The Man Who Put Vero On The Map

A century after their grandfather created Vero's infrastructure, the Carter family is still involved in the city's future.
Daytona Beach civil engineer R. D. Carter supervised the first platting of Vero in 1912. The following year, he was hired by the Indian River Farms Co. and, with his wife Lillian (below), homesteaded 80 acres in Wabasso.  The couple had four children, two of whom survived to adulthood.

When a baby boy was born in Eufaula, Ala., on Aug. 10, 1877, and named Robert Daniel Carter – in part after family friend Daniel Boone – one might have suspected that he was destined to lead an adventurous life. For starters, his father, Dr. Wilbur Wesley Carter, had had an eventful four-year career in the Confederate Army, wounded at the Battle of Chickamauga and captured at least once by Federal forces. Then, after the war, during the painful “Reconstruction” period, Wilbur shot and killed a carpetbagger who broke into the Carter home. As a result of this incident, the family relocated to Tennessee.

Wilbur and his wife Blanche had five sons, of whom Robert Daniel was the eldest. The move to Tennessee proved providential for R.D.; there he met Miss Lillian Purkey and they were married on Valentine’s Day, 1901. Educated by correspondence courses in the field of civil engineering, R.D. worked for a time in North Carolina and then, in 1909, accepted a position with the Daytona Beach engineering firm of C.M. Rogers & Co. It was a good time to be a civil engineer in Florida, as many strides were being made in laying down the infrastructure in various areas.

The town of Vero was one of the places whose moment for progress had arrived. Herman Zeuch of Davenport, Iowa, was about to purchase 55,000 acres of what is now Indian River County, and he hired Rogers to determine the feasibility of converting this giant marshland into prime farmland that could be marketed to Northerners interested in seeking their agricultural fortunes in sunny Florida. Rogers assigned the task to a crew of 12 surveyors and engineers, who arrived in January 1912, with a wagon, a team of mules, two large tents, a cot for each man, cooking utensils, a large supply of groceries, and a cook who was expert at preparing meals on an open fire. The expedition was led by R.D. Carter.

Read the entire article in the April 2008 issue