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DE MESA: BACKGROUND RESEARCH (GENERAL)
Graham, Thomas, The Awakening of St. Augustine (S.A.H.S., 1978)
p. 13. Following transfer of St. Augustine to U. S. in 1821, early yellow fever epidemic.
Following general recovery:
"The town's healthfulness was widely regarded as coming from the salt
marshes and sea breezes which supposedly kept the air free from
dangerous miasmass.' Testimony to St. Augustine's unsurpassed com-
bination of warm temperatures and salt air was published in the
North during the 1820's and attracted settlers . who came in
search of restored health."
Later epidemics: 1839, 1841 (slight)
14. Minorcans occupied much of area from Hypolita to City Gates.
15. Graham notes observations from A Winter From Home (NY, 1852, anon.): Subsistence
economy in St. Augustine due to absence of industry and cash crops, and isolation.
Minorcans also owned some shops and worked as craftsmen. Also seasonal, variable
occupations. "Perhaps their most important source of cash income during the
1820's and early 1830's were the backyard groves of orange trees tended by many
16. Carnival season (possible leisure interpretation?) Posy Dances!? (a la Mardi
Gras). "Even admirers of the carnival agreed that it had degenerated since the
arrival of the Americans, who had exceeded the bounds of 'taste and wit.' Which,
they supposed, had prevailed under the Spanish. Critics were pleased to observe
the gradual decline of the observance of carnival time during the decades of
United States governance in St. Augustine."
17. Other celebrations: St. Johns Eve, Fromajadas
17. "Ordinary cultural differences between the American and Minorcan communities
caused minimal friction; both peoples simply tended to their affairs and permitted
their neighbors to live as they pleased. Nevertheless, the two groups did not
exist on a plane of equality, for the immigrants from the United States held
themselves to be the superior class."
*19. Third major ethnic group: Negro slaves and free blacks:
"Slavery was a major factor in the local economic system, but it was more
*than an economic institution; its presence had far-reaching implications
which penetrated into almost every aspect of life."
19. 1830: First U. S. census shows almost half St. Augustine's population blacks and
mulattoes. Later decline because of failure to establish slave economy. Sugar
only export crop.
1840: Only three men in St. Johns County owned 70+ slaves. (Largest owner the
Minorcan Joseph Hernandez).
19-20 Substantially different slave system in St. Augustine. More open society for
blacks, free and slave. (Graham then proceeds to contradict this general
description of black/white relations in St. Augustine.)
23. Six percent of St. Augustine's population free blacks.
24. "Antebellum St. Augustine was a cosmopolitan town by Southern standards."
Chap. 2 "Decade of Disasters"
25. Quote from Mary Anderson:
'We are forced to live somewhat in the Southern style, a kind of slap dash
at times as the Dr. calls it."
25. "The family dinner table might sometimes lack fine white bread, but it
usually had plenty of venison, oysters, fresh fish, and garden vegetables."
26. Mary Anderson:
'The very Demon of leisure presides in the Renouned City . The nature
of the climate is all too congenial to all kinds of rest both body and
26. Dr. Anderson involved in temperance:
'If they would only banish Rum in all its forms, I believe they would
all die of old age or starvation, for we are the laziest pack in
26. Real estate speculation.
27. Dr. Anderson recommends Dr. Peck (1833).
27-28 Carrying trade mostly through Charleston and Savannah, but some directly from
29. Anderson's ship Bushrod check bills of lading, etc.?
29. St. Augustine exports oranges, melons, cucumbers, cigars, some lumber.
29. St. Augustine imports bricks, lumber, oats, wheat flour, butter, beef, sometimes
corn (much food had to be imported).
30. See Anderson's lists for items from New York (including gold gilt paint).
30. Some local merchants by 1830's.
31. Trade and passenger transportation increased with intensification of Seminole War
32. Advent of steam packets to St. Augustine by 1834.
33. 1833 Plans for railroad to Picolata; didn't come to fruition.
34. Trade route shifted to St. Johns River and overland from Picolata by stagecoach.
Hotel opened at Picolata.
34-35 Financial difficulties lack of banks, inconsistent currency and exchange.
34-35 First bank Southern Life Insurance and Trust Company mismanaged. Bank
failed by 1843.
36. Anderson investigated possibility of ice business.
36-37 Proliferation of orange groves in St. Augustine. Anderson owned large grove.
38. 1835 coldest winter in memory.
38. Following devastation of orange crop in winter of '35, Anderson writes:
'The city looks truly desolate & forlorn. All its imperfections &
delapidations are now visible with not an orange tree to hide
39-40 Anderson successfully produces mulberry trees for export to rest of East (for
silk). Begun '35-'36, big years '37, '38, '39.
