Lost Jacksonville: Honeymoon/Campbell Hill

February 25, 2015 9 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Today it's a major logistics hub for the state of Florida. During the late 19th century it was a rural community just west of downtown Jacksonville: Honeymoon.

While the average Jaxson may not be familiar with an area of Jacksonville's urban core being known as "Honeymoon," most railfans will. From the crest of the Beaver Street viaduct, many have made the voyage to see one of Florida's most important railroad junctions in action. Nearly a mile in length, the Honeymoon Yard and Wye is where the CSX Transportation (CSX), Florida East Coast (FEC), and Norfolk Southern (NS) railroads converge. However, the name Honeymoon predates this important junction.

Honeymoon was the name of Colonel Lucius Augustus Hardee's home two miles west of Jacksonville's Union Terminal. It was built within close proximity of the Florida, Atlantic and Gulf Central Railroad, which opened in 1860, linking Jacksonville and Alligator Town (Lake City). Prior to the Civil War, by 1860, Hardee was one of the largest planters and slaveholders in Florida owning long staple cotton plantations in Hamilton County, FL and the 748-acre Rural Home Plantation. A soldier in the 3rd Seminole War, Hardee was the also the first Commissioned Officer from Florida in the Civil War, serving as the Captain of a group of soldiers known as Duval's Cowboys.

Hardee's Rural Home operation was destroyed during the Civil War. Employing many of his ex-slaves, Hardee built the lavishly landscaped Honeymoon residence to replace the Rural Home. Hardee and his wife, Esther C. Haddock, selected the name in honor of her brother, William Haddock, and his new wife who were the first guest at the new residence. Here, Hardee entertained several guests, including Harriet Beecher Stowe, a noted 19th century author and seasonal resident of Mandarin. Hardee also established a citrus nursery at Honeymoon, providing trees for many new orange groves in the area.

Known as a "Renaissance Man of his Time and Place," Hardee also once believed he could cure Yellow Fever. He developed a theory that the germs of the fever floated in the air, an assumption which has since been proved by the discovery that mosquitoes transmit the disease. He believed the germs could be killed by concussion.

Map of Jacksonville, showing the location of Honeymoon and Campbell Hill in 1887.

Despite Hardee's triumphs and failures, rural life west of LaVilla and downtown Jacksonville was quickly coming to an end. By 1880, Jacksonville had replaced Pensacola as Florida's largest city. Five years later, Colonel Lucius Augustus Hardee died of malaria at the age of 56. The next year, his Honeymoon residence burned to the ground. The next year, in 1887, Honeymoon was annexed by the City of Jacksonville, along with neighboring LaVilla, Brooklyn, Riverside, Springfield, Durkeeville, East Jacksonville, Fairfield and Oakland. By this time, Honeymoon had platted streets named after fruits such as Lemon, Grape, Pinapple, Orange, Peach and Plum.

By the early 1890s, several railroad companies terminating in Jacksonville operated small isolated passenger depots. Seeing the need for a larger single terminal, railroad magnate Henry Flagler formed the Jacksonville Terminal Company in 1893. Prior to the opening of the first Union Depot at Bay and Stuart Streets, Flagler purchased a large portion of Honeymoon with the intentions of it supporting the needs of Jacksonville's new rail terminal.

Looking from the Beaver Street viaduct at Honeymoon after the development of the Jacksonville Terminal Company's railyards.

In 1896, the City of Jacksonville agreed to allow the Jacksonville Terminal Company to close ?? blocks of Honeymoon in order to expand railyards at Honeymoon. Here, the railroads stored, sorted and cleaned their sleeping cars. As a part of their agreement, the Jacksonville Terminal Company extended and widened Dennis Street, east of Lemon Street to connect with Myrtle Avenue. As a result of Honeymoon transforming into an important junction for multiple railroad companies, additional industry flocked to the area. Early manufacturing companies in Honeymoon included the Florida Ice Company, Florida Cotton Oil Company and Gress Manufacturing Company.

At the same time, during the Reconstruction, many ex-slaves flocked to growing coastal cities like Jacksonville in seek of employment and a new life as freed man. With local railroads and industry offering labor intensive employment opportunities in abundance, Honeymoon and surrounding areas become popular places to reside for the 19th century working class black population. A portion of the old Honeymoon tract between the railroads and McCoys Creek became known as Campbell Hill. Much smaller than LaVilla and Brooklyn, Campbell Hill grew to be a compact urban district nestled between the Florida Ice Company and Gress Manufacturing Company's McCoys Creek planing mill.

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