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Ormond Discovery

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Ormond Discovery
Ormond Discovery poster.jpg
Release poster
Directed byDanny Miller
Produced byDanny Miller
Robert P. Miller Thelma Irving
Written byDanny Miller
Shirley Warner
StarringJ. Donald Bostrom
Jay R. Bushnell
Marie Alice Jordan
Ceylon Barclay
Music byGianluca Piersanti
CinematographyDanny Miller
Jimmy Miller
Edited byDanny Miller
Ormond Beach Historical Society
Distributed byPBS International
Release date
  • May 10, 2017 (2017-05-10)
Running time
60 minutes
CountryUnited States

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Ormond Discovery is a 2017 American documentary film directed by Danny Miller that aired on PBS (Public Broadcast Network)[1] on May 10, 2017.

The film portrays the beautiful locations and historical treasures of Ormond Beach[2] (Florida), including the Hotel Ormond[3], the Three Chimney Sugar Works[4], the Timucua Indian Burial Ground[5], the "Birthplace Of Speed"[6], and the "Casements"[7], home of business magnate John D. Rockfeller Sr.[8]


Ormond Discovery was produced over a period of 45 days. Film shooting started on February 2017 on location, while interviews, historical facts and film footage were being collected from a variety of sources, including Alynn Snyder, Dr. G.A. klock MD, Robert Bates, the City Of Ormond Beach[9], and the Daytona International Speedway Inc.[10]

The film entered post production for additional dialogue, sound and music score on April 17, 2017 and was completed on May 3.


Early Settlements

For over 12,000 years settlers have carved their homes along the banks of the Tomoka[11] and Halifax River[12]. These descendants of primitive Asians who migrated over the land bridge came to be called Indians. Archeological finds indicate that among other things, they ate oysters and clams. Broken pottery, arrowheads, spear points, and other artifacts have been found. At the time these people inhabited the area, the Halifax River would have been a shallow, fresh-water stream.

The Timucuan Indians[13] made this area their home in the early 1500s. The Timucuan Tribe was one of six main tribes occupying Florida when the Spaniards made their first visit. What is known of them comes, in part, from the detailed diaries and drawings of the French explorer Jacques LeMoyne[14]. He wrote of tawny, muscular people who were experts in weaponry, clay pottery, jewelry, and clothing, which was made mostly of deerskin and moss. Physical fitness was a prized attribute of the Timucuan people. Training sessions in the form of games were common tribal activities. They were also excellent fishermen, hunters, and warriors.

The primary settlement was called "Nocoroco"[15] and is thought to have been located where Tomoka State Park[16] is today. Spanish captain DePrado documented this village in the late 1500’s in writings to the King of Spain[17]. DePrado also documented the declining welfare of this tribe. Within 200 years after DePrado’s expedition, the Timucuans entirely disappeared from the east coast of Florida. It is thought their susceptibility to diseases brought by the Spaniards, emigration, raids from the Yamassee Indians[18], and the British raids from North Carolina sped their demise.

Nineteenth Century

At the end of the Seven Years War in Europe, Spain ceded Florida to the British in exchange for Cuba. It was not until Florida became a British colony that pioneer settlers come to the area. The British government gave many land grants to its subjects, including 20,000 acres to Richard Oswald[19] in 1766. Mount Oswald[20] was a rice and indigo plantation encompassing what is now Tomoka State Park[21]. Naturalized indigo can still be found in the area today. When the British left in 1785, the meager beginnings of a plantation capital fell into ruin and did not flourish again until the Spanish land grants of the early 1800’s brought planters from the Bahamas. Spain was in possession of Florida from 1783 to 1821 when it became a United States Territory.

The second Seminole Indian War[22] erupted in 1835. The battle was about hunting and fishing grounds and the freedom of movement of the Indians. There was a tremendous uprising against the planters and a massive evacuation to St. Augustine[23] took place. The plantations fell victim to fiery raids. When the war ended in 1842, the sugar and cotton plantations along the Halifax and Tomoka Rivers were destroyed – never to be restored again.

In the 1870’s, men employed by the Corbin Lock Company[24]of New Britain, Connecticut, brought families to Ormond searching for the perfect orange groves. They bought the Henry Yonge[25] grant on the west banks of the Halifax and, remembering home, named the village New Britain. Other early pioneers brought by the Corbin Lock Company included brothers John and Andrew Bostrom[26] with their two sisters, John Anderson[27], the McNary family[28] and the Dix sisters[29].

