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Vote that created the present-day City of Melbourne reaches 50-year milestone

Post Date:07/11/2019 2:20 PM

During this week’s City Council meeting, Mayor Meehan recognized the 50th anniversary of the vote to create the City of Melbourne in a proclamation encouraging residents to learn about the history of Eau Gallie and Melbourne and to celebrate this important milestone. 

On July 15, 1969, residents from the cities and towns of Eau Gallie, Melbourne, Indialantic, Melbourne Beach, West Melbourne, Melbourne Village, Palm Bay, and Palm Shores voted in a referendum on consolidation. The referendum was approved in the cities of Eau Gallie and Melbourne. 

Following the vote to merge, representatives selected by both cities formed the Municipal Reorganizational Council and began to meet and adopt rules effecting an orderly transition from two cities into one. 

On November 4, 1969, residents of the newly formed city voted whether to name the new city, with a population of 40,274, Brevard City, Eau Gallie, Harbor City, Melbourne, or Riverside. During that same election, Adger Smith was elected Mayor, B. Frank Buck was elected to the District 1 seat, Vernon L. Dicks was elected to the District 2 seat, Julius Montgomery was elected to the District 3 seat, Robert L. McKemy was elected to the District 4 seat, Edgar L. VonNordeck was elected to the District 5 seat, and Bill D. Clark was elected to the District 6 seat. The new Melbourne City Council appointed Ernest E. Watkins as City Manager, Elting L. Storms as City Attorney, and Beryl G. Niedermeyer as City Clerk.

The history of Melbourne and Eau Gallie goes back more than 150 years. The first settlers of Melbourne – Peter Wright, Wright Brothers, and Balaam Allen – were black freedmen who settled on land south of Crane Creek in 1867 following the Civil War. In 1880, the area’s first post office was established on the land where they settled, and by the drawing of straws, the area was named Melbourne. The first white settler in the Eau Gallie area was John Houston who came down the Hernandez-Capron Trail in 1859. He built a log house on the north side of the Eau Gallie River in the approximate location of Young Street. In 1871, William H. Gleason bought 16,000 acres of land comprising the Eau Gallie area. In December 1897, the Town of Eau Gallie accepted Gleason’s 1884 Plat of the Town of Eau Gallie as the official plat. 

Photo of swearing-in ceremony of the new City Council, November 1969

Swearing-in Ceremony of the First City Council of the Newly Created City of Melbourne, November 10, 1969.

Commemorative tray from the creation of the City of Melbourne and the first vote, November 1969

Commemorative Tray Issued After the November 4, 1969, Election
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