"Come to My Sunland"
Letters of Julia Daniels Moseley from the Florida Frontier, 1882-1886
Julia Daniels Moseley, edited by Julia Winifred Moseley and Betty Powers CrislipForeword by Gary R. Mormino and Raymond Arsenault, Series Editors
“A richly detailed and deeply affectionate record of life in a quiet corner of a time and place since vanished.”—Preservation
“Reveals the struggles of a cultured, urban woman adjusting to the isolation of pioneer life, but there’s a joie de vivre that surges through Come to My Sunland.”—St. Petersburg Times
“If you’ve ever wondered what Florida was like before the turn of last century, be curious no longer.”—Naples Daily News
“[Moseley’s] letters offer exceptionally vivid descriptions of the surrounding community’s natural endowments, especially its palms, pines, oaks, and flowers, but also its springs, rivers, and lakes. . . . A delightful excursion into a lost world.”—Florida Historical Quarterly
“A treasure for the professional scholar and all with interests in Florida history and gender studies.”—Journal of Southern History
"I read ‘Come to My Sunland’ with growing surprise, page by page, at the stunning Florida legacy left us in these letters by Julia from Illinois. A frontierswoman of culture and refinement, she made Florida not only a home, but a canvas on which she painted the old scrub lands east of Tampa in the 1880s, with their wild fields and hammock oases, their passion flowers and butterflies, mockingbirds and larks, lake vistas and flaming sunsets. Come, reader, into that seemingly distant world where a prototypical Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings reminds us yet again how much we Floridians have sadly lost: reverence for the land."--Michael Gannon, author of Florida: A Short History
Like so many midwesterners since, Julia Daniels and Charles Scott Moseley moved to Florida in the 1880s seeking a warmer climate. This collection of Julia’s letters--mainly to her husband, who made frequent business trips north, and to her close friend Eliza Slade--reveals the struggle of a cultured, urban woman adjusting to the hardship and isolation of life in pioneer Florida.
And then coming to love it. Tramping through the unsullied land surrounding the Limona community near Tampa, where they settled, she gloried in her "neglected corner in the Garden of Eden," where she "could look up fifty feet and see air plants growing on the branches of great oaks and hundreds of ferns nodding . . . in the sunlight and gray moss moving through the trees like mist." "Think of me gazing up among crane’s nests with redbirds in my own oaks," she wrote. "Even in the nighttime, a mocking bird often sings to me of all the beautiful things I love."
Julia (herself a published writer) selected these unedited letters and copied them for her family into a thick leather book. Like characters in a novel, the friends and relatives she describes crackle with personality: a flamboyant Russian proclaims his version of communism, a New England spinster counters with Utopian visions, and a university professor retreats from the ivory tower to agricultural experimentation. Readers observe Julia’s flair for making daily life cheerful and they meet the couple’s two adored sons and Scott’s children by an earlier marriage, as well as Cracker settlers, cattle runners, and assorted seekers of health or wealth.
An artist, Julia created a distinctive home designed and decorated in the manner of the pre-Raphaelites. Her palmetto fiber wall covering was exhibited at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893 and survives today. The Florida house, named The Nest, is on the National Register of Historic Places. Accompanied by 71 photographs of Julia’s home and family, these letters transcend the life of one woman to capture the experience and spirit of 19th-century Florida.
Julia Winifred Moseley (1919–2020), the granddaughter of Julia Daniels Moseley, lived in Brandon, Florida. Betty Powers Crislip (1926–2019) lived in Tampa. Both served as officers of Timberly Trust, Inc., the organization established to preserve the Moseley family home and its environs.
- Sample Chapter(s):
- Table of Contents
"These letters are those of a gifted woman who captured a bygone era with the gentle strokes of a landscape artist. Page after page the reader will be afresh rewarded with her acute observations of home and nature." -- Wauchula Herald-Advocate
"Reveals the struggles of a cultured, urban woman adjusting to the isolation of pioneer life, but there's a joie de vivre that surges through Come to My Sunland . . . . It is in this writing that Moseley shines the most, for she shows her strength, her artistic sensibilities and her passion for the wilds of Florida. The 71 photographs of her home and family included in the book, which feature the flowers and environs of Florida, underscore this fervant love." -- St. Petersburg Times
--St. Petersburg Times
"Moseley's undeniable gift for writing and her obvious love for Florida make it hard not to appreciate her work. Indeed, after reading the first few letters, it is hard not to be transported to Moseley's 'Sunland.'" -- Lake City Reporter
--Lake City Reporter
"If you've ever wondered what Florida was like before the turn of last century, be curious no longer." -- Naples Daily News
--Naples Daily News
"Using words as her brush, Julia Daniels Moseley created a detailed canvas of the Tampa Bay region during the 1880's." -- Marion Maturity
"A richly detailed and deeply affectionate record of life in a quiet corner of a time and place since vanished." - Preservation
"[A] fascinating chapter in our state's history." -- Velma Daniels, Winter Haven News Chief
--Winter Haven News Chief
"Julia's letters bring to life the Cracker settlers, cattle runners, and assorted seekers of health and wealth that she encountered in daily life.
This collection is an entertaining and enlightening look at life in frontier Florida at the end of the nineteenth century." -- Georgia Historical Quarterly
--Georgia Historical Quarterly
"Her letters offer exceptionally vivid descriptions of the surrounding community's natural endowments, especially its palms, pines, oaks, and flowers, but also its springs, rivers, and lakes. . . . A delightful excursion into a lost world."-- Florida Historical Quarterly
--Florida Historical Quarterly
"A treasure for the professional scholar and all with interests in Florida history and gender studies."-- Journal of Southern History
--Journal of Southern History