Clay Ouzts


In 1875 the poet Sidney Lanier visited Leon County, bordering Georgia in northern Florida. Lanier left a favorable account of the red-hill countryside surrounding Tallahassee, the state capital. He described the area as having long fences which marked off pastures, ancient live oaks and other hardwoods spread across the rolling hills where "ample prospects, [came] before the eye."1 Almost ten years later a northern observer remarked that the region was "exceptionally attractive" and that it was one of the "most desirable localities imaginable for several characters of farm industry."2 Promotional literature in the 1890s continued to depict Leon County as a farmer's paradise. Attempting to attract immigrant workers and farmers, the state Bureau of Immigration published a glowing report in the mid 1890s which placed Leon county on an agrarian pedestal: "The rich agricultural . . . land of this county . . . is better suited to practical farming, dairying and fruit-growing than any other section," read the report. "Men of practical knowledge in agricultural pursuits will immediately recognize in the surroundings, the conditions incidental to success, comfort and profit."