Ianthe Bond Hebel - 1884-1974 - A Ponce Park Teacher

Wed, Oct 11, 2023 at 9:25AM

Ianthe Bond Hebel - 1884-1974 - A Ponce Park Teacher

Why did this soft-spoken girl who was extremely reserved, with few friends and who herself had not yet graduated from high school, venture to remote Ponce Park to take charge of twelve children as her first teaching assignment?  This is certainly inspiration for researching her life. (1)   At Ponce Park, Ianthe Bond Hebel, began her highly successful twenty-year Florida public school teaching career.  Not only that, she later became a noted genealogist, Volusia County historian, local railroad historian, contributor to historic periodicals, civic leader and a founder of the Halifax Historical Society in Daytona Beach.

Ianthe Bond was born in Kirkland, Ohio on July 15, 1884.   Her family soon moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan where her father, a lumber man by trade, E.L. Bond, then took the family to Glenwood, near DeLeon Springs, Florida where he operated the Deland and St. Johns Railroad, a narrow-gauge railroad.  In 1892 Ianthe and her younger sister began walking to a distant school located deep in a grove.  When ferocious dogs followed them, her mother suggested that they try another path through the woods, but again they encountered the wild dogs who bit a neighbor boy who was traveling with them.  After the teacher brought them home, it was decided that Ianthe was old enough to help hitch “Old Bob” to the wagon and drive to school.  She recalled that in the mornings it was difficult to find Old Bob, who seemed to hide behind the wide pine trees, perhaps because he knew he would be tied to a tree all day while the girls were in school.

Ianthe, being the oldest girl with no brother at this time, was taught to drive and shoot a rifle and was expected to work in her father’s mill office.  She also recalled that her grandmother drilled her on spelling words and multiplication tables.  On Fridays, the school would have an afternoon program and she was chosen to recite poems from Youth’s Companion, which was mailed weekly to their home. (2)  Her remarkable memory was further nurtured by her voracious reading appetite.  By the time she was fourteen she had read every word, including some which “puzzled” her, up to Volume X in the Encyclopedia Britannica.  She also could gleefully answer 500 questions from Barnes U.S. History Book, even some that her teachers could not answer. (3)

After the railway venture ceased operating in l898, E.L. Bond moved his locomotive, which her uncle E. W. Bond had built, to Neoga, Florida, located near Bunnell.  There, her father and cousin Frank Bond bought the bankrupt East Florida Land and Produce Company where they operated a saw mill would soon supply the lumber for many buildings from Daytona to Miami.  The Bond family’s move from Glenwood to Daytona took nine hours in three lumber wagons.  Ianthe, now fourteen, sat in the second wagon carrying the precious family clock in a basket.  Fording three rivers, the Haw Creek, Tiger Bay and Little Tomoka, they were relieved when the water did not reach the bed of the wagons.   Upon arriving in Daytona, the Spanish American War was underway and the Bond children, who did not like this move, were afraid that their new home town would be shelled. (4)   Daytona had only two brick buildings, two bridges and Beach Street was a dirt road.  The family was puzzled to find most of the houses boarded up, but realized that the winter residents left in mid-April to return North.

Ianthe attended the Daytona Graded School which included grades 1-12. (6)  In high school she earned twenty-five cents an evening assisting in the library.   As “grown up girls” Ianthe and her school chums made Sunday a “go to meeting” day.  In the morning they went to the Methodist Church Sunday School, in the afternoon St. Mary's Sunday School and in the evening the Christian Endeavor at the Congregational Church.  With a twinkle, Ianthe recalled “there was absolutely nothing else to do.”  After taking lessons on how to waltz and two steps, she attended dances given by the Halifax Rifles, a kind of National Guard of the period in the Armory.  It was common for the girls, wearing their long skirts, to bicycle on Beach Street and down pine needle covered paths to Ormond or Port Orange, and even sometimes on the beach.   Ianthe would have been in the first high school class graduation, however, her “bad eyes,” or poor eyesight, delayed her one year.  Then just two months before her graduation in 1902, her father’s mill burned down and she could not go away to school (possibly college) and there was no mill office to work at. (7)

