Monday, January 18, 2010

Sylvania, Plantation of Governor John Milton - Jackson County, Florida

In the beautiful farm country northeast of Marianna and southwest of Two Egg can be found the site of what once was Sylvania, the plantation of Florida's Confederate governor.

John Milton, the son and grandson of Revolutionary and War of 1812 veterans and a descendent of the famed poet of the same name, was elected Governor of Florida during the election of 1860. It is a little known fact that he was actually the legal governor under the laws of both the United States and the Confederacy, as he was elected prior to Florida's secession from the Union but did not take office until October of 1861.

Because Governor Madison Perry was unable to do so, it was Governor-elect Milton who read the Ordinance of Secession to the assembled crowd at the Old Capitol in Tallahassee in January of 1861. A fierce advocate of secession, Milton had been an outspoken advocate of the Southern position of states' rights for nearly 30 years.

The land that became eventually became Sylvania Plantation was first cleared by the slaves of the Robinson family, to which the governor was related through his mother. After living and practicing law in Columbus, Georgia; Mobile, Alabama; and New Orleans, Louisiana, he acquired the property in Florida following a terrible steamboat accident on the Mississippi River in which he suffered severe burns.

Under Milton's guidance, Sylvania became one of the largest plantations in the South. By 1855 it encompassed more than 6,330 acres and over the next five years he began work on a second plantation near today's Parramore community in eastern Jackson County.

It was also at Sylvania that Milton took his life on April 1, 1865, having told friends that death was preferable to defeat at the hands of the North.

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