|Old Kings Road
Tracing the history of Flagler County Florida
by Bill Ryan (email@example.com)
taken from The Search for Old Kings Road
copyright 2006 ISBN 978-1-60179-033-0 William Ryan
They arrived in
Flagler County and Palm Coast Florida from almost every point in
America. From New Jersey, from New York, with moving vans from Chicago,
home buyers immigrating from Knoxville, and even from the multitude of
islands in the Caribbean, or distant points in Russia. The land salesmen
brought the normal Florida sales point of moving to a paradise. Roads were
cut and paved, lots sold, and a new community had begun. The rural nature
of Flagler County was forever changed.
Soon Flagler was named as the fastest growing county in the United States.
Each new immigrant brought memories from distant places. Their new Florida
homes trimmed with stucco gave a fresh start. As the existing pine forests
cracked down and vanished under the land clearing dozers, only a brick or
two, or perhaps a trimmed cypress log would emerge in the rubble to hint
that someone had been there before. The old Florida grew fainter as the
older residents and pioneer families faded. Gated communities adopted old
Plantation names onto their impressive brick gate facades along the
waterways where the early settlers once farmed.
still exist in Flagler County. The distant sounds of the past
still quietly resonate in street names and places, Indian Trails,
Matanzas, Turnbull Woods, Pellicer, St. Joseph, Seminole Woods, Graham
Swamp, Moultrie, Bulow. They trace a very real thread that
passes by them all :Old Kings Road. The violent past that
shaped this area is in the far past. Old Kings Road today is mostly a
paved, wandering bypass that might annoy busy drivers with its curves, and
the heavy cross traffic that inches past as Old Kings crosses the modern
Palm Coast Parkway and St. Joseph’s shopping plaza. Long lines with
slowly moving traffic now impatiently await the green stop light at
the black-topped-over intersections that cover the memories of our now
Things were not always peaceful in Flagler County. This was once a violent
area, full of war, death and struggle. Prior to the Civil War era, what is
today Flagler County was almost depopulated.
If you drive north on U.S.
Route 1 nearing the Flagler County north border line, where it ends near Pellicer Creek, you are
passing one of the most historic corners in the United States. At
one time, Route 1 was the main avenue into Florida. Here the 1960 era cars
would zoom by an then unknown dirt road turnoff that had a small sign
designating it as “Old Kings Road”. Today this dirt road was once remaining
bit of the original Old King's Road, an antique byway. It is now
It began as a road
before the American Revolution!
In 1765 Colonel James Grant, the first Governor of British East Florida
recognized the need for a road to link his command together. Florida
was a wilderness place, but British investors saw the profit in building
plantations along the east coast. Plans begun to make a roadway following
old Indian trails. Thus began one of the first major roads in America.
Clearing tractors plus
surveyors today point toward paving and improving this old tract thru
Flagler County; soon it will lose its character as an unpaved dirt road
that journeys through the past. Here soldiers, investors in land,
travelers, Florida Crackers, Indians warriors, desperate Minorcan settlers
plus seekers of the Florida Live Oak tree marched across this southerly
turn from Pellicer creek, traveling thru a border of what is now
Flagler County or “Mosquito County,”…. For this is the name by
which our area was once called. Along this road grew huge commercial
enterprises, some with English shareholders, developing large areas of
Flagler County as far back as the Revolutionary War days.
As you travel towards the Princess Place,
and the new Florida Agricultural Museum you are moving along one of the
oldest roadways in North America. Flagler County has a rich history, much
of it has flowed past this turn in the road. This small piece of unpaved Old Kings extends
along one of the oldest known roads in North America. Most of Old Kings
Road today consists of paved highway winding through the modern
developments, housing, and shopping districts of Palm Coast. Some of Old
Kings has been relocated many times, but the present dirt road near
Flagler’s Princess Place Preserve is dead on the original route!
In 1767 the British
Lieutenant Governor John Moultrie
had stated that a road from St. Augustine to Turnbull’s new plantation at
Mosquito inlet was blazed by “his Indian friend Grey Eyes.” He was a Creek
Indian, probably part of the Alachua people under their leader Cowkeeper.
Grey Eyes had to be a remarkable man being a friend of the Governor
Moultrie and one to whom he entrusted the job of scouting the existing
Indian Trails down to new the settlement of Smyrna being planned by
Dr. Turnbull. The Indian trails avoided the low spots in the swamps
and wetlands and thus were of a wandering, winding nature. Grey Eyes
appears again in the account “Mullet on the Beach The Minorcans of
Florida” by Patricia C. Griffin. He was reported as driving a herd of
cattle down the trail toward the Turnbull estate when the Minorcans first
arrived! Grey Eyes then vanishes from history, although an internet web
search shows it is a common Indian family name.
Most Florida Indians had arrived from the
north, being pressured by the influx of white settlers. They were often
known as Seminoles, which could mean “stranger, or wanderer”. The
Indian trails extended across Florida, used by Indians moving from their
settlements. Often the Seminoles kept cattle, horses, raised food on their
small farms and traded with the plantations being developed along the St.
Johns River. They had arrived in this area from various Indian tribes,
being pressured by white settlers moving into Georgia and the Carolinas,
or displaced by war. For the most part, they got along well with the
Plantation managers and could work for wages or trade during the harvest
seasons or supply needed game. They did fear the influx of white
settlers as a danger to land they believed to be theirs.
In March of 1765 East Florida’s Lt. Governor, John Moultrie planned
to start a road southward to reach an anticipated settlement of Dr. Andrew
Turnbull, who wished to make a massive development near Mosquito Inlet.
Governor Grant had returned to England, obtained authority for funds and
directed the road begun to the south.
"By June 20 1772, Moultrie could inform Grant : 'I have at several
times gone over the road leading from this (town) to the Matanzas Swamp
and could not think much of giving it any little help it could want.'"....
The Kings Road, Florida's First Highway by Dr. William R. Adams.
