A memorial signed by the inhabitants of Florida in 1831. This memorial can be considered a census of the free male population at that time since it appears that all men in each area signed this memorial.
Fernandina was the last city platted by the Spanish in the New World, thirty years after the plat of Los Angeles. The plat of what is now known as Old Town follows the traditional elements of city planning in the New World by the Spanish. A town plaza faced the harbor with streets laid out in a grid pattern with lots measuring 46 feet wide and 96 feet deep. The Spanish Governor’s order to rezone Fernandina was signed on May 10, 1811, and read as follows: “Whereas, for the purpose of regulating the town of Fernandina on the Island of Amalia in this province, which town your Governor has observed to grow day by day, and in Order to lend it greater usefulness, comfort and beauty, I, Governor (White) ordered the Surveyor General, George I. F. Clarke, to prepare a plat of that establishment and of possible improvements which could be made in it.” The land grants given here were originally published in the American Guide Series, “Seeing Fernandina: A Guide to the City and its Industries,” in 1940. The material was compiled from documents in Spanish land grants. Square 1 Half Lot 1: Granted to Miguel Mabrite, at some time previous to 1814, presumably to build a dwelling house. Half Lot 2: Granted to Jose Jimenez, who built an eating place on it about 1813. Half Lot 3: Granted to James Cashen, Subaltern (military) Judge of the Island of Amalia and the Frontier for the Spanish Government, about 1809....
Building up to the Spanish-American war the port of Fernandina was used as a base of operation for those sympathetic to the Cuban plight. Arms, ammunition, and recruits were shipped from her port to Cuba. Once War was declared Fort Clinch was prepared for up to 10,000 soldiers and the economy of Fernandina began to grow again. But it was short lived as additional railroads built out in the early 20th Century to cities like Jacksonville and Savannah. Finally, in the late 1930s, the mills arrived in Fernandina and released the citizens of the community from their reliance on cotton and tobacco to timber and industry.
Fort Clinch was an immediate target of acquisition for the Union during the Civil War. The Union Navy arrived on 2 March 1862 firing cannon volleys at the last two retreating railroad ships of citizens from evacuated Fernandina. As in most wars, not all citizens evacuated, and those left behind found themselves in an occupied territory once again, with limited freedom. But freedom did come to the black slaves of Fernandina which far outnumbered their white owners. And when the reconstruction period began after the War it was the "black" county of Nassau which rose to power in the government offices of Nassau County, while the white citizens still held the land and controlled the jobs. It was this inimical system that led to the strikes in the 1880s by the black workers until again the Yellow Fever broke out and all citizens were to busy nursing, to think of other troubles.
In 1818, Fernandina comprised of about 40 wooden houses which sheltered a population of around 150 people. The town was incorporated the same year as Nassau county was created, 1824. It wasn’t until the Railroad arrived on the Island from Cedar Keys did the growth of Fernandina and Nassau County appear promising. Then all Hell broke loose with the start of the Civil War.