John Tucker

A tract of 20,000 acres was granted to John Tucker, a London merchant and absentee landowner in East Florida. A map for this grant has not been found, but given its dimensions, it must have extended from the creek west of Fort George Island to beyond Sister's Creek, and from the St. Johns River on the south to Nassau River on the north. Early Jacksonville historians erroneously located this property, one of four tracts granted to Tucker, at today's north bank in downtown Jacksonville .

William G. DeBrahm labeled this tract "Tooker" on his "A Plan of Part of the Coast of East Florida including St. John's River," but John Tucker was the grantee. Beginning in 1768, Tucker focused development efforts much further upriver at his 20,000-acre tract on the north shore of the Oklawaha River where it joins the St. Johns, and at two 500-acre tracts east of the St. Johns across from the Oklawaha.

John Tucker's 20,000 acre tract was located in the vast expanse of marshland to the west of Fort George Island and north of the St. Johns River. It is not clear where the boundaries were drawn, but they probably began at the first hammock land and ran to the north for up to eight miles.

In December 1767, Charles Bernard, an Englishman best known as the plantation agent for Lord Beresford, located Tucker's 20,000-acre tract on the lower St. Johns eight miles in from the sand bars at the entrance to the river. Bernard said the tract "fronted upon the River with two navigable creeks which...are very fit to erect Saw Mills. This site runs very deep, perhaps to Nassau River ...[and will] be good for trade to the West Indies, [since it is located] near the mouth of the river and has good timber. There is talk of a town being built near the above tract, which would make it the more valuable." The navigable creeks may have been Sisters, Cedar, or Clapboard Creeks.

In 1769, Tucker informed Governor Grant that he intended to send a man from Lincolnshire or Bedfordshire in England, someone with experience draining wetlands to develop his tract near the mouth of the river "to grow rice." Despite its valuable location, Tucker let this property sit idle throughout the British occupation. Tucker's other properties near the Oklawaha River, however, were farmed during most of the British years.

The only known development at the site was accomplished by Michael Wernel, a South Carolina farmer loyal to King George III during the American Revolution, who settled on 450 acres of John Tucker's lower St. Johns River tract after refugees were evacuated from Charleston, South Carolina. Wernel chose a site north of the St. Johns River near Cedar Creek. He built a small house, cleared four and one-half acres of land, and planted corn and potatoes. When East Florida was ceded to Spain in 1783, Wernel left the province.

Bibliographic Information

A Note On Sources

Bernard to the Earl of Moira, 8 Jan. 1768, St. Augustine, from microfilm of the Moira Papers at the Marquis of Hastings Library, Henry E. Huntington Library, copy at PK Yonge Library of Florida History, University of Florida. T77/17/4-John Tucker.