Rochelle Vicinity

CR 234 and CR 2082 along the Hawthorne/Gainesville Trail

Colonel Daniel Newnan led a troop of the Georgia militia on a raid into the area in September 1812 in an attempt to annex Florida to the United States in the War of 1812. The raiders engaged a force of Seminole Indians under the command of Seminole chief King Payne. Several soldiers and Indians were killed in the fierce battle, including King Payne. Ft. Crane, named for Lt. Colonel Ichabod Crane, Commander of the U.S. Army District of Northeast Florida, was built in January 1837 during the Second Seminole War. It was located just south of Rochelle and was commanded by Lt. John H. Winder, who later served in the Mexican War. By the 1840s settlers had moved into the area from South Carolina and Georgia. The Perry, Rochelle, Tillman and Zetrouer families were among the earliest arrivals. Early roads in the area were heavily travelled by settlers and the military. One important route linked St. Augustine with Newnansville, located about 16 miles northwest of this marker. Union troops passed near this site in August 1864 enroute to Gainesville, where they were defeated by Confederate cavalry led by Capt. J.J. Dickison.

The community of Rochelle, located about one mile south of this marker, was first called Perry Junction and grew up around the site of the plantation of Madison Starke Perry, Governor of Florida 1857-61. In 1854, Perry had donated land for Oak Ridge Cemetery, located between Rochelle and Micanopy. Perry and many pioneer families from the area are buried there. The town was renamed Gruelle in 1881 and changed to Rochelle in 1884 in honor of the parents of Gov. Perry’s wife, Martha Perry. Rochelle became a hub of the Florida Southern Railway in 1882 and later lay on the main line of the Plant Railway System, being a daily stopover between Jacksonville and St. Petersburg. By 1888 twenty-four trains a day passed through the community of about 100 residents. Rochelle became a citrus center, but the Great Freeze of 1894-95 destroyed the citrus crop, causing many of the inhabitants to leave. Today only a few buildings remain as reminders of the once thriving settlement. One of these is the Rochelle School (Martha Perry Institute), constructed in 1885, which served the community until 1935. The building was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.

The marker is located at CR 234 and CR 2082 along the Hawthorne/Gainesville Trail.

Sponsored by:
The Alachua County Historical Commission and the Florida Department of State

TAGS: All,19th Century