Field Manor offers unique look into Brevard’s pioneer life
Director Korinn Braden dressed as a pioneer during a recent tour of Field Manor.
Between the Kennedy Space Center, the Florida Institute of Technology and the myriad of research projects happening at any time on the Indian River Lagoon, Brevard County is known as being on the cutting edge of today.
With a little bit of a closer look, however, Brevard County also is steeped in history. On Merritt Island, visitors to Field Manor can view the home of the first family to settle on the island.
“In 1867, John Moss Field and his younger son, Charles Edgar Field, left Macon (Georgia), destined for Florida,” Field Manor officials stated. “They wended their way across rivers and swamps with four horses and a covered wagon. Upon reaching Florida, two horses were stolen. At C.J. Joiners in Titusville, they hired a flat boat to take them to Merritt Island. One horse fell off the boat and died. The last horse was shot by a hunter. John Moss and Charles landed, staked their land, and they named the area Indianola in April of 1868.”
After this somewhat rocky start, the Fields began to establish themselves on the island, growing crops such as pineapples, tobacco, mangoes and sugarcane. They eventually spread out into the first town in Indianola (Merritt Island).
Today, visitors still can see the rows of crops and trees during the half-mile drive into the museum. The museum itself is a historical structure with areas within the house dating to “as early as 1880,” according to officials, with some possessions within the home from as early as 1860.
Field Manor was established as a living-history museum by Alma Clyde Field, who was the last of the Fields to live in the home. As a historian, it was Alma Clyde’s dream to have the house preserved for educational purposes, so that future generations might better understand what it was like to live in the 19th century Florida household.
In March, Field Manor came under the guidance of a new director, Korinn Braden, who informed Senior Life about the history of the museum and its importance to the county.
“It’s very rare to come into a historic home and actually see artifacts from the house,” Braden said. “Oftentimes, you’ll walk in and (a museum docent) will say, ‘this would have been very similar to the style of table they would have had in that time period,’ where, with the exception of one piece in this room, (everything) came from the family.”
In fact, throughout the house, nearly everything was inherited by the Field family and carefully curated for display in the Field Manor home.
“People lived here for over 140 years,” Braden added. “Between three attics, a barn, (etc.), there was a lot to choose from; so it was a wonderful opportunity to create real-life exhibits with items that were truly used in their household, and that’s very rare.”
One of the reasons Field Manor is particularly significant in today’s technologically driven society is that, as time passes, there are fewer and fewer opportunities to see old Florida life, and especially to experience it firsthand. This is not only due to that fact that old family farms are being sold off to developers, but also the nature of Florida itself.
“I’m glad that Field Manor continues to be here, and I’d like to see it continue,” Braden said. “Because it really does show pioneer life, and not much of it exists because it’s Florida: storms, weather and wood — so not a lot stuff survives. Every pioneer town has a different story.”
Field Museum offers docent-led tours of the museum, as well as specialty tours for larger groups, such as elementary school field trips.
For more information about Field Manor, go to fieldmanor.org, and to schedule a tour, call 321-848-0365.
Field Manor is located at 750 Field Manor Drive on Merritt Island.