Union Baptist Church, the first church in the old area of Irwin County, Georgia was established October 21, 1825. The original members were William A. Knight and Sarah, his wife; Jonathan Knight and Elizabeth, his wife; Joshua Lee and Martha, his wife; James Patten and Elizabeth, his wife; Mary Knight, and Josiah Sirmans. The first Minister of Union Baptist Church was Reverend Matthew Albritton.
This Bungalow style home was built in 1919 by Gus Hall, General Manager of South Lake Apopka Citrus Growers Association.
Gus Hall (1881-1956) began his long tenure in the citrus industry when he joined the South Lake Apopka Citrus Growers Association as General Manager in 1910. Under his leadership, South Lake grew from humble beginnings to an operation handling 641,000 boxes of fruit annually. One of Hall’s successful innovations while at South Lake involved featuring his face on the Gus Hall Combination Brand crate label, making him instantly recognizable while attending industry events in northern markets. After 31 years with South Lake Apopka Citrus Growers Association, Hall left to form his own operation, Gus Hall Citrus Fruits. His packing house, located just west of Oakland in Killarney, was constructed by T&G Railroad on State Highway 438. From South Lake, he brought his Gus Hall brand label and added other labels including Boxcar and GH. In 1946, he sold his interest in the company, and it was renamed Killarney Fruit Company.
The following is a link to the List of the Living that was completed in February of 1623. This was after the Great Massacre of 1622, in March and after the plague, brought with the Abigail from England on December 20, 1622.
Over two years ago, my husband and I relocated to Keystone Heights, Florida, returning to live on family property that was purchased some hundred years earlier by his family. Not long after arriving, and with much persistence on my part, we take a short trip to an old cemetery to locate one of Florida’s First Pioneers. Jonathan Knight, who arrived with his family in Florida in 1843-44 is my husband’s gr. gr. gr. great-grandfather. He settled in the area then known as Black Creek, which is now part of Middleburg.
Upon arriving at the cemetery, I noted its separate cemetery signs with two (2) different names, one being Forman Cemetery, the other Fowler Cemetery. As we looked for his ancestors graves, my first impression was that the cemetery was well maintained. We start our search checking one then the next, reading the names and dates, but finding no success. Frustrated, we begin to leave. As I turn back for one last look, I notice an area in the corner, mounded with leaves, dead limbs, and debris from the other graves (old plastic flowers) that had been discarded. At first glance I thought it was only a trash pile. I walk closer and I notice first one head stone and then another. I walk around to view the names as they are facing away from me. As I read the names, instead of being excited that I had found his ancestors, my heart sinks. One headstone reads Jonathan Knight, the other of his wife, Elizabeth. My emotions erupt as it is devastating to find their graves in such condition.
My first thoughts…..Why was the other part of the cemetery freshly mowed, free of debris, while their graves are among the trash pile? Who would do such a thing?
Appalled and without answers, we schedule a day to return to clean up the area which clearly seemed to be purposefully neglected. We remove the debris, cut down vines as well as hanging limbs from the trees that have grown out of control and rake away the heap of leaves left to rot on top of the graves. After several hours of work, the area looks like a gravesite once more, instead of the trash pile that we found. For several months, I revisit the cemetery often finding it much as we left it, neat and without debris, yet I still wonder why their gravesite had been left in such conditions.
Within the next few months I find myself on a mission taking a Cemetery Rehabilitation and Preservation class, and become certified in the laws and practice of preserving historic cemeteries. It included the do’s and don’ts of gravesites and what to use to clean and care for the headstone itself (depending on the era, there were many different types of materials used), the area surrounding the grave, as well as listing the cemetery within the historic registry. After all, it was over a hundred-fifty years ago when Jonathan Knight was buried in Forman Cemetery.
For the next year or so, I continue to return, picking up any debris that might have blown into the corner where the graves were located. Then for several months, I’m unable to return, for one reason or another. But, this past Friday, on my way home from a trip to Orange Park, I’m driving through Middleburg when the resounding thought hits me. “I should take a quick detour to check on the cemetery.” As I arrive, I’m shocked to find debris thrown on top of the Knight graves once again. Large limbs are lying across one, with a sheet of plywood leaning against another, and trash strewn about. I turn to look at the other areas of the cemetery and find it clean, and free of any debris. As I turn back to the Knight graves, once again I’m left disheartened.
WHY WOULD ANYONE DO THIS? I just don’t understand.
James Alexander Reaves was born on May 4, 1861, just before his father Daniel Asbury Reaves joined the 3rd Florida Infantry. As a young boy, James arrived in Winter Garden with his parents, younger sister and brother along with his baby brother that was not yet a year old. James himself was only eight.
