William Fee (1893-1958)
Indian River Citrus League
Ruth Bryan Owen
Federal Trade Commssion “Indian River” Territory
Federal Marketing Order Number 205
Federal Marketing Order Number 912
Federal Marketing Order Number 913
William Fee was born in Venago County, Pennsylvania, on April 14, 1893. Fee moved his family to Melbourne, Fla., in 1897 and then to Fort Pierce in 1902, where he began his career as a Florida citrus grower. During the 1920s, the Indian River name became so well known that Florida citrus growers in other areas of the state began using the “Indian River” name to increase sales. In order to protect against infringement on the “Indian River” name by other Florida citrus growers, Fee campaigned to put an end to this practice. As part of this campaign, Fee worked with other area citrus growers to found the organization known as the Indian River Citrus League. The name Indian River Citrus League was officially adopted in 1931. William served as secretary of the Indian River Citrus League without pay from approximately 1931 to 1951.
With support from Florida Congresswoman Ruth Bryan Owen, William Fee and the Indian River Citrus League took their case to the Federal Trade Commission. William used geodetic maps and soil conformation maps to aide him in his cause to form a legal definition for the Indian River territory. Due to the relentless efforts of William Fee, the Indian River Citrus League and Congresswoman Owen, the Federal Trade Commission issued a “cease and desist” order to other Florida citrus growers and established the east coast of Florida along the Indian River as Indian River territory in 1930. The FTC’s order resulted in the proliferation of Federal Marketing Order number 205, FMO number 912, and FMO number 913; all of which regulated the fair and ethical distribution and marketing of agricultural products.
Fee’s innovations also led to the early mosquito control districts. His belief in the principle of citrus industry cooperation and his leadership in fair agricultural marketing and practices were major contributions to the Florida citrus industry. William served as a member of the Florida Historical Society and also served as a charter member and president of the Fort Pierce Rotary Club. William Fee past away on November 11, 1958 and he was inducted into the Citrus Hall of Fame in 1970.