The entirety of this week Mr. Major and I have been driving out to the Tampa courthouse to get more information on our Little 1900's house. When we first started looking through old deeds we just kept hitting dead ends. So we decided to take a gamble and try searching through tax rolls instead, it wasn't too long after that we started getting some big hits on information.
During the early 1930's the house was listed as 'Unknown' ownership, which most likely meant the house was abandoned during the great depression like so many other homes during that time. During the 1940's it was listed as state property before being purchased from the Avery's during the 50's.
So we pushed on even further, through the deeds and tax rolls until we came across a deed from 1913 with a legal description that matched our house. So we pulled up a copy of the deed and were stunned to see a Mrs. Mollie Evers had purchased the home outright for the sum of $200 dollars. Oddly enough her husbands name wasn't listed anywhere on the form- and after doing some research on her we found that she was married at the time she purchased this house. The Evers family is a particularly large founding family in Plant City, and after more research we found that she had married into the Evers family by her spouse Jasper Evers.
" Local legend says that Henry B. Plant never came to Plant City, Florida, the town named for him. That may be true; however, he played a significant role in the development of the city. In the mid-1880s, he extended his South Florida Railroad through Plant City, providing a means for growth and prosperity. Plant City was incorporated in 1885 in Hillsborough County. The original community settlement, known as Shiloh, was north of the current town center. A walk through historic Shiloh Cemetery is a walk through the history of Plant City, with granite markers dating as far back as 1841. There you will find the names of the founding families: Branch, Collins, Cone, Evers, Howell, Hancock, Hawthorne, Knight, Merrin, Wilder, and Wheeler ". - Excerpt from Images of America Plant City, Florida
How very ironic that just a few short months ago I wrote a blog about the very cemetery that my previous owners were lain to rest in.
As we continued to read the deed, we now had a new name to put to the house. The person who sold the house to Mollie Evers was listed as Albert W. Gilchrist. Immediately my head is spinning! Theres a road up the street from us called Gilchrist St- and the park just one road over from us is called Gilchrist park. Surely this was more then a coincidence.
After visiting with the archives and talking with them we found out that Albert W. Gilchrist played a major part in the development of Washington Park (our subdivision) as well as the Historic District of Plant City. He attended West Point College, and later became a Real estate dealer before settling in Punta Gorda, Florida to become an orange grower. During his life time he owned over 2,000 properties throughout the State of Florida for developing. He served in the Florida Militia before leaving to be in the Spanish American War after which he was elected to be in the Florida House of Representatives before stepping down in 1905. Four years later he was elected Governor of Florida before retiring in 1913.
While Mr. Major and I are fairly certain he never lived in our home, the fact that it was owned and developed by him is still entirely extraordinary. Finding a deed older then this one is entirely rare and we will still continue on searching- but even if nothing turns up I am still blown away by everything we have already discovered.