Gus Hall (1881-1956) began his long tenure in the citrus industry when he joined the South Lake Apopka Citrus Growers Association as General Manager in 1910. Under his leadership, South Lake grew from humble beginnings to an operation handling 641,000 boxes of fruit annually. One of Hall’s successful innovations while at South Lake involved featuring his face on the Gus Hall Combination Brand crate label, making him instantly recognizable while attending industry events in northern markets. After 31 years with South Lake Apopka Citrus Growers Association, Hall left to form his own operation, Gus Hall Citrus Fruits. His packing house, located just west of Oakland in Killarney, was constructed by T&G Railroad on State Highway 438. From South Lake, he brought his Gus Hall brand label and added other labels including Boxcar and GH. In 1946, he sold his interest in the company, and it was renamed Killarney Fruit Company.
The following is a link to the List of the Living that was completed in February of 1623. This was after the Great Massacre of 1622, in March and after the plague, brought with the Abigail from England on December 20, 1622.
The day would be like no other yet it started as every other had. The fields were active and the town was a bustle with merchants trading up and down the river as the natives began to arrive with their own trade. Then, like a bell tolling out, the natives turn savage mutilating one unsuspecting settler then the next. Bodies are strewn about, with no pause for woman or child. They all lay tangled, one with another, hacked and disfigured.
When the savagery calms and the tallies are made, some three hundred forty-seven souls are lost, a third of the struggling settlement’s total population. Of the eighty (80) plantations that were beginning to flourish up and down the James River, they all lay in wait, now gathered within eight (8) to sustain a position of defense.
Historians have long believed that the earliest documented Africans to arrive on American soil were brought in August of 1619, courtesy of a Dutch Captain. The evidence was confirmed in the earliest known count of the inhabitants of Virginia, known as the ‘List of the Living’, compiled after the Great Massacre of 1622. However, in the last decade, new discoveries have been made and some Historians now believe there was an earlier notation. Found in the Ferrar papers, the two page “General Muster of Virginia” dated March 1619 lists, at the bottom of the second page, thirty-two (32) Africans. Assuming that those same 32 Africans were there five months later when the “twenty and odd” arrive, there would have been no less than 53 Africans. The “List of the Living” completed after the Indian massacre of 1622 indicates that there were 23 Africans at that time. Historical records indicate that no Africans were killed in the 1622 massacre. That means that no less than 30 Africans died between August 1619 and 1622. Very unlikely. If this were the case, where would the 32 Africans have come from? How did they arrive? There are no records that indicate the arrival of any Africans prior to August of 1619 from England. If not England, where? In 1619, Virginia was an English settlement and all inhabitants were from England, with the exception of the occasional Frenchman or Italian.
Since the discovery of the Ferrar Papers, Martha W. McCartney proposed that the March 1619 muster was written in the old-style which dates it to 1620. Therefore, if the Muster was completed in 1620, the number of Africans jumped from ‘twenty and odd’ to 32 in less than a year?” The answer to this question could fall within Dutton’s letters from Bermuda. When the Treasurer arrived in Bermuda it was noted to be carrying 29 Africans. Dutton reveals Gov. Miles Kendall only receiving 14 of these Africans. It has been suggested by Historians Heywood & Thornton the balance of the Africans (approx. 15) returned on the Treasurer back to Virginia.
My Opinion: Many possibilities exist! I feel the 23 Africans that are listed on the “List of the Living” are the same Africans that arrived in August 1619 on the White Lion. They were the first Africans to arrive at the English settlement of Virginia. There were none before them. The 32 Africans listed on the March 1619/1620 General Muster of Virginia could have existed. Hidden away in the Farrar papers, they became part of a scheme concocted to cover the tracks of piracy by an English aristocrat and his cronies.
Twenty and Odd Africans arrive in Virginia in 1619. Most of their names are unknown, or quite possibly they were concealed. The less known about the incident would be best. The names we have are from the ‘List of the Living’ compiled after the Indian massacre of 1622. They were Angela, Anthony, Isabel, Frances, Peter, Anthony, and Margaret. The others were identified as only male or female as much about the whole incident would be camouflaged to protect the few involved.
