Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Excerpts from Dr. John Hawks 1887 book "The East Coast of Florida" where he talks about the McDaniels (McDonalds) as the areas early pioneer settlers and Port Orange, Florida.

 John Milton Hawks was a Medical Doctor, Surgeon and Abolitionist and created Hawks Park now called Edgewater, Florida. He was born in 1826 and died 1910 and buried in Hawks Park Cemetery. He was also the author of the Florida Gazeteer.

Excerpts from John Hawks book, "The East Coast of Florida" written in 1887 are highlighted in yellow that mention McDaniel family, Edward McDaniel, William Johnson and an ad for Edwards Port Orange House Hotel. 

In 1867 Dr. Hawks who is responsible for naming Port Orange, he originally wanted Orange Port but someone else had used that so he decided on Port Orange due to the large amount of oranges shipped out because of the orange groves in the area. He also wanted to have a town name that was so unique that if you mailed a letter it would always be delivered to the one and only Port Orange post office even if you did not put Florida on the envelope. The post office was then located on the beach side at Mosquito Inlet and in 1867 it was moved to the mainland side of the Halifax River to it's present location and the name of the town and area was changed from McDaniel's to Port Orange.

Now there are two other towns I know of named Port Orange, one is a hamlet in New York and one in California.

The area was know as McDaniels in the late 1850s and early 1860s until Dr. Hawks moved the Port Orange post office across the Halifax from Mosquito Inlet to the present location in 1867 and the area became known as Port Orange.

Rose Bay was named by Edward for his wife Rose and the family lived on the Bay in the late 1850s and early 1860s Edward Archibald (McDaniel) McDonald settled his family there for a while and in one of Harold Cardwell's books (then president of the Port Orange Historical Society) he talks about the family settling there on the SE side of the Bay and calling it Rose Bay. 

Edward Archibald McDonald built a schooner he named after his daughter Dora Ellen born about 1864. The schooner was sailed by William Eldridge Johnson, (my Great Grandfather). William married Mary Elizabeth (McDonald) Johnson, she was Edward and Rose's first born child and owned and operated the Port Orange Palmetto Hat Factory located at Lafayette and Dunlawton. A complete posting will follow on her palmetto hat factory.

William Johnson came to Port Orange in 1867 from Hope Town, Abaco, Bahamas and is listed in the 1870 U.S. Census as a sailor. William, his father Thomas and grandfather Nathan were all Sailors or ships carpenters. His grandfather Nathan Johnson was born 1791 in Mystic, CN and moved to the Bahamas in 1811 and married Catherine, Williams father was Thomas Johnson who married Charlotte Bethel and they had three kids: Belice, William and Emily Ellen. William came to Port Orange and Emily went to Key West married Philip Gandolfo. He is from one of the oldest families in Florida. They had five kids. No records or additional information were found on Belice.

The oldest photo we have of the Port Orange House built by Edward Archibald McDaniel's in early 1860s and the largest wooden structure on the Halifax River for many years. This view shows the hotel before the decorative round two story porch and observation deck on the front were added in an 1879 remodel. 

The hotel was by far the largest building in town and the looming structure stood out as you approached the shoreline — it became a landmark that stood for 125 years and was located at 3966 Halifax Drive, at the west end of the Port Orange bridge.

A complete history of the "Port Orange House" will be covered in a later posting with LOTS of old photos and postcards. Including:
   •  How Edward and Rose obtained the 69 acres along the
       Halifax as their homestead.

   •  "Old Joe" the huge alligator they kept in the back of
       the hotel for the amusement of their guests caught
       by their youngest son Elijah McDonald as a pet.

   •  Elijah McDonald was known as the strongest man in
       Volusia County.

   •  Mary Elizabeth (McDonald) Johnson's Port Orange
       Palmetto Hat Factory

   •  How Rose Bay got it's name

This old postcard shows the Port Orange House and it's most unique features the open air two story round porch and observation deck on the top floor — as it looked after the remodel in 1879. I like to say after they fancied it up!

In a handwritten history letter to her children dated February 2, 1932, Isabelle Rusling Lodor McDonald, wife of George Washington McDonald (son of Edward and Rose) Isabelle gives an account of her journey to the wilds of Florida from Philadelphia as a young girl in 1878. She said the family made their way to Fernandia by steamer then schooner to Port Orange then row boat to Blake because there was no road you had to walk the shoreline at low tide or use a row boat, Blake is now known as South Daytona. Isabelle says: “On New Years Eve of 1879, Grandpa McDonald had a grand opening of his remodeled hotel by giving a big dance and free super at midnight. I don’t remember all the food, but they had the most oysters that I had ever seen, cooked in every way possible. They danced about all night, John Hinskey playing the fiddle, as they called it in those days.” 

I'll post the entire three page letter in a later posting.

Officially the architecture is frame vernacular with a tiered veranda and a polygonal tower as stated in Harold & Priscilla Cardwells book, “Port Orange, A Great Community”. The most unique feature of the “Port Orange House” was it’s open air porches ending in what Hattie (Lastinger) Johnson (my Grandmother) called the round rooms. 

In the early 1900s the top room of the porch was enclosed to make an additional room for guests.
Grandma, Hattie H. (Lastinger) Johnson told me that when she got married to Otis Johnson (grandson of Edward and Rose) in 1912 they spent their honeymoon and lived for a while in the newly enclosed top round room of the porch. 

Later the bottom round open air porch was enclosed for you guessed it another guest room.

An extremely rare envelope from the Port Orange House Hotel, post marked Port Orange and dated Apr 10, 1888 with a 2¢ Jackson stamp #157 and mailed to a Mr. S. C. Milbern, Daytona, Fla.

Envelope reads: Port Orange House, On-The-Halifax, Port Orange, Volusia Co., Fla.,
Beautiful Location, Excellent Fishing, Boating and Hunting.
Yachts and Row Boats can be Hired at Reasonable Rates. E. A. McDaniels, - Proprietor.

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