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Historical Overview of Riverview
- Native American Indians named the river Alafia which means “ River of Fire ” because of the sparkling effect of phosphorous in the water.
- 1842 Benjamin Moody arrived and built the first house in what is now referred to as “the town of Peru ” and subsequently Riverview .
- Founding families included Moodys, Simmons, Bravos, Saffolds, Barneses, Hardings, Boyettes, Lesleys and McGriffs.
- Activities included shipping of supplies up the Hillsborough River to the Bay on a sailing vessel named Josephine.
- 1846 first church is built – the Methodist Church was built by Benjamin Moody
- 1870’s and 80’s fruit packing company flourished on the Alafia River . Citrus was packet in barrels, shipped by barge to Tampa , and then transported by steamship to New Orleans .
- 1885 the “Peruvian Mine Company and first mine was established. Minerals were mined out of the bottom of the Alafia River.
- 1874 the first post office was built. The first postmaster was J.M. Boyette.
- Between 1910 and 1920, the road between “now” Riverview was made of brick it is now US 301.
- In 1930, H.J. Moody dedicated land for an elementary school in Riverview . It was built where the Flea Market stands today.
- The library in Riverview was previous a worm farm
- During prohibition and during late 1920’ and 30’s the industry of Moonshining was an activity that helped many residents survive. Boats would travel up the Alafia river for moonshine pickup.
- Whiskey Stump on the bay at the end of Adamsville’s Road was a hollowed out tree where whiskey was stored. People would come on boats to this area would pay an old man and retrieve stored jugs of whiskey
Riverview Then & Now Riverview, FL is one of those rare communities that has managed to maintain its small town atmosphere while perched on the outskirts of the "big city" - the City of Tampa is only about 12 miles northwest of Riverview. Riverview is a very old community which is presently undergoing an intense transition from a quiet town "where everybody knows your name" to the fastest growing community in Hillsborough County.
Riverview was first settled around 1840 and was one of the earliest settled areas in Hillsborough County, although the US Government had a fort at Tampa beginning in June of 1824.
The "old-timers" whose families have lived in Riverview for many generations are hard working, independent people who have diligently protected and preserved the heart and soul of Riverview for the future generations to come. We "newcomers" who are the fortunate heirs of their labor owe it to them now to join with them and work together side-by-side to guarantee that the special elusive "something" that emanates from the close-knit community of Riverview is not lost in the rush to develop.
Riverview United Methodist Church
in Riverview, Florida
The first church in what is now known as "Riverview" was the Methodist church. Now known as "Riverview United Methodist Church," the church was founded in 1846 by Benjamin Moody, the first settler in the area. 1896 Historic Moody Home
The Historic Moody Home was built in 1896
and purchased about 1902 by the grandson of Riverview's first pioneer, Benjamin Moody.
The Historic Moody House was built in 1896 and bought by WB (Ben) Moody in 1905. It was the home of Mary Moody, his daughter born in 1901, for virtually all her life. She died, in the 1990s.
What makes the house a community treasure is its long association with the Moody family who are the descendants of the first settler in his area, Benjamin Moody, who arrived in what is now Riverview in 1842.
1842 Benjamin Moody First Settler In This Area
In 1842, Benjamin Moody had just finished a tour of duty in the U.S. military fighting the Seminoles and thought this area would be a good place to put down roots. So the first settler was an ex-military man who was just ending his tour of duty. He received a military pension until his death in 1896.
Benjamin Moody was prominent in this area for many years, serving on the first board of county commissioners, helping to found the first church, the Riverview United Methodist church, and helping to start the first school.
Benjamin Moody's son, his grandson WB (Ben) Moody, and his great granddaughter Mary Moody, all lived in the house. WB (Ben) Moody moved into the house in 1905 and then his father came to live with them in 1915.
The Moody family continued to be leaders in the community. Benjamin Moody's son operated the Alafia Hotel and his grandson, WB (Ben Moody) was also a cattle rancher among his other business interests.
Mary Moody Remembers Riverview
Mary Moody lived in the house until the 1990s, and she remembered Riverview when there was only a ferry to take you across the Alafia, and when US 301 was known as the Tampa Road, or the 9 Foot Brick Road because of its width, and even the Wire Road because of the single telephone wire strung along the telephone poles by the side of the road. Her father, WB (Ben) Moody, owned the first automobile in the area, a Buick, and her family had one of the first local telephones.
Mary Moody graduated from the University of Tampa in 1949 and then began teaching first grade in Riverview. She taught in the two-story Masonic lodge where the school occupied the first floor and the lodge met on the second.
A Graceful Legacy
The Moody House, with its direct ties to the first settler who was also a county-wide leader and a man devoted to family and his church, is a graceful reminder that Moody's vision for Riverview deserves our respect. His efforts occurred without the support of 30,000 neighbors. His work for the community occurred when he was the first and when there were only a few. Do the thousands of us who live here now owe less simply because we are so many?
