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Holly Hill, Florida
—  City  —
City hall
Location in Volusia County and the state of Florida
Coordinates: 29°14′38″N 81°2′47″W / 29.24389°N 81.04639°W / 29.24389; -81.04639Coordinates: 29°14′38″N 81°2′47″W / 29.24389°N 81.04639°W / 29.24389; -81.04639
Country  United States
State  Florida
County  Volusia
 - Total 4.5 sq mi (11.7 km2)
 - Land 3.9 sq mi (10.1 km2)
 - Water 0.6 sq mi (1.6 km2)
Elevation 13 ft (4 m)
Population (2000)
 - Total 12,119
 Density 2,693.1/sq mi (1,035.8/km2)
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
 - Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP code 32117
Area code(s) 386
FIPS code 12-31350[1]
GNIS feature ID 0284170[2]
Official seal of Holly Hill

Holly Hill is a city in Volusia County, Florida, United States. The population was 12,119 at the 2000 census. As of 2004, the population recorded by the U.S. Census Bureau is 12,586 [1]. Holly Hill's city limits lie entirely within the Florida mainland, unlike the larger cities on either side of it, Daytona Beach and Ormond Beach, which encompass both the mainland and the barrier island (beach front) across the Halifax River.



Holly Hill is located at 29°14′38″N 81°2′47″W / 29.24389°N 81.04639°W / 29.24389; -81.04639 (29.243808, -81.046476)[3].

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 11.7 km² (4.5 mi²). 10.1 km² (3.9 mi²) of it is land and 1.6 km² (0.6 mi²) of it (13.94%) is water.


  • Incorporated - 1901

Holly Hill's beginnings date back to the early 1800s, when Governor Coppinger of Mexico gave a royal title of 4,500 acres (18 km²) on the Halifax River to Fernando de la Maza Arrendonda. The area was then sold to Thomas Fitch. Thomas Fitch eventually sold a large parcel of property to William Samuel Flemming Sr. in 1817. Flemming acquired one of the Spanish grants containing 3,200 acres (13 km²) along the Halifax River. In 1835 he lost everything during the second Seminole War. The Halifax area was again abandoned until after the Civil War but wasn't long till adventurous settlers seeking a better life arrived to take advantage of the natural beauty and enticing climate.

William Wallace Ross arrived here sometime in the 1860s and established a home site at a point which he called ‘Palmetto Point’. There he established the first Holly Hill area post office at his home which was called the Palmetto Post Office. Records of the Post Office Department in the National Archives confirm a Post Office, was established at Palmetto Point on July 21, 1868, with Samuel P. Wimple appointed postmaster. It was discontinued on July 12, 1870. This date is collaborated with other information that is known of them.

Ross was the brother of Edmund G. Ross who, was a U.S. Senator from Kansas. Tax rolls for 1869 show Ross had 200 acres (0.8 km²) of orange trees valued at $600 He owned the grove jointly with his brother in law Wimple. Abilene, Kansas records say Wimple started the grove and a sugar plantation in Florida in 1868. Ross then invested in the grove. When Mathias Day, founder of Daytona Beach, arrived here in May 1870, he spotted the Wimple and Ross grove behind a growth of Palmettos on the west bank of the Halifax River. This information is obtained from Day's diary.

Ross and Wimple did not stay here too long. A freeze in the very early 1870s wrecked their orange crop and the pioneers returned north.

There is no record of what happened to the Ross cabin but through the years it disappeared. In 1904 the Mabbette family lived to the west just across the road (Riverside Drive) and it became know as ‘Mabbette Point’. On February 26, 1958 the Holly Hill Council officially named the point ‘Ross Point Park’ in honor of Ross and a marker was placed there preserving its importance in the city's history.

William Samuel Flemming Sr. meanwhile had not given up on the area. The land owner was born in Holywood (pronounced Hollywood) County on the coast of Northern Ireland near Belfast. In the summer of 1876 Fleming went to Philadelphia with the express purpose of influencing settlers to come to Florida. He got the promise of fifteen families. Among the families were the Wetherell's and the Simcoe's.

Mr. Wetherell was born on October 30, 1846. He and his wife, Margaret, were both born in Durham, England and now had four children: Tom, the eldest, Charles, William and a baby girl of a few months.

