I am someone who will be driving along, see a historical marker, come to a screeching halt, turn around, and go read that marker. So, driving past the courthouse in downtown Madison, east of Tallahassee, I passed by the city park with markers and monuments. Both Madison and the city of Monticello have these beautiful domed courthouses.
Both Madison and Jefferson counties were important in pre-civil war history in Florida. A lot of names that you recognize in Florida history, many whom I have mentioned on this blog, had their families come from this area of the state. Both counties had large contingents of soldiers active in the 2SW.
Along the highway in the park opposite the Madison courthouse, is this historical marker commemorating a 2nd Seminole War blockhouse that was here.
There is a large monument commemorating the Confederate soldiers who were from Madison County. At the base is a list of names killed and wounded in service.
There is a monument to soldiers from WW2.
A monument in honor of the plantation slaves.
And a monument to the Florida Baptist Convention that was organized nearby. In fact, several historical things that I could write several blogs on, within three blocks right here.
My passenger on this trip was a student from one of the Florida colleges, and he is working on a paper about the Lake Jackson Mounds. I got him into the site file room in the archives building, where he found a few new things to reference in his paper. (There are now 180,000 archaeological and historical sites listed on the site files.) There is more to the mound complex culture than what everyone knew, and over the next few years we may learn things that will cause us to rethink what has been written on the Florida mound builders in the past. There is also an upcoming book on the legends and cosmology. We may even have a paradigm shift in the works here.
Then I went to the state parks collection warehouse. The state parks have a separate collection of documents and items connected to the parks. It was very interesting. I noticed that there was a row of furniture. These pieces of furniture are being preserved and conserved because they are from historical buildings in our parks. And to the rear of the furniture collection, was one piece that made my entire trip!
In the back of the furniture row, was what is called, “General Duncan L. Clinch’s field couch!” I was so stunned, that I forgot to ask where it came from. (Fort Clinch in Fernandina Beach.) Sorry that I don’t have photos, but it is an early American style couch with scroll arms on either end, and upholstery that is yellow-tan striped. I asked why it is called a field couch? Because the back folds out into a table or desk. The legs are short and it is low to the ground. I can see this sitting in the general’s HQ tent!
(Below: General Duncan Clinch)
Clinch resigned in 1836, probably because he was disgusted at the government mishandling the 2nd Seminole War. He was commander of forces in Florida at the beginning of the Second Seminole War, had Fort Drane and Old Lang Syne plantation, and another plantation at Salt Springs in the Ocala Forest. I don’t think he is well known for anything else during his military career outside the First and Second Seminole War, so having his couch is rare indeed.
After Clinch resigned, he moved back to Georgia and was active in politics and banking in that state. He died in 1849.
There were three different Forts named Fort Clinch. One on the Withlacoochee near the mouth of the river. One near what is now Frostproof, Florida. And the one everyone is familiar with, the brick, Third System, Totten Fort, built later at Fernandina. It is similar in configuration to Fort Gaines on Mobile Bay.
And we also went south of town to what a lot of people call the Tallahassee Junior Museum, or the Museum of Florida History near the airport. This is primarily a school museum, but they have the mansion of Catherine Murat. Her husband Achille Murat was a French nobleman who was nephew of Napoleon. He was exiled when Napoleon was overthrown, and spent the rest of his days in Tallahassee. He is buried under French flags in the old cemetery near the RA Gray building downtown. Here are some more photos of the house and exhibits.