A QUINTESSENTIAL AMERICAN FRONTIERSMAN
April Edition: 12 CENTRAL FLORIDIANS SERIES:
PART ONE: MAHLON & THE DAKOTA TERRITORY
MAHLON GORE was a Quintessential American Frontiersman. I do not suggest such a prestigious title because of his 22 wilderness mile hike in 1880 to the remote village of Orlando, Florida. No, MAHLON GORE had become a legendary American Frontiersman long before he ever stepped foot in CitrusLAND.
Gore and his Orlando newspaper have been described as among “the greatest boosters” of Central Florida, and yet prior to relocating to Orlando at age 42, Mahlon had practically retired from journalism because of his declining health.
18 years before the railroad and MAHLON GORE arrived at Orlando, Gore had ventured west to the Dakota Territory. In mid-summer of 1862 the two Gore brothers, Mahlon and Albert, were among the very first settlers to arrive at the Sioux River, where they picked out their homestead on a ridge overlooking the river. Albert returned to their home in Michigan to fetch their wives.
In October, 1862, while driving his team of oxen westward with all their household belongings, Albert, along with his wife and Mahlon’s wife, Josephine, came across settlers leaving the Dakota Territory due to an Indian uprising. The stampeders informed Albert that his brother MAHLON had perished, and the Gore’s were advised to turn back.
Fortunately, MAHLON GORE was not dead, and so the two GORE family’s set up homes in the American Frontier. “Many nights, usually near a full moon,” reports the Dakota Territorial Historical Society of Mahlon GORE and his wife, “smoke signals would rise from the distant hills. Fearing an attack by Indians, they would take their blankets and guns and retreat to the ravines behind the house.”
Indians were not the only problem confronting the Gore’s: “On the morning of August 11, 1964, grasshoppers swept down the valley and by nightfall Mahlon Gore’s entire crop was gone.” By that fall, Mahlon Gore had accepted a position as manager of the Sioux City Journal, where, as the Burlington, Iowa Hawk Eye Newspaper later reported, he remained until “nervous debility and sleeplessness caused Mr. Gore to abstain from labor at the north and come south in search of health, which it gives us pleasure to report he is obtaining.”
His declining health brought Mahlon Gore to Central Florida. From Jacksonville, he traveled by boat to Sanford, arriving in May, 1880. Railroad track was being laid at that time, but it was to be six months before the first train would set out from Sanford to Orlando, Florida. So, Mahlon Gore walked!
“It took him two days to walk a distance than can be covered in 30 minutes by auto,” wrote Mahlon Gore’s nephew, historian Eldon H. Gore. “He spent the first night with a native that lived near Longwood. In the morning he was told to follow the trail through the woods and it would lead to Orlando. After trudging along for several hours he met a cowboy on a pony and asked him to direct him to Orlando. The man looked at him and replied, “You d--- fool, you are in Orlando already.” Mahlon knew at that moment that he had a huge decision to make: Should he return to the north, or should he send for his wife and child?
Orlando, Florida is eternally grateful for Mahlon Gore’s decision to remain in CitrusLAND – and we’ll begin to tell you why on April 20th, in Part Two of: A Quintessential American Frontiersman.
TREK the FIRST ROAD TO ORLANDO – the same dirt trail Mahlon H. GORE hiked by foot over two days in 1880. The history of a military trail that for 40 years served too as the one and only southbound route for settlers arriving at Lake Monroe and desiring to continue on to the remote Orange County Seat of Government at ORLANDO. For details, simply click HERE!