Mrs Pettway’s Gomez Grocery, Indian River Lagoon

 

Pettyway Grocery has been in business since the early 1900s. Photo Duren Rooing, Facebook.
The Pettyway Grocery’s location has been in business serving the Gomez community since the early ca 1920. Photo Duren Roofing, Facebook.
Map today of inland area of the Gomez Grant. Town of Gomez in bottom right.
Map today of inland area of the Gomez Grant. Town of Gomez in bottom right.

It was Sunday afternoon and I was driving south on Dixie Highway. Henry Flagler’s train tracks and the Indian River Lagoon were just east of my line of sight. From a distance, I saw the grocery’s signature blue trim. I’d driven by hundreds of times but never gone inside….in an instant, I knew this was the day.

I pulled over my car and walked inside. The bell clanged against the door and I could see an older pretty African-american woman doing paper work; I bent down and stared through the shelves…”

“This must be the matriarch of Gomez,”  I thought. She looked up at me with sharp, clear eyes, like an eagle. When she saw me standing there her expression softened and she smiled. “May I help you?”

“I am looking for Mrs Annie Pettway,” I replied.

“That’s me,” she replied…

I told her who I was, why I’d come, and that I’d just recently met her daughter-in-law, Mrs Ollie Harvey. Mrs Pettway invited me to sit in the chair by the side of her desk. We spoke and she told me of her long and change filled life in the Indian River Lagoon Region of Gomez in Hobe Sound.

She was born in 1941. She had been through segregation and desegregation. She had seen it all. Her mother Mattie Mae, and father, Bill Pettway moved to the area in 1909 from Alabama. They worked hard, purchased land, apartments, a trucking business, and the area’s first grocery store. Her father was the first black man to own his own business. Today, there is a park down the street named in the family’s honor…

“Were you born here I asked?” She smiled and hit her knee. “Yes mam, I was born right down the street!” She pointed southwest.

People came and went in the store, both black and white; everyone seemed in good spirits and the conversation was relaxed and familiar. I felt like I was in the Bahamas. I liked the feel. The bell would clang and Mrs Annie would get up and ring her customers out while I waited. While she worked, I watched her and I thought about all the history and all the people who had walked through those doors. I thought about how much things have changed along our Indian River Lagoon.

I also thought about what my mother and brother have taught me about this unique  area of Martin County…

This land was part of the famous Spanish Gomez Land Grant preceding Florida’s stateship  in 1845. Due to title/legal issues that eventually played out in the United States Supreme Court, the land was not surveyed in the 1850s like the rest of Florida. The Gomez Grant situation was eventually worked out, and then acquired by the Indian River and Pineapple Growers Association in 1893; later, the Indian River Association in 1904. It was really the Indian River Association that began “developing.”

When looking at a map you’ll notice that unlike most  of the rest of Martin County, the roads of especially Salerno and Cove stand out. None of the Gomez Grant area roads run directly east/west or north/south. Instead, the east/west roads run at a roughly 66 degree northeast angle, which is perpendicular to the shoreline, following the old Spanish land grant. The north/south roads run approx 24 degrees west of north-south or perpendicular to the east-west  roads…This makes this area unique and gives it a historical “signature.”

Gomez Grant from the book of Nathaniel Reed, A Different Vision.
Gomez Grant from the book of Nathaniel Reed, A Different Vision.

I stopped day-dreaming…

Mrs Annie  sat back down.

“Mrs Pettway, why don’t they call it Gomez anymore? Wasn’t this area called Gomez?

“That was the old name, and it is still Gomez, but today we call it all Hobe Sound. It’s all one name now; things have changed.” There was a twinkle in her eye, and I stopped asking questions.  I suddenly knew that no amount time could really tell the amazing American story of Mrs Annie and the family of Pettway.

Annie Pettway in the 1960s. Photo from History of Hobe Sound , by Paula Mac Arthur Cooper
Annie Pettway in the 1960s. Photo from History of Hobe Sound, by Paula Mac Arthur Cooper.

Hobe Sound Chamber history: (https://www.hobesound.org/history.htm)
Florida Memory: (https://www.floridamemory.com/collections/spanishlandgrants/)

Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch

Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch

Although born at Travis Air Base, California, Jacqui considers herself a native of Stuart, Florida, having moved there at eight months old. Her father’s family, originally from Syracuse, New York, has lived in Stuart since 1952. Her mother is a 5th generation Floridian from Gainesville.

