Orlando in Orange County, Florida — The American South (South Atlantic)
Orlando's First Settler, Aaron Jernigan
Aaron Jernigan moved to what is now Orlando in 1843 after the passage of the Armed Occupation Act of 1842 that opened vast areas of Florida for settlement. According to the law, one could move onto land at least two miles from an established fort, erect a home, and become a citizen-soldier. After defending the land from Indians for five years, the homesteader would receive title to 160 acres.
Jernigan cleared land and built a cabin on the northwest shore of Lake Holden, about two miles from Fort Gatlin. Early in 1844, Jernigan moved his wife Mary and their children, his Negro slaves, and 700 head of cattle to his homestead. When Florida became a state in 1845, he was elected Orange County's first representative to the state legislature. In all, Jernigan acquired 1200 acres of land.
Although the Second Seminole War ended in 1842, Indian uprisings and cattle rustling continued to be a problem. In 1846, Aaron had to leave Tallahassee to protect his herds. He built a stockade on the north shore of Lake Conway in 1849, and 80 residents plus their slaves quickly moved in for protection and remained there for almost a year.
Jernigan and some of his sons were accused of killing a man at Orlando's log cabin post office in 1859. Orlando had no jail, so the Jernigans were transported to Ocala where they escaped. Legend has it that Aaron moved to Texas where he lived for 25 years. He eventually returned to the area and died in Orlando in 1891. He was buried at the Lake Hill Cemetery in Orlo Vista, Florida.
Erected by Orange County:
Richard T. Crotty, Mayor
Linda A. Stewart, Commissioner District 4, Orange County Board of County Commissioners.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Settlements & Settlers. A significant historical year for this entry is 1843.
Location. 28° 30.766′ N, 81° 23.247′ W. Marker is in Orlando, Florida, in Orange Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Orlando FL 32805, 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. Atlantic Coastline Station (approx. one mile away); Site and Home of Francis Eppes (approx. one mile away); Carver Court Public Housing Complex (approx. 1.4 miles away); a different marker also named Carver Court Public Housing Complex (approx. 1.4 miles away); Dr. Phillips House (approx. 1.7 miles away); Site of Fort Gatlin (approx. 1.8 miles away); Fort Gatlin 1838 (approx. 1.8 miles away); Hankins Building (approx. 1.8 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Orlando.
Also see . . . Aaron Jernigan: Postmaster, Legislator - Murder Suspect. Orlando Sentinel website entry:
It would be nice if all of Orange County's founding fathers had been solid, upstanding citizens - the kind of people for whom we gratefully build statues and name streets. But that wasn't always the case. (Submitted on March 16, 2014, by PaulwC3 of Northern, Virginia.)
Credits. This page was last revised on December 5, 2021. It was originally submitted on August 14, 2013, by Tim Fillmon of Webster, Florida. This page has been viewed 1,281 times since then and 161 times this year. Last updated on May 13, 2014, by Glenn Sheffield of Tampa, Florida. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on August 14, 2013, by Tim Fillmon of Webster, Florida. 3. submitted on March 16, 2014, by PaulwC3 of Northern, Virginia. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.