Tuesday, February 27, 2018

In Search of the Phillips Satsuma Grove

Part Four: Philip, Philips & Phillips of Florida
In Search of Dr. Philip Phillips Satsuma Grove

A central Florida citrus mogul and philanthropist, Dr. Philip Phillips of Orlando, it is reported, came to Florida twice, arriving the first time in 1894. This man’s bio also tells us: “Philip Phillips was born January 27, 1874, in Memphis, Tennessee. Little is known about his early years other than he attended Columbia University where he was awarded a medical degree.”

Little is known is an understatement, for much of what is thought to be known about Orlando’s mysterious Dr. Phillips is unverifiable.  He was 63 at the time of the 1940 Orlando census, for example, in which Philip Phillips states he completed only the first year of high school. His wife Della said she had completed two years. Their son Howard said he had completed four years of college. So, did Dr. Philip Phillips of Orlando really graduate from Columbia University?

Much of the mystery surrounding young Dr. Philip Phillips can be attributed to the man himself. His 1921 passport application included a statement from Dr. Phillips himself, stating he had been a citizen of Florida since before 1906. He could not however locate records prior to that date. The passport office then had requested that Phillips give the “name of persons in Baltimore who knew the place and date of his birth.” No response to that request has been located.

Dr. Phillips also stated in his passport application that his father, Herman Phillips, was deceased (in 1921), and that his father had been born in France.

Dr. Philip Phillips consistently gave his birthplace as Memphis, Tennessee, and was also consistent in stating his birth date as January 27, 1874. Of 26 Phillips families listed in the 1874 Memphis Directory, only one, a dry goods merchant, was Herman Phillips. Could this be the Herman Phillips? I have serious doubts!

Living heirs of Herman Phillips of 1897 Memphis, Tennessee were his four daughters, each listed as also residing with their father in 1880. Dr. Philip Phillips was, according to the birthdate he consistently gave, would have been six in that 1880 census. No such 6 year old Philip Phillips can be found with Herman, or anywhere in Memphis for that matter! No 26 year old Tennessee native named Philip Philips has not been located in any 1900 census as yet either. So where was Philip Phillips in 1880 and 1900?

Over the summer of 1910, Walter, youngest son of Dr. Philip and Della Phillips, was visiting his grandparents at Forest, Mississippi the day census takers arrived at their home. Walter Phillips was listed as the Florida born “grandson” of Benjamin & Anne Wolf. Of particular interest however is the birthplace given for Walter’s father. The in-laws stated that Walter’s father had been born in France. Were the in-laws of Dr. Philip Phillips mistaken?

The phrase “little is known” caught my eye. How could such a prominent Floridian have such a mysterious background? That was why I went in search of answers, challenging myself to fill in the missing 19th century history of central Florida’s Dr. Phillips, a man who by the age of 27, was referring to himself as Dr. Phillips.

As mentioned in Part 1 of this 4 Part Blog series, I discovered he had married January 20, 1901 at Forest, Mississippi. The wedding, so it seems, was a coming out party, for that very same year, Dr. P. Phillips ran a newspaper ad giving his Forest, Mississippi address. The Ocala Banner also told of Dr. Phillips, of Forest, Mississippi, in 1901, selling Hereford cattle at Valdosta, Georgia. Yet another 1903 Ocala article reported that Dr. Phillips would soon be arriving there, for he was driving his herd of Herefords to Florida from northwestern Texas.

The whereabouts of Dr. Philip Phillips prior to 1901 remains uncertain.

The Satsuma Grove, or A Satsuma Grove:

It has been said that Dr. Phillips first came to Florida in 1894, but departed the State after losing his Satsuma Grove in the freeze of 1895.

Florida’s Great Freeze of 1895 killed much of the citrus crop. Two back to back freezes, the first in late December 1894, followed in early February 1895 with a second, killed many of the trees as well as that season’s crop. Growers throughout central Florida lost nearly everything they owned. Many fled the State, leaving unpaid property taxes. The dreadful tragedy also led to the loss of much of the region’s 19th century history.

Satsuma, Florida on St. Johns River. Florida Memory Project

Palatka and its surroundings had a thriving citrus industry in the 1880s. As settlers arrived, new towns began to sprout up. Satsuma, Florida was described in 1885 as being located 15 miles from Palatka, on the bank of St. Johns River, an eight hour trip by steamboat from Jacksonville.

