidewalks, purchasing property for park purposes, erecting public buildings, and for educational purposes.
One of the most essential features of the Charter is the one providing for recall of any elective city officer who fails to perform his duty. Thirty percent of the registered voters can at any time, demand a recall election.
With the adoption of this Charter will end all controversy as to the rights of our people to govern themselves, as provision is made for the elections to, at any time by a majority vote, alter, amend or change any one of the Charter without the aid of the Florida Legislature, provided such alteration amends or change does not conflict with the laws of Florida.
The only thing that retarded the growth of St. Cloud was the lack of a Charter that would give our people the right to tax themselves to install public improvements, and as this Charter gives the voters ample rights in that line, we expect to see St. Cloud double in population within two years after it goes into effect. We all recognize the necessity of a complete sewage and water works, as well as paved streets if we would take our stand in the front ranks of Florida’s progressive cities, therefore, we feel no hesitancy in predicting a large majority for a bond issue at the election that will be called as soon as the Charter is adopted.”
The Wonder City of St. Cloud! Just think about it, from a land of palmettos and pine trees, to a colony, to the Town of St. Cloud and now the City of St. Cloud all within 6 years. No wonder they called it the “wonder city.”
Several people have asked me what is so important about talking so much about roads. It is hard, today, to understand the import that the new-fangled auto had on the population. Up until 1900, if you wanted to see things beyond your town, you had to take the train or steam boat to go any distance. With those forms of transportation, you would get a fleeting glimpse of an area as the train or boat sped through the area – couldn’t stop and see more. Then Henry Ford and others developed the new automobile and one could, with little trouble, see beyond the city limits.
In addition, this new form of transportation allowed for the faster, and longer and more distant movement of food and other products. Take, for example, this ad by Mr. Bruns in the St. Cloud Tribune. Until the auto, the interior of the state could not get really fresh seafood from the coasts of the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico. It had to be caught, packed in ice, put on board the train, when it arrived, then to possibly Jacksonville, transferred to another train to Kissimmee and St. Cloud.
Then, with the entrance of the automotive form of transportation and a good road, fresh-caught seafood, in, say, Melbourne could be in the St. Cloud market the same day, as the ad says: “We receive daily supplies of fresh fish from the ocean…fresh fish – fresh oysters…” That is one of the reasons for the importance of the new growth in roads. In fact, that was one of the turning points in our nation.