Rochelle Fla.

Rochelle, Fla., wasn’t always called Rochelle.

A tiny town, 20 minutes SW of Gainesville, was once an up-and-coming town fed by a local railroad and bathed in a rich history. Rochelle was originally named Perry junction after Governor Madison Starke Perry, who owned a large chunk of land and was the governor that brought Florida to secede from the union during the American civil war. (Governor Perry)

After the 1840’s Rochelle was named Gruelle, after the man who surveyed the land and brought the Florida Southern Railroad through the middle of the town, making the stop essential to the growing economy of Rochelle (Rochelle history. )The town wasn’t called Rochelle till 1884. Up until the 19th century Rochelle had a population of 175 residents with schools, churches, and agricultural mills and businesses.  (Ghost town)

Today Rochelle is a tiny community with less than a dozen homes, most of which are falling apart.

Finding what remains of Rochelle’s past is difficult. Hidden down dirt roads, off County Road 324, most of older Rochelle is beyond recognition and decrepit. The most notable buildings we found were what was left of the Bradly home (which was a large family from Rochelle,) an old masonic  lodge and one of the old school houses. These buildings have been largely left to rot.

The old masonic lodge

This building, due to it’s sturdy construction, has fared the elements better than the other buildings we found. It was down an old wagon trail that still had a couple maintained homes as well as some that were falling apart.

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House

This house was directly next door to the masonic lodge. It was beyond recognition. In the back of what was left of the building was an old chimney stack and what looked like a 1930’s era stove and icebox, both were rusted beyond belief.

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              The Bradley home-stead

There wasn’t much information to be found concerning the Bradley family except that they were of African American decent and that the house is still in their family.  Walking around the back, the weeds had grown waist high and were like something out of a child’s fairy tale. There was a structure in the back that was found to be an old out-house (don’t ask.) The house across the street was abandoned as well but seemed to be built in a more modern style (1970’s-esq.) The rusted red tin roof was of the same style as the house down the street that had fallen apart completely, how this building has remained relatively well maintained is beyond me. It doesn’t seem that anyone has been formally living in or maintaining this home for quite sometime.

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The old school house

The Martha Perry institute was built in 1885. It was named for the wife of Governor Perry, and resides on land donated by their daughter. Martha Perry institute

I’m pretty sure the under-carriage of my car is damaged from trying to find this place. Of all the places I wanted to find in Rochelle, this was at the top of my list. None of the residents I asked seemed to know about it, including the gas attendant at the corner store of 20th and CR 324. I drove up and down CR324 for two hours, following every dirt country road I could find. When my car got stuck in the mud we jumped out and started to hoof it through swampy Florida backwoods and tree farms, Once all hope was lost and we were convinced it was no longer around we took one more shot in the dark (after rocking my car out of the mud.) Going down one more dirt country road, that’s only landmark was a decorated cross on the side of the road, we eventually found it about a half mile past farm land some well maintained homes.

When we finally found it, it was pay dirt.

Rising though the trees like a shinning beacon of hope, stood our symbol for today’s journey. Walking around the building, it was sealed up and had the extra precaution of wire over the windows (some windows were still broken and boarded up behind the cage mesh.) The grass was maintained and wasn’t as overcome with weeds as our previous finds. Looking inside the windows, the interior was littered with old desks and school furniture circa 1930’s (when the school was closed down ( Rochelle history .)

What’s left of the building is hauntingly gorgeous. Raised on blocks in an old Florida cracker type style the structure stands at two stories with what looks like a widow’s walk from the second floor column.  Leaving was heart breaking, and I hope the building is one day restored.

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                            This building was directly across the street from the school and was probably a shed/ carriage house. It still had some type of old mechanical device inside (probably an old lawn mower, but I couldn’t quite tell.)

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There were more buildings around the bend, but they were behind a fence with a no trespassing sign, and we wished to comply with the families wishes.

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20 thoughts on “Rochelle Fla.

  1. Gladys Wright currently resides in the Bradley Family House in Rochelle right now. I am Phyllis Bradley’s (1872 – 1962) Great Granddaughter. Her husdand was Roseborrough Presley. Thet had 8 children. Their daughter Ruth was (is) My Grandmother. Ruth’s daughter Rachel is My Mother. My name is Sharon. My Bradley Family lay to rest in the Oak Ridge Cemtary. Thomas and Maria Bradley are my lineage.
    Respectfully submitted by me-
    MS. SHARON S. WHALEY

    • Nice to meet you cousin. Thomas and Maria are my lineage as well. If You have more information on them I would love to know more.

