Bill Davis

Bill Davis, Florida

Karakuls in Florida?

Yes, 1946, in Irvine, 20 to 25 miles S-SE of Gainesville (about one-third down the middle of the state).

Now called Reddick, Irvine, Florida is categorized a ghost town of Marion County;[1] although perhaps not in the traditional western (Hollywood) sense with dilapidated wooden buildings, tumbleweeds and creaky doors flapping in the wind. Vacancy would be a ghost town’s first criteria, but many other scenarios also qualify.

A true ghost town must have or had:

  • a reason to exist as a community
  • a period of growth
  • a decrease in population
  • [little] remaining evidence of its existence, [or]
  • been absorbed by another town [2]

Author Steve Rajtar described Irvine’s former location as “just west of Interstate 75 at the intersection of County Roads 225 and 318, a small rural community…named for [a] local landowner…, [Irvine] closed for the third time after 2000.

Shown here in 1946 on his Irvine ranch:

Bill Davis with a three-month-old Karakul ram named Abdul [2]
Bill Davis & 3 month Karakul lamb Abdul
Photo Credit: State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory,  Photo Courtesy of: Ocala Style Magazine, Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Several more photos of Davis’ Karakul sheep were located courtesy of Florida Memory. [3]

Bill Davis and full-grown Karakul ram

Bill Davis & full grown Karakul ram
Photo Credit: State Archives of Florida,
Florida Memory,

Mr. Bill Davis shepherding at his Karakul sheep ranch – Irvine, Florida
Bill Davis shepherding





Photo Credit: State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory,

It appears to be a good-size ranching operation.

Mr & Mrs Bill Davis feeding treats to Karakul sheep at their ranch, Irvine Florida
Davis' feeding Karakul sheep
Photo credit: State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory,

Mr. and Mrs. Bill Davis with 3-day-old Karakul lamb Zaza at their ranch – Irvine, Florida
Mr & Mrs Bill Davis & Zaza 
Photo credit: State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory,

Mrs. Bill Davis wearing Karakul fur & holding a lamb at her ranch, Irvine, Florida
Mrs Bill Davis wearing pelts of Karakul fur & holding a lamb

Photo credit: State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory,  Photo courtesy of:

The author wrote to Florida Memory asking for more information on Bill Davis, his Karakul ranch, or sheep in north-central Florida around WWII. The response from a photographic archivist at the State Archives of Florida “The photos in the series we have online were taken by photographers from the former Florida Department of Commerce/Division of Tourism. From the late 1940’s through the mid 1990’s they were tasked with promoting Florida business and tourism through photographs and film….The photos could have been used in various ad campaigns or business publications etc…We don’t have records of where the photos were used or additional articles on the various subjects.”

I will continue to pursue other sources for more information. Until then, enjoy the Davis’ Karakul story in a handful of gorgeous black and white photographs.

DY Hunter, author, February 28, 2015
Copyright ©2015 & ff, DYH; all rights reserved


  1. Rajtar, Steve. Historic Photos of Florida Ghost Towns. Nashville, Tenn.: Turner Pub., 2010.
  2. Rajtar, Steve. “Ghost Towns Of Marion County.” Ocala Style Magazine. July 6, 2010. Accessed January 4, 2015.
  3. Florida Department of State, Division of Library and Information Services, State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory photos, 66026, 66028, 66030-66033


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