The Village of Florida
The Village of Florida, N.Y., had its beginnings 300 plus years ago in a highly fertile, ancient lake basin.
In a grant of land, called the Wawayanda Patent of 1703, a large area was called the Florida Tract.
A hamlet located at the intersection of two free-flowing streams in the early 1700s was originally named Brookland.
The name of Florida was officially given to this populated, industrial area in the 1760s. Florida, in Latin, Floridius Aetas, means land covered with red flowers.
The second earliest Presbyterian Church in Orange County was established in 1741. During the Revolutionary War, Florida became an important corridor for troop and supply movement from Newburgh to Philadelphia and beyond.
As social, commercial and industrial entities flourished, Florida became a thriving 18th and 19th century community. Among the diligent farm-working families came prominent doctors, lawyers, merchants, craftsmen, etc.
Most noteworthy was William Henry Seward, Secretary of State under Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson. He is most noted for negotiating the treaty to purchase Alaska from Russia. His father, Samuel Sweezy Seward, established Seward Institute in 1848, and it still thrives today as a public school.
In 1946, Florida became an incorporated village. Florida in the 21st century is a vibrant, growing, productive community.
Note: Upcoming Events
Upcoming Yard Sale
The annual TFHS Yard Sale will be on Friday, September 23rd and Saturday, September 24th, 2022. We have fabulous donations for sale. Be sure to come out to support the Florida Historical Society and look for something unique. 13 Bridge Street. See you there!
Other TFHS Events and Activities
GIRL SCOUTS WALKING TOUR: The Girl Scouts held their own walking tour through our village the 2nd week of June.
FUN FEST: On Saturday, August 13, 2022, TFHS had a booth on Main Street at the Fun Fest.
ONE ROOM SCHOOLHOUSE: Our work continues on creating a one room schoolhouse in the former formal dining room at the Green on the lower level of the Green Homestead. TFHS will be requesting another grant to continue this project.
Gary and Kathy Randall Honored
On July 21, 2022, Dr. Richard Hull, of the Florida Historical Society, presented Gary Randall with a framed Certificate of Appreciation for the numberous years of dedication to the history of Florida, Warwick and the surrounding area.
Gary and Kathy moved to Florida in the 80's after an uncle told Gary about his ancestors who settled here early on, prospered, and left important history in "Randallville." Gary took enormous interest in his ancestors and presented significant research and writing about the Randall's impact on Florida history. Mr. Randall was the village historian for many years. Gary preserved pieces of history from restoration work at many houses and barns that would have otherwise been discarded. He began to teach people of all ages about the history he discovered.
Gary created "Seward Day", held every May for William Henry Seward's birthday to educate others about the man who was Secretary of State for Abraham Lincoln. Mr. Randall invited speakers to talk on numerous topics and made videos of over 30 of Dr. Hull's lectures. Gary and Kathy Randall have provided even more knowledge through their books.
The Florida Historical Society was created in 1991 by Gary and Kathy Randall, John Kimiecik and a small group of interested people. Early members also included Raymond Green.
Kathy Randall was also recognized as an historian and for her dedication, research, writing, art, refinishing of furniture, The Florida Historical Society and the Village of Florida are grateful to Kathy and Gary Randall for their incredible work to preserve the Village history.
The 2022 Seward Day Parade
Thanks to the efforts of The Florida Historical Society, the Village of Florida had its first ever Seward Day Parade to celebrate the legacy of its native son William Seward who was born on May 16, 1801. Village of Florida Mayor Daniel Harter, Jr., appearing as Abraham Lincoln, and Deputy Mayor Thomas Fuller portraying William H. Seward, were accompanied by The Honorable Peter D. Barlet, Town of Warwick Justice in a dedication ceremony at the Seward Memoral at the entrance of the S.S. Seward Institute. (sewardhomestead.org)
Above, TFHS President Joan Kissinger is pictured with a sleigh made in the Green Family Wagon Shop (photo below), formerly located next to the Green Homestead on 13 Bridge Street.
Additional photos from the parade can be viewed by clicking on the Photographs tab above.