Assuming the Voter Registration List is correct, William was about 11
years old when his family moved to Florida around 1856.
These were difficult times in America. A new depression began in 1857.6
William‟s migration to Florida
could possibly have included living in Sumter County, Orange County,
and eventually settling in Polk County just before 1880.
Some of William‟s siblings were living in Sumter County, FL in
1860. Neither William nor any of his family have
been found in Sumter County land, tax, or probate records.7
William‟s descendants tell different versions of the following colorful
story as to how he came to live in Florida:
“William was driving cattle for the Confederate Army in 1865 when
the war ended. He would have been a
young man about 15 or 16 years of age. William's family was from
Americus, Sumter County, GA. William's father
owned a large plantation and many slaves in Sumter County. Sometime
during the war William's father died and his mother remarried.
While on a cattle drive near the end of the war, William came to
Polk County to buy cattle.
He had already met Lucinda Roberts in Bartow, FL, and had taken a
liking to her. As he was heading back to Georgia,
William got as far as Marianna, FL, when he heard the war had
ended. In light of his father's death and his mother's
remarriage to a man named „Mason,‟ along with the fact that the
slaves had been freed,
William turned around and returned to Polk County. He figured
there would be nothing left for him at the plantation.
William and Lucinda were later married and eventually settled in Polk
Elements of this story do ring of the truth. The Sumter County
mentioned is probably Sumter County,
Florida, not Georgia. William‟s family has not been found in
Sumter County, GA. Some of his siblings,
though, have been found in Sumter County, FL. William‟s father,
Jesse, remarried after the death of his first wife.
Jesse was significantly older than his second wife, Rebecca, William‟s
mother. It has been speculated that Rebecca
may have remarried following Jesse's death. This has not been proven.
It should be noted that Rebecca J. Mims
married J. H. Sanders on December 20, 1868, in Pulaski County,
GA.9 This may be William's mother. Rebecca
has not been found in census records after 1850. This could be due to
the fact that she remarried.
The name “Mason” was the surname of one of William‟s
William was married to Lucinda Roberts (daughter of Jackson Roberts and
Frances Brown/Green) about 1868 in Florida.
Lucinda was born around 1843 in Lee County, GA. She is found with
her parents in the 1850 Lee County, GA census.10
William and Lucinda were most likely married in Orange County, FL.
Orange County marriage records were destroyed
in 1869 due to a fire at the County Courthouse.11
William is in the 1880 Polk County, FL census.12 He is listed as a
"laborer." Lucinda was a housewife.
Both William and Lucinda were born in Georgia. William's parents
were born in North Carolina,
while Lucinda's parents were born in Georgia.
On October 14, 1882, William purchased 40 acres of land in Polk County
southwest of Bartow from the Trustees of the
Internal Improvement Fund for one dollar per acre.13 It is interesting
to note that William and Lucinda
sold the same piece of land to M. W. Fuller for $100.00 on October 5,
1882.14 The land was sold before they had a clear
title to the land. It should also be noted that William‟s
middle initial is known from these land transactions.