Palatka, Putnam County
Florida East Coast Railway
St. Johns River
Palatka The Gem City
Before Palatka was a railroad town. It was a river town. Sitting on the banks of the Welaka (to Native Americans meaning
perhaps It has its own way or a chain of lakes), Rio de Corrientes (to the Spanish),  Riviere de Mai (to the French) again
for the Spanish as the Rio de San Mateo (River of St. Matthew (again to the Spanish) until finally the Spanish mission
name of San Juan del Puerto (St. John of the Harbor) caught on and was shortened to St. John's by the British and
finally St. Johns by the Americans.

The Beginnings
The first settlers were in the British period on the 1500 acre plantation of Jos'h Gray. It was short lived and replaced by
Native Americans at the time of Bartram's voyage in 1774. Palatka had reverted back to the original owners who had
been there for thousands of years. It was the site of mound along with sixty-six other mounds located in Putnam county.
It was the home of the Apalachee, Timucua, Tocobaga and other tribes that cultivated corn, squash, beans, and
tobacco. After the European invasion these tribes would disappear victims of slave labor and European diseases. This
territory would become a no man's land separating the European descendants from the Seminole tribe of the Creek
nation. William Bartram would in 1776 have a feast of water melons and oranges with Native Americans on the site
where he would observe the growing of beans, corn watermelons, figs, oranges, peaches, peas, potatoes, pumpkins
and squash.
 Seminoles would give it the name of Pilo-takakita meaning crossing over or cows' crossing.  

Before it had the official name of Palatka is was simply "the lower trading house." Later as a port city it would dock
steamers from Charleston and Savannah.

The American period in 1824 and 1825 settled the land claims of the Palatka area. Andrew R. Govan claimed six
hundred acres known as New Buena Vista (or Orange Grove). Nehemiah Brust received 10,000 acres. Belton A. Copp  
originally claimed a thousand acres on the east bank of the St. Johns near Lake George. He ended up with the Palatka
site but sold it to Nehemiah Brush who developed it.

In 1822 a Dr. James Kelley traveled from St. Augustine went to Palatka where the Woodruffs (brothers?) had two
unbarked pine log structures one was a dwelling and the other a storehouse. There was another report of this
settlement from H. H. Holliman a surveyor who found: "Mr. Woodruff, and one or two other men employed....There was a
storehouse and two or three other houses built of logs which seemed to have been put up." Another later but undated
report would place a stone house at "Pilatki" (sic)

On December 15, 1826 Post Office Number 5395, Palatka Florida was created with Samuel R. Ayers, Jr. as postmaster.
Thomas Brush would serve as postmaster in 1828.

Seminole War
Before the war the leading citizen of Palatka was Doctor Brush of New York. There was a ferry at Palatka to cross the
river. The road from Palatka led from St. Augustine to Allachua country. Palatka was burned by the Seminoles early in
the war. In 1840 General Walker K. Armistead the military commander of Florida made Fort Shannon in Palatka the
headquarters of the St. Johns River District.

Important from Florida (National Banner and Nashville Whig, January 15, 1836)
By the schooner
George & Mary, Capt. Willey, we have received the Jacksonville Courier of the 24th ult. containing the
following important intelligence from the seat of Indian hostilities, in East Florida.

We learn from Capt. Willey, that news reached Jacksonville on the morning of the 25th, that Captain Lancaster, of the
militia, had been seriously wounded, supposed mortally, and Mr. Woodruff and one Negro were killed. In the vicinity of
Forester's Plantation, the Indians had laid waste the country from Black Creek to Fort King, a distance of eighty miles.
From Lake George to
Picolata they had burned all the houses, and destroyed property.

A store and bindery establishment of Dr. Brush, at Palatka, were destroyed by fire, on Wednesday last.

From Florida (New Hampshire Patriot and State Gazette, October 21, 1841)
Palatka, Sept. 17, 1841.
As your reporter, it becomes my duty to state that about 5 o'clock yesterday morning, a general gloom was spread over
the camp stationed in this vicinity, by the death of Lieut. E. M. Thayer, of the 2d Reg't of Dragoons, and one of its most
promising young officers.

The report of a carbine was heard from the closed marquee of that officer, early in the morning, and by the individuals
who immediately repaired to the spot Lieut. Thayer was discovered in the last agonies of death. He was seated in a
chair, and apparently had shot himself by placing the muzzle of the piece to his head, and spring the weapon by
bringing the trigger in contact with his toe.

Lieut. Thayer was originally from Massachusetts, but he is registered as an appointment from Ohio.--No cause can be
given for the sudden alienation of reason, under the mysterious influence of which he was prompted to commit the act of

Death of Capt. Hezekiah Garner (The Southern Patriot, November 1, 1841)
It also becomes our duty to announce the death of Capt. Hezekiah Garner, of the 3d Artillery, a most worthy officer,
which occurred at Palatka yesterday morning, after a few days illness. Capt. Garner was the son-in-law of General

Putnam County
In 1849 Palatka was no longer part of St. Johns County but became the county seat of the newly created Putnam
County. It was incorporated as a city on January 8, 1853.   

St Mark's Episcopal
St. Marks was organized on December 12, 1853 and is the oldest Church in Palatka. Episcopal services had been held
since as least 1846. Judge Isaac Bronson, Judge James Burt and ex-governor William D. Moseley and 15 others
organized the church.

Interesting Letter from East Florida (Floridian and Journal, June 17, 1854)
Ex-Governor Moseley has been for several months a resident upon the St. Johns River in East Florida. The following
interesting letter from him will show that he finds the East no less attractive than the Middle. We have seen, within a day
or two, some specimens of the fruits which grow upon the St. Johns -- They were exhibited to us by J.P.K. Savage, Esq.,
who has just returned from a trip eastward, and by whose hands Gov. M's esteemed letter was received. The fruits were
full ripe Oranges of prodigious size, fresh plucked from the tree, Citrons, enormous Lemons, not quite ripe, and Limes.
Such samples of what our beloved State is capable of producing, if exhibited in the older States, would certainly tend to
accelerate and swell the tide of emigration within our borders. Florida is indeed the "Land of Promise," for no other part
of this happy confederacy do so many attractions present themselves. Whatsoever the heart desires, her generous soil
yields. But to the letter;

