Volusia County

Volusia County


During the 17th century, the Franciscan Friars, fostered by the Spanish Government, began their missions which developed into a chain extending from Georgia into what is now Volusia County. Those built in this County were in Indian pueblos. One, a short distance north of the Tomoka river, known as Tissimi is believed to be San Antonio de Anacape, built about 1655. Another, at the pueblo Atocuimi, now New Smyrna, was known as the Mission of Atocuimi de Jororo. Probably the last in the chain of forty-four erected by the Friars, Atocuimi dates from 1696. The third, San Salvador de Mayaca, and said to be a parent mission, is believed to have been located at Astor on the St. Johns river, at a point where the large shell mound is situated. This mission in one instance is said to have been begun about 1600 and in another to have been built in 1680, however the location is vague and indeterminate. Historians themselves do not agree as to the location. The ruins of Jororo and Anacape still remain as testimonials, but no vestige of Mayaca is to be found.
The largest single attempt at colonization in the New World by [sic] Dr. Andrew Turnbull, who first obtained a grant of 20,000 acres at New Smyrna, during the British occupation. This later was extended to 101,400 acres by grants to Duncan and Granville, his associates, and himself. He imported 1,400 Greek, Sicilian, and Minorcan immigrants, whom he settled at New Smyrna. He introduced the first scientific method of land drainage and irrigation on the Western Hemisphere.
Turnbull’s work at New Smyrna still bears witness to his practical ideas. Dissensions within the colony and financial reverses caused the dissolution of this enterprise on November ninth, 1777, a little more than nine years after its founding.
When it resumed occupancy of the territory, Spain fostered a broad plan of agricultural development, encouraging it by land grants, most of which were confirmed by the United States when it came into possession. One of the first so confirmed was that of Samuel Williams, comprising 3,200 acres, on which Daytona Beach is partly built.
The development of the country now advanced rapidly and extensive plantations of sugar cane and cotton came into being. The ruins of the missions were rehabilitated as far as possible and used for sugar cane mills, while substantial quarters were built of coquina. New Smyrna became active as a port of entry for the Halifax country. Enterprise, on Lake Monroe was connected with Jacksonville, by steamers plying the St. Johns river.
When the Indians went on the warpath in 1835, plantations were raided, buildings destroyed and negro slaves were taken into the Indian tribes; settlers were driven northward, many of them being killed before they could make their escape.
On January 18, 1836, after an earlier engagement between settlers and


State Library of Florida, WPA - Historical Records Survey, County Histories


Brief history of Volusia County, Florida collected by the Works Progress Administration's Historical Records Survey.

Note to Researchers: Though the WPA field workers included extensive citations for the factual information contained in these county histories, it should be noted that these historical narratives were produced in the 1930s by federal government employees, and might reflect the inherent social biases of the era.