By Pete & Beverly Dail
A couple of years ago we purchased an older wood
framed house we believed to have been built in 1946. The plan was to
renovate the home. While removing the rotted interior wallboards and
floorboards we discovered hidden treasures that had been there for years.
The most significant were 2 calendars dated 1926. They
were apparently hanging there between the studs when the wallboards were
installed and had been there ever since.
merchant's name on the calendars though is the best thing of all. It
reads: "Ruskin Mercantile Company - Dealers in General Merchandise -
Ruskin, Florida - On the Inlet." We've not been able to find out much
about the Ruskin Mercantile Company. Willie Walker, former owner of the
Coffee Cup Restaurant, told us that there
were 5 or 6 general stores in Ruskin at that time and that it was probably
on of those.
We did find out some additional
information about the home though. A local farmer, Chic Willis moved it to
that location in 1946, to be used as housing for some of his family. This
"Cracker House" was originally built and moved from somewhere over on the
Little Manatee River.
It was constructed with "rough cut" pine boards that
were probably milled locally. It had wooden shingles and wooden shutters
both of which were discovered during the attempted renovation. They had
been covered over during remodeling of the home sometime in the past 80
years. We know the home was at least that old because of a page of another
calendar dated 1923 we found behind the kitchen cabinet.
We're sorry to say that termites had eaten over 90% of
the original walls and floors and the home could not be salvaged. A great
story though not to mention a great piece of Ruskin history.