While many of the Flagler County Pioneers came to till the land in the early 1900’s some, as most do today, came here for other reasons. The writer’s paternal great-grandfather moved here in 1907 from Bergen County, NJ for health reasons. His daughter married my grandfather who had come here from Appling County, GA about 1902 to operate a turpentine still for his uncle and the rest is, as they say, history.
To quote from the printed word, “These are the days of high-soaring prices for food, clothing, and shelter. They are difficult days for thousands of salaried employees living in cities; prosperous days for part of the past army of wage-workers, precarious days for the rest. They are days of stress and strain; of wars abroad, of grave anxieties in the homeland.”
This quote is not from this week’s edition of the Flagler/Palm Coast News Tribune, but rather from a brochure published around 1912 by the DuPont Land Company’s Northern Office in Scranton, PA attempting to sell land in present-day Flagler County to farmers from the North and West.
The DuPont Land Company
The DuPont Land Company, like ITT of later years, offered prospective land buyers a place to stay while they traveled to present-day Flagler County to take a look at the land. Granted it wasn’t a Sheraton Hotel on the ocean, but rather the company’s sixteen-room (some equipped with private baths) hotel overlooking the railroad tracks in Dupont, some six miles south of Bunnell on U.S. 1.
Since there were no major roads leading to present-day Flagler County, most prospective land buyers arrived by train on Henry Morrison Flagler’s Florida East Coast (FEC) Railroad.
In the early 1900’s, the DuPont Land Company wasn’t the only developer attempting to bring in buyers from the northern states. Some of the other companies were:
The St. Johns Development Company
This company held their first meeting at Omega (present-day St. Johns Park) in December 1908. They contracted with the Ben Levin Advertising Agency of Chicago to promote their company in northern newspapers.
The St Johns Development Company also had a hotel for guest, most of whom arrived by steamboat coming south from Jacksonville on the St Johns River to Palatka, then southeast on Dunn’s Creek to present-day Crescent Lake, the across the bottom of the lake to Dead Lake and up to the landing at St. Johns Park.
The Bunnell Development Company
This company was chartered in June 1909 and had offices in Bunnell and Chicago. In December 1912, the Chicago office began publication of a monthly house organ entitled “The Bunnell Home Builder.” The slogan in the masthead said, “The Truth about Florida.” The publication was sent to all Bunnell-Dupont Colony landowners and others who were interested in “securing homes in the Sunny Southland.”
Polish immigrants in Chicago, Detroit and other cities, recent arrivals in this free land of ours, were told of a fabulous land called Florida through polish-language editions of “The Bunnell Home Builder.” The land promotion gimmicks of ninety-six years ago were employed to spin tales of three crops a year, no snow or ice and ideal farming conditions. The price per acre was $35.
While ITT in later years used passenger airplanes to fly prospective buyers here, the Bunnell Development Company used a special chartered train they called “The Dixie Flyer” for the same purpose. Round trip, Chicago to Bunnell, was $41.89.
Like the other developers, the Bunnell Development Company also had a hotel. It was originally called The Bunnell Hotel and later the Halcyon; this relic of the past still stands today on the corner of Railroad and Lambert Streets. Its windows are boarded and it is surrounded by a chain-link fence. The hotel could accommodate 75 guests who paid $3.00 per day. The less affluent could stay at the Pine Grove Inn located on the NE corner of Church Street and Moody Blvd. at $2.00 per day.
The Ocean City Improvement Company
This company was chartered in June 1921 in Ocean City Beach (present-day Flagler Beach) to “develop Ocean City Beach by building streets and sidewalks and other dwellings, hotel … and other things for the beautification of one the finest town sites along the east coast of Florida……” Not mentioned in the charter was the goal of selling land and making money, but that was what the company was about.
The two hotels build in now Flagler Beach by the company or one of its principals are now gone. One was located on the site where the present-day Farmers’ Market is held on weekends (Moody Blvd and Central Ave.) and the other was located across from the pier where the Bank of America now stands.
Our Early Inhabits
The original settlers of this portion of Florida be they Indian, French, Spanish or British came here for the land as did most of the early 20th Century pioneers. Some of these early inhabits left evidence of their presence in our county that is visible to us to this day
The Frenchmen and Spaniards who came to Florida in the 1560’s found themselves in the midst of one of the great culture areas of native peoples in the southeast of the continent. Here lived a people known as Timucuan. There are many remains of their mounds and middens in Flagler County.
The midden at Washington Gardens State Park on A1A north of the Hammock is perhaps the most accessible. The park has an interpretive museum and the park rangers are most happy to tell you about the Timucuan village located on/or near the property
In 1564, the French established a settlement called Fort Caroline near Jacksonville, at the mouth of the St Johns River. Perhaps the only Frenchmen who ever set foot in now Flagler County were those shipwrecked sailors who had set out from Fort Caroline to attack the Spanish at St Augustine in Sep 1565, only to be driven southward by a hurricane, their ships stranded and broken up.
Three of the heavier ships were wrecked in the vicinity of Mosquito Inlet (Ponce de Leon) near present-day Daytona Beach and the flagship was grounded intact not far from Cape Canaveral. Two separate groups of sailors made their way north toward Fort Caroline.
The first group of sailors reached the south side of what is now called Mantanzas inlet just north of present-day Marineland, around September 29, 1685. They surrendered to the Spanish under the command of Pedro Menendez de Aviles and were ferried across the inlet where they were put to the knife (with the exception of the French pilot, four carpenters and caulkers and twelve Breton sailors).
