In Plant City the DeVane family is known for real estate developments, banking, government, civic organizations, farming and their churches – mostly, in the early years, the Mt. Enon Primitive Baptist Church.
The DeVane family settled throughout the Springhead area beginning in 1869 and spread through the area including Cork and Plant City proper. They were farmers, served on the Plant City Commission, Hillsborough County Commission, School Board and more. They were charter members of the Board of Trade and the East Hillsborough Chamber of Commerce that followed. The DeVane Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution was formed in Plant City in the name of John DeVane, a Minuteman and its charter members were all members of the DeVane family.
John DeVane’s son, Benjamin DeVane, was born in North Carolina in 1795, served in the War of 1812 and later served in the Seminole Wars, for which he was granted land in Madison County, Florida, where he moved in 1848. Following the Civil War, in which all six of his sons served in the Confederate Army, Benjamin DeVane moved first to the Seffner area, then to Springhead about 1869, homesteading on Wiggins Road. He was the first DeVane in the Plant City area.
Benjamin DeVane’s son, Samuel Rowan DeVane, was born in Georgia in 1821 and he served in both the Seminole Wars and the Civil War. In 1869 Samuel moved his family to Springhead, settling near his father. That homestead was later known as the Elbert Blanton place.
Benjamin DeVane’s youngest son, Benjamin Franklin DeVane, who had married Nancy Jane Blanton in 1855, died of a fever, possibly typhoid, in 1865 in Savannah while making his way back to Florida following his service in the Civil War. All three of Benjamin Franklin DeVane’s sons, George Albert DeVane, Edward Jasper DeVane, known as “E.J.”, and Frank Elbert DeVane, eventually settled in Plant City, making great contributions to the development of Springhead and the town of Plant City.
The oldest of the three sons, George Albert DeVane, born in 1856, had contracted to work in the citrus groves for George Hamilton in 1874. After receiving his pay, he returned to Shady Grove, packed everything on a wagon and, with his mother, stepfather and siblings, settled in Springhead. His farm and orange grove were amongst the finest in the county.
George DeVane was also an orator and frequently delivered his oratories at political gatherings at Alderman’s Ford. He was a charter member and a deacon of the Springhead Baptist Church. He was buried at Mt. Enon in 1924.
The second of Benjamin Franklin DeVane’s sons, Edward Jasper DeVane, (E.J.), worked for the Wilders in the Cork settlement. In 1882 he married Alice Collins, daughter of Enoch and Temperance Collins, and settled in the Springhead area. He moved back to Cork, living on part of the Enoch Collins homestead, then moved into Plant City proper.
His business activities were vast and varied. In addition to his real estate developments and subdivisions, he and his younger brother Frank were organizers of the Farmers and Merchants Bank in 1920.
E.J. DeVane was a City Commissioner in 1907, then a County Commissioner for three terms, 1907-1913. He was a member of the Booster Club that traveled north to promote the Plant City area, a charter member of the first Board of Trade and an organizer of the East Hillsborough Chamber of Commerce, later known as the Greater Plant City Chamber of Commerce. Until he died, in 1933, E.J. was a preacher at Mt. Enon Primitive Baptist Church.
Frank Elbert DeVane was the youngest son of Benjamin Franklin DeVane and at an early age taught at a school in Winston. He later worked at the phosphate mines in Bone Valley. In 1893 he married Fannie Wheeler and in 1895 bought a 160-acre homestead in the Springhead community. Frank DeVane was a successful farmer and was a member of the Booster Club, a charter member of the Board of Trade and later of the East Hillsborough Chamber of Commerce.
Frank DeVane donated land to the Springhead School and served as a school trustee. He was one of the founders of the Plant City Growers’ Association and was its first president in 1916. He was a deacon of the Mt. Enon Primitive Baptist Church for the remainder of his life. He died in 1943.
There is much more to the DeVane family history, but it is a long and fascinating story to be told later.