Florida Guide > State Parks
Washington Oaks...A History
Washington Oaks State Park is situated in Palm Coast in North Ocean Shore Road.
You will not be amazed to hear that this site was once occupied by the Native American. In fact their midden forms a hill at the park today. Middens (or mounds) were the rubbish tips of the Indian and is formed of shells and the detrius of their daily lives.
Now we move forward to when the French, Spanish and English variously resided here.
The lieutenant of East Florida was given the land by the British Government in 1770. His name was John Moultard. He made good use of the shells to make lime and also grew oranges.
In the early 19th century ownership passed to Jose Hernandez. He was a resident of St Augustine but had his roots in Minorca.
In 1821, Florida became a U. S. territory. Hernandez promptly changed his name to Joseph in recognition of this.
Just like the previous owner, Joseph served the government including becoming the first representative from the Territory of Florida to the U. S. Congress. In and before 1835 he served as a Brigadier General in the second Seminole War.
Hernandez grew cotton, sugar and other crops on plantations adjoining Bella Vista (for that is what it was now kknown as.
The plantations suffered the same fate as many of the others in Florida when it was burnt down by the Native Americans. Bella Vista was unharmed but the plantations never recovered.
Luisa Hern (Josephs daughter) married a distant relative of George Washington; his name was Lawrence Washington and he had a part to play later.
The couple preferred to live in St Augustine but after Luisa died, he started to visit Bella Vista and built a beach hut. Together with his sons they fished and grew citrus groves. By 1888, he had grown so keen on the area that he bought it from another of Josephs daughters.
Lawrence died in 1894 and a son by a second marriage sold Bella Vista to developers.
Fortunately for us, the climate of the time meant that all building work stopped in the area and so it was that by 1930, ownership had changed to Louise Clark who was a 3 times married New Yorker. Her 3rd husband was Owen D Young who had served as both a Government advisor and an attorney.
They used the place to snowbird away from the harsh New York winters. Eventually they were able to buy a beach front property which meant that they could accomodate their large joint families.
Iy was they who re named the area Washington Oaks. They also started the formal gardens that include native, exotic and eastern plantings.
Owen died in 1962 and Louise followed him in 1965. Before she died she deeded Washington Oaks to the State on the proviso that they not only kept up the gardens but also improved them.
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