By 1774 much had been accomplished,
streams bridged by contractor Robert Bissett. Sometime in 1775 the
northern segment of the road was completed to Colerain Georgia. The
roadway was reported to be sixteen feet across, with ditches and pine logs
laid crosswise in the wet portions. It was an open door for immigrants
from the northern colonies. It was reported to be an excellent, broken
shell surfaced roadway, well suited to a coach and team for travel south.
Also by 1774 it was reported that the roadway now reached the colony of
New Smyrna. The roadway is mentioned in several accounts concerning
the arrival of the new colonists.
In 1768 the settlement of New Smyrna had been established south of
what is now Flagler (or Mosquito) County. Smyrna was ill-starred,
suffering from a rebellion of its settlers against poor management. The
unhappy settlers (largely from the island of Minorca in the Mediterranean)
were suffering ill treatment, starvation and death. They needed to reach
the authorities in St. Augustine. The settlement was established by
Dr. Andrew Turnbull. It began with eight ships in 1768 with some 1,400
workers who traveled to the New World.
Others are reported to have journeyed by land using the trail blazed by
the Indian Grey Eyes.
There were Greeks, Italians, all residents of the Island of Minorca , who
signed indentures to work and escape the problems of their home. The
English controlled their island, and the Minorcans, who were Catholic,
hoped for more religious freedom in America. They also spoke a common
language, and were known for their hard work and serious nature.
Dr. Turnbull had strong influence with
the English government. He desired the completion of the “Kings
Road” along the existing Indian trails. He had traveled the Mediterranean
and formed a stock company to develop a profitable plantation in Florida
using indentured workers from the island of Minorca along with imported
slaves. A detailed “plan for profitability” was drawn, with funds
allocated for what they believed would be all contingencies. The workers
were promised land of their own after their period of indenture was
finished. They probably were the first Florida immigrants attracted by the
glowing promises of a land developer.
The Florida climate was terrible for the
Mediterranean settlers. Insects, disease, poor food and hard work
plus brutal treatment from the English supervisors, drove the survivors to
desperation. Turnbull and his partners had tried to make the colony a
success, but did not improve the living conditions. By 1768 some 450 of
the original group were reported dead. Desperation caused the seizure of
an English supply ship in 1768. The rebels were captured. The leaders were
taken to St. Augustine where they were tried and two hanged. Capture of an
English flagged ship was piracy, and left the St. Augustine governor
little choice. Dr. Turnbull also still had influence. One rebel, who was a
Greek from Corsica, was offered his own life if he hung his other two
rebels, who were of Italian decent. His fellows convinced him to proceed,
and he lived.
were also dispatched to the colony and had reported very difficult
problems marching to the colony over the then existing trails and road.
Efforts were increased, and money was then allocated to improve and extend
the road from St. Augustine to the Turnbull property by the English
By early 1777
three desperate men had left the colony and made their way over the 75
miles to St. Augustine to report their plight.
A new governor, Patrick Tonyn had arrived. He was more sympathetic. Legal
reports were filed, the reputation of Dr. Turnbull began to weaken. There
were terrible reports of murder, deaths, and ill treatment in the colony.By mid April a group of some 90 men, women and children, led by a Minorcan
carpenter, Francisco Pellicer struggled in the three day trip to St.
Augustine, later followed by some 600 walking north in June.
Today, the Minorcan descendents still live in St. Augustine, proud
of their ancient heritage of being survivors. Several books have been
written about their suffering in Turnbull’s colony.
Minorcans in Florida by Jane Quinn 1975 includes a detailed map of the
Old Kings Road route and accounts of their mistreatment in the Turnbull
colony. Mr. Pellicer will also appear again in the history of
Old Kings Road. He is the ancestor of several prominent
families still living in Flagler County.
By 1774 Old Kings road had been reported
as complete to New Smyrna. There
is little doubt that the trail used by the surviving Minorican settlers
was that of “Old Kings Road”. It was the only pathway they could have
followed to St. Augustine. Again a name rings out in “Pellicer Creek”
today a northern landmark of Flagler County! Marching through the June
Florida heat, lacking clean water and food, suffering the biting Florida
Yellow Flies and mosquitoes, it is a wonder that many survived the 75 mile
trip. We can imagine their condition as they made the turn through
what is now the Flagler area to cross over the deep stream that would
later be named Pellicer Creek. What joy then to encounter the
broad, straight, 16-foot wide shell, road to St. Augustine and
civilization as they moved past swamps and wild unsettled areas.. The
ragged and hungry settlers marched along our piece of the roadway. It was
said they arrived with an ox-cart and on foot to seek aid and residence in
Francisco Pellicer , their heroic leader, was a skilled carpenter, and
well known citizen of St. Augustine.
He then established a farm on what is today known as Pellicer creek which
was then bridged by Old Kings Road. His name became part of
Flagler history and location names. Though his farm is long departed.
(see Pellicer Land Grant along Old
Kings Road) the Flagler Princess Place preserve is today part
of his original Spanish Pellicer Land Grant.
John Moultrie had probably begun the first
real public road. Work continued
with bridges over streams, surveying the best paths, and an attempt to
reach New Smyrna with a road that had the objective being transversed by
either wagon or coach. The path from St. Augustine to what is now
Flagler’s north border line was relatively straight and a normal task for
the British engineers, until they reached Pellicer creek and the then
impenetrable Matanzas and Grahams Swamp of our county. Pellicer flowed
deep and emptied into the shallow lagoon leading to the St. John’s River.
It had to be bridged, but then came the deep and apparently trackless wet
Here is some of the story as related by
local attorney and historian Allen Hadeed:
“When the British came, most of the means
of transportation within this region was by water on the Matanzas River.
The British knew this was a hindrance to economy, to exploitation, to
plantation production, so they wanted to build a road along the coastline
so all the plantations could more easily ship goods and have commerce.
That gave birth to the Kings Road. We know it today as the Old Kings Road.
I don't know how many of you know this but the Kings Road, the remnant of
it that exists in Flagler county today is the longest existing segment of
the Kings Road built in the United States. It is for the most part, with
some exceptions, on the original alignment of the Kings Road.
I'm going to tell you a little story about how the Kings Road came to be.
