folder 26: Autobiography of Charles A. Hentz, Part II

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MY AUTOBIOGRAPHY Volume II

1865 Friday --Oct. -- 27th -- After breakfast Dr Branch, Dr Feay -- Jas. Evans, and I and Fletcher started on a walk of observation -- to see the country. We went first through Judge Gates' plantation -- in his orange grove we ate as many sweet oranges as we could -- went over his large sugar house, which has large banana trees growing all about it-; we went through the cane plantations, where the cane grows to prodigious size-; through rich hommocks, where Dr Feay was in ecstasies at the new floral beauties he saw on every side -- there were multitudes of air plants, most of them out of his reach-; that filled him with delight -By the time we got back, he was loaded with specimens -- We went through by Hans Wyatt's place on to Captain Fresca's, whence we returned through the plantations to the house --

After dinner Judge Gates returned -- Dr Branch and Jim and I went down to the place and bluff, where Led with house formerly stood, and was burnt down-; there remain the stumps of about 100 old orange & lemon trees the soil is better than it is about Judge Gates' -- an orange grove would do well there -- We all went up afterwards -- Judge Gates with us -- to the old Braden house-, at the south of Braden's creck-; met Hans Wyatt there -- I bargained with him for the lot on the river bank, which I visited in the morning -- He

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came home with us and gave me a letter to his sister-- Mrs Ledwith of Tallahassee-, on the subject -- I tried my luck fishing from the end of the wharf at sunset no luck--

After a pleasant evening in the piazza smoking & chatting we retired-- Saturday-- Oct 28th--

After breakfast we left Judge Gates' -- Bid them goodbye -- Paid $4.00 for our fare there-; we embarked again on our little vessel-- Andrew brought down a splendid bunch of bananas from Rev. Mr Lees -- six large ones on it -- I bought it for 20 cts--

We sailed across the River to the large Cofield or Gamble plantation -- one thousand acres of open land in one body on it & a thousand uncleared-; the land as level as a floor-, rich and black; bearing 4,000 lbs of sugar to the acre -- We had to wade out-; there being no wharf -- We first went through the large negro quarter (many of the houses built of palmetto logs & that thatched with the leaves-; and visited the large & handsome dwelling house; two stories high --; roomy and airy -- with large porticoes and columns around them; built of tabbey -- Mrs Mc Neill and children were there Capt. Mc N. having gone to Tampa this morning -- We got a good many oranges; looked with a telescope at the houses over the river &c. We then went into the plantation-; visited the ruins of the Vast sugar house, destroyed by the Yankees -- an abominable piece of Vandalism; there are four huge chimneys of brick standing the walls in ruins a large

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steam engine rusted -- disjointed, and hacked to pieces-; numbers of huge kettles and large evaporating pans -- The water hole or well for supplying the engine was over-grown with a rank forest of weeds, and an alligator some six feet long, splashed beneath the surface as we approached --

The fences were made of palmetto logs-; and palmetto trees abounded along the sides of the road to the sugar house-, from which immense bunches of berries depended -; we gathered and ate many-; a large stone, with a very little film of fruit on it -- the little pulp is sweet & pleasant-; a dark purple berry -- size of a large grape-; the wild turkeys & bears are very fond of them --

A light rain came up -- We returned to the boat-; crossed the River & landed at the point by the old Braden place -- We walked a mile & a half to the Braden Orange grove; some 50 trees-; large, splendid trees, in a state of great neglect -- Each one of us gathered as many oranges as we could carry in bags, baskets &c -- I carried over sixty in my india rubber blanket -- We ate as many as we wanted-; got caught in a smart rain as we returned to the boat -- We had a head wind against us, going down the river-; rocked and beat until our sailors grew tired of it -- and resorted to the pole -- In this way we reached the place of Madam Joe's, as it is generally called -; old Joe Atztroth is living -- a quiet old German, whose wife is so much brisker and more full of vim than he, that the place goes by her name -- We got there about dark -- It is a beautiful place-; a shell beach-; a very nice residence with a pretty yard in front of

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it -- comfortable surroundings -- old Joe is a genuine specimen of a typical-; Dutchman with a huge pipe, and blue blouse-; Madam Joe is the boss of the place -- A large woman, with a good natured fine, honest face -- She is famous for her good fare-; a daughter of hers -- Mrs Dickens -- a fat -- dumpy, black eyed, pleasant little frau, was there -- also a very ugle old Dutch woman who was dock and servant generally -- We had an excellent supper --

It was a magnificent moonlight night -- Being out of meat, and not being able to get any from Madam Joe, Andrea & Canning, & I & Dr Feay went out in old Joe's yard after supper, to fish-; Andrea used old Joe's cast net; which was too small; he caught, however, in about 1/2 an hour, some 25 splendid fish-; mostly mullett -- one red fish-; some snappers & sheephead -- Would have cought more -- but unfortunately he threw it over a shock, which made such sad havoc with the net, that our sport was cut short -- We came in and cleaned the fish-; it took Andrea till very late to mend the net -- We enjoyed the lovely moonlight from the piazza and retired -- There are no bedbugs on the sea coast in Fla they had never seen them here-; and when we lived on Indian River later we never saw them there -- I thought that it was probably due to the fact that the cockroaches ate the eggs up -- & the young bugs too -- There were no mosquito bars at Madame Joe's-; and no fire place in the house-; no place for fire but the kitchen cook stove -- An oleander tree nearly as big around as my body, and 30 odd feet high stands in the yard -- Frost does no harm here -- Madam Joe

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told me that she had to chop down her butter bean vines with a hatchet; they grew to be several years old, & with a large, woody stem -- All vegetables generally grow the year around --

Sunday Oct 29th

We slept delightfully last night -- Paid Madam Joe $5.00 for her good care of us-; and left after a hearty and an excellent breakfast -- A most magnificent day -- Nothing could be more enchanting than the scenery and the weather-; we went curling down the river with a fine breeze -- Stopped at a place on the north side of the river where three date trees are growing -; we landed to look at them-; they are unfortunately all males -- so Dr Feay says -- so they bear no fruit -- They are some 25 feet high-; very graceful and tropical-; make a great rustling in the breeze -- We found also the wild Olive a beautiful tree-; found plenty of wild cotton stalks over 20 years old-; large as a tree-; trailing aong a few feet from the ground and sending up tall immense stalks, with blooms and cotton; but it is of no account -- boll worms & other insects ruin it before it matures --

We found plenty of prickly pears-, a dark crimson fruit, with a supeabundance of red juice; rather insipid, but it makes a beautiful & excellent jelly -- We embarked, and landed again at Piney Point, on the north side of the river, to look for the grape fruit, a fruit which the boat men praised highly; but we could not find any-; it bears from a large tree, whose leaf is thick & marked with prominent veins-; & red markings-; Dr Feay gave the name of this tree as

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