William Wetherell first came to America in 1866 to work in Philadelphia, on the preparations for the big Centennial celebration. He had left his bride behind in northern England, while he grabbed the opportunity to earn more in this country. He received a job working on the Continental Building. In 1868 he returned to England, but he was already making plans for a permanent move to the United States. In 1872, the family sailed into New York, settled close to Pittsburgh, and later moved to Philadelphia. It was there that Wetherell met William Simcoe, a friend from his earlier days in the city. Mr. Simcoe heard that Miami was beautiful and because of the climate it offered a chance for tremendous growth and work. He was able to convince the Wetherell family that Miami was the place to be.

Two other families Flemming influenced were the Monroe's and the Wood's neither of who had any children. It is notable that Newport News, Virginia was settled by the Irish in 1621 and the Monroe's were quite probably of the same Virginia family tree as James Monroe, the 5th U.S. president.

William Samuel Fleming Sr. in 1876 owned most of the land now comprising Holly Hill and his land holdings continued from there south through Port Orange, where he and his wife Mary lived. In 1877 he owned 4,000 acres (16 km²) on the Halifax River between Ormond Beach and the recently settled site of Daytona and began to erect a simple frame dwelling on a portion of his riverfront property.

The Wetherell family left Philadelphia in middle September 1876 in a small schooner and sailed to Fernandina, where the schooner Magnolia was to pick them up there but it ran aground in Ponce Inlet, The Monroe's and the Wood's from Virginia joined them there. They were stranded in Fernandina at the far Northeast tip of Florida for three weeks until Captain Charlie Fossard who ran a freight and passenger schooner between Daytona and Fernandina arrived and the families got passage on his boat, the Frank Stone, to complete the trip, A storm forced them ashore at Ponce Inlet on October 15. Fortunately for Holly hill they never completed the trip to Miami. Thomas Wetherell, 9 years old at the time, wrote an account of their arrival in Daytona years later. The Frank Stone brought them safely through the inlet but they saw the remains of the unfortunate Magnolia being torn apart by the surf. They landed in Daytona on October 17, 1876.

At that time this part of Florida was practically a wilderness. There was no railroad closer than Jacksonville. Mail was brought in about once a week on horseback from Enterprise, then the county seat of Volusia County. The Post Office was a dry goods box that sat in the corner of William Jackson's small store at the south end of Daytona.

The Wetherell's spent that first fall and winter at Daytona Beach in the woods in an old house at what then was the northeast comer of Ridgewood and Volusia Avenue now known as International Speedway Blvd (USl and 92). But in the spring Flemming got them to move to Holly Hill where they bought from him the 220 feet on Washington Avenue, now LPGA Blvd. between Daytona Ave. and Dixie Highway for the sum of $75. Their first home there was a one-room shack they built of driftwood found along the river and palmetto fans. Tragedy hit the Wetherell's when their fourth child, the baby girl died very young but two more girls were born to them in Holly Hill, Ethel and Victoria.

The Monroe's were the only other family settling directly in Holly Hill at that time, living in a cottage at the site of the old city hall where the jail is now located.

Dependent on boats for their supply of groceries, these families experienced frequent food shortages during periods of stormy weather. Though fish, oysters and wild game were abundant, women and children often dug for coontie roots, which they grated and baked into pancakes to use in the place of bread. For drinking water they dug a hole in a low spot of ground and drank this surface water. The wells were sometimes visited at night by wild animals. One evening Mrs. Wetherell was startled by a noise at the well and looking out saw a big black bear down on his haunches trying to get a drink. The oldest boy was chased by a large Black panther|panther on what is now Daytona Avenue. It pursued him to the gate and even attempted to jump the picket fence after him. Another time Mrs. Wetherell was nearly paralyzed with fear when on going to the bed for the baby, she found a six foot black snake coiled up in the bed beside it.

Holly Hill at that time had no name and in discussion among the settlers Mrs. Monroe would like to have had it named Newport News, after her old home. This was a popular way of naming towns at this time as Ormond Beach was originally named New Britain after the Connecticut hometown of many of the early settlers there. In the discussions among the settlers however they decided that as Mr. Flemming owned nearly all the land and was the colony founder he should have the naming privilege despite the fact that he still lived in Port Orange. Mr. Flemming decided to name the colony Holly Hill in memory of his Irish Holywood home because there were lots of holly in the area and there was a bit of a rise in the terrain. One can easily see the similarity between the two areas in old photos.

