Joseph L. Durrance, a pioneer settler of Homeland, was a veteran of the Third Seminole War and farmer.
Joseph Lemuel Durrance, the fifth of eleven children of Joseph and Cecelia (Tippins) Durrance, was born March 27, 1817 in Tattnall County, Georgia. In the early 1840s he moved to Madison County, Florida. There on March 4, 1845, he married Winaford Maria Poppell, born March 2, 1830 in Florida. In the early 1850s they resettled at Homeland, Hillsborough County (since 1861 Polk County) where Joseph L. was a farmer.
During the Third Seminole War, according to Soldiers of Florida, Joseph L. Durrance served as 2nd sergeant from December 29, 1855 to December 1857 in the company of his elder brother, Capt. Francis M. Durrance's Company of Mounted Volunteers.
Capt. Durrance's report of engagements of June 14 & June 16, 1856, in which his brother Sergeant Joseph L. Durrance participated, was published in the June 21, 1856 issue of the Florida Peninsular of Tampa:
"I have just received intelligence of an attack by a party of Indians on the house of Willoughby Tillis at sunrise this morning. Lieutenant [Alderman] Carlton, who happened to be at Fort Meade on a visit to his family, heard the reports of the guns, and, in a company with six others, went to the relief of Tillis and his family. On the approach of these men, the Indians fled to a thicket nearby. Lieutenant Carlton, with his little band of brave men, charged them, and a desperate engagement ensued. Lieutenant Carlton and Lott Whidden, of my Company, were killed, and Daniel Carlton [son of Alderman] wounded. William Parker, of Captain Hooker's Company, was also killed, and J. H. Hollingsworth wounded. There were 3 Indians killed and 7 wounded.
"Later-I immediately dispatched Serg'ts Boggess and Durrance, with 15 men, to the relief of Tillis, who had maintained his position, so far. They arrived at Tillis' 1/2 hour after 12 o'clock, found the trail--pursued it that evening, discovered that the Indians have reenforced considerably,
then came into Fort Meade for provisions. They were on the trail early next morning, and were re-enforced by a few men from Captain Hooker's and a few from Captain Leslie's [Lesley's] Companies. The Indians had taken the creek swamp, and remained in it. The men pursued them until late that evening, came out of the swamp and encamped for the night.
"June 16-As a small guard was left with the horses, the force was now reduced to 19 men, who were early in the swamp in search of the enemy. At about 10 o'clock, a camp was discovered; a charge was ordered and a well contested battle fought. Our little band stood to their arms manfully, charging the Indians where they were concealed under the river bank, and shooting them not more than eight or ten feet from the muzzles of their guns.
"Robert F. Prine and George Howell killed, and James Whidden, Wm. Brooker, and John L. Skipper wounded, and from the best calculation that can be made, there were 16 or 17 Indians killed and wounded.
"Our force consisted of Lieutenant [Streaty] Parker, of Captain Leslie's [Lesley's] Company, Sergeants Boggess and Durrance, with 12 men from my Company, three men from Captain Hooker's and one from Captain Sparkman's Companies. My men spoke in high terms of Lieutenant Carlton as a brave and good soldier.
"Some of the articles taken from the wagons on Simmons Hammock were found on the battle ground. Captain Hooker, with 23 men, Lieutenant Parker, with a small detachment from Captain Leslie's Company, are now in pursuit of this band of savages. I am in hope they will be able to give a good account when they return."
At the beginning of the Civil War, Joseph L. Durrance served from July 14 to August 27, 1861 in the company of his younger brother, Lt. J. R. Durrance's Detachment of Florida Volunteers.
Winaford Durrance died October 16, 1862 and was buried in the old Durrance Cemetery at Homeland.
In Taylor County, Florida on November 10, 1863, Joseph L. Durrance married Mrs. Eliza Matilda (Poppell) Parker, born September 12, 1827, sister of Winaford and widow of Isaac Parker (March 10,1822- Dec. 13, 1857). By her marriage to Isaac on April 9, 1845, Eliza had five children: Hannah M. (April 4, 1846- Oct. 26, 1864, married ______ Earnest), Everette S. (b. Nov. 5, 1847), Ezekiel Aaron (b. March 28, 1851), James J. (b. March 3, 1854) and Isabel W. H. (b. June 4, 1857). The family made their home in Homeland.
Joseph Lemuel Durrance died at the home of his daughter, Mrs. James M. Crum, at Homeland on August 29, 1898 and was buried at the Old Durrance Cemetery. Eliza Durrance died at the home of her son, Ezekiel Aaron Parker, near Bowling Green on July 17, 1906 and was buried at Mt. Pisgah Cemetery.
Issue of Joseph L. and Winaford (Poppell) Durrance children 1-7 and of Joseph L. and Eliza (Poppell) Durrance 8-10:
1. Lemuel Marion Durrance, born January 31, 1846; died 1891; married in 1870 Julia Freyermuth.
2. Jesse B. Durrance, born March 2, 1847; died Feb. 10, 1854.
3. Mary M. Durrance, born August 30, 1852; died July 13, 1881; married on April 28, 1870 James E. Tison.
4. John William Durrance, born February 21, 1855; died June 5, 1928; married (1) Annie Victoria Wingate; (2) Mrs. Carrie Bennett.
5. Nancy Elizabeth Durrance, born August 5, 1857; died May of 1935; married on October 9, 1875 James Matthew Crum.
6. Alma Caroline Durrance, born December 1, 1859; died March 1932; married on February 11, 1877 Rabon O. Langford.
7. Maria P. Durrance, born October 9, 1862; died October 23, 1862.
8. Alice M. Durrance, born December 1, 1864; died August 14, 1936; married on January 5, 1882 James T. Hancock, Jr.
9. Amelia F. Durrance, born July 6, 1867; died 1919; married on January 9, 1887 Louis M. Tyre.
10. Annie Durrance, born April 26, 1869; died 1952; married Thomas L. Tyre.
Photos, courtesy of Beverly K. Mott ,
who on January 11, 2006, commented, "This is the old 'Parker House' (Everett I believe, who married Artie Lewis, daughter of Isham & Lucretia) on Lake Kissimmee.
The first photo is of Jefferson Davis Thomas, son Dillon, daughter Marie, and wife Lettie Lewis Thomas taken about 1922, when they lived in the home.
The second photo I took in 2002 when I went back to visit with Dillon Thomas & Marie Thomas Mott. The old house still stands but is abandoned. It was said to be haunted, but the kids weren't sure who was doing the haunting. :-)"
References: Margaret Lewis Durrance and Ann Durrance Folk, 1986, Lineage of Joseph Durrance, 1986; Soldiers of Florida, 1903; Soldiers of Florida, 1903; "Joseph L. Durrance Family Bible," South Florida Pioneers issue 15/16 (Jan./April 1978).
This profile is adapted from the author's article in The Herald-Advocate (Wauchula, Fla.), October 6, 1988.