Jacksonville FL History

Page 4

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: jackvil2.htm and jackvil3.htm ......

Spanish Landgrants in the Arlington area (as of 1821)

     During the First Spanish Colonial Period (1565-1763), the Spanish regarded the St. Johns River primarily as a defensive barrier against Indian and English encroachment upon the colonial capital at St. Augustine. They built a series of forts or outposts along the east bank, extending from the river's mouth some sixty miles southward to Picolata. The Spanish did not, however, exploit the resources along the St. Johns. They occupied Florida to prevent their European enemies from establishing a military position on the peninsula and to provide a base for missionary expeditions among the Indian tribes of the southeastern part of the continent. Spain failed to settle permanently any area of Florida except the immediate environs of St. Augustine.
     Beginning in the mid-seventeenth century, the Spanish governors issued large tracts of land to prominent local families as a means of encouraging the development of an agricultural and livestock economy. Eleven grants were carved out along the banks of the St. Johns River, reaching from its mouth to the southern tip of present-day Lake George. The location of the present city of Jacksonville at one of the narrowest points on the lower St. Johns made it an important fording point. Indians called the place Wacca Pilatka, translated as a place where cows cross .
     For its part in backing the defeated French in the Seven Year's War, the Spanish Crown was forced to surrender Florida to England in 1763. The Spanish inhabitants, with few exceptions, evacuated the colony. To encourage demographic and economic growth the British instituted a liberal land policy. By 1776, they had awarded 114 grants to 1.4 million acres of Florida land. Success in attracting settlers to the British colony, however, depended on resolving jurisdictional conflicts with the Indians. In November 1765, Spanish officials and Indian leaders agreed to limit English settlement to the northeastern region of the colony. including the largely unexploited St. Johns River valley. That same year the Marquis of Hastings was granted 2,000 acres of land encompassing much of present-day Jacksonville. Like most grants at the time, however, it came to no result. Only sixteen grants were settled at the beginning of the American Revolution.
     The outbreak of rebellion in the thirteen colonies to the north dramatically altered the development of British Florida. Since the Florida colonies remained loyal to the crown, they attracted large numbers of refugees seeking economic stability and political asylum. The population of East Florida (that part of the peninsula east of the Suwanee River) swelled from approximately 3,000 in 1776 to 17,000 eight years later, with most of the immigrants coming from rebel- controlled Georgia and South Carolina. Many of the new immigrants settled in and around St. Augustine and along the St. Johns River.
     From 1784 until 1821 Florida once again came under Spanish rule. The transfer from British control initially slowed development, since the majority of settlers left the colony for the United States, the Bahamas, or other parts of the British Empire. The population of East Florida fell to under 2,000 and numerous plantations were abandoned. Emulating the British, the Spanish Crown adopted a liberal land policy. An oath of loyalty to the Spanish government was the only requirement for land ownership. Contrary to official royal policy elsewhere in the Spanish empire, the crown permitted non-Catholics to settle in Florida. Several grants included lands on the east side of the St. Johns River. The largest of them was given in 1817 to Francis Joseph Louis Richard, whose lands embraced some 16,000 acres. Richard received much of the territory north of the Arlington River. Samuel Russell later filed a petition claiming 650 acres at the mouth of Pottsburg Creek, given to him in 1795. Russell farmed the acreage with his wife, two sons, and seven slaves. Reuben Hogans, a sergeant in the provincial militia, received 200 acres, comprising much of what is now Empire Point. Peter Bagley received a small tract lying south of Pottsburg Creek (now the Arlington River) and northeast of Little Pottsburg Creek.
     Francis Richard left an enduring legacy in Arlington. A native of Italy, he immigrated to the United States from Santo Domingo, where he had owned a sugar plantation, arriving in East Florida in 1797. He and his wife, Genevieve Bianne, a native of Santo Domingo, produced four children, William R. Richard, Clementine Honorine Richard, Francis Richard, and John Charles Richard. Francis Richard II, in turn, named one of his sons Francis, resulting in some confusion in the historical record. It was apparently Francis II who in 1817 petitioned the Spanish Governor for land upon Strawberry Hill upon which to erect a saw mill. Richard's holdings eventually embraced some 16,000 acres and extended nine miles southward from the mouth of the Arlington River and four miles eastward from the water. Francis I died in Georgia several years later and his widow followed him in death in 1821. Francis II died in 1839, leaving the mill and the bulk of the estate to Francis III. The grant of land that Richard and the Richard heirs obtained and the additional property they acquired formed the basis for much of Arlington's later development.
     In the early years of the nineteenth century the United States grew increasingly anxious to acquire both East and West Florida. The vast, largely undeveloped area proved tempting to the expansionist government and, as well, to private land speculators. Moreover, the Floridas presented problems for the United States. They offered haven to runaway slaves and Seminole Indians, who often engaged in armed conflict with settlers residing along the southern limits of the United States. East Florida, in particular, provided a setting for contraband trade and slave smuggling, both of which conflicted with the policies and laws of the United States government. Finally, the Floridas, sharing a border with the United States, constituted a potential threat to national security. The relative ease with which Andrew Jackson invaded Florida during the First Seminole War made it apparent that Spain could no longer ensure the security of its Florida colony. Mounting pressures from the United States forced Spain to sign the Adams-Onis Treaty in 1819 and cede Florida to the United States, although diplomatic delays postponed actual transfer of the provinces until 1821.
     The United States Territory of Florida was established in 1821 and Andrew Jackson named Provisional Governor. St. Johns and Escambia counties became the first political subdivisions in the newly-formed territory. St. Johns County initially encompassed all of Florida east of the Suwannee River. In 1822, Duval County, the fourth county established, was carved out of St. Johns County. Named for William Pope DuVal, the first territorial governor of Florida, the jurisdiction included a number of present-day counties in Northeast Florida. At Cowford a group of property owners, led by Isaiah D. Hart, subdivided their land into streets and blocks and renamed the settlement Jacksonville in honor of the popular Seminole War hero.

