Wednesday, April 10, 2013

St. Augustine, Florida lighthouse. John Hamilton Morgan and descendants. 1885 and 2013.

 Orange Tree in my daughter's backyard, Jacksonville, Florida, March 2013.

John Hamilton Morgan’s 1885 trip to Jacksonville and St. Augustine, Florida is posted on my blog here.

Historic 1893 picture of Jacksonville, Florida from Wikipedia.

Spring Break this year found me with family in Florida driving to St. Augustine. There we drove across the inner coastal waterways and the Matanzas River atop the Bridge of Lions. At Anastasia Island we climbed 140 feet above the city to the top of the Historic St. Augustine Lighthouse. When John Morgan first climbed to its top in 1885 it was fairly new, having been built in the 1870s. The present restored lighthouse, 1876 keeper’s house, gardens, and a play area, make it a pleasant site.

After I returned home and again read through Great Grandfather Morgan’s account of his January-February 1885 trip to Jacksonville and St. Augustine, Florida, I was amazed at how similar our trips were. I was accompanied by six other family members, including a six-year-old who couldn't bear to climb clear to the top because of the SPACE between each step. John Morgan was accompanied to the lighthouse with his brother-in-law Nicholas Harmon Groesbeck, and friend Henry Dinwoody from Utah.

 St. Augustine, Florida Lighthouse, March 2013

From John Hamilton Morgan’s Journal
January 31, 1885 [traveling by train]
Arrived at Jacksonville, Fla. At about 7:30 a.m. and went to the Grand View House. Raining considerably during the morning. At noon cleared off and was warm. We visited the principal point’s of interest about the city, including the vegetable and fish markets, public, and business street, museum, etc. Crossed over the river and visited Ex-Gov. Reid’s orange orchard eating oranges that we picked ourselves. Very many northern people here for the winter. Flowers are in bloom, oranges hang on the trees, on the side-walks, and in almost every yard. [Note: Most especially in my daughter’s present Jacksonville back yard.]

The original bridge to Anastasia Island, before The Bridge of Lions was built.  from Wikipedia

February 1
Took train at 9 a.m. for St. Augustine arriving there at 10:20. It is the oldest city in America, inhabited by Europeans. Here Ponce de Leon landed. In 1565 Pedro Menendez de Aviles landed and took possession in the name of the Spanish King. Many old buildings are still standing, erected 300 years ago, of a conglomerate called Coquina composed of sea shells and land. During the day we visited the Atlantic Beach and gathered some shells. Crossed the Mantauzas River in a sail boat. Attended U. S. Military Dress Parade. Visited some orange groves, the old Fort San Marco, the cathedral, Plaza, City Gates, etc. N. H. G., H. D., [ Nicholas Harmon Groesbeck and Henry Dinwoody] and myself remained all night at the Cleveland House.

St. Augustine Lighthouse Stairway to the top!

The times are changed. Our mode of transportation and communication are light years apart, but the thrill of standing atop that lighthouse and taking in the view can’t be too altered. With my daughter beside me, “where we had a splendid view of the coast,” I was thrilled.

View from the Lighthouse top, March 2013.

John Hamilton Morgan Journal, Special Collections, Marriott Library, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah.


  1. We didn't get to talk about your trip yesterday. I love light houses! What a great comparison between GG Morgan's trip and yours. Yesterday was wonderful.

  2. Thank you for your comments Nancy and Flora Lee. Cousins make this journey and discoveries so worthwhile.