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Property History, Jax Beach, Fl

1) Prehistory- the land was occupied by the coastal “saltwater” clans of the Timucua Indian tribe. An Indian mound was found near Pablo. This clan was known as the Situriwa. The French, under Jean Ribault, visited the area and established Fort Caroline in 1562 and encountered these indigenous people. The tribes were eventually conquered by Spanish Catholicism and disease. No descendants survive. Burials by the tribe were in mounds of sand. A charnel house or trash heap sometimes was on or near the mounds. The bodies would first be interred in the mounds, and then followed by ceremonial burials.

2) June 30 1884- from US Government to Alonzo C Small and wife Sarah S, a land patent.
“120 acres.” Since the land was listed as a homestead we can assume Alonzo lived there for a while. Alonzo was born December 1826 in Machias, Washington County, Maine. He was in Florida by at least 1859. His wife was Sarah S. His daughter, Helen P. was born in Florida in about 1859. He also had other children, Sons named George, Edward and William.

The 1870 census shows AC and Sarah living in the “suburbs of Jacksonville”. We mightbe able to assume this means Govt lots 3, 4, and 5. His nearest neighbors are Thomas King and Robert King.

In 1885 he lives with his wife Sarah, daughter Helen and son Harry. AC lists his job a “milling”. Numerous workers are listed in the census as being in his household so chances are they all lived at the same site. The census only says that the home is in Jacksonville. After this time, we can assume no Smalls actually live on the property. They seem to have moved to the city. He still owns the property.

In 1888 he lists his profession as a bridge builder. He says he lives at the corner of King and Louisa, East Jacksonville. In 1901 he lists his profession as carpenter at the Merrill-Stevens Engineering Co and lives with his daughter at 229 Lafayette Street, East Jacksonville. Helen P Small has married James Eugene Merrill.

3) 5 -29- 1886- from Alonzo C Small to Nellie P (Helen) Small Merrill, wife of James Eugene Merrill (born 1855, South Carolina), a deed for the property.
James Eugene Merrill’s parents were James G and Sarah E Merrill.James G. was from Maine, born about 1824. JE had siblings named Alexander, Joanna, Nelly and George. (Per 1880 East Jacksonville census).

James E and Helen Small had 4 children, James Campbell (born 7- 18-1889), Kenneth A, Helen .J and Anthony. James E Merrill was a wealthy man who owned one of the largest shipbuilding companies in the south, Merrill-Stevens Engineering. His home was at 229 Lafayette St. in Jax. The house still stands, but at another location. It now serves as an annex for the Jacksonville Historical Society.

4)1886- from Elizabeth Small to James Eugene Merrill the deed to lots 3, 4, 5. Deed Same from Harry A.C. Small and wife and also from Kenneth A Merrill to James Eugene

5)1892-from James C Merrill to JE Merrill and Sons, Govt. Lots 3, 4, 5, 120 acres. James C Merrill, Jr. marries Ann and has Ann S., James C, Jr. and Arther E. In 1935, his father, James E Merrill lives with them. His father is 75. The address is 1584 Lancaster St, Jax. James C took over the family shipbuilding business. The 1901 Fire destroys most of the records at the Duval Co courthouse. Only some property indexes remain.

6)1910- from James C Merrill to JE Merrill and Sons deed 274, pg 25 to the property.

7) 12-1958 - Kenneth A Merrill, (1893-1981 Duval 00) to Helen J Merrill Slappy (died 1965 Duval Co) (portion) Govt. lot 4, 5,

Helen married Henry Slappy, who owned an insurance company.

From the 1920 to the 1960’s James E Merrill and Sons developed land In Jax Beach, Talbot Island, Pablo Beach, Neptune Beach, Arlington, Ortega, Avondale and Springfield. He also developed historic land grants such as the Broward Grant, The Fenwick Grant, and the Phillips plat.

8)1 958 -James C Merrill Dies, executor is Roxie Home Merrill. The family begins to sell off numerous land holdings, including the Government lots 4, 5, and 6. Roxie was still living as of 2005.

9)1960 - w/d from James Merrill to Ivan Property with a mortgage.

10) 1962 -James C Merrill, deceased, et al extension of mortgage to Ivan Property vol 1635, p 553

11) 1962 -Kenneth A Merrill, et alto Ivan Property. And from the Anthony Germano and wife to Kenneth A Merrill. (Lot 6).  In 1964 Ivan Property buys adjacent
Lot 6 from Anthony and Sarah Germano. Anthony Germano died in 2008.

12) 1968- Ivan Property gives a w/d (vol 2942, p457) to Seabreeze Village. Mortgage from Seabreeze Village to the Frederick Eugene Williams and wife. No activity for the years 1968 to 1972.

3) 1972- Seabreeze Village gives a right of way to JEA.  Seabreeze also received a mortgage from a tractor company, Superior Tractor, for chattels on the land.

14)1974- Frederick Eugene Williams (1905-2001 in Neptune Beach) and wife B.L. and John M Hannah and wife, M.N, to Sea breeze Village.

15) 1974- Seabreeze Village to TADCO Construction

16) 1975 -TADGO Construction to Neptune Development
1116. Govt Lot 4, 5 TADCO gives Terry Lee Kirton, trustee, a mortgage.

17) 1976 - J Rene Dostie and Sons to Neptune Development Deed. Neptune gives Dostie a mortgage. Previous legal description was Govt Lot 4, 5. Dostie also gets the adjacent Govt lot 6 from Ward W Kent in 1975.These “lots” are large parcels of land, not the lot the present day house is on.

