Slavery is so interwoven in our nation's history; it is a disturbing part of our southern heritage. Zephaniah Kingsley was born in England to Quaker parents & no doubt, got some of his progressive ideas from them. A product of the times, he believed in slavery & was at one point, a slave trader. However, he believed in treating them with respect & made it possible for many of them to obtain their freedom. He took four slaves as common law wives & trusted them with running his businesses & plantations in his absence.
Anna Kingsley was from Senegal & was purchased in Cuba. Kingsley freed her & all their children. Florida, during this time, was under Spanish rule with much more liberal views about interracial marriages & the rights of the children from those marriages. Anna had separate living quarters as was the custom in Senegal She also owned a plantation & had slaves of her own.
The slaves on the Kingsley Plantation worked the task system. Each slave was assigned daily tasks & when finished, could spend the rest of the day doing things for themselves. Their oyster tabby homes were arranged in a semi- circle as was the custom in many African villages. They were allowed to keep their African names & name their children as well. The Kingsley slaves were treated better than most, but slaves they were.
When Spain lost control of Florida in 1821, civil liberties for free blacks were greatly reduced. Kinglsey feared for his family's welfare upon his death & began searching for a country where they could live in freedom. He moved Anna & their sons to Haiti in 1837. Their two daughters remained in Jacksonville & married wealthy plantation owners. He remained in Florida to continue the family businesses.
The property is on the beautiful St George river with exquisite views & wonderful breezes to cool the house & keep the mosquitoes at bay.
You can see the road into the plantation is not much bigger than the trail we took down to the bluffs later in the afternoon. The coast here erodes rapidly. Hurricane Matthew took away 25 feet in many places. The trees that fall eventually turn into driftwood sculptures along the shore.