Anna Kingsley is believed to have been born in West Africa around 1793 and captured and sent to Cuba when she was thirteen years old. She was purchased by Zephaniah Kingsley, a resident of Spanish Florida. A year after her emancipation in 1811, she moved to Mandarin and built a home and farm on five acres, where twelve enslaved people lived and worked. She destroyed her home in November 1813 to avoid having it fall into the hands of rebels during the “Patriot Rebellion” instigated and financed by the United States. For her actions she later received a 305-acre land grant from Spain. She died in 1870 at the age of 77.
John D. Hall, M.D.
A Revolutionary War soldier, he was likely the first American physician to practice medicine in Florida for an extended period of time. Born in New Hampshire in 1760, he arrived in Florida around 1798. He later married the widow of Robert Pritchard, who had received land grants for 700 acres near Goodby’s Lake and 16,000 acres on Julington Creek. He died in 1837 and was buried in Plummer’s Cove near Scott Mill Road.
Citrus farmer Calvin Read is credited with selecting the new name for the community previously known as St. Anthony, San Antonio and Monroe. He chose the name “Mandarin” after the type of oranges grown in the area. He appears in an 1850 table of post offices in the United States as the postmaster in Mandarin.
Walter Jones and Agnes Jones
Walter Jones, who operated a general goods store and the community post office on the St. Johns River, moved his business and the post office to its anew location on Mandarin Road in 1911 his business to the location. After his death in 1928, his daughter Agnes “Miss Aggie” operated the store and served as postmistress until the post office moved in 1963. The following year she closed the store and retired. In the early 1900s, Walter Jones moved his family to the William Webb home in what is now the Walter Jones Historical Park.
A major in the Union army during the Civil War, William Webb purchased approximately 31 acres on the St. Johns River in Mandarin in 1873. Major Webb built a home around 1875 and added a barn the following year. He cultivated oranges, potatoes, tomatoes, cucumbers, strawberries and beans. He built a 1,000-foot dock extending into the St. Johns River and shipped farm produce north on steamships that regularly stopped in Mandarin.
Long-time Mandarin resident Tommy Hazouri was Mayor of Jacksonville from 1987 to 1991. He was born in Jacksonville in 1944. He graduated from Jacksonville University in 1966 and was elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 1974, where he served until 1986. During his tenure as mayor, he led the campaign to eliminate tolls and secured passage of environmental regulations to eliminate odors in Jacksonville. He served on the Duval County School Board from 2004 to 2012. He and his wife, Carol (a long-time teacher at Crown Point Elementary School), still reside in Mandarin.
Herb Peyton bought his first gas station in 1960 and established its corporate office in mandarin in 1964. Gate Petroleum grew into a billion dollar a year business which diversified into construction materials, real estate and clubs and resorts. After acquiring the former assets of the Stockton, Whatley, Davin & Company, Gate sold 8000 acres of undeveloped land between the Guana River and the Atlantic Ocean to the State of Florida. That land became Guana River State Park, now part of the Guana-Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve. A long-time Mandarin resident, Peyton lives on Scott Mill Road.
John E. “Jack” Mathews, Jr.
Jack Mathews (1920-1988) was one of the most widely respected members of the Florida Legislature, where he served between 1956 and 1970. He served as Senate President in 1969-70. During his time in the legislature he was instrumental in reapportionment, restructuring of state bureaucracy, expansion of the state’s university system and adoption of the 1968 Florida Constitution. He ran two unsuccessful campaigns for governor in 1964 and 1970. He died in 1988 following a lengthy illness.
Richard A. “Dick” Pettigrew
Born in West Virginia in 1930, Dick Pettigrew he spent his early years Mandarin in a home off Mandarin Road. He later moved to Miami, where he was elected to the Florida House of representative, serving from 1963 to 1972. He served as Speaker of the House in 1970-72. He was elected to the Florida Senate, where he served from 1972-74. He made unsuccessful bids for the U. S. Senate in 1974 and 1980.
Larkin Allen Collins (1952-1990) was one of the founding members of the Southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd. He and fellow band member Ronnie Van Zandt co-wrote many of the band’s hits, including legendary “Free Bird.” He lived some of the last years of his life in Mandarin, where he involved in an automobile accident in 1986, which left him paralyzed.