Levy County Florida - 1877

The Florida Immigrant -July 1877, Tallahassee, FL page 2- East Florida

  A correspondent, writing to a newspaper in Tennessee, gives the following description of Levy Country, which we insert  in our columns:

  The correspondent says:  "I will now give a short sketch of the lands in the vicinity of the lower Suwanne river.  The first landing on the left bank descending within the limits of this county is Fort Fannin, for many years, during the Indian war, the headquarters of the United States army in Florida.  The adjoining country is picturesque, and the land a mixture of pine and hammock:  this place is for sale, and has on it two immense springs, or rather vents of subterranean rivers peculiar to Florida: the place would suit admirably as a situation for a store, mill, and tan-yard, hides, bark, and lime being abundant.  There are a good many settlers about this section who are doing well, but the orange-culture is neglected, the ante-bellum immigrants looking rather to a large supply of hog and hominy than to the hopes engendered by golden visions of future orange groves.  On the opposite side of the river is the famous Old Town hammock, where Osecola and his fierce warriors in by-gone days were wont to pitch their wigwams.  Old Town was the Mecca of the Seminoles, and the selection was a happy one,  for the three and four thousand acres of this tract are in cultivation, but the greater portion is still covered with the primeval forest, bearing trees of wondrous growth.  One of the proprietors informed me that he had felled cherry trees for rail timber, which measured forty feet in length to the first branch. In this hammock, is one of the largest mineral springs in the world, the water of which is sulphuretted chalybeate. A hotel for the accommodation of invalids and winter tourists would prove a paying institution here.  Lands can be purchased or rented from the owners of this hammock.  Returning to the left bank, below Fort Fannin to the Manatee spring,  the land is undulating, and consists of pine and hammock:  nearly all the lands in this district are private property, the larger portion being in the hands of Messrs. John S and George W. Ross, of East Tennessee; the soil is fertile and well adapted for orange groves, and for farming purposes is not surpassed by any section of Florida; the country is very healthy, in fact a physician replying on his practice for support here would perish of inaction.  The nearest "Sawbones", as Mr. Sam Weller would term a medical gentleman, is twenty-fives miles distant, and a man of litigious disposition would have to travel a like distance to find a disciple of Blackstone.  The main landings on the Suwannee, in this district, are Rorsville and Clay Landing.  The Manatee spring is one of the finest springs in the State, and would prove a most eligible situation for a hotel.  The spring is sixty or seventy feet deep boiling up incessantly, and large enough for a steamer to enter, being only four hundred yards distance from the river.  The land around is high and rolling.  From this place to the Suwannee river the country is sparsely settled, the inhabitants consisting mostly of stock-raisers, cypress shingle-makers, and cutters of cedar for the pencil mills.  There are several high bluff landings here and there on the river, with plenty of United States and State lands for hometead entry and purchase.  Indigo grows wild about this section, and the poorer classes gather it to dye their home-make cloth.  Nearly all the lands here have a clay subsoil, which enables the farmers to make good crops, the land standing south and holding manure well.  There are several ferries on the river, and by September next there will be semi or tri-weekly steam connection on the river between Cedar Keys, on the Gulf, and Troy eighteen miles from Live Oak, on the Savannah railroad, by which means both the Southern and Northern markets will be opened to this section. This country is the best fruit region in Florida, and it would be well for intending immigrants to remember that not only should fruit-growers here set out orange groves,  but peach orchards also.  For the golden orange they can choose the Northern markets, and for the downy peach they can find the best markets in the world in Key West, Havana, &c., where one crate of fine peaches will bring more than ten bushels of oranges; and this is the only section of Florida that offers such inducements to men of energy and industry -- almost daily communication with the North, and semi-weekly with Key West, Havana, New Orleans, &c.  Let some good tanner come along here and open a tannery; he can do a small or the extensive business, just as he chooses; oak bark, lime and hides are to be had in quantities, and should an enterprising tanner with some capital desire to make his home here and tan on an extensive scale he could obtain hides in any quantity he might need from the south via the Suwannee river; but the master tanner should bring with him some skilled workmen.  A few shoe-makers and tailors could find plenty of occupation for their leisure hours here, the proceeds of which would keep the pot boiling while the oranges and peaches were growing, and a medical man might do pretty well, provided he did not rely on his profession altogether for a living.  Every merchant, physician, &c., here is also a farmer, and strange to say, even some lawyers do not disdain to follow the plow.  Our country and our people are very peaceful.  At the last session of our district court the only conviction was that of a negro boy for a petty theft; sentence, one day's imprisonment, and that was the only term of court held in Levy county for twelve months.  We need school teachers, both male and female, and experienced, well educated persons of that profession would meet with kindness and attention.  Churches and educated ministers of the Gospel are also badly needed, but being poor and our population scattered, at present we are not able to build the churches or pay the preachers more than will barely support them, but we live on in an abiding faith and strong hope that in the good time coming our log temples will be replaced by churches worthy of the name, and that our children will all have the privilege of reading and writing anyhow.  Our spring is delightful, the thermometer averaging seventy-five degrees, and our crops, viz., corn, cotton, oats, cane, &c., are looking as well as I ever saw them.  For weeks past we have been luxuriating in potatoes, peas, beans, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, squashes, &c.  Our peach trees are loaded down with young fruit.  Orange groves are thriving.  The young groves of the Messrs. Ross are flourishing, and we only need stalwart arms and willing heads to help us, and where can such be found if not amongst the sons of old Tennessee."  Anyone with a knowledge of bee-keeping can make an independence here, there is not a gum in the country that the writer knows up."  

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