Jacksonville in Duval County, Florida — The American South (South Atlantic)
Arlington - A Unique Community
From 1847 until sometime before 1860 Jacksonville University campus was the site of the Chesterfield farm of Anna Madgigine Jai Kingsley, former slave and widow of white plantation owner Zephaniah Kingsley. This farm was at the center of the African American community unlike any other in northeast Florida. In an area stretching from the Arlington River on the south to Reddy’s Point on the north, lived more than seventy free black Americans in fifteen households of white, black, and mixed race adults and children. Only in the towns of St. Augustine and Pensacola, once both colonial capitals under Spanish governance, could free black communities be found with numbers comparable to those in this Duval County enclave.
During Florida’s 237 years of Spanish rule (1565-1764 and 1785-1821), the liberal laws of Spain regarding race and slavery recognized a three-caste society of whites, free people of color and slaves. Under Spanish law all persons were created by God and endowed with a sole, unfree status was neither pre-ordained nor permanent, slavery was an unnatural condition and therefore Spanish law offered many avenues out of
After Florida became a territory of the United States in 1821, Spanish attitudes laws regarding race and slavery were quickly replaced with the oppressive English system entrenched in the South. English law recognized two castes, free whites and enslaved blacks. In a series of laws passed by the Territorial Council, free persons of color were barred from joining public gatherings, giving seditious speeches, jury service and from testifying against whites in court proceedings. Interracial marriages were prohibited and the children of mix-race couples ineligible to inherit their parents estates. Fees were imposed upon slave owners who freed their slaves, and newly freed persons were required to leave Florida or risk being sold back in slavery.
Because of this, many persons of color emigrated to Cuba, Haiti and elsewhere and the population of free blacks as a percentage of the total Florida population dropped dramatically in the years from 1830 to 1860. However, in the now known as Old Arlington a free black and mixed-race community not only survived but thrived At the core of that community was the aging African-born Anna Kingsley, matriarch of an extensive mixed-race kinship group. How the community was able to escape the effects of the race hysteria of the time is not entirely known, but surely it was due in large part to the cooperation of sympathetic white persons of wealth and power who proved legal and social protection.
The Civil War brought an end to slavery and the large plantations that relied on slave labor. In the succeeding decades up until to the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, the community would adopt the segregated social practices of the South. But at one time this location on the eastern shore of the St. Johns River was a unique place where white, black and mixed race families lived and worked harmony.
Source: Anna Madgigine Jai Kingsley by Dr. Daniel L. Schafer
Erected 2009 by Old Arlington Inc.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African Americans • Civil Rights • Settlements & Settlers • Women.
Location. 30° 21.081′ N, 81° 36.212′ W. Marker is in Jacksonville, Florida, in Duval County. Marker can be reached from the intersection of University Boulevard North and Merrill Road, on the left when traveling north. Just inside main entrance to Jacksonville University. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 2800 University Blvd N, Jacksonville FL 32211, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Anna Madgigine Jai Kingsley (here, next to this marker); Historic Floral Bluff (approx. 0.6 miles away); The Crossroads (approx. 1.2 miles away); Arlington Grammar School No. 46 (approx. 1.3 miles away); Norman Silent Film Studios (approx. 1.4 miles away); Jacksonville And The Movie Industry (approx. 1.4 miles away); Frederick W. Bruce (approx. 1˝ miles away); Historic Strawberry Plantation (approx. 2.1 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Jacksonville.
Credits. This page was last revised on September 5, 2019. It was originally submitted on September 4, 2019, by Brandon D Cross of Flagler Beach, Florida. This page has been viewed 69 times since then and 19 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on September 4, 2019, by Brandon D Cross of Flagler Beach, Florida. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.