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State of Florida vs. Cornelius Taylor

The year 1845 saw another disaster at the Taylor homestead when a boatload of men arrived from Mellonville to “do business” at Enterprise. They had really come over to “settle the score” with Taylor and drive him out of the country. A fight ensued between Taylor and Henry Crane, the county clerk, over possession of county records.

Taylor left and returned on horseback with a shotgun. Encountering Theodore Hinsdale on the lakefront, he shot him in the abdomen, leaving a hole the size of a coffee can. Taylor was arrested and tried for murder in St. Augustine. His attorneys raised the then unheard of sum of $18,000 – representing all of Taylor’s assets -- to bail him out. The jury believed Taylor’s claim of self-defense; he was acquitted.

In 1846 a court case questioned the legality of Taylor’s claim to the plantation in San Pablo near current day Jacksonville and his right to sell it to the timber contractors of Palmer and Ferris. Combined with economic difficulties, these problems may have caused Taylor to leave Enterprise in 1847 and take his family to Texas. There he bought a ranch to raise cattle for the army during the war with Mexico. Indian raids ended this venture, prompting Taylor to head to California to try his luck in the Gold Rush. He was reported to have been lost at sea in a hurricane off Mazatlan in 1849 on his way to California.

Catherine Taylor, whose father descended from Minorcans at the Turnbull Colony of “New Smyrnea,” returned briefly to Enterprise in the early 1850s where she reportedly ran a boardinghouse, possibly the original inn on the shell mound, before finally returning to Jacksonville to run the Taylor Hotel. She and her children sold the Enterprise tract to the James Starke family who built a large home called “Bueno Retiro” on a knoll beside one of the springs. This would become a boardinghouse serving the railroad clientele in the late 1800s.

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