Polk County, Florida
Businesses and Owners

[ Source: Homeland: A Description of Polk County, Florida by Sherman Adams; 1885.]


The early settlers invariably selected the most fertile and productive lands, for they were compelled to secure their subsistence from the soil; hence, as large crops could be raised here without commercial fertilizers, the scenery also being very pleasing and attractive, and the climate delightful, it is no wonder that the residents, and also the increasing numbers of visitors, should deem it the finest section of Florida. Its low latitude gives it great advantages in the raising of citrus and other semi-tropical fruits, frosts and freezes being very rare. The thrifty orange groves show the excellent adaptation of both soil and climate. Here vegetables grow with wonderful luxuriance all the year, well rewarding the cultivator's attention. The town has two telegraph lines and a daily mail, and will doubtless have a railroad within a year, surveys having already been made.

A stopping place is necessary for the prospector while he is determining where to locate. In this respect Fort Meade is fortunate, having two pleasant hotels. The ADAMS HOUSE, just east of the post-office in the centre of a four acre orange grove, and near the beautiful live oaks and delightful scenery that adorn the river's banks, is a very pleasant and convenient stopping place. Mr. A. H. Adams, with his agreeable family, from Seymour, Ind., is the obliging and attentive landlord.

find himself equal to the task of running the post-office, a drug store and two telegraph lines, though he has to get around lively at times. In face, he is always busy.

has a very neat and quite attractive millinery store, and is emphatically a woman of business, as well as polite, agreeable and entertaining. She naturally has hosts of friends and, we understand, gives excellent satisfaction.

, dealers in general merchandise, are located on the corner opposite the post-office and are doing an immense business. They are active young men, and their store and warehouse is literally packed with goods of every variety and description in general use, as well as a great variety of miscellaneous articles, their endeavor being to supply every demand.

are located to the west, and appear to be doing their full share of the trade. They have a large and well-assorted stock of general merchandise, suited to the needs of the country. This store was opened previous to the one at Bartow, and Colonel Hooker makes it frequent visits, though it is under management of able and trusty clerks.

The LIVERY STABLE of WILSON & McKINNEY next attracts our attention, being a great convenience, as well as necessity. The building is commodious and well-arranged for the large number of horses and carriages that are kept on hand, for sale, or for the benefit of the travelling public.

The FRENCH HOUSE, just beyond the livery stable, is situated about half way between the post-office and the fine, new school-house. J. L. Bettis, the genial landlord, was recently from Jacksonville, and has a wide acquaintance and an extended knowledge of the country. The rooms are pleasant and the table attractive, while the quality of the cooking, etc., is of exceptional excellence.

, the practicing attorney, has a very pleasant residence half a mile west of the post-office, where a new centre is being established. Though comparatively young, he is a representative man, being the Delegate-at-large for Polk and Manatee Counties to the Constitutional Convention. He has several promising groves, a great variety of choice and rare fruits, is a practical experimenter, and is largely interested in the lands of this section.

The SUNNYSIDE NURSERIES of MITCHELL & HESTER, to the extreme west, with their choice varieties of oranges, lemons, limes, plums, persimmons, figs, grapes, peaches, mulberries, roses, cedars, arbor vitaes, etc., besides a few each of plants too numerous to mention, must be seen to be fully appreciated.

Capt. F. A. WHITEHEAD, one of Fort Meade's leading and most active and influential citizens, has a delightful residence amid towering oaks and a fruitful orange grove, in the heart of the village. He also has a variety of pleasing growths, such as Japanese plums and persimmons, Peen-To peaches, lemons, limes, pine-apples, strawberries, bananas, mangos, sapadillos, grapes of numerous kinds, flowers in great variety, and other things too numerous to mention. He also has a large number of acres of the choicest citrus fruits in grove. A native of New York City, he has made good use of his thirteen years in Florida. Resigning his position in the navy at the close of the war, he made a thorough acquaintance of California, and has been in the fruit and stock business ever since, yet having a farm in Delaware. He prefers Florida to any State, has large tracts of land here and is doing a very extensive real-estate business.

