BREVARD HISTORY: First Settlement in Cocoa Beach Founded By Family of Newly Freed Slaves Following Civil War
By Space Coast Daily // October 11, 2023
City of Cocoa Beach was established in 1925, incorporated as city in 1957
BREVARD COUNTY • COCOA BEACH, FLORIDA – The first settlement in Cocoa Beach, Florida, was started by a family of newly freed slaves following the Civil War, but a hurricane in 1885 discouraged settlement.
Then, in 1888, a group from Cocoa bought the entire tract of land. The land remained untouched until attorney Gus Edwards arrived. He bought Cocoa Beach and began to develop it, and the City of Cocoa Beach was established on June 5, 1925, and incorporated as a city on June 29, 1957.
Cocoa Beach came to life during the 1960s due to America’s space program, with NASA’s John F. Kennedy Space Center located approximately 15 miles away.
Cocoa Beach became home to many young families where one or both parents worked on some aspect of the space program, and kids raised there were sometimes referred to as “Cape Brats.”
The community was once so full of children that the schools overflowed, and portable classrooms were built to host them. It was not unheard of for there to be 45 children per classroom.
In the early day, after manned space flights, the town held Astronaut parades and the entire town turned out to honor their heroes.
Before “Silicon Valley,” Cocoa Beach and other surrounding towns were full of the best and brightest technical minds. Today, many Kennedy Space Center workers still call Cocoa Beach home.
Cocoa Beach was also the setting for the 1960s sitcom “I Dream of Jeannie,” although only one episode was filmed there, Jeannie’s wedding.