August 1, 1953
By Charles Waterman
On one side, Flagler Couty is resort.
On the other side, it is timber and farming. In between there is industry and the inland waterway. Nothing overlaps. The transition
is sudden and complete. Not so anymore!
History moved along the Flalger coast, left it and returned, only to leave again.
Less dramatically, a new history started with the turpentine stills and the farms, then the resort development and Marineland,
later the cement plant and this time, no one realized history was being made.
Most of the old Indian trails are gone now
but surveyors can still find their traces. in some places, they were worn deep into the
sand. There was one like that where highway No. 11 crossed Little Haw Creek. The shell mounds are nearly all gone from the
Flagler coast, too. Most of the Indian trails ran east and west. In winter, the Indians stayed near the coast, in summer,
they moved back toward the St. John's River. Indian trails are seldom called 'roads'. Probably the first road, little more
than a trail, itself, was that made by the Spaniards around 1565 and still known as the King's Road.
At Matanzas Inlet,
about two miles north of Flagler County, occurredthe oft-related massacre of French by the Spaniards under Pedro Menendez.
the east coast of the county, the Roman Catholic Order of Black Friars attempted to establish friendly relations
with Indians early in the seventeenth century but were usuccessful. They were replaced by the Jesuits who did better and there
was some cultivation at that time. Other missions somewhat farther south were wiped out together with most of the native Indians
when there was an invasion of hostile Indians from the north about 1750. The invaders were said to be predominately Spaniards.
1817 or 1818 , General Josephs Hernandez secured a grant of land from the Spanish government, covering the site of the Jesuit
mission, St. Joseph. This grant, confirmed by Congreee in 1825, was on the east side of the King's Road and about two miles
west of where the East Coast Canal was to be constructed. At outbreak of the Indian war some ten years leter, Hernandez moved
his settlers to St. Augustine. His residence and plantation were burned. Hernandez was active in prosecuting the Indian war.
1812, James Russell and his family brought 100 slaves from the Bahamas. They came aboard a schooner which Russell traded to
the Spanish for a 2,500 acre grant after long bargaining. The Spanish claimed the schooner's hull was rotting pine while Russell
insisted it was of the finest mahogany. The land Russell finally acquired was located on what was to be the Flagler-Volusia
County line. Most of it was in what was to be Flagler County but it extended into Volusia.
When Russell died three years
later, his heirs sold the plantation to major Charles Willhelm Bulow of Charleston, who managed to acquire about 6,000 acres.
At the same time, other plantations were being established along the Flagler coast but the Bulow establishment was to be largest
and best known.
More than 300 slaves Bulow had brought from his holding near Charleston were used in chopping a plantation
from the jungle. He died three years later and was buried in the Huguenot Cemetery of St. Augustine.
A son of Charles Bulow,
John J. Bulow, took over his father's estate shortly afterward. John Bulow never married. much of the plantation history has
been learned from John James Audubon, the naturalist, who spent some time with Bulow in 1831.
Planter of the region were
on friendly terms with Indians and depended on them for much of their meat supply. Sugar cane on the Bulow Plantation occupied
some 1,500 acres and cotton about 1,000 acres. Indigo and rice were smaller crops. There was lumber, coquina rock and plenty
of slave labor. Bulowville was a masterpiece of construction.
Young John Bulow lived the life of a feudal baron, enjoying
all of the luzuries of his time and , when the Seminole War broke out in 1835 he did not sanction the government's actions.
When Major Israel Putnam and his "Mosquito Roarers" approached the plantation, Bulow fired a small cannon to express his disapproval.
They took him prisoner, turned his plantation into a fort and used $20,000. worth of baled cotton as breastworks.
planters had taken refuge at Bulowville. The soldeirs made numberous forays against indians --none of them highly successful.
Finally, the 'Roarers" took a bad beating in an engagement, said to have occurred at Dun-Lawton near Port Orange. Suffering
from dysentery and yellow fever in addition to their wounds, the troops returned to Bulowville and then evacuated it, headed
toward St. Augsutine and taking the planters with them.
