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The Shakers... In 1896, in response to the ads, bought over 7,000 acres of land, about 2 miles south of Narcoossee, from Hamilton Disston. They grew potatoes, sweet potatoes, sugar cane, beans, peas, rice, and pumpkins and other crops. They built a successful steam-powered sawmill. Fruit trees were planted and the Shaker gardens were like parks, with flowering bulbs and vines gracing attractive lawns. Most of all, the Narcoossee Shakers were known for their pineapples and were exporting them to Cuba. Other crops were oranges, peaches, watermelons, strawberries and mulberries. The Shakers were well respected. The local newspaper in Kissimmee would refer to one of the Elders as "Prominent Citizen of Narcoossee". The Sugar Belt Railroad Company even built a station (Ashton) for the Shakers to ship their goods.
I n 1904 a Tuberculosis Sanitarium was opened. It was located on Lake Hendon. It closed in 1910 and Sadie Marchant, a tuberculosis patient suffering from chronic pain was transferred to the Shaker community. During her last days , she tried suicide, then begged the Shakers to put her out of her misery. She died from an overdose of chloroform. This mercy killing turned into an unfortunate scandal for the Shakers. The lack of new members and their ages prevented them from clearing enough land for farming - they went back to New York. The last of the Shakers left Florida in 1924. There were only about a dozen of them.
J obs were plentiful: By 1888, Narcoossee was an English colony. People enjoyed polo and lawn tennis. The Cadman's were known for their large house and extravagant entertainment. They built a citrus packinghouse in 1882. It is the oldest packinghouse in the United States and is standing today. There was a boardwalk longer than Atlantic City's boardwalk. It started on Highway 15, where the Texaco gas station, in the center of town, is located today. It went down Underwood Avenue and turned west to East Lake Tohopekaliga. There were lumber yards. a sugar mill, sugar cane, cattle, horses, a tuberculosis sanitarium, ice cream parlor, Fell's Memorial Cemetery (Narcoossee Cemetery), grocery stores, hardware store, saw mill, turpentine still. These industries employed people for cutting logs, collecting pine sap, picking and packing citrus, working with sugar cane and much more. Oranges were shipped to England, New York, and many other places. Narcoossee had the best there was and when the citrus came in season, newspapers around the world would announce that the Narcoossee oranges were arriving. These oranges had the Cadman seal printed on each one. The Narcoossee oranges were treated like gold.
A group of young couples migrated... from North Carolina in the early 1890's to seek employment under the supervision of Authur Fell as citrus and cane workers. Mr Fell gave them a small church in 1888 which they named St Luke Baptist Church. Eventually, others were encouraged to come to the area to work in the turpentine industry. The church was moved a short distance to the corner of Jones Road and Whitted Drive.
Chrishonda Paul writes ..... My uncle-in-law, Stanley Whitted, 76, was born in 1924 and raised in Narcoossee. He is the son of Stanley and Ella Mae Short Whitted. The Short family migrated from North Carolina, settling near Ashton. His family found work in the sugar cane fields and citrus groves that flourished in the area. They built their home from the rough pine boards cut at the nearby sawmill. He remembers the citrus packinghouse that Col. W.E. Cadman built 1882. He also remembers the Sugar Belt Railroad that had a turntable in the back of the feed store located on Narcoossee Road and Jones Road. The Sugar Belt ran from Kissimmee through St Cloud, and terminated at Narcoossee. The depot in St Cloud is now the home of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. All the food harvested in Narcoossee was hauled to the store and loaded on the train to be shipped to other locations. He remembers when Highway 15 was being built. Mules were used to drag sand up from the ditch to build up the roadbed. And, Charlotte Robinson, a midwife, had a little shop with gas pumps that were hand operated. She also made ice cream, which she sold, by the dip. Kids in the neighborhood flocked there after Sunday school each week. Stanley can look across his front yard to the 113-year old, St Luke Missionary Baptist Church. The original church was about a quarter of a mile from where it is now. It was much smaller and built out of pine board. "When we moved it, we built onto it but, the only thing we have done to improve the outside is stuccoed it." He said his Uncle William Short's name is on the cornerstone. Stanley Whitted's most prized possession is his family bible, which is more than 100 years old. Between it's covers, he has read of his ancestors who fought in the Civil War in North Carolina, and of their journey from a life of slavery to the sugar cane fields and the citrus groves in the little community of Narcoossee.
In 1898, Under the leadership of Mr Cadman, construction of the St Peter's Episcopal Church was organized. In 1930, the church was dismantled and moved to St Cloud and was renamed the Church of St Luke and St Peter. There is an interest to bring the church back to Narcoossee.
In the mid 1800's, a one-room schoolhouse was built. The school still stands and is used by the Narcoossee fire department for meetings. This was a school for the white children.
The Black children had no school to attend. Mrs. Jane Cadman taught black students for a number of years in their stable at the Cadman home. Years later a black school was built on Rambling Road. It was later moved to Kissimmee. The structure no longer exists.
People left.... The freezes of 1894, 1895 and 1899, destroyed the young citrus and put many farmers out of business. This discouraged many settlers from coming to Narcoossee. The drought in 1908 caused more people to leave. Only the strong stayed.Historical Photo's at the Community Center
There are historical photo's, hanging on the wall at the Narcoossee Community Center, showing polo players, the sugar belt railroad, road building, and more. For an appointment to view them, call the Ogden's at 407 891-9934 or Stanley Whitted at 407 957-2298.
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Shaker Drawings from Shaker Shoppe. More info'
on Shakers there.
The photo's of Stanley Whitted and Chrishonda Paul were taken with a $5.00 disposable Kodak camera loaded with 800 Max Film which I bought at Sam's Wholesale. I scanned them in with an Epson Scanner.
I do not know where I obtained the photo of the train or the photo of the workers. If anyone knows contact me so I can credit the source.