Arlington Ferry Landing. (arl7b.jpg)
ARLINGTON is situated on the east side of the
St. Johns River, one mile distant from Jacksonville, with the river lying
between. From the Arlington ferry landing the land rises in a gradual slope
to fifty feet above the river one and one half mile away. The natural drainage
of Arlington is excellent, little or no stagnant swamps to cause malaria
or breed noxious insects. The running streams are swift flowing with clear
water, fit for household purposes without treatment, while the purest possible,
water for all use is found at a depth of about 60 feet and obtained by
ARLINGTON is within the limits of the oldest part of Florida settled by civilized people. It is believed that landings were made on the ocean shore only ten miles away. before any others on the east coast of Florida.
THE SETTLEMENT of this part of the state was most romantic. First, the French came, who started a colony at and above the mouth of the "River May" (now called the St. Johns River). They were exterminated soon after by Spaniards who settled along the river as far up as what is now known as Lake George.
About the middle of the 18th century, Florida was taken from Spain by the English during one of the general European wars and held for twenty years then was ceeded back to Spain in exchange for some of the West India Islands. Spain sold Florida to the United States in 1819, but the change of flags did not take place until 1821
Florida is the only state in our country where anything like white slavery ever existed and then in defiance of law. It was brought about by settling a large number of Mediteranean people along the east coast as far south as New Smyrna, under a concession to an English Subject by the Spanish Government, which people, though nomially colonists were held in bondage until about 1780 and then liberated while temporarily held by the English. Many of these former bondsmen together with their English and Spanish masters have decendants on the East Coast of Florida today and some of them within the limits of Arlington.
At an early date the St. Johns River was lined with plantations and orange groves for many miles above its mouth. These suffered the vicisitudes of many wars, both savage and civilized and some of the oldest buildings show battle scars, while relics of different kinds of warfare are frequently unearthed.
In early slavery times the St. Johns River was a favorite point for the debarkation of Africans and a ship yard was maintained on Arlington River for building slave and pirate ships. Near by, on what is now known as Mill or Strawberry Creek, there existed from earliest time, a water power, saw and grist mill, contributing their products to the above mentioned pursuits.
This is believed to be the first and is certainly one of the very few water power mills ever built in Florida. The old dam was damaged by a flood soon after the civil war and never repaired but relics of the old mills remain and the dam is utilized as a causeway across the Strawberry Creek bottom on one of the principal roads.
Strawberry Creek Bridge. Site of ancient saw mill. (arl2.jpg)
Home on Arlington River. (arl4b.jpg)