Published in the September 2008 issue of The Southern Genealogist Exchange Society Quarterly.




Long before there was a wild, wild West, there was a wild, wild East—Spanish Florida during Spain ’s second possession from 1763 until Florida became a U. S. territory in 1822. It had cowboys and Indians. It had cows and horses. It had bandits—called “banditti” by the Spanish—cattle rustlers, and horse thieves. And it more than made up for the one Wild West ingredient it lacked, locomotives, with attacks by pirates, invasions by soldiers of fortune, and the carryings on of inhabitants who would rival the cast of characters in a John Wayne movie.  


Inhabitants of Spain’s two provinces, East and West Florida, consisted of Spaniards of the previous possession and newly arrived ones from the second possession; native Indians; free blacks; slaves; a few holdovers from the British possession; a remnant of Loyalists who had no where else to go or no desire to go when England handed Florida back to Spain in 1783; indigent outsiders seeking land grants and a fresh start; and a few fugitives from the lower states.


Except for the small percentage who enjoyed the luxury of living in a city— St. Augustine , the oldest continuously lived in city on the North American continent—the population, for the most part, lived on farms and plantations strung along waterways

To say the least, inhabitants of Spanish Florida were an interesting collection of people.  One of the more interesting ones recorded in East Florida Papers—records of the second Spanish period—is Elizabeth Maxey Berrie Hull Tucker. She arrived sometime shortly before January 1791 with her husband, William Hull, and her two brothers, Joseph and Robert Clarke Maxey and their families. They settled on Amelia Island . Of the known children in the group were Elizabeth ’s fourteen year old son William Berrie; Robert’s children Martha, Henry A., Thomas, William, and Peter; and Joseph’s son John and daughter Tiny.  They had come from Colleton County , South Carolina . They probably came on Joseph’s vessel Sheerwater.


Elizabeth ’s first husband, William Berry, died in South Carolina and she married William Hull. According to a marriage announcement in the Charleston Courier, she had a daughter, Margaret, who either came with her to East Florida and returned to South Carolina in 1808 to be married or did not come to Florida with her.


Elizabeth and her brothers did not get off to a good start with the Spanish government. Upon learning they had settled on Amelia Island, Florida’s Spanish governor curtly ordered them to relocate inland. The families promptly complied by relocating to Black Hammock Island , across the Nassau River from Amelia Island . Six months later the government lodged serious charges against the Maxeys and Hulls. Joseph’s wife, Catalina Joly, an Indian woman who, according to court records, was blind and partially paralyzed, complained that the Hulls and Maxeys had mistreated her with the intent of killing her to gain possession of her property. East Florida Papers show she was also William Hull’s slave. Catalina. The charges apparently proved unfounded as the governor Later appointed Robert an officer in the militia and also contracted him to perform repair work on the several forts in the area.


William Hull, who, in addition to farming, sold dye across the St. Marys River in the town of St. Marys to buy pork and flour, received a grant of 500 acres in two tracts March 1, 1792 for “himself, his wife and 6 children.” Other than his step-son, William Berrie, names of his children are not known. However, East Florida Papers mentions several Hulls: George, John, Michael, Peter, Susan, Dionisa and Joseph, all of whom lived in a time frame that would make them good candidates as William Hull’s children. A hundred acre tract of the grant was on Black Hammock Island . Hull stated he “intends to build a house to live in during the rigors of the summer to preserve his family from the illnesses which are experienced at such times in the neighborhood of headwaters.” The remaining 400 acres abutted Artemus Elliott Ferguson’s plantation called Tobacco Bluff on the North River near St. Augustine . 


William and Elizabeth added one more to the Hull household with the birth of Joseph Maxey Hull April 2, 1795. William died the following year three days after being released from a Spanish prison in St. Augustine .


Elizabeth ’s near neighbor Lucia Cook, widow of Captain John Cutler Braddock, had migrated from Georgia to East Florida with her unmarried children in early 1795 after the death of her husband. Sometime later, she had married William Alexander Fitzgerald and they settled on Black Hammock Island . By early 1800, William Berrie met and married Lucia’s daughter, Ann Braddock. In 1801, Berrie petitioned for and received 100 acres at Snelling Old Field in Duval County , which had belonged to his late step-father William Hull. In November 1805, he bought from Thomas Mann 150 acres on Turkey Island on the east side of the Nassau Prong of Nassau River” for $100. In 1807 he purchased from William Carney 350 acres on Amelia River , Cowpen Branch, for $400. The property included, “a little house with its fences and 25 acres of seed land.”



