More than 20 years before Florida became a state, a South Carolina man named Charles Wilhelm Bulow bought up almost 9,000 acres of land bordering a tidal creek along the central coast, not far from present-day Daytona Beach. Since Bulow wasn’t the oldest son, convention of the day dictated that he couldn’t inherit his dad’s big ol’ fortune — so he set out to create his own. The result was Bulow Ville, or the Bulow Plantation, its ruins now part of the Florida State Park system.
The origins of the plantation go back to the early 19th century. Bulow acquired two tracts of land that he combined to a whopping 9,000 acres, and being Florida land he would be able to grow sugarcane, cotton, rice, and even indigo (the plant stuff used to make blue dye). By 1821 Bulow had the acreage, he had the climate, and with a tidal creek just alongside his property, he had an easy way to transport crops. What he didn’t have was cleared land. This being the ante-bellum South, clearing thousands of acres of densely forested land meant using slave labor, and it’s speculated that about 300 slaves were sent from his older brother’s plantation in South Carolina to handle this Herculean effort. Only two years later Bulow died at the age of 44. His son John, who was off at a fancy school in Paris, was sent for to take over – he was only 16 at the time. Seems he learned fast though, quickly adding a mill to turn Bulow Ville’s sweetest commodity (sugarcane) into sugar, molasses, and rum.
The plantation ran successfully under John Bulow, but not for very long. By 1835 the second of the Seminole Wars (a/k/a the Florida Wars) was raging, as the U.S. government tried to force what were known as the Seminole Indians (who were actually a number of different Native American tribes) out of Florida. John Bulow was forced from Bulow Ville by the local militia, who wanted to use the sturdy stone buildings as a fortified base of operations. They didn’t last long, and they were soon attacked and burned out by the Seminole, putting an end to the plantation that had lasted only 15 years. Most of the buildings are long gone, but today stand the remains of the sugar mill and a few chimneys and wells, the eerie ruins of a place that lived hard and fast.
Know Before You Go
Park is 3 miles west of Flagler Beach - off Old Kings Road So., off I-95 exit 284