E. E. SKIPPER is an extensive dealer in lands, knows the country thoroughly, and can suit every taste or condition, as he has every variety and price, both unimproved and improved. His faith in the country is shown by the fact that he has some 3,000 trees in grove, of which about 400 are bearing, some being from twelve to fifteen years old.

R. C. LANGFORD has a very pleasant and productive place in a pine and oak clearing about a mile southwest of the postoffice, with which he is connected by a private telegraph wire. Here he has a superabundance of fruits, vegetables and other farm and garden products that would astonish those who think nothing can be produced in Florida. He raises them in his grove year after year. He has choice tracts of land all over the country, and makes a business of buying and sellling lands.

a practical surveyor and dealer in lands, has been thoroughly identified with the interests of Fort Meade since 1872, the past eight years being chiefly devoted to surveying and selecting lands. He graded large quantities of the Disston and also of the Sir Edward Reed lands, and is now devoting his time and knowledge to the benefit of the public who are so fortunate as to secure his services.

DR. M. O. ARNOLD, recently from southeastern Iowa, charmed by the attractive beauty of the country, located at Fort Mead. Finding the country very healthful and desiring a broader field, having had five years practice in his profession, he has become interested in aiding others to secure homes in this delicious land, and many are being benefitted by his efforts. He was formerly treasurer of the South Florida Land Company, of which Dr. C. C. Mitchell, the present State Commissioner of Lands and Immigration, was president. He is now agent for the Florida Land and Improvement Company; The Kissimmee Land Company; The Atlantic and Gulf Coats Canal and Okeechobee Land Company, and The Florida Land and Mortgage Company (limited). He gives special attention to tracts for colonization, and to town plats for settlement, both large and small. He has a tract of 12,000 acres, suitable for towns or colonies, for a nominal figure; also, several miles of gulf frontage, in a tropical climate, with some very fertile lands, as well as large tracts with fine natural grasses, expecially suitable for stock ranges. Besides these heavy and desirable outlying lands, he has extensive interests at Fort Mead and vicinity.

DR. C. F. MARSH, recently from Mount Pleasant, Iowa, has a high reputation as a skillful practitioner.

DR. J. WEEMS, formerly of Missouri, is also a pleasant and capable physician, ranking high in the profession.

BLACK & EDWARDS, real estate agents and civil engineers---J. F. Black, of Illinois, and J. A. Edwards, of Alabama---have a good line of grove property, town lots and wild lands. They buy and sell on commission, give careful attention to surveys and titles, and give all possible assistance to those who desire to better health or fortune by locating on the fertile lands in the delicious climate of Polk County.

JAMES WYNN, a competent builder and contractor, is about to establish the saw-mill, which he has purchased, convenient to the town, and will furnish lumber and erect buildings at favorable prices.

PHILIP DZIALYNSKI has, for a number of years, been prominently identified with such interests as tended to the development of the town, and largely interested in its affairs, during the several stages of its growth.

G. W. HENDRY, who became a resident of Fort Meade in 1852, being then a stout boy, has written and published an interesting descriptive pamphlet of Polk County. When he came, this section was occupied by a company of troops at the fort, but there were no settlers, unless his elder brother, F. A. Hendry and family, with his father-in-law, Louis Lanier and family, who had the first herds of cattle driven east of Peace River, and were engaged in supplying the soldiers with beef, be so considered. Mr. Hendry is and has been actively engaged in locating land, having a thorough acquaintance with all South Florida, and unquestionable authority.