In early 1802, in what may have been the first of the often practiced tradition of Florida couples crossing the St. Marys to be married, Elizabeth Maxey Berrie Hull became Elizabeth Maxey Berrie Hull Tucker when she eloped to Georgia with Andrew Tucker. As a consequence, the Spanish government accused the two of “contracting a clandestine marriage,” and recommended confiscation of their property and their expulsion from the province. However, because the royal order of November 30, 1792 banning clandestine marriages had not been made public, the governor waived punishment. Instead, he ordered Tucker, who had been serving in the militia without having taken the Spanish oath of allegiance, to appear in St. Augustine to take the oath.


In 1804, Tucker received a grant of 230 acres on Black Hammock Island on the Amelia River facing Amelia Island .


Elizabeth ’s brother, Robert Clark Maxey, died September 26, 1807. His widow, Mary Dell, later married William Dewees, by whom she had a daughter, Louisa, who married Louis Mattair. Robert and Mary Dell Maxey undoubtedly left a lasting impression on family members as a considerable number of descendants were given names that included “Maxey” or “Dell.” More than a few were given the first and middle names “Maxey Dell,” some of them 200 years later in present times.


On March 17, 1812, what became known as the Patriots War broke out in East Florida when a force of American troops and “Patriot” volunteers from Georgia and Tennessee crossed the St. Marys River from Georgia and landed at Rose’s Bluff. Joined by many East Florida residents, they proceeded to Amelia Island , hauled down the Spanish flag, ran up the “Patriot’s” flag, and declared the land below the St. Marys to be the “ Republic of East Florida .” Although several of William Berrie’s relatives by marriage had joined with the “Patriots,” having several young children by now, he and his family, along with his mother, step-father Andrew Tucker, and his half-brother Joseph Maxey Hull, moved to the safety of Georgia in 1813. They settled in Camden County at Spring Bluff on the Little Satilla River, where they built Hickory Plantation.


William Berrie and Ann Braddock had five children when they arrived in Georgia . Two more were born after their arrival. The last cost Ann’s life. She died in childbirth or soon after on March 16, 1816 at the age of 36. She is buried in the Berrie Cemetery at Spring Bluff in Camden County .


Children of William Berrie and Ann Braddock were:

Mary Ann, who married Thomas Ellis Hardee, brother of noted general of the Civil War, William Joseph Hardee. Some of the many families their descendants intermarried with were Goodbread, Watson, Tyson, Haddock, Davis, Frazier, Sparks, Richardson, Priest, Baker, Ogilvie, Gassoway, Wiggins, Townsend, Fitchett, Smith, Vegard, Bessant, Mahoney, Sparks, and Spencer. Ironically, one of Mary and Thomas Ellis Hardee’s granddaughters married the son of William Berrie’s half-brother, Joseph Maxey Hull.

William Alexander, who married Matilda Ann Piles, Some of the families their descendents intermarried with were Bailey, Dyer, and Williams. Their son, William Hull Berrie, served as sheriff of Glynn County , Georgia .

Joseph C., who died at the age of nine.

Richard James, who married Mary C. Piles. Some of the families their descendents intermarried with were Pyles, Clark, Studstill, Atkinson, Brown, Arnold, Nelson, and Bass.

Lucy E., for whom no record of marriage was found.

Esther Ann, who married Dr. Henry Drayton Holland, grandson of Andrew Turnbull who brought the Minorcans to America . Dr. Holland served as mayor of Jacksonville , Florida in 1852.

Elizabeth Martha, for whom no record of marriage was found.


Three years after Ann’s death, William Berrie, married Spring Bluff neighbor Katherine Ann Jones, widow of George Dilworth. She had two children from her first marriage. She and William Berrie had:

Martha Jones, who married Andrew Miller Ross.

Elijah Jones, who married Hattie H. Cox.

Andrew Jackson, who died at age of 16.

Henry C., who died unmarried in Nicaragua at the age of 28.

Alexander Atkinson, who died at the age of 7.

