The city of Jacksonville turned 200 in 2022, but how much do Jaxsons really know about their city’s history? Bygone Jax: Our Unsung History, a podcast from WJCT Public Media, highlights some of the lesser known or little explored stories from the River City’s past.
In Episodes 1 and 2, we take listeners back to March of 1863, when two regiments of Black Union soldiers were sent to Jacksonville to occupy the city for the third time during the Civil War. Their mission: pester Confederate troops in the area, free enslaved people along the St. Johns River and enlist as many Black men as possible.
They were there for just three weeks, but during that short span of time, media coverage of what transpired in Jacksonville helped turn the tide of public opinion on Black troops serving in the army. Seeing this as a chance to tip the scales in the Union’s favor, President Abraham Lincoln’s administration decided to move forward with the full-scale enlistment of Black troops. Some historians believe the Union wouldn’t have won the war if it weren’t for the resulting influx of manpower.
Then, in Episodes 3-5: The indigenous history of Northeast Florida stretches back over 12,000 years, but too often conversations about it are limited to a handful of talking points which may not even be true. With the help of research by local experts and supporting historical documents, we tackle three of the most common myths and misconceptions about Jacksonville’s indigenous history and take a look at the far more fascinating truth.
Research for this podcast comes from Florida State College at Jacksonville, which launched a new History of Jacksonville course in fall of 2022.
As the story goes, the “last of the Timucua,” a man named Juan Alonso Cabale, died in Cuba in 1767. The details of Cabale’s death are true, but over time they have been fused into a broader false narrative that affects the indigenous people of Florida to this day.
In 1591, Flemish goldsmith Theodore de Bry and his sons published a book that still shapes how we picture the Timucua to this day. Supposedly its imagery was based on paintings by French painter Jacques LeMoyne, who was stationed at Fort Caroline… but was it really? And how accurate is the picture they present of local indigenous life?
Stories about an ancient Timucuan town called Ossachite buried beneath the streets of Downtown Jacksonville abound online, but did it actually exist? And does this romantic narrative of a lost city actually obscure the far more interesting indigenous history of Northeast Florida?
Episode 2: Union forces continue to occupy Jacksonville and the Second South Carolina Volunteers mount an expedition up the St. Johns. An unexpected order to withdraw the troops from Jacksonville confounds Higginson, but it quickly becomes clear that what his men have done there has turned the tide of public opinion on Black enlistment. To read the show notes head over to wjct.org/bygonejax.
Episode 1: It’s March of 1863 and two of the first Black regiments in the Union Army are sent to occupy Jacksonville, Florida. Their mission: harass Confederate troops in the area, free enslaved people along the St. Johns River and enlist as many Black men as possible. To read the show notes head over to wjct.org/bygonejax.
Bygone Jax: Our Unsung History from WJCT Public Media tells some of the lesser known stories — or more accurate versions of the stories people think they know — about Jacksonville’s past. The show is powered by research from the people behind Florida State College at Jacksonville’s History of Jacksonville course, which launched in fall 2022.