History of Kissimmee
Osceola County, Florida

Transcribed by Lisa Slaski, member of the Genealogy Club of Osceola County


Source: "A Guide to Florida for Tourists, Sportsmen and Settlers," by Harrison Rhodes and Mary Wolfe Dumont, Dodd, Mead and Company, NY, 1912

Kissimmee (165m., pop. 2,157) is the county seat of Osceola county. It is situated on the north shore of Lake Tohopekaliga, a large and beautiful body of water. Kissimmee is still on the ridge, or the end of the Florida real mainland. The town's elevation is 65 feet, and from here south the water drains through the Everglades to the Gulf of Mexico, the Bay of Florida, and to the series of lagoons and sounds on the east from Gilbert's Bar to the end of the Florida peninsula. Kissimmee was for many years the only accessible settlement from which sportsmen could make excursions to the rich hunting grounds in these almost unknown regions. Then the cultivation of sugar cane was begun, at Saint Cloud near Kissimmee, and much sugar is now raised. With the coming of more visitors the great fertility of the land became known, and the town began to grow.

The climate is most equable, and the water protection of Lake Tohopekaliga tempers both summer heat and winter cold. It is said that the children in Kissimmee never wear shoes until in their teens. The nights are always cool, the days full of sunshine. Settlers have begun to cultivate the rich lands all about, so that the local markets are exceptionally good. Game of all kinds abounds. Many cattle graze through the rich woodland, and over the valley prairie lands, with rich pasturage, well-bred hogs roam with native "razor-backs."

The death rate is exceptionally low - 3 in 1,000. Kissimmee has good water, an ice factory, electric light plant and telephone system. The streets are marled, a mode of surfacing that makes a good road. These marled roads are being extended out into the country, and lead to many interesting places.

The citrus fruits, guavas, sugar-apples, bread-fruit, almonds, pineapples and bananas, all grow luxuriously. Small fruits and vegetables, shrubs and flowers, semi-tropical jungles, luxuriant palms and wholesome pines make up an environment that is full of charm, and the usual flatness of Florida landscapes is modified by the alternation of prairies, with little streams and lakes, hammocks and wide stretching pine upland, which makes an excursion pleasant and interesting.

The schools, as in almost all parts of Florida, are good. There are clubs and fraternal orders, and churches of various denominations.

The experiments in sugar cultivation that were started here by the Disstons of Philadelphia failed. Ignorance of the conditions to be met and the insect pests of summer were the cause. (Hotels, see list.)

Steamers ply from Kissimmee south across Lake Tohopekaliga to Fort Bassenger on the Kissimmee (100 m.), making weekly trips, leaving Kissimmee on Tuesday 7.00 a.m., and arriving at Fort Bassenger on Wednesday evening; returning, leaving Thursday at 7.00 a.m., and arriving at Kissimmee on Friday evening. Boats can be chartered to make special trips from Fort Bassenger to Lake Okeechobee, the Caloosahatchie river, and Fort Myers.

Lake Tohopekaliga is easily crossed. The Kissimmee river has been dredged and the boats go from there to Cypress Lake. Another natural channel has been dredged to Lake Hatchineha which connects with Lake Kissimmee, an extensive sheet of water 15 miles long, by from one to six wide, of shoal depth, at an altitude of 58 feet. Near the south end of the lake is an island on which most interesting aboriginal remains have been found. The river issues from the south end of the lake and flows on to Lake Okeechobee. Fort Bassenger is passed, the end of the journey 20 miles from the lake. The site of old Fort Kissimmee is passed, the end of the journey 20 miles from the lake. The site of old Fort Kissimmee is passed. This, with Fort Bassenger, was occupied in the Seminole War - unimportant places now, but their names recalling the days of the Indians' power and their present condition symbolizing their present decadence.

An A.C.L. branch runs from Kissimmee to Apopka (33 m.) 2-1/2 hours. From Kissimmee the road runs northwest, passing Shingle Creek (4 m.) and crossing to Orange county just before reaching McLane's (9 m.). Englewood (12 m.) is at the lower end of a charming lake, which the railroad now skirts on the west side. At the head of the lake is Isleworth (16 m.). To the west is Lake Butler with Windemere (20 m.) on its east shore. Gotha (21 m.) is followed by Minerville (22 m.). Ocoee (24 m.) and Villanova (26 m.). At Clarcona (29 m.) the A.C.L. from Sanford to Trilby connects (p. 258). Apopka (33 m.) is the terminus of the branch and a station on the S. A. L. from Wildwood to Orlando (p. 261).

A branch of the A. C. L. to Narcoossee (15 m. 3/4 hr.,) runs through interesting farming country to the cane plantations about East Lake Tohopekaliga. Hammock Grove (2 m.), Hertzel (3 m.), Carolina (5 m.). The way then crosses the canal connecting the two lakes, St. Cloud Junction, Peghorn (6 m.) with a connection to St. Cloud (9 m.), a sugar-raising settlement on the south shore of the lake (Hotel, see list.) Ashton (10 m.), Runnymede (13 m.), Narcoossee (15 m.).

Leaving Kissimmee the way passes through Campbell's (170 m.) and Loughman's (175 m.), the center of a good shooting and fishing district. Much camping is done in this neighborhood. Outfits and supplies can be bought at Kissimmee. (Hotels, see list.) Davenport (182 m.), Haines (185 m.), Chubb or Bartow Junction (193 m.) are the next stations.

Kissimmee Hotels:
Park House, A. Rose; capacity, 50; rates - per day, $1.00, per week, $6.00.
The Inn, H. W. Thurman; capacity, 60; rooms only.
Graystone, H. W. Thurman; capacity, 60; rates - per day, $2.50 up, per week, special.
Lake House, J. Hyde; capacity, 50; rates - per day, $1.00, per week, special.
Groves House, R. Groves; capacity, 20; rates = per day, special, per week special.

St. Cloud Hotels:
New modern hotel will be opened and operated during the season 1911-12.

Copyright 2007: Lisa Slaski
Donated to the Genealogy Club of Osceola County for posting on their website