Town of Slavia Historical Marker
Slavia, known to be a small town found east of Orlando right next to the town of Oviedo was founded by eastern Europeans known as Slovakians. The Slovaks who came to central Florida early in the 20th century achieved in founding a Christian environment in which the could raise their kin. The settlers of Slavia were part of the Lutheran faith, which is a surprise since most Slovaks followed Catholicism. But during the Protestant Reformation it fell in line with the Slovak culture as well.In 1911 the Slovak community living in Cleveland, Ohio were growing eager to move. Recent immigrants who came from Europe were uncomfortable in their occupation in the industrial society. "The Holy Trinity Slovak Lutheran Church" in Cleveland, Ohio decided to move many settlers to Central Florida. They felt that keeping their kids away from the industrial city life and moving them towards life of agriculture to be more beneficial. During this time Florida was doing it's best to recruit people to move to the state. The state of Florida claimed to have a climate that is beneficial to health and also rich soil to produce numerous healthy crops. Many settlers viewed land in Florida as "The Land of Opportunity". On October 7, 1911 the church of Holy Trinity bought 1,200 acres of land for $17,400 which now founded the new town of Slavia. As months went by the community formed St.Lukes Lutheran Church. As years went by, so did the community of Slavia. The town was a key hot spot for agriculture since they grew citrus,water crest such as celery, turpentine, and even lumber as well. Slavia ended up being a huge supplier of agriculture crops to other small towns at the time such as Oviedo,Sandford and even Winter Park. The way of life for people living in Slavia was in basic terms known as "The Farm Life". Kids would go to school at the church at St. Lukes and come home and work on the farms tending to the cows,chickens and pigs. And during the weekends kids would then work on the celery farm down the road from them for 10 cents for the whole day. The major celery farm that most people worked on at the time was owned by Slovak immigrants known as the Dudas. Till this day Duda has known to be a major reputable company, it is one of the largest company's in the U.S. and is still thriving. As celery tended to die out and leave Florida, Duda eventually evolved the company into selling sod commercially and had stretched their farms as far as Vero Beach. By the 1920’s power –lines reached the town of Slavia, and now family homes could enjoy the benefits of electricity. Also which is now known for purple heart trail that runs through Oviedo, Slavia, Winter Springs and many more central Florida cities now, this trail was once a main railroad track that was used to transport people and agriculture products through out Florida. This shows how Slavia started to adapt to a more modern era. Other than just living the farm life the people of Slavia lived casual, laid back lives as well. Every Sunday the family’s would attend Sunday mass at St.Lukes Lutheran church and also hang out at the general store located in the heart of Slavia. The children would play games, fish the big canals that ran though the Duda celery farm in which it was trenched out all the way to Lake Jesup, and the elders would play pinochle. Pinochle is known as a card game where you score points by forming combinations of cards and trick-taking, so in a sense it was an older version of poker. Others would even use their spare time to making grapefruit wine. When December came around for Christmas people would walk into the woods looking for a small pine tree, cutting it down and bringing it home to decorate with ornaments. This shows that the people who lived in Slavia had a positive atmosphere and outgoing social life. A urban sprawl expanded around the mid 1960’s, kids started to grow up and start their own families and carry on with their own lives. Many left the small town due to many jobs opening in the major cities such as Orlando, Sandford, Winter Park and Oviedo. Slavia eventually slowed down and became a ghost town. All that remains are old vacant homes that can be dated back 100+ years as of today, a vacant general store, the original Duda Sod Farm company, St.Lukes cemetery, and the church of St.Lukes. Believe it or not though there are still a few local veterans that still live in the ghost town of Slavia as well. If you do your research you will come to find out what really matters to the community still today and even to the people who left Slavia to expand their future in other directions is that the church keeps everyone tied together to this day.
- Wehr, Paul. Like a Mustard Seed: The Slavia Settlement. Chuluota FL: Mickler House, 1982. Print.
- Steck, Stephen McKenny "History of Our Communities- Slavia, Florida. "CMF Public Media. CMF, 25 Mar. 2010. Web.02 Mar.2017.
- "Slavia - Ghost Town."Slavia-Ghost Town. N.P., 17 May 2012. Web. 02 Mar.2017