41. Effect of Second Seminole War:
"The war wiped out the sugar plantations to the south, drove settlers
in from their farms, and chased away the winter visitors who normally
came to town. Yet while the war lasted, it sparked a boom of sorts
in St. Augustine which brought people, activity, and money into the
town . . Money and provisions from the national government flowed
into the community. The war seemed to be just the stimulus the area
needed to forge ahead, but its effects would prove to be only temporary."
46. Anderson remains in St. Augustine to protect his property during siege in winter
'I am quite certain from the specimens of attempted tyranny I have
already experienced that should the war continue and I absent myself,
all my goods & chattels would go to pigs and whistles before my return.'
47. "By the fall of 1837 St. Augustine was no longer on the front line of battle,
but the military's presence had increased."
47. "Discharged soldiers seemed to find their way to St. Augustine where they became
a nuisance. To cope with these problems the town aldermen passed a law closing
all saloons at sundown and created a patrol to pick up drunks and lock them in
48. Indian prisoners in fort, including Osceola: ". .. attracted the curiosity of
local citizens who had read so much about their savage antagonists."
48. "Coacoochee, another handsome, well-built warrior, was even taken to a public
dance so that ladies and gentlemen raised on Walter Scott's romantic novels
could gawk at a living specimen of the Noble Savage."
48. Osceola moved to Fort Moultrie, S.C., December, 1837, where he died.
48-49 "It was at this advanced point in the war that the town began to profit from the
action stirred up by the conflict . . Property owners found that they could
make handsome profits from rents, while merchants raised their prices on the
crest of the wave of demand."
49. Peter Sken Smith and others planned and laid out North City (failed to survive
end of hostilities).
49. New seawall 1835-38 from fort to St. Francis Barracks.
54. Anderson's failures reflected on . the general failure of St. Augustine's
fortunes. After acquisition of the town by the United States, the area had been
flooded with immigrants anxious to prove the potential of East Florida. These
high hopes had given way over the years under the disappointments brought by
epidemics, the freeze, natural hindrances to trade, the Seminole War, and
various other handicaps. The newcomers began to drift away from St. Augustine.
Middle Florida boomed as a cotton plantation region; East Florida stagnated.
While the entire territory's population jumped in large multiples each decade,
the Ancient City actually lost population. Dr. Anderson's disappointments were
also those of St. Augustine."
Chap. 3 "Sojourners in the City"
55. East Florida, St. Augustine in particular, opposed to statehood.
57. St. Augustine as health resort:
"From the earliest days of United States rule, St. Augustine had been
known as a place where invalids particularly 'patients of a con-
sumptive habit' [tuberculosis] might sojourn to escape the debili-
tating cold of Northern winters. Dr. Simmons . painted a rosy
picture of the benefits to be derived from the climate: 'Those who
arrive there in an invalescent state, never fail to derive immediate
benefit from its temperature and restorative air; and pulmonary
patients experience a remarkable relief, by even a short visit to
the place, and are generally cured by a prolonged residence in it."
58. "In 1835, the Florida Herald announced that the town had accommodations for three
hundred guests. This number is probably too high, since an actual tabulation
done by the newspaper the previous season found only 165 visitors in the town's
various hotels and boarding houses. In 1834 the number had been 153 . .
Most of the travelers were from the Northeast, with New York supplying the
largest number from any single state, and there were also a fair number of
people whose summer residences were in the states of the South. Very few came
from the Midwest."
58-59 Crowded accommodations: "Finding accommodations for the visitor was a continuing
problem . . [In the early 1830's] Dr. Anderson was writing: 'The place is
full of Northerners to overflowing; some have been obliged to return today, not
being able to find any accommodation. Every house and place is occupied."
59. "Most visitors found lodgings in private residences or in small boarding houses
which held anywhere from a single guest to more than a dozen people. It was
common practice for residents to rent their spare rooms to lodgers and thereby
earn a little cash income. Some of the boarding houses ventured to call them-
61. "Once settled in town for the winter, many individuals found the standard
regimen insufferably boring, and time weighed heavily on them while they waited
out their term in exile away from their homes. Ralph Waldo Emerson, who tarried
in St. Augustine in the year 1827 with a pain in his chest, was one of those
who endured loneliness and homesickness. He spent his time sitting in the sun,
strolling along the beach, visiting the town's antiquities, and sailing on the
bay. The gentlemen among his fellow boarders whiled away the time whittling
walking sticks from orange branches. Meetings of the Bible Society, temperance
society, court sessions, election days, and slave auctions provided some relief
to the dull fare of society."
61. "Others among the Northern strangers developed a strong affection for St. Augustine.
It was a common observation that few people entertained lukewarm attitudes about
St. Augustine: one either disliked the town intensely or delighted in the old
place despite its imperfections."
62. Author of A Winter From Home: "The society is small, as this ancient city is a
mere village, but take it all in all, it is more pleasing and more refined less
ostentatious and less heartless, than the curious melange called fashionable
society, in our great commercial emporium [New York]."
