The end of the Civil War saw the growth of a significant number of African-American communities in Northeast Florida. LaVilla in Jacksonville and Freemansville near Daytona Beach were both formed in 1866. In St. Augustine, Lincolnville was just being formed.
An article entitled “The Colored People” appears on page four of the September 8, 1866 edition of the St. Augustine Examiner, stating
“We are glad to see that some of the negroes are improving and reclaiming land in the south part of the city. This shows a highly commendable spirit and one that deserves every encouragement…”
By October of 1866, the city leased six lots along the western edge of the Maria Sanchez Creek. The Maria Sanchez Creek at that time was not the lake we see today. It was a tidal body of water that stretched from the Matanzas River almost to Orange Street. For many years, the creek was used as a dumping ground for trash and filth. Significantly wider in 1866, the western edge was close to what is today Washington Street. The six leaseholders received marshy land owned by the city that no one else wanted.
The individuals who were the original leaseholders of what would become Lincolnville were Aaron Dupont; Miles Hancock; Matilda Papy; Peter Sanks; Tom Solana, and Harriet Weedman.
Very little is known about most of these individuals. What we do know is that Harriet Weedman was a slave, and in 1838 she married another slave, Peter Solana. The two of them had a daughter, Sarah Cutler, who married Miles Hancock in 1865. He served in the U. S. Colored Troops until 1866. Two of the six original leaseholders were thus related by marriage.
I speculate that Tom Solana may have been a child from Harriet Weedman’s marriage to Peter Solana, but I cannot find any record of him. Peter Sanks purchased property in the northern part of the county that formed the community of Sanksville. The lot in Lincolnville may have been his first real estate investment. I have not been able to discover information about the other leaseholders, but I will continue searching. If you have any information about the founders you would like to share, please contact [email protected].
Written by Bob Narwrocki