A SHORT HISTORY OF FLAGLER COUNTY PLACE NAMES
AND OUR EARLY MOVERS AND SHAKERS
City of Palm Coast Historical Society Quarterly Meeting
Wednesday, October 08, 2008
Holden House, Bunnell, Florida
Claude Sisco Deen, Jr.
Our Palm Coast Historian Newsletter is currently publishing a piece I wrote entitled “The Development of Flagler County. The first part of the story was published by Editor Kay Stafford in the October - December 2008 edition.
In Part One I discussed the habitation of Florida by the Indians, French, Spanish and British. I also discussed some of the earlier developers of present-day Flagler County. In future issues, stories will appear on the various settlements in our county.
Today, I am going to discuss the development of these various settlements from a genealogical prospective - just who were the movers and shakers of these towns and settlements and how did they come to be.
General Joseph Marion Hernandez
One of the first major movers and shakers in present-day Palm Coast was a gentleman by the name of General Joseph Marion Hernandez. General Hernandez was born in the Spanish Colony of St Augustine on 26 May 1788. He was an attorney and when the Spanish left Florida he transferred his allegiance to the United States.
He acquired large parcels of land in the northeast portion of present-day Flagler County which became known as the Hernandez Grant, most of the acreage being in Spanish Land Grants he purchased from other parties.
Hernandez had three plantations here; St Joseph, located on the present Florida Park Drive, north of Palm Coast Parkway; Bella Vista, located at Washington Oaks Gardens State Park and Mala Compra located at Bings Landing.
The only major means of ground transportation north and south out of the area from the late 1770's until the 1880's was the Kings Road. There was no Intracoastal Canal - large Boat traffic could only go south on Matanzas River to a little south of the present day Washington Oaks area. They could only come North on the Halifax to the Tomoka basin, south of present-day Flagler Beach.
To ship goods north, they either went by wagon or by small-draft boats which left Hernandez’s Long’s Creek dock (about 300 yards NE of the present-day Palm Coast Yacht Club) and then went north on Long’s Creek to the Matanzas basin.
The City of Palm Coast purchased the $4.5 million dollar 9 acre parcel known as Long’s Landing this past March with Flagler County promising to kick in $1.3 million if the city did not receive a grant from the Florida Communities Trust (FCT). Three of our members, Mary Ann Clark, Art Dycke and myself went to Tallahassee last month with a delegation from the city to present our case for a grant. The commission agreed to give us $2.25 million.
General Hernandez died on 08 Jun 1857 at the family estate in Audaz, District of Coliseo, Matanzas Province, Cuba and is buried in the Junco Family Vault in San Carlos Cemetery.
His wife Anna Marie Hill predeceased him on 23 Jun 1849 and is buried at the Tolomato Cemetery in St Augustine. Anna was previously married to Samuel Williams who had an extensive plantation on the Halifax River in present-day Daytona Beach.
Following this program, we will adjourn to our annex in the rear of the Holden House where you can view four pieces of the 100 place setting of China General Hernandez and his wife used in Washington while he served as the first delegate from Territory of Florida at the 17th Congress (30 Sep 1822 - 03 Mar 1823).
The geographic area that now forms our county was largely a wilderness until the early 1880's. From the 1840's the main economic activity was timbering. Then came..........
Utley James White
Railroads - Dupont
Utley James White, a logger, farmer, railroad man and entrepreneur, was largely responsible for the early development of present-day Flagler County due to his railroads. He was also a major developer in Putnam, St Johns and Volusia Counties.
Utley was born in Brockport, New York, but I have been unable to determine when he came to Florida. In the 1880 United States Federal Census, he is listed as living in St Augustine with his wife Sarah who was born in Ireland and a daughter Lilla who was born in Florida about 1875. So from these records we have proof that the family was in our state as early as 1875 but really don’t know when or how he got here or from whence he came. In the 1880 census, his is occupation was listed as logging.
In 1870, St Johns County was bordered with the St Johns River on one side and the Atlantic Ocean on the other. There were no highways, no railroads and no intra coastal canal. The inlet at St Augustine was unable, as it is today, to handle large boats because of the depth of the channel. So if you wanted to get to St Augustine by a large passenger vessel, you had to come up the St Johns from Jacksonville.
