Josef Henschen


A picture named M2
                                                                  Courtesy Christine Best
The Orange Belt Railway

Founder and patriarch of the first Swedish settlement in Florida

Josef Henschen came to Florida in 1871. He was a medical student at Uppsala University when he got the opportunity to bring a group of Swedish workers to Sanford, north of Orlando.  He recruited 36 workers from Uppsala and brought them to the work at the 12 000 acres of orange groves owned by General Shelton Sanford in Seminole County, Florida. General Sanford had not been pleased by the workforce recruited locally and had heard that Swedes were hard working and honest.


A picture named M2
Courtesy Joseph Raymond Henschen

Josef Henschen in Florida 1923.

Several groups of Swedes came to work in the orange groves of  Seminole county, they founded the first Swedish colony in Florida, the New Upsala Settlement.  New Upsala is today a part of Sanford.  A Swedish Presbyterian church, a Swedish cemetery and a street named Upsala Road are landmarks of Swedish influence on the town of Sanford.  

Investor in the Orange Belt Railway

Josef Henschen never returned to Uppsala, he stayed in Florida, and made his own imprints on the Florida map. He made a small fortune on his own orange groves and in the mid 1880s he was approached by three men who wanted Josef to invest in the Orange Belt Railway that would run across Florida from Sanford to the southern point of Pinellas County.

Headquarters was set up in Oakland where Josef moved in 1886 and lived for the rest of his life. He served for several years as Oakland Postmaster and Justice of Peace.  I memory of Josef, there is still a Henschen Avenue in Oakland.

Named  St Petersburg after a Russian friends hometown

The railway construction ran into many problems and in the end,  Josef lost all his money. Thanks to the railway though, a town was developed in southern Pinellas.  As one of the four  investors in the Orange Belt Railway, Josef was asked to name this new city. In honor of his Russian friend and co-investor, Peter Demens, Josef named the new city,” St Petersburg”, which was  the native city of Demens.

Swedish born artist Rebecca Weiss, who now lives in Tampa Bay, has written a book about Josef Henschen, who was the brother of her great grandfather
Read more about the book and Rebecca’s art work here http://www.weiss-gallery.com.

 

Comments

1 - I think josef henschen brought my grand parents, carl and marie (nee Andersen)holmer to florida in 1871. he was know to them as farber josef which I think is uncle josef. I have a photo of him taken by my grandfather or my mother when he was rather old. I think he had a daughter, Florence who my family knew well. I don't know the actual kinship but would love to know more

2 - FLORENCE HENCHEN WAS MY GRANDMOTHER (MY FATHERS MOTHER) SHE DIED IN 1973. SHE WAS MARRIED TO MY GRANDFATHER DR. H.P. BEVIS AND LIVED IN ARCADIA FL. FROM THE EARLY 1900'S UNTIL SHE DIED. WE LOVED HER AND SHE WAS A FIND LADY.

Post A Comment (comments are moderated before posted)

:-D:-o:-p:-x:-(:-):-\:angry::cool::cry::emb::grin::huh::laugh::lips::rolleyes:;-)

Follow Us

Facebook.pngspace.png twitter.pngspace.png rss2.png

Get the blog sent to your inbox by entering your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

svtworld.jpg

Showcase your Scandinavian business here

translate.jpg