Duval Early Families

Published in Pioneers of the First Coast II September 2006 

TO FLORIDA ON AN EAR
J. G. Braddock Sr.

Numerous reasons and circumstances prompted the journeys of pre-statehood families to Florida. Some were sent from Spain to colonize the first permanent European settlement on the mainland of what is now the United States and stayed on through 20 years of British possession and 36 years of Spanish repossession before Florida became a permanent possession of the United States in 1819.

Some came to populate the new British provinces of East and West Florida with English speaking people after Spain relinquished ownership in 1763 to Great Britain.

Many Greek, Italian, and Spanish families, seeking to break the bonds of poverty, accompanied Dr. Andrew Turnbull to New Smyrna as indentured servants in 1768.

The Revolution sent numerous Loyalists and their families scurrying from the colonies, most of them from Georgia, to the safety of the British controlled provinces of East and West Florida. Loyalists families who were willing to pledge loyalty to Spain for grants of land remained after Great Britain ceded Florida back to Spain in 1783.

And for countless others, Florida was the last leg of long treks from northern climes down waterways and overland roads, along which they left remnants of kin strewn through the Carolinas and Georgia, in their quest for a place in the sun.

Incredibly, the loss of an ear set in motion a chain of events that culminated in the arrival of one family whose ancestors had already left their mark on Florida history and whose multitudinous descendants today contribute considerably to the population of practically every county of the state and have spilled over into many other states, a family which has produced leaders in practically every field of endeavor. In April, 1731, Juan de Leon Fandino, a captain in the Spanish coast guard, boarded suspected smuggling ship Rebecca and cut off the ear of her captain, Robert Jenkins. Eight and a half years later, in October 1739, display of the ear in the British Parliament prompted Great Britain to declare against Spain the war that is popularly known as the War of Jenkin’s Ear.

General James Oglethorpe, political and military leader of Georgia, wishing to stop once and for all the frequent raiding forays into the lower British colonies by the Spanish of St. Augustine, forged the chain's next link when in the early summer of 1740 he lead an unsuccessful expedition against the “Castle” at St. Augustine. His failed attempt served only to intensify the determination of the Spanish to rid the Southeastern coast, an area they strongly considered to be rightfully theirs, of the lower English colonies. They immediately increased hostile activities against their unwelcome neighbors, especially on the high seas.

Another link, in the form of the merchant ship Ancona, entered Charles Town harbor August 16, 1740 from Cowes, England, where she had delivered barrels of Carolina Gold (rice). Aboard her was David Cutler Braddock. It was not by the smile of Lady Luck that the 24 year old of Long Island, New York had the responsible position of ship’s mate on a merchant ship at such a young age. His grandfather, John Braddick I, was a sea captain from England who had settled in America in the mid-1600’s. David’s father, John Braddick II, had also been a sea captain who sailed commercially between Long Island and colonial and foreign ports. During Queen Anne’s War Captain Braddick II served with distinction at Fort William Henry on Long Island and later delivered a shipload of bread to Connecticut “for the subsistence of the men belonging to this colony, now going against Canada, &c.” In 1721 he rescued a slave boy from a “piratical ship” and landed him in New London. He lived by the sea and died by the sea: Peter Zenger’s February 18, 1734 issue of the New York Weekly Journal reported, “Braddock, Capt. and son killed on board ship by an Indian.” The son killed was David’s younger brother Peter.

David’s older half-brother John Braddick III was a ship captain as was his son, John Braddick IV, who delivered supplies to Continental ships in New England waters during the Revolution, including the Alfred, John Paul Jones’s ship before the Bohomme Richard.

Although not a man of the sea, David’s maternal grandfather, John Cutler, who had changed his name from Johannes DeMesmaker to its English equivalent when he arrived in Hingham, Massachusetts from his native Holland in the mid-1600’s, contributed even more fortitude in the face of danger to his grandson’s genes. He served as a surgeon attached to the Massachusetts regiment in the colony’s great battle with the Narragansett’s in King Philip's War. Dr. Cutler’s great-grandson, Benjamin Clarke Cutler, married the niece of General Francis Marion, the Swamp Fox. Their granddaughter, Julia Ward Howe, wrote the Battle Hymn of the Republic.

The Ancona sailed from Charles Town in November, 1740, her holds bulging with barrels of rice. Whatever her intended destination, she did not make it. A Spanish privateer sloop commanded by Captain Hosea captured her and took her and her crew into St. Augustine. By January 31, 1741, David had escaped and made his way a hundred miles northward to Georgia to Oglethorpe’s headquarters at Fort Frederica on St. Simon’s and had written a deposition of his experience:

Deposition of David Cutler Braddock Mate

of the Ancona Merchant & taken Prisoner

on board the Same by a Spanish Privateer

sloop from St. Augustine commanded by Capt.

