Skip Navigation

Detail Detail
This table is used for column layout.

DeBary History


Historian Jesse Beall
This section of the City’s website is dedicated to the memory of Jesse Otis Beall who was the City of DeBary’s first Historian.  Jesse Beall was born April 21, 1927 in Eva, Alabama.  He served in the United States Navy until 1946 and then moved to Central Florida where he worked as a night watchman for the Ox Fibre Brush Co.  Jesse explored the area surrounding our City and made some interesting discoveries; in DeBary Creek, he found the rudder and bricks from the remains of the Steamboat Fannie Dugan which was owned by the DeBary-Baya Merchants’ Line.  Below are links to some interesting stories describing the activities and sentiments of Jesse Beall.  Jesse Otis Beall passed away on June 16, 2011.

Archaeological Survey
An archaeological survey was conducted by Panamerican Consultants, Inc. in 1999.  The survey included the identification, documentation and evaluation of known archaeological sites within the city limits. The archaeological resources within the context of this project included both prehistoric and historic period sites.  Click here to read the survey.

St. Johns River
The St. Johns River has been important to the development of DeBary.  It is one of the few rivers in the United States that flows north.  It starts in the marshy swamp area of the Indian River and moves north for about 310 miles to Jacksonville, and then flows out into the Atlantic Ocean at Mayport.  It hasn't always been called "The St. Johns River", but the river has been a part of life for this area's inhabitants for hundreds of years.  Read here about the early history of the river.

The River was the water highway for explorers and, with the onset of the steamboat lines, the people headed inland from the River and developed farms and plantations, villages sprang up, and new businesses were created to support the steamboat industry.  The Steamboat era would greatly contribute to the development of DeBary and the State of Florida.

The City of DeBary
The City of DeBary was incorporated on December 31, 1993 and covers 25 square miles.  It is bounded by the St. Johns River to the west, by Lake Monroe to the south, by the City of Deltona and Interstate 4 on the east, and by the City of Orange City on the north.  The City of DeBary was named for an early settler, Samuel Frederick de Bary (1815-1898).  To read the entire history of the deBary family, click here.
The Baya’s Line
Colonel Baya was a captain in the Confederate States Army.  He was captured at Gettysburg and paroled after the war was over as a Major and then was made a Colonel in the 11th Florida State Militia.  In 1874, Colonel Hanero T. Baya purchased a small steamboat called Gazelle, which became an excursion and river trade boat.  Click here to see pictures and to read more about the steamboats of The Baya’s Line.

The DeBary-Baya Merchants’ Line
The DeBary Merchants’ Line owned by Frederick deBary and the Baya’s Line owned by Colonel Baya were incorporated in 1883 and became The DeBary-Baya Merchants’ Line.  Click here to read and see pictures about the most successful steamboat line to travel the St Johns River.

DeBary Merchants’ Line
In 1889, Colonel Baya left the steamboat business and the ownership of the line switched to Frederick deBary and his son Adolphe deBary.  The name of the company reverted to DeBary Merchants’ Line.  Click here to read about the steamships of the Merchants’ Line that went up and down the St. Johns River from Jacksonville to Sanford and to DeBary.  There is also a short history of the steamboat.

Frederick deBary – New York
In 1852, Frederick deBary began his business in New York City.  He would import wine, brandies, and cigars.  He became a very successful businessman.  Click here to read about Frederick deBary starting his business in New York City when New York was at the beginning of a population and economic boom.

Frederick deBary – The Florida Years
In 1870, Frederick deBary made a trip to the east coast of Florida by steamboat and stayed at the Brock House, built by Captain Jacob Brock, in Enterprise, Florida.  In 1871, Frederick bought land on Lake Monroe and built a 20-room house with a fireplace in each room.  Click here to read and see pictures of the deBary house and property.

The Board welcomes artifacts, e.g., photos, old newsprint, records, and documents pertaining to the history of DeBary.  If you have artifacts that you would like to donate to the Archive, please contact or write to Warren Graham, Assistant to the City Clerk, City of DeBary, 16 Colomba Road, DeBary, FL 32713.  

Thank you for visiting our site.  Comments are always welcome.  Please send comments you may have to

City of DeBary, FL
16 Colomba Rd, DeBary, FL 32713
Phone: (386) 668-2040  Fax: (386) 668-4122