GUIDE TO THE
HOLMES – PALMER – FERRIS PAPERS
1826 – 1921
1.35 cubic feet
Processed by Mimi Klug
Thomas O. Holmes (1816 – 1879) was a prominent citizen of Jacksonville, Florida. see doc.
He had a store on Bay Street and owned other properties in town. Holmes was an
Attorney and he was the Agent for David L. Palmer (d. 1871) and Darius Ferris ( 1800-1849).
Palmer and Ferris also lived in Jacksonville and were partners and entrepreneurs. In 1841, they purchased the property around Mayport, Florida and laid out the town. The Land had originally been part of the Dewees Grant.
Palmer and Ferris had a contract with the Federal Gov’t to provide timber for the U.S. Navy, but in 1843 they were accused of cutting Live Oak on public lands and were brought to trial.
Ferris died at the age of 49, but Holmes and Palmer continued actively buying and selling properties in the town of Jacksonville for many years.
Palmer’s son-in-law, Halstead Hoag, served as the Mayor of Jacksonville during the Civil War.
Scope And Content
Included in this collection are hundreds of Property Deeds, Indentures, Promissory Notes and other legal documents. These are mostly hand written and give the property descriptions in the town of Jacksonville, Florida in the town’s early days of development.There are also some Bill of Sales for Negro slaves in which the names, ages and relation-ships are given.
A large part of the collection is concerned with the case “Nimrod vs U.S.” In 1842, Palmer and Ferris operated a large business near New Smyrna, Florida in cutting timber
and selling it to the U.S. Navy. The Brig Nimrod was loaded with Live Oak timber when the U.S. Agent, H. L. Thistle , accused Palmer and Ferris of taking timber from
public lands. Thistle caused the Nimrod and her cargo to be seized and Palmer & Ferris
to be indicted for Trespass. District Attorney Thomas Douglas tried the case before
Judge Isaac H. Bronson. The defendants were found guilty and the Nimrod was ordered to be sold at auction. (Palmer & Ferris then bought her for $1815.00).
In 1848, Palmer & Ferris petitioned the court for a new hearing and, with new testimony,
were found not guilty. They were compensated for $50,285.00. Included is a copy of
the complete transcript of the trial. It is hand written and 196 pages long.. Also the copies of the second trial, along with the words of Judge Bronson and Att. Thomas
Douglas, are contained in the collection. Related to the trial is a number of letters to, and from, the Honorable David Levy before he changed his name to David Yulee.
Also, of interest in this collection, is a number of pages from account ledgers during the
years 1858 – 1874 covering such items as hardware, food, “buggy repair” etc
Organization and Arrangement
The collection is organized into 29 Folders. These are all arranged in chronological
order in three boxes. The folders containing the legal papers pertaining to both trials are placed at the end of the collection.
Holmes, Thomas O. – Archives
Palmer, David L. – Archives
Ferris, David L. – Archives
Deeds – Jacksonville, FL – 19th century
Jacksonville, FL – 19th century – deeds
African-American – Slaves – Jacksonville, FL – 19th century Nimrod vs. U.S. – New Smyrna, FL – timber industry Timber Industry – Nimrod vs U.S. – 19th century – New Smyrna, FL Lighthouses – St. John’s River – Jacksonville, FL Genealogy – T.O. Holmes Family – 19th and 20th centuries Genealogy – David L. Palmer Family – 19th and 20th centuries.
Yulee, David Levy
Bronson, Isaac H.
There are no restrictions on access. Papers have been refoldered in acid-free materials and metal fasteners have been removed.
13 Nov 1826 Bill of sale. W.H. Allen to Eliz. Wiggins. Tract of land on
St. John’s River.
21 Jul 1831 Bill of sale. Jacob Micklers to Maria & James Felany.
02 Jul 1832 Indenture between Louis & George Fleming, and Palmer & Ferris
for $708. re: Negro Slaves – names & ages given.
02 Jul 1832 Deed. Fleming to Palmer & Ferris.
21 Aug 1832 Deed. Lounsbury Palmer to David. L. Palmer. Tract of land in
20 Jan 1834 Bill of sale for live oak timber. M. Hallowes to Palmer & Ferris.
15 Sep 1834 Bill of sale. Martin Bowrosan to Palmer & Ferris for stock of
cattle and hogs.
