History

The “Birth” of St. Cloud
The birth of modern day St. Cloud was possible through the aspirations of several men. First was Hamilton Disston. Disston began visiting Florida on fishing trips from Philadelphia in the 1870’s and was well acquainted with General Henry Shelton Sanford, founder of the City of Sanford. General Sanford encouraged Disston’s interest in developing Florida. In 1881, newly elected Governor William Bloxham joined one of Disston’s fishing expeditions and agreed to contract with Florida’s Internal Improvement Fund Trustees. Disston paid $1 million to offset Civil War and Reconstruction debt, which had helped place the IIF in receivership. The agreement was to drain Florida’s swamp; he

City Hall
With the drainage and subsequent canals dug in the Kissimmee/St. Cloud area, the lay of the land obviously changed. After positive results from sugarcane at Southport, Disston became interested in its production. He erected the first sugar factory at the St. Cloud Plantation at East Lake Tohopekaliga. It is reported that the sugar mill was the largest in America. A railroad became necessary to transport the product resulting in the Sugar Belt Railway. Disston’s railroad for the plantation was inspected in November of 1888. Unfortunately, the railroad, which had been built for the sugarcane industry, did not serve a full decade. A number of setbacks led to the loss of sugar bounty by 1894, this and depressed land values wrecked Disston’s Sugar Plantation. He died in Philadelphia in 1896; his family was not interested in his drainage and sugar ventures in Florida. A small community had developed at Disston’s sugar works and when the plantation was Home About Us History Map Mission Board Promotions Economic Design Organization General Store Calendar Events Benefits Members Join Today! Sponsorships! Essential Pieces Farmers Market Gateway Project Vendors Newsletter Related Links Contact Us A small community had developed at Disston’s sugar works and when the plantation was abandoned a few families stayed on moving to the location. At the present City of St. Cloud, was “Sunny Side,” a community of Disston employees, comprised of African- Americans and Italians. The Sugar Belt Railway was merged with South Florida Railway and the St. Cloud Plantation was acquired by the Seminole Land and Investment Company. The naming of St. Cloud was explained by Captain Rose, the state chemist in correspondence to Emeline Knapp, dated October, 1913: “Some time in the winter of 1886 or 1887, after I had established the first sugar field on the property, and excursion of citizens, school children, and the teachers of Kissimmee, visited the property on board the steamer Okeechobee, (whose ‘bones’ now lay in East Lake in the Tyson Cove). On that occasion, I requested my guests to suggest a name for the plantation. (I then owned St. Elmo, now Fowler Park also.) Prof. Bridges, principal of the Kissimmee High School, suggested ‘St. Cloud’, the name of a city in Minnesota. Doubtless the name was originally derived from the French City and given by the early French settlers to the Minnesota settlement. “Other names were suggested, but St. Cloud was unanimously accepted. The present town of St. Cloud was not located on the original St. Cloud plantation, which was named, the locality now known as St. Cloud was called ‘Sunny Side’ and then belonged to Mr.

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Becoming The “Soldier City” Mr. Samuel L. Lupfer, in fact, was one of those men of aspirations who was responsible for St. Cloud’s existence. According to an interview he gave to the St. Cloud Tribune in December 1929, Lupfer, a young Pennsylvania, had dropped by Kissimmee about the time Captain Rose was opening up the Disston sugar plantation. “Full of enthusiasm and fired with that spirit of adventure and daring which attracted so many northerners to the lands of Florida wilderness,…with two brothers, he purchased a tract of land where the city of St. Cloud now rests.” Lupfer owned the east half of Section 2, running approximately from 15th Street to the lakeshore, where he ran a truck farm. At the time of Disston’s death, Lupfer was in charge of his property. In 1897, Lupfer took charge of the Kissimmee Lumber Company, which owned most of the land later purchased by the Seminole Land and Investment Company. Following Disston’s death and the failure of the sugar plantation, the Kelley Brothers of Louisiana purchased the land between East Lake and Kissimmee and attempted to grow rice, but failed also due to the higher cost of growing rice in Florida than their competition in Louisiana. The land reverted to pasture until the coming of the Grand Army veterans in 1909.






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In her History of Osceola County, historian Minnie Moore-Willson relates “the Birth of a Floridian City” – St. Cloud. Moore says that the “inception of the almost magical city of St. Cloud really began with the insertion of a small classified advertisement in the New York Herald.” J.M. Willson, Jr., a pioneer citizen of Kissimmee, was both owner and agent for “many acres of virgin land in this section, as well as contracts for the sale of holdings of other people…[with] much of the land…in the section of the two Lake Tohopekaligas.” The simple “ad”, placed by Willson around 1906, was promptly clipped, pocketed, and nearly forgotten by New York capitalist, Raymond Moore. A couple years later, Moore and Captain Jeffries, who became head of the Zephyrhills Colony Company, came to Florida on behalf of the National Tribune, the official newspaper for the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), that was in search of a site for a veterans’ colony. Among their itinerary, which began with Alachua, Lee, and De Soto counties, Moore and Jeffries included Kissimmee and the Kissimmee River. Meanwhile, local men on the inside of the deal obtained a legal option of the lands in questions, with The United Land Company quit claiming to the W.B. Makinson Company of Osceola County, who deeded the lands to Senator William H. Lynn, as trustee, for sale purposes. The Seminole Land and Investment Company of Washington, D.C., a subsidiary of the National Tribune, took over title to 35,000 acres of land, a portion of which became St. Cloud and suburbs. On April 16, 1909, the Kissimmee Valley Gazette announced the “New Town of St. Cloud,” a “Soldiers Colony” that was to be located near Kissimmee. The newspaper called the purchase by the Seminole Land and Investment Company “one of the most important real estate deals ever made in the State of Florida.” It was reported that the officers of the company had searched all over Florida for the perfect site for a veterans’ colony, particularly one especially suited for “health, climate, and productiveness of the soil.” William G. King, an estate manager in Alachua Co. before becoming the first permanent resident of St. Cloud, was chosen by the National Tribune to “plan, locate and develop a town site for a colony of Veterans of the Civil War. He consulted with the Hon. William Makinson of Kissimmee, then local manager for SLICO, who placed the entire
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