“Florida Trailblazer” Featured in Lutz, Land O’ Lakes and Wesley Chapel Magazines in Pasco County, Florida

Florida Trailblazer in Lutz MagazineI am honored and extremely grateful to be featured in the September 2019 issues of Wesley Chapel, Lutz and Land O’ Lakes Magazines distributed in Pasco County, Florida.

Pasco County is a local stomping ground for me where there are many wilderness areas and historical sites to see and learn about. So over the years I have always strived to help educate people around these areas about some of these places through my various videos and other projects. So when I was presented with the opportunity to be featured in these magazines I was really excited! Although it is much more than about sharing about the history and wilderness in these regions but all over Florida as well.

I am so glad that I am able to inspire so many people through my adventures and really grateful for the opportunity to share about them. I appreciate your support thank you very much! I hope you enjoy this article see the link below. Special thanks to Sandy Parrish and KEM Media Group for the feature.

Magazine Article “Into The Woods” by Sandy Parrish

Thanks to Jae Patrick (Cover Photo Credit)

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Florida Trailblazer Podcast (Episode 1)

Florida Trailblazer Podcast

Florida Trailblazer Podcast

I have been working on lots of new projects for Florida Trailblazer and one of them involves a podcast. It is something I actually had in mind to do for a long while now but it wasn’t until recently that I began putting it together. It is still a work in progress and will evolve in time. I have finished the first episode which is now available on my YouTube channel and will be published online at other outlets soon where podcasts can be heard.

The YouTube version has images to go along with the conversation which I think is a good way to help illustrate what I am discussing during the episodes. This first episode is about a couple of lost cemeteries that I explored.

If you are contributor to Florida Trailblazer you get first access to the episodes before they are published online. If you are interested in donating check out the links below. All of the contributions help go towards providing more content like this and so much more that I plan on producing in the near future.

I am very thankful for all of you that follow along with my adventures and this is just one of the ways I wanted to help give back to show my appreciation. These episodes will highlight some behind the scenes stuff about my adventures and provide an insight to a lot of the production and work involved when I am exploring all of these great places that I post about. I hope you and enjoy it and stay tuned for more exciting news!

Florida Trailblazer Podcast on YouTube

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Hull-Smith Cemetery in Ocala National Forest

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Hull-Smith Cemetery

During the 1800’s many families and early settlers had homesteads and cemeteries throughout Florida. I have been visiting a lot of these old cemeteries over the years and some are in better conditions than others. One of the areas I have visited recently is now part of Ocala National Forest and there are several old cemeteries around this forest. It is some of the remaining history and evidence from the past that still remains in these areas.

This particular cemetery is called Hull-Smith Cemetery and it’s located within Marion County. It appears to date back to the 1800’s and early 1900’s, although most of the tombstones here are either broken or missing. So it is hard to know the exact dates and the history of the folks buried here. Most likely the people who are buried in the cemetery were early settlers and had homesteads in the surrounding area. It was a simple life then but a very hard one.

As I explored around the cemetery I noticed maybe one or two tombstones that were still legible and in decent condition. I could see some of the tombstones had the name of Smith on them, one of the tombstones that was still legible had the name of Hull. According to burial records there is a Civil War soldier buried by the name of Daniel Hogan and he passed away in 1886.

It is my hope that one day the cemetery will be restored and kept up, sadly today is very neglected. I went there and recorded a video and took photos to help document and share about this place to help maybe bring some attention to the site. Although the cemetery isn’t in good condition the memories of these people and the history here is not lost. May their souls forever rest in peace…

Check out my video, photos and burial records posted below and if you visit this place or others like please be respectful of the sites, thank you.

VIDEO

HULL-SMITH CEMETERY IN OCALA NATIONAL FOREST

RESOURCES

BURIAL RECORDS FOR HULL-SMITH CEMETERY

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Caraway Cemetery at Lochloosa Wildlife Management Area

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Caraway Cemetery

This is an interesting site I explored in Alachua County known as Caraway Cemetery. It is most likely that this cemetery belonged to the family long ago dating back to the early to mid-1900’s. They would’ve had a homestead near the cemetery as most families did back in those times. Today the area is part of Lochloosa Wildlife Management Area and is popular for hunting, fishing and hiking.

Roaming around the site I could see an old path in the woods that goes by the cemetery it was once an old road that was used to reach the cemetery and possibly the homestead as well. It is a very scenic and peaceful place and you can get a sense of the history as you explore these woods. Nearby on Lochloosa Lake the family had a fish camp from what I know.

