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Jacksonville in 1880

Camp Life in Florida; A Handbook for Sportsmen and Settlers.


The following statistical accounts, collected by the Census Office, indicate the present condition of Jacksonville.

LOCATION. Jacksonville lies in latitude 30° 20° north, longitude 81° 39° west from Greenwich, on the left bank of the Saint John's river, 25 miles from its mouth and 252 miles east of Tallahassee. The altitudes above sea-level are: Average, 38 feet; lowest point, 1 foot; and highest point, 40 feet. Although 25 miles from its mouth, the river is here almost like all inlet of the sea, and affords a fine harbor. The draught of water in front of the city and in the channel averages 50 feet, but, owing to obstructions at the mouth of the river, vessels of large size are prevented from taking advantage of it. The river and its tributaries afford about 600 miles of interior communication with a country which is rapidly settling up with towns and agricultural districts.

RAILROAD COMMUNICATIONS. Jacksonville is the eastern. terminus of the Florida Central railroad, connecting at Lake City with the Jacksonville, Pensacola, and Mobile railroad to Tallahassee, and also, at Baldwin, with the Atlantic, Gulf, and West India Transit railroad, for Cedar Keys on the south, and Fernandina on the north.

TRIBUTARY COUNTRY. The land lying immediately upon the river is devoted largely to the cultivation of fruits-especially those belonging to the citrus family—cotton, rice, sugar-cane, corn, sweet potatoes, and garden vegetables of almost every description, the latter being raised for early export to the North. The products of the forest are yellow pine, cypress, red bay, live-oak, and other useful and ornamental Woods. The country tributary to the lower Saint John's is mostly undulating, and in some cases swampy, but when reclaimed forms the most fertile lands.

TOPOGRAPHY. The surface soil is sandy, mixed with calcareous masses derived from comminuted shells, having a substratum of clay at a depth of from 1 to 10 feet below the surface, and this rests upon a rock of calcareous and Tertiary formation. The rock is ordinarily reached at a depth of from 20 to 30 foot below the surface, and crops out in the river, in front of the city, 28 feet below mean low Water. The site is sufficiently rolling to admit of easy drainage. Marshes are interspersed throughout the adjacent country, about half of which is wooded. The soil within a radius of 5 miles does not vary from that of the site described.

CLIMATE. Highest recorded summer temperature, 104° (1879); highest summer temperature in average years, 97°; mean Summer temperature, 81.82°. Lowest recorded winter temperature, 16° (1851); lowest winter temperature in average years, 30°; mean winter temperature, 56.33°. Mean annual temperature (1839 to 1870), 68.98°. The influence of the adjacent waters is to equalize the temperature. The adjacent marshes have, in some localities, a tendency to produce malaria of a mild type, which is generally dispersed by the breezes blowing across the peninsula. The prevailing winds are from the northeast and from the southwest. During the summer the latter come in at one hour or another every day. Very high winds or gales are of very rare occurrence.

STREETS. Jacksonville has 17 miles 640 feet of streets, none of which are paved. Sidewalks on the business streets are paved with stone or wood, but, the greater part, are paved with wood. Trees are planted for shade on both sides of the streets, about 10 feet front the fence-line, and from 30 to 40 feet apart. The streets are kept in repair by day work, but, the cost is not separated from other street work. There are no horse railroads or omnibus lines in the city.

WATER-WORKS. The Water-works are just being completed by the city at a total cost of $100,000. The System will be direct pumping, with stand-pipe, and the pressure will be for domestic purposes 35 pounds and for fires from 75 to 80pounds to the square inch. It has been decided to use the Crown water-meters on all services.

GAS. The gas-works are owned by a private company. The daily average production is 13,000 cubic feet. The charge per 1,000 feet is $3. The city pays $28 per annum for each street lamp, 79 in number. The yearly income from meter-rates is given as $11,400.

PUBLIC PARKS AND PLEASURE-GROUNDS. Jacksonville has a single acre of ground, near the center of the city, used as a park.