Mr. Flemming began building a simple frame dwelling on a portion of his riverfront property. The land was cleared just south of the Holly Hill Canal right on the river shore. Unfortunately he died in 1878 before construction was completed. His son, Samuel Flemming Jr. who then took charge of his activities never carried the building plans further and continued in the large house they occupied in Port Orange which eventually burned down in the late 1970s.

After a few years both the Monroe's and the Woods left Holly Hill to return to Newport News. The Wetherell's however remained in the same location for 51 years. Mr. Wetherell died here on March 20, 1922. He gave time and money, the latter of which was not plentiful to anyone in the colony, to developing the town. He was foreman on the first canal dug through Holly Hill. It was started in 1880 and took about two years, as all had to be done by hand.

The Carters and Harris families became an important part of the settlement area in the late 1870s. Events were moving swiftly along the Halifax in 1876 when Daytona was incorporated by its 26 leading citizens. People were coming in by sea or overland from the St. John’s River. Bishop Young of the Episcopal Diocese of Florida was ready to establish the church in this area.

The oldest home still standing in Holly Hill was built in 1878. Its existence provided many varied and interesting stories to the history of Volusia County.

Dr. William Hyde Carter, then of Passaic, NJ, desiring to seek a better climate, came to Florida in 1877. He was interviewed by Bishop Young and invited to establish a mission. He returned again with his family and Reverend H. B. Stuart-Martin in May via the St. John’s, arriving at Daytona May 15, 1877. The first service in Daytona was on May 25. His field was from New Britain to present day Titusville. The family was housed in Port Orange since there was no housing in Daytona available.

On January 14, 1878, Mrs. William Flemming, who was newly a widow, gave Dr. Carter the two lots south of his home site. Dr. Carter had already received his home site from Mr. Flemming. These two lots were for the expected church and rectory.

Later ‘The Little Church in the Wildwood’ was erected by the Bishop at the back of the corner lot on Connecticut Ave (now 9th Street). A service was held there once yearly so the Diocese could preserve the title to the property.

Dr. Carter's daughter Allie Harris shared his diary in 1941. It states:

January 14, 1878. ordered lumber for the house.

March 19. started fence. April 4, 1878. steamer Agnes wrecked at the


July 28. .worked on house, finished the weatherboarding.

December 28, ‘work began on the orange grove, William Wetherell assisting. The trees came from Port Orange and City Point. 94 in all.

There is little further mention of the house. Dr. Carter was assigned to St. Johns Church. Tallahassee in 1879 and served there until his death about 1908.

Mrs. Carter, her daughter Allie and two sons remained in the home and Mrs. Carter became the Holly Hill postmistress and held the post from October 29, 1877 for 30 years. An old photograph shows the path from the walk around the south of the house to the little Post Office between the two-story house front and the kitchen. It can be speculated that the six years between William Ross and Mrs. Carters' posts were the years Charles Wetherell had served as postmaster.

Mrs. Carter died at the home in 1910 left the house and grove to her eldest son William W. Carter who died in 1960. William Carter had printed the Halifax Journal from its beginning in 1884. Arthur Carter was a Journal reporter. William was the owner briefly toward its last days. Since his wife, Clara Mitchell, died in 1934 he left the house and grove to Allie Carter-Harris, wife of Charles A. Harris. She died in 1950 at the age of 96. The family was very active in Masonic circles.

There was one Carter descendent, Mrs. Zilpah Carter Cole, who inherited both the Carter and Harris homesteads. The old Carter home was sold by Mrs. Cole in 1952 to Dr. Benjamin H. Rawls. The house now has a brick facade and the dormer and old fence are gone. There was a huge pittosporum in front that probably came from Indiana where Dr. Stuart-Martin was born. His home to the north was called Fernbank while the Carter place was Magnolia Manor.

