Orange Springs


John William Pearson

John William Pearson
Born (1808-01-19)January 19, 1808 Union County, South Carolina
Died September 30, 1864(1864-09-30) (aged 56) Augusta, Georgia
Buried at Laurel Grove Cemetery
Allegiance United States of America Confederate States of America
Service/branch United States Army Confederate States Army
Years of service 1835–1842 (USA) 1861–64 (CSA)
Rank Confederate States of America Captain.png Captain
Commands held Oklawaha Rangers


John William Pearson (January 19, 1808 – September 30, 1864) was an American businessman and a Confederate Captain during the American Civil War. Pearson was a successful businessman who established a popular health resort in Orange Springs near Ocala as well as a hotel, grist mill and a machine shop.[1] Orange Springs was a popular destination for tourism in northern Marion County until the opening of Silver Springs and Ocala by steamboat after the American Civil War.

Pearson is best known for forming the Oklawaha Rangers named after the Ocklawaha River in Orange Springs.The Oklawaha Rangers were used in the American Civil War for guerrilla tactics against the Federal troops throughout North Florida and Central Florida. Pearson became mortally wounded while leading Company B of the Ninth Florida Infantry Regiment across a cornfield at the Battle of Globe Tavern. He resigned his command as a result of his wounds and died in Augusta, Georgia while making his way home to Orange Springs, Florida.

 Early life

Pearson was born in Union County, South Carolina on January 19, 1808 to Thomas Green Pearson and Ailsey Garrett Pearson. By age 4 Pearson moved to Bedford County TN (now Moore County) with his grandfather. His grandfather William Pearson was in the American Revolutionary War under Captain Tench Francis of the Philadelphia Troops Militia. William later moved to South Carolina and served under the command of Col. Thomas Brandon who also lived in Union County. William migrated toTennessee after the war and settled in Bedford County, Tennessee. John William Pearson’s middle name most likely comes from William Pearson. By 1828 Pearson’s father died as a farmer and was then under the care of William and his mother Ailsey.

Seminole Wars and Business in Florida

Pearson was drawn to Florida because of the Seminole Wars in 1835. He was a volunteer of Hindley’s Company in the Second Seminole War. After the war Pearson settled down in Marion County and married Sarah Martha Pearce on October 5, 1842. In Marion County he became business partners with David Levy Yulee. Pearson and Yulee jointly bought property at a springs called Orange Springs in 1848. Yulee may have considered establishing a railroad through Orange Springs but the coming of a civil war halted this idea causing him to sell out to Pearson. Orange Springs was then built up as a health resort by Pearson.  By the 1850s he became a successful businessman owning an inn, gristmill, saw-mill, furniture shop, and a machine shop.  By 1848, Orange Springs would have it’s own post office and by 1853 the resort had turned into a small town.

Pearson donated the land and material used for the construction of what is now the Orange Springs Methodist Episcopal Church and Cemetery in 1852.

Civil War

By 1860 it was apparent that a civil war was inevitable. Pearson was a supporter of Southern rights and believed in protecting those rights. He visited Charleston, South Carolina where he became emotionally stirred by the Southern “fire-eaters.” It was here that he purchased 125 smoothbore muskets, and 100 colt revolvers. He returned to Florida and asked Governor Madison S. Perry for permission to start a militia under his command.  At Camp McCarthy on the banks of the Ocklawaha River in Putnam County Pearson was elected Captain on May 14, 1862. On the first day 71 men enlisted in the militia but by the end of the war it increased to 150.  Pearson outfitted his men with the equipment purchased from Charleston. In Orange Springs Pearson and his associates manufactured guns, cannons and munitions that were later used in the defense of Tampa. His machine shop in Orange Springs was used for the production of a patented cotton gin.

During the years of 1861 and 1862, John W. Pearson issued a large variety of scrip of a particular style that became popular with other towns such as Alafia, Bay Port, Brooksville, Manatee, and Tampa.  All were issued during the Civil War period and most likely by the same printer.

Source: Wikipedia

John W. Pearson (written dates of 1862)

1862 .50 Note from Harley L. Freeman Collection

1862 .50 Note
from Harley L. Freeman Collection

John W. Pearson (engraved date of 1862)

1862 .10 Cent Note

1862 .10 Cent Note

1862 .10 cent note

1862 .10 Cent Note

1862 .10 Cent Note

1852 Date Error, Should be 1862 .10 cent Note

1862 .25 Cent Note

1862 .25 Cent Note

1862 .50 cent note

1862 Framed Set including (2) .10 Cent & .75 Cent Partial Sheets, .10 Cent Note, (3) .25 Cent Notes, (3) .50 Cent Notes, (3) .75 Cent Notes, (2) $1 Notes, and (2) $2 Notes)

1862 Framed Set including (2) .10 Cent & .75 Cent Partial Sheets, .10 Cent Note, (3) .25 Cent Notes, (3) .50 Cent Notes, (3) .75 Cent Notes, (2) $1 Notes, and (2) $2 Notes)


John W. Pearson issued script in 1861 and 1862


Very rare land grant showing purchase of 40 acres of land to John W. Pearson of Marion County Fl. (Orange Springs) on 1855.  Signed by Franklin Pierce, president of the United States.