Brevard County organizations working to recognize 3 former enslaved people who settled Crane Creek

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. — Two Brevard County organizations are working to bring recognition to three former enslaved people.

Shortly after the Civil War, Peter Wright, Balaam Allen and Wright Brothers settled Crane Creek, a community that would grow into the city of Melbourne.

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“It would have been a huge challenge to establish a community here in that time,” said Dr. Ben Brotemarkle with the Florida Historical Society. “A century earlier the British had labeled this area uninhabitable. This is before air conditioning and mosquito control. It would have been a rough pioneer existence. You would have had to be a really intrepid individual to make it work here. And these three founders were those type of people.”

Local historians don’t have photos or paintings of Wright, Allen, or Brothers, but the Concerned Citizens Committee of South Brevard does have artistic renderings of the freedmen. The group is raising money for a monument to Crane Creek’s founders, which they hope to locate at Melbourne’s Riverview Park.

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“We don’t just want to put the monument there because it’s important to us, because it’s Black history. It’s everybody’s history,” said Teri Jones, with Concerned Citizens Committee of South Brevard. “Everybody who lives in Brevard County and especially who lives in Melbourne, they settled Front Street, they settled Melbourne.”

Jones has thrown herself into researching the elusive history of Wright, Allen and Brothers.

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“Peter Wright is known as the sailing mailman,” she said. “We was the first postman in Melbourne, or Crane Creek.”

Brothers and Allen, along with their wives Mary and Salina, would go on to establish what is now Greater Allen A.M.E. Church with  Robert and Carrie Lipscomb. The home where the couples met to discuss the new church still stands. It was acquired by the Greater Allen Development Corporation.

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“We relocated it directly across the street, which we’re going to have a museum at that location to not only tell the history of Crane Creek, but the entire history of South Brevard,” said Rev. Lorenzo Laws, the pastor of Greater Allen A.M.E. Church, which is celebrating its 137th anniversary this month.

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Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson, WFTV.com

Sarah Wilson joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2018 as a digital producer after working as an award-winning newspaper reporter for nearly a decade in various communities across Central Florida.