|City/Town: • St. Augustine|
|Location Class: • Residential|
|Built: • 1906 | Abandoned: • 1999|
|Status: • Abandoned|
|Photojournalist: • David Bulit|
Table of Contents
Abraham DuPont was born July 1, 1783, in Beaufort County, South Carolina, the son of Charles and Sarah Coachman DuPont. Abraham was also the nephew of Josiah DuPont who, based on Spanish land grants that dated back to the 1790s, was the first of the family to settle in Florida. He and his family tried to settle on the lands provided by the grants but were driven off by Native Americans in 1801. The following year, Josiah died from a fever leaving all of his land in Florida to be regranted.
In 1807, Abraham married Jane Vedier Pepper, an English immigrant, and the two had six children together. The family lived in St. Luke’s Parrish in Beaufort County, South Carolina for many years. In 1828, he moved his family down to St. John’s County, Florida where he had established a residency. Abraham became a prosperous planter and prominent citizen in the community.
Abraham owned properties that extended to the south from what is now the Flagler County line to the north end of Hammock and from the ocean to the Matanzas River and owned acres on the other side of the Matanzas River bordered by Pellicer Creek. He also owned a house in St. Augustine, across from Flagler College. Abraham was on the building committee for the Trinity Episcopal Church in 1830 and went on to be the mayor of St. Augustine from 1842 to 1843.
In the book, Ashes on the Wind: The Story of Lost Plantations, author Alice Strickland writes, “In May of 1836 during the Seminole Indian War, Cornelius, then 12 years and brother, Ben, age 11, traveled with their father to one of their family plantations on Matanzas River, near the current Washington Oaks State Park. It was planting season. Abraham and his two sons were present at the plantation when the Indian raid was taking place. It was a stormy night and the family had a houseguest, a neighbor, Mr. Long, who had taken refuge from the storm for the night.
Around 9:00 p.m.one of the slaves notified the family about the Indians on the property. Mr. Long was killed near the barn by the Indians after he left the home to seek out his horse to go for help. The following day his body was found near the barn.
After Mr. Long’s death, Abraham began to shoot his seven rifles at the Indians while his female black servant was loading the rifles very fast. In the end, the Indians won the battle and the DuPont family members left the plantation for safe ground. The same night Abraham and his 2 sons left the plantation and walked to St. Augustine arriving the next day. His two boys were only wearing their night clothes. The family returned to the plantation the next day. The plantation was burned down by the Indians and was rebuilt by the family.”
According to Fred and Jim DuPont, direct descendants of Abraham, DuPont Center near St. Augustine was originally a farm that was created when Cornelius Dionisius DuPont, grandson of Abraham, and his wife, Lenora C. Carter, purchased 40 acres of land in the 1900s. Subsequently, the couple purchased another 120 acres. Here, they built this two-story Plantation Plain-style house topped by wood shingles and four rooms along a central hall on each floor. Outside, there was an uneven, unpainted privacy fence that encircled the property, as well as an outhouse and a barn. There was also an arbor with black and white native scuppernong grapes, now known as muscadines.
Although county property records indicate the home was built in the early 1900s, historians such as Charles Tingley, senior research librarian for the St. Augustine Historical Society, believe the house is much older, dating as far back as the 1870s. DuPont Center got its name when Cornelius and his wife donated the right of way to the government to expand the highway. After the intersection was established, the DuPont family decided that gas stations, restaurants, and a roadhouse were more profitable options than farming.
The last of the family members to own the old farmhouse was Ada Mary DuPont Mickler, a daughter of Cornelius and Lenora and the youngest of 11 children. Ada died on August 12, 1999. In 2006, Miller Brothers Properties Ltd. purchased the property, although the house was long abandoned by then. Tom Miller, co-owner of Millers Brothers Properties, has stated in the past that his company has plans to develop the land at some point, possibly into a small retail strip, but would be happy to donate the home, although it would have to be relocated.