Hosea.

This Deponent being examined under oath declares that on his first being carried into Augustin & having the Liberty of going about the sd Town & free Liberty of talking to the Inhabitants there, he heard from several persons but more especially from John Delorem who was born in Italy, and speaks English, Spanish, and French, that at the latter end of the siege commanded by General Oglethorpe the Soldiers were so reduced that for want of Provisions they were forced to kill and eat Catts, & that if they had not received Provisions by certain Vessells getting in safe at ye latter end of ye sd Siege, they wo'd have been obliged through want to have surrendered up ye   town and Castle to General Oglethorpe in a very little time, for that when the sd Vessels arrived they had such numbers of Indians, Negroes Women and Children in ye Town that they had not Provisions enough in Town and Castle to keep them alive one week.

This Deponent farther says that ye Mate of the Privateer Sloop which took him Prisoner was an Irishman called Augustus Barrington who told this Deponent yt they came from Campeachy to ye Havannah where they got a Commission  from the Govr. who put Provs. on board them for Augustine,  &c sent her as a Guard Sloop to several other Vessels loaded wth. Provs. for the Relief of  the garrison of Augustine,  and that they, with the other vessells arrived at ye Musquetoes, and after they were got safe in there, they saw an Englishman of War cruizing that Bar for 2 to 3 Days, & that the Galleys and other Boats helped to unload them & they got into Augustine safe with all the Provisions, The said Augustus Barrington said that their Sloop lay Guard Sloop out ward most at ye Musquetoes, & that he ran away with intent to get to General Oglethorpe but he was retaken by the Spands. & threatened to be shott.  He said, If he co'd. have got to General Oglethorpe and have given notice where they lay so as to stop the Provisions from  getting  in,  the  Spaniards Necessity at Augustine was  so great that they must have surrendered in a weeks time.  And all the People and Soldiers that this deponent conversed with at Augustine, confirmed ye accots. of their being drove to the last necessity at the time that the said Vessels arrived, And that to his own they had eaten up ye Prov'isns. then received and again were drove to great want, about a week before he made his Escape.  He often heard the people Say that during the siege and even all the while that he was Prisoner there that they durst not go abroad to get any Provisions from the Land Side, and were obliged to depend on Provisions brought by Sea.

He further says that whilst he was there was a Mutiny amongst those men which were called Watchinungoes who are condemned Men, or Transports for a time, chiefly from New Spain, and that they attempted to take the Castle but that they were discovered & prevented,  & they confessed yt if they had succeeded, their Intention was to send to General Oglethorpe.

He further says that the Castle is garrisond by 35 men only, w'ch. is a Guard commanded by a Sergeant and who relieves every day; and that there is a Lieutent. of the Castle and a Gunner who constantly reside there that the rest of the garrison is quartered in Barracks at a distance and in the Town.  And that the Watchimimgoes said that if they had taken the Castle, they thought they could have defended it till they could have got Succors from General Oglethorpe.

                                                                               David Cutler Braddock

Sworn to before me this 31st.

day ofJanuary1741                                                                         (Endorsed)

John Calwell

                                                                in Mr. Oglethorpe's Letter to A. S.

                                                                                           of Janry 31. 1741

Apparently impressed by the pluck of the young mariner, Oglethorpe sent him to Charles Town to pick up the schooner Norfolk, outfit her as a privateer, and enlist a crew for her. By early spring of 1742, he had her ready enough to sail with a party of Indians to the vicinity of St Augustine “to get some prisoners for intelligence.” He returned shortly with six Spaniards and three scalps.

David and the Norfolk were in Charles Town June 22, 1742 when a Spanish fleet suddenly appeared off St. Simon’s and proceeded to disembark a force of invading soldiers. He and a small flotilla of South Carolina vessels, delayed by Lieutenant Governor Bull’s difficulty in rounding up sufficient crewmen, arrived off St. Simon’s just in time to chase the retreating Spanish ships bearing the soundly defeated army back to St. Augustine and lob a few nine-pound shot at the “Castle.”