Palatka Fla., June 9, 1854
My Dear Sir:--Since I have been in this division of the State, I have availed myself of every favorable opportunity to
become acquainted with its resources, and now have the pleasure to assure you that as an Agricultural, Grazing, Fruit
and Vegetable country, I know none in the South that presents a further field for successful speculation, or a more
desirable home for emigrants from the old States than that portion of Florida situate East of the Suwanee, including the
entire Peninsula. This division alone is larger in geographic extent than the state of Ohio. Here may be successfully
cultivated most of the products of the tropics. Here, too, are the soil and the climate adapted to the cultivation of long
staple Cotton, Sugar and Tobacco. There are perhaps more 'Orange Groves on the St. Johns and its tributaries than in
all the other Southern States. This vast region of country much of which is still in Nature's rich dress, is intersected for
more than two hundred miles by the St. Johns, emphatically an inland sea, or the most magnificent river I have ever
seen. It is now navigated by sea steamers as far as Palatka, and by smaller boats of some two or three hundred tons
burthen as far as Lake Monroe, two hundred and twenty miles from its outlet to the ocean. From this place, (Palatka,) to
the Gulf, near Cedar Keys, the distance is only about eighty or ninety miles, over a country so level, and so well
supplied with superior timber, that it would seem that Nature had prepared it for a railroad route, connecting the waters
of the Gulf and Atlantic. The only doubt that I have ever heard expressed as to the practicality of this route is as to the
want of water at the bar sufficient for the admission of sea steamers. So far as that may be an obstacle to its successful
navigation, I am authorised by the facts to remark, that sea-steamers of about six hundred tons burthen, now arrive
here, tri-weekly, and with great regularity, (heavily freighted,) from Charleston and Savannah, and with the aid of the
Government, by an expenditure of a few hundred thousand dollars, it might be made navigable to this place and I might
add, to Welaka and Fort George, (some forty miles higher up the river,) for sea steamers of the second and probably of
the first class. In regard to the obstructions at the bar, I had the pleasure on yesterday to receive a private letter from a
friend whose means of information on that subject are probably more full than those of any other gentleman in the State.
When I add that his sound sense and practical knowledge entitle his opinion to the highest respect, I hazard nothing in
remarking that, not withstanding the reports of scientific men to the contrary, with due deference to their judgments and
attainments in science, I must be permitted to assure you that I heartily coincide with my esteemed correspondent to his
views in regard to the improvements in question. I take the liberty of furnishing you extracts from his letter which you can
use as you may think proper, with the remark, however, that this is done without his knowledge, the letter being private,
and written without the most remote idea that it would ever find its way into a public journal. I think I may with propriety
add, that within a few years, when this vast extent of wilderness bordering on the St. Johns, shall have been brought into
cultivation, (which will most certainly be the case,) having no other outlet to the ocean than this river, the Government
will not hesitate to appropriate millions should it be necessary to accomplish an object which the commerce of the State
will so strongly demand.

In conclusion, be it remembered that I have no real estate, either on the Gulf, Atlantic or the intermediate territory, nor
do I ever expect to derive any pecuniary benefit from the construction of rail roads or otherwise. Neither am I wedded to
any particular route, but to that which, upon a mature examination of all the advantages in regard to location and other
considerations, may be found most practicable. I nevertheless feel called on to say that I am most anxious that the spirit
of internal improvement which is connecting, beautifying and enriching the more densely populated Southern States, by
developing their resources, may find a foot hold and some fostering attention in the State of my adoption.

This letter I have written in haste. At some future day I may write again, when I shall have leisure, and when I hope also
to be enabled, from personal observation, to furnish you more satisfactory information.

Yours truly

W. D. Mosely.

C. E. Dyke, Esq., Tallahassee, Fla.

Illness of Mr. Maxwell (Floridian and Journal, September 2, 1854)
We find the following announcement in the Savannah
Georgian of the 27th August;

We regret to learn from a note received yesterday from an esteemed friend, that Mr. Maxwell, the very popular member
of Congress from Florida, now a candidate for re-election, with every assurance of success, is confined to his bed at
Palatka, by a severe attack of bilious fever. Our correspondent writes as follows:

Palatka, Wednesday night, Aug. 23.
Gov. Brown and Mr. Maxwell returned to this place last night, when the latter was taken very ill with bilious fever. He has
been in bed all day, and I think is worse tonight. The Governor left this morning for Micanopy accompanied by Mr.
McIntosh who will represent Mr. Maxwell till he shall be enabled to take the field again.

Isaac Bronson (Times-Picayune, August 23, 1855)
A letter to the Savannah Journal and Courier from Palatka, Fla., states that the Hon. Isaac H. Bronson, Judge of the U.
S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida, died on the night of the 13th inst. at his residence in Palatka, of
pulmonary consumption. Judge Bronson was a native of New York, and represented that State for one or two terms in
Congress. About 1839, on being appointed one of the Territorial Judges of Florida, he removed thither, and has with the
exception of an interval of a few months, been connected with the Judiciary of the United States ever since. At the time
of his death he was probably forty-seven or eight years of age.

Augusta Chronicle March 9, 1860
It is stated that Palatka, Florida, near which is located the plantation and residence of Dr. Keitt, recently murdered by his
negroes, was marked upon John Brown’s bloody map with a red cross, indicating that it embraced the elements of

Civil War
During the Civil War the town was raided several times by the U. S. Army (see 33rd and 34th USCT). By the end of the
war it was held by the U. S. Army.

On March 11th, with
Jacksonville secure, a Union army force occupied Palatka. Palatka was intended to become the
second Union strong point,  Federal naval and army forces cooperated to reinforce Palatka and capture enemy stores
along the river banks. Captured riverboats proved particularly useful for work along the shallow parts of the river.

The occupation of Palatka at first went well for the Union. Five companies of the 55th Massachusetts and an artillery
battery fortified the city for a garrison of 500 men and made plans to secure the area. Then in late March, the
Confederates replied with a surprise attack that so alarmed the Federals that they sent immediate reinforcements.  In
the spring 1864 campaign two Union ironclads had been sunk and three other warships damaged severely by mines.
Before the war ended at least twenty-seven more vessels would be sunk and seven damaged by mines, including three
more in the
St. Johns. The Maple Leaf was the second largest Army transport sunk during the war.

