The Brokaw-McDougalls: an old Tallahassee family

I took a call from Mrs. Wilhelmina M. of Crawfordville yesterday, who wished to refresh her memory about the family of her late friend, Emma McDougall. Emma had worked at our library, she said. It must have been long before my time. Had not Emma's grandfather-in-law been a governor of Florida? I said that I would look into it, and she said that she would call back later in the afternoon. Mrs. M. had been given a shrub of noble lineage by Emma's husband, Peres McDougall, which is to be mentioned in her garden club's newsletter, and she wants to have her facts straight.

When Mrs. M. called back, I was ready. Emma's grandfather-in-law, Peres Bonney Brokaw, had come to Tallahassee from New Jersey in 1840 and set up a livery stable business one block south of the current county courthouse and offices on Monroe Street. He built his house in 1856, with some of the wood and stone imported from Europe. He was of the secession party in 1861, and he paraded his troop of volunteer cavalry in front of the capitol while the issue was debated in the legislature. He was elected to the city commission and to the state legislature, but he was never a governor of Florida.

Brokaw died in 1875 and his daughter Eliza married a Scotsman, Alexander McDougall, in 1884. McDougall ran a general store, a construction business, and was later the postmaster. Their son, Peres Brokaw McDougall, married Emma Trammel in 1914. When Peres McDougall died in 1963, Emma stayed on in the house until 1973, when she sold it to the State of Florida for preservation.

Mrs. M. fondly recalled Peres McDougall. She had worked in the Lewis State Bank, and the very day before he died, he had come around, talking and joking with the ladies in her office. What a shock it had been when he died the next day!

Mrs. M. said that she is 84, and her memory is not what it used to be, but she was pretty certain that Emma had a Florida governor in her family. I looked at the list of governors in The Florida Handbook, and Park Trammel, surely Emma's father, was governor from 1914 to 1917.

She thanked me, and was there any charge ?. No ma'am, I was pleased to take her question, particularly enjoying research into local history.

What a delight. Episodes like this are what I live for.


frog said...

FWIW I was part of a team of volunteers who helped clean up the old McDougal house on Gadsden street across from Lemoyne Art Gallery back when I was in high school, probably 1972. I was too young to really appreciate it at the time.

Brett said...

I know the house. A friend, Barry Snitkin, rented a room there in the '70's. That was a McDougal house too?