Floradelphia, Polk County, Florida
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 Material Information
Title: Floradelphia, Polk County, Florida
Series Title: Floradelphia, Polk County, Florida
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Manufacturer: Press of Burk and McFetridge
 Record Information
Source Institution: Florida State University
Holding Location: Florida State University
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Resource Identifier: ltqf - AAA1023
System ID: FS00000072:00001

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3 1254 00804 3339
3 1254 00804 3339


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Polk County, Florida,


The Kissimmee Valley.


H. C. FORREST, 329 Walnut St., (room 5), Philadelphia, Pa.
WILLIAM CANNON, Kissimmee City, Florida,
JAMES FORREST, Kissimmee City, Florida,
W. T. FORBES & CO., Jacksonville, Florida.

General Manager and Treasurer,
329 Walnut St., Philadelphia, Pa.

Press of BURK & MCFETRIDGE, Philadelphia.


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By referring to map on outside cover of this book, you
will find " Floradelphia " is located in Polk County, Florida,
230 miles south of Jacksonville (by line of travel) and 28
miles south of the flourishing city of Kissimmee, the
present headquarters and basis of supplies of the
Okeechobee Land and Canal Co., about forty hours
from Philadelphia by rail.
The entire tract devoted to "Floradelphia" consists of
over 6000 acres, a portion of this is now being graded
and laid out as a town-site, with streets and avenues
ranging from eighty to sixty feet in width, forming blocks
in northern part of town 500 feet in length by 200 feet in
width, and in the southern part 800 feet by 460; each
block contains ten lots 100 feet by Ioo feet in northern,
and Ioo feet by 230 feet in southern sections; the plan of
streets is similar to that of Philadelphia, Penna., those
running north and south being numbered from First to

Twenty-eighth, and those from east to west from Columbia
avenue to Washington avenue.
The location of this town-site is one of the finest in the
entire region of lakes in middle and south Florida, having
a lake front on east, west, and north. The land is high,
well shaded, and that portion of it reclaimed is the most
fertile of the reclaimed lands of Florida, and therefore of
any in the United States.
The scenery is difficult to surpass, having on the east
and north, Lake Kissimmee, a beautiful sheet of pure water
1.2 miles in length by 62 in width, average depth 20 feet,
on the west is Lake Tiger 3 % miles in length, 2 miles
in width, average depth 12 feet.
" Floradelphia" is on a direct line of communication
through the State, having water navigation to the
Caloosahatchee River, and thence to Charlotte Harbor
and the Gulf of Mexico.
The South Florida Railroad passes through Kissimmee,
and will be extended south, three other roads are con-
templated to south Florida, one now being graded, which
will run to "Floradelphia," and another make close con-
nection. The works of the Okeechobee Canal and Drainage
Co., now located at Kissimmee City, will be removed to
"Floradelphia," which will in future be made the basis
of supplies. We are now having constructed a com-
modious, handsome, and fast passenger and freight
steamboat, by Messrs. Neaffie & Levy of Philadelphia,

Penna., which will be run between Kissimmee City and
"Floradelphia," making close connection with railroads
from Kissimmee; the steamboat, according to contract,
is to be delivered in running order about March Ist; a
large dock or pier is now under construction at the
foot of Market street, to be finished in time for her first
The originators of this enterprise having been interested
with other Philadelphians in aiding to develop Florida,
have watched with interest the growth of the State
within the last few years, and become impressed with
the wonderful improvements made, and the natural
and steady advance of these improvements toward the
central and southern portions of the State.
They have found towns and villages springing up here
and there, and noted the rapid rise in the value of land,
and believing the time has come for establishing such a
town in the locality secured, now offer for sale lots within
the town-site, and lands in larger quantities immediately
surrounding, at such prices as cannot fail to attract the at-
tention of those wishing to purchase either building sites
or larger areas for agricultural or other purposes.
The location is one where health, good water, fertile
soil, and fine scenery can be combined, and where a de-
sirable Summer, as well as Winter home, can be maintained
by the agriculturalist or mechanic, as well as the man of
wealth and leisure.


