Home‎ > ‎History‎ > ‎



In the book of Jacksonville earnest and candid effort has been made, first, to review the salient points in the history of our City; second, to record her remarkable growth and advancement during the last two decades; and, finally and especially, to picture and describe faithfully, truthfully, and adequately the Jacksonville of to-day, her appearance and progress, her institutions and industries, her people and their condition, her present greatness and future prospects, so as to give a fair and intelligent presentation of what shr is to our contemporaries, and to those who ere long will fill our places in the busy arena of her affairs, to preserve as a souvenir and a memento of the time and the place in which we live.

A work of this nature requires unremitting toil, deep research, and careful gleaning.  The work of the historian is necessarily laborious; he must not only get facts, but must confine himself to facts, and must dress them up so as to present them in an attractive form, that will be at once entertaining and instructive.  Very little of originality can be claimed for this work; it has been necessary to draw upon every available source of information, and as this has breen done promiscuously, the history becomes of the nature of a compilation rather than an original treatise.  Great care has been taken in its preparation, however, to confine all statements within conservative bounds.  We have no desire to exaggerate, as the simple truth about Jacksonville shows her off to greater advantage than most of her contemporaries enjoy.

But however great a city's advantages and attractions may be, it is necessary that they be put before the worldin order to attrat the attention they deserve.  Much depends upon the manner in which this is done; and to gain the best results, it is necessary that they be put up in a form not only attractive, but enduring and permanent.  This work, it is believed, answers the purpose, and it may be truthfully asserted that its equal in this respect has never been attempted in the State.  Those seeking information as to the real conditions in Jacksonville, will obtain it by a perusal of the various chapters in this book, and to such I commend it as ben authentic and reliable. 

I desire to express my thanks to those public spirited citizens who, by their liberal co-operation, have made this work possible.  I indulge the hope and belief that it will serve a good purpose, and reflect that deree of crediy upon the community which has been predicted for it. 

Whether it be a financial success or not, the writer has a satisfaction in knowing that every promise made in connection with the enterprise has been faithfully fulfilled.


p. 7


What the learned Piso said of Ancient Palmyra, the Queen City of the East, we may, with an even greater degree of truth, say of Florida to-day.  If, as the Ancients believed, the gods had come down to dwell upon earth, they could not but have chosen Florida as the place of their residence, both on account of the general beauty of the land and the exceeding sweetness and serenity of the climate.  The air, always rich with perfume from the hundreds of groves and gardens that flourish in every section, seems to convey essential nutriment to all who breath it.  It is a pleasure merely to sit still and live.  The inhabitans never tremble with the cold blasts that are common to more northerly climes; indeed, no extremes of either heat or cold is every known here.  Physicians assert that sunstroke is unknown in the State.  Certain it is that the summer is as free from extreme heat as the winter from extreme cold.  It may be explained by the geographical situation of the State, which, being a narrow peninsular lying between two great seas, is at all times most favorably affected by the cooling and refreshing influences of almost perpetutal breezes that come from either gulf or ocean.  This, coupled with the fact that the "rainy season" falls in summer, produces conditions most favorable to a summer residence here.  These, too, are among the causes that account for the general healthfulness of the climate.  The ozone from the adjacent seas, that permeates all the air, is most healthful and invigorating to animal life.  The elements in the atmosphere seem to constitute an elixir that nourishes every sense with that which it chiefly covets.  The forces of nature are so harmonized as to render it one of the most desirable places of residence on the earth.

Florida has the oldest settlement in all the States, yet she is the most recently discovered of them all.  For centuries she lay like a diamond that is hidden, all unobserved by the great world; unvisited by travelers; unnoted by writers; unknown, save in connection with legendary romances covering a period from the landin of old Juan Ponce de Leon to the close of the last Seminole War; and believed to be fit only for Indians, alligators and ague to reside in.  But "the first shall be last, and the last shall be fire."  Florida at length was discovered anew, and at one bound she became, as it were, the centre of the universe; the winter hom and sanitarium of North America, and the orange grove of the world.  With the mists of ignorance cleared away, the fallacies of centuries exploded, the eye of discovery perceived at a glance beauties and attractions hitherto unknown on the continent.  An appreciative world was not slow to seize and appropriate the advantages revealed in these discoveries, and during the past three decades every hemisphere, every nation and clime have furnished their quota of immigrants, tourists, invalids, seeking pleasure, profit, health -- and not in vain.  Here labor has found employment, and capital profitable inestment.  Here men and women live out their allotted time in comfort and tranquility, free from the discomforts of a harsh climate, free from the disturbances of a discontented population, free from the collisions between capital and labor which distract other communities; but, amidst the most pleasant surroundings, in the most equable climate and under the most favorable conditions that could be desired, these people pass down the event ways of life, blessed with peace and contentment, and surrounded with comforts that make their condition enviable.  But Florida must be seen and known to be justly appreciated.  Descriptions, however ably delivered, fail to convey an adequate idea of the real conditions.  You must come and see for yourself, and, if you would of the real intrinsic joy of living make discovery; if you would at one glance behold every charm in nature concentrate in one rare territory; if you would every good and perfect blessing share, lose no single moment in delay, but haste with what speed you may to this heaven-appointed land; a land where the finger-prints of God on evey flower linger, and flame in glowing colors on the plumage of the birds; a land where ever breathing creature rejoices in an exisence free from all cankering ills; where even things inanimate seem endowed with a mysterious volition and a sense to perform its specific allotment in the wonderful combination of harmonies that constitute the grand and perfect whole, which nature's God has here created and stamped with his own awful presence, that men may know they here behold the last, the best, the sublimest work of His eternal hand. 