North of the Anderson's (Cobb’s Corner) and Dumettes was the "Damietta," the cotton and indigo plantation of the Ormond family. Captain James Ormond I[30] received a 2,000 acre land grant for his Damietta Plantation[31]. Ormond was killed in 1817 by a runaway slave and the family moved back to Scotland. James Ormond II[32] returned to Damietta with his wife and four children, including James Ormond III[33] in 1820. When James Ormond II died in 1829, his family abandoned Damietta. He is buried about four miles north of Tomoka State Park. James Ormond III would return many years later.

John Anderson, Andrew Bostrom and James Ormond III became friends during this period. In fact, James Ormond III had recently visited Bosarve Plantation[34]. This visit is said to have been instrumental in the town being named because John Anderson and Andrew Bostrom convincingly swayed the group to name it Ormond in honor of the James Ormond family. The name Ormond was adopted then and there.

Being far-sighted individuals, John Anderson and J.D. Price[35] bought part of the Bostrom peninsula homestead and built the first wing of the Ormond Hotel[36]. The community celebrated the opening – and New Year’s Eve – on January 1, 1888. The Hotel Ormond was enlarged to accommodate 600 guests and became one of his fashionable resorts, especially with winter guests.

The “Birthplace Of Speed”

Anderson and Price were also instrumental in the development of Ormond’s "Birthplace of Speed"[37] reputation. In 1902 they hired W.J. Morgan[38] to promote racing on the beach. The first speed trial was run on the beach in that year. The beach proved to be the ideal race course and over the years a number of famous drivers tested their courage in this new-found sport of auto racing on Ormond’s beaches.

During these early racing days, the gray-shingled Ormond Garage[39] was built to accommodate race cars. In this garage the race cars were assembled, modified, serviced and even prayed over. Some of the drivers slept with their cars or in tents outside the garage. It is said that Henry Ford[40] had to sleep on the beach during his first visit to Ormond because he couldn’t afford a room in the hotel.

Ormond’s ideal race course also produced some records. On January 27, 1906, driving a "steamer," Demegeot (known as the "Speed King") reached 122.44 miles per hour drag racing down the beach. The mixture of speed and sand brought new excitement to Ormond shortly after the turn of the century. During the "roaring twenties" prohibition created another area of interest for the locals. The coastline was a perpetual bootlegger warehouse. Local residents living or visiting the beach at Ormond could watch the signal lights from bootleggers at sea. When prohibition officers pursued a boat loaded with rum runners, the liquor was thrown overboard and the locals picked it up off the beach.

January 26, 1906, F.E. Stanley’s Rocket Racer[41], driven by dare-devil Fred Marriott[42], set the mark that became Ormond Beach’s most famous land speed record. The incredible speed of 127.659 mph held for four years, a remarkable achievement in a speed age where records sometimes fell within the hour. This record confirmed the reputation of Ormond-Daytona as the first proving ground for both auto racers and manufacturers. The Marriott record was finally broken in 1910 by 4 mph, when Barney Oldfield raced his Lightning Benz at 131.72 mph. Racing moved to Indianapolis[43] in 1911, but it wasn’t long before Bill France[44] and friends started racing on the beach, beginning what later became NASCAR[45]. Daytona Beach[46] soon took over the game started by its neighbor to the north, becoming a racing juggernaut of its own, today ironically overshadowing even Indianapolis. A proud heritage by any standard.

John D. Rockfeller

A look at Ormond’s history would not be complete without mentioning one of the most famous residents: John D. Rockefeller Sr.[47] Mr. Rockefeller stated that he would live to be 100 years old. Determined to accomplish this, he became a "health nut" before it was fashionable. He sent his employees to find the most pollution-free place to spend his winters in retirement. They chose Ormond.

In 1914 John D. Rockefeller arrived at the Ormond Hotel and rented an entire floor for himself and his staff. After four winter seasons at the hotel, supposedly due to a dispute Rockefeller had with hotel employees he purchased the home built by Reverend Harwood Huntington[48], whose wife was the daughter of the creator of the Pullman Train Car Company[49]. "The Casements"[50], his winter cottage, was located only a few hundred yards to the south of the Ormond Hotel[51].

Through the years, Ormond residents became accustomed to have the "world’s richest man" as a neighbor. Visitors to see Mr. Rockefeller in Ormond included such popular personalities of the day as the Prince of Wales, Henry Ford and Will Rogers – to name just a few! Each winter he held the annual Rockefeller Christmas Party[52] at the Casements. He invited his Ormond friends to sit around the tree, share gifts and holiday cheer.

Although it was believed that Rockefeller would live to see 100 years, he died in 1937 at the age of 97 while sleeping in the Casements, his home for over 19 years. After his death, his family put the house up for sale. Rockefeller himself might have been lost to Ormond, but the pride and prestige of his time here was not lost.


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