Bella Vista

Bella Vista

Not long after we moved here, our dog proudly brought us a lead miniball she had discovered in the backyard – near where this photo was taken. That miniball conjured up all kinds of possibilities – from pirates to Indians to enemy attacks. In actuality, the most likely story is a simple hunting party.

Moultrie Creek runs west from the Matanzas River [now a part of the Intracoastal Waterway] approximately five miles south of St. Augustine. It was called Woodcutters Creek until James Grant, the first British Governor of Florida, granted 500 acres of land to John Moultrie in 1770. John Moultrie called his property Bella Vista and the point where the creek meets the river is still a beautiful view. John Moultrie built a lovely house and had hundreds of acres planted, but was only able to enjoy his plantation for a short period for in 1783 Florida again returned to Spanish control. He moved his family to Britain, abandoning the property which was later destroyed by Indians.

John Moultrie had three brothers, William, James and Thomas, along with a half-brother, Alexander. James became the Chief Justice of Florida during British rule, but the other three were Patriots in South Carolina. Thomas was killed in the battle of Charleston. William served in the 2nd South Carolina Regiment and was instrumental in preventing the British from capturing Charleston in 1776. After the war he was promoted to brigadier general and served two terms as governor of the state of South Carolina. Alexander served as the first Attorney General of South Carolina. He was captured by British forces and sent to St. Augustine with dozens of other South Carolina prisoners. The Florida governor offered them parole on their word that they would not try to escape back to the rebel colonies so Alexander stayed with his family at Bella Vista until the end of the war.

It’s not unusual to find historical artifacts in this area. After almost 500 years of explorers, settlers, warriors and travelers, there’s lots of history left behind – just waiting to be discovered..

Sources:

  • Jean Parker Waterbury, et al., The Oldest City: St. Augustine Saga of Survival, St. Augustine Historical Society, 1983.
  • Wikipedia (2007), “William Moultrie”, http://en.wikipedia.org.
  • National Governors Association, “South Carolina Governor William Moultrie”, http://www.nga.org.

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