Past in a Glance

When Spain’s Ponce De León and crew sailed up the mighty SaintXJohns
Indians hunted under the “Tree Hill” oak canopy and palm fronds
Then the French Huguenots settled just to the east at SaintXJohns Bluff
Until Spain’s Pedro Menéndez decided they’d been there long enough.
(ca. 1513)

(ca. 1562)
(ca. 1565)
For another two hundred years both the Indians and Spanish roamed
Until the English took over and Samuel Potts made it his home
But the Spanish took the territory back and ruled Florida again
And Francis Richard came to settle the east shore with all of his kin.
(ca. 1763)
(ca. 1783)
(ca. 1795)
Richard named his large Spanish Grant “Plantation Strawberry Hill”
And dammed several creeks to power both a grist and a saw mill
This formed a big lake that made “Tree Hill” accessible mostly by boat
A little part of his farm “natures paradise” with its own private moat.
(ca. 1821)
After Richard Jr.s’ death, the plantation went to John Sammis and Mary
He kept the place going until the Civil War’s threat made him wary
Legend has it due to the war, his wealth was subject to be taken away
He rowed to “Tree Hill” to bury his gold in a pot until a safer day.
(ca. 1840)


(ca. 1862)
When the war was over Sammis sold his land, then the dam washed out
The land set idle until Alderman Realty Co.’s development came about
Alderman Realty divided land round “Tree Hill” into eight-acre farm lots
The “Johnson’s” rode the ferry from town to see what they had bought.
(ca. 1873)
(ca. 1912)
They cleared the land and called their new home “Red Bay Ranch & Dairy”
Louise ran the farm while Cleveland ran dredge boats next to the ferry
Children; Bruce, Claris and Mary milked cows, plowed, and cut wood
From the land that they loved, they made a living the best that they could.
(ca. 1914)
Time passed, Mary took over the farm, Claris opened Lone Star Stables
Taxes forced a sign “For Sale,” sell part and keep what they were able.
Some neighbors saw the sign and thought apartments would be a shame
PATH (Preservation Association of Tree Hill) was their group’s name.
(ca. 1943)
(ca. 1969)
So with public meetings, community spirit, and a lot of well laid plans
They got everyone’s attention and thank God the state bought the land.
Now the land first inhabited by Indians and where early settlers stayed
Is saved for families to enjoy nature today as yesterday’s memories fade.
(ca. 1972/98)


Written by Cleve Powell for Old Arlington, Inc.