History of the Government of Sarasota FL
Florida was first admitted to the Union with Florida as a single congressional district. The state legislature decided in 1845 that it wanted to choose its own representative and created an election for August of that year to determine who would represent the state in this new district. On August 28, 1845, voters elected Gen. Duncan L. Clinch as their representative (the term Congressman did not come into use until 1856). Gen. Clinch was born on June 6, 1788 at Hilo, Darien County Georgia. His parents were both Scots-Irish immigrants; his father Major Duncan Clinch served under General “Mad” Anthony Wayne’s command during the Revolutionary War and later became Governor Andrew Jackson’s Indian Agent to the Seminole Indians in Georgia.
Duncan Clinch was educated at Franklin Academy in Athens, Georgia and studied law under Judge Henry Watkins. After being admitted to the bar he moved to early settlement of Macon County, Georgia were he became active in the community through farming and merchandising activities. He married Mary Ann Duval in 1813 and began a family that eventually produced nine children; Duncan Jr., Ossian H., John P., James F., George W., William Rufus King, Leonidas Lafayette (Clem), Robert Lewis, and Edward Taliaferro. In addition to his military service which was briefly noted above, Gen. Clinch held several civil offices including mayor of Spring Hill Municipality (now Macon) Georgia from 1823-1825, and U.S. Marshal for Georgia from 1829-1835. He was elected to the state senate in 1840 but resigned after only four months to command his regiment of Georgia Volunteers during the Second Seminole War.
During Gen Clinch’s brief service in the Florida war he earned many honors including being promoted to Brigadier General by President Jackson for bravery in battle and given a sword inscribed with an appropriate tribute by his troops. In 1851 Duncan Clinch Jr., stayed at Fort King while on route to New York City where he planned to study law at Columbia University; all that was left of Fort King was a single blockhouse which stood near modern day downtown Ocala, Florida (the city is named after the fort). Duncan Jr. stepped outside after dinner with his cousin, and was struck by a random bullet fired from some unknown assailant in the woods nearby killing him immediately. There are several theories as to who killed “the general’s” son including an angry husband or slave owner who did not approve of young Duncan’s interracial relationship with a young lady of color; it has also been suggested that the young man was killed by hostile Indians from one of the many nearby Seminole camps.
The Clinch family resided at Rock Landing Plantation in Camden County Georgia (near modern day Kingsland) for many years before relocating to Macon County. Gen. Clinch died on December 28, 1849 while visiting relatives in Thomasville Georgia and is buried there in Oak Hill Cemetery.
His widow Mary Ann DuVal Clinch was born March 3, 1812 at Spring Garden Plantation near modern Hopewell, Virginia; her parents were Col. John and Mildred (Eliza) Lewis DuVal of French Huguenot ancestry who moved from Buckingham County Virginia to Camden County Georgia in 1809. Her mother died while Mary Ann was still quite young and she later took up residence with her sister Eliza and her husband Colonel Charles C. Jones Sr.; this family lived at Rock Landing which is adjacent to modern day Kingsland (named after the colonel’s prominent brother Willis B King). After General Clinch had passed away Mrs. Clinch found herself by the Panic of 1837 with limited funds and no plantation of her own to rely upon for income. In 1838 she moved to Fort King with her three youngest sons (Clem, Lewis, and Edward) where they established a boarding school called “The Western Female Seminary” in the old blockhouse that was left from the former military installation.
During the Seminole War Mary Ann ran a small store known as “Mrs. Clinch’s Trading Post” which was located on the west side of Hwy 441 south; this range of stores became known as “Mrs. Clinches” . According to A History of Marion County Florida by Verne S Winborne. Today, Mrs. Clinch’s store and post office is located at the intersection of 441 and 205 in Micanopy, Florida and serves as a “gateway” to this area. The original building was destroyed by fire sometime during the 1920s; it was rebuilt with pressed bricks which are still visible today (see photo above).
The Seminole Wars were costly to the Clinch family; Mrs. Clinch lost her husband, one son (Duncan Jr.), and a brother-in-law Colonel Yancey who died in December 1837 of what was described as “severe wounds” received during the Second Seminole War.
In July of 1936 a delegation from Micanopy Florida requested that Congress authorize an appropriate memorial for General Duncan L Clinch; at first glance this request may seem odd considering he isn’t associated with Micanopy but rather a county located more than a hundred miles away. However upon further inspection it makes complete sense because Mrs. Mary Ann DuVal Clinch is considered by many historians to be the ” woman entrepreneur” in American history and the founder of Micanopy Florida.
In the year 2000’s the City of Micanopy built a small memorial as seen below (no plaque) in front of the modern day post office; what remains of Mrs. Clinch’s Trading Post can be found at 8604 SE US HWY 441. Additionally, there is a historical marker placed by the Daughters of the American Revolution on May 18, 2000 on SR 24 which is approximately .2 miles north of her trading post.