At that time, when they built the Kings Road, they stopped it at what is
today the Flagler County line. We weren't Flagler County then of course.
They stopped it at the Flagler County line because the British engineers
did not know how to take it through Flagler. We were then known as the
Matanzas Swamp. They were unable to traverse the swamp. I mean no insult
to anyone here who is an engineer, but engineers like to do things in
straight lines. And so, the Kings Road north of Flagler County is a
They built causeways, bridges but when
they got to Flagler County you couldn't just do a straight line. So the
British Governor went to his Indian friend, Grey Eyes. After years of
trying, the British engineers could not build the rest of this road which
was vital to the commercialization of Florida. So he asked Grey Eyes to
plot the road for him. And of course, we all know today what Grey Eyes
did. He used his eyes. He followed the game trails. He followed the
ridges. And that is why the Kings Road curves through Flagler County
because of that Native American's contribution.
What was grown then was sugar and indigo.
Indigo was a very important plant dye. It was extremely valuable in
Europe. Do you know what else they coveted here? Our
timber. Our Live Oaks. Live oaks are great for boats. And
of course, what was happening in Europe and the Americas? Naval
engagements, Naval wars..Shipping and commerce. So they wanted our live
oaks. In fact, there was a saw mill built close to where U.S. 1 crosses
Pellicer Creek. In fact, Pellicer Creek used to be called Woodcutter's
Creek during the time of the English. There was a mill site there and they
clear cut the forest in Flagler County for the live oak used in the
Americas and Europe for ship building.”….Al Hadeed Flagler Historian
Florida was a colony of Spain from 1513
and had been ceded to the British Empire by 1763. It
was returned back to Spanish control by England in 1784. After the war of
1812 between the young United States and England, President James Monroe
recognized the Adams-Onis Treaty which put Florida permanently under U.S.
In these turbulent times what was called Old Kings Road
had been destroyed many times in Indian fights, bridges
burned, and the road itself relocated and repaired. Soldiers marched and
countermarched along it. Forts were built, abandoned and fell into the
wilderness. Revolutionary War soldiers in both 1776 and 1812 had
used this pathway.
The roadway was important to the
Plantations and farms to get their crops to market, or to reach the
nearest navigable waterway. In 1784 after return to
Spanish control, the roadway was reported to be in poor condition but
still very much there.
Many of the British Plantations along
Old Kings Road south of St. Augustine had for the most part been
abandoned after the Spanish takeover. The Spanish, wishing to
repopulate this area issued many land grants to encourage settlers to
return. In spite of wars, Indian fights, and the constant battle with
Florida’s climate and rapidly growing foliage, what was called “Old Kings
Road” endured. During the second Spanish period of control, after 1787 it
was desired to repopulate the area, and as Spanish land grants issued,
many grant surveys used Old Kings Road as a reference. A succession of
grants were made along the east coast between St. Augustine and the
Mosquito inlet along side of Old Kings Road. These grants later became the
basis of many famous early families and settlers such as the to trace
their linage and ownership. Old Kings was the reference point and was also
called “the public road.”
Some of these original land grant documents exist in private collections
See Pellicer Land Grant
After the Spanish take over and issuance of land grants, great
plantations grew and prospered in what is now Flagler county. These
were strung along Old Kings Road which today is a winding, paved
thoroughfare going from the north of Flagler County to its southern
border. An interesting history of these lost plantations is contained “Ashes
on The Wind” by Alice Strickland which is found in the Flagler County
Public Library’s history collection. The string of plantations and small
holdings along Old Kings Road are a true story of adventure, disaster in
the violence, war, and destruction that fell upon the area. At one time
this area was almost totally without residents. It was too dangerous to
Local historian John Clegg “The
History of Flagler County” reported that a number of Spanish grants were
purchased by Joseph M. Hernandez whose plantations called St.
Joseph, Bella Vista and Mala Compra (that translates as ‘bad
purchase’ in Spanish) figure strongly in Flagler County’s history. St.
Joseph Plantation had a sugar mill which was near a prior St. Joseph
Mission, a Indian mission run by the Francisican Friars. Mr. Clegg said
the foundation of the sugar mill existed until the time of the Palm Coast
development. Today there is “St. Joseph Plaza” near the traffic heavy
paved section of Old Kings Road.
The sugar mill was reported to be in the area of 45 Park Drive today near
Old Kings Road. A record of the research to locate this Mission is located
at the Flagler Beach Museum.
Mala Compra today exists within a Flagler County Park near A1A and was
explored and relics
shown in a library
display. Some relics also exist in the Flagler Beach Museum.
It can be said that the streaming auto traffic that now passes Palm Coast
Parkway and Old
Kings Road is also intersecting near one of the most historic areas in
Major plantation locations included
Mala Compra, St. Joseph, New Hartford, Bulow, Dunlawton, Putnam, Addison,
Bunch, Oswald and Smyrna. There were also a multitude of smaller
holdings along the route. Many of the Spanish land grants, which extended
from St. Augustine to New Smyrna used Old Kings road as a reference point,
it was sometimes called “public road.” These grants indicated that Old
Kings Road pretty much followed the original British tract.
These plantations needed the roadway. During the second Spanish period it
was reported that maintenance was effected by local workers, and slaves
from the adjacent plantations. Road maintenance fees were collected...The Kings Road Florida’s First Highway by Dr. William R. Adams,
Central Florida Libraries
During the War of 1812 between England and the young United States, Old
Kings road had been actively used by troops both American and Spanish
militia. In 1821 when ownership of Florida was returned to the citizens of
the then United States, it soon became apparent that this old trail and
road had to again be rebuilt, repaired and put in order for the new
territory to become viable again. Where it was not maintained, the
aggressive Florida fauna quickly took over, or it sank again into swamps
and wetlands. By 1821 it was reported that sections had vanished into the
muck and Palmetto Palms.
