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Augusta Murder that Killed a Town

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If you look at old maps of Hernando County, you will see the town of Augusta. It has been forgotten in modern times. We are not even sure of the town’s exact location. According to local historian Virginia Jackson, the town’s post office was located near where Old Crystal River Road dead ends a little north of Lake Lindsey Road. The limestone mine built where Augusta used to be re-used some of the old town buildings.

On January 30, 1845, a post office was established in the town of Augusta, with the first and only postmaster being Albert Clark. In 1845, there were four post offices in the county (Chocachatti, Homosassa, Augusta, and Fort Dade). The county Benton (Hernando County was briefly renamed Benton County from 1844 to 1850) at the time comprised an area that included most of the current Pasco, Hernando, and Citrus counties. Hernando was split into the three counties in 1887. The post office at Augusta lasted 15 years and closed on Oct. 17, 1860, shortly after the murder of Albert Clark.

On the 26th of May, 1845, there were election returns from a precinct at Augusta in Benton County. The inspectors listed for the precinct were Albert Clark, John B. Allen, and E. J. Knight and the Clerk was C.T. Jenkins. Sixteen men voted at the Augusta precinct, including two Clarks and two Boyets.

According to the 1850 census of Benton County, there were a number of people living with Albert Clark. The census lists Albert Clark, age 35, a farmer with $900 in land from New York and his wife Adeline, age 35, from South Carolina. Albert’s brother, Elihu Clark, age 33, was a farmer from New York with $640 in land. There was Lloyd James, age 18, a laborer from Virginia. There were five children of Albert and Adeline Clark: Emeline, age 2, from Florida, Elisa Boyet, age 21, Elizabeth Boyet, age 16, James Boyet, age 14 and Amanda Boyet, age 13, from South Carolina.

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The Florida Peninsular, October 20, 1860, reported in an article entitled “Murder will Out,”
“We learn that the citizens of Hernando County, on Saturday last, hung Hamp, a slave belonging to the estate of Albert Clarke, for being the immediate cause of death of his master. The negro confessed that he was promised two hundred dollars by James Boyd (a stepson of the deceased) and Mrs. Clarke (decedent’s wife) – $100 respectively, – as compensation for taking the life of his master and that he committed the murder (as stated last week) accordingly. Boyd and Mrs. Clarke are now in charge of the people, closely guarded; and, it is to hoped, evidence will be found sufficient to convict them by law as accessories; the conviction of their guilt, with the people is already a fixed fact.”

Most likely, the stepson accused of organizing the murder, James Boyd, and stepson, James Boyet, listed in the census are the same person. The name was most likely misspelled by the newspaper. It was reported on November 3, 1860, by the Florida Peninsular that James Boyd was convicted in the murder plot.

It seems that Augusta faded away after the murder of Albert Clark. It stops appearing on maps and stops being mentioned in government documents. The voting moved to Lake Lindsey and Augusta was forgotten.

This detail of a 1850 map from the New Universal Atlas shows towns, forts, roads, canals, major rivers and lakes in Benton County. [Credit: Courtesy the private collection of Roy Winkelman]
This detail of a 1850 map from the New Universal Atlas shows towns, forts, roads, canals, major rivers and lakes in Benton County. [Credit: Courtesy the private collection of Roy Winkelman]

Rocco Maglio
Rocco Magliohttps://www.roccomaglio.com
Rocco Maglio is a co-founder of the Hernando Sun. He grew up in Brooksville and graduated from Hernando High. He then worked in technology for starting in the early 1990s. He was fascinated by the potential of the Internet even though at the time there were not graphical browsers. He recently earned a Master of Science in Information Technology with a specialization in Cybersecurity.
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