Thriving Ocala - A 1903 Sketch
The Thriving Capital of Marion County-The Center of a Great and Prosperous Section

Ocala, the county seat of Marion county, is one of the best built and best located towns in Florida. A fine county courthouse occupies the center of a large square, which is surrounded on all sides by solidly built, substantial brick business blocks which continue some distance in all directions upon the four streets surrounding the square. A fair estimate would give the town about 250 stores, many of which compare favorably with the large stores of much larger cities.

The present population of Ocala is about 6,000, which, with the many surrounding farmers and truck growers, provide profitable trade to its merchants. The city has fully six miles of hard rock-paved streets, and many of the residences are very fine. The school system is an excellent one, the average enrollment being about 500 pupils. Artesian water of fine quality is furnished by a good waterworks system. Six fine churches are well attended and supported. There are good city hall and armory buildings, a good military company, a good fire department, a good public library, free deliveries of mails, an active Board of Trade with sixty-two members, two good daily papers, two strong banks, with another, which will be a national bank, preparing to open.

The Atlantic Coastline and the Seaboard Airline railroads are both hauling large quantities of vegetables and watermelons grown on the surrounding farms, which are among the best in the state, and from twenty to ninety carloads of produce per day are now being shipped from this point.

Ocala has eight good manufacturing plants in operation, and all seem to be doing a profitable business. The Ocala Foundry & Machine Works is doing a fine business, and under the able management of Mr. B. S. Anderson, will soon be materially enlarged to increase the fast increasing business.

Ocala is one of the best markets in the state for horses and mules. The writer does not remember having seen a generally fine stock for a long time as at this place. At the large stables of Messrs. Crosby & Hall may be found everything in horse or mule flesh from the $500 high-stepper down to the patient turpentine mule.

Speaking of turpentine reminds me that Marion county is one of the largest turpentine producing counties in the state, something like $1,500,000 being invested in turpentine operations there. Add to that $1,000,000 invested in phosphate mines, $1,000,000 in lumber productions, another $1,000,000 in truckgrowing and general farming, $1,000.000 in stock raising, very large investments in cotton growing, and you find a county of wealth and importance second to none in the state.

Ocala has several lumber plants, among which the mill of Mr. C. I. Grace is prominent. While Mr. Grace is supplying all the produce of both saw and planing mills, he is reaching directly for the orders of surrounding turpentine, lumber and phosphate men, and makes a specialty of supplying materials for camps, commissaries, etc.

A new industry, first factory of its kind in the world, will soon be in operation here. The Seymour Crosstie Hewer and Veneer Mill Company are having new machinery built, and will soon have a factory in active operation, Mr. Seymour has lately sold to Mr. R. S. Hall a half interest in his invention for a very handsome figure, and there is now ample capital to back this new and very important invention, which is destined to revolutionize the manufacture of both crossties and veneer.

Capitalists, investors, settlers, mechanics, laborers, and men of all occupations, will find first class opportunities and a warm welcome at Ocala. One of the firms from which to acquire information is that of J. H. Livingston & Sons, whose long experience and perfect knowledge of both city, county, and state, enables them to at once meet any want in the real estate line, whether it be a city lot or a turpentine or phosphate location, or, if one desires information in regard to this section of the state, either Messrs. Munroe & Chambliss or Mr. Barco of the commercial Bank will take great pleasure in furnishing it. 

Source: Ocala Banner: 7-3-1903

Transcribed, Formatted and Submitted by Linda Flowers


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