Springs, Tuskawilla came to be when a New York merchant
made a fortune in lumbering and trade with the Spanish. The
holdings from Spanish
land grants included the land, later named Winter Springs. Henry
Gee, a wealthy landowner and slave driver, and his son, John
Henry Gee, persuaded the territorial governor part of the old
land grant along Lake Jesup. The lake's wharves were as far
down as steam boats could land frieght for wagons to haul to
Maitland and Orlando. Many farmer brought their crops to the
lake's wharves. W.W. White, whose warf near Clinton Springs
had everything the settlers needed, was one of the most successful
merchants at Lake Jesup. Soon, Lumbering crews, sawmills, and
turpentine stills moved were being built in the south, as well
as the movement of cattle along the spring-fed lakes. Fewer
than 600 people were residents of the area when it was incoorperated
as North Orlando in 1959. Now, Winter Springs is home to over
33,487 plus people, and has the largest area of the county's
Flashbacks- The Story of Central Florida's Past
Jim Robison & Mark Andrews
Orange County Historical Society & Orlando Sentinel
Springs Historical Trail
1999 by Steve Rajtar
is some cool information about your home town of Winter Springs
as we take a journey into it's past.
Starting on SR 434 past where it intersects with SR 419. As
the road begins to turn to the south, turn north into Central
Winds Park. Drive past the baseball diamond to the end of the
main parking lot, and follow the "nature trail" signs
to the west parking lot.
portion of Central Winds Park
On many old deeds and other documents pertaining to this area,
the name of Moses Levy appears. He was a New York merchant who
amassed hundreds of thousands of acres prior to the U.S. acquisition
of Florida from Spain in 1821. All of what is now Winter Springs
was once owned by Levy.
area (Gee Hammock, and the creek that runs south of SR 434)
is named for Henry Gee, a wealthy landowner and slave owner.
His son, John Henry Gee, was an army doctor during the Seminole
Wars of the late 1830s and early 1840s.
Gees persuaded territorial governor Richard Call to give them
part of the Moses Levy Grant along Lake Jesup. The area was
surveyed by Henry Washington in 1843. Plats revised in 1852
were used by courts to void the Gees' rights, and instead recognize
the Spanish grants to Moses Levy, Philip K. Yonge, and others,
as the federal government opened the area to settlers.
(Walk southeast on Orange Ave. (paved but unmarked) until you
reach the soccer field on your right.)
side of Orange Ave.
of Foster Grove
Dr. Henry Foster came to this area from Clifton Springs, New
York, to hunt and fish, and became the chief promoter of the
Lake Jesup community to the southeast. He bought 26 acres from
Walter Gwynn along the north shore of Lake Charm in July of
1874, and built a winter home which stood until it was badly
damaged by a 1940s hurricane.
Gee Hammock grove at this location, set out in the 1870s, was
described by one popular guidebook as one of the most beautiful
in Florida. He paid $3,500 to the Sanford and Indian River Railroad
to have a line laid to the grove, and another $1,500 to bring
the line to Lake Charm and Oviedo, completed in June of 1886.
Three years later, Foster and other growers formed the Oviedo,
Lake Charm and Lake Jessup Railroad to avoid high shipping prices
on the South Florida Railroad (the parent company of the Sanford
and Indian River). The railroad was never built, but the ploy
resulted in the prices being lowered.
also built the Lake Charm Memorial Chapel, still standing (now
as a private home) on the shore of Lake Charm, to the southeast.
(Walk southeast 600 feet on Orange Ave. and look to the south.)
SR 434 and the railroad tracks
of Whitney Grove
In 1886, Calvin Whitney of Norwalk, Ohio, president of the A.B.
Chase Piano Company, had a double winter home built on Lake
Charm for his family and that of his sister. He also set out
a grove to the south of the railroad, due south of here.
1889-90, Whitney and Dr. Foster helped form the Lake Charm Improvement
Company to build a bulkhead, a drain from the lake, and remove
muck from the bottom. They paid a Philadelphia mason $1,200
to construct a sidewalk around the lake. Portions of it may
still be found there.
(Walk southeast on Orange Ave. to the intersection with Brantley
(Tuskawilla) Ave., and walk north on Brantley Ave. to the lake.)
of Brantley Ave., north of the intersection with Orange Ave.
of Tuskawilla Landing
This lake was named on May 22, 1837, by Lt. Richard Peyton for
Gen. Thomas S. Jessup, a prominent figure in the Seminole Wars.
The "discovery" of the lake required 52 hours of rowing
a barge 90 miles to get to it. At least one old map from that
time referes to it as "Lake Peyton". In 1981, the
U.S. Board of Geographic Names settled on "Jesup"
as the correct spelling of the lake.
wharfs here and at nearby Clifton Springs were as far south
as steamboats could land freight for wagons to haul to Maitland
and Orlando. Vincent Lee was an early homesteader here, and
partners George C. Brantley and Col. Daniel Randolph Mitchell
made their wharf and store here the area's center of commerce.
