Sunday, March 8, 2015

Isn't That God's Water in on sale at

"Isn't That God's Water" is available on Amazon, and it is presently at a sale price. It's an illustrated history which I compiled and wrote to fill a void in American History! I think you will find the book informative and enjoyable. Please go to and check it out. I would appreciate it. Ethel Cook-Wilson

Amazon Has "Isn't That God's Water The Advent and Demise of Bethune-Volusia Beach" on Sale!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Bethune-Volusia Receives Legal Status from State of Florida

The Volusia County Assessor’s Office provided a copy of the plat from the county records. According to it, C. H. Moneypenny of New Smyrna Beach, did the survey and executed the appropriate drawings which were completed on September 26, 1944. On that same document, a county time stamp is affixed at the top, indicating it was received in their office on February 7, 1947. At the bottom of the plat is a handwritten legal description of the property. That portion was signed and notarized on November 16, 1946, bearing the signatures of corporation officers, G.D. Rogers, President and Mrs. L. G. Hale, secretary.

Once all the legal documentation was in place, the corporation went forward with the purchase of the land and began a campaign to sell parcels to blacks, not only of Volusia County, but those who lived throughout the country. The investors used black as well as white salesmen. One investor said sometimes blacks felt more comfortable buying from a white salesman than from a black.
In order to accommodate low-income blacks, which was the status of most in Florida and Volusia County at the time, lots were cheaply priced and sold on a liberal installment plan. Sadly, the use of the pay-along plan came back to haunt the corporation in future dealings with the county.

Even with the sale of lots, the corporate members dug deeply into their personal pockets to make the resort a success. They paid to have land cleared and some of the first roads cut. Later, the county did help the state to build a road to the beach. On one hand Volusia County officials wanted blacks to have their own beach, but they didn’t want to spend lots of money on it. According to one county official, “The reason the county did as much as it did was to keep the colored people down there.” But the county in no way helped the resort to become the grand one Mrs. Bethune had envisioned.

The corporation deeded several prime lots to the county with the understanding it would build bathhouses, picnic facilities, an auditorium, fishing pier and boat ramp. They were led to believe Bethune-Volusia beachgoers would have facilities likened to those on Daytona Beach. However, the county’s plan fell far short of the vision. It installed pilings, a few picnic tables and barbecue pits. Eventually, it piped in water. After many appeals, the county provided and paid for black lifeguards and sheriff’s deputies. But after one disappointing delay after another regarding other promised amenities, the corporation borrowed $14, 500 to build their own bathhouse and recreation building. Also when negotiations with the City of New Smyrna for utilities failed, the corporation raised and paid $12,000 to Florida Power and Light to extend its line from Edgewater across the river to provide service. 

