Middleburg, FL

Sheriff responds to roadway sign calling for Middleburg to be renamed ‘Whitesville’

Don Johnson

Clay County Sheriff Michelle Cook responded on Facebook during the Fourth of July holiday to a sign along Blanding Boulevard in Middleburg. The sign urged Middleburg residents to show support for renaming the town “Whitesville.”

Cook said this in her post on the sheriff’s office Facebook page:

“Several people have reached out regarding the people at (County Road) 218 and Blanding (Boulevard) and their ‘signs’. Although I do not agree with their statements, the Constitution of our GREAT NATION guarantees their right to free speech.

My official response to their message -- “Bless Their Hearts” (southern folks know exactly what I’m saying).

God Bless America! Y’all have a safe 4th!”

One of the signs said: “Honk if you want Middleburg to go back to its former name Whitesville.”

Another sign said: “Every signature on the Declaration (of Independence) belongs to a white man.”

The sheriff’s post had gotten 231 comments by Monday evening.

Cook left this comment on her post:

“A bit of history and some wise words from our friend Scotty Taylor:

As a 5th generation Middleburg citizen the area just south of Hwy 218 and Hwy 21 was indeed called Whitesville.

I grew up there as much of that property was owned by the Taylor and Prevatt families who bought the property from the Buddington’s.

As a source of reference I recommend reading

Parade of Memories

“A History of Clay County, Florida”

By Arch Fredric Blakey

This history was compiled by the Clay County Bicentennial Steering Committee 1976

There were two settlements in this area back in the 1820’s through the 1890’s

Middleburg was the area close to Ft Heileman(Seminole Indian War Fort) the fork of Black Creek.

What we now know as the “Burg” especially Whitesville belonged to Ozias Buddington a Connecticut ship owner and sea captain who married Garry’s daughter (Garry’s Ferry famed Civil War Battle) Susan.

At the spot that is called Whitesville there is the Buddington Cemetery located on private property today.

This area is located in Black Creek Park North off Halperns Way.

Whitesville Landing was owned by a man named White whose business … loading barges pulled by oxen to the warehouses at Black Creek in Middleburg with turpentine barrels.

As far as the slavery issue went John H. McIntosh received 16,000 acres from Zephaniah Kingsley becoming the largest slave owner in Clay County with 197 slaves.

There are still descendants of these slaves living in Whitesville/Middleburg area at what is now known as Foreman’s Circle.

These families received this property after the Civil War “40 acres and a mule decree” from Federal Authorities 1865.

It is troubling to me when someone who has no idea of what he is talking about comes into our home town for no other purpose than causing discord. – Scotty Taylor

Pam Kerswick Jewell also responded to the sheriff’s post:

“Ignore the people. Don't give them what they want, attention, notoriety. Their signs won't change a darn thing. They will leave to go back to their garage when the noon time sun comes out. Like the Sheriff said, bless their hearts.”

Keetha McArthur also commented on the post: “Call me a bad Southern Bell but I hope they get heat stroke at the VERY least. I was horrified when I read them. What an absolutely abhorrent sign to have even made.”

Signs on Blanding Boulevard in Middleburg on Fourth of July.Photo via Facebook

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Veteran journalist with experience in website and newspaper content as an editor and writer. I have worked as a reporter at newspapers and websites in Florida, California and Arkansas. I am a former executive editor at the Tampa Bay Business Journal and worked for 12 years at The Tampa Tribune as an enterprise editor and business editor. At Patch.com, I produced stories for 24 websites in the Tampa Bay area and also edited content for websites in six states.


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