About Us

Richard Lee Cronin, Writer and Historian

Orlando Remembered
Central Florida Genealogical Society
Pine Castle Historical Society
Mount Dora Historical Society
Central Florida Railroad Museum, Winter Garden

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About Me:

Cincinnatian by birthright, I grew to adulthood at Dayton, Ohio, admiring a journalist I called dad. My father edited news the old fashion way – making certain what he wrote was accurate. My dad loved history as well, particularly Cincinnati history, and I feel certain that by the time I reached voting age, I knew more about Ohio’s history than most counterparts.

Nothing seemed to aggravate dad more than inaccuracies in stories of yesteryear, or worse, a history time line that simply didn’t make sense. I have little doubt therefore a similar trait in me was inherited directly from the one writer I most admire – my father, John Francis Cronin, Sr.

I arrived in Florida Christmas Day 1971, a hundred years to the day, I would learn much later, from the day John Otto Fries’ arrived in central Florida. Decades passed before I learned of the Swedish immigrant named Fries, a precision surveyor whose work I routinely rely on, but with a precautionary postscript. Fries was a precise land surveyor, but a horrible speller.

Observations as a youth, I’m convinced, laid a foundation for my obligation as a researcher, trust only after you take the time to verify.

I, like Fries, knew nothing of central Florida’s rich history, but I wanted to discover as much as possible about my new home. My curiosity wasn’t about who built such things as the 1950s Tee-Pee motel on South Orange Blossom Trail, but rather how Orlando really got its name, why the town was established at its most unusual location, who named Lake Ivanhoe and why, and was the daughter of Anheuser Busch’s beer empire really central Florida’s Duchess of Castelluccia? The latter half of the 19 century was a fascinating period in the story of central Florida, a time and place in which I’m most interested in learning of and writing about.

Three beautiful Ohio born daughters and a hectic career put inquiries into central Florida’s past on hold though. Until, nearly four decades later, a seemingly innocent historic plaque struck a raw nerve. I was strolling through Cranes Roost park with my granddaughter on a beautiful Florida Sunday afternoon when I came upon a historic marker, stopped to take in the detailed inscription about Altamonte’s origin, and determined it was time to go in search of real answers. The plague explained how Altamonte began when a group of Boston investors purchased 1,200 acres at Snow’s Station. Analyzing the plaque’s words however told me Altamonte’s origin was not rooted in the Boston investors, but rather the real origin was Snow’s Station. My first book, Altamonte Springs of Florida, was born of that day’s outing at Cranes Roost park, and the name Edgar James Snow finally came out of hiding.

In my view, anytime a historian writes history, especially of a land such as central Florida, it is the historian’s obligation to get the story right. I can think of no better example to make my point than the most maddening rock in all of central Florida. Path side at Lake Eola Park in downtown Orlando, there for all to see, is a plaque telling of the Mythical Orlando Reeves. Historians still write of the young soldier supposedly killed by a dozen poison arrows - three years before Army troops ever arrived in Mosquito County. Orlando Reeves is false narrative easily debunked now, yet historians still repeat the myth rather than researching and digging for the truth.

Research, in my view, is the fresh asset I bring to Florida history. While many agonize over the task, I enjoy most the hunt, digging to uncover long-buried secrets of Florida’s yesterday. My ‘Righting central Florida History’ EBook series is more than a collection of short stories with a catchy phrase, for it is a historian’s obligation to correct wrong words of yesteryear.

Florida’s House of Representatives informed me in 2016, that as a result of my research, their 194 year old Roster of Florida Lawmakers would be revised to include 28 missing Floridians I believed were missing from the roster. “This will ensure,” said the clerk, “our book retains its value as a historical document.”

Any writer can publish a novel, but only a historian can deliver in print central Florida’s amazing story, a history needing no fiction to make it worth the read. Burrowing into the past, validating the narratives accuracy, and then seeing that story through to print, combine to make writing and righting history truly enjoyable. But then, that’s also what brought me pleasure while growing up in the shadows of a journalist back at the Buckeye State.
 Central Florida history by Richard Lee Cronin:
Florida’s Indian River Duchess (EBook);
Seven Honorable Floridians (EBook)
The Rutland Mule Matter; A Civil War Novel (2015)
Beyond Gatlin – A History of South Florida; (2017)
First Road to Orlando; The Fort Mellon to Fort Gatlin Road (2015)
Orlando Lakes: Homesteaders & Namesakes (2019)
Curse of Florida’s Paradise (2016 2 Edition)
Ghost Towns & Phantom Trains (2015)
Altamonte Springs of Florida (2014)
Orlando Florida Origins (EBook)

Will Wallace Harney, Orlando's First Renaissance Man
Commissioned by Pine Castle Historical Society