Chinsegut History – The Ederington / Snow Years

c. 1851-1905

In 1851 the property was purchased from Bird Pearson by Francis Ederington who, like Pearson, moved his family from South Carolina to Florida. They brought livestock, farming equipment and household goods together with their slaves, traveling through rough land with poor roads. Ederington purchased an additional 160 acres and built a larger two-story home near the original Pearson structure. The 1860 tax roll shows that Ederington was the owner of 32 slaves, valued at $20,000, making him one of the largest slave owners in Hernando County during the time and a wealthy man. He also had a business venture with local lawyer Judge Perry Wall whose son later married one of Ederington’s daughters. Ederington and his wife, Precious Ann had ten children, most of who were born at the plantation.

Charlotte Ederington Snow and Dr. James Snow

Charlotte Ederington Snow and Dr. James Snow

Ederington continued to grow corn and sugar cane, but also added citrus to the plantation crops. In 1855, Native Americans burned down nearby Lake Lindsey Baptist Church, causing fear among the local settlers. Local patrol parties were sent out regularly and within a year, the government was at war with the Seminoles again, for the Third Seminole War.  Reportedly, the widow’s walk was added to the Manor House to watch out for potential Seminole attackers.  Ederington continued to add acreage to his estate holdings. Shortly after the start of the Civil War, Ederington enlisted in the Confederate Army as a Mounted Ranger to help patrol Hernando and Hillsborough Counties. When the war ended, Ederington announced to his slaves that they had been freed, but offered them all paid jobs to continue working at the plantation. The majority stayed. Later that year, Ederington began selling timber to the Faber Pencil Company, but a series of shipping mishaps caused the deal to a continual source of economic stress.

Ederington made a series of improvements to the property, including buying additional land and constructing a larger two-story residence. The new structure was set just southwest of the Pearson residence, separate from the existing building. There is some question as to how big the residence was initially. The asymmetry on the east and west side of the doorway as well as the uneven spacing of the columns suggests that the main house may have begun as a smaller or less formal plan originally, then was expanded to its current center hall configuration with flanking rooms. Either way, the house became a two-story, 5 bay structure with a full width two-story integral front porch on the south elevation under the Ederington occupancy. The house also had a widow’s walk with a separate hipped roof, said to have been constructed to look out for Native American raiding parties. As the nearby Lake Lindsey Baptist Church had been destroyed by a Seminole raiding party before the Third Seminole War, it is feasible that the widow’s walk was used for that purpose. No architect or plans for the initial Manor House have been located, but Elizabeth Robins was told by local residents that the house was built primarily by Jack Turner, one of Ederington’s slaves. Turner had been brought from South Carolina as part of the Ederington family move and was married to Caroline, reportedly Ederington’s favorite house slave. After the Civil War, Turner bought 160 acres of his own near Brooksville. His grandson, Peter, later worked as a cook for the Robins family.

Both Ederington and his wife died while still in their 40s: Francis in 1866 and Precious Ann in 1869. Their eldest daughter, Charlotte was left to care for her siblings and the estate. In 1871, she married Dr. James Russell Snow, listed as a dentist, also from South Carolina. Snow had served in the Confederate Army in South Carolina, working as a surgeon. They made Chinsegut their home and renamed the estate Snow Hill, having seven children of their own, as well as raising Charlotte’s younger siblings. The Snows expanded the house, adding wrap around verandas, screening in an outside dining room and creating finished living space in the attic for their growing family. It is likely that the turned porch posts were added by the Snows at this time as well.

Dr. Snow served as a Hernando County Commissioner from 1885-1889 and as the Hernando County representative for the legislative session in 1889 in the Florida Legislature.  In 1895, a deep frost devastated crops throughout much of Hernando County, bankrupting growers and driving land prices down.  Charlotte died in 1898 and later that year a tornado damaged the Manor House, pulling it off its foundation. Conflicting reports state that Dr. Snow and his children moved either to a neighbor’s house or into the original home Pearson built on the property after the storm. The house was left in disrepair.