Notes from the author on Bulow Plantation

Connecting the dots that follow the trail of history along the Old Kings Road

Since I arrived here in Flagler County Florida, some 20 years ago, I have followed Old Kings Road.  It was built by the British some 238 years ago.  Stories keep arising along this ancient route that keeps pulling me in.  I know I am a teller of stories. As I read documents or books from long ago I often feel that I know what happened when I connect the dots. 

In my book “Search for Old Kings Road’ I put in references and tried to make it accurate. In it appear the Indian Grey Eyes and his partner, a slave scout called Black Sandy Perryman.  I found them in many places, both in original documents written by then British Governor Grant, and accounts of the times.  These became characters that carried me into another book called “I am Grey Eyes.”  “Grey Eyes” still will not release me. It had a subplot concerning the 1587 Lost Colony of Roanoke, the discovery of a Carolina group with grey and blue eyed Indians plus some very strange visitors that later arriving in Flagler County as reported by Flagler historian Jack Clegg in his now long out of date book. But that is still another story. 

When these faded dots of information appear, often very blurred, a historian may find them too weak for pursuit.  My fun is finding what I like to call “factual historical fiction” which the writing about what I believe really happened.  To me this is the true story of events.  When I find a few misty dots, I enjoy joining them. Sometimes there is a new discovery about the past, even just a small one.

I wrote a short paper called “In Florida the Underground Railroad ran south”  I was invited to speak at the National Parks Convention entitled “Escaping to Destinations South” in June of 2012.  It was fun to speak to professional museum directors, and representatives of Black Seminole tribes from across the United States.  I think my talk did go well, or at least none of the PhD’s were throwing tomatoes.

My friend Stephen Held guided me to the actual Osceola capture marker on Old Kings Road.  It was forgotten since 1916 when a marker was placed just south of St. Augustine. I again was caught by the story.  The book Osceola is written from an Indian point of view.  It may not always agree with prior historical accounts but I know it is true. It reflects what I believe really happened.  Historians must study documents written after the events.  These often contradict. I wrote that Osceola was telling his own story, a first person tale.

True history can not be placed into simple boxes of events and times.  History should be a story of people who lived, who interconnected in a complex manner and moved through time interacting with others in amazing ways.  For those who do like boxes and footnotes let’s look at a quick history of events in Florida:

1565 Spanish arrive in Florida they will be here for some 198 years.  The French were here too but the Spanish did them in so except for a quick slaughter at a place now called Matanzas, the French were not a major part of my story.

 1763 English take over Florida   An all too short 21 year period. They began the building of the Kings Road from Georgia to what would become the New Smyrna colony. This is the connection road for my stories.

1784 Spain takes over again for some 37 years of Spanish territory.  Florida was still Spanish during the War of 1812.  A time of smuggling, Spanish land grants and new plantations.

1821 Andrew Jackson and the US take over Florida.  The Indian Removal Plan passed congress by only one vote.  All Indians west of the Mississippi must depart to the west.  Hunting and sale into slavery of free blacks, anyone with dark skin in Florida, has become a new, profitable industry. It did not matter if your family had lived here free for over 100 years; you were now fair game for capture and worth gold to the slave hungry Carolina and Georgia planters.  The Second Seminole War of 1835 was triggered in part by this.  This war that will last for seven years until the US is again diverted by the Mexican War.  Now appear the fierce slave laws that will eventually be a fuse to ignite our bloody Civil War.  Every man of color, even if previously free, must now have a master.

The capture and sale of slaves from Florida is a little known part of history.  Black families had been escaping into the wilds of Florida for some 256 years.  The early Spanish King had even issued an edict offering them freedom in order to twist the tail of the British colonies to the north.  Escaping slaves formed small communities many on the west coast along the Gulf or came into relationships with the Florida Indians.  Often the escapees were the best builders, or farmers, could speak languages, and were prized by their Indian friends.  

1750 Baron Joachim Von Bulow arrives in Charleston from Meckenburg (Germany). At first he was a Lutheran Minister who acquired much property, is married and has two sons.  He had large warehouses full of food and material that he sold to the South Carolina revolutionary troops.  Unlike many of his neighbors his property was not seized and he increased his wealth.

The Bulow family owned much property including the celebrated “Savannah” Plantation near Charleston.

1765 Elder son John Joachim born inherits the family wealth including plantation lands, many slaves and also became a wealthy cotton merchant.