PLACES OF AMUSEMENT. There are no theaters in the city, but there are 4 concert-halls, the largest seating 400. As to concert—and beer-gardens, there are stated to be "none worth recording".

DRAINAGE. No information on this subject was furnished.

CEMETERIES. Jacksonville has 4 burying-grounds; 2 lie contiguously upon the eastern, outskirts of the city, and contain, respectively, 6 and 2 acres; a "new cemetery", of 38 acres, 2.5 miles from the city limits, and a recent on of 6 acres, 1 mile north of the city.

Previous to 1872 the record of interments was very imperfect. For the past eight years the total number of interments has averaged about 15 per month. Before interments takes place the cause of death and the intended place of burial must be reported by the undertaker to the city sexton, who gives a permit. No dead body is allowed to be brought into the, city unless accompanied by a certificate from the attending physician, or the health officer, or other competent person of the place whence the body is brought, that death was not caused by any infectious or contagious disease. The new cemetery, just started, belongs to a private corporation. It has a regular keeper, and roads leading to it from the city are now being constructed. The price of lots in the cemetery is front $20 to $50.

MARKETS. Jacksonville's "City market" is private property, which is leased, to the city. It covers about 100 feet square, and has 27 stalls—16 for meat, 8 for vegetables, and 3 for fish. Four outside markets are allowed 1 stall each for meat, and 1 for vegetables. The rental of market-stalls averages, each, per month, for meat $12 , and for vegetables $8. The market is open from daylight until noon. Nearly all of the retail supply or meats, poultry, fish, and vegetables is obtained at the market, though a few grocery-stores sell certain vegetables. Some also keep and sell poultry at wholesale, receiving it On consignment. In the city are 3 dealers who pack fish on ice for shipment into the interior. All the markets are under strict sanitary rules.

SANITARY AUTHORITY-BOARD OF HEALTH. The chief health organization of Jacksonville is the board of health, composed of the city Council, the mayor, and the city physician, who is also health officer. The only expense incurred is for the salaries of the health officer and 2 inspectors, about $1,500 per year. The health officer is the chief executive officer of the board; he receives a salary of $900 per annum. The board transacts its business at meetings called about once a month by the president. Between May 1 and November 1, 2 assistant, inspectors are employed; one is a physician, and both have police powers to the extent of arresting and bringing offenders to trial before the police court. Inspections for the detection of nuisances are made, every day, from house to house, as rapidly as the inspectors can get around. Attention is also paid to all special complaints by the health officer, who visits the alleged nuisance in person. This is also the case in the event of defective house-drainage, privy-vaults, cesspools, sources of drinking-water, sewerage, street cleaning, etc.; and, when necessary, the health officer calls in the city sanitary engineer. The board requires the cremation of all garbage, so far as it can be done. Excrement is not allowed to be thrown into the canal, at one side of the city. The public sewers empty into the Saint John's river.

INFECTIOUS DISEASES. Small-pox patients are iso1ated, either in a pest house or in tents; but scarlet-fever patients are neither isolated nor quarantined at home. In case of the breaking out of contagious diseases in public or private schools the board has power to close the schools. Vaccination is not compulsory.

REPORTS, ETC. The health officer keeps a record of deaths, and of the causes thereof, and reports the same weekly to the board, Which reports weekly to the national board of health. It is contemplated to require, by ordinance, the registry of births. A board of health has been appointed by the governor of the state; but it has never organized, and the old board continues to act.

MUNICIPAL CLEANSING. Street cleaning.—The streets are cleaned at the expense of the city and with its own force. The work is done wholly by hand, no sweeping-machines being used. The cleaning is done every day, and is done "as well as it can be done without sweeping". This work, including the removal or garbage and ashes, costs the city about $1,500 annually. The street dirt is taken outside of the city and burned. The present place of deposit will soon have to be abandoned, and another one found farther away. Removal of garbage and ashes.—Garbage is removed by the city with its own force. By ordinance, the garbage is required to be placed in boxes, barrels, or other suitable receptacles, and then put on the streets, at the curb-line on the days designated for removal before the city scavenger comes around. Ashes and garbage may be kept in the same vessels. As far as possible, the garbage is burned, and the ashes are used for fertilizer. It is reported that garbage is often kept on the premises too long for health.