Your vessel would port at Tocoi on the St Johns and you would traverse overland by coach to St Augustine, that is until Utley White built a railroad between the two points sometime between 1870 and 1875.
Now, prior to 1881, the Florida Legislature had complicated the lands owned by the state and clear title could not be obtained. Since railroads are built through a process of land grant guarantees to the financiers and since no grants could be guaranteed - there was no railroad building in Florida on a public scale.
Then in 1881, through the efforts of our state government and Governor W. B. Bloxham, 4 million acres of land were sold to Hamilton Disston of Philadelphia at 25 cents per acre. The sale of these internal improvement lands cleared the debts of the Florida legislature and allowed the state again to grant clear title.
Lake Disston in Flagler County is named after Hamilton and the development of that area in our county as well as Hamilton’s suicide in Philadelphia on 30 April 1896 at age 51 would make for another program.
However, back to Mr. White.
In 1885, we find Utley and his family is listed in the Putnam County Census with his occupation given as RR Man. His St Johns and Halifax Railroad, according to the Halifax Journal of January 28, 1886 “will be ready to transport freight and passengers the last of next month from Rolleston to the Tomoka.” Utley’s railroad passed through Hastings, Dinner Island, and Raulerson (now Espanola) on its way to the Tomoka River.
At Garfield on the north bank of the Tomoka River, just west of today’s River View Grill, passengers were ferried across the river and then road in hacks to Ormond. Foot passengers were charged 10 cents, a horse and single rider, 35 cents, while for a double-team and wagon, 75 cents was the permitted charge.
But, I digress........
About 1890, Utley sold his rail interest in the St Johns & Halifax Railroads to Henry Morrison Flagler. Utley’s railroads were narrow gage railroads, but as he used 8 foot ties, Mr Flagler did not have any problems shifting it to standard rail as all he had to do was shift one of the rails.
In the 1900 Census, we find the Utley While family in Hastings where his occupation is listed as farmer - He was the first man to raise Irish potatoes on a commercial basis in that area.
Soon thereafter, Utley moved from Hastings to Dupont about 5 miles south of Bunnell, where he built a rather large house called The Mansion and again went into the logging and lumber business. He built a large saw mill as well as a planing mill and stave mill.
The original plat for Dupont was filed on 30 April 1900 and contained 139 city blocks, Dupont, which is located between Bunnell and Korona on U.S. 1, is not incorporated, but it is still on the map. It was originally in Volusia County until Flagler County was formed out of St Johns and Volusia Counties in 1917.
A railroad was necessary to carry on this work, so he first built a tram road to Green's Island near Flagler Beach. He then constructed a narrow gauge railroad west to Codyville and Haw Creek and became one of the first potato growers in the Haw Creek area. The railroad extended as far as Tipperary - - a place just across Little Haw Creek on the Seville road.
Utley used this narrow-gage railroad to transport logs and farm produce to Dupont for shipment elsewhere. I think it interesting to note that the bridge tenders for the Key West extension of the Florida East Coast Railway which began in 1905, were cut from the Haw Creek Section and manufactured at his saw mill in Dupont.
Dupont became a beehive of activity. Mr. White built homes for the many white people employed there and the "quarters" housed more than two hundred blacks. His own dwelling, The Mansion House, was a show place. He had a large commissary which Walter Cody operated for him from 1903 until he sold his holdings. There were two boarding houses, one on either side of the railroad track.
Utley moved back to St Augustine and in 1912, built the largest private residence at that time on Anastasia Island. It was located at 60 Lighthouse Avenue and is now an apartment house.. He died on 20 Feb 1917 and is buried in Evergreen Cemetery in St Augustine. His wife Sarah continued to occupy the mansion for some time after his death, but began to sell off some of their property.
In 1923, Sarah sold the mansion and it grounds, the Octagon House and the entire block on the east side of the house which had been kept vacant to protect their waterfront view.
You can get some idea of the size of the Dupont settlement by viewing the photos we have of Dupont on display in our annex.
Because of Utley’s railroad a small settlement north of Bunnell, originally called Raulerson and now called Espanola, developed. In 1880, this little settlement about three miles north of Bunnell, boasted three families. No waterway, no paved roads, or railroad to attract anyone.
With the development of the railroad, new families came here to settle possibly to seek work.