Satsuma was founded in 1882 by “Messrs. Whitney, Bently, & Hodges.” Judson W. Whitney was one of the towns’ residents as well, and the town’s postmaster in 1884 was H. B. Philips. (Postal Archives spell the Postmaster’s name as ‘Philips’.)

Could H. B. Philips be one and the same as the Herman Phillips of Memphis, father of Dr. Phillips of Orlando? That answer would be a resounding NO!

U. S. Postal Archives, Satsuma, Florida Post Office

Henry Bethune Philips (correctly spelled using only one L) was a Florida native. He was the son of Georgia natives Andrew J. & Penelope (Blake) Philips. This family lineage traces to Colonial Virginia and then Georgia. Dr. Philips of Sanford (Part Two of this 4 Part blog) was Henry’s brother.

Attorney Judson Whitney, one of the founders of Satsuma, had also been a neighbor of H. B. Philips of 1880 Jacksonville, the city most associated with this Philips family.

Satsuma however is not merely a place. It’s also a fruit. The Satsuma Mandarin, says the University of Florida, was named for a former province of Japan, and it is believed to have been introduced into the United States by George R. Hall around 1876. He is believed to have been first to plant the Satsuma trees in Florida.

At the time of the 1895 freeze, there were also Satsuma citrus trees in Louisiana.

By 1902, around the time Dr. Phillips of Orlando was driving his herd of Herefords from Texas, Palatka News was running ads about parcels being auctioned at Satsuma for unpaid taxes. Henry B. Philips had moved back to Jacksonville by then, while his brother, Dr. Philips of Sanford, had given up his practice of medicine so as to open a drugstore, at Sanford, Florida.

Also at that time, Dr. Philip of Orange County’s Ghost Town Philipsburg had already died, at his home in Catskill, New York, in 1887 (Part 3 of this 4 Part Blog).

The freeze of 1895 resulted in tens of thousands of acres of abandoned groves, land that could be had dirt cheap. A mysterious young man, possibly from Tennessee, discovered that fact after arriving in 1903 Florida with 200 Herefords. By 1921, Dr. P. Phillips of Orlando had amassed eight very large central Florida groves.

1921 Groves of Dr. P. Phillips of Orlando

There’s a lot of satisfaction in digging up a long-lost history of a central Florida pioneer, and I almost always find the individual I’m searching for. But the mystery of Dr. Phillips may remain a mystery unless another researcher accepts the challenge to unlock secrets of central Florida’s past, and reveal the true identity of a young 19th century adventurer by the name of Dr. Philip Phillips of Orlando.

Upcoming FREE Speaking Engagements

BEYOND GATLIN, A History of South Orange County
Orange County Library South, 1702 Deerfield Blvd
March 18, 2018; 2 to 3 PM

ORLANDO REEVES, Fact or Fiction?
Orange County Library Downtown Orlando
March 25, 2018; 2 – 3 PM

Visit my website, www.CroninBooks.com 

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Jane (BROWN), wife of Dr. PHILIP of Philipsburg

Part Three: Philip, Philips & Phillips of Florida
Jane (Brown), wife of Dr. PHILIP of Philipsburg

1884 Philipsburg, Orange County, Florida

On a rural stretch of County Road 44A in Lake County, five miles east of Eustis, is an out-of-place 4th street, a lone numbered road that is little more than a city block long. First laid out 134 years ago as an Orange County street, 4th is today one of only few surviving roads of a Ghost Town: PHILIPSBURG. The 19th century city is identified as PHILLIPSBURG (two Ls) at Lake County’s Property Appraisers Office, but Lake County deeds, as well as the plat, confirm the town’s name had but one ‘L’.

But folks always misspelled Philip, Philips and Phillips in 19th century central Florida.

Surveyed as a 640 acre, one-square mile city in 1884, the town planners were Dr. Jacob PHILIP & wife Jane Elizabeth (BROWN), both natives of and life-long residents of the State of New York. Buying this land June 26, 1883, Jacob & Jane Philip subdivided their land into a town, having seven east-west roadways: North, Orange, Washington, Iowa, Maine, Burlington (now CR 44A), and Magnolia; and seven north-south cross streets, First thru Seventh.

