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Archive for the ‘Chetwynd’ Category

During the first few months of Chetwynd research I collected as much printed information about its history as I could get my hands on. Over time I determined that a significant amount of this information was more in the lore category than historical fact. To make matters worse the lore or misinformation made its way into print publications—the most recent being the May 2014 edition of the Lake and Sumter Style magazine. In it was a brief but well-written article, Fruitland Park the Friendly City, that contains a one paragraph sub-section, Bucket and Dipper Club . Obviously, the author, Mary Ann DeSantis, had not read The Chetwynd Chronicles! Instead she reiterated some of the same inaccurate yet convenient sources that I uncovered five years ago. Here’s a snippet from that paragraph:

In 1863, Londoner R.F.E. Cooke immigrated to Florida with a group of British colonists. In fact, so many Brits came that Fruitland Park had its own English community. Englishman A. P. Bosanquet built a boarding house on Zephyr Lake called Zephyr Hall, where the American, British and Colonial Racing Association was formed. The first organized races were held in 1887, and guests also participated in fox hunts and played golf.

Blog readers know that Londoner Granville Chetwynd-Staplyton arrived in December 1882 and, over time, developed a colony called Chetwynd. Cooke arrived in 1886. Although Bosanquet lived nearby, Stapylton, not Bosanquet, built Zephyr Hall. According to Cooke, horse races, organized by Capt. William Ogilby, were run before the ABC Racing Association formed. While there may have been fox hunts, no golf was played in the Fruitland Park area until after the turn of the last century.

For what it’s worth, a Fruitland Park couple who live near Mirror Lake, once contacted me because they had heard that their home was built not only on the highest piece of local land but also on the site of an old British hunting lodge. That too turned out to be untrue. And so it goes. . .

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Thanks, Jill Sherman

Jill Sherman, a senior writer for The Villages Daily Sun, thought her article about Chetwynd would publish last Tuesday. So imagine my surprise when the first email I saw early the morning before was headed “WOW!” Jo’s message sent me flying out the door in my jammies to fetch my paper and to verify the “grandness” of the article of which she wrote. Jill’s skillful writing, along with nine pictures, not only summarizes my work and story but is far beyond my wildest expectations in terms of length—just short of two full pages. One reader said that he was prepared for a paragraph or two on the continued page rather than two-thirds of a page. Anyway, I loved the emails and phone messages and phone messages left while I was—you guessed it—playing golf. Jill said the article was the “talk of the office.” It was also the talk of The Villages radio station although I didn’t hear it. As for television coverage?

The afternoon of the photo shoot at Holy Trinity Church I was told that the photographers (note plural) were back in the school parking lot. Sure enough there was George who I had once encountered when the church was vandalized along with John who was removing a TV camera from the back of a SUV. John was mystified about his “work order”—something about a colony called Chetwynd that he thought was up north somewhere. “Let me see the cover,” he kind of barked. I held it out. “Oh my God; you mean it was right here? In Lake County?” Now whether his interview with me ever ran, I haven’t a clue. But I’ll never forget John’s reaction.

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One of my research dilemmas about Chetwynd was the location of the Chetwynd Arms Hotel in the town of Chetwynd on Lake Ella. As you will note below, Lake Ella is not a very large lake.

This particular photo was taken from a vacant lot on the northeast side of the lake. Just as it might have been over 125 years ago, homes dot the east half of the shoreline; the rest is as it appears above. So where might the hotel have been located?

All of the owners of the lots on the east side purchased in 1885-1886, the only sales recorded, have been identified. Those owners include Granville Chetwynd-Stapylton’s bank partner, William H. Morrison, who owned a large and expensive home that burned in 1892.

Meanwhile a colony descendent, Alfred P. Bosanquet, in an undated copy of a presentation to the Lake County Historical Society several decades ago, said, “Mr. Morrison built a beautiful home and the Chetwynd Arms Hotel on the west bank of Lake Ella. Nearly all of the land on the west side was owned by the Chetwynd Land Company whose officers were Morrison and Dr. Samuel B. Smallwood. Smallwood owned a 26-acre lot somewhat northwest of Lake Ella.

Adding to my bewilderment is a Chetwynd Arms advertisement for the 1888 season that claims,“A charming lake, spring fed, lies immediately in the rear of the house. . . and has a nice frontage of more than an hundred feet.” (The ad never mentioned “hotel.”)

Now, having said all this, the Southern Railway’s Chetwynd passenger depot was due east of the town. Although there was a 30 feet wide road around the lake, it makes no sense to have brought guests around the west side of the lake to a back door entrance of the “house.” And so, as the song goes, “I’m right back to where I started from!” Where was the Chetwynd Arms?

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The Montclair Race Track

Sheri Hudson, a recent newcomer to this area as well as a history aficionado, and I took a tour today of the Colony of Chetwynd. Although impeded somewhat by the construction on US Route 441 we covered the territory including a drive to one place I had never explored—the location of the Montclair Race Track, one of three race tracks where the colonists gathered for Sunday afternoon races. While the picture below doesn’t “show” the precise location of the track it was certainly close by: “bounded by Flatwoods Road on the west and Youngs Road on the south,” according to a later deed.

Driving south on Flatwoods from W. Main Street, Leesburg, the scenery turns quite lush and pastoral. Once at the intersection, Youngs Road ends to the west and Flatwoods to the south. From there back to Stapylton and Company on Zephyr Lake via today’s roads is almost six miles.

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Family researchers are often confounded when their ancestor does not appear in consecutive censuses or when there’s a significant gap in local public records. It may feel like they dropped off the face of the earth for a brief time. That may be true of British researchers whose kinfolk, unbeknownst to them, spent a few years—between 1882 and 1902— in central Florida learning how to grow citrus.

