Roadside History: Gravesite of Ellis Mize in Alachua County

One of the most interesting gravesites I have visited was this one in Alachua County. It is the gravesite of Ellis Mize. The Mize family operated a turpentine still up until 1950. Ellis Mize lived from 1862 until 1967. Because of his love for the pine tree industry, Mize had his granite tombstone carved to resemble a “working face” pine tree. There is a historical marker outside of the cemetery describing the history: “From 1909 until 1923, Florida led the nation in pine gum production. In 1909, the peak year in the U.S.A. gum yielded 750,000 barrels of turpentine and 2.5 million barrels of rosin. The 1910 census listed 27,2ll men and 3l6 women, mostly blacks, working in the industry with 65 percent in Florida. Fairbanks, Florida was a turpentine still town with the Mize family operation processing ten 50-gallon barrels of crude gum at a time. This still required six crops of 10,000 faces (an area where streaks of bark are removed) and each crop covered 400 acres. As recently as 1951, 105 fire stills operated around Gainesville. The Mize family operated the Fairbanks still until 1950. Many of the buildings (the cooper’s shed, machine shop and worker homes) still stand. Ellis Mize (1882-1967) donated land with a lake bearing his name to the University of Florida’s forestry education program. In 1948, they deeded this private cemetery on that property to the Fairbanks Baptist Church. Because of his love for the pine tree industry, Mize had his granite tombstone carved to resemble a “working face” pine tree. This marker is dedicated to all who toiled to provide an income for families and communities and resinous products worldwide.”

My Video

Ellis Mize Gravesite


Fairbanks Cemetery

Ellis Mize Historical Marker


4 thoughts on “Roadside History: Gravesite of Ellis Mize in Alachua County

  1. Your adventures ( and research) are fascinating. You do such a great job on your videos too. I love old Florida. It’s funny that I live in central Fla but found out about you from Ben Emlyn Jones in the UK, ha! Thank you for sharing it all, it’s very inspiring.

    Liked by 1 person

      • PLEASE let me know if he does. We tried to meet up when I was over there last Spring, but schedules were too chaotic (conferences, etc). I look fwd to catching up on Mind Set AND your Fla blog/YT after the holidays. Thanks again for your time/energy to share. You were just in my area recently! 🙂


  2. I have the honor of being a friend of Mr. Ellis John Mize (1922-present) who is the nephew of Ellis Mize. “Johnny” Mize, as he is called, states, “Ellis Mize was my father’s favorite uncle and I was named after him.” John is a WWII veteran who spent 3 years as a Marine in the South Pacific clearing the islands of Japanese soldiers who were living in bunkers, shooting down U.S. airplanes and naval ships. Following the war, he became an iron worker and supervised the construction of the Delaware Memorial Bridge, as well as numerous other bridges constructed between Washington, D.C.and Portsmouth, NH beginning in the 1960’s. He is a testament to the courage and fortitude of his family and is probably the last surviving member of this branch of the Florida Mize family. Thank you so much for highlighting their pioneering American spirit.


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