The second group arrived around October 11, 1685 and the drama that played out followed much the same course as before. The next morning, half of the French force chose to retain their liberty and retreated southward through now Flagler County and Jean Ribault, together with several of his captains and seventy of his men, surrendered and were ferried across the inlet. A few of the Frenchmen were taken as captives, the remainder were killed, among them Jean Ribault.
There is a plaque which tells of these events on the north side of the Claude Varn Bridge over the inlet. More information is available at the Mantanzas Park visitor’s center.
The Spanish were in possession of Florida and thus this portion of the territory on two occasions; from1565 to1763 after they defeated the French and from 1784 to1821 after they captured Pensacola from the British in 1781 and in 1784 regained control of the rest of Florida as part of the peace treaty that ended the American Revolution. According to the terms of the Adams-Onis Treaty, Spain formally ceded Florida to the United States in 1821 and Andrew Jackson returned to establish a new territorial government.
On May 26, 1788, Joseph Marion Hernandez who later had some major developments in present day Flagler County was born in the Spanish Colony of St. Augustine. On February 25, 1814, he married Ana Marie Hill, the widow of Samuel Williams who had an extensive plantation on the Halifax River in now present-day Daytona Beach.
Joseph was a lawyer, residing in St. Augustine and when the Spanish left Florida in 1821, he transferred his allegiance to the United States.
Upon the formation of the Florida Territory, he was elected as a Delegate to the Seventeenth Congress and served from September 30, 1822 to March 3, 1823. He was a member and presiding officer of the Territorial House of Representatives and appointed Brigadier General of Volunteers in the war against the Florida Indians.
Joseph entered the United States service and served from 1835 to 1838 and commanded the expedition in 1837 that captured the Indian leader Osceola. He was appointed brigadier general of Mounted Volunteers in July 1837 and was an unsuccessful candidate of the Wig Party for the United States Senate in 1845. He later moved to Cuba and engaged as a planter in the District of Coliseo, near Matanzas.
He acquired a large acreage of land in northeast present Flagler County, known as the Hernandez Grant, most of which was Spanish Land Grants he purchased from several parties.
Included in his holdings were three plantations known as St. Joseph (north of Palm Coast Parkway on Florida Park Drive), Bella Vista (present day Washington Gardens State Park) and Mala Compra (present day Bing’s Landing County Park), with his plantation house at Mala Compra on the east bank of the Matanzas River.
In Christmas, 1831, the Hernandez family entertained a visitor at Mala Compra who later became a world famous personality – – John James Audubon, the wildlife artist. While staying in St Augustine, Audubon met Joseph Hernandez, to whom he had letters of introduction. Hernandez invited the artist to Mala Compra about 30 miles south of St Augustine. Audubon stayed at Mala Compra for about ten days before moving south to the Halifax River area.
Joseph was a prominent planter in the early history of Florida. Toward the end of the Indian War, Hernandez’s two plantations were destroyed by Indians after being occupied by Federal Troops – – one known as St Joseph’s, a sugar plantation and the other as Mala Compra, a cotton plantation.
He filed claim against the US Government for approximately $100,000 for damages for the destruction of his buildings and personal property in East Florida by the Seminole Indians in the years 1835, 1836 and 1837.
In March 1839, Congress approved the first of the monetary awards made to Hernandez as a result of the war claims. Between that time and May 1842, he had received a total of $34,521.30. In 1844, Hernandez went back to Congress to ask for the balance of $64,494.89 – – his request was denied.
Copies of the voluminous Hernandez documents are on file at the Flagler County Historical Society in Bunnell as well as some pieces of the china he used when he was a representative to Congress.
According to an article I found in The Flagler Tribune of May10, 1969, early in the days of the Palm Coast development, ICDC engineers found the remains of the floor of an immense sugar mill, said to be the largest on the Florida East Coast, commonly called the St. Joe Sugar Mill after its owner, General Joseph Hernandez.
ICDC asked some of the then Flagler County Commissioners to visit the site to tell them if it had any lasting historical significance. Reportedly, the commissioners said it was a pile of useless rocks and so advised the ICDC planners.
As a result, fill dirt dredged from finger canals was put over the plantation ruins, To all intents and purposes, St. Joe Sugar Mill was obliterated.
If you desire additional information on the Spanish, a most outstanding book to read on the Spanish occupation of Florida is Eugene Lyon’s “The Enterprise of Florida,” published by the University of Florida Press.
Britain gained control of Florida in 1763 in exchange for Havana, Cuba. Florida was then split into two parts: East Florida, with its capital in St. Augustine and West Florida, with its seat in Pensacola.
For more information on the British influence in our area, please refer to two books by Palm Coast Historical Society member William P. (Bill) Ryan; “The Search for Old Kings Road,” the First Route Into Florida and “I am Grey Eyes,” a story of old Florida. I’m sure that Bill will be most happy to sell you a copy and autograph same in the process.
Flagler County Places – Then and Now
“Bordering on beautiful Crescent Lake and in the midst of twenty-five thousand acres of the finest farming land in Florida, reposes the town site of Andalusia (about 15 miles west of Bunnell on SR 100), with one of the prospects of becoming an agriculture center in this land of sunshine. We find here 1500 acres of developed farms with soil equal to any in Florida. Every variety of vegetable and citrus fruit can be found growing in fertile fields and groves and developers will plant between two hundred and fifty acres in crops”……..The Flagler Tribune, February 18, 1926.