29 Nov 1834 Warranty deed . Charles Downing to George Clarke. 1,000 acres
on St. John’s River.
17 Dec 1834 Deed of release. Duncan Clinch to Charles Downing.
05 Jun 1835 Assignment of mortgage of Andrew D. Lewis to David L. Palmer.
30 Apr 1836 Deed. John Warren to Palmer & Ferris. Land in Jacksonville, Fla.
27 Jun 1836 Statement of C. Downing re: sale of live oak timber to Palmer &
08 Apr 1839 Bill of sale. Palmer to William Gardner re: Negro Slaves – names
and ages given.
01 Aug 1840 Deed from Charles Bisbee et al to David Palmer. Land on St. John’s
River known as Jolley’s Field, (Granted by the Spanish Govt. to
Donna Ana Hogans, wife of Soloman Miller.)
05 Oct 1840 Statement of Samuel L. Burritt, agent and attorney of John Warren.
11 Jun1841 Note. John Warren and John Pons to Mrs. Sarah Ann Gregory.
02 Apr ? Letter from Palmer & Ferris to David Levy. Says H.L. Thistle
is giving a lot of trouble but that they have proof that the timber
they have cut is not from Public Lands.
23 Jun 1842 Quit claim deed. Jacob Mickler to Palmer & Ferris.
22 Aug 1842 Receipt of Mrs Williiams signed by H.L. Thistle, agent for pres-
ervation of timber on public lands in E. Florida.
24 Aug 1842 Letter to Palmer & Ferris from H.L. Thistle re: the taking of timber
from public lands. Pay $2500 or Govt. will bring suit.
12 Sep 1842 Letter to Thos. Douglass, U.S. District Att, St. Augustine, from
H.L. Thistle re: Mr. Tiball’s Grant.
17 Dec 1842 Bill of sale by Francis D. Scarlett for a Negro slave, “Jacob”. $500
31 Jan 1843 Letter to Hon. D. Levy from Raymond Pond.
01 Apr 1843 Deed Milo K. Pinckston to Elizabeth Berrie. Land in Jacksonville
15 Jun 1843 Bill of Sale by B.L. Hopkins re: Negro woman slave for $150.
12 Jul 1843 Bill of sale by Mary Deweese, administratix, to Holmes. Land
11 Aug 1843 Letter to David Levy from David Henshaw, Navy Dept., re:
timber shipped by Brig Nimrod.
15 Aug 1843 Letter to D. Henshaw from D. Levy re: Brig Nimrod.
04 Sep 1843 Letter to Thos. Douglas, U.S. Attorney, from H.L. Thistle re:
suing Palmer & Ferris for damages in cutting timber on public
lands. Also, an extract of a letter to Thistle from Douglas.
03 Oct 1843 Letter to Thos. Douglas from H.L. Thistle re: cutting timber
04 Oct 1843 Letter to Hon. D. Levy from Palmer & Ferris re: cutting timber.
04 Oct 1843 Letter to Hon. D. Levy from Thos. Douglas re: Thistle and
07 Oct 1843 Letter to Hon. D. Levy from Thos. Douglas re: Thistle.
13 Oct 1843 Letter to Hon. D. Levy from Thos. Douglas re: Thistle.
14 Oct 1843 Letter to Hon. D. Levy from Palmer & Ferris . Says they cannot
continue operations because of interference by Thistle.
19 Oct 1843 Letter to Capt. Beverly Kennon from David Henshaw, Navy
Dept., to authorize Palmer & Ferris to ship timber that has already
20 Oct 1843 Letter to Palmer & Ferris from B. Kennon. Re: timber.
31 Oct 1843 Letter to D. Henshaw from D. Levy on behalf of Palmer & Ferris
requesting release of contract for live oak.
16 Nov 1843 Letter to Hon. D. Levy fron D. Henshaw re: case of Palmer &
18 Nov 1843 Letter to David Henshaw from D. Levy re: case of Palmer & Ferris.
22 Nov 1843 Letter to Capt. Beverly Kennon from D. Henshaw re; TIMBER.
22 Nov 1843 Letter to Hon. D. Levy from D. Henshaw re: landing of Palmer &
Ferris’ timber at Norfolk Navy Yard.
