Finding Answers About Eddie Lewis

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The word “Ehren”, of German origin, means “to honor”.

And, an example of doing just that can be found at Mt. Carmel Cemetery, in the once prosperous community of Ehren, off Ehren Cutoff in Land O ‘Lakes.

For over 114 years, a small grave in this 1 acre cemetery has been marked with the name “Eddie” atop a small headstone.

Karen Matthews, of Land O ‘Lakes, and Patricia Puckett, of Dade City, clean Eddie Lewis’ gravestone, buried at Mt. Carmel Cemetery in 1906. This cemetery is one of four historic African-American cemeteries that still exist in Pasco County. (Courtesy of Doug Sanders)

It is the last home of Eddie Lewis, who died on November 8, 1906, at the age of 14.

He was buried there, at a time of segregation of houses, churches, schools and cemeteries.

“Eddie’s grave was the only grave marked with a headstone and a mount when I first stopped to view the cemetery,” says Karen Matthews, of Land O ‘Lakes, who lives at six. miles away.

“It is obvious that his parents put all their love and money to honor their deceased son, and I was overwhelmed by the wonder and curiosity of his short life,” she said.

Eddie Lewis was born March 17, 1892, according to the gravestone.

The public records of the life and death of Eddie Lewis are elusive.

There was no hospital in Ehren at that time and no medical records are available.

No death certificate is available either.

Florida didn’t start requiring death certificates until the 1920s, according to Jeff Cannon, the former director of the Pasco County Historic Preservation Society.

While not much is known about the life of Eddie Lewis, information about Ehren’s community can be gleaned from historical documents, accounts by local historians, and newspaper reports.

For example, the Orange Belt Railroad arrived in 1888.

The local post office was established on January 17, 1890 to serve 300 people, according to a request to the Washington DC Postmaster General

Elizabeth Riegler MacManus and Susan A. MacManus, authors of “Citrus, Sawmills, Critters & Crackers,Described the working conditions in the community over a century ago.

White workers chopped wood to power log trains, while black workers cut railroad ties to maintain and extend railroad tracks, historians have written.

After cleaning.
After cleaning.

During the 1900s, Ehren’s Blacks worked in a turpentine still built southeast of the Ehren Pine Company, collecting resin from the trees, in heavy barrels.

The only other real source of income was agriculture where local farmers produced crops of watermelons, cantaloupe, onions, tomatoes, cane syrup and peanuts.

Historian Cannon has described the devastation caused by a fire on March 28, 1920 that brought the Ehren Pine Company to the ground.

“Within minutes, the sawmill was on fire along with a large guesthouse and two houses,” Cannon wrote in 2011. Total losses were reported at $ 125,000, according to his research.

The banner of the town of Dade reported on April 2, 1920: “With the disappearance of the sawmill, there isn’t much left of Ehren, and his future depends largely on whether or not Mr. Mueller is rebuilt and his associates. “

Historian Cannon observed: “While research has revealed a great deal of information about the town of the sawmill, there is still what we do not know. “

It is not even known precisely when Mt. The Carmelite cemetery was founded.

Approximately 40 graves were found in the cemetery in September 2006, by SDII Global, which conducted a ground penetrating radar survey of the cemetery.

Seven of them were marked with traditional gravestones, but the rest had wooden markers, which had rotted.

“The first marked grave is the infant daughter of T. & M. Horton, dated December 23, 1903,” according to Cannon.

The genesis of this column was a 2020 request from Matthews, who asked for help finding more information about Eddie Lewis.

On June 20, 2009, the cemetery was officially designated a historic site by the County Historic Preservation Committee.

Although little can be learned about him, some online research has provided more details about his family.

Online source FindAGrave.com identifies Robert Milton Lewis and Jane Lloyd Lewis as Eddie’s parents.

Additionally, handwritten records from the 1900 census (Pasco Ehren District # 0129) reveal that Eddie had three brothers: Robert, b.1890; Montine, born in 1895; and Abraham, born in 1900. He also had a sister, Ida, born in 1887.

Further information on Eddie’s family was found in additional census records and on Ancestry.com.

These documents say that Eddie’s father was born in 1866 in Mississippi and his mother was born in 1871 in Florida.

Her parents, according to records, married in 1886.

Records indicated that both parents could read and write, and that Eddie’s father worked in a “lumber mill.”

1910 census records reveal that the Lewis family moved to Clearwater and that Eddie’s father owned a blacksmith shop.

These records also indicate that Eddie had another brother, John, who was born in 1904, but that his sister, Ida, apparently died because his name was not listed in the census.

Eddie’s parents are not buried at Mt. Carmel Cemetery, according to obituaries found on Newspapers.com.

His father died in Clearwater at the age of 89 on July 5, 1956. His mother died in Pinellas County in 1945 at the age of 74.

Although the ground investigation did not identify any names at Mt. Carmel Cemetery, at least four burials are listed by PeopleLegacy.com:

  • Minnie Blocker (1876 to 1954)
  • Lonnie G. Bowen (born 1875)
  • Lydia Gibbs (1867-1936)
  • WG Gibbs (died 1935)

Any information on other people buried at the cemetery remains a mystery – at least for now.

Posted on July 14, 2021


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