William Mac Hutchinson first came to Oak Hill in 1914 from Pamonia, Florida. He came searching for a job and a home where he could move his family. When he first got off the train, he walked down the dirt road east of the railroad tracks and the first two people who saw were two men fighting, one had a pitchfork and the other had a weeding hoe. He said they were a little too drunk to hurt each other. Right then and there, he almost turned around to catch the next train out.

US1 was nothing but a shell road and it would take almost a day to go to the nearest town. There were only a few houses in Oak Hill at that time – the Adams Estate, the Barker Rooming House, the Church, the Williams’ House, the Goodrich Store with the Post Office in the back, and the school house – just to name a few.

Mr. Hutchinson (better known as Uncle Bill by all who knew him) later went back to get his family. His wife, Minnie Lee, five sons and three daughters came back to Oak Hill with him. They found a little one-room house in a little village called Ucoma (I believe it is called Volco Road now). Their next-door neighbors were John and Liza Clinton.

His first job was working in the Owens & Little Enterprise turpentine still. The Hutchinsons later moved to various locations in the Oak Hill area and a couple of locations in Shiloh. He had to move to wherever he could find work and had very little transportation. After working in the turpentine still, then later as a convict guard and several other jobs, he started fishing. When he first started fishing, he fished in a sailboat with a jig line and used salt pork rinds for bait. Then he fished with a cane pole using live shrimp and minnows for bait. He needed something to keep his live bait in and was the first to get the idea for a live bait well. During the years, they had some additions to the family. Three more sons were born.

Many of the older people remember Uncle Bill the way he sued to sit on the porch at the old Horace Bennett store and tell big yarns. During the Depression, even the fish stopped biting. What you caught you had to eat and couldn’t sell. He and the boys in the family grubbed palmetto roots – 40 x 45 task – it would take three boys to grub one task (one task was about $1.50).

When Lord and Lady Hatton Turnor first came to America from England, they were granted a large piece of property from the river to the west, north and south. The first description of their property was: Plat of US Lot 3, Section 5, Township 19 south, Range 35 east. It was surveyed by S.B. Wilson, county surveyor, Volusia County , Florida. The land was filed for record in DeLand, Florida on August 1, 1891. Again on March 9, 1892 and again March 22, 1895. The next to own part of the properties were Clara W. Carter and W.W. Carter. The very first description of this property after Clara W. and W.W. Carter sold part to Henry S. Barker is: “The north one half of fractional Lot 3, Section 5, Township 19 S. Range 35E, beginning at the NW corner of said Lot 3 and running east to the west shore of Mosquito Lagoon and beyond thence along the shore of said Mosquito Lagoon in the southerly and westerly direction to the north side of the public road; thence west to the west line of said Lot 3, point of beginning.

Also Lot 2, Section 5, Township 19 S Range 35E, except ten acres (more or less) deeded to Ella L. Wolcott the fifth day of November 1883 and described as follows: beginning at a point in the ½ mile line running north and south to Section 5 in Township 19, South Range 35E distant 134 feet due north of a point where the east and west ½ mile intersects aforesaid north and south, thence due north from the described point along the aforesaid ½ mile line 327 feet, thence north 68 degrees 28’E 1231 feet to a point on the west shore of Mosquito Lagoon, thence along the same in a southerly direction 333 feet, thence 68 degrees 29’ west 1348 feet to point and place of beginning and recorded in the office of the Clerk of Volusia County in Book N, page 531. Signed October 19, 1907 and filed October 25, 1907 for $1,300.00 for Warranty Deed.

Then the Barkers sold part of their land to C.E. West after building their house in 1878. Then Francis J. O’Hara and they sold a right-of-way 2100 feet in width along the section lines running north and south through their property to Florida Land Company, a corporation. Then Henry S. and Kate F. Barker sold to Charles E. and Hattie E. West. They sold to Ferdinand Richards by mortgage. They couldn’t pay so two sections went for taxes, first one for $1.25 and Section II for $31.99 in 1934. Then Aaron Smith picked up the mortgage for $1.00 and got assignment of it in 1936. It then went to Jennie A. Richards – she was executrix of the will of Ferdinand Richards. J. Richards let Aaron Smith take over the mortgage – a consideration of $1.00, in 1937. In 1940, Jennie Richards let the trustees of the internal improvement fund of the State Florida for a right-of-way for the state road in the amount of 200 feet wide through the property. She received $88.00 for one lot and $3.00 for the other. Then in 1942, it went for taxes again, as A.A. Taylor got it for $1.59 in 1944. Then it goes to C.E. West and sold to Fred Richards, Gladys Baird and Evelyn R. Spaulding, the same lands deeded to the grantor by Henry S and Kate F. Barker on September 7, 1910. The three got it as trustees render declaration of trust December 7, 1939, as amended. They received it in 1943 and recorded in 1944 as a deed. Then it went back to Jennie Richards who sold it to A. A. Taylor for $10.00 and one. This is the land deeded to Charles E. West by Henry S. Barker and Wife, Kate E., on September 7, 1910. On May 10, 1944, A.A. Taylor and wife, Eva C. Taylor, sodl it to Claude and Nellie Hutchinson deed recorded August 31, 1945. Then in 1951, they deeded a parcel of land to Curtis and Dorothy Vann. Dorothy is their daughter. This was the same land that belonged to Henry S. Parker and Clara W. Carter and W.W. Carter on October 19, 1907.

