Albert Benjamin Addison was born in Portsea, Hampshire,England in 1870 to Richard Addison and Ruth Elizabeth Foster.
Richard was a career Royal Navy Boatswains mate retiring after 36 years and Ruth was a housewife
Albert was the 2nd boy in a family of 6, all were educated very well. His elder brother, Richard came to the United States first and settled in the Kissimmee, Florida area and waited for the other brothers to get old enough to come over.
Albert arrived at Ellis Island in 1888 with his younger brother, Joseph in tow. They ventured down to Kissimmee to where big brother Richard was living and stayed a short time.
I understand there was a disagreement between Albert and Richard because Richard wanted the younger Joseph to stay with him and Albert wanted him with him. I do not know if Joseph had a say in the matter, that was never mentioned.
Albert and Joseph came down the east coast of Florida and crossed over about Alva and must have caught the river mail boat (the best way to get anywhere back then) that went thru to Marco Island.
While on Marco, Albert met Charity Newell who's father had settled around there with her siblings, and he married Charity in 1894. I don't know anything about their courtship but she was a tiny person and her father was a Civil War veteran. He fought for the south and was taken prisoner to Elmira, NY yankee prison till the end of the war.
This is a bit off from Albert, but it ties in with him and Charity. Ed Newell and Charity Wright Newell traveled from NC to Washington Territory and back down to Texas where Charity Newell was born. They later came to Florida and settled in the 10,000 islands where they were what was considered squatters.
It is told that Albert eloped with Charity to Key West where they were married, but, that is just heresay, but they did marry in 1894 in Lee county and their first child was born April 3,1895, Albert Bryant Addison.
Albert Benjamin was a farmer, a barber and a dentist. Back in those days the barbers usually acted as dentists too, especially in out of the way places such as Marco Island.
Albert was blind in one eye when younger because a soda bottle cork exploded out of the bottle and hit him in the eye and he lost sight in that eye. He later became blind in the other eye due to glaucoma.
Albert homesteaded 165 acres on Marco Island which is on record. He wanted to plant pineapples and mango's and I am told avacados also. This part is heresay too, but I do know he could not grow anything on the land he had, so he traded the acreage to Mr. Collier for an island of some size and on this island he built a house, with a basement (unheard of in Florida but not in England). I presume he used oystershell and water to grind up and make a cement mix for this.
I didn't know Grandpa very well, but I know he lived with Albert and Laura, better known to me as Granny and Papa for a few years after leaving Marco, I think due to his blindness and having to go to the doctors in Tampa. Charity stayed on Marco in their house for a few years till she couldn't take care of herself and she moved in with their daughter, Annie Howard.
I remember a bit about their house on Marco, it had a big cistern out back, at the time I didn't know it was the only fresh water supply they had and thought it would make a great swimming pool. I didn't go in swimming because I can't swim and I would not have had happy people around me had I done that.
The house was a little frame house, 3 rooms, and a front porch with a swing and some kind of tree at the end of the porch that had such delicious fruit on it, but they would only let me have a little bit if one was ripe. I believe it was called a sugar apple or something like that, just remember it was sweet.
Down the street Aunt Annie lived in a house with Uncle Ira. I only visited there a couple times that I can remember, but, the houses were close enough that if someone needed something there would be someone within hollering distance. Aunt Annie's house was to me, big. It had a porch all the way around on 2 sides with swings.
Grandpa, Albert Benjamin Addison, soon came to live full time with Albert Bryant and Laura in Fort Myers and he sold shell rights to Fort Myers Shell Company. The oyster shells were used back then to build roads and parking lots under the tarmac. This gave them an income as with Grandma living with Aunt Annie and Grandpa living with Papa, there was no social security back then, helped them to have money to spend and buy medicines and such. I do not remember if they got what they called “old age pension” checks, but I don't believe Grandpa did because he was a naturalized citizen.
Grandpa would walk around the house, Papa put up ropes all through the house to help Grandpa walk because he could not see and they didn't want him to stumble. Every morning Grandpa had oatmeal with raisen bran on it, no milk as he did not like milk I was told when I asked why. He had his special spot at the head of the table with Papa on one side and Granny on the other side.
Papa had brought up the trundle bed from Marco for Grandpa to sleep on and his rocking chair which was a platform rocker. I loved sitting in it.
When I was young Grandpa would give me a dollar every time I spelled February right because he thought learning to spell was the best thing you could do and of course people pronounced February as febuary. He was very good with the language since he had been educated in England and we would sit on the front porch and read the funnies. I would spell the words I didn't know and he would tell me what they were, this is how I learned to read better than I did in school.
I remember going to the movies and seeing the coronation of Queen Elizabeth and Grandpa asked me about it, but I couldn't tell him much, I guess because I didn't pay that much attention to the movie, but he said, and I will always remember and wish I had told him more “she is my Queen you know”, so I guess his heart was always in England.
In 1954 he became very ill, Granny took care of him, he was in the living room and had a cathether, I didn't know what was wrong, but knew it wasn't good. Then, they took him to the hospital and he never came back. He passed away in Lee Memorial Hospital and was buried in the Marco Cemetery where Charity Newell Addison is also buried, along with James, his youngest brother who had a heart attack and fell overboard while fishing off Marco with Papa. There are several family members in that cemetery.
After he passed away, in 1954, Grandma lived till 1962 when she passed away. The island, due to the dredging of the shell, had been cut in to 2 islands. Fort Myers Shell Company purchased the island from the children of Albert and Charity and they named the larger piece Albert Island and the smaller one Charity Island and they are in Addison Bay.
I understand the foundation for the house Grandpa built is still there, or was about 15 years ago, but could be gone by now, but the islands stand as a monument to a man that ventured far from home for a better life.
These are my memories/ramblings of life with Albert Benjamin Addison. I did not know he had a middle name untill I was much older because he never said it nor used it. I asked Uncle Chester, one of his sons, if he had a middle name and he told me it was Benjamin.
These are just some ramblings of memory and fact. Albert had 2 other brothers, George and James who also came to the United States. I never knew about James till I started the geneology or George either. I have traced George from Portsea to Australia and back to the USA, but do not know where he went from there.
Joseph apparently came to this area and he married a woman named Josephine who had several children. She had been married to the famous mr. Watson that is written about in books till she married Uncle Joseph. Both are buried in the Fort Myers Cemetery I am told.
Copyright 2009 Margaret Sessions