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Now browsing: Hometown News > News > Volusia County

DeLand author turns curiosity about streets into book
Rating: 1.71 / 5 (28 votes)  
Posted: 2013 Apr 05 - 06:12

By Erika Webb

Leave it to a librarian to research and alphabetically categorize the histories of 650 streets. Few others would have the patience. Most would find the task overwhelming, a good idea ... for someone else.

Not Louise Ball Caccamise, who recently published "Memory Lane: A History of the Street Names of DeLand, Florida."

It started with Julia and Salisbury avenues, Ms. Caccamise said. "I used to go down Minnesota and there were Julia and Salisbury. I thought Julia must have been some prominent person in DeLand. I was that na´ve."

She began to ask around. No one seemed to know who Julia was. Salisbury, Ms. Caccamise reckoned, could have been inspired by Wiltshire, U.K.'s "City in the Countryside," home to one of Europe's most celebrated cathedrals.

Her research revealed a slightly less romantic reality -- a small town in North Carolina, which was home to Daniel Jesse Miller.

"I started with the plat map and found the subdivision to be D.J. Miller's, March 1912. It included both Julia and Salisbury avenues," Ms. Caccamise said. "I then went to the 1900 census and found the family in Salisbury, N.C. Mr. Miller had a daughter and what do you think her name was? Julia."

She said her passing curiosity over a road marker grew into an intense need to know more about Julia, the person.

"I got so involved with these people, it was almost like I knew them," Ms. Caccamise said.

She found out Julia had three brothers, and she said the family members appeared in Volusia County censuses from 1910 until their deaths. By 1920, Julia Miller was married to Harry Stewart Gillespie.

"Later there are death and cemetery records," Ms. Caccamise said.

And so it was with streets like Jeanette, Grace, Gordon, Jacobs and even Izetta.

"It started with just driving the various streets, seeing first names, last names and wondering what they did to get a street named after them," she said. "Years went by before I did anything about my wonderment."

In addition to early censuses, her research led her through vital records, deeds, newspapers, probate, cemetery records, maps and photographs. Phone calls and written correspondence yielded further information.

Ms. Caccamise has been a resident of West Volusia since the 1940s. She recalls a time when New York Avenue was strictly residential and there were "beautiful old homes, mansions along Woodland Boulevard."

She's always been particularly drawn to one of Deland's hallmarks -- its tree-lined corridors.

"The trees, beautiful trees, oh gosh," she said.

The appeal of DeLand would not be the same if not for the old oak trees that line the streets, according to www.planetflorida.net.

It turns out a tax break was responsible for creating the beauty that residents and visitors associate with the town.

"In 1886, residents of DeLand were allowed to take 50 cents off their taxes for each oak tree they planted that lived for one year. The residents planted so many trees the city had to repeal the tax break because there wasn't enough money collected from taxes to pay the town marshal," the website reported.

Another thing that piqued the author's curiosity was the way various subdivision streets were named.

"Often there was a theme, an idea," she said.

Brandywine, for instance, contains streets named after events connected with the American Revolution of 1775-1783, Ms. Caccamise wrote.

Since Memory Lane was published, many residents have taken a trip down their own, with fond mentions of Ms. Caccamise on Facebook. They remember her as a schoolteacher and librarian in Enterprise as well as at Boston Elementary, when it was one of only two elementary schools in DeLand.

She was touched by her former students' remarks.

"That was when (schools) used to have teacher librarians because there wasn't enough money to pay for two (positions)," she said. "Back when kids thought they had to behave at school."

She remembers taking cartons of library books home to process and hauling them back to their shelves at the school.

"Those were fun days when I look back on them," Ms. Caccamise said. "I was so young, I thought I couldn't go to work without high heels."

As to her being organized, she said she guesses most librarians are.

"I used to rearrange my mother's drawers in the kitchen," she said laughing. "I thought I was having a good time. I was glad she was kind of unorganized."

The Friends of the DeLand Library president said she loves big projects and "just kind of methodically" did this one.

"I had it on a back burner for five years," Ms. Caccamise said. "I didn't work on it consistently. I just let it flow in amongst my other things."

The endeavor allowed for many interesting conversations with grandchildren and great grandchildren of the area's history makers whom she said were "so excited" about the book.

Memory Lane can be purchased from the West Volusia Historical Society. Ms. Caccamise said 100 percent of the proceeds will go to the organization.

"They need it, the poor souls," she said.

From December 1876 "when the early settlers met and named the first seven streets," through our present journeys to and from the events and places in our lives, Ms. Caccamise has painstakingly unfurled history.

She simply figured, Why not?

Or Wynot? See page 272.

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