|from: History of Lake County Florida, Wm. T. Kennedy, Editor-
in-chief, History of Lake County Florida Part I, Narrative.
Chapter XII. Southern Lake County. p96.
The corporation lines of Clermont and Minneola coincide and the history of the two communities has been closely interwoven. Overlooking the same beautiful lake, bound together by common ties of commercial, social and agricultural interests, these twin cities are destined to become increasingly important factors in the future of Lake County.
Among early residents, none played a more conspicuous part than the Hooks family. Starting from Americus, Georgia, in 1868, Herring Hooks sought a home in Southern Florida, bringing with him his family, household goods, and eighteen head of horses and mules. Reaching a point near Fort Meade, he was induced by Capt. William Kendrick to turn northward to Okahumpka, a settlement just formed on Lake Harris. Here he acquired a considerable acreage of land on the south side of the lake, including the present location of operating kaolin plants. He planted a 40-acre grove and established the first commercial nursery in Florida, and more of his activities in this line are told in the citrus account in a later chapter. Informed by a traveler named O'Dell that the prettiest section was a region of hills and lakes some miles south, near the source of the Palatlakawha River, Hooks made a personal investigation and, in 1874, acquired for $1.00 per acre, what is now known as "Hooks Point" and adjacent lands on Lake Minnehaha, where he soon established the members of his family. At that time, the only residents between Okahumpka and what is now known as Bartow were those of the family of James Anderson, mentioned at the beginning of this chapter.
Herring Hooks had a family of ten children, and while he continued to reside at Okahumpka, several of the sons homesteaded lands in the immediate vicinity of what is now Clermont. John Hooks homesteaded what is now known as "Indian Hills"; Charles acquired frontage on the east side of Lake Minnehaha; and Thomas the adjacent frontage on the same lake; Robert C. located in what is now the western part of Clermont and engaged in truck raising. Homer Hooks acquired from his father the "Point" and planted it to citrus. These various operations engaged the Hooks family from 1882 on, and soon the pine-clad hills around Lake Minnehaha were transformed into orange groves and tomato fields. "Hooks Point" was evidently the former site of an Indian village, as numerous relics and souvenirs of an Indian settlement have been discovered from time to time.
T. J. Hooks, son of Herring Hooks, completed a course in law in Atlanta, and became an agent for the Florida Land and Colonization Company, an English syndicate which acquired 20,000 acres of land in the southern part of Lake County. An office was established at Sanford, with which T. J. Hooks was identified. In 1884 he consumated a sale of several hundred acres to a group of men from Vineland, N. J., who launched one of the earliest colonization projects attempted in the history of the State.
They incorporated as the Clermont Improvement Company under the laws of New Jersey and began their activities that same year, with William A. House, President; A. F. Wrotnoski, General Manager and Treasurer; Thomas B. Steele, Secretary; and Alfred B. Beers, Counsel. Selecting the name CLERMONT for their town site, from Wrotnoski's birthplace in France, ...