Down By The Riverside: Beef on the Beach
William Avee “W.A.” White was born in Point Washington on June 4, 1918, the son of Jesse J. and Dorothy White. He spent his entire life hunting, fishing, and cutting timber on or near the Choctawhatchee River. He married Grace White and they had four children: Gracie Lee, William, Michael Ray, and James William.
✽ ✽ ✽
The first boat I remember was a big schooner. George Houseman had the schooner and he hauled freight up the river and to Pensacola. That’s the way we got our food. I can remember riding on that boat when we moved here when I was about five years old. They put our old milk cow on it, and she fell overboard. She swam out, got back on the boat, and we carried her on with us. This was about 1923. And up at the Cowford on the Choctawhatchee River they had an old hand ferry. They had a cable stretched across the river with only hand sticks to pull the thing back and forth with. That’s how we got off these islands. We had to drive way up there, get on a ferry, and they’d pull you across. It took you the whole day to get to where the ferry was. It would take you two to three days to go anywhere. Old man Miller would ride a horse from here to Vernon. It took him two days. He had cattle right on the beach.
Note: “Old man Miller” was Mr. William Leslie Miller (1859-1939). Miller, with his wife Mary Roberson, nee Stanley, raised a half-dozen children on Grayton Beach. His grandson, Malcolm Patterson, was Walton County’s first Tourist Development Council Director (1988-2000), and regularly rode horses on South Walton’s beaches, “rounding up cattle just like they do in Texas…Let me tell ya what, you could ride from Destin to Inlet Beach and never see anything but cow dung…”