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Old Red Eyes of Kingsley Plantation Road Beware, he’s watching you!

The Kingsley plantation on St. George Island northeast of Jacksonville has a strange past and according to a legend, a wicked red-eyed spirit that has lingered around these parts for nearly two centuries. Zephaniah Kingsley established this historic plantation on St. George Island in 1813 for the purpose of growing Sea Island cotton, sugar cane, citrus, and corn. Kingsley’s labor force was comprised of sixty West African slaves. Over time Kingsley became quite wealthy and eventually owned 32,000 acres and more than 200 slaves working on four plantations.

Zephaniah Kingsley had a strange relationship with his slave force. He could speak an African language and worked his slaves under a “task system” which meant that once the daily work was done, slaves were free to take care of their own business, like tending their own gardens, going fishing, or taking care of their cabins. If a slave produced crafts or vegetables he was free to sell them and keep the profits. Zephaniah Kingsley went a step beyond having an unusual relationship with his slaves, he also married one in an African ceremony, a union that produced three children. His wife, Ana Madgigine Jai, was from Senegal, West Africa, and she played a major part in the plantation’s management. She eventually owned her own property and became one of the wealthiest women in East Florida.

When Florida became a U. S. territory in 1821, Kingsley became concerned with the American laws that placed harsh restrictions on slaves and discriminated against free persons of color. This prompted Kingsley to move his family and their slaves to Haiti in 1837, where they established their own colony.

The Kingsley plantation house is still standing on twenty-five acres of the original property, so are the ruins of several slave quarters that sit in a half-moon shaped row. The narrow, unpaved road to the Kingsley house is scenic, but a little bumpy, and at the edge of dark downright frightening…at least according to some folks. This is the domain of Old Red Eyes, you can see him in your rear view mirror or hear the sounds of his victims in the wood along the road. Old Red Eyes is the wicked spirit of a slave that raped, brutalized, and killed, several of the plantation’s female slaves. He was caught by the other slaves and hanged from an oak tree near the entrance to the plantation. Although there are no historical records that document these events.

Old Red Eyes is not the only haunting business that goes on at the Kingsley plantation, there are stories about a woman in a white dress being seen on the porch of the main house…but she only shows up in photographs. This ghost is said to be Zephaniah’s African wife, Ana. In the yard of the house, you can hear the screams of child coming from an old well. Allegedly, the child fell into the well and drowned. I checked the well but didn’t hear any screaming because the well now has a heavy cover on it, perhaps to prevent ghost hunters from leaning over and falling in.

The eeriest thing witnessed by me was some twisted trees and vines hanging over the narrow road, but it’s easy to understand how a ghost could be conjured up in these woods, especially if you’re driving through there at the edge of dark.

Ghostly Peacocks of Kingsley Plantation
We were told about the ghost on the road to the Kingsley plantation while on the ghost tour on Amelia Island, so on the way home we drove down that road. It was just before sunset and the sun was filtering through the branches of the trees on the road. I was looking out in the woods and talking with my husband when all of a sudden two totally white peacocks flew out of the woods right across in front of our car. It scared the heebee jeebees out of me. I have never seen white peacocks, only beautiful iridescent ones, but these were albinos. We looked to see where they went and could not see anything. Now I wonder if this has anything to do with the ghost stories about that place. –Anne T.

Warning: Red Eyes in Rearview Mirror May be Closer Than They Appear!
I’ve saw Old Red Eye several years ago. I have a friend that lives just off that road and had taken him home from Jacksonville one night. It was about midnight and after dropping him off, I was driving back down that road to the hard road and looked in the side mirror on my car and saw two red lights. At first I thought it was the tail lights of another car but they were too close together. I slowed down a little and watched them in the mirror and it looked like they were coming closer. I knew that I had not passed another car and it did not seem like a car would be coming down that dark road backwards. I stopped and stuck my head out the window and looked back and there was nothing there. Then I looked in the mirror again and there they were and they were right behind my car. I gunned it and got the hell out of there. What I saw wasn’t a car. –Jan

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