Ormond Beach Historical Society's

First Annual Giving Campaign


Take a Journey With Us:

From Awareness to Friend and Supporter

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We believe that books, photos and videos record history, but it is the PEOPLE who create history every day. Our past molded today and our today will define our future by the PEOPLE. The continuum of living history will be submitted from generation to generation with a vivid STORYTELLING.

We consider history and culture to be food for our soul. You can help us to preserve it for future generations, because once a building, document, or artifact is gone—it is gone forever. TOGETHER we can prevent this from happening.

The Ormond Beach Historical Society is taking a virtual journey to increase awareness of Ormond Beach’s rich cultural heritage and will share with you our education and preservation activities, as well as important facts of our history.

Every Tuesday, starting October 13 to December 1, 2020, we will digitally bring to you and your family stories such as:

  • October 13 Native Americans of Ormond Beach with Steve Doll, as well as personal stories from present day residents: Michael Gist and Jim Geis

  • October 20 Celebrating African-American Life: One Family Story at a Time with Erlene Turner

  • October 27 The fascinating story of the Nathan Cobb Cottage with Joyce Benedict

  • November 10 Anderson Price Memorial Building and MacDonald House: Past and Present with Bonda Garrison

  • November 17 Birthplace of Speed with Diana Simmons

  • November 24 Historic Thanksgiving in Ormond Beach with Dan Smith

  • December 1 #GivingTuesday. We hope to raise $10,000, gain at least ten new volunteers, and hundreds of new friends and supporters

Are you ready to take the journey with us?

First Stop:

Native Americans of Ormond Beach

Second Stop

Personal Stories from Present Day Residents


Jim Geis

Click the picture for Jim's Story

Third Stop

Celebrating African-American life: One Family Story At a Time

Gethsemane Cemetery is a quiet, serene, and peaceful place at 140 South Orchard Street, Ormond Beach, a quarter mile South of Granada Boulevard. It has close to 200 graves including veterans and early African-American settlers with the last burial in 1974. The oldest visible date on a grave in the cemetery is 1870. It was named Gethsemane in commemoration of the Olive Garden on the Mount Of Olives in Jerusalem, where the Lord had prayed before His sacrifice. Some documentation shows it was also known as Greenwood Cemetery, and originally, as the Ormond Negro Burial Grounds.

For many years not much was known about the graves in the town’s historic all African-American Cemetery, but with the help of the Ormond Beach Historical Society that has changed by asking descendants of relatives to share family stories. Research efforts began about seven years ago, according to Joyce Benedict, an OBHS board member, by Mildred Hapala, who originally investigated the origins of the cemetery, and Gordon Kipp. The City Clerk was given the burial records of the cemetery by Mr. Herbert Thomson of Herbert Thomson Funeral Home in Daytona Beach, with a note stating that the cemetery was predominantly used for Black persons. Mr. John Van Wicklen, who has a brother buried at Gethsemane, compiled a list of names and dates. The list was given to the City Clerk, Ms.Marian “Boots”Maxwell.  

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Many of the markers were homemade and show great care and personalization for the loved ones interred here.

As of Easter Sunday 2007, Gethsemane Cemetery was restored. It is owned and maintained by the County of Volusia. History was made on Saturday, February 2020, when Gethsemane Cemetery was added to the Cemetery Tours of the Ormond Beach Historical Society. Thanks to all who helped to make this happen! The site is also a nature reserve. It has endangered native species making their homes there including gopher tortoises, red tail hawks, and several species of flora.


This story was presented by:

Erlene Turner

Education Committee Chair

Ormond Beach Historical Society

One Family at a Time: Lawrence Daniels and Larry Daniels

Listen to James Daniels, a member of the Daniels Family, of Frank and Marietta Daniels, discuss his ancestors, Lawrence and Larry Daniels, in Ormond Beach.


Fourth Stop

The fascinating story of the Nathan Cobb Cottage

The Nathan F. Cobb of Rockland, Maine was a three-masted schooner constructed in 1890. In its last voyage, the schooner was scheduled to transport a cargo of timber and cross ties from Brunswick, Georgia to New York.

