Among many (did I say many) historical sites in the State of Florida, Lake Holden has earned a place in that history with a Roadside Historic Marker.
Located on the SE corner of Alamo and 29th Street there is the featured waymark placed by the Florida Historic Markers Group.
Aaron Jernigan moved to what is now Orlando in 1843 after the passage of the Armed Occupation Act of 1842 that opened vast areas of Florida for settlement. According to the law, one could move onto land at least two miles from an established fort, erect a home, and become a citizen-soldier. After defending the land from Indians for five years, the homesteader would receive title to 160 acres.
Jernigan cleared land and built a cabin on the northwest shore of Lake Holden, about two miles from Fort Gatlin. Early in 1844, Jernigan moved his wife Mary and their children, his Negro slaves, and 700 head of cattle to his homestead.
When Florida became a state in 1845, he was elected Orange County’s first representative to the state legislature. In all, Jernigan acquired 1200 acres of land.
Although the Second Seminole War ended in 1842, Indian uprisings and cattle rustling continued to be a problem. In 1846, Aaron had to leave Tallahassee to protect his herds. He built a stockade on the north shore of Lake Conway in 1849, and 80 residents plus their slaves quickly moved in for protection and remained there for almost a year. Jernigan became the captain of a local militia that patrolled the area for renegade Indians in 1852 but was able to disband the same year once the Seminoles were convinced to stop their raids.
By 1850, the Jernigan home had become the nucleus of a village named Jernigan which had a U.S. Post Office and was indicated as a settlement on early Florida maps. But, as more settlers moved to the area, the new town of Orlando replaced the small village.
Jernigan and some of his sons were accused of killing a man at Orlando’s log cabin post office in 1859. Orlando had no jail, so the Jernigans were transported to Ocala where they escaped. Legend has it that Aaron moved to Texas where he lived for 25 years. He eventually returned to the area and died in Orlando in 1891. He was buried at the Lake Hill Cemetery in Orlo Vista, Florida.
The entry above from an article published: Orlando’s First Settler, Aaron Jernigan – Florida Historical Markers on Waymarking.com.
The mission of the “Florida Historic Markers” Group:
Roadside historic markers are our windows to the past. They educate us, they make us curious to investigate, or they provide a nice excuse to take a break and stretch our legs while we read what happened here. Florida’s historic marker program is a great way to learn the history of the Sunshine State!
Regarding Aaron Jernigan family and friends indictment in the death of William Wright, as excerpted below in the book (“From Mosquito to Orange The Making of a County; by Paul W. Wehr. Chapter V ‘Murder and Mayhem page 85) the Jernigans turned themselves in. Hardly the act of persons who belived themselves to be guilty! (editorial comment) 😉
The need for a jail became readily apparent in 1859 when Aaron Jernigan, his sons Aaron Jr., Lewis and Moss along with in-law William Tyler participated in a brawl at Orlando post office in which William Wright was killed. Although the Jernigans turn themselves in, expecting no serious consequences for their involvement, the grand jury indicted them for murder. Since there was no jail in Orlando to hold the Jernigans, they were transported to the Ocala jail but they all escaped except Tyler on April 22. Aaron Senior was we captured about a year later; but, as in Ocala newspaper put it he “again became wary of confinement… And very unceremoniously left.” Some suspect he was aided in his escape by others and was never we captured. As for the courthouse one account that gave no date had county officials opening their offices in a two room log house without windows and floors located in pinewoods in the vicinity of present-day Church Street. No mention is made of a jail.