Eggleston and Floral Bluff

Written by Cleve Powell
Originally published in the October 2007 edition of the OAI Newsletter

As a follow up on Louise Andrew’s great article on Lake Lucina I think it is a good time to briefly discuss the history of Eggleston and Floral Bluff. These are two of the oldest communities in the area and both have ties to Lake Lucina as you will see.

These communities were both formed in approximately the same year ca. 1887. They relied on each other for transportation, as Floral Bluff had a dock and Post Office, and Eggleston had a station for the J. M. & P. Railroad, which ran between Mayport and a dock near Clifton, and later South Jacksonville. For that and other reasons their history will be discussed jointly.

The name Floral Bluff is taken from the Bigelow Plantation of that name, which dates back to ca. 1835. The land was originally a narrow strip along the river granted to Francis Richard in the early 1800s known as “Parque.” Robert Bigelow married Richard’s granddaughter Elizabeth in 1832 and acquired the land. He later acquired 40 acres by homestead deed in 1856, which ran from the center of Lake Lucina north 1320′. The Bigelows had a son named Lucien (born in 1849), which may have been the origin of the name Lucina. The land to the east of “Parque” was acquired by homestead deed by Jefferson Belknap, noted as “Planter” in the 1850 census, in 1856.

After the Civil War and the death of Robert and Elizabeth a strip of land from Chaseville Road to the river was subdivided into four blocks by Gilbert Shepard in 1887 (Adam’s Arlington history). It included part of the old plantation and part of the Belknap land; the subdivision was naturally called Floral Bluff. The final plat was filed in 1889 and contained five blocks.

The land where the first Eggleston community was started was homesteaded by Oliver Champlin in 1882 by deed for 80 acres. It is located along the east side of Chaseville Road from the center of Lake Lucina south to the north line of another Richard grant (Almira Street). Land adjacent to Champlin on the east was acquired by Dr. Samuel Payne by homestead deed in 1883. Champlin filed a plat named Eggleston (his wife’s maiden name) in PB 1 Pg. 75 in 1888. Payne filed a plat entitled Eggleston Addition in 1892.
Zoom in for more detail

With all that title research out of the way let’s look at what was going on in the area when these communities were established. The name Arlington is believed to have first appeared in 1873 with the publication of a map and brochure for land in the Clifton area called the Arlington Bluff Association or “Florida Winter Home.” This was a religious community, which failed, but it was taken over by the financier Mr. Matthews and there were some homes occupied there including the former home of John Sammis.

To the north at Reddie Point was a small community, which became known as Chaseville; named for Samuel Chase, who started a shipyard there after the Civil War. This was formerly the McNeill Plantation (Kingsley’s nephew). From The Arlington Story “In 1885 a teaming little settlement known as Chaseville, or Reddie’s Point, existed at the end of Chaseville Road (now University Boulevard). It had one store, a post office, a small Episcopal church, and a steamboat landing. At the height of its development, forty families lived there though nothing remains today.” There wasn’t much in between except the remains of Anna Kingsley’s plantation, which was known as Chesterfield, and her daughter Martha’s plantation known as SaintXIsabel, and the Bigelow plantation.

To the east was the remains of the old mill dam at Strawberry Creek and the road connecting it to old Lone Star Road. There were some homesteaded tracts with scattered homes including the Gilmores. The old Newcastle Plantation was occupied by the Parsons and Browards.

The final thing of interest was the J. M. & P. railroad running through the middle of Arlington. Built by Mr. Wallace, it served the growing town of Jacksonville with quick access to the Burnside Hotel he had built on the ocean near Mayport. This provided the small communities along the way with transportation to the ocean and Mayport and other benefits. What is significant is that the area along Arlington Road known as Arlington Heights did not exist or had not been formally plated.

Champlin solicited religious settlers from Ocean Grove, New Jersey, the same area that the previous occupants of Arlington Bluff had originated. Things went well for a while and the community had a railroad station completed in 1889, a hotel, a school (taught at one time by Eugena Bigelow), and a church completed in 1889 and financed by the widow of a Methodist minister. The church was named the John E. Inskip Memorial Methodist Church after her late husband. Eggleston gained its own post office in 1895, which was merged with Floral Bluff.