Andalusia is located about 15 miles west of Bunnell on State Road 100. There is no settlement located there, only a few farm houses and a state road sign saying Andalusia.
Beverly BeachThe Town of Beverly Beach is located three miles north of Flagler Beach and was incorporated July 1955. There were ten residents living in the community at the time. The subdivision was developed by Claude Grady Varn in 1947 and was given the name, “Beverly Beach” by Mr. Varn.
The first town commission meeting was conducted July 6, 1955. Stanley Farnsworth was elected the town’s first mayor. Town Commissioners elected were Robert Q. Elfstrom; Vivian Elfstrom, Cora Williams, Edna Farnsworth and Opha M. Martin. Ward Martin was appointed Town Clerk and Robert E. Williams was appointed Town Marshall. Claude G. Varn was appointed attorney.
“Between Espanola and Andalusia, lays a fertile farming section known as Bimini and developed by some of the leading agriculturists who have made Florida their home. The soil here is adaptable to almost any product or citrus fruit and during the entire years produce is shipped both north and south by way of the East Coast Railroad which runs but a few miles east of the community.
J. C. Parkhill was among the first developers of this part of the county and was followed by such developers as Messrs. Duttenhaver, Charles Rinker and the late J. F Whitton. Bimini comprises about 7,000 acres of land”…… The Flagler Tribune, February 18, 1926.
“A post office and a few houses on the Old Dixie Highway known as Bulow, is all that is left of a thriving community settle in 1940 by C. W. Bulow. It was on the banks of Haulover Creek at that time which is now on the East Coast Canal. Here Bulow and his heirs, the Staling family, planted vineyards and sugar cane. This is in the heart of the old Spanish sugar mill district” ……..The Flagler Tribune, February 18, 1926.
Toward the latter part of 1897, Alvah Alonzo Bunnell, 43, established a sawmill and later a store next to the railroad in the area of present day Flagler County known as Bunnell. There was no town at that time. To identify the train stop for mail and to let off passengers, it was called Bunnell Stop.
About 1898, two young bachelors, Isaac I Moody, Jr, 24, of Appling County, Georgia and Major James Frank Lambert, 36, of South Carolina, arrived in what is now Flagler County, Florida.
They came to work for George W. Deen who had a large turpentine business in St Johns Park, west of Bunnell Stop. George, who had worked for Isaac’s father in Georgia, was also the president of the St. John’s Park Development Company in the western part of now Flagler County.
After working several years for George Deen, later a Georgia State Senator, they purchased a 30,000 acre tract of land from him and set up their own camp and turpentine operation. They were successful in the turpentine business but realized that some good farm land was in the acreage they now held. Having observed the land sale promotion in St. John’s Park, in 1909 they formed the Bunnell Development Company. They had real estate offices here and in Chicago where train trips were arranged for potential buyers from the North to visit this area.
Bunnell Stop was first incorporated as a town on June 2, 1911, when the state legislature passed a special act of incorporation. The act contained a faulty description of boundary lines and the place did not function as a town until two years later when a special law was passed granting them a charter. Appointed as councilmen by the governor were; Isaac I Moody, Jr, George Moody (Isaac’s brother), William Edgar (Ed) Johnson, James Frank Lambert, William H Cochran and W.C. Heath, mayor.
Dinner Island, was a town a few miles north west of Espanola and was a center for agricultural products and citrus fruit at one time.
Near the turn of the century, Utley James White moved from Hastings, Florida, to Dupont. He had come from Illinois to Hastings and had built the White Towers Plantation there. He was the first man to raise Irish potatoes on a commercial basis in that area. At Dupont, he went into the logging and lumber business. He built a large saw mill as well as a planning mill and stave mill.
A railroad was necessary to carry on this work, so he first built a tram road to Green’s Island near Flagler Beach. He then constructed a narrow gauge railroad to Haw Creek. This extended as far as Tipperary – – a place just across Little Haw Creek on the Seville road.
Dupont became a beehive of activity. Mr. White built homes for the many white people employed there and the “quarters” housed more than two hundred fifty blacks. His own dwelling, The Mansion House, was a show place. He had a large commissary which Walter Cody operated for him from 1903 until he sold his holdings. There were two boarding houses, one on either side of the railroad track.
Some of the families living at Dupont at that time were the Lawrence S. Cody’s, the Austin V. Wickline’s and Dr. David Benton Brown and his family. Dale Brown, Sr. helped out at the commissary some of the time.
Around 1910, the Cody brothers, Walter and Larry, homesteaded some land at Codyville. Later they operated a shingle mill on their property.
A one room school house was built. Minnie Burnett was the first teacher and Ruth Trissell Cody the second. When the building burned, the children were transported by “dummy” train to the school in Haw Creek.
The Dupont Land Company of Scranton, Pa., bought out Mr. White’s interests in 1912.
In 1880 this little community boasted three families. No waterway, no paved roads, or railroad to attract anyone. These families were the Hunter’s, Helm’s and Raulerson’s. Descendents from these families still live in Espanola today.
I have been told that this community was originally called Raulerson. I have also been told that it was originally called Windermere. I could find no proof of either. On old maps, Lake Neoga, just north of Espanola, is called Lake Windermere, so perhaps it was Neoga that was the settlement of Windermere.
