An “Osceola Sun” article headline for July 13, 1977 read, “Sweet potato pie that built a church”. In 1962, the congregation of St. Luke Baptist Church was in need of a new sanctuary to replace the original building erected a few years after organizing in 1882. About 1966, under the leadership ofRev. T.C. Callahan, planning and fundraising began for the $100,000 project. Contributions and special events brought in some funds, but bake sales featuring Bertha Stallworth’s sweet potato pie were the major fundraiser.
Theresa Robinson was born on March 7, 1912, in Narcoossee, Florida. Her father John owned a 10 acre orange grove. John died before Theresa graduated from the local school but her mother was determined for her to have an education. Since the beginning of the county, Black education up to the eighth grade was available but those who wished to go to high school had to go elsewhere. Theresa’s mother sent her to Florida Normal College in St. Augustine, a high school level institution designed to train teachers for the Black schools.
April 15, 1904 is shown as the birthdate of Thomas Carroll Callahan on his headstone. He was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Callahan and was born in McCormick, South Carolina. Idella Thomas became his wife on June 24, 1930, in Hillsborough County, Florida. The same year, he joined the First Baptist Church of Lakeland, Florida. City directories and census records show the couple living in Lakeland, Polk County, Florida where T.C., as he came to be known, worked as a janitor, grocer, and yardman.
Christened Martha Jane on the day of her birth in 1819/1820 on the Carter Plantation in Virginia. Little is known of her life until she left Richmond, Virginia in 1839, bound for Florida with a shipload of slaves. She was a servant for the wealthy, nursed the sick, and was sold over and over, finally gaining her freedom.
The Lesesne name was prominent in South Carolina during the days of plantations and slavery. During slave uprisings in Charleston, many white families left for Barbados, taking loyal slaves with them. Descendants of Scipio Lesesne believe this is how he came to be born in Barbados on December 26, 1859.