Because of the population here, on 07 Mar 1888 the US Postal service established a post office here named Raulerson. On 17 May 1894, the post office changed the name to Espanola.
Around 1890, Espanola was a thriving community of about 100 people.
It was during this time that Espanola’s large saw mill was erected with many branch tram roads scattered through the surrounding woods to haul in the virgin timber to be sawed into lumber for the northern markets.
Later, as the mills began to close for lack of timber, the community’s economy became depressed and many of the people moved away, Then, in 1915, Espanola began to boom again as the Dixie Highway was built through Espanola. This was a narrow brick road, which still exists north of Espanola.
Espanola then had a hotel, post office, garage, cafe, rooming house, barber shop, dry goods store, grocery store, school, and mail route. Elzie Hunter, using a horse drawn cart, was mail carrier. Farming became an important part of the economy with Irish potatoes, corn and narcissus bulbs being shipped from Espanola, with Bimini (west of Espanola) becoming a major potato farming area.
Tourism became another important segment of the economy with camp grounds being established for over night tourists or, as they often called, “Tin can tourists.” One camp was “Live and Let Live.” Another was “Hoosier's Inn.”
The Old Brick Road turns north and extends for a distance of eleven miles between S. R. 204 and Espanola. The northern two miles of the road are located in St. Johns County while the remaining portion is located in Flagler County.
The road was part of the Dixie Highway which stretched from Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan south to Miami Beach, Florida. The road was composed of a packed shell foundation topped with a nine-foot wide brick roadbed and four-inch wide concrete curbs, flanked by three-foot wide shell shoulders for a total width of fifteen feet. The road construction was part of a sixty-six mile project completed in 1916 by St. Johns County.
Espanola was depressed again as the “boom” came to an end and the new Dixie Highway (now U.S. 1) was constructed to bypass Espanola. Today, Espanola remains a quiet and peaceful little community where they speak of fond remembrances of the days gone by.
George W. Deen
Flagler County - St Johns Park
My Great Uncle George W. Deen of Baxley and later Waycross, Georgia, bought several large tracks of land in St Johns and Volusia counties in the late 1890's and established turpentine stills which he leased to operators. His brother, and my Great Grandfather James Monroe Deen and family, moved onto one of the turpentine still sites near Espanola. Later James moved to a camp known as the Sappling’s in the Haw Creek area.
Daniel Martin Deen, another brother, came from Georgia in 1903 to lease a still just west of Hunter Branch and established his son-in-law, Zachary G. Holland and family there to operate the still. The Holland’s cleared land and began an early farming operation being one of the first potato and cabbage farmers.
George’s first cousin William Henry (Doc) Deen and son Carter came from Bax1ey, Ga. in 1905 to lease the turpentine still near Espanola and one located at Dinner Island. He was joined the next year by his brother Robert William Deen and family.
After spending some time in the turpentine business, the Deen brothers later, became early potato farmers
St Johns Park
Sometime in the 1880's Matthew (Mack) Davis and his wife, the former Fannie Burnsed, and one daughter moved from Matanzas to the St. Johns Park area, then known as Omega. They first settled at what is now known as Davis Branch and a few years later moved to the Dead Lake area.
Living in the area at that time was Tom Squires who operated a sawmill near the lake front. He had a dummy track which hauled the logs from the woods to the sawmill and then to the dock where the lumber was loaded onto barges. Al West operated the dummy. Tom Squires built the big two story house which Mack purchased and moved to its present location on County Road 2006 – Squires had used the building as an office
The timber lands were largely held by my Great Uncle George W. Deen of Baxley, Georgia, who leased the turpentine business to various operators. Trapping was an important part of the economy. Farming was just beginning to emerge as a new business. The vegetables and furs were transported to St. Augustine by horse cart via Matanzas. There was no boat traffic at this time. Though, in a few years, when Crescent City was settled, the St. Johns Park people would go there by boat for supplies.
The real land boom started about 1908. Ernest Frederick Warner, who later served Flagler County as State Representative, bought about 25,000 acres of land from George Deen and Matthew Davis. He and his associates organized one of the first big land promotions. They advertised in northern papers with "Five Dollars Down and Five Dollars a Month." Much of the land was sold by mail order. Known as St Johns Park Development Company, they sold land in 25 acre parcels.
