How JAX Started

Jacksonville’s roots are a long, interesting story, potentially dating back to 1100 AD.

From the Timucua nation to French Huguenot explorers, the area has always been occupied by many different people. The railroad brought industrial growth to the area and soon Jacksonville became a hot spot for tourists in the winter. The 1901 fire which burnt down most of Downtown is marked as a turning point in Jacksonville’s history and the regrowth that followed helped form the city as we know it today.

THE HUGUENOT MEMORIAL SITE

Address: 10980 Heckscher Dr, Jacksonville, FL 32226

The Timucua were a group of indigenous people that lived in modern-day north Florida and south Georgia. This group of Native American people have evidence of dating between 1100 AD and 1300 AD. More than 2 centuries later, in 1562, Huguenot explorer Jean Ribaut arrived from France and landed in Timucua land, near Talbot Island. The Frenchmen created the colonial settlement, Fort Caroline, on the St. Johns River.

SITE OF THE MISSION OF SAN JUAN DEL PUERTO

Address: 11241 Fort George Rd, Jacksonville, FL 32226

Spanish missionaries came to the Timucua population in Jacksonville looking to Christianize and colonize the local people during the 16th century. To facilitate this, The Mission of San Juan del Puerto was founded by the Franciscan Order of friars. The Mission was later destroyed in the early 18th century by the British Colony during an effort to take land from Spanish rule.

FORT GEORGE ISLAND

Address: 11241 Fort George Rd, Jacksonville, FL 32226

Fort George Island, originally inhabited by the Timucua, is the home of the Mission of San Juan Del Puerto and the original arrival of the French Huguenots. The British Governor of Georgia, James Oglethorpe, named this land St. George Island during the British invasion and removal of the Spanish. The fort was built as a defense for Georgia and soon the land became known as Fort George. One of the lands owners, Zephaniah Kingsley, owned and operated Kingsley Plantation on this land. By the turn of the 20th century, the land had become accessible by boat, rail and automobile and experienced a growth in tourism activity.

MULBERRY GROVE PLANTATION*

The marker sits on the Jacksonville Naval Complex, where visitors need special permission to enter the base.

Through the era of Spanish control, English speaking settlers landed along the St. Johns River. When the Spanish crown gifted land, Timothy Hollingsworth developed Mulberry Grove Plantation. The plantation grew cotton, oranges, fruits and vegetables and raised cattle. The landed was eventually acquired by the U.S. government in order to develop the Jacksonville Naval Air Station in 1939.

DUVAL COUNTY'S FIRST COURT*

Due to construction, this marker has been removed from the original site. It will be reinstalled once the construction is complete.

Duval County was named for William Pope Duval, Florida’s first civil governor. The county was established in August of 1822 and the first court was held a year later in 1823. It is estimated that up to 200 settlers came to watch the first session before construction began.

THE BEGINNING*

Due to construction, this marker has been removed from the original site. It will be reinstalled once the construction is complete.

The corner of Market and Bay streets marked the beginning of the original plot of land that soon became Duval County. At a total of $12, the land makes up the modern-day Urban Core. Market Street was the first street named by the original surveyors. The original courthouse was later constructed at this intersection.

FIRST SETTLERS AT RUBY, FLORIDA

Address: 1 4th St N, Jacksonville Beach, FL 32250

In 1883, the first residents of modern-day Jacksonville Beach arrived at then-Ruby beach. The Jacksonville and Atlantic Railroad began to serve this once-remote area. The first two residents, William and Eleanor Scull, were the owners of the city’s only general store and post office. In 1925, the name was changed to Jacksonville Beach.

SITE OF COW FORD*

Due to construction, this marker has been removed from the original site. It will be reinstalled once the construction is complete.

Part of the St. Johns River is a narrow freshwater spring that served as a crossing point for Jacksonville’s earliest settlers. The indigenous people of the area named this Wacca Pilatka, which has since been translated to “Cow’s Crossing”. English settlers later shorted the name to Cow Ford, which has been Jacksonville’s nickname since.

JACKSONVILLE'S 1901 FIRE

Address: 135 W Monroe St, Jacksonville, FL 32202

One of the largest urban fires in US history, Jacksonville’s 1901 fire served as a turning point for the city’s developments. In May of 1901, the Cleveland Fiber Factory near downtown went up in flames, creating a fire that destroyed 2,368 buildings in its path. 146 city blocks were destroyed, but thanks to efforts of citizens the Hogan’s Creek region was saved.

SOUTH JACKSONVILLE CITY HALL

Address: 135 W Monroe St, Jacksonville, FL 32202

After the 1901 fire, Jacksonville went through a period of regrowth. With 10,000 of its residents now homeless, the city began to move south. South Jacksonville went from a small farm community to a booming area of town. The South Jacksonville City hall is one of the original buildings still standing. The old city hall is a reminder of the beginning of Jacksonville as we know it today.

THE CONTINENTAL HOTEL

Address: 10 10th St, Atlantic Beach, FL 32233

The development of the Florida East Coast Railway made travel to the city easier and more accessible for tourists. A luxury oceanfront hotel, the Continental Hotel, was built by famous industrialist Henry Flagler. The tourism destination of modern-day Atlantic Beach sparked visitors and residents alike to flock to the area.