On April 17 Palatka was abandoned again after the sinking of the
Maple Leaf by torpedoes made travel along the river
uncertain. The
Maple Leaf had been ordered to convey a detachment of seventy-five officers and men with their mounts
from the Independent Battalion Massachusetts Calvary to Palatka before unloading at Jacksonville personal and
regimental equipment from the 13th Indiana and the 112th and 169th New York Volunteers, and sutler and Army stores.

What the South Heard (Macon Telegraph, April 10, 1863)
A letter to the
Morning News from Palatka, Fla., says:
On the 27th the Yankee gunboat
Ben Deford was attacked on St. Johns River, by Captain Dickison's Cavalry and the
boat driven off.---Many Yankees are reported killed and wounded; among the killed is the famous Kansas outlaw

Interesting from Florida Operations of Col. Montgomery, Occupation of the Town of Palatka, The Place
Shelled in Retaliation.
(The Sun [Baltimore], April 9, 1863)
The City of
Jacksonville Evacuated and Burned. Great Destruction of Property.
The latest news from Florida is highly interesting. The city of Jacksonville is in ruins. That beautiful city, which has been
for so many years the favorite resort for invalids from the North, has been burned to the ground. Scarcely a mansion, a
cottage, a negro hut, or a warehouse, it is stated, remains. The following particulars of the fire with some events that
transpired just previous, are from the
New South, of the 4th, published at Hilton Head:

The City of
Jacksonville Evacuated and Destroyed--Return of the Negro Brigade.
(From the
New South, April 4.)
The news from the
St. John's river by the latest arrival is important. On the 26th ult. Col. Montgomery, of the Second
South Carolina Volunteers, with two companies of his regiment embarked on the transport General Meigs, Capt.
Watkins, and pushed up the river as far as Orange Grove, where they anchored for the night.

On the following day they proceeded to Palatka, where the
Meigs ran up to the wharf and landed her troops, who
immediately took possession of the town. While lying at the wharf a volley of musketry was fired from the village, and
Capt. Watkins and Judge Latta, who were conversing together near the pilot-house, narrowly escaped, the bullets
whizzing close to them and lodging in the woodwork all about them.---
Lieutenant Colonel Liberty Billings was shot
through both hands, and one or two of the negroes were also wounded. Meantime Col. Montgomery ordered the town to
be shelled, while he went beyond it and captured a lieutenant and fourteen men of a rebel company stationed there.
The next day the
Adams came up with orders for the forces to return, and nothing further was accomplished at Palatka.

Post War
From Slavery, Secession and Success by John Francis Tenny: "During the winter of 1865 and 1866 the old residents of
Palatka began to return to their deserted homes. Messrs. Teasdale and Reed put in a stock of merchandise in their
brick store, near the river, and business began. There was no post office nearer than Jacksonville, but our letters were
forwarded for a time to the care of those gentlemen. In those days, before a man could hold any government office, he
had to subscribe to an "iron-clad" oath (so-called), swearing that he had neither sympathy with nor did anything for the
cause of secession or the cause of the Southern Confederacy; and it was found a very difficult matter to find any
resident of Palatka who could or would subscribe to such an oath. But finally, after a long hunt, a young fellow by the
name of Dalton had the inspiration that he could take the oath and was duly appointed postmaster of Palatka. He kept
the mail in a soap box for several months until finally an old fellow from the north came in, took the post office and raised
it to the dignity of a few pigeon holes that we had fixed up in a dry goods box to the great delight of the patrons.

Palatka didn't amount to much as a city. Located right on the banks of the
St. Johns River, it was an easy mark for the
Union gunboats, and the inhabitants had largely deserted the place. When we first found it in 1865 the one street was
grown up to dog fennel as high as a man's head; many of the yard fences had fallen into the street, presenting such a
forlorn and desolate appearance as is described concerning Sodom and Gomorrah. It is not a city that makes the
people; it is the people that make the city, and it did not take long to put Palatka into a habitable condition."

Sheriff Stephens (The Macon Daily Telegraph, December 14, 1866)
Mr. B. Stephens, Sheriff and Tax Collector of Putnam county, Florida, was waylaid, robbed and murdered, near Palatka,
on the 29th ult.

Civil Law from American Freedmen May 1867
After returning to Jacksonville I went to Gainsville by rail, and thence three miles beyond Micanopy on horseback. Here
as at Palatka, civil law is dead. A negro was recently murdered while studying a primer at his door. Mr. Austin, the
superintendent of the hotel at Palatka, took white waiters with him from the North, whose presence and peaceableness
made the ruffians so angry that they attacked one of the boys with knives while he was working on the stoop. The sheriff
was ordered by the Common Council to arrest them, but they defied him, and still defy him. There is no denying that
crimes against Unionists and freedmen are seldom punished at all, and scarcely ever as they should be. The
southerners who want to dwell in quietness and attend to their own business lament this insecurity, but lack the courage
to take up the gantlet that its authors have thrown down. I have been told that these outrages are of rarer occurrence

Reid (San Francisco Bulletin, May 30, 1868)
An appeal is being circulated in Florida in behalf of Mrs. M. M. Reid, the widow of the late Gov. Reid of that State, with a
view to raise means sufficient to purchase for her a home in Palatka, where she will follow the vocation of teaching.

1869 Palatka (from A guide-book of Florida and the South by Daniel Garrison Brinton)
Hotels -- Putnam House, St. John's House, charges, $3.50 per day. The Palatka hotels are tolerable, but not so good as
those of Jacksonville. Several boarding houses. A large hotel is projected.

