JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A smooth stone marker rests in Mandarin Cemetery above a settler who was gunned-down more than 180 years ago.
The letters etched into George S. Mott's grave are barely visible. Just a few miles from a then budding city of Jacksonville, Mandarin in the 1830s was essentially a frontier town, according to historian Emily Lisska.
“The men would require the women to keep their shoes because if the Indians attacked, they’d have to get up and run,” Lisska read.
Much of the cemetery's mystery surrounds the man buried near the center of the yard: George S. Mott. Lisska explains Mott made his fortune in New York through a shipping business then invested in land near Jacksonville
“Apparently a friendship formed [with the Seminole tribe] and he was married to the chief’s daughter, an Indian princess, again according to the lore,” Lisska said.
A detail that Lisska said it is known that Mott returned home to his family in the North for a brief time in the early 1830s. She adds that a pair of sisters living in Mandarin at the time recount Mott’s behavior toward the Native Americans.
"According to letters written out of Mandarin at the time, that Mr. Mott had treated the Seminole Indians cruel and that they were waiting for him to return from New York City,” Lisska said.
He was shot then scalped in the night by members of the tribe. Mott was 30 years old.
Skirmishes between white settlers and Seminoles continued for another 20 years after Mott's death, which brought even some of Jacksonville's founders to fight on the frontline.
“You’d have the big names of the town in Mandarin trying to protect north Florida from the Seminole Indians,” Lisska said.
Once the site of unrest, now a quiet resting place.