Monday, January 18, 2010
John Milton, the son and grandson of Revolutionary and War of 1812 veterans and a descendent of the famed poet of the same name, was elected Governor of Florida during the election of 1860. It is a little known fact that he was actually the legal governor under the laws of both the United States and the Confederacy, as he was elected prior to Florida's secession from the Union but did not take office until October of 1861.
Because Governor Madison Perry was unable to do so, it was Governor-elect Milton who read the Ordinance of Secession to the assembled crowd at the Old Capitol in Tallahassee in January of 1861. A fierce advocate of secession, Milton had been an outspoken advocate of the Southern position of states' rights for nearly 30 years.
The land that became eventually became Sylvania Plantation was first cleared by the slaves of the Robinson family, to which the governor was related through his mother. After living and practicing law in Columbus, Georgia; Mobile, Alabama; and New Orleans, Louisiana, he acquired the property in Florida following a terrible steamboat accident on the Mississippi River in which he suffered severe burns.
Under Milton's guidance, Sylvania became one of the largest plantations in the South. By 1855 it encompassed more than 6,330 acres and over the next five years he began work on a second plantation near today's Parramore community in eastern Jackson County.
It was also at Sylvania that Milton took his life on April 1, 1865, having told friends that death was preferable to defeat at the hands of the North.
To learn more, please visit www.twoeggfla.com/sylvania.
Friday, January 15, 2010
Built in 1857 to replace an earlier log structure that had doubled as a blockhouse and fort during the Second Seminole War, the church was reputedly the second building in Washington County to have glass windows. Located atop Moss Hill, a ridge overlooking Holmes Valley, the church was a permanent outgrowth of the Holmes Valley Methodist Mission which is thought to have been operating as early as 1823.
In an interesting footnote of history, the land patent for the 40 acres on which the church had been built was signed on December 4, 1861, by President Abraham Lincoln. Florida was then, of course, part of the Confederacy and was at war to break away from the old Union led by President Lincoln.
Like many congregations in Northwest Florida, the Moss Hill group sent most of its men and boys to serve in the Confederate army, although some also slipped through the lines and joined the Union forces. Several served in the 1st Florida U.S. Cavalry and in September of 1864 came to war against their former friends and neighbors when General Alexander Asboth led his raid on Marianna.
A number of members of Moss Hill Methodist Church served in Captain W.B. Jones' Vernon Home Guard and were involved in a sharp skirmish with Asboth's column as it was making its return march to the coast following the Battle of Marianna. Jones unit was demolished and the captain and a number of his men were taken prisoner. Some died in Northern prison camps and never returned, but are memorialized today by markers in the Moss Hill cemetery.
To learn more, please visit www.exploresouthernhistory.com/mosshill1.