On Tuesday, December 1, 1896, after leaving port from Brunswick, the schooner fell victim to the strong winds and high seas associated with a Nor’Easter. 

Read more here.

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A long time ago there was a ship...

Today, there is a cottage standing to tell us the story...

William "Billy" C. Fagan was given permission to use the wreckage and railroad ties from the Nathan Cobb schooner to build a cottage on Orchard Lane, just north of the Hotel Ormond. Billy was one of Ormond's founders and longtime employee as well as friend of John Anderson and Joseph Price, builders of the Hotel Ormond. The cottage had three rooms, connecting it to a detached kitchen was a covered breezeway “some twenty-five or thirty feet in length,” called a "dogtrot."  The floors were made from the ship’s planking, and the outer part of the house constructed from the railroad cross ties. Fagen made shingles from the ship’s mast and the taffrail from the schooner was a decorative addition to the small front porch.

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Today the Nathan Cobb cottage is probably the only one of its kind left on the East coast of Florida.  It is not as large as it once was — its south bedroom, staircase to the loft, front porch, kitchen on the North and dogtrots have disappeared over the years.

The schooner's wooden nameplate, with "Nathan F. Cobb" engraved into it, hangs over the fireplace. The house is now part of Ormond Beach's Historic Trail.

Our Journey Continues with Stories of the Anderson-Price Memorial Building and the MacDonald House

The reason the Ormond Beach Historical Society (OBHS) exists is to engage residents and visitors with the rich and diverse history and culture of the Ormond Beach area and to also preserve what we have now for future generations.


Since our founding in 1976, we have been instrumental in saving many Ormond Beach landmarks including The Casements, the Ormond Indian Burial Mound on South Beach Street, Pilgrim’s Rest Baptist Church, the Three Chimneys Sugar Mill Ruins, the WW II Watchtower on A1A, the Anderson-Price Memorial Building, and the MacDonald House.


Many of you are familiar with the Anderson-Price Memorial Building at 42 N. Beach St. because we hold many of our programs at that beautiful, historic, riverfront location. It was built in 1916 by The Village Improvement Association (VIA), and it is on both the City Landmark List and the National Register of Historic Places. The goal of this women's organization was “to promote neatness and order in the village”. The building served as Ormond Beach's library until 1969 and a meeting place for the VIA and other groups. It was named in honor of John Anderson and Joseph Price, turn-of-the-century developers who, among other accomplishments, built the Hotel Ormond, which opened in 1888.

In 1957, the VIA changed its name to the Ormond Beach Woman's Club. Generations of Ormond Beach residents have fond memories of attending dances, meetings, parties, lectures, weddings, antique sales,

and other community events at the A-P. In 2002, when the Woman's Club 

was no longer able to maintain it, they deeded it to OBHS.  Since then we have invested over $190,000 in capital improvements to the building. Virtually all of those funds were raised by citizens concerned with preserving buildings such as the Anderson-Price that represent the history and beauty of Ormond Beach.  We are currently facing several more major projects such as replacement of the soffits and gutters. In addition, our salary, insurance, utilities, maintenance and other operating costs now average over $55, 000 for that building alone.  Rentals of the building (in a normal year, not 2020) only cover approximately ½ of those operating costs. 

The other building with which we are most closely associated is the MacDonald House at 38 E. Granada Blvd., where we operated a Welcome Center for the City and have our offices. The Mac House (as everyone calls it) was built by a well-known area architect, Sumner Gove, who built many area landmarks, in 1903.  The person having it built was a woman, Margaret Stout, who worked at the Hotel Ormond. It is named for Billy MacDonald and his family, who purchased it in 1939. They were well known as the owners of Billy’s Tap Room, a mainstay of Ormond Beach social life for many years. Just stop for a minute and think about all the people and events that house has seen in the last 117 years!  

Today the Historical Society tells those stories through a variety of programs – lecture series, Loop bus tours of historic sites, tours of area cemeteries and Plantations, kids programs, but other than a 20 minute video and a few photographs and changing exhibits in front 2 rooms of this building, we have no permanent place for visitors and Volusia County residents to come to hear these wonderful stories on an everyday basis.

