January 2021 Newsletter

Welcome to the January Edition of my newsletter. Please feel free to reply with a comment. I am always looking to improve on the content for my subscribers.

Also, visit my website waltbethel.com to view my listings, search for properties, or to enjoy one of my archived newsletters and stories on Florida History.

Thank you,

Florida's Fence Law changed the Cattle Industry
Florida passed a fence law in 1949.

Florida was the last state to pass a fence law, to keep cattle penned into properties. “When you drive in the morning and see the green pastures, and the housing developments, you have to remember it was open range not that long ago,” recalled Steve Melton.

How ranchers transformed the state’s agriculture open ranges and woods to improved pastures was the topic of Melton’s talk before an audience of roughly 50 people. Melton is a cattle rancher and cowboy poet.

The state’s fence law — Chapter 588 of the Florida Statutes — makes it possible for approximately 19,000 livestock farms to coexist with the state’s rapid population and commercial growth.

Complaints about traffic accidents with stray cattle had finally convinced more and more ranchers to permanently fence in their herds.

But, the state’s history with cattle began about 500 years before that.

During the Civil War, Florida became the main supplier of beef to the Confederate army.

But, the cattle industry didn’t enter its golden age until the period of Reconstruction, when a thriving trade opened with Cuba.

Ranchers bred and raised “cracker cattle” to graze on wire grass, and native plants in pinewoods and wet weather ponds.

That began to change in the 1800s.

“Not many know this, but turpentine was the state’s largest industry at that time,” Melton said.

Turpentine was manufactured from pine sap taken from old-growth trees. It was used for the so-called naval store industry for all products derived from pine resin, such as soap, paint, varnish, shoe polish, lubricants, linoleum, and roofing materials.

The distillation process left the trees mostly barren.

Then, Melton said, the turpentine companies would either walk away or sell their land for less than $2 an acre.

“Cattlemen and others with some money started to buy huge tracts of land,” Melton said.

After watermelons were planted on land they started planting Baha as an improved pasture grass, and with genetics greatly improving the size and quality of beef, ranchers could average one calf per 13 acres instead of one calve per 15 acres.

“The beef industry in Florida completely changed,” Melton observed.

“Cattle ranching, which had once been a family enterprise utilizing the open-range, became a capital-intensive agribusiness by the 1980s,” Melton concluded.

Florida was the last state to pass a fence law in 1949.
Early Days of Florida Citrus
Citrus arrived via European explorers in the 16th century. But by the 1800s, it was a bona fide industry in Florida.
A young Dr. Phillips came to Florida in 1894, where he purchased his first orange grove in Satsuma. One of the most devastating freezes in Florida's history occurred in the following year. Two days of below-freezing temperatures destroyed his citrus trees forcing the young doctor back home to Tennessee. He returned to Florida in 1897, this time moving further south to Central Florida. He purchased land in Osceola County. This was the beginning of a citrus empire spanning several counties. At the peak of his career, Dr. Phillips owned more than 5,000 acres of citrus groves in Florida. His groves spread over an incredible 18 square miles of land in Orange County alone and were a mainstay in eight neighboring counties as well. 
By the 1950s, Dr. Phillips sold off his citrus holdings to Minute Maid, forever cementing Central Florida in the history books as the backdrop for an important industry.
“Most people don't realize how important agriculture is to Florida,” Florida Southern College professor Michael Denham said. “Citrus is probably the most important part.
Florida is the nation’s largest producer of orange juice, even today, with a large economic impact.
“With the advent of railroads after the Civil War, citrus really became a major crop. Land speculators would buy land, and they would market this land in places like Chicago or Cleveland for people to come down to Florida,” he said. “They could buy 20 acres of land and grow citrus.”
Along the spine of the state, an elevated ridge just south of Ocala, orange groves grew alongside U.S. 27. Prior to Disney’s arrival in the early 1970s, citrus provided a major attraction, with agrarian destinations like Cypress Gardens tempting decades’ worth of visitors with romanticized versions of the Old South.
There, women in hoop skirts, dressed as Southern Belles, twirled parasols amid botanical gardens as citrus took center stage.
For farmers, citrus also provided a pathway to a good lifestyle; a payoff that, at its boom, was worth the gamble for many budding entrepreneurs.
DeSoto County Fair and 4H
The DeSoto County Fair is quickly approaching. Go out and support all the hard work of the 4-H volunteers and members projects this year.

January 29th-February 6th

Looking for some reading to add to your 2021 list? Check out these Old Florida Books.

A Land Remembered is one of my favorites and is about a Florida family who battled the hardships of the frontier to rise from a dirt-poor Cracker life to the wealth and standing of real estate tycoons all taking place in and around Southwest Florida.
A second one highly recommended to me is"Totch: A Life in the Everglades" This is about Totch Brown's memoirs of vanished days in the Ten Thousand Islands and the Everglades--the last real frontier in Florida, and even today the greatest roadless wilderness in the United States.
The last one Wakulla: A Story of Adventure in Florida is a fun adventure storybook also set in the very early years of Florida around our area.
5 and 10 Acre Parcels in Charlotte Park
8292 Holmes Blvd. Punta Gorda, FL 33982
8264 Duffie Dr. Punta Gorda, FL 33982
5 & 10 Acres Shovel-Ready in growing Charlotte County Airport Park. Bring your business! Infrastructures in place such as city water/sewer and storm water retention. ECAP Zoning (Enterprise Charlotte Airport Park) allows for a multitude of Industrial, Commercial, and Office uses. 10 Acre property has ~670’ of road frontage on the front and ~670’ of road frontage on back, can be divided. Less than 1 mile to Interstate 75 at Exit 161 and sits adjacent to Punta Gorda Airport.

