Scenic USA - Florida

Kingsley Plantation

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Kingsley Plantation - Fort George Island, Florida

Photos by Ben Prepelka
Scenic USA Artist Website

     Struggles to control Florida's territory persisted for Kingsley Plantation Main House - Fort George Island, Florida hundreds of years from the time it was first discovered by Spanish explorers. During the 18th century, Spain was able to retain its hold on Florida by soliciting the support of Native Americans and bordering African slaves. Slaves, who escaped from the Carolinas and accepted the Catholic faith, were promised freedom by the Spanish government in St. Augustine.
     Fort George Island's Kingsley Plantation represents this tumultuous period of Florida's history when Spain was losing its grip on the territory. Zephaniah Kingsley arrived in Spanish Florida in 1803. Kingsley and his wife Anna, Kingsley's former slave from Senegal, moved to Fort George Island in 1814. Kingsley Plantation Kitchen - Fort George Island, Florida Enjoying the Spanish views on race and mixed marriages, the Kingsley family rented the Fort George Island plantation. Kingsley finally purchased Ft. George Island property in 1817 and for almost two decades ran, with the help of his wife Anna, a very successful plantation. Sea Island cotton was the plantation's main cash crop, while peanuts, peas, pumpkins, okra, potatoes and indigo rounded out other Florida island crops. Sea coast cotton plants are known to grow as high as seven feet and required slaves to pick cotton every day from July through November. Slaves also picked out the cotton seeds by hand and baled the cotton for shipment.
     Today much of the plantation grounds have reverted back to forestland. Even though the plantation was abandoned after the Civil War, the Rollins family modernized the main house, Kingsley Plantation Slave Homes - Fort George Island, Florida leaving the home and out-buildings in remarkable condition. Built alongside the Fort George River, the Kingsley home is the oldest plantation home in Florida. As visitors enter the plantation grounds, the first sights are of a semi-circular row of slave quarters (inset). Built of tabby, the slave quarters follow a pattern similar to village designs in West Africa. This main plantation view captures the kitchen in the foreground, with the plantation house to the rear. Avoiding fire, noise and heat, the kitchen was separated from the main house (inset). Part of the Timucuan Preserve, self-guided tours (it's best to begin at the visitor center) lead through the slave quarters, barn, and garden. The kitchen and main plantation home are only viewed by ranger-led tours on weekends.

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