Aaron Jernigan was the first settler to come to Central Florida, and consequently Orlando.

He settled on Lake Holden with his wife Mary and 700 head of cattle they drove down from Jacksonville, and he planted a variety of crops like corn, melons, pumpkins, rice, cotton and sugarcane.

His homestead was the center of activity and became the nucleus of future settlement. The town that later grew around his property was named Jernigan, and later Orlando.

Jernigan was a tradesman and merchant and the County’s first postmaster. He became the captain of the local mounted militia and often fought against the Seminoles. State officials often criticized Jernigan for acting without legal authority and was investigated by the Governor for mistreatment of Seminoles.

Jernigan was often in trouble with the law. He was sued by his neighbors (because he owed them a lot of money) and was convicted of multiple counts of assault and battery and accused of murdering a man, William H. Wright, in front of the post office with the aid of his three sons and three other men.

He was sent to jail in Ocala, escaped, and was recaptured … before escaping again and making his way to Texas.

He returned to Florida 25 years later and was murdered by seven men in 1891.



Brendan O'Connor

Editor in Chief of Bungalower.com

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  1. Thank you for this, it is important that today’s residents of Orlando know the true history of the city and region. You would be surprised at how many newcomers are clueless as to the history of Orlando. Sometimes it seems our pioneer heritage is swept under the rug to appear more progressive. But that is not fair to the Southern frontiersmen & their families who cut the roads, built the first buildings, and cleared the wilderness to begin a new town. And lets not forget that Disney surreptitiously bought up huge swaths of land under different names to secure the site for the Magic Kingdom. So no, most Orlandans at the time were unaware of Disney coming before it was too late. And now decendants scratch their heads in traffic jams and wonder where the nice little Southern city went that their grandparents talked about.

  2. I just ran across this article. Aaron Jernigan is my 4th great-grandfather and this is the first time I’ve read that he was murdered. I’d very much like to read your sources. They might add to the family lore.