On June 4, 1884, James married Jimmie Tellula Donnie Letson. Jimmie was born April 24, 1864 to Sethiel J. Letson and MaryAnn E. Dearing. Her father, like James’ father Daniel was a Civil War Veteran. By 1887 when James’ parents along with most of his siblings returned north to settle in Bradford County, Florida, James remained at Reaves Settlement in Winter Garden along with his younger brother Mark Bryan Reaves. James was an established citrus grower and farmer who had acquired a vast amount of land.
James and Jimmie had nine (9) children.
Alberta (Ada Belle) Reaves was born in May of 1885. She would marry Dudley Lanier Clyatt by 1908, in Worthington Springs, Union County, Florida. Dudley was the brother of Samuel “Dee” Reaves’ wife, Mattie.
Olin Reaves was born November 8, 1887, in Winter Garden, Florida. He died November 18, 1906.
James Glover Reaves was born September 7, 1889, in Winter Garden, Florida. James Glover married Minnie Ada Walker, and they had five girls. He died October 21, 1973 in Micanopy, Alachua County, Florida.
Ida Reaves was born 1891, in Winter Garden, Florida. She married W.D. Martin from High Springs, Alachua County, Florida. She died January 16, 1980.
Irvin Raleigh Reaves was born July 16, 1892, in Winter Garden Florida. Irvin married Winnie Roberson and established his residence in Marion County, Florida.
Mabel Claire Reaves was born March 30, 1894 in Winter Garden, Florida. She married Edwin F. Johnson and had four children. Mabel and Edwin Johnson remained at Reaves Settlement (Beulah) until their deaths. They are buried at Beulah Cemetery, in Winter Garden, Florida.
Creasy Reaves was born in 1896 in Winter Garden, Florida. She married Albert Bronson and they had three children. Creasy died in 1936, at the young age of forty, in Winter Garden, Florida. She is also buried at Beulah Cemetery.
Sethiel Asbury Reaves was born in March 21, 1898, in Winter Garden, Florida. He married Sallie Frances Martin and died May 3, 1973, Marion County, Florida.
Mamie Mildred Reaves was born March 5, 1900, in Winter Garden, Florida. She married William Eugene Hendry and had five children. She died November 4, 1933, in Highlands, Florida.
James Alexander Reaves died May 9, 1939. His wife Jimmie continued to live in Winter Garden, until her death in May of 1951. They are both buried in the Beulah Cemetery in Winter Garden, along with many other Reaves ancestors. Many generations of their descendants remain in Winter Garden, Florida today.
Company H of the Third Florida Infantry consisted of one hundred and thirty two (132) volunteers from Jefferson County, Florida. The “H” company was called “The Jefferson Rifles” and would include three (3) Reaves brothers under the command of Captain William Girardeau.
Samuel J. Reaves, the third son of Rev. and Mrs. Rawlins Reaves would be the first of the three brothers to fall, Samuel died May 9, 1862, in Gainesville Florida. Just over six months later, during the Battle of Stones River, which sometimes is called the Battle of Murfreesboro, James Alexander Reaves sustained serious injury. The bloody battle was fought from December 31, 1862, to January 2, 1863, in Middle Tennessee. Of the major battles of the Civil War, Stones River had the highest percentage of casualties on both sides. James was taken to Foard Hospital in Chattanooga, where he died from his wounds on January 12, 1863. Soon, the family of Rev, Rawlins Reaves would hear the wretched news once more, this time of their eldest son’s death.
The only surviving Reaves brother of the Jefferson Rifles would continue with the Confederates through Tennessee. Daniel Asbury Reaves was the second to eldest son of Rev. and Mrs. Rawlins Reaves, a twenty five year old ordained Methodist Minister, like his father. He married Lucretia Ann Sledge, some three or so years before the war started and before his enlistment had seen his first son born, which was named after Daniel’s older brother James Alexander. Daniel Asbury Reaves would be wounded on September 20 1863 at the Battle of Chickamauga. He would be the only brother of the three that would return home to Monticello, in Jefferson County, Florida. On April 15, 1865 he signed an order swearing to not bear arms against the United States of America.
After the war the clan of Rev. and Mrs. Rawlins Reaves along with their now adult children moved two-hundred miles south to establish Reaves Settlement, just outside of the small town of Winter Garden in Central Florida. Daniel Asbury Reaves and Lucretia (Creasy) Ann Sledge would follow, just after the birth of their fourth child in 1869.
Daniel Asbury Reaves and Lucretia (Creasy) Ann Sledge would have a total of eight (8) children.
James Alexander Reaves – born May 4, 1861 in Monticello, Florida married Jimmie Tellula Donnie Letson in 1884. He died in 1939, Winter Garden, Florida.
Sallie Crew Reaves– born October 23, 1864 in Monticello, Florida married Orville Leroy “Jeff” Mizelle in 1889. Sallie died February 15, 1949 in Lake Butler, Union county, Florida.
Samuel Darius “Dee” Reaves– born 1867 in Monticello, Florida, married Martha “Mattie” Jane Clyatt in 1891.
