Tag Archive | alachua

Ain’t no Haint’s here

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[Alachua County, FL c. 1900’s]

This haint colored shack has always been a favorite of mine, despite its desparate need for some new paint. This color is popular throughout the South, but has a storied past that many aren’t aware of.

Check out the history of the color (or range of colors) called ‘Haint’ blue!

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Rural relic

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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.

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[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.

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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.

Sun_Jolly House

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]

Memories remain when everything else changes

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For just a moment standing here in this spot, you can almost imagine what life might’ve been like 100 years ago. The winding dirt road wraps around the perimeter of the farm and out to a railroad path more than a century old and still in use today. The tree line to the left stands like a wall to shield the visions and commotion of a highway that didn’t exist when this home was built. The overgrowth hangs like a curtain in front of the old home, almost as if to protect a secret.

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[Photo of Roxie and Samuel with their first 3 children, Felton, Ola Mae and John taken in 1916- the same year they moved to Florida (Photo courtesy of the Bristow-Dugger family)]

Roxie and Samuel would marry in Lasker, NC in 1909 and by 1916, they were heading South with their 3 children towards Florida. By 1919, they were living in this home they had bought from a farming family. Within the next decade, their family would grow by four, but they would lose a son as well. A Word War would begin and they would see the wagon path just beyond their door become a bustling highway. Their Nation would plummet into economic depression.

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[Bristow children chewing on sugar cane c. 1934 (Photo courtesy of the Bristow-Dugger family)]

Through all of these events, this family ate here, talked here, slept here, and endured together in this home. They farmed through good times and bad and nourished a growing family in the process. But somewhere along the way something must have changed and it made more sense to live elsewhere. Economies, priorities and values shift and things get left behind. The unfortunate reality of change is that when moving forward, you can’t take every piece of your past with you. Sometimes memories are the best and only thing that change will allow us to hold to.

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[Front porch with boarded enclosure]

bristow_roxie[Roxie from the same view as above in front of her family home in the 1960’s (photo courtesy of the Bristow-Dugger family)]

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[Bristow family home hidden by overgrowth]

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[Alachua County, FL c. late 1800’s]

The stories she could tell

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Mack and Cornelia raised a large family in this modest home in rural North Florida. Their parents had been brought as slaves from the Carolinas before the Civil War and they were the first generation in their respective families who were born free. These two would marry in the early 1890’s as many changes were about to hit their quiet railroad town. Devastating freezes would practically cripple the citrus economy in the area and the entire industry moved south, taking jobs, agriculture, and the railroad with it. But as the wealthier farmers relocated, some stayed behind to continue to grow their roots in the community they had helped to build. The value of land decreased and made land ownership more feasible for the less affluent farmers in the area.

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[The view from the front porch probably hasn’t changed much]

Mack and Cornelia would buy this piece of property in 1896 and a larger tract which expanded their land in 1899. Their family was growing too and by the 1900 Census, they had 3 children. In such a small space, I can’t imagine how difficult it must’ve been to get by but their numbered continued to grow. Cornelia, who was born in this same town, would pass away here in 1929 and Mack would continue to live here with his children until he passed in 1952.

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Interestingly, this property has been in the same family since the first record of it being sold to them in 1896. According to the property appraiser, the building is listed as of ‘No Value’ but I am sure most of you here with agree with me that this isn’t true. For decades, this home sheltered a family, gave them a space to rest after a hards days work, a place to eat, a space to make memories, to celebrate, to mourn, and everything else in between. Its value may no longer lie in its ability to provide shelter but in its ability to remind us of a time long ago.

[Alachua County, FL c. late 1800’s]

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Pioneers of Providence

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The middle of the 19th century brought a lot of action and interest to inland Florida which thus far, had been largely unsettled by European descendants. Florida was now a U.S. territory and the federal government now had an interest in establishing stability in the state. The Armed Occupation Act of 1842 granted 160 acres of land to settlers who would stay for at least 5 years. This attracted many from Georgia, the Carolinas and Virginia who packed up their families and headed south.

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As early as 1852, a small group of these early Florida settlers began to meet near this site to worship. Many of these pioneers came from different places, but shared a common faith and could endure their hardships and successes together in this new environment. In 1855, a small log cabin was built here and would serve as the meeting place for this congregation, led by Reverend Edward Lawrence King and in the adjacent cemetery, the oldest grave dates to this year.

