John F. Bartholf, a native of New York, was a Union Army captain, who
became a prominent carpetbagger politician of old Manatee County.
John Francis Bartholf was born June 30, 1838, New York City, New York, and was a teacher prior to the Civil War.(1)
During the Civil War, he first served as a private from April to July
1861 in Company G, 12th Regiment, New York State Militia before
volunteering at New York City in Co. D, 66 Regiment, New York
Infantry, to which he was enrolled as 1st Lieutenant on September 19,
He, thereafter, was transferred and promoted to Captain, Company F on
July 1, 1862. On December 13, 1862 at the Battle of Fredericksburg,
Virginia, he suffered a gunshot wound in the left thigh. After
treatment at a field hospital at Falmouth, Virginia and Lincoln General
Hospital, Washington, D. C., he was furloughed for thirty days on
December 30, 1862.
Capt. Bartholf was mustered out of Company F on October 5, 1863 to
accept a transfer to Company I, 2nd Regiment, U. S. Colored Infantry, to
which he was mustered in on October 20, 1863. Stationed at Fort
Myers, Florida in the spring of 1864, he participated in a raid in
Hernando County in July 1864. Present at Fort Myers on February 20,
1865 when Major William Footman’s Cow Cavalry demanded the fort’s
surrender, Capt. Bartholf was designated as the officer to reject the
ultimatum, and the Confederates, after a brief skirmish, withdrew.
After the war, he was Provost Marshal of Tallahassee at the time the 2nd
U. S. Colored Infantry was on duty there. He was mustered out with
his company on January 5, 1866 at Key West, Florida.
According to family tradition, in
1864 at Fort Myers, he married Mary Hawkins Daniel, born January 11,
1841 at Micanopy, Florida. On May 30, 1865, they were remarried by Rev.
Osgood E. Herrick at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Key West . Mary was
the daughter of Enoch and Delilah (Hawkins) Daniel. Enoch, a pioneer
settler of Fort Ogden and the Charlotte Harbor area, had been a
prominent Unionist, who was instrumental in the formation of loyalists
Floridians into the Second Florida Cavalry, U. S. Army.(2)
Having decided to stay in Florida before their discharges, Bartholf and three other Union officers, J. E. Bergen, Nathan H. DeCoster,
and Henry L. Slayton, petitioned on November 15, 1865 for a grant of
160 acres of the Whiting Reserve at Fort Brooke, but the Secretary of
War did not act on their proposal.
Carpetbagger, a contemptuous term, referred to the Northern politicians,
usually carrying their belongings in a single carpetbag, who went
South to take advantage of unsettled conditions after the Civil War.
Bartholf and DeCoster did not in one sense fit the stereotype as they
came originally to Florida as military officers, but they stayed on and
reaped the political spoils. Therefore, their views on the state are
pertinent. The officers collectively found the tropical climate
conducive to their health and saw opportunity in the undeveloped
resources of the state.
They believed the Floridians were generally of a sluggish disposition
with no ambition beyond obtaining the mere necessities of life, while a
perceptive minority were reaping large fortunes and opposed emigration
to maintain the status quo. They further concluded, "Shools and
churches are few in number and the consequence is the people generally
are in a semi-barbarous state but little better than the Seminoles so
recently driven from the soil they now occupy."
Bartholf and DeCoster first settled at Fort Winder, about twenty-five
miles from the mouth of the Peace River on the west bank. With $3,000
capital and money, they were for a time in the mercantile business
together, but DeCoster soon moved to Charlotte Harbor.
Bartholf, thereafter, earned his living in a variety of ways, including
farming, cattle, and a general land and claim business. With 46 head
of cattle in 1866, Bartholf belatedly registered on September 7, 1867
his mark and brand, crop slope in one ear, swallow fork and under bit
in the other, “JB.” On April 19, 1869, Mary Bartholf recorded for
herself and their children crop slope under slope in one ear, swallow
fork, upper and under bit in the other. In 1871, Bartholf was taxed on
Bartholf's main interest, however, was politics. On June 20, 1866, he
solicited unsuccessfully for an appointment as an agent of the
Freedmen’s Bureau. He expressed sympathy for the freedmen who “are
necessarily exposed to much cruel persecution and wrong,” for whom he
expressed a willingness to establish a school as he had many years
experience as a teacher. Bartholf, along with Enoch E. Mizell and
John Lomans (black), served as a registrar for Manatee County for the
elections in 1867.
