Story of Hub Storter - Husband of Dolly Charity (Addison)
End of an Era -- Herbert Storter
Copyrighted - Used with Permission
Reprint from the Naples Daily News/Marco Eagle,
August 5, 2006 - by Jeremy Cox
The Death of Patriarch Herbert "Capt. Hub" Storter, 96, leaves a void as wide as the indelible mark his family has left on the Southwest Florida landscape. Herbert Storter said he wanted his wife of 77 years to outlive him because he couldn't bear to be without her. Failing in that, he sought to die one minute after her so the two of them could "cross the Jordan" together, holding hands.
Storter, a career fisherman, was running a fish house on Marco Island in 1927 when he met and fell in love with a girl named Dolly Addison. Against her father's will, the couple eloped the following year to the newly renamed town of Everglades City. Storter's uncle, George Jr., Collier County's first judge, officiated the brief ceremony.
The groom was 19 years old; the bride 14. The couple died 13 days apart from each other last month at a Fort Myers nursing home. Herbert Storter broke his promise to die first. His anguish, family members say, killed him. Storter's death July 25 at the age of 96 signaled the end of an era.
In the days before "Starting in the Low $300s" became Collier County's unofficial motto,there was the Storter family.
Herbert, or "Capt. Hub" as he was widely known, was the last survivor of a pioneer class of Storters that left an indelible mark on Southwest Florida's landscape and its history books. His grandfather, George. Sr., was one of the region's earliest settlers, arriving in what is now Everglades City in 1881. Eight years later, George Jr. paid $800 for the future town site, and Robert Bembery Storter, Herbert's father and George Jr.'s brother, christened it as "Everglade."
George Jr. and Robert had 18 children between the two of them, giving the growing fishing community an instant population. Born in 1909, Herbert Morrison Storter was the eighth of nine siblings.
Over the next several decades, members of his generation would assume top positions of power in various local governments, invigorate a burgeoning fishing industry, write the area's first historical tomes and inspire the naming of a Florida university's mascot. Herbert himself kick-started the practice of shrimping off Fort Myers Beach, which now holds a shrimp festival every March.
He and Dolly also helped found the Naples Church of God and were the last of its surviving charter members.
"The man never seemed to age," the Rev. Elwood Kern, the Church of God's current pastor, said as he stood beside Herbert's open casket at his funeral. Herbert cut a lean, energetic figure and retained his coal-black hair until the last few,feeble years when all but a spot below his crown turned gray.
"He seemed to be eternal, so it's going to be rough not to have him around anymore,"Kern added. "He's with his mother. He's with his daddy. He's with his beloved Dolly. He's with those who have gone before."Pioneering spirit Vera Bennett, daughter of Herbert's brother Wilbur, is the family's historian. She has filled six scrapbooks with photographs, newspaper clippings and brief reminisces. She considers her work unfinished.
Flipping through one of the books last Tuesday afternoon, Bennett paused at a yellowed picture of her grandmother, Nancy Stephens Storter. The mid-1950s newspaper article proclaimed that the pioneer woman was celebrating her 80th birthday."I look at that and think she only had two or three years left to live and here I'm 80," said Bennett, who has soft, hazel eyes and a thick thatch of gray hair. "But one of my mother's sisters lived to be 100. I think people live longer these days." As captured in Bennett's pages, time moved at remarkable speed. In the span of a few pages, a blurry toddler in Victorian dress would morph into a rope-armed young man, a beaming father and finally an old man with leathery skin.
A newspaper obituary noted all there was left to say.The Storter story begins with George Washington Storter,
who emigrated from Alsace, France, in 1835 with his parents and brothers.who emigrated from Alsace, France, in 1835
with his parents and brothers. His parents died and, at 7 years old, George was adopted by the clerk of the circuit court in New Orleans.
During the Civil War, George served as a sergeant for the Second Alabama Cavalry and was an escort to Confederate President Jefferson Davis. After the war, George's wife and first-born son died. Around 1875, he and his two surviving sons, George Jr. and Robert, left Eutaw, Ala., for Florida. Traveling by ox cart, the three men settled near Fort Ogden and later continued south to Everglade. They began farming the fertile soil and turned out a sugar cane crop year after year without replanting. George Sr., a tin smith, fashioned the cans that held the syrup.
Every year, they could can between 200,000 and 300,000 gallons of syrup.The house that George Jr. built for his growing family is now the Rod and Gun Club. It still rests near Storter Avenue.
The family's reign over Everglade ended in 1922, when George Jr. sold all the property in town to Barron Collier.
The next year, the advertising tycoon persuaded the state Legislature to give him his own county in exchange for the businessman's help in extending Tamiami Trail to Miami. The Storters moved to Naples and were instrumental in the town's early growth.
