Wonderful Wabasso

Can the little town by the river find its place in the sun?
Wabasso at the turn of the century. The buildings on the right are the Railroad depot, a hotel, and the Cail home. On the left are the Elmer Smith General Store, Adam Eby’s store, Sam Beers home, the E.E. Smith house, Church Street crossing and the George Sears home. The last house visible going east is the Tom Cail home.

Captain Frank Forster, a seafaring man, is considered to have been the first settler in Wabasso. Born in Germany, he came to America and, for a short while, lived in Philadelphia. Sometime in the early 1880s, at the age of 29, he sailed down the east coast and settled in what is now the town of Orchid. Captain Forster, in fact, is said to have been the one who originally named the barrier island “Orchid” owing to the profusion of wild orchids growing there.

Shortly after his arrival in the area, Forster constructed a palmetto-thatched shack, becoming the first permanent white settler in what had been an uninhabited wilderness. His daughter, Josephine, was the first child born in Wabasso and he is believed to have planted the first citrus on the island.

Long before Captain Forster’s arrival, Indians had a presence in the Wabasso area. Though dates seem to be lacking, it is reported that a tribe of Ais Indians lived here and they are credited with piling up the huge mounds of oyster shell on the shores of the Indian River. These shells would later play an important role in the development of Wabasso.

Read the entire article in the  February 2004 issue

Categories: Features, Local History