Brantley store at this site was in existence as early as 1865,
and in 1874 Brantley bought a nearby site. He named it Tuskawilla
after an Indian village of the same name in Alachua County (now
known as Micanopy), and Liver Prince established a post office
(Walk southwest on Brantley Ave., southeast and east on SR 434,
and north on Spring Ave. to the county historic marker.)
side of Spring Ave., between Nancy Dr. and Lake St., just north
of 1992 Spring Ave.
of White's Wharf
William White moved here from Macon, Georgia, built a home and
a store here in 1879, and stocked everything settlers needed,
so his wharf near the warm, sulphurous Clifton Springs made
him one of the most successful merchants of the area. Clifton
Springs was also the name of Dr. Henry Foster's hometown in
site was visited in 1765-66 by John Bartram and his son, William.
They camped two nights here during their trip through Florida.
residents used the springs for their annual May picnics beginning
in 1880, with one Saturday for whites, another for blacks. They
were planned and held by a joint committee from the Baptist
and Methodist churches.
the railroad was extended to Orlando in the 1880s, White moved
(Walk south on Spring Ave., east on SR 434, north on Deleon
St., west on Howard St., north and east on Black Hammock Rd.,
and north on Black Hammock Fish Camp Rd. until it ends at Lake
of Black Hammock Fish Camp Rd.
of Solary's Wharf
A little to the east of here, John F.J. Mitchell, a Virginia
doctor, established a wharf in about 1870. About two years later,
Jacksonville merchant Antonio Solary esablished a wharf here,
where the water was deeper. He manufactured soda water, sasparilla
and ginger ale. Because his had the deepest water, it was the
port for the "Volusia" of the Clyde Steamship Line.
wharf included a post office which, until 1886, served the Lake
Jesup community which was centered about a mile to the south.
Mills Lord brought the mail here twice a week by rowboat from
across the lake. The growth of Oviedo and the establishment
of a post office there in 1879 led to the decreased importance
of the wharf.
April of 1882, the Lake Jesup Steamboat Company was formed by
stockholders which included Antonio Solary, Henry Foster, Andrew
Aulin and George Browne. They planned to use it to transport
their fruit to market over Lake Jesup, which in the 1880s could
not be entered by a boat drawing more than three feet.
Eugene Bigelow had the steamship "Isis" running between
Jacksonville and Lake Jesup by December of 1881. The appearance
of the 100-foot, flat-bottomed, iron-hulled steamship encouraged
the local residents to incorporate. They bought an interest
in the "Isis", modified it, and began shipping oranges.
The venture came to an abrupt end on November 6, 1882, when
she sank in a heavy storm on Lake George.
H. Browne came to the area in about 1871, and worked in Solary's
store, first as Solary's clerk and then as his partner. He also
served as the last postmaster for the Lake Jesup community,
from 1881 to 1886. Browne lived in Oviedo until 1911.
sources refer to the wharf as the "Sahara Wharf".
(Walk south on Black Hammock Fish Camp Rd., west and south on
Black Hammock Rd., east on Howard St., south on Deleon St.,
and west and northwest on SR 434 to the intersection with Tuskawilla
of Tuskawilla and Sanford-Oviedo Rds.
In the early days of the settlement, Tuskawilla Road was a rugged
wagon trail blazed for the construction of a railroad line from
Lake Jesup to Orlando. The 1873 effort of George Brantley and
Daniel Mitchell failed when both died while the roadbed grading
was half completed.
(Walk northwest on SR 434 to the intersection with Apache Tr.)
side of SR 434, across from Apache Tr. (1126 E. SR 434)
This city was incorporated in 1959 as North Orlando with a population
of less than 600. In 1972, it changed its name to Winter Springs
and is now the largest city in Seminole County, on the basis
of land area.
(Walk northwest and west on SR 434, and take the right fork
at the intersection with SR 419. Walk west on SR 419 and north
on Wade St. to its end. Then walk east 50 feet.)
The cities of Sanford and Oviedo were connected by a dirt road,
and it was paved in about 1920. The material used was brick,
and approximately 300 feet of that original road still exists
here. During the 1960s, the road was realigned, paved with concrete,
and designated as SR 419.
(Walk south on Wade St., west on SR 419, south on Moss Rd.,
and west on SR 434 to the intersection with Fairfax Ave.)
corner of SR 434 and Fairfax Ave. (1 N. Fairfax Ave.)
This is the oldest public building in Winter Springs, opening
in 1960 as the office of the North Orlando Company. That was
the company which developed the village, which was chartered
in 1959. This building also served as the village hall.
1962, the 3400 acres belonging to the Winter Springs Development
Company were annexed and the village was rechartered as the
City of Winter Springs. This building then served briefly as
the city hall. In 1995, the city sold the building to a private
citizen, and is now used for commercial businesses.
(Walk east on SR 434 to the entrance to Central Winds Park,
and north and west to the parking lot where you began.)
A History of the First United Methodist Church of Winter Park,
by W. Breathitt Gray, Jr. (Ferris Printing Co. 1992)
Sightseing Tour of Seminole County Historic Sites, (Seminole
County Historical Commission 1991)
Days of Seminole County, Florida, by Arthur E. Franke, Jr. (Seminole
County Historical Commission 1988)
The Story of Central Florida's Past, by Jim Robison and Mark
Andrews (The Orlando Sentinel 1995)
and Architectural Survey, City of St. Cloud, Project Report,
by Brenda J. Elliott and Associates (1993)