K I N G S L E Y L A K E . O R G
Few people living around Kingsley Lake today know that it was thickly settled by year-round residents a hundred years ago; had three post offices, two churches, and a school. In 1886 four residents advertised the forming of a corporation to operate the Kingsley Lake Navigation Company, hauling passengers and freight from Lake View, on the south side of the lake, to Kingsley, on the north side. No further mention was made of this enterprise, and it is presumed that it never got off the ground, or rather, never got on the water.
At any rate, there are official records of the three post offices: Kingsley, on the north side, Ionia on the west, and Lake View on the south.
Kingsley, the largest of the settlements was listed in Volume 1 of the Florida State Gazetteer, 1886-87 as having a population of 200, first settled in 1879, and H.W. Strong was postmaster. "Vegetables and oranges are the principal shipments. Has Baptist and Methodist churches, public school, steam saw mill, and one store. Mails Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Unimproved land sells at $10 per acre, and improved at $25.
Business men, tradesmen, professional men and growers listed were: J.C. Blanchard, and C. Hartnutt, carpenters, Wm. H. Heappard, justice of peace, notary public, and real estate agent, M. Kelble, justice of peace, Rev. L.W. Kickliter, pastor Baptist Church; Wm. C. Ladd, saw mill and notary public, M.W. Ordway, carpenter; R. Puddy, land agent; A. Smith, carpenter; H.W. Strong, postmaster and general merchandise; Rev. N. Webster pastor Methodist Church; A. Strickland, banana grower; A.P. Huggens, M.W. Ordway, J.F. Prevatt, R. Puddy, L.W. Kickliter, J. Osborn, J.Silcox, J.C. Webb, orange growers, A. Smith, pineapple grower; A.P. Hughes, J.F. Prevatt, L.W. Kickliter, J. Silcox and A. Strickland, vegetable and truck growers.
Ionia is not listed in the directory, and Lakeview is listed as: "A new settlement and village recently started. Situated on the south side of Kingsley Lake, 18 miles west of Green Cove Springs, the county seat, and 3-1/2 miles east of Starke, the nearest railroad station. Has no post office as yet, or any business pursuit." The distance from Starke, which would actually be about six miles, was obviously underestimated.
In a public notice in the April 10, 1886 issue of The Telegraph, C.L. Russell, T.R. Brown, R. Puddy, and Wm. C. Ladd advertised the formation of the Kingsley Lake Navigation Company with "intention to operate and maintain in all its detail a steamboat line on Lake Kingsley, from a point at or near Lake View to a point at or near Kingsley, and between such points as it may be to our best interest and the interest of the public."
Perhaps the freezes a few years later, which destroyed the flourishing orange business and caused many groves to be abandoned, including the fine Sundell Grove on the south side of the lake, caused the steamboat line to fold before it even started.
Another directory of the time "Webb's Florida," published in 1885, described Kingsley as "...a small settlement numbering about 200 souls located on the banks of a beautiful lake of that name in the western part of Clay County. The first settlement was made in 1859 by Mr. Simeon Strickland, and one other gentleman. A post office was established in 1880, Mr. H.W. Strong being the present postmaster. Kingsley is a place highly recommended for invalids."
The beauty and activity of Kingsley Lake 92 years ago is described in the following dispatch, signed "Trix" and published in the Aug. 6, 1887 issue of The Telegraph:A visit to this beautiful sheet of water and the surrounding country is a treat that can be appreciated by anyone who is not totally dead to the beauties of nature. On the north shore is the flourishing little settlement of Kingsley. Here we find a post office, saw mill, store, church, hotel, and 12 dwellings. Mr. W.C. Ladd is the postmaster, merchant and saw mill proprietor. He also owns a great deal of land about this lake, both improved and unimproved. The saw mill is running on full time and things look booming and bright for this little "Garden of Eden."August, 1887
Mr. Puddy and his excellent lady have a very handsome place and orange grove directly on the shore. This is a well cared for and attended place, where one can see all tropical and semitropical fruits growing profusely. The hospitality of these good people was so great that friends and even strangers who go to Kingsley Lake are sure to take advantage of it and spend at least a portion of their time under their care. Here also is the place where most of the strangers and others go in the water, from Mr. Puddy's pier and bath house.
Mrs. H.W. Strong has a beautiful residence directly opposite, and a well cared for ground surrounding it. Mrs. Strong also owns several other improved places here, beside wild land about the lake. She keeps her property in good condition and repair, is a good financier, and conducts her business on businesslike principles.
Mr. Sassee, a gentleman of large means, lately from Wisconsin, has located here and is preparing to erect himself a large residence on his improved land and among his orange trees.
Mr. Fred Smith has a beautiful place located on the bank of the lake He was one of the few strawberry growers who had a profit side of the account. The little grove belonging to Mr. A. P. Hudgins is a real gem, and would be a rare bargain for some man of means to secure a lake front, as Mr. H. is obliged to be away and cannot well take care of it.
There are a number of other groves here belonging to northern men and those who are so unfortunate as to be away spending the summer in the North. Among them we may name Mr. W.H. Heafford, Dr. John Tear, Messrs. McLaughin, Templeton, and others. It will be but a short time ere this will be one of the best and most beautiful spots in Florida.
Farther around the lake we come to the residence of Mr. John White. He was so unfortunate as to lose his home by fire a short time since, and has just now completed his new two story one, a decided improvement on the old. Farther still and almost on the south side is the flourishing new town of Lake View. It has been but little over a year since the first stroke of work was done at this place, and now there are 15 good decent houses, not shanties or shells, because there are any number of them beside a general store, a post office, saw mill, and the company's office, where the gentlemanly Mr. T.R. Brown, with his private secretary, Mr. Sales, preside.
Mr. Beck, the mercantile man reports doing a good business, and has high hopes of the future of the place. At this place there is to be a camp: meeting held this winter and a big time expected. Lake View is on high, dry, and rolling land, well drained. Well located, the lake is its natural attraction. Lots which were sold at $5 on the start are now selling at three times the price, with no improvements at all.
The Western R.R. of Florida is nearly complete to this place. The Company has spent over three thousand dollars in improvements since it started. It has a bright future. Near here is located the famous Sundell orange grove, consisting of 12 acres, all with budded orange trees. It is owned by Mr. Chas. B. Sundell, of Chicago, and is in charge of Mr. Geo. Hornsby, of the lake.
Mr. C. Northup and son, Wiliard, each have a nice place next that are in good condition and looking well. From this point back to Kingsley, the place of beginning, there is a succession of groves belonging to the following named gentlemen: Geo. Hornsby J.P. Hicks D.J. Silcox, I.C. Webb A.M. Blanchard, J.C. Blachard, W.W. Carpenter, F.G. Carpenter, Mrs. E. Howe, Mrs. Burton, Joe Prevatt, Abe Strickland and others that escape the memory at present. These places are all well attended and are in a flourishing condition.
This section is not much advertised nor known abroad simply because it is not in Bradford County and the Clay County folks do not care for them, when they particularly want anything. There is now a school of considerable size in a flourishing condition, taught by Miss Annan, a cultured lady, from old Middleburg.
With this we will bid adieu to Kingsley for the present. Trix,