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their State’s future, the duly elected officials instead handed that authority to the delegates, who in turn repealed existing Florida law that established the role of the State Senators.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

An Ode to Will Wallace HARNEY
CENTRAL FLORIDA MEMORIALS 
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)

CENTRAL FLORIDA HISTORY

THE RUTLAND MULE MATTER by Richard Lee Cronin

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

FIRST ROAD to ORLANDO by Richard Lee Cronin

And Now;
BEYOND GATLIN

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

Recipient of the 2017 PINE CASTLE HISTORIAN AWARD

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

Email for Questions and Comments: Rick@CroninBooks.com


Wednesday, December 20, 2017

A History of LAKE UNDERHILL - Part 4 The Finale

A History of LAKE UNDERHILL
Rick’s CitrusLAND Holiday Blog
Part 4: The Finale - Naming Lake Underhill

What’s in a name?
Names of 19th century streets, lakes, and towns are oftentimes clues to discovering the story of that area. South Street makes little sense, for instance, until one realizes the street had been the southernmost east-west artery of the 1880 town of Orlando. The name even makes more sense when considering North Street, its original counterpart, existed until its name was changed to Robinson Street. Half way between the two was, and remains, Central Avenue.


Lake Underhill looking east from Orlando’s Joe Kittinger Park

Misspelled by the surveyor hired to lay out Jacob Summerlin’s, ‘Add to Orlando’, the town’s iconic Lake Eola (blog of 12/6/2016), was intended as a memorial to Eula, one pioneer’s childhood sweetheart. The 1840s Reed misspelling, a fort named for Florida Territorial Governor Reid, father of Orlando’s 1867 rescuer, Robert R. Reid, (blog of 8/14/2015), confused history with the unrelated Sir James Edward Reed (Part 3 of this blog). Maitland, the lake, town and streets, were all named for died in Florida’s Second Seminole Indian War, whereas the town’s Lake Sybelia was named following the death, at a young age, of the first wife of one of Maitland’s early town developers.

Names indeed provide clues for researching central Florida’s early history. Sanford got its name from Henry S. Sanford, the town’s founder, whereas the name Orlando had long remained a mystery in large part because of a false narrative regarding a Mythical soldier. Place names truly serve as an excellent starting point for searching the past, and so as I began researching this Lake Underhill blog, I began looking as well for the one person responsible for selecting the name, and why.

As established in Part 3 of this blog, the earliest verifiable use of the name Underhill at this east Orange County location was December 16, 1884. A deed written by newlyweds William & Ida Palmer made reference to the shoreline of “Lake Underhill.

Surveyed as an unnamed ‘pond’ in 1843, the Palmer deed opened a 40 year window for possible pioneers to have named the lake. But the name Underhill is rare in all of pre-1885 central Florida. Lakes Conway & Butler were named for Survey Generals; Lakes Eustis & Harney for Generals serving in Florida’s Indian Wars; Lakes Anderson & Holden for early homesteaders on those lakes. But even with these examples in hand, the search for an Underhill in central Florida repeatedly came up empty handed.

Twenty-one (21) known pre-1885 landowners fronting Lake Underhill, including 38 confirmable spouse surnames, failed to reveal a connection to an Underhill family name or place. So, believing I had hit that proverbial brick wall, I started drafting a conclusion for this blog by telling of the many other ongoing mysteries, and suggesting the lake may remain one such example. I did not want to admit defeat in my research though, and so I dug deeper, deciding to research further the first known users of the name, William & Ida (Babbitt) Palmer.


My belief as to how Lake UNDERHILL got its name:

A 15 year old in 1880, Miss Ida May Babbitt was residing at Louisville, KY with her teacher, Miss Henrietta Barbaroux. Four years later, November 19, 1884, the 19 year old Ida (still a minor at that time) married William D. Palmer. The wedding took place at Louisville, KY, with one witness being Henrietta Barbaroux.

Newlyweds William D. & Ida M. Palmer, in 1885, lived with Henrietta Barbaroux at Summerlin Hotel in Orlando, FL. Ida stated in the Orange County census that year that her birthplace was Natchez, Mississippi (line 2 below). Henrietta Barbaroux gave her birthplace as Louisville (line 3 below).