Around the cemetery is part of an old fence that was once stood but most of that is gone but there was some caution tape around the perimeter of the site so it’s possible that a new fence is being installed but am not sure. It would be nice to see that and maybe some maintenance on the tombstones as well. The more we can preserve and save these places of history the better so that future generations could experience and learn about these places. In total I count about five headstones but there could be more folks buried here just not sure. Below I put a link to the burial records, my video and some photos as well. If you do visit this and any other site like it please be respectful and leave these places undisturbed.

MY VIDEO

Caraway Cemetery at Lochloosa Wildlife Management Area

RESOURCES

Burial Records

Lochloosa WMA

Thomas C. Fillyaw Gravesite in Ocala National Forest

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Thomas C. Fillyaw Gravesite in Ocala National Forest

This is known as the Thomas C. Fillyaw gravesite in Ocala National Forest. He was a Confederate Soldier and lived near and managed a steamboat landing here after the Civil War.  (Thomas C. Fillyaw, CPL 10th Btn GA Inf CSA May 1830-Dec. 8, 1873 Buried here by his son T.T. Fillyaw).

After posting some photos and videos I got a letter from one of the family members regarding some of the history here.  It turns out that some of the relatives make a trip out here when possible to help keep the site maintained. I am sure the forestry service helps out as well. The cemetery is nestled in the woods along the banks of the Ocklawaha River. It is a very peaceful and scenic resting place, and a reminder of some of the fascinating history here. I imagine the area hasn’t changed all that much since the time of his death. I hope the site remains undisturbed so that many more generations in the future can learn about the history here as well and that he will always be remembered in time.

This is some information that was sent to me from one of the relatives:

“My father placed the barrier around the grave to keep the dirt bikes off of it. My family has visited for many years and I have many fond memories of the project my dad undertook in building and installing the barrier. The story I was told is that Thomas was wounded in the war and never fully recovered. His wife was an Indian from some non local tribe and she was killed by local indians for being from the wrong tribe. Not sure how true the story is as I have found no way to confirm but that is what my family always said. His teenage son and young daughter buried him there where his grave is… I can’t remember now if that’s all the kids there was or not, but the teenage son was the oldest of ’em and after they buried their father, they took off on foot and walked all the way to somewhere in Georgia to live with an Aunt & Uncle they had there.” 

VIDEOS

Old Gravesite in in Ocala National Forest (Thomas Cassidy Fillyaw)

Exploring Ocala National Forest Crossover Video Feature with Jungle Jay

RESOURCES

Ocala National Forest

 

Coleman Church Cemetery in Alachua County

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Coleman Cemetery

This is an old African-American cemetery that I explored in the backwoods of Alachua County. Many of these cemeteries around the state are becoming lost to time and neglect so I am trying to explore and document them as I can. This particular one may be kept up from time to time from the looks of it and there was even a newer tombstone at one of the plots which dates to the 1970’s. The cemetery itself dates back to the early 1900’s. Back then the area looked very different than it does today.

There was once a town here called Coleman at one time. It was a town founded right after the Civil War by recently freed slaves. The town had a church, stores and houses in the small community but it did not survive as later generations moved away.

Though not much remains of the town other than just this cemetery from what I could see, this site is a still a nice reminder of times gone by and the people who lived here. It is important that we remember them and their history. It is my hope that future generations will learn about these places, visit them and also help keep the history alive.

My Video

Coleman Church Cemetery

Resources

Burial Records

Lone Gravesite at Andrews Wildlife Management Area

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Gravesite

I have always enjoyed the scenic wilderness along this part of the Suwannee River at Andrews Wildlife Management Area. There are many trails and recreational opportunities here. Some of the history includes logging and agricultural uses going back to the 1800’s, the land was purchased by the Andrews family in 1945, they managed the land for outdoor recreation. The state bought the land in 1985.

One of the interesting sites I found there while exploring was a lone gravesite, the tombstone is mostly gone now so I couldn’t see who was buried here and when. There is a wooden fence surrounding the grave so it seems to be maintained from time to time.

After some further research I was able to track down some information on the site. It is the grave of an infant child that died around 1898 his name was Walter Miller Owens, the father was a man named Randall Owens. So far that is all the history I could uncover on the area, they also may have had a homestead nearby.

