Fernandina Beach, Florida
|City of Fernandina Beach|
Images from top, left to right: Beach, statue of a pirate (the mascot of Fernandina Beach High School), Nassau County Courthouse (Florida), shrimp statue (representing the annual Shrimp Festival), United States Post Office, Custom House, and Courthouse (Fernandina, Florida, 1912), Fort Clinch, Old School House, Fort Clinch Pier
Isle of 8 Flags
|• Mayor||Mike Lednovich|
|• Vice-Mayor||Len Kreger|
|• Commissioner||David Sturgis|
|• Commissioner||Ronald "Chip" Ross|
|• Commissioner||Bradley Bean|
|• Total||12.14 sq mi (31.46 km2)|
|• Land||11.44 sq mi (29.63 km2)|
|• Water||0.70 sq mi (1.83 km2)|
|Elevation||25 ft (7.6 m)|
| • Estimate |
|• Density||1,151.14/sq mi (444.45/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC−5 (EST)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC−4 (EDT)|
|GNIS feature ID||0294308|
Fernandina Beach is a city in Nassau County, Florida, United States, on Amelia Island. It is the northernmost city on Florida's Atlantic coast, and is one of the principal municipalities comprising Greater Jacksonville. It is also the seat of Nassau County. The area was first inhabited by the Timucuan Indian people. Fernandina Beach is located on Amelia Island, known as the "Isle of 8 Flags", Amelia Island has had the flags of the following nations flown over it: France, Spain, Great Britain, Spain (again), the Republic of Florida, the Green Cross of Florida, Mexico, the Confederate States of America, and the United States.
The French, English, and Spanish all maintained a presence on Amelia Island at various times during the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries, but the Spanish established Fernandina. The town of Fernandina, which was about a mile from the present city, was named in honor of King Ferdinand VII of Spain by the governor of the Spanish province of East Florida, Enrique White. Fernandina has the distinction of being the last Spanish city platted in the Western Hemisphere, in 1811.
Prior to the arrival of Europeans on what is now Amelia Island, Native Americans occupied the site of the original town of Fernandina. Native American bands associated with the Timucuan mound-building culture had settled on the island about A.D. 1000, calling it Napoyca. They remained on the island until the early 18th century, when European settlement began.
Old Town Fernandina
On January 1, 1811, Enrique White, governor of Spain's East Florida province, named the town of Fernandina, about a mile from the present city, in honor of King Ferdinand VII. On May 10 of that year, Fernandina became the last town platted under the Laws of the Indies in the Western hemisphere. The town was intended as a bulwark against U.S. territorial expansion. In the following years, it was captured and recaptured by a succession of renegades and privateers.
Republic of East Florida
At the beginning of the Patriot War, with the approval of President James Madison and Georgia Governor George Mathews on March 13, 1812, insurgents known as the "Patriots of Amelia Island" seized the island. After raising a Patriot flag, they replaced it with the United States flag. American gunboats under the command of Commodore Hugh Campbell maintained control of the island. On May 15, 1812, the British brig. Sappho fired on Gunboat no. 168, which had fired on the loyalist merchant vessel Fernando to prevent her leaving. Outgunned, the American gunboat withdrew, which enabled several vessels to escape from the port. President Madison eventually denounced the filibustering of George Mathews, however, on the grounds that Mathews had violated his instructions.
Spanish pressure forced the American evacuation from the island in 1813. Spanish forces erected Fort San Carlos on the island in 1816. However, A Scottish soldier and adventurer named Gregor MacGregor with 55 musketeers seized Fort San Carlos in 1817, claiming the island on behalf of "the brethren of Mexico, Buenos Ayres, New Grenada and Venezuela". MacGregor claimed to be Brigadier General of the armies of the United Provinces of New Grenada and Venezuela (where he had successfully fought and led troops), and General-in-Chief of the armies for the two Floridas, commissioned by the Supreme Director of Mexico.