1885 Census of Orlando, Orange County, Florida

Henrietta consistently listed her birthplace as Kentucky. Ida May consistently gave her birthplace as Mississippi. Why was the young girl from Mississippi not living with her parents? Why were Ida Babbitt and Henrietta Barbaroux always living together? More importantly for my blog’s ending, could Ida and Henrietta lead me to learning the long forgotten reason for naming Lake Underhill?

The girl from Natchez, Mississippi:

1880 May 1: “NOTICE to NON-RESIDENTS: State of Mississippi, Adams County: In the matter of Ida Babbit, a minor, is absent from this State, and now in Louisville, KY, her post office address being “care of Miss Henrietta Barbaroux.” This ad, notice of an impending auction of Natchez property, directed my attention away from Louisville and toward the birthplace of Ida. Only then did I find the answer I had been searching for. That, or I stumbled upon the most remarkable coincidence ever.

Ida May Babbitt, a minor, owned an eighth interest in “Brighton”, a 170 acre estate situated on “Second Creek.” A plantation, the parcel had belonged to Ida’s deceased grandfather, Charles W. Babbitt. Ida and her brother were each due a portion of the grandfather’s estate because their father, Adam, had died in 1867 from injuries he had sustained during the Civil War. Ida’s mother was also deceased, so in 1880, a sister of Adam Babbitt had become the Guardian of Ida May Babbitt, a minor child.

Natchez, which is situated on the east bank of the Mississippi River, 280 miles, by water, above New Orleans.” The newspaper Marshall County Republican, in an 1875 article describing several Mississippi River towns, wrote this of the river port city: “It is built on the summit of a bluff 150 feet above the water, and on the narrow strip of land between the foot of the hill and the river. The latter portion of the city goes by the soubriquet of ‘Natchez Under-the-Hill’, or Natchez Landing.”

Born at Natchez, Ida May Babbitt traveled the Mississippi to and from Louisville, KY, where she lived with a ‘family friend’ Henrietta Barbaroux. Because Ida was not of age, court records maintained an ‘estate’ for the minor child, records of income received and expenses paid. Expense receipts establish that Ida had returned home on occasion, once within six months of her wedding. After shopping at Chamberlain & Patterson on the 6th of May, 1884, Ida may Babbitt would have departed from the port of Natchez Under-the-Hill to return to Louisville, KY for her November marriage.


Natchez, Mississippi receipt, Miss Ida Babbitt, May 6, 1884

Seven months after shopping at Natchez, six months after walking down the aisle to marry William at Louisville, KY, Mrs. Ida May (Babbitt) Palmer, and her husband, signed three deeds, each at Orlando, FL, on 16 December, 1884. Each deed made reference to “Lake Underhill.”


Natchez, Under the Hill, source Library of Congress

I believe Lake Underhill at Orlando, Florida was named for a notorious Mississippi River port at the foot of Natchez, a riverside area known, even today, as Natchez Under-the-Hill. And now that you know my theory, let me know what you think.

CitrusLAND wishes you and yours a MERRY CHRISTMAS and HAPPY NEW YEAR. This Blog returns in January, 2018 with the first of a New Year chock full of fascinating central Florida history & mystery. January’s Series: WEKIVA MISFITS.

 www.CroninBooks.com is your one-stop

CENTRAL FLORIDA HISTORY STORE

References are available upon request, email Rick@CroninBooks.com

Author Richard Lee Cronin



Proud recipient of the 2017 Pine Castle Historian Award

Saturday, December 16, 2017

A History of LAKE UNDERHILL - Part 3

A History of LAKE UNDERHILL
Rick’s CitrusLAND Holiday Blog
Part 3: A General & the Russian




How Lake Underhill got its name is, in my view, one of the great central Florida 19th century mysteries. Who was Underhill? Who chose the name Lake Underhill? The first reference to this name appeared December 16, 1884, mentioned on a deed conveyed by newlyweds William & Ida Palmer. But by 1884, no fewer than three dozen surnames, (including maiden names of spouses), are traceable to the lake’s homesteaders. Not one of the early landowners appear to be related at an Underhill!

