Kingsley Plantation

1Zephaniah Kingsley Jr. (1765-1843), was born in England and reared in South Carolina. He was a ship captain, maritime merchant, Caribbean coffee trader Atlantic trader in African slaves and plantation and slave owner. Kingsley's youngest sibling, Martha Kingsley McNeill, was the mother of Anna Matilda McNeill Whistler who was the mother of the well know artist James Abbot McNeill Whistler. well know for his portrait "Whistler's Mother".
Nearing the end of his life and alarmed by the increasing discriminatory racial climate that threaten his free black family, he established a massive agricultural colony in Haiti as a refuge for them, and he emancipated more than 50 slaves and carried them to Haiti under indenture contracts.

In 1814, Zephaniah Kingsley moved to Fort George Island and what is known today as the Kingsley Plantation.  He brought with him Anna Jai and three children (a fourth would be born at Fort George).
1Kingsley was father to numerous children by a number of his slaves, all of whom were teenagers when the relationship occurred. He made no attempt to conceal his sexual relations with enslaved African women.
1No record of marriage has been found to show that Kingsley was formally married to any of the women. He did however claim the children born of these unions. In addition to Anna Jai, who may be the best know, there were also (Flora) Hanahan, Munsilna and others. The relationship with these three lasted for decades. These relationships were by mutual consent.

NOTE: Kingsley did acknowledge Anna Jai as his wife. Excerpt from Kingsley Will
"This I strongly recom- mend, nor do I know in what light the law may consider my acknowledged wife Ann Madgi- gene Jai, as our connubial relation took place in a foreign land, where our marriage was celebrated and sol- emnizes by her native African custom altho never celebrated according to the forms of Christian usage: Yet she has always been respected as my wife and as such I acknowledge her nor do I think that her truth, honor, integrity, moral conduct or good sense will loose in comparison with any one."

  Anna Madgigine Jai, was from Senegal, West Africa, and was purchased by Kingsley as a slave, when she was about 13 years old.  She actively participated in plantation management, acquiring her own land and slaves when freed by Kingsley in 1811.
Zephaniah and Anna's daughters, Mary Kingsley married married John S. Sammis (Saimmis) and Martha Kingsley married Oran Baxter.

With an enslaved work force of about 60, the Fort George plantation produced Sea Island cotton, citrus, sugar cane and corn.

  Kingsley continued to acquire property in north Florida and eventually possessed more than 32,000 acres, including four major plantation complexes and more than 200 slaves.

Kingsley Plantation is the oldest remaining plantation house in Florida. A simple structure, it was built around 1798 by the first owner John Mc Queen.

The original floor plan is unusual, consisting of a 2-story central area with four square corner rooms.

In addition to the planter's residence, the early 19th century structures included the kitchen house, barn, and 32 slave quarters.
(On many plantations cooking was done in a separate building to keep accidental kitchen fires from spreading to other structures.)

The Kingsley's were only the third planters on the land at Fort George Island.

1791: First planter to occupy the island, after eon's of Timucuan Indians, was John Mc Queen.  Mc Queen, a bankrupt American revolution veteran, emigrated to Florida from South Carolina with his 300 slaves. He was rewarded with Fort George island in 1793.  Five years later, McQueen had the house, now known as Kingsley Plantation, constructed.

McQueen was successful for a few years with a sawmill and fruit trees.
His most lucrative cash crop was Sea Island cotton, a plant imported from the Bahamas.  Sea Island cotton was prized for its fine, long fibers which wove into a superior cloth.

Bankrupt again, McQueen sold the island and plantation home to a Georgian, John McIntosh.

1804:The plantation is bought by John Houston McIntosh, from near Woodbine, Ga.  McIntosh successfully revived the Sea Island cotton and other crops, becoming one of the wealthiest planters in the province.  Politics brought his downfall.

1814: Zephaniah Kingsley rents the plantation.

1817: Kingsley purchases the plantation.
Anna and Zephaniah lived on the plantation until 1837. A few years before his death, Kingsley sold his land on Fort George Island.

1 A couple of months after Kingsley death in 1843 his will was challenged by his sister Martha Kingsley McNeill. While the court challenge was pending Anna Kingsley and her son George Kingsley, represented by an attorney filed a separate petition, claiming ownership of and seeking recovery of more than 50 slaves listed on the 1844 inventory and in addition they called for distribution to the legatee of the funds held by the state executor. 1 On March 2, 1846, newly elected Circuit Court Judge Farquhar Bethune entered a judgment on Martha Kingsley McNeill's lawsuit. The court ruling was upheld the validity of Kingsley's 1843 will and declared that Zephaniah King's colored heirs and legatees were therefore eligible to inherit his estate. Martha's later appeal for reversal to a higher court failed.
 By 1866 the property no longer belonged to anyone in the Kingsley family.  For a while after the Civil War, the property was a moderately successful citrus farm.  After severe freezes in 1894-95 commercial agriculture was brought to an end on Fort George Island.

The kitchen house at the Kingsley Plantation was known as
the "Ma'am Anna House" because it was also Anna's
living quarters.  The fact that she did not live in the main house was not a reflection of her status, but rather reflected Zephaniah's respect of Anna's native culture.
Anna (born Anna Madgigine Jai) was a native of Senegal,
West Africa.  In Senegal culture, men and women did
not share the same living quarters.

Photo credit: The Florida Center for Instructional Technology,
University of South Florida

Older photo of Kingsley Plantation

Left-One of the original slave cabins, which was constructed of tabby,
at the Kingsley Plantation has been reconstructed.
Right -The Kingsley Plantation barn was also constructed of "tabby,"
a kind of concrete made of burned shells (to make lime),
sand, and water.
Photo credit:
The Florida Center for Instructional Technology,
University of South Florida

[Florida Index]
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[Florida Plantations] [Ante Bellum Plantations]
[Native Floridians] [James Weldon Johnson] [Mary Mc Leod Bethune]
[The Knotts] [Zora Neale Hurston] [John Ringling]
[Dr. John Gorrie] [George Proctor] [Eartha M. M. White]
[A. Philip Randolph]

Reference, Research and Source Information

Volusia County Heritage
Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve
Photos and photo captions are provided courtesy of:
Exploring Florida

Photo copyrighted:
The Florida Center for Instructional Technology,
University of South Florida

1Zephania Kingsley Jr. and the Atlantic World
Slave Trader, Plantation Owner, Emancipator
By: Daniel L. Schafer

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If the information I have provided concerning where and how the information was obtained is not properly done or credited, it is in no way intentional.


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