     In the 1840s the Gothic Revival style gained popularity as a residential design. Gothic Revival buildings featured steeply pitched gable roofs and gables and decorative vergeboard work along the eaves. Few were built in Florida and less than a handful remain throughout the state. Arlington, an early Florida community, contains several fine examples of the style, including the Richard-Holden House at 1300 Oak Haven Road and Harbor Point at 1100 Campbell Avenue.

     After the United States acquired Florida, settlers began to stream into the new territory. Land speculators and entrepreneurs saw potential fortune in its underpopulated interior regions. Real estate speculation ran rampant during the early years of the territorial period, but transportation and health problems limited actual settlement. The first Territorial Census in 1825 found 5,077 residents in East Florida, which remained largely wilderness.
     As part of the Adams-Onis Treaty the United States government agreed to confirm Spanish land grants to recipients who had fulfilled the terms of their contracts. The federal government set up a Board of Land Commissioners for East Florida, which reviewed the cases of all individuals claiming possession of Spanish grants. In 1830 the United States Congress, acting upon the recommendations of the board, confirmed title to legitimate grantees. The actions of the board and Congress maintained continuity of !and holding patterns between the Second Spanish and American Territorial periods and provided a solid base for subsequent settlement that was absent from previous changes of possession.
     Emigration of Americans from the southeastern seaboard into Florida intensified during the 1820s and 1830s when the lumber, cotton, and sugar industries dominated the state's economy. With a vast expanse of relatively cheap and fertile land, Florida became an attractive destination for families from agricultural states throughout the South. During that period Jacksonville became the primary shipping point for agricultural produce from the interior regions of northeastern Florida. The processing and shipping of lumber ultimately became the fledgling community's most prominent industry. Commercial citrus production also played a vital role in the local economy until 1835, when a severe freeze devastated orange groves throughout the region.

     Anna Madgigine Jai, an African slave woman whom the legendary East Florida planter Zephaniah Kingsley took as his wife in 1806, spent the final months of her storied life in what is today Arlington.
     Anna bore Kingsley four children, all of whom he recognized as legitimate offspring. Given her own freedom in 1811, Anna often managed Kingsley's extensive Laurel Grove plantation (located near present-day Orange Park) and later moved with him to occupy a new home and plantation site on Fort George Island.
     Their two daughters married white men, both of whom were members of East Florida's prosperous business community. Such arrangements were not unusual in early nineteenth century Florida, when Spanish traditions of race relationships still endured.
Growing racial tensions eventually forced Anna to flee Florida, however. In 1860 she returned to live with her daughter, Martha, at Fort Isabel, located at the corner of land formed by the abrupt eastward turn of the St. Johns River. Three miles to the south, at what is today known as Clifton, lived her daughter Mary and John H. Sammis, Mary's husband. Anna fled again when the Civil War began, but returned in 1865, She lived another five years and is believed to have spent her final months in the Sammis House. Anna Kingsley may have been buried in the small Sammis family cemetery in Clifton, a block south of the residence.
For more information, see Daniel L. Schafer,
Anna Kingsley, published by the St. Augustine
Historical Society, 1994.

continued on jackvil5.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
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