By Lani Friend
In the early 1830s, Mosquito Inlet, as Ponce Inlet was known then, was the primary route for transporting live oak to New
England for shipbuilding. A lighthouse was started on the south side of the inlet at that time to serve the shipping traffic, but was later destroyed by Indians in the Second Seminole
War. After the war a descendant of Minorcan immigrants from the Turnbull Colony named Bartola Pacetti built a homestead on the north side of the Inlet on land belonging to the Pons
Grant, once part of Turnbull’s colony.
During the Civil War, Mosquito Inlet was used by Confederate blockade runners trading foreign goods between
Florida and Nassau. Union soldiers sent expeditions up the river to destroy salt works at Oak Hill and capture arms at New Smyrna. In the summer of 1863 a hotel at New Smyrna was
shelled by Union gunboats. At a location on the east bank of the river north of the Inlet called Live Oak Point, the Confederates stored lumber for export.
At the end of the Civil War, Dr. John Hawks and other former Union Army officers started the Florida Land and
Lumber Company in this area as part of an effort to settle the area with freed slaves. Hawks built a residence north of the Pons Grant and named the community Port Orange.
The attempt to colonize freedmen on Government lands failed, but the area continued to grow. However, navigation
was obstructed by the dangerous currents around the Inlet. In the late 1880s local settlers persuaded Congress to build a lighthouse on land purchased from Pacetti at a site later
called Ponce Park. The Mosquito Light was one of the tallest built along the coast at time when no roads connected the area with Daytona, and New Smyrna was the main link with the
outside world. Its beams could reportedly by seen almost twenty miles out to sea.
During the twenties when land speculation ran rampant throughout the state, a descendant of the Pacettis began
Inlet Terrace Subdivision and construction of a luxury hotel whose ruins today are often referred to as “the old fort.” Rum runners ferried their products through the Inlet and up
the river during Prohibition, leaving in their wake colorful stories of their exploits
After a devastating hurricane wiped out much of south Florida, the real estate boom began to decline as Florida’s
economy took a nosedive. Banks in the area failed, and construction of buildings such as the proposed hotel at the point came to a standstill.
In 1924 land around the Inlet was included as part of the City of Daytona as well as the cities of Seabreeze and
Daytona Beach. After the Depression when the city was hard pressed to provide services to the south part of the peninsula, the Inlet area south of Holland Road was officially returned
to the County.
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