Historians believe the Indians assumed the planters had turned
against them. At any rate, they fired Bulowville as soon as the evacuation was completed and it is believed the plantation
burned Jan. 31, 1836. It was never rebuilt. Young Bulow dies in Paris before he was 27 and some said his death came from mistreatment
he had suffered from the soldiers. His heirs tried to collect more than $ 80,000 in damages from the government but the suit
was finally thrown out and they got nothing. The plantation era was at an end.
As in other parts of Florida, there was
a long time between the Indian war and a new period of development. There were scattered setters from time to time in the
Flagler County area but little is known about them. In 1881, the Intracoastal Canal was begun by the Florida Coastline Canal
Company. The part that crossed Flagler County was completed about 1906.
Utley J. White, a lunberman, started railroad bulding
in Flagler County. His first venture was a tramway about twelve miles long from Rawlstown on the east
bank of the St. Johns to Dinner Island. White acquired a sawmill at DuPont just south of Bunnell and later extended
his railway to serve it. In 1885, the line was extended to the Tomoka River. The road, called the St. John's & Halifax
River Railroad, was purchased in 1890 by Henry M. Flagler, the namesake of Flagler County. There was rail transportation to
Daytona Beach as early as 1886. After Flagler's purchase, the route finally became the Florida East Coast Railroad.
the early eighties, only a handful of families lived within the borders of what was to be Flagler County. Their farms were
very small, five or six acres for the most part. A 20 acre farm was rare. Potatoes were raised on a small scale but there
was no mass production.
Flagler had a citrus era. It began along the coast on the old King's Road south of St. Joseph.
A stagecoach relay station operated at a point known as Duke and the orange growers clustered near it. Some
early residents claimed as many as 1500 people moved in, beginning about 1885 but the deadly freeze of 1895 ruined the groves
and the growers left.
The freeze came as such a shock that many of the crushed settlers returned northward with hardly
a backward look. Years later, there were stories of abandoned homes where the owners had not bothered to remove the furniture.
There is the story of the man who looked out his window on the fateful morning, saw his shattered trees and left with his
family withour washing the breakfast dishes or making the beds, never to return. Abandoned homes and clearings went to ruin
through inattention and more than 50 years later, the sour orange trees could be found growing wild. The citrus era had ended.
On the 'Interior' , families came and went but there were a few whose descendents were to stay. There was W. E. Knight,
Sr., who raised sheep in the southwest part of the county area, and N.E. Roberts who raised oranges there. In the western
part were G.W. Malphurs, Riley Malphurs and P.F. Pellicer, located near what was then Omega Dock and
later to be St. John's Park. James C. Miller, James Burnsed and J.B. Johnston and their families were in the Black Point
district and James L. DuPont and E.A. Eatmas were in the northeaster part of what was to be Flager County. Near Espanola were
George Durrance and Aldridge Hunter Families.
Bunnell had its name before it was a town, or even a settlement. There was
a mill that produced cypress shingles and it was operated by Alfred A. Bunnell from about 1896 to 1900. Bunnell wanted a railroad
stop at his plant. He got the stop and the railway called it Bunnell for lack of another name. Bunnell moved to Miami but
the name stayed.
Isaac Moody came to Bunnell in 1898 when the turpentine business was geting under way and worked for a
time for G. W. Deen. His brothers, George and Robert Moody, arrived in 1904. J.F. Lambert and "Ike" Moody opened a turpentine
still at Bunnell and were to become the town's first developers. About 1907 , the St. John's Park Development Company went
into action and, before long, St. John's Park, west of Bunnell was a boom town. There were several good-sized business houses
including a well-stocked department store.
In the meantime, Ike Moody and Lambert started the Bunnell Development Company.
Advertising that appeared in the north sounded much like that of a later day. Land was advertised for five dollars down and
five dollars a month. Customers came but mort of them were the wrong kind. Instead of coming to make homes, they had a dream
of quick wealth in the wilderness and an early return to their northern cities. Most of them failed as farmers. So far, the
right farming methods were unknown and the right crops had not been developed.