By this time, Uncle George had sold most of his interests here and was back in Waycross where he starting to build subdivisions.
A three story frame hotel was built on a 50 acre waterfront park in now St Johns Park. A large administration building was erected nearby, as was a two story general store and a post office.
The company operated boat service for passengers and freight. Two boats, The McNeil and The Crescent, made regular stops at Dead Lake bringing settlers, mail, prospectors and supplies and returning with newly harvested farm products.
The buildings shown in the photographs in the annex are all gone. About all that remains of the former settlement is the Davis House mentioned above and the old hotel safe, part of which is exposed and sticking up out of the ground near the hotel site.
On December 3, 2007, the Flagler County Commission, using $1.7 million of voter approved funds for Environmentally Sensitive Land, purchased 29 acres at Bull Creek Fish Camp to preserve public access to Dead Lake and some 23 acres of cypress wetlands. The area, the site of the former docks at St Johns Park, is in western Flagler County at the western end of County Road 2006.
Isaac I Moody, Jr
Toward the latter part of 1897, 43 year-old Alvah Alonzo Bunnell, established a sawmill and later a store next to the railroad in the area of present day Flagler County known as Bunnell. There was no town at that time. To identify the train stop for mail and to let off passengers, it was called Bunnell Stop.
About 1898, two young bachelors, Isaac I Moody, Jr, 24, of Appling County, Georgia and Major James Frank Lambert, 36, of South Carolina, arrived in what is now Flagler County, Florida.
They came to work for my Uncle George W. Deen who had a large turpentine business in St Johns Park, west of Bunnell Stop. George, who had worked for Isaac’s father in Georgia, was also the president of the St. John’s Park Development Company in the western part of now Flagler County.
After working several years for George Deen, later a Georgia State Senator, they purchased a 30,000 acre tract of land from him and set up their own camp and turpentine operation. They were successful in the turpentine business but realized that some good farm land was in the acreage they now held. Having observed the land sale promotion in St. John’s Park, in 1909 they formed the Bunnell Development Company. They had real estate offices here and in Chicago where train trips were arranged for potential buyers from the North to visit this area.
Bunnell Stop was first incorporated as a town on June 2, 1911, when the state legislature passed a special act of incorporation. The act contained a faulty description of boundary lines and the place did not function as a town until two years later when a special law was passed granting them a charter. The first post office was established at Bunnell Stop on 05 Oct 1892,
Isaac was one of the first city commissioners of town of Bunnell, president of the Bunnell State Bank, a St. Johns County commissioner and chairman of the board when Flagler County was cut out of St Johns and Volusia counties in 1917, and the first state representative of Flagler County
Mr Moody died on 18 Dec 1918 in Bunnell at the age of 44. He is buried at Espanola Cemetery.
William Edgar (Ed) Johnson
Bunnell and the Hammock
In early 1913, another mover and shaker arrived in the town of Bunnell coming from Hohenwall, TN. His name was William Edgar (Ed) Johnson and in Apr 1913, he opened the first hardware store and lumber in Bunnell on Bay Street and called it the Johnson Lumber and Supply Company.
Three months later he installed an up-to-date saw mill and three years later build a single mill.
I do not know when he started buying up property in now Flagler County, but in my research I found that in May 1924, he added 2,000 acres to the 1,500 acres he owned along the East Coast Canal in the Hammock.
His farm in the Hammock was called Bon Terra and was the only residence in the county at the time that had a telephone line. The family had to maintain it as there was no one else who wanted or could afford a telephone. Bon Terra was maintained with the help of about 10 artesian wells located on the property -- the house well was run by a turbine which also provided electricity to the 17 room house (which stood until the property was purchased by ITT).
In Jan 1930, workmen on the Bon Terra Estates were digging a ditch adjacent to the Florida East Coast Canal and were not more than 2 feet below the surface when they discovered some large animal bones. There were two teeth, each of which was approximately four by five inches in diameter and weighing bout 12 pounds, several sections of vertebrae and two ball and socket joints. The bones were similar to those discovered on this same tract of land earlier and identified by the Smithsonian Institute as those of a mastodon.
