Newsletter -- October/November, 2006.

THE LOST TOWN OF CARLETON, FLORIDA

Little remains today of the small settlement of Carleton located on the eastern shore of Lake Loyal in western Putnam County. Beyond the cemetery that was located north of the settlement the only surviving evidence that the site may at one time have housed a small colony is the subdivision into small lots of the 20-acre tract that comprised Carleton Colony.

The colony’s beginnings date back to 1888 when Granville C. Smith purchased 20 acres in section 2 township 10 Range 23 for $200. Smith had served during the Civil War in both Co. E, 5th Massachusetts and Co. F, 53d Massachusetts Volunteers. In 1890, at the age of forty-seven Smith, already a widower, was granted a pension for his wartime service and retired to his 20 acre-tract in Florida. Judging from the census records Smith remained the only white, and only Yankee, inhabitant of this district of west Putnam until after 1900.

In December 1904 a Post Office was established at Carleton. In March of the following year Smith subdivided the property into twenty-one lots generally ranging in size from 90 ft by 140 ft up to 150 ft by 280 ft and began to sell them to fellow pensioned veterans from the North. To promote the colony a circular letter was designed “for the benefit of the many veterans of the Civil War, and pensioned widows of such veterans, who are seeking a mild, equable and salubrious climate; whose advanced age, declining years, and in many cases, afflictions, being such as to no longer be able to endure the rigors of a northern latitude.” Carleton was reported to be “on a beautiful lake replete with fish such as black bass, 1/2 to 14lbs,” to have an abundance of “quail, pigeon, duck, snipe, rail, o’possum, fox, coon, etc,” to enjoy land that was “high, dry and rolling, with the purest water.” Fruit trees included the orange, lemon, peach, pear, fig, plum, banana, grapes, and Japanese persimmon. Vegetables grew two gardens per year, Irish potatoes two crops, and sweet potatoes one. Settlers were warned that this “was no farming country, nor much of a place to make money,” but “it is jut the place for us old vets to live easy, which you can do after once settled on your pensions, your gardens, with your fish, game, etc.” Rail service was available four miles to the southeast at the town of Edgar on the Atlantic Coast Line Railway. In 1908, Smith reported to a potential settler that the colony already consisted of nineteen houses.

In the 1910 census twenty-one households (identified as living on Easy Street) comprised the pensioner portion of Carleton Colony. The heads of those households ranged in age from 62 to 73 years old, two were widows, nine were widowers. Places of birth included England, Germany, Ohio, Connecticut, Indiana, Vermont, New York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Maryland. The only native Floridians were the thirty-six year old mail carrier Ellis Cue and the general store owner Joe H. Monroe, also thirty six, and his family. Both were listed as being mulattoes.

Sadly, but not unexpectedly, Carleton did not survive the passing of the Civil War generation. By 1920, only eight households could be identified as part of Carleton. The colony’s founder Granville Smith died in 1919. In 1907, Smith had married for a third time. His wife was Minnie A. Saxon of Cincinnati, Ohio who had purchased two lots in Carleton the previous year. She was over twenty years his junior and remained in Carleton as its Post Mistress for a few years after Smith’s death in 1919. The Post Office closed in 1923. Today, no memories of the community survive. No photographs and no memoirs of any of its inhabitants are known. All that remains today is a platted subdivision and the few grave markers that have survived in Carleton’s cemetery.

DEADWOOD DICK AT THE BRONSON-MULHOLLAND HOUSE

Return with us to those thrilling days of yesteryear when the good guy wore white and the bad guy wore black and the damsel in distress would be rescued from the clutches of the bad guy without a moment to pare. The Society is proud to sponsor the Starlight Theater’s presentation of Tom Taggart’s “Deadwood Dick or The Game of Gold.” Described as a “rootin-tootin melodrama of the Old West” the show is sure to be enjoyed by young and old. The play will be presented on the front porch of the Bronson-Mulholland House at 8:00 P.M. on November 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, and 11 (Thursday, Friday, and Saturday). Tickets are $10.00 for adults and $7.00 for children twelve and under. Join us in cheering the good guy and booing the bad guy.

FATE OF THE 100 BLOCK BUILDINGS OF NORTH SECOND STREET

With decisions affecting the redevelopment of Palatka’s riverfront imminent the Society’s Board of Directors felt themselves obligated to take up the cause of the block of building occupying the 100 block of North Second Street. These building have been owned by the City of Palatka for some time and while they appear to have fallen into a state of disrepair, and some state that they are “too far gone” to be saved, it was believed among the Board members that their historic value to our community has been understated while their deteriorating condition has been overstated. Three of the four brick buildings were constructed in 1885—just after all the wooden buildings on the site had been destroyed in the great fire of 1884. As such, that makes those building the oldest surviving commercial buildings in the city. The fourth structure was built in 1916 for G. Loper Bailey’s Atlantic and Gulf Insurance Company. It was constructed by the same Jacksonville firm that built the Hotel James earlier that year. In their early years the buildings have housed many businesses and professions, including attorneys, barbers, druggists, doctors, dentists, telegraph and telephone companies, banks, and insurance companies. The corner building—known as the Moragne Building—even housed the Masonic Hall for many years.

By making our concerns known to both the City’s leaders and the project’s developers and in publicizing the historic value of the buildings the Board hopes that when redevelopment comes to the riverfront and downtown Palatka some effort will be made to preserve, and perhaps even showcase, these fine, old buildings.

SOCIETY'S ANNUAL CHRISTMAS SOCIAL

The Society’s annual Christmas social is scheduled for the evening of Thursday December 7th. Arrangements for the evening’s entertainment are still being finalized but Society Vice-President Sam Deputy who has taken charge of the matter promises an enjoyable evening. Refreshments will be provided and as anyone who has attended our previous socials can attest to the Society “can lay out a good spread.” We hope to see you there.