Welcome to our continuance of Bushnell
Now & Then Fades, Photos, History and More
Click the image on the left, to visit a Wonderful historical fade which was Inspired by Liz Sumner, who shared this priceless family image with our Sumter County FloridaPast Facebook Community.
Frances Prather Culbreath far right, Florence Beville seated wearing the white hat.
THE BEVILLE HOTEL
We have learned from the research on the Pierce/Beville House on Noble Ave., that the Beville Hotel was indeed at the intersection of Noble Ave. and Main St. We still do not know which corner.
The Pierce/Beville research also gives us some insight into early life in Bushnell:
“Some settlement of the area that became Sumter County began in the mid-1840s, was spurred by the Armed Occupation Act of 1842 which tracts of land as an incentive to settlement. The area consisted of gently undulating topography. A number of lakes and freshwater streams were in the region. Timber was mostly pine with scattered hardwood hammocks.
”Sumter County was created out of the southern portion of Marion County in 1853. The Withlacoochee River, which provided excellent water transportation to the west coast, formed more than half of the western boundary. Adamsville was named the county seat. However, an election held in 1858 moved it to Sumterville.
“The population in the isolated county was sparse. By the 1860s, the northern part of the county had a density of only 2-6 people per square mile; the southern part of the county had 2 or less. In 1853, a stage line was opened from Jacksonville to Tampa and for many years this was the county's sole link with the outside world. Most county residents obtained their supplies from Silver Springs, where provisions were brought by boat from Jacksonville.
”An increase in population in Sumter County was not appreciable until the coming of the railroads in the 1880s. By the turn of the century, the Seaboard Airline and the Atlantic Coast rail lines traversed the county in all directions. This brought in new residents and provided the county the means to ship produce to northern markets. By 1890, Sumter County had a population of 5,363, and by 1900, it had grown to 6,187.
“Although citrus was grown in Sumter County, after the devastating freezes of 1894-95, truck farming became the major agricultural enterprise. Sumter County became one of the largest growing and shipping points at the turn of the century, especially vegetables. As the county grew the number of hotels increased. In addition, some residents with large homes used them as boarding houses. The number of hotel rooms in the county grew from 117 in 1916-17, to 404 in 1928-29.
“An early settler in Sumter County was Granville Beville, who relocated from Georgia and settled near Center Hill. In 1857 he was operating a grist mill. He also farmed on a large scale and had a steam-operated cotton gin. In 1866, Beville opened a mercantile business in the Center Hill area. Granville Beville once owned all of what became the community of Bushnell and the large Beville family remained prominent in the community.
“Bushnell was first settled in 1870, but was not named until 1884. A syndicate of foreign capitalists, represented by Sir Edward J. Reed of England, consolidated several early Florida railroads which were incorporated as the Florida Railway and Navigation Company in 1884. The previous year a rail line had been established between Jacksonville and Panasoffkee. In 1884, the Florida Railway and Navigation Company extended the line from Panasoffkee to Bushnell. The chief engineer of the Company was John W. Bushnell, and the town of Bushnell was named in his honor. The Florida Railway and Navigation Company experienced financial difficulties and by 1900, after a period of receivership, was taken over by the Seaboard Airline Railway.
“The growth of Bushnell was made possible by its railroad connection. In 1886, the population of Bushnell reached thirty. The village had a hotel, a store, post office, and a syrup mill. By 1911, with a population of 100, the town was incorporated and became the county seat. The community had become a shipping point for winter vegetables, citrus fruit, and dairy and poultry products. Although the population was still at 100 in 1918, the town did have four hotels, catering primarily to traveling produce merchants. The prosperity brought on by the Florida land boom of the early 1920s made it possible for Bushnell to acquire electricity and a water system by 1927. The population had grown to almost 600 by 1939.” ...
“The Florida Gazetteer of 1918 lists four hotels in Bushnell, including the Beville House (at Main Street and Noble Avenue), operated by Mrs. Claiborne Beville (Mary), and the Pierce Hotel, operated by Mrs. T. R. Pierce. According to family history, Mrs. Beville and Mrs. Pierce met the daily train as it arrived in Bushnell, rivaling each other in procuring customers for their respective boarding houses.
“In March 1922, the Beville House was destroyed by fire. The following June, Mary's daughter-in-law, Anna Beville purchased the Pierce House and continued to operate it as a boarding house until 1955. Anna Beville lived in the house until her death in 1963, and the house remained in the ownership of the Beville family until 1977.”
Source: Registration Papers for Thomas R Pierce House Bushnell FL National Register of Historic Places NRIS #96000022
With a Sincere Appreciation to Liz Sumner, who has been constantly working to secure Bushnell and Sumter County history.
For without her diligent selfless work, we may not have known much of what is known currently.
Hit this LINK, which will take you to one of the Sumter County FloridaPast Facebook Threads about The Beville Hotel
NOTE: There was also a Beville Hotel in Center Hill run by another branch of the family. Information on it can be found in Robert Brown's posts.