Henry S. Barker built his boarding house and it was run by his wife. The two-story house still stands at 182 Howe Street. Aleathea and John Andrews bought it and had lived in it many years. John still lives there, but Aleathea passed away April 16, 1983.
The first real establishment in the Oak Hill area was the life-saving station built by the government in 1860, on the oceanfront. After many years, it turned to a “house of refuge”, and later a Coast Guard Station. The station was abandoned in 1935 when Coast Guard operations were transferred to New Smyrna Beach, Florida.
Those from here stationed at the Coast Guard Station during World War I were Chris Robinson, Midget, and Lee Williams.
The Barker boarding house was built in 1878.
Edward Archibald McDonald, born in New River Onslow County, North Carolina in 1823, came to Florida in 1852 from New Wilmington, North Carolina. His wife was the former Rose Ellender Barber. They both died in Port Orange, he in 1901 and she in 1902. They had 11 children. The clan separated and some lived in New Smyrna Beach, Oak Hill, Daytona and as far away as Utah. E.A. McDonald was believed to have built one of the first frame houses in Volusia County. Rose Bay was named for Rose Hardiman.
Elijah Franklin McDonald was born in Port Orange, Florida in 1865. He was the 10th child of Edward Archibald McDonald. Elijah was 6 feet 6 inches in his prime and weighed 300 pounds. He was the largest man on the Halifax River. He thought nothing of picking up in each hand a 200-pound sack of potatoes and carrying them ashore. He threw the largest nets. His everyday one was a 10-foot net. (A 7-foot net is considered large). He often used an 11 foot one weighted with 35 pounds of lead. His nephew tells of going fishing with him to the head of Pelican Island in 1910, where with one cast he brought up 150 pounds of fish to fill the boat. During the Civil War, they made a business of boiling salt water to get salt for the Confederate Army. He also took parties of tourists sightseeing, hunting and fishing down the East Coast waterways, as far as the Keys and was well known and liked by the many who knew him and his work. He loved to dance. He would discard first his tie, then his coat, then his collar and finally his shoes, as the dancing went on.
He built a home on the river in Port Orange in 1903. Here he operated a wholesale and retail fish and oyster business until he sold out and retired to small farm west of Port Orange, where he died in 1929. Alfred Franklin, Rose Eleanor Martin and David McDonald came to Oak Hill in approximately 1900 after the death of their mother. Alfred and Rose both lived in Oak Hill, Florida, where they had been two of the first settlers. Rose later married Eugene Robinson and had five children. Alfred Franklin McDonald owned and operated a wholesale fish business on the riverfront for many years in Oak Hill. He was married to Maud Ethel Sanders and fathered nine children. He passed away in 1947 after being a resident of Oak Hill for almost 50 years.
They traded salt to the Indians for meat. Alfred Franklin and Maud McDonald had eight children: Edward, Leigah, Alfred (Bub), Caroline (McDonald) Harris, Marian M Rice, Lawana M. Tier, Juanita M. Butler and Moniga Cole.
Caroline McDonald married Sam Harris and has lived here ever since. They have two daughters, Bernice and Ernestine Harris (Jones).
They owned and ran the Phillips 66 service station and grocery until January 1984.
An old timer was Tom M. Adams. He built a large house between Adams and Lagoon Avenues next to Blinn Street during World War I in 1918. He and his wife, Rose, ran a boarding house. The men’s wives lived there that were stationed at the Coast Guard house over on the ocean just across the river from here. They would come home on weekends. He had a large grape orchard and was the first local wine-maker. After this house burned, he built a house halfway between Lopez and Birch property and shortly afterwards became an invalid. A Mr. Knapp came and took care of his business and took him in a wheelchair everywhere he had to go. He was a cabinetmaker also. The rare Whooping Cranes wandered close by and once one had to have his leg amputated. Mr. Knapp made him a wooden leg from the knee down with a big ball for a foot. The crane then could get around real good.
During the prohibition era, Oak Hill was perhaps the major port for bootleggers who shipped millions of bottles of liquor illegally unto the United States. Perhaps the most exciting days in Oak Hill were when heavily laden flatboats would land in the Oak Hill area, the most notorious port of entry for bootlegging on the entire east coast.
The boats bringing liquor in burlap bags of quart bottles each from Scotland, England, Bimini and Cuba often would beach on the narrow strip of land just across the river from Oak Hill, the Oak Hill bootleggers would hire men to transport the cargo across the narrow land strip and the river to long black limousines and trucks.
There were millions of dollars worth of liquor, which founds its way to Americans through this avenue. The boats would land anywhere along the Oak Hill coast and have a welcoming committee. Many beached at Dry Trail, Haulover Canal, Cat Hammock and Ross Hammock areas just south of Oak Hill.
At one point during the prohibition era, a few boys were playing craps on the Church steps and it didn’t seem to bother them, so the pastor, an ex-serviceman, a patient and quiet young man, clutched two of the young boys by the back of their shirts, lifted them up and sent them on their way with a hefty shove, after first giving them a warning of breaking up the game and leaving, but it was ignored.