William Bartram Scenic and Historic Highway Corridor Management Organization
The William Bartram Scenic and Historic Highway organization is proud to present this series of oral histories of a number of longtime residents of Northwest St. Johns County. The total of 24 oral histories will be presented over the next several months and will hopefully encourage our children, young adults, and their parents to learn more of the history of St. Johns County. Our history starts in the early 1500’s with the Spanish Colonial period, through French and British Periods in Florida, The American Civil War and World War II eras, and the present era of rapid residential growth.
Some of the residents interviewed lived here when the SR 13 highway, Scenic Highway, was nothing more than a two-lane dirt road that wasn’t paved until the 1950’s. Most residents didn’t have electrical power until the late 1950’s and telephone circuits were party lines with as many as eight (8) families sharing the line.
These 24 individual histories are very enlightening with residents recounting their childhoods and the very early days of St. Johns County where farming, ranching, cattle raising, Orange Groves, Forestry, Moonshining, and turpentine production were the order of the day. The history recounted by Sarah Bailey, a former county commissioner, is extremely informative and should be read by all to truly get an understanding of her contributions to St. Johns County.
Knowing and understanding the long history of St. Johns County’s’ beginnings and through the eyes of early residents’ readers will understand why the William Bartram Scenic and Historic Highway Management organization has worked so hard to keep our Northwest St. Johns County Scenic and Historic regardless of the intense growth of the Northwest St. Johns County area.
To know and understand the hardships of our early settlers please read the Project Summary for our Oral History Program and why it was decided to conduct these interviews. We wanted present and future residents of St. Johns County, the State of Florida, and the world at large to know more of our history and the hardships residents incurred as this area matured.
We must retain The William Bartram Scenic and Historic Highway and it’s intrinsic resources be kept for the enjoyment of generations to come.
Al Abbatiello, Chairman
Wm. Bartram Scenic & Historic Highway