It is not an irony that as Riverview grew, and first one modern building and then another was built around the Moody House, it continued to stand alone, passing on to us that link to the first pioneer.
[Material for this article was taken from a series of fascinating historical columns by Aleta Jonie Maschek in the 1980s and printed in The Shopper Observer News. These six volumes of local history are at the downtown library.]
The Alafia River
"Alafia" is an ancient Indian word which means "River of Fire," so named because at night the Indians would look into the river and see shimmers of light beneath the surface. The luminous sparks were due to a high content of phosphorous in the water. Today Riverview's old timers recall seeing the shimmers in the Alafia River in years' gone by.
"Front Porch: Writer draws on her roots"
By ELIZABETH BETTENDORF
Published May 7, 2004 in the St. Pete Times Newspaper Here is the link to a GREAT article by Elizabeth Bettendorf about Norma Goolsby Frazier the leading Riverview (Peru) historian and author of a new book about the area. The article was written by well-known columnist Elizabeth Bettendorf. Here is a copy of Bettendorf's article:
"Norma Goolsby Frazier still lives on the land her grandfather settled a century ago in Peru. (For those of you with the wrong-headed Yankee tendency to pronounce like the country, it's actually Pee-rue.)
This scrappy, eyeblink of a town was eclipsed in the middle 20th century by what is now Riverview. But Frazier believes it to be the oldest settlement in Hillsborough County outside of Fort Brooke, from which Tampa grew.
Frazier, a local historian and author of the new book The Flaming Red Hill (Vantage Press, February 2004) was born at home, in a log cabin on the property that sprawls off McMullen Road not far from Boyette Road. The cabin is long gone. Three years ago, Frazier now 68, built a tidy new brick house with a view of cattle pasture, pine trees and dense stands of oaks.
"It's like I don't know anything else but this land," she says. "I always loved my home and felt blessed to be here."
As a child, she used to row the boat for her father when he fished in the nearby Alafia River.
"Dad would catch a fish and mom would get a fire going on the riverbank and we would have a picnic right there," she recalls. "I guess those were the things farm families did in those days."
Before development marched in and began to tame the wild landscape, Frazier remembers seeing wildcats and panthers, little red foxes and bald eagles.
Her family settled in central Florida in the 1840s, and migrated to the Peru area around the turn of the last century. They joined the First Baptist Church of Riverview 100 years ago, a place that Frazier has written about in her book A Light in the Wilderness and where she still worships.
"I believe the river has always been the attraction to this area," she says. "It not only provided food, but the land was fertile and they could plant crops. It was also very beautiful here."
Frazier has six grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren, with whom she takes great pleasure in spending time. Her little house brims with baskets of picture books and dolls in frilly dresses. When she was a little girl she used to pick wildflowers with her grandmother, something she remembers like it was yesterday.
"From where I was standing, the pine trees looked like they were soaring toward the sky, and my grandmother turned to me and said, "Seventy-five years ago there were Indians here.' "
Her new book, which is set in 1842 at the conclusion of the second Seminole War, is a fictional work that Frazier says she believes to be "historically correct." It sells for $13.95 and can be ordered online or from local booksellers.
God inspired her to write a book about a family migrating to a settlement on the banks of the Alafia River by wagon train, she says.
There's a thread of mystery to the plot, a hint of spirituality, some thrilling nights of campfires stoked until dawn to keep panthers away, as well as a real message about the meaning of home.
And, says Frazier, "it's a book full of Florida history, that a variety of readers will be interested in." "
Riverview History Mystery
Can You Help?
The Peruvian Mining Company
We are looking for clues to this Riverview History Mystery: Does anyone know where the original Peruvian Mining Company was located along the Alafia River in what is now known as Riverview?
The Alafia River, (pronounced AL-uh-fi, and not AL-uh-FI-uh by most speakers) gets its name from an old Indian term meaning "River of Fire" because of the flashes of light that could be seen in the river at night. Those sparkling streaks were caused by the phosphorus in the water. In the 1890's phosphate was discovered in this area and in the Alafia River. A phosphate mining facility was soon built near where US Highway 301 crosses the river near the little settlement in the area. That settlement, located on the south side of the Alafia River, was originally named “Peru” (pronounced “PEE-ru”). It seems the small settlement of Peru gave its name to the Peruvian Mining Company that was built nearby in the 1890s.
“Peru” eventually came to be known as Riverview (after the Riverview settlement on the North side of the Alafia River also begun in the 1890s).
Recently I was doing some research on the name “Peru” in an attempt to verify that the “Peru” settlement gave its name to the Peruvian Mining Company. My Internet search took me to some Native American websites.
Interestingly enough, I discovered at one website that “Peru” is a Miami Indian word meaning “a straight place in the river.” See:
I looked at a map and sure enough, the area thought to be originally known as “Peru” does indeed appear to be located on “a straight place in the [Alafia] river.” I then decided to check our Atlas to find out if there were other “Peru’s” located in the U.S., and whether or not they appeared to be on “a straight place in the river.”
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