Documents show that the Africans arrived at Old Pointe Comfort, Virginia in the later part of August, 1619. The Captain, a former Calvinist Reverend turned Privateer, reported his only cargo as being “Twenty and Odd” Africans he took (pirated) from a floundering vessel off the coast of Vera Cruz, Mexico. Under the watchful eye of the crown the incident is quietly reported. John Pory, the Virginia Company’s newly appointed Secretary, writes in a letter to Sir Dudley Carleton dated September 30, 1619,
“Having mett with so fitt a messenger as this man of Warre of Flushing.” The letter goes on to tell of the arrival of some “twenty and odd” Africans brought by a Dutch Captain.
Was Pory disguising the ship to protect its captain and crew? Probably not.
Oddly, the letter was sent to Sir Dudley Carleton via messenger, Marmaduke Reynor, the English pilot of the White Lion. This information alone is telling of some sort of an association.
Was Pory’s loyalty to the company, trying to diminish the association by the cover of a Dutch marque? Or was his loyalty to the Earl of Warwick? Possibly it was to the English Crown. But, clearly Pory’s loyalties didn’t align with the White Lion who was sent back into the English channels with a letter suggesting a Spanish piracy, not to mention, a cargo that would confirm Pory’s words.
Why? There are several reasons.
Just months before the African’s arrival, Samuel Argall, the acting Governor of Virginia, was ordered to return to England to face questioning from the King’s Privy Council regarding the suggestion Virginia was nothing more than a Pirate’s haven. The thought of a Spanish Piracy by an English ship so soon might be the last straw to an English King’s already tarnished image with Spain. Proof of a Spanish piracy would surely condemn the Virginia Company, giving King James good reason to revoke their patent.
Another reason…..there were two ships involved, two English Corsairs. When the Treasurer arrived at Pointe Comfort carrying Africans just days after the White Lion, oddly the Treasurer was immediately turned away, or was the ship warned off? The Treasurer, captained by Daniel Elfrith was owned by Robert Rich II, Earl of Warwick, one of the most influential and powerful men in England. The Treasurer would sail for Bermuda, an island known to be under the Earl of Warwick’s hand, where he could control the secrecy of the situation.
England would be tricky, as the White Lion was a common sight in the Port of Plymouth where the ship sat for years. Reverend Jope had purchased the decayed White Lion from a member of his congregation, who captained the ship during the Elizabethan War between England and Spain 1585-1604. In fact, it was the Port of Plymouth where Captain Jope re-launched the White Lion’s sails after the ten (10) years it took to refurbish the old war ship. The White Lion, it’s captain and it’s crew were English, not Dutch as Pory’s letter would suggest and now their identities would need to be hidden under the association of a “Dutch” marque.
As fate would have it, the San Juan Bautista’s Captain Acuna, who reported the incident upon his arrival in Mexico, was kin to Count Gondomar, the Spanish Ambassador who was in the inner circle of England’s King James. When the Spanish Captain Acuna makes claim to his kin that two English Corsairs pirated his San Juan Bautista just off the coast of Vera Cruz, Mexico stealing some fifty or sixty African slaves, Virginia becomes the target of Gondomar’s rage and demands retribution. For an English Captain in the year of 1619 the act of Spanish piracy would be a death sentence, for it was less than two years earlier Sir Walter Raleigh was be-headed for Spanish piracy, a result of Gondomar’s insistence under the Maritime Peace Treaty.
Continue to follow this blog as I reveal my findings while discovering Margaret.
Over two years ago, my husband and I relocated to Keystone Heights, Florida, returning to live on family property that was purchased some hundred years earlier by his family. Not long after arriving, and with much persistence on my part, we take a short trip to an old cemetery to locate one of Florida’s First Pioneers. Jonathan Knight, who arrived with his family in Florida in 1843-44 is my husband’s gr. gr. gr. great-grandfather. He settled in the area then known as Black Creek, which is now part of Middleburg.
