Notebook of John Rollins

Transcribed by Betty Jones at National Park Service Kingsley Plantation on March 13, 2009 from a 1939 transcription by Gertrude Rollins Wilson.

John F. Rollins Notebook, 1868-1869

The diary entries of J.F. Rollins from his trip to Jacksonville and Ft. George Island

Copy of notebook of John F. Rollins.

Nov’ 20th’ 1868.

Left Concord at 3 ½ oclock with Col’ I. M. Robinson for Jacksonville, Florida and a market.

Took supper at Worcester, 35 cts. At new London took boat City of Boston and had a good nights sleep (altno a little cold) Reached New York at 7 A.M. 24 hrs.

Gave our baggage to express, took breakfast and then looked steamships over and decided to take the Manhattan for Charleston S. C. a good looking vessel of about 1350 tons.

Bought tickets through to Jacksonville $30.00. After doing other business went to Agriculturist Office and got order on Cooper & Harris for six-gun------(words I cannot read) Which looks as tho it would shoot, also bought powder and shot &c, paid $2.00

The Col’ bought a der------ paid double price.

Came on board about 3 oclock. Wrote to H. (wife) before dinner, our stateroom is 27 forward cabin.

Nov’ 23rd’----

Got off from N. Y. at 3.30 with everything favorable altho’ I had some idea of seasickness. Took bro’ pat’ and kept it off till after bedtime.

Sunday morning woke up and found it was very rough and that both R. and I were seasick. He got up once or twice and took supper at table but I didn’t turn out at all. Supped a cup of tea and a piece of toast in bed. Was very comfortably sick.

This morning felt better but still concluded to remain in bed so had steak, toast and tea, After trying to stay on deck.

About 10 oclock went on deck again found it much less rough and cold, stayed up till dinner time then went to table and had a good dinner then went on deck again. Was much amused in watching an old, fat lady next to R. eat, thinks she lives by eating, we also have a crazy boy who makes much fun.

Have made fine run thus far, about 12 knots an hour. Still cold on deck. Have some very pleasant people on board. A Doctor from Conn’ going to Aiken S. C. to start an invalid home, says that is paradise to live in. Also a wealthy old fellow from New York who has been all over the world.

Nov’ 24th’

Reached Charleston bar at 10.oclock but could not go in so lay off until 2 oc’ today when we went in and got to wharf at 2 ½ oclock. Got baggage to Dictator which starts at 8 oclock for Jacksonville.

Then went out to see the town having written home first. Got some Florida oranges &c with which R. was much pleased. Got back to boat to supper after which played euchre an hour with Col’. Cough very bad tonight.

Nov’ 25th.

Left C: at 9 oclock and had a quiet trip to Savannah where we arrived sometime in the morning. Got up at 7 oclock and went to walk with R. who got some oysters that he has been wanting a long while.

Had a good breakfast on the boat which started for Florida about 9 oc’.

While walking in S. we saw several oranges on trees and quite a lot of roses which pleased R. very much. It is a beautiful day and we are having a delightful sail down the coast. Savannah was changed but little in the two years since I was there before. Charleston had gone back if anything.

We have quite a number of very pleasant passengers on the boat. Our Captain is a N. H. man from a Portsmouth family.

We are now 7 miles from Jacksonville having a very fine trip with everything all right. I am feeling better than yesterday though my throat troubles me very much. It rains now but I trust it will clear off soon.

There has been a Mrs Pierce of Lowell with two children whom Col’ has attended---quite an interesting family, she has a brother-in-law whose saw mill we have just passed. The river is full of game as usual and it is warm and pleasant.

Thanksgiving Eve, Jacksonville.

It has been a beautiful day 68% in our room at the Taylor House. Our boat landed us at the wharf after breakfast and after getting rooms we started to see the sights. Walked about the city and then went up to Dennys place where he is building a house. Got back in season for dinner after which and before I wrote to wife. Then we went on board the Darlington ? which had just come down from Enterprize. We got what information we could about going up the river then went to a stable and got saddle horses and had a jolly horseback ride about town and elsewhere. Saw an old darkey in the woods who told us about sugar cane and going to war.

Have been introduced to Hamilton M. C. from this State.

Am much fatigued and am going to bed early.

Nov’ 28th’

Went down to Col’ Rod------? And spent the morning and it ? finished up R. Florida fever. In the afternoon it rained and I feeling not at all well spent a large part of it in our room. In the evening went to circus.