1778 Charles Wilhelm Bulow born.  As the younger son, he can not inherit.  He enters into the cotton business with his brother John Joachim and is of an adventuring nature.  He wishes to build his own empire.  He wishes land in Spanish Florida and at first was frustrated by war.  He is known to have visited King Philip, the head of the Atlantic coast Seminoles.  Family legend and other authors believed that a daughter was born of Charles Wilhelm’s visit and attention to King Philip’s sister.  Emily Bulow was listed as Charles Wilhelm’s adopted daughter. Her official date of birth was 20 March 1804.  Just prior Charles Wilhelm had married a society lady in Charleston.  How he worked out his adopted daughter is not known.

1807 A son John Joachim Bulow was born to Charles Wilhelm and sent as a child, perhaps as young as 5 years to Paris for his education.  This was around 1812 when a new war was arising with England.  He may have been 16 to 18 years old when he returned to America after the sudden death of his father Charles Wilhelm.

All of my characters were real.  For example I found two Negro “wenches”, yes they used that term in Charles Wilhelm’s will and testament.  Why would he include by name two female slaves when he owned hundreds more who were not named?   One was called Mary and now my story line dots appeared.  What was the motive for naming them specifically in his will?

Mary will become Charles Wilhelm’s housekeeper in my plot.  In that same will daughter Emily was named as inheritor of Mary.  Emily Bullow will have strong contacts in New York.  In fact she will marry a well connected husband in New York, and was only about 13 years old at the time.  They were a famous, wealthy family in New York City.

 It was almost impossible to free a slave in Florida under the new U.S. rule.  It was too expensive and difficult. Capture and sale of black people was big business and many laws were passed to protect this enterprise.  What better way to protect Mary’s freedom then for her to go to Emily in New York, where such laws still did not exist.  So again I had a plot.  I know my dots are misty at times, but I still like to connect them.

A very strong information dot of information emerged on John Russell.  He first owned the land that would later become Bulowville.  His great, great, great, granddaughter Joyce Louise Russell Bevel wrote an excellent paper in 2004.  Amazingly some Russell family still lived in the Hammock area of Flagler County.  Their ancestor Russell was an accomplished shipwright, a builder of excellent merchant ships.  He was caught in the American Revolution and forced to locate his business to the Bahamas.   He was a success there, but again the war of 1812 caught him.  So in July of 1812 he brought one of his best ships into the then Spanish harbor of St. Augustine harbor with his family, household goods and a few skilled shipwright slaves.   A Mr. John Russell of the same name and also interested in boats still lives in the Hammock area of Flagler County and shared his memories plus the paper of Ms Bevel with me. 

The Spanish authorities were without funds.  They needed a shallow draft ship that would clear the harbor bar to import food. .  Russell was able to swap his fine, mahogany framed ship to the Spanish in return for a grant to a large piece of land along the Kings Highway.  There was much subsequent legal wrangling and sadly Mr. Russell died in the home of his daughter at Fernandina.  Some family legends said he might have been thrown in jail by the Spanish since they were then at war with the British.  His son inherited the property and it was then available for purchase by Charles Wilhelm Bulow in 1821.  There’s enough Russell story here for another book, but we will stay on Bulow.

It’s remarkable that the Russell family is still living in Flagler county and connected to ships.  John Russell’s trawler was being loaded to motor to Bermuda when I visited with him.

Now another fuzzy dot, but perhaps not so blurred when I followed it further.

The story is being told by Bulow’s old housekeeper, called Aunty Mary?

But wait she has been long dead.  Or is she?

So is the story begins with two middle aged local sisters here in present time. Then there a young girl called Lizzie who appears.  Who is telling this story?

I was recently interviewed by a professor of literature from Georgetown University near Washington.  He said I broke all the rules of writing.  I replied that since I did not know what the rules were, it was easier for me to break them.  I was delighted he read and understood my books.

Finally a solid dot.  Here was a real discovery. I read sale documents showing that Bulow purchased a town house in St. Augustine on 6 April 1821 from a Spanish Widow Donna Maria de la Conception Miranda.  She was departing to Cuba as Spain gave up Florida.

