Historic Oakdale Cemetery Walk
Friday, October 7 and Saturday, October 8, 2022
Reserve your 75 minute tour time slot: Friday between the hours of 6 - 8 pm or Saturday 5 - 7 pm
Walk through history in DeLand's historic Oakdale Cemetery with experienced West Volusia Historical Society re-enactors and hear the stories of prominent figures in the development of DeLand. See the intriguing cast of characters below.
These courageous and enterprising men and women helped bring Henry DeLand's vision to life, sustaining its oft-heard claim to be "The Athens of Florida," a beautifully designed town offering social, educational, and religious opportunities to its residents.
Tours leave every 20 minutes from the Oakdale Cemetery Clara Avenue entrance between the hours indicated above. Call 386-740-6813 to reserve your specific tour time.
$15 for WVHS members; $20 for non-members.
Advance reservation for reserved tour times is required. Deadline for reservations is Wednesday, October 5th at 4 pm. Tickets on site available only on a space-available basis with cash or check only.
Call: 386.740.6813 - Mastercard or Visa
In-person: Conrad Center, 137 N. Michigan Ave. in DeLand. Tues - Saturday, 12 noon - 4 pm; credit card, check or cash.
Tickets and Reservations
About the Guided Tour
Check in at the Oakdale Cemetery entrance closest to Plymouth Avenue at 800 N. Clara Avenue.
Please check-in 10 minutes prior to your reserved tour time.
Parking is available on Stetson Street or Oakdale Avenue. Plan ahead for time to park and walk to the check-in desk at the cemetery entrance (800 N. Clara Ave). Parking is not allowed within the gates of the cemetery. Drivers may drop guests off at check-in before parking.
Arrival and Check In
Oakdale Cemetery is one of the largest historic cemeteries in Volusia County with more than 15,000 grave sites.
Guests will walk the short route in groups of 12 people. If you are attending in a particular group, please give individual names when you make your reservation and make payment. To support the wellness of our community, sanitizer and masks will be available for those who want them, and safe physical distance is encouraged.
The walking tour is through Oakdale Cemetery on paved walkways but all guests must be prepared for uneven pavement and be able to navigate with lighting provided by lanterns and flashlights. Wear comfortable walking shoes and be prepared for the "Florida great outdoors". A limited number of chairs is available at each tour stop.
A handicapped parking area is available in the Cemetery. Guides are not able to assist guests in getting in or out of vehicles, push wheelchairs or assist persons using a walker or walking with a cane.
Building the Athens of Florida
Characters you will meet on the walk
Hetty M. Shively Austin, who wrote extensively about frontier life in DeLand was recording secretary and historian of "The Old Settlers' Society." She also raised the money to build the first schoolhouse, which served as a church for all denominations in the 1880s.
Charles and Alma Richardson Farriss, the longest owners of what is now the DeLand House Museum, enlarged and made many improvements to it. Charles was Classics professor, VP and Interim President of Stetson University and Alma taught domestic science at Stetson and helped found the DeLand Women's Club.
Lue Gim Gong was born in Canton, China and came to DeLand in 1888. Widely known as "The Citrus Wizard" he received national recognition for his work in the citrus industry, including development of cold-resistant oranges and grapefruit.
Minerva Bond Long was an elementary school teacher for many years, and, upon her retirement, the Lake Helen Elementary School was renamed in her honor. Her Grandfather, E. W. Bond, founded the Bond Lumber Company which her father, M.M. Bond, developed into the largest company and employer in Volusia County in the 1920's.
Elizabeth McArthur Durant and her family helped to build a thriving African American community, sustaining the vision of James Wright and others. Known fondly as "The Sherbet Lady", she was a talented quilter and baker, as well as a devoted church member of Greater Union First Baptist Church.
William J. (Bill) Dreggors, Jr. was a founding member and long-serving Executive Director of the WVHS who led the Society in the "creation" of DeLand House Museum. Well-known for his appearances as Henry DeLand, he was associated with the history and imagery of the DeLand area for decades.
G. Medwin Peek, a gifted designer, was one of DeLand's leading architects. He designed some of DeLand's Boomtime public buildings and private homes, including the second City Hall, the DeLand Women's Clubhouse, and the DeLand Hotel. He also designed DeLand's first planned subdivision, University Terrace, and a 50-year campus growth plan for Stetson University.
Elizabeth Shindler Stetson, the woman behind the man, was a talented musician and artist, who supported the arts, culture and education. As the wife of John B. Stetson, she greatly influenced their generous donations to Stetson University and continued her active support after his death.
James W. Wright, an African American entrepreneur, owned over 300 acres, much of it in citrus. In 1920 he put together a coalition of black and white business people and built a building at "Wright's Corner" to house a variety of enterprises, including a grocery store, and doctor and dentist offices. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, that building is now being restored.