G. W. SMITH, one of Bartow's most enterprising citizens and prominent merchants, came in the spring of 1881; the trip from Orlando, with his family and household effects, being made in ox-carts over rough trails and swollen unbridged streams. They were eight days on the way, camping at night. Is it any wonder that Bartow, or Polk County, fertile and delicious section as it is, is not more thickly peopled, or that now the South Florida Railroad has its present terminus at Bartow, people should be rapidly pushing into the country to secure homes? Mr. Smith was pleased with the country, its advantages and its opportunities, and having had extensive experience in other sections, he knew a good thing when he saw it. He therefore purchased about one-sixth of the then surveyed town, bought a saw-mill, and later opened a store, to which he has made successive additions to accommodate his steadily increasing business. During the year he proposes to build a still larger and elegant store, though his present place holds an immense stock of goods.

On the corner of Main Street and Broadway Avenue, to the south, is the general merchandise store of CAPT. DAVID HUGHES, well stocked with every variety of general merchandise, which is sold by his gentlemanly and attentive clerks at very satisfactory prices. The stock is not only large, but the yearly sales are immense, some years reaching as high figures as $60,000. Two additions have been made to the store since it was first built, to make room for the constantly increasing stock, attractively displayed, and last spring the active and wide-awake Captain, a Colonel and Commandant of the Militia of Polk County by commission, purchased the handsome and commodious opera-house and removed the clothing and gentlemen's furnishing goods to the ground floor, whereon is one of the most elegant and commodious stores in town. Yet his old store is full to overflowing. In front of Captain Hughes' store is a row of vigorous sour orange trees, protected by heaps of stone at their base.

Westerly from the court-house, on Broadway, is the general merchandise store of GEORGE W. SMITH, the pioneer merchant of this decade. His stock of goods is varied and extensive, but though his building is large and commodious he is unable to give them anything like an appropriate display. He will soon remedy this, however, by the erection of a new and creditable store, where he will continue his present immense business.

The LANG BROTHERS, on Broadway, directly west of the courthouse, have a very fine and attractive stock of dry goods, clothing, gentlemen's furnishing goods, and boots and shoes, as well as a choice selected stock of staple and fancy groceries, canned goods, tobaccos, etc. The store is kept as neat as a parlor, and the goods are displayed in excellent style, while their prices are very moderate and encouragingly satisfactory. Their customers receive the most polite and gentlemanly attention, and those who once patronize them are sure to go again.

COLONEL J. N. HOOKER & CO'S fine and well stocked general merchandise store, on Main Street, to the southeast of the court-house, deserves a more than passing notice. It is not only an extensive, neat and well-lighted establishment, but contains a very heavy stock of general merchandise, embracing every variety, which are sold at prices to suit the times, by his attentive and gentlemanly clerks. The Colonel is Chairman of the Board of County Commissioners. He also has a large general merchandise store at Fort Meade.

Northeast of the court-house is the extensive hardware store of the REED BROTHERS, solidly packed with the great variety of articles in general demand, in the way of stoves, plows, pumps, piping, etc., etc. In fact, a variety of general hardware goods and general field and household articles too numerous to mention. They also do a general tinning business, drive and bore wells, etc., etc.

North of the court-house, we observe a floor laid beneath the shade of some handsome water-oaks, and supplied with seats. This is a first introduction to the BARTOW FURNITURE STORE, which, located just across the sidewalk, has an immense stock of the varied kinds of furniture most in demand. The goods are so numerous and so closely packed and piled that you can hardly move around, but you can, no doubt, secure the articles you desire.

J. P. STATHAM & CO. are enterprising druggists and physicians, located on Broadway. They have a varied assortment of druggist's goods, and are doing a popular and very lively business, when the exceedingly healthful state of the country is taken into consideration.

BAEUMEL & OPPENHEIMER, on Main Street, south of the court-house, are the new druggists from the West, who have built and opened a nice drug-store the present season. Everything is new and very neat and attractive. They also have a handsome soda-water fountain, and dispose of immense quantities of the cooling fluid. They set the example of self-protection from fire by means of a bored well in the rear corner of their store, to which a force-pump is attached. Water is forced to a tank in the attic, from whence, by pipes and hoses, it is available in all parts of the building. They also have a Babcock fire extinguisher.