Sarah F. Loughridge, a Professor of Latin at University of Iowa, was first to purchase a lot at Philipsburg, closing on her parcel, at the corner of 7th and Burlington, August 4, 1884. The professor wasn’t the only Iowan to buy a lot at Philipsburg. Jacob Alter, a farmer from Des Moines, Merchant Cicero P. Norton of Jasper, and Dr. Frederick Josiah Mansfield of Burlington, a Dentist, each purchased a town lot in August of 1884, likely explaining why the New York town planners named two of their streets Iowa and Burlington Avenue

What attracted Iowans to buy in the Sunshine State in 1884? A Burlington Hawkeye newspaper reporter had toured central Florida in late 1883, enjoying Thanksgiving in Orlando before returning home. He then wrote an extensive article about central Florida, filling one entire newspaper page under the heading: “Eureka – America’s Italy – Orange County in Southern Florida – ‘tis Summer Always; There’s Fruit, Health, Wealth and Beautiful Scenery.”

Neither the Iowans nor Dr. Philips and his wife ever relocated to America’s Italy. The Orange County planned town of Philipsburg faltered, becoming, in May 1887, a rural part of Lake County.

Philipsburg, Then and Now

Jacob S. Philip and Jane Elizabeth Brown were each a native of Columbia County, New York. After marrying in 1849, they moved a distance of 25 miles from home, to Catskill, in Greene County, New York. The couple remained Catskill residents for the remainder of their lives. Dr. Philip died at Catskill on the 25th of April, 1887, one month after his Florida town had become part of Lake County.

Dr. Phillips of Orlando is where I began this four part blog, attempting to fill in a few gaps in that individual’s early years. Dr. Philip Phillips married in 1901, to Della Wolf of Forest, Mississippi. Their marriage is documented by a license, and then newspaper accounts tell of Dr. P. Phillips driving a herd of 200 Herefords from Texas to Florida in 1903. But this Orlando citrus grower was also said to have lost a Satsuma Grove in the freeze of 1895.

My search for Dr. Phillips in 19th century central Florida turned up two such men but, by researching wives of each, neither doctor was Dr. Phillips of Orlando. Dr. Albert E. Philips of Sanford, a Putnam County, Florida native, married Miss Louise Tucker at Sanford in 1890, whereas Dr. J. Philip of Philipsburg had married Jane Brown in the Catskill Mountains of New York.

I established in part two that the first Postmaster for the 1884 Putnam County town of Satsuma was Henry B. Phillips, but this Henry had no Known lineal relationship to Dr. Phillips of Orlando. Henry was related though to Dr. Philips of Sanford. By 1894, Putnam County had become a major citrus producer. The Great Freeze of 1895 wiped out many a citrus farming dream, but was one such lost dream a grove belonging to Dr. Phillips of Orlando? Did Philip Phillips lose everything in 1895, only to return and start anew in 1903?

The conclusion to this series will be posted Wednesday, February 28, 2918: Dr. Philip, Philips and Phillips: The Satsuma Grove!

 Bibliography is available upon request to Rick@CroninBooks.com

VISIT CroninBooks.com Booth A-7 February 24 & 25, 2018


Two upcoming speaking engagements include:

BEYOND GATLIN, A History of South Orange County
Orange County Library South, 1702 Deerfield Blvd
March 18, 2018; 2 to 3 PM

ORLANDO REEVES, Fact or Fiction
Orange County Library Downtown Orlando
March 25, 2018; 2 – 3 PM

Visit my website, www.CroninBooks.com 

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Louise (TUCKER), wife of Dr. PHILIPS

Philip, Philips & Phillips of Florida
Discovering central Florida families through Spouses
A CitrusLAND Four Part History Blog Series

Part Two: Philips & Phillips of Florida
Louise (Tucker), wife of Dr. PHILIPS of Sanford

Louise (Tucker) Philips
Philips or Phillips?

What’s one ‘L’ between friends? With regard to some central prominent surnames, the difference actually means setting history right.

Consider, for example, the biography of Dr. Phillips of Orlando, which states the man first came to Florida during the 1880s, but left the state after losing his SATSUMA grove during the Great Freeze of 1895. Dr. Phillips returned, we are told, to start anew in the new century.

Not much is known of the early years of Dr. Philips of Orlando, although as evidenced in Part one of this series, pieces of the man’s earlier years comes into focus by learning of his wife, Della (Wolf). They married January 20, 1901 at Scott County, Mississippi.

