The town of Sanford incorporated in 1877 and as the town of Sanford grew, so did the band of Methodists and the role women. The Women’s Foreign Missionary Society of the Methodist Church was introduced in Sanford via a few letters written to a man, Judge J. Wofford Tucker, in the years 1879-1887. Judge Tucker received letters from Bishop W. D. Wightman telling of the movement in England and the works they were doing. Another letter, from Mrs. H.C. McGavock of Jacksonville, prompted Mrs. Tucker and six other women to visit Mrs, McGavock for the purpose of organizing into a Foreign Missionary Society in Sanford. From its origin in 1878 until 1897, Mrs. Tucker served as president of the local society, the forerunner of the United Methodist Women (UMW). As the Methodist movement continued to establish a presence in the area, J.W. Tucker was elected as a delegate to the Ecumenical Conference held in London in 1881.
Businesses and buildings were being built closer to the docks of Lake Monroe, so some residents of the Mellonville area began to build homes closer to the scenes of business for protection. In 1882, Methodists from Ernest Chapel, who later moved to Sanford from Mellonville, organized a Sunday School in an unfinished loft of a building owned by C.H. Leffler on the corner of 1st Street and Sanford Ave. Shortly after its onset, the Sunday school was moved to Dodd’s Hall on Palmetto Ave. and what is now Commercial Street. Worship services, as well as Sunday School, were held at Dodd’s Hall, with some members from Ernest Chapel moving their membership, declaring that two miles through sand and all kinds of weather were too far and too hazardous. The city of Sanford would absorb Mellonville in 1883.
By the end of 1882, General Sanford donated a lot to each of the church denominations on which to erect their building. Methodists were given a lot on Sanford Ave. and 6th St. It was due to the determination and hard work of A.A. Presbrey, a carpenter who arrived from Nova Scotia In 1883, that a wooden church was erected on the Sanford Ave. lot. Shingles, donated by C.H. Leffler, were obtained from the “Big Tree” area.
Happening in Sanford
As business and industry grew, J.W. Tucker established Tuckertown, which became the home for black workers and the site of the first black-owned businesses.
“(Henry) Sanford was seldom in Florida, so he relied on agents, including Tucker, to run his Florida ventures. Labor troubles flared when Tucker fired white workers hired to clear land for Sanford’s groves. The men, described by Tucker in letters to Sanford as lazy workers and “mean and dishonest,” vented their anger by firing shots into a labor camp for black workers, killing one man.”¹
After a bounty was put out on the attackers, the attack ended, but tensions of labor and race persisted. Henry Sanford agreed to sponsor the passage to Florida for any Swedish immigrants willing to work. These immigrants would found the community of Upsala, west of Sanford.
Around 1870, Georgetown was established. “Georgetown, a suburb east of Sanford Ave and North of Celery Avenue, was established circa 1870. It was comprised of lots sold by Henry Sanford to the early black pioneers who had made their way from Virginia, the Carolinas, West Florida, and as far away as the West Indies…In 1885, the first Georgetown school was located at the northeast corner of Seventh and Cypress Avenue. It was founded with $100 from the school board. Mr. McLester was the first principal, followed by Mr. Reed and later by Mr. J. N. Crooms, who founded Crooms Academy. Some of the first Sanford businesses owned by black settlers were in Tuckertown, which would later become the business district of Georgetown. Georgetown’s landmarks include St. James African Methodist Episcopal Church, now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was designed by Tuskeegee trained builder Prince W. Spears.”³
Happening in the World
1876 – The Battle of Little Bighorn/Custer’s Last Stand and the telephone was invented by Alexander Graham Bell
1877 – Thomas Edison develops gramophone and phonograph. The last of the Union troops were withdrawn fro the former Confederate states.
1878 – Henry Sherwin and Edward Williams began selling premixed paint in cans. The defeated New Peace nation is sent to a reservation in Oklahoma.
1879 – A yellow fever epidemic began in New Orleans. Thomas Edison filed his first patent application for “Improvement in Electric Lights” James and John Ritty Patented the first cash register as “Ritty’s Incorruptible Cashier”. It later became the National Cash Register Company (NCR)
1880 – In Europe, the industrialization of food has begun with new technology replacing the stone grinding of grains. This new flour had no valuable nutrients which was unknown at the time.
1881 – Clara Barton established the American Red Cross. Greenwich Mean Time became the standard by which time around the world is set as +-GMT. President James Garfield is shot and died from an infection from the wound.
1883 – The Orient-Express railway began running between Paris and Constantinople. The Brooklyn Bridge was opened. Karl Marx died, John Maynard Keynes and Benito Mussolini were born.
- “Wartime Foes Unite to Build Brand New Town of Sanford” by Jim Robinson. June 1, 1998. Accessed at: https://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/os-xpm-1998-03-01-9802270999-story.html
- Photo of Georgetown accessed at https://www.floridamemory.com/items/show/343453
Description found on Georgetown Historical marker in front of Hopper Academy accessed at https://richesmi.cah.ucf.edu/omeka/items/show/1032