This was originally a military post in the Indian war of 1836--'40. The town is built on a sand bluff ten to fifteen feet above
the river, a few inches of shells forming the surface soil. There are 800 or 1,000 inhabitants, principally engaged in
orange culture and lumbering. Several beautiful orange groves are in the vicinity, and constitute the only attraction of
the place. The streets are sandy, and walking is difficult. Steamboats run from here direct to Charleston and Savannah,
and also to the lakes of Marion and Alachua counties and up the Oklawaha river to Lake Griffin. A mail stage runs to

A Winter in Florida by Ledyard Bill, 1869
Palatka is reached late in the afternoon. This town is on the west side of the river, and is larger than Green Cove:
indeed, this is the largest place on the river above
Jacksonville, and is about one hundred miles south of the river's
mouth. Its population can not be over half a thousand. Occupying a high and dry site above the river, extending a
quarter of a mile along its banks, it appears to be a pleasant, thriving village, with eight stores, including a fine drug-
store, two large hotels, two churches somewhat neglected, two steam saw-mills, and several fine residences, with the
balance plain and scattering. The stores seemed well filled with a large stock of goods, from which an extensive back
country had to be supplied. Palatka is a kind of steamboat headquarters for the Upper St. John's and its tributaries, and
is the terminus of the Savannah and Charleston lines; namely, the "
Dictator" and "City Point," running from Charleston
to Jacksonville, thence to this place. This line is known as the "outside line," since it takes to the ocean between the
mouth of the river and Savannah. The other line, composed of the "
Nick King," and "Lizzie Baker," runs along the inside
passage, off the seacoast and the mainland, to the mouth of the river, thence to this place, and is known as the "inside
line." The two lines make four round trips each week. Then there are the river-lines, which run from Jacksonville up to
this place, and beyond, to the head of the navigation. These, with the lines to Dunn's Lake and Ocklawaha, which run
weekly, make daily arrivals at this point. We counted four steamers tied up to the wharf the evening of our arrival. Most
of them lie over here all night, passengers having the privilege of remaining on board or going to that excellent hotel,
The Putnam House, kept by O. E. Austin, of "Down-East" enterprise.

Palatka has a newspaper, "
The Eastern Herald," a weekly, of circumscribed dimension and circulation. It gave us a
surprise to find such an article here, and helped to drive away an impression which had some how had taken hold of us,
that we were in the woods.

Many of the recent settlers or new-comers are from Auburn, and the vicinity of Central New York, --- persons whose
health has been more or less precarious, and who have found benefit in a residence here. Though their speculations,
we understand, have not proved as remunerative as was anticipated, still, some have taken hold with a resolution that
doubtless will, in a few years, "prove some things as well as others."

This place affords a delightful climate most of the year, and is in our opinion as far south as invalids need to go, though
many do go farther, and perhaps with advantage.

Early vegetables can be had here in March; and, indeed, we have eaten here, new peas and potatoes this month. What
a strange experience for the Northerner, who has come away from the frozen fields and gardens of the North, where
these things do not ripen, on the average, before the 1st of July, over four months later!

1873 (Palmetto-Leaves by Harriet Beecher Stowe)
Sailing back across the water, we landed, and were conveyed to the winter country-seat of a Brooklyn gentleman, who is
with great enthusiasm cultivating a place there. It was almost dark; and we could only hear of his gardens and grounds
and improvements, not see them. In the morning, before the boat left the landing, he took us a hasty drive around the
streets of the little village. It is an unusually pretty, attractive-looking place for a Florida settlement. One reason for this
is, that the streets and vacant lots are covered with a fine green turf, which, at a distance, looks like our New-England
grass. It is a mixture of Bermuda grass with a variety of herbage, and has just as good general effect as if it were the
best red-top.

There are several fine residences in and around Pilatka, -- mostly winter-seats of Northern settlers. The town has eight
stores, which do a business for all the surrounding country for miles. It has two large hotels, several boarding-houses,
two churches, two steam saw-mills, and is the headquarters for the steamboats of the Upper St. John's and its
tributaries. Four or five steamers from different quarters are often stopping at its wharf at a time. "The Dictator" and
"City Point," from Charleston, run to this place outside by the ocean passage, and, entering the mouth of the St. John's,
stop at Jacksonville by the way. The "Nick King" and "Lizzie Baker," in like manner, make what is called the inside trip,
skimming through the network of islands that line the coast, and bringing up at the same points. Then there are the river-
lines continually plying between Jacksonville and this place, and the small boats that run weekly to the Ocklawaha; all
these make Pilatka a busy, lively, and important place.

The Great South by Edward King (1875)
One finds it wide and narrow alternately until Palatka is reached. There the stream has formed a broad lake, from which
there seems no outlet whatever. Palatka is a very pretty town of fifteen hundred inhabitants, on the west bank. It is at the
head of navigation for ocean steamers, and is characterized by a richness of vegetation, and a mildness of climate
which is not found at
Jacksonville. It has become a favorite resort for the Northerners, and I found the Vermonters there
in force. Colonel Hart, who went to Florida to die, some years ago, now owns fine properties near and in Palatka, and
has drawn around him the sterling New England thrift and management, of which he is such an admirable example.
Steamers arrive daily from North and South, and the facilities for travel are quite as numerous and as good as upon the
Hudson. The consumptives from the North return yearly to this vivifying and delicious climate, in which they find an
arrest of Death's decree against them.

At Palatka we first found the banana and the orange in their richest profusion, and noted what culture would do for them
both. The town is backed by an interminable pine forest, through which run but few roads; but the ample space along
the river front abounds in grand groves of oak, draped with the cool mosses, hung in most ravishingly artistic forms; and
the wild orange grows in the streets. This town has a cheery, neat, New England look; the white painted houses, with
their porches nestling in vines and shrubbery, invite to repose. The two old-fashioned, roomy hotels (to one of which an
immense wooden addition has been made) are cool and comfortable.

The mornings in December, January, February and March, the four absolutely perfect months of Eastern Florida, are
wonderfully soft and balmy; the sun shines generously, but there is no suspicion of annoying heat. The breeze gently
rustles the enormous leaves of the banana, or playfully tumbles a golden orange to the ground, that a plump goose or
duckling may at once thrust its bill into the tender fruit. The giant cactus in a neighboring garden peers out from among
the fruit-trees like some scaly monster. The cart of the "cracker" (the native farmer's appellation), laden with game and
vegetables, plies from door to door, and wild turkeys and dappled deer are purchased for dinner. Little parties lazily
bestow themselves along the river bank, with books or sketching materials, and alternately work, doze, or gossip, until
the whistles of the ascending or descending steamers are heard, when everybody flocks to the wharves. At evening a
splendid white moonlight transfigures all the leaves and trees and flowers; the banjo and guitar, accompanying negro
melodies, are heard in the streets; a heavy tropical repose falls over the little town, its wharves and rivers.

