Mrs. E. Lee Mathews (and daughter of Ezekiel C. Vick) was interviewed by Hatabel Hyers on April 16, 1975 in the Mathews’ home in Oakland, Florida. Officially established in 1887, Oakland is one of the oldest communities in Orange County (it was already a “busy industrial center” by 1860) and was once a significant center of commerce with two hotels, an opera house, hospital, headquarters of a railroad company and a number of other businesses. Fires in the late 1890s completely destroyed the downtown and it was never revived. Today it is a growing but small municipality known for its abundant oak trees and peaceful way if life.
Known by many as Dewey, Helen Dewey Vick Mathews was born on Sanibel Island in 1898. Dewey’s family moved back to Oakland when she was about five years old. She attended nursing classes in Tampa and returned to Oakland to live in the family home, serving the community as a nurse for many years. Mrs. Mathews also served as the first woman mayor in the county. In this interview she relates her memories of the many families of early Oakland.
We are grateful for the Orange County Regional History Center‘s making this recording available for Orlando Memory.