As I am wont to do from time-to-time my morning began with coffee and a Google search in hopes of finding some new and interesting bit of relevant information to post. Thank you, Google! Paydirt! Up popped a short article, John Bulls in the Orange Groves, by Paul W. Wehr, from the summer/fall 1979, Journal of the USF/Library Associates.

Wehr relates the events leading up to the push for British settlement in the 1880’s—the greatest number, he claims, “located in a broad north-south corridor extending from Ormond Beach on the east to Hillsborough County on the west. Brief accounts of the two English colonies located north of Leesburg and the two southeast of Orlando [Narcoossee and Conway] are representative enough to illustrate the English experience.”

One colony, Wehr writes, was Chetwynd located from Zephyr Lake north to Lake Ella, the product of a scheme promoted by Stapylton and Company whose prime mover was Granville Chetwynd Stapylton. . . Zephyr Hall he describes as the living quarters for the bachelors and the social center of the community. Now here’s where it gets interesting:

Colony #2, Wehr says, was located south of Zephyr Lake. Fruitland Park was founded by a Major Rooks of Georgia who also offered to train young men in the citrus industry. It is said that the agent for that enterprise toured England persuading families to send their younger sons to that agricultural school. The families were expected to pay a sum of money to cover the cost of tuition and of transportation, reportedly in the cramped quarters of a freighter. Upon arrival those apprentices found not dormitories and farms but rough shacks and a virgin wilderness. Conditions became so difficult for some that they were seen ploughing [sic] in the dress suits they had so carefully carried with them so they could be properly attired on social occasions. Mercy!

After reading the entire article I was left wondering about John Bull—the John Bull included in Wehr’s title. Here’s John Bull, the English equivalent of our Uncle Sam:

John Bull represents the drinking, hard-headed, down-to-earth, fond of dogs, horse, ale and country sports kind of man—characteristics typical of the men of Chetwynd. But, as now known, not physically although I must admit that when I first began my research of Holy Trinity’s history I was convinced the founders were curmudgeons with pork chop sideburns—just like John Bull!

Program for the D. A. R.

What a delightful time spent with new friends of the Puc Puggy Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution at their Christmas luncheon! My most capable cohort, Sallie Kautz, arranged for me to give a PowerPoint presentation. In fact she created it. Although my part was before lunch they were a great audience and afterwards asked a lot of questions like, “Did the colonists pay taxes?” They at least paid property taxes. And they voted too—even though none were US citizens. Just like Chicago!

Eugene Percival Bosanquet, the brother of Augustus, one of the earliest Englishman to settle and build in Chetwynd, went to work at the Alcaxa Hotel in Daytona, Florida, where he was tragically struck by a rattlesnake while hunting near there with his friend, Mr. Evelyn Walker, February 2, 1892. Eugene was buried at the Pinewood Cemetery in Dayton Beach.The account of his death is noted in The Chetwynd Chronicles. But alas! Not all of the details.

While attending a portion of the first annual Bosanquet Reunion at Ormond Beach this past weekend Bob Gilchrist shared an article he’d found that had recently been posted online to Find a Grave.

Members of the Bosanquet family visited the gravesite of Eugene Bosanquet last Friday.

A few months ago Holy Trinity Episcopal Church received an email, A Friendly “Hello” from the U.K. sent from Sue Longridge, the great-granddaughter of Granville and Elizabeth Chetwynd-Stapylton, the parents of Sue’s grandmother, Ella. Sue and her mother Stella visited Holy Trinity in 1986 when the church celebrated its centennial and was in a reminiscing mood . Of course I jumped at the opportunity to correspond with a Chetwynd-Stapylton family member. A quick response indicated that although Sue knew very little about her maternal ancestor she has a picture Elizabeth painted while living in Florida. Here is a copy:

She also wrote that one of Elizabeth’s gowns had been donated to the museum and art gallery in Horsham, West Sussex, where Sue lives. She went to check it out. The museum staff was kind enough to remove the gown from its storage box and place it on a mannequin so that Sue could take pictures. Here’s one of them. Note the tiny waistline.

A two piece gown with a jacket-type top and a very ornate skirt, the sleeves are maroon velvet with silk or satin bits down the center of the sleeves. Sue wrote, “The lace is SO intricate on the sleeves and down the panels of the skirt.” It’s doubtful the gown was as slimming as depicted. Sue guesses that a corset, a chemise-type undergarment, petticoats and and bustles completed the fashion statement. I can’t imagine that Elizabeth wore this gown in Chetwynd but obviously it was a treasured family item.

Meanwhile, Sue is certain that a family member has a picture of Elizabeth and Granville on their wedding day and will share that also. Both wore riding clothes with Elizabeth’s very similar in style as the gown above. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for that picture. Watch this space!

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. . .

