The Anderson Homestead History
As the Myakka River Valley Region of Florida was largely unexplored territory, it remained hidden from the chaos of the Civil War and the Seminole Indian Wars and dispersion. As a result, a number of Seminole families remained in the region and lived peacefully along the river’s shores and in the neighboring hammocks and forests for many years.
Eventually the area was surveyed and explored by representatives of the American government and around 1850 about five pioneering settler families joined the few remaining original Seminole families of the area to graze cracker cattle; the Old Miakka community was slowly forming near the “Miacca/Miakka”, now Myakka, river.
The new community’s founder and original owner of the (today) Anderson, Blackburn, Church and Schoolhouse properties, was Major Augustus Marion Wilson. He moved to the area in 1877, was an Indian liaison for the American government and the state of Florida, and in 1878 established (what is now Sarasota County’s) first post office and stopping point for mail from this area south all the way to Key West. Wilson was a Florida senator (representing then Manatee County) and created the bill to establish Sarasota County in 1921. Augustus served as tax assessor, census enumerator, and as a member of the school board. Mr. Wilson was a pioneering farmer and entrepreneur of his day; he planted many of the community’s first crops and groves, owned Manatee County’s first “gasoline powered traction engine” or tractor and transported oranges from the west coast of the Gulf of Mexico inland to Florida’s railroad in DeSoto County via cattle trails. He also had a sugar cane mill. In 1909 Wilson and another of the area’s three main founding families, the Crowley family, together created the Miakka Citrus Growers Association.
Gus Wilson was a Godly husband and father as he and his bride Caledonia “Callie” (Crum) had 14 children and raised 10 to adulthood. Many of their children went on to University and had such successful careers as doctors, lawyers, and even Sunday School superintendents. One son was one of the first doctors in Sarasota County and owned the area’s first automobile.
The family’s two-story house built in 1882 (and also a separate post office) sat in what is now the front pasture of the Anderson property where today a narrow shell concrete walkway remains.
The Wilson property eventually sold to the Blackburn family. The large piece of land was divided and the Blackburns still live on the western portion. The Dodson’s bought the eastern portion and built the existing barn then moved down the road. Over time another family owned the property before the Andersons purchased it from the bank and began the restoration process.
The spirit of the early pioneers of Miakka is expressed in a Manatee County news article from the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, “These early settlers of Manatee County…laid aside…the luxuries of life to hew out for themselves a new district in the wilderness of Florida. Some came for (wild) game, some in search of health, others for wealth. Nearly every one of them succeeded in obtaining all three.”
The Andersons hope to continue that same pioneering spirit.