And then coming to love it. Tramping through the unsullied land surrounding the Limona community near Tampa, where they settled, she gloried in her "neglected corner in the Garden of Eden," where she "could look up fifty feet and see air plants growing on the branches of great oaks and hundreds of ferns nodding . . . in the sunlight and gray moss moving through the trees like mist." "Think of me gazing up among crane’s nests with redbirds in my own oaks," she wrote. "Even in the nighttime, a mocking bird often sings to me of all the beautiful things I love."
Julia (herself a published writer) selected these unedited letters and copied them for her family into a thick leather book. Like characters in a novel, the friends and relatives she describes crackle with personality: a flamboyant Russian proclaims his version of communism, a New England spinster counters with Utopian visions, and a university professor retreats from the ivory tower to agricultural experimentation. Readers observe Julia’s flair for making daily life cheerful and they meet the couple’s two adored sons and Scott’s children by an earlier marriage, as well as Cracker settlers, cattle runners, and assorted seekers of health or wealth.
An artist, Julia created a distinctive home designed and decorated in the manner of the pre-Raphaelites. Her palmetto fiber wall covering was exhibited at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893 and survives today. The Florida house, named The Nest, is on the National Register of Historic Places. Accompanied by 71 photographs of Julia’s home and family, these letters transcend the life of one woman to capture the experience and spirit of 19th-century Florida.
About the Author
Betty Powers Crislip (1926–2019) lived in Tampa. Both served as officers of Timberly Trust, Inc., the organization established to preserve the Moseley family home and its environs.
What People are Saying About This
"I read ‘Come to My Sunland’ with growing surprise, page by page, at the stunning Florida legacy left us in these letters by Julia from Illinois. A frontierswoman of culture and refinement, she made Florida not only a home, but a canvas on which she painted the old scrub lands east of Tampa in the 1880s, with their wild fields and hammock oases, their passion flowers and butterflies, mockingbirds and larks, lake vistas and flaming sunsets. Come, reader, into that seemingly distant world where a prototypical Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings reminds us yet again how much we Floridians have sadly lost: reverence for the land."Michael Gannon, author of Florida: A Short History