Anyway, in the early 1890’s, news spread that a railroad was coming through to Espanola from East Palatka. New families came to settle near the railroad possibly to seek work. The George Durrance family came over from San Mateo. George Burnsed came from Matanzas. George W. Deen of Baxley, Georgia, bought several large tracks of land in this area and established turpentine stills which he leased to operators. His brother, James Monroe Deen and family, moved onto one of the turpentine still sites near Espanola. Later he moved to a camp known as the Sappling’s in the Haw Creek area.
Daniel Martin Deen, another brother, came from Georgia in 1903 to lease a still just west of Hunter Branch and established his son-in-law, Zachary G. Holland and family there to operate the still. The Holland’s cleared land and began an early farming operation being one of the first potato and cabbage farmers.
William Henry Deen and son Carter came from Bax1ey, Ga. in 1905 to lease the turpentine still near Espanola and one located at Dinner Island. He was joined the next year by his brother Robert William Deen and family.
After spending some time in the turpentine business, the Deen brothers later, became early potato farmers. Their sister and husband, the Worth Richardson’s operated a still near St. Joseph. Jeptha Dennis Barber came in 1903 to assist George Deen in saw mill operation at the site of the old Holland home. He brought his family here in 1905.
It was during this time that Espanola’s large saw mill was erected with many branch tram roads scattered through the surrounding woods to haul in the virgin timber to be sawed into lumber for the northern markets.
Lawrence Sidney Cody and Joseph Barrett Boaz operated a stave mill at Espanola for some time. When the partnership was dissolved, Mr. Boaz went to Hastings. A few years later, Mr. Cody and George Allen, Sr. operated a similar mill in the Bimini area..
The narrow gauge (three-foot gauge) railroad originally built by Utley James White from Rollerstown near Palatka to Daytona was purchased by Henry Morrison Flagler who changed it to a standard gauge railroad and called it the Florida East Coast Railway. By this time Espanola was a thriving community of about 100 people.
Later, as the railroad was completed and the mills began to close for lack of timber, the community’s economy became depressed and many of the people moved away, Then, in 1915, Espanola began to boom again as the new Dixie Highway was built through Espanola. This was a narrow brick road, which still exists north of Espanola. Florida Farms Development Company began selling farm tracks to new settlers coming m from the north.
Espanola then had a hotel, post office, garage, cafe, rooming house, barber shop, dry goods store, grocery store, school, and mail route. Elzie Hunter, using a horse drawn cart, was mail carrier. Farming became an important part of the economy with Irish potatoes, corn and narcissus bulbs being shipped from Espanola, with Bimini (west of Espanola) becoming a major potato farming area.
Tourism became another important segment of the economy with camp grounds being established for over night tourists or, as they often called, “Tin can tourists.” One camp was “Live and Let Live.” Another was “Hoosier’s Inn.” During this time new families who settled in Espanola were the Knox Jones, Kudrna’s, Teeters, Pellicer’s, Pringle’s, Cauley’s, Gatlin’s, Whitton’s, Thompson’s, Burnside’s (aka Burnsed’s), Blount’s, Miller’s and Cobb’s.
The Harry Murray family settled in Neoga (north of Espanola). The Karl Lord family bought the Aldrich Hunter place and ran a dairy farm. Also moving into Espanola were the Emery’s (still there) and the Hart’s.
Espanola was depressed again as the “boom” came to an end and the Dixie Highway was moved to bypass Espanola (now U.S. 1). Today, Espanola remains a quiet and peaceful little community where they speak of fond remembrances of the days gone by.
You can get to Espanola today by driving south from Palm Coast on U.S. 1 to State Road 13 (about ¼ mile north of the overpass), take S.R. 13 north until you hit the middle of Espanola. You must then, either go west or east. If you go west, you will pass the Espanola Cemetery and eventually run into S.R. 100 in Bimini. If you go east, you will be on the Old Brick Road (Dixie Highway).
The Old Brick Road turns north and extends for a distance of eleven miles between S.R. 204 and Espanola. The northern two miles of the road are located in St. Johns County while the remaining portion is located in Flagler County.
The road was part of the Dixie Highway which stretched from Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan south to Miami Beach, Florida. The road is composed of a packed shell foundation topped with a nine-foot wide brick roadbed and four-inch wide concrete curbs, flanked by three-foot wide shell shoulders for a total width of fifteen feet. The road construction was part of a sixty-six mile project completed in 1916 by St. Johns County.
One of the oldest former towns in the county was the lumber camp known as Favorita. It was named by the Spanish and has since become more generally known as Favoretta. It was a lumber and turpentine center and many thousands of dollars worth of turpentine has been taken from its pines.
George Moody (Isaac I. Moody’s brother and Flagler Beach developer), was the first postmaster of Favoretta and was its most prominent developer for many years, owning a sawmill in the vicinity and doing much toward its advancement.
The East Coast Railroad runs through the former town as does U.S. 1. It is located just south of Korona and while there is a state road sign which identifies the “town,” the sign is about all that is there at present.
With the fast-moving development of Bunnell and the surrounding farming area, George Moody envisioned the development of the coastline as a beach resort, vacation, and land tourist area. After investigation, he found the land east of the Inland Navigation Canal could only be acquired through homesteading and in September of 1913 he made application to homestead 169 acres of land which included one mile of ocean frontage extending west to the marshland.