62. Another author on St. Augustine patients: "You hear the funereal cough all over
the house, and in the parlor they loll at full length on the sofas, and expectorate
almost constantly . every public house is, to a certain extent, a hospital,
and whenever you walk the streets you meet some sufferer, whose wasted form and
feeble gait proclaim the victim of consumption."
63. Small size of St. Augustine: "A man could walk across town from east to west -
from the seawall to the San Sebastian marshes in less than fifteen minutes. The
walk from the fort, at the north end of town, to the Barrack's, at the south, took
only a little longer. Most of the town's inhabitants were not far removed from the
soil and sea which supported them; yet St. Augustine was a town, and that set it
apart from most of the predominately rural South."
Tebeau, Charlton W., A History of Florida (University of Miami Press, 1971)
Ch. 10 "Territorial Florida A Frontier Society"
135. Paraphrases Ralph Waldo Emerson on St. Augustine:
[Emerson] in 1826 wondered why people who had cellars elsewhere
felt compelled to dig them in Saint Augustine where they only filled with
water. He thought the people lazy and the housekeeping bad. He found it
incongruous that the Bible Society was meeting inside the government house
while a slave auction was going on outside."
p. 137 "East Florida development might also have been rapid and prosperous in the
territorial period except that it suffered from two serious drawbacks.
Much of the land was involved in disputed land claims, and by the time the
claims began to be cleared up, the Seminole War intervened to destroy much
that had been done and to bring a stop to any further advance."
142. "The ancient city began to enjoy direct travel by water when the Saint Augustine
Wharf Company was chartered in 1834. The Seminole war gave a healthy boost to
steamboating in Florida. In addition to operating its own boats, the govern-
ment chartered forty steamboats in 1838 to carry troops and equipment, stores,
horses, and mules."
145. Florida economy "almost exclusively agricultural and extractive."
146. "Saint Augustine, lacking access to the interior, failed to hold the same relative
importance it had previously enjoyed. With 1,708 inhabitants in 1839, it grew
to about 3,000 in 1840, due largely to the stimulus of the Seminole war."
150. "By the end of the territorial period in 1845 the pattern of Florida development
for the immediate future was fairly clear. The economy was an extension of that
of nearby southeastern states, based on the plantation system with slaves grow-
ing cotton, tobacco, rice, and some sugarcane as cash crops. The vast majority
of the inhabitants were yeoman farmers dependent largely on the labor of the
family, but they accepted the leadership of the larger landholders and outdid
them in their support of the institution of slavery. The beginnings of urban
life and nonagricultural pursuits were discernible, particularly at sea and
river ports, but the center of gravity was already moving to the interior, a
trend to be greatly accelerated with the coming of the railroad."
Mahon, John K., History of the Second Seminole War (University of Florida Press,
131. "St. Augustine was closer to the theater of violence and more intimately involved
in the Indian troubles. It housed 1,700 people proportioned thus: 488 white
men, 519 white women, 151 free Negroes, and 571 slaves. Ten lawyers resided
there and presumably earned a living . . [These] "old Floridians" held many
balls, open houses, and other fetes which the officers of the United States Army
found delightful. The Spanish and Minorcan girls were so pretty and the officers
so lonesome that marriage caught several of them, even though commanding officers
warned against it. (Williams, Territory, 121; Motte, Journey, 112).
The citizens seemed to crave some of the cultural refinements; the grand
jury gave a concert at the courthouse, and the repertoire included some Haydn.
If it seems strange to us that the art of music depended on the grand jury, the
military officers were glad that any agency at all was there to keep it alive on
the rim of the wilderness. There was also a reading room and a small circulating
library. The leisure elements in that society even recognized the beauty of the
wild country at their very thresholds. From time to time sightseeing cruises
took paying customers up the St. Johns River (fifteen miles west of the town) to
the farthest reaches of settlement." (St. Augustine Florida Herald May 7,
June 19, 1834).
TRAVELERS' ACCOUNTS OF EARLY 19TH C. (on file)
p. 118 "The houses and the rear of the town are intersected and covered with orange
groves; their golden fruit and deep green foliage, not only render the air
agreeable, but beautify the appearance of this interesting little town . .
119. "proverbial salubrity of the climate, has obtained for St. Augustine the designation
of the Montpelier of North America . .
163. "I had arrived at a season of general relaxation, on the eve of the Carnival, which
is celebrated with much gaiety in all Catholic countries. Masks, dominoes,
Harlequins, Punchinelloes, and a great variety of grotesque disguises, on horse-
back, in cars, gigs, and on foot, paraded the streets with guitars, violins, and
other instruments; and in the evenings, the houses were open to receive masks, and
balls were given in every direction."
88. "Although there is a great deal of sandy soil in the neighborhood of St. Augustine,
which may give it the appearance of being the worst in the province, yet, it is
far from being unproductive; for it bears two crops of Indian corn some years,
and garden vegetables always in great perfection: among these is the artichoke.