A year and a half earlier the South Carolina government had ordered that two half-galleys of a draft capable of pursuing raiding Spanish galleys through the shallows of the colony’s coastal waters be built. The first, the Charles Town, was completed in time to be in the flotilla sent to Oglethorpe’s aid. She was under the capable command of Captain William Lyford, Sr. He also had overall command of South Carolina’s provincial navy consisting of, in addition to the Charles Town, the second half-galley Beaufort and two scout boats. It was old sea dogs like Lyford who gave truth to the first half of the aphorism, “In the olden days, they had wooden ships and iron men, today we have wooden men and iron ships.” A commercial mariner from Jamaica, he had met and married the daughter of William Spatches, a well-to-do ship owner who was at one time president of the Bahamas, and had settled on New Providence Island. Captured by Spanish privateers in 1726 and taken into Havana, Lyford escaped and made his way back to the Bahamas in a dugout. After his wife’s death in 1728, he moved his commercial maritime venture to Beaufort, South Carolina. Prior to being placed in charge of the provincial navy, he had commanded Fort Frederick, South Carolina’s southernmost outpost against Spanish invasions and Indian uprisings.

Lyford, like Oglethorpe, was impressed with David and placed him in command of the Beaufort. David married Lyford’s daughter and the couple added a new and important link to the chain with the birth of their son, John Cutler Braddock. For the next year the two captains, Lyford and Barddock, routinely cruised the coast to St. Augustine and beyond, monitoring Spanish military activities. Then in September, 1743, based on the damning testimony of some of his crew, Lyford was charged with trading with the enemy while on a prisoner swapping mission to St. Augustine. He would have been sent to England to be tried for treason had it not been for the intervention of the commander of the largest British man-of war on the American station who wrote a letter to the South Carolina government:

His Honour also communicated to your Honours the following letters he had received from Capt. Utting Commander of His Majesty's Ship Loo. vizt.

Sir                                                                                     Loo Port Royal Harbour

                                                                                          Dec 10, 1743

Being informed by Mr. Lyford Pilot of his Majesty's Ship Loo, under my command, your Honour has granted a warrant for apprehending him, for trading with the Spaniards, I think it a duty incumbent on me, as it is for his Majesty's Service, to acquaint your Honour and His Majesty's Council, that he is actually Pilot of His Majesty's Ship Loo, and that there is no man in the Country that knows anything of the Bar or Harbour of Port Royal and His Majesty's Ship Loo under my command is fit for Sea, and am well assured that there will be a 40 or 50 Gun ship from England for that place very soon, that cannot properly get in without some able Pilot, to carry her, & also to carry the Loo out, and to be continued at that Port, for want of which His Majesty's Service, and also the Service of this Province must greatly suffer, there being no other person in the Province capable of taking charge of any of His Majesty's Ships of that rate for that Port for which reason I, in duty to His Majesty's Service must beg your Honour & His Majesty's Council will be pleased to take it into consideration, and if his Crime is not so bad but if on his proper conceptions and his going bail for his future Conduct, your Honour & his Majesty's honourable Council will be pleased to release him, it being intirely for his Majesty's Service in this Province.    

                           I am &c                                                                 Ashby Utting

Utting’s intercession prevailed:

His Honour the Lt. Govr having asked the advice and opinion of the Board though it was the opinion of his Majesty's Council that a legal warrant having gone out, in due manner against the saidLyford for high Treason, the Law should take its course, But lest his Majesty's Service suffer, as represented by Capt. Utting, and as this was the first accusation of any being committed by the said Lyford , and as the general tension of his Life and Conversation in this Province hath been a good and faithful Subject to his Majesty, ought to be, and in particular in giving information, in the beginning of the year 1738, of a Spanish Squadron off St. Augustine, intended as it was supposed against this Province, or the colony of Georgia, it was the advice of his Majesty's Council to his Honour the Lt. Govr. to represent the case of the said Lyford to his Majesty's Secretary of State together with the said letter of Capt. Utting in order to obtain his Majesty's directions thereupon.

Apparently his Majesty’s directions thereupon was to do nothing further than remove Lyford from his command in the South Carolina provincial navy. However, Utting retained him as pilot of the Loo, and Lyford was aboard her on February 5, 1744, when she ran aground on a Florida key known since as Looe Key.

David continued cruising the coast; however, the Commons House of Assembly relocated the Beaufort’s station to a cove near the southern point of Hilton Head so “. . . that she may be able to discover the Approach of an Enemy, and give such Intelligence to the Inhabitants as may enable them to provide for their Security.” The point and the cove still bear David’s name. In May, 1745 he nearly suffered the same fate as his father-in-law had earlier, and without a Captain Utting to bail him out. Colonel William Horton, who succeeded Oglethorpe as military leader of Georgia and whose house still stands on Jekyll Island, at least the tabby walls of it, on mere suspicion accused him of conspiring to trade with the Spanish at St. Augustine. The testimony of David's entire crew before the Governor's Council quickly exonerated him.

