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Hickory Bluff Pioneers

5084 Melbourne Street, Punta Gorda, FL 33980

Hickory Bluff Pioneers photo of Durrance houseAfter the Civil War (1861-1865), soldiers stationed in Florida decided to stay for the warm climate as well as for political and financial gain. Some became early pioneers here in Hickory Bluff, not far from the 1872 Charlotte Harbor post office.

Lt. Nathan H. De Coster and Capt. John F. Bartholf were Union soldiers stationed at Ft. Myers. After marrying Florida women, they homesteaded in this area. John Lomans, an African-American soldier also serving at Ft. Myers, helped De Coster set up the first sawmill south of Tampa. Lomans later served as voter registrar, and De Coster became a county judge, postmaster and customs inspector. Bartholf was superintendent of public instruction when schools were established throughout the Peace River region, including Hickory Bluff in 1873. The first school house was constructed from boards sawn at De Coster’s mill.

Mathieu F. Giddens was a former Confederate soldier who owned a farm on Mill Creek and served as county commissioner. Giddens donated land for the Charlotte Harbor Cemetery after his father-in-law, Joel Knight, died in 1879.

Francis Durrance, Jr., owned a house and cattle in eastern Hickory Bluff. He was customs collector in Punta Gorda and served as the local preacher. Around 1927, his son, Cleveland Pasco Durrance, built a Mediterranean Revival style home (called locally the “Spanish House,” now demolished) near this site. He later moved his family to the house next door and rented the Spanish House to seasonal tourists.

Hickory Bluff Pioneers Marker photoCharlotte County Historical Marker: Application approved by Historical Advisory Committee on January 9, 2008. Dedication ceremony held on August 5, 2008, at Chester Roberts Park in Charlotte Harbor. Marker cost paid by Charlotte Harbor Community Redevelopment Area (CRA).​

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