Bland Community – Ogden School
CR 241 and NW 278 Avenue, Florida
Bland Community: Settled in the 1840s by cotton planters from Georgia and South Carolina, Bland became a diverse agrarian area where farmers and sharecroppers raised cattle and grew cotton and a variety of fruits and vegetables. Joseph “Fate” Lafayette Matthews (1868-1934) was the town’s most prominent citizen who moved to the area from Bradford County in 1899. He and Thomas A. Doke initially purchased 720 acres of land which was once part of the Samuel R. Pyles plantation. Matthews built a large home and general merchandise store just under a mile south of here. With cotton gins and a grist mill, the store served as the center of commerce for the area. In May 1903 Matthews opened a post office which was named for his son, Blan C. Matthews (1902-1927). Fate Matthews served as the only postmaster until the closing of the post office in July 1906. By the late 1920s he was one of the county’s largest land owners. On December 1, 1934, Matthews, then president of the Bank of Alachua, was murdered in his home by a man upon whose house he had foreclosed. William and Elsie Washington successfully homesteaded 104 acres in this area in 1879. Among their many descendants is actress, comedienne, and humanitarian Whoopi Goldberg.
Ogden School: Approximately one mile west of the Historical Marker Ogden School Elementary School No. 49 was built by the Alachua County School Board in the early 1900s to educate African-American children in the Bland community. The school, grades 1-6, started with one room, one teacher and one outhouse. School was generally in session from September to May, 8AM – 3PM. Oral tradition holds that between 30 and 70 students were in attendance each day. African-American teachers, who were generally from outside the area, often stayed with area families during their tenure. The children, some of whom worked in the fields with their families before and after school, walked miles to and from school each day. They were supplied with used books. A wood stove provided heat in the winter, and cooling came by way of open windows and doors. By the 1940s, the school had two rooms, two teachers and two outhouses. The school year ended with plays, picnics and spelling bees. The school closed at the end of the 1950-1951 school year. The building later collapsed and was removed. Former Ogden students recall an education based on respect, discipline and their parents’ and teachers’ conviction that education was a way to a better life.
The Odgen School Historical Marker is a Florida Heritage Site sponsored by the Alachua County Historical Commission and The Florida Department of State. Sponsored By:
Alachua County Historical Commission and the Florida Department of State