On a hot, muggy day my wife Pat and I went looking for the location which was listed as being between Marine Street and Charlotte streets near the house of Martin Hernandez.  I was informed that the houses in this area burned in a fire around 1914.  Exactly where I believed the Bulow house once stood was a re-constructed home with the label 1821.  I was certain this was it.  Here I believe is where Bulow senior died, and I think it is highly probable the son John Joachim ended up here after being marched up Old Kings road under arrest by the raiding Mosquito Roarer Militia from St. Augustine.  I could find no record they had disposed of the property.  More about this later on the mysterious death of John Joachim in St. Augustine.  To my eyes this too was a very dark, solid dot of information.

Another mystery is the story of Emily Bulow.  Her official date of birth was 20 March 1804.  Several writers listed her as an adopted daughter of Charles Wilhelm Bulow.  Bulow family legends had her born as the result of a visit by Bulow with King Philip to purchase cattle.  King Philip was reportedly of partial Spanish decent, and was the chief of the Mikasuki Indians, on the Atlantic side of Florida.

Bulow family legends said a child was born of a daughter of King Philip and later adopted by Bulow.  Emily was a very high society lady and later married William G. Bucknor of New York City.  She was 15 years old according to the published dates.  It would have been unheard of to have an Indian baby in those times, and further she would inherit the Bulow fortune, and was very much loved by her father.

Mr. William Lenssen of Flagler County had much to do with Bulow via family connections.  He shared a series of portraits with me, one of Emily, one of Elizabeth, Emily’s daughter, at age 50 years and other Bulow family members.  I pasted these up beside a Catlin portrait of King Philip.  It seemed to me that Elizabeth very much resembled her theoretical grand father King Philip.  If true, it would be a dark mystery much hidden by the family.  It might also be very disturbing to Elizabeth as she grew up looking somewhat Indian in a high society, New York white community.

There are stories within stories.  Back in 1807 the world was at war.  President Thomas Jefferson thought the only way to protect his weak country was to levy an embargo, a stoppage of all trade with Europe.  He declared an embargo on all trade across the ocean.  This was of course a disaster to American ship owners and merchants. However Fernandina Harbor up near the St. Mary’s river was Spanish territory and in effect a free port.  It became packed with tall ships fleeing the embargo, retired Pirates and all sorts.  Here I found a solid dot that indicated the Bulow family made an additional fortune in the cotton trade even when its formal export to the hungry for cotton European mills was forbidden. How did they accomplish this?  In some manner the Bulow brothers remained in the cotton trade in spite of the Embargo.  I tried to sketch out how this could be. My story within a story then continued.

But now back to Bulow and the building of a great plantation.

When Charles Wilhelm Bulow closed on the land obtained from the Russell family he had access to many resources from his brother in Charleston.  Remember there was a great plantation called “Savannah” still there owned by the Bulows.  We think a contingent of special plantation slaves who were builders came by ship into the Mosquito Lagoon landing at  a place called Live Oak landing,  They then boated north  up what would be named as Smith Creek to the Bulow property.  There may have been as many as 300 skilled men clearing trees, sawing lumber and building what would become one of the largest works in Florida.  When their tasks were done slaves would be exchanged back to “Savannah”.

There were also many papers about Francisco Pellicer, the son of Pellicer Sr. who was a refugee from the New Smyrna Minorcan community.  Pellicer Jr. was now engaged as a plantation manager.  At first Bulow had some 9,000 acres; he purchased a second grant of 2,000 more from John Addison. Bulow died in May of 1823 leaving his son John Joachim Bulow his only heir. Writings from St. Augustine clearly indicated that Bulow died in that city and was buried there.  When John Joachim arrived from Paris he found that Mr. Pellicer Sr. had been appointed as his guardian until he was of age.

We think Bulow died of the yellow fever.  I found a paper saying he died in St. Augustine in his fine town house.  He obtained the property in July of 1821 and died in May 1823 so I do not believe many crops could be raised.  I think the initial work was the clearing of the land, and perhaps building a few utility barns.  His dream died with him.  I do believe young Pellicer carried it forward, and young John Joachim picked it up.

What a difference Florida must have been when young John Joachim Bulow arrived. He most certainly spoke French and sailed from the sophistication of Parisian life to the wilds of Florida. I believe he worked well with young Pellicer as the Bulow plantation then grew rapidly.  Having unlimited capital and all the slave labor needful would aid in this too.

The crops were sugar cane, rice, indigo for its valuable dye stuff, and food for the workers including corn, sweet potatoes, all sorts of pumpkins and squash.  There was trading with local Indians too for beef, venison.