The orange and lemon trees grow here without cultivation, to a larger size, and
produce better fruit, than in Spain or Portugal."
89. "Thisisland [Anastasia]. . is remarkable for the date and olive trees, the
flavour of the oranges, the cultivation of his [Jesse Fish] garden."
Vignoles, Observations Upon the Floridas (c.1824)
111. .. that the air is not at any season hurtful, is equally known from the
circumstance of the native and foreign ladies walking till late in the moonlight
on summer and autumn evenings, with only the slight coverings on their heads of
their lace veils or mantillas, and many even without these."
112. Author accounts for yellow fever due to dilapidated buildings, where pools of
water with the infectious "miasma" accumulated.
114. "The fever broke out in the back streets in isolated houses, and each case was
independent of the other . ."
Beckley, Alfred, Memoir of a West Pointer in Saint Augustine: 1824-1826 (Ed. by
Cecil D. Eby, Jr.)
311. "The cool, refreshing daily sea [breeze] from the Atlantic Ocean moderated the
intense heat of the tropical sun, while the night breeze across the peninsula
from the Gulf of Mexico kept the nights cool and pleasant, so that though
sleeping under musquito [sic] bars, a light blanket was not oppressive. Then
the delicious fruits of the tropics the oranges and figs so refreshing to a
p. 311 relaxed system, and the variety and abundance of fine fish and game."
311. "I was in the land of flowers, in the midst of an apparent earthly paradise, and
we gentlemen of the epaulet had the freedom of the city and went in and out among
the upper [families], both Spanish and American, as well as among the more humble
and illiterate, but no less graceful, Minorcan ladies."
316-317 "While there I joined a number of genteel, pleasant citizens in a Thespian
association . [Beckley lists participants]. My brother officers and the
citizens contributed liberally and we rented a small tenement upon (and indeed
over) the water [unlocated], which we humorously called 'Fishmarket Theatre'
after the celebrated London theatre. We sent to Charleston and bought some
beautiful French landscape paper and fitted up quite a respectable [blank]."
318. "The Minorcan ladies prepared an altar of a number of steps or shelves
called the Posey Altar, tastily and profusely decorated with the rich
Florida flowers lighted up with wax candles, and it made a splendid
319. Drinking and playing cards among soldiers' pasttimes.
Emerson, Ralph Waldo, Letter to brother William; January 29, 1827 (from Rusk,
Ralph, ed., The Letters of Ralph Waldo Emerson; Columbia University Press, 1966)
188. "In about a week the sloop William will arrive here which is to us what the
Spanish galleon is to Manilla or what, if I better remembered my 'Cummings,'
many more vessels doubtless are to many more places. In short it is our all.
It brings at every trip to St. Augustine inhabitants, victuals, newspapers,
& letters. It is one of two sloops which make all the shipping of this port,
& its regular arrival & departure are the only events that agitate our provin-
cial circles. Of course over our antiquated newsprints we are looking grave at
events that were long since discussed & forgotten in your vulgar thoroughfares
of Washington & N. York; and if a cross wind detain Capt. Swasey not only our
news gets old but our barrel of meal gets empty, & the lean kine begin to cast
most significant glances on the fat."
189. "I beleive [sic?] myself to be a great deal better than I was when I came. The
air & sky of this ancient fortified dilapidated sandbank of a town are really
189. "It is a queer place, this City of St. Augustine. There are eleven or twelve
hundred people & these are invalids, public officers and Spaniards or rather
Minorcans. What is done here? Nothing. It was reported one morning that a
man was at work in the public square & all our family turned out to see him.
What is grown here? Oranges on which no cultivation seems to be bestowed
beyond the sluggish attentions of one or two negroes to each grove of 5 or 6
hundred trees. The Americans live on their offices. The Spaniards keep
billiard tables, or, if not, they send their negroes to the mud to bring oysters,
or to the shore to bring fish, & the rest of the time fiddle, masque, & dance.
The Catholic clergyman lately represented at a masquerade the character of a
drunken sailor with the most laudable fidelity.
189. Here then in Turkey I enact turkey too. I stroll on the sea beach, & drive a
green orange over the sand with a stick. Sometimes I sail in a boat, sometimes
I sit in a chair. I read & write a little, moulding sermons & sentences for an
hour which may never arrive."
"Ralph Waldo Emerson's Little Journal at St. Augustine, January, February,
84. (Jan. 16 [?] 1827)
"The colonies observe the customs of the parent country however ill they may be
adopted to the new territory . [In like manner] the Spaniards & the Yankees
dig cellars here because there are cellars in Madrid & Boston; but the water
fills the cellars & makes them useless & the house unhealthy. Yet they still
dig cellars. Why? Because there are cellars in Madrid & Boston.
