Observations and musings on Jacksonville Politics

Folio Weekly on Mayport

Folio Weekly has posted their editorial on JaxPort’s proposal to move the cruise terminal to Mayport.  (For what it’s worth, we wish Folio would post more of their material online—it’s much easier than trying to re-type it and properly credit it on our own.)  


We don’t often look to public relations flacks for  straight answers. But occasionally, despite their training and obligations, they let fly with a nugget of truth.

Such is the case with a December 2004 statement by then-JaxPort Authority spokesperson Robert Peek. When asked by The Florida Times-Union about the viability of a cruise ship terminal at Mayport, he responded, “Our analysis shows there is no room at Mayport.” Peek added, “We would need 40 acres of property along the river. There is not 40 acres of undeveloped land at Mayport. We would have to buy homes and businesses.”


The statement succinctly explains the central flaw in the port’s plan to build a cruise ship terminal at Mayport — a plan dissected (and decimated) by local property rights lawyer Andrew Brigham. In a Dec. 8 letter to Jacksonville City Councilmembers (available at flogfolioweekly.com), Brigham makes clear that the port’s claim that it needs just 10 acres of Mayport for a new terminal is a blatant untruth. The state’s other cruise terminals are larger by an order of magnitude (Miami’s footprint is 80 acres, Port Everglades is 50 acres, and both Port Canaveral and Tampa’s port are 70 acres each) and the port has done nothing, other than propose stacking cars in a five-story parking garage, to rein in land needs. Besides, the port’s own spokesperson acknowledged just four years ago that they’d need 40 acres to make the terminal work.

If we accept the port’s 10-acre estimate for what it is — a fiction — then the question becomes: How do they expect to make the terminal work? The answer can only be described as a kind of death-bed larceny, a process that allows the port to acquire land as Mayport declines. Brigham calls this “taking by attrition.”

The article is well worth reading in its entirety.  It can be found here.



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  1. spidey says:

    I thought the 21-page letter that was sent to City Council members from Mr. Brigham, the attorney from the Brigham Moore law firm, made a compelling argument against locating the cruise terminal in Mayport.

    Here’s Folio’s link to the letter.

  2. dan says:

    Is Mayport Home to an Ancient Spanish Burial Site
    January 21, 2009 — gatorblue
    As the Jacksonville Port Authority weighs the decision of whether or not to spend $60 million to build a cruise terminal in Mayport, Mayport residents have raised the spectre of disturbing a cemetery that holds the remains of Spanish soldiers.

    by Joseph Picket, Station Librarian

    In a recent article ( The Mirror, 27 October 1989 ), I presented evidence for the existence of a Spanish cemetery in Mayport; the origin of which dates back to April 1568. At that time, a garrison of Spanish soldiers lost their lives defending a small fort (in the area of what is now Broad Street) against an overwhelming force of French soldiers and Timucuan Indians. The remains of the defenders were buried near the fort by a relief party sent from St. Augustine by the acting Governor, General Esteban de las Alas.
    Through succeeding centuries, the Mayport area was occupied by the Spanish, English, Minorcans and New England fishermen; the latter settling here at the close of the Civil War.

    In order to understand the extent of the old Mayport cemetery ( not to be confused with the East Mayport cemetery ) we must first establish the location of the St. John-at-the-bar Mission (erected in 1858 ) and later called St. John the Evangelist.

    The former site of the church is where the east wing of the Marine Science Center is now located. According to Diocese records, the building was identical in structure to St. Joseph’s mission church, also erected in 1858, in Mandarin; “a rough frame structure, 60 feet long and 26 feet wide, neither ceiled nor plastered.” The front entrance was at the east end of the church. Because of damage sustained during the Civil War, the church was rebuilt, keeping the same dimensions. However, the original structure had a low, square bell tower that was replaced with a steeple.

    How extensive was the cemetery? It was as large as the old cemetery behind St. Joseph’s Church in Mandarin.

    Martin Cooper, Jr., Carmen Andreu Church, Clyde Bradley, Stoddard Andreu, Dwight Wilson, Joe and Lenore Brown, Lillie Brazelle Thomas ( Mayport’s oldest resident ) , Mildred King Ogram and others who wished to remain anonymous, generously shared a wealth of information about family burials, location of grave sites and plat maps. Their information, coupled with maps and aerial photographs, provided a remarkable picture of the size of the cemetery; but most of it, contrary to previous reports, is not on Navy property.

    Not many Mayport residents remember, or know about, the huge old oak tree that once stood where the jog in the west perimeter of the Navy fence is today. The tree was on the east side of, and approximately 20 feet from, the face of the dune. The tree, based on the descriptions of those people who as children played among its branches, must have looked like the ancient oak tree in the cemetery behind St. Joseph’s Church in Mandarin. Beneath its wide spreading branches, hidden by brush, scrub oak, sand and stinging nettles, deteriorating wooden crosses and small headstones marked the final resting places of several early residents of Mayport. Just east of the tree, but still beneath the branches, a low iron picket fence enclosed a family plot containing several graves. When Mr. Cooper was a 7-year old boy in 1933, he played beneath the tree. He described the area as being covered with grape vines, brush and low scrub. He also recalled digging into the face of the nearby dune and uncovering a headstone about 2 feet by 2 ½ feet wide.

    Carmen Church’s father, 86-year old Joseph Andreu, remembers seeing some headstones “as big as refrigerators.” This description was confirmed by Stoddard Andreu. Many of the stones were in poor shape or toppled”. Martin Cooper, Sr., who is in his 90’s, remembers seeing large headstones. This brush-covered area was a small, very small, section of a much larger cemetery. It was only the northeast corner of a very old cemetery.