St. John's Park lost its new residents a
few at a time. Forty years later, only a few housed remained of what had been a bustling town.
Moody and Lambert were determined
to have a town. They laid out the site of Bunnell and on June 2, 1911, the legislature passed a special act of incorporation
but there was a faulty description and it was two years later-- June 28, 1913, beofe a corrected incorporation was approved.
The faulty description would have included only one resident. Even when the boundaries had been corrected, there was scarcely
a hundred souls in Bunnell.
Bunnell's first newspaper was opened by J.B. Boaz and its first issue was dated Feb. 6, 1913.
It had been preceded by the Bunnell Home Builder, a periodical devoted to development. The newspaper became a county institution
and was serving the community 40 years leter as the Flagler Tribune, oldest concern in Flagler County. Records of an early
council meeting show that a representative of the paper proposed publishing the adopted ordinances for $15. a month
to be paid to the Johnson Lumber and Supply Company for electricity to be used by twelve electric lights.
A Methodist church
was the first religious Institution in Bunnell.. and the first school for white children was a small 1 room structure about
1908. a modern brick school building was erected in 1924.
Ocean City, a settlement that later lost its name, was started
about 1908 by W.A. Cookman, who bult a house on the west bank of the canal about half a mile north of where the
drawbridge was later built in 1920. George Moody, recognized as founder of Flagler Beach, homesteaded a tract between
the canal and the ocean in 1914. In 1923, he named the development Flagler Beach to please postal authorities who complained
that Ocean City Beach was too long a name. George Moody operated a ferry on the canal before any bridge
Agriculture was getting a solid foothold by the time of World War 1. Early Irish potatoes had come into
their own and cabbage was recognized as a top crop for the section. Potatoes had been grown in small quantities since the
first settlers but they had never developed the crop as they did from then on.
Potatoes were first shipped unwashed in
barrels. When washed potatoes finally appeared on the market, they demanded a premium price. In a few years, all potatoes
were washed for the market.
By then, turpentine, lumber and crossties and pulpwood were establiehed as 'backbone' industries.
They continued to hold their place.
Isaac Moody was president fo the Bunnell State Bank, the first bank in the county opening
in 1910. J.F. Lambert was th first vice president.
Until 1916, there were no hard - surfaced roads in the district.
The old King's Road was used by early automobiles with the addition of an interesting series of 'automobile bridges'
set at the side of the main road and for flood use only. Normally, cars forded small streams, but, during high water they
crossed on the "bridges' made of two parallel troughs.
St. John's County floated a $650,000 bond issue and built
a 65 mile brick road, nine feet wide, from the northern St. John's County line, through St. Augustine and Hastings to Bunnell
and east to a point a half mile west of the intercoastal waterway. This road, which was in service by 1916, met the John Anderson
highway, a shell -surfaced road, that continued to Ormond. At that time, most of the latter-daty Flagler County was a part
of St. John's County. The southern part of Flagler was then part of Volusia County.
Isaac Moody was a member of the St.
John's County commission and had considerable influence in the state. Residents of the Bunnell area felt their needs were
not sufficiently recognized and Moody went before the state legislature with the result that Falger County was formed from
parts of St. John's and Volusia Counties on July 1, 1917. Bunnell was named the county seat and later efforsts to have the
town's name changed to Flagler were unseuccessful as residents felt too much postal confusion would result. The new
county had first been a part of the Old Mosquito County and then Orange before the formation of Volusia and St. John's. In
becoming a new county, Flagler assumed part fo the bonded indebtedness of both St. John's and Volusia Counties.
business was first transacted in the upstairs section of an old concrete block building and modern courthouse was built in
1926. E. W. Johnston, who had moved to Bunnell in 1909 and had served as a deputy sheriff and marshal, became the county's
first sheriff and was later to become county jodge. His father, J. B. Johnston, came to the district about 1880 and E. W.
Johnston was born not far from Bunnell.
