Rosewood Remembered

Rosewood, Florida was and is more than the massacre that occurred there in January 1923. Rosewood was a community working together. A predominately Black community, Rosewood was a haven for the African Americans who settled there, beginning in the mid-1800’s. It was a place where prosperity and property could be found during the Reconstruction and Jim Crow eras.

Even this quaint and growing town could not escape the wrath of racial violence. On January 1, 1923, a white vigilante mob, led by James Taylor of Sumner, Florida, decimated the town, murdering five (known) African American victims, and inflicting physical and psychological trauma on countless others. Buried for nearly 80 years, the story of Rosewood – what it was and what became of it – remained a secret in the hearts and minds of the survivors, descendants, and the white conspirators. Yet, in 1982, whispers of a town called Rosewood began to swirl.

Out of the bloodshed, fire, and ash sent to destroy the town, the memory of Rosewood and its people live on. Rosewood will be forever etched into the land and stamped onto the soul of North Central Florida. While little remains of the physical town, the spirit of Rosewood could not be destroyed — instead, it was displaced to nearby communities, along with the survivors.

This is the Real Rosewood.

All that remains of the town of Rosewood is a lonely house off of Florida State Road 24, located just nine miles east of Cedar Key, Levy County, Florida. The original structure of the house was built circa 1870 by a white settler, Charles M. Jacobs, Sr. At the time of the Rosewood massacre, the house was owned by John and Mary Jane Hall Wright, white residents of Rosewood. They provided shelter and protection to their Rosewood Black neighbors. 

The survival of the house is undoubtedly a result of the white privilege afforded to its owners. 

Today, July 12, 2021, the John Wright house has been donated to The Real Rosewood Foundation, Incorporated, location at 14738 SW 159th Avenue, Archer, Florida, 32618, at the “Brown’s Estate” homestead of Mahulda Gussie Brown Carrier, Rosewood schoolteacher. Her Archer family and the Rosewood board members will protect and shelter the John Wright’s house, just as it sheltered the Rosewood survivors in 1923. A Rosewood historical marker is located in close proximity of where the John Wright house formerly stood adjacent to State Road 24, which is open to the public.

Images from the John Wright House

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