L. LYTLE has extensive livery, feed and sale stables, just to the east, on Main Street. He also deals extensively in carriages, hay and grain. He keeps a good supply of fine animals and carriages, and can insure any one a pleasant drive. Mr. L. is the pioneer livery man of Bartow, and does an immense business.

H. T. DIAL has a very extensive steam planing mill near the north edge of the town plat, and a saw-mill at Peace River, thus insuring a constant supply of lumber at satisfactory prices. He also has wood-wooking attachments, whereby he fills orders for orange boxes, vegetable crates, brackets, mouldings, etc. He also has a grist mill, and is contemplating starting a furniture manufactory.

J. M. DILL is the active and energetic contractor and builder, who is making his progress along the pathway of time, by the erection of substantial and creditable buildings. The work that he has done is his best and most convincing advertisement, and a bright future spurs him to earnest endeavor.

MRS. SNODDY'S millinery store speaks for itself, and shows that there are some advantages in this direction, but a lady at one short visit would have more actual knowledge of the facts than a man could evolve in a week.

The three leading hotels of Bartow, taken in the order of the age of the buildings, are the WEBSTER HOUSE on Main Street, west of the court-house, E. Webster, proprietor; the CENTRAL HOUSE to the east, kept by J. F. Kelly, and the BARTOW HOUSE on Davidson Street, northwest of the court-house, by Dr. R. H. Huddleston. The rates at each are two dollars ($2) a day, the houses present a creditable appearance, and the proprietors apparently use their best endeavor to promote the satisfaction of their guests. The Webster House is being enlarged by a handsome two-story front.

TIGNER & TATUM, real estate agents, have their office on Main Street, directly south of the court-house. They are wide-awake and reliable men, thoroughly informed by years of personal experience, with the varied qualities and values of lands---past, present and prospective. They have large quantities of lands on their books, both improved and unimproved, and can suit their customers with town lots, bearing groves, pleasant and desirable residence lots, or wild lands in quantity, as the taste of the purchaser, or the condition of his pocket-book may dictate. They have been residents of Bartow and in active business here for several year, but had previously become well acquainted with other parts of the country, consequently they know land when they see it. As they have every kind of land for sale, they have no occasion to misrepresent the desirability of any particular tract, and their honorable reputation is good evidence that they have no such disposition. They have full faith in the future of South Florida, and especially of Polk County, and they have good and substantial reasons for the faith that is in them. They reply promptly to all inquiries with regard to lands and opportunities for investment.

JOHN C. WRIGHT has an extensive general merchandise store on the corner of Main Street and Broadway, to the southwest of the court-house. He also deals largely in paints, oils, etc., doing an extensive business in all lines. F. D. Beville, one of the early merchants of the town, as it was commencing its later growth, is his chief clerk.

J. J. McKINNEY has a pleasant and well-stocked livery and sale stable, a block northeast of the court-house, that is kept in excellent shape. He has fine horses and carriages, and the terms are moderate. The buildings and outfit are all new, and those who desire a pleasant drive about this delightful country, with or without a driver, will here be promptly suited by the accommodating proprietor.


The LAKELAND NEWS, L. M. Ballard, Editor and Proprietor. He is also the proprietor of the North-Side Hotel.

Prominent among the real estate agents, with handsome and convenient offices centrally located, are GREEN & MUNN, TORRENCE & BRISTOW, SCOTT & ROQUEMORE, who will furnish all desired information regarding lands in this vicinity and other parts of South Florida.

NEWMAN & CO. have a pleasant store and a fine stock of gent's and ladies' furnishing goods, boots and shoes, notions, etc.

O. J. FRIER has an extensive and well selected stock of general merchandise, at satisfactory prices.

W. B. BONAKER, dealer in general merchandise, endeavors to meet every demand in that direction, at prices to suit.

S. L. & H. J. DRANE, druggists and apothecaries, are well prepared to fill any demands in their line.


C. H. ALLEYNE & CO. (limited) have a very fine new office opposite the depot, do a very extensive real estate business, and furnish and desired information respecting Acton and other parts of South Florida.

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