12 Dec 1843 Letter to Hon. D. Levy from Palmer & Ferris. Re: timber
21 Dec 1843 Letter to Hon. D. Levy from Palmer & Ferris. Re; Port of
New Smyrna is blockaded.
01 Jan 1844 Letter to Hon. David Levy from E.F. Barnard. Re: alleged
violation of the revenue laws.
11 Jan 1844 Letter to Palmer & Ferris from B. Kennon re: notice of
authorization to ship lumber.
12 Jan 1844 Receipt for damages while the Schooner Louisiana was detained
in New Smyrna. Palmer & Ferris paid $540.
12 Jan 1844 Letter to Hon. David Levy from Palmer & Ferris. Re: request
for withdrawal of suits.
13 Jan 1844 Letter to Hon. D. Levy from Raynor & Pond ( attorney for
Palmer & Ferris.
1844 Deed to Lawrence Fatio from Palmer, Ferris & Hudnall.
17 Jan 1844 Letter to Hon D. Levy from Raynor & Pond. Re: foreign
23 Jan 1844 Letter to Hon. D. Levy from Raynor & Pond re: cargo of
timber has arrived at Navy Yard.
11 Feb 1844 Letter to Hon. D. Levy from Palmer & Ferris re: Nimrod
19 Feb 1844 Letter to Hon. D. Levy from Raynor & Pond re: timber case
13 Mar 1844 Letter to Hon. D. Levy from Raynor & Pond re: timber case
23 Mar 1844 Letter to Hon. D. Levy from Raynor & Pond re: timber case
28 Mar 1844 Letter to Hon. D. Levy from Raynor & Pond re: timber case
29 Mar 1844 Letter to Hon. D. Levy from Raynor & Pond re: timber case
17 Apr 1844 Letter to Hon. David Levy from Palmer & Ferris re: Nimrod
29 Apr 1844 Letter to Hon. D. Levy from Raynor & Pond re: timber case
04 May 1844 Letter to Hon. D. Levy from Raynor & Pond re: timber case
08 May 1844 Letter to Hon. D. Levy from Raynor & Pond re: timber case
28 May 1844 Deed. Cornelius Taylor to Palmer & Ferris. Land, excluding
4 acres on which the lighthouse sits on St. John’s beach.
14 Jun 1844 Bill of sale to Lawrence Fatio by Palmer, Ferris, et al, Land
in Duval County.
08 Jul 1844 Letter to Hon. D. Levy from Raynor & Pond re: timber case
25 Jul 1844 Letter to Hon. D. Levy from Palmer & Ferris re: timber case
02 Aug 1844 Agreement to pay Cornelius Taylor $1,500 for land near St.
15 Aug 1844 Letter to Hon. D. Levy from Thos. Douglas re: pending suit
against Palmer & Ferris.
11 Oct 1844 To surveyor – location of tract of land near Mosquito Lagoon.
Estate of Joseph Bonnelly.
08 Aug 1845 Letter to Hon. Jno T. Mason, Secty of Navy, from D.L. Yulee.
Re: restitution for Palmer & Ferris because of erroneous evidence.
11 Oct 1845 Deed to T.O. Holmes. Certain lots in Jacksonville.
? Dec 1845 Bill of sale for Negro slaves by Cornelius Sams to Palmer & Ferris.
13 slaves, names and ages given.
01 Dec 1845 Bill of sale for Negro slaves by Wm. Hickman. Names & ages.
24 May 1846 Bond. Payment to H.Henderson on account of D. Mieler’s estate.
09 Oct 1846 Notice of judgments to Palmer & Ferris. Land in Jacksonville.
14 Jan 1847 Letter to Hon. D.L. Yulee from Ferris. Re: Bill of Damages.
Also, an added note from T.O. Holmes, and a note from D.L. Yulee.
