How the Cadman family of Yorkshire, England, came to reside in Narcoossee is a story that illustrates a major theme of 19thcentury Florida history: how Hamilton Disston’s drainage projects in Central Florida led to real estate speculation, expansion of agriculture and other enterprises, a population and building boom, and construction of new roads, canals and railroads to facilitate commerce in this former backwater area.
When the Cadman’s arrived in New York by ship in 1888 on their way to Florida, they became part of a larger trend: investors – many of them wealthy – attracted to Florida by promises of natural bounty and beauty, temperate climate and commercial opportunity. For the Cadmans, the enticement came by way of family patriarch, Lt. Col. William Edwin Cadman’s younger brother, John Heaton Cadman, Esq., who was involved in a Florida land development project.
The Cadman family purchased a home from the Fell & Davidson development group in Narcoossee. The family remodeled the home to fit their needs, with Colonel and Mrs. Cadman occupying one bedroom, their daughter, Margery, in the second bedroom and the three boys occupying a separate building called the Bachelors’ Quarters. The Cadman home and kitchen were lived in by the Cadman family from roughly 1888-1980. Generations of the family grew up here, and many modifications were made to the home over the years, including the addition of extra bedrooms and interior plumbing.
The Cadman kitchen and part of the Cadman house moving from Narcossee to the new Pioneer Village.
The family operated a citrus grove and commercial citrus packing house from their initial purchase of land in Narcoosee. The packing house had a sorter that was operated by peddling a piece of rope around a pulley. The oranges were wrapped in paper coated with bees’ wax and linsee oil (an invention that was actually claimed by the Cadman family). It was then placed in a barrel for shipping where the oranges would not touch each other, and if one spoiled it would not affect the others. The operation was largely ran and operated by the Cadman children. Cadman Groves Inc. ceased operations in 1982.
In their spare time, the Cadmans were socialites and were known for throwing parties for their neighbors. They brought many of their favorite activities from England to Narcoossee with them, including lawn tennis and croquet.
Eventually, the home and property belonging to the Cadman family was passed to Cyrus Sharp, Jr. – Great-Grandson of the Lt. Col. Cadman. He donated the Citrus Packing House and the Bachelor’s Quarters to the Osceola County Historical Society in 2005 and donated the Cadman family home and kitchen in 2014. The Cadman family buildings will be reunited with each other at the new Pioneer Village at Shingle Creek Regional Park in order to share the story of this early Osceola County pioneering family.