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The last Moseley has died, but homestead in middle of Brandon remains

Developers have often inquired about the land, but the family refused to sell.
Julia Moseley's family homestead at 1820 W. Brandon Blvd. in Brandon where she resided is designated a historic property. She died recently and now preservationists are planning what to do with her house.
Julia Moseley's family homestead at 1820 W. Brandon Blvd. in Brandon where she resided is designated a historic property. She died recently and now preservationists are planning what to do with her house. [ SCOTT KEELER | Times ]
Published Aug. 26, 2020
Updated Nov. 24, 2020

BRANDON — The Moseley family nicknamed every structure and room on their homestead.

The outhouse is The Deluge because it featured a bathtub.

The porch is The Cup and Bucket — in pioneering years, they allowed passing cattleman to drink from the well.

The full 15 acres is The Timberly due to the number of trees.

Historians have their own description of the property with a house dating to the 1880s.

“Time machine,” the Tampa Bay History Center’s Rodney Kite-Powell said. “It brings you into the past.”

Developers have offered millions for the land.

But the Moseleys chose to continue to live there, not modernize the buildings’ exteriors, and maintain the property as a historic oasis located down a dirt driveway between Haverty’s Furniture Store and Portillo’s Hot Dogs on busy Brandon Boulevard.

Julia Winifred Moseley — the last of the Moseleys — died on August 9 at 101 years old.

But the homestead where she spent her life will remain preserved.

She formed the Timberly Trust, willed the land to it and charged the board with continuing her mission.

The front road entrance to the Moseley family homestead at 1820 W Brandon Blvd. in Brandon is canopied with oak trees.
The front road entrance to the Moseley family homestead at 1820 W Brandon Blvd. in Brandon is canopied with oak trees. [ SCOTT KEELER | Times ]

“Julia wants the homestead to become an educational asset to the state of Florida,”said Lori Collins with University of South Florida’s Libraries Digital Heritage and Humanities Collections, which is assisting the trust.

The “how” is being discussed, said trust member and Tampa City Councilman John Dingfelder. “We are looking at options - a living museum, a place for scholars to stay, an environmental resource center. Whatever is chosen will honor Julia.”

Related: She wanted her 44 acres of Pinellas land to be a park. Now it’s under contract with a developer.

Collins and her team did a 3D scan on the homestead to provide insight into the buildings’ structural needs.

But the scans are also part of a virtual tour available through the USF library’s website.

“The Moseleys are part of our history,” Collins said. “They have a fascinating story we want to tell.”

Passing cattleman during Brandon's pioneering years were allowed to drink from this well on the Moseley family's homestead.
Passing cattleman during Brandon's pioneering years were allowed to drink from this well on the Moseley family's homestead. [ SCOTT KEELER | Times ]

Before the Moseleys arrived, the property at 1820 W. Brandon Blvd. was home to a log cabin used by a Methodist church in Limona, then its own town. USF’s Travis Doering said it was later incorporated into Brandon as a neighborhood.

Charles Scott Moseley, a wealthy watch manufacturer who invented techniques for mass production, and his writer wife Julia Daniels Moseley moved there from Illinois in 1882.

Julia Daniels Moseley wrote about the lifestyle in letters later published in Julia Winifred Moseley’s book Come to My Sunland. Back then, she wrote that it took a day on horse to visit Tampa, that freed slaves resided in the area, and how there were roaches “that if they could be trained are large enough to be watch dogs.”

The body of water the property sits along is Ten Mile Lake, named such because that was the distance from the homestead to downtown Tampa’s Fort Brooke, the military base decommissioned in 1883.

“You could probably hear the cannon from Fort Brooke being fired,” Kite-Powell said. “There was nothing to drown out the noise. You really were on your own out there.”

A fire destroyed the original log cabin in 1885.

A year later, the new house was complete.

“Charles was up north at the time,” Doering said. “So, his wife was in charge of that rebuilding.”

The house has a dog trot design characterized by a large covered porch connecting two log cabins on either side.

Nicknamed The Nest, the house remained the family residence until their granddaughter’s death earlier this month.

The Moseley family's home built in 1886 has has a dog trot design characterized by this large covered porch connecting two log cabins on either side.
The Moseley family's home built in 1886 has has a dog trot design characterized by this large covered porch connecting two log cabins on either side. [ SCOTT KEELER | Times ]

The main room is called The Palm, named for its unique wall covering.

Julia Daniels Moseley harvested fiber from palmetto leaves and used it to make sheets pulled tight against the walls. She then colored it with greens, reds, yellows and blacks.

She painted this elaborate iridescent design that looks like peacock feathers,” Collins said.

The kitchen is called The Cup & Bucket Inn because it often hosted company.

A detached loft is The Owl’s Junction. It was used by son Karl Moseley as an art studio.

Hallock Moseley, another son, worked as an engineer in a cigar box factory and had one child, Julia Winifred Moseley, who was raised on the homestead.

Her career as a piano teacher spanned from 1945 to 2002. In later years, her other job was protecting the family property from surrounding developments.

Friends and well-wishers gathered on March 21, 2019, for Julia Moseley's 100th birthday at her home, which was built by her grandparents in 1886. The home has been added to the National Register of Historic Places. [JOE HENDERSON | Special to the Times (2019)]
Friends and well-wishers gathered on March 21, 2019, for Julia Moseley's 100th birthday at her home, which was built by her grandparents in 1886. The home has been added to the National Register of Historic Places. [JOE HENDERSON | Special to the Times (2019)]

She successfully petitioned to have the homestead named a national and local landmark and lobbied Hillsborough County to require that Haverty’s and a neighboring apartment complex erect walls as buffers between the homestead.

Dingfelder was often the attorney for such issues, which is why he was asked to sit on the board of the trust when it was first formed in the 1990s as a vehicle to protect the homestead once she died.

“Julia was a character,” Dingfelder said. “I met her when she was 75 and she still had cows she would slaughter for meat. She lived like a pioneer woman on the frontier even when that frontier was in the middle of suburban Brandon. It’s up to us to keep that frontier going.”

Correction: This story was updated to correct the author of Come to my Sunland.

The Moseley family nicknamed every structure and room on their homestead. This map identifies each.
The Moseley family nicknamed every structure and room on their homestead. This map identifies each. [ Courtesy of the University of South Florida’s Libraries Digital Heritage and Humanities Collections ]