8292 Holmes Blvd.
Total Acres: 5
MLS: C7427867
List price: $382,000

8264 Duffie Dr.
Total Acres: 10
MLS: C7427835
List Price: $763,000
1,045+ Acre Prime Hunting and Pristine Ranch
26005 Harrison Rd. Myakka City, FL 34251
Located only 20 minutes from Sarasota and I-75 sits this pristine ranch property on the Sarasota/Manatee County line. This ranch offers over 1,045+ acres of beautiful “old Florida” landscape and pastureland. There are endless opportunities for the hunter, rancher and farmer. Its one-of-a-kind lodge boasts 5 bedrooms, a spacious living and dining area, and a beautifully appointed kitchen. This incredible property is encompassed by Oak hammocks, sloughs, and pastureland and is currently used for cattle grazing and bahia sod production. Also included on the property is a large barn with an office/apartment, equipment storage and workshop along with an exceptional set of covered cowpens. The entire property is abundant with deer, Osceola turkeys, wild hogs and other wildlife. With its close proximity to Tampa and the Sarasota/Bradenton area, this ranch is ideal for your rural getaway. Call today for a showing!

MLS: C7433962
Total Acres: 1,045
Listing price: $5,691,000
21 Acres Prime Corner Lot-Lake Suzy/Kings Hwy area
SW Peace River St. #A Arcadia, FL 34269
21+ Acre prime corner located in the Lake Suzy/Kings Highway area of DeSoto County. This property is in the pathway for future development and has a designated future land use for commercial. Located Just 3 miles to Interstate 75 and only minutes away from North Port, Punta Gorda and Fort Myers. Housing developments have already been approved and broken ground nearby. This is a great opportunity for a commercial development.

Total Acres: 21.25 Acres
Listing Price: $1,052,000

267+ Acres Recreational and Hunting Property
2333 County Rd 731 Venus, FL 33960
GET AWAY FROM IT ALL!!! BRING THE ATV’S….Recreational and Hunting Property. Approximately 267 acres in Highlands County. This land is full of beautiful Oaks, Cabbage Palm Trees, and improved pasture with plenty of deer, turkeys, wild hogs and other wildlife. This is a beautiful “old Florida” landscape. Get out of the city and enter your PRIVATE getaway!!! Located less than 90 MINUTES from the east or west coast of Florida.

MLS: C7432000
Total Acres: 267
Listing price: $995,000
30+ Acres Kings Hwy Corridor
SW Hwy 760 #D Arcadia, FL 34266
Secluded 30 + Acre wooded property just off Kings Hwy in Desoto County.. A perfect place for a private getaway cabin or your next home. Located in the much sought after Kings Highway (State Road 769) area with quick access to Port Charlotte, Interstate 75, or to the downtown Arcadia area. Sarasota and Gulf Beaches are just an hour away. CALL TODAY!

Total Acres: 30.90
MLS: C7431376
Listing Price: $415,000
22+ Acres Pastureland
SW Reynolds St. Arcadia, FL 34266
Beautiful 22+/- Acres of well-maintained pasture land with sprawling oaks. This property would make an incredible homesite with plenty of room for a barn and pond. It is zoned A-5. Bring your cattle, horses, or other livestock and enjoy this peaceful piece of land. Call today for a showing!

MLS: C7429697
Total Acres: 22.06
Listing Price: $278,000

50+ Acres Subdivided 10 Acre Tracts
3100 Martin Lane Arcadia, FL 34266
50 Acres already subdivided into Five-10 Acres tracts. A perfect piece of land for multiple family members to build. This property is located within minutes to Kings Hwy with convenient access to Punta Gorda, Port Charlotte and Arcadia. Don’t miss this opportunity! *Seller financing may be available

Total Acres: 50
MLS: C7430693
Listing Price: $650,000
About Walt Bethel
Walt Bethel is a fifth generation Floridian, born and raised in Arcadia, with a vast knowledge of all areas of Florida Real Estate and an ardent appreciation for Florida history.  
The purchase and development of his first orange grove when he was just sixteen years old fueled Walt's passion for real estate.  
Since then, he has bought, owned, and sold a wide variety of properties throughout a successful business career. His investments have included acreage, agricultural properties, residential homes, condos, and commercial properties. 
Walt's marketing and sales experience was cultivated over time at his family's business, Bethel Farms, where he marketed, managed, and sold products to "Big Box" retailers across the Southeastern and Midwestern United States.
From an early age, Walt's dad instilled in him the values to work hard and always have a goal, to look for a better way of doing things, and to constantly improve on them.  
The daily implementation of these principles, coupled with his enjoyment of networking with new people and his experience in business, sales, and marketing, have contributed to Walt's success as a Realtor.
Walt has served on various boards and committees throughout the years. He has coached and actively supports local youth athletic programs and leagues. 
He and his wife Jill, also a fourth generation Floridian, reside in Punta Gorda. They have two children, a daughter Peyton and a son Truman.
Walt Bethel | RE/MAX Harbor Realty| 863.990.1748 | wbethel@waltbethel.com| www.waltbethel.com