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In the next 30 years, fighting with Natives, the Civil War and a boom of agricultural activity would greatly impact this small rural community. By 1884, this small congregation had grown and this structure was erected and dedicated. Their surrounding town now had a post office, 3 stores, 2 churches, a grist mill, 2 sawmills and a doctor. The railroads which ran nearby daily delivered the agricultural goods produced here and commercial farming bolstered this small town.

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But the next decade would deal a devastating blow to this area with back to back freezes which decimated most crops and marked the end of the agricultural industry here as farmers moved further south to replant. The stores began to close, the trains ran through town less frequently and the post office closed. By 1922, this church was listed as defunct and out of operation. Luckily, at some point, a congregation reformed here and still meets every Sunday. The adjacent cemetery has 587 internments, many of which are veterans dating back to the Civil War. The current congregation does a wonderful job of maintaining the property and honoring the memory of those who came before us.

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[Providence United Methodist Church- Alachua County, FL 1884]

Growth and Decay

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Just steps from where the railroad tracks used to run, this proud tree grows as a collapsed Masonic Lodge sits in ruin beside it. As the two have aged together, I imagine the lives, stories and changes they have seen. As one grows and the other decays in this rural ghost town, I wonder what stories they might have to share.

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[Collapsed Corrugated Tin Roof ]

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[Original 19th century pine, brick and Spanish Moss. Old Florida at its finest!]

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[One of the appliances left inside the collapsed Lodge]

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[Rotting boards of the original Masonic Lodge with a view of the newer (and also abandoned) Masonic Lodge c. 1950’s]

[Alachua County, FL c. 1880’s]

Nothing left but the railroad

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For more than 130 years, locomotives have rolled by this home in a town that once was. The Florida Peninsular Railroad came through here transporting goods and packing materials grown and made here by this small community. A school was built, congregations were founded and in the early 1880’s, this home was built by one of the town’s first residents, W.H. Kayton.

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As time passed, industry shifted and businesses came and went. Unlike many of the towns that surround it, this place was able to remain viable through crop freezes, World Wars and economic depression. A large brick factory operated here until well in to the 1940’s, when time finally caught up to this sleepy rural community and the wheels of progress took jobs elsewhere.

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The train still passes here everyday, but no one is left to see or hear it.

[Alachua County, c. 1880’s]

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All that remains of Half Moon…

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In the early 1920’s, the people of Half Moon gathered to build this one room school house. They had plans to make education more accessible to the children of their small rural community. They had survived a World War and were looking to the future.

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Imagine the changes this community faced just a few short years later when the global economy collapsed and depression took hold.

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The records of Half Moon are sparse from this point on and eventually the town disappears. This school sat there until 1991 when it was relocated to its present site and restored. Nothing remains now of the town, but this building stands as a reminder of the intrepid souls who made plans, worked, built and established families. They, like us, couldn’t have known what curveballs life had coming.

[Alachua County, FL]

If you would like to visit the Half Moon School, it has been moved to the Morningside Nature Center in East Gainesville and is available for public visits during park hours (exterior only).

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The Moore Hotel

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As early as 1840, a small community had begun to form around a grist mill. Settlers came from the North, railroad tracks were laid and by 1881, a new town was incorporated.

original moore_1[Guests gather outside the hotel c. early 1900’s- Photo Courtesy and Property of the State Archive of Florida]

The following year, W.S. Moore purchased this building and opened a hotel which catered to wealthy Northern hunters and fishermen who were attracted to the plentiful game found in the area. Moore provided dogs, wagons, supplies and guided groups through hunts himself. His wife Virginia ‘Jenny’ ran the day to day operations of the hotel and prepared food for guests. Moore’s Hotel offered the first bathtubs with running water pumped by a windmill, then heated.

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[Jenny and W.S. Moore c. 1890- Photo Courtesy and Property of the State Archive of Florida]

An ad for the hotel calls it ‘The Sportsman’s Home’ and rooms were just $2/day.
The property is still owned by the Moore family.

[Alachua County, FL]

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Ghosts of the rural railroad

Sun_Jolly House

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.

jollygirls[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.

[Alachua County, FL c. 1880’s]

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