This morning it rained a little but about 11oclock we concluded to go over to Christophers so took a boat and a darkey and started. On the way tho’ it rained some R shot a duck, a squirrel and a red bird and if the gun had not got wet should have done more.

Saw Mr C. and had a talk with him. His orange trees are quite full and have grown very much since I saw them. He has a fine lot of sugar cane and syrup. I think his cane will yield 200 lbs’ to the acre. Wants to sell his place.

Got home about supper time having passed the day very satisfactorily.

Sat by the fire in the office to get dry and came up to room to fix gun. R. while cleaning it put on a cap and snapped it when the powder inside exploded which alarmed the police who thought someone was shooting and after a little the City marshall called up for explanation which we gave him. He went off seemingly satisfied. Hope he is, we are.


Today we have been up to Philatna (Palatka) left Jacksonville at 9 oc’ and after a fine trip reached P. at 3 oclock. R. and I looked the town over, Saw Mrs Hurry? A teacher of freedmen and talked with her. She seemed very pleasant. R. is much pleased with the place and thinks if he can buy a place there to suit him he will locate there. He wants me to go back and look the matter over for him and write him as soon as possible.

At 10. oclock we went to bed on the boat which soon after started to return to Jacksonville which reached some time this morning.


R. Left for home on City Point via Augustine and Charleston. Hope he will reach home safe. I am sorry to have him go as I shall be very lonesome.

I came back to house and found a letter from G. S. Fletcher and also one at post office from wife which helped me to see R. off. Am right glad to hear from home.

I wrote to H. and L. and Capt’ H. and Fletcher then had dinner and walked about town and this evening have been talking some at the house.

Dec 1st’.

Went to see Mr Greeley about Palatka and had a very pleasant call. In the afternoon went up to see Denny but could not find him, came back and saw Mr Robinson and found out about several places near Jacksonville for sale. One of them was Ship Yard Point 17 miles down the river 475 acres hammock land which he said was very fine, then went with him to Land Office and had a talk with clerk who had been on the tract, he also says it is the best place on the river, price about $6,000.

Denny met me there and went to tea with me after which I went with him up to call at Lowrys? Whose sister and husband live in the old house of D & L. had a very pleasant time. Got home at 9 oclock and then wrote a letter to wife. Saw a man from N. J. who wished me to loan him money to start a nursery. Don’t see it.

Dec’ 2nd’

Left Jacksonville at 9 ½ oclock on steamer Hattie, had a pleasant trip, got here at 5 oclock and took rooms at the St’ Johns Hotel.

Dec’ 3rd’

After breakfast Dr. Montgomery and I went over to see the Byers plantation and saw them make sugar and examined the tract, also visited the large orange grove on the point opposite which is a very beautiful one and very productive.

Got home to dinner. After dinner called upon Mr. Forward who invited me to his house to see his grove, passed the evening very pleasantly at the house.

Dec’ 4th’

Today it has been raining but about 9 ½ oclock Mr Woodruff? And two friends and myself went up to Mr W’s place to see his grove which he has got started very finely, about 3000 trees also some bananas. Had dinner and then he took me over the lands he has for sale. 1 lot 100 acres 30. 1 lot 50 ac 40 or less, other lots 20 @ 20 to 25. he has several families settled about him. Got home for supper.

Dec’ 5th’.

Called upon Mr Burt? and Major Trasdale and went to walk with Mr Wright. This P.M. took boat with K & W and went down the river to Dr Masons place, 12 miles, got back at 7.40 having had a very pleasant row.

Like K & W very much. Saw several aligators on trip one as much as 6 feet long.

Dec’ 6th’

Went to walk in the rain and was obliged to return.After getting dry went up and sat with W. & R. till dinner after which did the same thing for awhile then wrote to Col’ R. and then went down to wharf to see the boats come in. Was much disappointed not getting letter from home. Hope to find some it J. Wright has promised to write me from their place about land near them.

Dec’ 7th’

Left P. for J’ on Hattie, found Mr and Mrs Whuster and Mr and Mrs W Wilson, had a very pleasant trip, reached J. at 4 oclock. Wrote wife on the way. Got a letter from her and also from Mr. Woolson who enclosed letters of introduction. Passed the evening at the house.

Dec’ 8th’.

Went to Land Office to see about Ship Yard also went to Dr. Maxwell and had him examine throat. Then saw Mr Greeley and arranged to go down the river. Also saw Mr Robinson. In the evening Mr Colony and Mr & Mrs W came to my room and spent the time until 8 oclock, had a very pleasant time.

Dec’ 9th’

Went to see the Welch place also called at Mr Greeleys.