I found accounts that King Philip, his son Wild Cat, and other Seminole Indians made frequent visits to Bulowville as it was then called.  If the Emily legend is true then they would be also fully aware of young Bulow’s relationship to their tribe.  I secured a copy of the James Ormond III papers, as he lived at Bulowville as a young man.  He relates the Indian visits.  Also many visitors would now arrive from Europe.  Bulow was a great hunter and fisherman, and certainly knew how to party. He had visitors from Europe and of course New York where his sister now lived.   There is no known record of these visits, but I feel they did happen.  I am not certain the neighboring planters were that fond of him, but they surely respected his money, and the successful growth of his plantation.  Did his sister ever visit?  I think it is possible she did.

Most planters had a good relation with the Seminoles.  I think the connection of young Bulow to Wild Cat was that of a family relationship.  This would explain Bulow’s action later when the Seminole war began and the Mosquito Roarer Militia from St. Augustine arrived to seize his property.  He knew the Seminoles, and they would be aware of the family relationship if it existed.

A solid dot came to me when I obtained the archeological dig records on Bulow from the State archives.  One careful piece of work was locating the long ago destroyed plantation house.  By following post locations and other evidence the scientists found came a conclusion that it must have looked much like a still existing planter house in Louisiana built about the same time.  Bulow’s house was two-support-posts shorter than the Louisiana one, but I think the look is still there.

The report in Florida Archaeological Reports surmised the Bulow house may have been like the  Homeplace plantation in St. Charles Parish Louisiana.

The Bulow house had two separate kitchens said to be about 20 x 20 feet each and of course an impressive listing of outbuildings, storerooms, a saw mill and other structures few have ever been located.  

I visited the park and took a series of photos of the markings that indicated where the house once stood.  I was careful to keep the camera angle and distance as close as I could to an old picture of the Louisiana site.  Then using electronic magic I was able to plunk the old house down where the research indicated the original had stood.  Thus I now had a good picture of the house in more or less the same position and with the identical camera angle. I felt I had taken a look into the past and now knew what the Bulow house looked like.  I was also pleased to see one of the new park displays done by the state had used this same house picture but drawn as a sketch from a higher viewing angle.

Digital imaging of Bulow Plantation House by Bill Ryan

I think that planter and builder of ships Zephaniah Kingsley was also well known to the Bulows.  He too was an active dealer in slaves yet had many theories of management that were far ahead of the times.  He did believe in the development of managers within the slave community, and also of the need for free men of color as managers..  

It is interesting that the some 46 slave cabins reportedly at Bulowville were constructed in a semi circle around the main house.  This too was a Kingsley innovation.  There are several theories why this was so.  I had Kingsley explain them to you in my book.

There is not much written about the daily life on the Bulow plantation.  In February of 1892 James Ormond III wrote of his experiences there as a young boy.  I obtained a copy of his manuscript.  What a life he lived.  He even was a Confederate army Lieutenant ending up as a guard at the infamous Andersonville prison camp.  In his account he claims to have saved many Union lives by guiding a group of ill Union prisoners towards US lines at the end of the war.. Later as an old man he sat in a rocking chair and recollected at the old Ormond Hotel then run by John Anderson.  He also made a detail report on the disastrous raid made from Bulowville to the Dunlawton plantation to the south.  He was sorely wounded.

Again and again the problem for me was too much information.  I tell the stories, but often am confronted with “this is too terrific, I must tell them about this!”  That raid was written in several original documents and I had trouble keeping it down.  Perhaps I should have written double the number of pages.

Another excellent resource is the book “Sweet Cane” written by Lucy B. Wayne in 2010.  She made excellent descriptions of how sugar was made on the plantations along Old Kings, at Bulowville and at Dunlawton.  She did have young Bulow returning to Paris where he died as reported by many other authors.  I will share a few more dots about this later on.  Sugar production was very high technology and I was fascinated by the use of steam engines.  She also had commented that the works at Bulow were almost identical to those at Dunlawton which brought up the question of some common engineering.  Many connections were made as to who the engineers were and these wandered into Bulow Gold.

When you visit the plantation ruins of Bulow or perhaps Dunlawton Sugar Mill Gardens in Port Orange, you can see how massive these structures were, and get a hint of the technology that very briefly existed here so long ago.  Sadly the metal works at Bulow were long ago sold for scrap.