Brown, S. Paul, The book of Jacksonville:  a history; Poughkeepsie, N.Y.: A.V. Haight, printer and bookbinder, 1895, 194 pages, pp. 9-10


Of this Florida, this youngest, in development, of the sisterhood of American Commonwealths; this land of the semi-tropics, so highly favored of Heaven, so rich in blessings to mankind, Jacksonville is the nature entrepot and metropolis; the centre of finance, commerce and transportation, and ranking third in importance of the cities on the South Atlantic Seaboard.  It is the most important orange market in the world, and the greatest Winter Resort in America. 

Jacksonville is situated on the north side of the St. Johns River, at a point where this magnificent stream, deviating from its uniformly northerly course, makes a great bend eastward to the sea, from which the city is distant about twenty-five miles.  The exact location is:  latitude, thirty degrees twenty-four minutes; longitude, eighty degrees forty minutes.

The place where Jacksonville now stands was formerly known only as the chief place of cross the St. Johns.  Its Indian name was Wacca Pilatka.  Its liberal meaning, and the nearest that it can be rendered into English, is the "Cows Crossing Over."  By all English-speaking people ho knew of it, it was abbreviated into the Cow Ford. 

The English, while they possessed the country, constructed a road leading from St. Augustine northwest to the great river at this place, and hence, in the same direction, to the Georgia line, and far beyond.  This was before the Revolution.  Spain had previously possessed the province, but had never opened a road through any part of it worthy the name; nor did she afterwards when she became repossessed of it.  The road opened was called the King's Road, and is so known to the present time.  It brought travel from the Southern States, and when the Patriot War began, it led the Patriot Army to the St. Johns.  Her is lay encamped around the Cow Ford for several weeks.  This was in 1812.  The army finally crossed the river, and adanced to St. Augustine; but having no heavy guns, it was impossible to capture the fort, and, after lying before it several months, it drew off and retraced its steps, and remained for a time on the east side of the river, and finally recrossed at the Cow Ford and disappeared, never to unite again.

As early as the year 1800 Isaac Hendricks, grandfather of Judge H. B. Phillips, owning a Spanish grant on the south side of the river, operated the first ferry for the accommodation of travelers.  But it was not until the year 1816 that a settlement was made on the north side of the river.  In that year Lewis Z. Hogans, another Spanish grantee, built the first house of the future metropolis of Florida, and became the first settler.  Mr. Hogans had married the widow of Purnall Taylor, who had a one-hundred-acre grant adjoining his own, and the two conjointly owned a greater portion of the land now occupied by the city.  In 1817 Juan Maestre (John Masters, in English) obtained a one-hundred acre grant from Spain, and became a settler with the Hogans, on ajoining property.  He soon left, however, and in 1820 conveyed his property to John Brady, who proceeded to occupy and improve it.  Mr. Brady, by reason of his entertaining, at his house, the few travelers who stopped over in the new settlement, enjoys the distinction of having kept the first hotel in what has since become one of the foremost hotel cities in the country.  The first store was conducted by Dawson & Buckles, two Georgians, who were among the first settlers. 

On the 22d of February, 1819, Spain ceded Florida to the United States.  This was a signal for the influx of immigrants from every direction.  Among the firt of these was John Locke Doggett, who afterwards built the first court house, and became the first County Judge, besides holding many other positions of trust and honor, including the Presidency of the Legislative Council of the territory; Colonel I. D. Hart and his brothet, Daniel C., who likewise became prominent in public affiars.  Others were John Bellamy, Benjamin Chaires, Francis J. Ross and D. H. S. Miller.  In 1822 the town was laid out, and named in honor of General Andrew Jackson, the first Territorial Governor.  Messrs. Bellamy, Ross and Chaires were the Town COmmissioners, and Miller the Surveyor.  The city was not incorporated, however, until 1833.  The first Mayor was William J. Mills, of an English family.  The community flourished and grew, and the inhabitants prospered, till the breaking out of the Seminole War, in 1835, when there was a general cessation in all lines of business till the restoration of peace, in 1842.  While Jacksonville was never attacked during this war, her commerce and interior trade, as well as all agricultural operations in the interior, were entirely suspended.  All able-bodied men were on duty, and the planters, with their families and slaves, had fled to Jacksonville for protection from the marauding savages.  With the end of the war came another era of prosperity, which continued uninterrupted till the last great calamity, the Civil War, was inaugurated.  It destroyed everything.  Jacksonville was abandoned by its inhabitants, by all who could get away; many of them lost all, a large number carrying away nothing.  They went mostly into the interior, where for four years they struggled with privation and hardships unknown before.  When the war had ended and they returned, it was to find, in many cases, their homes and buildings destroyed, and themselves without a sheltr, and unable to recognize the places where they had lived.  The United States army had held possession -- though at the first no continuously -- and while here had put the torch ot ad burned down every building in the outer edge of the town, and had thrown up breastworks in almost every quarter.  Except the surprise and killing of a picket-guard at the Brickyard Ranch, soon after the commencement of the war, the place was never attacked by the Confederate forces, because it was well known to the leaers that, if taken, it could not be held, as long as the river was open to the United States gunboats. 