Intriguing Lake Underhill stories add to the mystery of its naming. One 1886 land sale for example, thirteen (13) months after the first document appeared showing the lake’s name, involved Alabama’s Brigadier General, Philip Dale Roddey. General Roddey owned land, described as the, “Southeast Quarter of the Southwest Quarter of Section 29, Township 22 South; Range 30 East,” for only five days.



That red square in the above map outlines Roddey’s 40 acre parcel. If you assumed that blue expanse in the map to be water, you are correct. Orlando’s Joe Kittinger’s Park can be seen in the map, at the intersection of Crystal Lake Drive and the East-West Expressway. Did General Roddey buy and sell land that was under water? No!

In 1890, Orange County surveyors made a comprehensive survey of all landowners. The surveyors prepared a map of those landowners, and for the two sections around Lake Underhill, Henry Nicholas Grenside is shown as owner of the 40 acres General Roddey sold in 1886. That 1890 survey work shows that three-fourths of Mr. Grenside’s parcel, immediately south of Norman Robinson’s land, was not inside the lake.



The map of landowners above, sketched in 1890 by Orange County surveyors, is exactly as recorded the year it was prepared. All entries, including the “Lake Underhill” notation at lower left center above, are as the surveyors work was recorded. Above (north) of the lake’s outline is one of the parcels ‘H. N. Grenside’ acquired from General Roddey.

Roddey & Grenside are indicative of central Florida’s worldwide allure that inspired land speculators to find their way to Orange County during the 1880s. Many didn’t even feel the need to step foot in the sunshine state. One such person was an Ex-Confederate General turned 19th century inventor, Philip Dale Roddey.

Roddey purchased 6,595 Orange County acres in bulk at $1 per acre, and “flipped” the entire packaged deal within five days of his closing, completing both transactions far from Orange County. Grenside, a native of Moscow, Russia, bought all 6,595 acres of Florida land, closing on the deal January 9, 1886. All 6,595 acres changed hands at London’s Westminster Palace Hotel.  

To fully appreciate this unique real estate transaction we need to begin in September of 1883. At that time, England’s Sir James Edward REED purchased 65,000 acres in central Florida, property located mainly in east Orange County. Reed established the Florida Land & Mortgage Co as overseer of his Florida property. Within ten months, December 7, 1884, German Immigrant John Deutschman acquired 80 of Reed’s 65,000 acres, land located along the east and northeast shore of a lake identified that same month, in a deed issued by William & Ida May Palmer, as Lake Underhill. The Deutschman property can be seen on the 1890 survey of landowners above.

Central Florida’s Lake Underhill not only had a name at the dawn of 1885, the east Orange County lake had also become an American melting pot. Surrounding a body of water that for decades had remained nearly uninhabited, in less than a decade, land encircling the lake was owned by individuals from around the globe.


A Florida-Georgia family, MIZELL, had been joined by Irish Immigrant EAGAN; followed by two ROBINSON brothers, one from Michigan, the other from Kentucky. SINCLAIR of New England arrived, and enticed a DUNCAN family from Canada, as well as the CHURCH family of England. Ida of Mississippi added to an American born clan, followed by a German named DEUTSCHMAN. The great-granddaughter of our President Thomas JEFFERSON even owned land for a time along the lake’s shore.

To add to the melting pot, General RODDEY of Alabama travelled to England, set up a temporary home at perhaps London’s most glamorous hotel, in hopes of selling a patent, and instead acquired, for a few days, 6,595 Orange County acres, all of which he sold to Henry Nicholas GRENSIDE, a resident of England, and native of Moscow, Russia.
  
One particular parcel Roddey sold to Grenside separated Lake Underhill from the 80 acres owned, for nearly a decade, by Norman Robinson. Varying central Florida lake levels was the culprit that disappointed many a 19th century landowner who had thought they acquired lakefront property. Deeds were issued referencing ‘Government Surveys,’ of the 1840s. A 1880s London buyer therefore could unwittingly buy a central Florida wetland.


