23 April 2008

Florida: David Levy Yulee

We can find evidence of our ancestors in many unusual places, such as the Great Floridians 2000 program which includes the state's first US Senator and the first US Jewish senator on a plaque in Fernandina Beach.

David Levy Yulee was Florida’s first United States Senator and the builder of Florida’s first cross-state railroad. He was born David Levy in 1810 on St. Thomas, British West Indies. He was admitted to the bar in 1836 and served, first as a delegate to the state constitutional convention in 1838 and then as territorial delegate to Congress from 1841 to 1845. David Levy was elected to the United States Senate in 1845, becoming the nation’s first Jewish senator. The next year he added the name of his father’s Sephardic ancestry, Yulee. Yulee operated sugar plantations on the Homosassa River and in Alachua County and organized Florida’s first railroad in the 1850s, linking the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. When the Civil War broke out in 1861, Yulee served in the Confederate Congress, was briefly imprisoned following the war, and rebuilt his railroad, which had been destroyed. Yulee moved to Washington, D.C., in 1880. He died six years later and is buried there. Levy County and the town of Yulee (Nassau County) are among the Florida places named for him. His Great Floridian plaque is found at the Fernandina Chamber of Commerce, 102 Centre Street, Fernandina Beach.

If you would like to add the plaque to your GPS list:
N 30° 40.274 W 081° 27.880
17R E 455488 N 3393259

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