Douglas Dummett and His Castle

Indian River Citrus Pioneer on North Merritt Island

Almost every day I drive by the old Dummett property on north Merritt Island I conjure up thoughts of what it would have been like to pioneer Florida in the early 1800’s. No roads, no conveniences just you, a wagon, some farm animals and hard work. As a Mosquito Lagoon fishing guide, my thoughts wander how rough it must have been when the county was then named Mosquito County and known for Gallinippers, rattlesnakes and Florida panthers, Merritt Island was surely magnificently wild and grossly unhospitable.

Arriving from Barbados as a young man and living near Tomoka with his dad Thomas; Douglas Dummett’s father purchased and ran a sugar mill for making molasses and rum. The young Douglas Dummett would eventually become involved in Florida politics and fight in the second Seminole War. Douglas Dummett married in 1837 and divorced in 1844 and from the accounts I’ve read, his bride had enough of the rough life in early Florida and left him.

Dummett soon married again moving to a secluded area on the Mosquito Lagoon on north Merritt Island near present-day Dummett Cove. Dummit was instrumental in cultivating wild oranges and grafting to make them sweet. His crops led to the recognition of Indian River Citrus, and his efforts continued until his death in 1873.

Today you can drive on the old Dummett property where a scouting camp resides. The ancient oaks, dark roads, and Indian River make for a beautiful park from yesteryear.  The shoreline’s of Dummett’s property on the Indian River Lagoon is a well-protected bay and a fishing area called (wait for it) Dummett’s Cove.

I suppose one of the reasons why I’m interested in the history of my area is because of the random names and labels inherited on navigation charts and other maps.  Haulover Canal, Peacock’s Pocket, Turnbull Creek and other names will keep me digging for more.  If you have some interesting facts and ideas about the earliest moments in Brevard County, make some comments below.

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