1870 - The Brown Family and Brown's Ford

1870 - The Brown Family and Brown's Ford

[Simon Thomas Brown]

Simon Thomas Brown, born in 1845 in Columbia County, Florida, married his wife Polly Ann (Manning) in 1867 in Marion County.    Around 1870, Simon Thomas Brown came from Alligator City (now Lake City) with his wife, Polly, and his widowed mother, Ellender B (Summerall), to the area of Indian House Lake, south of Yalaha (the closest town at the time). The area would have still been part of Sumter County. The area is now on the south side of the present-day industrial park at the SW intersection of Highways 19 and 27.
Census records show them as living near Yalaha, because Villa City (1885), Taylorville (1889), and Howey-in-the-Hills (1925) did not yet exist at the time.

   Ellender was the great-granddaughter of the famed Samuel Nunez, who was the private physician to the King of Portugal and close friends with John Wesley, founder of the Methodist Church. It is documented that Wesley learned Spanish in order to communicate with Samuel Nunez. Nunez had helped to establish the early Jewish community in the Georgia colony after he and his remaining family escaped their planned executions by the Catholic Inquisition.

   Ellender's nephew, and Simon's 1st cousin, is the famed General Charles Pelott Summerall, after whom Summerall Park in Tavares is named.

   Ellender is buried at Dukes Cemetary.

1907 - Ox Cart Crossing a Marsh in Fort Myers, Florida
[Wagons would have crossed Brown's Ford
similarly to this photograph from a ford in Fort Myers.]

   The Brown family would soon move a little ways down the road (around 1871) to today's Cherry Lake Road and build a cabin on the shore of a small lake.

The area soon became known as Brown's Ford. Brown's Ford was the site of a crossing on the wagon and cattle trail that crossed over the lowest part of the Palatlakaha Creek.

   Brown's Ford was named for Simon Thomas Brown (the first of three namesakes) who owned all the land, in that area, along the north side of the river. The trail ran along what is today HWY 19. It was already well traveled as early as the mid 1800s, as it was the only crossing point of the river between Clermont and Mascotte.
   For travelers from Yahala or Tavares, the nearest towns to the north at the time, the only other point shallow enough to cross the Palatlakaha south into Taylorville or Mascotte was at Villa City. So most people would soon be crossing through Simon's property to reach the new town of Taylorville.

Simon and Polly had 8 children: Lorum, William Jessie, Ardellia, Elvie, John Miley, Mamie J., Essie "Sweetie", and Rasmah "Bud" Arnold.

Simon grew sugarcane among other crops. In 1886, he reportedly disappeared after working in the field one day without notice. It was said that his wife Polly was a hard woman and he just couldn't take it anymore. Family members discovered some time later that he had moved down to Hardee County in south Florida and married a woman named Sallie Cinderella Carpenter. The Browns being mormons at the time, it would not have been much of a surprise for him to have two wives. They had 6 children.

One of Simon and Polly's sons was William Jesse Brown. He married Mollie Harrell in 1889 and had 12 children.

Molly was brought from Georgia sometime between 1880 and 1885. She was brought here on horseback by her uncle. It is beleived he brought her to live with him after she became an orphan. She was 16 years old when she married 19 year old William.

William Jesse Brown continued working the family property as a farmer and grove owner. At some point, he traveled, mostly on foot, down south to find his father in order to receive the deed to the property.
"I remember my Grandfather William Jessie Brown, as a very quiet man, tight with his money, and very hard working. He had to be, raising twelve children back in those years. I don't think he ever drove or owned an automobile or truck, I just remember him having a small horse and wagon. He farmed some and had his orange grove, this is how he made his living." - Peggy Sloan
William and Molly had 12 children: Lucy, Erroll Delmar, Carrie Viola, Alberta, Irene Elizabeth, William Arnold, Annie Mae, Alfred, Edna, Simon Thomas Sr., Mary Oveida, and Doris Louise.

In 1899, Groveland's first school was built nearby and was named Brown's Ford School. It also served as the first church in Groveland.

As the Brown children were growing up the older ones went to a one room school house that was located near Dukes Cemetery, later on the younger ones went to school in Groveland. Out of the twelve children only two graduated from Groveland High School, those two were Simon Thomas Brown and Doris Louise Brown (Hutch).

The elder Simon lived the rest of his life in Hardee County until he died in 1928.

William's daughter Annie Mae Hull lived her entire life in Groveland.

One of William's sons, William Arnold, and William's youngest daughter, Doris, would continue to live on portions of the original Brown family homestead until their deaths.

William's youngest son, named after Simon, became a well-known barber in downtown Groveland for many decades from the 1940s-1980s. He would also continue to live on a portion of the original Brown family homestead until his death in 2007.

William Arnold Brown and his wife, Mary, Simon T. Brown Sr., Carrie Viola Sheppard, and Alfred Brown, are all buried along with their parents, William Jessie Brown and Mollie, at Dukes Cemetery, here in Groveland.
Doris Brown Hutch is buried at Bay Lake Church Cemetery, in Bay Lake.
Annie Mae Brown Hull is buried at Tuscanooga Baptist Church Cemetery.