With the raw, undeveloped land and no access to the beach came the tedious task of transporting needed materials to erect the buildings in the homestead agreement. Cement and other supplies were shipped from Jacksonville by freight boats which served the waterway from Jacksonville south two days each week.
After the concrete blocks were made, Mr. Moody’s father-in-law, Leonard Miles, a brick mason of Baxley, Georgia, came down to lay the blocks for the first home to be built in Ocean City Beach, which was to become Flagler Beach in 1923. The five-room house was located on the corner of what is now known as Highway A1A and Second Street just north of the present municipal pier. The family moved into the home in February 1914.
To make the beach accessible, Mr. Moody built a ferry boat large enough to transport an automobile across the canal, and a corduroy road across the narrow part of the marshland. Mr. Austin Vanburen Wickline operated the ferry for many months.
The beach proved to be a very popular spot for the people of the surrounding area and Bunnell where they enjoyed picnics, surf bathing, camping, and fishing. Mr. Moody soon added a garage, showers and dressing rooms for the convenience of the visitors.
Within the first year, William A. Cochran had homesteaded a mile of ocean frontage on the north, Luther Orlando Upson and John M. Fuquay of Daytona Beach, each homesteaded a half-mile of ocean frontage to the south of Mr. Moody. These homestead lands and the Ocean City area comprise today’s Flagler Beach.
Ocean City was a small settlement on the west side of the canal. Mr. and Mrs. William Archie Cookman purchased seven, acres of land from the Bunnell Development Company and planted an orange grove on Lambert Street about a mile north of the present draw bridge. Mr. and Mrs. Austin V. Wickline, who had resided in Dupont and Haw Creek for a short time, also purchased several lots and built a home there in 1913. They were located on Lambert Street about 300 feet north of the present bridge. They later added a room to be used as a store. The Ocean City Post Office was established in 1915 and housed in the Wickline store. Mrs. Wickline was appointed Postmaster.
During 1913 the Post Office was moved to the beachside and renamed Flagler Beach. The Wickline’s moved also. They built a two-story concrete block building on the corner of Central Avenue and Fourth Street to house the Post Office and a modern new department store which they operated for many years before retiring. The second story was used as their living area.
Other residents of Ocean City settling there during the next few years included Mr. and Mrs. Robert Walter Raulerson, Dave Roberts, Mr. and Mrs. Cain with a photograph shop, Palm Dairy Farm and Chicken Ranch, owned by Mr. and Mrs. Harland Spencer French and their uncle, George Moody. There was a store owned by Dewey D. Moody and store owned by Mrs. Luther O. Upson and many others.
Several homes were built in the early days. Isaac I. Moody, Jr. built a cottage and others building summer homes at the beach included Mr. and Mrs. J. D. Barber, Mr. and Mrs. Bill Lewis, the Simpson sisters, Rev. Earls and the Brunner Brothers.
During 1916, George Moody built the Ocean City Beach Casino as a recreation center. The building was 75′ by 150′ and facing the ocean with a side entrance on Moody Boulevard. The building had a floor for dancing and skating, a refreshment center, fifty dressing rooms, several showers, and a small living quarter’s area. This was later sold to Smiley Armstrong Baker, Sr., who added an ocean fishing pier to the property and the pier was destroyed in the mid-’20s by a hurricane. The present Municipal Fishing Pier is located one block south of the first pier.
After completion of the homestead agreement, Mr. Moody had the property subdivided into lots and the street property was given to the town. Mr. and Mrs. Milo Seckner was the first customer to purchase lots from Mr. Moody’s land company, known as the Ocean City Investment Company.
Many improvements and additions were made over the next few years. The first draw bridge over the canal to the beach was completed in 1920. Construction of the Flagler Beach Hotel was begun by Dana Fellows Fuquay and George Moody. Mr. Moody sold his share to Mr. Fuquay before it was completed in 1924. A gala opening celebration was held on July 4, 1925.
Mr. Moody began construction of a business and hotel building across the highway from the pier with only a quarter of the building was erected before the famous boom busted. The building was sold in 1945 to Mr. and Mrs. Waiter Landers.
Flagler Beach became an incorporated town on April 16, 1925. The first town officials were: George Moody, Mayor; Councilmen were Charles Parker, Harry Wallace Sessions, Robert W. Raulerson, Dewey D. Moody, and Luther O. Upson.
A one-room school served Flagler Beach for a number of years. The county built the present school building in 1925. Several classrooms and the cafetorium were added later. The old school building and some other buildings added later are now known as the Wickline Center.
George Moody at the age of 34 began the development of Flagler Beach. He was actively identified with the town’s development during the years serving as mayor and also as a member of the city commission for many years. At the age of 74, he began the development of the marshland north of Moody Boulevard which is known as Venice Park and Palm Harbor. Most all of the lots in the subdivisions were designed for a street frontage and a water frontage.
For a more detailed account of the history of Flagler Beach, please see “A New Beginning – A Picturesque History of Flagler Beach, Florida” by Catherine Wickline Wilson. Copies are on sale at the Flagler Beach Museum and at the Flagler County Historical Society (Holden House) in Bunnell.
When the narrow gauge railroad was constructed through the Haw Creek section, two families were living in the area, the Walter Eugene Knight’s and the Nathan Roberts’. Mr. Knight was raising sheep and doing some farming. Mr. Roberts did some farming too, but he had a fair-sized orange grove and a large Scuppernong grape arbor.