Joseph Hernandez, was Florida’s
Territorial Delegate in Congress, and responded to the pressures to
improve and repair this road. On February 5 1823 a bill was passed in
Congress to open a road thru Florida following the tract of the then
ancient “Old Kings Road.” By 1829 much work had been done to make the
roadway again useful. By 1834 it was reported that mail service to
New Smyrna could be accomplished along the roadway . The
Kings Road, Florida's First Highway
The arrival of the “Live Oakers”
- - the harvesting of The Florida Live Oak trees.
Traveling along what is now the paved
version of Old Kings Road, past the Bulow Plantation, on to the Ormond
Plantation site you will find the “Fairchild Oak” .It has been around
since the era of settlers and Seminoles—– about 800 years. Surrounded by
sugar plantation ruins,
safeguarded as an archeological site, the tree stands in Bulow Creek State
Park. There are few of the grand old oaks still remaining in Flagler
County although it was reported that once great forests grew here.
The early Spanish settlers and later the English found a great Florida
treasure—– the Live Oak. Unfortunately, it was too valuable and by
1800 large tracts of live oak forests had been cut down. The lumber was
vital for ship building. It often came in exactly the right shape for
ship’s frames, or knees, and was almost indestructible compared with other
available woods. The wood was valuable and a market existed for it in
Europe where most of the great Oaks had long ago been cut down.
By 1827 Navy Secretary Samuel Southard informed Congress that large
amounts of timber along the St. John’s river and along the sea coast had
President John Quincy Adams became one of
the first conservationists in fighting for laws to protect this valuable
resource. It was not to be. Political infighting, the election of Andrew
Jackson and the subsequent Indian wars in Florida left an open door to
those who were enough to cut the timber and transport it to markets in
ports such as St. Augustine via the accessible waterways.
The logging crews that flooded into
Florida were called “Live Oakers” and precipitated bitter political
struggles within the new U.S. government, and many financial scandals.
There is little doubt that Old Kings Road provided an avenue for loggers
to reach the accessible water transport, and bring their valuable cargo to
St. Augustine. It is likely that a side road, near what is today the
Princess Place Preserve was a route from stands of Oak Trees to the
A few examples of the magnificent Live Oak
trees still remain in Flagler
County located on the present Princess Place Preserve, which is today one
of the first turn offs on the unpaved, Old Kings Road. We could speculate
how many of the wooden ships of the English Navy carried Live Oak frames
and knees originating from what is now Flagler County. It is likely that
active logging activity took place in this area. A local name for Pellicer
Creek was Wood Cutters Creek and a mill, called
Hewitt's existed in the area, on the west side of Old Kings. The
objective was to get this valuable wood up to St. Augustine, where it
could be shipped to Europe and a ready and profitable market. Hewitt's
Mill appears on several maps of the period. A saw mill site owned by
John Hewitt, a citizen of St. Augustine, during the British period is
located on a tributary of
Pellicer Creek near Old Kings Road, known as the Hulett branch.
The mill site was recently donated to the Florida Agricultural Museum by
the owner Palm Coast Holding Company. The site was investigated in
1977 and an earth dam, plus wooden artifacts were located. It was
also described in detail in the Palm Coast Cultural Resource Assessment
Report of 1978.
There were often Indian incidents in the Mosquito County area and
travel could be dangerous along the Old Kings Road trail.
See Audubon and the Live Oakers
John Audubon visits our area
and his account of the Live Oakers
In 1831-32 John
James Audubon the famous naturalist
traveled in portions of Old Kings Road, after
a visit to what is now Flagler County where he stopped at the Hernandez
plantation in middle December 1831. He was accompanied by Henry Ward, an
English taxidermist, and George Lehman a landscape painter. Audubon also
wrote about his visit to the Bulow Plantation which also lies along Old
Kings Road in Flagler County (as it is called today) On January 14, 1832
Audubon and his party returned to St. Augustine from Bulowville, traveling
on Old Kings Highway by wagon and six mules. He wrote a detailed report of
Audubon does not comment on Indian dangers but there surely were risks in
his trip at that time. Visiting Mosquito County (or later Flagler County)
could have been a dangerous venture for him. They journeyed by boat but
also certainly found the Old Kings Road running nearby to the Bulow
Plantation, and on their return they did an 18 mile stretch via mule and
wagon along ‘a Seminole trail’ which was almost certainly Old Kings Road.
His paper on the visit to our area was widely published, but his comments
on the Live Oakers
are not as well known:
The Live Oakers as visited by Mr. Audubon
(famous naturalist James
Audubon and friends, visited this area in 1831 and wrote about the Live
Oak Cutters—here is part of his report which describes our Flagler County
Report about the Live Oakers
A 19th Century Viet Nam type battle in Mosquito County (today
Much work and contracting was accomplished
and by 1829 it was reported that
an extension of the road was again complete to New Smyrna. It was a
continuous battle against nature, hostile Indians and the small supporting
population to keep the Old Kings Road open and effective. And, by 1835
affairs and relationships with the Indian residents have broken into open
warfare. In what is now Flagler County, occurred what has been called “A
19th Century Viet Nam”. To understand how this happened, a brief
review of the policies of Andrew Jackson should be made.
The hero of
the Battle of New Orleans, and the war of 1812 had placed a heavy fist
onto “Mosquito County.” Andrew Jackson was elected President of the young
United States. One of his early actions was to support an “Indian Removal
Act” in the Congress.
President Andrew Jackson hated Indians. The “Seminole Indians” were not a tribe, but was
the name given to the many groups and individuals that fled to Florida
from Georgia and other states where they were being forced out by white
settlers and farmers. There were many incidents of Indian troubles in
Florida over the years. The Plantation Owners were disturbed when valuable
slaves would escape their plantation and join with local Indian groups
where they were readily accepted. In 1830 the U.S. had passed the Indian
Removal Act, to relocate all tribes west of the Mississippi. This has
explosive results in our area. It has a dramatic effect on Old Kings Road
which changed from a route of commerce to a arena of war.
President Jackson had pressed Congress
hard for an Indian removal act. An
act to remove all Indians to reservations west of the Mississippi River.