This was not always so. After the war was over, a few adventurous Yankees betook themselves to Palatka, but were not
heartily received by the rude back-woodsmen and dubious "cracker" element which still lingered about there. In war
time, 15,000 Union troops had been quartered at Palatka, and previous to that the town had on one occasion been
bombarded. The Floridians had suffered a good deal, and there was severe enmity toward the "Yankees." The first
attempt to open a hotel by a Northern man was severely resented. Parties of rough horsemen used to ride in and
attempt to provoke a fight by sticking their bowie-knives in the hotel door. Shooting affrays were common. I was shown a
spot where the sheriff himself tore up the turf during a fight of an hour or two with his own brothers-in-law, who were
determined to kill him because he supported the "Yankees," then gradually creeping in. Now and then a negro was

The river's banks were sometimes the scene of terribly bloody affrays. Of course it was only the rougher classes who
had a hand in this--people who rather objected to the march of civilization. It made them uncomfortable. Now the town is
as peaceable as the mountain resorts in New Hampshire and Vermont. Property is good there, and has taken on prices
which show a real demand for it. Three thousand dollars are asked for a little house and lot which would hardly bring
any more in the North. But all the region adjacent to Palatka, and especially on the opposite side of the river, is getting
settled up and cultivated.

Nothing can be more beautiful than one of the Floridian cottages, surrounded with a flourishing grove of orange-trees.
That of Dr. Moragné, at Palatka, is one of the best examples. Down at the river front the good doctor has a long row of
flourishing bananas, beyond which the great river is spread out-a gentle lake-before him. From his porch he looks upon
several acres of noble trees, with thousands of oranges nestling among the dark green leaves. They come without care;
one man picks them and prepares them for market, and they leave a golden, or, at least, a paper harvest annually
behind them. Some of the 200 trees within the doctor's enclosure yearly produce 3,000 to 4,000 oranges, and will go on
their round of blossom and fruit for half a century. (The Union officer in command at Palatka during the war was ordered
to destroy all the trees around the town for military purposes. He could not find it in his heart to ruin Dr. Moragné's
beautiful grove; so he picketed his cavalry there, and evaded the order.)

Palatka was an Indian trading post in 1835. The Government built a road thence to Tampa, and kept a guard upon it, in
the days when the Seminoles were still vigorous in their warfare. There are now but few Indians left in the State, and
they, though peacefully inclined, remain buried in the Everglades, or among the forests of Indian river. Great numbers of
them were ignominiously hunted down at various periods after the wars, and rewards were set upon their heads as if
they had been criminals. Soldiers were employed, or induced, by the hope of money, to follow them into their remotest
fastnesses, and to disperse them. Now an occasional warrior, scantily clad, and dejected in appearance, is at rare
intervals seen in some of the towns.

At Palatka one may gain a good idea of what culture and the advent of ambitious Northerners can do for Florida. There
are so many superior inducements offered by the peninsula to those in search of new abiding-places, that I must
content myself with a brief summing up of each. I suppose that the average observer, unfamiliar with the character of a
sub-tropical country, would traverse the peninsula constantly remarking that he had never before seen so much good-
for-nothing land. The eternal pine woods in many sections would prepossess him unfavorably; he would not even
appreciate the exceeding richness of the hummocks until he had been instructed in their qualities. The lands of the
State are usually classified into hummocks, pine, and swamp. Through the first-rate pine lands, where forests of pitch
and yellow pine grow rankly, runs a dark vegetable mould, under which lies a chocolate-colored sandy loam, mixed with
limestone pebbles, and resting on a substratum of marl. Lands of this class are so fertile that they have yielded 400
pounds of long staple cotton to the acre for fourteen successive years without any fertilizing. The second-rate pine
lands offer excellent pasturage, and, when re-enforced, will yield 3,000 pounds of sugar to the acre. Upon them also can
be grown oranges, lemons, and Cuba tobacco. Even the poorest pine lands have been found admirably adapted to the
growth of hemp, and also give a good income from the naval stores which the trees yield.

The Age of Railroads
After the war new hotels were established including the Putnam House and the Larkin House.

In 1882 Frank Simpson wrote a book entitled
A Trip through Northern and Central Florida. They started with breakfast
at the Putnam House which they declared one of the best hotels in Florida, nicely furnished, cool, roomy and presents
an excellent table. Palatka had a population of about eight hundred mostly Northern people.

In the 1880s Palatka became the junction of the Florida Southern Railroad, The Jacksonville, Tampa and Key West
Railroad, the St. Augustine and Palatka Railway and the Georgia Southern and Florida Railroad. The Carlton House
was also active in 1888.  

The President in Florida
(Columbus Daily Enquirer, April 10, 1883)
A special to the
Times-Union says the president [Chester Arthur] and party reached Enterprise and Palatka Saturday
afternoon and spent Sunday quietly at
Sanford, and started today for Kissimmee City, en route to Gardner's Island,
where the president expects to enjoy camp life for a week or so. The president says he feels benefited by the trip.

Col. H. L. Hart
His orange groves were famous. He established the Hart Line of steamboats that make the Ocklawaha trip.

Palatka, Florida, Swept by Flames (The Sun [Baltimore], November 10, 1884)
A fire broke out about 12 o'clock Friday night in a small building used as a storeroom for furniture, and situated behind a
colored barber's shop, and destroyed every business house in the place except two groceries, involving a loss of
$750,000, on which there is an insurance of $250,000. A gale prevailed, and the flames spread with a rapidity which
baffled all efforts to check them. Palatka had but one engine, and aid was telegraphed for and obtained from

The Hotel Palatka was one of the first buildings to catch fire, and was burned almost over the heads of its guests, many
of whom escaped in their night clothes. One affrighted colored woman threw her baby from a window, but it was caught
in a blanket and not hurt. Devereaux, Rogers & Sons' dry goods and grocery establishment was soon ablaze, and in the
midst of the conflagration a keg of powder burst, scattering debris and sparks in every direction. Two firemen were
injured by flying timbers. Buildings across the street were ignited and the fire traveled with uncontrollable fury. Griffin's
large brick block and Gram's Hotel were soon consumed. Col. Hart's buildings, four in number, were soon ablaze and
the whole business portion of the city became a roaring furnace.

The Larkin House, a magnificent building, almost exclusively patronized by Northern tourists, was leveled to the ground,
and the Putnam House, which catered to the same class of trade, also fell. The Presbyterian Church was also burned.
Fifty-six business firms were burned out. Many of the sufferers lose their all and will be unable to resume. The fire is
attributed to incendiaries.

