Archive for October, 2013

Because today is designated in honor of cats this is a purrfect time to introduce you to the executive board of my publishing company, Clowder Publishing:

Chairman of the Board

Sergeant of Arms

Coffee Administrator

By the way, “clowder” means a group of cats!

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Yesterday morning I met with Lee Windhorst, the gentleman who told me last Thursday that he knew where the hotel was located. His parents, Fred and Florence Windhorst, moved to the 10-acre “farm” in 1944 on Lake Ella Road where Lee now resides. I was all prepared for him tell me that my hunch as to the hotel’s location, not revealed in my post two days ago, was on Morrison’s property on the south side of Lake Ella. Yet, in the back of my mind was Alfred Bosanquet’s claim that it was on the west side of Lake Ella. But that never made sense to me (see a previous post).

Lee told me that a neighbor, Col. Charles E. Smith, a veteran of World War I who came to the area in the 1920s, told his father to go to the site of the hotel where there was a fine lawn of St. Augustine grass from which to dig up plugs for their lawn. Lee and his dad did that and plugged their yard. Then he took me to that site—a sandy rutted “trail” not too far from 441 where the Chetwynd depot was. He said he not only remembered some old wood laying around but a single gauge railroad track (but no coach!) that he believes delivered guests to the hotel. My mind was/is boggled. Here is a Google aerial map of the area:

The east side of Lake Ella is on the left. The large open field to the east of the housing development is where Lee claimed the hotel site to have been. Note the intersection of Lake Ella Road and US 441 on the far right where the Chetwynd depot was located.

Frank Cook wrote in June 1887, “They are building a large hotel near here at the new town of Chetwynd.” An 1888 seasonal advertisement for the hotel claimed, “It is situated in the highland of Florida and is surrounded by a heavy growth of large pine trees. A charming lake, spring fed, lies immediately in the rear of the home.” The area I visited wasn’t near the lake. According to a section map it’s about a half-mile from the eastern shore line. An undocumented piece picked up at the Leesburg Heritage Society but written before 1956 says, “The writer once followed a long abandoned section of the old Sand Mountain trail at the outskirts of Chetwynd and noticed a peculiar formation in the old clay. Wind had swept the surface clean and the perfect shapes of aged clay bricks could be discerned. It was necessary to guess that this had been the frontage of a store or similar public building of the frontier road.” This same source said that Chetwynd was located on what was then called Sand Mountain Road. “Mr. and Mrs. Reuben Matthews. . . remember this place when it was a town center with the Chetwynd Arms Hotel and race track a mile west.”

I’ve contacted a source who explored the hotel’s location, wherever he might have been led, in the 1980s. In the meantime I’m more bumfuzzled than ever!

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What began last Thursday afternoon as an “Oh my God” when my laptop insisted that my flash drive, containing PowerPoint slides, needed to be formatted, concluded with an encounter with Lee Windhorst who lives very near Lake Ella. He not only wanted a signed copy of The Chetwynd Chronicles that he’d purchased online but had in hand a well-worn booklet containing the abstract of title to (now don’t let your eyes roll) the “East Half of the East Half of the Northwest quarter of the North West quarter of Section Thirty-three, Township Eighteen South of Range Twenty four East,” made for C. L. Adams in 1926. This area contains ~80 acres. Lee also told me that he knows where the Chetwynd Arms Hotel was located. Based on a previous post you can imagine how much that interests me.

So in the middle of selling and signing books I glanced through the booklet and noted the name, Morrison, as in William H. Morrison, Stapylton’s first bank partner and the top honcho of the Chetwynd Land Company (west of the town of Chetwynd on Lake Ella) and the Chetwynd Improvement Company (east of Chetwynd). My interest well peaked, I asked if I could borrow the abstract; Lee agreed.

Even in a state of near exhaustion, once home I immediately sat down to read the complete abstract and then pulled my file, “The Town of Chetwynd,” to refresh my memory.

Granville Stapylton had acquired 160 acres (the west half of the NW quarter, Section 33) from the Tropical Florida Railroad in 1883. A year later, Stapylton’s Subdivision, located in parts of four sections—Section 33 being the southeast portion—was platted into lots. In March of 1885 Stapylton sold over 1500 acres of land, including the acreage in Section 33 (Lots 14-20, 36-39), to his father William for $15,000. Excluded from this sale was Lot 13 that Granville Stapylton sold to William Morrison in May of 1886. In the meantime William Stapylton had sold the remaining lots/land to Morrison. So by 1886 William Morrison owned all of the land in the NW quarter of Section 33 (sold in 1904).

To add to his holdings Morrison, according to the abstract, bought 80 more acres in the east quarter of the NW quarter of Section 33 in May 1886. Lee Windhorst’s parents, Fred and Florence, bought 10 acres of this land April 8, 1944. Their son Lee, lives there today. Tomorrow he’s going to show me where the hotel was. I’m betting that Morrison built in along the Lake in the NW quarter of Section 33. Wait and see!

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Love the Publicity!

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Coming Feature

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