Hello everyone I hope that you are doing well, it’s nice to have you here! I appreciate you following my blog and videos. I have been away from here for awhile and hadn’t wrote any updates so I wanted to check in to report on some news and things going on with my adventures and the website.
As usual I have been working hard each week on recording videos and producing content for my YouTube channel. I hope you have been able to keep up with the adventures and that you have been enjoying them, I truly appreciate it! Since the start of the pandemic I told myself that I would do my best to put my all into these adventures and make these videos to the best of my ability more than ever I had before. I felt like I have grown a lot since then in my work but it’s never really done, there is always more to be do. More exploring, more paths to take and interesting sites to discover.
I hadn’t been putting as much attention into my weekly blog posts as my weekly videos so I’ve been working on updating my website here lately and wanted to let you know that more content is coming very soon. I am excited to share so many adventures here, my goal is to provide a central hub not only for my video work but all the various things that come along with my adventuring. I want it to be interactive and a way for you to get inspired as well and hopefully can find some of these interesting places in nature I am sharing about. Whether if it’s in Florida or in the area you live. It is important to visit and cherish the wild and public lands while they’ll still exist. Many places are becoming developed and critical natural habitats along with the history are being destroyed. The more we can enjoy and share about them, the more hopefully people will appreciate them.
Some of the projects I am working towards is an updated version of my Florida Trailblazer podcast, which will highlight some of the behind scenes stuff, documenting maps and discussions about my adventures. It will be something that will evolve in time and I am looking forward to sharing it with you. I will be updating some of my older posts here and as mentioned previously posting new articles weekly about my hikes and projects. I am also posting a lot of behind the scenes, exclusive content, maps and much more as well on my Patreon page (Florida Trailblazer Plus) so by signing up there you can gain access to bonus stuff and even tour opportunities. It all helps go a long way in aiding these adventures and projects so I truly appreciate it! I have been adding more items to my online store so if you are interesting in purchasing some Florida Trailblazer merchandise check it out there. I have more updates coming soon so stay tuned. Keep up to date by checking my YouTube channel weekly for new videos and here at the website for updates as well.
I posted some videos below of my recent adventures, enjoy and I wish you the very best and thank you! I’ll see you in the wilderness…
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.
Ocala National Forest has a rich history, it is a beautiful and vast place to explore. One of my favorite places there is along the Ocklawaha River where an old steamboat landing existed in the 1800’s and early 1900’s. The area today is known as Historical Davenport Landing it was just one of many stops along this river back in those times.
In those days there weren’t many other ways for people to get from town to town so traveling by steamboat was a main form of transportation. Along this river were lots of small towns. Lumber and various goods were also traded and transported along the river. It was vital to the economy and livelihood in these places.
Long before this time dating back thousands of years Native American Indians inhabited these areas along the Ocklawaha River. Evidence of that can be seen at the landing where an ancient burial mound is located, it dates back to 500-1200 years. There is a fence around the site today helping to keep it protected, a lot of the mound was excavated during the 1800’s. Digging into the mound and removing artifacts is prohibited and illegal so please be respectful of the history here when visiting. It is best to observe the mound from outside of the barrier, there is a nice kiosk there describing some the history of the mound and the landing.
There are a couple of short trails from the parking area leading to the landing area and it’s a scenic place in this forest with amazing views of the river. It is a place of beauty and history that hopefully can be cherished by generations to come.
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.”
Over the years I have been researching some of the fascinating history within the Ocala National Forest. Besides the vast scenic wilderness and trails that you can enjoy there, the forest has a rich historical past. Everything from turpentine camps, to old homestead sites, cemeteries, Civil War history and Native American History as well.
One of my main goals recently has been to track down as many Native American Indian Mounds there as possible. It is challenging because for the most part the majority of them aren’t generally accessible to the public as far hiking to them and some are only reachable by boat. Although there are a few I have visited located along trails and forest roads that are very interesting to see such as Davenport Mound and Tishler Mound.
One of them I managed to reach was near the Ocklawaha River tucked away deep in the woods there so hiking to it was a bit of a challenge since no trail really leads to it. Maps I have studied show an old jeep trail in the area but today is overgrown and very hard to see. Most of the way I had to bushwhack and navigate my way through thick vegetation to reach the site. After a few miles I ended up at the mound which I believe to be an old burial mound. There could’ve been a village site here at one time as well. The area opens up at the site and you can see the slope of the mound and large it must’ve been at one time but a lot of it is covered up by vegetation today. The mound is right along the shoreline where the natives typically lived and hunted. The history of native cultures here date back 12,000 years. I am not sure how old this mound is but it may be at least 500 years old.
*When visiting sites such as these please remember it is prohibited and unlawful to dig into the mounds and or remove artifacts. Leave them as you see them for future generations to discover and learn about, thank you!
Ocala National Forest is a scenic place to explore but also a place of rich history. Dating back around 11,000 years ago and through the first European colonization of the New World, several waves of cultures lived along the St. Johns River and along the lakes in is what is now the Ocala National Forest. The word “Ocala” is most likely derived from the Creek “ue-kiwv,” meaning “springs.” The Ocala National Forest is the land of many springs.
One of the fascinating historical sites in the forest is known as Tishler Mound, an ancient burial mound dating back to the St John’s culture built between 500 BC and 800 AD. Pottery fragments found at the site indicated that it dates back around 1200 to 2500 years.
Over the years unfortunately the mound has been disturbed but is now a protected site today in the forest. There is a wooden fence around the site where the mound can still be viewed and a nice a kiosk there describing the history. It is amazing to still be able experience these places this many years later and hopefully it will be the same for future generations.
After learning about the ghost town of “Acron” in Lake County I went out to the area to try to find the townsite and see what could possibly remain. According to some maps I found that the location is just north of Paisley in the Ocala National Forest area. It was challenging trying to narrow down an area to cover since it is a large area, I didn’t really know where to begin.
Thinking back on the research and knowing that the town had a sawmill the site would’ve been close to water or a transportation line of some kind. So I looked for old roads, railroad lines or water areas to explore around. Another part of the research also indicates that the town had several spellings for its name. One of them was “Akron” and with this clue I narrowed down my search to around Lake Akron which was nearby. There are a maze of dirt roads in the woods there I picked one that lead me to the lake.
Along the way I managed to find some possible evidence from the townsite. In one of the clearings I saw a lot of old bottles and glass scattered about. I followed the area further in where I saw bits of ceramics, metal, wood and even and old license plate on the ground. It was obvious that I found a site related to the town just not sure what it was. I didn’t see any structural remains or bricks like I have at similar sites but I still have more to explore here.
Here is more history on the town: John C. Campbell was the first postmaster when the post office was established in 1877. Acron originally had a population of 30 but grew in time to 300 residents. The Acron School was established in 1875 with Sara Campbell as its first teacher, Flora Call was the second. Flora was the mother of Walt Disney. This two-story log school also served as a church house and local Mason meetings. Campbell housed the post office in his home which for a time was also used as the local hotel. The original Campbell home was demolished in 1910. The community has since disappeared. Pioneer family names consist of Campbell, Lever, Perkins, Blecha, and the Rev. Charles Jarvis Clark.