The careful arrangement of five boiling chambers was called a “Jamaica train”.  Sugar had long been produced in the Caribbean and the design probably came from there.  A clever brickwork flue permitted varying temperatures in each vat to regulate a chemical reaction.  Highly skilled slaves knew just when to transfer the heating juice from one container to another, each getting progressively hotter and thicker.  The wooden scoops were very heavy.  It was hot, uncomfortable work by highly skilled sugar making slaves.  It took much knowledge to know when to transfer the thickening juice into the next vat.

At last the thickened juice was transferred into wooden forms where it would solidify.  These blocks of raw sugar were then placed in huge hogs head barrels.  Valuable molasses drained off and was saved for shipment to the makers of rum.  Finally the huge barrels of raw sugar were shipped to the refiners mostly in Europe.  I read that other plantations were struggling due to lower sugar prices and increased production in Louisiana and the Caribbean.  I do believe Bulow with his higher production and effective operation was still making a profit from his sugar.

It is not totally clear where the large crusher rollers were located at Bulow, some think on the second floor, fed by a transfer belt.  There was only one crop per year in late fall, but it seems likely this huge mill may have processed some of Mr. Pellicer’s cane from his extensive property to the north of Bulowville.

A steam engine also powered a sawmill. It took a forest of cut wood to feed the demand of the boiler to make steam.  I visited the Dunlawton works further south and photographed the still existing metal crusher rollers.   Both Dunlawton and Bulow may have been designed by the same engineer.  The Dunlawton works was constructed before Bulow.  When I saw the impressive surviving metal gears, flywheel and crank shaft at Dunlawton it recalled the story of the St. Joseph’s plantation which once was located in down town Palm Coast Florida.  

The historic engine, boiler, and crusher metal was  sold for scrap by the land developers. It bothers me that a liquor store stands on the site with no historic markers at all present.  Only in our imagination can we hear the low chuffing of the steam cylinder, the roar of the gear driven crushers, or perhaps the voices of the slaves as they fed the ever hungry steam boiler.  Only one crop could be raised a year, but work on a plantation never ceased.   Such was the technology of the 1830s and our tendency to forget those who came before us.  I do think they still wish their stories to be told, even in a roadside marker.

If you stand at Bulow Plantation today and look east across Smith creek you will see large wetlands that sway with tall grass.  Old maps show this as Bulow’s rice fields, and perhaps still hidden are the dykes that must still be there.  There was also a bridge and road crossing the creek and extending east to the Ocean.  There was certainly a Coquina quarry existing there.  This amazing material which was once the millions of years old ocean reef, could be easily cut and shaped, yet as it dried would harden to amazing strength.  The Bulow sugar works was built from these beautifully cut and placed coquina blocks.

The old sugar mill structures were built by the slave craftsmen so well that for many years visitors to Florida believed they were old Spanish Missions.  Ms. Wayne in “Sweet Cane” wrote that both appearance and function were important.  For many years the ruins at Bulowville, and at down town Palm Coast were believed by some to be Spanish mission buildings.

Bulowville was also party central for visitors from Europe or the north.  Much fine spirit was certainly consumed; some broken bottles were mixed with tabby to decorate boat launch ramps.  Bulow kept a fine boat (which I later deduced was a whale boat in design) by which he took hunting and fishing parties to all the good spots.

One such visitor was Audubon who walked a good distance after visiting with the more staid Hernandez family at their MalaCompra plantation.  I think he was not comfortable with the more rigid, and formal Hernandez family.  He reportedly walked from there, some 15 miles to enjoy the livelier Christmas at the Bulows.  Both Audubon and young Bulow spoke excellent French and surely had a fine time together.  Audubon was born in Hispaniola, now Haiti to a French planter family, and of course young Bulow grew up in France.  Audubon did not like our area of Florida but partied with Bulow and wrote a good account of an expedition to collect some Brown Pelican specimens.   When I could find a solid story such as that written by Audubon, I used it unchanged.  I was surprised to discover that Audubon would shoot 200 to 300 birds to get an acceptable stuffed sample in order to later paint it for his Birds of America series.  I also did research on Bulow’s fine boat and deduced it was a rowed whale boat such as that carried on a ship. I found James Ormond’s account whereby he called it a whale boat.  It was to be lost in the Mosquito Roarer militia raid on the Indians at Dunlawton.  Little details like “was it a whale boat” or not can bother me until I find an answer.