19 Apr 1847 Deed. Sarah Ann Gregory to Holmes. Described property in
11 Jun 1847 Letter to Hon. D.L. Yulee from Holmes.
26 Jan 1848 List of Slaves with a notation : $4,693.27
31 Mar 1848 Bill of sale. Thomas A.S. Warren to Palmer & Ferris for land in
25 Apr 1848 Cyprian Cross et al. Slaves, named.
30 May 1848 T. O. Holmes, for the consideration of a Negro Slave, sold land to
Mary Halliday in Jacksonville.
05 Jul 1848 Letter to Hon. D.L. Yulee from Treasury Dept. re: Lighthouse
at mouth of St. John’s River.
20 Jul 1848 Same as above.
21 Jul 1848 Letter to Hon. D. L. Yuilee from Treasury Dept. re: title to the
Lighthouse is unsatisfactory.
08 Aug 1848 Letter to John Mason, Secty of the Navy, from D. L. Yulee re:
condemned cargo on Brig Nimrod
15 Aug 1848 1848 Letter to Hon. D.L. Levy from Secty of the Navy.
20 Sep 1848 John Raynor & Charles Pond to Palmer & Ferris. Land in
16 Oct 1848 Indenture. Isaiah G. Hart to Oliver Wood. $200 for parcel of
land in Jacksonville.
07 Nov 1848 Letter from T.O. Holmes to W. Forward re: Palmer & Ferris.
23 Nov 1848 Letter to Hon. D.L. Yulee from W. Forward. Re: title held
by Palmer & Ferris.
06 Apr 1849 Indenture. Oliver Wood to T.O. Holmes. Property in Jacksonville.
18 Apr 1849 Indenture: Sarah Gregory to Poinsett Holmes. Parcel of land in
21 Jan 1850 Indenture. Sarah Wightman, F. Dewees, and W. Dewees to Philip
Fraser. 3 lots in Jacksonville.
04 Feb 1850 Letter to T. O. Holmes re: damages caused by seizure of Brig
19 Jul 1850 Deed. Isaiah D. Hart to T. O. Holmes. Land in Jacksonville.
19 Nov 1850 Deed. John Smith to David L. Palmer. Land in Jacksonville.
13 Dec 1850 Deed. Phillip Fraser to T. O. Holmes. Land in Jacksonville.
27 Feb 1851 Deed. Maria Doggett to Phillip Fraser. Land in Jacksonville.
15 Apr 1851 Deed Horace Moss to Ambler & Hoag. Land in Jacksonville.
16 Apr 1851 Deed. Horace Moss to Ambler & Hoag. Land in Jacksonville.
10 Jul 1851 Deed. John Sammis to David L. Palmer. Land - Hazzard’s Bluff
15 Jan 1852 Deed. Maria Doggett to T.O. Holmes. Land on Bay St. & Hogan’s
Creek in Jacksonville.
21 Jan 1852 Deed. Maria Doggett to T.O. Holmes. Land in Jacksonville.
07 Feb 1852 Deed. Mary Congar to John Newsom. Land in Jacksonville.
13 Mar 1852 Deed. Wm. Grothe to Paul Canova. Land in Jacksonville.
27 Mar 1852 Indenture. Maria Doggett to Wm Grothe. Land in Jacksonville.
15 Apr 1852 Indenture. John R. Newsom, Mary Conger. Land in
13 Aug 1852 Affidavit. Maria Doggett to James Harkness. Land in Jacksonville
13 Nov 1852 Bill of sale. Estate of J. R. Newsom to T.O. Holmes. Land in
26 Feb 1853 Indenture between Isiah Hart and Charles Dibble. $300 for land in
04 May 1853 Mortgage.. R.W. Biggs to T.O. Holmes. Land & buildings in
25 Jun 1853 Indenture between Paul B. Canova and T.O. Holmes.
01 Dec 1853 Mortgage. John Lewis to David L. Palmer. Fort George Island.
Also, 10 Negro slaves, names and ages given
30 Jan 1854 Indenture. Levi Ammerman to T.O. Holmes. Land in Jacksonville
27 May 1854 Indenture. David Palmer & Sarah Ferris to Carolyn Henderson.
Land at the White Spring in Duval County.
15 Jun 1854 Indenture. Charles R. Thompson to John Lewis Fort George Island
and other islands. Also, Negro slaves, names & ages given.
