Florida Historical Markers Programs - Marker: Desoto

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County: Desoto
City: Arcadia
Description: The Florida Baptist Children’s Homes, originally the Florida Baptist Orphanage, was established by the Florida Baptist State Convention in 1902 and started admitting children in 1904. The purpose was to care for orphans until they reached 18 years of age or were adopted into a Christian home. John L. Jones of Desoto County donated 80 acres of land on which the orphanage was founded. B.M. Bean was the first superintendent serving from 1904-1911. Juanita Martinez was the first child to live at the home. Her stay at the home started on February 1, 1904. J.E. Trice served as superintendent from 1911 to 1932. The name was changed to the Florida Baptist Children’s Homes in 1925. T.M. Johns served as superintendent from 1932 to 1969. The Children’s Homes moved to Lakeland in 1948. Presidents of the Children’s Homes included Roger Dorsett (1969-1974), Walter Delamarter (1974-1984), Richard Phillips (1984-1994), Charles Hodges (1994-2002), Jimmy McAdams (2002-2007), and Jerry Haag (2007-). In 2008 the Children’s Homes served 5,183 children and families with its various services which included residential care, emergency shelter care, foster care, adoption care, maternity care and counseling.
Location:4562 Highway 17 SW
County: DeSoto
City: Nocatee
Description: Side One: The town of Nocatee originated as a lumber manufacturing town during the 1880s. During the late 19th century, two businesses stimulated the town’s growth. One was the King Lumber and Manufacturing Company, established by W.G. Welles in 1896. The second was the Nocatee Crate Lumber and Manufacturing Company, opened a few years later. The two businesses were next to each other west of the Florida Southern Railroad tracks and south of County Road 760/Welles Avenue. The Nocatee Crate Company eventually became the largest employer in Desoto County, which prompted the construction of many homes and businesses. The company’s success was partly due to the development of a packing crate that made it cheaper and easier to ship fruits and vegetables to market. These “4-One” crates, built of wire wrapped around wood corners and veneer strips, were used throughout the U.S. The crates could be flattened and stacked, and their light weight reduced shipping costs and waste. Several buildings along the west side of U.S. 17 were constructed by the Nocatee Crate Company and rented to its employees. When the company closed, the homes were sold to the residents at auction. Side Two: The Nocatee Baptist Church (later known as the First Baptist Church of Nocatee) was organized around 1890, and held its early services in a local school under the pastorship of the Rev. T.J. Sparkman. In 1915, B.F. Welles, brother of Nocatee Crate Lumber and Manufacturing Company co-founder W.G. Welles, donated land for the construction of a brick church east of U.S. 17. The building used a Greek cross plan with a cross gable roof, Gothic style windows with Queen Anne colored glass, and a bell tower. The church held its first service in this new location in 1916. The church closed temporarily in 1930s because of a controversial divide in the congregation, which was reunited by 1949. From 1949-1956, a new classroom building as well as a kitchen and recreation hall were constructed. Although the church was taken down in 2014, the Florida Department of Transportation assisted the congregation with salvaging the arched windows and bell. The top of the bell tower, or cupola, was removed and relocated to the DeSoto County Historical Society property in Arcadia.
Sponsors: Florida Department of Transportation
Location:W. Oak Street
County: DeSoto
City: Arcadia
Description: The Arcadia Historic District comprises fifty-eight blocks within 340 acres that embody the city's development from the founding of its post office in 1883 through the late 1920s. The Town of Arcadia was incorporated in 1886 following the arrival of the first train that year and the area's subsequent growth. In November 1888, voters selected Arcadia as the county seat of DeSoto County, which was established in 1887. The City of Arcadia was incorporated in 1901. The heart of the district is a commercial zone extending 18 blocks and consisting of buildings constructed between 1900 and the late 1920s. Three buildings that survived the devastating 1905 downtown fire, and those that were rebuilt, are generally masonry vernacular in style. The district’s most imposing structure is the 1912 Classical Revival courthouse. Residential neighborhoods of mostly frame vernacular homes from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries surround the commercial area. Listed on the National Register in 1984, the district retains remarkable historical and architectural integrity as reflected in its churches, residences, and schools, as well as commercial, governmental, and industrial buildings.
