A Community With A Rich History

Astor/Astor Park

Astor got its name from its founder, William Astor, grandson of the millionaire John Jacob Astor, who purchased 13,000 acres in March of 1874, established a town and gave it the name Manhattan; the town's name changed to Astor in 1884.

The Astor area riverfront grew during the steamboat era in late 1870, so William Astor built a railroad from Astor Landing to Lake Eustis that connected with regional lines.

William Astor's son Jon Jacob Astor IV inherited the estate in 1894, but the boom era was over.

When Astor IV was lost on the Titanic in 1912, his son inherited the land but had no interest in it, and the area settled into becoming a premier hideaway for those seeking outdoor recreation, hunting and fishing and for those seeking something special and unique.


By 1558 the Spanish documented the beginnings of the settlement at Volusia, seven years before St. Augustine was founded and Indian mounds served as the foundations of some of its early buildings.

In 1774 the American naturalist and author, William Bartram visited with the Seminole Indians; and, during his travels in the southern colonies, stopped for a while at the Spalding store at Volusia while studying all the plants and fauna in Florida that he could find.

When the county was created in 1845, Volusia was its largest town; and, although it is a small unincorporated town today, most people in Florida are not aware of its importance in history.


Barberville was established in 1882 by James D. Barber who helped to capitalize on the fact that the area was on the proposed route of the Jacksonville, Tampa, Key West Railroad.

Gone now are the river ferries and the Lake George Lighthouse (burned down in 1971) but the rich heritage of the Astor area and the Central Florida region are preserved today at the Barberville Pioneer Settlement.

Pierson and Emporia

In 1886 when the first train rolled in, this northwestern-most community in Volusia County was still unnamed.

The conductor of the train asked the first five men that he met for their names; and, when all five answered Pierson, he declared the town's name to be Piersonville.

Peter and Nels Pierson, and their three cousins had come to Florida in 1876, hoping to expand a fern growing business they had previously operated near Boston.

Citrus crops and commercial fishing competed with fern crops for leadership as the area's economic base.

Today, Pierson is the "Fern Capital of the World".

Emporia (adjacent to Pierson) enjoyed a boom period from 1880 through 1920 when tourists staying at the Emporia Hotel decided to build their own two-story "painted houses".

Economics in Emporia came from a saw mill, a turpentine still, orange groves, a packing house and cattle ranching.

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