Deltona’s Misplaced History: The lost site of the Sauls family home
On the outskirts of Deltona, Florida, nestled between Courtland and Howland Boulevard lies a quiet little street called George Sauls Street. This is not just a random name picked by a zoning board or home developer. This tiny street is named for the first settlers to live and set down roots in what is now modern day Deltona, in a place called Saulsville, once marked and then later unmarked and nearly forgotten.
George Sauls, born in Nassau County in 1821 and his wife Adeline settled just a few miles from Osteen. The Sauls built their home using local cypress trees and pegs (no nails), expanding and adding a story as their family eventually grew to twelve.
The Sauls became close to the Osteen family and educated their children together. As the area grew, they became a stagecoach stop along the trail between the booming Enterprise and New Smyrna Beach. The area was known as Saulsville.
The Sauls family lived entirely off the land. They grew their own food, made their own clothes and built their own community. Later George Sauls served in the confederate army as a secret agent, one of his duties was to protect women and their children whose husbands were away at war.
When the railroad came through the area, Osteen grew while Saulsville faded away. George Sauls died at the age of 89. After his death a local citizen wrote a tribute to Sauls that appeared the newspaper years after his death:
“‘Old Man’ Sauls, for more than fifty years, a leading spirit in the community, was a kindly, hard working, thrifty, hospitable man, as honest as the Sunshine and as true as steel. He lived a long and useful life and died quiet and peaceful death.”
The Sauls home, along with 15,000 acres of land, was eventually sold to the Deltona Corporation in the 1950’s. Because of its historical significance the house was donated to the Volusia County Fair Association with the intent that it would be moved to the fairgrounds and turned into a museum, but unfortunately the house burned New Year’s Day, 1972. The blame was placed on drifters who were said to have been living in the abandoned home.
On April 4th, 1976 more than 100 people including the remaining Sauls descendants, county officials and historical society members gathered at the site of the burned home. They renamed the street George Sauls St., and commemorated a plaque laid on a coquina base to mark the site of the home and to preserve the Sauls family history for future generations.
However, in 1981 the Deltona Corporation sold the land, who in turn sold the land again to developer who built a house on the site, completely disregarding the historical plaque resting on the lot. Later the homeowner, irritated with people walking on their property to read the plaque complained to the City of Deltona. So the plaque was unceremoniously hauled into the bed of a truck and moved to a storage barn owned by the city. None of the remaining Sauls descendants were notified that the plaque had been removed. When the Sauls family realized the plaque had gone missing, they too complained to the city. It was then moved to Osteen Cemetery, where it still rests next to the graves of George and Adeline Sauls. For many years the plaque remained unchanged, referencing a site that it was no longer resting on.
Finally in 2006 the plaque was changed by the Volusia County Council to reference its current location. It now reads:
“The pioneer families of this cemetery put down roots on the Florida frontier — a place considered ‘desolate’ at the time. In the 1850’s, George and Adeline Sauls settled two miles west of here on a stage road. They constructed a large log home and raised 10 children; farmed and kept livestock; served travelers: and joined Osteens, Carpenters, and other neighbors in the Saulsville community to organize a church, hire a school teacher, and frame a society. In 1884, Sauls family members denoted this burial ground, along with an African American graveyard to the west. When his long life passed, George Sauls was remembered as ‘a leading spirit’ in his special section of Volusia County.”
Volusia County Council, 2006
Unsurprisingly the plaque makes no mention of its original location or why it was moved. With no marker left on the original house site, it’s exact location could eventually be lost forever unless more is done to preserve this important piece of Deltona history.
About the Author
Robin Peroldo is a 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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