The Codys of Cody Villa, 1896 - 1976


      In February 1896, my Grandfather, Lindus Cody, and his nephew,
Luther Cody, accompanied Mr. E. Alonzo Cordery of Ft. Mead to the
shores of Crooked Lake and the pine hill overlooking the harbor. (2)
Mr. Cordery was a promoter who saw the need of a railroad into the
He and the Huddlestons had purchased the land in 1883 for
$1.00 an acre from the Internal Improvement Fund. Although they had
the land laid out in lots, nothing more had been done. Grandfather saw
the possibilities in the land as a town site and made several attempts to
get the needed backing to put in a railroad. Among his contacts were a
group of men from England and a Dutchman, Mr. Van Leyden, who he
met in Cuba. Presumably, Mr. Cordery was also looking for a company
to purchase the railroad bonds. By 1900 nothing had come of the
railroad idea but Grandfather decided to go ahead on his own to buy
the property. In 1901 the deeds were drawn up for approximately 1,000
acres on Crooked Lake. Early in 1902 he and Grandmother came to
Florida to see the property. Grandmother wrote, "It is beautiful out
there; no doubt about it." They "boarded" with the Carson family in
Frostproof but Grandmother said, "Never again". They have only fish
and game at the table and the fleas make life miserable, so the following
winter Grandfather bought a grove in Frostproof on Lake Clinch and
built a little 3-room cottage so Grandmother could keep house.

      Grandfather made frequent trips to Crooked Lake that winter,
probably going on foot to plan the grove and supervise clearing the
land. Occasionally he borrowed a horse and wagon and took
Grandmother with him. It was a five mile trip on a sand trail through
the woods with not a person or house to be seen the whole way. By the
next year he had built a cabin for a man to live in to take care of
planting the grove and a vegetable patch. Grandmother wrote of going
to Crooked Lake to get fresh vegetables and go fishing. She always
seemed to bring home a string of fish. They cooked a picnic lunch over a
campfire on these trips. In 1905 Grandfather had a little cottage built
for their use. The description we have of this cottage is of homemade
bedsteads and mattresses filled with pine straw. Grandfather made a
table, which Grandmother complained she couldn’t write on as one leg


was too short. Grandmother said it was too lonesome there at night and
too far from any neighbors so they stayed most of the time in the
Frostproof house. A family named Carter with several children lived
there for a time. In 1908 Aunt Lydia spent several months supervising
the grove work, living alone in both Frostproof and Crooked Lake. She
spent the summer of 1912 alone at Crooked Lake also and by that time
Ted Byron was living not far away. They shared the use of a horse when
the horse was not hauling fertilizer.

      In 1909 Grandfather gave my Father, Arthur, ten acres for a
wedding present. My Uncles Harry and Frank each had land also and
they were all planting their land in citrus.

      Every trip to Florida, usually January to April in those days,
Grandfather and Grandmother were accompanied by one or the other
of their three unmarried daughters, Lydia, Mary, or Grace as
Grandmother said, "Father knows I’ll be more content to stay if I have
one of the girls with me." At various times, Frank brought his wife, Ida
and children, Zella and Willis and Harry brought his wife, Elma and
son, Louis, but the wives had only disdain for the backwoods and lack of
civilized comforts so the visits were of short duration.

      In 1912 Aunt Gertrude married Will Wheaton and they spent their
honeymoon in a small packinghouse on the top of the hill.

      By 1912 the long talked about railroad was at last realized and a
train from Haines City went south one day and north the next.
Although the railroad was not near to the Cody property, it was a
means of transportation for their citrus fruit, fertilizer and lumber.

      There were still no paved roads, but the sand trails now had pine
straw on them so it was easier for the horse to pull the wagon and the
time it took to go to Frostproof was shortened. The first construction at
Crooked Lake had been accomplished with considerable difficulty, since
all the lumber and materials were hauled by ox cart from Ft. Mead, but
when an addition was made to the house in 1912, Grandmother said
they were able get better lumber now from Mr. Brown in Frostproof
than the rough lumber they had used before.


