Henry S. Kedney
Adventurer, settler, farmer, investor, dreamer . . . son, husband and father
What is known about this settler is sometimes sketchy, but always interesting!
Henry S. Kedney was born in New Jersey, but lived in many states throughout his lifetime. He was a graduate of Annapolis, but was forced to leave the Navy because of a severe case of asthma. He was also a world traveler.
In 1870, Henry S. Kedney met Isaac Vanderpool on a steamship that was en route from Rio de Janiero to the USA. Kedney suffered from severe asthma and Vanderpool suffered from impaired eye-sight. They both traveled extensively. It was when Vanderpool was returning from Brazil that the two met. Kedney’s father, the Reverend Prof. John S. Kedney (of Fairabault, Minnesota) had visited his friend, Bishop H.P. Whipple (also of Minnesota), in Maitland and had told his son of its charms. Kedney persuaded Vanderpool to accompany him to South Florida, and it was after this that Vanderpool came to Maitland. When Kedney came to Florida, he arrived in Sanford and then took a mule team to Maitland.
In 1872, Kedney took up homesteading with Isaac Vanderpool. (Vanderpool bought property, but left two months later and left Kedney to plant the orange groves.) Kedney also bought his own property (the Uright and Cady places) on Lake Maitland and “set out” more groves. He planted orange groves in Winter Park and Maitland. He called his Winter Park property Avalon. He not only grew oranges, but also lemons and, he even experimented with pineapples. He was known for the numerous beautiful trees that planted. He was also interested in pecans and phosphate mining. He was an alderman in Winter Park and was active in civic affairs. Kedney was the first man to go through the Maitland Run. Kedney’s wife, Nannie, was the sister of Mrs. J.C. Stovin. The Stovin’s home was near the Kedney property in Winter Park.
In 1876, after withstanding a financial disaster in New York, losing a great deal of money, Vanderpool returned to Maitland with his new wife, Harriet. The Maitland area had only 4-5 families who were homesteading and/or planting orange groves. They decided to incorporate a town. The committee consisted of: Kedney, Vanderpool, and two brothers, George and Richard Packwood. They laid out the town and named it Lake Maitland. The lake and the town were named after Fort Maitland, which was built by Major William Maitland at the time of the Seminole War in 1835. The superb oak trees in Maitland were planted (for the most part) by those same public-minded men: Vanderpool, Kedney & the Packwood brothers.
In 1883, Kedney went into partnership with Absolam H. Carey, a New Zealand native and a gold miner. (Carey came to Orlando with $40,000 and bought farm and grove property on a large scale.) They discovered a phosphate mine in Mulberry, Florida and went into the mining business. They lost everything. Two years later, in 1885, Kedney built the San Juan de Ulloa Hotel in Orlando. The cost: $150,000.
In 1887 Kedney organized the Citizen’s National Bank in Orlando on August 25th. He is listed as a director. The bank was located on the northwest corner of Central and Orange Avenues, in the corner room of the San Juan Hotel. It was moved to the two-story brick building on the northwest corner of Pine and Court Streets and re-organized.
In 1889, Kedney was appointed an agent for the Union Loan & Trust Company of New York and was able to loan money.
On March 22, 1893, the Citizen’s Bank was voluntarily liquidated and consolidated with the First National Bank of Orlando. Both the bank and the hotel passed into other hands. Kedney stepped down from his position. He is described as “a broken and disappointed man.”
After the Big Freeze in 1895, Kedney lost everything. It is said that he left all his groves without inspecting them. Mrs. Kedney kept the Avalon property, selling it later. Kedney then went to Veracruz, Mexico. Here he planted an orange grove and developed a coffee plantation. His family followed two years later. At this time, there were frequent insurrections and uprisings in Mexico. Kedney found a secret cave and thought (if worse came to worse) that he could escape any danger by retreating into this cave. He planned ahead and supplied it with enough food to withstand a long siege.
In 1915, Mexican rebels captured all of Kedney’s stock and destroyed the plantation. Kedney’s dead body was discovered in the cave on his property, some weeks after his death.
Kedney had two children, Elizabeth Kedney Krauss (1885-1963), and Lynn S. Kedney (1880-1940).
In 1910, Kedney's daughter, Elizabeth, married Frederick Krauss and returned to the United States. She studied music at Rollins College from 1910-1915. After graduating, she stayed on at Rollins, teaching violin.
In 1923, Elizabeth left her teaching position at Rollins. She moved to Birmingham, Alabama and taught violin in the city schools until 1925. She then left Birmingham and moved to Asheville, North Carolina, where she began teaching violin privately. She had two children, one daughter and one son.
This article was written by former archivist, Barbara White, MLIS.