    • Thomas and Maria Bradley are also my lineage as well. I am the great grandson of Helen Edwards Bradley, grandson of Agnes Bradley Campbell, and youngest son of Helen Campbell Carter.

    • Hi Sharon !
      I had the pleasure of meeting Mrs. Wright in a fencing place I work at.
      I mentioned to her that my husband is a Rochelle!
      We are wanting to talk to and learn more about everyone and their ties to the town as well ! Anthony (My husband ) had all of the paperwork on his ancestory but through the years we have lost pages here and there, and some have gotten ruined. but we do know his lineage goes as far back to mr. perry ! Along with numerous others buried in Oak Ridge !

      I would love to chat with you guys sometime !
      We are planning on being at the cemetery clean up !

      Thank you for reading this and hope to hear from you soon !
      Angela Rochelle

  2. The next family reunion for the Bradleys will be held 2017 in Rochelle. We will all commune for the 21st gathering.Gladys and Nevirda will be the host. Thomas and Marie had 8 children . Melissa, Maggie, Thomas, Ellen Mack, Phyillis, Alice and Richard. Family members from all branches will be there and we will be praying together and staying together as our ancestor instructed us to do We will visit the family cemetry ,have a big picnic and church service . The first reunion was held in 1983. In Plant City Florida. We rotate the cities every two years.Its a big!! big!! “to do ” I am from the Mack branch……My great grand father was Mack Bradley.Who had Hettie Bradley-Rizor who had Cornelia Bradley Rizor Who had me Iris Bradley Rizor Jones and my brother Daryl Jones of Delray Beach Florida

  3. I have searched painstakingly to find at least some part of my roots on this side. Nice to meet you all, I am a descendant of Max Lee Bradley (son of Mack and Cornelia).

    • Hi Latoya, I too am a descendant of Mack Jr (Max Lee). He is my Grandfather. Maxine is my mother.
      I run across your handle on Ancestry.com Maybe we can team up as our searches are very similar. Thanks for the Belton-Croxton research
      ~Derrick Anthony

      • Hi Derrick, You are just the missing link that I have been looking for. Your mother and my grandmother (Willie Julia Bradley) are half sisters. We have been searching for quite some time to find your mother but lost all the little informaton we had of her after my grandmother passed away. If you have a facebook account, please send me a friend request.

  4. My name is Robert Carter. I am the youngest son of Richard and Helen (Campbell) Carter, grandson of Charlie and Agnes (Bradley) Campbell, great grandson of Richard and Helen (Edwards) Bradley, and direct descendant of Thomas and Maria Bradley. The house that is pictured was home to my grandmother until her death in 1983. We are Bradley and we’ll continue to pray together to stay together.

  5. Hello. I am Charles Woodward. I was just told about this town. Are there my forefathers, named Woodward, buried in the Rochelle graveyard?

    Thanks ahead of time!

    • My name is Robert Carter and I am a fifth generation descendant of Thomas and Maria Bradley of Rochelle, FL. The majority of my relatives including my mother are interred at Oak Ridge Cemetery in Micanopy. You should check at findagrave.com.

  6. my name is alonzo e anthony i am son of robert anthony which is the son of ruby anthony, and dughter of ellen Bradley Hi

  7. Would love to post a picture here of the Albert Theodore Zetrouer house in it’s prime, located in Rochelle. Last occupied by two of the spinsters sisters Mabel who died in 1966 and Hazel who died in 1968. It is now torn down.

  8. My husband is a Rochelle !
    We have been looking for people that know more about the area. We had all the paperwork on his ancestry and sadly through the years things have been torn, or lost or discolored ! We would love to talk to you guys !!

  9. My name is Everetta Edwards and I am a 7th generation descendant of Thomas and Maria Bradley of Rochelle, FL. My late grandmother, Idella Bradley Nelson, was the great-granddaughter of Thomas and Maria Bradley died in 1997 at the age of 99. Idella’s youngest sister, Magnolia Bradley Jackson, will be turning 100 years old next month. We are inviting ALL members of the Bradley family to attend since many of us have been unable to attend past family reunions.
    Magnolia Bradley Jackson is currently the oldest and last living Bradley sibling of Thomas and Maggy Bradley. Thank you, Evy Edwards

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