In my last I gave you some idea of the land in Levy county. In passing the Withlocouchee in Benton county, we must not fail to notice the Large Sulphur, and Iron Springs not over a mile from the large hammock we have left (“10 mile creek hammock”) and not more than two miles from the small one on the South side of the River. From these Springs to the Crystal River, a distance of 10 miles, there are but one or two small hammocks and they are not of sufficient size to attract attention from the Sugar planter.
On Crystal River (the most beautiful probably in Florida) there is land enough it is said for about four plantations. The land is similar in character, although thought not to be that of the first quality with that of the coast lands before described.
The River is formed by a Lake of Springs, it is wide and deep and but 8 miles long—a high rolling pine country makes down to its head, and in view of its Crystal Springs, its lakes and islands, its evergreen woods, its Indian and shell mounds, its high shell Islands at its mouth, its harbor and bay, its fish, oysters, and turtle, it certainly is a most beautiful and desirable place. There are no planters upon this river.
Between the Crystal and Homosassa Rivers a distance of 6 miles—it is a Prairie, with the exception of one or two hammocks, one of which is owned by the state. It is a question if this prairie would not be fine sugar land and the most of it easily brought under cultivation.
The Homosassa is another Spring River about 10 miles long, wide enough for steam boats, with rocky Islands, shell Islands, bayous, cross rivers and salt rivers, enough for a person residing upon it to lose his way even in the day time. It is nevertheless beautiful, and a person would hardly be satisfied after a months exploration. It abounds in fish and near it are fine oysters, on its northern banks there is land enough probably for three or four Sugar plantations, and on the South side the hammock is about 3 miles deep, and extends to the Cheesowitska river, (6 miles). Some of these lands are rock, and this is made an objection to them, but although it may be more difficult to cultivate, yet the crops of corn, potatoes, pumpkins and turnips, and the patches of cane show that the rocks do not interfere with their growth.
There are three plantations upon this river, but no sugar crop has yet been made. About 60 acres of cane has been planted this year, but it is mostly from seed I presume.
It should be observed that vessels can find safe anchorage off the mouths of these rivers, and there will be but little difficulty with getting the produce to market if once made.
The Chisowitska is another spring river, and is about 10 miles long. Most of the land upon this river it is thought will require draining. The hammock upon it extends South, so far as it has been surveyed, two miles.
The next twelve miles South of the Weekaiowoochee or spring C. R. are not much known, as no settlements were made between the two, and there has been no survey. Immediately East of this is the Annatihga Hammock containing nearly 40 square miles of Hammock. This might be termed in Florida, up country, but I notice it as Sugar land, as no part of this Hammock is over 16 miles from barge navigation at the Rivers Cheesowitska and Weekaiwoochee, and neither river over 10 miles long.
The Hammock is well dotted around with permit claims, but the majority of those who settled had no means to plant extensively with and located there for the perspective value of the land. The balance with the exception of some few tracts purchased, has been located by the state.
Many remark that the Annultihga, and Chocochata Country is as fine and as desirable as any in the State, and if we think rich land, a high rolling country, and beautiful places for residence the desideratum, it should certainly claim as much attention as any part of which I am acquainted.
The Chocochata Hammock will not probably claim much attention from Sugar planters although the average distance from the Weekaiwoochee river would not upwards of 15 miles.
On the Weekaiwoochee River there are good lands, but mostly unsurveyed. This is another “Spring” river rising in the high rolling country, about 2 miles long and emptying into the Gulf. South of the Weekaiwoochee there are no rich lands north of Tampa Bay (50 miles) with the exception of one or two small hammocks, but is a very desirable place for raising stock. My estimate of lands adapted to the sugar culture in Benton county is 75 square miles unoccupied. This with the amount in Levy county will make 200 square miles.
I have not estimated in this the small detached hammocks, nor any pine lands that may be used profitably for this crop. I have mentioned sugar, as I believe it will be the principle product of this section of the country, most of which is further South than Lake George, and a portion below Lake Monroe. These lands are as well adapted to Cotton, Corn and Tobacco as any other far South.
The State owns most of these lands. What is the best course to pursue to have them settled and to enhance their value. I propose to consider this in a future communication.
An Actual Settler
Fort Fanning, March 1850
Source: The Floridian and Journal (Tallahassee): 4-27-1850
Transcribed, Formatted and Submitted by Linda Flowers
Note: This was transcribed just as it was printed in the newspaper (mistakes and all).