In the early 19th century, armed incursions across the Spanish borderlands of Florida by U.S. forces pursuing runaway slaves and Creek Indians created an undeclared invasion of Spanish territory. Years of military challenges to dwindling Spanish defenses lessened the already weak grip of the Spanish government on Florida. Spain had no choice but to cede Florida to the United States in 1821.
Still, the plantation economy in Northeast Florida continued to flourish. The latest industrial and steam power technology was used in its large sugar factories. All this ended with the outbreak of the Second Seminole War in 1835. The Seminole Indians of Florida were revolting against U.S. policies which would remove them to the Indian Territory in present-day Oklahoma. The Southeastern Indians were pushed into the then worthless lands of the Indian territory soon after gold was discovered in Georgia. The discovery of gold provided an excuse to take Indian lands. The Seminoles and their Black allies resisted this forced relocation and many held their ground in the territory of Florida by waging war against the planters and settlers.
During the winter of 1835-36, the citizens of St. Augustine watched in dismay as clouds of billowing smoke drifted towards the city from the south. Except for the slave quarters, all of the plantations along the Halifax and Tomoka Rivers were burned to the ground by the Seminole Indians. Efforts to save the plantations were futile. The people of St. Augustine provided refuge for an exodus of plantation inhabitants. Within one month, the thriving plantations from Pellicer Creek to Cape Canaveral were reduced to ruin. The heyday of sugar was over, and it was never fully reestablished as an important crop in Northeastern Florida.
Thomas Dummett, an officer in the British Marines, purchased two East Florida plantations containing 3,000 acres in 1825. Dummett sent to the West Indies for a sugar specialist after several failed attempts to produce sugar on his East Florida land. Under the specialist's expert direction, Dummett soon had plentiful cane fields and a busy sugar mill and rum distillery, which included the first steam-operated mill in the area.
According to the memoirs of his daughter, Anna, the family lived in a big log house thatched with palmetto and surrounded by Bermuda grass and mossy oak trees. It was furnished with claw-footed tables and family portraits. Festive parties and dinners were held there before the Seminole War forced the family to flee to St. Augustine. The houses and buildings had once been a part of John Bunch's plantation. Only the sugar mill and distillery were built by Dummett. Anna also wrote laughingly of falling into a molasses cistern by accident, and told of teaching her slave playmates to read.
Dummett enjoyed a good relationship with the Seminoles, who worked with his cane hands during the busy grinding season, but their dissatisfaction with efforts to remove them from Florida was reflected in the words Billy Bowlegs, the Seminole leader, spoke to Dummett. "We compare ourselves to a beautiful flower ...growing in poor soil. If that flower is transplanted...it will die." After an Indian raid during the Seminole War, the Dummett plantation was abandoned by the family in 1836. The site of the Dummett sugar mill still can be visited.
The Dummett Plantation was only one part of one of the many grants given to John Moultrie. Moultrie had called it "Rosetta" and installed a manager on the property. By 1777, the main house, outbuildings, barns and slave housing were completed. The plantation grew indigo and rice, but it also provided corn, sugar cane and provision foods. When the British ceded Florida back to Spain, Moultrie abandoned Rosetta. It was granted to John Bunch in 1804. After 20 years, Bunch sold 2,175 acres of the property and 90 slaves to Thomas Dummett, who installed what was probably the first steam-powered sugar mill in Florida. Today, the chimneys of the old sugarworks stand tall despite years of neglect.
Bulow Creek State Park Dummett Mill Ruins - Go two miles north of the Tomoka State Park entrance on Old Dixie Highway (North Beach Street), on the right. No park fee, no facilities, trails. For information, please call (386) 676-4050.
In 1830, Henry Cruger and William Depeyster purchased 600 acres to build a sugar mill. The land had been part of the original Turnbull grant which became a part of the Second Spanish period grant to Dr. Ambrose Hull. Using the land as collateral, they secured a $10,000 loan for the purchase of steam equipment from the West Point Foundry in Cold Springs, New York. Cruger and Depeyster's venture was ill-timed. Just five years after they began their enterprise, the sugar mill was destroyed by the warring Seminole Indians. Today its beautiful arched walls remain to remind us of the industry and endeavors of their ill-fated partnership.
New Smyrna Beach Sugar Mill - From U.S. 1 in New Smyrna Beach, go two miles west on S.R. 44. Turn left on Mission Road. The mill is two blocks further on the right. No fee, facilities, picnicking.
