Jacksonville FL History

Page 5

15336.43      Robert 7 BIGELOW, was the son of  Benjamin 6 ( Paul 5 , Cornelius 4, Samuel 3, Samuel 2, John 1) and Eunice (AIKEN) BIGELOW, was born 17 October 1797 at Norfolk, Litchfield, CT.
There is an interesting oral history about Jacksonville that mentions the Bigelow Plantation:
There is more history of Jacksonville including cemeteries and houses including Robert Bigelow at:
jackvil3.htm ..

     The increasing number of settlers entering Florida led to further friction with the native Indian population and ultimately resulted in the Second Seminole Indian War (1835-1842). Under the Treaty of Moultrie Creek, signed in 1823, the Seminole Indians agreed to abandon their claims to all Florida lands in exchange for receiving four million acres of land for a reservation south of Ocala. It was soon apparent, however, that the arrangement satisfied neither of the parties involved. The Seminoles found that their new lands did not support agriculture and that the boundaries of the reservation confined their semi-nomadic life-style. White settlers were covetous of the Indian lands and wanted unrestricted access to the interior of the Florida peninsula. Many whites also believed that the Indians were harboring runaway slaves. Violent clashes ensued. In 1835 federal troops were sent to Florida to put down the Indian threat and force the emigration of tribesmen to reservations west of the Mississippi River. (continued)

Second Seminole War (1835-1842)

     The Second Seminole War, which lasted from 1835 to 1842, was a particularly nasty conflict. Bloody engagements ranged from Jacksonville to the Suwannee River and as far south as Lake Okeechobee. Frontier settlements were especially vulnerable to Indian raiding parties. Many plantations were abandoned for a time as settlers withdrew to fortified areas. Jacksonville flourished during the war. It constituted a primary staging point for Federal troops and a safe haven for many of the planters forced to abandon their lands. By January, 1838, much of the organized resistance of the Indians was broken. The Seminole leader, Chief Osceola, had been captured the previous autumn and died while incarcerated at Fort Moultrie in South Carolina. Colonel Zachary Taylor's victory over four hundred Seminoles at Okeechobee on Christmas day 1837 proved to be the largest battle of the war. Still, Indian raiding parties continued to prey upon isolated settlements and peace did not officially come until 1842. Nearly four thousand Seminoles were sent west to the Indian Territory and many of the remaining Indians moved south to the Everglades.

Jacksonville emerged during the 1850s. as one of the leading port cities in the South. Production of lumber from the abundant timber reserves standing beside navigable waterways fueled the city's economy. By 1856 there were twelve steam-driven sawmills operating in and around the town, producing an estimated 40 million board feet of lumber per year. The harbor was filled with schooners and steamers involved in trade with Northern commercial centers. In 1860 the city's long and profitable association with the railroad industry began with the opening of the Florida Atlantic and Gulf Central Railroad, which ran from Jacksonville to Alligator (Lake City). On the eve of the Civil War, the city's population stood at 2,118, making Jacksonville the third largest municipality in the state.
Occupation of the lands on the east side of the river proceeded slowly but notably during the period. The major landowner, Francis Richard, established a sawmill on his land, in accordance with the requirement of his grant. Although evidence of its location has disappeared, local tradition places the mill on the north side of Strawberry Creek, near the present day intersection of Arlington Expressway and Arlington Road. Both Francis II and Francis III acquired additional lands in the vicinity of the original grant. Francis Richard III inherited a thousand acres of the original grant in 1839. Within a decade he moved south of the Arlington River and constructed a Gothic-style residence for his family. The house remains standing at 1300 Oak Haven Road.

1300 Oak Haven Road, circa 1848

     About 1837, according to local lore, Richard hired John H. Sammis to manage the sawmill, introducing to the area an important figure in the history of Arlington. A native of New York, Sammis moved to Florida in the 1820s and for a time worked in the employ of Zephaniah Kingsley, a prominent planter whose holdings at the time were situated on Fort George Island. Sammis married one of Kingsley's daughters, Mary. Upon the death of Francis Richard in 1839, Sammis purchased 5500 acres of Richard's land north of Pottsburg Creek, including the mill site. He initially established his residence near the mill, north of Strawberry Creek. Sometime in the 1850s, however, Sammis moved to a large dwelling atop a bluff north of the Arlington River. Whether this building, located at 207 Noble Circle West, was built earlier or whether Sammis built it sometime after 1850 remains conjectural. Local sources believe that the house dates from before 1838 and was occupied by Oran Baxter, a relative by marriage to Sammis. The extensive use of circular-saw lumber in the house suggests, however, that it could not have been built before the 1850s, when that type of saw was introduced in Duval County.
     A letter survives that Francis Richard II wrote to Sammis in 1837 delivering instructions on managing his enterprises in Arlington. Richard listed rules for feeding and caring for the workers at his mill and the prices to be charged for the lumber they produced. The letter makes it clear that the site harbored a cotton gin. Of particular interest is a reference to construction of a house for his son, Francis, III, probably the building which still stands at 1300 Oak Haven Road. Richard closed the letter with an admonition that Sammis prohibit the workers, men and women, from "going to Jacksonville often...as they will only learn vices, and probably no good.''
     The location of the first steam-powered circular saw in northeast Florida was at Hazzard's Bluff (now Empire Point), at the mouth of Pottsburg Creek, south of the Arlington River. In January 1850 the Barton & Hayward Iron Works Company of Baltimore dispatched twenty-four year old John Clark to Florida to install the machinery for the mill. A native of Chester, New Hampshire, Clark learned the trade in his native state and worked at it in Baltimore. In helping to revolutionize the Florida lumber industry, Clark contributed mightily to Jacksonville's ante-bellum explosion of growth. He also installed a mill at Middleburg before returning to Jacksonville in 1851 to set up his own mill at the corner of Bay and Water streets. The mill at Empire Point, like Virtually every other one in the area, was destroyed in the conflict that began in 1861.

John H. Sammis House. circa 1855

continued on jackvil6.htm ...............

Modified - 01/19/2003
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Rod  Bigelow - Director
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Rod Bigelow (Roger Jon12 BIGELOW)

P.O. Box 13  Chazy Lake
Dannemora, N.Y. 12929
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