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Biographies

COCOWITCH, John Franklin
Author: The History of Florida:  Past & Present, The Lewis Publishing Co., 1923,  Vol. III  pg.235

COCOWITCH, JOHN FRANKLIN. Banking, farming, lumbering and naval
stores production, civic up building and all the prominent interests connected
with welfare and growth of Dunnellon and vicinity have recognized Mr.
COCOWITCH as a source of energy and influence. He is a successful man who has
achieved a solid position in the world through sheer force of determination
and energy.
He was born at Summerville, South Carolina, April 22, 1871. His
father, Capt. JOHN F. COCOWITCH, was born in Sweden, took up the life of the
sea, became captain of a sailing vessel and was a master mariner for twenty-
one years. At Summerville, South Carolina, he married Miss NELLIE WHITE, who
was born and reared there, of an old family of that state. Captain COCOWITCH
died at Summerville in 1871 and his wife in 1879.
JOHN FRANKLIN COCOWITCH was only six months old when his father died
and was eight years old when he was left an orphan. He grew up practically
among strangers. He had only a few weeks of schooling, and at the age of
thirteen went to work in a saw-mill at 50 cents a day. In line with his
determination to make something of himself he repaired some of the
deficiencies of education by studying at night. He became fireman of a
locomotive engine at the age of eighteen and at twenty-one was promoted to
locomotive engineer, this gratifying his first serious ambition. He was
engineer on the lumber logging railroad from St. Johns to Summerville.
Mr. COCOWITCH came to Florida in 1893, and spent a few weeks in the
mining camp at Dunnellon. From there he removed to LeCanto, where he worked
in the saw mill, and after six months became a half owner of the plant under
the firm name of Cocowitch & Ridden and six months later bought out his
partner. He continued the operation of the saw mill at LeCanto for seven
years, and then built and operated a larger mill at Gulf Junction, and two
years later put up a still larger plant, the first big mill at Dunnellon.
Soon afterward there came reverses and he had to start all over again,
becoming a salaried man as superintendent of the mills of the Dunnellon
Company. After a year he was again operating his own mill. About that time
he took the contract to supply all the wood and timbers used by two of the
largest mining companies of the Dunnellon district, one of them being the
Dunnellon Company, an English corporation, and the other being J. Buttgenbach
& Company. A Belgian corporation, both operating phosphate mines. To fulfill
this contract Mr. COCOWITCH operated two saw mills for one year and one for
five years.
Since 1916 he has been a prominent factor in naval stores industry,
has been a member of several co-partnerships, and is interested in seventy-two
hundred acres of land in Marion County and has a large turpentine still and
commissary in Citrus County. His naval stores operations in Citrus County are
carried on under the firm name of Cocowitch & Rowls, and his saw-mill business
is conducted by the firm of Cocowitch & Smith. He is associated with GEORGE
W. NEVILLE of Dunnellon in the ownership of a large farm devoted to the
production of melons and general farming and he is now planting a grove of
Parson Brown oranges. He also owns extensive real estate properties in
Dunnellon and is a director of the Bank of Dunnellon, the Dunnellon Ice
company and the Florida Central & Gulf Railroad.
Mr. COCOWITCH served sixteen years on the city council of Dunnellon
and has been a trustee of school boards. He is a democrat, is affiliated with
the Masonic Order, Knights of Pythias and Benevolent and Protective Order of
Elks, and the Independent Order of Odd Fellows.
At LeCanto, Florida, he married WILLIE N. JOHNS, who was born there
and died at Dunnellon in 1910. Her father, JAMES W. JOHNS, was a Confederate
soldier and a farmer in Florida. By his first marriage Mr. COCOWITCH has five
children: NELLIE, wife of LUTHER POWELL; J. FRANK, of Huston, Texas; MAMIE,
EDNA and CLIFFORD. After the death of his first wife Mr. COCOWITCH married
SUSIE MAY NIBLACK. Her father, MINOR NIBLACK, was one of the most successful
farmers in the vicinity of Dunnellon. Mr. and Mrs. COCOWITCH have two
children, IDA MAY and HARRY.

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