Several of her classmates were going to Deland to take the teacher’s examinations, so she decided to go with them.  The County Superintendent gave the tests which lasted four or five days, described by most as a real “ordeal”!  For those taking the First Grade Certificate, good for five years, the candidate would labor for five days. (8)   The passing grade was 75 percent.  The Second Grade Certificate, good for three years, necessitated spending four days, but had it had fewer subjects.  Two First Grade Certificates with an average of 90 percent plus five years of satisfactory teaching enabled one to receive a Life Certificate   Then State Superintendent Ronald Sheats wanted Florida teachers in Florida schools.  The rigorous teacher examinations were part of his plan to raise the level of education in Florida to be similar to other states and eradicate illiteracy which ranged to 60 percent in this frontier state. (9)  All the Daytona girls passed and were given little country schools.   Ianthe was assigned to Ponce Park, which thanks to the large lighthouse keepers’ families, now qualified with enough students for a teacher from the Volusia County School Board.   The Board paid her $30 per month and her room and board was $8 a month, the school term was five months from October to March, l903. (10)

Getting to Ponce Park must have been an exciting trip.  Ianthe took a ferry from Daytona across the Halifax River and then traveled down the beach in a horse drawn buggy. (11)  Besides having the significant Ponce de Leon Light Station with three keeper residences, Ponce Park was noted for being an outstanding fishing area attracting many northern sportsmen.  The Pacetti Hotel and the Ellison Hotel housed the tourists who Ianthe found interesting, “pleasant acquaintances” and she often went fishing” with them. (12)

The school,  built by the county, was at the north end of Cedar St. (now Sailfish) just beyond the Charles W. Jones home where the students and teacher obtained their daily pail of drinking water.(13)  The frame one room building was painted white. It had a blackboard which covered nearly the whole east wall, a raised platform for the teacher, windows down both side walls, two windows and a door on the front.(14)   There was a desk and a chair for the teacher, a box on which the water pail and dipper were placed, a tripod for charts and maps, material for teaching the first grade, aids for other subjects: a pointer and several erasers.   County Superintendent Bert Fish sent over a record book and a box of chalk.  It must have been of some concern to Ianthe to be told that a big black bear had been killed near the school a year or so earlier.  Soon she would be more worried about the swarms of hungry mosquitoes which tormented her as she walked to school with her umbrella, lunch basket and several books.

1903 Ponce Park school, including many Pacetti and Lighthouse Keeper children

1903 Ponce Park school, including many Pacetti and Lighthouse Keeper children

On the first day of school she found twelve children, some of them barefoot, facing her.  The Principal Lighthouse Keeper Thomas O’Hagan, sent six of his older eleven children, and the first Assistant Keeper Johanson sent three of his six.   Also attending was Clarence Jones, a grandson of the nearest neighbor to the school and Mattie and Robert Pacetti, whose father, Bartola “Bert” J. Pacetti, was her supervisor. (15)  Although there was no compulsory school law at this time, it was evident that the community wanted to educate their children.  Prior to the O’Hagans, young children were taught in a one-room school located across the street from the fisherman’s wharf.  This school was constructed around l889 and was eventually incorporated into a house built by the Hasty family, with the school becoming the kitchen after it closed. (16)  Older children were sent by boat to New Smyrna staying with relatives or friends and coming home on the weekend.  In the O’Hagan family, one child Irene, had a health problem and she wasn’t able to attend school if she wasn‘t feeling well.  Her brother Tommie, who apparently hated school said to Irene “Oh I wish that I could be in your shoes.”  So not all the children were eager to be schooled by Miss Bond. (17)

At first, she lived with retired William Rowlinski, the former first lighthouse keeper, and his wife in a house between the lighthouse and the river.   Apparently, he was very disappointed that she could not play the organ for him. (18)  She recalled the delicious yellow and rich milk from their cow which feasted on the palmetto berries and Mrs. Rowlinski’s wonderful lemon marmalade.   Although they were very good to her, Ianthe moved on because she got tired of eating fish and grits twice a day for three months.  For the rest of the school term she lived with the Hiram Baxter family and slept on a cot in the living room.   Since he was the mail carrier, she had to eat her midday meal at 10 a.m. as he left soon after with the mail for New Smyrna and was not home till five or after dark.   There she ate ham and Irish potatoes “day in and day out” getting her noon meal at the morning recess.  On the weekends, after eating with the Baxters, she also ate a dinner with the Pacetti family in their hotel after the guests had been served.   Not only did Mrs. Bertha Pacetti give her a warm welcome, but she was an excellent cook whose specialty was steamed sheepshead fish with egg sauce and huge pans of coarse salt on which oysters in the shell were bedded before they went in the oven.   And everyone looked for the delicious biscuits cooked on the top of the stove.  Ianthe spent much of her free time socializing in the kitchen with Nettie Pacetti, the oldest Pacetti daughter. 