To know why the Seminoles attacked in December of 1835 you need to read some books including my Osceola, which has an Indian point of view.  You begin with the Indian removal act, look at the slave hunting, the pressure from white land grabbers and finally activists such as Osceola who were certain they were in the right.  Many of the leading Chiefs did not wish a war, and did much to avoid it.  The Seminole war will last for some seven years until the US declared victory and departed leaving only a small group of Seminoles in the Swamps and hidden areas of Florida.  Many died and Florida was almost depopulated.  It was a terrible time.

28 December 1835 Groups of desperate refugees were flooding into Bulowville telling stories of Indian attack and destruction.  Most only had the clothing they were wearing.  If they had gold or silver, it was buried or seized by the Indians.

Col. Putnam’s militia had returned to Bulowville fearing they were greatly out numbered and could not hold positions against Indian attack to the south.  Young John Joachim Bulow was certain that if his plantation was fortified and made into an army camp it would be destroyed.  I believe his relationship with King Philip, with his son Wild Cat, and all the others who had hunted, drank with him, and enjoyed his company was his hope of protection.  Further he had several hundred slaves most of whom he believed to be loyal, and some even had their own hunting rifles.  He would believe that the rough and untrained militia could offer him security.  Bulowville would be turned into a fort with a small fort built on his front door, and his precious cotton placed as barricades around his house.

We know he fired a small four pound cannon, probably without shot.  Putnam was furious and had Bulow locked up in an out building.  They ate his food and drank all his wine.  Then on January 17, 1836 they took his boats for the disastrous raid on Dunlawton Plantation far to the south.  There was rumor of food there, and stocks were low at Bulowville.

I have several good sources on the raid.  The soldiers were badly shot up.  So after about a month at Bulowville, the refugees, slaves and injured soldiers departed for a midnight escape north up Old Kings roadway on January 23, 1836. Bulowville was abandoned and would soon be destroyed as young Bulow feared.  Bulow was under arrest, forced to walk, and could take nothing of his own with him.

I did not mention gold or treasure did I?   They are in my book.  Anything Bulow had, he could not take.  The refugees from the many destroyed works could escape with nothing.  Some clues exist from soldiers that later returned and found pieces of Bulow’s fine library scattered across his fields.  I have many fuzzy dots indicating the Indians took gold or silver at the some sixteen destroyed plantations along Old Kings.  What became of it? 

Long before the ruined plantation became a state park, it was a location for treasure hunters.  I do not think they found anything significant.  The burned Bulow house was raided for any artifacts. 

Now the darkest dot of them all:  The mysterious death of John Joachim Bulow.  We know he arrived in St. Augustine near the end of January.  The town was in a panic expecting Indian attack.  There were rumors that free blacks, who had lived in St. Augustine for generations,  were supplying the Indians with arms and food.  One of the Militia officers was busy collecting all their hunting rifles and arms held by free blacks.. I found no record that the Bulow town house had been sold.  The many slaves from Bulowville, minus the four who had turned up missing, were probably freezing, hungry and neglected in a hasty camp on Anastasia Island. They were mixed in with slaves from the other destroyed plantations.  Slaves were still worth much money.  I do believe many died.  I found only one written account that mentioned deaths.  I found the weather was cold and harsh, and surely the escaped Planters refugees no longer could feed or house them.  I believe many deaths happened from exposure and hunger.

On April 1, 1836 John J. Bulow, Jr. appeared before Justice of the Peace George Phillips in St. Augustine with other leading planters and citizens, and recorded the important testimony of manager Francis Pellicer and Major Putnam.  They made sworn statements as to the destruction of Bulowville as a result of the army occupation.  They verified the claimed losses of some $83,475.00. Bulow was very much alive on the first of April.

Many later stories about the Bulow family had Bulow returning to Paris where he died. Was this a “cover up” to a much darker story?  I do not know how his return to Paris tale originated.

Researcher James Fiske of the Flagler County Historical society found the church records that wrote Bulow was buried  in St. Augustine on Sunday May 8 1836.  There was also a listing on a County ledger that said he was buried there. No document gave the location of burial. A death notice was also placed by Bulow’s uncle in the Charleston Observer on May 21 1836 stating the death in St. Augustine was on Saturday night May 7, 1836.  That date is important as I have not viewed the actual news story.  Another piece of information was in the Florida Herald May 11 (Wednesday) 1836:

I copied the long story of local Abraham Dupont arriving in St. Augustine at 7 a.m. Sunday morning (May 8 1836) with his two small children.  He reported on the death of Mr. Joseph Long who was murdered by Indians during a raid on the Dupont plantation, 25 miles south of St. Augustine.  On Sunday a group of volunteers and militia rode off to confront the Indians and had several fierce skirmishes in which one volunteer was killed, and several Indians.