It is amazing seeing these areas today and imagining how they once were and who lived there. You can’t help but get a sense of the history in places like this and this gravesite is a reminder from a time long gone.

Video Tour

Lone Gravesite at Andrews Wildlife Management Area

Resources

Andrews W.M.A.

Levy County Cemeteries – Owens Family Cemetery

Gainer Cemetery in Washington County

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I did some exploring and hiking at Econfina Creek Wildlife Management Area which is in Washington County in northern Florida. This area of the state to me still has that “old Florida” feel to it and there is a lot of wilderness areas to experience and naturally with that I wanted to see what history I could discover along the way.

Well one of the areas I found was an old cemetery dating back to the 1800’s called Gainer Cemetery. The cemetery is in decent condition though some of the tombstones are damaged, overall it is a very peaceful and beautiful place in the woods there. I found it off a forest road and learned that there was a homestead nearby at one time as well. It belonged to the Gainer family who had settled here back in those days. There is a fence around the cemetery and it seems to be kept up from time to time. There were some newer tombstones as well which suggests it is still an active cemetery most likely used by descendants of the Gainer family.  I truly enjoyed visiting the site and it inspired me to learn as much history as possible on the area.

Here is some interesting history on the area “William Gainer, a surveyor and mathematician, came to the Econfina area in 1824 or 1825 and established his homestead and a large ranch on the west side of Econfina Creek. Gainer had served as a scout and surveyor in the U.S. Army during Andrew Jackson’s 1818 invasion of Florida. It was during his time of service in the U.S. Army in West Florida that Gainer surveyed the Econfina area and determined that he would eventually bring his family back to the area to settle. The Gainer homestead reportedly served as a church and school until both were established within the Econfina community south of the Gainer home place. The Gainer place also served as the area “post office” until the U.S. post office was established in Econfina in 1855. William Gainer patented several tracts of land in the Econfina area beginning in 1837 and is reported to have lived at or near the original Gainer homestead until his death at age 84, in 1870. William Gainer’s son, Thomas Henry, also died in 1870, possibly from long-term complications resulting from wounds received during his service in the Confederate army at the battle of Jonesboro, Georgia, in 1864. The homestead was abandoned soon thereafter. The Gainer Family Cemetery is where William Gainer (1786-1870); his first wife Jane Watts Gainer (1792-1837); his sons William Augustus Gainer (1824-1912), Thomas H. Gainer (1834-1870), and Walter R. Gainer (1836-1920); and Eugenia O. Gainer (1848-1941) were laid to rest.”

My Video

Gainer Cemetery in Washington County

Resources

Burial Record

Econfina Wildlife Management Area

Jeremiah Milton Brewer Gravesite in Ocala National Forest

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This is an interesting gravesite I found in Ocala National Forest, a man name Jeremiah M. Brewer is buried here. He lived from 1844 to 1877, some of the history I found on him describes him serving in the Civil War as a Union Soldier. I find it interesting that there are both Confederate and Union Soldiers buried in this forest. As I approached the site which sits in the middle of the woods you can’t help but feel a sense of mystery here. Why was he buried here? Did he have a homestead or family nearby? So many questions come to mind. It is part of what drives me to explore the history. I try to imagine what the area looked like back then and you begin to put yourself in that moment. It is easy to get lost in the history out here but I rather enjoy it…

Here is some information I was able to find: The records indicate that he died in Paisley Florida which was established sometime in the late 1800’s. He was born in Clinton County, Ohio. He was the son of Jeremiah and Ann Matthews Brewer. Brother of Isaiah, Josiah, William B., and Mary Jane. This Jeremiah is listed in the 1870 Census in Greene Township, Clinton County, Ohio, Post Office: Sabina as a Druggist. Jeremiah served in Company D, Ohio 188th Infantry Regiment during 1865 and was mustered out in Nashville, TN on September 21, 1865. The property this grave is located on changed hands several times in the 1880’s until the United States Forest Service purchased it. Prior to 1882, the land cannot be found to have been claimed by any one person.

The grave seems to be maintained to some degree perhaps by the forest service or surviving family members could also help take care of it. I enjoy visiting the site and learning what I can about the history. It is very peaceful here in the woods and a nice resting place. Hopefully the grave remains undisturbed and can be a reminder of history for those who pass by.

My Video

Jeremiah M. Brewer Gravesite in Ocala National Forest

Resources

Burial Record

Ocala National Forest

 

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

Resources

Fairbanks Cemetery

Ellis Mize Historical Marker