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Federal Point Families

Slavery, Secession and Success

 Slavery, Succession And Success
The Memories of a Florida Pioneer
John Francis Tenney
Southern Literary Institute
San Antonio, Texas
Copyright 1934
By Southern Literary Institute
Printed In The United States Of America
         John Francis Tenney was a pioneer of the old school
      the school of the empire builders, through whose deter-
      mination and energy the present greatness of the United
      States, as a whole, was made possible.
         Even before Plant and Flagler he sensed the future
      growth and development of Florida, and played a vitally
      important part in laying the foundations of the great state
      which now exists.
         He first became identified with Florida during a most
      difficult periodas a Yankee, among slaveholders in the
      explosive days immediately preceding the Civil War.  It
      was then that his philosophy of broad tolerance, which
      marked his intercourse with his fellow human beings
      throughout a long life, stood him in good stead.  That
      when, at the outbreak of hostilities, he departed from his
      adopted home he left friends and not enemies is amply
      evidenced by the fact that on his return, at the end of the
      war, he was accepted as a Floridian and  not as a
         For considerably more than half a century John Francis
      Tenney contributed heavily in energy and wisdom to the
      development and advancement of Northern Florida.  He.
      knew intimately the hardships which attended Florida life
      in early days, but his keen sense of humor enabled him to
      turn even hardship into enjoyment and to forge steadily

      ahead, building step by step and carving out of the
      wilderness a prosperous community of which he was the
      acknowledged head until he passed to his final reward in
      his ninety-third year.
         John Francis Tenney was that rare type of man who
      left the imprint of his personality on all who earner
      contact with him:  To have known him was a privilege;,
      to have been accepted by him as a friend was an accolade.
      To his insight, which enabled him to see Florida as a
      diamond in the rough; to his courageous energy, which
      enabled him to take the leadership in reclaiming the wilder-
      ness, and to his broad understanding, which enabled him
      to attract and encourage the type of settlers certain to make
      the most valued citizens, Florida owes an irredeemable
                              JOHN M. TAYLOR

                  Several people have requested me to write
                 my personal experiences and impression of
                Florida commencing with the year 1859.
                Having kept no diary or memorandum, what I
               shall be able to write will naturally be wander-
               ing recollections that have no historic interest
               for the delver into the past, and only serve to
              amuse those who delight in personal experiences and observations.
                              Federal Point, 1910

         CHAPTER I
      THE writer came to Florida in the winter of 1859 by
      steamer from New York, his first landing being in
      the City of Savannah, Ga., where he saw for the first time
      negro slaves at work on the wharves.  Their movements
      were so slow and listless; so entirely unlike those of the
      men we were accustomed to see that it attracted our atten-
      tion at once.  From Savannah we took an inland steamer
      for Jacksonville.  The steamer ran inside the coast islands
      until it reached Florida, when we put out to sea for the
       mouth of the St. Johns River. To say that the trip was
       delightful fails to tell one-half the story.  The immense
       salt marshes, with here and there groups of palmetto trees,
       the abundance of aquatic birds, and occasionally a huge
       alligator, with the ever varied scenes as we wended our
       way down the crooked channel, made an impression never
       to be forgotten.
         After we had crossed the bar at the mouth of the St.
       Johns River a fellow-passenger, pointing to the shores in-
       formed me that I had "seen all Florida," meaning the
       whole State was flat and uninteresting, like what I saw.
         In due time we reached what they called "The City of
       Jacksonville," but what was simply a little villageand
       a poor one at that.  There was one good hotelthe
       Judson Houserun by 0. L. Keene; two saw mills, two
       good storesone was built of brick, the only brick build-

       ing in the city, and run by C. L. Robinson; a few scattered
       dwelling houses here and there; a post-office; bar room;
       but had not arrived to the dignity of sidewalks or paved
       streets.        - ,
         In fact, few if any streets but Bay street were clearly
       denned, and a person could follow a cow path into any
       quarter of the city he desired to go.  All beyond the little
       St. James Park was a wilderness, with no settlements north
      of the present viaduct across the railroads.
         We were received with a "hail fellow well met air" by
       every one.  There was evidently plenty of room for us
       without inconvenience to any one.
         After a few days' rest in Jacksonville, we started on a
       trip to the Ocklawaha River country to procure from a
      man named Ward cypress timber that grew on Six Mile
      Creek.  We spent the first night at Orange Mills, at that
       time a thriving place, with a large saw mill that was run
       at its full capacity.  Here we got the best meal we ever ate.
       We had our breakfast in Jacksonville and did not get an-
       other meal until nearly sunset of the next day.  We had
       killed some fox squirrels, a duck, had procured some flour,
       potatoes and onions, with which we made a "dumpling
      stew" over a fire on the ground.  Our long fast, the exer-
       cise of hunting and the excellence of the stew, made a meal
       fit for a king.
         We made the trip from Orange Mills to the Ocklawaha
       River country on foot, crossing the river in a "dug-out,"
       passing through the City of Palatka.  I believe they called
       it a city then, but it was actually not much but a hamlet.
       We reached our man on the Ocklawaha about midnight,
      after getting lost in the woods for a time, as there was not
      a single settlement on the road we traveled.