What about the Satsuma Grove? Did a 20 year old Dr. Phillips own a grove of Satsuma in 1894? Or was the young man’s grove located AT Sutsuma? Reference to such a grove in the biography of Dr. Phillips of Orlando becomes especially interesting considering a historical fact that the first Postmaster of the Florida town of Satsuma was Henry B. PHILLIPS. The grave of Judge Henry Bethune PHILIPS is located at Jacksonville.

In 2016, as Jacksonville was completing an expansion of Interstate 95, travelers on that new highway were teased by new exit signs for the historic road paralleling I-95. At one end of the highway signposts pointed the way to PHILIPS Highway, while signs at the opposite end directed traffic to the PHILLIPS Highway.

Jacksonville’s Philips Highway and gravesite pays tribute to the same person, Henry B. Philips, a native of Florida who began his career as the first Postmaster for the town of Satsuma, Florida. Misspelling of surnames runs rampant through Florida archives. Reed often meant Reid; Tiner varied as Tyner; and it was a decision of whoever wrote down the name at the time to write Philips or Phillips.

Tracking pioneers can at times be challenging, a lessen I learned early on while looking for the Orlando Reeves, only to discover a Reaves family and the legend of Orlando Rees. All too often, the best way to verify research is by looking into the pioneer’s “other half.”

Floridian Philips:

Dr. Phillips of Orlando consistently gave his birthplace as Tennessee. A biography of Dr. Philips of Sanford, published while he was still living at Sanford, states that: “Dr. Philips is a native Floridian and a Confederate soldier who returned to his father’s farm in Putnam County after the war.” The Sanford Chronicle published this account of the man’s life in the autumn of 1908. Sanford was then part of Orange County.

Jacksonville’s Henry B. Philips, Postmaster in 1884 of SATSUMA, Florida, was a son of Alfred G. Philips, a brother of Dr. Albert E. Philips. Dr. Albert E. Philips of Sanford therefore had lineal ties to Satsuma, in Putnam County.

The 1921 passport application filled out by Dr. Phillips of Orlando gives his birth date and place as January 27, 1874, at Memphis, Tennessee. The passport application also states that his father was Herman Phillips, and that his father was born in France.
Miss Louise Tucker:

Ten (10) years before Della Wolf married Dr. P. Phillips at Mississippi. Miss Louise Tucker, in 1890, became the second wife of Dr. Albert Edwin Philips, the man referred to in this blog as Dr. Philips of Sanford. Albert’s father was a Georgia native.

Dr. Albert Edwin Philips of Sanford

Life in Florida’s 19th century wilderness was terribly challenging for men, but all too often life-threatening for woman. Dr. Philips of Sanford had married Eugenia Rawls first. Married in 1884, the next year they welcomed their first only child. Following the birth of their daughter Alma Eugenia, the mother died, possibly from complications of childbirth, a serious danger confronted by every pregnant frontierswoman.

Fondly remembered today as an accomplished musician and lover of the arts, Della, wife of Dr. Phillips of Orlando, had given birth in 1905 to her second child. In May of 1908, the 31 year old Della was “adjudged a lunatic,” and a guardian was appointed with full power of attorney to sign her name. Della (Wolf) Phillips obviously recovered from that which ailed her in 1908.   

The St. Louis Boat-Burner:

I came across Dr. Philips of Sanford while researching the man’s second spouse. This Dr. Philips remarried in 1890 to Sanford resident Louise Tucker. She was a native of Spartanburg, South Carolina, but her father, John Wofford Tucker, relocated first to St. Louis, Missouri, where by 1860, he had become a prosperous Attorney. His daughter Louise turned 14 the year America’s War of Rebellion broke out. (A younger sibling was listed in the 1900 Sanford census as being born after War’s end in “Bermuda.”)

The father of Louise peaked my curiosity first because of his middle name. ‘Wofford’ was one and the same as that of the maiden name of Narcissus Wofford (1832-1897), spouse of the prominent central Florida pioneer, William Allen Lovell.

A post-War Sanford Attorney and later Judge, John W. Tucker departed St. Louis after the Civil War, fled first to the Islands, and then settled at Sanford, Florida. But Tucker’s tenure at St. Louis, it turns out, had earned him the infamous title as the Confederate Boat Burner, a story deserving of its very own blog at a future date.

