Property Deeds and Panels: Week of June 19th

Hello, everyone!

It’s been a productive week at the Brevard County Historical Commission. I uploaded two new oral history projects to the YouTube channel. You’ll remember I’ve been talking about Roy Roberts Jr. and Jack Salmela; they are both now up and available to watch! Please check them out:

Click for Roy Roberts Jr.

Click for Jack Salmela

I also began editing a new oral history this week from the archives. This was for Mary Elizabeth (“Beth”) Scobie. She comes from a well known family who settled in the north part of the county in the 1800s. She is a charming woman who talks a lot about the early days in the Titusville area as well as her family’s fishing business and many personal memories. I sent the video off to be transcribed and began the editing process. I will hopefully be posting her interview next week.

In the meantime, you can take a look at a section about the Scobie family from one of the Brevard County history books produced by the Historical Commission!

I also edited my first full panel interview. This interview is hosted by Wes Houser, a politician and business man in Brevard, and features Dave Nisbet and Joe Wickham, two prominent County Commissioners. These two men were extremely influential in the development of Brevard County and have really valuable perspectives. I’ve sent this off to be transcribed and am hoping  it turns out well, since this is the first project I’ve sent to them with more than two speakers.

Editing the panel interview in Adobe

Next I will be continuing to work on the additional oral histories we have on Joe Wickham. Joe Wickham spent about 30 years in politics in Brevard County and even has a park and road named after him: Wickham Road and Wickham Park. (Which will be instantly familiar to anyone who lives in Brevard). He was particularly influential in building roadways and getting a strong mosquito control program.

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Named after Joe Wickham

The other interesting thing that happened this week is that I was able to watch Mr. Boonstra research property records for a historic home in Rockledge. A patron requested to find out who the first owner was, which meant looking up records in our microfilm collection. We were able to piece together clues to find out that the home was built in 1907 by the brother of a well known figure in Brevard, Hiram S. Williams. The man’s name was J. C. Williams, and by using Ancestry.com we were able to see his name was John, as well as find his birth year of 1846.

John C Williams listed as Hiram S. William’s brother
John C. listed below his brother in the census


While I was waiting for some oral histories to finish uploading and converting I did some more research on my own and found some more records on John C. Williams. He lived in New Jersey and died there in 1913. I used clues such as the name of his mother and sister, who lived with him at the time of the 1900 and 1910 census, to confirm his identity.

I’m still not sure why he was building a home in Florida when it seems that he was residing in New Jersey…perhaps a summer home or investment? However, while there are still some unanswered questions, I’m still really enjoying this type of genealogical work.

I’ll be continuing my work on the panel interview and additional Joe Wickham interviews next week!

Until then, thank you for reading!

-Heather Pierce

Videos Up: Week of May 29th

It has been a busy week at the Brevard County Historical Commission! The best news is that I was able to successfully upload the Marian Grant and Mercer Livermore King videos to YouTube! These are the first videos I’ve uploaded that I worked on from start to finish.

This involves:

  • converting from DVD to MP4
  • editing the video for sound quality and scene continuity in Adobe Premiere
  • exporting the finished file
  • sending off for transcriptions/timestamping
  • editing the transcription for accuracy
  • writing YouTube descriptions
  • uploading to YouTube itself!

Checking the transcriptions for accuracy is the trickiest part. I don’t know all the spellings for people and businesses, so I have to carefully comb through the city directories for clues. Here’s a peek at the library’s collection:

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Brevard County City Directories
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Where to find pertinent information about residents from past decades

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Love the old ad from the Indian River Hotel!
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More city directories

It’s important to get the transcripts as accurate as possible for future researchers who may utilize these interviews as primary sources. Often times looking up these names and references leads to learning interesting tidbits about history. For example, while editing the Mercer Livermore King interview she referenced a “chic sale” on the beach when she was there to witness a rocket launch. The term chic sale took some investigating, but actually turned out to be a colloquial term for an outhouse! It originated from a comedian Charles “Chic” Sale, who wrote a book titled The Specialist. It was all about a man who sells outhouses! I thought that was an amusing little piece of history.