One of the reasons for devoting all of Part Two of The Chetwynd Chronicles to nearly 140 brief autobiographical sketches of the colonists was to be of help to those digging for their roots. Some of them are also referenced in the narrative found in Part One or named in picture captions. Aside from the developer, Granville Chetwynd-Stapylton and his family, here are some “teasers:”

  • Back brothers, William, George, Percy and Arthur
  • Bosanquet brothers, Augustus, Eugene, and Louis, and their cousin, Charles
  • Budd, Hugh Sandeman
  • Cadell siblings, James, Harry, and Elenora
  • Cazalet, Alexander and half-brother Albert
  • Cooke, Robert Francis Edward
  • Cosen brothers, Charles, Francis, and Sydney
  • Elin brothers, George and Henry
  • Halford brothers, Arthur and Robert
  • Herford, Cyril Francis
  • Lemonius, Herbert Augustus
  • Maude, Frederick Sydney Armstrong
  • Ogilby, John William Henry
  • Reynolds brothers, Reginald, Arthur, and Edward
  • Smith, Hamilton Arthur
  • Smith, James Vickers
  • Smith, Villiers Chernocke
  • Streatfield, Kenneth Rivers S.
  • Tatham, Emily
  • Vincent, Thomas Augustine T.
  • Winder, George Edward

If you think your ancestor might have spent a bit of his life in Chetwynd or would like further information please  feel free to email me at thechetwyndchronicles@gmail.com.

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A Warm and Wonderful Visit

What began with a “cold” telephone call to plea for a family picture, progressed to an exchange of a couple of dozen emails, and then with a three-plus day visit from Louis (Bud) Percival Bosanquet and his wife, Janine, of Ballwin, Missouri. Ballwin is a suburb of St. Louis where Bud retired as a chemical engineer at Monsanto. He just happens to be the grandson of a Chetwynd colonist and horticulturalist, Louis Percival Bosanquet and his wife, Ellen Lewis Hall, a lineal descendent of George Washington.

Louis (Bud) Bosanquet

Bud, now 82, was born and raised in the eleven-room home that his great-uncle, Augustus Percival, built near the northeast side of Zephyr Lake in the early 1880s, or about the same time Granville Chetwynd-Stapylton constructed his three-building complex on the south side of the lake. When Augustus accepted the position of executive secretary of the British Royal Club in Lisbon, Portugal, he sold his property to Louis, who had arrived in 1888. While most of the colonists fled the area after the Great Freeze of 1894-95 that devastated the citrus industry, Louis and his family stayed. But instead of farming common produce, he began to cultivate trees and bushes on his land that included a formal English garden and an expanse of antique roses, perhaps an acre of some 75 varieties. Eventually the estate contained about 1000 varieties of trees and plants including 14 varieties of bamboo, about the same number of palms, about 100 hibiscuses from Hawaii along with experimental plants shipped from the US Department of Agriculture.

Louis also developed hybrid crinums including the best known and possibly the most popular, Crinum x Ellen Bosanquet, a beautiful magenta lily named for his wife which was introduced commercially in 1930.

Another crinum, a small pale-pink or pale-lavender plant, was named for Louis, although Bud claims it was really intended to be named for grandfather’s daughter, Frances.

Before their visit, Bud had sent me four spiral-bound books written by his great-uncle, Clarence Williams. Clarence had married Ellen Hall Bosanquet’s sister, Gertrude Hall. In those volumes he called what we call Fair Oaks the Bosanquet Place. Of course I asked Bud about that. He snickered and said that his mother, Ruth Ward, provided the name because of the grand oaks along the road south of the home.

Richard, Bud’s nephew and the last Bosanquet to live in the home, sold it in 2002. Although the new owners intended to operate a bed and breakfast, the required renovations apparently overwhelmed them; they walked away but locked the north gate behind them.

Over the few days of their visit Bud showed me many places of local interest and answered all of my questions and then some, to the point of mind saturation. But we saved the best for last—a squeeze through a gap near the locked gate and a tramp down Fair Oaks Drive (a rutted sandy lane) to his family home. Along the way, stepping over fallen trees and through the brush laden with sticker burrs, Bud recalled the locations of various tree stands, gardens, the bull pen, and the site of his father, Alfred’s, greenhouse. Like his father, Alfred carried on his father’s vocation including the establishment of Bosanquet Florist in Leesburg that is no longer owned by the family. Here and there very tall and healthy palm trees rose among otherwise scrubby and scruffy trees. As we poked around the flora around the home we found a couple gardenia bushes tucked away as well as mature azalea bushes such as the one pictured behind Bud above.

Walking along the front porch Bud noted the windows imported from England and added that no one wanted to wash them. Here’s why:

Most of the first floor windows were boarded up; the front door only partially; partially enough to trespass into the foyer with a large white staircase and hall leading not only to the back door but to the semi-remodeled kitchen where, of all things, four small 1916 Episcopal Church hymnals, words only, lay on one of the original counters. Inside was stamped “Holy Trinity Church, Fruitland Park, Florida.” I accused Bud and his siblings of theft and took two of them—one to return to the church and the other for me.

After roaming through the house as Bud related stories too numerous to cover here, we walked away from Bud’s home of nearly 60 years ago and back down the trail to the north gate.

This is but one piece of the ground we covered the past few days. The rest of the story comes later. Bud brought two more volumes of family history with him including an extensive English produced pedigree chart that includes his grandparents followed by “Florida Branch” and nothing more. . .

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Issued by the land department of the South Florida R. R. Co. and the Plant Investment Co.
Courtesy of the Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division.

Note the sequence of far northwest towns: Lady Lake, Chetwynd, Fruitland Park, Leesburgh.

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