The Macrae brothers, Kenneth and Duncan, purchased one-fourth of the former Addison Plantation owned by Thomas Dummett. They built a plantation and steam-powered sugar mill using the Addison house and outbuildings already on the property. They grew and processed sugar at the site from 1832-1836 when the Second Seminole Indian War suddenly ended their visions of profit.
An early morning skirmish in 1836 forced soldiers to use the sugar factory and detached kitchen of the house as a defensive bulwark. A cannon named after a fallen comrade, "McDuffie," was placed on the roof of the former kitchen. The main house and other buildings were destroyed, although the slave quarters were left undisturbed, as was the custom of the Seminoles.
Troops assembled near the encampment. The Seminoles ambushed troops who ventured to collect firewood and cut sugar cane. After killing and wounding several solders, the Indians retreated. Three days later, the men received orders to abandon the camp and move west, leaving behind a number of their wounded in a nearby wooden stockade, where they would be rescued later. After this damaging attack by the Seminoles, the plantation was abandoned.
The Macrae sugar mill ruins are quite extensive but the Addison Blockhouse and the Macrae ruins are not open to the public. Still visible today, the fortified kitchen has long been misidentified as the "Addison Blockhouse." The Addisons were even not alive when the skirmish took place. The site should be more properly called the Macrae Blockhouse, but the name is not likely to change. The present structure was partially rebuilt in the 1920s as part of a Florida land boom development.
Captain James Ormond owned a plantation in Exuma and the ship "Somerset," an armed brig he used to ply the waters of the West Indies and the Gulf for the Panton, Leslie and Company trading firm. In the early 19th century he acquired land grants in Spanish Florida where he was later murdered by a runaway slave. One grant was for a plantation formerly known as "Damietta" during the British Period.
His family retreated to Scotland to live with another son, James Ormond II, a junior partner in a trading company which failed. To avoid debtor's prison, James Ormond II soon fled to Florida with his mother and Emmanuel, a younger brother. He exchanged 2,000 acres of the elder Ormond's land grant for a land tract of equal size in the Tomoka basin, just north of McHardy's plantation.
James Ormond III was born to a beautiful but anxious mother, the grey-eyed Isabella Ormond. His mother's nervous condition led him to live for a time on the Bulow plantation after returning from school in St. Augustine, where he learned John Bulow's methods of plantation management. While there, he wrote many amusing tales about Bulow's wild bachelor ways. He admired his mother and described her as an accomplished musician and a natural artist, but he was separated from her often.
His father and Uncle Emmanuel died in 1829. Only one more crop of cotton was grown before the Ormond Plantation was left to decay. Its slaves were sold to work sugar crops on the Cruger & Depeyster Plantation in New Smyrna Beach. James III later joined the militia during the Second Seminole Indian War and served under the leadership of his old friend, Douglas Dummett.
The Ormond Plantation was established by James Ormond during the Second Spanish Period. The plantation, once a complex of 12 buildings, was destroyed, and nothing remains above ground to hint of its former prosperity. Still, the site is worth visiting. A magnificent stand of live oaks, including the landmark Fairchild Oak, marks the location of the former plantation.
Ormond Plantation Site & the Fairchild Oak is 4.5 miles north of the Tomoka State Park entrance on Old Dixie Highway, about two miles on the right. No fee, facilities, picnicking. For more information, please call (386) 676-4050
Charles Bulow brought 300 slaves from the Bulow plantation near Charleston, S.C. They cleared 2,500 of the 6,000 acres he acquired in 1821 from the estate of the Bahamian planter James Russell. Russell had traded his schooner, "The Perseverance," to the Spanish for the tract in 1812. The Bulow fortune, which included large plantations and stately townhouses in South Carolina, was first established by Baron Joachim Von Bulow, who organized the Lutheran church in the Carolinas.
The Bulow Plantation in Volusia County had potential that its founder was never to experience. He died three years after his arrival in Florida and was buried in the Huguenot Cemetery in St. Augustine. The plantation passed to his minor son John Joachim. John returned to Florida after a Paris education to rebuild Bulowville, as it was called. Bulow was described by James Ormond III, as "young, his own master, but wild and dissipated, graduated in all the devilment to be learned in Paris." After an 1831 visit to the plantation, the ornithologist John James Audubon wrote about Bulow's extensive library.