Dec’ 10th’

Went down the river to Ship Yard on the Henry Burden. Mr & Mrs Wilson and Colony and ladies also went down on her. Mr Buch landed at S. Y. with me and we spent 3 hours in looking over the tract. It contains 475 acres and has a good wharf with 8 feet of water at low tide.

Was much pleased with the place. The land good tho’ rather dry and there is an abundance of muck for manure, It is the best place I have seen yet. It has some 300to 400 orange trees upon it and also peach trees.

Got home for supper. It rained all the way up river.

Dec’ 11th’

Did not do much. Saw D. and arranged to go down to Ft’ George Island also Dr M. and had throat fixed again. In the afternoon went for a walk with Colony. Spent the evening with Mr Whimster. Wm’ H. Whimster.

Dec’ 12th’.

Went out boating with W. c& c. in the morning, wrote letters in the afternoon.

Dec’ 13th’

Got up at 6 ½ oclock had breakfast with Denny and then he and I walked down to Mr Allens where we has a pleasant call until 10 oclock when we had another breakfast which tasted like home. Met Mrs Pierce and children who came down to the boat with us also the Marquis, a frenchman (the Marquis de Talarand) left there at 1 oclock in the afternoon, went over the river and had a walk. Wrote letters in the evening to Lizzie, Mr R. Capt’ Herbert Cone, Jim P. Dick A.


Loafed all day, rained and nothing to do.


Still rains, have had a letter from the Fletchers and have written them and also to wife.


No move today, no boat down river.


Got up at 7.30 and with Mr Conoly went on Henry Burden which at 10 oclock landed us at Pilot Town. We immediately started for Ft George Island 3 miles. After a beautiful walk we came to the house which is on the North end of the Island and is beautifully situated and from the top we got a fine view. Found the colored man Fielding, who took us over the plantation. We were much pleased with the looks of the thing. We had dinner at 12 oclock and after looked about some more. We went down to Pilot Town again and then crossed over to Mayport and took up quarters at Mr Campbells rooms and got supper at Mrs. S. Fields. Slept well.


Got breakfast at 8 oclock and went over to Pilot Town and walked about to see where the fire was, found it had gone over 400 acres without doing much damage. Got back in season to take Burden for Augustine. The fire on the Island looked beautifully last night. had a splendid trip to A. had a good chance to look over the City before dark.


Left A. about 7. had a fine day and trip back to Jacksonville where we arrived at 4 oclock.

The Burden towed two ships over the bar before going up the river. The ther’ at 4 oclock 84 deg’.

20th’ Sunday.

Was sick last night. Ate pork for dinner, it made me sick. Have done nothing all day but write a couple, three letters. Mrs R. Paul, Mr W.

Saw Denny and walked with him in the P. M. also went over the river with Am Stock. 74%

21st’ Ther’ at 2 oc’ 74.

22nd’ Went over to see Dodge who has put out 2 acres onions.

23rd’ Went down to Allens MILLS WITH Mr C. Wrote to Dr F and Wife.

24th’ Very cold and windy, kept in house, ther’ at 9 P.M. 28%

25th’ At sunrise the Ther’ 20 above.


26th’ Nothing in particular tho’ Mr Colony and I went over the river to see Halls orange grove. 12 acres and 200 trees, price 2800.

27th’ Sat up last night in company with Mr Tuttle with body of young Rich. Got letters from wife and sister.

28th’ Monday devoted part of the day to looking up Ft’ George and found that it will be hard to get title as it is under mortgage, has to be sold which cant be done until next Dec’. Wrote to wife and Lizzie. (his sister)

29th’ Got letter from wife and answered it.


Called at land Agency and found that they have written Col’ Barnwell about Ft’ George. Went out boating with Colony &c.


Called upon Col’ Bisbee and got him to look up title to Ft George. Went out boating with Colony and wife and Mrs Simpson. Rainy tonight.

Jan’ 1st’ 1869

Lent George S. Fletcher $20.00 Jan’

2nd’ Received letters from Dr Tyler, also from wife and Jim Blace all of which pleased me much particularly the one from the Dr.

Jan’ 3rd’

Mr Colony, Mr Finnery and myself took the Burden at 5 ½ for Pilot Town, had breakfast on board, reached P. T. at 7 ½ oc’ having run aground in the fog twice. Took small boat and started for Ft George where we arrived at 11 oclock. We looked about the Island the balance of the day and camped in the house for the night. C. on a table and F. and I in hammocks.

Didn’t Sleep much.