By 1903, as the future Dr. Philips of Orlando was ushering 200 Texas Herefords in the direction of Ocala, Florida, soon thereafter settling at Kissimmee and the Orlando, Dr. Philips of Sanford was settled in at Sanford, having married at Sanford in 1890. Along with two brothers he operated a drug store at Sanford.

Satsuma: The town or the fruit?

Central Florida had at least three Dr. Philips aka Phillips aka Philip in the 19th century and first decade of the 20th. Dr. Phillips of Orlando is said to have lost a Satsuma grove during the freeze of 1895. Dr. Philips of Sanford had lineal ties to Putnam, location of a town established in the 1880s named Satsuma. Dr. Philip of Philipsburg, founder of yet another Orange County 1880s Ghost Town, along with his wife, Jane (Brown), are the subjects of Part 3 of this blog series, to be published February 17, 2018.

As for Satsuma, the question remains this: “the town or the fruit?” And that question I’ll be exploring in Part 4, the conclusion of this series. Stay tuned, there’s much more to come!

Bibliography is available upon request to Rick@CroninBooks.com

VISIT my CroninBooks.com Booth A-7 February 24 & 25, 2018 at


Two upcoming speaking engagements include:

BEYOND GATLIN, A History of South Orange County

Orange County Library South, 1702 Deerfield Blvd
March 18, 2018; 2 to 3 PM

ORLANDO REEVES, Fact or Fiction

Orange County Library Downtown Orlando
March 25, 2018; 2 – 3 PM

Visit also my website, www.CroninBooks.com 

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Della (WOLF), wife of Dr. PHILLIPS

Della (Wolf) Phillips
Frontierswoman, Mother, & Wife of Dr. Philip Phillips

“Little was known!”

Leo Wolf conveyed a tiny downtown Orlando parcel to P. Phillips, a transaction that at first glance appears to have little intrinsic value. A closer look however finds a window to a treasure trove of central Florida history. The reason for taking a closer look at an old 1916 deed was Leo’s surname, as the party of the first part happened to have the same last name as that of the maiden name of the wife of the party of the second part.

Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, Orlando, Florida

Learning that “little was known” about Della Wolf, wife of Florida’s 20th century citrus grower, Dr. Philip Phillips, were words that served as a call to action for me. All of the mystery that is central Florida history is what had enticed me to begin researching the past in the first place. Most every local researcher knows the tantalizing little is known phrase is very often found while digging into central Florida’s past.

The one truth I’ve learned after a decade of researching central Florida is that to fully understand and appreciate this region's real history, one must include research of the spouse, as well as her family. This is the case for the story of Orlando’s Dr. P. Phillip too, a pioneer said to have first lost a grove in the Great Freeze of 1895, departed Florida, then returned in the 20th century to achieve his family’s fame and fortune.

About that Mr. Leo Wolf:

The 1916 Orange County document cited above identifies, “Leo Wolf (unmarried) of Scott, Mississippi, party of the first part, and Dr. P. Phillips of Orlando, Florida, party of the second part.” The 1910 census of Scott County, Mississippi, at the Village of Forest, lived a young man named Leo H. Wolf, age 35, living with his parents, Ben & Anna Wolf.

Was this the same Leo Wolf? The 1910 census listed as well the names and ages of three siblings, as well as a grandson. Sloppy handwriting suggests the grandson was “Nalter Philipo, Age 4, born 1906 in Florida.” Census takers had visited the Scott County family on May 7, 1910. Walter Phillips, the second son of Philip & Della Phillips of Orlando, was visiting his grandparents. One month earlier, Orange County census takers included four year old Walter, listed on April 18, 1910, as residing with his parents at Orlando, Florida.

A decade before the 1910 census, Leo was living with his parents at Scott, Mississippi, with the same three younger siblings, and two older siblings, brother Ezekiel, and a sister, Della B. Wolf. That 1900 census lists Della as 23 years old, born Mississippi, March 1877.
The Mississippi Marriage Index, 1800-1911, records a January 20, 1901 marriage, at Scott County, Mississippi, stating the bride was Della Wolf, and the groom was P. Phillips.