With the many working people coming into the area, Utley James White built three houses in the area. Utley also put up telephone lines and all the homes had telephone service. All the bridge timbers for the Key West Extension of the Florida East Coast Railway were cut from the Haw Creek section and manufactured in the Utley J. White sawmill at Dupont. The Key West Extension was later the Over Seas Highway (now U.S. 1), when the railway was removed.
In 1907, Mr. White planted Irish potatoes for commercial purposes. When the Dupont Land Company took over in 1912, they built the Tippecanoe Inn at Dupont. It was under the management of Mr. and Mrs. Gomez Pacetti and offered splendid accommodations for that day and time.
The Dupont Land Company also changed the narrow gauge railroad to Haw Creek to standard gauge. This connected with the Florida East Coast Railroad at Dupont. The “Dummy”, as the train was called, made several trips a day to Haw Creek and the people living there at that time boasted of mail delivery twice a day.
Many people used hand cars to go back and forth to their work and to Dupont. The telephones were connected to the Bunnell Exchange with Billie Graham McIntosh as the telephone operator.
After the timber had been cut from this area, the people became interested in agriculture. Northern settlers began to come and build homes. During the harvesting season-long trains of carload lots of produce on its way to market was a common sight.
The schoolhouse was built in 1918. It was used for church services on Sunday. Neva Brown Eisenbach was the first teacher and George Wickline was one of her pupils. The Wickline’s had moved from Dupont to the house on Section 25 and Mrs. Wickline had a rooming house there. Neva had a room there but rode back and forth on the “Dummy” much of the time for her family still lived at Dupont. Julia Ferguson Clegg was the second teacher. She lived with the Wickline’s until they moved to Flagler Beach.
Turpentine became a big business in Haw Creek. One of George W. Deen’s turpentine stills was located at Orange Hammock. My Grandfather James Emmett Deen operated this still for a time as did Major James Frank Lambert. There was also a turpentine still at Relay (about where the present fire tower is today on S.R. 11 just south of C.R. 304), operated by David Brown Paxton.
In the late 1800s a stagecoach ran from St. Augustine to Daytona Beach, and they changed horses at Relay – – hence the name.
Polish immigrants in Chicago, Detroit, and other cities were the original settlers of this new town. Before leaving for Florida a committee was formed and it raised $1,000 to build a church in Korona. God, Country, and Honor was their traditional motto. Their pioneering spirit and tremendous desire to find a new life in the south spurred them on.
The first 35 families arrived early in 1914. Among these were Stupecki, Waszewski, Strach, Trojanowski, Mazurewicz, Cyzycki and others. They began building their homes and a duplex home for their priest, Rev. Father Andrew Baczyk. Part of his home later became their first Post Office and the highlight of the day was waiting for the Florida East Coast local to drop off the mail pouch.
Izydor Waszewski was awarded the contract to build the church and the first Mass was celebrated with all the pomp and ceremony they could arrange. Mary Frankowiak – – Miss Mary, as she is affectionately called – – played the organ and sang the Mass and decorated the Altar for many years. Miss Mary died in 1968 and is buried the St. Mary’s Church Cemetery in Korona.
Poor drainage, hordes of mosquitoes and no roads or farm tools forced some to return to Chicago. Others stayed on to eke out a living. Slowly the dense vegetation disappeared; more homes began dotting the countryside. Potato and vegetable crops helped build the economy of Korona. In later years many of the residents went into the poultry raising business.
More families began to arrive, among them the Smigielskis, Mikiulkas, Kozaks, Paseks and others. The Michons, Novaks, Pikulas settled in Codyville; the Krols, Kaczanowskis, Mlotkowskis, Kuczewskis and others in Favorita.
In 1926, a new landmark was added to Korona. The White Eagle Hotel was erected by the late Barney Trojanowski. He had quarters for his family and rooms for tourists on the upper floor. On the ground floor was a grocery, feed store, and a real estate office. Later the entire first floor was turned into a beer garden with a large dance floor. Here, for many years, dances were held Wednesdays and Saturdays. Polish people from all over Florida gathered here to celebrate all the major holidays. Church suppers, club dances made this the gathering center of the area. This building was torn down in 1959 to make room for fourlaning U.S. 1. The present White Eagle Bar in Korona is very near where the original White Eagle was located.
The St. Christopher’s (now out of favor with the church) Shrine next to the old church, was built when Rev. Fr. C. Hoffman became resident pastor. His personality and drive made friends for him all over this section of the state. The Shrine was his gift to Korona and to all motorists who would come and pray to the Patron Saint of travelers.
St. Mary’s Parish was attended spiritually by the Redemptorist Priests from New Smyrna Beach until 1954. That year the parish was given to the Diocesan Priests of St. Augustine.
Lake Disston is located in the extreme southwest section of Flagler County. It was named after Hamilton Disston (1844-1896) of Philadelphia, a real estate developer who purchased four million acres of Florida land in 1881. The amount of the transaction was reported as the most land ever purchased by a single individual in world history.
About 1924, while roaming the woodlands in search of pleasure and sport, a guest from the north (I have been unable to find his name thus far) came upon this alluring spot in our county and immediately transformed the surroundings into a paradise for sportsmen. Buildings now gone and made of logs retained the rustic atmosphere and made it one of the foremost show places in the vicinity.
There is a public boat ramp on this crystal lake, however, most of the land around the lake seems to be in private hands. You can reach the lake by taking S.R. 11 south out of Bunnell to C.R. 304. Take 304 west to C.R. 305, then 305 south to C.R. 305 A.
