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Mooswood, the Riggins family home on Lake Morton

Among Lakeland's earliest settlers were Henry Carter, Herbert Drane, Norman Riggins, and Columbus Deen. The Special Collections unit houses some of the personal papers and business records of these men and their descendants in the Leonard Carter Family Papers, RG1080, the Herbert Drane Papers, RG326, the Norman Riggins Family Papers, RG1000, and the Columbus Deen Collection, RG5595.

Herbert Drane arrived in Lakeland with a railroad construction crew in 1883 and remained a resident of the city until his death in 1947. The Herbert Drane Papers document to a small extent Drane's role in the growth of Lakeland and his varied business interests. One of the more interesting items in the collection is a typescript copy of Drane's autobiography, written in 1936.

The Norman Riggins Family papers document the contributions of several generations of the Riggins family to the growth of Lakeland. Riggins arrived in Lakeland in 1884 with his extended family and became one of its leading citizens. He built the magnificent Victorian home, Mosswood, on Lake Morton in 1904. Among the many interesting items in this collection is an 1882 travel narrative in which Norman Riggins described his first visit to Florida.

Henry B. Carter had made a fortume in the lumber and turpentine industries before moving to Lakeland in 1905. He later bought the Kibler Hotel in downtown Lakeland and renamed it the Thelma, in honor of his daughter. Carter's grandson Leonard became one of Lakeland's leading businessmen and real estate developers. The collection documents the personal and business lives of the Carter family.

Other collections in this category, though not the creation of the city's pioneer settlers, do include material of significance. The Baker/Barton Family Papers, for example, include letters from the front from two brothers serving in World War I. Clyde Barton was in the American Expeditionary Force in Europe and his brother Thomas hunted U-boats on a destroyer in the North Atlantic. Both wrote letters home describing their experiences in some detail. Some of those letters are in the Baker/Barton Family Papers, RG1077.