Tuesday, August 7, 2012


I saw a reference to the town of Aucilla, Florida being called Williamsburg back in the 1800s because several of the early settlers were named William. I knew my ancestor, William Rowell had moved to the area in the 1830s so decided to see if he could have been one of those Bills.
1831 Homestead

The Federal Bureau of Land Management has records online showing the land patents issued in Florida and several other States. I heard that William Rowell lived near the Aucilla River in Jefferson County Florida. Using the land records database I found the coordinates of his homesteads.

His first homestead grant was dated December 29, 1831 for 160 acres. The Florida Dept of Environmental Protection has a Bureau of Survey and Mapping web page that will show on a map of Florida the location of any property if you have the legal description.

Using their web page I found William Rowell's first homestead was in what is now the northwest corner of Madison County Florida almost to the Georgia border. It is very close to the Lovett Community, where my great grandfather Andrew Green is buried in the Concord Church cemetery.

1843 and 1848 Homestead

William Rowell obtained two more land grants in the 1840s. One was on March 10, 1843 and the other on April 10, 1848. They were both for 80 acres and were side by side.

Using the FDEP web page I found they were near the Aucilla River in what is now the southeast corner of Jefferson County Florida. This property is close to the Rocky Ford Primitive Baptist Church which was organized on September 12, 1846 by William Rowell and several of his relatives.

Rocky Ford Church 1898

William Rowell was listed in Jefferson County on the census records after 1850 so he must have lived on this property. It is about 24 miles from the first homestead.

It's close to the Shady Grove community of western Taylor County where his grandson Seth and descendants settled. My grandmother Ila Rowell Green was born there in 1887.

The town of Aucilla is further north. It was once a railroad station stop close to what is now Highway 90 going across the top of the State of Florida. William Rowell never lived in the town itself so I would guess the original name of Williamsburg was for someone else.

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