Marineland, located on S. R. A1A, just south of the St Johns County line, opened in 1938 as the world’s first underwater motion picture studio. A new word, “oceanarium,” was coined to describe it; denoting a place where various species of marine life lived together, as they do in the sea, rather than kept segregated, as they had traditionally been in aquaria.
The founding group of “Marine Studios,” the original name given the facility, included men who shared an interest in film making and exploring and who had ties to some of the great American fortunes. W. Douglas Burden, a great-great-grandson of Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt, was a trustee of the American Museum of Natural History, author of “The Dragon Lizards of Komodo” and producer of a film on Indian life, “The Silent Enemy.” His cousin, Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney, also a museum trustee, was chairman of Pan American Airways and involved in making the motion picture classic “Gone with the Wind.” Sherman Pratt, whose grandfather was one of the partners of John D. Rockefeller in Standard Oil, was connected with RKO pictures and an active member of the Explorers Club. Count Ilia Tolstoy, grandson of the Russian novelist, Leo Tolstoy, shared with his cofounders an interest in natural history and film-making.
These men were intrigued by the success of their friend Merian Cooper (best known for the movie “King Kong”) in obtaining scenes of wild animals for his movie Chag. Cooper had built a filming corral in the jungle sturdy enough to hold animals and spacious enough so as not to be visible on film and with it pioneered a new level of realism in motion pictures.
Burden and Vanderbilt believed something similar could be done with underwater filming and after seeking an appropriate location chose a remote spot on the Northeastern Florida coast between St. Augustine and Daytona Beach. The site was recommended by its relative freedom from the destructiveness of hurricanes, the clarity of the coastal water, and its location near Matanzas Inlet and the Intracoastal Waterway, which would permit deep-sea specimens to be rapidly transported to the proposed facility’s aquariums.
The formal opening on June 23, 1938, drew over 20,000 people and within two years the facility was attracting nearly a half-million visitors annually. It at once became the state’s premier tourist attraction, that is, a commercial facility designed expressly to appeal to visitors.
Although the advent of war soon forced Marine Studios to close temporarily, by 1951 it had regained its place as the state’s top commercial attraction. Eventually, Marineland, as the facility was renamed in the 1940s, was supplanted in popularity within the state by other attractions such as Disney World and Sea World in Orlando, resulting largely from changing travel patterns, but the significance of its contribution to the development of tourism in Florida, the state’s largest industry and one that presently attracts 36 million visitors annually, remains.
Eventually, the maintenance demands of the old park became too costly. The Circular Oceanarium (400,000 gallons) the Rectangular Oceanarium (450,000 gallons), the Quality Inn/Marineland with it’s Dolphin Room and Moby Dick Lounge, the Sandpiper Snack Bar and the nearby Dolphin Restaurant who’s clientele included Ernest Hemingway and Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, as well as all of the park buildings west of Highway A1A have all been demolished.
A large part of Marineland’s dolphin population were sold off to Orlando, however, today, a new 1.3 million gallon series of dolphin habits has been constructed at Marineland and you can choose from a variety of interactive programs where you “can enjoy dolphins up close.” You can look at the dolphins for $6, but if you want to swim with them, it is going to cost you $179.
This exceptionally productive section of Flagler County was originally developed by Utley James White, and in 1926, the surrounding farms came under the direct charge of his daughter, Miss Lillian White. At that time about 3,500 acres were under cultivation.
Under this management, they became extensively advertised and settlers of the highest character and ability moved in the small settlement. In November 1911 the holdings were purchased by the Dupont Railway and Land Company and development and farming were more and more pronounced.
The Town of Painters Hill was established through House Bill No. 298 which was introduced by Judge William Littledale (Billy) Wadsworth, then Representative, on May 2, 1961, which is the date the bill was filed in the office of the Secretary of State.
Gov. Farris Bryant appointed Mrs. Julia R Harvey, Robert Fraser, and A. G. Jones as Town Commissioners and Mr. Jones was elected Mayor at the first meeting.
The Town of Painters Hill was named by P. S. Johnson who stated that when he grew up, this section was known as Paynter’s Hill and the name was misspelled in the House Bill.
This location, just north of Beverly Beach on A1A, is the highest point on the East Coast of Flagler County. When established, the town had eight registered voters and eleven residents.
Billy Wadsworth and his wife, Frances E Faulkner, had three daughters, Judge Susan Wadsworth Roberts of Lakeland, Flagler County Clerk of Courts, Gail Wadsworth and Prunie Wadsworth Rodgers.
Billy attended the University of Florida, was a graduate of the Citadel and was commissioned in the U.S. Army in 1939. Following WW II he graduated from Stetson Law School. He served Flagler County as a prosecuting attorney, as a representative in the Florida Legislature and as Circuit Court Judge.
Wadsworth Park, at the western foot of the Flagler Beach Bridge, was a dedication to him in 1980. The park sits on land donated to the county by the ITT Community Development Corp.
In 1969, ITT announced that it would be building a new city to eventually include 700,000 residents. The city was to be called Palm Coast and the project would be operated by ITT Community Development Corporation.
Well, they did it and here we are. Two most interesting books have been written by the City of Palm Coast Historian and Palm Coast Historical Society member, Arthur E
Dycke. Art’s books are “Images of America, Palm Coast,” which he published in 2003 and “Alan Smolen, Father of Palm Coast, 1975-1985,” published last year.