Ever since the election of Cleveland became probable the colored people have manifested inexplicable alarm. They
became imbued with the idea that a return of the democracy to power meant their re-enslavement. While the democrats
were rejoicing several bands of colored men marched through the town with guns on their shoulders. They said that
they would paint the town red, and the conflagration is looked upon as the fulfillment of their threat. Those on hand
when the fire first started report an unmistakable odor of kerosene. While the conflagration was in progress the colored
people refused to aid in saving goods or extinguishing the flames. Several of them were caught stealing and knocked

A lively scrimmage was the outcome and a riot was imminent, when the mayor called out the Gem City Guards and
prevented further trouble. The colored people laughed as store after store succumbed to the flames and openly
threatened to burn the remainder of the town. Great excitement prevailed, and fears of another outbreak of fire and
rioting are felt. The city is under a strong guard.

Handbook of Florida (Norton, 1890)
Population 6,000 - Lat. 29 degree 38' N. -- Long. 81 degree 38'W.
Hotels - Arlington, $2; Canova, $1.50; Winthrop, $3; Kean Building Rooms, 50 cents; Putnam House, $4; Saratoga, $3;
West End House, $2; $8 to $10 by week.
Railroads, Steamboats, etc - The J. T. & K. W. system (to Jacksonville, St. Augustine, Daytona, Gainesville, Tampa,
Punta Gorda, etc.). Stations for points north and south, 1 mile west from river; station for points on seacoast, etc. near
steamboat wharf and railroad bridge. Through cars are run around the city, making connections without change.
Steamboats - All the St. John's River steamboats land at the wharf near the railroad bridge. Ocklawaha steamboats land
at the same wharf.
Carriage fare from railways and steamboats, 25 cents to any part of the city; luggage, 25 cents per piece.
Livery - Saddle-horses, $1.50 a day if reasonably used. Double teams, $2 an hour, $5 a day.
Rowboats 25 cents an hour, $1.50 to $2 a day. Sail-boats 50 cents an hour, $3 a day. Steam launches can be
chartered for $15 to $25 a day, according to size of party and length of intended trip.
Guides for hunting or fishing may be engaged at the hotels or boat landings at $2.50 to $3.00 a day.
Tran-cars at 10 minute intervals run between the railroad stations, fare 5 cents.

Palatka was settled in 1821, by James Marver and two companions named Hine and Woodruff. They secured a Spanish
grant and established a trading post for traffic with the Indians. Marver's store stood near the foot of Main Street, and no
doubt the large live oaks on the bluff close at hand witnessed many a sharp bargain that brought gold into the white
man's pocket. He was, however, a great favorite with his savage patrons, and had no difficulties with them during his

At some date not precisely fixed Dr. N. Brush, of New York, purchased Marver's land and interests and continued the
business, his two nephews, Thomas and William Brush, being his agents. The post was sacked and burned promptly on
the outbreak of the Seminole War in 1835, and the young men barely escaped with their lives.

A military post was soon afterward established here, and in 1840 it was constituted a regular ordnance depot, with the
barracks and shops necessary for a considerable garrison and for the repair of their arms and equipments. Eight large
log block-houses were constructed along the line of Water Street, one of them with a watch-tower eighty feet high. The
commanding officer's head-quarters were where the late Colonel Devall's house now stands. Cavalry stables for four
hundred horses occupied the site of the Putnam House and a large hospital was erected on the Hart property. Among
the officers quartered here were Scott, Taylor, Worth, and Gaines, who won distinction and rank in the second war with
Great Britain and in the early Indian war. Still younger were lieutenants W. T. Sherman, and Silas Casey, who saw their
first field service in Florida and rose to the highest rank during the Civil War.

After the subjugation of the Indians and the discontinuance of the military post, Palatka became the shipping point for
the produce of the neighboring country. Prior to the completion of the railroad in 1886 it was the most southerly landing
of any importance on the river, and soon became a favorite resort for invalids who sought a warmer climate and
dreaded the cold easterly winds of the coast. By 1850 it was a delightful place of residence, with many handsome
houses, some of which are still the finest in town. It was fairly embossed in orange trees, and being an outpost of
civilization on the borders of an almost unbroken wildness offered great attractions to sportsmen. Its commercial
prosperity did not begin until after the Civil War, when it became the distributing centre for a wide tract of rich country,
and with the advent of the railroad in 1886 became the busy and prosperous place that now exists. It suffered the fate of
nearly all Florida towns, and was nearly destroyed by fire. Like its sisters, however, it rallied pluckily from the disaster
and was rebuilt on a more substantial basis. It may now be reached in thirty-six hours from New York and will, no doubt,
long maintain its position as the most important town on the river above Jacksonville.

1891 (From Snow to Sun Florida Winter Pleasure Tours Pennsylvania Railroad)
75 miles by boat, 56 miles by rail from Jacksonville, via Jacksonville, Tampa and Key West Railway. 32 miles from St.

This thriving and picturesque town has grown into its influential life directly on the banks of the
St. John's. It ranks next to
Jacksonville as a winter resort, and is held in high favor with tourists. It is the centre of a large orange-growing district,
and many of the most famous groves in the State are located in the vicinity. Hart's orange grove, covering seventy
acres, is one of the oldest and most famous in the State, and is reached by boat from the foot of Main Street. Palatka is
the county-seat of Putnam, and the starting point for boat excursions on the Ocklavvaha and

Upper St. John's Rivers. Good shooting and fishing and bathing may be enjoyed. A favorite walk and drive is through
the groves suburban to the city, which well deserve a visit, being among the finest in the State.

Berkshire $3.00 per day.

Carleton House $2.00 per day.

Graham House . $2.00 to $2.50 per day.

Hotel Winthrop .... Special rates.

Putnam House $4.00 per day.

Saratoga Hotel . $3.00 to $4.00 per day.

Palatka is a sanitary, with good sewage, water works (soft water), electric and gas plants, ice factory, public library, well-
stocked stores, churches, schools, and more miles of brick-paved streets, 9 -- more miles of concrete sidewalks, 20 --
more printing offices, 7 -- with good daily and weekly papers -- than can be found in any city of the same size in the
country; besides neighboring attractions in variety sufficient to keep the visitor busy all winter with constant change.
There are no saloons and the town is a good one in which to live. All the leading fraternal societies are represented.
Band concerts are regular street events.