In the 11 Feb 1932 issue of The Flagler Tribune there was a story that said that bones of prehistoric animals had been found in quantities at Bon Terra Estates and that Ed Johnson had made arrangements with Rollins College to make extensive excavations of the site.....Dr Armstead of the college staff directed the excavating .....Jack Connelly, archeologist at Rollins was assisting.
Some of the bones found in the Hammock are on display at the Flagler Beach Museum.
In Mar 1931, The Bunnell Hardware Company, of which he was president, purchased the entire block on which their hardware store was located from Major James Frank Lambert. The two story brick structure formerly occupied by the Bunnell Mercantile Company and the brick building occupied by the hardware were among the first buildings erected in Bunnell around 1911. They were torn down in January 2007.
Ed died on 31 Oct 1944 here in Flagler County and was buried at Hope Cemetery, now Flagler Palms Memorial Gardens.
In April 1948 ground was cleared in the Hammock at Artesia, 10 miles north of the Flagler Beach pier, for construction of a community church which was to be known as the Ed Johnson Memorial. Mrs. Lillian William Johnson, Ed’s widow, gave the property on which it was to be erected and the material for building. A new sanctuary was added about 2006.
Lambert & Moody
The Bunnell Development Company of Double I Moody and Major Frank Lambert also developed the settlement of Korona south of Bunnell. They marketed the land in Chicago and Detroit as they did Bunnell, however there was one major difference - the ads were written in Polish - - there is a framed copy of a Polish language ad in the annex as well as photos of Korona.
Polish immigrants in Chicago, Detroit and other cities were the original settlers of this new town. Before leaving for Florida a committee was formed and it raised $1,000 to build a church in Korona. God, Country and Honor was their traditional motto. Their pioneering spirit and tremendous desire to find a new life in the south spurred them on.
The first 35 families arrived early in 1914.. They began building their homes and a duplex home for their priest who they brought with them. Part of his home later became their first Post Office and the highlight of the day was waiting for the Florida East Coast local to drop off the mail pouch.
Poor drainage, hordes of mosquitoes and no roads or farm tools forced some to return to Chicago. Others stayed on to eke out a living. Slowly the dense vegetation disappeared; more homes began dotting the countryside. Potato and vegetable crops helped build the economy of Korona. In later years many of the residents went into the poultry raising business.
In 1926, a new landmark was added to Korona. The White Eagle Hotel was erected by the late Barney Trojanowski, better known to Flagler County residents as Barney Trojan. He had quarters for his family and rooms for tourists on the upper floor. On the ground floor was a grocery, feed store and a real estate office. Later the entire first floor was turned into a beer garden with a large dance floor.
Here, for many years, dances were held Wednesdays and Saturdays. Polish people from all over Florida gathered here to celebrate all the major holidays. Church suppers, club dances made this the gathering center of the area. This building was torn down in 1959 to make room for four-laning U.S. 1. The present White Eagle Bar in Korona is very near where the original White Eagle was located.
The St. Christopher’s (now out of favor with the church) Shrine next to the old church, was built when Rev. Fr. C. Hoffman became resident pastor. His personality and drive made friends for him all over this section of the state. The Shrine was his gift to Korona and to all motorists who would come and pray to the Patron Saint of travelers.
St. Mary’s Parish was attended spiritually by the Redemptorist Priests from New Smyrna Beach until 1954. That year the parish was given to the Diocesan Priests of St. Augustine.
Ocean City - Flagler Beach
With the fast moving development of Bunnell and the surrounding farming area, Isaac’s younger brother George Moody, envisioned the development of the coast line as a beach resort, vacation and land tourist area. After investigation he found the land east of the Inland Navigation Canal could only be acquired through homesteading and in September of 1913 he made application to homestead 169 acres of land which included one mile of ocean frontage extending west to the marshland.
With the raw, undeveloped land and no access to the beach came the tedious task of transporting needed materials to erect the buildings in the homestead agreement. Cement and other supplies were shipped from Jacksonville down The East Coast Canal by freight boats which served the waterway from Jacksonville south two days each week.
Construction on the canal which now runs from the mouth of the St Johns River at Mayport and extends south to Key West, was begun around 1883. At 8:00, Monday morning, 13 May 1907 the waterway from St Augustine to Miami was opened by the removal of the last strip of land blocking the canal in present-day Flagler County
After the concrete blocks were made, Mr. Moody's father-in-law, Leonard Miles, a brick mason of Baxley, Georgia, came down to lay the blocks for the first home to be built in Ocean City Beach, which was to become Flagler Beach in 1923. The five-room house was located on the corner of what is now known as Highway A1A and Second Street just north of the present municipal pier. The family moved into the home in February 1914.
