by Newell Brett Hope, Jr.
(Keystone Heights, Florida)
Villa City from the Residence of George T. King
My grandmother was born in England and came to Texas with her parents at age 10. At age 18 she married my grandfather in McKinney, Texas and the next year, 1882, their first child Lucy Dean Hope was born. My grandfather came to Florida that same year to work at building Villa City, a new development in what is now Lake County, leaving his little family in Texas.
In 1883 my grandmother and little Lucy left Texas to join him in Florida. They traveled by train from Dallas to Jacksonville, then by steamship up the St. Johns river to Georgetown where my grandmother hired someone to row them across Lake George to Sumter County where my grandfather was waiting with a mule and wagon to take them to their new home in Villa City.
The entire trip took over a week, an amazing journey for a young woman with a small child in those days. My grandmother was a tiny woman, only about 5 feet tall but with an indomitable spirit that stayed with her throughout her 88 years. And the trip didn't phase little Lucy either, as she lived to celebrate her 100th birthday in 1982 after living the rest of her life in Florida.
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