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Mon, 08.15.1887

Eatonville, Florida; a Black town founded

The founding of Eatonville, Florida, in 1887 occurred on this date. Eatonville is located a few miles north of Orlando, Florida.

Eatonville, the first incorporated Black town in America possesses a rich traditional Black culture that has endured there through generations.  It is one of the more than 100 Black towns founded between 1865 and 1900.

The Town of Eatonville was founded by three Union officers, Captain Josiah Eaton, Captain Lewis Lawrence and another officer who is unknown. Following the American Civil War, these men left America to settle in South America but during their voyage they turned back and settled in Florida.

At this time, Black in Central Florida who had been brought there by Seminole and Cherokee Indians.  The Natives had stolen the Black slaves from many states along the coast. Over time, many of the Natives and former slaves that did not move west, stayed in Central Florida.  The town’s population in 2000 was 2,432.

It is the hometown of Zora Neal Hurston, writer, and David Deacon Jones, former professional football player. It continues to celebrate its connection with Zora Neal Hurston with a yearly festival.

Artist Jules Andre Smith created a series of paintings depicting life in Eatonville during the 1930s-1940s. Twelve of these works are at the Maitland Art Center in Eatonville.

Reference:
The African American Desk Reference
Schomburg Center for research in Black Culture
Copyright 1999 The Stonesong Press Inc. and
The New York Public Library, John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Pub.
ISBN 0-471-23924-0

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