Samuel Shepherd's Shipbuilding Island
Within three miles of Forbes Bluff and St. Johns Town, Samuel Shepherd acquired an island to construct a shipbuilding facility. The specific island can not be identified from the record, but it was located in the vicinity of Blount Island today. It may have been on the north side of the river. Shepherd, a shipwright by trade, constructed a slip large enough to build ships of 300 tons burthen. The frame of a vessel with a forty-eight foot keel and an eighteen foot beam was on the stocks and ready for planking at the time of cession. In addition, Shepherd constructed a two-story dwelling, two smaller houses and offices, a corn storage barn, and seven houses for his Negro slaves (number not specified). Thirty-five acres were planted in corn and garden crops, a one-half acre garden was under board fence, and eighty-five acres remained uncultivated. When Shepherd filed his claim for compensation, he was living on a flat in Jamaica.
Blount Island, possibly the site of Samuel Shepherd's shipbuilding facility in the 1780s, is seen in the center of this photograph, beyond the Napoleon Bonaparte Broward Bridge and between the two channels of the St. Johns River.