To make the beach accessible, Mr. Moody built a ferry boat large enough to transport an automobile across the canal, and a corduroy road across the narrow part of the marshland. Mr. Austin Vanburen Wickline operated the ferry for many months. You can see photos of this ferry in the Flagler Beach Museum.
The beach proved to be a very popular spot for the people of the surrounding area and Bunnell where they enjoyed picnics, surf bathing, camping and fishing. Mr. Moody soon added a garage, showers and dressing rooms for the convenience of the visitors.
Ocean City was a small settlement on the west side of the canal. Mr. and Mrs. William Archie Cookman purchased seven, acres of land from the Bunnell Development Company and planted an orange grove on Lambert Avenue about a mile north of the present draw bridge. Mr. and Mrs. Austin V. Wickline, who had resided in Dupont and Haw Creek for a short time, also purchased several lots and built a home there in 1913. They were located on Lambert Avenue about 300 feet north of the present bridge. They later added a room to be used as a store. The Ocean City Post Office was established on 30 Jan 1915 and housed in the Wickline store. Mrs. Wickline was appointed Postmaster.
The Post Office was moved to the beach side and renamed Flagler Beach on 30 Jun 1924. The Wickline’s moved also. They built a two-story concrete block building on the corner of Central Avenue and Fourth Street to house the Post Office and a modern new department store which they operated for many years before retiring. The second story was used as their living area.
During 1916, George Moody built the Ocean City Beach Casino as a recreation center. The building was 75' by 150' and facing the ocean with a side entrance on Moody Boulevard. The building had a floor for dancing and skating, a refreshment center, fifty dressing rooms, several showers and a small living quarter’s area. This was later sold to Smiley Armstrong Baker, Sr., who added an ocean fishing pier to the property and the pier was destroyed in the mid 20's by a hurricane. The present Municipal Fishing Pier is located one block south of the first pier.
After completion of the homestead agreement, Mr. Moody had the property subdivided into lots and the street property was given to the town. Mr. and Mrs. Milo Seckner was the first customer to purchase lots from Mr. Moody's land company, known as the Ocean City Improvement Company which he chartered in Jun 1921 with himself as president and Claude Varn and secretary and treasurer.
Many improvements and additions were made over the next few years. The first bridge over the canal to the beach was completed in 1920. Construction of the Flagler Beach Hotel was begun by Dana Fellows Fuquay and George Moody. Mr. Moody sold his share to Mr. Fuquay before it was completed in 1924. A gala opening celebration was held on July 4, 1925.
Mr. Moody began construction of a business and hotel building across the highway from the pier with only a quarter of the building was erected before the famous boom busted
Flagler Beach became an incorporated town on April 16, 1925. The first town officials were: George Moody, Mayor; Councilmen were Charles Parker, Harry Wallace Sessions, Robert W. Raulerson, Dewey D. Moody and Luther O. Upson
A one room school served Flagler Beach for a number of years. The county built the present school building in 1925. Several class rooms and the cafetorium were added later. The old school building and some other buildings added later are now known as the Wickline Center.
George Moody was 34 years of age when he began the development of Flagler Beach. He was actively identified with the town's development during the years serving as mayor and also as a member of the city commission for many years.
In addition to serving as president of the Ocean City Improvement Company, George served as president of the Alma State Bank in Alma, GA, president of the Baxley State Bank in Baxley, GA; secretary-treasurer of the Bunnell Development Company; and vice-president of the Bunnell State Bank. He also served on the Bunnell City Commission, the Flagler County Commission and during 1929-1930 represented Flagler County in the State Legislature.
At the age of 74 he began the development of the marshland north of Moody Boulevard which is known as Venice Park and Palm Harbor. Most all of the lots in the subdivisions were designed for a street frontage and a water frontage.
George died on 23 Oct 1967 in Bunnell and is buried in the Espanola Cemetery.