86. "There are two graveyards in St. Augustine one of the Catholics another of ye
Protestants. Of the latter the whole fence is gone having been purloined by
these idle people for firewood."
86. "oldest town of European in North A. 1564; full of ruins, chimneyless houses."
86. "Lazy people, horsekeeping intolerably dear, & bad milk from swamp grass because
all hay comes from the north. 40 (?) miles from here is nevertheless the
richest crop of grass growing untouched, why? because there is no scythe in
St. Augustine, & if there was no man knows how to use one!"
87. "The Minorcans are very much afraid of the Indians. All the old houses have very
strong walls & doors, with apertures thr6 wh. a musket can be discharged."
87. Description and sketch of a Spanish gibbet.
88. "There is something wonderfully piquant in the manners of the place, theological
89. "I met some Indians in the street selling venison. I asked the man where he
lived? 'Yonder.' Where? 'In the big swamp.'"
90. Poem by Ralph Waldo Emerson:
The castle & the ruined monastery
Unpeopled town, ruins of streets of stone,
Pillars upon the margin of the sea,
With worn inscriptions oft explored in vain."
p. 92. Another:
"Oh many a tragic story may be read, -
Dim vestiges of a romantic past,
Within the small peninsula of sand.
Here is the old land of America
And in this sea-girt nook, the infant steps
First foot-prints of that Genius giant-grown
That daunts the nations with his power today.
Inquisitive of such, I walk alone
Along the narrow streets, unpaved & old,
Among few dwellers, and the jealous doors
And windows barred upon the public way."
Latrobe, "Letter III" (1832)
15. "However, though disappointed, there were parts of our tour which were far from
being without interest, and the sketch of such is at your service. A hundred
miles of fatiguing and monotonous travel are forgotten when you reach a spot
where all strikes you as novel and rare."
16. "You see many dilapidated buildings, ruinous and roofless, of which the materials
are carried off by degrees for the erection of other edifices or walls, and
gardens full of orange-trees fill up the spaces. All the marks of English care
were swept away during the subsequent indolent reign of the original builders;
and the ruin into which the habitations and their purlieus then fell, under
neglect and desertion, the ravages of the damp climate, and the devastating
storms of the South, have not yet given place to general good order. Like all
Spanish towns, it has its Plaza, or public square, surrounded by the great
church and principal municipal buildings; all of which are more remarkable for
both exterior and interior neglect than for symmetry."
18. "They are honest, simple, and laborious in their occupations as fishermen and
farmers. They forcibly brought before me the scenes and sounds of sunny Italy
Their cottages, which in the narrow streets nearest the water, were, to
a certain degree, picturesque; festooned with nets and roses, shaded by orange
trees; and hung round with cages of nonpareils, and other singing-birds."
Cohen, "Author's Journal" (1836)
231. "The off abandoned mansions, closed stores, the hush of the once busy hum of
commerce, the crumbling piles, all embodied the ideal of a city dying daily.
Upon its ruins seemed to sit, brooding and enthroned the giant image of
Dilapidation. But now, in blooming May, to a meditative mind, wherein the
flame of romance has not been utterly quenched by the tears and dampening
realities of life, it is far otherwise. The contemplative, looking back with
history, and forward with hope, perceives the germ of renovation in the antean
powers of art, and buoyant tendencies of man."
Summer, Henry, "A South Carolina Lawyer Visits St. Augustine 1837" (John
Hammond Moore, ed., Florida Historical Quarterly)
p. 364. St. Augustine: . . None of the houses are fine in outside appearance
Feb.21st but inside they are much better furnished than the outer appearance would
warrant a South Carolinian in anticipating at least such a backwoodsman as
I, who would think from association of ideas, that a dingy outside would inside
have nothing to recommend it. So much for appearances."
366. "Gen. Hernandez says that 1000 pounds of cotton is a good crop here to the acre."
371. "I have seen some splendid mansions in decay, which had heretofore escaped my
notice. What has caused the melancholy ruins which stand in this place? Has
desolation's blighting curse fallen upon this town, to wither and destroy!
The walls of ruin stand next to the dwelling of man. What a contrast! The
walls built of rock formed of shells look melancholy There is nothing which
presents a gay appearance since the Orange Groves have been killed. I hesitate
not in saying that in my opinion St. Augustine will never rise above what it
now is . . This is the situation of St. Augustine as I saw it on the last
day of February 1837."
373. "March 5[th] . . Had an excellent dinner a fine Turkey a fine pudding
and finished the whole by drinking Champaigne [sic] wine."
373. "March 6th . . This morning as well as yesterday morning, the Drummer &
Fifer of the Regulars marched through town playing marshal [sic] music. This
they have done almost every morning since I have been here."
377. Summer describes some miscellaneous St. Augustine cripples. Then: "These are
some of the remarkable things I have seen in Augustine, which bye the bye is an
extremely dull place."