He envisioned savages, wandering thru unmapped wildernesses, as a stoppage
to development and civilization by the white settlers who came flowing
into Georgia, the Carolinas, and Florida. His views were reflected in a
speech made to Congress on 8 December 1830:
The Jackson speech sounded good. It proposed removal of all
Indians to reservations
West of the Mississippi River. Congress passed this Indian Removal Act,
but the results
were not exactly what Mr. Jackson had predicted.
To understand this, and the almost instant effect on the Flagler area
(it was quickly almost
totally emptied with refugees fleeing North along Old Kings Road) some
further understanding of Andrew Jackson and the relations with Indians
must be made.
Jackson was a great hero in the battle of 1812 in New Orleans
(which sadly happened after a treaty of peace was signed, but neither
party was aware of it). The British had recruited Indian allies. The Creek
nation favored the British side. Many Indians fled into what was then
Spanish Florida (the Florida Panhandle) and continued to raid across the
border. Valuable slaves were escaping too and joining up with the Indians.
On 1818 Jackson raised a volunteer group plus Indian allies and invaded
Spanish Florida. He had begun the first Seminole war.
Two British loyalists Robert Armbrister and Alexander Arbuthnot had
the bad luck to come afoul of Jackson. They were accused of gun running
and supplying the Indians with their small schooner, the Chance.
Jackson had Armbrister shot, and Arbuthnot hung from his ship.
Jackson continued onward and took the city of Pensacola, the Spanish
There was later political fury in the capitol of the new United States,
and threat of war with Spain. However, Spain soon renounced its claim to
Florida, and gave over ownership to the United States. Jackson’s critics
in Washington did not avail as the pressure for new lands was intense. Old
Kings Road had become a major route for white settlers from the North
looking for land, much of which the Indians believed they owned.
It could be said that Jackson did not favor the Indian, he
sponsored the Indian removal act. The act did not recognize that many
Indians were settled farmers with land, slaves of their own, cattle and
property much along Old Kings Road. Many of the escaping slaves had joined
with Indian families, married and raised families of their own. The
relationship of the Indians with the blacks was complicated. Some Indian
leaders kept slaves of their own, others permitted free living in their
conclave with payment of a “tax”. In many cases escaped slaves would marry
into an Indian family and were well accepted. In the War of 1812 and later
the first Seminole war, the British had an interest in keeping the Indians
stirred up. There had been attacks and fighting across Florida. The new
settlers had strong anti-Indian feelings.
Jackson’s Indian Removal Act thus triggered the later “Trail of Tears”
when the Cherokee farmers were forcibly removed from their lands in North
Georgia, and caused a true disaster for the Plantations and small farms
along Old Kings Road. Jackson as President probably did not believe his
own words: “Toward the aborigines of the country no one can indulge a
more friendly feeling than myself, or would go further in attempting to
reclaim them from their wandering habits and make them a happy, prosperous
people.” in his speech to Congress. Many of the Seminoles in Florida
were not “wandering people.” Nor were the Cherokee farmers of Georgia.
At first the Indian tribes tried legal resistance. But, the courts
were closed. In Cherokee Nation vs the State of Georgia in 1831, the court
said although they were sympathetic to the Indian’s plight, they would not
intervene to halt seizure of their farms because they were not a nation
recognized by our government. Cases were taken to the U.S. Supreme court
but no action resulted. Later during the “Trail of Tears” it was reported
that 25% of the Indians died on the route to Oklahoma. These were not the
wild aborigines as described by President Jackson.
Indian relationships in Florida were also very disturbing to the
new and existing residents.
On March 6, 1826 Planters and Inhabitants of St. Johns County wrote to
President John Quincy Adams:
1. The Indians from Alachua area are roaming at
large over the country, doing serious
mischief to the
Inhabitants by killing their cattle and hogs, robbing their plantations,
and enticing away their
2. Florida Indians are a turbulent and
lawless set who have fled from the laws and
justice of their own
Nations for refuge among the Seminoles;
3. That the Indians have refused to give back the
slaves; the Governor has no power
to order military action.
They have been unable to recover property and will be
ruined if no control is
(Memorials of the Planters - Palm Coast Cultural Resource Assessment James
Miller July 1978)
The escape of slaves, who were of great value, was a hot issue to the
local planters along
Old Kings Road. Further there were many Indians arriving from areas
that had been at war
during the first Seminole war. Although the local Plantations
reported good existing relationships
with the local Indians, tensions were growing rapidly often with
The Seminoles in Florida were offered “treaties” to move to
designated spots in central and
southern Florida but neither the Indians nor the white settlers believed
in their effect. The act removed any pretense that Indians had any title
to their lands. The flow of wagons along Old Kings Road bringing white
settlers from the north made a sham of any agreements or treaties made.
The Seminole land was at risk. They found leaders, arms and decided to
In 1832 Seminole
chiefs met attracted by promises at Payne’s Landing on the Ocklawaha
River, offering them land in Arkansas. It was called the Payne’s Landing
treaty and was perceived to be a fraud.
In 1835 General Thompson called a meeting where the Seminole leader
Osceola is said to draw a knife, stab it into the paper and indicate his
resistance. The Seminoles organized and a bitter guerrilla war began along
Old Kings Road. The Seminoles were probably well aware of other efforts in
the north being made for their removal. They had arms, were organized and
ready to fight.
It was a bloody and protracted Indian war from about 1835 to 1842
(there had been prior Indian uprisings, but the last bloody event was
called “The second Seminole Indian War” There was much destruction along
the Old Kings Road, bridges were burnt and destroyed, much of the road was
abandoned, although portions served as military routes, and new
extensions were made. There were continuous fights, destruction with
armies marching down the road. There were attacks, counter marches, and
military disasters, using Old Kings road as a reference through the mostly
unmapped Florida wilderness. While the war “officially” ended in 1842, it
still continued with the Flagler area being almost without residents until
Civil War times. Seminole villages were burned, massacres happened on both
sides. The great plantations, small farms, and individual homes were
burned, destroyed and abandoned. It was of interest that in many reports,
the slave quarters on the plantations were the only structures left
untouched by the Indian raiders.
