Cassadaga, a Spiritualist camp in central Florida near De-land, was founded in 1895, but grew out of a message given from the spirit world to a young Minnesota medium, George Colby (1848-1833), in 1868. He was told that he would be the instrument for the founding of a large Spiritualist camp in the southern United States. In 1875, directed by his spirit guide Seneca, Colby traveled to Wisconsin where he met T. D. Giddings. The two then traveled to Florida and found the land to which Seneca had directed him. In 1880 he filed a homestead claim for the land and in 1884, it was awarded to him. In 1893, the Spiritualist movement in the United States united to form the National Spiritualist Association (now the National Spiritualist Association of Churches ). The following year, in cooperation with people from Camp Lily Dale in New York, who under-stood the task of managing a camp, Colby formed the Southern Cassadaga Spiritualist Camp Meeting Association. Colby granted the new association 35 acres (of the 145 he had been awarded in his homestead grant). The association's first meeting was held in Colby's home.
The new camp was named for Cassadaga, New York, a town near Lily Dale. It was designed as a winter haven for Spiritual-ists from the north, especially New England. Many built cottages that they inhabited when they came South for the season. The association also erected a hotel, a large auditorium, and various additional buildings. A small town of several hundred residents soon emerged. Some 300 permanent residents now live at Cassadaga, of which approximately 100 live on the camp grounds proper.
A fire ravaged the camp in 1926 and while the major structures were rebuilt, they were not paid for before the Depression hit. Several buildings, including the hotel, fell into private hands.
For many years, the programming was focused in several seasons when special classes and programs were concentrated. Today, the seasonal emphases have largely disappeared and classes are held year-round. The camp is the largest Spiritualist facility in the world.
Henderson, Janie. The Story of Cassadaga. Cassadaga, Fla.: Pisces Publishing, 1996.
Karcher, Janet, and John Hutchinson. This Way to Cassadaga, Deltona, Fla.: John Hutchinson Productions, 1980.