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TIMUC_050309_008.JPG: Spanish Pond
In 1565 Spaniards, slogging through wetlands like Spanish Pond to overtake Fort de la Caroline, saw an inhospitable environment. Today we see backyards. An open, pristine pine flatwoods once surrounded this spot; today, a fragmented forest with thick underbrush exists. Pristine or backyard, nature is still alive at Spanish Pond.
500 Spanish soldiers from St. Augustine marched four days through marsh, forest tangle, fierce wind, and heavy rainfall to an encampment near here. Exhausted and hungry, they rusted in a downpour. At dawn, they attacked and captured France's Fort de la Caroline.
TIMUC_050309_022.JPG: Kingsley Plantation:
Welcome to Kingsley Plantation on Fort George Island. Plentiful resources have drawn people here for several centuries. Inhabitation brought conflict and interaction between cultures -- native societies, European colonial powers, African and American pioneers. Because of its strategic location near the mouth of the St. John's River, Fort George Island changed hands many times.
Starting in 1791, this island became an agricultural area, beginning another harsh cultural conflict. A succession of owners became wealthy through the sale of Sea Island cotton, grown by enslaved African people. The complex social issues of the time eventually led to regional conflict and civil war.
Today, Kingsley Plantation represents some of the most important people in these struggles, not the powerful political leaders of a nation, but people who lived daily with the institution of slavery. Their stories are here...
TIMUC_050309_025.JPG: One of the outbuildings for the Kingsley plantation
TIMUC_050309_027.JPG: The plantation master house was being refurbished when I was there and was not open to the public.
TIMUC_050309_067.JPG: Fragile Survivors:
The buildings around you have grown fragile over time. But their walls -- some over 200 years old -- testify silently to the endurance of those who lived and worked here during Florida's plantation era.
Between 1765 and 1865, Fort George Island was a working plantation. Up to 100 enslaved men, women and children worked to clear fields, toils over crops, constructed and maintained buildings, and cooked for their masters -- all the while trying to maintain a fragile sense of community. Despite the harsh conditions of slavery, the owner's constant scrutiny, and a difficult environment, these people persevered and developed a rich culture.
TIMUC_050309_072.JPG: An Enslaved Woman Finds Success:
The 13-year old Senegalese slave whom Zephaniah married was named Anta Majigeen Njaay -- known in Florida as Anna Kingsley. When freed at age 18, Anna became eligible to petition the Spanish government for her own property. After receiving 50 acres, she acquired her own slaves and managed her own plantation. Later, her land holdings increased substantially. When the Kingsley family moved to Fort George Island, Zephaniah relied on Anna to manage this plantation, as well as other business affairs.
Because of repressive new laws that virtually the liberties of free blacks, Anna moved to Haiti in 1837, where free blacks were welcome. Other Kingsley family members also moved to Haiti, including Anna's sons and Kingsley's other children and their mothers. The land was worked by former Kingsley slaves.
After her husband's death in 1843, Anna returned to Florida in 1846 to fight in court for what Kingsley bequeathed his wives and mixed-race family in his will. She won the case, proving that her family was legally entitled to the considerable inheritance left to them. Until her death in 1870, she lived comfortably in what is now Jacksonville's Arlington section, near her two daughters and their families.
TIMUC_050309_073.JPG: A Slave's Life: Shaped by the Owner:
To endure, plantation slaves needed strength, both physical and spiritual. With no right to govern their own affairs, they were completely at the mercy of their owners. Harsh physical punishment -- sometimes causing death -- was both legal and common. Families were torn mercilessly apart at slave auctions. Endless days of labor turned into months and years. Freedom was just a dream.
Nonetheless, slaves fought valiantly to sustain a sense of community through the practice of medicine and religion, story-telling, music, and dance. Many of these communal activities have made their way into modern American society.
Kingsley's slaves worked under a "task system," in which they had specific daily duties to perform. After work, they gathered or grew their own food or tended to family matters. In his will, Kingsley requested that his families not be broken up if sold.
1820's Cotton Tasks:
Listing 1/4 acre
Hoeing 1/2 acre
Picking 90-100 pounds
Ginning 20-30 pounds
TIMUC_050309_076.JPG: A Successful Planter Fails:
When merchant and trader Zephaniah Kingsley came to Florida in 1803, Spain had territorial control. On a plantation south of here, Kingsley assembled 100 slaves and grew cotton and oranges. Three years later, Kingsley purchased -- and married -- a 13-year-old African slave.
In 1814, the Kingsley family moved to Fort George Island, and their slaves began to grow Sea Island cotton. Twelve hundred feet from the plantation house, the slaves were directed to build a semi-circle of 32 tabby concrete cabins to live in.
In Spanish history, slavery was defined by class, and slaves were able to better their condition, even find freedom. That changed when Florida became and American territory in 1821, and harsh new race laws threatened the liberties of Kingsley's wife, children, and all free people of color. Now a rich and respected planter, Kingsley strongly advocated tolerance of freed blacks and persons of mixed race. But he failed to sway lawmakers, who enacted ever-more-repressive laws. By the mid-1830's, he acknowledged his failure, and moved his family to Haiti, a free black republic.
"Our laws to regulate slaves are entirely founded on terror. Few will deny that color and condition are two separate qualities... but our Legislators have confounded together two very different things... with no better foundation than prejudice." -- Zephaniah Kingsley, "Treatise", 1829.
TIMUC_050309_079.JPG: Sturggles for Success in Florida:
This island's human history stretched over 6,000 years. Colonization brought conflict and interaction between cultures including native societies, European powers, and African and American pioneers. Because of its ideal location near the St. Johns River, Fort George Island changed handed many times.
Resources such as shellfish, easy water access, and soil suitable for planting drew people here over the centuries. Those who came to Florida found intense heat and humidity, clouds f biting insects, and dense maritime hammocks. Planters turned to slave labor because Africans were thought to endure these hardships more readily than white settlers.
TIMUC_050309_083.JPG: These are the remains of the slave quarters built of "tabby"
TIMUC_050309_092.JPG: The slave quarter on the left is being fixed up so you can see what it was like.
Wikipedia Description: Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve is located in the city of Jacksonville, Florida in the United States. The park was established in 1988, and covers 46,000 acres (186.16 kmē). Critical wetland habitats are protected within the Preserve, which contains more than 300 privately held pieces of land. The Fort Caroline National Memorial is located in the Timucuan Preserve, as is the Kingsley Plantation. The Preserve is maintained through cooperation by the National Park Service, the Florida Parks Service and the City of Jacksonville Department of Parks and Recreation, and is named for the Timucua Indians who once lived throughout northern Florida.
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