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Here are the links to the Grant and King interviews if you would like to check them out:

I also finished editing the Edward Poe interview this week, which I started last week. Mr. Poe’s interview focuses mostly on the history of Titusville, where his father owned the Poe Grocery Store. Mr. Poe developed a lot of land in the area as well as worked for the The Indian River Citrus League. Interestingly, he also built the first Burger King in Brevard County.

I enjoy hearing about the development of the county and its businesses, even if it is just the first Burger King! After all, these types of things have lasting cultural effects on the community.

I have started editing a new oral history this week as well, for Victoria Raymond. She also worked in the radio business like Mercer Livermore King. Here is a link to a short bio about her.

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In other news, I also spent some time working with the microfilm machine again. I was researching another obituary for Mr. Boonstra. He told me that a lot of times they are contacted by estate companies searching for heirs. It was my first time using the machine by myself, but I’m happy to say that I managed just fine!

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Microfilm Machine
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Researching obituaries

Another interesting side project was looking for some old photos from the Florida Today newspaper. Unfortunately, the files we have were given to the Brevard County Historical Commission in disarray. The Florida Today was actually going to throw them out, so they had to be salvaged and organized by volunteers. It was sad seeing all those photos and documents being labeled as disposable, but it’s ironic that the paper now has a need for some of these old files and photos housed here.

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An image requested by the Florida Today from their old files
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Left over documents from the Florida Today that were not relevant to Brevard County

Well that about wraps up this week! I’ll be back next week editing the new Victoria Raymond transcript and uploading the Edward Poe video soon!

Until next time!

-Heather Pierce

Time to Edit: Week of May 22nd

Hello, everyone!

At the conclusion of the second week of my internship I have had the chance to learn how to complete new steps of the oral history project. This includes the process of editing interview footage in Adobe Premiere and editing video transcriptions for accuracy.

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The Main Public Area

While I have never worked with the Adobe program before, I’m enjoying learning as I go–especially since there are many useful features. My main focus is cutting out awkward pauses and tape changes, adjusting volume levels, and ensuring the correct formatting of the exported file. The most important task with the older videos, such as the Marian Grant and Mercer King interviews, is adjusting the volume levels. Since these videos were recorded originally on VHS, their quality is not always the best.

This week I edited both the Marian Grant and the Mercer Livermore King interviews in the Adobe program, which meant I could send them off to be transcribed. The videos are outsourced to be professionally transcribed and returned in a document format; I then edit the transcripts for accuracy. This usually means picking out errors in local names of people or places that the transcriber may not be familiar with. This process can be time consuming, especially if the interview contains a lot of these types of references, like the Mercer King interview. In this case, Ancestry.com was the first tool I used to look up names, but on Thursday I was introduced to the city directories housed in the library space itself. These are tremendously useful because they contain names of people, local businesses, addresses, and other pertinent information about who’s who and what’s what in the local area. I’ve been using directories from the 1950’s and the 1960’s to cross reference the information in the interviews with the transcriptions. (I particularly enjoy looking at the old advertisements!)

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Editing transcripts can be a messy process

It has certainly been an adventure this week since my boss, Mr. Boonstra, has been on vacation. However, the other people who work and volunteer her have been extremely kind in helping me, especially Martha, the Archivist Assistant here. She even invited me to attend the monthly meeting of the Brevard County Historical Commissioners, which was held on Tuesday May 22nd. It was really cool hearing from the people who work so closely to preserve and protect our county’s history. Topics included the reclaiming and renovating of neglected historic homes in Titusville, the plans for the next issue of the Indian River Journal, important archaeological finds in the area, and even my own comments on the progress of the oral history project.

(Check out the historic articles in the Indian River Journal here.)

The videos for Marian Grant and Mercer Livermore King will be live on YouTube shortly with their corresponding descriptions I was also able to research and write this week. I also selected the next interview subject, Edward Poe, a Titusville man. I will continue editing his video next week.

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Some of the oral histories

One last thing I did this week was search for a local person’s obituary from 2004, which was requested by a patron in Titusville. To do this, I used the microfilm machine to look at the archived issues of the Florida Today that are kept at the library. It was a great exercise in learning how to operate the microfilm reader, and I was able to locate a death notice for the individual. I hope I am able to continue working with the microfilm reader during my internship here; it’s as close to a time machine as you can get!

I hope everyone has a wonderful Memorial Day Weekend!

Thanks for reading!

-Heather Pierce