Saturday, April 18, 2015

A to Z Blogging Challenge - Payne's Prairie and The Mystery of the Missing Town

Big Sky Country, in Florida

Oooo, a mystery. In 1895, my grandmother was born in a town called Rocky Point, Florida, just south of Gainesville. My great-grandparents owned a strawberry farm there and they sold to New York restaurants and the like. But Rocky Point no longer exists. Not even the buildings. Not any photos. Not anything but a map from 1899 and some deeds, document it's existence. I’m trying to find out what happened, when my great grandparents moved and why.  I don’t know if Rocky Point dried up, or if the population was forced or paid to leave. I do know that Payne’s Prairie, which has been there forever, is now a state park. Since Rocky Point was situated within Payne’s Prairie (park) boundaries, and apparently disappeared around the time the park was established, it’s a mystery I hope to solve someday soon…

The sink hole

Watch your puppies if you bring 'em...!

Bison have been on the prairie since the 1800s, so have wild horses

Sunset on the prairie

Beautiful wildlife and habitat
What you will find in the area today is a breath-taking sky-is-so-big park teaming with wildlife and natural habitat. You’ll find, biking, hiking and equestrian trails, fishing, camping, and birding to suit anyone, plus an interesting history (which doesn’t include, for some reason, Rocky Point). Also you can get married there, canoe and kayak, oh, and feel free to come just for the day and have a picnic, and, your “well behaved dog,” is welcome in certain areas (just watch out for ‘gators, snakes and bison!). The park has just announced the addition of Operation Recreation GeoTour  which makes using your GPS fun as well as informative! Read more about this new game/service at
1899 map with Rocky Point below Gainesville

For more information about the park:

Images from :


  1. I wish I could disappear my old neighborhood... It's been 40 years and some of the oldtimers still look at me sideways when I go home and visit....

    "There's that Koopmans fella... the one who used to terrorize the neighborhood with his gang of little first-graders" :)

    (By the way, YOU, Lisa.... need to write your family's history.... it's pretty darn amazing :)

  2. Quite likely they were paid to leave by the government. Hubby's grandfather came to Texas and bought 450 acres of land that included the highest point in the county and went all the way to the river bottom. In the 70's, Big Brot...the Federal Government bought out most of that land "at a fair price" to create Jack Gore Baygall in the Big Thicket National Preserve. Any where you see a National or state park, chances are, someone got their land sto...bought to create it.
    Visit me at: Life & Faith in Caneyhead
    I am Ensign B of Tremps' Troops
    with the A to Z Challenge

  3. Your photos are lovely. I can't imagine how a whole town could vanish - although we do have one village up the road where it is well away form the church when it was once around it because a landowner of several centuries past decided he wanted that land for himself and just moved everyone else up the hill.
    Tasha's Thinkings | Wittegen Press | FB3X (AC)

  4. A town swallowed up by a future sink-hole? It will be interesting to her what happened.

  5. The photos are awesome! That alligator is quite close! What a wonderful mystery. If you can't solve it, you can always write about what might have happened. :)

  6. Hi Lisa - what a fascinating story .. good mystery I say. I hope you find out and can tell us in due time about Rocky Point - really strange ... especially as it links in with your grandparents .. and that strawberry farm ... sounds a great place to be as a kid ... strawbugs to eat for ever ...

    Alligators no thanks, snakes no to those too .. bison and other wildlife will be a pleasure to see .. cheers Hilary

  7. That will be an interesting hunt for you Lisa. I wonder what on earth happened to it. Do blog about it when you find out. Looks a lovely spot although not too keen on wandering gators etc.

  8. Don't feed the alligators... that kind of spooks me, like seeing a spider above your head. Your odds either will bite you or fall on you is pretty good.

  9. Your teaching me so much more about my home state then I knew about! Love your Challenge. :)

  10. I've always wanted to open an alligator petting zoo in Florida. maybe when I retire.

  11. Whoa! That gator is huge.

  12. OK that Gator taking a stroll would make me go in the other direction, screaming, to the car never to return:) I do wonder what happened to the town. Normally one sees something left like an old building or road...something. I wonder if it is in the state archives?

  13. Children only Stephen?

  14. Lovely pictures, looks gorgeous. It's so interesting when we have family mysteries to solve. One of mine is trying to figure out what our family name used to be, because at some point in the late 19th century it was changed. Various spellings exist and no one in the family (parents or grandparents) are certain about why or what the exact spelling was.

  15. I find it interesting the way cities evolved over time. When we're young, we just assume our towns have always been there, then we learned that it was divided off from another city. But for the people and the buildings to just vanish? I'd like to say that sounds spooky but it just takes a developer to come in and exert some pressure! At least that's how it is now. My husband grew up in Oak Ridge, where they came in and forced people to move out of the homes they'd lived in for years to make this "secret city" to help develop the atomic bomb.

  16. Well obviously it's a government cover-up. Some kind of alien invasion or mass murder hysteria or something. Even a hundred years ago, the government was keeping us safe from things "man was not meant to know."

  17. What beautiful pictures! I hope you are able to solve the mystery and that you write a post about it. :)

  18. Not sure about the alligator but otherwise it looks beautiful. Oh and I hope you do solve the mystery. Finally caught up with all your posts.
    Suzy at Someday Somewhere - Protector

  19. Anonymous4:51 PM

    This is a great looking blog. Love the clarity and uncluttered look. What could be better than a family mystery to jump start you into a novel. With your imagination, have at it based around what might have happened to everyone. Cheers from a fellow writer who wants you to write this story.

  20. I can't imagine how a whole town could disappear without any mention of it anywhere. Fascinating indeed. I hope you solve the mystery and blog about it too. So glad to have come across you through AtoZ.
    *Shantala @ ShanayaTales*


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