When we moved here (1989) only half of the streets were paved and the Gustafson Dairy Farms was in full operation - It’s a walking community, with the feel and smell of home.
The appeal of Clay County was three-fold: the rich agricultural commerce, its military heritage and its natural beauty.
Today, he shares his love of the area with a wide audience. He is a tour guide, educator, living history coach for the Girl Scouts, local historian and eco-heritage consultant for individuals and groups who want to know more about the area.
Art Yeaman has multiple personalities. In addition to his own, Art assumes the personalities of three historically significant men: Benjamin Franklin, William "Billy" Bartram, and Henry Clay. During 2013, he added a fourth personality, Ben Abram – a composite of those three plus his own life. This character allows Yeaman to move outside geographic and chronological boundaries when he’s relaying little-known and well-known American Heritage and Constitutional history facts along with tales about the east coast, Southern States, Clay County, Florida, and Green Cove Springs in particular.
A retired U. S. Marine Master Sergeant, Yeaman and his wife Jenny chose Green Cove Springs, Florida partly because of the Clay County school system and primarily because they fell in love with a walking, river community that reminded them both of their hometowns. His was in Ohio, hers California.
Ben Abram* was born and reared just outside of the City of Brotherly Love, the Cradle of our Republic – Philadelphia. He grew to be a U.S. Marine sharpshooter - veteran of the War of 1812, then on to work on riverboats.
Mr. Abram is a Whig, who supported and campaigned for Secretary of State Henry Clay to be President of these United States. For many years he traveled, making his home at sea and on various rivers. During the 1830’s -1860’s he was the “Skipper” of various riverboats and sea going vessels transporting people and cargo on the Erie Canal, Ohio River, Hudson River, Potomac River, St Johns River and along the Atlantic Ocean coast of our southern States.
In the south, Capt. Abram often came ashore via Picolata for “liberty” in St. Augustine, Florida. One of his favorite places to stay was the Ximenez-Fatio boarding house in St. Augustine. He first visited the boarding house during ocean ventures on the Atlantic in the 1830’s.
After making his “rounds” the Captain – now known as Ben has come ashore -- rest his sea legs. He’s settled on the west bank, down river (up north) of Picolata. He found a place at the base of the hilltop near a high ground village - a place where the lush green foliage, near the fresh warm mineral spring water – “the boil” flows into the cove – to make a contribution to the St. Johns River.
Ben Abram settles here to be a – “Teller-of-Tales” His tales often include stories of the birth of our Nation – to include notable founding fathers such as Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Paine, meeting Indigenous People, tales of America's first spiritual naturalist - William “Billy Bartram, and tales of the man he thought should have been a President of these United States - Henry Clay.
From his humble abode – on the other side of the rail road tracks - in the new village of Green Cove Springs, he goes about his daily tasks. Tending to the land, corresponding with others and making time to venture to the tracks and river s edge of the village to welcome guest a to “Saratoga of the South.”
*Ben Abram is fictitious character, created by Art Yeaman to help showcase Northeast Florida Eco-Heritage Ventures.
** Photo Ximenez-Fatio Museum (boarding house) 20 Aviles Street, St. Augustine, FL. (circa 1798 coquina block house built by Andres Ximenez.)
NEW Ben Abram (1798-1890): At Your Service.
Your Key to Applied Heritage:
Showcasing our Clay County, our St Johns River, our Florida, and our American Heritage --- One-Tribute-At-A-Time