Claude Grady Varn
Ocean Shore Boulevard
The last of the early movers and shakers I am going to speak about today is Claude Grady Varn, an attorney who graduated from Stetson Law School in 1914 and became associated with the law firm of Landis, Fish and Hull in DeLand. He continued with the firm for three years moving to Bunnell in July 1917.
In Sep 1917, Claude was appointed as the local attorney for the Florida East Coast Railway and thus in charge of all the legal matters of the Flagler system in Flagler County. He was soon hired as the first attorney for the town of Bunnell and was the co-founder of the Flagler County Abstract Company. When the Ocean City Improvement Company was chartered in July 1921, he was named as secretary and treasurer. In July 1922, he was named as the president of the Bunnell State Bank.
In Sep 1918, an important deal in real estate which, included 25,000 feet of ocean frontage, was consummated at Flagler Beach when his extensive holdings were purchased by Hon. Bert Fish of DeLand. The sale included 3,200 feet south of the Coast Guard Station; one quarter mile, three miles north of Flagler Beach proper; one-half interest in Rock Crest; three-quarters of a mile frontage one-half mile north of Rock Crest; 4,500 acres hammock land in and around Bon Terra Farms; and a half-interest in two and three-eights miles of ocean frontage in St Augustine on Anastasia Island.
He also sold to Mrs Mary K Stubbs of Daytona Beach, four hundred feet of Gold Coast subdivision at $30 a front foot. Your speaker presently lives in this subdivision on State Road A-1-A and I can assure you that when I purchased my lot, it was a bit more than $30 a front foot
Claude held on to an interest in some of his original Flagler Beach property and also in a proposed bridge across the Matanzas Inlet. In Sep 1918. Mr Varn was also a stock holder and legal advisor in the Flagler Beach Hotel, the electric light company, and the banking company.
He backed a state bill in the legislature which created a special road and bridge district, part in Flagler and part in Volusia counties and made a special trip to Tallahassee on 05 Jun 1923 to get the governor’s signature on the bill which was designed to construct a 30 mile road along the coast subject to a referendum election and bond issue.
Opposition to the project reared its head in Volusia County, but Flagler County rallied behind the roadway. When the election was held, it lost in Volusia County by five votes but received a unanimous vote in Ocean City leading to overall passage of the bond issue.
In May 1925, the 1923 act was amended to extend the highway to the north Flagler County line with a bond issue of $750,000.
In October 1925 work started on the Matanzas Inlet bridge, at the southern end of Anastasia Island, the permit for which was held by the St. Johns County Bridge Company of which Claude G. Varn of Bunnell was president.
The contract let to J. A. Kidd of Jacksonville, who built the big pier in Daytona Beach, called for completion of the bridge by 01 Apr 1926. The bridge was to be of creosote pile and lumber construction, with steel draw span. Work on this bridge marked the construction of the first link of the proposed ocean shore boulevard which was expected, some day, to stretch between Daytona and St. Augustine.
This was the first span across the inlet, which first opened as a toll bridge and later was taken over by the State Road Department, and in extension of the coastal highway in that area. Claude Varn was honored in 1964 when the Florida Legislature directed that the present Matanzas Inlet span be named for him.
The elaborate Davis Shores development on the northern end of Anastasia Island was to form the approach to the boulevard at the St. Augustine end, while the southern was to be at Mosquito Inlet south of Daytona Beach. The boulevard was to pass directly through Flagler Beach and skirts the ocean shore from north to south through Flagler County.
Long story short - the road was opened on 29 Mar 1927 with all the attendant hoopla suitable for the occasion.
Claude moved his family to Daytona in Aug 1926 but retained his interest in his law firm here, Varn & Peterson, as well as his interest in the Flagler County Abstract Company.
His vision resulted in construction of the first bridge across Matanzas Inlet shortening the route between St Augustine and Daytona Beach and opened up a vast area of the northeast Florida coastline for development
Claude died in St Augustine on 05 Jan 1979 and is buried in Espanola Cemetery.
NOTE: I don’t know who did or why but three of the above movers and shakers are given military titles in newspaper articles.
Frank Lamber is addressed as Major Lambert
Claude Varn is addressed as Colonel Varn
I. I. Moody was addressed as Captain in a 1917 article in the St Augustine Record. Two weeks later he is addressed as Colonel.
To date, I have been unable to find any military service records on the aforementioned individuals