The history of Bookertown goes back to before 1885. In the early 1880s, history says that just East of Wilson’s Wharf, there was a hand-operated ferry boat called Thrashers Ferry that carried travelers across the St. John’s River at the same spot once crossed by the old Indian Trail.
The area of Bookertown, some say, is a place where the residents could care less about your status. If you were a native’s son or daughter, then there was no need for a title. Nestled just a few moments away from the I-4 Corridor, Bookertown has been described as an African American Community that sits like an Island surrounded by an ever changing landscape of modern development.
There are still many families with their roots here, namely, the Argretts, Bradwells, Browns, Campbells, Kings, Cottons, Carpenters, Edges, Gaines, Geters, Hardys, Mathis, Mitchells, Penns, Scotts, Smiths, Keitts, Troutmans, Wrights, Williams and many more.
Bookertown is named for the famous educator and reformer, Booker T. Washington. Each of the local streets are named after historic black personalities such as, W.E. Dubois, Fredrick Douglas, Novelist Paul Dunbar, local Baptist leader, Rev. Castle Brewer and Rev. Richard Allen, the founder the African Methodist Episcopal Church. These streets were names by Rev. Henry Manning and white farmers John Bell, D.H.C. Rabun and Lewis B. Mann.
Education has always been a driving desire for those who settled in Bookertown. The first black school was opened in 1926 and Vester Edge, now 91, says he was one of the first students. The school still stands and is used as a community center. The school had one long room, divided into two sections with grades 1-6 being taught. There was no lunch room, said former student Virginia Wright Wilson and Rufus Brooks.
Many of the students came from far away homes called, Marfa’s Quarters, Bell Quarters, Dyle’s Quarters, Gill’s Quarters, Butcher’s Penn, C.E. Henry, Staplers, Ludwig’s Quarters and the Railroad Section Houses. The well-known Principal was Ms. Sadie Hogan, a well-loved, excellent principal and teacher, educator, spiritual guide, one who put the fear of God in those who needed it. She is still remembered by many of her students with delight and pleasurable stories.
Another student who spoke of the teacher, Ms. Thelma Johnson Sheppard, who is still living, is remembered by some as the teacher who referred to her students as “little people.” The last principal before the school was closed was Mr. Scipio T. Bracey and other teachers were Ms. Juanita Bracey Dellatubeaudiere, a delightful talented teacher, Ms. Mertis Tillman Lackey was honored as the only teacher in attendance at the Grand Celebration. Her students say she was known for her toughness and challenging lessons but the students grew to love and respect her. She is now presently, a retired educator from the Atlanta School System.
The activities for the weekend were enjoyed by over 400 residents, former residents and guests who enjoyed on Friday evening, having the renowned celebrity, Judge Belvin Perry, Jr., the son of Mr. Belvin Perry, Sr. who was born in Bookertown many years ago and moved to Orlando to become the first black policeman.
Bookertown has produced many educators, contractors, principals, barbers, doctors, nurses, community leaders, county and state workers. All enjoyed Friday’s Fish Fry. Saturday morning, the community parade was led by the Johnnie Scott Motorcyclists. Teacher of the Day, Mertis Tillman Lackey, rode on the “Homecoming/Reunion Float. There were plenty of marchers and walker and floats. There were plenty parents, grandparents, great grand parents and kids of all ages in attendance.
Gospel and quartet singing and the above history of the “big” city of Bookertown was given Ocie Clark, a resident of the City. There were horse backing riding, vendors of all kinds, basketball and plenty of fun.
Sanford City Commissioner of District Two, Velma H. Williams, extended greetings from the Mayor and the Sanford City Commissioners. She congratulated the Homecoming/Reunion Committee on a great event. It was indeed, well planned.
Music was rendered from various groups. Soloist indeed brought the spirit of Praise on the grounds of Bookertown Park. Bookertown Homecoming Worship Service was held Sunday morning at Providence Missionary Baptist Church. Devotion was led by Deacon Henry Williams, Henry Grooms and Carlton Edge.
Welcome and Announcements were given by Chairman, Brother Darien Oliver. The homecoming choir rendered many selections to bring the spirit forth. Deacon Carlton Edge introduced the spear for the hour after the choir from the Triumph Church of the New Age rendered selections.
Sheppard Grady Roberson brought the message from St. Luke 15. He spoke about selfishness and giving God the Glory and to share what He has given you with others. To close out the first Bookertown Homecoming/Reunion Worship Service, Gloria Cummings gave the closing remarks.
Dinner was served to all who desired to partake. The Bookertown Homecoming Committee: Darin Oliver, President, Carlton Edge, Vice President, Voncile Davis, Secretary, Gloria Cummings, Treasurer and Rosie Brown, Assistant Treasurer. Members, Frankie Edge, Henry Williams, Charlie Morgan, Katie Robinson, Priscilla Jackson, Arthur Jackson.
The 2012 Theme, “Remembering our Past, Celebrating our Present: Reaching for the Future.” A special Thank You to our sponsors.