Julia Atzeroth and her husband, Joseph, immigrants from Germany, were the first settlers on Terra Ceia Island, which is north of Palmetto at the southern end of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. They settled on the island in April of 1843, claiming 160 acres of land under the Armed Occupation Act. They farmed the land and, though it took many years, eventually received the deed to their property. Later, they moved to Palmetto near present-day Regatta Point Marina and opened the first store on the north side of the river.
Their daughter, Eliza, first married Michael Dickens and unsuccessfully filed for divorce due to infidelity and other complaints. After he left to fight in the Civil War, he never returned and was probably killed at Missionary Ridge. She married William Fogarty in 1870, and the couple moved to Fogartyville to a house William built at 320 29th St. N.W., Bradenton.
Fogartyville was settled by William and his two brothers, John and Bartholomew (Tole) in 1868. The men came to the Manatee Region from Key West in an effort to establish a shipbuilding and coastal schooner trading post. The brothers homesteaded over 135 acres between Manatee Avenue and the Manatee River and 26th Street West and 37th Street West. Fogartyville consisted of the homes of the members of the Fogarty family or that of those who purchased some of the family’s property, a large general store, a bakery, a small dairy, shipbuilding warehouses, two churches and a cemetery. Seven members of the Fogarty family became ship captains, running ships out of the Manatee River and Tampa Bay throughout the world.
In 1871, Joseph died, and in late 1873, Eliza persuaded her mother to move to Fogartyville from Terra Ceia. A house was built for her there in 1875 on 3 1/2 acres she bought from John Fogarty for $30. Julia had a large garden of flowers, herbs, vegetables and shrubs. It was in this garden that she grew the first pound of coffee produced in the United States.
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In 1878, John Fogarty brought coffee seeds to Manatee County from Mexico. By 1879, Madam Joe had eight healthy coffee bushes. On Sept. 22, 1879, she wrote the U.S. government in Washington and described the bushes. On Feb. 20, 1880, she sent the first pound of coffee from the trees to Washington, D.C., and the commissioner of agriculture for which she received a $10 gold piece. Later, she sent four more pounds of coffee and received a thank-you note from President Rutherford B. Hayes. The trees were killed to the ground in the freeze of 1886 but sprouted again.
Before Julia’s death in 1902, Eliza sold the house and property to the Rev. John Franklin Reeder for $400. If only they had known how the price of coffee would skyrocket 100 years later. Think about it. While Eliza made a profit of $370 on the land, think how much she could have made on sales of the coffee at present day prices. On land purchased for $30, Julia grew eight coffee bushes. That’s not a lot to pay considering how much most people spend on a cup these days. Almost a $10 gold piece!
Cathy Slusser is director of the Manatee County Historical Records Library. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.