He was not so fortunate the following year. On June 13, 1746, despite testimony that the Beaufort had suffered a split foremast, Governor James Glen dismissed him from provincial service after receiving complaints from merchant ship owners that he had kept their hastily borrowed crew members, most of whom had been bailed out of the workhouse for the purpose, beyond the agreed time while in pursuit of a Spanish privateer which had appeared off the South Carolina coast.

Undaunted, David registered two schooners, the John and Mary and the Pickpocket, three days later and embarked on a career of commercial shipping ventures. And exactly one year after his dismissal he received a 500 acre grant on the Ogeechee River and created a key link in the chain of events by moving his family to Georgia. After the loss of the H.M.S. Loo, David’s father-in-law, William Lyford, had returned to the Bahamas where he was placed in command of the privateer Isabella by Governor John Tinker and had promptly sailed out into the Gulf of Mexico to capture the Nefra Seignora de la Luz containing a cargo valued at £52,500. Undoubtedly enticed by word from his father-in-law of the rich harvest of Spanish vessels awaiting daring mariners in the Caribbean, David sailed to the Bahamas in late summer of 1747 and took command of the privateer galley Viper. After taking three prizes, the Nuestra Senora de Bagona, the Bardera, and the La Fama Vante with a total appraisal value of £13,550, he returned home to Georgia long enough to purchase 400 acres adjoining his property on the Ogeechee, then returned to the prowl within three months. This time, while at the helm of his father-in-law’s old privateer, the Isabella, he captured the French vessel Florifaunt carrying a cargo of indigo, sugar, and cotton with an appraisal value of £15,000. In the summer of 1752 he received a healthy dose of his own medicine when his privateer was captured by a Spanish privateer and taken into Havana. Released along with other prisoners by the Spanish and placed aboard an England-bound British man-of-war, David suffered the further humiliation of being given a rowboat in 13 fathoms of water off the coast of Georgia by the vessel’s captain, who refused to veer any further off his course, and told to row himself the rest of the way home.

Having lost his privateer to the Spanish, he returned to his shipping and other maritime enterprises until he could procure another vessel worthy of committing legalized piracy on the high seas, which was what privateering amounted to. The regard with which he was viewed in maritime matters by leaders in his home port of Savannah is apparent in a letter written by James Habersham to Georgia Trustee secretary Benjamin Martyn in England concerning navigation problems in the Savannah River. Habersham, after detailing the problems, wrote, “Capt. David Cutler Braddock, who I mentioned in my Journal of the 21st November last to be sailed for New England, is proposed to accompany the Surveyors in this Enquiry, when he arrives here. He is allowed to be an excellent Seaman, and to be well acquainted with this River . . . .”

With the War of Jenkin’s Ear over and the Seven Years' War going on, French vessels, which were not as plentiful off the southeast coast as Spanish galleons had been, became the prey. However, before David could sail his newly fitted-out privateer, Cockspur, across the bar on her maiden voyage, he captured the French vessel Les Deux Amis, disguised as a British merchant ship, in the Savannah River in late summer of 1756. That same year, while on a privateering expedition, he made a chart of uncanny accuracy of the Florida Keys, which is now in the Library of Congress. Well-known colonial naturalist and explorer Bernard Romans, in his book, A Concise Natural History of East and West Florida, mentions another nautical chart David made while on a privateering expedition along the gulf coast. The chart, which is no longer in existence, was of Tampa Bay and surrounding areas. Romans says, “. . . Capt. Braddock was generally acknowledged the first Englishman who explored the bay.”

A French vessel David pursued as prey in the spring of 1757 off Santa Domingo turned out to be a privateer of superior force. The Cockspur was mauled beyond further use. Three of its crew were killed and many of them wounded. By February 10, 1758, he had a new privateer and was ready to sail out of the Savannah River with a letters of marque—a document issued by a government allowing a private citizen to equip a ship with arms in order to attack enemy ships—in hand:

By Henry Ellis Esquire Lieutenant
Govenor and Commander in Chief of his Majesty's
Colony of Georgia and Vice Admiral of the same

Whereas his Majesty has declared War against France, and by his Majesty's commission &c——
To cause a Commission or Letters of marque to be issued out of the Court of Vice Admiralty of this province, unto David Cutler Braddock, Commander of the Brigantine King of Prussia burthen about ninety tons, mounted with fourteen Carriage Guns and Navigated with one hundred and ten Men to set forth &c——dated 10th Febry. 1758

