First settlers were Moore family in late 1860's of what was to become town of Ethel. William and Charlotte Moore along with their three sons came from Eastern Georgia and acquired 360 acres for farming. The two oldest sons soon returned to Georgia and eventually raised families there. William and Charlotte and youngest son Newton stayed for the remainder of their lives and are among the first burials at Ethel Cemetery. William is believed to be the first burial there in 1882 and Charlotte in 1883. Newton passed in early 1889 and is buried there along with two of his and Laura Emma Kirkland's daughters. both children died sometime before 1900. The cemetery is a one acre site at the N. W. corner of William's 1878 land grant. William and Charlotte did not live to see the community named, but Newton did. The exact source of the name Ethel has not been proved, but believed to be a name given when the railroad was built through in 1886. Although the Moore’s were the first settlers of what became Ethel, they were soon joined by numerous other neighbors seeking the bounties of the land. Almost everyone became farmers, raising row crops, citrus, grapes, melons, peaches and farm animals such as cattle, goats, sheep, chickens and hogs. Quite a few citizens according to the early census's worked for more prominent land owners in the nearby areas as citrus planters, carpenters, machinist's and wood cutters for the railroad when it was built. Ethel eventually became a thriving community with a commissary store, school and post office. The school also served as a church every second Sunday with reverand Bartlett coming to preach from Enterprise by horse and buggy. The church was for all denominations, but was heavy on the Methodist members per the fact they had an Epworth League, which is a Methodist youth league. Ethel's school, church and cemetery were shared with their neighbors at the little town about a mile east called Wekiva. Also along the railroad that little town was just west of the Wekiva River and only had a store and post office. Several big errors have been made over the years about Ethel's history. Most have been because of guesswork instead of factual research. Among the most untrue was it was formerly called Moody or Glen Ethel and that it was an all black community that suffered the same fate as Rosewood, Florida. None are true. There was a Glen Ethel, East of the Wekiva River, along Markham Woods Road, about two miles north of the old Sanlando Springs (now the springs subdivision). In the late 1800's and early 1900's Central Florida was hit with devastating freezes, droughts and hurricanes which just about did away with farming. Most people having no other means of making a living just moved away and gave up. It was said people who were from the North, just left animals in the barns and pens, grabbed suitcases and took the train north. It took years for Central Florida to recover and become a prosperous citrus community. Meanwhile little towns like Ethel dwindled away. By the 1920's Ethel and Wekiva and other little towns such as Wayland (just West of Ethel ) ceased to be. Schools and postal service all moved to Sorrento. The 1920 Census of Ethel, Florida only listed ten homes/ families and these included the people of Wekiva. The cemetery at Ethel is an ongoing study, with Ground Penetrating Radar planned to establish the total number of graves. So far twenty nine burials have been documented. Only three tombstones remain with four names. Those names may be viewed on the Find A Grave Website.
Copyright 3/17/2012 by Tony H. Moore
Permission given only to eastlakehistoricalsociety.org and their officers to post to their website. May not be re-printed for commercial use or posted to other websites without permission of Tony H. Moore