John Hanahan Sams came to Brevard County from South Carolina in 1875, bringing with him his wife Sarah, five children, older sister Catherine and older brother William. Taking advantage of the Homestead Act of 1862, the family originally settled in Eau Gallie. When the orange trees they planted failed to bear fruit, the family moved to North Merritt Island. As part of the move, the Sams cabin was floated up the Indian River Lagoon and reconstructed onsite in 1878. The oldest standing home in Brevard County, the cabin now serves as a museum and visitor’s center.
A larger, two-story home was built onsite in 1888. This house now serves as staff offices and bunk housing for visiting service groups.
Mr. Sams ran a successful orange grove and served as the first Superintendent of the Brevard County Public School System. He was instrumental in the founding and construction of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church as well as the first schools in the area.
John Sams died in 1924. His descendants lived on the property until 1996. The Brevard County Environmentally Endangered Lands (EEL) Program and the St. John’s River Water Management District purchased the property. The EEL Program is responsible for management of the site.
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