Upon arriving at the cemetery, I noted its separate cemetery signs with two (2) different names, one being Forman Cemetery, the other Fowler Cemetery. As we looked for his ancestors graves, my first impression was that the cemetery was well maintained. We start our search checking one then the next, reading the names and dates, but finding no success. Frustrated, we begin to leave. As I turn back for one last look, I notice an area in the corner, mounded with leaves, dead limbs, and debris from the other graves (old plastic flowers) that had been discarded. At first glance I thought it was only a trash pile. I walk closer and I notice first one head stone and then another. I walk around to view the names as they are facing away from me. As I read the names, instead of being excited that I had found his ancestors, my heart sinks. One headstone reads Jonathan Knight, the other of his wife, Elizabeth. My emotions erupt as it is devastating to find their graves in such condition.
My first thoughts…..Why was the other part of the cemetery freshly mowed, free of debris, while their graves are among the trash pile? Who would do such a thing?
Appalled and without answers, we schedule a day to return to clean up the area which clearly seemed to be purposefully neglected. We remove the debris, cut down vines as well as hanging limbs from the trees that have grown out of control and rake away the heap of leaves left to rot on top of the graves. After several hours of work, the area looks like a gravesite once more, instead of the trash pile that we found. For several months, I revisit the cemetery often finding it much as we left it, neat and without debris, yet I still wonder why their gravesite had been left in such conditions.
Within the next few months I find myself on a mission taking a Cemetery Rehabilitation and Preservation class, and become certified in the laws and practice of preserving historic cemeteries. It included the do’s and don’ts of gravesites and what to use to clean and care for the headstone itself (depending on the era, there were many different types of materials used), the area surrounding the grave, as well as listing the cemetery within the historic registry. After all, it was over a hundred-fifty years ago when Jonathan Knight was buried in Forman Cemetery.
For the next year or so, I continue to return, picking up any debris that might have blown into the corner where the graves were located. Then for several months, I’m unable to return, for one reason or another. But, this past Friday, on my way home from a trip to Orange Park, I’m driving through Middleburg when the resounding thought hits me. “I should take a quick detour to check on the cemetery.” As I arrive, I’m shocked to find debris thrown on top of the Knight graves once again. Large limbs are lying across one, with a sheet of plywood leaning against another, and trash strewn about. I turn to look at the other areas of the cemetery and find it clean, and free of any debris. As I turn back to the Knight graves, once again I’m left disheartened.
WHY WOULD ANYONE DO THIS? I just don’t understand.
James Alexander Reaves was born on May 4, 1861, just before his father Daniel Asbury Reaves joined the 3rd Florida Infantry. As a young boy, James arrived in Winter Garden with his parents, younger sister and brother along with his baby brother that was not yet a year old. James himself was only eight.
On June 4, 1884, James married Jimmie Tellula Donnie Letson. Jimmie was born April 24, 1864 to Sethiel J. Letson and MaryAnn E. Dearing. Her father, like James’ father Daniel was a Civil War Veteran. By 1887 when James’ parents along with most of his siblings returned north to settle in Bradford County, Florida, James remained at Reaves Settlement in Winter Garden along with his younger brother Mark Bryan Reaves. James was an established citrus grower and farmer who had acquired a vast amount of land.
James and Jimmie had nine (9) children.
Alberta (Ada Belle) Reaves was born in May of 1885. She would marry Dudley Lanier Clyatt by 1908, in Worthington Springs, Union County, Florida. Dudley was the brother of Samuel “Dee” Reaves’ wife, Mattie.
Olin Reaves was born November 8, 1887, in Winter Garden, Florida. He died November 18, 1906.
James Glover Reaves was born September 7, 1889, in Winter Garden, Florida. James Glover married Minnie Ada Walker, and they had five girls. He died October 21, 1973 in Micanopy, Alachua County, Florida.
Ida Reaves was born 1891, in Winter Garden, Florida. She married W.D. Martin from High Springs, Alachua County, Florida. She died January 16, 1980.
Irvin Raleigh Reaves was born July 16, 1892, in Winter Garden Florida. Irvin married Winnie Roberson and established his residence in Marion County, Florida.
Mabel Claire Reaves was born March 30, 1894 in Winter Garden, Florida. She married Edwin F. Johnson and had four children. Mabel and Edwin Johnson remained at Reaves Settlement (Beulah) until their deaths. They are buried at Beulah Cemetery, in Winter Garden, Florida.
