Monday, November 10, 2008

Jack Barber's bloody lip helped spark a feud

Yesterday, I introduced ye rabbits to Violett Roberson Barber, the first wife of Andrew Jackson "Jack" Barber (9 July 1839 - 18 Aug 1916).

Today, I want to introduce you to his second wife Nancy Hull of Orlando, whom he married only four months after burying Violett down in Kissimmee. As you can see from the photo here, their's was a May-December romance.

While married to Nancy, Jack became a respected member of the community, faithfully attending the Baptist church and building-up his cattle herds and citrus groves.

But, it was during his first marriage to Violett that he gained legendary status, at least amongst local history buffs.

As his grave marker at Greenwood Cemetery in downtown Orlando attests, Jack served in the Confederate Army during the Civil War. (Company G of the 5th Florida Cavalry Battalion, to be precise.)

His greatest claim to fame, though, came as a primary catalyst of the bloody Barber-Mizell feud.

His uncle Moses Barber, patriarch of the clan, already had a beef with the scalawag Mizells--pun intended. He resented the way they seized cattle from his herd to pay the ridiculously high property taxes levied during the dark days of Reconstruction, and even went to jail for threatening one of Sheriff Mizell's deputies. (George Bass was his name.)

Anyway, during the following year, Jack Barber was riding the range. To his surprise, he discovered one of his prize heifers in the midst of a herd of Mizell cattle feeding on that very same range. Well, he did the only logical thing and reclaimed his wayward property. The sad result was a prison sentence to equal his uncle's.

Uncle Moses had recently returned from serving his own time behind bars, and insisted upon accompanying Sheriff Mizell as he escorted Jack up to the prison in Palatka. They went by steamboat out of Mellonville, modern-day Sanford. And, it was a long journey.

Jack thought he'd kill time chewing some tobacco, but couldn't reach his pouch because his hands were tied. So, he asked the sheriff to lend a helping hand. Annoyed, the sheriff took a large wad of the weed and shoved it in Jack's mouth so hard that it bloodied his lips.

This was the last straw, as far as Uncle Moses was concerned, and he warned Mizell that he had "started down the road to hell."

Within a year, the sheriff was dead and buried at what is now Leu Gardens in Orlando.

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