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Three Chimneys Sugar Mill
Ormond Beach


Three Chimneys Sugar Mill or the Oswald's Swamp Settlement or the Henry Yonge Plantation as it is also known, is the oldest British sugar plantation, sugar mill and rum distillery in the United States.  It was established in 1764 during Florida's British period (1763-1783) by Scotsman Richard Oswald  on 20,000 acres received as a grant awarded by King George III  under direction of Florida Governor, James Grant.

Oswald made his fortune as a slave trader beginning in 1748 and by supplying large quantities of bread to English troops during the Seven Year’s War , which ended in 1763 with the transfer of colonial possessions between Great Britain, France, Spain, and Portugal including the cession of Florida by Spain to Great Britain.  

In February 1765 Oswald shipped about 50 slaves, mostly men, to Governor Grant in St. Augustine, housing them temporarily along with supplies for establishing sugar, rum, and indigo production.  In June 1765 several boats filled with tools, several Englishmen and Oswald’s African slaves landed at the point where the Tomoka and Halifax rivers merged, in an area now known as Tomoka State Park.  The first development, called Mount Oswald, was soon underway.  Oswald’s interest was to grow sugarcane but his efforts at the first plantation failed due to a major freeze; he initially had chosen a variety of sugarcane that was not tolerant of cold weather.  He then changed to cultivation of indigo and rice with indigo the largest cash crop.  

A few years later, sugarcane fields flourished in the Swamp Settlement, about 6 miles south of Mount Oswald.  The  first British sugar and rum were produced under the live oaks studding the grounds of the Three Chimneys.  The Swamp Settlement consisted of 300 cleared acres and several substantial buildings, including the overseer’s house, grain houses, sugar house and distillery works, and sugar mill.  The structures at Three Chimney were all brick instead of coquina which was preferred in all other sugar factories at the time.  It used the basic Spanish Train process that used individual heat sources for each kettle and which preceeded the Jamaican train that used one source for all kettles.  Three Chimney and the Dummett Sugar Mill  were the only operations at the time known to have produced rum.  

Richard Oswald lived in Virginia, he operated the plantations through overseers who supervised the slaves.  Hos plantations operated from 1764 until after the Revolutionary War .  After the war, Oswald was the British delegate to the peace negotiation working with Benjamin Franklin , John Jay and others to draft the British terms of peace for the American colonies which resulted in the Treaty of Paris of 1783 that established the Mississippi River as the western boundary for the United States.

After Britain ceded Florida back to Spain, by late 1785 the Swamp Settlement and other British plantations were completely abandoned by the English.  The Spanish granted land to several British subjects in order to re-populate Florida rapidly.  In 1803 then 19 year old Georgia born and Bahama resident Henry Yonge was awarded 850 acres including Three Chimneys.  He improved the deteriorated plantation and worked for 6 years but abandoned the area in 1809 and moved to Georgia.

After Yonge left Florida, Three Chimney's land again became overgrown and wooden structures deteriorated rapidly, it was never again used for sugar.  After the Civil War early settlers to the area saw the three old brick chimneys which were mistaken as remains of early Spanish missions.  In 1914, William Fagan, friend and employee of Hotel Ormond builder John Anderson, constructed a house on the remains of the sugar boiling facility.  He set up a tourist attraction known as Camp Fagan that operated until 1921 when the property was sold to Edmund L. Fisher.  In 2001 the State of Florida acquired the property which is managed by the Ormond Beach Historical Society. 

Of the remains today, the chimney is a 1914 addition by William Fagan.