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The Fabulous Mizells

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As you drive down Culbreath Road shortly after you pass the sign for Fort Taylor Cemetery there is a road off to left called Mizell Road.The Mizell’s were a prominent early family in Hernando County.

The Florida Mizells are descendants of Huguenots who migrated to the North Carolina area before the Revolutionary War. In 1838, David Mizell Sr. moved to Lake City with a large family. His sons spread out across Florida.

One of the earliest mentions of the Florida family was Great Floridian Frank Saxon’s recollection of the events following the Bradley Massacre at the beginning of the Third Seminole War. 

“Captain T. C. Ellis had formed a company and I joined it. The next day the Captain called about 20 men together, and we started for Captain Bradley’s picking up along the way ‘Uncle Joshua Mizell’ an old Indian trailer. We struck the trail through the pines, although I could not see a sign, Uncle Josh went in a lope, saying ‘here they went boys,’ and when we struck the big cypress swamp, there sore enough wore the tracks of ten to twelve Indians. We hitched our horses and and ‘took to the swamp,’ and had no trouble following the trail. We found a bloody sheet taken from the Bradley clothes line. Uncle Josh said, to tote a wounded Indian in. He said the Indian had died and they had sunk him in the mud and thrown the sheet aside. So you see Bob Bradley got at least one Indian and whipped twelve others with only his mother to help him. Uncle Josh our trailer was the grandfather of J. J. Mizell now living about eight miles from here.”

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A nephew of the the Indian tracker Joshua Mizell was elected to the Hernando County Commission in 1872 and again in 1876. He married Maggie L Hancock in the 1870s, she is the granddaughter of Captain John “Jack” Townsend. The marker at the Townsend House Cemetery mentions that Joshua Mizell donated the land for the second Townsend House Church.

The Townsend House Church was originally used for protection and religion starting in the 1850s. Captain Townsend moved to the new home nearby and gave his old house to the community to be used as a Church. In the 1880s the first Townsend House Church was needing repairs, so a new church was built. “They gathered together, cut logs, rived boards, and built a good substantial building under the leadership of W. R. Nicks, N. D. Eiland, H. W. Hancock. Joshua Mizelle, and Osias Mizelle.”

John Joshua Mizell is most likely the J. J. Mizell who was mentioned by Frank Saxon. He was the son of Osias Mizell. John Joshua Mizell, Osias Mizell, and Joshua Mizell are all buried in the Townsend House Cemetery.

As part of the Centennial on July 4th, 1876 Congress asked that states, counties, and cities record a history and send it to the Library of Congress. The document from Hernando County mentions Fort Taylor as an early settlement “Fort Taylor by Capt. R. D. Bradley, Enoch Mizell, Joshua Mizell, John Tucker and 20 others.”

Several members of the Mizell family including Enoch Mizell move south to Pine Level, Florida which was once the county seat of Manatee. The Mizells became involved in the cattle business and became prominent members of the community. Enoch Mizell’s son Joshua
Mizell was born in Hernando County and is remembered there as having been a Judge of DeSoto County, a postmaster, and a member of the Punta Gorda City Council. A nephew Bone (Morgan Bonaparte) Mizell was such a colorful character that Jim Bob Tinsley wrote a book on him- Florida Cowhunters: Life and Times of Bone Mizell. One antidote had the Sheriff catching Bone and several cattlemen playing poker with chips. The sheriff stated that poker chips were the same as money, so they were illegally gambling. Bone wound up paying his fine with poker chips after reminding the Sheriff that before multiple witnesses he had stated that poker chips were the same as money. 

Another Mizell brother David Jr. moved to Orange County where he became the first chairman of the Orange County Commission and his son David III served as Sheriff. David settled on the eastern shore of Lake Mizell, he named his settlement Lake View, which is now Winter Park. Sheriff David Mizell III was gunned down in 1870 while taking cattle from Mose Barber for refusal to pay taxes. Mose Barber refused to pay taxes to support a government that he had fought against. The killing of Sheriff David Mizell started the Barber–Mizell feud in which over 40 people are said to have been killed. 

The Mizell family was an early pioneer family. Their contributions to the the early days of Hernando County and Florida were numerous. So as you pass the worn road with a weathered road sign on Culbreath Road you have a story you can tell.

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