We propose and intend building such a town as shall
prove a credit and a good investment to all concerned, and
an attractive winter resort.
This is the region in which to seek the benefits of a
Summer climate during the Winter months. Although
the Winters are so mild, the Summers do not bring the
tropical heat which might be expected, and parties now
permanently residing here, after several years' experience,
assert that they do not suffer more in Summer than
they did in their old homes in the North. Any person
accustomed to exposure, North or South, can do
ordinary work during the Summer without fear of ill
effect from the heat. The thermometer rarely rises
above ninety degrees.
Official records show the average temperature of
Florida to be: Summer, seventy-eight; Winter, sixty
The daily ocean breezes in Summer modify the heat.
The Gulf breeze coming in with the setting sun cools
the air at night.
Official sanitary reports, both of scientific bodies and the
army, show that Florida stands first in health, although
in the reports are included a transient population, many
of whom take refuge here as invalids in the lowest stage
of disease.
To all who would escape from the severity and dangers
of our Northern Winters, and seek a mild, agreeable and

comparatively dry climate, free from malarial influences,
and where life in the open air is always practicable and
agreeable, we commend a journey to the Kissimmee
region of Florida. No person seeking a new home or
chance for investment should neglect such a visit. A mis-
taken investment may cloud all your future life,.and it will
require but little time or money to examine for yourselves.
Naturally, each section is striving to gain advantages,
and often by misrepresentation, therefore, the safe way is
to see and examine.
The flow of immigration already so great to the " Far
West" is settling in upon these lands, so much more
advantageously located for marketing products, and
possessing superior adaptability to the profitable pursuit
of a pleasing agriculture.
The influx of population will rapidly advance the price
of these lands, and the great variety of adaptation and
products, with a ready access to the best markets of the
world, will certainly work a large and more certain
return for labor and capital than in the frigid regions of
the more Northern States.
We are frequently asked how much capital is required
to make a start in Florida. This is a difficult question
to answer, but on general principles a start in Florida
costs no more, and often less, than in the West, especially
after the land is obtained, as NO reapers, mowers, sulky
plows, seeders and other expensive implements are required

in Florida. Everything depends upon the man; some have
a tact to turn everything into cash, while others walk
over dollars without knowing it. Energy, industry and
common sense are needed, and pay as well in Florida as
anywhere in America. The class of people who have
built up the West, and done the pioneer work on the
picket line of civilization for a generation past, will
succeed in Florida; as well as the capitalist, the stock
raiser, the gardener and truck farmer.
Vegetable raising for Northern markets is destined to
become a very important branch of business in the
southern counties, on account of climate and soil and
nearness to market. We may say, without tedious
detail, that any vegetable grown North as a Summer
vegetable, can be produced and shipped from South
Florida in any of the Winter months.
In the southern portion of the State, tomatoes, green
peas, cucumbers, egg-plant, new potatoes, strawberries,
watermelons, etc., may be seen growing side by side and
in the same field in the month of December. The com-
pletion of new lines of railroad now building, in connection
with present water transportation, will afford facilities for
placing these desirable garden products on the Northern
table at a season when there will be no completion, and
prices obtained will return a large profit.
We are now prepared to sell either town lots or farm
lands adjoining or in"close proximity to "Floradelphia,"


As to Advantages, Health, Climate, Fertility of
Soil, etc., a few extracts from Col. A. K. McClure's
new and valuable book. " THE SOUTH-INDUSTRIAL,
FINANCIAL, POLITICAL," will be read with interest.

"Startling as is the transformation of Florida in many
other sections of the State, in St. Augustine, the oldest
city of the continent, that lay dormant for nearly three
centuries, the march of improvement as a popular winter
resort is obviously taking the lead. Two years ago it
was deemed a doubtful enterprise to build the San Marco
House, capable of giving first-class entertainment to
three or four hundred guests; but it is now about to be
obscured by the Ponce de Leon, to cost a million dollars
for the structure alone, with probably half as much more
to furnish and beautify, and it is not doubted that its
thousand guests will be ready for it as soon as it can be
opened next season. There are a full score of large
hotels in the State which equal or surpass the best class
of summer resort hotels in the North. Not only in
Jacksonville and St. Augustine are the hotels of the very
best class in all respects, but elegant hotels abound at


Palatka, Sanford, Enterprise, Winter Garden, Orlanda,
Kissimmee, and many other places on the St. John's
River and on the new lines of railroad. The hotels
throughout Florida within range of Northern visitors
are vastly better than the hotels of the prominent inland
cities of Pennsylvania or New York or New England.
I hazard little in saying that the present generation will
see scores of hotels in Florida far outstripping the most
popular and costly watering-places of the North alike in
number and elegance. There is only one Florida in North
America. It was until lately far distant from the North,
but now swift express trains with almost every comfort
of home, and rapid coast steamers from every Northern
commercial port, have brought the " Land of Flowers"
within easy reach of pleasure-seekers and invalids; and
the prospect of profitable investments has turned a
steadily growing tide of all classes of money-getters to
Florida, from the conservative capitalist to the headlong
"It is the natural assumption of those not fully in-
formed on the subject, that a new country abounding in
lakes, lagoons, and other bodies of water overflowing
their channels or without apparent channels of outlet,
must breed malaria; but in point of fact, as proved alike
by reason and well-tested experience, there is less malaria
in Florida than in Pennsylvania; much less than in the
new Western States or in the other coast States of the


