St. Johns River
Enterprise although today an unincorporated city it was at one time the county seat of Mosquito, Orange and Volusia
county. Enterprise is 206 miles up the St. Johns River on Lake Monroe.
During the Seminole war Enterprise was the home of Fort Kingsbury. Fort Kingsbury was named after Lt. Charles K.
Kingsbury who fought in the battle of Camp Monroe and later died of fever.
After the passage of the Armed Occupation Act Cornelius Taylor, first cousin to Zachary Taylor, and about 20 others
found Enterprise. Fort Kingsbury was abandoned six weeks earlier. In late 1841 or early 1842, Cornelius Taylor formed
a company of single men and families living near the mouth of the St. Johns River, and with them journeyed by
government boats to sites on the shore of Lake Monroe. There he and others, in the wilds of Florida, established the
settlement of Enterprise on the north shore of Lake Monroe. Among these families was that of John Carrol Houston, the
DeMasters, and Simpsons. At one point Cornelius complained in a St. Augustine newspaper that the government,
through the US Army, had not supported the settlers as they had promised: for example, not providing ammunition for
battles foreseen with the Indians. As a result, many of the settlers, he reported, were leaving to return to their former
homes. September 1842, Cornelius and Catherine’s eldest daughter, Mary Arabella, died in an epidemic and was buried
on a knoll beyond the hotel. Not many years after that, the Taylor family would leave Florida.
In Enterprise Cornelius Taylor built a two-story hotel on top of the old shell mound, as a winter retreat for northerners.
The Niles Weekly Register reported in 1846, "Last winter hundreds of invalids, guests of Maj. Taylor, were cured by
drinking from and bathing in (the three springs), near his property."
In 1843 Taylor was elected to the legislature and introduced the bill that made Enterprise the county seat of Mosquito
County. In 1845 a post office was created with Ora Carpenter as the postmaster. Taylor built an inn to attract visitors
traveling the shallow-draft steamboats from Palatka. Orange groves were planted and a sawmill was built. A typhus
epidemic hit the settlement and Taylor's daughter and nine slaves died.
During the years at Enterprise, Cornelius served at least one term as the representative to the Territorial Legislature for
Mosquito County. During his term in office he attempted unsuccessfully several times to get the name of the county
changed from Mosquito. He was successful in getting the county site moved from New Smyrna to Enterprise in early
February 1843. In August 1843, he went to Washington to fight for the timber rights of his constituents, but the U.S.
Attorney General ruled that they could cut only timber to be used for habitation and cultivation of the land. The settlers
thus lost a potentially large income.
Taylor left Enterprise in 1847. His business was not successful there; Taylor drowned on the way to California by ship in
1849.Cornelius' wife Catherine Taylor returned to Enterprise in the early 1850s where she reportedly ran a boarding
house, then returned to Jacksonville to run the Taylor Hotel. She and her children sold the Enterprise tract to the James
Starke family who built a large home called “Bueno Retiro” on a knoll beside one of the springs. This would become a
boardinghouse serving the railroad clientele in the late 1800s.
In 1851 Captain Jacob Brock bought land a mile west of the settlement where he built a wharf and laid out streets and
lots. In 1854 he completed The Brock House. that held 50 people. It would eventually hold 100. The hotel was 110 feet
long and two and a half stories tall with an open porch facing the lake. It served as a hotel to the passengers brought by
the his steam boats the Darlington and the Emma Brock.