         The next day we took a mule-back ride over the coun-
      try, and my mule having fallen to his knees allowed me to
      proceed over his head for about twenty feet on all fours,
      ripping my pants leg in twain for two-thirds of its length.
      As there was neither store, seamstress, needle or thread in
      any part of that country, we were forced to board the
      good steamer Darlington at Welaka in that unconventional
      attire.   As the boat was crowded with well dressed men
      and women, we took a back seat, as much out of sight as
      possible, where we sat in sorrowful contemplation of the
      vicissitudes of life, and torn pants in particular.
         I will stop here to mention more fully Captain Brock
      and his steamer Darlington.  Captain Brock was the
      pioneer steamboat man on the St. Johns River, and navi-
      gated his steamer Darlington between Jacksonville and
      Enterprise.   The boat was a comfortable craft of light
      draft, and capable of handling all the freight and passenger
      traffic between the two points and intermediate landings
      for many years.  Captain Brock was a rough spoken man,
      but a kinder hearted or more congenial man never walked
      a deck or told a story.  His boat had a most powerful and
      harsh whistle, that he blew by hitting a lever with a stick,
      and it was one of his most enjoyable jokes to get his pas-
      sengers huddled round it, all absorbed in one of his stories
      and surreptitiously blow the whistle to see the crowd jump
      and hear the women scream.
         Having secured the right to cut cypress timber in the
      swamp bordering Six Mile Creek, we moved our family
      (wife and child) to a deserted logging camp (a comfort-
       able shelter), and spent the first winter in making cypress
       shingles.   Three of us made five hundred thousand that
       winter, which we sold for six dollars per thousand, to go
       to the West India Islands.  That winter was perhaps the
       happiest time of my life.  The wife who was troubled
       with weak lungs grew strong and healthy.  The creek was
       full of fish and the woods full of game; turkey, bear,
       panthers and deer were in abundancefor we were in an.
       entire wilderness, with no neighbors and only a few scat-
       tered settlements anywhere in that whole region. We were
       young, strong and healthy men, that enjoyed the sports
       of the chase with a zest unknown in these modern days
       of the higher civilization.  What few white people we
       met were living as rudely as we were.  They lived in pole
       shanties; some with puncheon floors, others with simply
       hard beaten earth instead.  They usually had nailed to a
       post in their yards a barrel mill for grinding corn, which
       was their principal article of food.  They usually culti-
       vated a little patch of corn, pumpkins, sweet potatoes and
       a few garden vegetables,depending largely on what fish
       and game they could get, and their stocks of cattle and
       hogs that roamed the forests at will.
          Picolata was the nearest post-office, and was the seaport
       landing for St. Augustine. All the supplies and passengers
       were hauled across the eighteen miles of wilderness to St.
       Augustine by coach and wagon.  When spring came we
       went to lumberingfloating our logs into Tocoi Creek;
       and here let me tell you that that creek was literally full
       of snakes and alligators.  The like has never been seen be-
      fore or since.   I am not going to write any particulars,
      lest I be accused of romancing.
         In our logging business we employed slave labor, hiring
      them from their mastersa common practice in those
      days.  The slaves we employed were strong, lusty men,
      and were given what we called "task work."  A chopper
      was given the task of cutting ten logs per day, and all over
      that he was paid for-for his own use.  A good axman
      could cut twice his task in a day if so disposed.  Although
      we were in the wilderness, far from any white man's aid,
      we had little trouble with our numerous hands and very
      seldom had occasion to use corrective measures.  If one of
      them did "run amuck" it was up to us to make all the
      corrections needed, as there was no law in such cases but
      our own.  We were in this business but a short time when
      one of the partners was killed and another nearly so in a
      railroad wreck, causing us to break up and seek new. em-
         We rented a hotel at a railroad crossing that was
      patronized by the two roads that crossed each other at
      that place, stripped off our woods garments and became
      philanthropists to the traveling public, and there we stayed
      until the notes of war admonished us that Yankees were
      neither needed nor popular in the limits of the Southern
      Confederacy, causing us to put to sea for New York on
      the last regular steamer that left for that port before the
      attack on Fort Sumter.
                                    CHAPTER II      
                           SLAVERY AND SECESSION
       Our occupation as landlord of a hotel gave us excep-
      tional facilities for observing the people of the South
       and their cherished institution of negro slavery. As far as
       our observation and experience went the institution of
       slavery was far from being the "horror of horrors" that
       the people of the Free States imagined it to be.  The slave
       came out of a state of complete savagery, with none of the
       finer sentiments that the educated and refined white man
        possessed.  In this country he was kept in that condition
       as far as possible, only learning to do the white man's
       bidding and rougher work.
         The family ties, the separation of mothers from their
       children, the separation of husbands and wives that were
       dwelt upon and held up by the Abolition agitators before
       the eyes of the Northern people were not the horrors that
       they represented. The negro was a chattel, a piece of prop-
      erty to be bought and sold.  He had no sentimental ties;
      it was in the interest of his owner to increase his stock as
      far as possible, and the marriage ties that bound them, to-
      gether were not of their own choosing, but were in obedi-
      ence to the will of their owner.  They had no sentiment
      or care about it.  Those that were born and raised here
      knew of no other conditions and accepted them as perforce
      they must.