By Gary R. Mormino, Florida Humanities Council, Tampa Bay Times, March 6, 2014

“A long line of muses has chronicled the orange’s journey over the centuries from China to India, Persia to Spain, and Hispaniola to Florida. The orange has stirred the imaginations of Franciscan friars, country fiddlers and multinational conglomerates. More than anything else, Florida’s signature fruit has defined the Sunshine State and its promise as the New Mediterranean.

“But today the orange is in peril. An incurable disease called “citrus greening” has swept through Florida, affecting every orange-producing county. This crisis has been called “the most serious threat in (citrus) history,” “a looming disaster many Floridians do not know about,” and “an existential threat.”

“The disease, also known as Yellow Dragon because it was first detected in China, looms larger than any previous threat to the industry — including devastating hurricanes, the sprawl of development across agricultural land and the expensive war of attrition to eradicate citrus canker. After marauding through orange groves in China and Brazil, the disease, a bacterium spread by a tiny flying insect called a psyllid, appeared in Florida in 2005. Oranges become misshapen and bitter — and eventually the affected trees die.

“But Florida’s grove owners are resilient. They have battled the Mediterranean fruit fly and killer freezes and weathered the economic effects of wars and depressions. Still, the present challenge is so serious that scientists and state officials have debated the ethics and efficacy of genetic modification, of altering the orange’s DNA in order to save it.”

Mormino then traces the perils and successes through the decades and concludes:

“In January 1981, Florida shivered as the first of the decade’s Alberta Clippers plunged statewide temperatures well below freezing. By the end of the decade, three more disastrous freezes had ravaged Florida’s groves, killing 90 percent of Lake County’s orange trees. The beneficiaries of this disaster were Florida real estate developers and Brazil. This marked a milestone in citrus history: Brazil replaced Florida as the world’s leading orange producer. Astonishingly, 100,000 acres of Lake County citrus land was transformed into housing tracts, shopping centers and nurseries. An Orlando banker summarized the opportunity: “We stopped picking oranges and started picking tourists.”

“From the late 1940s onward, advertising songs and jingles about the orange, fresh from the crate and frozen concentrate out of the can, captivated Americans: “Breakfast without orange juice is like a day without sunshine!” “Come to the Florida Sunshine Tree!” and “Orange juice — It’s not just for breakfast anymore.”

“Orange juice became an integral part of the standard breakfast, along with bacon and eggs and toast. But in recent years, more and more Americans are beginning their days without a glass of orange juice. OJ’s greatest threat may not even be citrus greening, but rather changing tastes.

“Illustrating this point, a journalist recently posed the question: “Just when did orange juice — loaded with nutrients from vitamin C to folic acid — become the drink from hell?” In truth, OJ is brimming not only with vitamin C but carbohydrates, the arch villain of South Beach dieters and concerned pediatricians. Orange juice, moreover, holds little mystique with young Americans who typically skip breakfast, preferring a carbonated soda, vitamin-enhanced water, or an espresso doppio.

“Unfolding over six centuries, the story of Florida citrus is a complicated tale involving great contrasts and trajectories: old groves and new perils, small family farms and global competition, citrus barons whose names emblazon athletic fields, and the largely forgotten men and women who pruned, picked and packed the oranges.

“Threatened and squeezed by developers, foreign competition, an incurable disease, global warming, and hard freezes, the future of the orange in Florida is uncertain. But amidst tumult and change, one thing remains certain: a glass of freshly squeezed Florida orange juice is pure elixir, the proper drink for a dream state.”

Read the entire article here:


Little Bits

Glorianne Fahs, curator of the Leesburg Heritage Society, called the other day to tell me that someone had dropped off some documents that involved G. C. Stapylton and would I like to peruse them. So this past Monday morning I did just that.

It seems that one J. M. Sams of Wild Wood [sic] mortgaged $2000.00 from Earl Geary, one of the colonists, for property in Rutland (Citrus County) about 1886. Although Geary operated a livery stable in Leesburg, that was a lot of money to be lending at that time. Morrison, Stapylton & Co. serviced the mortgage for Geary, the mortgagor. That meant that the “service company” paid all the bills, including taxes and expenses, for the grove that had been established. Over a period of five years or so Sams had trouble paying off the mortgage, not to mention expenses incurred.

Stapylton was clearly frustrated about the whole ordeal in a note that appears to have been written either to himself or inner-office: “Geary has no more to loan, but that I thought if Sams wld [sic] clear the record, he wld [sic] agree not to foreclose under say 6 mos [sic] of some time like that. Sams cld [sic] arrange a fresh loan from someone else, get it settled somehow and encourage the idea that Sams could arrange a fresh loan; perhaps Hollinshed [probably George Hollinshed, Sumter County, Florida Land Company] wld [sic] make it. Let us get it finally fixed. G. C. S.” Ah, an impatient facet of Stapylton’s personality.

As an aside, invoices sent to the bank for labor, etc. at the Sams Grove, are interesting. In 1890 a $14.00 charge for 14 days work burning logs and brush; two shovels, $2.00, $.25 for reframing tools, and $24.45 for 163 orange trees at $.15 each.