Lake Underhill had a name by December 16, 1884, but where did that name originate? Homesteaders often named their lakes for loved ones, or places back home. Sometimes lake names changed over time. Lake Arnold, south of Underhill, started out as Lake Vernon. East Colonial Drive’s Park Lake was originally Lake Leora, named for the wife of Norman Robinson.

The military also named a few lakes in the 1840s, such Lake Harney and Lake Jesup. Lakes Conway and Butler were named for early Florida Surveyors, and some lakes are now known by the name given to them by American Indians. But who was Underhill? Or perhaps I should ask, where was Underhill?

No Underhill family homesteaded near the lake prior to its naming, nor was the name a maiden name of any spouse. No one settling around the lake can be traced to a place called Underhill - No one, that is, except ONE lakeside resident. Any you will soon meet her!

Thursday, December 21, 2017, in time for Christmas, is the conclusion to this four part series: A History of Lake Underhill, Part Four: Naming Lake Underhill!

 www.CroninBooks.com is your one-stop

CENTRAL FLORIDA HISTORY STORE


References are available upon request, email Rick@CroninBooks.com

Author Richard Lee Cronin


Proud recipient of the 2017 

Pine Castle Historian Award

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

A History of LAKE UNDERHILL - Part 2

A History of LAKE UNDERHILL
Rick’s CitrusLAND Holiday Blog
Part 2: A Louisville School Board (or two)

Three huge land deals, involving millions of central Florida acres, ignited what can best be described as a mediocre 1880s surge in Orange County’s growth. Hamilton DISSTON had started the surge by purchasing four (4) million acres. Disston in turn inspired two British groups, working independent of one another, to acquire thousands of acres at Sanford as well as a large portion of a desolate East Orange County.


Looking west today across Lake Underhill toward Orlando skyline

Included in the millions of acres changing hands during the 1880s was a tiny parcel on the northeast shore of Lake Underhill. Currently an Orlando Executive Airport runway, the parcel was purchased in 1884 by a German immigrant. By that time though, much of the lake shore had already become private property. Philadelphia’s Hamilton Disston and the two British investors indeed triggered a growth surge, but interest in the Lake Underhill area itself appears to be more the result of migrating Kentuckians.

#Louisvillians to be precise!


The red rectangle on the Orange 1888 map above outlines the area of present day Lake Underhill. The two townships (each square on map) east of Orlando shows little to no settlement as of that year. The lake doesn't even appear on this map.


A Louisville Editor and Educator:

Students of central Florida history might assume, incorrectly, that I’d be referring to Pine Castle’s Will Wallace Harney in stating a school principal turned newspaper editor was an early Lake Underhill homesteader. Harney settled on Lake Conway, moving from Louisville in 1869, where he had been both an editor and school principal. Harney built a home of native pine trees on a lake shore, thereby inspiring the naming of the town.

But another Louisville editor and school principal, Norman Robinson, came to Orlando a decade after Will Wallace Harney. Robinson bought numerous parcels around central Florida, including 80 acres on the north shore of Lake Underhill. Planes taxi today on land once owned by Norman Robinson, a New York native who had relocated at a young age to Louisville, Kentucky.

Norman became so engaged in land development at central Florida that he convinced a brother to relocate to Orlando as well. That brother, Samuel A. Robinson, eventually became a prominent Orange County Surveyor.

Norman Robinson maintained dual citizenship, for in 1879, in addition to being an Orlando land developer, he was still Principal of Louisville’s Holyoke Academy. He and Leora Bettison Robinson, his wife and an acclaimed author, also taught at Holyoke Academy. Prior to the school, Norman had been editor of Louisville’s Western Recorder, a Baptist newspaper still operating today.

Norman & Leora settled near downtown Orlando, where CATHCART Avenue of today crosses Colonial Drive (CATHCART was Leora’s mother’s maiden name). The acreage Norman bought at Lake Underhill sat about 2 miles due-east of Orlando, a trek made much easier today simply by taking Robinson Avenue due east from Cathcart to the road’s end at Orlando Executive Airport.