         We never saw nor heard of the great cruelties that were
      reported as being practiced here, and the very nature of the
      institution made unusual severity impossible.  A NEGRO
      WAS PROPERTY. He was worth all the way from one
      hundred dollars at his birth to two thousand dollars in
      his prime manhood.  In a word, he was a valuable asset,
      and was treated accordingly.
         If the mother was incompetent or feeble the mistress
      would take the youngling into her own care and nurse it
      to health and strength.   It was the same with adults;
      were they sick or disabled the master attended them with
      his best care and skill.  True, if they became fractious or
      misbehaved it was incumbent on the master to correct
      them.  There was no law to take them in hand; it was
      simply the master's duty; the same as to correct his horse
      or dogs.  Of course, there was occasionally a "hard case,"
      an unruly darkey that could not be controlled by ordinary
      means, and we have in mind one such a case.
         The treatment of this case was not only unique-but
      effective.   The darkey was taken .to a secluded room .in
      an out-building, where he was stripped to entire naked-
      ness ; his hands and feet were securely tied together, and
      being thrown on his back on the floor, his knees were
      forced upward and his arms were looped over them; a
      smooth stick was thrust through under his knees and over
      his arms; and there he was a perfectly helpless ball of
      humanity.  A stick with a short strap about one and one-
      half inches wide fastened to it, was used as a castigator.
      The whipping was done coolly and carefully by one old
      negro driver, who would roll the poor devil about with
      his foot so as to be able to hit the most tender spots.  The
       culprit was so completely hobbled that all he could do
       was to yell as each of the twenty licks descended on his
       naked body.  The culprit deserved all he got and his
       whipping was entirely justifiable.  Such cases were very
       rare, and it was very seldom that corporal punishment was
       necessary for the adults.  In fact, in thousands of cases
       there was a genuine affection existing between master and
          In some of the more northern states regular traders in
       slaves were common.  These slave traders would purchase
       the incorrigible negroes, and occasionally purchase from a
       man who had got into financial straits, but none of this
       traffic ever came under our observation.
          In these modern days the people of St. Augustine have
       tried to disgrace their ancestors by claiming that what was
       used as a fish market was a slave market. The slaves owned
       in St. Augustine were not sold or bought in the open
       market.  Many of the slave owners hired out their slaves
       to responsible parties, but seldom bought or sold them,
       Of course there was much romance imbibed by the North-
       ern Free-State people, and the abuse of the Southern slaves
       was greatly exaggerated.  The sympathies of the people
       were greatly aroused by these tales, industriously spread
       abroad and by no doubt kindly intended agitators.      .
        . In fact, the institution of human slavery had become
       unpopular among all the civilized peoples of the world,
       and if the subject could have been treated in a proper spirit
       slavery could have been abolished in this country without
       the terrible war of secession.  The people of the North and
       the South had gradually drifted apart, until neither side
      .                                     [14] 
      fully understood the other.  The average Southern man
      deemed the average Northern man a sneak and a coward
      a fellow that wouldn't fight; in fact, that one Southern
      man could whip ten Yankees with ease; while the North-
      ern man as far under-rated the ability of the Southerner.
      The great dragon of slavery was infinitely a greater curse
      to the whites than to the blacks.
         Every industry was made subservient to slave labor,
      which retarded the advance of the people.  It also, created
      two distinct social classesthe wealthy and the very poor.
      The poor, which was naturally the great majority, were
      poor indeed.  They were too proud to labor, for slaves
      labored.   They had not the means for educating their
      children nor to help themselves up in the scale of culture
      or comfort.  The wealthy had every luxury and comfort
      without lifting a finger in progress.  A slave stood ready
      to provide every whim and every want.  Their lives were
      truly ideal, and it is no wonder that they desired to retain
      an institution that afforded them nothing but ease and the
      gratification of every wish.
         Florida voted herself out of the Union along with the
      other states, but would not have done so if a fair election
      could have been held. There was an undoubted majority
       of the people who desired to remain in the Union.  The
       secession craze carried everything before it.   The election
       machinery was all in the hands of the secessionists, who
       manipulated the election to suit their end.  As a sample,
       I will relate an incident of the election that came near get-
       ting the writer into serious trouble. There were five voters
       at work in a "shingle swamp" five miles down the railroad
       track, that an enthusiastic secessionist desired to bring to
       the polls.  He took a hand car and brought them up.  As
       there were no printed tickets for "The Union" to be ob-
       tained, they came to me for written tickets, which I wrote
       out and gave them at their request.  Four of these men
       voted their Union tickets!  At the final count these tickets
       were found and my hand-writing was recognized. Suffice
       to say, there was trouble for me and pistols were drawn
       but not fired.
         There were strenuous days that followed the ordinance
       of secession.  A passenger train would drive up to the
       station, all hands would leave the coaches for the platform
       and listen to a fiery speech by some prominent passenger,
       and resuming their seats go on.