05 Jul 1854 Deed. Maria Doggett to Samuel Ellis. Land in Jacksonville.
07 Aug 1854 Deed. Tax collector to Sarah Ann Gregory.. Land in Jacksonville.
14 Oct 1854 Indenture. John B. Howell to Halstead H. Hoag. Land in Jacksonvill
14 Oct 1854 Indenture. H.H. Hoag to Daniel Ambler Land in Jacksonville.
01 Jun 1855 Indenture.. Ambler & Hoag to David L. Palmer.. Land in Jackson-
09 Jun 1855 Letter from I.P. Sanderman to D.L> Palmer re: Col . Lewis.
10 Jun 1855 Deed Henry Henderson to David Palmer & Sarah Ferris. Lan in Jacksonville.
25 Jul 1856 Deed from David Palmer to Abigail Nory. Land in Jacksonville
on the East bank of the St. John’s river.
18 Sep 1856 Deed. Alexander F. Hunt to Ida Dzealyndski re: land in Jackson-
09 Oct 1857 Mortgage between William Caulk and Samuel Ellis. Land in
11 Jan 1858 Account book of David L. Palmer with Ambler & Hoag. Entries
from 1858 to 1867. 13 double pages.
06 May 1858 Letter from F.L. Dancy to T.O. Holmes re purchase of 200 acres
in Coco Swamp, Georgia.
16 Sep 1858 Mortgage. Benjamin Hopkins to Samuel Ellis. For advance &
supplies of goods, wares & merchandise. Also sale of 8 Negro
slaves. Names and ages given.
01 Jun 1859 Copy of an account page of William Caulk sent to Samuel Ellis.
16 Jun 1859 Bond. R.M. Biggs to T. O. Holmes. Land in Jacksonville.
Sep 1859 Papers related to the estate of Samuel Ellis.
24 May 1860 List of the sale of fixtures in the “Reading Room”in the “Brick
Building” on Bay St., Jacksonville.
31 Jul 1860 Account pages.. David Palmer. 1857 to 1860.
10 Oct 1860 Indenture. Maria DeWees to T. O. Holmes. Land in Jackson-
23 Jan 1861 Petition to sell land of Eliza Jones, a minor, to H.H. Hoeg.
The buildings on the property were destroyed by fire.
28 Dec 1861 Indenture. Florida Railroad Co. to T. O. Holmes. 440 Acres
in Gulf Hammock, FL.
27 Mar 1865 Sale of seized land of Redding Biggs to Elizabeth Robinson
and resale of land in Jacksonville to T.O. Holmes.
27 Mar 1865 Sale of seized land by Redding Biggs to Mary L. Moody.
And resale of land in Jacksonville to T.O. Holmes.
Mar-Oct 1865 5 letters from H.H.Hoag to A.L. Ambler.
13 Jan 1866 Indenture. C.L. Robinson to T.O. Holmes. Land in Jacksonville.
06 Dec 1866 Deed H.H. Phillips to David Palmer & Sarah Ferris. Land along
the St, Johns River in Jacksonville.
Sep 1867 Account pages of David. L. Palmer. 19 pages. 1867 – 1870
Along with 2 pages of interest owed.
13 Jan 1868 Copy of letter from D.L. Yulee to H.H. Hoag re: petition of
Palmer & Ferris for damages of loss of Brig Nimrod.
20 Jun 1868 Letter from J.S. Thackera to H. H. Hoag.
31 Jan 1870 Letter from D.L. Yulee to D. L. Palmer re: Brig Nimrod.
27 Jul 1870 Indenture. James J. Holland to T.O. Holmes. Land in Jackson-
05 Oct 1871 Letter from F.L. Dancy to H.H. Hoag re: business transactions with
Palmer & Ferris.
19 Mar 1873 Certificate.. Appt. of H.H. Hoag as County Commissioner of Duval
01 Apr 1873 Account page of H. Henderson with D.L. Palmer estate.
20 Apr 1873 Letter from W.H. Slate to Hoag and Granger re: improvements on
01 Jun 1874 Account of the estate of D.L. Palmer with H.H. Hoag.
10 ledger pages.