His expedition aboard the King of Prussia, with which he had met with only moderate success, taking and aiding in the taking of four minor French ships pretending to be Danish, was his last venture as a privateer. However, it was not his last as a mariner nor in facing peril. In addition to continuing his commercial shipping business, he was appointed by Governor James Wright as commander of Georgia’s scout boat in 1761, a position he held until late 1768. Primary of his duties in this role was “. . . to see what discovery he could make of any Vessel hovering about the Coast, and should he on his Return report having seen any such Vessel, his Honour then proposed to order an additional Number of Hands on Board the Scout Boat, and also to man another small Vessel from hence, in Order to pursue the Enemy; and to send an immediate express concerning it to Charles Town that the Commanders of his Majesty's Ships there might have Notice thereof.” Interestingly, David and the scout boat were sent to seize a vessel which had been reported taking a cargo of hogs and other provisions off Talbot Island, an island on which some of his descendants would one day reside. On another occasion, he and his crew took the scout boat up the Savannah River to Augusta and back, no small feat considering the one way distance is over a hundred miles and they had to row it both ways.

He demonstrated the versatility of his skills as a mariner when he saved the British man-of-war Epreuve after it ran aground March 18, 1763 in the Savannah River after the efforts of many others failed. The South Carolina Gazette reported:

The Georgia Gazette of 14th of July, contains the following compliment to Capt. Braddock, commander of the king's scout-boat, to whose skill and uncommon perseverance is said to be principally owing the saving of his majesty's ship the Epreuve,  after  it was  thought by most people impossible.   “It  is with pleasure we acquaint  the  public,  that  the  Epreuve has  safely come to her moorings in this harbour,  which adds great honour to the merit and assiduity of Capt. David Cutler Braddock, and plainly elucidates the experience and great abilities of that gentleman.”

In 1764, he was elected to colonial Georgia’s Commons House of Assembly as a representative of Acton, a village on the outskirts of Savannah. He was highly active in the Assembly's affairs right up to his death in February, 1769, serving on numerous committees. The goal of one committee on which he served was to obtain a charter, land, and support to convert Bethesda, the orphanage founded by George Whitefield, a central figure in the Great Awakening religious revival of colonial America, into a college. The goal of another was to appoint Benjamin Franklin Georgia’s agent in England.

Since his birth was recorded in St. Helena’s Parish Register in 1743, the name of David’s son, John Cutler Braddock, appeared in public records only once—a petition for 250 acres on the Ogeechee River in December, 1764—until July 16, 1769.  On this date John added another significant link to the chain when he married Lucia Cook in Jerusalem Church, now the oldest standing public building in Georgia, in the German settlement of Ebenezer. Except for another petition for land and sale of the granted land, public records again fall silent on John until after the start of the Revolution when Governor James Wright, in exile, wrote a lengthy memo concerning what is now known as the Battle of Thomas Creek which occurred in May, 1777. Wright mentions John as commander of one of the three Georgia galleys bringing Continentals to a scheduled rendezvous with a unit of Georgia militia commanded by Colonel John Baker and that the galleys had run aground in Amelia Narrows, resulting in Baker’s unit losing many men in ambush by Colonel Thomas Browne’s Florida Rangers.

In their next recorded encounter with the enemy, the Georgia galleys and their commanders more than redeemed themselves. The South Carolina and American General Gazette ran the following article:

               

C H A R L E S T O W N,  April 23,

This afternoon an express arrived here from Savannah, by the whom the following advices were received.

Copy of a Letter from Col. Elbert to Major General Howe,  at Savannah.

Dear General,        Frederica, April 19, 1778

I  have the happiness to inform you that about 10 o'clock this afternoon, the Brigantine  Hinchinbrooke, the Sloop Rebecca,  and a prize brig,  all struck the British Tyrant's colors and surrendered to the American arms.  Having received intelligence that the above vessels were at this place, I put about three hundred men, by detachment from the troops under my command at Fort Howe, on board the three  gallies—the Washington, Capt. Hardy; the Lee,  Capt Braddock; and the Bulloch, Capt. Hatcher; and a detachment of artillery with a field piece, under Capt. Young,  I put on board a boat.  With this little army, we embarked at Darien, and last evening effected a landing at a bluff about a mile below the town; leaving Col. White on board the Lee, Capt. Melvin on board the Washington, and Lieut. Petty on board the Bulloch, each with a sufficient party of troops.  Immediately on Landing, I dispatched Lieut. Col. Ray and Major Roberts, with about 100 men, who marched directly up to the town, and made prisoners three marines and two sailors belonging to the Hinchinbrooke.  It being late, the gallies did not engage until this morning.  You must imagine what my feelings were, to see our three little men of war going to the attack of these three vessels, who have spread terror on our coast, and who were drawn up in order of battle; but the weight of our metal soon damped the courage of these heroes, who soon took to their boats; and, as many as could, abandoned the vessels with everything on board, of which we immediately took possession.   What is  extraordinary,  we have not one man hurt.  Capt. Ellis [ of the Hinchinbrooke]  is drowned, and Capt. Mowbry [of the Rebecca] made his escape.  As soon as I see Col. White, who has not yet come to us with his prizes, I shall consult with him,  the other three officers,  and the commanding officers of the galleys, on the expediency of attacking the Galatea now lying off Jekyll.  I send you this by Brigade Major Habersham, who will inform you of the other particulars.  I am. &c.

