Skip to main content

Winter Park History Digital Collections

About this collection

In 1858, David Mizell left Alachua County and came to Central Florida with his family. They are considered to be the first white settlers of this area. He purchased an 8-acre homestead that was situated between lakes that are now known as Virginia, Mizell, and Berry. He built a cabin and his son, John, built a log house as well. They called this area Lake View. Other people soon followed and a settlement arose around his property. This area was attractive because it featured wide open expanses dotted with pine forests, where deer and panthers roamed freely . . . a place where the landscape featured clear, shimmering lakes that were alive with fish.

On January 10, 1861, the State of Florida seceded from the Union and on February 17th, Florida joined the Confederacy.

By 1865, there were as yet no roads in the state, only trails through the forests. There was no railroad nearer than Jacksonville and no post office.

By 1870, the area remained a wilderness and its inhabitants raised cattle and crops such as corn and potatoes. The name of Lake View was changed to Osceola and a post office was opened in the home of Col. E. B. Livingston.

In 1875, Mr. Wilson Phelps made an extensive tour of this area. He was awed by the beauty of its pristine lakes and graceful pines.  During the next few years, he bought and sold a great deal of property. Mr. John Bigelow bought property on the south side of Lake Maitland, built a large home and developed a grove and gardens. A few others that settled here were Ms. Mary Brown and Ms. Mary McClure, teachers from Northwestern University. They purchased property on Lake Sylvan which they dubbed "No Man's Land."

By 1880, the population had increased. Names such as Dr. Ira Geer, William & Eleanora Comstock, Rev. & Mrs. Whipple, Sydney & Joshua Chase, and Henry S. Chubb had all come to Osceola to make their homes here. They all had different backgrounds and possessed a variety of talents: Dr. Ira Geer was the town physician, R. R. Thayer, Bert Clark, and A. S. Rogers were carpenters, Edgar Pierce sold milk, and Rev. Whipple was a bishop in the Episcopal Church. Many other prominent men were developing orange groves on their tracts of land. In November of 1880 daily railroad service was begun between Sanford and Orlando on the South Florida Railroad. The track was laid a few miles west of Osceola.

 
Select the collections to add or remove from your search
A
B
C
D
E
F
G
H
I
J
K
L
M
N
O
P
Q
R
S
T
U
V
W
X
Y
Z
 
OK