I’ve been told that the image book is out of print, however, I am sure that Art will gladly sell you a copy of the Smolen book and even sign it for you.
The Princess Place
The estate, which takes its name from a lady who once owned it and who had been married to a Russian Prince, fueled Flagler County’s 1988 referendum to establish a land-buying program.
Over the centuries, the story of the 1,400-acre estate has unfolded right along with Florida history. Britain staked its claim to the area in the 1760s and encouraged settlement of what is now Flagler County by handing out land grants. The forests around the Matanzas River and what would come to be called Pellicer Creek were “mined” for tar, pitch, turpentine, and resin – essential to a navy of that era.”
The British rule lasted only two decades, and in 1791, the estate – then undeveloped land – was included in a land grant from the King of Spain to Francisco Pellicer. The settlement of the area continued.
In the early 1800s, Henry Sloggett planted what might be the first commercial orange grove m the State of Florida – the site was dubbed Cherokee Grove.
In 1887, New England sportsman Henry Mason Cutting bought the estate and built a mock-rustic hunting lodge on the site, facing the point where Pellicer Creek and the Matanzas River Estuary merge.
In October 1892, Henry died on his boat, somewhere between St Augustine and Cherokee. He left his estate to his 26-year-old wife, Angela Mills Cutting, and their two boys, Heyward and Henry Mason Cutting.
In 1901, Angela married John Lorimer Worden of Mamaroneck, NY. They were divorced and in 1923, Angela returned to New York where she met and married an exiled Russian prince, Boris Scherbatoff. After they returned to Florida, the name of her estate changed to reflect her change in status. From that time forward, it was known as Princess Place.
The princess sold the land in 1954 to Lewis Edward Wadsworth III and his wife, Angela Agusta Carpenter Wadsworth. After Wadsworth died, in October 1985, his estate tried to negotiate a sale with the state but failed. They sold instead to Conway Kittredge, about the same time Flagler County was considering creating its land acquisition program.
Public pressure was so great in 1988 to buy the estate that the public approved a land-purchase program by a 70 percent vote, despite the fact that the Kittredge family had already purchased the estate.
All told, the estate – now dubbed Princess Place Preserve cost $4.5 million with the cost shared between the county, the St. Johns River Water Management District and the state Preservation 2000 program. The county’s share was about $1.6 million.
The estate contains 4.5 miles of shoreline, including a generous part of the boundary of Pellicer Creek, which has been named an Outstanding Florida Water. The tract also contains a broad variety of wildlife, ranging from deer, foxes, and otters to osprey and possibly an eagle or two.
The Princess Place Preserve is now open daily from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. You can get to this Flagler County Park by driving north on Old Kings past the new Mantanzas High School until you come to the park sign. Warning: while Old Kings is paved, the road from Old Kings to the preserve is dirt and it is very dusty.
St Johns Park
Sometime in the 1880s Matthew (Mack) Davis and his wife, the former Fannie Burnsed, and one daughter moved from Matanzas to the St. Johns Park area, then known as Omega. They first settled at what is now known as Davis Branch and a few years later moved to the Dead Lake area.
Living in the area at that time was Tom Squires who operated a sawmill near the lakefront. He had a dummy track that hauled the logs from the woods to the sawmill and then to the dock where the lumber was loaded onto barges. Al West operated the dummy. Tom Squires built the big two-story house which Mack purchased and moved to its present location on County Road 2006 – Squires had used the building as an office
The timberlands were largely held by George W. Deen of Baxley, Georgia, who leased the turpentine business to various operators. Trapping was an important part of the economy. Farming was just beginning to emerge as a new business. The vegetables and furs were transported to St. Augustine by horse cart via Matanzas. There was no boat traffic at this time. Though, in a few years, when Crescent City was settled, the St. Johns Park people would go there by boat for supplies.
The real land boom started about 1908. Ernest Frederick Warner, who later served Flagler County as State Representative, bought about 25,000 acres of land from George Deen and Matthew Davis. He and his associates organized one of the first big land promotions. They advertised in northern papers with “Five Dollars Down and Five Dollars a Month.” Much of the land was sold by mail order. Known as St Johns Park Development Company, they sold land in 25-acre parcels.
A three-story frame hotel was built on a 50-acre waterfront park. A large administration building was erected nearby, as was a two-story general store and a post office.
The company operated boat service for passengers and freight. Two boats, The McNeil and The Crescent made regular stops at Dead Lake bringing settlers, mail, prospectors, and supplies and returning with newly harvested farm products.
On December 3, 2007, the Flagler County Commission, using $1.7 million of voter-approved funds for Environmentally Sensitive Land, purchased 29 acres at Bull Creek Fish Camp to preserve public access to Dead Lake and some 23 acres of cypress wetlands. The area, the site of the former docks at St Johns Park, is in western Flagler County at the western end of County Road 2006.
The Flagler Tribune, February 18, 1926, June 29, 1967; The Enterprise of Florida, Eugene Lyon, University of Florida Press, 1976; The History of Flagler County, John A. Clegg, Self Published, 1976; The Historical Portion of the National Register Nomination for Marineland of Florida; A New Beginning, A Picturesque History of Flagler Beach, Catherine P. Wickline Wilson, self published; The Pictorial History of Bunnell, published by the Pioneers of Bunnell, 1988; and Princess Estate Praised for Beauty by Krys Fluker, Daytona Beach News-Journal, Monday, June 17, 1996.