Myrtle E. Dudley
1991 Florida Folk Heritage Award
Myrtle Dudley (Jonesville) lived her entire life on her family’s farm. It was started by her grandfather in the 1850s and is one of the oldest farms in Alachua County. Dudley wished preserve the farm for the future, so in 1983 she donated it to the State of Florida. Since she had long planned to give the farm to the state, she carefully maintained its buildings and their contents. Like her mother before her, she gave documents and other artifacts to the Museum of Florida History to ensure their preservation. After donating the farm, she worked tirelessly to document the structures and their uses for the state, bringing each to life through stories and reminiscences. Dudley’s goal was to have the farm restored so that future generation could experience early Florida farm life.
Today the Dudley farm is not only listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it has also been open since 2001 as the Dudley Farm Historic State Park. Through living history interpretations, the park demonstrates the evolution of Florida farming from the 1850s to the mid-1940s over three generations of the Dudley family. It remains an authentic working farm, with a homestead consisting of eighteen building—including the family farmhouse with original furnishings, an 1880s kitchen outbuilding, a general store and post office, and a cane syrup complex. Living history interpreters perform daily chores such as raising crops, and tending livestock, and they also offer seasonal cane grindings, corn shuckings, and heritage varieties of plants and livestock.