Sponsors: The Peace River Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, DeSoto County Historical Society
Location:121 Hickory St., In front of Fire Department
County: DeSoto
City: Arcadia
Description: The Town of Arcadia was settled in 1883, incorporated in 1886, and became the county seat in 1888. By the late 1880s the population was 300. On Thanksgiving night 1905 the town burned. Three brick stores survived. Using only brick or block, rebuilding began immediately. Most of those buildings remain today. During World War I with its two flying schools, Carlstrom and Dorr Fields, Arcadia became known as the “Aviation Capital” of Florida. The land for Arcadia’s first city hall (140x142) was a pineapple patch bought in 1917 for $3,000 from Fred and Ida Gore. City Hall was designed in the Mediterranean Revival style and was furnished in June 1926 at a cost of $45,216, including all furnishings. A section of the original nine-foot office counter and steel shelves for the vault are still in use. The fire station first housed a solid, rubber-tired, auto driven hose wagon with chemical tanks and a 1924 American La France fire truck which is still owned and running. The original 20-foot brass fire pole and the 400-pound siren are to be placed in the City Hall Museum. In 2004, restoration of City Hall began with funding from the Florida Division of Historical Resources and the City.
Location:115 East Oak Street, by County Courthouse
County: Desoto
City: Arcadia
Description: Named after the great Spanish conquistador and Florida explorer Hernando De Soto, the county was created out of Manatee County in 1887. The area's original inhabitants were Caloosa Indians. In early Florida history the region was the scene of numerous Indian battles. The county's 416,640 acres offer a diversified economy of citrus, cattle, agriculture and industry. Arcadia is the county seat.
Location:9693 SW Highway 17 in Front of Post Office
County: DeSoto
City: Fort Ogden
Description: As white settlers moved into Florida, demands increased for the removal of the Seminole Indians to a western reservation. The Seminoles failed to cooperate, and in 1835 the conflict known as the Second Seminole War began. By 1841, the Indians were still entrenched in central and south Florida. Campaign plans for that year aimed at clearing Indians from the area between the Withlacoochee River and the frontier and then attacking Indian bands in Big Cypress Swamp. To sustain the wide-ranging troops, detached camps were established at various points. Camp Ogden, named for Captain Edmund Ogden of the 8th U.S. Infantry, seems to have been established in July, 1841, as an advanced position for the Big Cypress campaign. In addition, 55 canoes were constructed for the next winter's Everglades expedition. Before the camp was abandoned in the fall, an influential Indian leader, Coacoochee, visited Camp Ogden. The community of Fort Ogden developed in this citrus and cattle region in the last part of the 19th century and took its name from the Second Seminole War camp. Fort Ogden's post office, established in 1876, is the oldest in DeSoto County to be in continuous service.
Sponsors: sponsored by fort ogden civic club in cooperation with department of state
Location:5586 SW Owens School Road
County: DeSoto
City: Arcadia
Description: The Owens Community School was built1916-1918 in the once thriving community of Owens. The community and school were named for Owen H. Dishong (1850-1902), the first sheriff of DeSoto County, serving 1887 to 1893 and 1897 to 1901. He was a charter member of the first church and donated land for the first schoolhouse. The community was situated between the Peace River and Horse Creek. It flourished through the mining of pebble phosphate. The community consisted of a post office, general store, railroad, citrus packing house, Owens Community School, and Mt. Ephraim Baptist Church. The frame school is the only remaining building of the original structures of Owens. It was last used as a school site in 1946, but some original school furnishings remain intact. It has continued to be used as a polling place over the years. In 2000, the School District of DeSoto County refurbished the school and began using it for school district training and recognitions, and historical society and humanities presentations.