Another attraction in Homosassa is the Yulee Sugar Mill Ruins. David Yulee (1810-1886) was a Florida businessman and politician. He was born David Levy on St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, of Sephardic Jewish parents and later officially adopted Yulee, his father’s Sephardic surname. He served four years in the House of Representatives as a representative of the Florida Territory and when statehood was granted, he became the Senate’s first Jewish member in 1845. When Florida seceded, he joined the Congress of the Confederacy and, after the war, he was imprisoned in Fort Pulaski for 9 months for his “transgression.”
In 1853, he purchased a 5,000 acre sugar plantation along the River and operated it with slave labor. It was destroyed during the War, and the ruins are now a state historic site. David went on to build the Florida State Railroad, running from Cedar Key on the Gulf to Amelia Island on the Ocean. Also damaged by the War, he rebuilt it and subsequently became the president of four Florida lines, earning the appellation “Father of Florida Railroads. David and his family retired in 1880 to Washington, DC, his wife’s original area.