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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!

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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:

http://www.tampabay.com/news/perspective/floridas-endangered-orange/2168985

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.

Steve Fussell of Fruitland Park has launched a new web site, http://fruitlandparknews.org/ where he has what he calls a “department,” History and Lore. Since the site is so new and not quite completed, Steve has made just one post there. But it’s quite interesting. It’s a no-byline article, The Evolution of Fruitland Park: What 41 Years Have Done for One Corner of Lake County, Told in a Log, published in the Leesburg Commercial March 30, 1917. Now this just happens to be the earliest “history” I’ve seen. Yet it still points out that memory does wane over time; some “facts” cited are not true.

Pertinent portions of the article are re-printed below with some annotations. Read the entire article at Steve’s website. It’s interesting. . .

It was Mrs. R.E. Filcher, Mrs. Lord and W.G. Dwight’s week to furnish the entertainment for Casino night the other night, so they carried out their contract. Mrs. Filcher gave several recitations which so delighted the audience that she still had to give more.

Mrs. Lord for her “stunt” got a male quartet to render some glees. The gentlemen were Messrs. West, Benedict, Cook and Uries, and they were in fine voice. Miss Finnegan was accompanist.

The third member of the committee [William G. Dwight] for his part of the “show” gave a brief paper on the evolution of Fruitland Park, going back 41 years when O.P. Rooks took up the first homestead claim in this vicinity.

The paper while representing some work, was most simple. Still R.E. Filcher was anxious to have it go on record through the Commercial, so here is the log of Fruitland Park:

Through the kindness of Mrs. Rooks, Misses Margaret and Elizabeth Smith and others, the writer has been enabled to get together some data relating to the early days of Fruitland Park.

And it is interesting in this connection to note that there have really been two Fruitland Parks in the last 41 years. Each with its club houses and community centers. Each with its church, school and social interests, which goes to show that the world wags along in about the same way. Aside from the tasks and duties of life there must be times and places for the engendering and development of the social side of our character.

The Fruitland Park of thirty years ago, with its Bucket and Dipper Club [what a stretch], was not many removes from the spirit of our present Community Club. The only difference is that we are more modern in our ways of enjoyment.

But let us turn to the historical data.

I find that the pioneers of Fruitland Park were O.P. Rooks and his brother, W.A. Rooks. Up in Pennsylvania back in 1875, these two brothers fell in with a Captain Kendrick of Cincinnati, who had been much of a traveler about the country. He was very enthusiastic about Florida and at his invitation the Rooks brothers came down to “God’s country,” as Captain Kendrick called it.

The three men made the pilgrimage to Jacksonville and then down the St. Johns River and Oklawaha River, finally landing at Silver Springs, hired a hack and were driven to Leesburg through the wildest part of wild country.

They reached Leesburg, then just a hamlet, at 11 o’clock at night. It was a hard, dreary trip as their hack broke down and several times they had to be hauled out of the sand.

This was January, 1876. The land in this community was then only homestead claims and to be taken up one had to get in touch with the government claims office in Gainesville.

The Rooks brothers struck out over the wild country and came to the site of Mrs. Rooks’ present home on Crystal Lake. O.P. Rooks was charmed with the location and at once decided to pitch his tent here. He took up a homestead claim of 160 acres and after breaking the land and clearing it, started a home.

In December, 1879, he was joined by his wife, Mrs. Rooks, who came on from Philadelphia, and has lived here ever since. W.A. Rooks, who came with his brother, about this time went to Washington to live.

Pioneering cannot be done entirely by one man. The one-man power is inadequate for such construction periods. It needs the combined energies and brains of men. Kind Providence was good to Mr. Rooks and his homestead claim of 160 acres, four miles out of Leesburg.

At this time there appeared on the scene an English gentleman who had come across the seas with the view to establish a colony of his countrymen. He tumbled into Leesburg by hack and fell in with Mr. Rooks.

This gentleman was G.C. Stapylton, the son of a canon in the English church and a young man of liberal education. Messrs. Rooks and Stapylton surveyed the country all about and through their energies other homesteaders were to locate here.

Rooks and Stapylton gave the name of Fruitland Park to the community. [Only Rooks] It was later called Gardenia by the United States post office department. Still the railroad stuck to the original name, Fruitland Park. As there was another Fruitland so much confusion resulted that the post office department dropped its post office Gardenia and went back to Fruitland Park.

About this time the Plant line, which had built as far south as Sanford from Jacksonville, was to be pushed further along. One branch was to come to Ocala and south of there the original survey through this territory called for the road to be built on the other side of Dead River.

But Rooks and Stapylton were alert to the exigency, the route must be on this side of the river to do Fruitland Park any good. So they got busy and by donating the land [Stapylton donated no land.] they got the line built where it now runs between Ocala and Leesburg.

While Mr. Rooks was busy with the development of his own claim, planting orange groves and acquiring more acres, Mr. Stapylton devoted himself to corralling the English homesteaders. [Love this description.]

And they were a class all by themselves. While orange growing was a new business for them they were adepts at horseback riding, hunting, and enjoying to the fullest the happy open air life of Florida.

