Cowboys & Lawyers: Part 3
Central Florida Attorneys of the 19th Century
A series inspired by Pine Castle Historical Society’s book,
Will Wallace Harney: Orlando’s First Renaissance Man
By Richard Lee Cronin
The Honorable George Baird Hodge of #Longwood
Brigadier General, Honorable George Baird Hodge
Photo courtesy Library of Congress
Think of Longwood history and more than likely Edward W. Henck, the Florida town founder, is the first 19th century pioneer who comes to mind. Of central Florida history fans who do know of Seminole County’s town of Longwood, few likely have ever heard of its one-time neighbor, an 1880s place known as #Angledale. The one-time Angledale community is chock full of history and mystery – including a Lake Hodge – named for a Civil War Brigadier General and Attorney.
Angledale got its name from slivers of public lands adjacent to the “angled” border of the 8,133 acres owned by Attorney Daniel Randolph Mitchell (See Part 1). A plat of Angledale, filed at the Orlando Courthouse in 1888, records the alignment of central Florida’s historic “Fort Mellon to Fort Gatlin Trail”, the 1840s military road that became the “Mellonville to Orlando Road” – or the settlers route I dubbed the First Road to Orlando.
The Angledale plat also shows a ‘Ten Mile Lake’. Now little more than a wetland area, Ten Mile Lake was a marker for early pioneers traveling along the old forts trail.
1888 Angledale Subdivision outlined in red on current map
Lake Hodge is right center above green line; Angledale plat
identifies green line as "Orlando Road".
Other features found on the 1888 Angledale plat are nearby named lakes, including Lake Hodge. Still known by that name today, the lake was named for a Kentuckian who homesteaded the land in the late 1870s. Featured in Orlando Lakes: Homesteaders & Namesakes, Lake Hodge, with its pleasant lakeside park, has long kept a secret of special interest to Longwood, Florida.
Lake Hodge southeast of Longwood, Florida
Attorney George Baird Hodge, born 1828 at Fleming County, Kentucky, came to Florida around 1878 and homesteaded 160 acres south of Longwood. He gave his occupation as “Lawyer” in the Orange County census of 1885. Identified as family #68, Longwood town founder and neighbor Edward W. Henck was listed as family #70.
Longwood history tells of Henck’s distinguished military career – of enlisting in the Civil War as a teenager, serving as a musician – and of traveling with President Abraham Lincoln’s Funeral Train as it transported Lincoln to his final resting place in Illinois. A Union War Veteran, Henck was the neighbor of Brigadier General George Baird Hodge, a Veteran of the Confederate Army.
Central Florida’s amazing 19th century history includes the fact that it served as a healing place for retired warriors – former enemies who settled in Florida’s citrus Belt as neighbors, and in time. Became civic leaders and yes, even friends.
Back home in Kentucky, Attorney George B. Hodge had been active in politics. He graduated in 1845 from the United States Naval Academy and by 1852 had become of member of Kentucky’s Bar. Hodge was elected to Kentucky’s State Legislature in 1859, and Appleton’s Cyclopedia of American Biography tells us he also served as an elector on the Breckinridge Presidential ticket of 1860. Then came the question of Kentucky’s position in the Civil War.
Kentucky wanted to remain neutral in the War, but that stance did not work out well. William Wallace Harney of Louisville and Orange County’s Lake Conway, for example, was an editor at his father’s newspaper - and a staunch Union supporter early in the War. Two brothers of Will Harney served with Union troops.
Not every Kentuckian however supported the Union cause. George B. Hodge was among native Kentuckians who enlisted with the Confederacy. Hodge even represented his Kentucky at the Confederate Congress.
During the War, Hodge was promoted to Major for gallantry at the Battle of Shiloh. In 1864, he served as Inspector General for the Confederacy at Cumberland Gap (the mountain crossing gap where in 1869, Will Wallace Harney – along with his Southern Belle wife – made their journey south to Florida).
Hodge and his calvary brigade were commended for good conduct at Chickamauga, Tennessee in 1863 – a battle where Confederate forces were engaged with Union regiments that included Kentuckians - including one of Harney’s two brothers.
Such was the story of a horrible American Civil War – and such is the history of the healing that took place in Central Florida’s Citrus Belt.
Following the War, General George Baird Hodge reestablished a law practice in Kentucky. In 1872, he was elected to Kentucky’s Senate, serving until 1877. Then, on May 27, 1879, George B. Hodge purchased 124 acres in Orange County (now Seminole County), identified as “Lot 58 of the Mitchell Grant”.
The Mitchell survey of Lot 58 shows a then unnamed Lake Hodge. The plat also shows the First Road to Orlando crossing Hodge’s Lot 58, and a corner of Ten Mile Lake.
Soon after Hodge settled along the old forts trail (First Road to Orlando), railroad track was laid to the west of the Hodge Homestead - along a newer second road to Orlando. That track was laid through Edward W. Henck’s town of Longwood, and the old forts trail, after nearly 40 years of service to central Florida setters, was abandoned in favor of the railroad.
Attorney George Baird Hodge died at Longwood August 1, 1892. Briefly buried in Florida, his remains were later reinterred in the family plot at Campbell County, Kentucky.
Next Friday, Cowboys & Lawyers resumes with the Honorable Judge James G. Speer.
COWBOYS & LAWYERS - INSPIRED BY:
Chapter 6: Cowboys & Lawyers, Will Wallace Harney: Orlando’s First Renaissance Man, by Richard Lee Cronin, and published by Pine Castle Historical Society: “Author Cronin sets the stage for his Harney biography with little known facts about pioneer Florida, where he corrects history and then expands it 100 fold!”
And; Central Florida research of Richard Lee Cronin and his books: First Road to Orlando; Beyond Gatlin, A History of South Orange County; CitrusLAND: Curse of Florida’s Paradise; Orlando Lakes: Homesteaders & Namesakes; The Rutland Mule Matter; CitrusLAND: Ghost Towns & Phantom Trains.
VISIT CroninBooks.COM booth at Pine Castle Pioneer Days, February 22 & 23, 2019.
Books also available at Winter Garden Heritage Foundation Museum and Amazon.com
MARK YOUR CALENDAR for Saturday February 22nd 1-2 PM
A TRIBUTE TO 150 YEARS OF
ORANGE COUNTY EDUCATORS
By Richard Lee Cronin
At the Pine Castle History Tent,
Pine Castle Pioneer Days (Now FREE Admission)