Champlin successfully organized a Chautauqua assembly that attracted many visitors to the community. Meetings were held in the church and the hotel, which in the 1891- 92 season reportedly filled with guests. There was also a Chautauqua campground near what is now Arlington Heights Elementary. Champlin built a home near Lake Lucina next to his son-in-law, Albert Frieseke. A little to the south of Frieseke’s were the homes of Mrs. Sarah Warren and Thomas M. Taylor. In the early 1890s Eggleston had added a score of houses with more under construction, a post office, and a store.

Based on a map of ca. 1889 vintage, posted on the Bigelow website, there was at least one house in Floral Bluff, which is probably the Clark home, built in 1887. Reportedly Albert Frieseke ran a store and post office (until 1895) by the boat landing at the end of Floral Bluff Avenue, which was at that time the primary steamboat landing on the east bank. It was common for people from the entire community to tie up their buggies at the dock and spend a day in Jacksonville.

The Bigelow Cemetery dates back to 18- and lies on the south boundary of the road. Of interest, the 1889 map does not show the Bigelow plantation home that burned in 1950 but shows a house and dock labeled Bigelow about a half mile south of Floral Bluff Ave on the river below the Parque grant. This supports some interviews that indicate that that was the original Bigelow home. The 1856 map of the SaintXJohns shows houses in the area of the mansion. I believe The Bigelows had several homes along the river throughout the years. The mansion may have been built on the site of a previous log home.

Floral Bluff continues to add homes but Eggleston fell on hard times as the railroad failed ca. 1895, which was the same year of the “big freeze.” Another freeze occurred in 1899, which coupled with the opening of the railroad to south Florida took tourist and perspective buyers farther south. The hotel was bought by Mrs. Colcord, who moved it by barge up river to a spot just south of what is now the Mathews Bridge. The church was moved to the current location of the Arlington Methodist Church ca. 1920.

Champlin named some of the original streets in Eggleston after his family: Oliver for himself, Almira, his wife, Ransom and Allen, his sons, Albert after his son-in-law and Michigan after his wife’s home state. Oliver Champlin (d. 1915) and his wife Almira (d. 1902) are buried in the Clifton Cemetery as well as his son-in-law Albert Frieseke (d. 1917) and Walter Frieseke (d. 1909). Champlin’s grandson, Oliver Frieseke, was a well know store owner in Arlington for many years. Per a letter written to Mr. Hawley (publisher of the Arlingtonian) by Eugene Bigelow in 1939, Ransom married one of the Schofield sisters, and later moved to New Hampshire. Of the Paine’s addition to Eggleston only Paine Street remains. There is only one parcel on the county records that refers to that subdivision and it is at the corner of Paine and Ansley where the J. M. & P. station once was located. The rest of Paine’s addition to Eggleston has been replatted as Arlington Hills and Lake Lucina Unit Five.

Much of Eggleston has been replatted but the area along Ansley (Osceola), Windemere (Cherokee), and Wiltshire (Seminole), and parts of Almira and Michigan remain the same. O. Roy Dickson replatted the north end into Lucina Lake Manor ca. 1946. Lonnie Wurn replatted much of it in Loretta Jean and Jacqueline’s subdivisions with several units. There is also a condominium development. There are four houses in Eggleston that are on the historic register: the old Steeves house built in 1897 at 1711 Almira, the Babcock and Enge homes on Windemere built in 1925. Noble Enge thinks that was where the hotel was located due to a grove of oaks planted in a rows along the road. There is also a home on Ansley built in 1930. The old J. M. & P. railroad bed became known as the tram road and was used for many years by boy scouts hiking to Gilmore and beyond. Eggleston School (district 46) was merged with Arlington Grammar when it was completed in 1921 and used for the higher grades.

Floral Bluff continued to fill up the five blocks and Mr. Hawley added a strip of land to the north 300′ +/- feet wide known as Hawley’s Addition to Floral Bluff, which was never recorded; lots were conveyed by meets and bounds. He added a street from University to Shepard Street known as Burdette named for Mrs. Burdette who was from England and lived in Floral Bluff for many years. The area by the Bigelow Plantation home was subdivided by Stacey Bailey in 1947 and called Arlington Estates. The area around the home was further divided into lots when it burned in 1950. The area from University to the plantation lands south of Floral Bluff Ave. was subdivided as River Forest Unit four by Lawrence C. Pierce in 1950.

There are twelve houses in Floral Bluff on the historic list, which range from 1887 (Clark home) to 1940. Among them are the Carter and Baumgartner homes, which were built in 1930. The old Bigelow carriage house is reportedly on Hoffman Street and the Eggleston School bell is on a post in a yard in Arlington Estates.