Florid's boom years brought little change in Bunnell's outward appearance although
there was land speculation "on paper" . Wells were dug for highly successful water system at a cost of $100,000. There was
some added construction at Flagler Beach , which was incorporated under the old public assembly law in 1925. The Flagler Beach
Hotel construction was started by George Moody and D.R. Fuquay. Moody sold his share before completion of the building. Numerous
new residences appeared on the beach and some of the buildings started were never completed. Flagler Beach's famous pier was
built in 1927 with a bond issue set up for $75,000. Acutually, $10,000 was raised and spent on the 653-foot structure.
the financial smashup, hardly any of the bonds were paid off until 1945 but the debt was virtually cleared up by 1953.
were sold in 1925 to build "Ocean Shore Boulevard" with construction started in 1926 on the Volusia and Flagler
portions. St. John's County had built a highway south to Matanzas inlet and the two were joined by the Matanzas Inlet toll
bridge. In 1929, George Mooody helped pass a bill in the legislature designating the road a "state highway for maintenance'.
In 1931, E.F. Warner had payment of the road bonds made a responsibility of the state. Designated as A1A the name was officially
changed to Ocean Trail in 1953.
The Bunnell State Bank survived a period when other Florida banks were closing
in rapid succession and reopened after the bank closure at beginning of the F.D. Roosevelt administration but ceased operations
shortly afterward. It's ownership had been changed since its original organization. The county was without a bank until the
Citizen's Bank of Bulnnell opened Jan. 27. 1938, with E.H Ashcraft as president. Ashcraft was succeeded by Charles R. Creal,
whose son, Charles E. Creal, succeeded following his death, becoming president late in 1952.
Following World War II, there
was new building over the entire county and construction in Bunnell during the four years prior to 1953 was heavier than in
any previous 10-year period. Flagler Beach population leaped from 372 persons counted in the 1950 census to more than 700
Heavy industry came to the county when the Lehigh Portand Cement plant was built near the beach at a coast of
$15,000,000 and began construction in 1952. Employees ( about 160) added to the population of Flagler communities but much
of the beach growth came as a result of development of tourist facilities.
It took years of study and great expense to
develop Flagler Couunty's cattle industry. Small herds were present down through the years but met difficult problems in forage
and breeding. There were numerous efforts at introduction of northern breeds and the whole development was badly set back
by the cattle tick. Early raisers depended on open range and the branding iron. When open range disappeared, scientific development
of grasses and careful breeding improved herd quallity. The Brahman's value was fully realized. After 1940, the industry grew
Marineland, ranking among the world's most famous attractions. opened om 1938 on the east coast near the
north county line and was incorporated as a town in 1939.
More than half of Flagler County became the property of outside
pulpwood interests and controlled cutting has guaranteed a permanent industry. Lumber, pulpwood and turpentine have been firmly
entrenched as products of the future as well as of the past. One lumber mill, the King Brothers Lumber Company, was
in the north part of Bunnell in 1953.
With the post-was upswing. Flagler's farms were producing Irish potatoes, cabbage,
sweet potatoes, sugar cane, corn, field peas, velvet beans, string beans and cucumbers. Palms for use by Catholic churches
in Palm Sunday ovservances have been shipped in quantity. The Coonty fern, which still grows wild in hammock areas, has been
exported to northern areas.
Commercial fishing has been only a minor industry in Flagler. Sports fishing along the coast
as well as in the numberous freshwater lakes and streams has had an increasing appeal for toursits. Highways serving the county
include U.S. Highway No 1., the Ocean Trail, and Florida Highways 11, 20, 100 and 305.
As Flagler County looked forward
at mid - Century, most of its population anticipated no rapid change. Those who had come to get rich quickly had left. The
old indictment of 'lots of residents and no homemakers' was bing heard less and less.
From the beach on the east coast
to the farms and forests of the western part of Flagler, there is a complete transition. Perhaps the beach development shows
most dramatically but property there is being bought for use instead of for trading. Even the skeptics who have watched considerable
coming and going in their community htrough hald a century were willing to concede that everything looked permanent.