James D. Green, for whom Fort Green was named,
had served as a captain in the 2nd Florida Cavalry, and, after the war
served almost five years as Manatee County’s Representative to the State
Assembly, in which position he exerted considerable political power.
In the summer of 1868, Green arranged to have Bartholf appointed clerk
of the circuit court of Manatee County, and in 1869 Bartholf moved his
family to Pine Level, the new county seat, where they became the first
permanent settlers. Bartholf, with, at various times, Enoch E. Mizell
and James T. Magbee concurring, recommended county officers to the
governor, and, thereby controlled the county.
In 1869, a state law was enacted for tax supported public schools, and
Bartholf secured the appointment as superintendent of public instruction
for Manatee County, in which position he served until July 1876, while
continuing as clerk of the circuit court.
Bartholf was the father of public education in much of the Peace River
Valley. Schools under his tenure, were opened at New Hope Church near
Fort Hartsuff, Sweet Water near now Wauchula, Charlie Apopka near
William Smith’s, Fort Hartsuff, Fort Green, Joshua Creek, Fort Ogden,
Pine Level, Fort Winder, and Hickory Bluff (Charlotte Harbor).
Bartholf, besides his other duties, served as postmaster of Pine Level
from June 1871 to December 1872, and, again, April 1874 to January 1875.
After James D. Green was defeated in a bid for state senator in 1870, his influence waned as Bartholf’s power increased.
While favoring Republicans, Bartholf prided himself on not hesitating in
recommending to the governor Democrats whom he judged competent and
willing. These included: Edgar M. Graham, County Judge; Ziba King, Justice of the Peace; Archibald McNeill and William Smith, County Commissioners; William. I. Turner and F. B. Hagan, Board of Public Instruction.
The Republicans’ power was ebbing in 1876; nevertheless, a vigorous
campaign for governor was anticipated in the November elections between
Republican Marcellus L. Stearns and George F. Drew, the Democratic
Upectedly, on August 24, 1876, Bartholf submitted to Governor Stearns
his resignation as clerk of the circuit court as “my health will not
admit of continuing in office” and moved to Charlotte Harbor. There
from December 6, 1876 to September 16, 1879, he was postmaster.
When Governor Stearns received the resignation on September 20, he
ignored Bartholf’s endorsement of G. H. Johnson to replace him.
Instead, Andrew Green, son of James D. Green,
was named clerk in early October. Then Andrew, acting in accord with
his father's directive, refused to post bond for the issuance of his
commission, thereby leaving no legal clerk for the Manatee elections, in
which the Democrats were heavily favored.
Manatee Democratic leaders proceeded anyway with the November 7 election
and in a landslide carried the county for the Democratic slate;
however, the local election, along with others in the state and nation,
was contested. As part of a national compromise, the Manatee votes
(with others) were counted for Drew, but excluded for Samuel J. Tilden,
the Democratic candidate for President, which gave Florida a split
ticket of Republican Rutherford B. Hayes for president and Democratic
Drew for governor. Reconstruction ended.
Bartholf, afterwards, felt it necessary to defend his record and further
declared: “I feel satisfied that the hearty, honest adoption of a
sentiment of good-will on the part of the people towards so-called
Carpet Baggers, will do more towards building up the State than anything
else can be done. Let it but become generally known that any honest,
northern man can settle here, and
regardless of politics, have an equal chance with all others, and the
State will soon settle up with a desirable class of emigrants.”
Bartholf and F. C. M. Boggess of Fort Ogden became partners in a land office. In 1881, they
published South Florida The Italy of America, a 76-page pamphlet, which promoted the Charlotte Harbor, Caloosahatchee and Peace River country.
Bartholf's experiences left him with ambivalent feelings towards the
Republican Party. In October 1880, he repudiated an endeavor by
Republicans to have him run for the State Assembly and scathingly
criticized party leaders. In April 1881, he, however, defended the
party by blaming the unfortunate condition of the state on the people
who had permitted themselves to be controlled through their prejudices,
rather than voting for the party that valued men according to their
ability, worth and honesty, without regard to their race or color.
By 1883, the Bartholf family had moved to Manatee Village where he
served as postmaster from May 2 to October 1883. About 1886, they
moved to Jacksonville where Bartholf was stamp clerk of the city post
Capt. John F. Bartholf died, probably from heart disease, on November
22, 1892 at his home just beyond the city limits of Jacksonville.
