Tildenville is the tiny, peaceful, unincorporated community tucked between Winter Garden and Oakland and named after the Tilden family who pioneered the area.
On Christmas Day, 1875, Luther Fuller Tilden packed up his wife, Emily Aurora Willis, and his four children, loaded their belongings onto a railcar and ventured south at the advice of his doctor. The seven-day journey ended in Jacksonville, Florida where the family lived for a short time. When Tilden heard that “a big lake in the Apopka area” was great for farming, he moved his family further south, traveling first by steamboat on the St. Johns River to Sanford, then riding to the Lodge (now known as Apopka). During the two years the family lived in Apopka, Tilden cleared several acres and cultivated over 200 citrus trees from seeds he collected. He also convinced his brother-in-law, James Willis to come to Florida to farm the “wonderfully rich land.”
One day, while on an expedition to buy corn, Tilden ventured around the lake to an area known as south Apopka. While there, he discovered impressive farm land and was convinced that he needed to relocate his family once again. After purchasing over 600 acres from W.C. Roper, he and James Willis built family homes from lumber planed in Apopka and rafted across the lake. The original Tilden four-room house stands today in what is now the community of Tildenville.
Tilden was a prominent and successful grower of vegetables and citrus. He was among the first to build a packing house to properly pack fruits and vegetables headed northbound on the railroad. He was also actively involved in improving his community. He helped establish the first school in the area and helped to create the Oakland Presbyterian and the Beulah Baptist churches. In 1927 he donated part of his landholdings to build Lakeview High School (now Lakeview Middle School).
Tilden’s sons, Charles Herbert and Luther Willis (called Will), joined their father in the agriculture business, becoming pioneers in the citrus industry. All four of the Tilden children found spouses in Oakland and were influential members of the community of Tildenville and the town of Oakland. The four all settled in the west Orange County area and built beautiful homes, raising families that still live here today.