Spring Garden, Tobacco Bluff

In addition to the Upper and Lower Crisp two other plantations were established on Doctors Lake, one of 400 acres located at the west side called Spring Garden, and another of 610 acres on the south and west of Doctors Lake known as Tobacco Bluff. Both tracts were granted to John Davis in 1766 and used for grazing cattle and raising provisions and indigo. John Bartram visited in 1766 while exploring the St. Johns River using John Davis as his guide. Bartram described the "Great Spring" at Spring Garden as "half a mile or more broad, and 6 or 7 long; at the head of which is a large creek...On the west side there is a hammock of oak, hiccory, magnolia, and hornbeam, and a fine spring of clear water almost big enough to turn a mill, boiling up from under the main body of the country rocks."

Alexander Gray acquired both of John Davis's estates in 1774 and immediately resold the land, improvements, and slaves to John Wilkinson, a London merchant. Wilkinson hired Gray as his agent and increased the number of enslaved laborers. Between 1774 and 1776, indigo exports from Spring Garden and Tobacco Bluff sold in London totaled £556 Sterling. Wilkinson considered the land excellent for timber and naval stores and set a value of £2844 on the property, including slaves.

On July 1, 1776, armed men from Georgia surrounded the slaves at Tobacco Bluff while they were at work in the fields. Twenty-seven men and women were abducted and marched to Georgia. The cattle, horses, hogs, indigo and provisions fields, a framed and weather-boarded barn, a log dwelling house, a mill house, slave dwellings, indigo vats, and poultry houses were destroyed or stolen. Wilkinson purchased additional laborers and resumed operations at Doctor's Lake in 1778, but indigo cultivation was replaced by naval stores production.

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Spring Garden and Tobacco Bluff were located at the back or west side of Doctors Lake.

Bibliographic Information

A Note On Sources

T77/17/16-John Wilkinson; T77/25/fragments; T77/8/7-Alexander Gray.