The Robinson Brothers’ 1880s landholdings were widespread. They were among the first, for example, to plat an Addition to Kissimmee City, and they expanded Orlando as well. Norman acquired land on the north shore of Lake Underhill as well, whereas Samuel, he selected acreage along the south shore. Today, Lake Underhill Park and boat ramp sits upon property originally owned by Samuel A. Robinson.

Snowbirds began taking interest in the quiet lakeside seclusion east of the county seat, largely due to the Robinson’s. Northerners such as Henry CONANT, a New York City piano manufacturer; Alexander DUNCAN, a Toronto Police Sargent; and a British emigrant turned citrus farmer, Hugh B. CHURCH, each celebrated the 1884 New Year as Lake Underhill neighbors, enjoying the Sunshine State far from the frigid North that each had long been accustomed.

Who else? Well, Benjamin B. ELSE! He too lived on lakefront acreage that, as far as Orange County recorded documents reflect, did not yet have a formal name.

The ‘OTHER’ Louisville Girls School:

As the Robinson brothers were taking interest in the body of water now known as Lake Underhill, the town of Louisville, Kentucky was still harboring two key players in the story of our East Orlando Lake. Both were school teachers!

Ida M. Babbitt celebrated her 15th birthday at Louisville in 1880, but not while living with her parents. Ida was living with Henrietta Barbaroux, founder and principal of Barbaroux’ School for Girls. Three years later, at age 18, Ida listed her occupation in an 1883 Louisville Directory as “teacher.” She was still living with Miss Barbaroux.

Meanwhile, back at Orlando, heirs of Sheriff David W. Mizell, Jr., the first landowner on Lake Underhill, sold their lakefront property November 13, 1884. Three recorded deeds, having a combined five (5) pages, described the acreage sold without ever mentioning a name of the lake bordering one side of the land.

William D. PALMER, a native of Monticello, Jefferson County, Florida, bought the land from the Mizell family, days before departing for Kentucky. Six (6) days after the Lake Underhill deed had been signed, William married at Louisville. His bride was a school teacher, Miss Ida May Babbitt, and so the Lake Underhill plot thickens.



How do I know, you might ask, that it’s the same Babbitt? Within one month of their marriage, William D. & Ida M. Palmer were living at the Summerlin Hotel, in downtown Orlando. The Summerlin Hotel manager was Miss H. Barbaroux, who would go on to establish the Cathedral School for Girls at Orlando.

The Palmer newlyweds also made their first land sale of acreage William had purchased only days before their wedding. The deed the couple signed as Mr. & Mrs. Palmer included descriptive language of the property location, including the sentence: “Thence south along LAKE UNDERHILL.” 

The Palmer land sale of December 16, 1884 by the is the first known recorded document referencing the name Lake Underhill. That 12 acre parcel was purchased by Elizabeth Harn, wife of Sam Harn, an Orlando Realtor. The very same parcel is today Colonel Joe Kittinger Park.


Two central Florida lakes became home, in 1860, to a prominent citizen named David W. Mizell. A father and son, both were well-known to local history. Senior chose his parcel on Lake Conway, across from an ex-Louisville High School principal who went on to become an Editor at the Louisville Democrat newspaper. Junior selected acreage on a lake destined to become Lake Underhill, across the shore from where a one- time Editor of Louisville’s Western Recorder turned High School Principal homesteaded 80 acres. The coincidence of history is very often amusing, but even more so here in central Florida.

The first Lake Underhill parcel settled in 1860 went on to become, in 1884, the first recorded deed to establish the lake’s name as Underhill, a name not easily found in the annals of central Florida history. The Palmer’s sold additional lots as “Lake Underhill”, adding to a growing list of lake shore residents. Part Three of this Blog will introduce you to an Arkansas Brigadier General and his Moscow, Russia buyer, as our Holiday event, A History of Lake Underhill, continues. Stay tuned, and in the meantime, check out...

www.CroninBooks.com - your one-stop

CENTRAL FLORIDA HISTORY STORE

References are available upon request, email Rick@CroninBooks.com

Author Richard Lee Cronin



Proud recipient of the 2017 Pine Castle Historian Award