“During the winter of 1835-36, the citizens of St. Augustine watched in
dismay as clouds of billowing smoke drifted towards the city from the
south. Except for the slave quarters, all of the plantations along the
Halifax and Tomoka Rivers were burned to the ground by the Seminole
Indians. Efforts to save the plantations were futile. The people of St.
Augustine provided refuge for an exodus of plantation inhabitants. Within
one month, the thriving plantations from Pellicer Creek to Cape Canaveral
were reduced to ruin. They heyday of sugar was over, and it was never
fully reestablished as an important crop in Northeastern Florida.” - -
Volusia County history website
The great cotton, sugar, and Indigo plantations, with thousands of
workers, large amounts
of steam driven machinery, and a huge capital investment were gone from
Florida, never to
The surviving Seminoles retreated to the deep southern Florida
grassland swamps of today’s Everglades, but never ceased their opposition
to the rapid settlement of Florida. Some reportedly were able to escape
with their families to the Caribbean Islands. Their famous leader Osceola
was captured by the then
General Hernandez during a white flag of truce meeting. The war
ended when the U.S. government “declared victory” and departed the area,
leaving a virtual waste of abandoned plantations and farms.
The war never really ended.
In February of 1840 a military post, Fort Fulton was reported
constructed on the right side of Pellicer Creek, between Pellicer and Old
Kings Road West of present U.S. highway 1. Hewlett’s(sp) Mill, a sawmill
built by John Hewitt was 1500 feet SW of Fort Fulton…..Flagler
Beach Museum unpublished documents.
Old Kings Road was now a highway of disaster and
destruction with refugees fleeing north
to St. Augustine and further.
An example of this conflict lies off the southern portion of Old
Kings Road as it
approaches the Volusia county border. Down a narrow path thru beautiful
live oak trees, huge palmetto plants, and thick Florida foliage, lies
Bulow Plantation ruins, now a State Park.
“The Old Road”, running from the paved portion of Old Kings, is said to
look very much like the roads appeared in 1835. It too is a last
remaining, unpaved memory of what once was. The lane runs through largely
untouched wild Florida and was probably much like that viewed by
naturalist Audubon during his visit. The Spanish land grant for this
Plantation clearly shows the location of Old Kings, marked “public road.”
The early 1800’s
had been a turbulent era in Florida’s history as settlers began
establishing plantations on lands that the Seminole Indians believed to be
theirs. In 1821 Major Charles Wilhelm Bulow acquired 4,675 acres of
wilderness bordering a tidal creek that would bear his name. Using slave
labor, he cleared 2,200 acres and planted sugar cane, cotton, rice and
indigo. Soon after the plantation was established and in production, he
died at age 44. His only son John took over production and the plantation
prospered until the second Seminole War.
John Bulow like some of the other settlers in the area did not agree
with the U.S. government’s intent to send the Seminoles to
reservations west of the Mississippi River. He had always had a good
relationship with the Indians. John Bulow also believed that any
fortification of his Plantation would cause an attack. He demonstrated his
disapproval by ordering a four-pound cannon to be fired at Major Putnam’s
command of State Militia, the “Mosquito Roarers,” as they entered his
(electronic rendering of Bulow house by Bill Ryan - "Bulow
On December 28, 1835 Major Benjamin A. Putnam and his company of men
had reached Bulowville after abandoning another plantation. Bulowville was
converted into a military fortress, with stockade and breastworks of bales
of cotton. A large number of refugee planters and their negroes came down
Old Kings Road for protection. The plantation house was packed with
anxious settlers anticipating an Indian attack.
John Bulow was made a prisoner for his opposition. However suffering
from dysentery and yellow fever, Major Putnam’s command retreated along
Old Kings Road to St. Augustine.
Realizing the Indians were now hostile, young Bulow along with other
settlers and their slaves, abandoned his plantation and went northward. He
returned to Paris France and died there.
Around January 31, of
1836 the Seminoles burned “Bulowville” leaving other plantations along Old
Kings road in flames.—–exhibit Bulow Plantation Ruin, Historic State
The visible wreckage of the sugar mill installation that exists today
shows what an impressive operation these plantations represented. There
had been a huge investment in machinery and structure to process sugar
cane, the ruins today are massive. The Plantation House is long gone in
fire, but the large processing plant and warehouse ruins show what might
have been. The fields have long been recovered by the Florida wilderness.
Of the other plantations and farms only a few stones here and there still
exist in Flagler County. Bulow is the remaining sample of the many large
and small holdings that were wrecked and burned along the Old Kings Road
route. The era of large Plantations along Old Kings Road had ended, never
to return. Today Flagler's gated communities, and developments post the
names of these long lost plantations. Old Kings Road still remains.
It was reported that over 1,466 soldiers lost their lives, probably
many more uncounted
civilians, and over 20 million dollars in expenses occurred. This is huge
when you consider this was in 1842 and the U.S. regular army was very
small. It was estimated that over 30,000 troops were engaged in the
“Indian Removal Project”. The great plantations that had lined Old Kings
Road were almost totally gone, burned with nothing of value left. The
destruction is dramatically related in Ashes On the Wind, but one
ponders the fate of the thousands of slaves that once labored in the
Flagler area. History is not always clear on their fate although certainly
many were transported to St. Augustine and re-sold. Great enterprises were
destroyed in what would later become Flagler County. Many slaves, who had
great monetary value to their owners, had previously fled to the Indian
camps where they were welcomed, and caused increased political pressure
for solution to “the Indian problem.” The destruction levied upon the
Indians can only be imagined. The U.S. sent their best generals and
soldiers into bitter campaigns toward the elimination of the Indians. The
effect on the free blacks and slaves was beyond calculation, their story
remains for the most part unwritten. Black families were separated
and families destroyed.
copy of a newspaper advertisement of the time for “Sale of Indian Cattle
and Horses” in Jacksonville reflects the pain of the Indians during the
great relocation effort. While Andrew Jackson had spoken of Indians
wandering thru trackless forest as hunters, this was often not the case.