Jan 4th’

Started out to look about as soon as breakfast. C. and I got lost in the jungle and had a hart time of it. Got back to house about 12 oc’ had dinner and took the boat again for P. T. got there about 3 oclock and found we were too late for the Burden so had to stay there all night.

Mrs Latimer took us in and used us first rate.

Jan’ 5th’

Took walk before and after breakfast over on Ft George before the Burden got along. When she came we went on board and after going over the Bar 3 times we returned to Jacksonville in season for supper.

I found 3 letters from wife and one from Mr Knight.

Jan’ 6th’

Wrote to wife, Mr Warner and Onnie.

“When I am dead and in my grave
And my bones they are all rotten
When this you see remember me
That I may not be forgotten."

Elizabeth S. Hart, Aged 83.

About town all day.

Jan’ 7th’

Went out sailing with Fenery (or Denny.?) in the afternoon. Saw Colony off for Palatka in the A.M. Wrote to Paul.

8th’ About town and had a sail in Mr Allens new sailboat.


Made arrangements for starting North. Sold gun for $30.00 Ther’ for $1.25. left $20.00 with Denny for Andrew Fielding to plant cane on Ft’ George.

(note some time in these few days he must have competed purchase of Island) G. R. W. see deeds.

Bought a few oranges, grapefruit, Tanger? cane, (two words illegible). Left Jacksonville at 7 P.M. Was very sorry to leave the place for I have been enjoying myself there very much. The weather nearly all the time was very beautiful and I have found very many pleasant people who treated me with the utmost kindness.

Jan’ 10th’

Savannah, Ga. I am now sitting in the park finding it very comfortable so to do. I reached this City from J, this morning at 8 oclock. Have secured rooms at Marshall house.


It commenced raining yesterday at about 3 oclock and kept on until this morning about 11 oc’. The hardest storm I have seen since Ive been South. Have written to Dr T. George F. Capt’ Denny and wife.


Walked about Savannah and inspected mules.


Set out to go to Beaufort but concluded not to.


Went and called upon “Lulbut”??? in the morning. In the afternoon we went out to Bournewinters with Ivers. It is a beautiful place,.


Took Steamer Livingstone at 9 oclock for N. Y. Capt’ Chessman. With every prospect of a fine trip. After dinner began to grow sick and had to go to bed at 5 oclock.

16th’ Sick all day.

17th’ Sick all day.

18th’ Sunday

Find myself better today and was up at 7 oclock and was able to eat a lot of breakfast. The Capt’ and waiters have all been very kind to me but it is hard work being seasick.

It is quite cold this morning tho’ not so much so as I expected. We had about 90 miles to run when I got up and we are going along nicely at least 11 knots.

Hannah B. Rollins written her twice.

Then comes a list of wants evidently for Ft George.

A plan for horse stalls &c and the following list of servants.

1 Andrew Fielding @ 15.
2 Charlotte Fielding @ 10.
3 William Brodley @ 12
4 Freeman Browne @ 12
5 Nellie Brown @ 6
6 Jessie Brooks @ 12
7 Eli Rocher------- @ 12
8 Jim Williams @ 12
9 Charles Percival
10 Annie Rocker

List of tools to be ordered from George Rollins.

Budding knife,
Bush sythes
Hay sythes,
Iron mill for crack corn “
red jacket

Memo for Ft George. See about outlaying Islands. Right-of-way over Batten Island and have it put in deed.

See about wharf also wash in front of house.



B. W. Barnwell, Beaufort S.C.
George W. Beach, Wilksbarre, Pa
A. C. Kenny, 124 Cumberland St Brooklyn N. Y.
Publisher of Nation, box 6732 N. Y.
Thatcher, Lake City.
G. M. Emery, lighter.
Henry Williams St Augustine, Florist.

Ft George,

Title examined $30.00
Sugar cane $20.00
Telegraph $6.75
Table measure $1.25
2 Mules $400.00

Other lists of supplies and names &c

Syme Wright
Mr Whister.
Edwin Kirby Moody
Col’ Driggs and wife
J. G. Vannstrand ?
Alfred Colony Harnsville N. H.
Send J. S. Adams P. O. report 1861
J. C. Greeley.
P. R. Jarvis Jacksonville,.

Stove $45.00-65.
Kitchen table 8.00
Ex’ table 7 ft 15.00

John O Mathews Orange trees’ Con (C. S. Robinson.
F. M. York.
J. S. Byne
Dr W. B. Jones 9 ½ Geo’ Gen R. R.
Wm Byne

More addresses and names and wages of servants’

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