         Military companies were rapidly organized. One morn-
      ing the conductor of a passenger train led up to me by a
      rope around his neck a poor ragged, coatless and hatless
      specimen of humanity, with orders to forward him on_
      out of the countryas a dangerous abolitionist and Union
      man.  The poor devil looked to be half-witted.  I took
      off his rope, gave him a hat and a coat, a good breakfast
      and sent him along as directed.  I never heard from him
      afterwards, but presumed he never went back to the place
      from whence he came.
         Everything was at fever heat, and one night when
      Governor Perry, who was frequently my guest, explained
      to me the orders he had given for the attack and capture
      of Pensacola, I decided that my best plan was to get out
      if I could with my family,  which I succeeded in doing
      without trouble or delay.
         It may be interesting to the great army of prohibi-
      tionists of the present day to state that in those days
      every one drank more or less intoxicating liquors.  Not
      the poor, depraved class, but the ministers of the gospel,
      deacons, church membersin fact, it was the common
      practice of all classes, and I will venture to say there was
      no more drunkenness than there is in the State of Maine
      or any other prohibition state.  To take a glass of intoxi-
      cant was a social custom, and refusal was deemed an
      affront.   And my long experience with the world and
      men fails to reveal to me that the present high class of
      total abstainers are any better men or any more decent.
      braver or stronger than these old fellows that first broke
      into the wilderness of Florida.
         The four years of the terrible war were spent by the
      writer on a New Hampshire' farm, taking no part in the
      awful struggle only to pay taxes and watch the list of
      killed and wounded.
         To show the lack of knowledge of these Southern
      States and their preparedness for war, it may be necessary
      to state that the first call of the United States Government
      for seventy-five thousand volunteer troops was deemed by
      many intelligent men to be sufficient to march right down
      through the Southern country, and when I told them that
      these troops would not be able to advance a dozen rods
      into the Southern States, I was simply laughed at, and it
      took the first battle of Bull Run to convince them of their
         We plodded along in New England as best we could
      during that war, just killing time until it should cease,

                            SLAVERY, SECESSION AND SUCCESS
      until the winter of  1865,  when we again sailed for
      Florida. We had traveled in the West but were not pleased
      with that part of the country.  The balmy air, the natural
      beauty of the forests and streams of Florida all appealed
      most strongly to us and drew us back to this Land of
      Flowers and supreme content.
               CHAPTER III
                    WAR-RUINED FLORIDA
       As before, we landed first in Savannah and boarded the
      steamer City Point for Jacksonville, where we arrived
      in due time and secured quarters at a house kept by Mrs.
      Shad.  It was to that house a few days later that Mr.
      Merrill came, with his wife and three or four little
      children.   Mr. Merrill was a blacksmith, I think from
      South Carolina, and was the founder of what is now
      the immense establishment called "The Merrill-Stevens
      Engineering Company of Jacksonville."
         We found Jacksonville in ruins.  Nearly everything
      that had been of value before, the war had been destroyed
      during the conflict.  The city was under the control of
      the military authorities; hundreds of forlorn, ragged and
      destitute negroes were camped in the open air near the-
      city limits, without shelter or any comforts, but food fur-
      nished them by the military forces.  These negroes had.
      either deserted their old masters or been driven away by
      them, and had sought the protection and support of the
      troops.  A more destitute set of human beings could not
      be imagined.  The clothing they wore was just sufficient
      to cover their bodies.  A few dirty bundles of rags com-
      prised the limit of their wealth, and there they sat in the
      sandan ignorant, homeless, poverty-stricken set of
      wretched humanity.  What was to be their ultimate fate

      was a problem we were totally unable to imagine.
         The white people we metthe few old residents that
      were leftappeared almost as forlorn and despondent as
      the negroes.   No wonder,  for there was little left of
      their homes, their business or their ambition.  The whole
      scene was one of desolation and sorrow.
         We did not remain there long, but purchased a ship's
      yawl that was rigged with sails and oars; put in a month's
      supply of provisions, and started up the St. Johns River
      on a tour of exploration.  Our first effort was to procure a
      few sweet potatoes, and we hunted in vain for them for
      two days, but finally found an old negro who had a little
      patch and induced him to part with a few.  The old
       settlers along the banks of the river deserted their homes
       during the war and had not returned to them. The whole
       country was a scene of desolationan uninhabited wilder-
       ness.  We found two or three families at Mandarin, who
       warned us to guard our boat well, and especially our sails,
       lest they they be stolen, to be made into clothing.
         When we reached Orange Mills we found the big saw-
       mill a heap of ashes, the large wharf gone, and only two
       families living therethat of Colonel F. S. Dancy and
       Mr. John B. Hazel.  Col. Dancy had just returned to his
       home after a sojourn in the interior of the state during the
       war.  Mrs. Hazel had bravely remained at her home with
       her little brood of children while her husband was fighting
       in the cause of the Southern Confederacy.
          We found another family living a few miles back from
       the river, near what is now called Hastings, by the name
       of Carter, that is worthy of notice.  George Carter had a
      young family of fifteen or sixteen children, none of them
      old enough to properly provide for the others, and Mr.
      Carter deemed it a greater duty to remain at home and care
      for his numerous family than to enter the ranks of any
      war party, and did so, but at great hazard, as he was
      hunted by conscription parties, and had to hide in the
      woods at night without fire, despite the inclemency of
      the weather.  He managed to elude the conscription offi-
      cers and provided for his wife and children, who have
      grown up to respected citizens.  Mr. Carter always spoke
      of his experiences with great bitterness, as well he might.