Every other Saturday, Ianthe took the Ellison Hotel launch to Daytona to visit with family and then usually took the train for New Smyrna at 1:15 and met Mr. Baxter, the mail carrier to ride back to Ponce Park in his boat.  Most frightening to her was crossing the Inlet in the tiny boat only a few inches out of the water with a shark bigger than the boat circling about them. (19) 

The school children looked forward to two “big days” when they did not attend school.  One was when the lighthouse supply ship sailed in with the annual supplies.  Ianthe remembered that it was a beautiful sight to see the long line of small sail boats coming across the south side of the Inlet, then North to the landing.  It was late afternoon, and the sun on the sails added much to the picture.  At the landing, the sailors waded ashore with their loads, lugging drums of oil, hardware, and other necessities of lighthouse life.  The other school holiday was when the circus came to New Smyrna.  School was not officially excused, but it was regarded as good form for the teacher to be “conveniently ill” on that day. (20)

During her self-described “very pleasant year “in Ponce, Ianthe walked the beach with the O’Hagan girls during the equinox as far as Donaldville, three miles north, where there were just two cottages.  Sometimes the high tides would bring in paper nautiluses, the delicate egg sac of Argonauts, which could be sold for a dollar an inch to the tourists.  The girls found “a little pin money” in this way.

1904 class including Ianthe Bond Hebel standing in the back

1904 class including Ianthe Bond Hebel standing in the back

After the school term was finished, the O’Hagan’s moved to Fernandina Light (Amelia Island Light Station) and there was no more school for Ianthe to teach in Ponce Park.  Volusia County only paid for teachers when there were a sufficient number of students, usually thirteen, for a primary school.  It appears that the parents and trustees of the remaining students hired Ethel Wetherell, a classmate of Ianthe’s, to teach the following school-year 1904-1905. (21)  Ianthe continued her career for the next two years in New Smyrna where she received a $5.00 a month raise and a better position teaching: 3rd and 4th grades.  

In 1912, she earned a Life Certificate and later became the second school teacher at Seabreeze High School.   During her teaching years, she attended the Summer Institutes at Stetson, Knoxville, and the University of Virginia.  While in Virginia, she befriended famed artist Georgia O’Keefe and her sisters. In the O’Keefe home, Ianthe watched Georgia, who was an art instructor at the University, spend hours in her basement studio designing wallpaper.  Both Georgia and Ianthe spent an anxious August of  1912 waiting on news of their future appointments. Georgia was awaiting a confirmation at West Virginia and Ianthe was hoping to teach in Daytona Beach.  Neither got what they wanted.  Georgia went back to Amarillo, Texas and Ianthe accepted a position in Ft. Myers, Florida.  As bad luck would have it, when she returned home that summer, Ianthe discovered the Daytona confirmation on the mantel of her home.  It had been initially sent to the wrong address.  After twenty years, she ended her career as the principal of a twelve-room grammar school in Ft. Myers. (22)  During her stay in Ft. Myers, she most likely was a suffragette and even after women got the right to vote, Ianthe was active for women’s rights.  As a member of the Ft. Myers Business and Professional Womens’ Club, she participated in the 1922 Fourth of July parade by riding in the club’s car holding signs advocating “Equal Work for Equal Pay.” (23)