                             SAMUEL ELBERT, Col. Commandant

After Savannah and control of coastal Georgia fell to the British in late 1779, the Georgia royal assembly convened the following May and by July had hammered out acts designed to punish Georgians who had taken part in "the Bloody Rebellion." The Georgia Treason Act and The British Disqualifying Act named names, 114 on the first act and 151 on the second. John, who now commanded 348 seamen a few miles away across the waterways at Fort Lyttleton near Beaufort, SC, had the honor of being on both lists. His name also appeared on a list compiled by Loyalist Thomas Flyming, ". . . who being duly Sworn Saith, that to his certain knowledge the following persons underwritten were all of them very active in Rebellion against His majesty in this Province." John was in noble company; biographies of 23 of the 79 men on Flyming's list are recorded in the first volume of Men of Mark in Georgia.

With only two newspapers in the southern colonies during the Revolution, one in Charleston, the other in Savannah, and long before instantaneous communication facilities and embedded newsmen, only a few of the many exploits of combat that surely must have occurred, considering the intensity of the war in the South, made it into print. Those that did gave only sparse details. One of the more detailed ones, which appeared in the September 27, 1781 issue of the British controlled Royal Georgia Gazette and, naturally, had a British slant to it, gave clear indication that John's fervor for the cause of Liberty was not daunted by the legal death threat hanging over his head:

Last Tuesday fe'nnight as the brigantine Dunmore, Captain Caldeleugh, of 6 three pounders,  and having 12 men on board, was going from Sunbury in order to proceed on her voyage to Jamaica, she was attacked by two Rebel gallies, schooner rigged, at ten o'clock in the forenoon  the largest, commanded by John Braddock,  mounted  two carriage guns and a number of swivels, had upwards of  50 men, is about 60 feet long, and rows with 26 oars the other also mounted some swivels; they kept about  her till two in the afternoon, and were prepared for boarding, but the brisk fire from the brigantine then obliged them to sheer off.   During the engagement the Dunmore ran them both aground,  but they both got off again; she received no damage, but it's imagined the largest galley lost some of their men, as several  holes were perceived in her sails,  and the grape shot was seen to light on each side of her. The brigantine, after getting about 60 leagues out to sea, sprang a leak, which obliged her to put back, and she arrived at Tybee on Wednesday evening the 18th inst. with six feet water in her hold.   In coming in she again fell  in with her antagonists, but a few shot fired at them  immediately compelled them to beat away.  The Dunmore's leak being stopt, she is again ready to proceed on her voyage.

John's naval exploits did not end with the surrender of the British in October, 1781. His uncle, Captain William Lyford, Jr., who had been "Pilot for the Bar and Port of Savannah" for ten years, had declared himself a Loyalist at the War's outbreak and had fled to St. Augustine. From there he had spent the war serving as pilot on British men-of-war along the Southern coast. In April 1783, he and several other military-minded men sat in a meeting in St. Augustine with 25 year old Colonel Andrew Deveaux, a notorious Loyalist from South Carolina, laying plans to drive the Spanish from Nassau, Bahamas. The plan needing boats and skilled mariners, Lyford enlisted his nephew's experience and vessel to play a role in the successful raid. According to Bahamas Register General Department of Land Grants, Book C-1, Lyford, Deveaux, and John Braddock received royal grants within four days of each other, presumably for their parts in driving out the Spanish. John's grant was on Long Island, where he was later given another grant. Lyford's was on Cat Island at the spot where it was thought until 1926 that Columbus had first landed in the New World. Lyford also received a substantial grant on New Providence Island for his war services. Exclusive residential resort Lyford Cay, where the likes of internationally famous novelist Arthur Hailey and actor Sean Connery live, stands on the site of that grant. Ironically, with Braddock Point on Hilton Head Island, the tips of two of the better known resorts islands in Southeastern waters bear the names of brothers-in-law.

