Plantation Oaks Farm - History

Plantation Oaks Farms is one of the oldest working farms remaining in Florida from the pioneer settler days of the 1700's.

In the late eighteenth century, Spain regained control of Florida from the British. The Spanish crown wanted to encourage its people to settle in the new world and distributed land grants to settlers to colonize northeast Florida (also known as Spanish East Florida). Some of the earliest documented settlers were the Spanish Minorcans out of St Augustine. One of these land grants in western Nassau County was named the Pedro Pons Land Grant and given to the Pons family during the late 18th century. In the early 1800's, a descendant of the Pons family named Maria (Mary) Pons married John Seymour Pickett. "Seymour Pickett" as he was more famously known as, was one of the first Florida pioneer settlers from Virginia. He later became the founder of Pickettville in modern-day Duval County. The Pedro Pons land grant was passed down to Pickett and his wife Maria and the majority remained in the Pickett ancestral line until 1911. The land where the farm sits was left mostly untouched until the early 1930's except for clear-cutting hart and yellow pine, as that was the best crop to grow in the area. The timber business was booming in northeast Florida due to its close proximity to the waterways of the St Mary's River and the St Johns River with the newly founded town of Cowford, later renamed Jacksonville. Unlike most of Georgia and the more vast and well-known plantations of eastern Nassau County, the farm has never been a part of any slave labor. 

In 1911, Walter Willis Hodges Sr (known as WW Hodges) bought the timberland located just outside of the small town of Callahan where he resided. As a wedding present, he gave the land to his son, Walter Willis Hodges Jr and his new wife Helen Estelle Beasley in December 1933 and they named it Hodges Poultry Farm. This is where the story gets interesting. Helen was the daughter of Lawrence Beasley of South Carolina and Grace Pickett Beasley Brandies of Nassau County. Grace was the daughter of Henry Clay Pickett and Emily Denora Braddock. Henry was the son of John Seymour Pickett II and Emma Amanda Flinn. Their marriage certificate was signed by Isaiah D Hart who was later known as the Father of Jacksonville and who the Hart Bridge in Jacksonville is named after. John Seymour Pickett II was the son of John Seymour Pickett I and Maria (Mary) Pons. When Walter and Helen received the land as a gift from her new father-in-law, Helen was now the owner of the same land grant her ancestors were given by the Spanish crown in the late 1700's. In 1935, Walter Hodges Jr and Helen Beasley Hodges had a daughter Jean Hodges. Through Jean, the land has remained in one direct descendant line since the late 1700's. In 1948, Jean met 17-year-old Dorman Mizell at the school carnival. Jean was the carnival queen and Dorman was in love at first sight. Dorman and Jean married 4 years later in June 1953. 

Dorman Mizell is the son of Walker Mizell and Madeline Johnson. He is a direct descendant of the first Mizell settler, Luke Mizell I, who came to Virginia from England as an indentured servant under Lord Grey in the 1600's. Luke Mizell I worked his servitude off as well as three others and was granted multiple land grants in Virginia in return. His descendants spread throughout Georgia, Alabama and North Carolina and include past state senators, mayors, and county commissioners. Through his mother's side, he has both English and Scottish ancestors including many nobility. Prior to marrying Jean, Dorman worked as a milkman for a dairy in the Dinsmore area. They lived and worked on the farm and were blessed with four sons who were all born throughout the 50s and 60s. During this time, Walter Hodges Jr passed away from cancer. Dorman Mizell took over the farm in his early 30's and continued to work the hatchery and raise chicks into the 1990s along with his sons. In the 1990s, the era of the small poultry farmers was coming to an end. Hodges Poultry Farm, Inc was bought out, like so many other small family businesses. The farm remained in the family but the business was sold and the hatchery has been leased ever since. The old chicken houses remained empty in an overgrown field. It is believed that the hatchery is the oldest and smallest working hatchery in the United States. 

The year of 1983 was full of excitement for the small poultry farm. Hollywood came calling and wanted chickens from the farm to be used in Jackie Gleason's upcoming sequel "Smokey and the Bandit Part 3." Over 300 chickens were used in the movie which was being filmed in Fort Lauderdale. In July of this same year, Dorman and Jean's fourth grandchild of ten was born. Amy Mizell is the daughter of Dorman and Jean's second son, Larry Mizell and his wife Ann Brooks Mizell. Amy is the first Mizell girl in five direct generations. Dorman caused a scene in the hospital with great anticipation of meeting his new granddaughter but Jean was however skeptical. She didn't believe the doctor when he told her she had a new granddaughter. It had been over 150 years since a direct Mizell female descendant was born and it was only until she saw the proof herself that she believed it to be true. The news was such a big hit, that it made the Poultry Times and local newspapers alike throughout the southeast. Amy was very close to her grandparents and her great-grandmother, Helen, affectionately known as Nanny. Helen Beasley Hodges lived directly next door and would take Amy and her younger sister, Emily, out for milkshakes and french fries telling them all of the stories of what Callahan used to look like. She told of how she first noticed her future husband, Walter, on the front porch of his father's house while playing with his younger sister. That house was built by Walter Willis Hodges Sr himself in the early 1900's and is still standing. It is located in the heart of Callahan. It is currently owned by the Schwend family and used as an insurance agency. She also told the most famous story of how Al Capone used to stop in Callahan and stay in her mother's boarding house on his way to Miami in the early 1900's. 

With big ambitions and dreams, in 1999 Amy Mizell, took over the northeastern half of the farm and began building her dream horse farm. She graduated from the prestigious college preparatory school, Episcopal High School after going to the final four and was a three-time all-state in softball. She left for college in the fall of 2001 focusing on Animal Science Business at Texas Tech University before transferring to Auburn University in 2003 to be closer to the farm where she could run her business within driving distance. She became the first member of her family to get a college degree from a Division 1 University in 2005. She came home and expanded into horse boarding, training, and raising Paint horses with the help of her maternal grandfather, Korean War Airforce veteran, Charles "Peepaw" Brooks formerly of Knoxville, Tennessee. Amy met her husband, Kevin Green, in March 2007 and they married in March 2008. They welcomed their only child, Colt, in June 2009. She purchased the farm from her father in 2014 and opened the new air-conditioned rustic event barn for weddings and parties. By 2020, all of the remaining fossils of the chicken houses that were once used by Hodges Poultry Farm from the 1950's to the mid-1990's were torn down. Amy built a new state-of-the-art 14-stall horse show barn which adorns as a backdrop to the unmatched landscape of the ancient live oaks planted back in the 1700's by her ancestors. Amy currently shows American Paint Horse Circuit (APHA) horses with her son, Colt. Colt has received numerous awards, ribbons, and medals showing his horse, "Big Henry". After 20 years of falling in love with southern history and Greek Revival architecture, Amy's her final construction project of the highly anticipated southern colonial manor, Belleauwood, will be completed in 2025.

Join us for your own personal tour

Request a Tour

Get all of your wedding details by downloading our Pricing and Touring Brochure

Download Brochure

        Read View reviews: in                      
Wedding Award 2019
Wedding Award 2024