Disillusionment soon settled in. Their land of dreams
was infested with mosquitoes and strange, hardy wild plants. The land
did not respond well to cultivation and was inhospitable. The settlers,
blaming the Land Company for their plight, were not favorably disposed
to anyone closely associated with the Florida Indian River Catholic
Colony. They even refused to use the church built for them.
Benedictine Father Gabriel Ruppert, the pastor
of St Anastasia in Fort Pierce, started celebrating Mass in “Mass
houses”, staying with the various families in the area.
In 1914, he led his parishioners in erecting the simple
rectangular structure of native cypress lumber and a tin sheathed roof,
which we now call our “Miller Street Church.”
The early parishioners buried their dead in a
plot 300 feet west of the present cemetery. Due to the low swampy
nature of the soil, most of the bodies were exhumed in 1929 and
re-interred in the area around the church, which serves as the cemetery
to this day. The original burial place, which was vacated in 1929, has
been sold to the City of Palm Bay. The 7 graves that remained in the
original cemetery were excluded from the sale, and will become a
permanent memorial for those early pioneer still interred there.