The Courier June 2016Vol. II, Issue III ~ MESSAGE FROM THE DIRECTOR ~ June is a great month in Jacksonville If it weren’t for grant season, I’d l


The Courier


June 2016

Vol. II, Issue III




June is a great month in Jacksonville

If it weren’t for grant season, I’d love the month of June. I actually like Jacksonville’s June weather. It’s hot, but it’s just before the city gets unbearably hot most days. The nights can be balmy and the June skies are ever changing and magnificent. Flowers still hold their brilliance in Jacksonville’s June weather. And as long as the city remains mostly mosquito free, eating outdoors is an evening possibility. Mostly backing up my assessments are Jacksonville weather records dating back, remarkably, to 1829.

With good fortune, Thursday, June 23, will offer a beautiful Florida evening for the JHS's program on Florida Founder William P. DuVal: Frontier Bon Vivant. Book author and our speaker, James M. Denham recently received two awards, the "2016 Florida Distinguished Author" from the Florida Historical Society and the Florida Historical Society's Rembert Patrick Award for the "Best Scholarly Florida History Book".

June is also the city’s founding month. The date, June 15, 1822, was researched and formally established through efforts of the Jacksonville Historical Society exactly 50 years ago this month. At the time, Louis Ritter was mayor of Jacksonville, and he made the date official in a 1966 proclamation. The Historical Society has continued to hold press conferences on numerous milestone founding anniversaries in the past twenty years to remind local residents about this important date in city history.

Roughly, 11 months after Florida officially became a territory of the U.S., settlers felt more comfortable heading “deeper” into Florida. Thus, Isaiah David Hart’s arrival near the Cow Ford, a crossing at the St. Johns River. Hart already knew the area. With $72 in cattle, he purchased land at the Cow Ford. He then convinced adjoining property owner, John Brady, to join him in a donation of land to create streets—and the town of Jacksonville was founded, laid out in twenty “squares,” and given the name Jacksonville from the beginning.

Streets were also named on that June 15 founding day. In fact, a simple review of the original Jacksonville streets offers a magnificent lesson in early American history. Washington and Liberty streets signify pride in the young hard-fought for nation, and residents exhibited patriotic fervor honoring the nation’s first president, who served until April of 1797.

The seated U.S. President during the 1822 founding, James Monroe, was honored with a street name, and the Secretary of State at the time, John Quincy Adams was the inspiration for Adams Street; he was crucial, along with the nation’s minister to Spain, John Forsyth, in the acquisition of Florida for the youthful United States. Forsyth also got a street name. Florida Governor William Pope Duval was honored with a street, along with Colonel Daniel Newnan, who several years earlier led a campaign against the Seminole Indian King Payne in Florida, near today’s Gainesville.

The town’s first street was Market and the starting point for the survey began at Market Street’s southwest corner, after reported lively debate. The same path for Market Street exists today. This was the street where founders likely envisioned shopping possibilities. The next street, running perpendicular to Market St. and parallel to the St. Johns River at that location was Bay Street. In the mid 20th century, Jacksonville built out over the river bed and river, creating a Bay Street that no longer could be described as “next to the river.” The best assessment of the Bay Street name indicates it was inspired by Bay trees along the riverbank.

The original Jacksonville streets still maintain their names, although the Jacksonville Historical Society, actively (and successfully) lobbied against a city ordinance about a decade ago to change the name of a portion of Bay Street.

The early Jacksonville story, much more detailed than outlined above, will continue to generate interest and excitement as the city races to its centennial year in 2022, and the Jacksonville Historical Society will be there to celebrate the milestone. Until then, Happy Birthday, once again, Jacksonville!




Jacksonville as originally surveyed in 1822. Jacksonville Historical Society Collection.

What's in a name?

For 10,000 years Native Americans lived along the St. Johns River and at some point referred to its waters by a variety of names, including Welaka, “river of lakes”. It is recorded that natives called the narrow St. Johns River crossing at today’s downtown Jacksonville, Wacca Pilatka, meaning “place of cow’s crossing”. By default, the reference to the river became the name of the location, and consequently the name for the area we now know to be Jacksonville.

In early June 1822, an estimated 250 people were living in the area, scattered up and down both sides of the St. Johns River. The potential for a town at the Cow Ford was realized by most who traveled to the area – principal among them, Isaiah D. Hart. After some persuasion, a 20-block survey of the town was formed. The town name of Jacksonville was agreed to without dissent in honor of General Andrew Jackson, the state’s first American governor and popular idol of the day. The name was suggested by John Warren, a resident, but not a native of the town, who had served as a volunteer in the army of General Jackson during “the Indian troubles in West Florida”. Ironically, there is no substantiated record that Jackson ever visited this part of Florida.