So if Bulow was buried on Sunday May 8th by a Reverend Parker of the Trinity Parish of St. Augustine, and perhaps died on Saturday night, the same day as the attack on Dupont, we can have some view of the feelings of the St. Augustine residents fearing immediate Indian attack.  I am certain there was much fear and confusion in St. Augustine.  Could the arrested young Bulow be unpopular for his resistance to the Militia?

Bulow was arrested at his own plantation and locked up.  He had to walk up Old Kings with the refugees and wounded soldiers.  He was still a young man.  It was May, a healthy time for St. Augustine.  What were some possibilities?

1.  Death from alcohol? 

2.  Attack by angry St. Augustine resident or even a member of the Militia.  

3.  Suicide? – I don’t think this was his nature.  He was willing to aggressively pursue the Bulow claims against the U.S. government.

Where did the stories about his return to Paris originate?  Surely the Bulow family or his uncle in Charleston knew the truth.  It was not contained in the later official Bulow papers folder.
I found this “return to Paris” tale in every writing I could locate.  Was this a cover up story from so long ago?

General Hernandez later wrote about the Indians:  “I do not know an instance in which they did not destroy buildings that were fortified, but I know a great many in which they did not destroy those which were not fortified.”  Gen. Hernandez and many officers made statements in support of the Bulow claim. On 11 May lawyer James K. Anderson placed a notice in the St. Augustine paper that he was undertaking the estate of J. J. Bulow.  Now the records go dark.

Was he buried next to his father in the Huguenot Cemetery in St. Augustine?  If so there may have been a simple wooden marker.  With the pressures at that time in St. Augustine, an elaborate stone would be unlikely. A wood marker could easily then be lost or forgotten.  Reverend Davis of Trinity Parrish is listed as officiating, but nothing was listed as to place of burial.  

Over the years and with the advent of electronic devices many have searched at Bulowville reportedly finding only some old iron.  I do know that Indian leader Wild Cat knew Bulow well, and was much involved in the capture of Osceola under a white flag of truce.  He had much to do with the destruction of some sixteen plantations or farms along the Kings Highway.   I located a copy of an original survey map of the site drawn in 1850 with a Mr. John Masters listed as the “chainman.” The camp spot marked by Masters on this map was that reported to have been scouted by Wild Cat.  (I have copies of the original letters on this)  Mr. Masters was with General Hernandez when Osceola was taken and did not approve of the white flag capture.  This old map shows the Kings Highway being intersected by many ancient Indian trails leading up into this area.  Here is a location I believe to be of great historical value but one that will soon be destroyed by developers.  Here too is a spot where I believe to be many important Indian and colonial era artifacts which have never been researched or studied.

Osceola and his party reportedly had many pack horses when they moved north to this camp site.  To my knowledge it has never been examined.

This brings me to say why I have written four books, telling stories of our early history.

Now put away your shovels.

I think the real Bulow Gold are the memories and historical sites scattered around old Flagler County Florida and other forgotten spots in Florida.  True gold is the remaining records of this history, the people that lived here, the locations now buried under our developments, or bull dozed into oblivion.  These stories want to be told.

I think it is important that historical sites be preserved for future generations.  The Old Kings Road has vanished.  Grey Eyes told of a way of life and Seminole cattlemen who are gone. I think they were the first “cow boys” in America but history does not record this.  Osceola was came to a location of great historical power which I believe soon will no longer exist.  Bulow State Park was recently on a hit list of Parks being considered for closing due to Florida State financial pressures.  Will any of this survive?

If my telling a story or two can regain some ones interest in what was here before us, and perhaps convince a politician or researcher to take another look at what we have, then I have accomplished something.  You can
contact me at [email protected]

This is why I wrote these books.

The Search for Old Kings Road

I am Grey Eyes

Osceola  His capture and Seminole legends

Bulow Gold

All my books are now available in electronic format. 

Bill Ryan, Palm Coast, Florida

Author: Bill Ryan