LUMBER, TURPENTINE AND AGRICULTURE
The great pine forests of Florida contributed products of value to marine commerce for nearly two centuries before sawmills made their appearance. The first products were pitch and tar produced from the sap of the pine tree. They were called “naval stores” because carpenters used them to caulk the seams of wooden ships. The present products of pine tree sap – turpentine and rosin – are still known by that name.
With the advent of iron ships, chemical research found new uses for the pine gums. Turpentine now thins the paint that colors our houses and it is used extensively in the manufacture of polishes, perfume bases, waterproof cement and for various medicinal purposes.
Rosin, once discarded as a practically valueless by-product of turpentine, is today the principal ingredient of the varnish that covers floors and furniture. It is also used in the manufacture of soap, insulating material, writing paper, printing ink, sealing wax, plastics and linoleum.
In 1898, Senator George W. Deen of Baxley, Georgia who had gotten into the turpentine business in 1886 at age 31, bought several tracts of land in the St Johns and Volusia counties and established turpentine camps which he leased to operators.
The average turpentine camp comprised a fire still, sprit shed and glue pot, rosin yard, blacksmith and cooperage (barrel) shed, cup cleaning vat, barn and wagon shed, and living quarters for the manager and workers.
A typical camp harvested about ten “crops” per year; a crop being a tract of approximately 250 acres of timber, comprising about 5,000 trees.
George’s brother and the writer’s Great Grandfather James Monroe Deen and family moved into one of the turpentine camps near Espanola. Later James moved to a camp known as the Sapling’s south west of Bunnell before moving to Seville in northwest Volusia County to farm.
Turpentine was also a big business in Haw Creek area southwest of Bunnell Stop. 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.
David Brown Paxton, a confederate veteran from Georgia who had come over from Seville, operated a still at Relay (near where the present fire tower is today on S.R. 11 just south of C.R. 304) - - in the late 1800’s a stage coach ran from St Augustine to Daytona and they changed horses at Relay - - hence the name.
Daniel Martin Deen, another of George’s brothers, came from Georgia in 1903 to lease a still just west of Hunter Branch and established his brother-in-law Zachary G Holland and family there to operate the still. The Holland’s later cleared the land and began an early farming operation growing the first potato and cabbage crops.
George’s first cousin, William Henry (Doc) Deen and Doc’s son, Henry Carter Deen came from Baxley, GA in 1905 to lease a still near Espanola and one located at Dinner Island. Doc was joined the next year by his brother Robert Williams Deen and family. After spending some time in the turpentine business the Deen brothers also became early potato farmers.
The Deen’s and the Holland’s were not the only families to move south from Appling County to work for George. Also in 1898, George brought down from Baxley, a young 27 year-old bachelor by the name of Isaac I Moody, Jr. Double “I” as he is called here, is considered by most Flagler County pioneers to be the father of our county. Working for George and rooming with Isaac was another bachelor by the name of James Frank Lambert.
Lambert was a turpentine operator and as such, would advance cash to his white and black workers throughout the season, deducting these “loans” from their pay at the end of the year.
Isaac was employed as a woods rider and as such, he would make a preliminary survey of the trees, marking those in a given area that were suitable for chipping by smoothing off the bark on the face with a broad ax.
After working for George for a few years, Moody and Lambert formed a partnership and purchased from Fairhead and Strawn of Jacksonville, a single mill operated by Alva Bunnell. In 1905, they purchased a 30,000 acre tract of land from their former boss and erected a still by the railroad.
As timber was cut from the land during logging operations, the residents became very much interested in agriculture. However, turpentine operations still remained a large part of our county’s economy.
One of the natives of present-day Flagler County, Elzie Auldridge Hunter who was born in Espanola in 1888, worked for The National Turpentine and Pulpwood Company of Jacksonville as a tally man. As such, Elzie entered crop marks on a tally sheet which showed from how many trees a field worker had collected sap. A field worker received credit for one crop mark for every 1,000 trees his collected. It was piece work and the pay was meager. Members of the Hunter family still reside in Flagler County today.
Later, the Green Bay Turpentine put into operation by Major Frank Lambert, James Emmett Deen and Jesse H McKnight in October 1919 began operations at Green Bay, just across the Flagler County line in Volusia County by installing cups in ten full crops of 100,000.
About ten years later, a new turpentine operator appeared in Flagler County by the name of Lewis Edward Wadsworth. He came to Flagler County with his family in 1928 from Hawthorne. He purchased the St. Joseph Turpentine Company and operated it until his death in 1935. His wife, the former Lotta Mary Littledale ran the company by herself until 1938, when she gave her 23 year-old son, Lewis II, a “working interest’ in what was later called, the Wadsworth Company.