         We explored both sides of the river as far as Welaka.
      Welaka was the end of the world for us.  There were a
      few tumble down cottages, a wharf and a warehouse. The
      population consisted of a half-breed Indian with his
      squaw and two or three children, all camping in the ware-
      house.  We spent one night in their company, and then
      started on our return trip to Jacksonville. In all our travels
      and exploration we had found not much but desolation
      or an unbroken forest.  If there was anything beyond or
      south of Welaka it was so remote and desolate that we
      had no desire to isolate ourselves and family in their
         During our trip we had run across Mr. Simpkins, who
      owned a beautiful residence at Orange Mills, and desired
      that we move into it to protect it from further depreda-
      tions, which we eventually did.   On our way down we
      got caught in a tremendous squall a few miles before reach-
      ing Mandarin that proved to be the forerunner of a heavy
      downpour of rain that continued all night. The rain fell
      in torrents, and the night came on as black as ink, so we
      decided to land at Mandarin and seek shelter in some one's
      house or shed, and applied at one or two places for such
      accommodations, but were flatly refused.  We suppose
      they were afraid of us; it was the first and only time that
      the writer was ever received in an inhospitable manner by
      any Southern born people.  We took our sails ashore,
      rigged them as a tent, built an enormous fire, and spent the
      balance of the night in peace and .tolerable comfort, per-
      haps better than a shed would have afforded.
         The next day we reached Jacksonville none the worse
      for our trip, and soon after moved our family into Mr.
      Simpkins' house at Orange Mills.  That winter we spent
      our time in doing odd jobs here and there and making fre-
      quent trips to Jacksonville for supplies.
         On one of these trips a white flag was displayed on the
      bank of the river at Federal Point, then called Dupont's
      Landing, that contained just one house occupied by Mr.
      Cornelius Dupont and family.  We answered the flag
      and were requested to bring from Jacksonville num-
      erous articles of food, which we did, and thus began our
      negotiations for the purchase of .their property.  Mr. Du-
      pont was a man in feeble health, who, before the abolition
      of slavery, owned several slaves, whose hire afforded him
      ample support.  When we found him his slaves were
      gone; he had but little land under cultivation.  He had
      lost all his large deposits by the failure of his bankers in
      Charleston, S. C.  With several small children to support,
      with wholly insufficient health and strength to clear land
      or perform the arduous labors of the field, he was glad to
       find a purchaser for histo himuseless acres.
         During the war nearly all the residents near the banks
       of the St. Johns River left their homes and fled to the in-
       terior for safety, and it was our fortune to arrive in this
       part of the country before their return.  It was while
       residing at Orange Mills that one of the most pathetic
       scenes that came to our notice was enacted.   One cold,
       dark, rainy night a steamer blew for the landing, and as
       we were living not far away we lit our lantern and went
       to take her lines as she tied up.  She landed Dr. R. G.
       Mays and wife, an aged couple, who were coming home
       for the first time after the close of the war.  Their house
       stood about one-half mile from the landing, and to reach
       it they had to cross a foot bridge through a small swamp.
       Their house had been shelled by a Union gun-boat during
       the war and robbed of nearly all its furniture.  They were
       formerly wealthy people, owning many slaves and a large
       cotton plantation, besides an interest in the big saw-mill
       that lay in ashes.  The night was very dark, cold and
       stormy, as I have written.  We gave them our lantern and
       saw them start off through the gloom unattended, with
       feelings too deep to be written in cold type.
         It seemed to us then, and does now, that much of the
       destruction of property during that war was entirely use-
       less, uncalled for, doing neither combatants any good.  To
       wantonly destroy private dwelling houses, wharves and
       other property failed to embarrass the enemy or add to
      . their own resources.  It was simply done to gratify a feel-
       ing of wanton destructiveness without any compensating
       results.  One old general has designated "war as hell," and
        came very near (he mark in every possible respect.
          As Orange Mills and all the east side of the St. Johns
        River country in its vicinity was a part of St. Johns
        County, we had more or less business in St. Augustine.
        making numerous trips on foot. as there was no public
        conveyance to that city in those days.  The country be-
        tween the St. Johns River and St. Augustine had suffered
        no material injury during the war. The principal sufferers
        were the cattle owners, whose stock had been gathered up
        and transported north for the use of the Union troops.
        There were only a few settlers in that part of the country;
        a small settlement at Moccasin Branch and another at
        Cowpen Branch were the only settlements we found. St.
        Augustine had not been injured at all but retained its old-
        time appearance and methods of living and doing.
