Okeechobee County




Kyle S. VanLandingham and Alma Hetherington


Copyright l978, by Kyle S. VanLandingham


About the Authors



Born December 10, 1951 in Fort Pierce, Florida, Kyle S. Van Landingham is a descendant of the pioneer Alderman and Parker families of Okeechobee County. He grew up in Fort Pierce and was graduated from the local high school in 1969. Mr. Van Landingham received his B.A. degree from Maryville College in Tennessee in 1973 and his J.D. degree from Cumberland School of Law of Samford University in 1976. He is president of the St. Lucie Historical Society and is an active member of the Okeechobee County Historical Society. He is author of Florida Cousins. The Descendants of William H Willingham, Pictorial History of St. Lucie County 1565-1910, and Pioneer Families of the Kissimmee River Valley.


Alma Hetherington was born in Tampa, July 20, 1897. Her father, Paul Gibson, was a steamboat captain on the Kissimmee River during the 1880’s and her grandfather, Shadrach Chandler, was a pioneer settler of Basinger. She attended high school in Miami and received her higher education at Florida State College for Women, Florida Southern College, and the University of Miami. Mrs. Hetherington taught school at Okeechobee and Kenansville and was Associate Editor of the St. Cloud News. She is a charter member of the Florida Women’s Press Club, past president of the Osceola County Historical Society, and has written extensively on Florida history.




This project began in early 1977 when I contacted Mrs. Alma Hetherington of Holly Hill. She had a large collection of newspaper articles and photographs concerning the history of Okeechobee County. Mrs. Hetherington made these files available to me and they have been the major source material for this book.

Two collections of the Okeechobee News have been extremely valuable. Robert L. LaMartin’s file begins in the late 1920’s and continues to the present date. The other collection belongs to the Okeechobee County Historical Society.

During the past year I have interviewed many people and have received a large number of photographs for use in the book. A complete list of individuals who were interviewed and who provided photographs is included in the Resource Persons section of the Bibliography. I wish to thank all of them for their cooperation and assistance.

Okeechobee County has had an eventful and colorful history. Although the county was not established until 1917, I have begun the narrative with the Seminole Indian War period. The two original settlements located within the county’s boundaries were Basinger and Fort Drum. Their history has been long-neglected and one of my major objectives has been to tell the story of these two pioneer communities. The fourth chapter covers the growth of the town of Okeechobee from its beginnings in 1896 with the arrival of Peter Raulerson until 1917. The last two chapters detail the development of Okeechobee County until the present date.

Kyle S. Van Landingham

December 1977

A note about the photographs: There were approximately 78 photos in the printed book.  At present I am missing around 18 of those original photos.  For four of the missing ones I possessed either an exact copy or another photo of the same person or place in the same time period and was able to include it here.  Thus at present there are 14 photos missing that were in the original book.  WFL


Table of Contents


Chapter One


Chapter Two

BASINGER 1860-1917

Chapter Three

FORT DRUM 1860-1917

Chapter Four

OKEECHOBEE 1896-1917

Chapter Five


Chapter Six



INDEX  - Omitted in this online version