Rediscovering Caroline

Federal Point, Florida

CMCE oct2020 Florida 001

Above: Three Oaks, Federal Point, Florida, from the St. John River. Edwin Smith Hubbard in his sailboat, the “Buccaneer.”

Heartsease, in the decade following Caroline’s arrival,  housed  a growing young family and was the centerpiece of an expanding family business that would continue for another hundred years until the 1960s.  Elizabeth and Benjamin Hart were already the parents of six children, ranging in age from 13 down to 2,  when Caroline joined the household.  Two years later, William Hall Hart was born, enlarging the family, including Caroline to 10.  By 1860 Elizabeth and Louisa Nichols, Elizabeth’s mother and sister had also come to live at Heartsease and a dozen family members plus a hired hand were living in the house.  Caroline was undoubtedly feeling secure within the arms of a large and loving family.

The onset of the Civil brought the first significant changes to the household when brothers Ambrose and Walter enlisted.  Ambrose enlisted first on July 30, 1862, and joined the 128th New York Infantry, Co. D at age 18.  Just over a year later, on September 23, 1863, Walter enlisted in the 18th New York Calvary, Co. G. at age 21.  On September 19,  1864 Ambrose was wounded in action in Winchester, Virginia.   Both men served and mustered out in the south,  Ambrose in 1865 in Savannah, Georgia, and Walter, in 1866, in Victoria, Texas.  They must have been sorely missed at Heartsease.


Benjamin Hart was known to be an adventurer.  Prior to his marriage he had become a sea Captain and traveled extensively during his maritime career.  After settling down in LaGrange in 1838 he was quickly lured away by the promise of gold in California and spent parts of the next two years there seeking a fortune.  So, when Walter and Ambrose returned from the war filled with stories of the wonders of the south, Benjamin’s spirit of adventure was piqued and he and his sons went to the St. John’s River country of Florida looking for land.  In 1867 they settled on the area around Federal Point and purchased a tract of land, a home and a grove site.  Quickly other family members – son Edmund, brother-in-law Gideon Nichols, cousins, Sam Searing, William Evans and Lydia Evans Dorr – secured their own grove sites.  So did Caroline.  Four of the seven Hart children, Edmund, Walter, Louisa and Ambrose, became Floridians,  spending the majority of the year in the south.  For Caroline,  “Three Oaks” at Federal Point  became an important part of her life and for the next twenty to thirty years she spend many winters there, finding new and different subjects to paint.  Very few of her Florida paintings have been found.

Three Oaks, c. 1890.

Above, left to right: Three Oaks, c. 1890. Lincoln Hawkins, cook [seated], Mary Van Wyck, Erwin Stuart Hubbard, Julia Hart, Mrs. Edwin Smith Hubbard, Mr. Edwin Smith Hubbard, Edith Louisa Hubbard.

Loquats in the Walter N. Hart grove, Federal Point, Florida. Edwin S. Hubbard, left.

Above: Loquats in the Walter N. Hart grove, Federal Point, Florida. Edwin S. Hubbard, left.

Above: The Hubbard family remained involved in the citrus business in Florida until the 1960s as they family photographs indicate of day to day living.