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Exploring North Brevard History - Titusville, Florida
Compiled by Michael Knight for our Facebook Page

Thomas Henry Dummitt

Colonel Thomas Henry Dummitt of the British Royal Marines had found wealth as a sugar planter in Barbados. He fled Barbados with his family in 1807 because of a slave uprising on the island due to the recent enactment of the British Abolition Act. According to legend he hid in a sugar hogshead barrel on board one of his own ships as it escaped and set-sail for the United States with his family and slaves.

As he sailed past Merritt Island, he smelled orange blossoms and he vowed to return.

The Dummitts first settled in Connecticut and lived there until 1825. The cold climate of the north was not enjoyable after living in the tropics, and a Spanish gentleman visiting from Florida easily persuaded him to visit the Territory which had become a new addition to the United States in 1821.

In 1818 he purchased 90 slaves and 3 sugar plantations from John Bunch and John Addison near the mouth of the Tomoka River, north of the present town of Ormond Beach. In 1825 he and his family moved to Florida and started a sugar plantation. He also brought budwood from Spanish orange plantings found in the St Augustine area and planted them there on his new plantations.

The 1820’s and early 1830’s were the years of plantation prosperity on the east coast of Florida. Nearly every plantation had its massive coquina rock sugar mill which housed ponderous machinery for the crushing of the rich, green sugar cane. Thousands of acres of land were planted with corn, cotton and cane, and schooners carried their welcome cargos northward.

Thomas Dummitt built the sugar mill and a log house with a thatched palmetto roof where he and his family lived happily for several years. At the outbreak of the Second Seminole Indian War in 1835, the Dummitt’s were living on the east side of the Hillsborough River at New Smyrna. After a skirmish with the Seminole Indians, their house was burned and the plantations destroyed and they were forced to flee by canoes to St Augustine. Mortally wounded, Thomas fled with his family to their home in St Augustine, today known as the St Francis Inn. Colonel Thomas Dummitt died in 1839 as a result of those wounds. After his death, his wife, Mary Douglas Mortimer Dummitt and two daughters, Sara Jane Dummitt Madison and Anna Marie Dummitt started a boarding house out of their home.

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