By CAROL MAHLER
Arcadian History Editor
Named for the 13th president of the United States (1850-1853), Millard Fillmore Mizell had a handsome two-story home built in 1895 just south of Pine Level. In 1982, this “excellent example of a frame vernacular farm house” at 10403 SW State Highway 72 was rehabilitated by AMAX Chemical Corp. of Lakeland. It published an 80-page booklet about the project, The Mizell Homestead: Florida’s History Preserved, written by Melinda Knight.
Over the years the Mizell family altered the L-shaped home. The first-floor porch was restored, as were the upper and lower east porches and a first-floor south porch. Broken window panes and missing doors were replaced with period materials. The original hand-split wood shake roof had been replaced by 5 V-crimp metal, and similar metal was used to re-roof the structure.
Since 2000, the residence has been privately owned, and when it was offered for sale in 2015, the Mosaic Fertilizer Co. acquired it.
“We use it as rental property,” Mosaic Public Affairs manager Heather Nedley said. The company, in fact, owns about 60 houses throughout Florida that are rented — mostly to Mosaic employees. The house is not in Mosaic’s current mining plan for DeSoto County.
After Mosaic acquired the home, Nedley and other employees toured the historic abode. “It was in good condition,” she said. “Just a little neglected.”
In 2012, Mosaic had restored the Barney Hollingsworth Home, 222 E. Oak St., for their local office. Nedley said, “We put a lot of money into the house initially, so that it is less maintenance and other costs over time.” The company’s Hardee County office, at 414 W. Main St., Wauchula, is the historic Beeson Home.
Rather than buy an existing structure or building a new office complex, Mosaic restored both homes “to give back to the community,” Nedley said. The one in Arcadia was “convenient to the government buildings,” as staff will need constant interaction with county departments.
Mosaic also supported the DeSoto County Historical Society’s nomination of the original 40-acre Pine Level townsite to the National Register of Historic Places and helped fund the celebration after it was listed in 2014.
The company did not grant access to their property to the Society or to the Florida Public Archaeology Network South Central Region when it worked with University of South Florida graduate student Jana Futch for her master’s thesis “Historical Archaeology of the Pine Level Site (8DE14), DeSoto County, Florida.” However, Mosaic later hired Janus Research to survey the archaeological resources on their properties, and the artifacts collected were donated to the Society in 2013.
Son of Enoch Evert Mizell (1806-1889) and his first wife Minerva Parrish Mizell, Millard Fillmore Mizell was born in 1853 in Hernando County, and his family moved to Manatee County sometime after 1860.
Working as a farm laborer, Fillmore Mizell, age 17, is listed in the 1870 U.S. Census as living with his 61-year-old father Enoch — the county judge — and seven siblings. By 1880, Enoch — now a farmer — had remarried and lived with his 38-year-old wife Anna and seven children that included Fillmore, age 25, a farm laborer.
On Sept. 14, 1881, Fillmore bought the property on which the house is built — plus additional land — a total of 80 acres at 90 cents per acre from the Trustees of the Internal Improvement Fund. Seven years later, on April 14, 1888, the I.I.F. Deed 8734 was recorded in DeSoto County’s Deed Book 6. DeSoto County had been established in 1887. In 1895, a substantial improvement to the property — the house — was recorded in the tax rolls.
In 1883, the same year that Arcadia received its post office, Mizell married Clifford “Carrie” Livonia Alderman (1963-1891). Their children were Lessie Estelle (1883-1927) and Thomas Everette (1887-1936). Fillmore worked as a banker, citrus grower and cattleman.
Later, he married Caroline Clements, born in 1857, from Peoria, Illinois, who taught at the Pine Level School. She died in 1914. In 1921, he married Bunia Whatley Powers, born in 1878, of Cullman, Alabama.
After she died in 1964, Thomas Everette’s son Millard Fillmore (1915-1989) bought out his siblings’ shares of his grandparents’ home and increased the surrounding groves.
He and his wife Ann G. Mizell in 1975 sold the house and surrounding land to Noranda Phosphate Co. and FBN Land Corp., and the Mizells held the mortgage. In 1979, FBN Land Corp. and Gulf and Western Industries Inc. deeded their lands to Noranda Phosphate Inc. Then, Noranda became AMAX Phosphate Inc.