    Beginning at the oak tree, the north boundary of the cemetery extended westerly, beneath a 45 foot sand dune, to where a picturesque lane, now Broad Street, connected with Mary’s Road, probably named for Mary Salas whose home, and later her daughter’s home sat on top of the dune. An August 1942 U.S. Navy aerial photograph gives an excellent overview of the area.

    The west boundary of the cemetery was on a line between the juncture of the lane and Mary’s Road, southward, into the area adjacent to the north side of the Marine Science Center, the playground. The boundary line was several feet west of the house built by the late Joseph Daniels, and later purchased by Martin Cooper, Sr.
    Beginning at the southwest corner, the south boundary extended eastward, on the north side of the church, to a point beyond the entrance of the church. Here, the boundary line becomes nebulous, but I believe it turned south, passing in front of the church almost to Palmer Street and then eastward to a point approximately 20 feet inside what is now the Navy fence. The evidence that leads me to this belief is an Osage orange tree, a type of tree that, today is frequently used as an ornamental in parks, gardens, and village and town squares. It is considered native only to Texas, Arizona and Oklahoma, all settled by early Spaniards. The Osage orange tree that is now standing within the area of the cemetery may have been planted as a corner boundary marker.

    The east boundary lies just inside the Navy fence line between Palmer Street and the jog in the fence.

    Within these boundaries, except for the northeast corner, the area was completely buried by the southern half of the huge teardrop shaped dune that extended from a point 500 feet north of Stoddard Andreu’s home, formerly owned by Mary Salas, south to Palmer Street. The dune is shown on 19th century maps, in a 1942 aerial photograph and in a reproduction of a 1900 photograph of the red lighthouse and other buildings on page 160 of J. R. Ward’s “Old Hickory’s Town.”
    Only God knows who and how many people are buried in the old cemetery. The last headstone to be seen and officially reported was that of George E. Brown, who died at the age of 21 years on September 8, 1885. Stoddard Andreu and Barbara Mann Tuten told me they used to put flowers on his grave.

    Most of the people buried in the cemetery will remain forever unknown. Except for the names of 33 Spanish soldiers and a brief church record about a Confederate veteran, I cannot locate any burial records.

    However, several Mayport residents provided me with the names of a few antecedents who are buried here.
    * CPT John Daniels and his wife Augustus Garcia: Carmen Andreu Church’s great grandparents.
    * Emma and David Torrible: Infant children of CPT Fred Torrible and his wife Clara Floyd.
    * Elizabeth and William Joseph King: Infant children of CPT William Joseph King and his wife Clara Arnau, the Grandparents of Mildred King Ogram.
    * Mattie Brazele: Eldest sister of Lillie Brazele Thomas.
    * Ignatio “Natio” Andreu: A young Confederate veteran of the Civil War who, so church records state, was administered the Last rites of the Catholic Church by Rev. Henry Calvreul in August 1866, during a 3-week visit to Mayport by the Missionary priest.

    The Cemetery was permanently closed to burials in 1889; shifting sand and dunes had completely covered the cemetery. The same shifting sand eventually forced the abandonment of the church within a year.
    Volume III of “The Catholic Church IN The United States”, published in 1914, states the Mayport church was abandoned in 1890 when “in the course of time, banks of sand accumulated until access to the church became impossible.” The final death knell for church and cemetery came in 1895 when, on the sixteenth day of April, Rufila and Andrew Floyd transferred a plot of land to Rt. Rev. John Moore, Bishop of St. Augustine Diocese. This property became the site of a new St. Johns Church, erected in 1897 near the red lighthouse and remembered so well by residents living today. Margaret Mynihan Wells, 85 years old, attended the old wood frame school ( I am convinced that this was the abandoned church that was later acquired by the Duval County Board of Education between 1891 and 1901 ), and she remembers that, in 1911, the sand dune “was all around the school.”

    During the next three decades, the cemetery lay undisturbed beneath the thick blanket of sand dune: lost to memory after 1900, except for that small area in the northeast corner.

    The first indication of the existence of an old, forgotten cemetery came when Joseph Daniels and Joseph Hurlburt, both deceased, excavated a foundation hole for construction of a house on the north side of the wood frame school. During the excavation work, several wooden crosses, headstones and human bones were uncovered. After his father purchased the house, the windswept sand encroached the area around the building making it necessary to remove the sand. As the area was being cleared, more wooden crosses, stone grave markers and bones were uncovered.

    When the Naval Station was first established in the early 1940s, the cemetery was again disturbed when the dune was leveled by a contractor’s bulldozer. When two coffins were unearthed during the eastward extension of Broad Street, work was immediately stopped and Navy officials were called to the site. After considerable discussion, the coffins and contents were carefully returned to their resting places and covered over with fill. The headstones, wooden crosses and other grave markers in the northeast corner were also covered over with sand, and the ancient oak tree was removed.
    Today, the two graves that were accidentally unearthed can be seen as depressions in the middle of the pavement where Broad Street turns into Ribault Street. On the south side of the bend, if one looks carefully, depressions may be seen in the well-kept lawn between the mobile home and the cages of chickens. No one knows what happened to the grave markers in this area; most likely they were buried, as were the other, by the bulldozer.

    We can only hope that the graves of these early settlers, and Spanish solders who are buried there, will never be disturbed again.

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