Latimer “Latt” Maxcy (1887-1971)
Lake Reedy Packing Company
FLorida Citrus Exchange
Atlantic Coast Railroad
Latt Maxcy, Inc.
Florida Citrus Commission
Florida Citrus Mutual
Clinton Foods, Inc.
Latt Maxcy Corporation
Latimer Maxcy, much better known to the citrus world as “Latt,” was a prominent citrus figure who had a large impact on the citrus world throughout the early and mid-twentieth century. Centered in the Frostproof area, Latt Maxcy is widely known for bringing the first citrus groves to the area. This legend is actually historically inaccurate, but does not diminish the fact that Maxcy experienced unparalleled success in the region, making him one of central Florida’s most important citrus figures.
Maxcy was born on November 7, 1887 in Columbia, South Carolina. His family came to Florida in 1895, settling in the Mulberry area. At the age of nine, he began working as a water boy for the phosphate mines, earning 35 cents a day. While at the mines, he was exposed to heavy equipment, and he would later use this experience to his advantage. He was introduced to the Frostproof area on a canoeing trip in 1904, where he noted that the citrus and vegetable crops near Lake Reedy had not suffered greatly from a recent freeze which had been devastating in other areas. He convinced his father, James Gregg Maxcy, to purchase land near the lake in order to plant groves. In 1906, the Maxcy family moved to Frostproof.
Although the exact dates are unclear, Latt Maxcy moved to the Northeast during this time period and used his heavy equipment experience to find work. He used the proceeds from his work to acquire his own land holdings in Frostproof. In 1914, he moved back to Frostproof and began acquiring large amounts of grove land near Lake Reedy for himself. In 1917, he sold his grove holdings to the Citrus Exchange and opened the Lake Reedy Packing Company with an office near the Atlantic Coast Railroad. He opened the region’s first packinghouse, helping to pave the way for the Frostproof area to become the heart of citrus production. In 1925, he closed the packing company and formed Latt Maxcy, Inc. The same year he expanded into banking, joining over 20 other businessmen to open Citizens Bank. By 1931, Maxey owned the largest packinghouse in the region. He also opened a citrus canning facility, and his desire to improve practices made him a pioneer of the field. He later added a citrus pulp mill to the region. His work with canning and bottling was most prominently felt in the 1940s and 50s, giving rise to the notable brands “Silver Nip” and “Golden Nip.”
In 1935, Maxey began acquiring land in Osceola County, which he used to begin operations in cattle. He eventually acquired a ranch so vast that it consumed over 150,000 acres and stretched from the Kissimmee River almost all the way to Vero Beach. Maxcy is noted for his work to improve cattle production, ranch management, and using selective breeding to provide better disease resistance and improved meat quality. His efforts resulted in the introduction of new breeds and strains of cattle.
During Governor Millard F. Caldwell’s administration (1945-1949), he served on the Florida Citrus Commission. He is also largely credited with the formation of Florida Citrus Mutual, which was based upon his Maxcy Plan. In 1948, he joined other growers, including James C. Morton and A.B. Michael, to form the citrus cooperative, for which he served as the organization’s first president. Florida Citrus Mutual would later grow to incorporate over 12,000 growers.
In 1949, he sold his citrus holdings to Clinton Foods, Inc. for which he became vice president of Florida operations. Maxcy gained recognition for turning the organization’s Snow Crop division into a profitable operation. In 1956, Snow Crop was sold to Minute Maid, and Maxcy returned his office to Frostproof. In 1963 The Latt Maxcy Corporation was created, and it eventually became a $300 million operation.
Although he was not the first to plant citrus in the Frostproof area, Latt Maxcy was undoubtedly the most important citrus figure in the region’s history. He was inducted into the Florida Citrus Hall of Fame in 1971. He passed away in August of that same year.