The town was surveyed by D.S.H. Miller ... [Read more...]


JKG 5x7

Jeffrey K. Graf, newly elected Jacksonville Historical Soceity President.

Jeffrey K. Graf elected JHS President

On May 23, following a membership vote to elect new board members, the JHS board of Directors elected Jeff Graf as President for the upcoming society year, June 2016 until May 2017. Jeff is immediate-past JHS Vice-President and has chaired, or served on, most of JHS’s committees during his time on the board. Recently he took on the role as Co-Chair of JHS’s Strategic Planning committee.

Jeff grew up in Tampa, and is a 1973 graduate of the University of Florida. A career move brought him to Jacksonville in 1977, and he has resided in the Avondale area of the city since 1983. Now retired, Jeff spent his career in various aspects of banking, commercial real estate management and sales.

Most recently, he was a Senior Vice President at Hobbs Madison, a Boston based financial services consulting firm. Prior to that, he worked for a few years with Murphy Land and Retail Services, a Jacksonville based commercial real estate firm specializing in the brokerage of properties for retail entities.

Earlier in his career, Jeff was President of Real Property Solutions Group, a local consulting company that specialized in delivering tailored real estate solutions to new and emerging businesses. Jeff spent the majority of his career with Barnett Banks, and its successor, Bank of America, where he held strategic planning, retail product management, real estate management, and branch office network planning positions.

Jeff’s community service experience includes membership on the Riverside Avondale Preservation (RAP) board where, in his term as Vice Chair, he was part of a team that developed RAP’s first strategic plan. In addition, he headed RAP’s Governance Committee which guided board building and education as well as the development of RAP’s Policies and Procedures. He was also involved with the creation of RAP’s sister organization, the Riverside Arts Market.

Jeff and his wife, Kathy, are the parents of two grown sons who continue to live in Jacksonville. When not busy with their volunteer commitments locally, they enjoy spending time in their summer home in the mountains of western North Carolina.




Proclamation designating June 15, as Isaiah D. Hart Day in 1966 commemoration of the founding of Jacksonvlle.

1966 Isaiah D. Hart Day Proclamation in JHS Archives

This proclamation, on the left, in the Jacksonville Historical Society archives, is another example of the wonderful items maintained and preserved at the society's archives.

Surrounded by direct descendants of Isaiah D. Hart, representatives of the Florida and the Jacksonville Historical Societies, Mayor Louis H. Ritter signed the proclamation designating June 15, as Isaiah D. Hart Day in commemoration of the founding of the community now known as Jacksonville.

After careful research by the Jacksonville Historical ... [Read more...]



1938 waterfront 8x10 picmonkey

Downtown Jacksonville from the St. Johns River. Jacksonville Historical Society Collection.

"Missing Downtown"

When: NOW!
Where: Old St. Luke's, JHS Archives

The Historical Society Archives is currently featuring images and objects from our collections. The two small exhibits, "Missing Downtown" and "Cabinets of Curriosities" are open Tuesday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.



WilliamPDuVal Book

Florida Founder William P. DuVal: Frontier Bon Vivant

Join the Jacksonville Historical Society and Dr. James Denham, Thursday, June 23rd, for his presentation on his new book Florida Founder William P. DuVal: Frontier Bon Vivant.

Reception 6:30pm
Program: 7pm
Location: Old St. Andrews, 317 A. Philip Randolph Blvd.



The Continental Hotel advertised in a Florida East Coast Railway brochure

The Continental Hotel advertised in a Florida East Coast Railway brochure.

The Continental Hotel: Henry Flagler’s Unknown Hotel

After Henry Flagler bought the Jacksonville & Atlantic Railroad, integrated it to the Florida East Coast Railroad and extended its line from downtown Jacksonville to Mayport, he decided to build a hotel to accommodate all the wealthy vacationers that would be attracted to the Jacksonville Beaches. Flagler dreamt big and built even bigger.

On June 1st, 1901, only a month after Jacksonville's Great Fire, Flagler opened the Continental Hotel at Atlantic Beach. The hotel originally boasted 186 rooms, later increased to 220, and 56 bathrooms making it ...[Read more...]




Duval High School from the 1922 yearbook, The Oracle.

June 10, 1927: The 50th and final commencement of Duval High School is held on this day. Schools set to open to replace Duval High were Jackson, Lee, and Landon.

Duval High School, founded in 1875, was the first public school in Florida to offer courses beyond the elementary grades. The building, located at Liberty Street and Church Street, was constructed in 1877, until 1901 when the school was destroyed in the Great Fire.