          It must be remembered that the days of which I write
        were before the discovery of germs, mosquitoes, pestiferous
       flies, hookworms, appendicitis and numerous other things
       that serve to make humanity wretched and promote the
       cause of science.  Had all these things been known at that
       time St. Augustine would have been uninhabitable, for a
       more unsanitary city could not well be found. The streets
       were narrow, with narrower back streets, into which was
       placed the garbage of the households.  These streets, with
       their earth closets, surface wells and other unsanitary sur-
       roundings, would at the present day be condemned as un-
       fit^for human habitation; but despite all this the city had
         gained the enviable reputation of being the most salubri-
       ous and healthy city in America.  It seems almost too bad
       that the old city should be modernized as it is.  Those
      old settlers were happy in their surroundings.  If they had
      an attack of stomach ache they took a dose of calomel and
      were relieved without the aid of the surgeon's knife. They
      enjoyed their religion unmolested by Mental Science,
      Christian Science, Spiritualism or any of the distracting
      isms of the present day. Prohibition-W. C. T. U.'s were
      unknown.  They drank their social glass in peace.  May
      their souls rest in peace!
         The whole country was under military rule in these
      days, but it was a mild rule.   There was little for the
      soldiers to do except go through their daily drills and
      draw their pay, as the country was very peaceful.  There
      were no disturbancesno overt acts, as what few people
      that were left were bravely at work recuperating their lost
       fortunes, rebuilding their homes and quietly resuming
       their old-time avocations.   It was the more noticeable to
       witness the deportment of the old Confederate soldiers that
       had survived the clash of many battles coming home and
       quietly resuming the duties .of civil life.  There was no
       animosity of feeling apparent in them.  They had put up
       the biggest fight that history records, had lost and now
       determined to make the best of their opportunities.
         The state of the country was indeed a serious problem.
       Every enterprise and industry had been destroyed or ex-
       hausted.  The whole people were impoverished.  Their
       former slaves had become paupers; their fields had grown
       up to forests, and they had to begin life all over again.
       None but those who were here to witness it can fully
       realize the conditions that confronted the people of not
       only Florida but all these Southern States.  The task set
      before these people was a Herculean oneone of great
      perplexity and annoyance.
         It was against the policy of our central government to
      hold these seceded states as conquered provinces under
      military rule; they must be brought back into the Union
      of States with constitutions and laws corresponding with
      the changes the war had produced.  The negro had been
      declared a free man, and to protect him in his rights of
      citizenship he was given the right of suffrage; the only
      effective weapon it was safe to put into his hands for self-
      defense.  Nearly all the white men were disqualified from
      active participation in the remodeling of their state con-
      stitutions by their sympathy and active aid in the war
      that was ended, which left the great task to a much abused
      set of men from the old Free States to come in and assist in
      the work.   These men were stigmatized as  "Carpet-
      Baggers," and no doubt many of them were corrupt and
      put unnecessary burdens on the people; yet they aided the
      states out of military domination and set them on the road
      to self-government and prosperity.  The greatest wrong
      if wrong there waslay at the hands of the central
      government.                ,
         It is not my province or intention to say what might
      have been, but simply to tell what I saw and knew.
      Knowing the Southern people as I did, I imagine I would
      not have reconstructed these states just as it was done, but
      I might have done worse.  In the beginning, I would not
      have resorted to arms, and had as little influence at the
      beginning as I had at the ending.
         It was in the month of March, 1866, that we moved
            :                    [26]
      to Federal Point.  As the question has been asked a great
      many timeshow the place came by its name, we will
      state that in searching the records we found that the U. S.
      surveyors, who made the first survey of the state after it
      was acquired from Spain designated the place by that name
      on their field notes.  We thereupon went back to the first
      name it ever had and from no other reason. We found it
      with only one dwelling house and a few negro shanties.
      A few acres had been cleared but had grown up to weeds
      and bushes.  The nearest post-office was at Jacksonville,
      sixty miles away.  The surrounding country was almost
      one unbroken forest.  Game of all kinds was abundant,
      while the river and creeks were alive with fish and
         Our first venture was to procure mule teams and cut the
      pine timber on our land, and when that was completed
      we started in to clear land and set out orange trees. We
      were not left alone but a few months, as people began to
      come in, all infected with the orange fever that had become
      chronic all over the state.  The climatic conditions were
      the greatest attraction, and the few orange groves that
      were already in bearing were a guarantee of the quality of
       the fruit, and we soon had a thrifty little settlement of
      industrious people.  Then followed schools and churches,
       with other conveniences and comforts.
         In the earlier days of which I have written there were
       but two railroads in the stateone from Jacksonville to
       Tallahassee, the other from Fernandina to Cedar Keys.
       Since then our railroads are numerous, opening up sections
       of the state for habitation that would otherwise be useless

      territory.   As the state becomes better known it is more
      sought for by home-seekers.  Its past history has been one
      of disaster and trouble.  Even in the writer's school days
      the state was represented in his school geography'as "a
      low, ^swampy territory, infested with disgusting reptiles
      and noxious insects."  The facts were that these old geog-
      raphers did not know the state.  It was a "terra incognito"
      to them, and it is only since the great war that it has be-
      come known as possessing the most salubrious climate in
      the world, with untold resources of wealth and all that
      goes. for human comfort and happiness.

