Federal Point,
Putnam County, Florida
St. Johns River
Federal Point is an unincorporated community in Putnam County, Florida, United States, located northwest of Hastings,
on the eastern bank of the St. Johns River.

The Land
At one time the land was owned by Zephaniah Kingsley who left it to his wife Anna the daughter of an African Chief.

Its Name
The name probably came from the federal surveyors who came into the state after it was acquired from Spain. It was
designated Federal Point in their field notes. John Francis Tenney explained that "We thereupon went back to the first
name it ever had and from no other reason."

The Founder arrives winter of 1866 (from Slavery, Secession and Success by John Francis Tenney)
"On one of those trips [He was staying at Orange Mills and going to Jacksonville for supplies.] a white flag was displayed
on the bank of the river at Federal Point, then called Dupont's Landing, that contained just one house occupied by Mr.
Cornelius Dupont and family. We answered the flag and were requested to bring from
Jacksonville numerous articles of
food, which we did, and thus began our negotiations for the purchase of their property. Mr. Dupont was a man in feeble
health, who, before the abolition of slavery, owned several slaves, whose hire afforded him ample support. When we
found him his slaves were gone: he had but little land under cultivation. He had lost all his large deposits by the failure of
his bankers in Charleston, S. C. With several small children to support, with wholly insufficient health and strength to
clear land or perform the arduous labors of the field, he was glad to find a purchaser for his -- to him-- useless acres.

During the war nearly all the residents near the banks of the
St. Johns River left their homes and fled to the interior for
safety, and it was our fortune to arrive in this part of the country before their return.

... It was in the month of March, 1866, that we moved to Federal Point. As the question has been asked a great many
times --- how the place came by its name, we will state that in searching the records we found that the U. S. Surveyors,
who made the first survey of the state after it was acquired from Spain designated the place by that name on their field
notes. We thereupon went back to the first name it ever had and from no other reason. We found it with only one
dwelling house and a few negro shanties. A few acres had been cleared but had grown up to weeds and bushes. The
nearest post-office was at Jacksonville sixty miles away. The surrounding country was almost one unbroken forest.
Game of all kinds was abundant, while the river and creeks were alive with fish and alligators.

Our first venture was to procure mule teams and cut the pine timber on our land, and when that was completed we
started in to clear land and set out orange trees. We were not left alone but a few months, as people began to come in,
all infected with the orange fever that had become chronic all over the state. The climatic conditions were the greatest
attraction, and the few orange groves that were already in bearing were a guarantee of the quality of the fruit, and we
soon had a thrifty little settlement of industrious people. Then following schools and churches, with other conveniences
and comforts.

First Post Office
On August 4, 1869 the Federal Point Post Office was established with John C. Folsom listed as postmaster. The post
office would continue until August 31, 1929 when the mail was sent to East Palatka. The steamboats were the mail
carriers.

Federal Point and Steamboats
Federal point served as a wood-station for steamers passing on the river.

George Walter Atkinson
He was born in Chester county, South Carolina on June 4, 1868. He came to Federal Point in 1887. He worked as the
overseer for J. F. Tenney and Dwight Wheeler. He was able to buy a farm after two years. He owned about one hundred
acres part of which were wild when he bought it and par in old orange groves which had been destroyed by frost. He
placed 60 acres in potato farming and six acres in an orange grove. He also spent some of his time cattle raising. He
was one of the largest potato farmers in Federal Point. He had two farms one Rose Cottage and the other where he
lived Sweet Gum farm.

John V. Atkinson
Mr. Atkinson was born in Chester county, South Carolina on September 2, 1874 the brother of George Walter Atkinson.
When he was twenty he came to Florida and settled near Federal Point and worked as a farm hand for about six years.
Within two years of his arrival he bought an orange grove of five acres but lost the trees in the frost of 1895. His second
grove was destroyed in 1898. He was able to buy forty acres between Hastings and Federal Point where he raised
potatoes rotating corn and hay. His original five acres was on the St. Johns River and called Wildwood Farm.

Edwin S. Hubbard
Edwin Hubbard was born in Middletown, Connecticut on May 18, 1860. He moved to Federal Point in 1880 where he
bought land for orange culture. He later had thirty acres devoted to potatoes and ten to oranges.

Captain Edwin Smith.
He had been a captain of sailing ships and at one time owned a ship chandler's shop in New York City. He built the large
building near the wharf that would lated be known as the Groveland House which was run by F. F. Tenney.

He didn't want to be buried underground. He had himself buried in a hollowed out log placed on top of the ground. His
burial site is located in the midle of a field.

Today's Sleepy Federal Point was wide-awake in the 1800s (Florida Times-Union April 8, 1985)
Some of the first genuine Florida souvenirs were sold to winter visitors who vacationed in this remote corner of Putnam
County 100 years ago.

