TERRA CEIA’s Neighbor: RUBONIA Home of Terra Ceia/Rubonia Mardi Gras The roots of Rubonia go back before the Great Florida Land Boom of the 1920s, all the way back to 1912 when William Smith subdivided the land and called it East Terra Ceia. He built housing there intended for migratory farm labor and other local farm labor. In 1918 the Atlantic Coast Line railroad said that having two places close together called Terra Ceia was confusing. The name Rubonia was chosen from a list supplied by the railroad company. Around 1940, some ladies of the community got together and formed the Silver Leaf Women’s Club. They met at each other’s homes. Over the years the club grew and the ladies began to wish for a real clubhouse. Money, of course, was always tight but the ladies slowly accumulated some money. Banking and wages, in those “Good hard working people, good family folks” as Mead Smith, the son of the developer, described the people of Rubonia. In January, 1943, a deed was issued by Nelson Eatmon and his wife Jennie B. Eatmon to The Terra Ceia and Rubonia Cemetery Association and trustees Gabriel the sum of one dollar. Although some residents of Rubonia petitioned the U.S. Postmaster General in October 1954 to have their name of East Terra Ceia back, the community retained the name Rubonia. In 1965, Rubonia’s main street, the Bay Shore Road, created in the 1906 - 1910 era, was bypassed by U.S. Highway 41, a 4-lane highway. east Air Base on 24 May 1939. Construction began that September. It opened 11 March 1940 and held a formal dedication on 16 April 1941. The connection of this military history with Rubonia is that Mead Smith of Palm View, son of the town’s founder William Smith, bought some of the barracks buildings no longer needed at MacDill. He used some of them and slowly sold off others. Smith and his wife Mildred J. Smith deeded the barracks building to the Silver Leaf Women’s Club of Rubonia on April 26, 1962. Bertha Lee Joyner, Alice Livingston and Marie Douglas signed the deed as trustees for the Club. The full purchase price was $9,495. The The remodeling of the two 400 square foot barracks into the clubhouse took $10,000. Companies that assisted in the conversion took out ads in the Bradenton Herald of 30 April 1962 when the project was done, congratulating the Women’s Club and doing a bit of self promotion. The advertisers were: Harrison Gas Service, Jack Martin’s Triangle Shell Service Station and James Gordon’s Garage and Service station of Rubonia, Amlong Bros. Plumbing on the Ellenton-Gillette Road, Ralph Ruthruff Flooring and countertops of Bradenton, Lundy Dir’s Gladiolus of Terra Ceia, E. Quinton Perry Grocery and John G. Webb & Son , the two grocery and supply stores of Rubonia, and Palmetto Lumber Company. Financial institutions who took out ads were Palmetto Federal Savings and Loan, Manatee Federal Savings and Loan of Cortez Plaza and the Bank of Palmetto. local folks had founded the Crew of the Mystic Rainbow and had organized themselves as a community fundraiser for support of 1982, there were nearly 1,000 people in Rubonia and the Silver Leaf Women’s Club had about 30 members. Rose Marie Douglas was president of the club. Rubonia got a Day Care center in 1968. It was housed in the old Rubonia School building until 1982 when the nursery moved near Palm View Elementary School. The old school then became the site of the Rubonia Youth Center. A windstorm had torn off the school roof, which delayed the Youth Center’s move. Over the years the Day Care Center, which celebrated 25 years in Palmetto and the Manatee County Children’s Advisory Board. Unexpected things do happen. In 1973, movie director John Carroll of St. Petersburg, who was familiar with the area, chose Rubonia as the backdrop of his movie, Ride in a Pink Car. In 1977 the town was a slow moving place, with a population around 460 during the year and more people during the agricultural between Frog Creek and McMullen Creek, near Terra Ceia. At that time, many residents survived on $177.80 monthly supple- children received free lunches at school during 1977. (located inside Perry’s Grocery, two gas stations (Gordon’s Garage and Jack Martin’s Shell Station) plus Bill Reid’s strawberry packing house, a tomato packing house (both of which provided jobs seasonally) and a pesticide manufacturing plant (Southern Ag) on the edge of town. Churches for the community were the Mount Olive African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Church, founded in 1912 and the Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church, founded in 1920. The records of both churches were cataloged by the W.P.A. during the Great Depression of the 1930s. A Rubonia Improvement Association was in existence by 1976, when James Gordon of Gordon’s Garage was president of the group. It existed for one purpose, to take in donations to pay Florida Power and Light the $950 annual light bill for the 16 street lights in Rubonia. All money was raised by contributions, not assessments. Fred Joyner was president of the group in 1977 and Mrs. Washington, was treasurer. Mobile home parks grew up around the old community by 1980 and exerted some pressure on the agricultural settlement’s needs for public improvements. The Perry Grocery store was the focus of most of the press stories of the area prior to the Mardi James Gordon, Sr. was still running the garage in 1989 at age78, when every home in Rubonia was hooked up to water and sewer. He had been chairman of the Rubonia Streetlight Program for over 20 years. Mr. Gordon still runs his garage in Rubonia in 2014 and no one is sure how old he really is, except Mr. Gordon, himself. He is still considered the honorary Mayor of Rubonia. As the years passed, members of the Rubonia Silver Leaf Women’s Club grew older. Newer, younger members faced other commitments outside the home. The upkeep of the World War II MacDill Barracks/Clubhouse building faltered. A storm damaged the building severely in 2012 and was demolished as the Rubonia Women’s Club planned for a new building. President: Lola Hendriex Vice-President: Mildred Barton Recording Secretary: Linda Jefferson Treasurer: Sarah Joyner Courtesy: Gwen Baylor Financial Secretary: Betty Mitchell Cooking: Sarah Joyner, Idella Holmes This historical marker commemorates not just the site of an historic building that served its country and its community well, but it also honors the ladies, the Club and the community of Rubonia.