Williams, John Lee, The Territory of Florida (1837)
120. "The market is rather scantily supplied with meat and vegetables. Fish are
abundant, of various kinds and finely flavored. Fowls are rather dear and
120. "The timber which was originally abundant around the city, has in a long course
of years been cut off to a considerable distance. Wood and fencing materials
are consequently scarce and dear. Most of the lumber used here, is brought
from northern parts. This renders building rather expensive. Notwithstanding
this circumstance, the inhabitants are beginning to repair most of the old
dwellings, and to erect new and elegant buildings."
121. "The city contains ten lawyers, three doctors, one printer, seven dry goods
stores, six boarding houses, thirteen groceries, one painter, seven carpenters,
four masons, two blacksmiths, one gunsmith, two shoemakers, one baker, two
tailors, one tanner, five segar makers, one regular packet which runs to
p. 121. "The accommodations for strangers are rapidly improving, and it is believed, that
in a short time, persons of the first rank, will be under no necessity for visiting
Italy or the south of France, for the improvement of their health, as our climate
is equally salubrious and the conveniences and luxuries of life may easily be
obtained, when it is known that they will be required."
Motte, "The Journal" (1837)
111. "Like all Spanish towns, the streets are very narrow; and not being paved, the
clouds of dust, which every equestrian seemed to think it his peculiar privilege
to keep up in your face, are exceedingly annoying in dry weather."
Hughes, Dr. Ellis, "Impressions of Saint Augustine, 1838"
4. Rides into St. Augustine from the south. Enters "Levingston's Hotel": "Two
maids of Ethiopian complexion danced immediate attendance upon me. Is there a
public bar to this house Miss? No master! Here's master's room sir and I
was shown to a delightful apartment having two beds to the right of & adjoining
the entrance room and overlooking the 'glad waters of the dark blue sea.'"
5. . at Mrs. Levingstons table I sat & dined elegant roast beef fried
chicken turtle soup lettuce potatoes rice preserves of cranberry cheese bread
butter onions boiled fish &c &c formed my fare."
6. Watches a juggler (magician).
6. Mentions staying at the H. (?) house.
7. "In St. Augustine no watch maker could be found to repair a watch and but for
the Indian war which has brought into existence a doz dry good establishments
no dry goods of any note could probably have been found. No bookstore whatever
& not even a Spanish book."
8. "Not a vessel save a scow a yawl or a skiff adorned its harbor."
Phelps, John W., Letter to his sister Helen M. Phelps, 401 Hudson St., NY.
Dated Nov. 12th, 1838
83. "[Notwithstanding], there are a great many young women here, and marriage with
its appliances is of frequent occurrence, and a topic of open, most free, and
not unoften of indelicate conversation."
83. "The Doctor, attached to our command, went into a shop the other day, where was
kept a small circulating library of old volumes, the only public collection of
books in town . ."
83. "They are turning their attention here more to schools than they have done
? "Winter in the West Indies and Florida" (Chap. XIII; 1839)
p. 147 Effect of cold on himself (an invalid) on coming ashore in St. Augustine in
"The very first night, however, the cold began to produce its effect. All were
glad to sit, with shut doors and windows, around a good blazing fire . .
Although others did not feel the cold so much, still the fact that they all
sat around a good large fire at morning and evening, was some evidence that
they did not feel comfortable without it. The dining-room, as well as sitting-
room, had to be heated up by fire to make it comfortable, and this down to the
10th of April, in an orange-growing country, and a supposed suitable resort for
invalids. Comment is unnecessary. The thing speaks for itself."
152. "Very good medical attendance can be procured here, but the charges are high,
being about five dollars for a first visit to a stranger, and probably nearly
as much for each succeeding visit. There is no dispute about the general
salubrity of the place. It is small and dull, without amusements, and without
any horses or carriages to let, or other means of enabling strangers to ride,
and it is difficult to discover that it excels Key West in any thing except
greater extent of territory, a prospect of speculating in Florida lands, and the
more frequent opportunity of sending and receiving communications by mail. The
mail goes to and from Savannah twice a week, and arrives there in about four
days. The expense of board is about the same as at Key West; the living not as
good as might be had at that place, but houses and furnishing better. Fine
oysters abound here, however, as a substitute for the turtle of Key West. There
are two large and commodious hotels, capable of entertaining forty or fifty
Complains about mosquitoes in the summers.
155. "Nothing can be worse than to find oneself imprisoned in this little village;
kept a whole week or more with a cold, piercing wind drifting the sand along the
streets, and into his eyes, with sometimes a chance at a fire morning and even-
ing, and sometimes a chance to wrap up in a cloak and shiver without any; and many
times too cold to keep warm by walking in the sun-shine; with numbers of miserable
patients hovering about the fire, telling stories of distress, while others are
busily engaged in extolling the climate. It is altogether unendurable to hear it."