Although few strangers travel to or though the sleepy river community of Federal Point today, the opposite was true in
the 1800s. In those days there were no access roads and the only way of reaching the town was by paddle wheel
steamboats that also carried the mail and fresh meat from
Palatka and St. Augustine.

This was all long before the era of the rubber alligator. Early souvenirs were crafter by members of the newly founded
St. Paul's Episcopal Mission -- the only tourist attraction at the Point today. They hand-painted Florida scenes in
hollowed alligator eggs and then decorated them with bows. They sold like hotcakes---for 25 cents.

Proceeds from the souvenirs bought much needed windows for the new mission.

There is no record of how much money was raised by selling the alligator eggs, but church historians said that "beautiful
stained glass windows were manufactured in Buffalo, N. Y., and placed in the church for the service on Dec. 2, 1883."

The makeup of the congregation present for the dedication of the windows was as unusual as the sale of gator eggs
would be today.

It included wealthy winter tourists, frontiersmen, farmers, boatmen and "all who would worship the Lord in peaceful
harmony."

Records state that "at a time when it was not generally popular to do so, blacks were welcomed to worship at the tiny
church on the 'Point.'"

Federal Point -- now the home to long-established families --- was discovered and settled primarily by explorers from the
North. John Francis Tenney and John Folsom, two young men from Vermont, first visited the spot when they toured the
Florida wilderness before the Civil War.

After the war, they returned and bought what historians say was a "considerable tract of land" and the only house
around-- except for a few slave cabins. They bought it all from Cornelius DuPont.

The tract was then known as DuPont's Landing, but Tenney and Folsom renamed it Federal Point.

Settlers from Vermont soon were followed by Walter and Ambrose Hart, two brothers from Poughkeepsie, N. Y., who had
fought in the Union Army.

A Collection of Florida Memories, written by E. Stuart Hubbard, notes that the brothers and their father, Benjamin H.
Hart, returned south and hired a sailboat at Jacksonville to explore the river country.

"They went south as far as Deland and liked best the land and location at Federal Point," Hubbard wrote.

Tenney and Folsome agreed to sell them some land near their homes along with an orange grove.

The Harts sent for the rest of their family and lived in two of the old slave cabins on the property until they could build a
large family home.

Hubbard notes that "the first night it rained, the roof leaked so (much that) the girls [Louisa and Emily Hart] slept with an
open umbrella over them, much to the amusement of neighbors."

As the community grew, farmers began using the steamboat wharf as a shipping point for orange and other products
traded or sold for other food and merchandise not available at the Point.

When Captain Edwin Smith, a sailor from Connecticut, found his way to the area, he built a general store and trading
post. The store was later rebuilt as a hotel where tourists stayed in the latter part of the 19th century.

Much of Federal Point history is word of mouth -- handed down from one generation to the next.

Weather Data
In 1873 Edmund H. Hart began keeping daily records for the community. The low, high and set temperatures, as well as
precipitation were duly recorded by Hart as early as July 1873. His records continued through August 1897 and included
notations such as "few drops," "light showers," "windy and cloudy" and "shower at night" on his records. Government
records were begun in 1892. Later F. f. Tenney would keep a temperature record and rainfall information.

Episcopal Mission
Some records, used to compile a history of the Episcopal mission, indicated that tourists made up nearly half of the
winter population for many years.

Although tourists long ago deserted the area, the tiny church where they once gathered for social and religious activities
has expanded to include a parish hall. Its membership has not experienced any surge of growth, but St. Paul's has
advanced from its mission status to become a full-fledged, self-supporting church.

It remains the biggest attraction in the isolated community on a point of land between Deep Creek and
Orange Mills.

It stands as a monument to the faith of early settlers such as Capt. Smith, who in 1880 petitioned John Freeman Young
Episcopal bishop of Florida, for permission to start the mission. Charles S. Williams helped establish the Episcopal
churches at Federal Point, Crescent City,
Welaka and San Mateo.

1885
By 1885 the population was 200+. J. F. Tenney was postmaster with mail being delivered daily except Sunday by
DeBarry-Baya steamers. There were two public schools. Churchgoers could go to either an Episcopal or Methodist
Church. Edwin Smith ran a store and Tenny ran a store through his post office. He was also the steamboat agent.  
Crops were fruits and vegetables with most growing oranges. E. H. Hart also grew banannas.

Incorporation
January 4, 1887 Federal Point was incorporated.

The 1930s
In 1933 it was announced children in grades 5-12 would be transported to the Palatka school. On May 22, 1935 the
Florida House bassed a bill abolishing the town.
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The Groveland
Federal Point Schoolhouse
Tenny Family
Boynton Family circa 1905