Della was believed to have been a native of Alabama, in large part because of information given by Della herself. The reason was likely due to Della’s family history. The parents of Della (Wolf) Phillips, Benjamin & Anne (Kosminsky) Wolf, were married May 17, 1876 at Mobile, Alabama. Anne’s father, Abraham (at times spelled Kozminski), had been a Polish immigrant. Arriving in the United States in 1849, settling at Mobile, and establishing a clothing business that was still going strong at the time of his daughter’s wedding in 1901.

Leo Wolf’s Occupation:

The 1916 party of the first part, “Leo Wolf of Scott, Mississippi” not only leads us to learning the true identity of the wife of Dr. Phillips, Lou Wolf’s occupation of 1900 and 1910 reveals too a lot about the Wolf family, and even more about Dr. Philip Phillips.

Dr. P. Phillips, Forest, Mississippi 
Ocala Banner Newspaper, November 1, 1901

Ten (10) months after marrying, “Dr. P. Phillips, of Forest, Mississippi”, ran an ad saying he had 200 head of Hereford Bulls and Heifers “acclimated for Florida. Now is the time,” said the ad, “to do away with the scrub cattle of Florida by crossing on the best beef cattle in the world.

The extent of influence Della Wolf’s family played in a choice of careers of the then 27 year old Dr. Phillips is uncertain, but it’s important to note that Della’s father, at the time of the 1901 Phillips marriage, had been in the meat business for more than three (3) decades. All three of Benjamin’s sons, by 1901, had followed in their father’s footsteps.

Dr. Phillips comes to Florida (again?):

During the fifteen (15) months between the Forest, Mississippi advertisement, and a January, 1903 notice published in the Ocala Banner, telling of the delayed arrival of Dr. Phillips’ Herefords to Florida, the first of two boys was born to Philip & Della. Named Howard, the family’s new addition was born March 27, 1902 at Lebanon, Tennessee.

Married 1901 at Forest, Scott County, Mississippi, a son Howard Phillips was born 1902 at Lebanon, Tennessee. Dr. Phillips’ Herefords arrived at Ocala, Florida, direct from Texas, according to the Ocala Banner, in February, 1903. The Hereford herd was then taken, that very same month, to Arcadia.

Telegram from Dr. P. Phillips 
Ocala Banner Newspaper, January 9, 1903 (not 1093!)

Was the 1903 arrival in Florida the first for Dr. Philip Phillips? According to the pioneer’s time-honored history, this was in fact his second time in Florida. Dr. Philip Phillips, says local legend, had a grove at Satsuma, and lost that grove during Florida’s Great Freeze of 1895.

Phillips of Satsuma:

US Highway 17 passes through Satsuma today, a roadside village fifteen miles south of Palatka. First established in 1882, on land originally known as the Hernandez Spanish Land Grant, New Englanders Whitney & Hodges began offering grove sites to anxious settlers desiring to cash in on the 1880s Citrus boom. 

Putnam County became a sprawling citrus farming region, but two back-to-back freezes, the first occurring December 29, 1894, followed 40 days later by an even worse cold snap on February 7, 1895, wiped out nearly all of Florida’s citrus crop.

Dr. Philip Phillips was 20 years old at the time of Florida’s Great Freeze, born, said his 1921 passport application, January 27, 1874. While it is certainly possible a 20 year old Tennessee lad ventured south and established a grove prior to December, 1894, the challenge for historians is to ascertain the accuracy of such a statement.

Satsuma, Florida had its very own Post Office, a mail station established when Philip Phillips was a mere ten (10) years old. Henry B. Phillips was appointed Postmaster of Satsuma Post Office on March 4, 1884. So, was this Putnam County Postmaster related to Orlando’s Dr. Philip Phillips?

Little is known,” as that popular central Florida history saying goes, about the 19th century chapter of the life of Dr. Philip Phillips. But that’s the chapter I find most interesting in the true history of CitrusLAND

Part TWO of this story, to be posted February 2, 2018, will continue the Phillips story in a Blog that I have dubbed: “Louise & the Other Doctor Phillips!” You will not want to miss it!

Della (Wolf) Phillips was among the earliest of 20th century frontierswomen to arrive in an undeveloped yet ever-expanding central Florida. Remarkable women however had already contributed immensely to settling this remote land. CitrusLAND: Curse of Florida’s Paradise, (2013 and in Second Edition 2016) is not only a true history of 19th century central Florida, but each of 12 chapters begins with a dedication and brief biography of one very special frontierswoman. Chapter 1, for example, is dedicated to the remarkable Jane Murray - one of the first-ever women to settle in central Florida. And by first I mean 1835! Each of the 12 frontierswoman deserve a special place in local history.

