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Tree of Knowledge Park, Downtown Arcadia


The DeSoto County Historical Society, Inc. is a not-for-profit 501(c)3 corporation dedicated to preserving and promoting the history of DeSoto County, Florida for future generations.

The Howard and Velma Melton Historical Research Library is now open in the John Morgan Ingraham Seed House, 120 W. Whidden Street, Arcadia, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Thursdays (except the second Thursday of the month) and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the second Saturday of the month.  The Research Library includes historic photographs, newspaper articles, letters, receipts, family histories, and many other documents.  

Open to the public is the adjacent John Morgan Ingraham House Museum, 300 N. Monroe Avenue, Arcadia. This restored, late 19th century home is a memorial to all early pioneer families of the City of Arcadia and DeSoto County. It showcases a simple kind of "Florida Cracker" architecture and lifestyle and includes furniture and artifacts from that period.

Welcome to our home on the web, and we hope you will stay a while and learn a bit about the past of this county that we call home.



We invite you to take our self-guided tour of downtown Arcadia! Click on the image above for the full details!


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Family Tree Project

One of Louise Johnson’s founding visions for the DeSoto County Historical Society was to collect and preserve information about how members of our community are interrelated. To fulfill that vision, Kathy Bryce suggested that we ask the resident of DeSoto County to complete “family trees.” The Board of Directors approved the project and the use of a “pedigree chart” provided by the Daughters of the American Revolution which can be filled out online, saved to the hard drive, and printed: http://www.dar.org/sites/default/files/RGG-1003.pdf. If you already have completed your “pedigree chart” for the DAR or the Sons of the American Revolution or any similar organization, please share it with us. Send completed “pedigree charts” to Kathy Bryce at brycej@embarqmail.com, to her attention at the Society’s address, P.O. Box 1824, Arcadia, FL 34265, or bring them a Society meeting or to the Howard and Velma Melton Historical Research Library.



Gordon Ford demonstrating his whipcracking skills.

Made from a series of photos taken at the First Annual Pioneer Day.  



Howard Melton's series of historical books on DeSoto County's past, people & places. These books are available from the DeSoto County Historical Society.


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Recollections I (copies sell for $7), Recollections II (copies sell for $8), Recollections III and Recollections IV.  Click on the cover image to read the table of contents for each issue.  These books are for sale at the following businesses in Arcadia:

  • Art Creations - 6 W. Oak Street
  • Mary Margaret's Tea & Biscuit - 10 S. Polk Avenue
  • Miss Pearl's Place - 120 W. Oak Street 
  • Oak Park Inn - 2 W. Oak Street
  • The Whole Shebang - 101 W. Oak Street

OR, add $2 shipping and handling for each book and send a check or money order to the DeSoto County Historical Society, P.O. Box 1824, Arcadia, FL  34265. All proceeds will help the Society preserve and promote the history of DeSoto County for future generations.

They are getting great reviews! Read one here and here.




We now have "South Florida Pioneers," a 35-volume set of magazines compiled, edited, and written by Richard Livingston, available through our Web site.  The fee for the entire set is $150 and $20 for each set purchased through our Web site will be donated to the Society. Click here for the downloadable order form.
We are excited to offer Guided Walking Tours for groups in Historic Arcadia! Please click on the flyer to enlarge for more detail.


Please visit our friends on the web:

Arcadia All-Florida Championship Rodeo

Arcadia Main Street Program, Inc.

Carol Mahler

Charlotte County Geneological Society

Cracker Trail Museum at Pioneer Park, Zolfo Springs

Crowley Museum & Nature Center

DeSoto County Chamber of Commerce

DeSoto County Fair Association

DeSoto County GenWeb

Geneological Society of Sarasota

Lemon Bay Historical Society

Manatee County Historical Records Library

Manatee Village Historical Park

Palmetto Historical Park

Peace River Campground

Venice Museum and Archives







Website designed and built by Katie Willis of A Little Bit Of A Lot.

Photo credits: DeSoto Sun, Arcadia's Weekly News, Forest Reynolds, Clel Shore, Katie Willis, Jerald & Raynelle Newberry, John Lawhorne.