Submitted by Descendants: Gregory N., Jon L., and John L. COURSON III
Theodore Shemetyllo was born in Minsk, Poland, on 27 September 1814. Little is known of his childhood except that he was born of nobility and well educated. This probably led to him being exiled to Siberia in the early 1830’s during the partitioning of Poland by Russia, Prussia, and Austria.
According to his daughter, Mary A. Shemetyllo, he escaped and walked across Siberia to a neutral country, enduring extreme and difficult hardships. From there he went to Trieste, and in the first days of November, 1833, sailed to America on either the frigate Guerriera or Hebe, arriving in New York on March 28, 1834, to realize the American dream.
It is documented that Theodore Shemetyllo worked at the U.S. Arsenal in West Troy, New York, for two years, probably 1835 and 1836. On April 11, 1837, he enlisted in Company H of the Second Dragoons for three years. This unit is one of the longest, continually serving groups in the U.S. Army. They are now the Second Calvary, serving in Iraq. He was sent to Missouri and then to Florida. He was discharged in Florida in 1840, and remained there the rest of his life. He also served in the Florida Militia for at least three enlistments after his service in the U.S. Army. He received bounty land and a pension for his service in the Seminole War.
He settled in Marion County where he was a merchant and farmer. Later he moved to Volusia County where he died in 1896 and was buried in Barberville. Theodore Shemetyllo in an exceptional example of an American and Florida Pioneer seeking the freedom and opportunities offered in the new land.
Theodore Shemetyllo was first established as a Florida Pioneer in 2005