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Groveland's tenacity chronicled in new book
By Amy C. Rippel   - 07/23/2009

Orlando Sentinel

More Info on This Book: Groveland

From turpentine to tree farms with many stops in between, this tiny town has seen its share of booms and busts. For Groveland, it's all about the trees and the people that live around them.

Early on, townsfolk reaped the benefits of turpentine-rich pine trees only to see it taken away by a drought. Later came a successful sawmill that brought the heydays of happiness and wealth and a devastating fire that eventually snuffed it all out. Later still was the boon that citrus brought to the area and the freezes that snatched it away.

Through it all, the stalwart residents of Groveland pushed forward. Their tenacity, will and dedication are captured on the pages of a pictorial history book about the city called Images of America: Groveland.

In the book, author Doris Bloodsworth shows many of the aspects of the city from its fledgling stages forward. She said ultimately many things in Groveland came back to the rich forests and the driven residents.

"Trees were the city's black gold," said Bloodsworth, a former Orlando Sentinel reporter.

The 128-page book is chock-full of images of an era that could have been long forgotten happy families gathered on front porches, workers toiling at the town's sawmill and schoolchildren smiling for the camera.

Bloodsworth, 58, said she crisscrossed the state in search of information and photos for the book and interviewed dozens of people. But it was a labor of love. She was raised in Groveland, is one of the founding members of the city's historical museum and holds the city and its people dear to her heart.

"I have very affectionate ties to Groveland," she said.

The book also captures rich moments in the city's history, such as the inception of a telephone network that later became Florida Telephone Co. and the growth of the unbeaten high-school football team. But left off the pages is a darker event in the city's history: the Groveland Four.

The 1949 incident captured the nation's attention when four young black men were accused of raping a white woman and racial unrest followed. Bloodsworth said she decided to omit information about the event because it's not what local residents think and talk about today.

"Groveland residents in the white and black communities have told me they resent the label and stigma 60 years after the event occurred. It was an intentional choice for both of those reasons and more not to include it," she said.

The book was recently chosen to be part of a citywide reading initiative called "Our Book-Our Community." Katherine Spurgeon, branch manager at the Marion Baysinger Memorial Library in Groveland, said the book is a terrific way to show both old and new residents that there is a lot to Groveland.

"It's a good way to let people know what went on here," she said.

The library this month has hosted brown-bag book discussions on Wednesday at the library. Bloodsworth shares information that didn't make it into the book, among other things. The last discussion is set for noon to 1 p.m. next Wednesday.

She said she hopes this book will serve as an inspiration to others to dig into their own family histories.

For more information about the summer reading program, contact the library at 352-429-5840.

Buy It Now: Groveland $21.99




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