John also received two grants from the new State of Georgia for his services as galley commander in the Revolution, one of 500 acres in Camden County on the Great Satilla River, the other for 100 acres in Glynn County on St. Simons Island. Settling on St. Simons, he embarked, as his father had when his sea-fighting days were over, on a life of public service. He served in numerous appointed and elected offices in and for Glynn County: justice of peace, county commissioner with power to sell lands confiscated from Loyalists, commissioner for the Port of Brunswick, commissioner for the town of Brunswick, road commissioner for St. Simons, justice of inferior court, and two terms as the county’s representative to the Georgia House of Assembly. He also served as an officer in the Glynn County Regiment of Militia, formed to protect residents of the still frontier-like area from Indian raids, and later commanded the unit’s Volunteer Troop of Horse. His death in early April, 1794 created another link.

His widow, Lucia, forged the final link by moving with the four of their children who were still unmarried to Amelia Island sometime between his death and July 20, 1796, the date she signed a Spanish oath of allegiance. The real reason for  her decision to relocate from Georgia to East Florida is not known. The move may have been prompted by one or more of the following circumstance: back taxes were owed on the land her late husband had been granted, the Spanish were offering grants of land to anyone willing to sign an oath of allegiance, and her oldest daughter Ann and her husband, John Edwards, already resided in the vicinity of Amelia Island.

Soon after arrival, Lucia married William Alexander Fitzgerald, a native of Virginia who lived on Amelia. Ironically, their plantation, Black Hammock, overlooked Sawpit Bluff where the galley of her late husband, John Braddock, and two other vessels loaded with Continentals were to rendezvous with Col. John Baker and his company of militia in 1777, had the galleys not run aground on Amelia Narrows.  

With four marriageable and soon-to-be marriageable children, Lucia could not have picked a more promising locale in which to settle. Neighbor Spicer Christopher, who had arrived in East Florida from Maryland during the British possession, was already ensconced on a generous grant of land on nearby Big Talbot Island. He was known far and wide for raising and training Arabian horses, for lush orange groves, and for his hospitality to passersby on the King’s Highway, which ran through his property and which he helped maintain. In addition to Talbot, he had several other grants of land in the area. And, most importantly, he had several marriageable and soon-to-be marriageable children. In time, three of his offspring, Martha, Charlotte, and John, would marry three of the Braddock siblings, John David, William, and Hester. And to further intertwine the Braddock and Christopher lines and pull in the Edwards line at the same time, two daughters of Ann and John Edwards married sons of Spicer.

Another neighbor, John Carroll Houston II, further convoluted family lines by marrying the daughter of John David Braddock and Martha Christopher after his first wife, the youngest daughter of Spicer Christopher, died. And if that did not complicate entanglements of the four families enough, one of the daughters of the Houston/Braddock union married a son of William Braddock, and a son of that union married first a granddaughter of John David Braddock and then a granddaughter of Ann and John Edwards who was also a great-granddaughter of Spicer Christopher.

In all, the two Braddock brothers, John David and William, sired 19 children. Three of their children and nine of their children's 122 children married offspring of the eleven children of Revolutionary War soldier Burroughs Higginbotham, who had migrated from Georgia into Nassau County.

When not farming the lands granted them and siring and raising children to help farm them, John David and William, like their father and grandfather, appear from the scant mentions of them that can be gleaned from The East Florida Papers and Florida Territorial Papers to have had a natural propensity for being involved in public affairs. Record of the extent of their involvement in early Nassau County was lost when the Nassau County courthouse burned in 1839. On March 17, 1812, a small army calling themselves the "Patriots" invaded Amelia Island. Both brothers, along with Patriot leader John Houston McIntosh, their brother-in-law William G. Christopher, John C. Houston, and Zephaniah Kingsley, were among the 14 delegates who on July 17, 1812 drew up and signed what would have been the constitution of a non-Spanish East Florida had the goal of the invaders succeeded. The War of 1812 started in between those two dates. Prompted by a fear that the British would attempt an invasion of Florida, U. S. Army troops were sent to East Florida.

After the war ended and the two invading forces departed, William Braddock had the audacity to file a $10,235 suit for property damages against the United States government, claiming, ". . . that this part of the country was in possession of the United States Troops and Patriots from the time of their arriving into it till the time of the evacuation in 1813, some time in May of that year. This allied army of occupation continued during all the period scouring the country for forage and subsistence and some of them, or its followers, plundered anything that was valuable in their way . . ." His brother, John David, one of his two witnesses, was as audacious in testifying he ". . . was with the Patriots by compulsion."

