Sitting along a quiet dirt path in a Florida ghost town rests this old homestead. James and Esther built this home and four girls were born and raised here. They attended the school just across the dirt road which still stands today.
[Pictured left and center are Zola and Cora, two of the daughters born in this home and their good friend, Edna c. 1899]
Photo Courtesy and Property of the State Archive of Florida
In 1884, James was listed as the roadmaster for the Florida Southern Railway which tracks once sat just a few yards from this home. By 1888, this town had become a major hub of this railroad line with 24 trains passing through a day, transporting mainly citrus and other agricultural goods.
But 1894 and 1895 would serve up devastating freezes that decimated citrus crops and sent the areas farmers further south. The trains through town became less frequent, the depot closed, then the tracks were torn up.
In 1935, the last class was held at the school across the road and in 1945, the town lost its Post Office.
Shortly after the freezes of the late 1800’s, the Jolly family would leave this small town, selling their home to the Zetrouer family who stayed. They moved it from the other side of the tracks to where it stands now, near the rest of their family homes. On my last visit here, I had the pleasure to meet the gentlemen who owns the property now. His great-grandmother was the first Zetrouer to live in this home after they bought it from the Jolly family around 1900. He was born in the front room, along with his mother, siblings and “countless other kin” as he put it.
Although the home mostly sits empty, he and his wife return monthly to work on repairing and maintaining this beautiful old place. I am surely grateful for people like them.
[Alachua County, FL c. late 1870’s]