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Judge Donald Cheney

Judge Donald Cheney – Born January 23, 1889, Donald Alexander Cheney was the son of Judge John Moses Cheney who moved here from Massachusetts in 1885.  After attending local public grade schools Donald graduated from Rollins College Academy (prep school) 1907 and Dartmouth College in 1911.  He returned to Orlando to serve as general manager of his family’s Orlando Water and Light Company until it was sold to the city in 1924.  Mr. Cheney formed the county’s first juvenile court 1919 and served as its first judge. Donald Cheney also organized the Central Florida Council of the Boy Scouts of America in 1922.  Judge Donald Cheney was instrumental in the forming of the Orange County Historical Society.

ABOVE: This photo accompanied an article titled, “Presstime” and was published in the September 18, 1966 issue of the Orlando Sentinel. The article is about Fanny Cheney’s memories of the December, 1924 dedication ceremony of the Cheney Highway, which connected Orlando with Indian River City.  This article and other local history stories may be found in the Orlando Public Library’s Biography Vertical Files.

Topics discussed in this interview include:

Part 1: Father from New Hampshire, came to Florida in 1885; attorney, took over electric /water plant; house on Honeymoon Row, built home on Lake Concord; bicycles and horses; going to church; school and games; moving buildings; fires; going to Rollins Academy; shopping; fairs; slide, swimming in Lake Eola.


Part 2: hunting trips; freeze of 1895; soldiers here for Spanish – American War; children’s books; dances and dance schools; Sunday School; picnics on trains.


Part 3: Father appointed judge; personality; trials; Republicans; effects of freeze; mother’s education and activities; going to Rollins; driving cows; dances; Donald’s pony, ‘Hiball’; train to Rollins; Dartmouth activities; travel on boats; taking over plant; married 1915.


Part 4: city growth, development, boom; Judge Cheney and Mendelssohn Club, church singing and operas; early highways; early businessmen.


This interview was conducted over two separate days, May 15 (parts 1 and 2) and May 29, 1975 (parts 3 and 4) by Sandra Hinson for the Friends of the Orlando Public Library’s Oral History Committee.  We are grateful for the Orange County Regional History Center‘s making this recording available for Orlando Memory.

You may also enjoy interviews with Fanny and Donald Cheney.

Peruse additional documents, photos and links under Attachments below.


Listen to interviews with more Orlando pioneers.

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Judge Donald A. Cheney

Photo of Judge Cheney accompanied obituary, Orlando Sentinel (Morning Final ed.) 9/01/83, pg. 1A.

Fanny and Judge Cheney

This photo accompanied an article titled, "Presstime" and was published in the September 18, 1966 issue of the Orlando Sentinel. The article...

Interview with Donald Cheney pt 1

Interview with Donald Cheney - Part 2

Interview with Donald Cheney - Part 3

Interview with Donald Cheney - Part 4

There are currently no video related to this memory.
Donald A. Cheney Obituary

This obituary appeared in the September 1, 1983 issue of the Orlando Sentinel, and gives a hint of the admiration "the Judge" earned over a lifetime of community involvement.

Fanny Cheney Obituary

Fanny Sophia Robinson Cheney, a well-known native of Central Florida and the oldest living Rollins College alumnus, died Friday.  She was 105.

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