                                       CHAPTER IV
                    PUTNAM COUNTY AND PALATKA
              It would be unfair to the section in which I live to close
       these rude memoirs without a more extended notice of
      Federal Point and "old Putnam County."  Although we
      had passed through the county before the war, we had
       formed no acquaintances therein until the winter of 1865,
      when sojourning at Orange Mills. After moving to Fed-
      eral Point, which was then a part of St. Johns County,
      our business called us quite often to St. Augustine, the
      county seat.  There was no means of public conveyance
      and no roads, except tracks through the woods, through
      ponds of water, and over sand ridges, that must be trav-
      ersed either on foot or horse-back, which induced the peo-
      ple living along a narrow strip of land bordering the east
      side of the St. Johns River to be set off from St. Johns
      County and annexed to Putnam County, whose county
      seat was in Palatkaa place of much easier access.  In due
      time, after this change was made, we transferred all the
      records pertaining to Federal Point from St. Johns County
      to those of Putnam County, where they can now be
         During the winter of 1865 and 1866 the old residents
      of Palatka began to return to their deserted homes. Messrs.
      Teasdale and Reed put in a stock of merchandise in their
      brick store, near the river, and business began.  There was
      no post-office nearer than Jacksonville, but our letters were

      forwarded for a time to the care of those gentlemen.  In
      those days, before a man could hold any government office,
      he had to subscribe to an "iron-clad" oath (so-called),
      swearing that he had neither sympathy with nor did any-
      thing for the cause of secession or the cause of the Southern
      Confederacy; and it was found a very difficult matter to
      find any resident of Palatka who could or would subscribe
      to such an oath.  But finally, after a long hunt, a young
      fellow by the name of Dalton had the inspiration that he
      could take the oath and was duly appointed postmaster of
      Palatka.   He kept the mail in a soap box .for several
      months until finally an old fellow from the North came
      in, took the post-office and raised it to the dignity of a few
      pigeon holes that we had fixed up in a dry goods box, to
      the great delight of the patrons.
         Palatka didn't amount to much as a city. Located right
      on the banks of the St. Johns River, it was an easy mark
      for the Union gunboats, and the inhabitants had largely
      deserted the place.  When we first found it in 1865 the
      one street was grown up to dog fennel as high as a man's
      head; many of the yard fences had fallen into the street,
      presenting such a forlorn and desolate appearance as is des-
      cribed concerning Sodom and Gomorrah.  It is not a city
      that makes the people; it is the people that make the city,
      and it did not take long to put Palatka into a habitable
         The most noticeable thing about those old fellows,
      nearly every one of whom had bravely served through the
      war, was their cheerfulness and enjoyment of sport.  It
      did not take them long to put their places in order and
      begin the real duties of citizenship.  County officers were
      soon appointed and the start was made for their future
      success.  As for the balance of Putnam County, practically
      there was nonea few isolated stock-raisers here and there
      located in remote sections of the county, would describe
      the conditions as we first found them.
         The county records were all kept in one small safe not
      more than three feet square from the outside.  The court
      house had been shelled during the war, its brick founda-
      tion was crumbling away; the paint on it had long dis-
      appeared, if it ever had any.  So in appearance the "Gem
      City" seemed anything but a brilliant gem.  The little
      towns and villages that have since sprung up still lay in
      the unborn silence.
         There were three orange groves in the countytwo at
      Orange Mills and one at Hart's Point opposite Palatka.
       The groves at Orange Mills were owned by Dr. R. L.
      Mays and F. L. Dancy. The grove of Dr. Mays was set
       out by Zepheniah Kingsley soon after the transfer of
       Florida to the United States.  These groves were in full
       bearing, and the excellence of their fruit was the incentive
       for the numerous groves that were subsequently planted.
       The grove of P. L. Dancy was set out by himself, more for
       family use than with an idea of profit; but as it turned
       out it afforded him and family a comfortable support
       during his declining years. Col. Dancy and Dr. Mays were
       prominent figures in the early history of the state and
       deserve more than a passing mention.  Col. Dancy was a
       graduate of West Point Military Academy, graduating in
       the same class with Jefferson Davis, the President of the
                             .  [31)
      Southern Confederacy.  Both Col. Dancy and Dr. Mays
      were too old for active military service during the war, but
      were prominent men in its conduct and councils.  Like
      thousands of others, the war. left these men with little but
      their beautiful orange groves, and as the fruit sold for large
      prices, afforded them comfortable incomes.
         When we at Federal Point had completed our logging
      operations we constructed a wharf and commenced to clear.
      land for ail orange grove. We had not worked at that long
      before others came in, wanting land for the same purpose,
      until we found it necessary to survey the land into lots,
      lay out streets and otherwise prepare for a numerous
      population.  We were most fortunate in getting in our.
      community few, but the best and most desirable people
      that have remained with usthey and their descendants.
      The large majority of the people who came in were people
      of moderate means, who have built up nice homes out of
      the products of the soil.  Other towns all over the country
      have sprung up; so that old Putnam County today ranks
      as one of the banner counties of the state.
         Oranges were much the largest product, and when the
      trees were frozen in the 'spring of  1895  more value of
      property was destroyed in Florida than was in San Fran-
      cisco during the late earthquake-and fire; yet no one asked
      for outside aid, and none was rendered that I ever heard
      of.   Putnam County, like the rest of the state,  "came
      down on her feet." 1 She kept right along, despite the ter-
      rible blow, and is more prosperous today than ever before.

