Spalding Lower Trading Store
Approximately seven miles south of what is today the city of Palatka, the Spalding Lower Trade Store was located (now Stoke's Landing)on the west side of the St. Johns River. James Spalding, a Scot planter at St. Simon's Island, and Roger Kelsall, also a Scot planter and merchant, were the owners of the firm that operated several trade outlets in East Florida. Provisions fields were cleared and planted at the Spalding Lower Store, but it was not considered a plantation. Numerous storehouses were constructed for the firm's trade goods, along with multiple dwellings to lodge the traders. The firm also held title to the small island directly offshore, known today as Stoke's Island .
The Lower Store provided lodging and support for William Bartram's upriver travels in 1774. The store's manager, Charles McLatchie, loaned a horse and saddle to Bartram when he accompanied trade teams as they traveled with pack horses to Creek and Seminole villages west of the St. Johns River. Bartram witnessed the arrival of forty Seminole warriors after they had been to St. Augustine selling horses and acquiring "a very liberal supply of spirituous liquors, about twenty kegs, each containing five gallons." Bartram said the "young traders and pack-horse men[white men] prevailed upon the Seminoles to sample the liquor, which led to a drinking spree of ten days duration. Following the bachanalia, the leader of the warriors, the Long Warrior, and his subchiefs held a conference with McLatchie at what Bartram called "the piazza of the company's council house," with the Seminoles seated at one end of a long bench at the front of the house and the "principal white traders on the other" end of the same long bench.
Bartram also lodged several times with Job Wiggens, director of Spalding's Upper Trading Store (Astor today), approximately sixty miles upriver from the Lower Store. Wiggens was a frequent companion on the river journeys.
Surrounding the Lower Trading Store was a 20,000-acre tract granted in 1766 to John Rawdon, the Earl of Moira. Lord Moira contracted with Dr. William Stork to settle this tract and another of 10,000 acres located on the east shore of Lake George (discussed elsewhere in this webpage). This tract west of the St. Johns River was apparently located by Stork and registered with the provincial surveyor in St. Augustine, but it was never developed and sat idle throughout the British years.
Spalding's Lower Trade Store once occupied the site that is today known as Stoke's Landing. The island on the right shaped like an arrowhead points directly at Stoke's Landing. This aerial photograph is an upriver view taken from above Buffalo Bluff looking across the Seven Sisters Islands to the west shore of the St. Johns. The straight cut seen top right is the Cross Florida Barge Canal.
Thomas P. Slaughter, ed., William Bartram: Travels and Other Writings (New York, NY.: Literary Classics of America, 1996), 252-53. Daniel L. Schafer, “Plantation Development in British East Florida : A Case Study of the Earl of Egmont,” Florida Historical Quarterly (October 1984), 172-183.