In March 1862, blockade-runners ran arms through Mosquito Inlet with small vessels of light draught from the British colony of Nassau. In order to prevent such blockade running, Flag Officer DuPont, commanding the South Atlantic Blockade Squadron, ordered the “Penguin” under T.A. Budd and the “Henry Andrew” under S.W. Mather to proceed to the inlet where Mr. Mather was to cross the bar, establish an inside blockade, capture any confederate vessels found there and guard large quantities of live oak timber, which had been piled there. Meanwhile, Lt. Commander Budd, together with acting Master Mather, organized an expedition from the two vessels and on March 22, 1862, moved southward through the inlet with four or five boats carrying forty-three men. They passed by New Smyrna and went on several miles to some salt works at Ross Hammock, here at Oak Hill – which they destroyed and returned, then attempted to land near where the cargoes of the blockade-runners had landed. But, upon arrival found two companies of the Third Florida Regiment of Infantry ready to take charge of the cargoes, arms and ammunitions of war, and coffee, medicine, and other precious goods. These were stored in a palmetto hut until they could be taken to Enterprise and from there to a ship in Jacksonville.
The Confederates opened fire upon the federal boats the “Penguin” and the “Henry Andrew” killing eight men and wounding five and after this no forces were kept because the Mosquito Lagoon was of such importance to the Confederates.
Captain Dalph Sheldon witnessed the account stating both Commander Budd and Acting Master Mather of the Union Forces were killed. Others escaped across Hillsboro (now Indian River) River to the mangrove trees and went down the river and found refuge on one of the gun boats, which were anchored at the Inlet, the other being outside blockading, The Confederate Commander, Captain D.B. Bird, had the bodies of the officers and soldiers buried three days later. Commander DuPont came outside the inlet with his flagship and sent boats ashore under a flag of truce for the bodies of those killed. They were exhumed and the bodies of the soldiers were buried at “Dummitt’s Hill”, the home of George Dummitt. The bodies of the two officers were taken aboard the flagship and buried elsewhere.
The Dummitt Grove is spoken of and about in several places. The wooden structure house was built by Count Castellucia in 1881. This place is spoken of as being on Merritt’s Island, but everyone that reads this thinks of the very most southern part of Merritt’s Island as this place – but the Island runs north to about twelve miles from Oak Hill where the Dummitt House was built.
It was an historic, octagonal structure built around an old ship’s mast. It was built for Douglas Dummitt, a commander of the Mosquito Raiders in the Seminole Wars. It was located on the eastern bank of the Indian River. The house took a trip on this same river after it was acquired by the Brevard County Commission for $1,200.
The Dummitt House was on land which NASA owned since they took all lands north of it to the edge of Oak Hill for a government boundary and to the north for Cape Kennedy Space Center when history was made sending the shuttle off many times before the writing of this book.
The new site for the house was donated by the City of Titusville, Florida. It made it’s trip down the Indian River and was placed on the county-owned land in the Parrish Park area, with an idea of fixing it up as a museum for people to view. The building was protected by a high cyclone fence, with barbed wire on the top.
The house was taken there in 1964 and teenagers were suspected of setting it on fire in an early morning fire December 17, 1967. It burned down leaving only a few timbers and toilet fixtures. Every one was left with only dreams and visions of ever seeing the old house being preserved in a museum. It left only memories of things that came from the house and the groves on the property.
I will tell of a memory that will live on and on. A man from the old house saw the maid of the Dummitt’s leave with a man in a boat, so he boarded another boat and kept just s short distance behind them until the man and the maid stopped on the east bank of the Indian River in New Smyrna Beach. The maid and the man got out and laid near the water’s edge in the brush. The man following them had brought his gun and shovel along as he fully intended to kill the man and bury him. He did just that and carried the maid back home with him. The grave still lies between the road to this day over on the beachside in New Smyrna Beach, Florida.
The first settler was Jacob Davy Mitchell (a school teacher) who came to Oak Hill and started an orange growing business. He started a settlement near “The Lagoon” in Oak Hill. He only lived here three years, moving on to Daytona Beach, traveling back and forth to attend to his orange groves until the freeze of 1895 ruined his grove for the second time.
The first freeze was on January 4, 1886. It got down to 18° and even froze fish and turtles. The bark on the fruit trees split and the trees died, thus making it very bad for all grove owners. It also was work lost for the people that depended on grove work for a living.
Jacob Davy Mitchell was born in Elizabethtown, New Jersey, September 21, 1823, and died August 13, 1895. His death was believed to be the indirect cause from the loss of both year’s fruit and trees.
In 1870, Mitchell built a house on the homestead of his father, Alanson Mitchell. He was married three items with one child by his second marriage to Clara W. (Mrs. William W. Carter).
He had the second largest grove in the area. The oldest being the Dummitt Grove near the Haulover Canal, 12 miles from here to the south on A1A.
By 1887, there were about 220 acres of citrus groves in the Oak Hill area, within a five-mile radius, making it a very prosperous settlement.
In 1873, I.W. Smith took up a homestead, which he called “Memento”. He also laid out a cemetery there!