John WHALTON (aka Walton)

Submitted by Descendant:  John WHALTON

John Whalton arrived in St Augustine in Spanish Florida around 1818.  It is believed that he was born in New York into a family that had originally come from Ireland.  By 1819, John had won the hand of Felicia Buchani and they were married on 8 June 1819.  The Catholic marriage record translated from Spanish, states that John was from Washington town in the United State of America.

John, an industrious young man with a wife and children to support when Florida became part of the United States, acquired a position as an Agent for the Auditor of the United States Treasury.  He proceeded to the Florida Keys where he began surveying sites for future lighthouses.  Though he had hoped to become the keeper of a new lighthouse being constructed at Key West, the position was given to someone else.  In 1826, John Whalton was appointed the keeper for the light ship to be stationed at Carysfort Reef, and by April 1826 he had taken up that post.  John had located his family in Key West a fair distance from his ship at Carysfort Reef.

Living on a lightship was no easy task.  Fresh food and water were necessities of life and Capt John, as he was now known, knew that the trips to Key West for supplies had to be kept to a minimum.  To supplement his rations, he cultivated a vegetable garden on key Largo at a spot where he could also obtain fresh water.  On a warm July day in 1837, Capt John went ashore with members of his crew so they could gather supplies from his garden in anticipation of a visit with his family who were coming from Key West.

Unfortunately, the Second Seminole War had broken out in late 1835 and in 1836 Indians had attacked at New Smyrna, Bushnell, the Cape Florida Lighthouse, and had destroyed Capt Whalton’s shed and gardens on Key Largo.  Unaware that hostile Indians were lying in wait, Capt Whalton and his crew landed in their skiff only to be greeted by a vicious attack that killed John Whalton.  The surviving crew made it safely back to the lightship, only to carry the news to his stricken family that there was no hope for Capt John.  A raiding party of crews from numerous ships anchored at Indian Key returned to Key Largo the following day, retrieving Capt John’s mutilated body where it was then taken to Indian Key to his grieving wife and children for burial.

John Whalton was first established as a Florida Pioneer in 2011