The State Library and Archives of Florida holds a map of the John Addison plantation from 1816. Addison first acquired the land in 1807 and named the plantation 'Carrickfergus' after his birthplace in Ireland. The 1816 map shows that the plantation covered 1,414 acres from the west bank of the Tomoka River to the Kings Road. Addison grew cotton and other field crops in the area shown as 'cleared land' on the 1816 map. The labor for planting, picking and ginning cotton was provided by 63 slaves. John Addison died in 1825 and the plantation was sold two years later to Duncan and Kenneth McCrae. The McCraes built a large steam-powered sugar mill in 1832 that operated for four years. In 1836, Seminole warriors King Phillip and Wildcat led a raid on 'Carrickfergus' destroying the sugar mill and other plantation buildings.
John Addison died in 1825 and was buried on his plantation by his brother, Thomas Addison. After the Seminole raids of 1836, the plantation was abandoned and the Addison gravesite disappeared. Then, in 1911, the Daytona Gazette-News reported that an unknown grave had been found in the woods along the Tomoka River. A woodsman described a coquina-rock tomb that had been dug out and the headstone removed. The identity of the grave was revealed a few years later when the headstone was found in woods near the gravesite with the inscription, 'Sacred to the Memory of John Addison.' In 1976, local historian Harold Cardwell led a Sierra Club outing to the Addison plantation and was dismayed to find that the tomb was vandalized and headstone broken in two pieces. Cardwell¿s concern was shared by the manager of Tomoka State Park, who also managed nearby Addison Blockhouse Historic State Park. A group of rangers mounted an expedition to recover the broken headstone. They lifted the heavy pieces, each several hundred pounds, onto a wooden platform attached to a brush mower. The rangers drove the headstone through the woods to a pickup truck and delivered it to a studio where the broken tablet was repaired. The headstone was placed at the Visitor Center at Tomoka State Park where it is now protected from vandalism and natural decay.
During the Second Seminole War, on March 10, 1836, a U.S. Army garrison was camped at the Addison-McCrae plantation, which was fortified as 'Camp M¿Crae.' Early that morning, Seminole Indians under the leadership of King Philip and Wild Cat attacked the garrison, ambushing a group of soldiers gathering sugar cane near the McCrae sugar mill. M.M. Cohen, an officer with the Carolina Militia, was an eyewitness to the attack which he described in his diary: "A half hundred hideous, copper-colored savages, some dressed most fantastically and frightfully; others but half-clad with hunting shirts, all with glaring eyes, black hair, and red painted faces ¿. Our unarmed men hurrying towards camp, bleeding, falling, groaning, dying. All this within 150 yards of the fort.¿ King Philip¿s band escaped into the forest before a counter attack could be mounted by the Carolina Militia. The Seminole¿s tactic of guerilla warfare prolonged the conflict as the longest and costliest Indian war in American history.
This black and white photo of the Addison Blockhouse from the mid-20th century shows an African-American standing next to the tower on the west side of the blockhouse. To many, the historical identity of black Americans is tied to plantation slavery. Legal records indicate that the Addison family owned slaves. However, not all blacks in the Tomoka River area lived in bondage at that time. Some slaves escaped and joined bands of local Indians as 'Black Seminoles' and fought against former owners in the Second Seminole War. One of the greatest Black Seminole leaders was John Horse, also known as John Cavallo. On October 21, 1837, John Horse was captured with Wild Cat, Osceola and other Seminole leaders under a white feather of truce and imprisoned at Fort Marion in St. Augustine (now Castillo de San Marcos National Park). In a daring escape, Wild Cat, John Horse and 20 others crawled through a narrow hole at the base of the prison wall and fled into the woods. As described by scholar Thomas Porter in his book, The Black Seminoles, these men ¿were nearly naked, virtually unarmed, and hurt from being cut by the hard rock. But they were free. After moving south, the fugitives reached the remnants of King Philip¿s band encamped on the headwaters of the Tomoka River¿.¿ Many Black Seminoles went on to find freedom just over the Atlantic Ocean in the Bahamas.
Ormond Beach became a major tourist destination in the early 1900s with the arrival of the railroad. The Ormond Hotel provided accommodations to visitors from the north and a variety of the excursion boats offered tours of the scenic Tomoka River. Some of the tour boats stopped at a small landing at Horseshoe Bend in the lower river. This was 'Addison Landing,' where cotton and later barrels of sugar and molasses were shipped from the Addison-McCrae plantation. The Landing was also involved in a skirmish during the Patriots War of 1812-13, in which some Americans from the north attacked east Florida plantations, then under Spanish control. One band of rogue soldiers calling themselves 'American Patriots' sailed south from Amelia Island to raid the plantations of the Halifax and Tomoka rivers. The invaders were seen in St. Augustine and the Governor sent Spanish dragoons to assist the planters by providing firearms to the slaves. As expected, the Patriots sailed up the Tomoka to plunder the Addison Plantation. When they reached the Landing at Horseshoe Bend, there was no sign of any opposition. As they proceeded up the causeway to the plantation, gunfire broke out along both sides of the path. Together, the Spanish soldiers and armed slaves killed all the Patriot raiders, except one young boy who was tending the boat. This was the last battle on the Tomoka River during the Patriot War.