      During these years, before the railroad the family brought barrels of
food with them from Cleveland, listing such things as butter and beef
that one wonders how they were shipped and kept since there was never
any refrigeration.

      In 1914 or 1915 Andrew Marsh built another small house on the top
of the hill. Possibly it was to be a guesthouse as it was much smaller
than Grandfather’s house but of much better construction even having
exterior paint.

      In January 1916 my Father brought my little brother, Philip, my
Mother, a maid and me to Florida for a visit. My memory of that winter
is very clear. The house had no electricity or water. It was heated by a
fireplace in the main room where my parents slept. There was a tiny
kitchen and a screened porch, which served as the bedroom shared by
my brother, the maid and myself. A team of mules brought a barrel of
water from the lake to use for washing. To keep our food cool, it was
kept in a screened cupboard with wet towels. The road from Frostproof
to Crooked Lake went by the corner of the yard and on the rare
occasion that an automobile attempted the trip, it could be heard
coming through the woods and everyone had to go out to see whom the
intrepid traveler was. We used a horse and wagon to go to Frostproof
and I remember one trip being held up by a family of pigs that wanted
the right-of-way. Another event of that visit that I remember was the
fire that swept across Straw Hat Valley and the backfire built by my
Father to save the house. That house still stands, considerably enlarged
and modernized.

      The following winter Frank, Ida and Willis lived in that house and
my Father built a new house for us. A newspaper account of the house
called it a "mansion with all modern conveniences." It had inside
plumbing! Another innovation for that time was screens on all the
windows. As soon as our house was finished, the contractor built a new
home for Grandfather and Grandmother. It is the homestead house,
which remains today exactly, as it was built in 1916.

The old shack in the woods was moved down the hill to be used by
any whom needed it. During 1918 to 1920 it was used as a common
dining room. A cook lived there and all the families had their meals
together. I’m not sure how many winters that arrangement was


In 1917, Grace Isabelle 148/29 did this sketch of her brother Arthur's house at Crooked Lake.
This is her bio from sister Lydia's 1954 book, "The Cody Family Massachusetts 1698"
Note that she is identified by "838" in Lydia's sequential numbering system.
838 Grace Isabelle, b. Jan. 6, 1882 at Cleveland, Ohio. She attended Cleveland Public schools, is a graduate of Cleveland Art Institute 1906; New York School of Art, Normal Department 1907 of Teachers College, Columbia University; Household Management course 1918. She was Director of Varick House of Spring Street Settlement, New York City, 1918-1920; Director of Girls Friendly Club, Cleveland, Ohio, 1912-1918, 1920-1922. A member of Cleveland Girl Scout Council 1928-1946; Vice Chairman of the board of the Mary Ingersoll Club 1928-1946, Chairman 1946-1954. Presbyterian, member of the Church of the Covenant, Cleveland. Republican.
Her sketch is entitled "Crooked Lake 1917", the use of the Cody Villa name came in the 1920s.

followed. About 1918 the little cottage was moved back and Frank built
his home facing the lake. A year or so later my Father’s house was
moved to a lot to the north and Harry Cody built his home on that site.
Also, during those years, Gertrude and Will built their cottage. By 1920
there were six homes on top of the hill overlooking the lake.

      As the amount of acreage planted to citrus increased, Frank took
over the care and supervision of the groves. He built a large barn for
equipment and a number of small housed for the workmen he
employed. Also, by this time, a paved road connected our area with the
towns along the ridge.

      The winter of 1919-1920 Ethel Higginbottom and her family were
home from India and visiting in Florida. That winter there were 15
children running loose all over the place. There was no school to attend
but those of school age had lessons with Helen Early, who was visiting at
the Frank Cody home.