The Spanish also wrote a new constitution in 1812, one reflecting changes in government more favorable to Florida inhabitants. Not all of the provisions of this constitution had been carried out eight years later, at least not in the St. Marys/St. Johns district. Most notable of these unfulfilled provision was one requiring that a municipality be established in each district with a population warranting one. Having a local seat of government would eliminate the necessity of citizens having to make costly and time consuming treks to St. Augustine to conduct affairs of government. In October, 1820, a memorial titled, “ A Petition From the Inhabitants of the St. Marys /St. Johns District for the Organization of a Municipality,” signed by over 200 inhabitants of the district, including the names of both brothers and several of their kinsmen, was sent to the governor in St. Augustine.

The ink had hardly dried on the document making Florida a territory of the United States in 1822 when many of the same men who had signed the memorial complaining about not having a municipality signed one dated November 25, 1822 addressed to the President and Congress of the United States complaining that the taxes to be imposed on them for maintaining some of the necessities of a municipality—an inferior court and county regulations—was more than they could bear.

In December, 1823, John David Braddock sat on the first grand jury ever impaneled in Jacksonville. Traveling from his home at Evergreen on the Little St. Marys, a trip he probably made by boat, he was reimbursed for 124 miles at 5¢ a mile. Citizens of Fernandina, that same month, sent a flurry of memorials “To the Honourable the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States in Congress assembled.” One requested that legislation be considered for requiring wreckers (salvagers of wrecked ships) to bring their salvage into a port in Florida, and that Fernandina be designated that port. Another asked that Fernandina “. . . be made a port of entry, with equal footing with ports in the States in foreign trade.” And the third requested that the land the Spanish had reserved around the town's flagpole and the town's public lots be declared the property of the town.  John David signed all three memorials.

William Braddock was elected a legislative councilor in 1828 and 1829, and he and a son and a nephew signed a memorial in 1831 “. . . praying for the reappointment of Judge Joseph L. Smith.” Two years later, Governor William DuVal  appointed John David and William justices of the peace for Nassau County, and William as an appraiser for Union Bank. John David was again appointed justice of the peace the following year.

The second generation of Florida Braddocks began coming of age and following in their fathers' footsteps in public service. In 1835, when the Nassau County seat was moved from Fernandina to Evergreen, Spicer, son of John David, was appointed postmaster. James Aldridge and Alexander, sons of William, were among those who marched 70 miles in 1837 to enroll in the First Regiment of Florida Volunteers to serve in the second Seminole War. In 1839 John David and William and five of their offspring were among the 400 East Floridians signing a memorial protesting the federal government’s plan of admitting Florida into the Union as one state rather than two, East and West Florida.

Through the ensuing years, numerous other limbs became attached to the Braddock tree, including such Florida pioneer families as Mizell, Colson, Vanzant, Haddock, Wilds, Hodges, Stokes, Owens, Wingate, Libby, Pickett, Ogilvie, Bessant, Jones, Connor, Griffin, Sauls, Johnson, Huntley, Wilson, Vaughan, Hagan, Geiger, and Kirkland. The complexity of intermarriages with some of these families coupled with those of the earlier mentioned ones make the lines on a Braddock genealogy chart look for the world like a web spun by a drunken spider.

As the Seminoles were moved out, many of the second and third generation of Braddock descendants, like their forebears, became pioneers and migrated westward and southward into the frontiers of the state. Subsequent generations continued the migration, gradually spreading like kudzu runners gone wild. Because of the heavy intermarriage of Braddocks with other families—strenuous and ongoing family research by several family members has, so far, turned up fellow-descendants bearing 350 other surnames—determining how far they have spread is next to impossible. And census records of recent years are not yet available for determining the exact extent of proliferation of just those who bear the Braddock surname. However, phone company records give a reasonable picture of their meandering. Current Florida phonebooks list Braddocks in 99 of the state's communities and 38 of its 67 counties. Based on the penchant for seeking their fortunes elsewhere of just the one surname, it is reasonable to assume that those of the other 350 have saturated the peninsula.

Keeping in mind that all but a handful of Florida Braddocks are descended from just two men, phone records also reveal the prolific effect of their finding their place in the Florida sun compared to Braddocks who found theirs in other states. Nationally, 1641 residential phones are listed for the name Braddock, the 7043rd most common name in the United States, Smith being number one. The largest number of these, 241, are in Florida. Only Texas, which is five times larger in area than Florida and has five million more people, comes close with a mere 210. No other state comes close, including New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Virginia, states into which the four main clans of Braddocks coming from England in colonial days settled.

And it all began with the cutting off of an ear.  


used with permission of the author

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