Bulowville prospered until 1835, when young Bulow disagreed with the plan to exile the Indians to the West. Bulow had a friendly relationship with the Seminoles, who supplied the plantation with meat. Bulow's resistance led to his imprisonment and the conversion of his plantation into an armed camp by U.S. troops. Bulow Plantation was destroyed by the Seminoles in 1836; its prosperous lifestyle, fine library and the plantation reduced to ashes.
Go north on Beach Street from the Tomoka State Park entrance in Ormond Beach, then 5.5 miles north on Old Dixie Highway. Turn right on Old King's Road. The park entrance is two miles on the right. Park fee, facilities, picnicking.
Woodruff purchased 2,020 acres at DeLeon Springs and a plantation named Spring Gardens in 1823. This same site was later developed by Orlando Rees into a substantial sugar mill with a water wheel run by the power of the spring.
Wooduff's slaves quickly built a two-story log cabin in anticipation of the arrival of his wife and household goods. Their supplies soon ran low and the slaves were starving. Woodruff also argued with a Seminole chief, Yuchi Billy, who had planted corn and settled on the traditional Indian land with its rich soil, easy access to the St. John's River and fresh spring waters. The major threatened Billy with a lashing and gave him three days to leave. When Billy agreed to leave the land, Woodruff gave him gifts of corn, gunpowder, sugar and lead.
Woodruff's bad luck continued as food remained in short supply. A terrible fever spread swiftly through the plantation and, to complicate matters, the livestock came down with distemper. His wife Jane lost her newborn child, and their provision ship sank before it could reach Spring Gardens with much-needed food and supplies.
Joseph Woodruff was elected to the Legislative Council of Florida just as many Seminoles were taking up arms. Despite his family's hardships and the loss of his child, Woodruff worked his plantation until his death during a Yellow Fever epidemic in the 1820s. After his death, his wife left Spring Gardens, never to return. She died in 1834 and was survived by only two of their eight children. A nephew, Henry Woodruff, later worked the plantation until he was killed by the Seminoles during the Second Seminole Indian War.
The spring-run sugar mill at DeLeon Springs and its water wheel mechanism were built by Colonel Orlando Rees, the owner of the plantation in the late 1820s. The spring's first owner was William Williams, who was given a large land grant in 1804 which included the spring. Joseph Woodruff later bought a third of the William's original land grant in 1823. All of its owners called the plantation Spring Gardens.
Although Woodruff entertained the notion of building a sugar mill, he died before he was able to begin the project. Rees set up the water-run mill on the advice of an engineer who had constructed mills for nearby coastal sugar planters. John James Audubon, the painter and naturalist, visited Rees in 1832 and mentioned a "Scottish Engineer" who may have been Ruben Loring, the engineer of the Dummett Mill, or Duncan Macrae of the Macrae Mill. The spring's flow soon became the source of power for the mill's water wheel.
There are many myths about the spring and its part in the story of Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon's search for the "fountain of youth," although there is no evidence that he visited here during his 1513 and 1521 explorations of Florida. The wheel has been reconstructed and the original chimney is still in use by the Sugar Mill Restaurant, known for its pancake breakfast and bakery.
DeLeon Springs State Park Take S.R. 40 from Ormond Beach to U.S. 17; turn left at Barberville to DeLeon Springs. Or travel S.R. 92 from Daytona Beach to S.R. 17. Turn right to DeLeon Springs State Park. Park fee, facilities, showers, canoeing, swimming, picnicking. Please call (386) 985-4212 for more information.
The ownership of the Dunlawton Sugar Mill site dates back to the Turnbull grant of 1777. In 1804, Patrick Dean and John Bunch, Dean's Uncle, acquired portions of the former Turnbull property. After Dean was killed by an Indian in 1818, his aunt Cecily Bunch inherited Dean's portion. John Bunch continued to work the plantation after her death. In 1830, Bunch gave the property to his grandson, John Bonnemaison Bunch McHardy. McHardy was a British Naval officer who rose to the rank of admiral. Having no interest in the land, McHardy sold it in 1830 to Charles Lawton of Charleston.
Lawton named the property Dunn-Lawton, a combination of his mother's maiden name and his own name. this name remained even after Lawton sold the property to Sarah P. Anderson of the Tomoka basin. The sugar mill that Sarah and her two sons constructed there was destroyed by the Seminoles in 1835. Unlike the other East Florida sugar mills, Dunlawton was rebuilt in 1846 by John J. Marshall who used the equipment from the Cruger and Depeyster mill in New Smyrna Beach to reconstruct and expand the mill. The site also has the old animal-powered cane crusher from the Williams Grove Plantation, which was located in what is now Daytona Beach.