Visit www.CroninBooks.com for details of this book and others by this author.  
And stay tuned, Rick’s Blog will return February 2, 2018 with Part 2: Louise & the other Doctor Phillips!

Bibliography is available upon request by emailing Rick@CroninBooks.com

 Copyright by Richard Lee Cronin 2013 & 2016

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Righting Florida History: Mr. Isaac N. RUTLAND

Righting Florida History: Mr. Isaac N. RUTLAND:
He (Rutland) never served as a state senator.”

Florida’s Clerk of the House of Representatives, the person responsible for Florida’s biennial publication; People of Lawmaking in Florida, answered my January 6, 2016 inquiry as to why Isaac N. Rutland of Orange County was missing from the state’s official roster of lawmakers by stating Rutland never served as a state senator. “Isaac was elected,” the clerk reported, “as a delegate from the 19th Senatorial District for the Florida Convention of the People, Ordinance of Secession.”

I appreciated the reply, but could not accept the reasoning as to why twenty-eight (28) of sixty-nine (69) Secession Convention delegates had been excluded from Florida’s historic roster of lawmakers. Rutland was one of the 28! In a second letter, I pointed out that while Dr. James D. Starke was indeed Florida’s Senator from the 19th District in 1860-61, he was among those Senators who also abdicated their duty as Senators by assigning to the Delegates; “the interest of the State without a suggestion as to the course proper to be pursued.”

In other words, Florida’s State Senate in 1861 passed the buck! Rather than determining their State’s future, the duly elected officials instead handed that authority to the delegates, who in turn repealed existing Florida law that established the role of the State Senators. The delegates then wrote a new Constitution. The Secession Delegates, I argued, became Florida lawmakers according to the very definition of a State ‘Constitution’.

Florida’s Clerk of the House wrote again February 23, 2016, stating: “Upon receipt of your second letter and an additional review, we have decided to include all persons who served on any constitutional convention.” Isaac N. Rutland was then included in the next People of Lawmaking in Florida, from 1822 thru 2017.

The State however had not been alone in leaving Rutland out of Florida history. Early Orange County histories said little to nothing of their early county resident. Isaac came to Orange County during the 1850s. He replaced Aaron Jernigan as the Captain of Orange County’s 1856 Militia. Rutland was not only a merchant, he also operated Rutland’s Ferry on the Wekiva River. In January of 1861, Isaac was one of two delegates to the Secession Convention from Orange County. Both delegates voted NO!

A father of four children in 1860, Isaac N. Rutland vanished in 1864. Isaac’s wife Margaret was listed as a widow in 1867. The four Rutland children were orphans in 1870, living with their grandmother in Georgia. Two of the four children returned to Orange County in 1880. Son Othman Rutland settled along the west shore of Lake Apopka. Across Lake Apopka lived his sister, Sarah Katherine (Rutland) Vick.

Righting Orange County history required finding Isaac N. Rutland, even though his trail, dating back to 1864, had long gone cold. All there was to go on was one true-life clue, a few hand-scribble notes found in an 1865 government file folder titled, The Rutland Mule Matter. One note, written in late 1864 from Mellonville, Florida, by a man named Lincoln, requested that a mule be returned to Mrs. Isaac N. Rutland

Not much to go on, but enough to unravel the mystery of a vanishing, Isaac N. Rutland.

Just finished the Rutland Mule Matter book last night. OMG! Your research is so meticulous and your storytelling so captivating; I felt that I’d gone back to another time, because I knew many of the characters and settings of which you wrote.” Apopka 2015.

Two of Isaac’s children go in search of their father in a Novel based upon true-life facts. Othman finally learns the truth of The Rutland Mule Matter, and you will too!

THE RUTLAND MULE MATTER, by Richard Lee Cronin

The Novel that assisted in RIGHTING FLORIDA HISTORY

Copyright April 20, 2015: TX8-104-400

Buy it at AMAZON

Tuesday, December 26, 2017


An Ode to Will Wallace HARNEY
A to Z by Richard Lee Cronin

ANNO Avenue memorializes a Kentuckian who doubled the size of 1884 PINE CASTLE;
BUMBY Lake remains a tribute to Jesse, central Florida’s first BUMBY immigrant;
CONWAY Lake honors Dr. Valentine Y. CONWAY, 1844 Florida Surveyor General.

