Hystery Mystery: Who lived at East Pass in the early days, besides Leonard Destin?
Another one of the History Mysteries of Destin is exactly who lived in East Pass (Moreno Point) in the early days when it was just starting out as a community?
That question is actually very hard to answer due to the fact that Moreno Point was once a military reservation. The land could not be homesteaded because the War Department owned the land. Also, because so few people actually lived there, its population was included with other communities during the Federal census taken every decade, until 1930.
We do know that when the War Department surveyed the land for Moreno Point Military Reservation in 1847 there was only one house on the property. Based on that house's location we believe it was the first home of Leonard Destin. The families living at Moreno Point in the later part of the Civil War come to light in this map drawn in February 1864 by the Union Army in Pensacola. The area from Pensacola to Vernon, Fla., was mapped by the Union Army and it showed where each person lived and their family name.
A map drawn by the Union Army clearly shows the families living around Choctawhatchee Bay and particularly the five families living at East Pass (Moreno Point) in 1864. Two families were named Lewis, one family each was named, McCullom, Lennin and Sanders. Based on the Lennin family residence location this was the Leonard Destin family. These families intermarried.
According to the 1850 Federal Census, the McCulloms were John and Rebecca McCullom from Newbury District, South Carolina. They had one son and three daughters. Their oldest daughter Martha McCullom was born in 1835 in South Carolina and married Leonard Destin in 1851. They built a new home, in 1852, right next door and to the south of the McCulloms at East Pass.
The McCullom’s second daughter, Harriett, was born in 1839 in Florida and married Alfred Lewis in 1856. Alfred had been born in Georgia and his parents were from South Carolina. They lived on the other side of the McCulloms to the north. Alfred was listed as a ‘sailor’ in the 1860 federal census, so he probably worked with Leonard Destin as a fisherman.
The McCullom’s third daughter, Nancy, was born in 1840 in Florida and married Calvin Lewis in 1858 (Calvin was Alfred Lewis’s younger brother). Calvin had been born in Alabama and his parents were from South Carolina. Nancy and Calvin built a home, two houses from the McCulloms.
Both Lewis brothers; Calvin Lewis and Alfred Lewis, joined the Walton Guards at Camp Walton and served during the Civil War. Leonard Destin was older (having been born in 1813) and was not required to serve in the Civil War. Additionally, he was a Yankee, having been born in New London, Conn., and if he had been required to serve one wonders on which side he would have fought.
Also shown on the Union map was the name Sanders. This is thought to be William Anderson (age 27) who had been born in New York and was a fisherman. He probably worked along with fisherman Leonard Destin.
So were their families living at East Pass (Destin) during the Civil War along with Leonard Destin? Sure there were. However, unlike the Leonard Destin family they did not stay, but moved on over the years as did other very early settlers at Destin. Martha Destin’s sisters (both the Lewis families) moved to Santa Rosa County in the early 1900s. They lived as farmers, and also worked in the logging industry.
In the early 1880s William T. (Uncle Billy) Marler rowed his boat over from Niceville (called Boggy in the 1880s) to Destin and began working for Leonard Destin. He, his mother, brothers and sisters also came to Destin and settled, one by one. The Marlers became the second permanent family to settle Destin, Florida.
H. C. “Hank” Klein is a Destin historian who visits often and lives in North Little Rock, Arkansas with his wife (the former Muriel Marler of Destin). Klein recently published a historic book about Destin's pioneer settlers. “Destin Pioneer Settlers...A Land History of Destin, Florida from 1819-1940” can be obtained from Tony Mennillo of Arturo Studios at 850/585-2909. Klein can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.