South. Two-thirds of the State is a peninsula across
which sweep the healthy breezes from Gulf to Ocean,
and there are no mountains to impede their progress.
The highest altitude does not reach five hundred feet
above tide, and no part of Florida, except the extreme
northern line, is ever free from the flavor of the sea.
This fact, considered in connection with the general
absence of stagnant waters, dispels the theory of a malarial
atmosphere. Instead of the stagnant and putrid waters
of the North and West, Florida has countless subter-
'ranean currents of the fresh waters from the Appalachian
range, which furnish flowing wells of pure water by
driving down through soft earth from three to five
hundred feet, and these underground lakes feed and
drain most of the lake regions of the State. Surgeon-
General Lawton justly declared that 'Florida possesses
a much more agreeable and salubrious climate than any
other State or Territory in the Union,' and he answered
the question of the alleged malarial nature of the atmos-
phere by official, statistics, showing .that while in the
Middle division of the United States the percentage of
deaths from remittent fever is one in thirty-six; in the
Northern division one in fifty-two; in the Southern
division one in fifty-four; in Texas one in seventy-eight;
and in California one in one hundred and forty-eight-in
Florida it is only one in two hundred and eighty-seven.
I saw a thriving little city at Kissimmee where the


present streets were passable only in boats three years
ago, and around it thousands of acres rescued from the
bottom of the lakes and much of it now under cultiva-
tion; but fevers are almost unknown, and the first case
of sunstroke, pneumonia, diphtheria, small-pox, or yellow
fever has yet to occur. The laboring force employed by
the Philadelphia Draining Company is composed entirely
of white men, many of whom are from the North, and
the last official report of Chief Engineer James M.
Kreamer, well known in Philadelphia, makes the remark-
able statement that, in all their operations since 1881,
'there has never been a death from any cause, and a physi-
cian in a professional capacity has never visited our work.'
The drainage, exposure, and cultivation of such an area
on the Susquehanna, Juniata, or Delaware Rivers, would
depopulate the region by deadly malaria.
"The surplus young men from our Pennsylvania farms
have not yet turned southward in any considerable
numbers, but their forerunners are now rearing cotton-
mills, furnaces, machine shops, and railways in the re-
constructed States, and the farmer will follow as surely
as day succeeds the night. The next decade will see
scores of thousands of our surplus skilled laborers settled
in the South; capital bring them to the more inviting and
certain fields of investment, and the tide of both home
and foreign immigration that seeks lands for homes, will
soon learn to prefer the cheaper lands of the South with


better markets and the best possible product of a given
amount of labor. Florida adds to cotton, corn, rye, oats,
and lumber, her matchless fruits and vegetables, which
are only in the infancy of the product. The severity of
the Western climate, the absolute disaster to the farmer
when a crop is lost, the cost of protecting stock and
maintaining comfort in the long winters, and the great
distance from the consuming centres of the country, all
point to the productive lands, the genial climate, and the
general prolific results of labor in the South as certain to
make new highways for immigration and a new departure.
in the growth and development of the Southern States
east of Kentucky and Mississippi. And of all of these,
Florida must certainly grow in favor as its climate and
resources become better understood. But it is the new
Florida that has been developed within the last few years
that I regard as the most inviting part of the whole con-
tinent for the small farmer who can adapt himself to its
climate and the simple but systematic method of culture
that here produces the best results for labor to be found
in any State of the Union. As yet its products are but
imperfectly developed. While the orange alone is the
most profitable of crops when wisely located and sensibly
handled, there is no orange land that will not produce
other semi-tropical fruits and vegetables in abundance, in
from two to four crops each year, with corn and potatoes
and the best grasses for the growth of stock, and it is


admitted by the sugar-planters of Louisiana, that the re,
claimed lands of Florida will be the most productive and
profitable sugar lands this side of Cuba. I have given
this subject as careful personal observation and inquiry
as was possible in a brief visit to the State; and I feel
fullywarranted in the opinions I have expressed as to the
climate, resources, products of labor, healthfulness, and
rapid and permanent growth and prosperity of Florida.