Lewis managed the family operation until about 1944, when he started his own pulpwood and sawmill business.
In the early 50's, with the help of John Alfred “Jack” Clegg and John Davis “Dave” Perryman, he organized Bunnell Timber Company which grew into one of the largest and most progressive timber brokerage firms in the state.
A few years later Wadsworth Lumber Company was founded. In 1974, Wadsworth Lumber Company was purchased by ITT.
It was around the time of World War II that the turpentine industry changed drastically. As timber companies began to log forest in Flagler and other North Florida counties, pulp mills began production at Palatka, Fernandina Beach and Jacksonville.
According to a story by Andrew Mikula in the 17 July 1993 edition of the Flagler/Palm Coast News-Tribune – “With the advent of the pulp mills came a new method for production of turpentine. Wood chips from the freshly sawn pine logs would be batched into a cooker, which would be batched into a cooker, which extracted the spirits of turpentine and other by-products.
AGRICULTURE AND THE DEVELOPERS
St. Johns Park
The land boom in present-day Flagler County started on the west side of the county in the early 1900’s at settlement called Omega. The area had been settled in the early 1880’s by the James Andrew Burnsed, Mathew (Mack) Davis, Jesse Valentine Maphurs, and James C. Miller families
A post office was established at Omega on 15 Nov 1902.
Remember Georgia Senator George W Deen?
George was on the board of directors for the St Johns Development Company. The first meeting of the company was held at Omega on 21 Dec 1908. The officers of the company elected at that meeting were: Charles H. Seig, president; Ernest Frederick Warner, who later served Flagler County as State Representative, first vice president; John Phillips, second vice president; Herbert L. Stewart, third vice president; and George W Deen, secretary and treasurer.
These five men were the incorporators and subscribing stockholders, each subscribing for 2,000 shares of capital stock worth one million dollars. George owned all the land in this proposed development of 25,000 acres. The land was subject to timber leases made by George to A. T. Squire, James Emmett Deen and Company and the Espanola Turpentine Company.
George’s proposal to deed his land to the company in full payment for all the stock, for himself and the other four directors was approved. They having made satisfactory arrangements with him for this purpose and the stock was to be issued to him at his order.
In January 1909, the St Johns Development Company made a contract with the Ben Levin Advertising Agency of Chicago for the purpose of advertising the land parcels, both lot sizes and small farms, for sale. They advertised in northern papers with "Five Dollars Down and Five Dollars a Month." Much of the land was sold by mail order and much of it was sold in 25 acre parcels.
The company built a three story frame hotel on a 5 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.
Earnest F Warner bought his fellow officers out on 02 Jan 1913 and continued development at now St. Johns Park.
Postal records indicate that the name of the Omega Post Office was changed to St Johns Park on 06 Mar 1911 and that the St Johns Park Post Office was closed on 19 Jun 1930 will all mail for the settlement being directed to Bunnell.
Today, all of the original St Johns Development Company buildings are gone. The Mathew Davis home on County Road 2006 still stands. The two story house had formerly been the office of the A. T. Squire Lumber Company at Omega. Mack purchased the office building, moved it about a short distance east on then Deen Road, and converted into a home.
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.
Remember Isaac I. Moody, Jr. and Major James Frank Lambert and the 30,000 acres of land they purchase from Senator Deen?
These gentlemen were successful in the turpentine business but realized that some good farm land was in the acreage they now held.
On June 24, 1909, just six months after the St. Johns Development Company was formed on the western side of the county, the Bunnell Development Company was chartered with Isaac I. Moody, Jr. as president; Claude E Stewart of Jacksonville as vice-president; J. R. Stone of Jacksonville as secretary and treasurer, with each having 25 shares. Isaac died in Dec 1918 while serving as Flagler County’s first state representative. Following his death, in Jan 1919, Major James Frank Lambert was elected president; the Honorable W. A. McWilliam of St Augustine, was elected vice president; Mr. J. A. Cranford of Jacksonville was elected secretary; and George Moody, Isaac’s brother, was elected secretary and treasurer.
The company established real estate offices here and in Chicago where train trips were arranged for potential buyers from the North to visit this area. The company also started the publication of a newspaper entitled “The Bunnell Home Builder.”
According to a “Map of the Bunnell Development Company’s Land at Bunnell, Florida” – ‘Every farm will be on a public road’ (so it says) – (the map is on file at the Flagler County Historical Society); the company’s plotted land included an area whose boundaries extended about 3.5 miles west of Bunnell, 1.5 miles north of Bunnell, 6 miles west of Bunnell stopping at Ocean City, just east of the present-day intracoastal canal, and about 8.5 miles south of Bunnell which would be very close to today’s Volusia County line.
