By Richard Mabey Jr.
From the early Summer of 2018 till the late Summer of 2019, I worked as a Tour Guide for the wonderful historical village of Coleman Corners. Most of the buildings on this historic, two-acre site, go back to the early to middle 1800’s. There is a one-room schoolhouse, and old post office, a blacksmith shop, an historic jail, a meeting hall, and an old general store. The quaint and charming village is surrounded by tall, towering Live Oaks complete with Spanish Moss hanging from the limbs of these massive trees.
The town of Coleman is roughly two and half miles in size. It has a population of 877 people. Coleman is located in the southern area of Sumter County in Central Florida.
During my year, of working as a Tour Guide for Coleman Corners, I met all so many interesting people. I cherished the stories and legends that the old timers shared with me. I met salt of the earth people, whom I would have never been able to meet if I had not worked as the Tour Guide.
I remember one elderly gentleman told me legends of the old jail. That his grandfather knew a man who had actually spent some time in the very jail that was on the property of Coleman Corners Historical Village. The stories he told me were not pretty at all. He told me that his grandfather had told him how poorly prisoners were treated back a hundred years ago.
I met an elderly lady, whose grandmother had actually attended the one-room schoolhouse that was now on display at Coleman Corners. This dear, sweet, elderly woman got a bit emotional when she walked into the one-room schoolhouse. I remember holding her hand as she climbed the stairs up to the schoolhouse and then holding her hand as she climbed down the stairs.
There were so many people that I got to meet for a moment in time. So far, I’ve never seen any of them again. I left my job as a Tour Guide when my mom was in the hospital, with the doctors deciding whether or not to do heart surgery on Mom. I needed to take time off from work and it wasn’t fair to keep calling out from work all the time.
I learned so much about the history of Coleman Corners from the many people who took the tour. I used to work from nine o’clock in the morning till five o’clock in the evening, five days a week. My tour guide presentation became engrained in the deepest recesses of my mind.
Life is so funny. From time to time, I reflect upon my days and weeks and months at Coleman Corners. At times, I could almost see the ghosts of the little children who once attended the one-room schoolhouse. Walking into the old jail, would sometimes give me the most eerie and haunting feeling. And, at times I could almost the hear the echo of the blacksmith hammering out a horseshoe upon his steadfast anvil.
If I had read a hundred books on the history of Central Florida, I am sure that I would never have learned quite as much of the colorful legends of this land as I did through talking with the old timers who took my tour. Coleman Corners is a cherished memory of mine.
Richard Mabey Jr. is a freelance writer. He can be reached at email@example.com. Please reference “Thoughts and Reflections” on the subject line.