FLGenWeb Digital Library and Archives 


CARSON, Joseph Washington

Author: The History of Florida:  Past & Present, The Lewis Publishing Co., Vol. II, page 352. 1923

CARSON, were the men whose public spirit, energy and initiative were chiefly
responsible for the development of the remarkable community of Frostproof.
Their father discovered this locality of Polk County, but the practical work of
development largely devolves on his sons.
STEPHEN WASHINGTON CARSON, the father, was a native of Tennessee, was
reared in Mississippi and devoted his early years, until his health failed, to
the ministry of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. He was an old-time
circuit rider. A change for his health brought him from Mississippi to
Florida, and he arrived in this state in January, 1858, making the entire
journey on horseback. His first location was near Brooksville, and after he
retired from the regular ministry he engaged in farming. In 1871 moved to Polk
County, locating two miles east of Fort Meade, where he took up general farming
and citrus culture and not long afterward he discovered what is now Frostproof,
so named later because it was proved to be comparatively immune from frosts.
He was the first to perceive and predict the wonderful future of this section
of the state for fruit growing. For six years he lived without a neighbor, the
nearest post office being for several years Fort Meade, eighteen miles away.
STEPHEN W. CARSON married first Miss EMILY CELESTIA WHITE, of Ocala, who
died young, leaving four small children. Later he married a widow with five
Georgia. She is now active at the age of more than eighty-seven. By their
marriage they had four children, the two sons being JOSEPH W. and MUNSEY
BARRINGTON, and the two daughters are SOPHRONIA, wife of FREDERIC EDWARDS
Crooked Lake, Florida. “Uncle Wash” CARSON, as he was affectionately called by
young and old, was both wise and good. Nothing escaped his eagle eyes of
blue. He was a christian, and lived Christianity day by day. He went to his
reward February 17, 1907, aged almost seventy-seven.
JOSEPH WASHINGTON CARSON was born in Hernando County, Florida August 30,
1869, and was about two years old when brought to Polk County. He has given
over thirty-five years of his life to the development of the land, the
horticulture and the business affairs of Frostproof. As long as his brother
lived they were closely and intimately associated in business and all the
affairs of their lives, their relationship constituting a wonderful harmony of
purpose and work.
On December 21, 1904, J. W. CARSON married Miss NINA MIZELLE, daughter of
Prof. A. W. MIZELLE, for many years a prominent educator in Suwannee County,
Florida. Mrs. CARSON was reared and educated in Suwannee County and was a
teacher before her marriage. They have one daughter, FLORENCE ROSAMOND, aged
J. W. CARSON started fruit growing at Frostproof with one acre, and
gradually increased the area under his ownership and management until it is now
over 650 acres and eventually he expects to move the total upwards to 1,000
acres or more, having utmost faith in fruit culture as the supreme business of
this locality. He is a stockholder and director in the Frostproof State Bank,
stockholder and one of the original directors in the Polk County Trust Company
of Lakeland, is a large stockholder in the Crooked Lake Improvement Company,
and is president and treasurer of Carson Brothers, Incorporated, a firm owning
and controlling a large portion of the interests of the two brothers, the
property for the most part being adjacent to Crooked Lake Townsite and
Frostproof. Mr. CARSON was one of the original organizers of the Florida
Citrus Exchange, and one of the incorporators of the Frostproof Citrus Growers
Association, and is a director in that and the Crooked Lake Citrus Growers
Mr. CARSON has been for many years an active leader in prohibition
movements, and at one time was candidate for elector on the prohibition
ticket. In political affairs he is a democrat. The personal habits of such a
citizen are a matter of general interest. He does not touch, taste nor handle
intoxicants, tobacco, tea nor coffee, chewing gum nor soft drinks. He does not
dance or deal cards. His beverage is pure water and fresh fruit juices, his
luxury luscious oranges, his necessity grape-fruit. His one unbreakable habit
both winter and summer in the early morning is a plunge in the limpid waters of
Lake Clinch, and 150 yards run uphill to the old home. His blood tests 100%
pure American. His medicine is fresh air, sunshine and hard work. His
pleasure is helping others. He seeks the truth and takes sides on all vital
questions, and is never found hiding out as a neutral. He is one of the
youngest men in Florida at fifty-three, and such plan and manner of life might
well prove an object of emulation to others.
MUNSEY BARRINGTON CARSON, his brother, was born January 29, 1875, and died
of influenza November 11, 1918. These brothers had all their financial and
business interests in common and never regarded a dollar as privately owned by
either of them. Munsey was one of the prominent men in the Y.M.C.A., and was
instrumental after untiring efforts in securing the encampment of the Florida
State Y.M.C.A. at Frostproof. The camp was named in his honor Camp Carson. He
was also active in Masonry. He too was a man of exemplary habits and
character, and the influence of his life is now perpetuated in a fraternity at
the camp known as the Gideon Band, each member of which volunteers to take a
pledge to accept Christ as the saviour, and to refrain from all intoxicants and
tobacco and profanity, vulgarity and obscenity and do unto others’ wives,
mothers, daughters, sisters and sweethearts as they would like others do unto
their own.
MUNSEY CARSON married IDA MAUD GILMAN, of Massachusetts, September 21,
CARSON was a natural leader of men, a model of purity among women, a favorite
with children, a friend of the poor, a protector to the weak-a christian
gentleman who knew no fear nor compromise on principles of right and wrong.
These pioneer brothers were actively identified with seven successive
efforts to get a railway through their chosen home land of lakes and hills, and
secured for the most part a free right of way through Polk County for
the “Scenic Highlands” branch of the Atlantic Coast Line without a single
condemnation case. They were successively active in the great asphalt road
system enterprise for Polk County comprising over three hundred miles. They
saw this wonderful lake region develop gradually from their first one acre
grove to nearly 1,000 acres before the railroad came in 1912, and then almost
by leaps and bounds to nearly 30,000 acres before the World war temporarily
stopped such developments. The surviving brother, J. W. CARSON, was prepared
to take advantage of the rebound after the war at its first impulse for forward
movement, and has contributed to the subsequent development which at this
writing approximates 75,000 acres in fruit, and he makes the conservative
prediction that the area will soon reach 100,000 acres with a possible
production of 10,000,000 boxes of the finest flavored and best keeping fruit in
the citrus growing world, which will capture and hold the market of the United
States on its merits and go safely to foreign markets with its wonderful flavor
and almost indestructible “Buck-skin” peel.

Pesented by Nancy Rayburn

Return to Archives              Polk Archives

This page created August 24, 2010
 © 2010 Fran Smith