Notice (The News, January 16, 1846) (Jacksonville Paper)
Died of consumption, at my residence, at Enterprise, Lake Monroe, in Orange county, Florida, on the 14th day of
November last, a gentleman calling himself E. L. Hallowell, and stating that he was from the State of North Carolina. the
deceased came to my said residence about the last of October in an extremely low state of health, and survived only to
the period first above named. This is to notify his friends and relatives of his decease, and to say, that sundry articles
consisting chiefly of one horse and a buggy, of wearing apparel, gold watch, and money amounting to about one
hundred and thirty dollars, left by him, are now in my possession, and ready to be surrendered to such person as may
be entitled to the same, subject to his funeral and other expenses incurred during his last illness, and the costs of this
During the Civil war U. S. Navy Captain George Balch captured in Lake Monroe the Emma Brock. The namesake of the
Captain's daughter. The U. S. Marines loaded wood fuel from Brock's wharf and some liberated contraband. The New
York Times would report that Miss Brock was unhappily watching from the house.
A freedmen’s school was formed by Charles Chipman in 1869. “I am now teaching about fifteen scholars by the light of
pine knots in front of my shanty, after working through the day trying to get a potato crop growing.”
In 1869 it was serviced by Captain Brock on the Darlington. In 1869 the fair to Enterprise was $9.00.
Places to stay in 1869
Brock House, kept by Mr. J. Brock, the proprietor of the line of steamers $3.50 per day. Several boarding-houses in the
pine woods near Watson's.
Several high shell mounds rise on the east shore of the lake, on one of which the hotel stands. Half a mile south of it is a
large sulphur spring of unusual strength, with a basin twenty-five yards in diameter. About 150 yards beyond it is a
second sulphur spring of less extent, and near by, also, a source of saline waters. (As yet no provisions are made for
the application of their waters to medicinal purposes.)
Beyond the springs, a hill of sand and shells rises some thirty or forty feet, surmounted by an old frame building. A
luxuriant sweet orange grove extends along the shore, bearing the finest fruit I ever tasted in Florida.
The medicinal waters, the rich fruit, the charming lake, the near pine woods, and the attractive hunting and fishing at this
spot, render it one of the most eligible for a large sanitary establishment. But is position should not be directly on the
beach, where the dazzling sand tries the eyes, and the evening dampness is painfully felt.
A Winter in Florida by Ledyard Bill, 1869
The first is Mellonville, on the western shore, formerly the site of Fort Mellon, built during the campaigns against the
Indians. This point was originally, however, a trading-post with the natives, and quantities of furs were annually brought
here. The town itself is nothing worth naming, beyond a wharf, small warehouse, and an humble dwelling combined. It
looks desolate; and yet we see a full half-score of settlers from the near interior, in waiting on the pier to obtain such
articles as they had severally ordered. We were detained here a half-hour in discharging freight, consisting of flour,
meal, some little machinery, implements of agriculture, and other minor packages of store articles brought from below.
The country adjacent is little cultivated; but back some twenty miles and more it is of a much better character, and has a
prosperous settlement of quite intelligent and industrrious planters. The soil here seems sandy, as it appears
everywhere away from the hummock-lands.
The mails of "Uncle Samuel" are exchanged; and the steamer, verring round, steers straight across to the eastern shore
and to the town of Enterprise. A half-hour of steady work of the engines brings us to its wharf, extending ten rods into
the lake. Our eyes surveyed the place a score of times ere the gang-plank could be made ready; and we were hear
having convulsions at the thought of what we had pictured it and the reality before us.
