Located atop one of the highest points in Florida, Chinsegut Hill is home to a historic house situated in a 114-acre preserve. From pre-contact Indigenous people to pioneer settlers, from a pre-Civil War plantation to the emancipation of enslaved people, this place has witnessed thousands of years of Florida’s history.
ABOUT THIS PLACE
A RICH AND VARIED HISTORY
The Chinsegut Hill Historic Site is far more than just a picturesque mansion on a central Florida hill. The land upon which the house stands has a human history that spans millennia. There are interpretive signs that dot the property to tell the story of these people and the Florida environment in which they lived.
Indigenous People first occupied the hill and surrounding areas during a time before European colonization. Archaeologists have found ancient ceramic fragments and stone implements that suggest they used and refurbished stone tools here. Some of these artifacts are on display in the house museum.
From the late 1700s to the mid-1800s, Seminole Indians lived in areas of northern and central Florida like Chinsegut Hill. The U.S. waged a war of removal against these Seminoles, and after the Second Seminole War (1835-1842), U.S. legislators passed the Armed Occupation Act of 1842. The act granted tracts of central and south Florida land to white homesteaders. This lured settlers, like Bird Pearson, an indebted planter who relocated his family and about two dozen enslaved people here. Pearson built a log home and ordered the planting of corn, sugarcane and other crops. In 1851, Pearson sold his land to Francis Ederington, a planter from South Carolina. Ederington built a new home on the hill, which was the first version of the current house. He established a lucrative timber harvesting operation.
During the plantation era, more than 60 enslaved individuals lived on and around this hill. They likely planted crops, worked as domestic servants, and harvested timber. Enslaved inhabitants far outnumbered the hill’s white residents during this time.
page information credit: Tampa Bay History Center
photos from the sources listed above, as well as publicly posted online sites with thanks to the contributors