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Orlando, GLENDONJO & Women of Lake Concord

Lake Concord, Orlando, Florida. Photo courtesy Florida Memory Project

Part Two: Women of Lake Concord

John G. Sinclair came to Orlando from New England in 1878. Planning to manufacture starch from Cassava root, he instead established, within a very short time span, one of Orlando’s most successful real estate businesses of the 1880s. Among Sinclair’s first property interests were two unsettled and unnamed lakes on the north side of town, lakeside acreage where he enticed many of his fellow New Englanders to buy lakefront lots and build winter cottages.

An early Orlando history says Sinclair was the ex-Governor of his home state, but while he had attempted to win the New Hampshire governorship three times, he never actually won the title or lived in the Governor’s Mansion. He had been a successful manufacturer prior to coming to Orlando though, and John G. Sinclair did spend a good amount of time in the town of Concord, New Hampshire, that State’s Capital.

Within one year of John G. Sinclair becoming interested in Lakes Ivanhoe and Concord north of Orlando, both named lakes appeared on the Edward R. Trafford Official 1879 map of Orange County, Florida.

Orlando Real Estate office of John G. Sinclair. Photo courtesy of an 1884 Orlando map by Sinclair that appears as Exhibit 120 of Orlando: A History of the Phenomenal City by yours truly.

One of John Sinclair’s earliest land sales had been a parcel of twenty-acres that he sold on 3 June 1881 to Robert Howe, a Mississippi native who arrived in Orlando that same year from Louisville, Kentucky. The parcel Rowe purchased from Sinclair was located on the southeast corner of Lake Concord, where Howe reportedly built a residence for his bride, Hadassah Waters. Robert and Hadassah had married at Louisville just prior to relocating to Orlando, where Robert became manager of the nearby Orlando Ice plant.

The Orlando Ice Plant is shown in the upper right of this photo, taken from John G. Sinclair's 1884 map of Orlando. The lakeside house in the lower left of this map was the Robert & Hadassah Howe residence on Lake Concord.

Robert Howe built a residence, boathouse and orange grove on his acreage beside Lake Concord, naming the grove Kalorama, Greek meaning “nice view.” Hadassah meanwhile involved herself in Orlando social activities. On January 1, 1885, for example, a women’s social event took place, said the Orlando Reporter of Christmas Day 1884, where guests would be received “from three to six PM at Kalorama Grove, the home of Mrs. Howe.” Hadassah’s New Year’s Day 1885 event was not her last.

The 1928 obituary for Hadassah J. (Waters) Howe (1840-1928), described her as an Orlando “pioneer and one of the city’s most prominent social leaders. She was an organizer and first President of Sorosis and was affiliated with the Orlando Art Association and Daughters of the Confederacy.” Says the Sorosis Club of Orlando’s website; “In 1893, ten soft-spoken women of Orlando met at the home of Mrs. Robert Howe to organize a study club. Mrs. W. R. Anno, Miss Maud Anno, Miss Blanche Anno, Mrs. Annie Coleman, Miss Emily Dickenson, Mrs. H. W. Greetham, Mrs. Robert Howe, Miss Julia Pomeroy, Miss Lillian Shine, and Mrs. D. S. Shine became Charter Members. They adopted the name Sorosis from Latin meaning ‘sisterhood.”

The Robert and Hadassah Howe residence was built in circa 1883 on the southeast corner of Lake Conway. In 1893, a gathering of women met at this Howe home and organized the Orlando Sorosis Club, an organization that was still meeting until spring of this year.

Thirty years after the Sorosis Club met at the Howe residence on Lake Conway, the Orlando Chapter of The Daughters of the American Revolution, in 1913, had a picnic, reported the Orlando Sentinel of June 17, 1913, “at the beautiful home of Judge and Mrs. J. M. Cheney.”

The historic Cheney residence, named Glendonjo for the first letters of his three children by the Judge himself, was located on the southeast shore of Lake Conway.

Last week, in Part One, we told of Mrs. J. M. Cheney (Alexander), the host of the picnic, and we told of her Patriot, Abraham Hill, who had served at the Siege of Boston and the Battle of Bunker Hill in America’s Revolution. Another lady attending the DAR picnic was “Mrs. Francis Xavier (Packard) Schuller, or Caroline E. (Packard) Schuller, who served as “Toast Mistress” at the DAR picnic.

Caroline (Packard) Schuller had been the organizing regent of the Orlando DAR Chapter. Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1869, Caroline was the daughter of Orville L. Packard and a lineal descendant of Patriot Samuel Reid (1756-1832). Samuel enlisted in 1776, and for a time, says his biography, was the Commander-in-Chief’s bodyguard – General George Washington that is, under Captain Gibbs. Samuel Reid also served at the Battles of Trenton and Princeton.

The Orlando Sorosis Club was organized in 1883 at the Howe residence on the southeast shore of Lake Concord. Thirty years later, the Orlando DAR held a picnic at the Cheney residence on the southeast shore of Lake Concord. What are the odds that both historic events occurred in the very same house? Better still, what are the odds that the historic residence where both events took place still exists today, one hundred and forty plus years after being built on the southeast shore of Lake Conway?

Part Three of Orlando, GLENDONJO and more, will resume next Wednesday, July 17, 2024. 

Orlando: A History of the Phenomenal City, and my Award-winning, The Ladies were Daughters Too – available at amazon, or, on August 22, 2024, from 4PM to 7PM, stop in, say hello, and pick up a signed copy at Writer’s Block Bookstore in historic downtown Winter Park.

On Saturday, August 22, 2024, I'll be at Writer's Block Bookstore in historic Winter Garden from 4PM until 7PM. I do hope you will stop and pay a visit. We can even talk a bit about Central Florida's fascinating history!


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