Everglades Biographies

May Mann Jennings

May Mann Jennings was born in Bayonne, Centerville, New Jersey in 1872. Her family moved to Jacksonville, Florida while she was an infant. She graduated from St. Joseph's convent in St. Augustine and married William Sherman Jennings on May 12, 1891. During her husband's administration as Governor, she was known in Florida for her outstanding civic and political service. Jennings was an organizer of the Duval County Federation of Women's clubs and was president of the Florida Federation of Women's Clubs. Jennings was known as the "Mother of Florida Forestry" for she took a large part in securing the legislative act creating the state Board of Forestry. She was also instrumental in the development of Royal Palm State Park near Homestead, now part of the Everglades National Park. Mary Mann Jennings died on April 25, 1963.

Biography prepared by Ruthanne Vogel, University of Miami

Excerpts from May Mann Jenning's letter to Minnie Moore-Willson, May 12, 1915, University of Miami Libraries.

"I am thoroughly acquainted with the work in the Glades and probably know more of it than any other woman in the State, and my husband has had a great deal to do with the work for the State a well as private individuals as a lawyer, and I know of no scandal of any kind that could be unearthed in connection with the Glades, and even if there was, it would not be the part of the Federation to take part in giving Florida a black eye...

I think you realize from this letter that there is not the difference that you imagined existing in our attitude towards the Indians, except that I do not feel that the drainage of the Everglades and the exploiting of land scandal, even if it exists, has anything whatsoever to do with the State's attitudes towards the Indians, nor its duty to provide for them...'"

Photograph, May Mann Jennings

Photograph of May Mann Jennings, 1901

Photo courtesy of Florida Photographic Collection, Florida State Archives


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