157. "Instead of riding for amusement, as at St. Croix, the invalids here appear to have
taken a great fancy to cutting and trimming orange sticks for canes. Having
nothing else to do, many of them work as industriously at this as so many mechanics
toiling for their daily wages. To see a dozen men sitting along the sunny side
of the house, all engaged in whittling, forcibly reminded me of the remark of
Mrs. Trollope, 'that the Americans were a whittling nation.'"
Whipple, ? (1843)
16. "The place seems destitute of all ideas of modern civilized architecture and no
stranger can imagine the ancient appearance of these old Spanish houses. The
Minorcan residences are generally still worse, being built like barns with steep
roofs & heavy shutters & they remind one of a lot of old rookeries. I find that
if the demands of taste are not attended to the demands of appetite are, for we
live well on fish & game &c &c.
p. 21. (Nov. 5, 1843)
"The Sabbath is better observed here than in most southern cities and an air of
quiet & repose is spread over everything."
22. "The business men of St. Augustine appear to me to be generally divested of that
straightforward upright character that should characterize a merchant. Jockey-
ing, cheating & bantering appear too common & all prices for goods are exorbi-
22. Election day in St. Augustine:
"Fighting, swearing & drinking with the other usual accompaniments of a southern
election were served up in abundance & almost made one blush at such a specimen
of republicanism. The party who beat had a glorification in the evening and
marched through the streets singing & laughing, their music being occasionally
diversified by the sound of a cracked tambourine."
24. "We have beautiful weather, a fine balmy air & excellent living. Tomato's,
radishes, lettuce & greens & fruit in abundance and plenty of fish, oysters &c . .
Snipes, ducks & other game are here in abundance."
25. "The soil of St. Augustine & its vicinity is sandy yet is very productive indeed.
It has in its ingredient a large portion of carl lime & other compositions that
make it entirely unlike the sand of Georgia & New York. I was astonished to
see the enormous growth of squashes, pumpkins, potatoes &c upon this apparently
dry & barren soil."
26. (Nov. 18, 1843))
"The inhabitants of Florida are rapidly improving in character from the continual
influx of new settlers from other states and that coarse rough backwoods cracker-
ism is giving place to refinement & civilization. But a few years since and
Florida was common ground for southern blacklegs and desperados, but they are
fast disappearing. The law is now better regarded and good citizens are exert-
ing themselves to give character & standing to the territory."
Bryant (W.C.?), Letters of a Traveller (1843)
Letter XIII: St. Augustine April 2, 1843
105. On young Minorcans:
"There is spirit, also, in this class, for one of them has been pointed out to
me in the streets, as having drawn a dirk upon a young officer who presumed
some improper freedoms of behavior."
? "Sketches of East-Florida" (1843)
567. "Verily, those who love pleasant faces and warm hearts will love St. Augustine.
But it is not the place for all. The young, the eager, and the ambitious should
not go into that silent land; and especially to those who have that kind of
nervous irritation which requires stimulants to allay, would the climate be
567. frightful. Such persons would have the St. Vitus's dance. But the mentally-
dyspeptic, and all those who have tired of crowds, and forced civilities; all
those, in short, who in one way or another have 'had enough of it,' will find
all true as above written."
1848 Sewall, "Sketches of St. Augustine" (Chapter I.)
"Moreover, there is a rapid transition in progress. This ancient city is being
transformed into American features, both in its external appearance, and in the
habits and customs of the people.
Many of the recent edifices are in the neat, attractive style of American village
architecture. Especially is this the case in the neighborhood of the Magnolia
63. "Recreation and Amusement"
"This city contains a small circle of intelligent and cultivated society. It is
not as yet deformed with the arts and moral conveniences of more fashionable
circles, in the higher walks of life. It needs not the blandishments it dreads
not the encroachments which, if tolerated in higher circles, would dissipate the
fictitious colors that glow to deceive around fashionable intercourse. Its very
simplicity is at once its greatest charm and surest defence against impertinent
intrusion. The city affords comfortable, if not elegant homes, to the invalid
sojourner, both in public houses and private families, through which he will
have a more or less direct connection with the avenues to the Anglo-American
Anonymous letter from SAHS chronological file c.1850
"Mother and father have been out looking for furniture all the morning. I do not
know with what success Everybody is willing to hire sell or lend something.
There are no furniture or upholsterer shops here and what we cannot get in this
way I spoke of must be sent for to New York or Charleston. Father talks of three
legged stools and everything to match and also of sending to New York for a spring
mattress. I expect our house will present a queer medley of the useful and orna-
mental but the yard I know will soon be prettier than any here The oleanders are
great trees and very beautiful."
2. "There are no signs to any of the stores, offices or shops."
2. "The servants have not yet come in from the country. Father hirs [sic] a cook and
maid servant from General Hernandez The cook is one of the best in the land
and makes delightful cake and pastry also. The cake we got to parties is much
better than we can have made at home fruit cake especially is made by a
colored woman there is no confectioner here."