Many had established farms, grew cattle and crops. It was also reported
that Indians who were part negro or had ‘black blood’ could not take part
in the relocation program and would be resold as slaves. Many slaves had
run away and joined the Indian groups. Being recaptured after marrying
into Indian groups and raising families of their own would lead to a life
of desperation. This is described in an excellent fictionalized account of
“Red Blood, White Lies” by Louquitas Belloit 2004. This story
relates the efforts of free blacks, sympathetic white farmers, and the
Seminoles to survive during the Indian Removal and war. Much of her book
is set in the Pellicer Creek area of what is now Flagler County along the
Old Kings Road.
The Flagler Public Library obtained a full sized copy of a detail
map drawn by John Lee Williams showing 1837 East Florida. This map clearly
shows Old Kings Road thru what now is Flagler County. Comparing it with
other survey maps shows the present unpaved stretch of Old Kings as being
almost exactly as shown on more modern records. (there are variations
often due to the early surveys not having accurate reference points in the
wilderness.) See Flagler
County Section of Map
1837 John Lee Williams Map courtesy of Rucker Agee Map Collection,
Birmingham Public Library, Birmingham Alabama. The map shows Old Kings
from St. Mary’s River in the North (Colerain Georgia) crossing thru
Jacksonville past St. Augustine crossing the Moultrie River, turning south
east at Pellicer Creek and following the line of Plantations to New
Smyrna. Mr. Williams published his history Territory of
Florida with this map in 1837. He prepared his book and map
during the Seminole War.
A U.S. Survey Map also shows the Old Kings Road in the same location
as shown by
the John Lee Williams Map. It also shows the Mill described as being
The early surveys had great difficulty in lacking permanent landmarks or
however the Williams 1837 map is amazing for its detail.
See Survey Map
The first turn off from Old Kings Road in Northern Flagler County
leads you to the
Preserve. Again the narrow, wooded road to the East is linked to
history - - it was part of Francisco Pellicer's farm! While
there are private homes and farms
along this narrow lane; it looks much like the original Old Kings Road,
the Princess Place Preserve
can trace its existence to the Pellicer farm.
Pellicer's Farm became our Princess Place of Today
Cherokee Grove was the original name for this area.
Cherokee Grove was part of Francisco Pellicer's land grant from the
King of Spain in 1791. Mr. Pellicer was the heroic leader
of the Minorcans as they passed by on Old Kings Road. The creek
forming the Flagler line was named for him.
After obtaining the land grant, Francisco
lived on the land for 38 years. Twelve of his eighteen children were born
there. Known in the mid 1820’s as “Pellicer Plantation,” the property was
a working farm. Cash crops of sugar cane, corn and cotton were grown. Over
time, most land grants were often divided up and sold off in smaller
parcels or absorbed into other nearby land grants. Today there is probably
not a single Spanish land grant existing in East Florida that is in its
natural state or in the same configuration and size, as when it was
originally granted- except for the Francisco Pellicer grant. The Pellicer
family never divided the property. If historically verified, this fact
would significantly enhance the historical importance of this land tract.
(Courtesy of Donald F. Pellicer, a fifth generation descendant of
Francisco Pellicer told
to the Flagler Parks Department)
In the early 1800's, H.C. Sloggett introduced orange trees to Cherokee
Grove, one of the first orange grove locations in Florida. In 1886,
Henry Cutting, a New England sportsman, purchased the grove and
1887, Henry Cutting constructed a hunting lodge on the property
which was designed by New York architect William Wright in the Adirondack
Camp Style. The Camp Style originated in the Adirondack Mountains of
upstate New York. The Princess Place lodge is probably the only example of
this style of architecture in Florida. The preserve is now a protected
area owned by Flagler County. It also has what may well be the
first concrete swimming pool in Florida, fed by an artesian well.
Again, the roadways
leading from Old Kings Road thru the Princess Place Preserve are
said to reflect much of the appearance
of the original highway. A photograph of these roadways shows how
area must have appeared to the early settlers.
Tracing Old Kings Road is not an easy task. For most of its
journey, it has been paved over, relocated with modern roads, or returned
to the woods and plants of Florida. During the many wars and events, the
road was relocated, bridges were burnt, bridges were built. The modern
highways such as the Dixie Highway and U.S. Route 1 replaced this ancient
byway. Soon Old Kings Road began to vanish, except for the name, the
declining unpaved or abandoned tracts, and some very sharp curves that
perhaps followed the old Indian Trails. As new highways were built,
Old Kings road vanished except in name only, with just a small portion
still unpaved in Flagler County. (contracts are now being made to
pave this remaining section)
If you travel down today's Old Kings highway from north to south, the
roadway signed as "Old Kings"
goes straight south, then vanishes into the dense woods at the
intersection of the Dixie Highway.
In the Spring of 1973, Mr. James R. Ward of the Florida Times Union began
a series of articles on|
Old Kings Road. Meetings were held with Flagler County residents to
discuss the saving, and
designation of Old King Road as a national treasure.
By some stroke of fortune, the route of the Old Kings Road in Flagler
County was never lost
except for about a mile south of Pellicer Creek.
James R. Ward Florida Times Union
We were not the first! Highly organized
Indian societies lived along the route that would become Old Kings, making
their own paths from village to village as long as 3,000 years ago!
Perhaps inspired by Mr. Ward's articles in 1978 a wonderfully detailed
report was written "Palm Coast Cultural Resource Assessment by James J.
Miller July 11, 1978." This massive report not only detailed the
history of Old Kings Road, the early plantations along it, but also went
into great detail on primitive Indian sites in Flagler County some 2,000
to 3,000 years old!
It too had strongly recommended the preservation of these historic
locations. A copy of this
valuable report is located in the Flagler Public Library history section.
The report comments that from the mid-century with the arrival of the
Spanish, there was a total Timucua
population of 15,000 to 20,000 Indians living in highly organized tribal
organizations. Soon after the
chain of missions were established there were reports listing only the
Christian Indians, and by 1717
there so few of the original Indians remaining to be mentioned. The
virus in the European bloodlines,
and contact with the Western civilizations proved to be too much for
survival. Left behind were
burial sites, huge piles of shell and waste from thousands of years of
residence, and perhaps trails
from place to place. Growing well in this area were maize (corn),
beans, pumpkins, cucumbers,
citrus, a gourds, with two crops of corn being planted yearly.
