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Crocker Memorial Church, Sarasota, FL



The Rest of the April 6th Story!

By Richard Lee Cronin

 

On Saturday, April 6, 2024, The Sara De Soto Chapter of The Daughters of the American Revolution will celebrate their 100th Anniversary at the Chapter’s home on 12th Street, a grand celebration that will include events in the historic structure next door, the Crocker Memorial Church. Relocated three times throughout its own history, the church is itself historic – for it reportedly dates to 1901. A historic occasion occurring in a historic location – and I am honored, as a representative of Central Florida, to have been invited by the Sarasota Chapter of the NSDAR to be a part of this superb event.

    

Piers E. Warburton, in 1884, as General Manager for Scottish investors who were establishing the city of Sarasota, corrected a few misunderstandings about Florida in an article he wrote the same year for the London Times: His article, reprinted in my book To Sarasota with Love, Orlando: Our Shared Heritage, began by stating: “Sanford is really only about five years old – the town which dates back 11 years being Mellonville.” Warburton had worked his way southwest from Sanford to the Gulf Coast by following much of what is now known as the “I-4 Corridor.” In fact, Warburton first owned land in Maitland and Lakeland prior to moving on to Sarasota,



Historic Mellonville was 1 mile east of Sanford

The city of Mellonville mentioned by Warburton had in fact begun a second life in 1870. An original town by that name had been established in the 1840s by a soldier named Henry A. Crane. Henry had been stationed at Fort Mellon during the Second Indian War, and after War’s end in 1842, he decided to stay rather than return home. He and wife Sophia made their home on 160 acres on the shore of Lake Monroe, where the abandoned Army fortress named Mellon had been located. Henry A. Crane established a port city here and named it Mellonville. Three children were born to Henry and Sophia at Mellonville, one being a daughter named Sophia, born 9 September 1847.


Henry A. Crane was among the landowners signing an 1844 petition asking the Legislature to change the name of Mosquito County; in 1846, his town of Mellonville became the third county post office (the first two being in what is today Volusia County); but Henry A. Crane was also the first Central Floridian to have their homestead nullified in 1850 by order of the United States Supreme Court.



A U. S. Supreme Court decision voided the Homestead of Henry A. Crane


His early involvement in Central Florida history made Henry A. Crane a central figure in Chapters 3 and 4 of my book Orlando: A History of the Phenomenal City (2024).


The Crane family moved further south after losing their town and homestead, locating first at Tampa. Henry A. Crane, as a Tampa resident during the Civil War, served in the Union Army, while his son Henry L. Crane enlisted in the Confederacy, so that the father and son Crane's served on opposite sides of America’s horrific Civil War.


Henry A. Crane relocated one final time after the War, settling in Key West, where Crane’s little girl Sophia, born in Mellonville, met and married Peter Crocker. Married in 1868, by 1880, Peter and Sophia Crocker were residents of a section of Manatee County along the Gulf Coast, an area just beginning to develop because Scottish investors had acquired tens of thousands of acres in the vicinity of modern day Sarasota and Manatee Counties. Located on Sarasota Bay, the Crocker’s located in a region that was about to become a town of Sarasota, in Sarasota County.


Crocker Memorial Church was built in 1901 by Peter Crocker (1843-1911). Sophia (Crane) Crocker died at Sarasota on March 1, 1925, 78 years after her birth in Mellonville, Orange County, Florida – an area currently known as Sanford, Seminole County, Florida.


On Saturday, April 6, 2024, Crocker Memorial Church will be the location of the Centennial Celebration of the Sara De Soto Chapter of The Daughters of the American Revolution. As an Author and Florida Historian, I am honored to be a part of this historic Sarasota occasion.




I invite you to stop by my table inside Crocker Memorial Church and, after taking in the historic nature of this structure, look over my books, including my latest, The Ladies were Daughters Too, about the remarkable founders of the Mount Vernon Ladies Association and The Daughters of the American Revolution. I’ll also have a collection of my book, inlcuding To Sarasota, with Love, Orlando, and others, like Seven Honorable Floridians, Orlando: A History of the Phenomenal City, and others. You can find out more about each of my books at www.CroninBooks.com


Congratulations to Sara De Soto Chapter of The Daughters of the American Revolution.

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