Creasy Reaves was born in 1896 in Winter Garden, Florida. She married Albert Bronson and they had three children. Creasy died in 1936, at the young age of forty, in Winter Garden, Florida. She is also buried at Beulah Cemetery.
Sethiel Asbury Reaves was born in March 21, 1898, in Winter Garden, Florida. He married Sallie Frances Martin and died May 3, 1973, Marion County, Florida.
Mamie Mildred Reaves was born March 5, 1900, in Winter Garden, Florida. She married William Eugene Hendry and had five children. She died November 4, 1933, in Highlands, Florida.
James Alexander Reaves died May 9, 1939. His wife Jimmie continued to live in Winter Garden, until her death in May of 1951. They are both buried in the Beulah Cemetery in Winter Garden, along with many other Reaves ancestors. Many generations of their descendants remain in Winter Garden, Florida today.
Company H of the Third Florida Infantry consisted of one hundred and thirty two (132) volunteers from Jefferson County, Florida. The “H” company was called “The Jefferson Rifles” and would include three (3) Reaves brothers under the command of Captain William Girardeau.
Samuel J. Reaves, the third son of Rev. and Mrs. Rawlins Reaves would be the first of the three brothers to fall, Samuel died May 9, 1862, in Gainesville Florida. Just over six months later, during the Battle of Stones River, which sometimes is called the Battle of Murfreesboro, James Alexander Reaves sustained serious injury. The bloody battle was fought from December 31, 1862, to January 2, 1863, in Middle Tennessee. Of the major battles of the Civil War, Stones River had the highest percentage of casualties on both sides. James was taken to Foard Hospital in Chattanooga, where he died from his wounds on January 12, 1863. Soon, the family of Rev, Rawlins Reaves would hear the wretched news once more, this time of their eldest son’s death.
The only surviving Reaves brother of the Jefferson Rifles would continue with the Confederates through Tennessee. Daniel Asbury Reaves was the second to eldest son of Rev. and Mrs. Rawlins Reaves, a twenty five year old ordained Methodist Minister, like his father. He married Lucretia Ann Sledge, some three or so years before the war started and before his enlistment had seen his first son born, which was named after Daniel’s older brother James Alexander. Daniel Asbury Reaves would be wounded on September 20 1863 at the Battle of Chickamauga. He would be the only brother of the three that would return home to Monticello, in Jefferson County, Florida. On April 15, 1865 he signed an order swearing to not bear arms against the United States of America.
After the war the clan of Rev. and Mrs. Rawlins Reaves along with their now adult children moved two-hundred miles south to establish Reaves Settlement, just outside of the small town of Winter Garden in Central Florida. Daniel Asbury Reaves and Lucretia (Creasy) Ann Sledge would follow, just after the birth of their fourth child in 1869.
Daniel Asbury Reaves and Lucretia (Creasy) Ann Sledge would have a total of eight (8) children.
James Alexander Reaves – born May 4, 1861 in Monticello, Florida married Jimmie Tellula Donnie Letson in 1884. He died in 1939, Winter Garden, Florida.
Sallie Crew Reaves– born October 23, 1864 in Monticello, Florida married Orville Leroy “Jeff” Mizelle in 1889. Sallie died February 15, 1949 in Lake Butler, Union county, Florida.
Samuel Darius “Dee” Reaves– born 1867 in Monticello, Florida, married Martha “Mattie” Jane Clyatt in 1891.
Rollins Green Reaves– born in 1869, married Iva May Knight in 1911.
Hester Elizabeth (Hattie) Reaves– born 1872, Hattie married William Townsend McIntosh in 1890.
Richard Mathis Reaves– born 1874, Richard married Rosa Bell Carver in 1897. In 1930, after his first wife’s death, he would marry Lou Dugger. Richard died April 28, 1952.
Whitmel Tison Reaves – born 1876, married Hattie Vanola Blair about 1904, and later he would marry Rosa Crews. Whitmel died November 25, 1954.
Edwin Bryan Reaves – born June 10, 1881, and married Rita Jane Watson in 1930. He died August 26 1941.
In 1887, Daniel Asbury and Creasy Ann Sledge would move all of their family except their oldest son James, who was already established in Winter Garden, north to an area west of Worthington Springs, in then Bradford County, Florida, where they would live out the rest of his life.