2. "I have just been writing a list of boots and slippers to send on to Whitings. I
wish I could go on and get my summer clothes, There is nothing here hardly."
Statistical Gazetteer of the United States of America; Census of 1850 (File:
Florida State Census of 1850; SAHS)
"The foreign commerce of St. Augustine, during the year ending June 30, 1850,
consisted in the entrance and clearance of one foreign vessel of 68 tons, having
a crew of four men. During the year no vessels were built, and it has no tonnage
whatever of its own."
Anonymous. "A Winter From Home" (1852)
p. 13. "In fact, politics, the partial necessity, and at the same time the bane of the
country, are as violent and rancorous here as elsewhere. There is no Eden from
which the serpent can be excluded."
13-14. Descriptions of various flora and fauna.
"One of the greatest deprivations we experienced was the want of ice, which, with
a little effort, might easily be procured from Savannah. We found the water
brackish and indifferent . .
15. ". . and our indifferent bread and strong butter, contrasted unfavorably with
the products of the mills of Rochester, and the dairies of Orange county. I do
not mean, however, to disparage the house at which we lived. We fared as well as
anyone in the place; our table was abundantly supplied; we had good vegetables,
meats, venison and wild turkeys in profusion, and if provisions came from one
place and the cook from another, it was no fault of the keeper of the house, who
did the best that could be expected under the circumstances. There are no such
things as intelligence offices in the place, and you must take what you can get.
Good cooks are not as plenty as sour oranges; and the monarch of stewpans and
skillets can, under these disadvantages, hardly be expected to have matriculated
in the college of Ude, or to have studied under Soyer. But notwithstanding all
this, we lived very comfortably."
16. "As I before observed, we are more sensitive to cold here than at the North, the
houses not being calculated for winter the windows and doors loose and openings
in every direction for the admission of the cold air; and the fireplaces wide and
deep, consuming a great deal of wood and emitting but little heat; the chill
penetrates to the marrow, and the alternations from heat to cold are sudden and
Minorcans in St. Augustine:
19. "But in exemption from crime few communities excel them, and it is to their great
honor that there is no prison in the place, or if there is one it has been tenant-
less for years . . Although they are said to be poor, I believe that there are
no town paupers among them, and I have seen but one beggar in the streets, a worth-
less little Minorca lad, who asked for money without the knowledge of his parents
and friends, who, I was told, would be exceedingly mortified if they knew the fact.
They are accused of being parsimonious, but if they are poor, as is alleged, what
is called parsimony is nothing more than necessary prudence."
20. "Although not an enterprising people, they are, in this respect, like the residue
of the community in which they live. St. Augustine has neither commerce nor
p. 20. business, except the ordinary retail sales of a small place. It is isolated and
sequestered from the rest of the world. It does not own a ton of shipping; has
no manufactures, few or no mechanics, and in fact produces little or nothing. It
has three or four boarding-houses or taverns, which are supported by southern and
northern visitors, the former coming in the summer, and the latter in winter.
There is no back country; few or no farms or plantations; no mills, turnpikes,
plank roads, railroads, or canals . .. the whole product may be summed up in
fish and oysters from the bays and ocean, wild fowl from the swamps, venison and
turkeys from the woods; dwarf cabbages, potatoes, cassava, arrow-root, and other
esculents from the gardens; sugar-cane and syrup from two or three small plantations,
and sour oranges from everywhere. Their groceries, furniture, store goods, pre-
served meats, luxuries, hay, clothing, salt, corn, flour, and butter, are all
imported; and while there is a solitary printing-office, there is not a bookstore
in the place. There is a custom-house, but no entries; pilots, but no employment
for them; and cattle, but no pasture . . Some of the young men now leave home
for Savannah, and other southern cities, where they become excellent mechanics.
But, notwithstanding the habitual stagnation of this venerable city, I have never
seen a more happy or better community .
24. "Riding on horseback is a favorite amusement. The ponies that are used by the
equestrians are brought to the doors of the hotels every fine day, and you pay
fifty cents for a ride. If the riding is cheap, the horses are indifferent."
25. "It is customary in deer hunting to encamp in the woods, and the Florida hunter
always takes his coffee-pot with him in preference to the brandy bottle, as the
climate is unfavorable to the free use of ardent spirits. Coffee is universally
drank, and it is a sufficient stimulant in this delightful country. Parties are
sometimes formed for hunting and fishing at Matanzas, and the sportsman is
generally well rewarded for his trouble."
26. "This portion of Florida is certainly poor, and although there are individual
instances of wealth, the mass are in moderate circumstances. The people here
certainly made a great mistake when they knocked at the door of the Union for
admission as a State. They now have to pay all their own expenses, which formerly
came from the ample pocket of Uncle Sam."