West Volusia Historical Society
To preserve and promote the history of West Volusia County
The Agricultural Picnic - November 6, 1879
By Col. Christopher C. Codrington
In this picture of Old Settlers, taken at the Codrington home, Col. Codrington's wife is seated front row, second from the right. Son Christopher is standing back row far right; his wife is standing in the back row, third from the right.
This account, from The Florida Agriculturist, Vol.II, No.26, Nov.12, 1879, was found and made available by Chris Codrington of New York, a great-grandson of Col. C.C. Codrington
The latest Agricultural
Picnic, on November the Sixth, was given at the residence of
Col. C. Codrington (now 503 North Clara Avenue, DeLand),
and it is this day’s scenes, but more especially those of the evening, that we
would now call attention to.
The morning dawned clear and bright,
with no clouds to dim the pure luster of the bright Italian skies, and ere the
sun had traced its path far above the horizon, the grove, grounds and home of
our editor were filled with genial, happy friends and merry children, enjoying
the social pleasures of the day and receiving the benefits of the agricultural
meeting. And so the day only hurried too quickly into evening, when the friends
once more separated to join each other again at the Calico Ball which was to
take place at a later hour.
The bonfires were set burning and the
evening shadows had scarcely mellowed into the starlight ere the friends again
began to assemble at the home of Col. Codrington; and Spring Garden, Orange
City and DeLand joined each other on one of those happy occasions long to be
remembered by all. Merry laughter filled the halls, flitting forms glided here
and there, sparkling wit and gay repartee flashed among various groups and new
arrivals varied the scene, until each and all were there.
Amid the joyous company, with such
gentle sweetness, moved our hostess, Mrs. Codrington, bestowing a smile upon
some, a pleasant word upon others and extending happy greeting to all. Thus the
moments flew past till the time came for the dancing to commence, yet the music
had not come—always so punctual and yet tonight so late. Eight, nine, almost
ten and no music yet.
Still the spirit of enjoyment ran high,
and while gushing youth reveled in happy scenes a sound arose upon the air.
‘Twas music in the orange grove. And now all seemed perfect, and the program of
the evening commenced; with the grand promenade all moved off
to the dancing hall where redowas (a
leaping waltz popular in the 1800s), polkas,
waltzes and quadrilles succeeded each other in happy confusion, all enjoying
the pleasures of the mazy dance so nicely conducted by those very efficient
floor managers Messrs. Cubbedge, and Cannon, who rendered valuable aid to the
party through many other courtesies.
At a seasonable hour supper was
announced and all repaired to the dining hall to enjoy the pleasant interlude,
where appropriate mottoes and verses passed from one to another of the gay
party, and a most pleasant hour was passed around the plenteous
board. After supper the dancing was again resumed and kept up with all the
zest and enthusiasm of the gay participants, until the fair moon had roamed far
west, the merry band scarcely realizing the moments that flew past, so
enjoyable was the time.
And when the evening closed with the
time-honored Virginia reel, all seemed loath to break the happy scene. which
will ever remain a green spot in memory, whose bowers will echo sweet music
from the past, and send a thrill of delight in its happy recollection.
young gentlemen of DeLand who worked so zealously to make the evening a success
may congratulate themselves upon its being so, and to them and our generous
host, Col. Codrington and his amiable, accomplished wife we present our most
grateful thanks for the pleasures of this joyous Sixth of November.
Col. Codrington both wrote
and printed The Agriculturist in DeLand after he, J. S. Kilkoff, and E. R. Dean
arrived in 1878 and laboriously hauled a printing press clear from Tallahassee,
installing it in a small wood building at the NW corner of Rich and Woodland, a
structure which remained DeLand’s newspaper publishing office well into the
Col. Codrington also was
one of six founding members of St. Barnabas Episcopal Church, one of the
original six aldermen of the city of DeLand, and even gave Henry DeLand the
idea for founding a college here—now Stetson University—probably suggested by
the fact that his own great-grandfather had founded a college in Barbados a
Codrington was a Jamaica planter who moved to Jacksonville in the 1870s and to
DeLand in 1878, bringing the news journal The Florida Agriculturistwith
him. For the issue Vol.II, No.26, Nov.12, 1879 he wrote this
account of a day-long gathering at his newly built home among vast
orange groves at the NE corner of Clara and Minnesota avenues.
Codrington’s son, Christopher O. Codrington, later continued to publish the
daily DeLand newspaper from the same little newspaper building, but acquired
the larger building on the north. In 1910 he rebuilt the two structures into
brick as one building, known as the Codrington Building (presently labeled the
Opera House for a failed theater which C. O. briefly installed upstairs then
quickly converted to apartments). This
large double-building still exists intact—one of DeLand’s most iconic— with C.
O.’s apartments opening onto a huge balcony upstairs and several local
businesses at street level. However, C.
O. had rebuilt it so that the facades of the original two buildings were and
still are clearly distinct as viewed from across the street.
Go look—and know that the smaller building at
the corner is one of the oldest and most historic existing structures in
BY RICHARD GIBSON