A half-dozen buildings is the sum total of Enterprise, about which so much is heard by travelers on the river. A feeling of
disappointment is inevitable; notwithstanding the traveler soon accomodates himself to the fact of utter barrenness in a
country which has been for a century forgotten; yet, that at the head of navigation, the termini of steamships and travel,
there should be found but one house, is beyond all belief! This is, however, the case; though a new dwelling was in the
course of erection during our visit. The hotel, the Brock House, the center and circumference of this city, is also a
disappointment; but it is in this case an agreeable one. From Jacksonville up to enterprise, no hotel equals this. It is a
genuine Northern-looking hotel, such as you may see at a watering-place on the seaboard, like, for instance, the old
"Watch Hill House" at Watch Hill, in Rhode Island. It stands broadside to the lake, one hundred and ten feet long, and
two stories and a half in heighth, with a veranda its entire front, board and airy. The house is well painted, and has
attractive green blinds, and comfortable accommodations for upward of fifty guests. It is also well kept, by a gentleman
from Maine, who makes himself a polite and pleasant host. The table during our stay was well supplied with meats and
fish. The night of our arrival the landloard set before us beef-steak, ham and eggs, roast venison, and fish. The venison
had been caught that morning; and before sunset, withing a mile of the hotel, another buck was shot, a fine large one,
off whicha large party breakfasted the next morning. The woods are full of game, and the lake swarms with a variety of
good table-fish. Trout, perch, and mullet are found in nearly all the lakes, while bass, sheep's-head, and bream abound
the entire length of the river. Shad are taken in their season, as in other rivers o whcih they have access. Probably no
river on the globe of equal size affords a greater supply of food for man than this. The most of our rivers are so dragged
and hunted that fish are scarce; and it would seem only in fnacy that we could, within a four days' journey from the
"Empire City" of New York, find a river full of fish, and as plentiful as though its discovery was but yesterday, instead of
its being probably the first river entered on the continent by any European....
Enterprise is the paradise for sporting-men. For invalids to discuss the respective merits of this or that place is proper,
but there is no question where the huntsman or sporting-man should go. This place is their true head-quarters: none
other equals or compares for a moment with it. Once here, they have a central point from which they can move at
leisure, and return for repairs and rest. If it be fishing, the lake is before them, and they need not angle around half the
day with a "fly" and no fish. It may be all very well for those who like it, to stand braced against a tree or sit silent as
death in a boat, perspiring at a nibble, and catching nothing but a cold; or possibly, if very lucky, bringing home a half-
pound trout or two, scarce enough to smell of, much less to satisfy a ravenous appetite...
Lakes Jessup and Harncy, above, are also well stocked with fish of excellent quality, which are easily caught by nets,
hooks, and spears. A very attractive sight at Enterprise is the orange-orchard standing at the left of the wharf, and
owned by Capt. Brock, who is also proprietor of the hotel, and, for that matter, of every thing else of any account at
Enterprise, not excepting the steamboat line which brings you and on which you have to return.This grove is a very
handsome one, and covers a couple o acres across the roadway from the hotel. the trees are of fine size, and very
pretty in appearance. There was some fruit still hanging, large and golden, but valueless, its juice having dried away,
though the exterior was fair and plump-appearing...
Capt. Brock built and founded this new "Enterprise," and ran his line of steamers, determined to make it pay; and he is
now able to realize the fruit of his persevering toil. The past year the house has been crowded, the applicants being
double the number that could be entertained. Old Enterprise is, as we have already remarked, about a mile above, on
the lakeshore. This was formerly the place; but Brock, having the steamers, had the power to establish a successful
rival. Old Enterprise is nevertheless the place where Brock's hotel and orange-grove should be, as it is higher, and has
from fifty to one hundred acres of cleared lands in a condition for cultivation; whereas at Brock's Enterprise, beyond his
garden and orange-orchard, there is not one acre of thoroughly cleared land that we observed. Old Enterprise has an
orange-grove too; but it is scattering and in no wise particularly attractive. Dr. Stark, its occupant and owner, though a
Southern sympathizer during the war, as we learned, is, nevertheless, a very courteous and intelligent gentleman. If a
hotel were erected on this old site, with bathing-rooms supplied with water from the large spring just back of his grounds,
---of which we shall hereafter speak, it could not fail to take its share of the winter travel.
County Court House and School
In 1870 Jacob Brock donated a 361 foot square lot to the county. After the county seat was moved to DeLand in 1888.
By 1891 the building was converted into the Enterprise Elementary School
In 1871 he would buy 400 acres to the west of Enterprise and build his mansion DeBary Hall and a hunting lodge (20
room mansion). He planted orange groves and pecans. In 1876 he established the DeBary Merchants Line to carry mail
from Jacksonville to Enterprise.