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However, we plan to change that over the next few years!  The City of Ormond Beach, which owns the MacDonald House, has received an ECHO grant to restore the badly deteriorated exterior of the building. Work should begin on that around the beginning of 2021. OBHS contributed $100,000, again raised by local, concerned citizens, toward this effort. Once the restoration of the exterior is underway, we are planning on launching a Capital Campaign to raise funds to restore the interior three floors into the Ormond Beach Museum of History and Welcome Center, which will increase available exhibit space by more than 2800 square feet. This would allow Volusia County residents, as well as visitors, ready access to explore the unique and important stories of our past and interrupt its impact on our present and future.

The new facility would employ state-of-the-art museum and display concepts as well as historic artifacts designed to engage the public. We are excited to be currently working with architects on preliminary designs. So, stay tuned for more information on all the developments… 

If you believe that these and other projects, programs, and sites are important to keeping Ormond Beach, well, Ormond Beach, please consider donating today!  And if you would like information on membership, our programs, including our new VIRTUAL Speaker Series, or anything else, please visit our website at OrmondHistory.org!

Birthplace of Speed with Diana Simmons

Soon after the invention of the automobile, Ormond became known as the Birthplace of Speed. Early auto owners were searching for places where they could drive on hard surfaces. Existing roads were no more than horse trails and posed problems for the cars. These auto owners had “the need for speed” and wanted to break speed records with each run down the beach.

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On March 26, 1903, the first time trials were held. Entrants included Alexander Winton in his Bullet #1 and H.T. Thomas driving Ransom E. Olds' Pirate. On that day the men drove in separate classes, but two days later they met in the Ormond Challenge Cup.  After an exciting race that the Bullet won by one-fifth of a second, all agreed that the sands of Ormond were the perfect place for speed records.  Ormond Beach earned its title as the "Birthplace of Speed."

In 1903, the top speed was over sixty miles per hour.  In 1904, Willie K. Vanderbilt Jr. was clocked at over 90 miles per hour and in 1910, Barney Oldfield was clocked at over 130 miles per hour. The “need for speed” continued. Time trials moved further south on the beach. The clincher was in 1937 when Sir Malcolm Campbell from England was clocked at over 275

miles per hour in his Bluebird V. That was the pinnacle of top speeds on the beach. Later oval tracks were built, part on the sand and part on A1A, and drivers drove and positioned their autos to be the first across the finish after a number of laps.  Then a man named Bill France came to town. He had a vision and a dream which we all know today as the International Speedway in Daytona Beach. I wonder how many hundreds of thousands of fans who have sat in those stands know the real story. The “need for speed” began in Ormond on the beach in 1903 – truly the Birthplace of Speed.


Birthplace of Speed Park, commemorating the world's first time trials, is located where Granada Boulevard (S.R. 40) meets the beach. The Motor Racing Heritage Association raised funds to build a small replica of the original Ormond Garage in the park with replicas of the Bullet #1 and The Pirate inside. Come and experience the spot where it all began.


Historic Thanksgiving with Dan Smith

In 1959, a group of Ormond Beach auto enthusiasts would form a committee to stage events to commemorate the speed records that had been accomplished on the beach.  The celebration would be held on the Friday and Saturday following Thanksgiving. On Friday night would be the Gaslight Parade and on Saturday the Antique Auto Show. Those events have continued uninterrupted and are now some of the oldest continuous antique car events in the nation.  Eventually, the Daytona Turkey Run would spin off and is now one of the largest car shows in the world. Today, the city of Ormond Beach is known as the Birthplace of Speed since the town was the first place in the world to hold eight consecutive tournaments to attempt the world's 

land speed record.  Thousands of people young and old turn out each Thanksgiving weekend to see the fabulous car show and to watch the Gaslight Parade which presents a rolling chronological history of the automobile.  Great Fun! You can read more of this story here.

P.S. The Awareness Campaign will end on December 1 with #GivingTuesday. At any time during our Awareness Campaign you can donate an amount that feels the best for you while joining the collective movement of generosity and feeling the power of the community: We are ALL in this TOGETHER!

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