      In 1921 we moved to Florida to stay the year round. Frank and Ida
had previously made the same move, so we were not alone during the
summer months. Many families were now living around Crooked Lake
and an elementary school was built at the town site, perhaps that was
instrumental in the decision for us to live in Florida permanently. My
Father built an office in Frostproof and engaged in the Real Estate
business there for a number of years.

      By 1923, our house was far too small for six children so a wing was
added to it, and another was added in 1925
thus completing the house as
it is today. Some time in the 1920’s the Cody lands acquired the name of
Cody Villa. How or when, I do not know but a letter of Grandmother’s
written in January of 1923 has a printed heading "Cody Villa, Crooked
Lake, Florida" and she indicated to her reader that it was her
"Christmas Stationary."

      In March 1923 Grandmother wrote, “I guess we are to have the town
name changed to Babson Park." “Everybody is delighted but the boys,
Arthur and Frank will get no commission for all their work." "They
should, I say." These were the years of the Florida boom and my Father
and Uncle Frank had helped Mr. Babson acquire the land around the

Arthur added a wing in 1923 and another in 1925. This sketch is by Bethany Knowles, done in 1956.

Crooked Lake town-site, which was to become a model town for Mr.
Babson, the wealthy Massachusetts financier.

      Many of the letters in this period mention parties at The Lodge, teas,
missionary meetings, the Golf Club and the New Church. Life then for
everyone was apparently never boring.

      While the Boom was at its highest, Arthur, Frank and Harry
decided to cash in on all the land excitement and they persuaded
Grandfather to let them make a development of the northern part of the
property, partly in groves and partly raw land. Lots were plotted,
entrance gates were built and roads were put in and landscaped. A
promotion compaign was inaugurated, but then the “bubble burst!" Not
one lot had been sold and it was necessary to mortgage the groves to pay
for the cost of the Cody Villa Estates Development. It was many years
before the debts were finally cleared up, but Grandfather and
Grandmother were probably not aware of the problems for they both
died in the meantime; Grandfather in December of 1926 and
Grandmother on March 24, 1928.

      In the spring of 1926, the family had a picnic at the Golf Club across
the harbor. There were 32 present, four generations of Cody’s were in
the picture taken at that time, the last one with Grandfather and

The decade of the ‘30’s were years of struggle as fruit prices dropped
and the whole country was in the depths of a depression. My Father
invented a small orange juice extractor called OJX and began making
the Fruitainers which was a candied grapefruit filled with orange
marmalade. After his death in 1937, Mother continued the manufacture
in the house they had built for friends. That house eventually became
the home of my brother.

      In the 1940’s the Higginbottoms returned from India and built their
home on the property Grandfather called his Hotel-site. David
Higginbottom lives there now and his sister, Elizabeth Clough and her
family spend some time there.

      The past 20 years have seen many changes as children grew up and
left for college and careers, and the older members of the family died.


Much of their property was sold so that now many other families live in
Cody Villa.

My sister Sara bought the Homestead house; my Mother made our
house into apartments, one of which I occupy. My brother’s widow and
two daughters live in his house and my sister, Martha built a house on
the edge of the lake. Sister Martha and nieces Mary and Marlene are
the only direct surnamed Cody’s now living in Cody Villa. Gertrude
Cody Wheaton now in her 90th year, the last of her generation, lives
alone in her little cottage.

Many of the third, fourth and fifth generations enjoy visiting here
and dream of the time when they too can live in Cody Villa.

The Cody’s helped establish the Community Church and served as
deacons, trustees and in the Sunday School. Mother started the PTA
My Father was the first trustee of the Crooked Lake School Board.
Willis opened the first garage and managed a fruit-packing house until
it burned down. He and his father Frank and my Father Arthur helped
the area to grow and develop through their real estate business. Thus
did Grandfather and Grandmother through their children and
grandchildren contribute to the community they helped to discover on
Crooked Lake.

NOTES: (2)The location of the present private residential colony known
as Cody Villa.

The International Cody Family Association