Historic Markers Across Florida

Orlando's First Settler, Aaron Jerniga

Marker ID:  
Location: On Alamo Dr. at 29th Street Orlando, FL
County: Orange
Coordinates: N 28° 30.766    W 081° 23.247
  28.51276666    -81.38745
Style: Free Standing **
Waymark: WMH4KB


Side 1
Aaron Jernigan moved to what is now Orlando in 1843 after the passage of the Armed Occupation Act of 1842 that opened vast areas of Florida for settlement. According to the law, one could move onto land at least two miles from an established fort, erect a home, and become a citizen-soldier. After defending the land from Indians for five years, the homesteader would receive title to 160 acres.

Jernigan cleared land and built a cabin on the northwest shore of Lake Holden, about two miles from Fort Gatlin. Early in 1844, Jernigan moved his wife Mary and their children, his Negro slaves, and 700 head of cattle to his homestead. When Florida became a state in 1845, he was elected Orange County's first representative to the state legislature. In all, Jernigan acquired 1200 acres of land.

Although the Second Seminole War ended in 1842, Indian uprisings and cattle rustling continued to be a problem. In 1846, Aaron had to leave Tallahassee to protect his herds. He built a stockade on the north shore of Lake Conway in 1849, and 80 residents plus their slaves quickly moved in for protection and remained there for almost a year. Jernigan became the captain of a local militia that patrolled the area for renegade Indians in 1852 but was able to disband the same year once the Seminoles were convinced to stop their raids.

Side 2
By 1850, the Jernigan home had become the nucleus of a village named Jernigan which had a U.S. Post Office and was indicated as a settlement on early Florida maps. But, as more settlers moved to the area, the new town of Orlando replaced the small village.

Jernigan and some of his sons were accused of killing a man at Orlando's log cabin post office in 1859. Orlando had no jail, so the Jernigans were transported to Ocala where they escaped. Legend has it that Aaron moved to Texas where he lived for 25 years. He eventually returned to the area and died in Orlando in 1891. He was buried at the Lake Hill Cemetery in Orlo Vista, Florida.

Richard T. Crotty, Mayor-Linda A. Stewart, Commissioner District 4-Orange County Board of County Commissioners


More Information:
Wikipedia - Seminole Wars
Florida Center for Instructional Technology - Seminole Wars