For years, these village sites were explored by early Flagler County
residents, and many private
collections exist. Human and bones of now extinct animals may be
viewed in a private collection
donated to the Flagler Beach museum. Their locations were well known
to the early residents.
The agony of an archeologist visiting Indian sites along Old Kings Road
during the rapid
construction of Palm Coast with the roaring land-clear bulldozers is
reflected in this part of the report:
Situated on Palm Coast property in the vicinity of current
construction, the Eatman mound was
not recorded until the present study. Its location was revealed by a
local resident. The site
was visited and found to be heavily damaged. Bulldozer tracks led to
the site from a recently cleared area where roads and lots were laid out.
The vandalism was so recent that only a few small, grassy weeds had been
able to grow in the fresh, white sand.
.....the bulldozer operator, or perhaps a later visitor walked across the
site a few times, picking up
human bones and pottery, the leaving the collection in a pile in the
.....the mound which had stood the test of perhaps 2,000 years, was
destroyed in probably less than
15 minutes. James
J. Miller, July 1978.
A significant ancient Indian mound was also reported on as the "Old
Kings Road" mound
located about 2 miles north of Bulow Plantation. "near the southern
boundary of St. Johns
County, about three miles north of Bulow Forks, on the east side of the
old "Kings Road."
There were many other ancient Indian sites reported along the antique
Prior to Mr. Miller's survey report, in March of 1974 a committee was
formed to identify Historical
Sites within Flagler County and adjacent counties through which the
roadway could be identified.
Ralph Cooper report 1974 - Flagler Public Library
A subsequent major effort was made by the New Smyrna Beach
Commission and the Volusia County Council to trace Old Kings Road in 1997.
A privately prepared report was made by Dr. William R. Adams, under the
auspices of Historic Property Associates of St. Augustine. This detailed
report was titled The Kings Road: Florida’s first highway. It
is not a readily available document being bound in photocopy format.
It contains detail information on contracts, construction and time lines
in the life of Old Kings Road.
Copies of this report exist in the State Library system under call
letters HE356.K564 A373 1997. Work on the road, contracts let, Spanish
land grants and their relationship to Old Kings are described.
This significant work gives excellent time lines on the efforts to
construct and maintain this road, begun by the British, following Indian
trails, destroyed many times, and re-built by the new U.S. government. The
trace of Old Kings Road slowly vanished under modern highways although the
name was actively used on many city streets and lanes. When the report was
written, it identified Flagler County as having a portion of the
roadway much in its natural state.
There is no evidence that these prior efforts and reports on Old Kings
Road produced further results
to designate the remaining roadway as a National Treasure being one of the
first public roadways
in the North American continent.. The remaining dirt structure is
to be paved with a modern roadway, and only the side roads such as the
"Old Road" into Bulow
Plantation, and some of the side roads into The Princess Place Preserve
reflect how the area appeared
during the time of the American Revolution and the British Period before.
A wandering road that traces old Indian pathways
wanders and turns thru Flagler County, Old Kings
road is perhaps the last physical trace of the survey skill of the Indian
Grey Eyes, the Indian who knew how to bypass the wetlands and swamps
of the area, and who appears briefly in several reports written about this
roadway. There were Indian trails long before Old Kings Road, we don't
know for certain that Grey Eyes blazed the path thru Flagler County
southward, but there are hints in several books and
reports, that he did. A memory can sometimes be only a twist
in a road. This road is now being paved into a
4-lane highway. Sadly, some more history is vanishing.
Much history flowed through this roadway; the small unpaved section in
Flagler is one of the last pieces remaining. It intersects the new Florida
Agricultural Museum and the protected Princess Place Preserve and is just a
short distance away from the “River to the Sea” Marine Estuary now under
Federal protection. This is a very valuable and historic spot still
reflects Florida’s great beauty and also some of its most violent
times. There are still spots in the area that must look like the
site in the 1800's. It is still an area where the grasslands, oak
trees and waterways still exist in a natural form.
The New Smyrna Beach report concluded:
“The King’s Road is indisputably one of America’s
most historic pathways. Remaining physical traces of the original road
should be preserved and advertised where that is practical…..”
Appropriate historical markers should be placed in
highly conspicuous locations to attract public attention to the road……”
The Search for Old Kings Road
This website is not a historical document but is a general report intended
to inform Flagler County residents
concerning the history surrounding their Old Kings Road. Primary
sources used were:
Palm Coast Cultural Resource Assessment -
Comprehensive Land Use Plan Report
by Cultural Resource Management, Inc. Tallahassee, FL James J.
Miller July 11, 1978
Flagler Public Library History Section
Report: March 5 1974 Ralph Cooper, Jr. St. Augustine's Committee for
Bicentennial, Inc. Recommendation for tracing Old Kings Road
Flagler Public Library History Section
The Kings Road, Florida’s first highway” report by Dr. William R.
Florida State Library system under call letters HE356.K564 A373 1997
unpublished report of construction of Old Kings Road in great detail.
Daytona Beach News-Journal July 28 1996 "Future may be found in
saving parts of the past"
Jacksonville Times=Union December 19, 1973 Kings Road Stays Intact
by James R. Ward.
Lecture Allan Hadeed - Palm Coast Methodist Church history society
History of Flagler County by John Clegg Flagler Public Library
Personal interviews with Mr. Clegg
http://volusiahistory.com Volusia County History website
Bulow Creek Plantation Exhibit and Park
Ashes on the Wind by Alice Strickland 1985 Flagler Public Library
Andrew Jackson’s Case for the Removal of Indians
St. Photios Greek Orthodox National Shrine St. Augustine
Flagler Beach Museum—unpublished documents by Flagler historians
Mullet On The Beach The Minorcans of Florida by Patricia C. Griffin
El Escribano The St. Augustine Journal of History 1990
Minorcans in Florida their history and heritage by Jane Quinn
Red Blood, White Lies by Loquitas Belloit 2004
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