Under the auspices of the Grand Army of the Republic, of which he was a
member, he was buried in
Bartholf had received a pension from his service, and on December 23,
1892, Mary H. Bartholf applied for a pension as his widow. She gave her
address as c/o John L. Bartholf, corner 2nd and Ashley Streets,
Jacksonville, Florida. In continuing her claim on April 8, 1893,
Charles and Sarah Daniels of Zolfo gave a supporting affidavit. Her
application was subsequently approved.
Mary H. Bartholf died at her home on 530 Roselle Street, Jacksonville on
May 15, 1921. Funeral services were held at the Wesley Memorial
Methodist Episcopal Church with burial in
Evergreen Cemetery, Jacksonville.
Mary was survived by three daughters, Mrs. Frank Dale of Atlanta, Mrs.
Mollie Gardner and Mrs. E. H. Haddock of Jacksonville; and two sons,
John L. Bartholf, Sr. of Jacksonville and W. L. Bartholf of Punta Gorda.
References: Bartholf pension application, NA; Bartholf, et al to Sec.
of War, Tampa, Nov. 15, 1865, R.G. 105, Fla., Asst. Comm., Let. Rec.,
Entered Vol. I, 1865-66, Box 1 [A-G], NA; 1866 and 1871 Manatee Tax
List; Bartholf to Osborne, June 10, 1866, R.G. 393, Dept. and Dist. of
Fla., Let. Rec., Box # 1 [1865, 1866--A-D], NA; “Manatee County: Early
Marks & Brands,” South Florida Pioneers 23/24 (January.Apr. 1980),
pp. 36-37, and 27/28 (Jan./Apr. 1981), p. 37; Bartholf to Hugh A.
Corley, March 7, 1867, IITF, Gen. Corr., R.G. 593, Series 914, Box 12,
Fla. State Archives; Seventeenth Elections District, 1867, Fla.
Archives; Manatee County Clerk, “Appointments,” Florida Peninsular,
August 1, 1868, p. 2; Bartholf, “Pine Level, Manatee County, Florida,”
U.S. Centennial Orations, 1876, Mss. Div., LC; Bartholf to M. L.
Stearns, August 24, 1876, Sec. of State Corr. -- Letters of Resignation
and Removals, 1845-1904, Box 6, R.G. 150, Series 24, Folder 10 [Manatee
County], Florida; Florida Times-Union, October 9, 1876, p. 3; Tampa Guardian, May 15, 1880, May 22, 1880; Key of the Gulf (Key West), Sat., May 7, 1881; “Captain Bartholf Dead An Old Soldier Crosses to the Last Camping Ground,” The Evening Telegram [Jacksonville], November 23, 1892; Florida Times-Union [Jacksonville], May 16, 1921; Canter Brown, Jr., Florida’s Peace River Frontier, 1991; Robert C. Hampton, May 3, 2001.
(1) The grave marker of Bartholf in Evergreen Cemetery has, "Capt. J. F.
Bartholf, Husband of Mary Bartholf, Born in New York, June 30, 1837.
Died Nov. 22, 1892." The 1880 census of Manatee County has him as 42.
However, descendant Robert C. Hampton in an e-mail, dated May 3, 2001,
cited June 30, 1838 for his birth. "Certificate Of Death" has his death
Nov. 23, 1892, age 54, which would place his birth in 1838. His widow,
however, in her pension application on December 23, 1892 gave his death
as "22d day of November, 1892." I previously had 1837.
(2) Robert C. Hampton on May 3, 2001 e-mailed, "The last name was
Daniel, actually. Not Daniels. No s's. Again plenty with the
documentary evidence to support this." I previously had Daniels. My
source for the marriage was Mary's pension application of March 24, 1893
in which the Rev. Osgood E. Herrick stated: "In the name of the Father,
and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen This is to Certify, That
John Francis Bartholf of United States Army and Mary Daniels of Key West
Florida were duly married by me, on the 30 day of May A. D. 1865 in the
City of Key West Fla. according to the form prescribed in the Book of
Common Prayer of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of
America. Osgood E. Herrick - Rector St Pauls Church Chaplain of Post.
Witnesses Wm. A. McCulley Robert P. Campbell - Dated Key West May 30
Copy of the otiginal marriage certificate of John Francis Bartholf, 30 May 1865
The original profile was published in The Herald- Advocate (Wauchula, Fla.) of November 23, 2000.
Originally posted to web site on January 20, 2001, corrected May 4, 2001, marriage license copy added June 19, 2004.