Cherished for its supreme location and natural resources, the Fernandina Beach area of Florida’s First Coast was one of the most fought over pieces of real estate in the new world. So bitter were these skirmishes that the original land owner Henry O’Neill, founder of New Hope Plantation, was mortally wounded defending Spanish Florida against an attack by invaders from Georgia. For bravery and service to the crown, the King of Spain granted Henry’s widow, Margaret, additional lands and a monthly pension.
The legacy that began with Henry and Margaret remained in the family throughout the years, surviving occupations by the English Red Coats, Buccaneers, Union troops and the devastating effects of the Great Depression until the beginning of World War II.
The former plantation was broken into large tracts of land and sold, with the prized peninsula becoming the foundation for Oyster Bay Harbour many years later. The original plantation house is long gone but the history, the beautiful trees, old rice fields and deep waterways remain valuable heirlooms that future generations are sure to enjoy.
There is even a little burial plot of the Thiede family hidden in the foliage adjacent to the Lanceford Creek community which used to be called Heaths Point. Carl Thiede and his wife Caroline raised their son Oscar here who reached the ripe age of 85 when he passed on August 31, 1954. Much of the area still looks like it was set back in the days of old.