When studying the history of the Orlando area, one name that is immediately evident is that of Jernigan. The name can be spotted when looking at an early map of the area, as Jernigan was a settlement that was situated where Orlando is now located. It was named after a man who settled here in 1843, Aaron Jernigan. The Jernigan homestead was the nucleus around which the settlement was formed.
When Aaron Jernigan arrived in Central Florida in 1843, he found himself in a location that featured wide open expanses dotted with pine forests, where deer and panthers roamed freely . . . a place where the landscape featured clear, shimmering lakes that were alive with fish. That was the Central Florida of the 1800s.
Jernigan relocated to Central Florida when the federal government offered land to anyone who would settle here, build a cabin, cultivate five acres of land, and help defend the land against the Seminole Indians. Soon after he arrived, his brother Isaac settled here as well. In her work Orlando: A Centennial History, author and historian Eve Bacon noted:
"Among the first permanent settlers to take advantage of the Land Act were Aaron and Isaac Jernigan . . . The Jernigans came in 1843 with 700 head of cattle, two colored men and an elderly white man. Aaron purchased 1,200 acres from the state on the north and west shore of Lake Holden, built a log house, and in January of 1844 brought his wife and children down from Georgia . . ."
Both Aaron and Isaac became volunteers for a local militia at nearby Fort Gatlin and served in the Florida Troops under General Hopkins.
Descendants of Isaac Jernigan took up residence in Winter Park. Henry Howard Jernigan (Isaac’s grandson) and Howard E. Jernigan (Isaac’s great grandson) both resided in Winter Park with their families.
The Winter Park History & Archives Collection features the Jernigan Family Collection . . . an assortment of family photographs, newspaper clippings, personal items, and photocopies of documents pertaining to Aaron Jernigan’s military career.
This article was written by former archivist, Barbara White, MLIS.