One of Herbert's brothers, Claude, was a Naples city councilman for 18 years before dying in office.A newspaper clipping from the late 1950s in one of Bennett's scrapbooks gives this account of Claude's death:
"He could have resigned from City Council long ago and probably lengthened his life, but his devotion to duty was such that he insisted on finishing out his work despite poor health." George Jr. was the first chairman of the Collier County Commission and later resigned to become the county's first judge.
Another one of Herbert's brothers, Rob Storter, collected the family's stories in a series of booklets, culminating in a collection called "Crackers in the Glade," published in 2000, 13 years after his death.
The family's influence extended beyond Southwest Florida. One of Herbert's cousins, Neal, is believed to have been the source of the University of Florida's nickname,the Gators — a notion he would later dispute and, even later, ambiguously embrace. Lacking a complete education, Neal enrolled at UF's then-new Gainesville campus in 1907 as a sub-freshman. His swampy origins earned him the nickname "Brother Gator," which became shortened to "Bo Gator."Neal, a center, was an important part of the university's successful football team in 1911,the same year newspapers began calling the team "the Alligators."In 1928, Neal said the nickname was coined by a Macon, Ga., reporter. But more than 30 years later, he claimed the "Bo Gator" theory "bordered on the truth."
"She was his baby"
While other Storters made their names on the football field or in public office, most, including Herbert, adopted the family business: fishing.
Herbert Storter was born on July 27, 1909, in Fort Myers, where his family lived briefly.His brothers Rob and George taught him how to fish when he was 16 years old. Herbert split his time between guiding and fishing. When he began dating Dolly, her father, Albert Addison, immediately objected to the pairing.
The girl was too young and Herbert wasn't good enough for her.
"She was his baby," Herbert and Dolly's elder daughter, Marian McRae, said.
One day, Herbert intercepted Dolly on her way to Sunday school on Marco Island. She promptly hid her books under a friend's house and hopped into his car."We went across the ferry boat — the only way other than boat off the island," Herbert said in the 12-page memoir he wrote at a doctor's urging in the last years of his life.
"The man that was running the ferry knew we were running away. Her parents found out she was gone and they started to look for her.
"The man on the ferry stayed on the other side. They were blowing their horns for him to come back over and put them on our side," Herbert wrote.Herbert and Dolly raised two daughters, Marian and Voncile.
Over the years, though, Dolly's father never forgave his son-in-law for his brash act and never allowed Herbert to set foot on his property.
But as he approached death, Addison's rancor mellowed somewhat.
"I never liked him," he once told Voncile. "He's been a good husband and a good father,and I'll give him that. But he took my daughter when she was too young."
After a stint in the Coast Guard during World War II, Herbert returned to fishing but was soon drawn to shrimping.He would go on to own 22 shrimp boats at one time or another and trawl his way around the Gulf of Mexico from the Dry Tortugas to Campeche, Mexico.Conventional wisdom held that it wasn't worth the effort to shrimp off Fort Myers Beach.Nets would snare and snap on the stump coral that dotted the sea floor.Herbert and his son-in-law, George McRae, solved this problem by outfitting the nets with a steel cable.
The "tickler chain" would scour the bottom in front of the net, sweeping away any obstacle in its path.In a span of 10 to 12 days off Fort Myers Beach, Herbert could catch 5,000 to 6,000 pounds of shrimp,
an amount that would take about a month to amass at the more popular Campeche grounds, George McRae said.Dolly would track her husband's movements and communicate with him daily over a radio in the couple's
living room. When he was away, the radio was never turned off.
At 86 years old, Herbert finally retired from fishing, but he continued to work for several more years in packing houses and as a security guard.
During the last three years of his life, poor circulation and arthritis left him bedridden. A paralyzed esophagus prevented Dolly from eating solid foods toward the end.She entered a nursing home on Feb. 15 this year.
Herbert joined her on March 1, and they soon shared the same room.
About three weeks before Dolly's death, Marian approached her father with a question.
"Do you realize mother is dying?" she asked. "Yes, I do," was his reply.
She asked if he wanted to say goodbye, and he said he did. Marian took her father to her mother's side. Herbert rubbed his wife's hands for a moment and petted her cheeks. "Thank you for 77 years," he told her.
For the first time in five days, Dolly opened her eyes. She tried to speak. The words came slowly and with difficult pauses between them."I ... love ... you ... too."
But her message was clear.
Information from "Crackers in the Glade" by Rob Storter and
"A Brief History of the Everglades City Area" by Marya Repko was used in this story.
Link to the original article
Note: Story used with permission.