MARSH LANDS FAMILIES
In the midst of airboat marshland lived a family, one of a rare few, who farmed in the marsh land. The Pershing Platt family owned land here, west of Melbourne FL . Today there are still cattle ranches near this area, but no longer on the Three Forks Marsh land where the Platt family had resided at this swampy head of the St. Johns River which, by the way, flows from the south to the north (Jax). The swamp is home to sawgrass, willows and maidencane, rarely taller than 10 feet. Ospreys, hawks, herons, egrets abound. A few old stilted cabins remain on the marshland, unlocked for use by anyone who needs quick shelter for a night. Hunters seek deer, alligators, wild boar, turtles, frogs, and more. Tents are oft set up in hunting season. Mosquitoes abound especially after dusk!
PERSHING PLATT AND FAMILY
The Platts moved to the marsh in 1912 to build a home on which to raise their family 6 miles from any neighbor and in an area with no fences. Eventually the county built a road to their farm that was passable about 8 months a year and flooded the rest. During the summers, the family traveled by boat to “go to town.” The family would burn wire grass surrounding them so that it would grow back tender and green – as a lawn.
In the 1930 Census, Pershing is 9 years old (born about 1921) and lives “past Precinct 6 outside of Melbourne, Florida.” He is the son of Marion B. Platt and his wife May D. Platt who are 48 and 43 respectively. Marion’s father is from NC, and his mother from Florida. Marian, May and all the kids were born in Florida. Children in this dairyman’s family are Redmond, son age 14; Berkley (13); Daughter Mary (12); Pershing J. Platt, son, age 9; Daughters Byrdie (8) Rachel B. (7) Wilma (4), and newborn 5 month old Richard C. Platt.
As kids they’d play with found artifacts, tomahawks, shards, pottery, beads – just pastime adventures to them. Not treasure. Today they would be archaeological dig items, well valued as they date to the Timucuan and Ais Indians who inhabited this marsh thousands of years before.
As a young cowman of only 16 (around 1937) Pershing and his cousin Sybil Platt joined drovers driving 250 head of scrub cattle from Melbourne to Ona, FL – about 160 miles. Not once did they cross a fence. Pershing became a rancher following the amazing trip.
Eventually Crane Creek Drainage Company dug canals to control the marsh waters. J. Pershing Platt, a cattle farmer, lived near Zolfo Springs in Hardee County in 1997. He may still be there.