01 Jun 1874 Account of Emma L. Holmes with H.H.Hoag. 4 ledger pages.
01 Jun 1874. Account of Eliza Palmer with H.H. Hoag. 8 ledger pages.
03 Mar 1875 T.O. Holmes acting for estate of deceased, Samuel Ellis, sells land
to William Lucas.
09 Mar 1875 Copy of letter from D.L. Yulee of transmittal of papers used in a
petition for relief (re: Brig Nimrod) in the U.S. Senate.
01 Jul 1875 Account of D.L. Palmer: 1875 –1876 Four ledger pages.
01 Dec 1875 Indenture between T.O. Holmes and William M. Nicholls re: land
01 Apr 1876 Indenture between Andrew V. Floyd and the Mrs. Palmer and
Ferris re: land in the village of Mayport.
07 Oct 1876 Written proposition from N.M. Nicholls to T.O. Holmes re:
land in Jacksonville.
08 Feb 1877 Court order assigning Emma Holmes & Henry Holmes as adminis-
trators for the estate of Abigail Hoag.
03 Feb 1879 Letter from Peter Cour to Henry Holmes enclosing tax receipts and
notice of sale of land. Includes stamped envelope.
14 Nov. 1879 Deed. Sarah Ferris to Sarah Holmes. Plot of land in St. Nicholas
13 Jul 1880 Deed. S. Holmes to John Riley. Land in St. Nicholas Cemetary.
26 Nov 1881 Quit claim deed from Sarah P. Ferris to S. Lina Holmes et al
Land in St. Nicholas Cemetary.
14 Feb 1882 Two Quit Claim Deeds. Florida and Charles Enos to T.O. Holmes.
11 Aug.1882 Two Quit Claim Deeds.Harriet Ashmead to S. Lina Holmes. Land
31 May 1887 Quit Claim Deed. Two deeds involving the heirs of Holmes.
re: lots in the Holmes Division of St. Nicholas.
19 Dec 1911 Mortgage Deed. Edwin Pointsette Holmes to Edwin Palmer Holmes.
Land in Jacksonville.
13 Nov 1916 Deed involving various heirs of Palmer & Holmes. Re: land in
Item A Lists of dates with a brief description of the Deed.
Item B 43 Checks from Merchants & Planters Bank Savannah. 1860.
All signed by T.O. Holmes.
Abstract of Title, covering a certain area of land (lot 8 of Holmes’
Subdivision of St. Nicholas) from 1821 – 1923.
This document is of special interest for geneology study.
Folder 25 Miscellaneous
Folder 26 Miscellaneous
Folder 27 Miscellaneous
Folder 28 Complete transcript of “Nimrod vs U.S.” 196 pages. Mar 1843
Judge Isaac H. Bronson
Folder 29 Legal papers pertaining to Nimrod vs U.S.
Item A Opinion, submitted to the Grand Jury, by Thomas Douglas,
U.S. Attorney. 1842
Item B Opinion of the Court 1843. 13 pages
Item C Decree. Brig Nimrod to be sold at public auction.
Item D Nimrod sold to Palmer & Ferris for $1815.00
Item E Brig Louisiana. Detained at Port Mosquito.
Folder 30 Legal papers pertaining to the efforts of Palmer & Ferris to have
their conviction overturned and to be compensated for damages.
Item A Testimony of John Coffee & Francis Dancy, surveyors.
Item B Testimony of John D. Sheldon, Inspector, Port of New Smyrna
Item C Testimony of John Simpson, Sheriff of Orange County.
Item D Testimony of Ira Carpenter, Cape Canaveral Lighthouse Keeper.
Item E Testimony of Nicholas Sheppards.
Item F Testimony of Dr. A. Speer.
Item G A written statement by Judge Bronson saying that the two survey-
ors in the first trial were mistaken.
Item H Written statement by Thomas Douglas
saying that there was in fact no cutting upon public lands and that,
consequently, the condemnation of the Brig Nimrod was
Item I Palmer & Ferris’ petition to the court for compensation.
Item J Written statement by the Committee of Claims to compensate
Palmer & Ferris for $50,285.00.
Item K Itemized list of damages. U.S. to Palmer & Ferris.