In March, 1876, Henry DeLand went to see his brother-in-law O.P. Terry in Walterboro, South Carolina. Terry had just bought land in Persimmon Hollow and invited Henry DeLand to make the trip to look at it. They traveled by train, steamship and horse until they arrived at the home of John Rich, one of the first settlers in the area. Henry was so impressed, he purchased 159.1 acres of land from the Hampson family.
At age 42, Henry DeLand had made his fortune in the saleratus (baking soda) business. Henry DeLand returned to Florida in October, 1876 and purchased more land. At that time, he called together all the surrounding settlers for a meeting. Henry offered to donate land for a school and pay half the cost of the building. He also donated a strip of land for a road and agreed to plant alternating oak, magnolia and orange trees down the center. In later years Henry built a hotel; donated land for a church; donated land and built buildings for his newly established DeLand Academy; and when the county seat moved to the city of DeLand, he built the courthouse. He was a major orange grower in the region and invested in other people’s enterprises to help his new community.
When the “big freeze” of 1894-95 hit, Henry DeLand lost nearly $250,000 to the cold snap. In addition, he had guaranteed against loss many ventures by other people and felt obligated to live up to those agreements.
Between 1896 and 1899, the DeLand families moved back to Fairport, New York. Henry DeLand went back to Fairport and worked at the Monroe County Chemical Company as president and manager with his daughter Helen P. DeLand as treasurer. The company was located in what is now the Rainy Day Mercantile building. Henry repaid all his investors and died in his home March 13, 1908.