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Scheduled Events

Thursday, October 17 at 6 p.m. for Leesburg’s Lone Oak (Cemetery) Moonlight Tour. Some of the Chetwynd colonists are buried there—among them Capt. John William Henry Ogilby who “died [January 1888] rather suddenly. . . from a chill aught in surveying the Race Course.” Ogilby was the “originator” of the Sunday horse races.

Thursday, October 24 at 1 p.m. at the Lady Lake Library, sponsored by the Lady Lake Historical Society. This new and accommodating library is very close to Conant. Attendees will be introduced to an old but full map of Conant discussed below in a previous post. Call 259-4359 or 408-1150 to reserve a seat.

Tuesday, January 1 at 3:30 p.m. at the Leesburg Public Library, sponsored by the Leesburg Heritage Society. Glorianne Fahs was so gracious and helpful during the research phase of The Chetwynd Chronicles.

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A couple of months ago my eyes were drawn to a New York Times article, “A Race to Save the Orange by Altering its DNA” by Amy Harmon. Altering the orange’s DNA? Whoa! And why?

An air-borne insect is transmitting a disease that sours Florida’s oranges and turns them half green. Grove owners have tried everything to stop the infestation—cutting and burning trees and pesticide spraying—to no avail. One grove, the supplier of oranges for Tropicana and Florida’s Natural juices, lost about a quarter of its 700 thousand contaminated trees. Scientists from all over the world have tried to solve the Citrus Greening disease with no success.

Instead, they concluded that the only possible solution is to alter the orange’s DNA with a gene from a different species to produce a genetically modified orange. But would the consumer eat a modified orange? Maybe yes; maybe no, although tomatoes are a perfect example of a genetically modified food. For now work is progressing in laboratories on grafting a spinach gene to a healthy tree with some success. If this means works it will take about a decade to restore the industry to full productivity.

The freezes of the 1890s obliterated the citrus trees of Lake County and plunged the entire central Florida area into a severe economic depression. Ninety years later a series of freezes shut down most of the area’s groves forever. Imagine the loss of the world’s second largest orange producer—all because of an indestructible virus-carrying insect. It adds up to an unthinkable 76 thousand jobs and a loss of $9 billion dollars to the State’s economy.

Read more about this at: http://tinyurl.com/mg9yob5

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A highly excitable gentleman burst into the Lady Lake Historical Museum the other day to declare that his GPS showed his place of residence in The Villages as Conant. Now Conant hasn’t really existed for over 100 years but I guess some things never change.

Here is a current Lady Lake Chamber of Commerce map of “Conant” showing US Route 25 (Teague Trail) cutting through the intersection of Griffin Avenue. Only tiny Hood Avenue and Tracy Avenue, directly west of Griffin, maintain the names from the original plat map of 14 July 1884. The Lady Lake Post Office sits on the site of the former Stapylton Avenue which, by the way, still appears on my GPS! I once spent a morning trying to find it. . .

A museum volunteer then steered the man to a poster-sized plat map and pointed out that the depot and hotel were located on the southeast corner of Griffin Avenue and the then Florida Southern railroad track. She and I nearly went toe-to-toe on this claim because of a hand-drawn map of Conant I’d found at the Leesburg Heritage Society. Although just half the map is shown here, based upon pertinent deeds I believe it was drawn in the late 1880s or early 90s—probably by a Conant resident.

Obviously, the “cartographer” located the elegant four-story hotel, opened during the winter of 1884, on the northeast corner with its entrance facing sawdust paved Griffin Avenue and the depot directly across the street. The site originally platted for the hotel and depot became the location of the Tomlinson General Store and his large greenhouse.

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Above is a picture of a Florida Southern mail train headed north from the Fruitland Park depot taken, I suspect, in the mid-1880s. During that time Fruitland Park was known as Gardenia by the United States Postal Service so all mail was addressed to Gardenia, Florida.

Until a recent visit to the Lady Lake Historical Museum I’d never seen this picture. Curator, Dr. Norma Delaney, was kind to share it with me.

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What a phantasmagorical book launch! Greeted with a banner, “Welcome to Chetwynd,” a guesstimated 100 or so friends, neighbors, golf buddies, and church folk, made for a Sunday afternoon beyond my wildest dreams. And the spread of sandwiches, veggies, and deserts, all provided and organized by my most energetic and eager friends, was spectacular. Pictures of Granville Chetwynd-Stapylton and Queen Victoria, I must add, looked down upon the tables. I’m sure that Granville would have been especially pleased with the flags on the mini-cupcakes; one of Great Britain and the other, symbolic of Chetwynd, goat head and all, created by none other than the incredible Sallie Kautz, The Chetwynd Chronicles book designer.

Another feature was a bucket of ice water, complete with a rather huge dipper, to honor the Colony’s social club, the Bucket and Dipper Club. That was the only beverage permitted, according to the club’s bylaws. Unfortunately, I neglected to mention that fact in my closing remarks.

So to all of you who made this afternoon so very special, a huge thank-you from the cockles of my heart. I hope you enjoy the book! Those unable to attend can either purchase it from Pepper’s Book Trunk (the trunk of my car) or from amazon.com. I promise that my feet will have touched the ground by then. . .

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After nearly four years of research, writing, proofing, adjusting, and proofing again, notification arrived yesterday, April Fool’s Day, that the book is published. But the message went on to say that it would not be posted at Amazon et al for seven to ten days. Alas and a lark, it appeared this morning! It can also be found at Amazon UK .

Actually, the rush of seeing it available for purchase exceeded the moment I hugged and reveled in the delight of the first book proof. My perfectionist and fabulous designer, Sallie Kautz, was equally impressed and excited. I want to share that exhilaration with you.

There will be a celebration at the colony’s only remaining building, Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, Fruitland Park, at 4 p.m., Sunday, April 21. Books will be available for purchase along with signing by the author, D. R. S. Bott. After then The Chetwynd Chronicles can be bought, not only at Amazon, but at Pepper’s Book Trunk—the trunk of my red Toyota.

Needless to say, I am very proud, pleased and yes, honored, to have written the only history about the Colony of Chetwynd and about those who lived there. Enjoy!

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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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Although removed in the 1980s, those native to the area remember the railroad tracks from Leesburg north through Fruitland Park, Lady Lake and points north. Everything this Yankee read led me to believe the tracks closely paralleled US Route 441/27 the entire route. Bud Bosanquet disabused me of that notion when he showed me the roadbed east of the Bosanquet property and quite a distance west of the highway. This 1960s or so map of unknown origins illustrates the location well.

Note the round lake near the middle of the map. That’s Zephyr Lake. Stapylton, who had given the Southern Railway access to his land for $1, lived on the southeast portion of the lake; Augustus Bosanquet, who followed suit by granting right-of-way, lived near the northeast shore.

Today the roadbed can be seen behind the commercial properties along the highway.

Note that the tracks eventually parallels the highway at Eagles Nest Road where the Chetwynd/Dundee depot stood in the 1880s.
But more about that in the Chetwynd Chronicles. . .

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