Arlington in the 40’s & 50’s

Written by Cleve Powell
Originally published in the march 2007 edition of the OAI Newsletter

In search of an interesting article for this month’s Old Arlington newsletter, I was reminded by George Carter last Saturday night at the Krystal Car Show of the closeness of the individual communities that existed through the mid-fifties. When I introduced George to my daughter as being from Arlington he quickly corrected me and said “Floral Bluff.” I know from talking to other “old-timers” that they feel that other communities such as Eggleston, Chaseville, Gilmore, Clifton, and Oakwood Villa were unique and separate from the original Arlington community that centered around the crossroads.

Thinking about that, it occurred to me that the area that I grew up in on Lone Star Road was also unique, as the families that lived along Lone Star Road when it was dirt were rather close knit due to inaccessibility and remoteness if for nothing else. Living where we did on top of the hill (now Tree Hill), we saw everyone who came and went that lived past us. The hill was so hard to pull when it was dirt you could distinguish who was coming long before they got in sight by the sound of the engine and the rattles which all cars had that traveled the bumpy road. Many people also walked or rode horses by also, and if you were in the yard they almost always stopped to talk or get a drink of water.

As stated last month, Lone Star, possibly the oldest road in Arlington, was the main road for many small dirt roads that fed into it. For many years, it had the only bridges that crossed Red Bay Branch and Mill (Strawberry) Creek. It tied into Mill Creek and Gilmore Heights Road on the east until the mines cut off access to Gilmore Heights Road. Most of Mill Creek Road was east of the creek and did go out to Atlantic Boulevard. The black families (Whites, Demps and Bartleys) that lived near the Mt. Zion “Lone Star” Church generally went the closer route of Mill Creek out to Atlantic Boulevard, but occasionally came by the house to visit their friends and relatives that lived in Arlington. Sampson White and his brother Eliza were exceptions as they lived on a branch of Strawberry Creek called “Boggy” from the turn off the century and (I was told) came and went by a narrow trail to Lone Star, or by boat down Strawberry Creek.

Beginning at the old Howland place, which was at the intersection of Lone Star and Arlington Roads but set back out of site under a grove of camphor trees, I’m going to list the families that we knew and that comprised our community. There were several families that lived there, the Matthews being the ones I knew best. Then our house set on top of the hill (7150), which was Johnson’s and Powell’s and a farm. Across from our house was a lane that went to the head of Red Bay Branch and the home of Bill Cassidy and his family. At the foot of the hill east of Red Bay Branch was the Jaques family (my Aunt) who had a riding stable and raised livestock. A deeply rutted dirt road ran off to the south along side of the Jaques fence and went back to the Bryant homestead, which was later taken by the Arlington Expressway. They used Lone Star Road exclusively until a bridge was built over Red Bay branch in Alderman Road.

Another dirt road branched off to the northeast a little west where Townsend is now. It had 4 houses on it; the first was the Geiger home, which in later years, ended up being across the road from Terry Parker High School after it was built. Mr. Geiger ran a sawmill powered by a Model-A “skeeter,” which he also drove to the crossroads. Just a little to the north was a house that also had several families through the years. The Merkle family was there the longest. Just north of that was a house that also had several families. The first that I remember was the Halls from Georgia and then I believe C. UpChurch, Joe May and his family. The fourth house was called the Williams house, which was always vacant and rumored to be haunted.

Just east off Boggy Branch (Townsend) on the north side of the road was a house that I believe was occupied by Emanuel Danese for a while. The Danese family was kin to Mr. Geiger’s wife. Another family named Tracey, who were also kin to the Danese family lived to the north of Lone Star at the end of a dirt road. Mr. Tracey, I believe worked for the Railroad. Across from Tracey’s road on the south was a house where Roy Harvelle lived for a while. To the south of him back in the woods was Mr. and Mrs. Scully. Mr. Scully was the janitor of Arlington Elementary school.

Past the Harvelle house were two houses on the south side of the road owned by brothers Paul and Williard Cumbus. Those houses are still there and are now daycare centers. Next on the south side of the road was the house of Mr. R. D. Clements. The house is still there and the road beside it is named Clements Road. Going south on Clements Road was the home of Mr. Leon Barnett. Next, across from the last road before Mill Creek Road, on the north side of the Lone Star, was an old house and barn that was always empty in my days. There were fields behind it where my grandparents grew cotton in the 20s. Going south on the last road about 500′ south of Lone Star was the home of Clarence Schieder who had 9 boys and a girl. Mr. Schieder, and Mr. Merkle worked at Jax. Shipyards. Mr. L. V. Barker lived just past the Scheider’s.

Lone Star was paved from Arlington Road to the top of the hill past the Jaques ca. 1949 and Lillian Road was opened from Arlington Road to Howlands Creek about that time. The John Vanderhoek and Norman Ostrom families moved in on Lillian Road. ca. 1950 the family of John P. Jones lost their home to fire in Jacksonville, and a radio announcer named Ted Chapeau came to their cause with a cry for help. A lot was donated next to the Vanderhoek’s home and Chapeau Road was created. Arlington citizens got together and built them a home in two days. I remember helping clear the lot and carrying lumber and other supplies.
Lone Star was paved to Mill Creek when Terry Parker High School was built ca. 1955. A few of the original homes are left but as far as I know, only the Powell descendents still live on Lone Star in the middle of Tree Hill. Members of the Matthew and Jaques family still live in Arlington. The Schieder family has several homes out US 1 South. One of the Danese girls lives in SaintXAugustine, and the Cumbus family lives in Florahome. The positive friendly attitude of the folks that grew up there still exists today.