Righting Florida History: Mr. Isaac N. RUTLAND:
“He (Rutland) never served as a state senator.”
Florida’s Clerk of the House, responsible for Florida’s biennial publication; People of Lawmaking in Florida, answered my January 6, 2016 inquiry as to why Isaac N. Rutland of Orange County was missing from the state’s official roster of lawmakers by stating Rutland never served as a state senator. “Isaac was elected,” the clerk reported, “as a delegate from the 19 Senatorial District for the Florida Convention of the People, Ordinance of Secession.”
I appreciated the reply, but could not accept the reasoning as to why twenty-eight (28) of sixty-nine (69) Secession Convention delegates had been excluded from Florida’s historic roster of lawmakers. In a second letter, I pointed out that while Dr. James D.Starke was indeed Florida’s Senator from the 19 District in 1860-61, he was among those Senators who abdicated their duty as Senators by assigning to the Delegates; “the interest of the State without a suggestion as to the course proper to be pursued.”
In other words, Florida’s State Senate passed the buck! Rather than determining their State’s future, their duly as elected officials, they instead handed that authority to the delegates, who in turn repealed existing Florida law that established the role of the State Senators. The delegates then wrote a new Constitution. The Secession Delegates, I argued, became State lawmakers according to the very definition of a ‘Constitution’.
Florida’s Clerk of the House wrote again February 23, 2016, stating: “Upon receipt of your second letter and an additional review, we have decided to include all persons who served on any constitutional convention.” Isaac N. Rutland was then included in the next People of Lawmaking in Florida, from 1822 thru 2017.
The State however had not been alone in leaving Rutland out of Florida history. Early Orange County histories said little to nothing of their early county resident. Isaac came to Orange County during the 1850s. He replaced Aaron Jernigan as the Captain of Orange County’s 1856 Militia. Rutland was not only a merchant, he also operated Rutland’s Ferry on the Wekiva River. In January of 1861, Isaac was one of two delegates to the Secession Convention from Orange County. Both delegates voted NO!
A father of four children in 1860, Isaac N. Rutland vanished in 1864. Isaac’s wife Margaret was listed as a widow in 1867. The four Rutland children were orphans in 1870, living with their grandmother in Georgia. Two of the four children returned to Orange County in 1880. Son Othman Rutland settled along the west shore of Lake Apopka. Across the lake lived his sister, Sarah Katherine (Rutland) Vick.
Righting Orange County history required finding Isaac N. Rutland, even though his trail, dating back to 1864, had long gone cold. All there was to go on was a true-life clue, a few hand-scribble notes found in an 1865 government file folder titled, The RutlandMule Matter. One note, written in late 1864 from Mellonville, Florida, by a man named Lincoln, requested that a mule be returned to Mrs. Isaac N. Rutland. Not a lot to go on, but enough to unravel the mystery of a vanishing, Isaac N. Rutland.
“Just finished the Rutland Mule Matter book last night. OMG! Your research is so meticulous and your storytelling so captivating; I felt that I’d gone back to another time, because I knew many of the characters and settings of which you wrote.” Apopka 2015.
Two of Isaac’s children go in search of their father in a Novel based upon true-life facts. Othman finally learns the truth of The Rutland Mule Matter, and you will too!
THE RUTLAND MULE MATTER, by Richard Lee Cronin
Copyright April 20, 2015: TX8-104-400