                             PIONEER SOCIETY  
      When one goes back to the earlier days and sees the
      country and the people as I saw them, he can but be
      filled with astonishment.   To turn loose in a country that
      had been completely devastated by war five million souls
      who had neither wealth, education or any experience of
      self-support, and yet who continued to live and make the
      country prosper as no other country has, fills one with awe
      and astonishment.  Although an eye witness, right here
      on the ground, I am unable to tell you how it was done.
      One thing is sureno other country and no other people
      could have accomplished the great feat.
         We had not been a resident of this section for many
      months before it was voiced around the country that we
      played the fiddle, and our services with that much abused
      instrument were demanded to assist in various '"kitchen
      junkets" held by the young people.  When a junket was
      to be held notice would be sent out to the surrounding
      people, who would gather from a distance of twenty miles
      or more.  As there were no roads or bridges the effort to
      get together for a "good time" was a strenuous one, to say
      the leastand in one instance involved the writer in an
      unenviable predicament.
         We had engaged to play for a party to be held a few
      miles distant, and harnessing two mules to a long lumber
      wagon, took our fiddle and a lady passenger aboard and
      started.   All went well until we came to a creek that we
      had to ford, which we found badly swollen.  In fact, it
      was full of water from bank to bank, and we knew our
      wagon would be submerged.  As fortune would have it,
      we were accompanied by a young man who rode a tall
      horse, who kindly offered to take the lady and fiddle on
      the horse and put them across, which he did.
         I left the wagon and got astride the near mule and
      started in.  The ford was rather narrow and had a sharp
      turn in it, and was grown up on either side by immense
      swamp trees, and required pretty accurate driving to get
      across with a wagon rig that trailed as far behind as mine.
      We got along all right until near midstream, when the
      off mule became frightened and crowded the mule I was
      on into a deep holeinto almost swimming water, and it
      took all the English language and the most strenuous kicks
      that the -writer was master of to get that team and that
      wagon across. We were wet to the waist, and feared every
      instant that the wagon would hitch against one of the
      trees, in which event we would be compelled to dismount
      and unhitch in water clear up to our neck.  Suffice to say,
      we reached the opposite bank in safety, proceeded to the
      party and played the fiddle all night.
      The party was a large onethey had come in from the
      woodsthe Lord only knew where, sure we didn't, and
      a jollier set of people never got together in this country or
      any other.  The most expensive dresses were made of
      calicoput together without the slightest regard to fash-
      ion, but according to the fancy of the wearer.  And here
      let me say a nicer or better mannered lot of people never
                   ;           '[34]
      assembled together.  .How they had acquired their good
      manners was a mystery to me, as most of them lived in
      the wilderness, far removed from neighbors or communi-
      ties.   No one could think of traveling home in the night
      as there were no roads and part of the way not even a
      path; therefore the festivities continued until daylight.
      The pioneer newspaper man in Palatka was George W
      Pratt, who started a little sheet soon after the declaration
      of peace.  His paper was small but as full of meat as a nut whose
       items were copied into other papers all over the country.  It was
       Mr. Pratt who first persuaded the writer to send him articles fo
      r publication.  We remember one article in particular that caused a
       great sensation all over the country.  It announced the sinking of
       Mosquito (now Orange) County of which news was alleged to
       have been brought by two travelers, who barely escaped with
       their lives;  running  their horses  in advance of  the sinking
       crumbling ground and trees behind them.  It probably took two or
       three bottles of coca-cola to get up the inspiration of the writer,
       but it made a big sensation all over the countryNorth and
      It is a pleasure to revive the memory of those days
      and those scenes.  The free life of the wilderness has
      charms unknown to the votaries of fashion or the dwellers in cities
       and thickly populated communities.  There comes a feeling of
       self-reliance, of greater strengtha higher will to do and
       overcome; a freedom of thought and action that no other situation
       can give.  We wandered in this wilderness when few others were
       here and linked our fortunes to theirswatching with the keenest
       interest the country
      grow out of its savagery.  It is hardly out of its "swad-
      dling clothes" even today, but the foundation has been
      laid; the work has fairly begun that shall place the good
      old State of Florida in the front rank of all the states. She
      has seen many and great vicissitudes-wars, pestilences
      a libelled name that has taken generations to overcome;
      but she is in a fair way to overcome them all and take the
      proud place her climate and resources demand.
         I have told you a part of what I have seen and done in
      the old days.  It would be useless for me to tell you what
      you will find here now. You can come and see for your-
      self.   You will find Jacksonville the smartest, most wide-
      awake city south of Washington.  Its business and popu-
      lation is increasing by jumps and bounds.
         When you reach Palatka you will find beautiful paved
      streets, concrete side-walks, neat buildings, all as clean and
      bright as thrift and energy can make it.  It is true to its
      name"The Gem City."
         Federal Point, that we carved out of the wilderness, is
      noted for the excellence of its people; its sober, law-
      abiding citizens, with their churches, schools, social and
      literary clubs, library, and .the excellence of its soil and
      abundance of its productions.  In fact, the whole country,
      and especially old Putnam County, is on the steady march
      of improvement.  We who have passed our four-score of
      years and have watched all this progress with anxious and
      pleased eyes, greatly rejoice that our days have, so many
      of them, been spent in this country and among these

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