Live Oak Harvesting

The quest for live oak to supply the Navy had resulted in the wholesale decimation of the timber resources throughout the Southeast as far back as the early 1800s, alarming Congress into passing a law in 1822 to protect remaining stands of timber on public land.

Taylor had started out as a U.S. Timber Agent, commissioned to prevent contractors and individuals from cutting stands of trees on public land and angering many of them in the process. With the advent of a new administration in Tallahassee, Taylor was replaced by another agent and quickly changed his position to demand that settlers be allowed to harvest their timber and sell it to private contractors. They did until a directive came down from the federal government saying that only the timber necessary for construction and cultivation could be cut. This resulted in financial hardship for many of the settlers.

Live oak, highly prized by the Navy for shipbuilding, was the main attraction of the area for the early settlers. Taylor argued before Congress that the colonists of Enterprise and other areas should have the right to sell timber from their land to support themselves until their crops could come in. The Palmer and Ferris Company bought much of the timber from land grant owners. At right is the old oak tree (no longer standing) on the lakefront near the Brock House.

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