Letters from Florida Introduction

This entry is part 1 of 5 in the series Letters from Florida

Horace Ide began spending winters in Florida in 1871 or earlier for his health, although any Vermonter knows that you don’t need a reason to take a break from winter. Spending winter in Vermont in the 19th century must have been a test of will, with poorly insulated houses, unreliable heat sources and cold temperatures at the end of the little ice age. By 1872, he had purchased a farm near Jacksonville and started an orange grove. In 1876, he began writing letters to the St. Johnsbury Caledonian that they published for the interest of their readers, and possibly to increase their readers interest in purchasing Florida real estate.


From New York To Savannah, January 9, 1876

This entry is part 2 of 5 in the series Letters from Florida

A trip through the Old Dominion.

Savannah, Ga., Jan. 9, 1876.

To the Editor of the Caledonian:

Dear Sir: We left New York Wednesday, Jan. 5th. at 3 P.M., and arrived in Washington almost midnight. Next morning we looked about the City — first at the Agricultural Building, then the White House and Patent Office. In the afternoon we visited the Capital. We first went to the House, but found the public gallery full. A one-legged door-keeper finally let us into a private gallery, where we had a good view. The subject under consideration was a reconciliation resolution in (more…)

Letter from Florida, January 24, 1876

This entry is part 3 of 5 in the series Letters from Florida

To the Editor of the Caledonian:

WOODLAND, FLA., Jan. 24, ‘76.

DEAR SIR: We arrived in Savannah, Sunday night, and left there Monday morning. What attracted our attention the most was the police of the city. They were all dressed in gray, and were all armed as either infantry or cavalry. I was told by a citizen that they had all been in the Confederate army.


Letter from Florida, January 1876

This entry is part 4 of 5 in the series Letters from Florida


To the Editor of the Caledonian:

One day last week Richardson and myself started off for a trip to Dunn’s Lake and some orange groves situated thereon. Teams are very scarce here and we used the means of locomotion furnished by nature. We first passed by Mr. Jarvis’s, whose homestead adjoins mine, and called in to see his place, and the “Floating Island.” He has quite a little grove stared, besides some peach trees; and quite a lot of grape vines. Immediately north of his house is Lake Bernard, a fine sheet of water two mile long and one half mile wide, surrounded by pine woods, that reach to the water’s edge.


Letter from Florida, February 7, 1876

This entry is part 5 of 5 in the series Letters from Florida

Woodland, Fla., Feb. 7, 1876.

To the Editor of the Caledonian:

Dear Sir: — Last Thursday we made a trip to Georgetown, Fla., to see Hier’s groves. Palmer was down there digging sour orange stumps, and we decided to go down and stay over night with him, and just as we arrived at that conclusion, Calvin (a mulatto who works for Mr. Smith) came along with a team on his way to get the stumps that Palmer was digging. The distance was ten miles, and a chance to ride was not to be lost, so we packed up some blankets, a pail of grub, locked up the house and jumped on board. We went across the country for a mile, regardless of roads, and the struck the trail that led directly south to our destination, which place we reached about 5 o’clock, P.M. Just before arriving there we had to put our team into a run in order to pass a point on the road before the fire reached it. It was coming quite fast, being driven by a furious wind.

Mr. Hier had evidently been imbibing some of the fluid that invigorates and also intoxicates.