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Scripto | Transcribe Page
Proceedings of the State Conference of the colored men of Florida, held at Gainesville, February 5, 1884.
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make it comfortable. And those who have lands and homes should get more lands, or go into business enterprises, form joint stock companies for mercantile and other financial operations.
Such enterprises as that of M. J. Christopher & Co., commission merchants in Jacksonville; D. Y. Hill & Co., commission merchants in Palatka; Chestnut & Clinton, merchants in Gainesville; the Men and Women's Saving Society in Key West; the Hon. Josiah T. Walls, the successful horticulturist of Alachua, whose names are all familiar to the reading public, are moves in the right direction. Those enterprises speak volumes toward the elevation of our people to the desired plane of life. Let us follow their noble examples, and get wealth, and with it the accompanying incidents, prestige, and power. By these means we will not only demonstrate more clearly our capabilities as men and citizens, but we will increase our importance to the commonwealth of which we form a part.
There is a class of our people in this State, and which class I am sorry to say is very large, that is in the condition of what are known as squatters. That is, some have made homestead entries on Government lands and lived upon them the required five years, within two years after which they are required to make final proof of their entry and continuous residence thereon for five years, in order to obtain a clear title by United States patent; but, instead of doing this, they have remained on the lands without complying with the law in this particular, and the lands have reverted to the Government. And others have settled upon State lands without a shadow of title, and the result is, that they are to day in the eye of the law trespassers, without lands to till, homes to shelter them, or places to lay their heads. This is a deplorable thing, but it is nevertheless true, and needs immediate and effective attention. This Conference can well recommend that on returning to our respective homes let each of us make it a special duty to bring this matter to the notice of those of our people in every county where they have been negligent in this matter, and insist upon them to immediately employ attorneys to examine the condition of their land titles, and take such steps for them as their cases may need to place them on sure foundations, I would that I were situated so that I could; nothing would afford me greater pleasure on earth than to travel from Duval to Escambia, and from Escambia to Monroe, touching every
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