Dead animals.—The carcass of any animal dying within the city must be removed by the owner, and buried a mile or two outside the limits. When the owner can not be found the city does the work. The annual cost of this service is included in the cost of street-cleaning. No record is kept of the number of dead animals annually removed.

Liquid household wastes.—Chamber slops are run into sewers or into cesspools, or are thrown around orange trees for fertilization. But a small proportion of the wastes find their way into the sewers; none at all are run into the street-gutters, while the larger part, are absorbed by porous cesspools, having few, if any, overflows delivering—where they exist—into sewers. These cesspools, however, do not receive the wastes or water-closets. In a very few instances physicians have reported a suspected contamination of drinking-water front wells, by the escape of the contents of privy-vaults, as a cause of some typhoid diseases. Cesspools, are cleaned out when it is ordered by the sanitary inspectors.

Human excreta.—About one-third of the houses in the city use privy-vaults, a few have water-closets, while the rest depend mostly on surface or box-privies. In 1878 the further construction of privy-vaults was forbidden. Those in existence are cleaned out, as often as ordered by the sanitary inspector. An ordinance requires that they be emptied at least twice it month, but in practice it is done from once a week to once a month, according to their use. About one-half of the privies use dry earth to a greater or less extent. The ultimate disposal of the night-soil is by converting it into fertilizer. It is not allowed to be used for manuring land within the gathering-ground of the public water-supply.

Manufacturing wastes.—The disposal of liquid and solid manufacturing wastes has never as yet engaged the attention of the authorities, and no regulations concerning the matter exist.

POLICE. The police force of Jacksonville is appointed and governed by the mayor, with the consent of the city council. The city marshal is the head or chief executive officer of the force, and directly controls it, being responsible to the mayor. He is ex officio superintendent or police, serves warrants and legal notices, attends the mayor's court each morning, and opens the same and keeps order, and has charge of the city jail, and all prisoners confined therein. The rest of the force consists of 1 captain at a salary of $60 per month, and 9 patrolmen at $45 per month each. The uniform is of navy-blue cloth, dress-coat, vest, and pantaloons, with cap and wreath. In summer a flannel sack-coat and pantaloons, with straw or felt hat are worn. The men furnish their own uniforms, which cost $40 each. Patrolmen are equipped with club, pistol, whistle, badge, and belt. Their hours of service are, for night men, 14 hours; day men, 10 hours. Each member of the force patrols three-quarters of a mile of streets. The number of arrests made in 1880 was 475, chiefly for drunkenness and disorderly conduct. During the same year property to the value of $550 was reported to the police as lost, or stolen, and of this $365 was recovered and restored to the owners. For the same period there were, 23 station-house lodgers, as against 39 during 1879. During 1880, 32 free meals were furnished to lodgers, at a cost of $8 to the department. The police force is required to attend fires, to aid in their extinguishment, to protect property, and to preserve order. Special policemen may be appointed by the mayor for special service. Their standing, as compared with the regular force, is secondary. The yearly cost of the police force (1880) is $5,580. FIRE DEPARTMENT. The following regarding the fire department of Jacksonville is from the annual report of the chief engineer for the year ending April 17, 1879:

The force of the department consists of 2 hook-and-ladder companies, one of 25 men, and the other not yet complete in its organization; 2 engine companies, of 48 and 30 men, respectively; 1 engine company of 40 men; and 3 hose companies, of 21, 23, and 16 men, respectively. The apparatus in use consists of 2 steam fire-engines, 1 hand-engine, and 1 hook-and-ladder truck. The hose in the department amounts to 2,600 feet. During the year the department responded to 24 alarms, of which 3 were false. The total value of property destroyed by fire was $110,500, $61,743 of this being covered by insurance.

Excerpt from "Report on the Social Statistics of Cities: Part 2, The Southern and Western States." Published by the Department of the Interior Census Office, Government Printing Office, Washington, 1887.


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