As you walk down the streets of downtown Kissimmee, listen closely. Can you hear the echoes of the past? The splashing of the steamboat paddle on the lake? The bellowing of cattle passing through town? The shrill whistle of a train? While the sights and sounds of downtown Kissimmee have evolved over the years, one thing in particular remains the same: Makinson Hardware.
As the repository for Osceola County history, the Osceola County Historical Society receives a number of great historical treasures every year through the generous donations of our local community. While we are selective on what items are accepted into the permanent collections, gems from local history are added each year to help preserve and share Osceola County history with the public.
One time, an unexpected package was waiting on our doorstep and as we opened the package, we realized that one of those historical gems was hiding within the contents of the box. There, buried in layers of bubble wrap, was an original silver tea set from the Graystone Hotel of Kissimmee.
Seated in front of an aerial map of Kissimmee, FL, City Manager Mike Steigerwald glanced through the fifth floor City Hall conference room window, looking out over Historic Downtown Kissimmee.
Arriving on her first railway trip through Kissimmee in the late 1880s, Historian Minnie Moore-Wilson observed that “…from the oil street lamps, the little city, now numbering about 1,000 inhabitants, presented a picture of tropical beauty.”
Wilson might be shocked today to see how “the little city” (now numbering about 65,000 inhabitants), and its lakefront, have grown. Entering its final phases of construction, the Kissimmee Lakefront Revitalization Project has transformed the Tohopekaliga lakefront into a modern community center, complete with electric car charging stations and a focus toward the future of Osceola County’s community.
As Osceola County teachers gear up for another school year, we thought it might be fun to offer up a few history lessons to use this year. Sprinkle some of them into your first week back with students as fillers between the “get to know you” activities and the “let’s learn the rules and procedures” talks. You could also save a few as lessons to teach throughout the school year (some would make great field trip ideas, and we have a post coming later this month to fill you in on all the Osceola County Historical Society has to offer as far as field trips are concerned, too!). We hope these lessons will help you ease back into a great 2014-2015 school year here in Osceola County!
Hamilton Disston Land Deal Lesson. Hamilton Disston was a land developer and industrialist who purchased millions of acres of land in Florida in 1881 spurring growth throughout our state. Disston, because of this growth, was responsible for creating Kissimmee and St. Cloud, a pretty important fact for us Osceolans! With your students, you can explore the Hamilton Disston Land Deal by making rock candy, seeing as Disston founded a 20,000 acre sugar plantation which led to the creation of St. Cloud as refineries for the plantation were constructed in Kissimmee.
Another structure to make its move to the new Pioneer Village at Shingle Creek recently was the ol’ Tyson (Tison) House. The Tyson House allows the Osceola County Historical Society to tell the story of an average farming family of Osceola County in the late 1800’s and we thought you might like to take a step back in time today and learn a little bit about them.
This month has been a big one for the Osceola County Historical Society and the construction of the new Pioneer Village at Shingle Creek. While work is being done to reconstruct and restore the buildings that have already moved to the new site, the remaining buildings have finally been making the move to their new home.
Tuesday marked another great accomplishment in the latest Osceola County Historical Society project focused on moving various historic buildings from their original locations to the new Pioneer Village at Shingle Creek. The citrus packing house (along with the other historic buildings at the old Pioneer Village) made the move and we thought you might be interested in the history behind it.
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 heritage of the Seminole tribe of Florida began long before the first pioneers moved into central Florida. In fact, Osceola County itself is named after the famous Seminole warrior, Osceola. After the Seminole wars of the 1800s, the U.S. government abandoned efforts to relocate remaining Seminoles, and the Seminoles moved farther south through Florida, traveling through central Florida. In their settlements, they built Chickee structures and lived off the Florida land. As time progressed, they began hunting deer, otters, alligators, and other wildlife to supply the hide market and growing millinery trade for wealthy buyers in the North.