The Oldest Plantation Mansion in Florida
11676 Palmetto Ave, Jacksonville, FL 32226
“Zephaniah Kingsley relocated to Spanish Florida in 1803 and became a successful merchant and planter. His African wife, Anta Madgigine Jai, was from Senegal. Kingsley purchased her as a slave in Havana, Cuba in 1806. He freed Anna (as she became known) and their children in 1811. In 1814 he moved his family to Fort George Island. Anna took advantage of Spanish views on race and society, which enabled her to own her own plantation and slaves. She also was her husband’s business partner.
When Spain lost control of Florida in 1821, legislators in the new United States Territory quickly enacted laws that greatly reduced the civil liberties of free blacks, such as Kingsley’s family members. His campaign to keep a system of society where people were judged by class, and not by color, was largely ignored. By 1832 the harsh laws restricting the rights of all “persons of color” became intolerable. Faced with the reality of his family losing their freedom upon his death, he began looking for a country where they could live without restrictions.
By 1837, Kingsley moved Anna, their two sons, and 50 of his now freed slaves to Haiti, a free black republic. Their two daughters remained in Jacksonville, married to wealthy white men. Zephaniah Kingsley died in 1843 knowing that his family was secure.
The Kingsley story is a window into a period of sweeping change in Florida’s history. The new territorial laws forced free and enslaved people to adapt to reforms in which some gained, but many lost, personal liberties.” – National Park Service
Take a 360º Virtual Tour of the Kingsley Plantation below: