The Mayaca or Jororo Indians inhabited the shores of Lake Monroe at the time of European contact. By 1760, however, war and disease had decimated the tribe, which would be replaced by the Seminole Indians. Florida was acquired by the United States from Spain in 1821, but the Seminole Wars would delay settlement. In 1835, the Seminoles burned the port of Palatka on the St. Johns River, then the major artery into Central Florida from the East Coast. Consequently, an army garrison was established upstream, on the southern side of Lake Monroe near a trading post. Called Camp Monroe, the log breastwork was attacked on February 8, 1837. It would be strengthened and renamed Fort Mellon in honor of Captain Charles Mellon, the sole American casualty.
General Zachary Taylor had a road built connecting a string of defenses from Lake Monroe to Fort Brooke (now Tampa). The town of Mellonville was founded around Fort Mellon in 1842 by Daniel Stewart. In 1845, Florida became a U.S. state, and Mellonville became county seat of Orange County, formerly called Mosquito County with its county seat across the lake at Enterprise. Orange groves were planted, with the first fruit packing plant built in 1869. In 1870, “General” Henry Shelton Sanford bought 12,548 acres (50.78 km2) to the west of Mellonville and laid out the community of Sanford. Believing it would become a transportation hub, he called it “The Gateway City to South Florida.”
Several groups of Swedes were imported as indentured servants to do the back-breaking labor of establishing a new town and clearing the sub-tropical wilderness in advance of creating a citrus empire, arriving by steamboat in 1871. Incorporated in 1877 with a population of 100, Sanford absorbed Mellonville in 1883. The South Florida Railroad ran a line from Sanford to Tampa, later the Jacksonville, Tampa and Key West Railroad ran a line to Jacksonville, and the area became the largest shipper of oranges in the world. Arriving by steamer in April 1883, President Chester A. Arthur vacationed a week at the Sanford House, a lakeside hotel built in 1875 and expanded in 1882.
In 1887, the city suffered a devastating fire, followed the next year by a statewide epidemic of yellow fever. When the Great Freeze of 1894 and 1895 ruined the citrus industry, farmers diversified by growing vegetables as well. Celery was first planted in 1896, and until 1974 the community would be nicknamed Celery City.
On December 1, 1891, merchant William Clark and registered African American voters of Goldsboro incorporated as a town just to the south of Sanford.
First National Bank of Sanford was chartered on October 4, 1887 but then was known as the Lyman Bank until going National. Frederick H. Rand was the new President and cashier was named, Frank P. Forster. A series of runs left the bank unable to continue functioning and on July 12, 1929 the bank closed for good.
The Sanford Atlantic National Bank was chartered on December 28, 1927 and elected Linton Allen as President and Arthur Branan, Cashier.
In the early 1930s, banks and savings and loans across America were falling like dominoes, including seven of the eight then in Orange County. The depth of the Great Depression was not the best time to start a new bank.
Neither would it seem like a great time for a successful executive to change jobs.
But in 1934 Linton Allen did both.
Allen, then 45, was president of Sanford Atlantic National Bank in Sanford when he was recruited to become executive vice president of a new institution to be called The First National Bank at Orlando. The name was adapted from the defunct First National Bank & Trust Co. in Orlando, which the government said was too weak to reopen.
- Browse Videos of Florida’s Historical Towns and Banks
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- State of Florida Civil War Currency
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- Mr. and Mrs. Youngerman attend the inagural “The Value of Money” exhibit
Notes & Currency
- 18__ Fernandina $3 Obsolete Note
- 1882 $50 Jacksonville Note Charter #3869
- 1902 $10 Punta Gorda Note Charter #10512
- 1882 $5 Palatka Note Charter #3223
- 1902 $5 Key West Note Charter #7942