The school was then housed at the LaVilla Grammar School and then at Central Grammar until 1908 when a new school building was constructed on the east side of Ocean Street, between Beaver Street and Ashley Street. This building remained Duval High School's home for the next 19 years.

Two annexes were added to the original school building to meet growing attendance needs. The north (Beaver Street) annex was completed in January 1920, and the south (Ashley Street) annex was completed in February 1922.

In 1977, the building was sold to the Ida M. Stevens Foundation. Architect Ted Pappas redesigned the building at the cost of $1,700,00, and converted it to fifty-two apartments for the elderly.


Signature of Isaiah D. Hart, leader of the group which founded Jacksonville in June 1822.

June 15, 1822: The “established” date by none other than the Jacksonville Historical Society for the founding of Jacksonville. It is known that in June of the year, Isaiah D. Hart and a group of men at the Cowford laid out the streets of a town, measuring from a bay tree at the river's edge. The first street surveyed was Market Street, followed by Bay Street. An additional twenty blocks were surveyed – the street names resonate with the young nation’s early history as well as the history of the “newly founded” Jacksonville.


James Weldon Johnson, photo credit: State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory

June 17, 1871: James Weldon Johnson was born in Jacksonville’s LaVilla neighborhood and embraced learning early on. His mother read the classics aloud to James and his brother, Rosamond. Both boys showed musical talent at an early age, playing a variety of instruments. He was appointed principal of Stanton School at the remarkably young age of 23, and was the first African American lawyer admitted to the Florida Bar post Reconstruction.

Only days after the city’s Great Fire of 1901, Johnson agreed to meet with an out of town female reporter to discuss the fire’s aftermath. Nearly losing his life to an enraged mob that deemed the meeting improper, Johnson realized it was time to leave the city. Yet his affection for Jacksonville was steadfast; he promised the newly elected mayor, Duncan Fletcher, to assist the devastated city. After settling in New York, he arranged a benefit that raised thousands for the ravaged Jacksonville.

Johnson wrote hundreds of songs, including the Negro National Anthem, Lift Every Voice and Sing. He received a diplomatic appointment by President Theodore Roosevelt and tirelessly directed the earliest years of the NAACP. A special legacy for his hometown is his autobiography, Along this Way, offering an extraordinary examination of the city. Jacksonville’s native son was the consummate Renaissance man…a lawyer, educator, civil rights reformer, poet, lyricist, novelist, and teacher.

ClaraBarton FLMemory

Clara Barton, President of the Red Cross Society. Photo Credit: State Archives of Florida.

June 20, 1898: Clara Barton, President of the Red Cross, inspected Panama Park encampment of Spanish-American War soldiers after conditions at the Springfield camp attracted national attention.

By June's end, military typhoid cases were being treated in homes throughout Jacksonville, partly to ease the strain on the camp hospitals (every available bed at St. Luke's was filled), partly out of compassion for the men.

Sadly, of the soldiers stricken in Jacksonville, 362 would die of typhoid fever compared to a total of 385 soldiers, sailors and marines killed in combat during the entire war.


"The French select a suitable Place for building a Fort." Image is of a hand colored watercolor published by Jacques le Moyne de Morgues depicting life for the French Huguenots.

June 30, 1564: Construction of Fort Caroline by Rene de Laudonniere and the French Huguenots begins on this day.

Fort Caroline was built in the form of a triangle, its base along the river front and its apex drawing toward the south. The westerly side was enclosed by a trench and raised by trusses made in the form of a battlement nine feet high.

Laudonniere named the fort, Caroline, in honor of King Charles,who at at the time was only a boy.

--History of Jacksonville, Florida and Vincinity, 1513 to 1924


City of Jacksonville

Logo Tagline JPEG

Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville


Our Mission: The mission of the Jacksonville Historical Society is to foster and promote the appreciation of the history of Jacksonville and Northeast Florida by collecting, preserving, presenting, and interpreting that history for the benefit and education of its members, the public and future generations.

Staff: Emily Lisska, Executive Director| Taryn Rodriguez-Boette, Associate Director & Archivist| Meghan Powell, Office Manager & Event Coordinator| Sherrard Ceglia, Archives Assistant| Jeremy Graf, Archives| Robert Hughes, Facilities Manager

2015-16 JHS Board Jeff Graf, President| Pat Andrews, Vice-President| Maggie Means, Secretary| Robert Hennigar, Treasurer | Alan Bliss| Ed Booth| Jeff Bryan| Michael Fackler| Drew Haramis| Cora Hackley| Doug Milne| Harry Reagan| Robin Robinson| Anzhelika Siloyan| Lisa Sheppard| Reecy Thornton| Wayne W. Wood

email facebook foursquare instagram linkedin pinterest twitter youtube