It must have seemed like a lifetime ago to Julius “July” Perry since he first arrived in Ocoee. More than thirty years prior he hopped off that mule-drawn wagon after a multi-day trip from Travelers Rest, South Carolina. The teenager overflowed with enthusiasm for the opportunities post-Reconstruction era Florida would bring.
July and his traveling companions, Mose Norman and Valentine Hightower, walked through the small but bustling downtown of the 1880s village and set their eyes on the pine tree-lined Starke Lake for the first time. They had little but their dreams and a strong work ethic.