Saturday, October 16, 2021

1862-1866 - The Homestead Acts

1862 - The Homestead Act

   When the War of Northern Agression (Civil War) started in 1861, there were already several large plantations toward the north and center of what would become Lake County and many small farms in the south.
   Florida became one of the states to secede from the Union.
   Since most men between 18-45 were drafted into the Confederate Army, only women, and for the wealthier land owners their slaves, were left to run the plantations and farms.
   Even at that, Lake County has still able to provide beef and other provisions to the military effort. The families left at home simply "went without."

   Many more pioneers were motivated by the offer of free land by President Lincoln's Homestead Act of 1862 and the desire to start a new life with their families.

1866 - The Southern Homestead Act

   In 1866, after end of the War of Northern Agression (Civil War), the area, now known as South Lake County, experienced one of its early boom periods as settlers began to take advantage of the lands promised by the Southern Homestead Act of 1866.
   This act again offerred 160 acres of land to settlers who would live on the land for five years and improve it.
   While the purpose of the 1866 act was to allow poor tenant farmers and sharecroppers in the South to become landowners in the Southern United States during Reconstruction, it was not very successful, as even the low prices and fees were often too much for the poor Southern applicants to afford.
   However, it did open up an avenue for those in northern and central states to migrate to Florida.
   Soldiers, both Rebel and Yankee were eager to get on with their lives. The attractive Homesteading Act offered a fresh start and many men took advantage of the opportunity and came to the future area of Lake County to make their homes.

   Since the railway had yet to have been built to the area and there were no roads leading to Central Florida, most of the settlers arrived here by taking a steamship from Georgia down the St. John's River to Sanford.
   From there they would travel West to Eustis and Tavares, then South on wagon trails, two of which led to the settlements that would become Villa City and Taylorville.
   One of these trails crossed the Palatlakaha River at a spot known as Brown's Ford, North of what would become Taylorville.

[Contributors: Mary Helen Myers, Jason Brown]

Next Article: 1867-1899 - Browns, Dukes, and Daniels and The Brown's Ford Schoolhouse