Death of Colonel Ratt
(Columbus Daily Enquirer, June 19, 1895)
Florida's Oldest Journalist - A missionary among the Seminoles
Colonel G. W. Ratt, the oldest journalist in Florida, died here this morning. He published Palatka's first paper years
before the war. In his early life he was a Methodist minister and did missionary work among the Seminoles. Colonel Ratt
was widely known throughout the State and universally loved.

Fell from a Street Car (The State, December 13, 1895)
Last night about 11 o'clock while attempting to step from a moving street car on Fourteenth street in front of Peachtree
Inn, Mr. H. L. Hart of Palatka, Fla., was thrown backward, his head striking the pavement, producing injuries from which
he died a few hours later. Mr. Hart was a man of fortune, well known in Florida.

Colonel Hart's Life Work (The Sun, December 14, 1895)
He Opened the Famous Ocklawaha River in Florida - His Sad Death.
The death of Col. H. L. Hart, of this city, who was killed in a street car accident at Atlanta late Wednesday evening,
closes the life of probably the best-known man in Florida. Born in Gullford, Vt., May 4, 1827, he first came South in
1845, and, after prospecting along the Atlantic coast, made his first living as mail-carrier between Savannah and Darien,
Ga., for three years, beginning in 1848. In 1855 he came to
Florida, and on July 1 opened a stage mail line between
Palatka and Tampa at a time when the last Indian war was brewing and danger lurked in every hammock along the route.

In 1860 Colonel Hart bought wharf property here and conceived the scheme of opening the now famous Ocklawaha
river to navigation. The project was interrupted by the war, during which Colonel Hart served as Confederate
quartermaster in charge of the Florida division. He accomplished the opening of the river in 1868, bringing
transportation and outlet to the now famous lake region, and making navigable to the famous Silver Springs one of the
most wonderful streams on the continent. The "night trip up the Ocklawaha" has become famous through the praises of

Colonel Hart was one of the first shippers of Florida oranges to the Northern market.

Death of a Confederate Veteran (Sun [Baltimore], November 13, 1896)
Dr. George E. Hawes died at Palatka, Fla., Thursday, aged eighty years and two months. Dr. Hawes had been ill for six
weeks. He was one of the oldest residents of the city, having moved to Palatka from South Carolina in 1845, where he
engaged in the practice of medicine. In 1847 he secured the contract from the government and dug the old canal that
connected Mosquito Inlet with Indian river. In 1848 he was elected State Senator from that district, and was a member of
the Legislature for twelve consecutive years. When the war broke out be enlisted in the Second Florida Regiment as a
private, and served as captain of the commissary department in Virginia until its close.

Boiler Explosion in Florida (Sun [Baltimore], January 25, 1897)
A large boiler in the Florida Southern Railway machine shops exploded yesterday with terrible force. George Patten, the
engineer, was killed, his head being blown off. Edward Kummer, a carpenter, had his head crusted and is probably
fatally injured. George Evule, a blacksmith, had his leg broken. Every building in the city was shaken to its foundation.
The shops were wrecked.

1899 (Pennsylvania Railroad Tours to Florida 1899)
75 miles by boat, 55 miles by rail from Jacksonville, via Tropical Trunk Line. 28 miles from St. Augustine, via
Florida East
Coast Railway.

This thriving and picturesque town is the centre of a large orange-growing district, and many of the most famous groves
in the State are located in the vicinity. Palatka is the county seat of
Putnam, and the starting point for boat excursions on
the Ocklawaha and Upper St. John's Rivers. Good shooting and fishing and bathing may be enjoyed.

Florida Hotel.
Hotel Graham.
Hotel Osceola.
Putnam House.

                            Hotels and Boarding houses in Palatka 1909
The Arlington
- L. Kalbfield, manager. Rates, $2.00 and up per day; special by the week. Centrally located on the main
street, near all steamboat landings and union station. Broad verandas with pleasant rooms opening thereon. No inside
rooms. Hot and cold baths; flowing sulphur and soft water. Electric lights and bells. Uniformed porter meets all trains and

Devereux Home -- Furnished apartments, strictly first-class. Best tea and coffee served on short notice. Restaurant
one block from house. Accommodates twenty. Write to Mrs. M. Devereux, Palatka, Florida. Rooms, 50 and 75 cents and
$1.00 per day.

The Howell -- R. C. Howell, manager. Rates $2.00 and up per day; special rates weekly and monthly. Opposite post
office and office of Ocklawaha river steamers. Only brick hotel in city. Overlooking the beautiful St. Johns river. Electric
lights and bells. Hot and cold baths.

Kimball House -- Mrs. J. A. Granger, proprietor. Rates, $12.5 and up per day; $2.00 and $2.50 per week.

Metcalf House -- Mrs. Willie Metcalf, proprietor. A pleasant house located on the corner of third and Madison streets.
Rates, $1.50 per day; $8.00 to $10.00 per week the largest boarding house in town. Hot and cold running water.

Putnam House -- L. H. & W. A. Merryday, proprietors. Open January to April. Accommodates 300. Rates, $3.00 to
$4.00 per day; special by the week or month. Elevator, electric bells, steam heat and private baths. Palatka Heights
Spring water, used exclusively in the hotel for all purposes, is soft and palatable and for purity and healthfulness is
unexcelled. [Editor's note: The Putnam House was built by Hubbard L. Hart. It was built in 1885 and razed in 1922. Part
of one wing was moved to Daytona Beach and incorporated into the Hotel Neptune.]

The Saratoga -- M. B. Jacobson, proprietor. Accommodates eighty-five. Hot and cold baths. Rates, $2.50 and up per
day; special by the week. Rooms large and airy.

Where to Stay 1912
E. I. Wilbur; capacity, 75; rates - per day, $2.00 up; per week, special.

Devereus House, Mrs. M. Devereux; capacity, 10; rates - per day, 50 cents up, rooms only.

The Howell, R. C. Howell; capacity, 100; rates - per day, $2.00 up, per week, special.

Kimball House, Mrs. J. A. Granger; capacity, 20; rates - per day, $1.25 up, per week, special

Metcalf House, Mrs. Willie Metcalf; rates - per day, $1.50, per week, $8.00 to $10.00.

Saratoga, M. B. Jacobson; capacity, 75; rates - per day, $2.50 up; per week, special.

Developing Putman County Lands (Florida East Coast Railway Homeseekers, 1910)
Putnam County is not behind any other county in the State in the matter of development. Just now interest is centered in
the Carraway Farms, situated at Carraway station, on the Georgia Southern and Florida Railway, six miles from Palatka.