The real history of Jacksonville dates from the close of the war, in 1865.  At that time the little city had a population of about 5,000, when all had returned; but the people were in a fearfully demoralized condition.  The principal buildings, including the court house, churches, schools, and many of the residence, had been destroyed by fire.  There was absolutely no business, no commerce, no communication with the outside world, save by one railroad, the Florida Central and Peninsular, as it is now called, running from Jacksonville to Quincy, without connection with any other line.  This road, for want of adequate repairs and equipment, at that time was almost worthless, and, as some wit described it, was "only two streaks of rust running through a wilderness."  Hradually, however, the leading spirits got together, and began to knit anew the fabric of their destiny.  Almos all kinds of business carried on before the war were by derees revived, and some to a greater xtent than ever before.  The genial climate, and curiosity to use Florida, rought many from abroad, who, when they came, ere often so agreeably surprised and so pleased, that the accounts they gave created an influence which brought in foreign capital, which, increasing with the general prosperiy of the country, has produced here what in an earlier day would have been considered a fiction rather than a reality.

Brown, S. Paul, The book of Jacksonville:  a history; Poughkeepsie, N.Y.: A.V. Haight, printer and bookbinder, 1895, 194 pages, pp. 11-13.


WIth this brief summary of events in the history of Jacksonville, from the time of its settlement to the close of the war in 1865, we wil dispense with the regular narrative, and close the City's history up to date in the accounts given of her various industries and institutions.  These ar largely of such importance of her various industries and institutions.  Thee are largely of such importance as to require a separate chapter for each; the subjects can in this manner be trusted more comprehensively, and with greater clearness and convenience to the reader. 


In order that the reader may have at his command the fullest measure of information concerning the laws under which the municipality is operated, it is deemed best to insert a copy of the City Charter here.  Jacksonville has had many charters in her history; but, as wisdom is gained by experience, it is believed that the present one is by long odds the bes she has ever had.  Prior to the year 1887 the comunity, now omprising the City of Jacksonville, contained three separate municipalities:  Jacksonville, La Villa and Fairfield.  By an act of the Legislature, approved May 31st, 187, the then existing characters of these three cities were abolished, and the present municipality of Jacksonville was established.  By this act the city limits of Jacksonville were extended so as to embrace the other two, besides considerale adjacent territory, almost doubling the population while increasing the area many fold.  The conditions existing prior to the adoption of the present charter, in 1887, were such as to materially hinder the progress of the City and permanently check its growth.  It was in the hands of the rabble, largely.  The negro element predominated in all departments of city affairs.  Citizens were continually apprehensive; credit was destroyed, friction engendered, and dire consequences imminent, when House Bill No. 4, as the act was called, relieved the situation by taking away the franchise from the people.  The City Council then was appointed by the Governor, and that body elected all other city officials.  This heroic measure, as it may be termed, was adopted on the petition of a large majority of the best citizens and property owners, and only as a last resort to obtain a measure of relief.  IT was the salvation of the community.  The beneficient effects of the measure were felt from the moment of its adoption, and the city entered upon a period of prosperity and confidence never before enjoyed.  But it served its time and purpose.  When the Legislature of 1893 met a petition was presented for an amendment to the charter, restoring to the people the elective franchise, which it had been necessary at another time to take from them.  The bill for amendment was championed by Hon. D. U. Fletcher, now Mayor, but then a Representative from Duval County.  This amendment was adopted, and approved May 30th, 1893, and the Council is now elected by the people; City affair work smoothly, and general satisfaction is the result.

The Constitution of the State of Florida, now in force, contains the following provisions concerning Municipalities and Municipal Governments:


    SECTION 8.  The Legislature shall have power to establish and to abolish municipalities; to provide for their government; to prescribe their jurisdiction and powers, and to alter or amend the same at any time.  When any municipality shall be abolished, provision shall be made for the protection of its creditors.


    SECTION 5.  The Legislature shall authorize the several counties and incorporated cities or towns in the State to assess and impose taxes, for county and municipal purposes, and for no other purposes, and all property shall be taxed upon the principles established for State taxation.  But the cities and incorporated towns shall make their own assessments for municipal purposes upon the property within their limits.

Following is the Jacksonville City Charter, together with the amendments thereto:

\[start on page 15 of book]

Brown, S. Paul, The book of Jacksonville:  a history; Poughkeepsie, N.Y.: A.V. Haight, printer and bookbinder, 1895, 194 pages, pp. 14-