Spanish soldiers forced MacGregor's withdrawal, but their attempt to regain complete control was foiled by American irregulars organized by Ruggles Hubbard and former Pennsylvania congressman Jared Irwin. Hubbard and Irwin later joined forces with the French-born pirate Louis Aury, who laid claim to the island on behalf of the Republic of Mexico. U.S. Navy forces drove Aury from the island, and President James Monroe vowed to hold Amelia Island "in trust for Spain."
In 1847 construction of Fort Clinch began in nearby present-day Fernandina. The Third System fort was named after General Duncan Lamont Clinch who fought in the War of 1812 and the Seminole Wars. Senator David Levy Yulee, founder of the Florida Railroad, wanted the eastern terminus of his railroad line to end in Amelia Island. The Old Town Fernandina was too cut off by the marshes to be used as a terminal. Yulee wanted to end the railroad on the banks of the Amelia River one mile to the south. The leaders of Fernandina did not want a new community to grow and prosper to surpass their town. The leaders of Fernandina decided to move the town up to the railroad where the present-day Fernandina Beach stands. Yulee began construction of the railroad in 1855 and was completed in 1861.
On January 8, 1861, two days before Florida's secession, Confederate sympathizers (the Third Regiment of Florida Volunteers) took control of Fort Clinch, already abandoned by the Federal workers who had been enlarging the structure. The Confederates erected batteries on the northern end of Amelia Island but lacked the resources to fortify Fort Clinch. Robert E. Lee, who was commanding coastal defenses in the Deep South, ordered cannons and troops withdrawn in early 1862.
Lee's orders to withdraw the cannons and troops were too late. Union forces, consisting of 28 gunboats commanded by Commodore Samuel Dupont, occupied the island on March 3, 1862, and raised the American flag. In January 1863, the first all-black regiment of former slaves recruited to fight for the Union was read Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation at Fernandina. Three weeks later they set sail up the St. Marys River to engage the Confederate forces. The Union used the fort as a base for its operations in the area for the remainder of the war.
Later 19th century
In 1891, Harmon Murray, who had been the leader of a criminal gang operating out of Gainesville, arrived in Fernandina, where his sister lived. Murray was soon committing burglaries and robberies in Fernandina and elsewhere on Amelia Island. Law officers chased a black suspect several times, who shot at them on one occasion. Murray taunted the police with a letter in early May, to the effect that he would not be taken alive, and would take the Nassau County sheriff and Fernandina police chief with him. Acting on a tip, on May 16 police surrounded the house Murray was staying in. Murray heard the officers getting into position, and shot and killed deputy sheriff Joseph W. Robinson. In the ensuing gun battle Murray wounded Fernandina Police Chief James Higgenbotham. Although grazed on the wrist and scalp, Murray was able to escape. Despite the intensive manhunt for him, Murray was able to slip off of Amelia Island to the mainland. The City of Fernandina offered a reward for the capture of Murray, "dead or alive". 
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 15.7 square miles (41 km2), all land. It is the northernmost city on the eastern coast of Florida.
|Climate data for Fernandina Beach, Florida (elevation 49 ft.)|
|Average high °F (°C)||63.0
|Daily mean °F (°C)||53.8
|Average low °F (°C)||44.5
|Average precipitation inches (mm)||3.42
|Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in)||9.1||8.4||8.4||5.9||6.0||11.5||11.9||12.5||11.8||8.1||7.3||8.2||109.1|
|Source: NOAA (1981-2010 Normals)|
|U.S. Decennial Census|
As of the census of 2010, there were 11,487 people, 5,176 households, and 3,207 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,031.8 people per square mile (397.9/km2). There were 7,064 housing units at an average density of 449.9 per square mile (173.7/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 83.4% White, 11.7% African American, 0.4% Native American, 1.1% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 0.1% from other races and 1.3% from two or more races. Hispanics or Latinos of any race were 5.3% of the population.
Out of 4,789 households 21.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 45.3% were married couples living together, 12.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 38.0% were non-families. 30.6% of all households were made up of householders living alone, and 12.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.18 and the average family size was 2.65.
In the city, the population was spread out, with 16.3% under the age of 18, 6.7% from 20 to 24, 20.1% from 25 to 44, 34.6% from 45 to 64, and 22.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 50.
