History of Santa Rosa County, A King's County

by M. Luther King. Used with permission.

 

JACKSON'S FLORIDA

As early as 1814 General Andrew Jackson, who had been requested to quell some of the "border incidents," in which it was alleged that Spanish Indians were raiding across the border into Alabama, sent his troops through what is now Santa Rosa County, and to the present site of Milton.

It is quite likely they used the ridge route, (effectively avoiding any major streams) which follows the high ridges just west of the Conecuh River from Union Springs, Bullock County, Alabama, by way of Troy, (Pike County) Alabama, and Andalusia, (once Montezuma, Covington County) Alabama, then swings so as to miss the bad breaks in western Santa Rosa County to follow the central ridge of this county beginning at McClellan through what is now Milton and on to what is now Floridatown.

It was during this trip that General Jackson met Sr. Manuel Gonzalez at.that worthy gentleman's home, Gonzalia "fifteen mile house." Mutual respect was generated at this first meeting which was extended throughout succeeding meetings between these gentlemen. (We know of two other times when they were associated - in 1814 when Jackson first took Pensacola, in 1818 when he was again here, and in 1821 when he came for the final acceptance of the territory for the United States.) On this first occasion General Jackson requested that Sr. Gonzalez require his son to guide them into Pensacola, which Sr. Gonzalez refused to do, saying, "Shoot him or both of us if you must but do not expect us to betray our King and our country." Such was plain talk, to the point, that General Jackson could understand and respect. General Jackson failed, in a measure, to achieve what he wished at Pensacola in 1814. He.wished to secure the Florida country, West Florida at least, for the United States to settle boundary disputes and to enlarge United States shore territory. He failed in that international political intrigue and handed Florida back to Spain with apologies.

Don Jose Callava, who was representing his Catholic majesty, the King of Spain, as governor in Florida in and prior to 1821, might have been an unwitting tool to the next Florida incidents. This eminent Spanish governor wished to secure permanent settlers for his domain. He let this be known in the adjacent United States. There was, as a result, such an influx of settlers as the territory had never known before. The inducement, or reward, for settlement was a donation, concession, or grant of land through his agency, and the agency of his successor for the King of Spain, Don Jose Masot. Usually there were certain stipulations - certain requirements to be met looking towards the final clearance of title, which when completed gave to the recipient clear title to the tract of land.

There were many of these recipients of such land, and at this vantage point in history it seems more than likely that they might have shown some ingratitude by "helping" the United States acquire Florida. Intrigue, collusion, even acts bordering close to treason (perhaps) were common in this border country at that time. When compared with our international boundaries of today (Canada and Mexico), the "border incidents" of that day are even more disturbing.

 

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