Hotel Renovated 1876
In 1876 the Brock House hotel was sold to Luther Caldwell who sold it to the firm of Bodine & McCarthy. They renovated
the hotel adding a library and new furnishings. Its guests would include President U. S. Grant, President Grover
Cleveland, Jay Gould, General William T. Sherman and the Vanderbilts.
Enterprise was incorporated on February 1, 1877 with William Thayer serving as its first mayor.
In 1881 the St Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church was organized. The church was rebuilt in 1948 as was known as
the Enterprise AME. Also in 1881 Rev. Samuel B. Carpenter helped form the All Saints' Mission. The church was built
near the lake in 1883 and the stained glass windows added in 1884. The Gothic Revival church was placed on the
National Register of Historic Places on May 3, 1974. The Methodists arrived in 1908 but their building was not
constructed until 1931. The church was named after Rev. R. H. Barnett.
Wakefield Preserving Company
The Wakefield Preserving company that produced homemade marmalades, jellies and canned fruit was built in 1884.
Atlantic Coast, St. Johns & Indian River Railroad
In 1885 the railroad linked Titusville with Enterprise and a spur was run to the Florida East Coast Railway at Enterprise
1892 (From Snow to Sun Florida Winter Pleasure Tours Pennsylvania Railroad)
123 miles from Jacksonville, reached by rail or boat on the line of Jacksonville, Tampa and Key West Railway.
This point is a practical living proof of " What's in a name? " for it has the push, energy, industry, and active trade to
justify its title. Its advantageous situation certainly has given it a preeminence over many other towns, as it is, like its
neighbor Sanford, directly on Lake Monroe one of the headwater bodies of the St. John's and is likewise widely engaged
in fruit cultivation. It is a particularly healthy situation, and a favorite one, while its orange groves supply many Northern
Brock House $4.00 per day.
Live Oak House . . . $2.00 per day.
Great Freeze of 1895
The Great Freeze of 1895 killed the orange business of 1895. In 1895 the city would decorporate.
1899 (Pennsylvania Railroad Tours to Florida 1899)
122 miles from Jacksonville, via Tropical Trunk Line ; also reached via boat.
The advantageous situation of this town has given it a per-eminence over many others, as it is, like its neighbor
Sanford, directly on Lake Monroe one of the headwater bodies of the St. John's.
The 20th Century
In 1908 Mother Hattie Brooks, widow of a Civil War doctor, was brought from Tampa to help found an orphanage in
Enterprise . Girls arrived soon after and were kept at her home in the “Old Yellow Hotel” on Main Street. Upstairs was a
thriving saloon for the steamboat clientele. The home was a private home called "Boarding House for Children of
In 1914 the Florida Methodist Orphanage was relocated further south on Main Street to the old Arcade Building across
from the present entrance to the Florida United Methodist Children’s Home Mother Hattie Brooks would be the first
superintendent. Housing only a handful of children, it occupied the top floor of an arcade building above a line of shops.
Later, Lt. Col. Bodine, a Civil War officer, donated his home to accommodate the growing enrollment.
At some point during the early 1900s, the Brock House Hotel was renamed the Epworth Inn, and became a Methodist
retreat for those seeking spiritual haven from the world and for those studying at the Methodist Training Center in town.
The Brock House property was eventually acquired by the Methodist Children’s Home.
In 1910 the old Brock House lost its name and became the Epworth Inn. Later it would be changed again to Benson
Spring Inn. In 1924 the George E. Turner Power Plant was built near the shore of Lake Monroe. In 1937 the hotel was
razed. In the 1950 the Florida East Coast Railway branch was abandoned. The track was removed in the 1970s.
|Florida East Coast Railway
|Captain James Brock
State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory,
Notice the rail along the dock.
|St. Pauls African Methodist Episcopal
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