Emma Jernigan

An interview with Mrs. Emma Jernigan Yates dated November 8, 1973; at the time, Mrs. Yates was approximately 115 years old. Mrs. Yates died in 1974.

Mrs. Emma Mary Jernigan Yates who was a pioneer in Orlando believed to be more than 110 years old when she died in Bartow back in 1974. This picture was taken back in 1973. “Orlando, a Century Plus”

‘My father’s name was Aaron Moses Jernigan but my grandmother called him Jim Jernigan. I was born in Orlando and raised right there. There were about 15 or 20 families; the Holden’s, the Russell’s, the Yates – that I married into – the Barber’s, and I can’t think of the rest of them. It’s been so long, you know, and they are all dead. Old Judge Bryson was one man that I remember, he and his family, we lived right near them in a little old log house out west of Orlando. Pretty soon after my daddy and my people went there the Summerlin’s came there and first he built a place on Lake Conway, then he built the hotel on Lake Eola.

My daddy and Judge Bryson used to take an ox wagon and go to Sanford to get groceries. Sanford was then in Orange County. There wasn’t anything in Orlando but my people and a few others. The first grocery store we ever had was Delaney’s and I was named after his wife, Emma. My mother died there and they buried her in the cemetery just south of Orlando between Orlando and Pine Castle. Her name was Catherine Scott. Another Jernigan below Orlando was the one who had all the cattle and slaves. But the post office was named after my people. They were there and settled it after the Indian War. Old man Aaron, who was kin to my granddaddy, and was a captain in the Indian War and my daddy drew a pension from the Indian War after my granddaddy died. My daddy died right there in Orlando on Lake Underhill. If I could get around I could show you where every one of them is buried.

I saw the first railroad that was ever built in Orange County. Me and my sister went down to Sanford to watch them start it and saw General Grant turn the first shovel of dirt.

I was married to Mr. Yates in 1894 and I had nine children – four girls and five boys. The freeze came along about a year after I was married and everybody said that Florida was ruined forever. I guess that I have lived long enough to see that it wasn’t.

“Kendrick, Ken, Orlando: A Century Plus, Pages 5&6.”

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