The company’s hotel, The Halcyon, still stands at the SE corner of Railroad Street and Lambert Ave. (though fenced and ready for demolition), as do the original homes of Major Frank Lambert (NE corner of Railroad Street and Lambert Ave.) and Isaac Moody (NE corner of Railroad Street and Moody Blvd).
Bunnell Stop was first incorporated as a town on June 2, 1911, when the state legislature passed a special act of incorporation. James Emmett Deen who was mentioned previously, was one of the Bunnell City Councilmen appointed by Governor Albert W. Gilchrist on 4 Sep 1911.
The writer does not know who the other city officials were, however Mr. Deen’s appointment, which is framed and hanging on a wall at the Flagler County Historical Society’s Holden House Museum in Bunnell states: " to be councilman for the town of Bunnell from the 4th day of September A D 1911, until the election and qualification of his successor”. James, or Emmett as he was called, later served as Supervisor of Elections for Flagler County from 1942 until his death in 1948.
The act is said to have contained a faulty description of boundary lines and because of this error, Bunnell did not function as a town until two years later when a special law was passed granting a charter. Appointed as councilmen by the governor at that time were; Isaac I Moody, Jr., George Moody (Isaac’s brother), William Edgar (Ed) Johnson, James Frank Lambert, William H. Cochran and W. Chapel Heath, mayor.
Remember Utley James White?
After his 26,000 acre tract in Hastings had been developed to a large extent, Mr. White disposed of his interests there and again engaged in the lumber trade, buying thirty-two thousand acres in the Haw Creek country, which mostly stood in pine and cypress.
Here, he built mills at Dupont to manufacture his lumber and built eighteen miles of timber railroad, twelve miles of which was narrow gauge first-class road. Cutting down the timber, he developed the Haw Creek lands, twenty thousand acres of which were rich black soil-as good as the best black soil of Illinois or any other state of the middle-west. It was fertile and suitable for practically all purposes and everything could be grown upon it.
His 30 year-old daughter, Lilla Maude White took charge of four hundred acres of the tract, which she developed and improved, bringing the same to a high state of cultivation. To insure better drainage of the country, Mr. White first had dug two large canals, greatly improving the value of the land.
In Nov 1911, a land company located in Scranton, Pennsylvania purchased the Dupont holdings entire and Mr. White retired from active business, moving with his family to St. Augustine. The White’s built a palatial home on Anastasia Island in St. Augustine which is still standing today.
The land company put its main office at Dupont where they owned 720 acres of non-agriculture land. The hub for rail transportation – the hotel, saw mill, planing mill, stave mill, residences and school sat on this particular plot.
The DuPont Railroad and 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, the Tippecanoe Inn, overlooking the railroad tracks in Dupont. 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.
One of the marketing tools used by the company was a glossy-for-the-time, multipage, booklet entitled “Florida’s Call to the Farmer.” It had a color cover, a photo on just about every page that showcased “bona fide views of the property” and much copy telling of the virtues of the “delightful” climate here which allowed for farming year around.
It was very similar to “The Bunnell Home Builder” published by the Bunnell Development Company with its many photos and testimonials.
It was also very similar to the “Palm Coaster” magazine, a glossy quarterly produced by ITT Community Development Corporation in the ‘70’s and ‘80’s that kept lot owners updated on community progress, and as always the ‘delightful’ climate.
Like more modern day developers, the Bunnell Development Company and the DuPont Land Company may have stretched the truth just a bit.
The DuPont Land Company also published a house organ for their hotel in Dupont. This small newspaper was also mailed to their land owners and prospective land owners. You can view “Florida’s Call to the Farmer,” The Bunnell Home Builder and a copy of The Tippecanoe Council Fire” at the Flagler County Historical Society’s Holden House Museum in Bunnell (open 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Wednesday).
The former site of the once thriving community of Dupont is some six miles south of Bunnell on U.S. 1. As with St Johns Park, the original commercial buildings that were once the hub of the community are long gone. This once thriving community is now represented by two large junk yards, a truss plant and a scattering of single family homes.
When Utley White constructed the narrow gauge railroad through the Haw Creek section to the southwest of Dupont, 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 of 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 later became 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 Railroad and Land Company took over Utley’s operations in 1912, they changed the narrow gauge railroad to Haw Creek to standard gauge. This change allowed farmers to ship produce directly from their farms to their wholesalers across the country without having to transfer their goods to standard gauge cars at Dupont for shipment on the Florida East Coast Railroad.
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 car load lots of produce on its way to market was a common sight