Ianthe Bond Hebel, approximately 1913

Ianthe Bond Hebel, approximately 1913

In 1923, after a thirteen-year correspondence, Ianthe finally decided to marry, sight-unseen, John E. Hebel, the widower of a deceased cousin. Every time he proposed she would say she couldn’t marry a man she had not seen.  She also had reservations about living in the cold North because her heart was in Daytona.  However, during her years in the North she blossomed into a noted genealogist and worked on the related families of Bond, Wilcox, Turner and Sibley.  Her work can be found in the Rare Books Section of the Library of Congress.  She and John lived in Grand Rapids for 23 years.   After her husband died in 1946, she returned to her family home in “delightful Daytona.” where she collected invaluable letters, documents, pictures and artifacts about Volusia County.  In 1949 she became one of the founders of   the Halifax Historical Society and was a member of the Volusia County Historical Commission.  She spent the rest of her life chronicling county history, and writing numerous historical pieces including articles in the “Centennial History of Volusia County, Fl.” in 1954 and the Volusia County chapter in the “History of the Florida East Coast” published in 1962.   During her lifetime, Ianthe was a member and officer in many professional organizations and clubs.  She was a Fellow of the Institute of American Genealogy, a member of the National League of American Penwomen, a member of the Writers’ Workshop and a Daughter of the American Colonists, and a Daughter of the American Revolution.    When in 1957, the Civitan Club honored her for “preserving invaluable historical data of Volusia and the Greater Halifax Area,” she slowly and precisely stated “This, of course, caps my career.” (24)  Her nephew Morgan Buddy Bond, said it all when he remarked, “The intellectual pursuit was everything, that was her.” (25)


Ianthe Bond Hebel--Source Notes


  1. Daytona Beach News Journal, July 15, 1973 Halifax Historical Society Museum (HHSM)

  2. Hebel, Ianthe Bond “School Days 1890-1898”, typed manuscript November 8, 1962 (HHSM)

  3. Daytona Beach News Journal, July 15, 1973 (HHSM)

  4. Daytona Morning Journal , March 25, 1974 (HHSM)

  5. Daytona Beach News Journal, April 13, 1958 (HHSM)

  6. Odyssey of an American School System, Volusia County Schools 1854 to 2000, p.95

    7.  Daytona Beach Evening News, July 3, l952

  7. Hebel, Ianthe Bond , “Autobiography” 1922, p. 1, typed manuscript (HHSM)

  8. Halifax Historical Herald, #2, April 1974, “Early Schools and Teachers of Volusia,” p.3

  9. Daytona Beach News Journal, July 28, 1963 “Ponce Park Through the Years” Ianthe Bond Hebel; Ianthe’s predecessor at the school was Flora Williams who married Gomez Pacetti.  Apparently, Ianthe knew of the Pacetti family through Nettie Pacetti who stayed with her cousins of the John Gardner family, a Ponce family that moved to Daytona around 1900 so the children could attend a higher  school. 

  10. Daytona Morning Journal, March 25, 1974

  11. Hebel, Ianthe Bond, “My Autobiography” 1922, p. 2 typed manuscript (HHSM)

  12. Daytona Beach News Journal, July 28, 1963

  13. Potts, Amy, “Remembrances of Mrs. Valde Stone Timmons,” August 3, 1974, in Lighthouse Ponce Inlet File, (HHSM); Odyssey of an American School System, Volusia County Schools 1854 to 2000, © 2000, p.42

  14. Daytona Beach News Journal, July 28, 1963.

  15. Potts & Odyssey

  16. Oral History Interview of Helen O’Hagan Sintes, April 26, 2005, Archives of the Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse Preservation Association, pp. 4-5.

  17. Daytona Beach News Journal, July 15, 1973 (HHSM)

  18. Daytona Beach News Journal, July 28, 1963

  19. Daytona Beach News Journal, May 6, 1964 (HHSM)

  20.   Daytona Beach News Journal, July 28, 1963; Potts, Amy, “Remembrances of Mrs. Valde Stone Timmons, August 3, 1974, Lighthouse Ponce Inlet File, (HHSM)  Mrs Timmons was six when she moved to Ponce in 1908.  Her 3rd grade teacher was Mattie Pacetti who would reward Timmons for doing her lessons fast by teaching her to tat and crochet.  The next school Timmons remembered was taught by Mrs. Gomez Pacetti, who held the school in a storage house in the back of her home.  The Gomez Pacettis lived where the Ellwoods lived across the street from the lighthouse.  The schoolhouse had one room and regular school house seats.

  21. Hebel, Ianthe Bond, “My Autobiography,” 1922, p.8

  22. The River Weekly News, Vol. 15, No. 36, September 9, 2016

  23. Daytona Beach New Journal July 15, 1973 (HHSM)

  24. Interview by Ellen Henry with Morgan “Buddy” Bond, December 3, 2007, Archives of the Ponce de Leon Lighthouse Preservation Association, p.2.

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