While segregation was a major issue in many places, the tensions between blacks and whites in Osceola County were much less. There weren’t as many restrictions in place, making integration much smoother for the county. Blacks and whites lived close to each other, and in some cases, even worked together. One place in particular that did not discriminate with employees was the Disston Sugar Mill.
The Hamilton Disston Sugar Plantation and Mill arrived in St. Cloud in the late 1880s. Workers were needed to keep everything running, and it didn’t matter what their skin color was. The St. Cloud Plantation employed first generation immigrants, as well as black laborers from South Carolina. One of the employees was Scipio Lesesne (pronounced “la-sane”). Lesesne was born in Barbados and traveled to many ports, learning multiple languages along the way. Eventually he found work in Florida as the foreman of the Disston Plantation, where he was able to make use of his language skills.
One of Lesesne’s duties was to keep the time records for the employees at the Sugar Mill. He kept a log book with this information written inside. The Osceola County Historical Society has the privilege of displaying the log book Lesesne used in the Osceola County Welcome Center and History Museum. The book is on loan from the William Harleston ‘Buster’ Lesesne family. The Historical Society was able to make reproductions of a few of the pages from the log book, which can be seen on display next to the book. Guests to the museum have a unique opportunity to see a piece of local history that was used daily by one of the prominent members of Osceola County.
Sources: Osceola County Historical Society