It is neighbor Cowles who calls Florida the only “play land” he knows. This is just what the young Englishman found in this land of beautiful lakes, tropical flowers and sunshine. They were trained men, most of them graduates of Oxford, Eton or other famous English public schools, and it was easy for Stapylton to start a colony. It was through his inspiration that a community was established around Lake Ella. It was called Chetwynd, it being his middle name. So enthusiastic were the colonists that a large hotel was built by a syndicate, but it was in operation only one year. Lake Ella was too remote from the railroad. [Return to the issue of the hotel’s location again.] At the other end of the colony, [ Not quite at the other end] where R.F.E. Cooke’s present home was built, a hall stood as the center of all social activities of Fruitland Park.

It was here that the old Bucket and Dipper Club had its creation.

Members of the club had to be balloted for and at one time its membership was up to 60. To quote Mrs. Rooks, at the time of the freeze there were 85 Englishmen in this vicinity. [Mrs. Rooks exaggerated.] In the hall Mr. Stapylton had classes for instruction and here all the dances, musicals and good times were had. [Most of these events were at the club house on Spring Lake.]

It is Mrs. Watts of Leesburg, who says “some of the best good times of my life have been at the old club house of the Bucket and Dipper Club.” [Hmmm]

Miss Margaret Smith played for the dancing and all musical rehearsals were held at the Smith sisters’ home. [Margaret was also the first organist at Holy Trinity.]

In those days all the trading had to be done in Leesburg and the prices of the common necessities grew so exorbitant that a Mr. Linville, a Quaker, was induced to open a store on what is now the Schuphelt place. It was in this store that Abe McCoy, one of the Park’s gardeners, did his first work as a store boy.

Among some old-time photographs that Miss Margaret Smith has in her collection is one group picture of the English colonists. They are a fine lot of men in the picture. Many of them are dressed in their outing suits or sporting togs. [Not the same picture as in The Chetwynd Chronicles.]

Miss Smith could not recall all of the individuals of the group, but among them were V.C. Smith, Mr. Holford, two Elin brothers, two Westons, two Dowdneys, two Shelfields, two Dietz, Mr. Cazlet, J. Vickers-Smith, Mr. Hill, Mr. Budd, R.F.E. Cooke, Mr. Geary, Mr. Hafford, Mr. Tasca, two Vincent brothers, Mr. Rutledge, Mr. Dawson, two Topham brothers, Mr. Dunn, Mr. Sargent, Mr. Cheshyre, Mr. Merriles, two Cadwell brothers, two Trowers, two Fellows. [Some of these names are new to me. . .]

Miss Smith says one of the tragedies of the group was whenDawson, one of the finest of the bunch, was fatally bitten by a rattlesnake that was on exhibition in Leesburg. Mr. Dawson was handling the reptile when it struck him. [Knew George Dawson had died but not the cause.]

Mr. Rutledge, [Routledge] another of the group, occupied the place now owned by Mr. Gott and it was his daughter [Routledge’s sister] who married G. Chetwynd Stapylton, the pioneer of the community.

The English colonists, with all their free life and social activities, could not be without their church. It was as necessary as their food and here follows the history of Holy Trinity church:

The very first services were held in the old school house, now replaced by the new building at the Park. [This was not Holy Trinity but Grace Chapel.] The preacher was Rev. Mr. Tosea. [Beaubien was his name.] But this was too inconvenient for most of the colonists. So the church was moved to an old barn where the colored church now stands, overlooking Geneva Lake. From here the house of worship was moved to the present Holy Trinity church, every cent for the construction of which was raised in England.

The altar cloth now in use was the original given by V.C. Smith’s aunt and sent from England. The same cross is in use today that graced the first service. [It still is in use.] At the approach to Holy Trinity church today is the lych gate which is one of the very few in the United States.

The nearest suggestion to it is one that has recently been placed at the entrance of the Church of the Transfiguration at New York.

The lych gate at Holy Trinity church is the gift of Miss Emily Tatham who was an aunt of Mr. Schriver of Ocala. [an aunt of Mrs. Maria Schrieber]

The lych gate is an old institution of the English churches of England. At funerals the casket is brought to the gate to rest until the rector, clad in his vestments, comes down the church steps to meet the funeral cortege.

The first fair for Holy Trinity church netted 300 pounds, or $1,500, which was a most generous offer for those days. [At Stapylton’s father’s church in England.]

So life went on on Fruitland Park of those days. They had their good times, their joys and their sorrows. The pendulum of life swung merrily on and   the orange groves grew and shed their sheaves of golden fruit.

The Florida slogan was to place all eggs in one basket. The diversity of crop raising and their possibilities was an undiscovered country. So when the famous freezes of December 29, 1894, and February 8, 1895, came it caught the Fruitland Park orange kings as the German submarines catch the defenseless merchantmen in the open sea—helpless. Fortunes melted away in a night and groves that were valued at thousands of dollars were
valueless at sunrise. It was these freezes that discouraged the English colonists. Prosperity under Southern skies had come too easily. They scattered
to other states and countries. Where then was this wonderful colony of homesteaders there are now but four of its personnel left in these diggings.
They are our V.C. Smith, R.F.E. Cooke, J. Victor [Vickers] Smith and Mr. [Charles] Chesshyre, the veteran Leesburg lawyer. [There were 12 who remained plus the three Smith sisters.]

Joseph Hannah, the pride of the Park’s batchelordom, is just as English as any in the old Bucket and Dipper Club, and yet he did not belong to it. Then there was Louis Bosanquet, another of our very best. He came from England right from Eton, yet he did not belong to the original colony. [Both men belonged to the Bucket and Dipper Club and were very much a part of colony life.]

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
Tom

Sergeant of Arms
Jerry

Coffee Administrator
Missy

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

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!