Many street & lake names are visual memorials to early pioneers.

DIXIE Highway (Orange Avenue) revitalized a then forsaken 1920s PINE CASTLE;
EOLA Lake (EULA) immortalized one Orlando pioneer’s “childhood sweetheart”;
FORT Gatlin’s plaque celebrates the location of an 1838 central Florida Army fortress;
GUNBY Avenue (abandoned) of Orlando was named by & for a PINE CASTLE resident;
HOFFNER Avenue crossing HARNEY’S Homestead reminds us of a 1895 homesteader.

Visual memorials help preserve the story of central Florida.

Lady Isaphoenia

LADY ISAPHOENIA owned EPPES land first, but today is obscure as W. W. HARNEY;
JENNIE Jewel Lake reminds us of a brave frontierswoman Jane (PITTS) PRESTON;
KUHL Avenue honors an immigrant who expanded Orlando south toward PINE CASTLE;
LANDSTREET evokes the memory of Angebilt Hotel Mgr & Realtor, Arthur LANDSTEET.

Forgotten meanings of memorials are often vital clues when researching the past.

MATCHETT Road on HARNEY’S Homestead recalls John W. MATCHETT;
NELA Avenue at BELLE ISLE honors Cleveland’s “National Electric Lamp Company;
ORLANDO, some continue to believe, honors a fictional soldier named ORLANDO Reeves.

Mythical memorials however can detract from central Florida’s rich heritage,
While a lack of memorials can lead to forgetting worthy, true-life pioneers.

Orlando Reeves monument at Lake Eola Park

PINE CASTLE is today a lone reminder of an 1869 frontiersman, William Wallace HARNEY;
QUARTERMASTER documents became a lone clue to learning of Rutland’s 1864 MULE;
RUTLAND & HARNEY footprints are no longer easily found on central Florida’s landscape;
ST CYR’s role in bringing General HARNEY back to central Florida is all but forgotten;

Brigadier General William Selby Harney

TAFT Florida is no longer remembered as  having ties to our nation’s WHITE HOUSE;
UNDERHILL Lake lost its significance as the birthplace of a young TENNESSEE bride;
VAUGHAN Street remains an unknown memorial to a partner of an 1884 Town of GATLIN;
WHITNER Avenue once immortalized an early homesteader, until renamed FERN CREEK;
X was a mark of many pioneers, but not of Professor Belles Lettres, Will Wallace HARNEY;
YATES Avenue at Shingle Creek memorializes a South Orange County first family; and,
ZIEGLER Road off SOBT celebrates the memory of Ziegler brother’s PINE CASTLE Dairy.

Memorials county-wide stand as reminders of central Florida pioneers, the bravest of brave men and women, and yet with little exception, Will Wallace Harney, builder of the Pine Castle, is all but forgotten in the remote wilderness he played a role taming.

In memory of WILLIAM WALLACE HARNEY (1831-1912)



CITRUSLAND: Curse of Florida’s Paradise by Richard Lee Cronin

FIRST ROAD to ORLANDO by Richard Lee Cronin

And Now;

By Richard Lee Cronin
Between two beautiful lakes and projecting into a third,” central Florida’s Fort Gatlin, established in 1838, became the hub for the earliest settlements south of Orlando. BEYOND GATLIN is a story of true-life courageous pioneers, hardy men and women, who endured an endless barrage of challenges so as to establish the 19th century settlements of Kissimmee City, Shingle Creek, Pine Castle, Mackinnon, Troy, Gatlin, Conway, Campbell City, Runnymede, and 20th century communities of Taft, Prosper Colony, Edgewood, and Belle Isle. Beyond Gatlin also goes in search of the real Fort Davenport, the Ridge of Oaks, and more. 97 Exhibits and an extensive bibliography support this first-ever history of South Orange County and north Osceola County.

BEYOND GATLIN, A History of South Orange County

Beyond Gatlin, from the family of central Florida history books by Richard Lee Cronin

 Your online central Florida History store


Florida’s Indian River Duchess (EBook only)
Seven Honorable Floridians (EBook only)

Email for Questions and Comments: Rick@CroninBooks.com