18) 1976 -Neptune Development Corp to J Renee Dostie and Sons Deed. The acres are subdivided and now.

Here is some basic history about the native people that populated that area:
Prior to the late 1700’s the area was inhabited by the Timucuans (that was the European name for the indigenous people, it was not what they called themselves) who were one of the historic or pre-Columbian Florida tribes. The area was populated by peoples known as the Saltwater Timucua, because they lived close to the saltwater. They were actually the Situriwa and the name Timucua came from a European misunderstanding of the Situriwa language. It appears the chief referred to the people living between the St. Johns and Sawannee Rivers (the Utina) as thimogna (Situriwa for enemy); whereas, the Europeans mistook it for the tribe’s name and begin call all the native peoples in the area by the mispronounced name Timucua. Saturiwa. Meaning unknown. Connections.-(See Utina.) Location.-About the mouth of St. Johns River. Some early writers seem to include Cumberland Island in their jurisdiction.

Villages. Laudonniére (1586) says that the chief of this tribe ruled over 30 subchiefs, but it is uncertain whether these subchiefs represented villages belonging allied tribes, or both. The Spaniards give the following: San Juan deli Puerrto, the
main mission for this province under which were Vera Cruz, Arratbo, Potaya, San Matheo, San Pablo, Hicachirico (little Town), Chinisca, and Carabay. San Diego de Salamototo, near the site of Picolata, on which no villages seem have depended; and Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe, 3 leagues from St. Augustine, may be classed here somewhat uncertainly.

The Saturiwa were visited by Jean Ribault in 1562 and probably by earlier explorers, but they appear first under their proper name in the chronicles of the Huguenot settlement of Florida of 1564-5. Fort Caroline was built in the territory of the Situriwa and intimate relations continued between the French and Indians until the former were dispossessed by Spain. The chief, known as Situriwa at this time, assisted De Gourgues in 1567 to avenge the destruction of his countrymen. It is perhaps for this reason that we find the Spaniards espousing the cause of Utina against Situriwa 10 years later. The tribe soon submitted to Spain, however, and was one of the first missionized, its principal mission being San Juan del Puerto. There labored Francisco de Pareja to whose grammar and religious works we are chiefly indebted for our knowledge of the Timucuan language (Pareja, 1612, 1613, 1856). Like the other Florida Indians, they suffered severely from pestilence in 1617 and 1672. The name of their chief appears among those involved in the Timucuan rebellion of 1656, and the names of their missions appear in the list of Bishop Calder6n and in that of 1680. We hear nothing more of them, and they evidently suffered the same fate as the other tribes of the group.

Population. No separate figures for the Situriwa have been preserved, except that a missionary states in 1602 that there were about 500 Christians among them and in 1675 San Juan del Puerto contained “about thirty persons and Salamototo “about forty.” (See Utina.)
Connect/on in which they have become noted. The prominence of the Situriwa was due to the intimate dealings between them and the French colonists. Later the same people, though not under the same name, became a main support of the Spanish missionary movement among the Florida Indians. (Access Genealogy)

BURIAL PRACTICES -- Near their home village, the Timucuans would often maintain a burial mound of sand. They sometimes shared this mound with neighboring villages. A charnel house usually stood atop the sand pile. The Indians would temporarily place the bones of deceased persons in the structure. The remains would stay there until they were ceremonially buried in the mound. (jaxhistory.com) Now, as far as the homes being haunted by the mean ole ancients, very unlikely even if the developer did build over the burial mounds. If, in the VERY slim possibility, some of the activity is from the native presence it’s almost certain it’s residual in nature.

Let me explain why: While all native peoples believe in the afterlife, the circumstances under which someone will return and effect people in a negative way are very limited. To understand this concept you must first have a generalized understanding of the basic native views of life, death and the afterlife. What the Cherokee’s call the full circle. In a nut shell, all existence is comprised of a circle that encompasses everything in the universe and everything within the universe possesses a soul. So when someone or something “dies” it’s merely passing into the next phase of its existence, so to speak. Once it has passed into the “shadow world” the soul either moves on to a higher level of existence or it begins its journey to rebirth. In either case the soul can return, when requested, to aid the community and/or love ones in times of need, more so for those that have moved to the higher plain. The only time a soul returns to the “living” with malice is if the person passed over while in a state of extreme disharmony with themselves, family and/or the community. As common as that may sound, in the native world, extreme disharmony is actually rare. It was especially rare during the time of the Historics. For the majority of natives being in harmony with their world and themselves is the first and most important of all commandments, because everything else flows from that state of existence. Now it’s impossible to pass to the higher plain if the soul is in disharmony, but a soul in disharmony is not sentenced to remain there. They will continue on the journey to rebirth with the hope they will learn the necessary lessons to allow them to exist in harmony on their next journey.

So a developer building on a native burial site, while VERY disrespectful, is no more likely to produce hauntings, of any kind, than building on any other burial site. In fact it’s possible it’s less likely because of the native view “life” and “death”. Most non-natives view life and death through the Judeo-Christian “white man” concepts, which are very different than the native views of life and death. Since natives do not view “death” as an ending the souls of anyone one buried in that area would have long since moved on in their journey. They would have no need to remain there. If the soul or souls of any of the Historics are there, it’s with the purpose to help those living on the site.

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