City History

The History of Holly Hill is Rich and Long. The Following is a Brief Synopsis of our Beginnings.

In June 1875, the administrators of the Chaires estate sold the Fitch land grant to William S. and Mary Fleming, residents of New Castle County, Delaware.  After the Flemings completed the transaction for $10,000, they soon left their home in Christiana Hundred, Delaware to build a new home in Port Orange, FL. They also constructed a simple wood frame dwelling on their newly acquired property in this area, which they named Holly Hill.  One tradition contends that the Flemings appropriated the name Holly Hill from their ancestral home in Ireland, while another points to the holly trees then growing along the ridge in their adopted Florida homeplace. During this era, the Flemings acquired several tracts in east Volusia County. In addition to Holly Hill, their Fitch grant property soon became popularly, if unofficially, known as the Fleming-Fitch tract. Aware of the potential for more land sales and a need to divide their holdings into smaller, more manageable lots, the Flemings subdivided the Fitch grant  in November, 1875, filing the resulting plat with Volusia County's Clerk of Court in April, 1877.  William Wallace Ross arrived here sometime in the 1860's and established a homesite at a point, which he called “Palmetto Point“. There he established the first area post office at his home which was called the Palmetto Post Office. Records of the Post Office Department in the National Archives confirm a Post Office was established at Palmetto Point on July 21, 1868, with Samuel P. Wimple appointed Postmaster. It was discontinued on July 12, 1870.  This date is corroborated with other known information.

The landowner, William Samuel Fleming Sr.,  in the summer of 1876, went to Philadelphia with the express purpose of influencing settlers to come to Florida.  He got the promise of fifteen families. Among the families were the Wetherells and the Simcoes. William Wetherell first came to America in 1866 to work in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on the preparations for the big Centennial celebration. He had left his bride behind in northern England, while he grabbed the opportunity to earn more in this country. He received a job working on the Continental Building.

Holly Hill at that time had no name and in discussion among the settlers Mrs. Monroe would like to have had it named New Port News, after her old home. This was a popular way of naming towns at this time as Ormond Beach was originally named New Britain after the Connecticut hometown of many of the early settlers there. In the discussions among the settlers however they decided that as Mr. Fleming owned nearly all the land and was the colony founder he should have the naming privilege despite the fact that he still lived in Port Orange. Mr. Fleming decided to name the colony Holly Hill in memory of his Irish Holywood home because there were lots of holly trees in the area and there was a bit of a rise in the terrain. One can easily see the similarity between the two areas in old photos.

Mr. Fleming began building a simple frame dwelling on a portion of his riverfront property. The land was cleared just south of the present-day Holly Hill Canal right on the river shore.  Unfortunately he died in 1878 before construction was completed.

In 1901, due to a problem with hogs getting into the resident's gardens, the town decided to incorporate. On July 2, 1901, some thirty-one residents voted at Cave's Cigar Factory to incorporate the town of Holly Hill.  Metes and bounds of the corporate limits consisted of the “point where Fourth Avenue would intersect the channel of Halifax River, said Avenue being the North boundary of the J. M. Hernandez Grant Sec. 43, Township 14 S. Range 32 E, thence along center of said Avenue S.W. to Center Street, thence S.E. along center of said Street to center of Mason Avenue, thence along center of said Avenue S.W. to Center Street, thence S.E. along center of said Street to center of Mason Avenue, thence along said Avenue to Halifax River, and in same direction to the channel of said river, thence following channel of said River to place of beginning."   Vet Cave, who owned the cigar factory north of Delaware Street, was easily named the first mayor. The new city council included I. M.Mabbett, A. H. Carter, W. A. McBride, Lotan Cave, and A. E. Mason. Citizens selected Charles S. Harris to enforce the laws, and W.H. Poston and G. Harris were elected city clerk and treasurer respectively. Charles Wetherell served six years as Postmaster and eventually City Marshal and City Clerk. He later remembered the city fathers had a problem protecting the Holly trees from being cut down and arrests for the offense became fairly numerous. In 1910 Holly Hill had a population of 207, which included women and children. Remember, women were not allowed to vote.

Those boundaries would be expanded over time to the present-day municipal limits, but the 1901 boundaries help define the oldest section of Holly Hill. The organizers did not express an interest in annexing beachfront properties into the town, nor to build a bridge to span the Halifax River. By then, both Daytona and Ormond had constructed bridges across the river, and the towns of Daytona Beach and Seabreeze had their own oceanfront exposure without any mainland presence.

In 1898 William B. McCoy brought his family to Holly Hill and built a home that still stands on the corner of what is now LPGA Blvd. & Riverside Drive.  His oldest son, William (Bill) was in the Merchant Marines & onboard the Olivette in Havana, Cuba harbor at the time the USS Maine exploded in 1898.  He completed his service to the Merchant Marines and came to the family home in Holly Hill where he and his brother owned & operated the McCoy Bros. Yacht Builders.  During the Prohibition period in the 20’s, Bill McCoy became the infamous “Real McCoy” rum runner along the Atlantic east coast.  Come into the Museum to get the full story.

Hours : Tues - Sat 12pm - 4pm

Phone : (386) 252-2339