Rollins Green Reaves– born in 1869, married Iva May Knight in 1911.
Hester Elizabeth (Hattie) Reaves– born 1872, Hattie married William Townsend McIntosh in 1890.
Richard Mathis Reaves– born 1874, Richard married Rosa Bell Carver in 1897. In 1930, after his first wife’s death, he would marry Lou Dugger. Richard died April 28, 1952.
Whitmel Tison Reaves – born 1876, married Hattie Vanola Blair about 1904, and later he would marry Rosa Crews. Whitmel died November 25, 1954.
Edwin Bryan Reaves – born June 10, 1881, and married Rita Jane Watson in 1930. He died August 26 1941.
In 1887, Daniel Asbury and Creasy Ann Sledge would move all of their family except their oldest son James, who was already established in Winter Garden, north to an area west of Worthington Springs, in then Bradford County, Florida, where they would live out the rest of his life.
Like many other pioneering families in Florida, the Reaves family migrated south from the Carolinas. Prior to the Revolutionary War the Reaves clan owned and operated Reaves Ferry in Horry County, South Carolina. Mark Reaves and Spicy Ann Smith Reaves are both buried in the Reaves Family Cemetery in Horry County, South Carolina. They had eleven (11) children.
Rawlins Lowndes Reaves was the youngest child of Mark Reaves and Spicy Ann Smith Reaves. Rawlins married Delilah Ann Gilbert, in Thomasville Georgia after attending ministerial school in January of 1834. They remained in Thomas, Georgia until 1843-44, when they moved their family to the town of Monticello, located in Jefferson County, FL. For over thirty-five years Rawlins preached the word of God, traveling throughout southern Georgia and parts of North and Central Florida.
Rawlins Lowndes Reaves and Delilah Ann Gilbert Reaves had eleven (11) children.
James Alexander Reaves – Born in Georgia in 1834. James served in Company H, 3rd Florida Infantry Regiment, CSA, and died January 12, 1863 at Foard Hospital from wounds sustained in Chattanooga, TN.
Daniel Asbury Reaves – Born in Georgia in 1836, he married Lucretia (Creasy) Ann Sledge in 1858. On April 25, 1862 he joined Company H, 3rd Florida Infantry Regiment, CSA, and was wounded at Chickamauga on September 20 1863. Daniel served in the war until April 15, 1865. He died October 30, 1902, Worthington Springs, Union County, Florida.
Elizabeth “Bessy” Herd Reaves – Born in Georgia in 1839 she married G W Jeffcoat and moved to St. Lucie County, Florida where she died in 1921.
Samuel Johnson Reaves – Born in Georgia in 1841, he served in Company H, 3rd Florida Infantry Regiment, CSA, until his death May 9, 1862, Gainesville Florida.
Richard Gilbert Reaves – Born 1844 in Monticello, Jefferson County, Florida. He married Jane E. (Jenny) Taff, and died July 1, 1912, Bradford County, Florida.
Mark Bryan Reaves – Born 1846 in Monticello, Jefferson County, Florida, he married Catherine F. Reams in 1870. He Died June 1, 1924, in Winter Garden, Orange County, Florida.
Joshua Thomas Reaves – Born 1848, Monticello, Jefferson County, Fl. and died January 6, 1930, Kissimmee, Osceola County, Florida.
Solomon Reaves – Born 1850 in Monticello, Jefferson County, Florida. Married Alice A. Speer in 1874. His date and place of death is unknown at this time.
Spicy A. Reaves – Born 1852 in Monticello, Jefferson County, Florida. She married E. Lewis Daniel Overstreet in 1872. She died December 13 1910, Kissimmee, Osceola County, Florida.
Martha Matilda Reaves – Born in Monticello, Jefferson County, Florida in 1854. She married William Pinkney Reams in 1874 and she died in 1910.
Rawlins Lowndes Reaves, Jr. – Born 1857, Monticello, Jefferson County, Florida He married Emma Leticia Martin in 1879 and he died March 5, 1941, in Winter Garden, Orange County, Florida.
After the civil war, Rawlins Lowndes Reaves Sr. relocated his now mostly adult family from Monticello, Florida, in Jefferson County, some 220 miles south through unsettled territory to establish Reaves settlement located just west of Winter Garden, Florida in 1867.
After Delilah’s death in 1876, Rawlins Sr. married Augusta Ann Stanly in 1878. They had two additional children.
John Lattimore Reaves – Born 1879, Winter Garden, FL
Rosabelle Reaves – Born 1882, Winter Garden, FL
Rawlins Lowndes Reaves died February 1, 1901, in Winter Garden, Florida, where many of his descendants still live today. However, Reaves settlement is now known as Beulah and Reaves road remains a major road in the community. Rawlins Lowndes Reaves was my gr. gr. gr. great-grandfather.