Jacqui is journalism and German graduate of the University of Florida, and an education master’s graduate of the University of West Florida. She went on to teach both English and German and after a serious accident of breaking her neck, started selling real estate. In 2008 she ran for the Town of Sewall’s Point Commission and has served since 2008; She is former mayor. During this time she saw the opportunity to help showcase the work of a locally formed river group, the River Kidz, and this has been her passion ever. She incorporates youth/river education into her political work for the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon.

Jacqui is the treasurer/secretary of the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council; has chaired the Florida League of Cities Environmental and Energy Committee; was chair, and long time member of the Treasure Coast Council of Local Governments; is an alternate for the Water Resources Advisory Commission for the South Florida Water Management District; and a board member for Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute Foundation. She also serves as an (ex-officio) board member for the Rivers Coalition Defense Fund, and is head administrator for the River Kidz.Jacqui is a Daughter of the American Revolution.

Jacqui’s reach involves not only local, but state and federal government. In 2013,  she served on Senator Joe Negron’s panel for the Select Senate Hearing on the Indian River Lagoon and Lake Okeechobee. In 2014, she actively supported the elections of both Senator Joe Negron and Congressman Patrick Murphy who have both been strong supporters of Indian River Lagoon issues. In 2015, she is part of the Florida League Cities Treasure Coast Advocacy team. Jacqui received the Everglades Coalition’s prestigious 2015 “John V. Kabler Award” for “Grassroots Activism.” Most recently she has been recruited as a fellow by the University of Florida/IFAS’s Natural Resources Leadership Institute Class XV.Jacqui is running for Martin County Commissioner District 1, 2016.
_________________________________________

I. SLR/ILR INFO YOU ARE WELCOME TO SHARE:

Click link below to have your own electronic copy of Jacqui’s Aerial Photo Booklet: Lake Okeechobee Releases SLR/IRL 2013: (https://theguardiansofmartincounty.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/RiverBookletweb.pdf)

Photos to share: 2013 SLR/IRL releases Lake Okeechobee, C-23; C-24; C-44 and C-25:

Link 1: (https://www.dropbox.com/sh/ycbnj3iw4e63ldg/AADBCrAdYtQ9A8b24phqgHeza?dl=0

Link 2: (https://www.dropbox.com/sh/10yfh08m4dgl78o/AABJ4kgnn2mxu2SYBFLWfQnIa?dl=0)

II. Google Earth/Historic Maps Overlay Flights from my blog, created my brother TODD THURLOW, (https://thurlowpa.com) These flights use Topo and other historic maps combined with today’s Google Earth images –flashing between “yesterday and today–give tremendous insight into water and land changes due to drainage for agriculture and development that have occurred in our region.

1. The Inlets at Peck’s Lake and Jupiter Narrows. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yO650JyADwQ)
2. Hal-pa-ti-okee Swamp: Port St Lucie and Western Martin County. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f2f-e0ul1mY)
3. Bog and Ponds of Martin County, 1940s. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VvH5H0TiG5c)
4. The Spoil Islands of the Indian River Lagoon, Martin County (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sODqzQ8EW9o)
5. Capt. Henry Sewall’s Dock, Sewall’s Point, Where Was it Located? (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OFkL9YgPSmI)

*6. Where did the South Fork of the St Lucie River and the St Lucie Canal Connect, ca. EDD/ACOE 1915-1923? (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gYI34XZUNYs&feature=youtu.be)

7. Sailfish Point’s Erosion, Comes and Goes: 1935-1980 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TW8URTQG2o0&feature=youtu.be)

8. USCG Stations, Ft Pierce and Lake Worth, “Then and Now:” (https://youtu.be/ctEzliyeT8w)

9. St Lucie Shoal and Mt. Elizabeth 1882 (https://youtu.be/x29BSbnXBCI)

10. South Bay and Lake Okeechobee’s Altered Shoreline: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sJkMOIqjr_I&feature=youtu.be)

11. Inlets of Hutchinson Island 1515-1900 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZhYQz4P1ELM&feature=youtu.be)

12. C-44 Reservoir/STA once Orange Groves: (https://youtu.be/i9h1d1pzfww)

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