Various Florida locations. Unbound.
Five items related to Hubbard L. Hart. Includes two letters sent to Hart and three partially printed Way-Bills from Hart’s Florida Stage Line that ran from Pilatka to Tampa with connecting steam boat service to Charleston, Savannah, New Orleans, and Key West; one of the way bills contains a note to Hart.
1857 – “Way Bill. / Florida Stage Line / From Tampa To Starke Friday Nov 19th 1857”: It lists three passengers traveling to “Gain’sville”, Micanopy, and Starke, as well as two shipped items: a Carpet Bag and a Cigar Box. It also indicates that along the “way,” the stage picked up a shipment of “five Negros” from the town of Waldo. Lastly, the document is annotated along the bottom margin to show that the line’s office in Tampa had included a package of “cards” and a package of “Way Bills” for delivery to its office in Ocala. It also contains a note from the line’s manager in Tampa to Hart discussing horses and employees that reads, “Mr. Hart, Greys are doing a little better Jenny is very tenderfooted. Basks will not move to Tampa this week wants to hear from you first I will commence and leave Tampa in the Morning after Sunday that is leave Tampa Sunday Night and on Tuesday Stay till Monday. M. McCarty is dead. No other news Yours DBMF”
1858 – “Way-Bill. / Pilatka to Ocala, Friday Oct 29th 1858”: It lists 10 passengers, all traveling from Pilatka to 5 Mile House, Orange Spring, or Ocala, as well as two packages, two boxes, one case, one trunk, one watch, eight “Buchles” of something, two bags of apples, one bag of bread, and 100 oranges.
1858 – “Way-Bill. / Pilatka to Ocala, Sunday Oct 31st 1858”: It lists two passengers, one traveling to Orange Springs and one to Ocala. Shipments included assorted bags, boxes, packages, syrup, apples, sponges, and a gin roller. One of the passengers, William Spears, owned the Orange Springs Hotel, which Hart used as a stage stop. The 70-person hotel was built three years prior by John W. Pearson, a wealthy South Carolina planter, with hopes of establishing the small community as a tourist destination. An advertisement in the 24 March 1855 issue of the Columbus. Georgia Times boasted “This valuable property . . . is acknowledged to be one of the most favorable for Pulmonary invalids; while one of the finest Sulphur Springs in the Union attached to the hotel affords fine bathing, &c. for those laboring under other diseases. . ..”
1881 – “Rockledge Line / Indian River Steamers. / Capt. Joe H. Smith. Manager. / Sanford, Fla., Dec 23d 1855: The letter features an illustration of a sidewheeler steamboat. In this two-page letter, Captain Smith, who owned the Rockledge line in partnership with Hart, informed him that as Mr. Wood, a potential buyer of the company, was “enquiring about more details of the business,” he recommended selling the line,
“I do not have much idea [if] he will buy but I would like very much if he would . . . as I do not have much faith in this route when the Road is finished and the get boats on Indian River. . .. Do not need any engineers at present. Sent the Waunita up to day and hope to get her out again by the 1st Jan or as near it possible. . . ..”
1885 – “Debary – Baya and People’s Lines of Steamers. /E. C. Culepper, Agent, Sanford, Fla., Dec 7 1885”: The letterhead features an illustration of a sidewheeler riverboat. This line was not owned by Hart or Smith and operated on the St. John’s River and not the Indian River. In this letter to Col. H. L. Hart, C. D. Taylor (the captain of the Rockledge steamer Tuskawilla) reported that the Astatula, had reached Sanford, but apparently left “without bringing the mattresses that belong in the forward hold for the crew.” He also provides a list of other items left behind: “Colored Blankest / 2 Tin Pans 2 Carving Knives / 2 Large Iron Spoons 4 baking pans / 2 Tin Buckets.” The items had been removed from the boat when it was “laid up.” Taylor also requested, “Please have them sent up by first boat.”. Item #010070
Hart, a native of Vermont was a pioneer in developing Florida’s tourist industry. He first moved south in 1848 and there was awarded a contract to carry mail between Savannah and Darien, Georgia. In July of 1855, he moved to Palatka, a growing transportation hub where he opened a general store and began a forwarding, receiving, and commission business. He also purchased The Concord Stagecoach Line which ran along the Pilatka to Tampa Post Road that included a 100-mile segment of an even older military road which had run from Fort Brooke (Tampa) to Fort King (Ocala). At the time, he also won a Post Office Contract: “Florida Route No. 6804 from Pilatka to Tampa, 159 miles, twice a week; four horse coach to Ocala, two horse coach to Tampa. . ..”It’s said that while traveling along that route, Hart became enamored with the beauty, climate, and springs of the region, and realizing its potential to attract northern tourists and invalids, he acquired two river boats to provided easier access for visitors. Business boomed after the Civil War, and he soon owned several Ocklawaha River steamboats, a cypress lumbering business, orange groves, and one of the most fabulous manor houses in the South. In addition of providing simple transport of goods and people beyond the northeast corner of the state, some of his boat trips began with a stay at his Putnam House hotel in Palatka and included tours of his orange groves, opportunities to shoot alligators, and swimming in the Silver Springs.
In 1882, he partnered with Joe H. Smith to enlarge and extend the line to run on the Indian River between Sanford and Lake Poinsett, the head of the St. Johns River. However, by 1895, their riverboat business, as predicted in Captain Smith’s letter, was eclipsed with the completion of the railroad from Enterprise to Titusville, and the Rockbridge Line shut down in 1886.
(For more information, see Lera’s Hubbard L. Hart’s Influence on Stagecoach and Steamboat Travel and Commerce in Central Florida, the National Register of Historic Places Registration Form for the Orange Springs Methodist Episcopal Church and Cemetery available online, The Florida State Gazetteer & Business Directory 1884-1885, Webb's Sanford Directory 1887 available online, and Mueller’s St. Johns River Steamboats.)
An uncommon collection of Hubbard L. Hart material from his time as a pioneer in Florida’s early stagecoach business as well as his later years when his Ocklawaha and Indian River steamers dominated the state’s burgeoning transportation and tourism industries. Rather scarce. At the time of listing, nothing similar is for sale in the trade. The Rare Book Hub reports a group of bank statements sent to Hubbard has appeared at auction. OCLC reports a “small set” of business papers, photographs, and ephemera related to Hart’s business operations are held at the University of Florida, and an even smaller collection of Hart family papers related to is business operation in Georgia is held by the Georgia Historical Society..