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Catherine and Ossian Hart Correspondence (Union loyalists)

Ossian Bingley Hart (1821-1874) was the son of a colonial Florida family who emigrated from Virginia in 1801.  Ossian was educated in Washington and returned to Jacksonville to study law. In 1843 Ossian married Catherine Campbell of Newark, New Jersey. The couple resided in various places in Florida, including Jacksonville, Fort Pierce, Key West, and Tampa. Ossian is best known in Florida history for opposing secession during the Civil War and for serving as a justice for the Florida Supreme Court (1868-1873). In 1873 he became the first Republican governor of Florida and served until his death one year later.  During the Civil War, Catherine wrote frequently to her relatives in the North, giving them an account of circumstances in Florida.  The Hart letters provide a fascinating look at the experiences of Union sympathizers in Florida during the war years.  Several letters from before the war also provide information on the Hart’s fortunes as pioneers in Key West.  (See also the The Guide to the Hart Family Papers). Text by Anna Bjornsson and James Cusick.

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