EXCERPT:

Mister Joe and Madam Joe Atzeroth, a Bavarian couple, settled on Terra Ceia Island in 1843 after sojourning for a time in New York and New Orleans. On the island they lived on a homestead of 160 acres, which Mr. Joe obtained from the United States Government. In 1851 they moved to Palmetto, opening the first store there, while continuing their farming endeavors on the island and overseeing their cattle on the open range north and east of Palmetto. Mr. Joe fought in the Seminole War of the 1850s and the Civil War of the 1860s, while Madam Joe attended to their home affairs. Both figured prominently in the early settling of Manatee County. Frederica Kramer, a niece of Madam Jo, came from Bavaria, Germany about 1855-56 for a visit that changed the course of her life.

LEE, EDMUND M., 75. Edmund Miguel (Guerro) Lee, pioneer resident of Manatee County, was born June 1, 1864, on Terra Ceia Island. The name given him at birth was Christopher Guerro. His mother was Frederica Kramer Guerro of Bavaria, Germany, and she was a niece of Madam Joe. Frederica had come to visit for a time with Joseph (Mr. Joe) and Julia (Madam Joe) Atzeroth. While here, she met and married Miguel Guerro, a Minorcan fisherman, who had homesteaded on Terra Ceia Island.

The couple lived on the homestead with their growing family of five children: Michael (born in 1857), followed by Frederick, Christopher (born June 1, 1864), Robert and Mary (born in 1868). The father and mother could not communicate; he spoke Spanish and she spoke German. It has been said the children could not communicate in either language but uttered sounds that were not understandable except, perhaps, to each other. The family resided on the long shell mound that fronts McGill Bay, property later owned by E. C. Abel. The retold story is that sometime after the birth of Mary in 1868, fever struck the family, resulting in the death of the two older children, Michael and Frederick, about 11 and nine. Miguel and Frederica buried them in the shell mound. Miguel Guerro then went on an extended fishing trip. When he returned, he was weak and feeling the effects of the fever beginning to strike him. He found his wife in bed, dead from the fever, the baby Mary lying at her side. The two young boys were running around, disoriented and probably hungry, not understanding why their mother did not respond to them and why the older boys were no longer there. Miguel was too weak to bury Frederica and too weak to go to the mainland for help. Asa Bishop, from Bishop’s Point, Palma Sola, came sailing by, stopped in to be neighborly, and found the situation. He helped Miguel bury Frederica in the shell mound, then loaded Miguel and the three children in his boat and carried them to his home. Miguel worsened, died and was buried at the Point near the area known today as DeSoto Landing Park. The Reverend Edmund Lee and his wife, Electa Lee, carried the baby Mary and the older of the two remaining boys, Christopher, to their home in Manatee Village, now East Bradenton. Mary sickened from the fever and died.

The Reverend Edmund Lee of Manatee, the first Presbyterian minister in south Florida, and his wife, Electa, adopted Christopher. He was given a new name: Edmund Miguel Guerro Lee, or E. M. Lee. His new mother taught a school in her home and soon was teaching him the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic. John Fogarty adopted the other orphaned boy, who was about two years old. He was given the new name, Robert (Rob) Guerro Fogarty. Both E. M. and Rob quickly learned to speak English in their new homes. Electa Lee died when E. M. was still a boy; his father married two more times.

Edmund M. Lee lived with his adopted family until he returned to Terra Ceia, in 1892, to claim his portion of the Guerro homestead. He was a member of the Methodist Church in Manatee and a farmer. Occasionally he ran a mail route up the river. It was on the river mail runs that he met Susan Martha Berryhill of Ellenton, a daughter in the pioneer Andrew Berryhill family. They were married in the Palmetto Baptist Church on May 11, 1892. Ten children were born of this union. First they lived in a log house on the island homestead. Later, they moved to a new, large home in Rubonia. E. M. Lee farmed all his life in the Terra Ceia-Rubonia-Palm View area.

Edmund Miguel Guerro Lee died Monday a.m., April 29, 1940, at the home of his son, W. C. Lee, 2717 11th Avenue, Bradenton. His survivors included four sons, R. E. Lee of Tampa, W. C. Lee of Bradenton, Miller Lee of Palmetto and L. J. Lee of Manatee; two daughters, Mrs. Henry Bailey of Bradenton and Mrs. Joe Poirrier of Palmetto; 21 grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.

Service was 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 30, at Terra Ceia Methodist Church. The Reverend T. W. Carlton and the Reverend E. D. Conway conducted the service. Active pallbearers were B. A. Johnson, John Anderson, E. C. Abel, Hall Terry, John James Ezell and Earl Powell. Honorary pallbearers were Dr. H. Gates, Dr. C. W. Driscoll, R. R. Beville, E. S. Hubbard, Mr. Terry and I. V. Loyd.

NOTE: Other spellings, Gerrero, Fredericka

 

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