"It is no new idea that has been put into practical
operation by the Disston company to reclaim the more
than eight millions of acres which have long been known
as the most productive and intrinsically valuable lands of
the State. Public attention was attracted to the subject
nearly forty years ago by General Jessup and other offi-
cers who had given long public service in Indian wars
and as government engineers. General Jessup reported
in 1848 that the drainage of these lands was entirely
practicable, and that when drained they would become as
valuable sugar plantations as any in the world. But
while this body of land of almost incalculable value was
well known to the South, and especially to its sugar-
planters, its reclamation was never seriously thought of.
When it is remembered that the work had to be begun
in an unsettled portion of the State; that boats and


machinery had to be constructed and operated for several
years with no population but the operators of the com-
pany,and that various experiments had to be made under
the severest trials before the proper methods could be
mastered, the green verdure, fragrant blossoms, and
bustling little city of Kissimmee, that has risen from the
waters of the overflowing lake, must be a grateful spec-
tacle to the men who made the gigantic venture.
" I spent a day on the head lakes and the canal con-
necting it with its sister lake below, and inspecting the
cultivated fields which two years ago were sporting places
for the magnificent fish which abound in these ever fresh
waters. The tree that shades the farm-house on the in-
land side, at the foot of the first lake, was until lately the
object to which the steamboat that bore me over the
broad lake was moored when carrying men and materials
to that point for the work; and the five-hundred-acre
farm of reclaimed land on which Colonel Rose, assistant
superintenderit of the company, has his home, with its
strawberries, which I gathered in spite of the general
destruction by the severe winter, and its acres of blossom-
ing vegetables and cabbages, soon to be marketed, attest
not only the complete success of the drainage enterprise,
but also the exceptional value of the soil rescued for the
husbandman. His farm, just wrested from the bottom of
the lake, and with cultivation and improvement only
commenced, would sell for more per acre to-day than


half the best farms of Chester County, for the simple
reason that one man and a mule can grow more from an
acre every four months, than four men and as many
mules and acres could grow in Pennsylvania in a year. At
the foot of the lake, where cultivation has had only one full
season to demonstrate the fertility of the soil, I saw one
cabbage field, just about ready to be cut, whose product
will return to the owner over twenty thousand dollars,
and then his land will be ready for another crop of what-
ever will pay best in season, without the possibility of
needed fertilizers for many years. I saw the product of
the sugar-field from which was gathered the best cane
exhibited at the New Orleans Exposition; and while the
plant must be renewed every two years in the best lands
of Louisiana, the near approach to the climate and soil
of Cuba assures successive crops from year to year for
probably a decade without replanting. I never appreciated
until I saw this soil and its product, the truth and force of
General Grant's letter on Florida, published in the Public
Ledger several years ago, in which he said that the State
'is capable of supplying all the oranges, lemons, pine-
apples, and other semi-tropical fruits used in the United
States, and one hundred million dollars of sugar now
imported.' In the same letter he tersely and correctly
summarized the resources of the State by saying that
'it has an area greater than New York, Massachusetts,
and Connecticut combined, with deposits of fertilizer under

it and above it sufficient for many generations; it only
wants people and enterprise, both of which it is rapidly
obtaining, and it affords the best opening in the world for
young men of small means and great industry.' That
this reclaimed section will become the great sugar centre of
the Union in a very few years is in no sense doubtful; and
when it is considered that much less valuable sugar lands
in Louisiana, because in a much less friendly climate for
the tender product, are worth from one to two hundred
dollars per acre, the prospective value of these Florida
lands may be measurably appreciated. They are un-
doubtedly the best sugar lands of the world outside of
Cuba, and the whole sugar belt of Florida will have a
great water highway to the Gulf as a central artery of
trade. By another year there will be regular lines of
boats from Kissimmee to Charlotte Harbor, and thus this
whole rich country will offer every inducement of climate,
soil, variety of product, easy cultivation, and cheap trans-
portation, through the only really tropical water channels
of the Union.
"The reclaimed land of the Southern lake region of
Florida is not all sugar land. It presents every variety
of soil and growth common to the climate. Back of the
waters and rich bottom-lands what are called the ham-
mocks are abundant; the higher lands which are tim-
bered with hard or soft woods according to the quality
of soil. The live-oak, hickory, birch, sweet bay, palmetto,

