The City of DeLand, located in Volusia County is situated in the East Central part of Florida along the eastern shore of the St. Johns River. DeLand is described as a high pine meadow, accentuated by rolling hills and fringed along the St. Johns River by a narrow strip of very fertile hammock.
Volusia County has over 400 years of history. Early Native Americans, explorers from Spain, colonists from France, and settlers from England have left their mark on Florida.
The earliest occupants of what we know now as the City DeLand left little record and for untold ages lived and died here prior to the coming of the Europeans. They left immense mounds full of oyster shells, pieces of pottery, and weapons of war, bones and articles of domestic use.
The first settler in the area was probably Ruben Marsh. He first came to Florida during the Seminole Indian War. He was in a scouting party in 1841 and claimed, “If I come out of this war alive, I’m coming back here to settle and raise cattle.” Ruben Marsh and the other scouts had stopped at a lake (in the DeLand area) to make camp for the night. They saw bears, wolves, panthers, deer, turkey and plenty of other wild game. “Everything was there for a man who wanted to build a future for himself.”
The war ended, and in 1846 Ruben Marsh got married and moved to what is now known as DeLand. He bought a settlers claim, where he built a cabin for his family and started raising stock.
The pioneers were self-sufficient. They raised their own food, made their own clothes; they carved their homes out of the Florida hammock. They stayed close to their homes and made their own entertainment.
The area now known as DeLand was once called Persimmon Hollow. Wild persimmons used to grow in this area in abundance. After the end of the Civil War, each year brought increasing numbers of pioneers seeking to build a future for themselves.