David Levy Yulee and the Yulee Sugar Mill

donna

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#1
David Levy Yulee was born in St. Thomas on June 12, 1810. He was the son of Moses Elias Levy who was a Moroccan Jew. The father made his fortune in timber in the Caribbean and then bought 50000 acres of land near Jacksonville, Florida. He was hoping to create a New Jerusalem for Jewish settlers.

David went to school in Norfolk, Virginia and studied law in St. Augustine. He served in the Florida legislature and was a leader in the campaign for Florida statehood. When Florida was admitted to the Union in 1845, David became the first Jew elected to the United States Senate. He was a Democrat and was first elected in 1845 and served until 1851. He then served another term from 1855 to 1861. He resigned his seat in 1861 and joined the Confederacy.

Yulee was a vigorous supporter of slavery and secession and joined the Confederate Congress during the Civil War. After the war he was imprisoned for nine months at Fort Pulaski until he was pardoned. He then returned to Florida to his earlier pursuit of building of the Florida railroad and served as president of that railroad from 1853 to 1866. He was also president of the Peninsular Railroad Company, Tropical Florida Railroad Company, and Fernandina and Jacksonville Railroad Company. He was called the "Father of Florida's railroads". Yulee moved to Washington D.C in 1880.

He died in New York City on Oct. 10, 1886. He is buried in Oak Hill Cemetery in Washington, D.C.

On a personal note, in 1846 he officially changed his name to David Levy Yulee. He had been going by David Levy. He married Nannie C. Wickliffe, the daughter of Charles A. Wickliffe who was former governor of Kentucky and Postmaster General under President John Tyler. His wife was not Jewish and their children were raised as Christians. Even though he took up the Christian lifestyle, he was always an object of anti-semitic attacks throughout his career.

In1851, he purchased more than 5000 acres and ran a sugar plantation in Homosassa, Florida. It was worked by over 1000 slaves. Among the crops raised were sugar cane, citrus, and cotton. He started a Sugar Mill. The steam-driven mill produced sugar, syrup and molasses. It operated from 1851 to 1864 and served as a supplier of sugar products for southern troops during the Civil war. Yulee's home was on the Tiger Tail Island. It was burned in May, 1864 when the Union blockaders came up the Homosassa River. The Northern troops then freed Yulee's slaves, ending the operation of the sugar mill.

The Mill is now Yulee Sugar Mill Ruins Historic State Park. One can see the ruins of the mill. Still standing are the steam boiler, crushing machinery, and large cooking kettles. Also remaining is the stonework chimney, the well and foundation all quarried and constructed by slaves.
 

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Glorybound

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#4
yulee.jpg

David Levy Yulee


yulee1.jpg

Yulee Sugar Mill Ruins State Historic Site
This 6 acre historic site was given by Claude Brooks Root in 1923 to the Citrus County Federate of Women's Clubs who in turn donated it to the state of Florida in 1953

yulee2.jpg

Front of mill


yulee3.jpg

Furnace and the five kettles




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"Propre" kettle (left) and the "Grande" kettle


yulee3a.jpg
 

Lazy Bayou

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My family had two large sugar kettles in our yard that we used for goldfish pools. Small goldfish would grow huge in those things as they were deep enough that the water would not freeze all the way to the bottom (not that we had very many freezes down there). They were pretty common where I grew up in Central Louisiana and just 7 or 8 miles north of town was a huge sugar mill at Meeker, Louisiana. It finally closed sometime in the 1970s.

Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on November 16, 1987

http://alexcenla.wordpress.com/2010/11/25/from-a-1955-calendar-the-meeker-sugar-mill/
 

timk

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#7
Please excuse my ignorance on this subject, but something inside me finds David Levy Yulee's story a little odd. How common was it for a Jewish man to own 1000 slaves?
 

donna

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About 5000 Jews owned one or more slaves in the South. This represented 1.25% of all slave owners. David Levy Yulee is one of the largest slave holders. He did have hugh holdings and several plantations in Florida. Other prominent Jewish slave holders were: Judah P. Benjamin who owned a large plantation, Bellechase near New Orleans, Major Raphael J. Moses who owned plantation and slaves in Columbus, Georgia and the Mordecai family of Virginia and North Carolina who owned several plantations and slaves. They were a prominent Jewish family long settled in America. There are several books on Jews and the Confederacy and several articles on the internet.
 

donna

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David Levy Yulee owned much land in Florida. His plantations were Cottonwood Plantation near Archer, Florida and Margarita Plantation at Homosassa, Florida.

Cottonwood is gone and only remembered by a Highway sign. It was kept for years and destroyed in 1960s and 70s.

The ruins of Margarita are at the Yulee Sugar Mill Park that I mentioned in previous post. Margarita was burned to the ground by Federal troops They were said to be beautiful houses and very well furnished by Mrs. Yulee with many treasures.

It is also interesting that in 1865, Cottonwood Plantation was the terminus of the Confederate train carrying gold and Jefferson Davis' papers. The items were said to have been buried in a cow barn on the plantation by Yulee's son, C. Wickliffe. They were later unearthed and sent to the station master at Waldo. It was there they were seized by Union troops.

Another interesting fact about Yulee was that when he was in Fort Pulaski Prison, General U.S. Grant interceded on the Senator's behalf. He was released and returned to Florida.

A good book on these plantations and many other plantations is "Lost Plantations of the South" by Marc Matrana.
 
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#14
With the mention of Nannie Christian Wickliffe (wife of David Yulee) thought bring this thread back up.
Last fall we visited the Yulee Sugar Mill Site. My husband took several pictures like ones Glorybound posted.
What is really interesting was that David Yulee's father Moses Elias Levy was an abolishonist when he was in England.when he came to Florida he actual purchased 100,000 acres which was most of Alachua County.what he wanted to do was to set up a Jewish Utopian Society at the area of the Micanopy trading post.what he did was start the town of Micanopy in 1822.he started a sugar cane plantation just north of the town which required a large amount of slaves to operate.it all came to an end in 1837 with the second Seminole War when Chief Osceola burned the town and plantation down.there were two Army forts there but they were abandoned and destroyed by the soldiers.Levy County Florida is named after him.
Micanopy was named by the Huffington Post as one of the 12 cutest towns in America.Micanopy is not very big as it is just over 1 square mile in size with a population of 609.
If ever driving south on I-75 just get off at the exit for the "we Bare Signs" are and drive about a mile and your there.you may have seen Micanopy without knowing it as the movie "Doc Hollywood" was filmed there.
 



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