Friday, August 29, 2014

Chapter 2 of Isn't This God's Water

Early Hands In
The Man with the Land
     Dana Fuquay, a native of Hastings, Florida, once owned one foot of every five feet of intercoastal land in Flagler and Volusia counties. Besides acquiring beachfront and other real property, he worked as an architect throughout the state on federal, state and private projects. In Daytona, where his main office was located, Mr. Fuquay participated in community affairs, including serving on the Board of Trustees at Bethune-Cookman College.
     Fuquay, along with another entrepreneur, George Moody, invested in the Flagler Hotel in Flagler Beach in 1924, but Moody sold his interest the following year. Fuquay completed the three-story structure which had forty-four guestrooms, each with running water and a bathroom, either connecting or adjoining. In the middle of the hotel was a fourth floor ballroom. It is reported that during winter season, guests dressed in fine attire, mounted stairs and spent an evening dancing. The Flagler also had a full basement with offices, a barbershop, and an arcade.
     The hotel had some down days, but from the late 40s until the early 70s, it was fully operational, but did eventually succumb to the wrecking ball.
     The site on which Flagler Hotel was located is one block west of A1A. Fuquay donated the block facing the ocean and stipulated nothing could be built on it to obstruct the ocean view. It had a shuffle board court on it, and sidewalks surrounding it, all in compliance with his wishes.              The grand Flagler Hotel, with its imposing coquina columns that stood to each side of its entrance, is gone. Its site is now the venue for a weekly Farmer’s Market.
     This biographical sketch of Dana Fuquay shows he was a man with ideas and he who went forward to make them a reality. Without documentation, but based on his actions, it can be assumed he had an open-mind toward African Americans, or at least toward Mrs. Bethune. Otherwise, he would not have accepted the invitation to sit on the Board at her school. Some credit must be given to her power of persuasion, however. Her ability to draw people of substance into her circle is legendary. Once they stepped in, she helped them to see her vision. So, a visionary, such as Dana Fuquay, perhaps was not a hard-sell when she disclosed her plans for a black-owned beach town. Besides, it was a money-making opportunity. According to George Engram: “…If Fuquay harbored any prejudice toward blacks, he wasn’t going to let it get in the way of a business deal. He sold quite a bit of property to whites and blacks. It didn’t matter to him.”
     Dana Fuqua showed Mrs. Bethune and the core group of investors beach property up and down Volusia County. They agreed upon the location on the south end of the New Smyrna Beach peninsula. The 189 acres of undeveloped land cost $132,000.00. This was a miniscule amount for some during that era, but not so for others. With the realization funds would very unlikely be acquired from standard banking institutions by a group of Negroes, Dana Fuqua permitted the core of investors to pay a modest down payment. Standing on faith, Mrs. Bethune believed there was a way to generate the balance owed.  
Garfield Devoe Rogers
A Plan to Pay
     G. D. Rogers suggested to Mrs. Bethune and other primary investors they form a corporation and go through steps to legitimize it with the state of Florida. By doing that, the corporation could sell shares and with the proceeds, the mortgage with Dana Fuquay could be paid off. A brilliant idea for a man with nothing more than a rural high school education.
     Garfield Devoe Rogers, a Georgia native, is said to have walked along railways from his home in Thomaston to Bradenton, Florida. His daughter said G. D., as he was commonly known, came to Florida in 1905, at 19 years old when a friend convinced him better opportunities existed there. He, as perhaps most of his 15 siblings, had no college education. But in spite of that, he became a perceptive businessman and prominent figure in Central Florida. One of his earliest enterprises in Bradenton, FL was a dry cleaning and tailoring business. He made custom-fitted suits for $13.50, and when the same customers needed their expensive apparel cleaned and pressed, they returned to G. D.’s place to have that done.
     Less than twenty years after arriving in Florida (1922), G.D., Mary McLeod Bethune and C. Blythe Andrews of Florida Sentinel Bulletin, a black newspaper, started the Central Life Insurance Company and by 1935, the company was conducting business in almost every city in Florida. The first offices of the Central Life Insurance Company were on Harrison Street in Tampa, with a staff of six employees. After eleven years, G. D. took the helm of the company, which had assets of $75,000. Under his leadership, company assets quickly grew to almost one million dollars and employed over 300 men and women.
      Eleanor Gittens, one of G.D.’s daughters, said her parents and Mrs. Bethune were close friends, and they dedicated themselves to the success of her college. G. D. drove truckloads of cabbage and fish to the school to feed students and supported Mrs. Bethune in many ways at the college. So when the beach town proposal came to mind, G.D. signed on without any prodding.
     In 1943, Zora Neale Hurston, famous African American writer and reporter for the American Mercury magazine, attended a statewide meeting of the Negro Defense Committee where G. D. spoke. She quoted him as saying: “The only citizens who count are those who give time, effort, and money to the support and growth of the community. Share the burden where you live.” From the many services he provided and businesses he started to meet the needs of blacks, it is evident he lived out the true meaning of his words.
     G. D. Rogers, astute businessman and trusted friend of Mary Bethune, knew the route to take to advance the beach project. So under his guidance, they agreed to form a corporation.


Monday, August 25, 2014

To Dispel Darkness Turn on a Light

Recently a man of good character died at the age of ninety-six. His obituary was in the local newspaper and of course, I read his since I routinely read all of them. His covered more than the usual few lines. I soon learned why. His life had many stellar moments, many in regard to others rather than for self- aggrandizement.

One thing he said really struck a chord with me, and it has been ringing in my mind. I will paraphrase: Put right information in proper hands to get rid of petty biases and prejudices. I read and reread this and had to agree with him. To give someone a different opinion, act and be contrary to a preconceived notion. Refuse to validate a false impression. Fight to have correct and impartial information included in school curricula so that young people can learn to value everyone who has contributed to our society.

If you are a member of a group( minority, women, senior citizen) who is perceived in the wrong light, put forth the effort to dispel misconceptions. Rather than commiserate with each other, mingle with those who need to be enlightened so that they can begin to see you in a different way.

Go Forth and Teach!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Bethune Beach of Yore

I just posted on Please check it out. I hope you find it informative. I am sure you'll notice how far I backed off the creative aspect of the project, and am now following a purist path of non-fiction. Let me know what you think about the excerpts. If you have your own story, please share it with me. It would be much appreciated. I have received a couple of great ones which I will include. Take care.

Sunday, August 17, 2014


The book release and Ken Burns documentary went very well today. There were about 50 people at the Cinematique. I hope they get the word out about Julian Carlton--I am not just another George: Taliesin Murders. The 100th anniversary of the event was on Friday, August 15, 2014, so I felt this was a great time to release the book on the alleged murderer. Please go to to get it. The Kindle version is $3.99. It is historical fiction and a worthwhile read. Now I got to get cracking with my Bethune-Volusia Beach, Inc. project. So far, it's going well. I want it to continue that way. Take care.