Hatabel Hyer

Hatabel Hyer

February 1, 1975

Miss Hyer was the oldest daughter of Edward Pringle Hyer who came here from Georgia with three of his brothers in 1875. Edward operated his own school books and supplies store on Orange Avenue from 1886 to 1889, and served on the city council during the 1890s.

Hatabel was one of Orlando’s first female insurance agents, among the first officers of the local Sorosis Club, and helped organize the Business and Professional Women’s Organization’s Orlando chapter.

Miss Hyer’s interest in collecting memorabilia led her to save the memories of her home town.  As a member of one of Orlando’s pioneer families Miss Hyer new stories about everyone and everything that happened over the years.  In the early 1970s she took a portable cassette recorder and visited older residents and engaged them in conversations to be recorded for posterity.

She imagined these recordings to be listened to as though one were listening in on an old “party line” conversation, when residents shared telephone lines and it was possible when one needed to make a call there would already be two parties on the line deep in conversation.  Thus began her Pioneer Party Line project, which gained interest among the Friends of the Orlando Public Library, who in turn began the Oral History Program.

Miss Hyer was interviewed by James R. Spence on February 1 and 8, 1975, for the Oral History Program of the Friends of the Orlando Public Library.  We are grateful for the Orange County Regional History Center’s making these recordings available for Orlando Memory.

Part 1 - Ancestry; Grandfather, bayonet maker in Covington, GA; slave; Spanish American War veterans; Civil War veterans; Civil War stories.  

Part 2 - Family home; brothers and sisters; father's stroke; the Big Freeze of 1895; early trips; Coca Cola; downtown Orlando.

Part 3 - Banks of Orlando; 1892; Mrs. Abbott's school; Mrs. Johnson's school; teachers; Adventist's school; more teachers; 1903; mother's death; away to boarding school; grades 8 through 12 all in one room; members of graduation class; school burned down - 1905; recreation; Lake Eola  - swimming; racing; golf course, hunting venison; eating jerky and popcorn; northern visitors; serenading negro groups; the Cohens; Bermans; Solomons; social clubs.

Part 4 - Sorosis Club; library; Mrs. Beardall; Spanish American War; growth of Orlando; picnic trips; formal education was boring; made clothing for siblings; Mr. Albertson and the library; annual Christmas party; father's death (1909); Orlando's people.

Part 5 (2-8-1975)  - Mr. Sam Robinson & Mr. Freeze; Lake Eola recreation; armory; party; scandals; bicycles; church (First Presbyterian); graveyard; tobacco use; Milo Cooper; Augustus Jackson; Jeanette Robinson Murphy; courthouse clock.

Part 6 - Courthouse clock (continued); first automobiles and paving; Carl Dann - subdivision developments:  Concord Park, Colonialtown, College Park, etc.; father's death; Tuberculosis; roomers; courthouse job; Mr. Lockhart and races at Lake Eola.

Part 7 -Races at Lake Eola (continued); 1913 first sewers; WWI; paving roads; Miami trip; insurance business; clubs; stamp collecting and John Massick.

Part 8 - Church Street Bank / 1929 stock market crash; women's suffrage; speech classes; gardening - Hibiscus hybrid named after her; Brevard; N. C. camping; oral history project; living relatives; Canadian trip by Orlando Masons; Mr. Sears visits Hatabel's mother in Kentucky.

Part 9 - (Cassette dated May 28, 1975.  Continued.) Mr. Sears visits Hatabel's mother in Kentucky to propose marriage; preparations for wedding; mother decided to marry Hatabel's father instead; church burned down; typhoid fever; mother's wedding dress and checkerboard stockings(!); typhoid treatment; genetic ancestry; uncle's tragic story; ancestral families and notable relatives.  (Ms Hyer's travels in search of family connections continues below with Hatabel Hyer in search of ancesters, Part A.)


On March 19, 1975 Hatabel Hyer recorded her recollections of early home remedies, before there were doctors in the area.  She then talks about the early doctors who came to Orlando.  Listen to Early Medicine in Orlando.

Ms Hyer also recorded her memories of early lawyers in the Orlando area and then proceeded to talk about women's liberation.  Listen to Early Lawyers and Notable Women.


The following are of a more personal nature, of interest to family members and other family-history researchers.

Hatabel Hyer in search of ancesters
Part A - Traveling in search of ancestors, finding family portraits, visiting mother's family home, visiting grandfather's third wife, Methodist "camp meeting", Brummel relative and Wild Bill Hickok, red heads in the family, the Richards; (long pause), 35 or 40 cassettes to be distributed to family, oral history project - "Pioneer Party Line", Jim Spence - president of the Southeast National Bank.

Part B - Perryville, graveyard, the Samuel Warren Ewings, the Gregorys, "Aunt Duck", the Brummels

Part C - Continued searches for ancestors and relatives, antique collectors, Aunt Lizzie gathered relative remains in Lebonon, KY, more Ewings, the Ganos, John Logan, John Mottley Brummel, prepairing varoius trunks for storing and distributing family artifacts, John Mottley Brummel, cont., Squire Goodlow, Cousin Sally, the "art of ancestor catching."

Part D - (Cassette dated July 27, 1975) - The Clan Ewing (book), Hyer ancestry

Part E - Hyer brothers come to Florida, Grandmother Great, (long pause), John Allen Gano, the establishment of Liberia, etc., "The Trick of Catchin' Ancestors."

John Allen Gano
Part 1

The re-election of Orlando's first African-American city councilman (Arthur Kennedy) inspired Ms Hyer to record this discussion of some papers from John Allen Gano.  Mr. Gano was a prolific writer and had been the secretary of the Kentucky branch of the American Colonization Society.  This society's mission was to finance and arrange for freed slaves to return to Africa, to colonize the continent.  This lead to the founding of Liberia.  Hatabel had found the papers in an old family attic and donated the them to the University of Missouri in 1953.  This interview was conducted by James R. Spence on September 20, 1976.

Part 2
Ms Hyer was related to Mr. Gano by his mother, Elizabeth Ewing.  In Part 2 Ms Hyer also relates more of the Ewing family line.

Reid Ewing - In this brief recording Reid Ewing reads early letters from John Allen Gano to Mr. Gano's uncle, James M. Ewing, dated February  11, 1822 and July 6, 1824.  This recording was made on October 13, 1976.  Hatabel Hyer can be heard in the background encouraging Mr. Ewing.

Luron H. Geer - First professional photographer in Orlando.  Hatabel Hyer and Mary Alice Nichols discuss the mystery surrounding Lillie's death and other unanswered questions regarding the Geer family. Hatabel states that the recording is for the Pioneer Party Line.

Hatabel Hyer

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