mangrove, and mastic are common; large bodies of
cypress' are within range of the new transportation just
opened, and the pine lands are adapted to the orange
grove. The chief advantage of this section' of Florida
is in the almost tropical climate, that exempts the fruit
and vegetable crops from frosts when about Jacksonville
and even farther south there is wide-spread destruction.
From three to four crops can be grown each year, and
there is no need of more than a single mule to plough
to a proper depth, as there is no sod and no baking of
the earth. Cotton, corn, sugar, tobacco, rice, potatoes,
and very nutritious grasses for stock can be grown in the
reclaimed lands, and the upland or hammock lands are
the best of the continent for the orange grove excepting
the Indian River country that is just east of the lake
region on the Atlantic coast. The orange will bear
several years earlier there than on the St. John's because
of the more genial climate, and other crops are hastened
in proportion. Strawberries can be gathered the same
year they are planted; figs bear in two years from cut-
tings; grapes bear the second year, peaches the second
or third year, and oranges in four years from the bud.
In ten years from this time the reclaimed lake lands will
present the richest and most productive and prosperous
settlement of Florida unless all present experience and
indications are at fault; and if its opportunities were
properly understood by the large class of small farmers

of the North who labor hard and unceasingly to gain
only scant food and raiment with little enjoyment; there
would be a sudden influx of new settlers. Why our
young men who seek to gain farms in the West by
patient industry and severe economy should risk the un-
certainties of crops and be content with the slow advance-
ment they can make there at best, when they can have
cheaper lands, more easily cultivated lands, more accessi-
ble lands, greatly more productive lands, vastly more
certainty in crops, with perpetual summer and less ex-
treme of heat than there- is in Iowa or Kansas, can be
explained only by the want of general knowledge of the
opportunities offered in Florida. I believe, as General
Grant expressed it, that 'Florida to-day affords the best
opening in the world for young men of small means and
great industry.' Any intelligent man who comes and
sees for himself will reach the same conclusion, and the
most inviting part of Florida for men who come to make
their homes here and get the best results of their own
industry, is the large section now partially and soon to
be completely reclaimed in the Southern lake region.


"While there are other portions of the State which
offer great inducements to both capital and labor, the
tide of both money and population will certainly go south

of Sanford for years to come, and I believe that the more
fortunate will be fifty miles or more south of Kissimmee.
The rapid growth of thriving towns and beautiful farms
along the line of the railway from Sanford to Kissimmee.
and the rapid increase of the value of lands, prove not
only how Northern settlers get as far south as possible
within range of transportation, but how rapidly and sub-
stantially population and wealth multiply. Now the
railway is open for the first time from Sanford clear
through to Tampa, striking the Gulf south of the 28th
degree, and only opened in March to Charlotte Harbor
south of the 27th degree. These railways drain the
products of the Gulf side of Southern Florida, and the
water highway just about to be opened through the
Disston system of connecting canals and lakes will drain
the products of the Ocean side, and both traverse the
centre of their respective sections. This region would
have been preferred by early settlers even if the present
severest winter for half a century had not given an ad-
monition on the subject that none can fail to heed; but
with the whole orange crop remaining on the trees and
the entire crop of early vegetables destroyed by the freeze
of last January, all doubts will be resolved in favor of
the lands farthest south which are productive and accessi-
ble to rail or water highways. This region has been so
lately open to investment and settlement that it is virgin
soil for both, and is much cheaper than any other lands

of equal fertility and advantages to. be found in the State.
I don't hesitate to advise, therefore, that present investments
in Florida for either actual settlers or for speculative profit,
as a rule, should be made in the newly-opened southern sec-
tion of the State. Both settlers and speculators can easily
make mistakes there as elsewhere in a new country, but
I believe that there is the very minimum of risk .in the
belt of the peninsula extending from midway between the
29th and 28th degrees to the 27th. This takes in the
Indian River and the reclaimed lands of the interior lakes,
and there will be the centre of productive wealth in the
Land of Flowers.
"Speculators need no advice about the purchase of
lands, nor is it a matter of special public interest whether
they are successful or unsuccessful in their ventures; but
actual settlers need to be well and practically advised,
and their success or failure is a matter of vital interest
to both the community and the State. There may be
many speculative operations in Florida which will be
fruitful mainly in disappointment, and there will be many
actual settlers who, from some of the many obstacles
which ever confront immigrants in new homes, will fail
in Florida; but, as a rule, it will be the fault of the settler,
and not the fault of the. climate, soil, or possibilities of
the country."

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