Charles Wetherell became active in civic affairs and built the first church and school in 1885 on the comer on the comer of Michigan (now 6th Street) and Daytona Avenue. The school still stands to this day. Before this time the only schooling the children received had been given by Reverend H. B. Stuart-Martin who out of concern and generosity taught the children on his own time and expense at his home. Tom and Charles Wetherell were two of his pupils. Mr. Will Harris was the first teacher of this school receiving $30 a month. Victoria Wetherell attended this school with Josephine Hawley, who with her sister Frances Hawley lived at 427 2nd Street remembered that Victoria had the definite English accent of ‘H’ dropping.

Reverend Stuart-Martin, after several years in Palatka, returned to Volusia County and built the three early Episcopal churches in the county in 1883: All Saints in Enterprise, St. Barnabas in DeLand and St. Mary's in Daytona Beach. In later years he homesteaded on Rentt Island, but returned to Indiana before his death. The first artesian flow well of the area was dug by Mr. Maley and his father. This well was all dug by hand was put down in back of the Maley store on South Beach Street in Daytona. A second such well was later dug to be used for his saw mill.

Also around 1880 G.W. Harris established his grocery and general merchandise store on the banks of the Halifax River on what is now 8th Street and Riverside Drive. All merchandise was delivered by boat and many of their customers used the river for transportation.

Mr. Wetherell, no doubt remembering the dangers of ocean travel, helped build the Ponce Inlet Lighthouse. It is now on the National Register of Historic Places and is now the tallest lighthouse in America still standing in its original location. In 1934 his son Tom went to work for Sears Roebuck and Company and earned the fantastic salary of $17.50 a week. He stayed with the company until he retired as manager of the Daytona Beach store. His marriage to Mildred Kent, which lasted for fifty-four years, produced two sons T.K. and William. T. K. Wetherell served for many years in the Florida Legislature and was Speaker of the House from 1990-1992. He now serves as President of Florida State University. His brother William ("Billy") is associated with Daytona Beach Community College.

It was with great pleasure that Mrs. Wetherell on her 80th birthday, January 1, 1927 recounted the family history in her latter days. She remarked that she would not want to go through the same experience again.

A big event in the lives of the settlers was when the first train came through from Jacksonville to Daytona in 1887, eleven years after the Wetherell's arrival. Nothing like the trains of today but an important welcome link connecting Daytona area with the outside world.

In the early 1880s as other settlers arrived Holly Hill's name began to gain in popularity. The settlement now had a church, school, post office, general store, sawmill and many homes. The slowly developing village had a population of about fifty, which did not significantly increase in the next several years.


As of the census[1] of 2000, there were 12,119 people, 5,583 households, and 2,998 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,202.9/km² (3,113.5/mi²). There were 6,148 housing units at an average density of 610.2/km² (1,579.5/mi²). The racial makeup of the city was 87.10% White, 8.97% African American, 0.36% Native American, 1.00% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.91% from other races, and 1.63% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.69% of the population.

There were 5,583 households out of which 22.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 34.9% were married couples living together, 13.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 46.3% were non-families. 36.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 17.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.14 and the average family size was 2.77.

In the city the population was spread out with 19.9% under the age of 18, 7.0% from 18 to 24, 28.4% from 25 to 44, 23.5% from 45 to 64, and 21.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 42 years. For every 100 females there were 91.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.6 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $26,651, and the median income for a family was $29,154. Males had a median income of $25,946 versus $19,178 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,098. About 13.5% of families and 16.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 23.4% of those under age 18 and 12.1% of those age 65 or over.

Population History 1950-4897 1960-8974 1970-12669 1980-10254 1990-11058 2000-12119 2005-12568

City Officials

  • Mayor Roland Via
  • District 1 City Commissioner John Penny
  • District 2 City Commissioner Gilles Blais
  • District 3 City Commissioner Mark Reed
  • District 4 City Commissioner Traci Anderson

Famous Residents

  • Murderer Warren Messner, famous for his "jail is too hard" appeal after serving 8 months of his 22 year sentence lived in Holly Hill prior to his incarceration.
  • William S. McCoy, lived and worked in Holly Hill as a skilled yacht builder, prior to his entry into Rum-running.


  1. ^ a b "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  2. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  3. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2000 and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2005-05-03. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 

External links

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