Cobb family visits historical museum

Cobb family reunion
Cobb family descendants pose in front of the museum display of a boat built by Samuel Cobb prior to 1936. - Nancy Deal | Submitted

Descendants of Samuel Claude Cobb, grandson of one of the first Island homesteaders, recently gathered at the Anna Maria Island Historical Museum to celebrate his life and to return him for final internment to the island of his youth. Mrs. Marcia Cobb shared pictures, a bit of Cobb genealogy and a few stories about her late husband, who was named for his grandfather.

In 1895, the first Samuel Claude Cobb homesteaded 160 acres in what is now Holmes Beach and in 1907 established the Island’s first business – Cobb’s Marine Ways – which built and repaired boats into the 1970s. In 1902, the first Island post office was established in Samuel’s house. Cobb’s Corner included the Cobb house, the business, a bayou, a harbor, a natural channel to the bay and a dock.

The Cobb family has six generations of males with Samuel as a first or middle name.  Homesteader Samuel Claude Cobb had two children – Louis Samuel Cobb and Anna Maria Cobb, who was the first child born on the Island.   Louis had two children – Samuel Claude Cobb and Louis Melvin “Humbug” Cobb.

Cobb relatives present at the museum included Susan Carol Cobb Hlavinka, of Springfield, Ky.  Susan is the daughter of the second S.C. Cobb and his first wife, Charleen Austin, also from the Island.  Susan, who inherited the true Cobb features – red hair and fair skin, was the only bloodline Cobb descendant to attend.

Daryl Osburn, of St. Petersburg, Fla., is a niece by marriage. Mr. Cobb’s devoted step-daughters are Dawn Marie Cordero, of Lynnwood, Wash., and Tracy Ann Carter, of Davenport, Fla. Spouses present were Timothy Carter and Vidal Cordero. Grandchildren who participated in the museum scavenger hunt were Carmen and Emma Cordero and Justin Harold and Aaron “Bubba” Carter.

Mrs. Marcia Cobb shared some of grandson Samuel Cobb’s history and memories of the Island. He was born in 1936, eight years after brother Humbug, who was born June 18, 1928.  In 1953, he left the Island at the age of 17 to join the Navy, lying about his age. He retired from the Navy in 1978, settled in Washington State and then worked for the Department of Defense at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.

His favorite Island stories were about being on the Island when Esther Williams was here, traveling to Weeki Watchi and sailing his boat to go spear fishing. He loved to sail to little islands and camp out overnight. He was in the CAP (Civil Air Patrol) and taught water skiing.

He remembered climbing a watchtower in Holmes Beach with Elva (wife of Louis Samuel Cobb) to watch for planes during WWII. He said Elva remembered counting Jimmy Doolittle’s bombers as they left for war. MacDill Air Force Base was a training site for B26 pilots and the famous Doolittle was at MacDill to test the Martin B26 Marauder, but he flew the B25 bomber for the raid on Tokyo.

Samuel liked to tell stories of how he and his best friend, George Austin, met their future wives, and he shared some of the many adventures they had on the Island together.  George and sister, Charleen, lived on the next street over from the Cobbs.   Samuel knew Lordell Battersby, introduced her to George and the four became fast friends and eventually paired off in marriage.

Daryl Osburn remembered her favorite Samuel story of the four. One Christmas one of their parents had given them money to buy a Christmas tree. They spent the money on themselves, so they cut off the top of one of Mr. Bean’s pine trees. Evidently, their deception worked. There was no word of any punishment.

The cousins, Daryl and Susan, had visited the Island many times in their youth, and, as they talked, shared common memories. They remembered the old Cortez Bridge and how, when the school bus crossed it, no other vehicle or even a pedestrian could be on the rickety old bridge.

Other remembrances include the post office in Samuel’s original homestead house with its stone walls, seeing the mail slots or boxes as they chased around the room, that there was a little grocery store in part of the house, that Grandma Elva was one of the school bus drivers and going to the marina and riding in the boat.

Visitors to the museum can see the new outdoor Cobb boat display, which features the Daisey, a boat built by Samuel Cobb prior to 1936 and donated by the Florida Maritime Museum in Cortez.

– Nancy Deal