El Destino Plantation Project

El Destino Plantation Project

The Florida Historical Society houses many different collections. One of these collections are the El Destino Plantation Papers. These papers include vital business documents, which include legal documents as well as personal correspondence and plantation journals.

El Destino, Spanish for destiny, was a large cotton plantation established by John Nuttall in 1828. It was located in present-day Jefferson County and extended into Leon County. John’s son, William B. Nuttall, brought fifty-two enslaved people with him from North Carolina to operate the plantation. William later married Mary Wallace Savage, who had some property and fifty-four enslaved people. Before William’s death in 1836, Mary inherited more property and about eighty enslaved people. She then purchased another plantation called Chemonie, which was situated near El Destino. The everyday life of these enslaved people is recorded in the plantation journals.

The El Destino Plantation Project starts with these journals, covering pre-Civil War, the War, Emancipation and Reconstruction periods. The journals and related documents, detailed below, are a treasure trove of information about the lives of the enslaved people who lived and worked on this plantation.

1841 – 1842: Journal of Chemonie Plantation

  • Day-to-day plantation activities
  • Noted enslaved people who were sick that day
  • Weather reports
  • April 5, 1841 includes a list of enslaved people, working hands and a sick list

1851 – 1853: Journal of “Chauminoux” Plantation

  • Clothing and food given to enslaved people
  • Births and Deaths at Chemonie in 1852
  • Inventory of land and articles
  • Weather reports
  • Day-to-day plantation activities

1864 – 1869: Journal of El Destino Plantation

  • Clothing, food and money to given to enslaved and formerly enslaved people
  • Expenses and tax returns for both plantations
  • Accounts of the cooper shop, sawmill and grist mill
  • List of books

1862 – 1865: Journal of El Destino Plantation

  • Day-to-day work at the mill and plantation
  • Accounts of people who used the mills
  • Newspaper article, Bureau of Conscription, railroad schedule
  • Notes and letters

1862 – 1863: Mill Book

  • Mill usage recorded by Johnathan Roberson

The Villages Genealogical Society under the leadership of Pat Rand, FSGS Preservation Projects Chair and Pioneer Committee Chair, volunteered to tackle this joint project between the Florida State Genealogical Society and the Florida Historical Society. About 600 documents have been scanned and volunteers are currently transcribing those documents. Transcriptions are estimated to be finished by June 30, 2020 and then the names of enslaved people will be indexed. 

If you or your society would like help in setting up a preservation project, contact Pat Rand, FSGS Preservation Projects Chair, at [email protected].