The median income for a household in the city was $45,954, and the median income for a family was $61,523. Males had a median income of $42,188 versus $35,934 for females. The per capita income for the city was $30,019. About 16% of families and 17.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 33.0% of those under age 18 and 13.6% of those age 65 or over.
As of 2016 the largest self-reported ancestries/ethnicities in Fernandina Beach, Florida were:
|Largest ancestries (2016)||Percent|
|Scots-Irish (Ulster/Northern Ireland)||2.1%|
Government and infrastructure
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The public schools of Fernandina Beach are part of the Nassau County School District. They include:
- Southside Elementary School (PreK-2)
- Emma Love Hardee Elementary School (3-5)
- Fernandina Beach Middle School (6-8)
- Fernandina Beach High School (9-12)
- Amelia Island Montessori School (Preschool-8)
- Fernandina Beach Christian Academy (K-8)
- St Michael Academy (PreK-8)
Note: Atlantic Elementary (2nd and 3rd grades) was closed at the end of the 2008 school year. After the closing, 2nd grade was moved to Southside and 3rd grade to Emma Love. Also, the private Catholic school, St. Michael's Academy, is in downtown Fernandina Beach. All three Fernandina Beach public schools are "A" rated by the State of Florida. The nickname of Fernandina Beach High School's athletic teams is the "Pirates". Amelia Island Montessori School is near American Beach and is accredited by the Florida Council of Independent Schools and is an associate member school with the American Montessori Society.
Nassau County Public Library operates the Fernandina Beach Branch.
- William B. Allen, political scientist who was chairman of the United States Commission on Civil Rights from 1988 to 1989, was born in Fernandina Beach in 1944.
- Raymond A. Brown, attorney whose clients included Black Liberation Army member Assata Shakur, boxer Rubin "Hurricane" Carter and "Dr. X" physician Mario Jascalevich.
- George Rainsford Fairbanks, a Confederate Major in the U.S. Civil War, he was also a historian, lawyer and Florida State Senator. The Fairbanks House is listed on the NRHP and is operated as a bed and breakfast lodging establishment.
- Joseph Finegan, businessman, Brigadier general for the Confederate States Army; resident of Fernandina Beach.
- Rick Stockstill, football head coach at Middle Tennessee; raised in Fernandina Beach.
- David Levy Yulee, Florida Territorial representative to Congress and the first U.S. Senator from Florida when it became a state, member of the Confederate Congress, builder of Florida's first cross-state railroad (Fernandina to Cedar Key). There is a statue of Yulee in the town.
The 1988 fantasy film The New Adventures of Pippi Longstocking was filmed in Fernandina Beach and at soundstages in Jacksonville. The house that stood in for Villa Villekulla, Pippi's home, is known locally as Captain Bell's House and is on Estrada Street in the Old Town area directly across from the Fernandina Plaza (parade ground for the Spanish fort) and overlooking the Amelia River.
The Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival occurs annually over the first weekend in May. Events and activities of the festival include vendors with seafood, arts, crafts, collectibles and antiques, live music, the Miss Shrimp Festival pageant, a fireworks display and a parade.
- Original Town of Fernandina Historic Site
- Fairbanks House
- Historic Nassau County Courthouse
- United States Post Office, Custom House, and Courthouse (Fernandina, Florida, 1912)
- Fort Clinch State Park
- See National Register of Historic Places listings in Nassau County, Florida
- "2019 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 2, 2020.
- "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". United States Census Bureau. May 24, 2020. Retrieved May 27, 2020.
- "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
- "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. October 25, 2007. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
- "Letter from Spanish Governor of Florida, Enrique White, to Commandant of Amelia Island, Justo Lopez, the army post and town will be called Fernandina and the rest of the island will still be called Amelia, as of Jan. 1, 1811. - Letter". ameliaisland.pastperfectonline.com. Retrieved March 25, 2019.
- Roger Moore; Ron Kurtz (2001). Amelia Island and Fernandina Beach. Photographs Naturally. p. 1871. ISBN 978-0-9710343-0-3.