These farms are being placed on the market by the E. Z. Jones Co. of 505-507 Atlantic National Bank Building,
Jacksonville, Fla. As will be seen by the half page advertisement in this issue of The Homeseeker, this company's
proposition offers a splendid opportunity to intending settlers to secure some choice Florida farms, which are bring rich

Transportation facilities are exceptionally good and other inducements, such as artesian wells, good ground, and
unexcelled climate, all tend to give promise of a tremendous demand for these farms.

The E. Z. Jones Co. guarantees any and every statement they make to be just as represented. They ask those who are
interested to write for their thirty-six page illustrated prospectus.

Old Palatka Landmark Comes Back to its Own (Manatee River Journal, October 19, 1922)
One of Palatka's landmarks has come back into its own. Instead of "Dearing Hotel," the old Kupperbusch hotel on
Lemon street now has displayed before it the old sign which did yeoman service for more than a generation. It is the
"Kupperbusch Hotel" once more.

Charles Kupperbusch, according to old residents, came here as a young man with no other resources than a lone
twenty-five-cent piece. The story is that he purchased a box of small calibre rifle cartridges, with quarters, borrowed a
rifle and opened a shooting gallery. At that time Palatka was the "jumping off" place along the east coast of Florida, the
most popular winter resort in the state and the shooting gallery prospered. The railroad ended here and travelers were
forced to board steamboats if they desired to journey further southward.

Mr. Kupperbusch later established a restaurant and then took over the building and converted it into a hotel, naming it
"Kupperbusch Hotel". For years it was one of the best known hostelries in Florida and the food served in the restaurant
was such that many of the winter visitors stopping at the tourist hotels were wont to leave the hotel fare and dine at

In addition to serving a large number of patrons the restaurant furnished many a Palatka home with one of the principal
parts of the midday meal. The roast beef was known from Key West to Pensacola and every noon found Palatkans there
with utensils in which to take home portions of the beef for their table.

There were no electric fans in those days but the restaurant was equipped with huge ceiling fans, each belted to a long
shaft operated by a negro posted at a crank in the rear of the building.

Investments made by Mr. Kupperbusch during the years he operated the business proved successful and upon retiring
some years ago he leased the property to O. D. Dearing. Mr. Dearing took down the old sign and hung a new one
lettered "Dearing Hotel."

Mr. Dearing recently disposed of the lease to Jordan Hancock, whose first act was to remove the Dearing sign, go into
the storeroom, get out the old "Kupperbusch Hotel," sign, dust it off, and hang it up.

Palatka Atlantic National Bank (The Hastings Herald, October 4, 1929)
Officers: J. T. Walker, Jr., Chairman; James M. Baker, President; J. R. Padgett, Vice-President; L. B. Bush, Cashier.

Directors: James M. Baker, President of the Bank; F. W. Budington, Middleburg, Fla.; W. O. Boozer, Vice-President The
Atlantic National Bank; Julian C. Calhoun, Attorney-at-Law; John H. Cooper, Secretary-Treasurer G. M. Davis & Son; C.
B. Ivey, Elkton, Fla; Dr. Burdette G. Lewis, Vice President, Penney-Gwynn Corp; J. H. Pace, President Baldwin-Lewis
Pace Co.; J. R. Padgett, President Padgett, Nichols & Co.; W. F. Sapp, Sapp & Taratus; J. T. Walker, Jr. President The
Atlantic National Bank.

Tavel's Remove to Beautiful New Store (The Hastings Herald, October 11, 1929)
Tavel's, Palatka's popular ladies and children's ready-to-wear store, has removed to its new quarters on North Third
street, opposite the James Hotel. The new store is beautiful with its large display windows and cases which are filled with
high grade merchandise moderately priced.

Mrs. Tavel cordially invites the ladies and children of this section to visit an make her store headquarters which in

Tavel Now Heads Long Established Clothing Business (Hastings Herald, October 25, 1929)
Ralph K. Tavel, for the past 12 years assistant manager of the Browing-Fearnside Co., Palatka, has acquired control of
the company and will continue to operate the business under the same name, catering to the high-class clothing trade
of this section.

H. M. Fearside, due to ill health, will retire from the business , devoting his time to his florist farming and other interests.

Mr. Tavel is adding daily to his stock and expects to have his store stocked with a complete line of fall goods within a few
days, and invites his
Hastings friends and patrons to come in and see his line while in Palatka.

Putnam Grower will soon dig fall potatoes (Hastings Herald,  November 8, 1929)
Used First Crop No. 3's for Seed
Said to be Fine Quality -- Spaulding Rose Four Variety

Fall Irish potatoes which will run between 75 and 100 barrels to the acre will be harvested within the next two or three
weeks by D. A. Mullis of Palatka, from his 75 acre farm in the Peniel section, says the Daily News.

The tubers were produced from No. 3 potatoes grown in the Palatka-Hastings potato belt and are known as the rose
Four variety. They are large firm potatoes, with few running under the No. 1 grade and a large percentage running as
high as a pound apiece.

Mr. Mullis has but four acres, planted as an experiment, but intends to greatly increase his planting next year.

Grown upon rick muck soil which is bordered on the south by a 35 acre lake, but 1000 pounds of fertilizer per acre was
used in producing the crop. This is about half the amount of fertilizer usually used in this section.

The fact that Florida grown seed was used to produce the crop is interesting to farmers of this section. All the seed of
the spring crops in this famed potato belt is bought in Maine or other Northern centers. Mr. Mullis was given the No. 3's
and culls which he used for seed and planted the small potatoes whole. The vines are healthy and sturdy, producing
eight to ten large potatoes to the hill. Even the large potatoes are  not matured yet, showing slight traces of greenness
but it is anticipated that they will be ready to market in a couple of weeks or so, when the potatoes will be just 90 days

Cross Florida Barge Canal (February 27, 1964)
President Lyndon Johnson dedicates the start of construction on the Cross Florida Barge Canal in Palatka. The plan
was to create a quick water route across Florida by 1971. It included three dams, five locks, 110 miles of channel that
would be 150 feet wide and 12 feet deep. Only twenty-five miles of the waterway along with three locks and three dams
were complete by 1971. President Richard Nixon killed the project.
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