The Dummett Plantation, The McRae Plantation, and The Addison Blockhouse
In 1825, Colonel Thomas H.Dummett, planter and officer in the British Marines, acquired the plantations of John Bunch and John Addison, part of which had originally been John Moultrie’s Rosetta plantation on the west side of the Tomoka basin, a mile west of present-day Tomoka State Park. His total plantation was about 2,000 acres.
He had a sugar mill and rum distillery built using the first steam-powered cane crushing mill in the area. Only the sugar mill was built by Dummett; the houses and buildings were from John Bunch’s plantation.
Using about 100 slaves and 40 local Indians during grinding season, sugar cane juices were heated and processed into molasses, stored in three cisterns, and then passed on to the plantation’s rum distillery. The Indians would trade fresh-caught game for the sugar works’ products.
As written in the memoirs of Colonel Dummett’s daughter Anna, the family lived in a big log house with a thatched roof of palmetto and a yard of Bermuda grass and live oak trees. It was furnished with claw-footed tables and family portraits. Festive parties and dinners were held there before the Seminole War forced the family to flee to St. Augustine. Anna would play with the slave children and taught some of them to read.
But the happy days on the Dummett Plantation came to a tragic end when the Second Seminole War broke out in 1835. Dummett moved his family to St. Augustine for safety. He bought a house at the corner of St. George and St. Francis streets, now the St. Francis Inn. His daughter Anna later converted the family home to a lodging establishment.
Colonel Thomas Dummett passed away in 1839 in St. Augustine at the age of 64. He was buried in the Huguenot Cemetery there.
The Dummett Plantation is located on Old Dixie Highway about two miles north of the entrance to Tomoka State Park.
In 1825, brothers Kenneth and Duncan McRae purchased about one-fourth of the former Addison Plantation owned by Thomas Dummett. In 1832, they built a plantation and steam-powered sugar mill using the Addison house and outbuildings already on the property. They grew and processed sugar at the site from 1832 to 1836, when the Second Seminole Indian War suddenly ended their visions of profit. After four successful years of sugar production the winter of 1835 brought a severe freeze, and with the Seminoles approaching, the family fled.
In early 1836, the plantation was burned; in late February 1836, the Carolina Regiment of Volunteers fortified the detached kitchen for use as a defensive bulwark. A cannon named after a fallen comrade, “McDuffie,” was placed on the roof of the former kitchen, which we now know as the Addison Blockhouse.
The main house and other buildings were destroyed, although the slave quarters were left undisturbed, as was the custom of the Seminoles.
Troops assembled near the Blockhouse, but the Seminoles often ambushed those who ventured out. Three were killed and more wounded. The men received orders to abandon the camp and move west. So on March 15, 1836, most of the volunteers at Camp McRae left on a three-day march to the fort at Volusia on the east side of the St. Johns River. They left many of their wounded behind in a nearby wooden stockade with volunteers to care for them, where they were rescued later. After this, the plantation was abandoned.
McRae Plantation ruins and the Addison Blockhouse are located in the wilderness about a mile west of Ormond Lakes, which is off U.S. 1 north of Ormond Beach.
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