- "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Archived from the original on May 31, 2011. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
- "Fernandina Plaza Historic State Park" (PDF). State of Florida Department of Environmental Protection Division of Recreation and Parks. March 10, 2004. p. 11. Retrieved April 30, 2013.
- Louise Biles Hill (1941). "George J. F. Clarke, 1774-1836". Florida Historical Quarterly. 21 (3 ed.). Florida Historical Society. p. 214. Retrieved May 3, 2013.
- Cusick, James G. (2007). The other war of 1812 : the Patriot War and the American invasion of Spanish East Florida. Athens, Georgia: University of Georgia Press. p. 32. ISBN 978-0820329215.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on February 9, 2009. Retrieved July 23, 2008.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) Manifest Destiny's Underworld: Filibustering in Antebellum America. Robert E. May. Chapter 1
- "Another View of Gregor MacGregor" Archived March 28, 2009, at the Wayback Machine in Amelia Now On Line, Winter 2001.
- "Seaport built for a Railroad". exploresouthernhistory.com. Retrieved May 6, 2018.
- Braley, R. Olin (2004). The Killing of Harmon Murray. Gainesville, Florida: The Alachua Press. pp. 69–71.
- Chandler, Billy Jaynes (October 1994). "Harmon Murray: Black Desperado in Late Nineteenth-Century Florida". The Florida Historical Quarterly. 73 (2): 190. JSTOR 30148759.
- "Memorials/Fallen Deputies - Deputy Joseph W. Robinson". Nassau County Sheriff's Office. Retrieved November 7, 2018.
- "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. February 12, 2011. Retrieved April 23, 2011.
- "NOWData - NOAA Online Weather Data". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved February 8, 2016.
- "Station Name: FL FERNANDINA BEACH". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved February 8, 2016.
- "Census of Population and Housing". Census.gov. Retrieved June 4, 2015.
- U.S. Census Bureau. "Fernandina Beach (city), Florida". State & County QuickFacts. U.S. Government. Archived from the original on May 8, 2012. Retrieved August 18, 2012.
- U.S. Census Bureau. "2010 Demographic Profile Data". Profile of General Population and Housing Characteristics: 2010. U.S. Government. Retrieved August 18, 2012.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on February 13, 2020. Retrieved July 9, 2018.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- "Station 20." Nassau County. Retrieved on February 14, 2017. "Station 20 South end of Amelia Island 5518 First Coast Highway Fernandina Beach, Florida 32034"
- "Station 70." Nassau County. Retrieved on February 14, 2017. "Station 70 Oneil 96031 Pine Grove Road Fernandina Beach, Florida 32034"
- "Fernandina Beach High School / Homepage". www.nassau.k12.fl.us. Retrieved December 29, 2017.
- "Fernandina Beach Branch Library." Nassau County Public Library. Retrieved on February 10, 2017. "Location Fernandina Library Branch 25 N. 4th St. Fernandina Beach, FL 32034"
- Berger, Joseph. "Raymond A. Brown, Civil Rights Lawyer, Dies at 94", The New York Times, October 11, 2009. Accessed October 12, 2009.
- Feldman, Ari (August 20, 2017). "Why Are There No Statues Of Jewish Confederate Judah Benjamin To Tear Down?". Forward. Retrieved September 6, 2017.
There is only one known statue of a Jewish Confederate leader. It depicts David Levy Yulee, an industrialist, plantation owner and Confederate senator from Florida, and it shows him sitting on a bench.
- James P. Goss (2000). Pop Culture Florida. Pineapple Press Inc. p. 103. ISBN 978-1-56164-199-4.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on November 23, 2015. Retrieved December 29, 2015.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- "Shrimp festival kicks off in Fernandina Beach". News4Jax. May 3, 2012. Archived from the original on May 9, 2012. Retrieved April 18, 2013.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Fernandina Beach, Florida.|
- City of Fernandina Beach
- Fernandina Beach News-Leader, full text with full page images, freely available in the Florida Digital Newspaper Library
- Fernandina Express, 1880s historic newspaper freely available with full text and full page images in the Florida Digital Newspaper Library
- http://www.floridastateparks.org/fortclinch/default.cfm, the State's official web site for Fort Clinch