Ackerman and Ellis ran a steam locomotive (No.8) down the railroad spurs off the railroad existing – one down to Bissit Bay, one down from where the Canal Road is now and one down the same river road to Lane that was on large mounds here, five huge beautiful ones, presumable built by the Indians. The mounds were Allen Mound, Hotel Mound, Bissit Mound, Snyder Mound – all north of Snyder Mound and small one owned by William Williams (a former slave) south of Snyder Mound. He took his master’s name, was said to have been a slave prior to Civil War days. All mounds were carted away except the one still remaining at Snyder Hill. The largest was thought to have been the Allen Hill Mound at Lopez Corner. They also had another spur of the railroad coming down the old Tram road where the Park is today. They hauled to the main tract and loaded it on wagons pulled by mules that were built with wooden bottoms and fixed to where when they got it to where it was going, they could pull a lever and the center would open up, dumping the shell. They had two 2,000-gallon tanks of water to put in the locomotives. One at Lopez Corner and one on a spur tract out by Huskey’s. It burned Cord Wood. This shell built roads and railroads from New Smyrna to Daytona.
Frank W. Sams moved to Oak Hill in approximately 1870 to assume charge of property here that his wife was left by her uncle, A. Sheldon. In 1882, Mr. McMurray and Mr. F.J. Faulkner built the Atlantic Hotel, one of the most exclusive hotels in this section of the county. He managed the hotel for four years, later buying out Mr. Faulkner’s interest. He (Sams) and his son, Harry, ran it for six or seven years. He later moved to New Smyrna. (Later, W.C. Howse bought out Sams). In 1869, he married Zelia Sheldon of New Smyrna, a daughter of John Dwight and Jane (Murray) Sheldon. Her grandfather was George Murray, one of the oldest settlers and obtained a grant from the Spanish Governor and settled in New Smyrna in 1803. Mr. and Mrs. Sams had six children, Frank Sheldon, Anna Zelia, (Mrs. L.B. Bouchelle), Harry H., William Jackson, Murray and Cornelia (Mrs. L.E. Wilson).
Howard G. Putnam was born in Acworth, Georgia on April 16, 1872. His father, John B., and mother, Mary A (Gresham) Putnam. His father traveled extensively throughout the country in search of health. For a while, he lived in Texas, where he received his earliest education. In 1886, the family moved to Oak Hill in Volusia County, Florida. He was 13 years old at that time. His father died in 1888 and his mother in 1892, throwing a great responsibility on him, so he had to stop school. He had seven brothers and sisters and he had to assume the head of house. He bravely assumed the burden and proceeded to carve out of this new territory a fortune for himself and to become known as one of the founders of the community of Oak Hill. Being unable to attend school since leaving Texas, he did his studying at night after a hard days work. He early entered into the culture of oranges, which he developed into one of the largest in the county, owning 150 acres of bearing orange trees. He became President of the Oak Hill Citrus Growers Association, a cooperative company, a branch of the Florida Citrus Exchange. It still stands today as being one of the oldest buildings here. He was Oak Hill’s mayor in 1925 when it first became incorporated. He was in no sense a politician, but his reputation for an earnest desire to help the people of his community, and to further its interests brought him called to represent the people of the entire county and in 1915, he was called to represent Volusia in the State Legislature. His record was so satisfactory he was re-elected in 1917 and again in 1921. He was so sincere in pleasing the people and carrying the will of the people, he was chosen Senator in 1922 for this senatorial district. He adopted a policy of passing no legislation until he had well sifted the opinions on all sides in any controversy. In his quiet way, he had a strong influence among his brother senators and his record. He was nominated for another term in 1925. He was an ardent Mason, a member of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks and a Woodman of the World. He never married.
The Owen and Little Company was the very first to have a large store supplying all kinds of resources for Oak Hill. They leased one thousand acres of land, which extended from the river to Maytown in 1903. They had a turpentine still near the railroad track, and also a small sawmill. Most of the residents worked in some phase of the Owen and Little Enterprises.
The turpentine commissary was about one block east of the railroad on the north side. Later, it was a post office, the building where the Church of God Church is now. The post office before this was a small building across the street from the above-named one on the south side of W. Halifax Avenue. The post office as later moved to a new building on E. Halifax Avenue.
There was also a turpentine still at Maytown for the Osceola Cypress Company – they also had a sawmill at the same area.
Jim Putnam had a store near the turpentine commissary. Every other year they would hoe around the tress and burn the shrubbery; this helped protect the timber from being destroyed by a large fire.
Shortly after the Owen and Little Enterprises came to the town, the fishing industry started in 1908. But it didn’t begin to flourish until it became illegal a few years later. The County Fish Wardens did not effectively stop seine fishing until 1939. Previous to this time, the fishermen often paid heavy fines in court over in DeLand. Some old-timers said the law enforcement officials would wait until they were certain the fishermen had reaped a considerable harvest from the lagoon, they arrest them, posing a big fine on them. The fishermen often calmly paid and were released, only to go back and seine fish again.
A certain group here was still seine fishing in 1950 and the Wardens were paid off. A couple of men were fishing with small mesh nets and were near the ones seining, so they were picked up instead of the seiners. Their nets were taken from them, but only to re-taken out of the courthouse by the fishermen, then used until they were completely fished out, (in other words, they fished with them until they were worn out).
When the Little & Owen Enterprises began, they first started at Maytown, west of Oak Hill, where they made turpentine and lumber. Cypress was shipped out on a spur routed from Edgewater to Lake Okeechobee. The junction routed there by Florida East Coast Railway.
Henry and Lily (Hixson) Clark lived there and had a family. Charlie Clark being their son still lives there and tells of things that happened there. Charlie’s father was a farmer, stock raiser and his mother ran the first post office in 1905 in Maytown.
By 1912, many families began moving from the North and settled in the community. It was named after Mr. May in the late 1800s; he was in on helping Mr. Flagler build the railroad. Much activity was centered around the turpentine stills, sawmills and railroad.
Charlie Clark remembers watching them make turpentine and barrel it up in his childhood. The process of getting the turpentine required collecting gummy sap in metal cups, he explained, from cut away bark of the pine tree. The sap was then boiled in a vat, turning the sap into vapor, which passed into a coil of pipe cooled by water. This oil of turpentine was then stored in barrels, which had been coated inside with glue to prevent it from oozing through ordinary wooden barrels.
A prison camp was set up in Maytown so the prison labor could be used in working the turpentine. J.A. Clark owned a commissary and set up the supply store for the workers in the turpentine stills.
Henry Clark would cut, load and haul wood to the train station and Charlie would run to meet the train at the sound of the whistle. The FEC railroad fireman was Bob Baldwin of Titusville, and Henry would give him the wood for firing the train engine. Mr. Baldwin would throw out an apple or orange for us kids.
As families moved in, the population increased. They had a one-room school, but it lasted only a few years. This was where he met Vivian, the 14-year-old daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Bob Wilkinson. They got married August 27, 1923, settling in Maytown, raising seven children. After the turpentine and timber company left, he stayed on and continued to work as a Florida Game and Fish Commissioner for Volusia and Brevard counties until his retirement in 1965. He is still living in Maytown, being the one of the only ones there now. They come to Oak Hill for supplies and visit their children.
There was no longer any north-south movement of trains in or out in 1955 – so the freight agency closed and train crews moved out with the loggers and sawmill workers, following the trend of the turpentine workers.
The children are: Edith Hunter, Buddy, Ethel Cochran, Bobby, Edward, Eileen Spear and Virgie Lee Clark.
Owen & Little Enterprises had a turpentine still and sawmill out on Ariel Road on the west side of the road going north to south.