Deal and Bennett owned part of lots three and two of the same tract of land. The parcel that Claude and Nellie had left is presently owned by Zane G. and Sarah H. Townsend. It was purchased in 1984. This tract of land went east to river’s edge and Seminole Rest is also in it. Hatton Turnor first owned it also.

Fred Wheeler came to Oak Hill in 1935 from Zephyrhills to work for J.B. Treadwell in the Oak Hill garage, later marrying Jeanne Baldwin.

Before Wheelers working on their 1930 Model A Ford. Jeanne on left, Fred on right.

Before Wheelers working on their 1930 Model A Ford.
Jeanne on left, Fred on right.

In 1946, he built the B & W Garage; you could always find him in the garage working on peoples’ cars, trucks or tractors. The same time Jeanne was servicing cars, etc. with gas and oil – she also kept the station section and kept and kept books for both.

Their love for cars was so great they became old auto finishers and collectors. Jeanne collected any old car mementos, such as keys, license tags dating back to 1918 from many states, horns, headlights, hub caps, gear shift knobs, gas caps, hood ornaments, brand emblems, tire gauges, hand air pumps, original equipment and automobile oddities.

Throughout the years, the Wheelers have taken care of Oak Hill resident’s cars and kept them in perfect running condition. One of their customers, W.R. Hawkins, a surveyor who helped build the railroad and highway to Key West, owned a 1924 Model T Ford which for years he entrusted to the Wheelers. Then a 1929 Model A Ford that he drove until the time of his death. The entire Hawkins estate was given to Fish Memorial Hospital – except for his Model A that he left to the Wheelers.

This opened up a whole new area of interest to the Wheelers, as he continued the upkeep for this car and soon obtained another, hoping to restore it to its original condition.

The Wheelers found a 1930 Model A four-door deluxe town sedan – in pieces – in a Daytona Beach junkyard. Today it is a show car. After working six years to get it into mint condition, the Wheelers entered antique car shows and won trophies throughout Florida.

After Mr. & Mrs. Fred Wheeler and their 1930 Model A Ford

After
Mr. & Mrs. Fred Wheeler and their 1930 Model A Ford

Still not satisfied, the Wheelers again dismantled every part – down to the frame, rebuilt the engine, sanded and primed the body and gave it a two-tone look. Obstacles are met in such a task. There was the time when one the seven coats of paint was left to dry for the night and bugs landed on the car and stuck in the wet paint. The Wheelers would not be defeated and started the process again, sanding down the base and repainting.

They check and recheck to make certain everything about a car is in first class condition before entering an antique car show. Points are counted off for each item not meeting specifications.

Wheeler restored to original condition the car Mr. Charlie Harris owned, father of Woodrow and his other brother and sisters. Mr. Harris always delivered fir and stove wood in the 20s and 30s.

Anyone admiring antiques appreciates the time, energy and effort involved in such a project. Few experience the feeling of pride and satisfaction that is the restorers’ reward. It was teamwork between the Wheelers with all the work done on the cars they restored – he doing the work on the motor, she on the paint job.

Upon Wheeler’s retirement as automobile mechanic and owner of B & W Garage here in Oak Hill, he was determined not to sit in front of the television all day.

Using his pocketknife and a piece of wood, he found that woodcarving was not only a way to relax, but it kept him away from the “boob tube”. He has carved all of his grandchildren’s names for their bedroom doors, several wooden toys and replicas of past memories.

Moonshine Still

Moonshine Still

From pieces of cedar he created a moonshine still, complete with two mash barrels, cooker and furnace, a thumper, cooling coil, connecting “copper pipe” (which are one piece of carved wood) and even jugs to put the whiskey in as it is made.

Having worked in a shingle mill as a young man, he recreated that memory in detail. “After a tree is cut, we sawed off a large block,” he explained, “then used an axe and wedges to split blocks into bolts.” The fore and mallet were used to rive the boards. Then he would sit on a stove, put the board into the drawing horse, and taper with a drawing knife until both sides were tapered, leaving a pile of shavings. This replica is complete with finished tools, which include the peavey (used to turn the log), the log carrier and a saw.

Memory of North Carolina Homestead

Memory of North Carolina Homestead

Most projects are started after an incident triggers a memory. Perhaps it is a magazine article, television or a drive in the country, as was the beginning of his farmstead. While driving in North Carolina, the Wheelers visited an old farmstead, which included a covered bridge, shed log cart, pedal grindstone, hand-turned grindstone, oxen yoke and farm wagon.

He was encouraged by his wife to keep his carving up, so he began to carve various pieces. The completed version, with details that include a well with a bucket that turns on a rope and pulley, 700 handmade shingles, metal log tongs and two grindstones that work.

The Wheelers have two children, Richard and Anita. They each have two children, so he has made two shingle shops for the grandchildren.

They live at 131 Oak Street and have done so all their lives

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