Tales of tragedy and ghosts mark one of Volusia County's most celebrated historic sites.

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DeBary Hall in the 1890’s (Florida Memory Image Number N044348)

If you were to take a drive down Dirksen Dr. in DeBary Florida, you would find a quiet winding road flanked by large oaks. The surrounding neighborhood is filled with ranch style homes, common in Florida. Nothing unusual for this part of Volusia County.

But if you happen to spot the inconspicuous sign directing you down Mansion Boulevard, you will find a road lined with old fashioned street lamps leading to a grand plantation house set high on a hill. …

Critics patronized her, but Mary J. Holmes was a fearless writer who wrestled with the controversial subjects of slavery and feminism in the south.

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The first line of The Cromptons reads, “The streamer ‘Hatty’ which plied between Jacksonville and Enterprise was late, and the people who had come down from the Brock House to the landing had waited a half an hour before a puff of smoke in the distance told that she was coming.”

To most people this line this first line of a novel has little special meaning. …

The devastating winter of 1894 and 1895 dashed the dreams and fortunes of many new Florida settlers. Decades would pass before the state fully recovered.

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Florida farmers surveying damage after the great freezes (1894–95)

When pioneers began to settle Florida they found wild oranges among the palm trees. They didn’t realize it at the time, but they were seeing the remains of a tragic clash of cultures: Spanish explorers and the Native Floridians.

During the 16th century the Spanish made several ill-fated attempts to settle Florida. Although most Native Americans resisted Spanish control and incursions onto their lands, they likely obtained sour orange seeds from the Spanish.

By the 17th century the Native American population in Florida had completely collapsed. Most succumbed to conflict, slavery and disease. …


Robin Mimna

Proud Florida writer who enjoys nature and history. Robin’s work has appeared in the Orlando Weekly and Deep South Literary magazine.

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