Efford Jones, who married Mary Siletta Holzendorf. Some of the families their descendents intermarried with were Timmons, Atkinson, Knight,


Joseph Maxey Hull became brother-in-law of his niece, Mary Ann Berrie, when he married her husband’s sister, Sarah Matilda Hardee in 1818. Their children were:

John Hardee, who married Martha King.

Joseph Maxey Jr., who married Mary Elizabeth Blue. Some of the families their descendents intermarried with were Hardee, Branham, and McLeod. One of their sons, Robert Maxey Hull, held several civic positions in Savannah , Georgia , including mayor, and positions in Georgia ’s state government.

Ruth, who married James Fort Raulerson. Some of the families their descendents intermarried with were Braddock, Varnes, Hunter, Baker, Brown, Summerall, Lowe, Bryant, Jakes, Swanson, Newnan, Bennett, Jackson, Buehler, Durant, Peterson, Yancey, Wilson, Dillard, Todd, Brooke, Orr, Woodard, Walker, Kyser, Drury, Proctor, Ballard, Johnson, Alexander, Sauls, Carlisle, McVeagh, Hill, Sauro, Smith, Bonaccorsy, Trapp, Dickerson, Fox, Rollolaze, Dowling, Driskell, Hallman, Roesch, Cox, Glaze, and Harmon.


Noble Andrew, who married Eleanor Sturtevant. He moved to Florida in 1851 and became first elected sheriff in newly formed Suwanee County . He served in the Florida House of Representatives in 1860 and 1861. During the Civil War he served as captain of Company H, First Florida Cavalry, in the Confederate Army. After the war he ran mercantile businesses in Jacksonville and Sanford . He served as lieutenant governor of Florida 1877-1879. After being elected to the United States Congress, he served from March 4, 1879, to January 22, 1881 before being replaced by his election opponent, Horatio Bisbee, Jr., who successfully contested Hull ’s election after he was implicated in a forged return from Brevard County . Afterward, he served as assistant postmaster of Jacksonville and clerk of Duval County circuit.  He had a daughter and a son.

Caroline R., who married Dr. Samuel W. Lawrence, lieutenant of a company of sharpshooters in the Civil War who died in battle at Jonesboro, GA in 1864.

Oliver Perry, a Lieutenant, died at Shiloh in the Civil War.

Henry Russell, 1st Lieutenant in Company C, 8th Florida Infantry, was killed at Leesburg , VA in the Civil War.

Robert Newton, a major in the 66th Georgia Infantry, was killed in action at Binnaker Bridge on the South Edisto River in South Carolina February 9, 1865 in an engagement that delayed Sherman ’s 17th Corps for 8 hours. He was interred on a nearby plantation. Within hours before his death, he wrote to his brother-in-law, “I write this setting upon a log, just in sight of Cannon’s Bridge. I am sent to cover the retreat. My men are completely demoralized, and I fear when the crisis comes they will be found wanting. Nevertheless, I shall do my duty. 'Coming events, 'tis said, ‘cast their shadows before,’ and even now I feel a presentiment of evil. Perhaps I shall never see another sun set, but if I fall it will be with my face to the foe.”

Mary E., who married James G. Lawrence.

Ellis H., who married Ann Eliza Bradley, served as sheriff of Duval County , Florida .


After Florida became a United States territory in 1822, the government agreed to honor any valid Spanish land grants. Grant recipients had to prove their validity through documentation and testimonials. Their grants were either confirmed as valid or unconfirmed as invalid through land commissions, federal courts, or by the U.S Congress. Andrew Tucker submitted a claim for the 1804 grant he received of 230 acres on Black Hammock Island . After submitting it, he died sometime before January 23, 1824 as the claim was changed on that date from his name to “Tucker, Elizabeth, widow and administratrix of Andrew Tucker.” Her claim was confirmed.


Elizabeth Maxey Berrie Hull Tucker, Florida pioneer and progenitor of an uncommon number of remarkable descendants, died June 19, 1835 at the age of 73 and is buried in Berrie Cemetery at Spring Bluff. Her first son, William Berrie, died December 18, 1841 at the age of 64 and is buried in Berrie Cemetery at Spring Bluff. Her second son, Joseph Hull, died June 1, 1865 at the age of 70 and is buried in Hull/Rural Felicity/Hardee Cemetery in Camden County near Waverly , Georgia . Katherine Ann Jones Dilworth Berrie died in 1872 at the age of 87.